Book 09: Chapter 06

The Darkness Before the Dawn

BOOK: 09
GM: Justin
Transcribed by: Bradford
Date: June 26, 2022
In Game date: August 2012
Episode: 49 (123)

Part 01: Jack Youngblood

DFA_ECR_Log_0906_001.pngAfter our team meeting, I went into the basement and threw myself into some analysis. I wrote down what I saw and tried to figure out what the shadows were about. I needed to know what I was up against to get my daughter back.

With the amount of magic emanating on me, I didn’t fear any electronic eyes and ears. I was so amped up that anything more advanced than a toaster was going to die to my wizardly aura. I could tell because it burnt out as soon as I turned on a light bulb. Classic.

I lit some candles and told Virgil to come downstairs to drain me later.

I looked into what few books I had managed to bring with me on the darker sides of magic the White Council allowed me to have. I wracked my brain and my wizardly senses for the rest.

The house was definitely warded. It was just a question of what and how bad. If the house was too well protected, then we were going to have to get my daughter when she was not in it. Hopefully, without some kind of sorcerer right next to her.

My first blush analysis was that the shadows were some kind of low-powered Genius Loci Shadow Ward around the house. But that wasn’t right. Too advanced. Too much power is needed for that.

It took me the better part of the evening before I figured out a logical answer and started making magic circles in chalk.

I came to the conclusion that the shadows were constructs. Not the golems that made my friend David, but of a much rougher persuasion. A little bit of awareness and control pushed into shadows to create a lesser animate construct.

Not the simplest magic and is completely outside my experience, but it showed me just how much I had to learn about magic.

But, after pouring over my notes and observations, I decided to some experiments. I made and refined some magic circles and poured power into some test spells.

A night’s work turned me into…an initiate of shadow magic.

The power itself was limited.

I was able to use a flashlight and some construction paper to make some shadow puppets that moved on their own. I could even sense through the shadow in limited fashion.

I theorized that I wrap myself in shadows as a makeshift veil.

It wasn’t much, but it would have to do.

My experiments showed that the shadow magic didn’t interfere with the neighborhood’s megaward. I did the magic all night and didn’t get ask much as unintended static cling.

It meant I had a single outlet for magic that could go unnoticed.

I was going to get my daughter back no matter what.

Part 02: Virgil Gugasian

DFA_ECR_Log_0906_002.png“Shadow magic, really?” I asked as Jack finally came up from the basement.

Jack looked tired, but he also looked amped. It took me longer than normal to drain him back down. He had been working some power.

“It might help us turn the tide,” Jack said.

“Vulnerabilities?” I asked.

“Enough light should do the trick.“

“We’ll stock up on flares,” I said.

While Jack finally remembered that he needed to eat, I got everyone together, and we went out for a late-night snack, which was also Jack’s dinner. He had missed it earlier. I also wanted to talk this plan out rather than work through whiteboards silently.

We found a secluded fast food place, picked up Jack’s burger of choice, and came to a huddle just outside the parking lot. Since I was the resident thief, I was in charge of “the plan”.

I put on my best face and started making my speech. I was no leader, but I was going to give us the best chance I could.

“We are going into the last phase of this rescue. We are heading into the danger you all signed up for.” I said. Everyone nodded.

“We’ve found her.” Jack said, “How do we get her out.”

“First, we have to confirm her identity. We do not want to take the wrong child.”

I could see that everyone but Kerouac was uncomfortable with the idea of kidnapping, even for a good cause. But, the kid was in danger. We all knew what the Denarians would do with her. What Barry Goldman would do with her.

“What do you need to do that?” Fergus asked.

“Blood or tissue sample.” Jack said, “I can use some thaumaturgy to compare her to my own blood.”

“I think I have an idea for how to get that.” Fergus said.

“How?” I asked.

Fergus bounced a soccer ball up and down on one foot in a remarkable feat of dexterity.

“My son will have a horrible soccer accident. Give her a bloody nose.”

“You want me to hit a girl in the face?” Kerouac said, exasperated.

“Yes. We need that biological connection.” Jack said.

Kerouac produced a frozen popsicle from his pocket. I have no idea how he kept one cold, but he had one. He walked back and forth restlessly until he came to a stop.

“I will save the child.” Kero said, “I will do what I must.”

I nodded to him, “Our next task is taking out that wardstone. Our biggest obstacle to that is the demon in front of it. We’ll need the ordinance from the factory to take out both.”

Kerouac raised a hand, “I might have an alternative.”

“Fill us in.”

It still disturbed me to see a six-year-old speak a the level of a full-grown adult. But, it was one of many weird things I had to get used to once I found out about the supernatural.

