Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 02: The Frame Job: 01
The Frame Job
Transcribed by: James
Date: March 17, 2017
In Game date: October, 2011
Fall was just hitting its stride as Charlie Kress, who had managed to stop the demonic Dozer from corrupting The Pack in the name of the Black God, Chernobog, was recovering from his efforts. He had pushed his talent to the very limits of burnout and had exposed Dozer for what he had become in the eyes of bikers causing them to reject him as their Alpha. Charlie had been listless and deeply drained after the ordeal causing his guardian, Felix Kline a great deal of concern. Several doctors visits revealed nothing serious and they had written it off as simply being a mild case of mental fatigue. Nevertheless Charlie was displeased because he missed several track meets and he was looking forward to getting back to school and track as soon as possible.
Jack Youngblood had come back from yet another fruitless trip in an attempt to locate his missing daughter only to find his wife, Abigail Youngblood and the now healed Gypsy giggling like schoolgirls over a cup of herbal tea. Jack tried not to be paranoid about an ex-girlfriend and his wife whispering quietly. However, they kept glancing at him conspiratorily and when he noticed they would look away stifling laughter. His ears burning Jack tried to ignore it. He was just happy to hear Abi laugh. She was battling cancer and needed all the joy she could muster to keep up her spirits. The young former Warden was worried though. His bargain with Odianna of Winter had slowed the cancer but had not cured it. He had much work to do to find a cure and to save his missing little girl.
Solomon Castostrani was at his office next to the Gate Bar & Grill to meet with a man named Henry Spear. Solomon had learned through his contacts that Spear was seeking a meeting and had arranged the appointment out of curiosity. When the appointed time came Solomon was greeted by a middle aged man in business clothes carrying a brief case. After introducing himself it became clear to the immortal that Spear was hiding an accent of some kind with his clipped speech and chose his every word with great care. It reminded him of some of his dealings with the Fae.
The nondescript man pulled a photo from his briefcase of two large jade statues that Solomon recognized immediately. They were much more elaborate than the ones that guarded the main entryway into the underworld in the bar’s basement but it was clear they were of the same type and function. The immortal suspected that, if these were genuine, his masters, Jian Ju-long and Fan Gang (Horse Face and Ox-Head) would greatly desire the two statues. Spear, seeing that he had Solomon’s attention, explained that he would be willing to part with these two exquisite pieces in exchange for help in acquiring an item. He handed Solomon another photo of a painting in an elaborate frame. It took just a moment for the old vampire to recognize that the painting was of William Randolph Hurst.
Surprised, the immortal asked Spear why he sought a painting of an old, eccentric, newspaper publisher. Spear would only offer that the painting was of special interest to him personally. He also assured Solomon he would not use the piece to cause any harm. Wondering how a painting could cause harm Solomon asked Spear for more details. The man explained that the painting was in the possession of Trevor Radcliffe and would be displayed in a limited showing the next week. Solomon nodded, acknowledging that he had received an invitation to the black tie event. Explaining that he would have to consult with his masters he asked if Spear would be willing to meet with him tomorrow for his answer. Spear politely agreed and promptly left. Solomon noticed that he did not offer to shake hands.
Puzzled the cursed immortal showed the photos of the items to Fan Gang. The Ox-head took one look at the jade statues and demanded that Solomon get them as soon as possible. He explained tersely that they were the original statues that guarded the First Gate to the underworld and had been stolen centuries before by tomb raiders. When asked what he thought of the situation Fan Gang said that Spear was not a demon nor was he dead. He was also unlikely to be Fae despite his guarded speech.
When Solomon explained what Spear wanted Fan Gang said Solomon must steal the item but just don’t bring any trouble to the Gate. He eyed Solomon severely for a moment to make sure he was being completely clear and turned his back curtly saying that they were out of nuts. The salted hazelnuts this time!
After little luck consulting with the golem, David Clay, Solomon realized that the suspended Warden, Jack Youngblood may have some insights into the painting and the job before him. He went to Jack’s recently finished new home and showed the wizard the pictures that Spear had given him. Jack recognized that the painting itself had a depth to the paint that went beyond normal materials. But that isn’t what caught his attention. The frame of the painting seemed far more interesting with subtle but possibly very powerful arcane rituals built into it that seemed to interact with the painting. It was beyond anything he had ever seen however and even Abi had little to add to that.
Solomon and Jack decided that they should see if they could learn anything from the Paranet. Jack called Felix Kline and made arrangements to pick up his younger half-brother, Charlie Kress after school. Before leaving to pick him up Jack prepared an elaborate homeopathic meal for his ailing wife along with some herbal tea. After making her as comfortable as possible he got on his old, reliable Indian motorcycle with the sidecar to pick up Charlie.
