Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 03: Blood Ties: Chapter 05
The Knife of Hunger
Transcribed by: James
Date: October 08, 2017
In Game date: November, 2011
Fergus Mac Cormaic dreamed. Delilah Montgomery was all he could think about. Her cold, terrible beauty consumed his heart and shook him to his core. He started awake, covered in sweat, with his wife crying in his arms. He looked upon Anna Maria Avila and thought about his life with her and more importantly, his love for her. When he asked his fiance why she was crying she told him that she was so confused. Why had she thought the Chamberlains had moved 4 weeks ago? She knew that it wasn’t true. That they had been living across the street until last night. That something terrible had happened to them although she didn’t know what. So how could she have thought otherwise?
As she burst into tears Fergus’s True Love for her surged in his heart and burned away the false narrative the White Court Vampire had placed there. He suddenly remembered fighting the monsters the Chamberlains had become and rescuing young Amy Chamberlain with the help of his new friend and ally, David Clay. Trying to calm her, Fergus led his wife to the kitchen to make her some herbal tea to help her back to sleep. He knew that he would have to tell her about the supernatural world soon. He couldn’t hide it from her forever. But he didn’t want to cause her any undue stress while she was pregnant. He convinced himself that he was doing it for her own good and did his best to console her.
The two of them found David at the kitchen table hard at work on the case to protect the Judd Creek Commune from a nasty tax reassessment that could result in the loss of the property to outside investors. A case that was pushed through by Raymond Avila, Anna’s father. The pregnant woman asked David if he ever slept. Because he was made of clay David did not need sleep or any of the other comforts most people enjoyed. But he did not want to reveal that to her so he simply said, “I am driven by my cause.” The lawyer made some smokey tea for the young woman and the two discussed her possible employment with him as a forensic accountant. Even half asleep she was a formidable force and bargained hard for her salary. David was quite impressed. Fergus was able to calm Anna down and put her back to sleep where she dozed deeply.
Once they were alone the two friends discussed the recent events. They decided that tonight would be a perfect time to go visit The Radcliffe Interdisciplinary Research Center in Bellevue. The problem they faced, however, was that the ferries would not be running for several hours now. If they hoped to check the site out that evening they would have to use alternate means of transport. As Guardian of the Seventh Gate Fergus possessed the ability to transport almost anywhere through the Nevernever. But once they arrived in the city they would need more conventional transportation.
Giving a bit of thought David called his close friend, Singard Jarlson, to ask if they could borrow his car for the night. Singard was not all that pleased at being woken at 1am and was a bit gruff but he agreed to lend the golem his car. But he had to refill the gas tank and he expected a six pack of his favorite beer in payment. David readily agreed. Singard told David he would leave the keys in the mailbox on his house. He did not expect to be disturbed.
The two went outside to the back yard and Fergus used gasoline to paint a symbolic gate on the ground. He had never tried to do anything like this before. He had never traveled so far nor had he ever tried to take someone with him. He wasn’t even sure it was possible. He lit the symbols and concentrated with all his might and David offered a silent prayer. A gate opened before the two and they leaped into it.
They emerged through the gate around 5 feet off the ground right in the middle of Denny Way, a busy street in downtown Seattle. Other than an incredulous taxi driver who peeled away from the scene as fast as he could drive no one had noticed them. It was just after 3 am and bar staff, finishing their nightly tasks, were pretty much the only ones on the rainy, wind swept streets. It took some doing but they managed to find a payphone and got a taxi to take them to Singard’s house in Ballard.
They made their way to Bellevue across I-90 and parked their borrowed vehicle several blocks from the research facility. What they found was a bit surprising. The medium sized compound was surrounded by a concrete wall with razor wire at the top. There were two gates, one in front and the other at the rear of the compound. Both were manned by alert, active guards who patrolled the perimeter in a random and efficient manner. Large lights lit the whole compound and it had clear lines of sight from any approach. Fergus used glamor to make himself invisible and investigated cautiously. He noted pressure plates and some strange symbols carved into the wall at periodic intervals. Was it warded with magic? He used a disposable camera to take pictures of the symbols. He also noticed that there were absolutely no trees on the grounds. In fact he could see where a whole stand of trees had recently been taken down. Perhaps they had become corrupted by the strange black mold too? Not wanting to push his luck he made his way back to David.
The two of them talked at length about the compound. It had far more security than would be expected of such a place. And the large grounds with no trees seemed to imply that they were on the right track. They stopped at a local convenience store on the way back to Ballard and David bought two six packs of his friend’s favorite beer. Singard was there to greet them and Fergus was impressed by the huge man who seemed larger than life. His age was impossible to determine. He could be anywhere from between his late 30s to his early 60s. He seemed fairly youthful physically but his eyes were those of an old soldier who had seen too much. David knew that his friend was a former Einherjar who had served Odin for over a thousand years. He had made some kind of a bargain with the gallows god and was now just a mortal who was raising a family and was the curator at Nordic Heritage Museum. Still, he was quite jovial and Fergus found himself instantly liking the man.