“When Fergus was hurt by the ward, I was the one who cast the veil. He was merely the receiver. I was not hurt at all. If the ward only targets receivers of magic, perhaps I could cast a veil upon the wardstone itself. Burn it out with its own ward.”

“A feedback loop.” I said, “Could that work?”

Jack shook his head, “I have been nose-deep in Ward Studies since the Radcliffe job. Wards can be designed with redundancies against such tactics.”

“Can be or are designed with redundancies?” I asked.

Jack shrugged, “Depends on who made the ward. If we tried that on one of Lucy’s wards, they would just laugh at you. Worst is that it might flicker.”
“What about your Warden’s sword?” Fergus asked, “Doesn’t that unmake enchantments?”

“It does…” Jack said with great trepidation, “But I think that would be like a shuttle in re-entry. Unmaking something that big would cause some serious fallout and to use the sword I would have to be point-blank.”

I nodded and made a quick decision, “Put a pin in those alternatives. We start with the low-fi. Blow it up.”

“We still need the sword.” Jack said.

I got an immediate headache. The Sword of Wrath would be a problem on a normal day, let alone on top of the extraction of a young child.

“Jack and I will find the sword. We will get it on our way out, if not a little before.” I said.

“So our next move is…?”

I fell into my professional rhythm and put on my game face. When I got professional, I got cold. I took my emotions out of it and thought of the heist in individual pieces rather than as an impassioned mission. I knew that the language I used made Jack uncomfortable, but I didn’t care. I was here for a job, and I would do the best I could.

“Fergus and Kero will confirm the subject’s identity. After we confirm her identity, we get our ordinance and take out the wardstone. Once the wardstone is down, their defenses should be limited, and will be the perfect time to extract the subject. That is unless we can snag her before then. Once we have both the subject and the sword, we bolt. No turning back. “

“Time to get you into FIFA.” Fergus said to Kero.

“FIFA! FIFA!” Kerouac said, already back in kid mode.

“We’ll get your daughter back Jack.” I said to my oldest friend, “Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever it takes.” Jack replied.

We all accepted our assignment and went back home.

What I didn’t tell Jack or the others was the thought in the back of my mind. Paulene Singleton’s mother was a magic-user of some kind. I didn’t know how powerful.

I knew what I was willing to do to make sure she didn’t get magic on us. The kinds of things you only think about when you find out that magic is real, black wizards are amoral, and a death curse is a thing….

Part 03: Jack Youngblood

DFA_ECR_Log_0906_003.pngVirgil and I did our jog Friday morning. We had changed up our jogging route every day, never doing the same route twice. As a result, no one noticed when we swung by the house my daughter might be in and made our way to the community center to figure out an escape and get a second look at the area.

We also swung by the mystery house we had clocked the teenaged girls coming out of at odd hours. If it was Barry Goldman’s house, we needed to figure out if it had any protections. That meant that we would need to do some snooping around.

That meant we brought some more backup in the form of a six-year-old on a tricycle.

Kerouac played his part by triking rings around the two of us with seemingly unlimited energy. The amount of energy that hyperactive kid had, no one gave him a second look when he went somewhere no one expected.

I think the Pooka was also relieved that he could get out and do something different.

When we reached the mystery house, I signalled Kerouac to start doing kid things. Virgil tried to wrangle the kid as I got closer to the house.

Then the fucking golf cart people started giving us the stink eye.

“Sir, is that your child?” One of the security guards said to us.

I turned back to him and used an old tactic of my mispent youth. The dotting brother.

“Yeah officer, “ I said exasperated, “Kids these days are always riding around. It was such a nice morning we couldn’t hold him back.”

In the corner of my eye, I saw Virgil eyeing the trashcans and rooting around in them unobserved. He pocketed something as I kept the golf cart brigade occupied.

“Shouldn’t the boy be getting to school?” The guard asked. The question was so simple, it caught me off guard.

Lucky for me, Kerouac was the oldest pro among us. The Pooka picked that very moment to have his six-year-old body lose control of his trike, run into the golf cart and flip over the handle bars in a big fall.

He began to cry, drawing the guard’s attention. Virgil swooped right in and rooted around his fanny pack for a bandaid. Then he pointed the finger of doom at the guards.

“What do you think you are doing? You park right in the middle of the sidewalk?” Virgil began, speaking fluent Suburban Bullshit. His finger of doom distracted from him putting the swiped bottle into the front basket of Kero’s trike.

Virge and Kero made the guards look left. So, I moved right and towards the house.

My journey was halted by the tingling of magic I felt around the perimeter of the house. It was a ward. It didn’t matter what kind it was. In a place like this, that meant this house was most likely our target.

