Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 07: Chapter 01
The Morning of…
Transcribed by: Brad
Date: October 10, 2021
In Game date: June 20, 2012
Episode: 37 (112)
Part 01: Virgil Gugasian
I will mainly remember it because I was woken up at the crack of dawn by a kunai knife being thrown at my headboard a few inches from my head by a very angry Japanese man looming over me. When I opened my eyes and saw the kunai, this spade-looking tool you see in ninja movies, I knew who it was before he started barking at me.
“Thief! You have been summoned.” The angry man said.
Said angry man was Takahashi Hidenori, a nondescript man with a permanent scowl wearing a tailored Armani suit. His visage read as a businessman who wouldn’t look out of place anywhere with money. His physique was the only clue for what he actually was, a top-tier martial artist with who knows how many concealed weapons.
Hidenori or “Taka” as I thought of him was the Jonin of the Tigers, an honest-to-god ninja clan that had moved to the Seattle area some years back. I knew very little about them other than they were real ninjas with martial arts that used real magic or something. I had only ever seen them looming over me or punching me into submission.
Taka’s clan was also the enforcers for the Emerald Conclave and that therefore made him my parole officer. As someone who has worked with ex-cons before, I knew how to deal with him.
“Good morning and happy criminal trespass and assault with a deadly weapon to you too, Hidenori-san.” I said as I sat up.
Taka had slipped past the security measures on my loft both mundane and magical. He was a ninja after all. I also knew that he didn’t need weapons to end my life. That’s how I knew he wasn’t there to murder me. He would have already done it.
I rubbed the fatigue from my eyes and saw Taka rooting around in my fridge. The man had no manners.
“You are lazy and unprepared for incoming threats.” Takahashi said, “The Conclave should have you killed…Thief.“
He emphasized the title. I brushed off his prickly words, they didn’t bother me.
“That would be bad for the Conclave I think, “ I said, “I am useful to them for the time being.“
I downed a small container of caffeine concentrate I kept by my bed and started dressing into gym clothes. My suit and backup suit for the wedding were laundered and hung in my closet.
Taka started pulling things out of my fridge, meals prepared ahead of time in plastic containers and various important ingredients. Then he started pulling out my wine bottles.
Taka scowled at me as he pulled a cork off one of my bottles and sniffed.
“Your home is tiny, your fridge full of frivolous food, and you rely on drugs,” he sneered.
I pulled on my UW shirt, straightened my hair, and returned his scowl. Then, I started running my mouth. As part of a punishment, I was bound by a blood contract courtesy of The Conclave of Emerald. The contract came with a geas that forced me to speak the absolute truth to any representative of the Conclave. As a result, my filters weren’t worth shit in their presence.
“The Conclave’s deal forced me to liquidate my assets to pay off my debts and return my ill-gotten gains. This place is all I could afford.” I said and pointed to the wine, “That wine’s okay, but the other bottle in there is reserved for my cousin’s wedding. Please don’t open that one.”
“Wine is frivolous. Unnecessary.”
“It’s my cousin’s wedding, she gets only the best. And point-in-fact, I don’t do drugs. I have never done drugs.”
Taka pointed to my caffeine, “Drugs.”
I held it up, “Modern medicine.”
I moved closer to him but still checked my spacing in case Taka decided to throw hands. When I got close enough, I could sense his aura. Kleptomancy, my magical specialty, allowed me to sense magic a little bit. The more powerful the magic-user or creature, the more I could pick up. But where a Wizard like Jack Youngblood could be an opera singer with perfect pitch, most of the time I was a backup singer with a hearing aid.
Jack’s aura felt anywhere from a box fan when he was idle to a raging storm when he was angry or in battle. All the while, his ectomancy gave off the feeling of a pipe organ playing a minor key. Taka’s aura ranged from a gentle stream to a still pond. I could sense something was there, but its depth was unknown to me.
I was tired of Taka’s shit, so I cut to the chase as I began to brew some coffee. “The Conclave has need of my service?”
This brought Hidenori back to the present and he stood up straighter.
“The Conclave requires you to locate one Eric Laufey and to ensure his safety.”
“Eric Laufey? The used car guy?” I asked.
“The same. He has gone missing and must be retrieved.”
I had never met Laufey, but I had heard the name. He had some kind of criminal dealings, but mostly I remember him from his crappy commercials and billboards on the 405.
As my coffee brewed, I fell into a familiar professional rhythm. Gather information. Stick to the facts.
“How long has Laufey been missing?”
“He has been missing for a month and a half.”
“The first twenty-four hours of a disappearance are crucial. The longer the time missing, the more difficult someone is to find. A month and a half missing, Laufey might as well be on the moon.”
“The Conclave doesn’t care, Thief.” Taka said, “Locate Laufey. Return him to safety.”
I shrugged, “Whatever. Laufey have any enemies?”
“Many.” Taka said, “But I am not here to do your…legwork for you.”
“Fair enough. Where was he last seen?”
“Good to know. What is my deadline?”
I looked over to my hanging suits.
Taka nodded and said the most sensible and respectable thing he could have all morning, “The Conclave understands you are attending a wedding, Thief. The search can wait until the festivities are concluded. But you are to locate Laufey within a week’s time.”
My coffee finished brewing and I pulled out a cup from a cupboard.
