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Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 03: Blood Ties: Chapter 06
The Entropy Curse
Transcribed by: Simon
Date: November 12, 2017
In Game date: November, 2011
Things just got serious. I don’t know what was worse, the smell of blood and guts or knowing that smell was coming from my own entrails, pressing against my hand, as I held myself together. I looked up at David, as he carried me, like some prom queen, out of the woods, to flashing lights. As he waves down the medics and helps get me strapped into the gurney in the back of the ambulance, I see the blur of Adrian in raven-form, land on one of the benches along the inside of the vehicle.
I begin to fade out as the pain washes over me but suddenly I’m brought back to the panicked caws and croaks of Adrian screaming. Next thing you know, the world tips upside down, the ambulance careening out of control, blood spurting from the decapitated driver, as a friggin water hydrant bounces off the ceiling above the gurney and plows through the back of the ambulance. How am I in the street with the other dead medic on top of me? Oh god, it hurts!
As soon as I get a chance to breath, I’m up, taking in the scene. A car has swerved into the ambulance’s path, taken out a hydrant, which blew through our windshield, causing the carnage. The water from the busted main is spurting out from under the car and pooling in the street and David is staggering out of the cab of the ambulance, covered in what I assume is the unlucky driver’s blood. I assume the other medic died while shielding me from the crash, I spare a moment thank him and my luck.
Suddenly, Adrian flies right over my head, screaming about some kind of curse; “Get to the church! The church! It can’t get us in the church!” as he flies down the street a few hundred feet to what looks like an old brick church. David lumbers up to me and sees I can barely stand, and picks me up as thunder peals and shakes the building around us. The tree beside us suddenly creaks, moans and begins to bend above us. I watch in horror as it begins to fall on us, but David, thinking quickly, drops me into the quickly moving water to shield me from the curse and stands beneath the tree, bracing it with his powerful for just a moment before it staggers him, pushing him beneath it’s considerable weight. I begin to pull myself painfully to my feet, pushing through the pain as I hobble towards the church, trusting the big guy is more than tough enough to deal with what amounts to a potted plant when it comes to his stubborn strength.
I am only a few steps from the church when I hear another peal of thunder and I look up to see an old woman standing on the roof of the adjacent walkup slowly step off, to plummet to the pavement. Without thinking, I gather my strength and push myself to speed into the small street awning protecting the produce of the small bodega in the ground floor walkup. The awning bends, and angles just right to bounce the suicidal woman into a pile of pumpkins. She screams as her leg breaks, but at least he’s alive.
I’m starting to realize this curse is causing accidents, targeting us, and I need to get to the church now, to avoid it hurting anyone else. Maybe it will stop hurting other people to get to me, if I can keep out of it’s crosshairs! I stumble the last few steps to the entrance of the church. I am a little worried the priest won’t let me in or ask too many questions if he sees all the blood so I make an effort to bring up a glamour, to calm his suspicion, but I must have lost too much of my own blood to make it convincing and he pales when he sees me. He does let me in but insists on calling the police. I’ll take what I can get.
Almost immediately, the malice and rage I felt from the curse fades and all I’m left with is the gut wrenching (pun intended) pain of my wound. I manage to convince the priest to lend me borrow his phone and I dial up Aunt B whose clinic is only about a half mile away. I tell her to be ready for us and that we’ve got a curse on our butts and I need some serious stitching up. I can almost hear her roll her eyes at us.
David lumbers in, covered in blood, mud and a few stray leaves, but otherwise okay. Adrian gives us the lowdown on the curse (it’s targeting me specifically and even though it’s run it’s course for now, it’s only a matter of time before it’s cast at me again). As if on cue, the thunder and lightning peals outside.