Charlie found Jack leaning against his motorcycle reading a book with his full attention. Thinking it must be some dusty old tome on magic the teenager was surprised to see it was a book about homeopathic cooking. When he realized his younger brother was standing there Jack sheepishly slipped the book into his bike’s saddlebags and explained to Charlie that he could use his help. He tossed Charlie his sister’s old “Hello Kitty” pink motorcycle helmet and gestured him into the sidecar. Without saying a word Charlie shoved the offensive helmet into the sidecar and pulled his own helmet out of his bag. The two brothers made their way to Pioneer Square to meet Solomon at The Gate.
Jack bought Charlie dinner and got himself a hearty bacon cheeseburger. Between mouthfuls the suspended Warden explained he would destroy either of them if they ever ratted him out to Abi for ordering the decidedly non-homeopathic meal. After some discussion the trio decided to see if Emerson Lake, a local Paranet leader and owner of a jewelry shop in Pike Place Market might have any insight into the painting.
The jewelry shop was on the top floor near the Sweet Tooth Bakery owned by Maggie Simpkins. Charlie had heard mention of Maggie on the Paranet and new she had some dealings with the supernatural. Jack tried to skip by unnoticed but Maggie cheerfully called out to him. Charlie, realizing that she was yet another of his brother’s “lady friends” rolled his eyes with teenage aplomb. They chatted for a bit and while Jack seemed uncomfortable at first Maggie’s infectious smile and good nature seemed to diffuse any tensions that might have lingered. She congratulated Jack on his marriage and gave him a bag of freshly baked “Lemon Sunshine” muffins.
They made their way to Emerson Lake’s shop and waited patiently while the man helped out a patron. Jack perused the shop’s wares looking for something for his wife. Charlie figured Jack was probably feeling some strange guilt for running into yet another of his old girlfriends and was wanting to make amends. Emerson suggested a few exquisite pieces before they got down to the business at hand. Solomon showed the artisan the photo of the painting in question and Lake was immediately intrigued. He stated that the painting itself was of late 19th or early 20th century style and that it seemed as if the pigments of the paint had been mixed with the subject’s blood creating a ritual link that could be magnified by the powerful magics weaved into the frame. Whether it was a blessing or a curse he did not know.
After dropping off Charlie Jack attempted to learn more by using his magic in a ritual to commune with the local spirits for insights. But Halloween was only a week away and their was a great deal of spiritual “turbulence” that interfered with his casting.
Meanwhile, Solomon visited the Asian Art Museum to see if Professor Snodgrass had any insights into the painting. He met with little success.
Afterward, using directions given to him by Charlie, the immortal posted a picture of the painting on the Paranet with no replies. He also inquired about the mysterious “Henry Spears” and had better results.
Someone on the bulletin board pointed out that “Henry Spears” was the name of a character from an old Roger Zelazny novel. From the wikipedia entry he learned that Spears was an old withered, man who manipulated the main character to make sure a mystical door remained closed. Simon went out to a used bookstore and tracked the book down. The next day he met Jack at a restaurant and explained who Spears was in the book. Neither liked the possible implications of their patron’s chosen name.
In any case Jack told Solomon that he wanted to case the Radcliffe place and get a feel for the security there in case they ended up needing to do the job after all. Radcliffe’s gallery was located north of Pioneer Square in an older, dilapidated building. It was a solid structure of early 20th century architecture being remodeled by Radcliffe Construction.
Solomon did what research he could on the internet while Jack veiled himself with his magic and inspected it up close. He managed to find the loading dock in the back but it was well secured with alarms. Not wanting to trip them and risk an increase in security Jack didn’t push into the building.
Realizing that they had no further leads they prepared to meet with the mysterious Mr. Spears again. Charlie joined them at the Gate and dressed as a server in the hopes that he could use his talent of psychometry to learn more about “Spears”. When the man arrived exactly on time Charlie greeted him and attempted to take his coat but the man politely refused. Not wanting to push it and arouse suspicion Charlie retreated.
Solomon, hoping to put the man at ease, ordered him a fine, rare scotch. Spears was impressed with the choice and complimented Solomon on his tastes. He thanked him for the drink profusely. Jack knew then that he was most likely not Fae. They would never indebt themselves to someone by offering them “thanks”.
Solomon told the unassuming man that they were willing to take the job. He asked where Spears wanted to make the exchange once they had acquired the painting. Spears was OK with doing it at the Gate. Jack interrupted and asked what if they gave him the painting and kept the frame? Spears replied that that would be a deal breaker. The two were integral to each other. After a pause Jack asked what if we gave him the frame and kept the painting. Spears took a moment to sip his whiskey and said that would be acceptable. Exactly as the Warden suspected.
When the man left The Gate Jack veiled himself again and followed him to his posh hotel room. He attempted to enter the room but it was warded and a magical alarm sounded. Jack retreated quickly not wishing to be discovered. Spears called Solomon and asked him if Jack had tried to follow him. Solomon replied that he honestly didn’t know. Spears thanked him for his time and explained that he would have to change his name and hotel just in case.
“In case of what?” the immortal wondered.