“The Conclave will have my best efforts, Hidenori-Sama.” I said while pouring my cup, “but please don’t call me, Thief.”
“You are a thief. Thief.”
“I don’t do that anymore. The Conclave has seen to that.”
“You take what is not yours.” He said with more venom, “You will always be an honorless thief.”
I ran out of patience so I decided to return fire, “I am one who actually believes and practices honor among thieves. And, if you are going to call me Thief, I’ll call you assassin.”
Taka’s face wrinkled in anger, “What did you say?”
I drank a sip from my newly brewed cup and readied a salvo of shit his way.
“Let me put these into words you can understand, Taka. Your Tokyo University accent and Armani suit mark you a businessman, but you are a killer in human guise. You are shinobi. One of the hidden. You strike from the shadows and stab people in the back unseen. You murder whoever you are told to and never ask questions. Therefore, you an assassin to me.”
Taka reeled from my salvo. Maybe because of the bluntness. Maybe because I said the entire thing in Japanese.
He gave me the evil point of a finger, “You will regret this disrespect, Thief.”
“Possibly, Assassin “ I said as I poured another cup, “Excuse me, Hidenori-Sama. I do respect your skills.”
I turned my head for a moment, turned back and Taka had pulled a Batman. He disappeared. No trace of him. I looked over to my headboard and saw that he had already retrieved the Kunai.
I sighed and walked to a hidden panel in my wall, the home of my security system. With the kind of enemies that I had, I needed a secure place to sleep.
In my case that meant electronic surveillance with cameras in addition to the rudimentary wards on my door and the fact that I lived above a family Chinese restaurant and butcher shop. I had helped the owners out with family visa issues (legally) and they let me rent out the top floor. Living over a public place like this, meant there was plenty of foot traffic and innocent civilians that most are not willing to tango with unless they care enough.
I checked my cameras and found only footage of me talking to myself. Where there should have been Takahashi Hidenori there was only empty air.
I don’t know how he did that, but I would love to learn.
Part 02: David Clay
The morning of Fergus’ wedding, I had been afraid that I would be unable to attend. I had spent the past month recovering from The Patient One’s magical assault. The Wizard had almost unmade me, but I survived. Barely.
Jack had helped me back to my home and I had spent the past month on leave going over case files and reading the Torah in silence. The contemplation allowed me to heal much of the damage that had been done, but I was still unable to retain a human form.
But, my friends had a wedding, so I began my day being sculpted.
More specifically, Jack had taken me down to an empty stall in the back of Pike Place Market where we met with Emerson Lake, the local head of The Paranet. Emerson together with Jack, Rhoswen Grisby, and several other minor talents from the area, used magic to reshape my form. As a golem, my form was enchanted clay, so it could be reshaped with some effort.
Together Jack and Emerson smoothed me to the consistency of flesh and packed me into a more human size. Rhoswen used some of her faerie glamour to further change my appearance to my preferred human form.
It made my suit a tight fit, but after several hours of work, it was the best that they were able.
“You should try to remain calm David,” Emerson said, wiping sweat from his brow, “Raised emotions could cause your form to revert.”
“I will try to remain centered,” I said.
“You look amazing, Counselor.” Rhoswen cheered.
My eyes turned to Jack, who looked into space. I had sensed there was something looming over him. Something eating at him.
“What’s wrong, Jack?” I said.
“It’s nothing, David.” He said. I almost believed him.
“It’s okay. You can tell me.”
“I don’t want to upset you after so much work.”
Jack had a lot on his plate as of late. His wife and mother of his child, Abby was fighting cancer. I had heard she was at home doing another round of chemo. I knew that aside from the wedding, he would not leave her side.
“I am a golem, Jack. Any news you have will not rob me of my shape. Speak.”
Jack sighed and looked at me with tired eyes.
“The Conclave of Emerald had an emergency meeting last night. Short version: I’m off the Conclave.”
I remained still. I let the feelings flow through me instead of taking hold.
“On what grounds?” I said, “You have been a protector of this area for years.”
“Yeah,“ Rhoswen said, “Jack’s the best. What do they have against you?”
“Take your pick. They hold my failure in Portland for one. I still owe Odianna, The Pack is in shambles, losing territory every day and they blame me for it. Plus, the Dragon Lady still holds the goat blood incident against me.”
The Dragon Lady of the International District, a Japanese hag of some variety, traded blood for power. Jack had mentioned once that he once tricked the hag with goat’s blood.
“That certainly makes sense.”
“That’s bullshit!” Rhoswen shouted, getting red in the face.
“Who is taking your seat?” Emerson asked, “The White Council can’t be without a representative in the Conclave.”
Jack sighed again resigned, “They gave the seat to the only other Wizard of the White Council in the area still in good standing.”
Rhoswen put her hands over her mouth, “You don’t mean…”
“The Patient One…”I said.
I stood in shock, but I couldn’t let it get to me.
I straightened my suit and stepped forward. I put a hand that was only a little larger than normal on Jack’s shoulder.
“We will make it through this together, “I said, “We will face this together.
Part 03: Fergus Mac Cormaic
I have no idea how I got any sleep the night before my wedding day. I was staying in a BnB down the road from the Froggsong Gardens, the venue we had picked out, but it’s not like I needed it.
