Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 06: Chapter 04
The Book Heist
Transcribed by: Bradford
Date: September 12, 2021
In Game date: May 04, 2012
Episode: 36 (111)
Part 01: Fergus Mac Cormac
There was a cold silence when we reconvened in Jack’s basement lab. I stood in place next to Virgil as Jack sealed the magic circle shut to cut us off from outside magic. The cold silence was especially appropriate because we had just returned from the meeting with Odianna of Winter.
Jack and I made it out, but we were both clearly still on edge.
Virgil looked at the two of us and picked up on the atmosphere.
“Lay it on me, how boned are we?” Virgil asked bluntly.
Virgil had signed some kind of blood contract with the Emerald Conclave, the source of the geas he was under. The geas forced him to be extremely truthful and loyal to members of the Conclave which included both Jack and Odianna.
Because of this, Virgil decided to not come with us to the meeting lest he spill every bean he had to Odianna herself.
I decided to break the news.
“We… found the stuff and made a deal with Odianna.”
We went over the meeting and the deal we had made. Odianna would come to my house on Vashon Island and I would have to make a new outfit for her. Making clothes was my job, but the stakes for this were much higher than normal.
Virgil propped his chin on his palm, thinking.
“I don’t like the sound of that. Sounds too easy.” Virgil said.
“You think she’s playing us?” Jack asked.
“I think she wants us to take the notes by giving you a very conspicuous opening.”
I looked at Virgil and decided to weigh in.
“Even if Odianna wants to give us the notes, she won’t give them up willingly. She can’t.”
Jack looked at his friend soberly.
“I could use your help getting the notes, Virge.” Jack said.
“Are you asking me to help?” Virgil asked seriously.
“Yes. Will that be a problem seeing as how Odianna is another member of the Conclave?”
“I checked the Accords and associated records of recent faerie incidents actually. I should be fine.“
“You read the Unseelie Accords?” I asked.
“I’m the son of lawyers and police officers so legalese is my third language. I read the Accords the first chance I could and I keep a bound copy in my desk.“
“Are you sure we won’t have a problem?” Jack asked, “That geas is nasty.”
“According to the Accords, I will be your ‘instrument’ in this operation. I may be doing some stealing, but you gave me the command. You will be responsible for my actions, Warden. You just be the one to do all the talking.”
“It’s that easy?”
“Worked that way for some pixies a few years ago. Some idiot Wizard bribed them with some pizza and got them to murk the Summer Lady. The faeries and the idiot got away clean.” Virgil said seriously.
I had heard about the Summer Lady, Aurora, and her death like every faerie and changeling had. But, I had no idea her death involved a wizard. It was big news when one of the ladies died let alone was killed in battle.
“Well…” Jack said, “I don’t think we can solve this with Pizza.”
“I’ll take care of Odianna’s needs when she gets here. You worry about getting the notes.”
“You better not let your people down, Fergus.” Jack said.
“Leprechaun pride!” I said, bumping fists with him.
Virgil leaned forward, clearly inhaling to ask a million dollar question.
“I take it you want this to be a clean job just like before? “Virgil asked, “No bodies, no trace?”
“Yeah.” Jack confirmed, “No cold iron.”
“No worries then. I’m not bringing cold iron into a faerie’s domain and especially not Lady Odianna’s without a promise of serious violence. We’ll have to make do with your Warden’s sword.”
Jack looked to the sword he had put to his side, a symbol of his station as a Warden of the White Council of Wizards.
“Fortunately, they do seem to count that as part of your badge of office.” I said.
“That is true.” Jack said.
“What kind of resistance could they have when Odianna leaves?” I asked. Virgil shrugged.
“She could leave Squire behind.”
“No.” Jack said, “Squire is Odianna’s bodyguard. She doesn’t go anywhere without him.”
“You should expect some resistance.” I said, “She is a faerie. She won’t just let you take it.”
“We’ll figure it out.” Virgil said, “what’s our window?”
I thought about how long fitting would take.
“Three or four hours.” I said.
“Plenty of time.” Virgil said.
“Your wife-to-be cool with this? Jack asked, “You bringing a faerie for a fitting?”
I gulped as a thought hit me like a truck.
“You want to do what?” Anna demanded when I told her. About as loud as I expected.
“It’s okay, babe.” I said, trying to placate, “It’s just another fitting. There is nothing going with her.”
“No no no, I don’t care about that. That’s your job. I am talking about bringing a Faerie Queen into our home!”
“She’s not a faerie queen. She’s an exiled noble.”
“Same thing!…Won’t this be dangerous?”
I thought carefully about what we had discussed.
“Odianna will be my guest and under guest rights. She has to be on her best behavior, as will we. I do my thing, I make her a new outfit, she is satisfied and she leaves. No problem.”
Anna calmed down at this line of reasoning.
“Okay then.” Anna said, “But she has to stay in the backyard.”