I threw some dirt on the ward. Didn’t set it off. Meant I had means of getting through it.

I looked inside the windows to scope out the inside. I found girls’ clothing spilled on the floors. In the corner of one room, I clocked a metal cube. I couldn’t tell what it was precisely, but it was the right size and shape for a safe.

Double bingo.

I jogged back to the street and flashed an okay sign at Virgil, letting him know we could move on. He finished the bandaid job and tapped Kero on the knee.

“There you go, Connell.” Virgil said, “Uncle Warren needs to take you school now.”

“Okay…” Kerouac said. He got up, and we all left to jog back home.

We jogged back in a cluster so we could easily talk.

“Nice moves.” I said to my companions.

“You’re welcome.” Virgil and Kero said in unison. I only remembered then that the two of them had thieved together before. They probably had done that same act before.

As we jogged away, we noticed the same car from earlier pull in and out. Two girls got into the car. Virgil clocked it too, because his megamind picked up some things I missed.

“The teens are carpooling. The driver looks twenty-something and didn’t get out.”

“Weren’t there three girls yesterday?” I asked.

“Yeah. Might be nothing. Might be a rotating watch. Always someone inside.”

“What did you find in the dumpster?” I asked Virge.

“Top shelf brands of booze. The recycles and garbage were full to the brim.” Virgil said, “Teenagers raiding the liquer cabinet?”

I put two and two together.

“The girls are housesitting. That place is definitely Barry’s. Covered in girls’ clothes, a big looking safe, and the house is warded.”

“Sword in the safe for sure.”

“Why’d you swipe a bottle?”

“Thaumaturgy” He said, “You might be able to use it.”

The girl’s clothes made a terrible thought come out outloud, “Goldman probably had orgies in there.”

“Ew…” Virgil said at almost the same time I did.

“If there is a ward on the house, the teens probably have a charm to get through them.” I said.

“I’ll handle the sword.” Virgil said with utter confidence, “I can try to tailgate in or nick their charm. Or, I talk them up into letting me in. However I get in, I can crack the safe.”

“We have options. What if you can’t crack the safe?”

“We rip it off the floor and take it with us. I’ll torch the house on my way out just to spite Goldman. ”

I smiled at my old friend. Our mission wasn’t so impossible anymore.

Part 04: Kerouac

DFA_ECR_Log_0906_004.pngI tried to make a good impression for my first day of First Grade. Good first impressions go a long way, especially for mortals. Mortals tend to judge another mortal by their first encounter, no matter how many decades ago it was.

Play yourself as a fool on your first meeting, you will a fool in the mortal’s mind for the rest of their days. Play yourself as a predator, they will fear you.

For this mission, I had to play the part of an attentive student. A child more gifter than most, but not too gifted.

So, I showed up early to my classroom and claimed a front corner seat far from the window. A coveted place for hand raisers. I suspected it was a test by my teacher. A test to see if I was really engaged by the material or merely a fluke of luck.

In truth, I was bored out of my mind. I would much rather be making deals.

My target, Pauline didn’t do anything in class to attract attention. She kept to herself and raised her hand occasionally but tried very hard to be unnoticed.

I, of course, am an expert in being both noticed and unnoticed, and she did seem to have some skill in being unnoticed.

I found Pauline arriving with a dark-haired girl name Elaina. Elaina would prove to be my weakness.

I hear Elaina whispering of her father, who was a doctor with a weird patient. Something about the child drew me to her. I sensed something about her. Some kind of potential I couldn’t completely identify.

I played my role as dutiful student. The teacher covered the Aztecs and other advanced subjects more advanced for our grade, but made expertly palatable for our age.

Strangely, she did not gloss over the aspects of the fallen society regular Americans would find troubling such as human sacrifice. Human sacrifice was no longer in vogue, but introducing it this early would no doubt aid the cult’s ambitions.

It took all my concentration not to make my Irish blood boil.

I channeled what Fergus had establish in the Parent Teacher Conference. I raised my hand dutifully and gave answers with just enough of a pause to simulate trying to remember. It put me in the top percentile of my grade without making me too perfect.

I made my move at recess. For some reason, Fergus didn’t arrive at the appointed time. A lost dodge ball, apparently. So, I had to engage with my target directly. I could at least keep her occupied.

As I closed on my target, I found Elaina again. My curious nature made me unable to do anything but find out more about this enigma of a child. I found her with Pauline and another girl from the other side of the class.

“Hey, new Kid.” Elaina said, taking over the conversation before it started.

“Hi.” I said.

“This is Pauline, and this is Juanita”

My smile did not have to faked. I liked a precocious youth.