After getting the film from the camera developed David did his best to figure out the symbols from the walls. They seemed somewhat familiar but he could not fully decipher their meaning. He made a note to talk to his assistant, Charles Samuel Kress to see if the young wizard might have better luck. He also arranged for Charlie to surveil the compound after school to see if he noted any patterns or anything that might give them an idea of what was going on there. He and Fergus went back to Vashon Island and picked up his car and made their way back to his office on Capitol Hill. David did some research on Lucy Smith-Einar but didn’t find out much. The only address he could find for the mysterious woman was an old house owned by Zebidiah Einar in the University District for the last 70 years.
Hitting a dead end he decided to see if his friend in Seattle PD, Detective Rick Jordan, might be able to help. He mentioned the real estate acquisitions by Vanguard Realities and its possible connections to random violence and the black mold. He hoped to find a pattern so they could figure out what was causing the violence and put a stop to it. The detective was unable to help them out in any official capacity. He had been under scrutiny lately and his new captain was very much doing things by the numbers. He wouldn’t be able to spend department resources on such a task. Not officially. He handed the golem a thumb drive with the crime incidents of the last few months. He suggested that Martin “Grizzly” Grisby, a computer expert who sometimes did some Pro Bono work for the SPD might be able to help. He called him and made arrangements for them to meet with Grizzly at his home in an hour.
When they arrived at the nice home on Capital Hill they were greeted at the door by Rhoswen Grisby. She was dancing and singing and so full of life that even the normally dour David couldn’t help but smile. The interior of the normal looking home was a patchwork collection of beautifully colorful paintings, sculptures and rugs arranged in a pleasant, albeit chaotic manner. Here and there they noticed action figures from various sci fi movies and superheroes as well as concept art from a variety of video games. Rhoswen was bouncing around the kitchen when her husband made his appearance.
The two allies could see where he had gained the nickname “Grizzly”. He stood around 6’6" or so with a massive, full beard. He calmly followed his wife around the kitchen catching glasses before they fell and even quietly put out a small fire she had started as she happily finished making them all “lunch”. Neither of them were quite sure what she had created, it was hard to recognize, but they tried it and found it oddly charming if a little sweet for their tastes. Rhoswen explained that she was painting a commission of the most amazing woman. She said that Abigail was so beautiful with her huge, soulful eyes that were so full of strength and pain. Anyway, she had to go. She was late! With that she whirled through the house and out the door. The silence after she left was palpable. The two of them could tell by the big grin on Grizzly’s face that the absolutely adored his wife.
The big man lead the them into a large office complete with some of the most sophisticated looking computers either of them had ever seen. As he fired up the powerful machines and plugged in the information David noted that the computers were surrounded by an elaborate magic circle on the floor. He asked him about it and Grizzly confirmed that he worked closely with The Paranet and that his wife was a changeling. The circle was designed by Charlie, David’s young assistant, to keep out magical energies that often had a deleterious effect on modern computers. With that Grizzly got to work. David was impressed by his obvious intelligence as he crossed indexed recent incidents of violence with land purchases of Vanguard and almost instantly found a connection. It seemed that Vanguard had followed several incidents of violence with land purchases of nearby land. Often it was empty lots that were wooded.
He quickly hacked into the Seattle city databases and found petitions to the city to cut down trees on those properties issued just after the violence. Supposedly for development but there was almost no building going on on those properties. David asked him if he could find out what kinds of trees had been cut down. Grizzly puzzled on that for a while and after an extensive search found a study done by a Radcliffe Scholar recipient at the University of Washington about invasive tree species in the region. He found notation on blackthorn trees in the study. He compared the information with later land purchases by Vanguard and found something else. He believed that Vanguard must have gotten their hands on the same study because all of their most recent acquisitions were lands with blackthorns. Where those purchases had been made and the trees cut down there was not a single incident of violence. In fact the only police incident he could find was a disturbing the peace call. Apparently, a local homeowner objected to some woman doing “some kind of satanic voodoo magic” next to his home. Vanguard bought him out giving the man 2x the assessed value for his home and the charges were dropped. As they were puzzling over that the phone rang. Grizzly asked David to answer it for him.
“Hello? Grisby residence.”
“Oh, thank god! They are after me!!! Wait? is this David? Thank ODIN! I tried to call your office but only got an answer machine. You have to help me! He is after me. He ate the Uber driver and is going to do the same to me!”
David recognized the voice immediately. It was his friend Adrian Huggins. “Adrian, calm down and tell me where you are?” he said in a soothing voice.
“I am at a pay phone near Boren Par…” the terrified librarian was interrupted by a loud sound and David heard a raven screeching before the line went dead. Boren Park was five minutes away by car. Fergus told him he would meet David there and with that he bravely stepped through a portal without any idea of the danger he would face. Alone.