I felt like I was floating. The whole morning was an out-of-body experience. The planning and problems and other bullshit had led to this day. The day I would marry the love of my life.
Sleep would be entirely optional until we tied the knot.
Because we couldn’t afford a wedding planner, we had had to do the work for the wedding ourselves. Booking the venue, getting invitations made, photographers booked, videographers booked, rehearsals, rehearsal dinner, rehearsal reception. It was nauseating how much went into the planning for just one day.
I took a short run around the island to familiarize myself with the wild areas around the venue. I put myself in tune with nature. But I still felt jacked up and out of my mind.
I was getting fucking married and I couldn’t believe it.
The only task I had after that run was the catering.
Jack had recommended a bakery on the south side run by one Maggie Simpkins. Jack claimed that Maggie baked with actual love and that her cupcakes had once saved the city from an angry Wendigo. I raised an eyebrow at the story, but I ran with it because they said Maggie could do the wedding.
I drove down to escort the catering van containing the all-so-important wedding cake. The bakomancer said we were going to love it. I was just glad she had quoted us a good rate and had her own van.
I met the van and escorted it onto the ferry without incident. I tried not to check in with them every two minutes to see if they had everything, but I might have…asked a few times.
“Thanks for doing this, Maggie.” I said.
“Much appreciated, Fergus, “ Maggie said with a big smile, “The catering is fine. We have everything we need plus extra.”
I let out an exasperated sigh and tried to get myself under control but…I was out of body again.
For a moment, I looked out the window and to the aptly named Commencement Bay beyond.
I was getting married. I still couldn’t believe it.
Then a voice came out of nowhere and had to fucking ruin it.
“Are you Fergus Mac Cormaic?”
I saw a woman I didn’t recognize with black hair out of the corner of my eye, but I turned to see a face I knew but hadn’t expected to see today. Sheriff’s Deputy Captain Sam Ramey was Vashon’s Island’s top lawman. A black man in his forties wearing his King County Sheriff’s uniform with pride. I knew Sam was one of the few good cops in Seattle and Vashon was happy to have him.
“Captain Sam Ramey. No relation to the other guy.”
“I know who you are, deputy.”
“I have a couple of questions to ask you, Mister Mac Cormaic.”
“Go ahead, but I am in a rush. I am just about to get married.”
“Congratulations! I promise this won’t take long.”
“What seems to be the trouble? Is it about the break-ins?”
Captain Ramey pulled out a small tablet computer and got it ready to take notes. He didn’t pick up on my question, so it probably wasn’t related. There had been a series of break-ins on Vashon recently, but the authorities hadn’t found anything yet.
“Do you know anything about a Nora Quinn?”
I did know her.
“Nora and her sister moved across the country with me from back east. They are guests at my wedding today actually. She’s a barista at the Snapdragon cafe.”
That was the truth, but not the whole truth. Nora and her sister had been on the run from The Fomor, the little blighters that filled the void created by the recently deceased Red Court of Vampires. Nora’s uncle was the one leading the chase and was out for blood. Their blood and mine. He had murdered Nora’s parents and chased them across the country.
“Nora and her sister are missing. I was wondering if you knew their whereabouts.”
A pit started to form in my stomach.
“What do you mean missing?” I said a bit too loud.
“Nora didn’t show up for work yesterday and her sister didn’t show up for school as well.”
“Nora and her sister live above the café. It is impossible for her to be late to work. She gets in before the rest of the staff do.”
“They were reported missing. And we discovered a dress behind the café.”
Sam turned his tablet to me and showed me a photo of a tailored dress. I knew it well.
“That’s the dress I made for her.”
“Do you know anyone who might want to cause Nora or her sister harm?”
I thought very carefully about what I could tell him. I decided to go with the part of my gut that didn’t have a hole in it so I could get back to my wedding.
“Lorcan Rourke.” I said, “Nora’s uncle has been looking for her and Fiona. I have heard he is a convicted criminal. But he’s been out of contact and we haven’t heard from him for years.”
That first part was true. Nora was avoiding him for a reason. He had murdered her parents and chased them across the country because he wanted to kill Fiona Quinn, who was a scion of the Celtic goddess, Briggid. The second part was complete bullshit. Lorcan had been responsible for bombing Aunt B’s clinic. But the sheriff’s office didn’t know that.
I gave Sam some more information until the ferry began pulling into the dock.
“Thank you for the information. Take my card and let me know if those two turn up.” Sam said, handed me a card, tipped his hat, and walked away.
My mind raced again and I had another out-of-body experience. An experience of dread…
Part 04A: David Clay
We drove to Vashon Island with plenty of time to spare. Jack insisted on driving my Crown Victoria Sedan despite my protests that I was fine. The work my friends had done to prepare me for the wedding could be undone if my emotions got the better of me. It takes more than someone cutting me off on the freeway to get my emotions out of check, but Jack didn’t want to take any chances.
We arrived at the venue, the Froggsong Gardens. I found it beautiful and serene, the same way I kept my mind for the occasion.
Coming in behind us, I saw a nondescript sedan. I could only tell it was Mister Gugasian’s car because of how boring it looked. Virgil once told me that the car he drove was the most common make, model, and color of sedan in the City of Seattle according to statistics. Anyone looking for Virgil’s car would be looking for a needle in a stack of other identical needles.