“Deal. I love you, babe.”
I kissed my fiancée and gave her a hug. We had been through so much together, and I had to keep her and our baby safe. I would do anything to keep them that way.
Then I spent a few hours setting up my obstacle course and laying out a table of snacks to play host to a faerie…
Part 02: Jack Youngblood
“I hate playing dress-up.” I said as I tried in vain to figure out a damned bowtie on my stupid velvet suit.
I was standing in front of mirror in my house just after lunch. Virgil had arrived with a tailored suit for me and had a bag full of gear with him.
Odianna’s club had a strict dress code, so we couldn’t just go in with street clothes. We had to dress nicely…and wear masks. The masks I didn’t mind so much. It was the damned suits.
Virgil walked up to me and fixed my tie in moments. One piece of magic I wish I knew.
“We’ll be fine.” Virgil said, “All else fails, we go with barroom bets.”
“I figured it out early on. Faeries are vulnerable to simple hustles and ‘fair contests’ that are anything but fair.”
I scowled at Virgil.
“Odianna of Winter is a hunter who is at least a thousand years old. I don’t think she’ll fall for pool hustles.”
“Some of the younger members of her court might fall for them again.” Virgil said and walked off.
I stared at him skeptically.
“What do you mean again?”
We hopped into my jeep and drove to Odianna’s club. As impressive as the club was, the circumstances had us on edge. We parked across the street and sat staring at the entrance.
“You ready to go?” I asked.
Virgil indicated his stylish satchel that matched the suit he was wearing.
“Still going with no iron?” Virgil asked.
“Correct.” I said.
Virgil opened the glove box. I had put a horseshoe inside in case we had to run. Next to it, Virgil placed a pistol of some kind in its holster.
“You have a permit for that?” I asked.
“Of course.” Virgil said, “I am armed Private Investigator and a licensed Bail Bond Recovery Agent in the state of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.”
Next to the pistol he also put one of those pocket watchs he carried that looked like a magic 8-ball on a paracord leash. Out of his satchel, he pulled out a second magic eight ball and attached it to his belt.
I eyed the 8-ball watches quizzically.
“What’s wrong with the other one?”
Virgil pointed to the watch on his belt.
“This one’s Acrylic. No metal.” Virgil said and pointed to the other watch in the glove compartment, “That one’s made of Stainless Steel.”
I looked at my old friend with concern and pointed at him.
“Better too much than not enough.”
We walked to the door to the club. I didn’t see anyone out front, so I hit the buzzer.
“Maybe they aren’t open at this hour…” I said.
Virgil checked the door. Unlocked.
We looked at each other.
“I have a Bad feeling about this,” We said in unison.
The Masquerade was a fancy private club. Dress code included suits and masks for all guests. On a Thursday afternoon, I expected the place to be deserted, but there was still a DJ and a bartender. Maybe the club was actually open all day but didn’t advertise. Maybe they were just waiting for us.
We made out way down to Purgatory and stopped before the hallway to the demesne. The demesne looked as it did yesterday, empty and cold. Except this time, Odianna was there with Squire dressed in clothes that could allow him to pass as a mortal from distance, but Odianna was wearing a very tight ensemble that hugged her every curve. I tried not to stare at the faerie or take in the outfit, which Odianna, being a faerie, meant it was a wonder to behold to say the least.
Off to the side, we could see the library, obviously what we were looking for.
Odianna and Squire walked towards us and we made our best formal bows. I had to do all the talking, so I had the dubious honor of holding the invitation for Odianna.
All seven feet of Squire in human form loomed over us and glared down at the envelope.
“We deliver good tidings and an invitation to the Lady on behalf of Fergus Mac Cormac. She is due as his guest for the afternoon.”
“You are expected.” Squire said, snatching the envelope from my hand, “Have fun.”
The glamoured ogre stomped past, a smile nonexistent. I stepped to the side and tried my damndest to stand up straight and formal. Odianna sashayed past, not even looking in our direction. She did smile though, which made my blood go cold.
Virgil and I stayed as still as we could and just watched her walk through her club. I don’t think we breathed again until we heard the sound of the door close behind her.
“Let’s go.” I said and turned towards the library.
We were greeted by none other than Mathew ‘Woof’ Riley with a guitar case at his feet in the middle of the room. He wore a suit, but beneath it, I could see a flak jacket and a bandoleer for various kinds of ammunition. He was less James Bond and more Robert De Niro in Heat. He also wore a mask, but it did little to disguise his own distinctive beard.
Woof stared at us and we both stared back. I don’t know what Virgil was thinking, but I had a dozen questions in my head.
They were answered by Woof who took a step forward, a hand leaning on the guitar case which he stood up like a cello.
“I am a Guardian of Winter. I can let no one pass without blood being spilled.” His voice rang out as cold as his boss’ own.