Fergus arrived just outside the park and looked around. He didn’t see very many people out on the cold, wet November day. Down the street he saw a car that had crashed into a telephone pole. Even a couple of blocks away he could see a lot of blood at the scene and a police officer was there. Nearby was the payphone Adrian must have called from. A raven flew out of the heavily wooded park and the fae heard a strange sound and the bird screeched and crashed into the ground near Fergus’s feet. Was that a silenced gunshot? The bird was dead, shot out of the sky. Try as he might the Guardian had no idea where it came from. The branches of the trees rustled in the heavy breeze. Steeling himself Fergus entered the park.
He moved cautiously down the trail towards the woods and he could feel that someone was watching him. Stalking him. David arrived with a screech of tires and leaped out of the car just before Fergus would have been out of sight. With a flurry of feathers Adrian, in his raven form, flew out of the woods toward David. There was a series of silenced gunshots but the Scion of Odin’s ravens managed to get behind the golem without being shot. Two final shots rang out and two of the tires on the attorney’s Crown Victoria hissed flat. David held the door of his car open and the raven slipped inside with a fear born speed. Adrian poked his beak up and said a name that sent a chill coursing through David. Nôž Hladu or The Knife of Hunger was a ghoul assassin that had murdered David’s creator years ago. The golem knew that he was a formidable opponent.
Fergus cautiously made his way deeper into the park but couldn’t locate the assailant. He veiled himself with his glamour and threw a branch deep into the wooded area. Several shots rang out and Fergus oriented himself on it and charged while David ran to support his new found friend as fast as he was able. The sudden smell of carrion and soft laughter from above were the only warnings the young Fae received. He brought himself up short just in time, his supernatural reflexes pushed to their limit by the deadly assault from above. Terrible claws slashed and thrust at Fergus and he just managed to avoid a grisly death. David charged the ghoul head on and tried to tackle him but monster was just as strong as he was. The two struggled for leverage but were too evenly matched. Fergus ran up David’s back and flipped over him landing behind the grisly creature but the Knife of Hunger was too canny for such a flashy assault. He nimbly scrambled away and disappeared into the wooded area.
David and Fergus readied themselves, neither of them believed the Knife would give up so easily. A woman walking her dog appeared on the trail. The small canine began barking insanely and charged into the bushes before being cut off with a terrible yelp of pain. A bloody mess flew out of the bushes and the woman began screaming. Before either of them could act the Knife blurred out of the bushes and grabbed the woman by the throat. She whimpered as he caressed her neck with his claws. He called for David to surrender the librarian or the woman would suffer the same fate as the annoying dog had. In reply David, now fully manifested as a man of clay, grabbed Fergus and tossed the Fae at the ghoul. He wasn’t able to land a solid blow but he did force him to jump back, releasing the woman. She ran screaming back up the trail.
Hoping to catch Fergus at a disadvantage the Knife slashed at him with his claws but he managed to somersault out of the way. David had moved forward and tried to punch the canny ghoul but was fooled by a fake move throwing the golem off balance. Seeing that David was in danger Fergus flanked him with his superior speed but was unable to land a blow. The ghoul misdirected the speedy Fae with a claw attack and clamped down on the back of his upper arm with is powerful jaws. Fergus screamed in pain his blood flowing as a chunk of his flesh was devoured by the delighted ghoul. Fergus made as if to run away from the eager ghoul but gathered momentum and flipped around a tree back into the ghouls chest. The Knife squared up to take the blow believing his greater strength would protect him. He was wrong as the changeling landed a powerful kick to his chest knocking him back several feet with the wind knocked out of him. David tried to finish the fight with a powerful haymaker but the ghoul just managed to duck away and back into the woods out of their sight.
The Knife of Hunger then began to taunt the two allies. He explained to David how he had tortured his maker for hours before finally killing him. The Rabbi had begged him for mercy he said and had even forsaken his God in the end. David, knowing how the assassin operated, was not moved by the taunts. So the Knife called out to Fergus telling him he could smell his woman on him. Was she pregnant he asked. He promised to find her and rip open her ripe belly and devour the child within. Fergus was not as level headed as David and he charged into the woods after the ghoul with murder in his rage filled eyes. David tried to stop him but he was simply too slow and Fergus left the golem far behind. The Knife of Hunger dropped down upon Fergus from above and the changeling managed to dodge the claws that tore at his throat. Just as the assassin had anticipated. He raked his other claw across the Guardian of the Seventh Gates’ stomach and chest mortally wounding him. Fergus collapsed his blood flying from the terrible wound and the Knife stood over him triumphantly licking his claws clean of the changeling’s blood. Fergus had no doubt that he was dead. Luckily for him he was not alone.
David came charging down the path throwing punches and kicks at the ghoul with a rage. The ghoul had been pushed to its limits by the combat and David was finally able to land a solid blow that knocked the monster across the clearing. Screeching in frustration the ghoul, obviously wounded by the powerful blow, took off into the woods. David had driven him away and saved his friend. He hoped.