I thought it was a bit extreme, but Mister Gugasian loved his preparation in all things. As he got out of his car, I could see him dressed in a tailored tux perfect for the occasion. I could also see another tux or maybe two hanging in his back seat.
But then, my vision was blocked by a swarm of bees that overwhelmed the three of us.
Jack swiped at the bees and raised a magical shield of some kind. Lightning seemed to come out of Virgil’s hand as he ran in, though the display was not nearly as impressive as anything Jack could do.
I meanwhile just stood and listened to the little insects. They tried to sting me, but they couldn’t break my skin. They were harmless to me, so I just breathed and let them be themselves.
Eventually, the bees dispersed and I heard the damndest thing…laughter. Childish laughter.
My mind moved to possibilities, but I decided to take my time. No need to let emotions take me yet…
Part 04B: Virgil Gugasian
When it rains, it pours and I did not have a swarm of bees on my itinerary that day. When I got out of my car, the little bastards came swooping in to get their licks into Jack, David, and myself. Jack was throwing power around, but David just stood there.
David Clay was a well-known attorney in Seattle. He represented the downtrodden and even saved my bacon a few months back. David was also a golem from what he and Jack had told me. Made of clay, Jewish manufacture, protector of the people, the whole thing. I had never seen him do it, but apparently, he hulks out into a giant clay monster or something and gives a good stomping. David had been under the weather for the past month, but today he was in a tux and looked a little…shiny. His skin was smoother than normal like he had used way too much moisturizer.
The bees didn’t have a hope of hurting him, so I guess he just didn’t care about them. Either that or he is more stoic than is humanly possible. I had neither Jack’s shields or David’s tank armor skin, so I had to use what I had to defend myself.
Takahashi was not entirely wrong about me earlier. I am a thief, though I don’t steal much anymore. The only thing I steal these days is power or more specifically magic. My Kleptomancy allowed me to steal energy from the environment but also allowed me to copy spells I was in the same room as. I would lose the spell after a while, but I could also copy the spell down and began learning a semblance of it that I could use later. In lieu of a spellbook, I copied them onto specially-prepared playing cards as a way to keep the effects all straight in my mind.
I am not a perfect mimic though. My magical effects are outclassed by basically every magic-user I have ever met at the moment. Maybe because I haven’t studied enough magic to fully understand what I was doing. The whole perfect pitch/hearing aid dichotomy.
When I mastered my talent sufficiently, I had gotten some minor talents, a small-time sorcerer, and even one full wizard to cast some spells around me so I could practice copying them. I had also faced off against a few magic-users during a few jobs and had surprised them by throwing their own spells back at them.
One time, I was present for a Warden strike team that used magic and enchanted weapons to take down a Warlock and his goon squad. One of the spells I picked up that day was perfect for this swarm. A Warden with a mastery of Lightning had used a spell that was a cone of electrostatic akin to the effect of a hand taser. Thankfully, he didn’t hit me with it at the time.
I reached into my pocket and touched my deck of spells with the other. I found the card I wanted and used it as a channel to remember the stolen spell.
I extended my hand and shouted, “Elmykias!”. Whatever the hell that meant. I didn’t make the damned spell.
The power flowed through my hand and a shadow of that warden’s spell flew from my fingers. Lightning spread out in a cone and hit the swarm in an instant. It didn’t do much to the bees but managed to disparage them a little.
But I was glad that it worked at all.
The swarm dispersed and we gathered together catching our breath.
“What the hell was that?” I asked.
“Maybe just bad luck?” Jack said. He was hoping for the best.
As I got closer, I could see David looking into the distance.
“Did you hear that?” David asked.
“Hear what?” I said, looking around. I didn’t hear anything.
“It sounded like…childish laughter…”
“Are you sure you are okay, David?” Jack said, “Auditory hallucinations are bad news.”
“I am fine, Jack. No worries.”
The wheels turned in my head and I considered that shitstorms usually come in threes. After Taka, this was two.
“Maybe someone was fucking with us.” I posited.
“Someone sent the bees?” Jack said, “Did you get enough sleep?”
David silenced both of us without raising his voice, “Let us get to the wedding. I believe you have supplies to bring in.”
We unloaded our cars and began to bring in materials for the festivities. Wedding gifts. Snacks. Boxes of stuff that Fergus had given us. Everything the new couple needed.
As we walked back and forth from the venue, we filled each other in on our mornings. I started with Takahashi’s visit.
“Very rude, that one.” David said as he hauled some boxes without sweating. Could he even sweat?
“Someone needs to break that guy’s nose.” Jack said as he hauled far less than David.
“Retaliation can wait.” I said, getting back on task, “What can you tell me about this Eric Laufey guy? Used car salesman, right? Is he clued-in at all?”
Jack sighed and looked over to me as we walked, “He’s the son of Loki. Eric’s plenty clued-in.”
I blinked as the wheels in my head turned, “Loki? Thee Loki? Norse God of Mischief, turns into animals and fucks with his brother Thor, Loki?”
“The same. He’s a scion, but he wants nothing to do with his dad.”
“No wonder he’s good at selling cars.” I said, “Where’d you last see him? He’s been missing so long he could be anywhere.”