Virgil looked to me, looking for a direction as an instrument. I didn’t want to fight Woof, but I wasn’t sure we had a choice.
Then Woof pulled out a pocket knife and…cut his own hand. A trickle of blood flowed from it onto his guitar case.
“Ouch…” Woof said.
I picked up what he was putting down. I used a pocket knife I had to cut my own finger. I caught the blood in my other hand as it leaked out. A drop of one’s blood was one of the most powerful magical connections you could get to a person. I did not want Odianna to have any of mine. Especially not when I still owed her.
Virgil followed suit in much the same way. We waited a moment and cleaned the blood up.
“Look at that. Blood has been spilled.” Woof said snidely.
I was right. By spilling blood, Woof was keeping an oath of some kind. Probably the oath of protection to keep the area secure. That meant he didn’t want violence either.
“May we pass?” I asked, still unsure of Woof’s intentions.
“You may.” Woof said, but undid a lock on the guitar case, “But I can’t let someone take something from this place without contest.”
“What kind of contest are we talking about?” Virgil asked. He seemed more confident than I was. Maybe he suspected something.
Woof smiled. “Do either of you dance?”
Virgil laughed and slapped his side. “I knew it.”
I stood there and blinked. “What?”
Virgil put down his pack and opened his arms wide.
“The guardian must be overcome. Violence is but one kind of contest. Almost any contest will do…as long as it’s fair. Am I correct?”
“No magic or trickery though.” Woof said, “I don’t do that.”
“Just checking.” Virgil said. He raised a hand towards me. “You go first” the gesture said.
I looked to Woof. “I do dance and this is a nightclub. I challenge you to a dance-off.”
“I would be down for that.” Woof said, “But who would be the judge of our dancing?”
“Perhaps some of club’s other guests might be of service. They might enjoy the proceedings and a crowd would be fair.” Virgil said politely.
Woof smiled and snapped his fingers. A pair of attendants appeared, probably changelings by the looks of them.
“Bring up the dance floor.” Woof commanded, “And find us some judges. Folks who will be impartial.”
The attendants bowed and the four of us moved back to Purgatory. What a bizarre day.
Part 03: Fergus Mac Cormac
Odianna arrived at my studio in a town car. It was by far the fanciest car that had been on Vashon Island besides the occasional dot com millionaire who wanted to buy us out.
Squire, Odianna’s ogre bodyguard and enforcer, got out of the driver’s seat walked around the car to stand in front of me. The massive fae disguised as a human still had an unnatural size, but he also possessed the grace that came with his predator’s nature.
I nodded, acknowledging the massive ogre.
Squire opened the back door and Odianna emerged in what would approximate “mortal attire”. Shorts, workout shoes, and a tailored blouse that clung to her body. From a distance, just another rich person in Seattle.
I bowed to her as required by protocol, “You honor me with your presence, Lady Odianna.”
“You honor me with your invitation.” Odianna said, smiling, “I am to be your guest for the duration?”
“Correct milady.” I said, “Would you like refreshments?”
“Certainly, mister Mac Cormac.”
I led the pair into my workshop and towards a table I had laid out with snacks.
My mother always said that hospitality is never wasted and today was the day to take that to heart. I had a variety of snacks laid out I picked out for the occasion. I had to guess what she might like, but covered most of the bases.
I pointed to a pitcher I had on the side next to some empty glasses.
“Care for Gem’s famous Lemonade?” I offered.
“Delighted.” Odianna said.
We continued like that for about a quarter hour. It seemed really boring, but for me it was like walking on eggshells interspersed with shards of broken glass wearing only one sandal.
I led her to the main part of my workshop and started getting to work. I got some measuring tape and a notepad and looked to Odianna.
“If you could stand over there please, I can make preliminary measurements for the garment.” I said, continuing my trek along glass, “Will you be sparring with Lord Squire?”
“I have that handled. My partner will be arriving shortly.”
Instead of saying, “Shall we.” or something of the like, Odianna just walked over the stool I had prepared for her and removed her shorts and top. She was not wearing any undergarments.
Part 04: Virgil Gugasian
Faeries are like most supernatural creatures, bound by their nature. Faeries are tricksters, hunters and god knows what else. But, they are also bound. They can not speak direct falsehoods and make deals that bind them at the soul if there is such a thing. When a faerie makes a promise, that promise can not be broken by them willingly. When a faerie owes you one, they are absolutely good for it.
The best way to get something you want from a faerie of any kind is to use a favor owed by you or someone else. If the trade is fair, they will trade it to you. But, trading with a faerie is tricky because faeries deal in things beyond raw currency. Faeries deal in ideas. Wealth. Work. Happiness. Esoteric shit like that. But also names. Favors. Protection.