David steps out to check for more carnage, I hear the squealing of tires, a woman’s scream, followed by more screeching metal and burning break pads. As I limp to the door I see another car, freshly flipped under a collapsed scaffold, a woman pushing a baby stroller, running from the crash, and David kneeling in the street, as another car plows into him, as he keeps it from running her and the first car over. Damn, that man is tough. I guess golems don’t worry too much about stubbed toes, broken bones, or ghouls ripping open their guts. Ugh, lucky bastard. David stands slowly, his clothes in tatters, covered in blood and I want to cut the tension by saying “Come with me if you want to live!” but the pain is just too much.
“Here, for your friend” says the priest, as he hands me a sweater, obviously from the lost and found; it’s a hideous christmas sweater. How ironic. David shrugs into the sweater, giving me a wry look before hefting me into his arms again.
“Let’s get to the clinic, now!”, I growl, tasting blood. The curse seems to have spent itself for now and we’ve probably only got minutes before it’s cast again.
There seemed to be a lot more people out and about, gawking at the chaos and generally getting in the big guy’s way. I took a deep breath, shaking out the fog from my blood-deprived brain and visualized the fastest route we could possibly take through back alleys and less touristy streets. I was surprised when David actually took my advice and started taking the turns at speed. In what seemed like no time we arrived at the clinic.
Aunt B and her disapproving glare was waiting for us. I began to fade as David described how that damned ghoul-what did he just call him, The Knife of Hunger-and Aunt B’s face paled. Next thing I know David shakes me as the malevolence of the curse bears down on me yet again.
A young janitor standing down the hallway stumbled over his mop bucket, spilling the dirty water across the faded tile, and catches himself on a nearby wheeled defibrillator which topples into the water pooling at our feet. I hear the machine charge itself up. Oh crap.
Instinctively I reach up to the doorway David is standing beneath on his way into a stairwell and wedge myself up and away from the hazard. The machine goes off, David plants himself but doesn’t flinch, the lights flicker and my hair, as well as Aunt B’s and David’s rise with the static discharge. That was way too close.
I notice that the devilishly handsome Dr. Wotensen, standing by Aunt B., is unaffected. What a tool.
“Quickly, we don’t have any time left!”, snaps Aunt B. David pulls me from my perch, rushes me downstairs to the basement of the clinic. My eyes adjust quickly to the muted candlelit room we enter and sigh in relief as I am deposited onto a gurney sitting within a bronze protective circle. The ward seems to have been cast directly into the concrete floor.
I look at Aunt B. She casts a critical eye across my battered bones. “It’s not the strongest ward, but it should hold long enough to patch you up. And long enough for you to think on how you’re going to break the news to that young lady of yours. She deserves the truth, young man.”
Dr. Wotensen steps up beside me and begins to cut away my blood-soaked shirt. I don’t know what to say but I nod my head reluctantly. I know I need to tell Anna. I just don’t know how. I can’t lose her, no matter what. The last thing I remember, before blackness takes over, is Lucy Smith-Einar’s face as she walks into the room.
When I open my eyes, my stomach is stapled, my arm aches from the IV drip and I’ve got the taste of seven trolls camping and relieving themselves in my mouth. Ugh. David and Lucy are hunched together at a table in the corner, talking quietly, probably trying to let me rest. When they see I’m awake they quickly catch me up.
It seems Lucy has been blackmailed into continuing to work for Vanguard. She’s not happy about what they’ve been up to and wants our help to stop it. David has agreed on the condition that she help us find whoever is casting the curse on me. It just so happens she knows right where the bastard is holed up; the Casa Del Ray Apartments, just a few block away. A Fomor sorcerer is hunkered down there, getting ready to throw another curse at me. Lucy says she can help to shield us with her magic while we take him out. A few minutes later we’re cruising in her old beamer, on our way to the apartments.
“He’s going to be guarded, how are you getting in?”, asks Lucy. As she turns onto the street we’re looking for, I catch a glimpse of a dim sign on the corner; “Uncle Lee’s Chinese” and a young, pimpled delivery boy in his faded brown smock heading for his bicycle, carrying bags full of grease and sadness. “I have an idea”, I say.