“He got away from us on the University of Washington Campus, just outside Buel Hall.”
I had heard about the incident, but didn’t know it well. Beul Hall was apparently the Spook Central of Seattle. Lots of weirdness had gone down there.
“The evil tree thing?”
“Eric stole the tree smuggled in to allow Sebassis to wreak his havoc. Evil tree is an understatement.”
“He might have gone into the Nevernever.” David posited.
“Where would he go?” I asked.
“We came out of Jotunheim there, so he might have gone there. Time is wonky in the Nevernever too, so he might be out of sync with us or imprisoned.” Jack said.
I nodded, “Of course Jotunheim is a thing. Eric might be in the pokie. Does Jotunheim have a pokie?”
“Pretty sure. I don’t recommend visiting for the scenery without a rocket launcher.”
“Noted. I’ll some legwork after the festivities, see if he came back at all. Perhaps you could ask the Conclave members for help.”
Jack winced as we delivered the boxes of stuff.
We went back to the cars for another load of stuff and Jack used the opportunity to fill me in on his colorful evening. I stood at him slackjawed.
“You’re out of the Conclave?” I asked.
“Yup. It sucks, I know…” Jack said.
I tested a hypothesis by saying out of nowhere, “The sky is green.”
Jack and David looked at me quizzically. I felt nothing. Elation filled my voice.
“The sky is green!” I said a bit too loudly.
Jack raised an eyebrow, “Is this madness spreading? Did you take something, Virge?”
I shook my head, “No, that just means I have my filters again around you. No more TMI talk from me.”
“Thank God.” Jack said and grabbed some more boxes.
We gathered up the last load and walked back to the venue. As we did, I started remembering what they had told me earlier.
“So, the Patient One was that Warlock who got your number, Dave?”
David kept his stone face and said, “Correct. But unfortunately he is not a Warlock.”
“Didn’t he try to unmake you?” I asked,
“As a golem, I am not a person. He committed no crime trying to destroy me.”
“The Patient One has never broken any of the Laws of Magic.” Jack said, “To be a Warlock you have to break one. Then off with his head.”
I nodded, “So he’s not a criminal, just an asshole?”
“I’ll have to ditch one of my plans. I could have sworn I hear he was a Warlock.”
“I didn’t hear that, “ The Warden said, “He’s still technically a member of the Conclave of Emerald and the White Council of Wizards in good standing.”
“What’s his deal then?”
“He’s a Wizard. An old one with at least one lackey to do his dirty work and a working knowledge of dark powers.”
“About 300 years give or take a decade.”
I walked silently, trying not to drop the boxes I carried. I took a breath.
“Well, better not try to piss off the super shady Wizard who is older than this country. Fun…”
“You should be careful though,” Jack said, “As a Conclave member, he is your boss now.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem.” I said.
“What if he asks you to kill me?”
I smiled, “I demanded a ‘no-killing’ clause in my contract. I don’t do that. If the Conclave wants someone dead, they won’t get my help.”
I hoped that was true. The geas wasn’t working with Jack anymore, so I don’t know if I was telling the truth…
Part 05: Fergus Mac Cormaic
With the catering van at the wedding, I decided to swing by Nora’s apartment. First place to look for her.
Nora worked at the Snapdragon Cafe as a barista but also lived in attic apartment above it with her little sister, Fiona Quinn. I am always amazed they can fit two people in that little thing. But, it’s also amazing that we made it across the country together.
I headed into the cafe and up the stairs. I had no reason to be particularly careful, so I settled for being as silent as I could. With my fae powers, I could be silent when I wanted to with and without glamour.
I got to the apartment door, used the key that Nora had given me, and tried it. The door went THUNK against something inside. At first I feared I was in a horror movie and that thunk was a body against the door. But, then I forced the door open and realized it was just a bunch of shit on the floor.
Not actual shit, but stuff. Some kind of appliance and some books.
The apartment had been tossed. Drawers opened, kitchen stuff scattered, the works. I could tell it wasn’t a robbery because the Flatscreen TV had been knocked over and the laptop computer had been smashed.
This was a crime scene. I decided the better part of valor was finding at least one clue.
I took a single step inside and looked around the apartment, taking some pictures with my phone. The folks in blue would be able to find more than I could, but I did see one thing that stood out. Behind their second-hand love seat was a fist-sized hole in the wall and some marks.
When I looked closer, I could see it was blood spray. Not very much, just a few drops, but definitely blood.
Besides the blood, I could also see that there were pine needles on the floor. In fact, the entire apartment smelled of pine and not the smell of Pinesol. That could mean a few things, but my guess was something faerie-related.
Then I checked the kitchen and saw mold on some food that was left out and on the wall. Thankfully, it was not black mold. Just everyday mold. That meant this had been this way for a few days, which tracked with what the Captain said.
I took careful steps back out of the apartment and turned around to find the last person I expected to see.
“Captain Ramey!” I said, “I was about to call you.”
“Mister Mac Cormaic.” The sheriff said, “What are you doing here?”
“I was checking on Nora’s apartment…I found it like this.”
I took a step aside and let him look in on the mess.
“My god…” The sheriff said.
“I took only one step inside. I didn’t touch anything but the door.” I said honestly.