The second best way to get something you want from a faerie is to challenge them to a fair contest with what you want as part of a wager. Faeries are vulnerable to fair contests; Contests where there is a seemingly equal chance of victory for each participant, or at the very least there are too many variables to accurately determine who will succeed. A contest where the outcome going into it is in doubt for all parties.
You get a faerie to wager what you want in a fair contest and beat them, they will have to give it to you.
Violence was usually a fair contest. But there are others.
A dance contest is not the strangest contest I have heard of or even participated in. Faerie contests can get weird not only to change things up, but also when intoxication is involved. A dance off is perfectly fair.
Woof and the attendants set up the dance floor in Purgatory. Jack and Woof stood on opposite ends of the stage and made ready. They handed off their suit jackets to attendants and began stretching.
I stood next to Jack and looked at him as he stretched.
“You even know how to dance?” I asked without any sarcasm.
Jack finished his stretch and moved to arm circles, “I dated a ballet dancer once. Very light on her feet. It’s been a while since I channeled my partyguy self.”
“Don’t break a leg. I don’t want to have to haul your ass out.”
Rather than a DJ with a turntable, Woof tapped a changeling band who had been playing the club to provide music. They had every instrument you could think of and each filagreed in silver. The MC, a changeling of Nymph stock I think, walked out in a killer dress and caught the room’s attention.
“Let the dance off begin. First up, the mysterious masked challenger.”
A spotlight illuminated Jack and the band started playing. It was some kind of faerie fusion. Classical, rock instruments, big band and…those spanish clicker things I didn’t know the name of.
Jack was…really light on his feet. He didn’t move but glide across the floor not quickly, but with flair. A sight to behold.
He ended his set and bowed to a room full of applause.
Jack walked off back to our side of the stage. I patted him on the shoulder.
Jack stretched and something popped.
The MC got the room’s attention and the spotlight turned to Woof.
“And now, the lady’s own: Woof Riley!”
Hip-Hop beats began to play and Woof dropped to the floor. It is a hell of thing to watch a Navy Seal do Navy Seal things. It’s another to watch one breakdance.
Woof dipped and turned and twisted. He jumped from palm to palm, heel to palm and ball of foot to handstand. It was really impressive.
Then Woof tried for the head spin and…face planted.
The crowd laughed, but the outcome was clear. The MC acknowledged it.
“The contest goes to…the Masked Stranger!”
Jack walked over to the fallen Woof whose pride was hurt more than his head and extended a hand. Woof took it and got to his feet.
“That was fun. You have bested me. “ Woof said and then looked to me, “And what about you?”
I opened my hands.
“I might not be as good a dancer.”
Woof shook his head, “Dancing is over. Something more interesting.”
I reached into my pockets and looked up to Woof who was just scowling.
“No cards or other deceptive bullshit. Something more interesting.” Woof said.
I looked at the Navy Seal and considered a few options. I decided to bet on Woof’s instincts for what he would consider fair. He didn’t really know me after all.
“What were you thinking?” I asked, “Some five finger fillet?”
Woof answered by undoing his button up and exposed the muscles honed to military perfection.
“How about an arm wrestling match, pretty boy?”
I raised an eyebrow…and removed my own suit jacket.”You’re on.”
The crowd cheered and the MC started up again. “Looks like another mysterious masked stranger has challenged the Lady’s own Woof Riley to an Arm Wrestling contest!”
The attendants moved out a table and chairs in moments and sat us down. Woof put up his arm that had biceps tattooed with a US Navy Anchor. I didn’t bother removing my shirt, I just rolled up my sleeves, sat down and grabbed his hand.
“Begin!” The MC shouted and the room went silent except for Woof and me.
Woof was a military guy so he did lots of strength training and cardio I think. Push ups. Burpees. As a Navy man, he did tons of swimming, so he had lots of lean muscle. He was primarily a being of pure focus and used that focus through concentrated effort.
What Woof didn’t know was that I liked to swim and workout too. I couldn’t be a Modern Day Robin Hood without getting a bit physical.
I countered Woof’s focus with good old-fashioned brute force.
We were even for a while. One of us would dip and we came back up to the center. Woof put all of his effort into one tip and got me low. Then, I tensed and forced his arm back.
I was thinking about maybe shifting my weight or faking him out, but before I knew it I had forced his arm down.
The crowd cheered. The MC clapped and raised her microphone, “The other Mysterious Masked Stranger is the winner!”
Woof and I shook hands in respect. The shake ended with Woof massaging his hand. I might have squeezed it a bit too hard. Even Jack was staring at me, not expecting that level of athleticism from myself.
“You have an iron grip.” Woof said.
“Martial Arts and gymnastics were great in school.” I replied.
Jack handed me back my suit jacket and looked to Woof, “We free to pass, guardian?”
Woof nodded. Then he reached behind the bar and plopped a strange object into Jack’s hands.
“You’ll need this.” He said with a serious expression on his face.
