Book 09: Chapter 05

Girl Gone, Girl Found

BOOK: 09
GM: Justin
Transcribed by: Bradford
Date: June 12, 2022
In Game date: August 2012
Episode: 48 (122)

Part 01: Virgil Gugasian

DFA_ECR_Log_0905_001.pngOn the fourth day of our rescue mission, Jack and I went out jogging. Again. On the one hand, it was good practice both to maintain our cover and to get some good cardio in. On the other, it seemed like we weren’t getting anywhere on finding Barry Goldman’s house.

Surveillance takes time and requires great patience. You need time to learn the area’s patterns. Time to see the things that are out of place. Time for the target to do something different. That difference will lead to answers.

With each day that went by, we found new information about the area. Information that we could use to whittle down the house’s location and by extension, our target: The Sword of Wrath. Whatever the hell that was.

I had heard stories about the sword. An honest-to-God magic sword supposedly from an angel. It sounded like bullshit, but around the Seattle Paranet, it was a local legend. The sword was glow-in-the-dark magical and was supposedly connected with the disappearance of a one-time Youtube Star and a local bartender among others.

Whatever the sword was, our benefactor for this mission wanted it. But first, we needed the house.

It wasn’t until that fourth day that our surveillance started giving us better leads.

Our surveillance revealed several houses with different cars parking in the driveways, indicating that they are empty or being housesat.

We were jogging past one of the suspect houses when a car full of girls in their late teens carpooling together. That by themselves are not unusual…if it wasn’t this early in the morning.

With that suspicion, I took some time to tie my shoe and take some photos.

Then Jack started poking me.

“Knock it off, you’re blowing our cover.” Jack said as subtly as he could.

“Am not, give me a second.” I replied, trying to take a photo.

The car was an SUV on the upper end of the acceptable income range for the area. Newer car. If the drivers were house sitting, the might be the favorites of the local cult.

Jack nudged me again and again I resisted him. Then I saw the people around us. A few other neighbors were clocking me with their discerning eye and resting bitch face.


We continued our jog and came back home.

With that distraction, I missed the car’s plates. But, Jack’s eyes seemed sharp that morning.

“I recognized the driver.” Jack said, as we did our post-jog stretching.

“Who?” I asked.

“She was with a bunch of girls Ruth the Principal steered me away from at gardening club.”

Jack had that bad boy charm, but only when he didn’t work at it. If Ruth didn’t want him around, it meant that the teenagers had bigger fish to fry.

“Good eye.” I said.

“I want to follow up with her.”

“Who wouldn’t? You got any other clubs lined up?”

“Bookclub tonight.”

Part 02: Kerouac

DFA_ECR_Log_0905_002.pngMy time as a child was decidedly short in life. My time as a fae would be more-or-less eternal. As such, my patience for humanity and complacency grew the longer I had to wear a human child’s face.

I could play the part of a child, but I could not change what I was. What makes me me.

I can’t just abandon all of my obligations even for a spoken promise.

I am Pooka. I play tricks. I make bargains.

After 4 days of reconnaissance, I couldn’t resist the pull any further. I had to act. I had to make a deal.

However, being in Kindergarten limited my options for making such bargains. Faeries cannot make deals with just anyone. There were rules even the lowliest trickster or thread spinner had to follow.

One of the golden rules of faerie was that mortal children were off-limits from making deals. Their parents could bargain their firstborn away for power or used for parts of a bargain, but a child could not make a deal with a faerie on their own. Perhaps their soul has not ripened yet. Perhaps the well of wisdom has not yet been filled. Perhaps old ones have dictated that truth.
I could only bargain with those who had come of age. It was both a biological and a cultural requirement. Every people in existence had their own ritual or signs of maturity. Whatever those that were standard for the mortal age, I was bound by them.

It meant that I could not make deals with my fellow students. The older students in the high school maybe, but no one in Kindergarten.

But the teachers were fair game. They had long since come of age.

So, I came to class with one of the oldest tools of commerce: food. In my case, the Chex-mix I had made myself.

I offered some to the janitors. I offered some to the older siblings of other students. I also offered some to my fellow students, merely as a way of making further acquaintance.

Then I offered some to my teacher.

