Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 02: The Frame Job: 03
Transcribed by: James
Date: May 14, 2017
In Game date: October, 2011
The time had arrived. The guests to the art show had finally retired for the night and the after party was about to begin. Jack Youngblood used his magic to veil himself from sight and managed to hide in a storage crate left by his friend Eladio Buenez earlier that day. Solomon Castostrani used his Jiang Shi ability to cloak himself in shadow, making him almost impossible to spot with the naked eye, to great effect. He easily hid among the dark corners of the gallery without being spotted by any of the guards.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Charles Samuel Kress was able to slip the potion that Jack had developed into the food being prepared for the guards and employees. The wizard had made a concoction that would cause profound fatigue knocking anyone who ingested it out for a few hours. It operated physiologically and so did not violate any Laws of Magic. Charlie finished his tasks in the kitchen, including blocking the lock mechanism of the exit so he could sneak back inside the building after the potion took effect. He was escorted out by the head chef, Gustav, himself.
The chef had been very pleased with how Charlie had handled himself over the course of the evening. The young man had proven a very fast study with a sharp eye for details impressing the gourmand. He walked Charlie to the street and suggested he wait there with him until his ride arrived. After all it was nearly 2am in a fairly crime ridden part of town and Gustav didn’t think Charlie should wait alone. Charlie tried to assure the older man that he would be fine but Gustav would have none of it. Desperate to get rid of the chef Charlie spotted Bruno Walsh watching from his innocuous white van down the street. He pointed to the van and told Gustav he would wait for his ride with his friend. Satisfied Gustav went back inside to join in the after party which was in full swing.
Jack had noticed that some of the employees had left the party after ingesting his potion. This worried the wizard as he feared they would fall asleep at the wheel and hurt themselves or others. Jack cursed himself for not thinking of that before. Slowly at first, one by one, the guards began to succumb to the potion falling asleep. He pulled out a ski mask just in case anyone was still awake and made his way to the main power junction box for the security systems and cameras in the building and gathered his magic. With some effort he managed to fully hex the box with a shower of sparks. Waiting to make sure he didn’t start an unintended fire Jack then went to a window and signaled Charlie to come back in. Jack’s younger brother tossed him his wizard’s staff (it didn’t go with his nice suit) an they made their way to the painting. Jack extended his wizard senses to make sure the piece wasn’t secured with magical protections. Reassured he took the painting off the wall. That was when he heard a noise from above. Putting the painting down he quickly veiled himself and hid in the shadows. Charlie heard the sound too and subtly alerted Solomon to it pointing up.
With a quiet whoosh of sound a graceful woman dressed from head to toe in black, form fitting, military gear landed in a crouch before them after rappelling from the skylight 30 feet above.
“Well, well…”, the mysterious figure said wryly.
Jack’s heart began racing in fear. He recognized that voice. It was Tenebriel, the Denarian. Realizing they were likely outclassed Jack stepped out of his veil and told her to back off just as she effortlessly picked up the heavy painting with one hand. The wizard gritted his teeth and channeled magic to the tip of his staff causing it to glow and flicker with mystical energies.
“My, how strong you are,” he said quietly. The guards may have been asleep but he knew that a loud noise could easily wake them up. “You are not leaving with that. We just want the frame. You can keep the painting.”
“I see you are well informed,” she replied with amusement.
“We have done our homework,” Jack retorted. “Now, dro…”
Before he could finish his demands the fallen angel spun and kicked Jack’s staff so hard that it flew across the room embedding itself into a concrete wall. The blow knocked the wizard back and off balance. Jack, who had been fighting for his life since he was a teenager, defended himself with a shield in desperation barely fending off the demon’s assault.
That was when Solomon attacked. His skillful kick would have broken the neck of a charging rhino but Tenebriel spun away from it in a blur redirecting the blow. She quickly regained her balance and the two fighters circled each other looking for weaknesses. In an astonishing display of raw power and speed the two began to fight in earnest. Both were obviously masters with centuries of experience and it was a wonder to behold the almost balletic grace of their deadly dance. The demon’s attention was fully on Solomon so Charlie used his own magic to telekinetically lift the painting and draw it to himself. It took a great deal of concentration for the young, untrained wizard.
Watching the two fighters in awe Jack feared that the commotion of their battle was going to wake the guards and realized he needed to end it fast. He pulled a small hand mirror and concentrated for a moment before striding up to Tenebriel catching her attention. With a curt word of power he cast a spell through the mirror causing a blinding flash of light like a million flashbulbs going off at once.
Tenebriel cried out in agony. Jack suspected that she must be particularly sensitive to light based magics given such a reaction. At the least the demon was blinded by the flash if not actually hurt. Solomon did not hesitate slamming his opponent into a wall bruising her ribs. Jack called out another word, extending his hand and his staff was ripped from the wall by some invisible force flying to his outstretched hand. One of the guards began stirring. Solomon snarled and charged his blinded opponent but she deftly evaded him with impressive acrobatic acumen, laughing in the thrill of the moment.
Keeping the pressure up Solomon moved in again. Tentacles seemed to erupt from the demon slapping the vampire across the room. He rebounded from the blow using his momentum to slide across the floor sweeping the blinded demon’s legs out from under her. In a fluid move he grabbed her by her shoulders, placed his feet in her belly and flipped her into the air calling out to Jack. The wizard slammed as much power as he could muster into a laser like blast of light that he was well known for.