Part 05: Fergus Mac Cormac
It’s not every day you get to make an outfit for a faerie noblewoman. It’s a prestigious honor in some circles. It is also considered an honor to gaze upon the naked body of faerie noble.
The day Odianna of winter came to my workshop I had the….honor to do both for about half an hour. I am told most men don’t last even that long, but most men weren’t the Green Man of Seattle.
I would have been able to do the work in half the time but…I was distracted.
Once I had her measurements, Odianna graciously put her clothes back on and I set to work on a prototype. Nothing too fancy, nothing like the final product, but a good start.
About an hour later, after some spot checks and color choices from the client, Odianna distracted me again so she could try on her new look.
It was mostly blue and black. Dark and powerful like the client. Comfortable but it breathed and was rugged. I had used some of the new material that Virgil had hooked me up with from the job earlier in the week. It worked like a charm.
“This is certainly a remarkable start.” Odianna said, looking over her new look, “Isn’t it Squire.”
“Yes. Very nice.” Squire said. The ogre had stood in the corner in the exact same spot for an hour just staring at me the whole time. I knew he was Odianna’s bodyguard, but come on.
Odianna’s reverie was interrupted by the sound of a car parking outside. The noblewoman smiled.
“That should be my sparring partner.” She said.
I went outside to find a european sportscar worth more than my house pull up to my studio. At first, I thought it might be one of the dotcommers that visit from time to time, but then the driver emerged.
She was middle eastern woman about as tall as I was. Aside from the workout clothes she wore, she was unassuming for anyone who didn’t know who she was. People like me. The woman was a former Mossad Assassin named Tasha, but at the same time much more than that.
Tasha was also Tenebriel. Tenebriel was a Knight of the Blackened Darius, a host of one of thirty pieces of silver that held a fallen angel within them. She was old and powerful. Word was she had broken from the rest of her fellow Denarians. Some kind of falling out.
But today, she approached my workshop with a smile. Odianna seemingly appeared next to me to greet the newcomer.
“Tasha, glad you could make it.” Odianna said.
Tasha bowed to Odianna and then retrieved what looked like some weapons from her uber-expensive car.
“Do you have a place for us to workout?” She asked.
I shuttered and regained my composure.
“In the back, we have a parkour course. We can use that.”
“That should be sufficient.” Odianna said.
“Please be respectful of the space,” I said as politely as I could, “I am not the only maker here.”
Tasha looked to me and said, “I will treat this space with respect, maker.”
Tasha and Odianna walked onto the martial arts mat I had in back and stopped in ready positions across from each other. I took a seat next to Squire with a sketch pad, various drawing pencils, and some charcoal sticks.
I nodded to them to proceed and the pair began their “workout”.
Tasha bared a short sword, I think an actual roman gladius in perfect condition. She began twirling it, testing the weight and balance.
“Are you going easy on me my Queen?” Tasha asked, getting into a fighting stance.
Odianna smiled, “This is the most aggressive of my weapons…”
Odianna channeled power that I could feel across the room and conjured a large spear out of thin air and fell into a ready stance. The spear was a gnarly beast as long as I was tall and was made of ice. It looked pretty sharp.
And this was just her sparring equipment.
Tasha smiled and fell into her own ready stance and a second pair of eyes appeared on her forehead. The eyes of Tenebriel the fallen angel within her.
Then, the pair began to spar.
I’ve always been a fan of martial arts movies. The Kung Fu classics. Jackie Chan. Crouching Tiger. Enter the Dragon. To say nothing of the actual martial artists I knew, worked with, and saw at demonstrations from time to time. I loved a good fistfight movie.
The display of fighting between Odianna and a Fallen Angel put all of Hollywood to shame. My hands could barely keep up with my eyes because I tried like hell not to blink. It’s not that the two of them were too fast to follow because they were certainly faster than any human. They were also graceful and their fighting routines more complex than anything I had seen. This was not a fight in earnest, but two people going through fighting routines. Testing guards, thrusts parries, and repositions.
I saw Tenebriel thrust with her short sword only to be met by a subtle movement by Odianna. They would clench, grapple, throw break and attack again in a matter of moments. Odianna would slash with the ice spear and Tenebriel would duck and weave with expert footwork.
All the while, I sketched through pages like my life depended on it.
After a few minutes of this, the fight between them seemed to end, neither drawing blood, or landing a solid blow.
I applauded as they ended their spar.
‘Very good my queen.” I said.
“Thank you, maker.” She replied.
I looked down at my watch. She had been here an hour and a half, but I still hadn’t heard from the guys. That meant they were still at the club. I needed to keep Odianna here.
I clapped and opened my arms wide, approaching the two nigh-immortal beings.
“I know now how you fight. I need to see how you move.” I said.
“Very impressive. Is this what you mortals call an ‘Obstacle Course’’?’ Odianna asked, looking onward.
“A Parkour course actually,” I replied.