“Want some? I made it myself” I said to him with my best smile.

“Sure.” Mister Kemp said as he grabbed some of the pretzels. The poor fool ate some, only to pause and think for a moment about what he had done. If the man had been trained, it was far too late. No take backsies as they say.

But, experience dictated that I bide my time before trying again. If I pushed too hard, I could blow my cover. I laid low the rest of the day, aside from keeping up my efforts to appear just smart enough.

It paid off when Fergus collected me after class.

“This might be your last day in Kindergarten, Connell.” Fergus said in the visage of a loving father.

“One can only hope.” I whispered as he scratched my head.

We headed to the principal’s office for a meeting. A meeting that would get Connell to First Grade.

What no one else saw was the handoff of a small piece of mortal ferromancy. A “USB” that I had to get into one of the principal’s knowledge box. Fergus had shown me what to do and I relished the challenge. Fergus talks the mentors up while I plug the piece of metal in.

Simple enough plan. Simple enough for even a mortal…

Part 03: Fergus Mac Cormaic

This school gave me the creeps. Despite knowing for a fact Silver Lake Academy catered to a damned cult, the place was genuinely a good school. High academic standards, diverse course offerings, well-paid staff, and even progressive teaching on social issues. If it wasn’t for the cult, I would almost want my own daughter to go there.

But it also meant that asking around for anything unusual was difficult. It is hard to find an unusual thing when everyone is unusual. False smiles. Inhuman discipline. Subtext that you are unsure is because of sociopathy or just a teacher with no sense of humor.

The one credible fact we had to go on was that Jack’s daughter was here. The Genie I had inadvertently wished upon had confirmed her location as going into this building down to GPS coordinates and an illustration of the area. The Djinn wasd bound by a magical contract even Faust would be afraid of, so we knew the information was as accurate as it could possibly be.

The kid was here. Somewhere.

When we went through what we knew, we ruled out the horrifying idea that she could be the demon under the community center. You don’t make a goat demon if they need to also go to school as a little girl. Thank God for small mercies.

It did mean that she was the right age to attend the school. The information was gathered before school started, so it meant Jack’s daughter had been at the school for a Pre-K to Middle School day camp they had during the off-seasons.

I started with my Emails. Just newsletters, notifications and government-mandated stuff. Nothing weird.

I had spent the past few days getting to know my fellow teachers. Most of them had some kind of weirdness to them, either being true believers or had something off about them.

But there were a few that didn’t fit that mold.

Carol Jones was a fellow gym teacher clearly hired for her experience rather than beliefs. She turned out to be former WMBA and was not clued-in at all.

“Fitness and sports are the best daily opportunities for improvement out there.” She said to me in the lounge, “A fit body makes a fit mind. Fitness improves physical, mental, and emotional health. Sports teaches how to work as part of a team and teamwork can raise up anyone by their bootstraps…”

And so on…

But, Carol also thought Leprechauns were make-belief. I let some of my relatives she said that.

I managed to gather a mental map of the school just in case I needed it for later, but by end-of-day there was a bigger concern. I picked up Kerouac from Kindergarten and headed to the Principal’s office for what I hoped was ticket to first grade and our ticket to finding Jack’s Daughter and getting the hell out of this place.

I rubbed my son’s head and gave him a big hug just before we arrived.

“This might be your last day in Kindergarten, Connell.” I said to him.

“One can only hope.” Kero whispered back.

Kero expertly got my handoff of the thumbdrive Griz had given us to hack into the school’s network. The night before, I had taught Kero what to do and showed him what to look for. I could only hope we were both up for this plan or we would be in serious trouble.

Kerouac’s only indication of understand was smiling, nodding and palming the thumbstick into a pocket on the front of his overalls.

Our Parent-Teacher meeting was attended by the Principal, Ruth as well as mister Kemp and the first-grade teacher miss Jones.

“We have been most impressed by your son’s progress, mister Williams.” Ruth said.

“Glad to hear it.” I replied, pushing Kero away in a random direction, “Go sit quietly Connell while we talk.”

Kero did as he was told and bidded his time pretending not to understand what we were saying.