Captain Ramey looked at me seriously, “That’s good. This is a crime scene now. You should get back to your wedding, I’ll take your statement afterward.”
“Thank you. Find Nora and Fiona, please.”
The sheriff tipped his hat to me and said very solemnly, “I won’t rest until I do.”
Man after my own heart. I wouldn’t rest either.
I decided to go downstairs and head outside while the Captain hopped on his radio. I found some sheriff’s cars coming this way. Vashon being the size it is, their response time was instantaneous.
Then a voice came out of nowhere. A female voice that had been waiting on the sidewalk for me to come out..
“Are you Fergus Mac Cormaic?”
She was a clean-cut black woman with the bearing of someone used to danger. She wore your standard jeans and blouse combo, which by itself allowed her to blend into almost any crowd in the city. In addition, she wore the kind of shoes someone uses for running and had a camera case with her. She also had a camera, one of the newer digital models.
I remembered in the back of mind that I had seen her on the ferry to the island. She had been behind the Captain, but not with him. She could mean a number of things, but I thought asking would be the easiest way to find out which.
“Who’s asking?” I asked. My suspicions were confirmed when she pulled out a tape recorder from her bag.
“"Naomi Abbara, Seattle Times.” She said.
I had heard of her. She was one of the true investigative reporters in the Pacific Northwest. The kind who would chase stories wherever they led.
“How can I help you, Miss Abbara?”
She turned on the recorder and put it in my face, “Do you know anything about the Green Man?”
Double fuck. Just my luck.
I had made a name for myself as the Green Man. Seattle’s very own urban legend. But no one knew that. No one outside my closest comrades knew I was the Green Man.
I decided to evade, “What are you talking about?”
Naomi took a step forward. She had her camera around her neck, but dollars to doughnuts it was also one of the models with video recording. Turn the little red light off in the front and you would never know you were being recorded.
“The mysterious Green Man who has been plaguing Seattle’s streets. Appearing out of nowhere and…fighting crime.”
“I think I saw him palling around with sasquatch.” I chuckled, “What does that urban legend have anything to do with me?”
Naomi’s expression never changed as she took another step forward.
“You and your fiancée have been seen in three different places where the Green man was spotted. The shootout at Alki Lake for instance. She disappeared from the lake during the shooting and was found in a park blocks away.”
“You were both also at the scene of the bombing of the Radcliffe Clinic,” she continued relentlessly.
Damn, I had to give this reporter credit. She had put two and two together and gotten five.
“That is ridiculous.” I lied, “Don’t you have better things to report on? I’d look into Trevor Radcliffe’s legal woes. He is getting what’s coming to him.”
“So, you are denying that you are the Green Man?”
I rolled my eyes, “Yes, I deny it. I couldn’t be the Green Man unless I had the ability to teleport across the city, which I don’t. Now if you don’t mind, I am getting married today.”
“Oh, congratulations.” She said.
I turned my back on her and dialed David. I needed my friends here now. All hands on deck.
Part 06: David Clay
Once we had finished delivering the boxes from our cars, I got the call from Fergus. We jumped into my car and Jack drove us to the Snapdragon Café. With my current size, I decided to sit in the back seat for more leg room.
We arrived in minutes to a line of sheriff’s department vehicles setting up a perimeter.
Virgil grunted from the front seat.
“Dammit, Jack relax. I can practically feel your anxiety from here.” Virgil said. “It’s distracting.”
“Give me a break. This is worse traffic than downtown.” Jack said.
“You’re thinking about Abby.” I said.
Jack bite his lip, “Yes. I should be there with her.”
“Abigail is in good hands.” I said in a calm voice, “Fergus needs you today. It seems for more than one reason.”
Jack sighed, “You’re right.”
“Breathe, man. We’re hear for you,” Virgil said and put a hand on Jack’s shoulder, “When the ceremony is done, you can shake hands and bounce back to Abby. Spend the week with her.”
The hand seemed to make Jack feel better. It might have also been Virgil using some of his unusual magic to drain stray energy.
“Thanks.” Jack said, “Both of you.”
“Drive down the street. We’ll catch up to Fergus there.” I said.
I looked out the window to check on the police as we drove by and saw someone I wasn’t expecting. I recognized Naomi Abbara from a few times we were in the courthouse at the same time. She returned my gaze and took a photo of us as we passed by. As it was broad daylight, there was no need for a camera flash.
“Who was the camera?” Jack asked. Virgil didn’t see her. Clearly he wasn’t kidding about Jack’s aura.
“Naomi Abbara of the Seattle Times.” I answered.
“Did she just take a picture of you?” Virgil asked, looking back too late to catch her.
“I think she was taking a picture of all of us.” I said.
“Is that even legal?” Jack asked.
“Public street.” Virgil said.
Jack gritted his teeth as he pulled over. “Can’t have that.”
Jack raised a hand towards Naomi and spoke a word I didn’t catch. Wizards and mortal spellcasters are the bane of technology. The more powerful the talent, the more they negatively affected electronics. I had seen cellphones die and televisions explode around Jack. The hand gesture indicated he was using a deliberate version of this effect that he referred to as a “Hex”.
One moment, Naomi stood on the sidewalk taking photos of us. The next, her camera made a distressing noise and smoke emerged from her front pocket. It seemed that Naomi’s camera had a critical malfunction and her tape recorder had overheated, destroying the tape on it.