The Parkour course I had was a combination of moveable walls, pads, columns, balance beams, and other objects meant for jumping, running, and leaping from. It wasn’t the largest or best parkour course, but it suited my needs just fine. It was a fairly hardcore course for the sport.
The perfect thing to burn another hour at least.
I pointed to various parts of the course, “You begin there and end there.”
“Most impressive.” Odianna said.
“Thank you. “ I replied.
Tasha looked at the course with fascination. I took the opportunity to be a good host.
“Tenebriel, for your help you are welcome to attempt the course as well.”
“I would be delighted to try this new mortal sport.” Tasha said with only two eyes this time. Thank God.
“Maker, how are you with waterproof fabrics?” Tenebriel asked.
I looked at her. I couldn’t turn down a potential client. “I make many things including waterproof garments.”
“I may have need for your services.” Tenebriel said, “and I would like one of those dresses as well.”
I smiled unsurely. I couldn’t argue with the paycheck, though.
“That can be arranged.” I said.
“I can just write my measurements down for you for your convenience.” She said.
I blushed. “Much appreciated.”
“Could you show us how you traverse this course, maker?” Odianna asked.
“With pleasure.” I said and moved to the start of the course.
Odianna moved to the start of the course and began.
Parkour courses required all of the moves required for mobility in an urban environment. Everything from precise footwork and wall jumps to tumbles and swings. A professional at Parkour was like a ballet dancer mixed with a track and field athlete.
With my Leprechaun reflexes and speed, I was faster than any human, but even someone with superhuman speed can’t handle a parkour course if they don’t understand how it is supposed to be done.
Maybe it was my experience or that I didn’t have to look at Odianna for a few minutes while I was on the course, but I finally got into the zone and out of my own head as I leaped from wall to wall and moved through the course in very good time.
I landed at the end and took a bow for my two guests. The only applause I received was a golf clap from Squire.
I motioned to Odianna to try it for herself.
Odianna was something else, even being unfamiliar with the course or the sport. She ran the course perfectly though. She seemed to enjoy it. She laughed when she finished. Or at least I hope that was a laugh of joy and not the kind she makes when she decides if you should live or not.
Tenebriel had a tougher time of it and struggled to make it through the course. I guess Parkour is not something a Fallen Angel knows anything about.
“When can I expect the garment?” Odianna asked, continuing her smile.
“I want to take my time with it to ensure perfection, but I can have it for you by the end of the week.” I stuttered.
“Have it for me in time for the party and I will make sure you are graciously compensated.”
“What party, my Lady?” I asked.
“I have heard you are having a Engagement party.” Odianna said, out of the blue.
“That is correct.” I said, “It is Friday night.”
“ I am sure you have heard the tales of Fae who were not invited to a party?”
I stood there uneasy. Anna would not be happy, but I didn’t want to piss Odianna off either.
“I was about to send out your invitation. You are welcome to come.”
“Excellent.” Odianna said, now showing teeth, “I must be off. Be sure to send the invitation forthwith. Come Squire.”
The pair of them walked off with much more of a word.
I looked down at my watch and checked my phone. No messages from the guy.
I hoped I had bought them enough time.
Part 06: Jack Youngblood
“Are you sure this is going to work?” I asked Virgil as we stood over the block of ice with our target inside.
“No, but why else would Woof give it to you?” Virgil said.
“This can’t be a key to a lock, can it?”
“I’ve seen weirder keys and weirder locks.” Virgil confirmed, “That warlock in the SF Bay had a real imagination.”
Virgil and his crew had managed to get into the White Council’s good graces last year when they sold out the location of a warlock down in Napa Valley to Warden Ramirez. The Wardens made a positive ID with Virgil’s information and discovered that the Warlock had been wanted for about a century and had been hiding out in his own personal vineyard growing god knows what. The Warlock and his goon squad went down hard when they found themselves ambushed by the Wardens during some kind of party held in their honor or something that Virgil had cooked up.
When the Wardens seized the Warlock’s vineyard later, they found the vineyard itself on fire, the main manor house emptied of most valuables, and the warlock’s legitimate financial accounts similarly drained. A few objects associated with dark magic were found in the house destroyed or left behind for the Wardens to secure. The warlock also had a collection of rare books on the White Council’s black list of dangerous tomes including a copy of the Blood of Kemmler. The Wardens found those books in a bathtub filled with paint thinner and a sign that read, “Dear Wardens, Fuck Warlocks. You’re welcome.”
I nodded in acknowledgment.
“I read that report. I couldn’t tell if Ramirez was pissed or impressed.”
“He said I could keep the wine.” Virgil said, “Enough puttering. Just do it.”
I took a deep breath and held up what Woof had given me. I pointed it at the block of ice and gave it a good squeeze.