“Glad to hear my at-home lessons have taught the boy right.” I laughed in my best proud Dad way, “I can only hope my own lesson plans here are half as good.”

“Connell is certainly intelligent, but seems unfocused.” Mister Kemp said.

“That’s just how he is when he isn’t challenged enough. If you challenge him enough, my little Connell will have laser focus on any problem.”

I half-humblebragged and half-bullshitted for about a half-hour. All the while I kept an eye on the various eyes in the room and the computer. Our target.

Going to plan, Kerouac stirred and became bored.

Then he pulled out a handful of his homemade trail mix and offered it to Miss Jones.

“Mommy says it’s always good to share.” Kero said.
“What?” Miss Jones said.

“We share, that’s how we become a family.”

Only I could see the glint in his eye.

Faerie bargains can be made by all kinds of innocuous things. It’s one of the reasons the stories always tell you not to eat anything offered to you in the lands of faerie.

The little bastard almost gave me a heart attack. I almost broke character and bit my lip. If they discovered us, I would have to fight the people in this room and we would have to run out of town.

I think Kero was insightful enough to sense my unease, because his eyes darted like he was reading the room and backed down.

“Maybe later.” He said and put the trail mix back into his pocket.

After getting people back on track with some more improv, Kero took my cue and began wandering around the room as a hyperactive child does. It meant that no one was looking when he wandered over to the computer.

The Principal’s desktop computer had its tower case on the floor, leaving plenty of desk space. I had noticed that she liked to use USB Wireless keyboards the last time I was in there, so I had gotten a thumbdrive that looked like one of those mall black USB receivers.

As I bullshitted about college planning while in Kindergarten or something, Kero took his cue and stuck the USB into a USB hub at the foot of the computer.

Kerouac acknowledged his success by simply smiling and wandering back to my feet like a good boy.

Griz had said that the longer the stick was connected, the better. With how many wireless devices Ruth was using combined with her age, she’d never find it even if she was looking for it.

The BSing went for so long, I almost forgot what the meeting was about.

“So, Connell is a first grader?” I asked.

“I think that is the best fit for him if he continues to excel.” Ms Jones said.

I cheered and stood up, collecting Kero. Ruth stepped in front of me before I could leave.

“So, I understand your brother is a grad student?” Ruth asked me, “I met him the other night at the Gardening Club meeting.”

“Yes. Sharp as a tack my brother is..” I said, playing the part of the brother who doesn’t know shit about archeology, “Studying the Middle East. Archeological history of the Levant or whatever. He could tell you more.”

“Fascinating. Our First Grade class is doing a project on Egypt due to popular request.”

“Egypt? Isn’t that full of sand and pyramids?” Kero asked.

“Exactly right, Connell!” I said, proud of my boy.

“Have you ever seen a pyramid Missus Siegel?” Kero asked.

“You know, I have child. I just had a trip to Egypt this summer.” Ruth said.

“Were they big?” Kero asked.

“Enormous…” Ruth said as she trailed off.

I took the opportunity to try to get more information on Ms Jones.

“So, Miss Jones or is it Missus?” I asked in my best flirty voice.

“Just Miss. Never missus unfortunately. Haven’t found mister Right yet.”

As we bantered back and forth, I took in Ms Jones as a whole, playing it as if I was checking her out. My tailor’s eye told me that she dressed to soften up her level of physical fitness. She could have gone for short sleeves, but went long sleeves instead. Instead of heels or running shoes, she wore professional flats. Most people wouldn’t have noticed, but most people weren’t professional clothing designer.

I also clocked that she had remarkable balance for a school teacher and wore very girl-next-door makeup. She either had training or I was grasping at straws.

“Maybe we could get together for coffee later,” She said with the same smile I got from everybody.

“That would be great. Reach out anytime.” I replied.

I collected Kerouac and we left. I didn’t unclench my buttcheeks until I was inside my car with Kero strapped in behind me, and exhaled.

“Did you get it?” I asked.

“Of course I did.” Kero replied.

“Good. I don’t what to do that again.”

Part 04: Jack Youngblood

DFA_ECR_Log_0905_004.pngThis whole operation made me feel guilty.

I was guilty about my daughter being taken from us. I never got to see her first step, her first words, or the legend that is being woken up by cries at all hours. I didn’t get to give her a name.