“My Dad’s the P.E. Teacher. What does your Dad do?” I asked.

“He’s a doctor. A medical examiner. He looks at dead bodies.” Elaina said.

“Dead bodies” I said with glee, .”What’re the weirdest dead bodies he’s ever seen?”

“A guy who fell into a vat in a chemical factory.”

“Really?” I gasped, “What a terrible accident.”

“I think he was pushed.” Elaina said.

I spent the next few minutes trying to figure this mystery girl out. Unfortunately, I fell into her trap. Not only did I not figure out what was up about the girl, I didn’t remember the mission until the bell rang to return inside.


“How was recess?” Fergus said when he finally returned, finding me with Elaina.

“I made a new friend. Her Dad’s a Medical Examiner.” I said.

“Now, what did I tell you about saying morbid stuff?”

“She turned purple. I think it was iodine-based.” Elaina said without prompting. She clearly caught Fergus off-guard with her candor. I did find out that she spoke like a decently advanced first grader who uses the jargon she hears around the house.

Fergus shook her hand with a look of unease.

“I’m Elaina Matthews”

We then made our way inside. I walked with Fergus and noticed his apprehension.

“Elaina seems interesting. I can’t tell why.” I whispered, “Did you sense something?”

Fergus nodded.

“For a brief moments, I had a mental image of hunting her in the woods.”

“Curious…” I replied.

Our day continued on into more boring subjects. Worse, the further the day went on, the more I got to know Pauline. The more I learned of Pauline as an innocent child, the less I could even think about harming her.

She looked so much like my friends from the fields of Ireland. The ones who didn’t survive the famine.

Perhaps I had spent too much time in this form.

I couldn’t find an opportunity until group activities. Some kind of origami.

I strategically moved my desk near Pauline’s.

I licked the paper to help fold the paper. I tried to get Pauline to do the same thing, but she didn’t fall for it.

But, that was when I found that she always brought her own lunch, complete with utensils.

“What happened?” Fergus asked as soon as I got out of class.

“I’m sorry, Dad.” I replied, holding his hand as we left the school grounds.

“How are we supposed to get her blood from her now? We are running out of time.”

“I never said I didn’t get it.”

I then pulled out the knife and fork I had swiped from her lunchbox.

”I just didn’t want to punch her in the face.”

Part 05: Jack Youngblood

DFA_ECR_Log_0906_005.pngWe went for dinner out that night to get outside the ward. Kerouac took the opportunity to become a cat and stretch his paws. Virgil obliged his request for scritches for a heist well done.

As soon as we were far enough away, I had Fergus pull us over. Sunset was soon, and if there were any traces left on the suspect silverware, the transition from day to night would wash them away. Good thing we knew a good private spot in the woods nearby from back when we had come to check out Silver Falls the first time. I made a small magic circle in the dirt and sealed it with my will. Not my best work, but it didn’t have to be.

I placed down the knife and fork that Kero had stolen. I opened my third eye and looked at them with my Wizard’s Sight.

The Sight was something any wizard could do. It allowed a magic user to see the world as it actually was. It let you see through illusions and the currents of magic all around you. It was dangerous, because anything you Saw was burning in indelible ink in your memory. You never forgot anything you Saw, no matter how horrible.

But for this, it was worth it.

I Saw on the utensils emotional traces of its former user. Paulene was isolated and withdrawn from trying to leave no trace.

There was something else deeper beneath. Out of the fork came a wisp of wind with an extra tingle behind it. My mind’s eye told me it was a deep hint of power wanting to come out someday. The scent of a magical talent. Being able to sense anything from someone her age, well you never know for sure, but you’d bet on a fair amount of power to come…

I had to know. No choice now.

I cut my hand open and let my blood run thicker than any water. My blood Blazed With Power, made all the more potent as a sacrifice for knowledge: Currents of magic, echoes of the past my ties to the spirit world, and hidden underneath all of that, a sparkle of something somehow deeper and unearthly… Something I had never seen in any other man or monster with the unforgettable power of The Sight until…

I compared my essence to that the child who had eaten with them, all my will to focus on seeing the faint hints after the massive glow of my own shed blood, and faintly, oh so faintly, there was that same wonderous sparkle.

A Hope.

A Chance,

A Connection.

I closed my Sight, broke the circle, and lost my balance. Virgil caught me.

“It’s her. My daughter is here.” I said.

Fergus let out a breath he had been holding for what sounded like a week.

“We’ll get her out, Jack.” Virgil said.

I started crying. I don’t know for how long. Then the lights started to get to me.

I passed out from exhaustion. But with the knowledge that my little girl was here and I was going to bring her home.



Book 09: Chapter 06

Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem HumAnnoyd