Then a camera flashed. I looked over my shoulder to find Woof standing there with a camera. He was taking a photo of me in my velvet suit in front of a block of ice honking the rubber chicken he had given me.
“You motherfucker!” I swore and threw the chicken at him. I didn’t give a damn about the prank. I just didn’t want there to be any evidence that we were the ones who stole Lucy’s notes.
Woof caught the chicken and started laughing.
“I didn’t think you’d fall for it…” He said and lost his breath to the laugh.
Virgil let out a limp golf clap. “Game recognizes game.”
“Whatever.” I said, trying to reign my anger in before I started throwing power, “give me that camera. I want that picture.”
“No,” he said. Quietly. I stared at the ex-SEAL for a long moment weighing the risks of pushing the issue.
“Take your time.” Woof said as he sat down and pulled out a bowl of popcorn as he watched us. I could tell he was relaxed but ready for anything I might throw at him. If I started a fight with him all bets would be off and we likely wouldn’t make it out of Odianna’s demesne alive.
“Fine. Whatever,” I growled out and let it go. I took a deep breath and concentrated, ignoring Woof’s smirk.
Virgil opened his bag and sighed, “Let’s do this thing.”
We examined the ice block together. No seams, latches, or other openings. It was a solid block with our target, a bound notebook, in the middle of it.
“Can we burn through it with a torch?” I asked.
“Let’s try magic first.” Virgil said, crouching down, “I don’t want to damage the notes. Besides, I don’t think they made this with liquid nitrogen and a mold.”
I cleared an area on the top of the ice block and Virgil made space for me. I got into a meditative state, cleared my mind, and extended my magic into the ice.
I am not the most adept at Water Magic, but it was the best option for opening this block without blowing it up. I reached into the water that made up the ice and tried to bend it, change it like I was sculpting clay.
The ice block twisted and contorted as I got a feel for the shape and poured more power into it. I thought I got a good grip on the book inside and began to pull. But the ice…pulled back. I focused on one point, as hard as I could. I pulled and pulled and went red in the face.
Until I ran out of breath and nearly fell over.
“Damn it!” I grunted. Virgil offered his arm for support while the asshole in the corner munched on his popcorn.
“Let me try something.” Virgil said and I stepped away, throwing Woof a glare.
Virgil stood over the block, and let all of the air out of his lungs. He placed his palm flat on the top of the block and slowly breathed in.
Virgil’s Talent was Kleptomancy, the esoteric magical practice of stealing magical energy. I had seen some of his talents, but not like this. The power of the ice block wobbled and I could feel the cold energy being drawn from around the room. The temperature actually raised about five degrees and the ice block flickered as Virgil finished his deep breath at the diaphragm.
Virgil clenched and shook until he couldn’t breathe in any longer and took a step back, breaking the swirling of energies. His skin was a shade of blue I have only seen on Odianna, frost giants, and hypothermia victims.
Virgil made way for me and started fumbling through his pockets, chattering the whole time.
“T t tit tit try it….n nn n n now….”He chattered as he pulled out a card.
I approached the ice block again and tried my power again. The ice block’s magic had definitely been weakened. This time, when I focused on the book and grabbed it with my magic it came right out with a solid pop.
I held the volume in my hand in front of the block of ice now sitting undisturbed.
Virgil held a few cards that were turning blue as color returned to his extremities.
“Perfect.” Virgil said with decidedly less chattering, “Let’s get the fuck outta here.”
Part 07: Fergus Mac Cormac
I got the text from Virgil saying the deed was done ten excruciating minutes after Odianna had left my workshop. We regrouped at Jack’s place and sat inside a magic circle together. As we sat there, Virgil told me what happened.
“A Rubber Chicken?” I asked, “Really?”
Virgil shrugged, “Woof has earned Jack’s ire. A war is brewing.”
“Hopefully not as big as the war I will be waging on Friday.” I said.
“I hear you there.” Virgil said, “I have to endure relatives who I haven’t seen in a decade.”
Our discussion was ended by Jack descending the stairs with his guest, Lucy Einar-Smith. They followed their usual wizardly procedures, sealing the magic circle around us and what not. Then Lucy stood and looked to Jack.
“You found it?” She asked with exasperation.
Virgil reached into his bag wearing a pair of white gloves and pulled out a notebook that still dripped with moisture.
“As requested.” Virgil said, “But there seems to be an…encryption spell on it.”
Virgil opened the book and showed it to Lucy. I peered over and saw that the text on the pages shifted from moment to moment depending on what angle you looked at it like one of those magic eye paintings or something. I had no idea how the hell you could read something like that.
Lucy looked down at the tome and nodded, “That would be the target. Very good.”
Lucy took the tome, waved her fingers over it, and said some words I couldn’t hear under his breath. I couldn’t see what it did to the text, but she seemed to be able to read it.