Virgil smiled from the front seat, “You gotta teach me how to do that.”
Fergus walked up to our car in his running gear and Jack’s rolled down window. He looked to Naomi’s plight and then to Jack.
“She interview you too?” Fergus asked.
“She was taking pictures without permission.” Jack said with a grin.
“Your call sounded urgent.” I said.
“Right.” Fergus said, “We’ve got trouble.”
We exchanged the stories of our contrasting mornings.
“Three missing people in one morning?” Jack said, suspicious of the circumstances.
“When it rains it pours, “ Virgil said, “We’ll help with the search however we can.”
“Thanks.” Fergus said.
“I could help a little bit if I had some of that blood.” Jack said.
“I didn’t have enough time to get some. I didn’t want to disturb the scene.”
“That was wise.” I confirmed, “I don’t recommend interfering with an investigation, but if this involves supernatural forces we can’t exactly arrest them.”
“If we can get that blood we can track whoever left it directly with a tracking spell.” Virgil said, “Whoever left that blood was either one of the two sisters or the person who abducted them. Either one will lead us to the other.”
I smiled. Virgil was looking to be a good detective when he set his mind to it.
“We’ll need to distract them if I am to get in.” Fergus said.
“I can handle that.” I said and stepped out of the car.
Virgil got out and came up behind me, “I’ll come with. If your talking doesn’t do the trick, I’ll just be another concerned citizen.
Part 07: Fergus Mac Cormaic
I could see David walk up to the police and seemed to distract them without much effort. I could hear him introduce himself and play the part of a concerned citizen. Virgil followed him and stood there in his tailored tux.
The cops barely looked at Virgil, even when he introduced himself by simply raising a hand and saying, “Cousin of the bride.” in a deadpan.
Just what I needed.
I dropped a veil, rendering myself invisible and inaudible, and moved with a purpose. I swiped a Styrofoam cup from the alley behind the café and headed inside. Parkour is all about fluid movement. It is not as easy to do indoors where walls are close together, but when you have enough practice and faerie speed, strength and endurance, you could do it anywhere.
I didn’t run as much as stalked and hopped up the stairs towards the apartment. When I came to some cops in the hallway, I tapped the wall, drawing their attention behind them. At the same time, I jumped off the wall over their heads and moved past them unseen to the apartment door without touching the ground.
Thankfully, I hadn’t shut the door when I left so I moved through the open doorway.
I moved silently on tiptoes and made it to the wall without moving any of the stuff from the tossed room. I gathered some of the blood from the wall with a fluid motion in record time without leaving a mark on the wall that didn’t look out of place with the cracks from the fight.
I moved to the window, silently opened it enough to slip through, and closed it quietly behind me as the deputies finally made to the apartment with their crime scene tape. I flipped off the windowsill outside and grabbed the drainpipe, allowing my momentum to place my feet on the wall and ran strait down the wall like a Friendly Neighborhood Leprechaun, flipping at the last moment to land on my feet. I made it to the ground and rolled into the ally, no one the wiser.
I dusted myself off, put the cup in my pocket, dropped my veil, and walked towards David’s car. As soon as David caught sight of me, he and Virgil said their goodbyes to the deputies and got into the car behind me.
Jack looked at me and I held up a thumb in confirmation.
I hoped it would be enough to find Nora and her sister.
Part 08: Virgil Gugasian
We regrouped at the venue. I wish we had had more time to enjoy the gardens, but two missing folks couldn’t wait.
We found a side room tried to look inconspicuous as Jack drew on the ground with some chalk.
Jack in addition to his personal troubles today had been tapped to do the tracking spell because I hadn’t learned how and he was more powerful than me in that arena at the moment. The more I saw Jack work, the more I wanted to spend a few months of downtime in his basement lab and just devour every book of magic in his lab and then go to old man Einar’s lab and do the same thing.
But my ambitions wouldn’t find those girls, Jack’s power would have to be enough.
“I hadn’t been planning on doing magic today.” Jack said, “It’s going to take a while and might not be perfect.”
“Do your best. “ Fergus said.
Jack seemed to dip into concentration just as shouting came from outside. I looked towards it and back to Jack.
“You stay here. I’ll check it out.” I said and moved outside.
If there was serious trouble I would have to improvise a lot. I had some weapons in the trunk of my car, but nothing on me except my Thunderball pocket watch, my deck of cards and an emergency knife. This is supposed to be a wedding, dammit.
Luckily, the commotion seemed to be coming from the bathrooms. A wedding guest groom side came out of the bathroom with water on her dress.
“What happened?” I asked, looking at the guest.
“The bathroom has flooded. It was working earlier.” She said.
I looked to the door and saw water pooling below the crack in the door. It was seriously flooding.
“I’ll call a plumber. No worries.” I said.
Then, I heard the damnedest thing. Laughter. Childish laughter from no discernible direction.
Just like David heard…
I saw someone looking out a window past a curtain out of the corner of my eye. It was my cousin Anna, the bride-to-be and someone who didn’t need this bullshit in her life right now.
I went back to Fergus with my mind racing and a fist clenched.
Our group was now joined by Aonghas Mac Cormaic, Fergus’ cousin. He was a supernatural of some variety and he knew his way around.