Unfortunately, the fallen angel was unlike any other opponent he had ever faced. Somehow, she managed to twist in midair causing Jack’s blast to miss her almost completely. It detonated a wall behind the demon with a loud boom, causing more and more guards to stir. Tenebriel, perhaps realizing that she was running out of time, saluted the trio out of amused respect and zipped back up her line and into the night. Charlie, carrying the painting, gestured to the others and the three of them ran out of the building as Bruno drove up in the van for a quick getaway. After seeing a shadowy figure following them from the rooftops the suspended Warden veiled the “borrowed” van losing their tail. They had done it. They had stolen the painting and gotten away clean.
Solomon, who had spent a lot of energy while battling with the Denarian, had dropped Bruno’s borrowed van off back at the construction site and then ventured off to feed. He gave the keys to his Alfa Romeo sports car to Bruno to take back to the house while Jack drove his vintage Indian motorcycle. Since Bruno literally couldn’t fit into the small sports car Charlie ended up driving it home to Jack’s house while Bruno rode behind Jack on his bike. It was a bit awkward and they certainly looked ridiculous but they had little choice.
When they got back to Jack’s place he took the painting to the basement and put it behind some heavy wards in his workshop. He recounted the heist to his wife, Abigail Youngblood, who assured him that she didn’t think Tenebriel would be especially upset or vengeful at the outcome of their encounter. The demon respected skill and daring. The two of them began studying the painting but after a few hours had learned very little. After mediating for an hour to find his center Charlie attempted to use his psychometric abilities on the frame but he was overwhelmed by the torrent of information he received.
Realizing he was going to have to take a chance Jack opened up his Site. He instantly learned everything there was to know about William Randolph Hurst. His loves. His hatreds. His every desire. And because he was using the Site the wizard would never forget it. Jack also learned that the painting was a powerful artifact and it reached out to nothingness as if seeking to connect to a person. A dead person. After struggling with that information Jack was exhausted and had a splitting headache. He had a feeling that this painting and frame could help him cure his wife, Abby and he clung to that belief like a drowning man to a buoy. He just needed more information. But how was he to get it?
In the end it was Charlie who suggested they consult with Emerson Lake. The local head of The Paranet in Seattle was a well known artisan and jewelry maker of great skill. Emerson was eager to view the painting and agreed to meet Jack at 9am after he had a little time to recover from a pub crawl the night before. Jack had little choice despite his impatience. He ate a very healthy and organic breakfast of tofu sausage with biscuits and fruit. It tasted like cardboard to the wizard but at least it was good for him.
Emerson Lake finally arrived at the appointed time in an older panel van. Jack greeted the other man in the driveway lifting his wards enough to let him pass. Lake opened up the back of his van revealing a multitude of tools neatly stowed away in a the drawers and hanging from various hooks. As they made their way to the basement Jack explained what he had learned so far and even a little about what he suspected. Lake studied the piece for a few hours before asking Jack if he could take a sample of the painting. Jack agreed. Emerson pulled out a small knife and scraped a piece of the painting into a small glass evidence container and went back to his van to examine it under an old fashioned microscope he had there. After a period of examination Lake finally seemed ready to share his conclusions.
He explained that he suspected that this frame and painting were the inspiration for Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. He believed that a normal human with a portrait in the frame would be unusually robust. They would be able to recover from any wound over time and would have a life span measured in centuries. Much like a wizard. For a wizard like Abby it might actually give her the ability to cure her cancer. At the very least he believed it would forestall it indefinitely. Breathlessly the young Warden asked Lake what he would want to paint a portrait of Abby? He would do anything. Anything! Lake held up his hands and said that he would only require the ability to study the frame. Whoever had made it was a genius and he could learn a lot from them. Delighted Jack agreed. He embraced Lake in a bearhug that literally took his breath away. Emerson laughed and said he needed to go. He had obligations at his shop after all.
After explaining what he had learned to his wife, Jack realized that he had to tell Solomon immediately that he intended to keep the painting. No matter the cost. Abby realized that her husband was putting himself in danger for her sake and she demanded that he not take any crazy risks. She wanted him to promise he wouldn’t die for her. For perhaps the first time in his life Jack had to refuse the love of his life. He would not…could not make that promise. He was willing to do whatever it took to protect her. After all it was because of him that she had lost all those years possessed by the Denarion, Azael. He could never repay that mistake. Giving his life for hers was the least he would do. Abby eventually surrendered realizing that she would not be able to change her husband’s mind. He was the most stubborn man she had ever met and she loved him for it.
Later that day, after explaining that he planned on keeping the frame, Jack, Solomon and Charlie all tried to work out how they were to proceed. Solomon called Timothy Mercer and set up a meeting with Tenebriel to discuss her role in the previous night’s events. Perhaps she too was being hired out by a separate party. They were going to have to proceed carefully.
Solomon explained to his masters, Fan Gang and Jian Ju-long that they had battled the demon and that they were not going to give the painting to Henry Spier after all. The gatekeeper demons did not seem to care either way. They just wanted their statues as promised. They would not be happy otherwise.
That evening Solomon got a call from Spier. He told him that they would bring him the painting after heat had died down a bit. Spier said they had until Tuesday. No later. The line went dead with a click. Solomon could only hope they could work something out with their patron.