She flipped through the pages until she came to something she seemed to be looking for. Lucy broke the magic circle with her foot and ran to the fireplace near the lab. She ripped out several pages and threw them into the fire which I am not sure was there before.
Jack and Virgil looked at the scene only to have their gaze returned by Lucy.
“A few pages that should not be read by anyone.” Lucy said.
“That’s it?” I asked.
“That’s it. “ Lucy said, “Thank you all. I am in your debt.”
Lucy left and we all exhaled a sigh of relief. I moved to the fridge and returned with my contribution to the proceedings: stiff drinks to take the edge off. We sat and drank together until our hearts stopped racing.
We retired that night and the next day…was party time.
Anna insisted on a small, private ceremony for the wedding with only a few friends and family attending. As a result, the long-awaited engagement party was a lavish affair taking over the Four Seasons. The party was Raymond Avila’s chance to give his daughter the fairy tale princess wedding he had always wanted for his daughter, so Anna and I obliged him.
The party was a rare cross-section of our friends and the whos who of Seattle. I struggled to shake a lot of hands and take in a lot of, “Congratulations.” “You look so wonderful together” and similar sentiments from dozens of people I didn’t know or even recognized.
As long as it made my wife-to-be happy, I just went with it.
We ran into Odianna, whose dress I finished just in time for the festivities. Anna was more than a little angry, but was placated when Odianna promised a gift on our registry that carried no obligation to her.
I made the best of the night otherwise by eating as much of the professional catering that my soon-to-be inlaws could afford and I couldn’t.
Anna’s father made a speech that I only half-listened to that praised his daughter and somehow came back to himself. He barely mentioned me aside from a few scripted pieces of sarcasm meant to show he had a sense of humor. Her father only managed to speak happily of me when he mentioned how successful my business was.
Afterwords, I spent the rest of the night following Virgil’s advice and did some networking. I walked away from the party with a dozen new clients for dresses, suits and other apparel.
And Anna walked away happy. That is all I wanted.
Part 08: Virgil Gugasian
I call myself Virgil Gugasian. My first name comes from Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt Earp. The first marshal in Tombstone, Arizona. The first of the Earps to stand up for what was right in the town rather than make money off of it or so the stories go.
My professional surname by contrast came from one of the most prolific bank robbers in US history. I had picked it as a bit of a joke. The original bearer of that name is still behind bars and supposedly spends his days teaching mathematics to other inmates.
But, I was born Wyatt Avila and that was the persona I wore to Fergus and Anna’s lavish engagement party. I had to wear that persona because in attendance were the family I had walked away from on my eighteenth birthday.
I didn’t see my parents there. My dad was gearing up for a Senate run last I checked. Mom by contrast just didn’t do parties so no surprise there.
I did see various extended family though. I watched as one of my cousins made an ass of himself while my uncle made an even bigger ass of himself making a big speech.
My conversation with Uncle Raymond was short.
“Uncle.” I said.
“Nephew.” He replied. And that was it.
I also spent the evening in my old name, saying hello, enduring the usual questions, and giving the usual answers. The best part was that I stayed as far away as I could from Odianna and Jack whenever I struck up a conversation. As a result, I could say whatever I wanted. I still told the truth. Mostly.
“I thought you were dead from an overdose.”
“No, I have never done drugs. That would never happen.”
“But you went to jail for…”
“I was seventeen and I was arrested, but never charged. I have never served a day in prison.”
Absolutely true. I have been in a prison, just not as an inmate.
“I heard you were in the army, deployed to Iraq.”
“I have not had the honor of serving, but I have been to Baghdad on business.”
That was true. So was the one question that got me to raise my voice.
One of my cousins said to me, “I heard you stole your father’s money and skipped town.”
I met my cousin with a stiff gaze with fiery daggers in my eyes, “I have never ever stolen a thing from a member of my family for any reason. Family is out of bounds.”
“What about your trust fund?”
I grinned at that question and still relished the answer.
“I donated my trust fund to charitable organizations. Namely for the building of housing for the homeless, to the ACLU and the NAACP.”
That and several mentions of giving to other charities got me the stink eye for the rest of the night.
I did run into Lucy, our esteemed client. She had arrived with Delilah Montague and they looked good together. I asked her if she wanted to be my plus one to Fergus’ wedding, but I am waiting to hear back.
I did manage to pass out some business cards too, each one made on the same poker card stock. Most people don’t know this, but pickpocketing involves not just taking wallets and small objects from pockets, purses, or other garments but also placing small objects into such places without notice.
About half of the upper-class attendees of the party that I spoke to found a card on their person or inside their car when they got home. Most of them found it in their wallets or their inside pockets. Nothing was missing, but a card had been placed for them to find.
The card read, “If you have only found this card when you got home, you need to improve your security. If this had been an RFID transceiver, I could have stolen your identity or worse. Instead, you only found this card printed on recycled paper. Call Gugasian and Associates today for a free security consultation.”