I was guilty about having to ask my comrades to infiltrate this…hellscape that was Silver Falls. Putting on false smiles and playing nice to people who I couldn’t read. My neighbor could be a cultist or just an innocent loon roped into this mess by force he couldn’t fathom.

I also felt guilty because while Fergus and Virgil had to infiltrate the cult directly in dangerous environs…I had to go to a damned book club.

I had seen a lot of the Community Center in the past few days. It was an idyllic place you could hang out at and feel safe in. That is if you didn’t know about the demon in the basement. Because it was where people got their mail, I had taken the opportunity to memorize people’s faces and names to the best of my ability.

After the success of the Gardening Club and our run-in with teenagers with odd hours this morning, I had wanted to followup and see if I could find a lead here too.

Our book club was held in a side room. Local HOA chief Ross Roberts lead the group by gathering us into a circle. There was a wide demographic in the room. Young and old. Not the same as Gardening.

I played my part by approaching the front and putting on my fake smile.

“Nice to see you, Ross.” I said.

“Nice to see you too.” Ross replied.

“I thought it was good to dive into things headfirst.”

“That’s the spirit” Ross said as he put a hand on my shoulder.

Even being regularly drained of magic, I still had to be careful with people touching me. A fellow practitioner might be able to detect my Talent as a buzz of electricity between us. As Ross touched me, I held my focus and dispersed my drained power. When he took his hand off me, I avoided his gaze and stepped back.

The encounter made me jump inside, so it jiggled my magical senses to surrounding environment. With Virgil’s draining I was thirsty and not blind, so I could still sense power around me. In the neighborhood, I had mostly felt tugs of dark power from time to time. Maybe a ritual being worked in someone’s basement.

But at that moment, I felt another presence in the room. It was visible, but was the distinctive slight buzz of magic. Someone in the room besides me had Magic of some kind.

That meant it was time to take a chance. I started introducing myself and shaking hands with everyone.

After a good five minutes of, “I’m Steven Williams, nice to meet you.” I found the Talent.

Violet was in her late 20s with long flowing black hair on pale skin over darker clothes. Not full goth, but she still had the contrast of colors that made her quite the sight. Even as she shuffled her feet in response to me, I could see she moved like a dancer.

I sensed Violet’s power as soon as we grasped hands. Her power didn’t tingle but glided. A sense of smoothness and flow of power.

Dark power of some kind. Bingo.

I took the opportunity to turn on the Jack Youngblood charm and gather information.

“How long have you been living here?” I asked.

“About 10 years. My wife and I moved in when we wanted to settle down.” Violet said.

I immediately felt like a dick, macking on her like that. But, I would do what I had to seal my cover and find my daughter. Besides, I was a married man. I had no interest in anyone but my Abigail.

I backed off when I realized I had dug myself a hole and tried another angle. I had noticed she was reading The Odyssey, so I asked her about it. I tried to pass myself off as a Greek aficionado, but…she talked me into the ground.

“For an archeology student, you don’t know your classics very well.” She said.

I felt that and changed tack.

“You and your wife have any kids?” I asked, “This is a good place to raise some tykes.”

“Just a little one, Paulene.” She said.

“What kind of classes is your daughter taking?”

“It’s first grade. But, they are learning classics in the original greek and latin. Good at an early age.”

A first-grader. Someone on our list. Paulene Singleton.

It was then I noticed that Violet was trying to not look me in the eye. Hiding under her hair like the way I habitually focused like hell on her nose to avoid a soulgaze. I had met enough wizards over the years to have a good sense of they many methods they used, She did not react, so perhaps she did not have an eye for such things the way I did.

I distracted her further by taking a chance I had to take and took out my cellphone. Some how, some way I managed to concentrate enough to not get any dead pixels. Any other day, any other time, I would have made that phone spontaneously combust.

“Here’s a picture of my nephew.” I said, showing off Kerouac in his disguise, “Do you have any pictures of your daughter?”

Violet pulled out a little photobooth strip of photos of her, a curvy blond and a young girl.

The little girl was from the First Grade photo reference.

Paulene Singleton.