“Trouble?” Aonghas asked.
“Flooded toilet plus a swarm of bees out of nowhere plus that same laughter that David heard.” I said and made an educated guess, “I think we may have a faerie prankster in our midst.”
“Is this hallucination catching?” Jack said, trying to concentrate on his spell.
“I definitely heard laughing.” I confirmed, “Have you pissed off any faeries recently, Fergus?”
Fergus smacked his own face with his palm.
“Tad the Trickster…” Fergus said.
Jack stopped a moment and thought, “Son of a bitch!”
“Who’s Tad the Trickster? “ I asked.
Aonghas nodded and looked to me with authority, “A trickster faerie of great renown.”
“He dangerous?” I asked.
“He can be.“
“Occasionally murderous in his pranks,“ Aonghas said, “If he finds it amusing.”
“I put him in his place.” Fergus admitted. “And I did send you after him, cousin.”
“Unfortunately, he was able to elude us all and made us look like fools,” Aonghas stated dramatically.
“We’ll find him.” I said with determination.
I heard a knocking at the door and a new person interrupted our gathering. I ran ahead to head her off.
Karen was a bride’s maid who was Anna’s best friend in high school. She was in mauve and not white, thank god, but had her head wrapped for some dying she was waiting to set.
“Is there anything going on in there?” Karen asked trying to pear around me as I closed the door to my back.
“Helping the groom with his tux.” I said.
“And you are…?”
I raised my hand in a wave and gave my default response for the occasion, “Virgil. Anna’s cousin. Friend of the groom.”
Karen was a gossip, so I made a guess that if there were more pranks, she would have heard about it.
“Anything weird happen to you today?” I said, “I got attacked by some bees this morning. Damnedest thing.”
“Now that you mention it,” Karen said, “I tried on my shoes this morning and they were two sizes too small. And one of the other bridesmaid showed up in a dress she said was blue but it was clearly white.”
“Could you let me know if anything else weird happens?” I asked, “I want Anna’s big day to go without a hitch.”
Karen looked at me with disdain, “Sure…whatever…”
An alarm on her watch went off and she looked down at it.
“I wanted some red highlights, “She said, taking off the wrap, “How does it look?”
I was going to say something rote and polite, but then I saw her hair and my eyebrows betrayed me. I couldn’t keep a straight face, so she looked in a window reflection.
Karen had been aiming for some highlights but it looked like something had reacted to her shampoo or conditioner in a way that warranted a product recall or two. Her hair ended up with streaks of various colors that I can only describe using words like, “Neon", "glow in the dark” and “on fire”. “Toxic” might also be appropriate.
She shrieked into the reflection and I heard that damned childish laughing again.
Thinking quickly, I reached into a pocket and pulled my billfold. I flashed a hundred dollars or more in twenties, which seemed to get Karen’s attention. Money always did.
“There’s a bridal boutique across the street,” I said, putting the money in her hand, “Buy a hat.”
This seemed to placate Karen and she disappeared.
I went back to the group and closed the door behind me. I couldn’t hold back my anger anymore.
“Tad is gonna die. Tad is gonna fuckin’ die.” I seethed, “No one fucks with my cousin’s wedding.”
Aonghas smiled at that.
“Hunting Tad the Trickster will be an epic quest.” Aonghas said. “He is the most cunning, sly trickster possibly to ever live. His Tricks are spoken of in whispers of admiration and joy across the Nevernever. We will have to be careful.”
“Do it to it.” I said, shaking his hand. At least some of the people on the groom’s side were people I could get along with. Aonghas stepped out and started his search for Tad I hoped.
I had some iron in my car and in my pockets. Tad was one dead faerie in the next few hours.
“Would you guys shut up?” Jack said, “I am trying to concentrate while I MacGyver this spell.”
Jack had put the blood into a small bag on the end of a string and held it out.
He spoke some arcane-sounding words and worked some power into the air. When he broke his ritual circle, he released his spell and the tracking bit swung around in a circle like a merry-go-round.
“Is it supposed to do that?” Fergus asked.
“Uhhhh…” Jack said, “According to the spell, the person who bled is here.”
“What do you mean here?” I asked, “How close?”
“I don’t know. Not in the room. But right on top of us.”
“Nevernever?” I posited.
The Nevernever as the paranormals called it was a parallel plane akin to the spirit world or something. It led everywhere and was where a lot of supernatural stuff hailed from. If you could exploit it, you could do all kinds of things including going places instantly.
“Possibly,” Jack said.
Fergus held up his hand, “Let’s see what’s on the other side.”
Fergus concentrated and opened what I can only describe as a seam in the universe. He opened a Way as it was called to somewhere. He looked inside and sniffed.
“Cow poop.” Fergus said.
“Is that bad?” I asked.
“Let’s find out.” He said and beckoned me and David into the portal.
Jack held a hand to the portal, “I’ll hold this open as long as I can. Get back quickly.”
“We’ll just take a peek.” Fergus said, “I got a wedding today.”
I followed him in and hoped we could manage only a peek. It wasn’t until I was stepping through that I remembered that most of my weapons were still in my car. I would be going into an unknown place with no real weapons.
But, my backup tux was also still in my car. So at least I still had that…