Mentally comparing the two photos, it seemed like she was wearing a lot of makeup when she was at school and in the official photos. Maybe hair dye or some heavy styling products. The age matched up, but I needed a closer look.

“My nephew is looking for some playdates.” I suggested.

“She doesn’t really do playdates.” Violet said.

The rest of the book club didn’t matter. I stuck out the rest of the club and worked really hard to not break character.

When I got home, I gathered everyone together and whipped out my whiteboard.

“Paulene Singleton.” I wrote, “I need to know everything there is to know about her.”

Ferg looked at me quizzically, “Are you serious?”

Kero wrote back, “How old?”

“First Grade” I wrote.

Virgil nodded and said aloud, “I think it might be some time for Ice Cream.”

Part 05: Fergus Mac Cormaic

DFA_ECR_Log_0905_005.pngGetting out of enemy territory even for a little bit was a relief. I normally don’t have a sweet tooth, but decided it was time for some cookies and cream.

We sat down in a corner booth of a mom-and-pop shop with homemade flavors and dug in. Ironically, despite being the most enthusiastic about ice cream, Kerouac didn’t have any. Kero took the opportunity to change back into his cat form and stretch his legs so to speak.

“All that talk and you aren’t going to have any?” I said to the cat.

“It’s more the principle.” Kerouac said, “I will be satisfied when I get to throw some glamours around.”

“Fair point.” I said.

Virgtil sat down with the laptop Griz gave us and called the hacker up on speakerphone.

“Thanks for expediting this search for us, Griz” I said.

“No problem, dog.” Griz said, “For a good cause like this, it’s worth it.”

We had asked Griz to expedite the hack into the school’s records and do some searching. Just looking for information wasn’t itself dangerous, but there was still a chance of anything.

As Griz got information, he mirrored it onto our laptop for us to peruse.

Violet it turned out was listed as a housewife. What was odd was that they had a landline but didn’t have an internet connection. It didn’t confirm the practitioner theory, but luddites these days were rare.

“What do we got on the wife?” Virgil asked.

“Erma Galvastan.” Griz said.

“Occupation?” I asked.

“Self-employed” Griz said, “…with an AMEX Black Card.”

“Strike one. What kind of kind of work?” Virgil asked.

“Corporate Consulting of some kind. Doesn’t specify.”

“That’s strike two.” Virgil said, “What about the child?”

Griz pulled up an adoption paper filed with the state government. No listed mother or father.

“That is either a legit adoption or a perfect forgery, good buddies.” Griz said.

I swallowed and seemed to get a chill. I couldn’t tell if it was the start of an ice cream headache or the result of saying yet another thing that would be horrible in any other context.

“We need to do our due diligence.” I said, “Make sure we don’t kidnap the wrong kid.”

It was right, but it still made me shutter.

“I’ll check the dark web. Do not try this at home…” Griz said and went quiet.

We spent a half-hour waiting for him as Kero turned back into a kid and got himself a sundae.

“Very good consistency.” Kero said, “No artificial flavorings.”

“Oh shit.” Griz said, breaking his silence.

“What?” I asked.

“I had to burn a contact on that search. Someone is watching. Erma’s security level is Thermite.”

Jack covered the mic as Griz continued blabbering and looked at me for an explanation.

“That’s bad.” Virgil answered, “But it’s strike three. Looking good.”

“I am going to have to send you a new laptop. Destroy the one you have.” Griz said.

“Will do, Griz. We owe you big time.” Jack said.

We couldn’t hear Griz’s reply. It was drowned out by the sound of a laptop going through an industrial shredder.

We took a moment to go outside and Jack used what little power he had to hex down the Laptop. I didn’t know a laptop could do what he did to it.

Part 06: Jack Youngblood

Virgil and I adjusted our route so we could swing by the house that probably had my daughter. Virge wanted to be sure and all that, but I felt it. It was the one.

We jogged and waved our waves towards the security guys. We found the house at the end of the block. It looked just like the others.

It was right there. My blood could be inside.

I broke rank with Virgil and headed towards the house.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing?” Virgil whispered, catching up to me.

“Wait here.” I said and snuck through the dimming evening light.

I found a window and peered inside.

I could barely see inside…but outside, I saw the shadows move.

No, they weren’t just moving. They were looking in my general direction.


I started crackling. There was some local shadow power in the area.

I headed back and looked into the area. No heavy tree cover, but enough trees to draw shadows in the dark.

The landscaping seemed designed to generate as much shadow around the house as possible without breaking the look and feel of the neighborhood.

I could feel the shadows watching with more attention the longer I lingered. The tingle of my skin from strong magic, and oddly, not the burn from the wards that was mostly what I’d been dealing with for the past few days. Could normal darkness magic count as dark enough for the wards?

No time to linger, I did not want to let them lengthen enough to get to me with no real way to fight back. All my power as a Wizard, as a Warden, and I was the next best thing to helpless here. Even thinking that, letting myself feel the rage I had shoved down for so long, pulled out the power I had been stripping away, every moment, I could feel the heat as the wards started pushing back at the faint hits of power I was building. I had to get back to Virgil, and back to the house.

Part 07: Virgil Gugasian

DFA_ECR_Log_0905_007.pngJack running off by himself was not a part of the plan. But, I trusted my friend and played the part of having a mild cramp. If we lingered too long here, we could draw suspicion.

My workout attire was simple enough, a sweater jack and shorts. The sweater’s jacket wasn’t just to double down on Fergus’ cover as a Gonzaga guy. The sweater had deep pockets. In one, I carried a pistol with a suppressor.

I didn’t like guns, but for this mission I tried to always have one along with the collapsable knife I always had.

If Jack was impulsive enough to run into that house, I would have to follow him. I saw a threat in that house or out here, I would not hesitate. Not for this mission.

Things got…weird.

I could see Jack sneak towards the house. I could see him running as though the shadows were chasing him. I could feel spookiness all around.

Then, he came back. I could feel power on him. This was bad.

We ran straight home without another word and with a relentless pace.

As soon as the door closed behind us, I took out the focus he had made and started to drain him.

“What the hell was that?” I mouthed and took in a breath.

The drain was…potent. If I wasn’t used to it by now, it would have knocked me down.

I looked at my oldest friend and saw a serious look in his eye. He had seen something.

Jack walked over to our modest stereo and turned on some music. What a wonderful world indeed.

“I think we found her. We need to put all of our efforts into getting her.”

I nodded in response.

“What was that back there?”

“Some kind of major shadow magic, a Hellhound nearby too, I think…”


“What is your take on this, Virge?” Jack asked, “This is your thing. I need your help.”

I took a deep breath and tried hard to turn a lot of complicated thoughts into words. With the music on that loud, I spoke instead of wrote. With the amount of power I just drew, it would have burned out any kind of bug anyone had set up.

“The mIssion is getting to its final phase. This is the most dangerous time.” I said.

“What do we do from here?” Jack asked.

“Fergus is correct that we need visual confirmation of the asset…I mean your daughter. We have to be sure. Once we have that and the sword, we find the best time to get her out and dodge the heat. Kerouac can get a confirmation at the school. Talk to her directly.”

“How are we going to get her?” Jack asked.

“Ideally I’d like to take her when she is outside the neighborhood. But, I get the feeling her parents never take her outside for anything. Off the top of my head, between the school and her house is our best bet. Maybe a switcheroo. We will tackle that when get there. I take it that it would be bad trying to take her from the house directly?”

“Yeah, “Jack said “Too much bad mojo there.”.

I started writing on my whiteboard.

“We confirm Paulene is our kid. When that happens, we find the sword. Once we have positive ID of the child and the sword’s location, if not the sword itself, we fully commit. We also need to confirm whether or not the hellhound is stationed at the house or is following the child directly.”

“What does fully commit look like?” Fergus asked seriously.

“We get the explosives from the ordinance factory. Although we swore to get the sword, Jack’s kid is the priority. Once we have her in hand, we blow up the wardstone if we are able and get both targets out in one fell swoop. If we can get both targets out without alerting anyone, all the better, but assume that once the enemy discovers that the kid is not where she is supposed to be, they will be looking for her. Once that happens, we run out of the neighborhood and to either the..ghouls you have waiting for us or into the nevernever.”



Book 09: Chapter 05

Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem HumAnnoyd