Lucy pulls into a nearby parking lot as we approach the roach-infested block. As she turn off the engine we can hear the steady of beat of some horrendous hip-hop droning across the street. “Give me a second to scout the place out and then we’ll see how we can get inside”, I tell David. He nods and settles back in his seat while I cloak myself in a trusty invisibility glamour.
As I pad quietly up to the den of villainy, I take in the scene. The complex takes up one third of the small city block and stands at sullen three stories. It’s windows are mostly boarded up, or dark, with only a handful showing lights behind hastily strung up sheets. There’s a group of budding thugs hanging on the stoop out front of the main entrance, listening to their awful music and trying to look tough. Neck tattoos seem to be popular on this block. In back there’s 3 more henchmen wannabes playing a lackluster game of hoops. One kid runs up to the players with a wad of money, and hands it off to another kid, while a third stoops to grab a wrinkled paper bag from a dumpster and runs back into the alleyway the first kid came from. Drug operation of some kind.
Almost feels like they choreographed the whole thing after watching 15 minutes of “The Wire”. Amateurs. I smile as I slip back to David and give him the rundown. “These guys aren’t the smartest. I think we can bluff our way in. Maybe one of them will let on where the baddie is.” I concentrate for a moment, and next thing you know, David and I are in matching Lee smocks and we’re carrying pretty decent simulacra of paper bags filled with Wontons and Listeria. I realize if I lose focus, my glamour will go up in a poof, but I’m pretty sure I can hold it until we get inside. David looks down at his costume and then at me and nods stoically. What a sport.
As we walk up to the dingy entrance, the thug-in-chief steps up and looks us over.
“Hold up, you can’t come in here.”
I hold up my fake delivery bag and put on my most clueless smile.
“C’mon, man. I got a bunch of deliveries to get to tonight. All I know is this one is going to-”, oh shit, I just realized I have no idea which floor this piece of crap is squatting on. “-uh…the second floor.”
Mr. Neck Tattoo’s eyes widen suddenly, in what looks like a mix of fear and disgust.
“Man, that guy is weird. I didn’t even know he ate. I can barely stand the stench. Make sure you get back down here fast, man.”
Well, that was a lucky guess. I guess my Irish has taken a bit of a break for today. He steps aside and we walk into the most run-down lobby I’ve ever seen. Trash everywhere. Graffiti covering nearly every flat surface. A few squatters are lurking around near the stairs, the noisome haze of weed assaulting already stunned nostrils. We make our way swiftly up to the second floor, stepping gingerly between discarded needles and empty beer cans. David grunts as he nods towards the small group of toughs seemingly on guard around a door at the end of the hall.
“Let me do the talking”, I mutter. He shrugs. I’m getting the feeling that his gift of gab really seems to kick in when the legal briefs come up. No worries. I talked my way past the first guy, I’m sure I can work my magic again!
As I move up to goon in charge I hear the chilling sound of a calked shotgun and look down to see it casually leveled at my midsection.
“Woah there, big guy! I just have some wontons and fortune cookies here for the big man. Can I just drop them off and be on my way?”
“How the hell did you get past the front door? We were told not to let anyone in there. You need to go!” the gunman growls as he steps a few feet closer. He looks me over, seemingly unconvinced.
I try to slowly close the distance while I keep up the bluff.
“Hey, buddy. I just go where my boss tells me to go and he told me to-”, I bring my arm up quickly in an underhand throw, the bag flying into the bad man’s face. He flinches as the glamour explodes into greasy mist and dissipates, his shotgun goes off, the shells crashing into the wall by my head as I rush in towards him. The discharge startles him and nearly deafens me as I grab for his gun hand. We both fumble and the weapon clatters to the floor. As I duck his thrown punch, I see David’s bag sail over our heads and poofs into nothing against the stained hallway wall. I realize that we’re about to be overwhelmed by this guys buddies running up behind him and turn our scuffle over the gun into a full tackle, pulling him into a scrum, scattering the thugs for a moment. As I hoped, David takes the opportunity and scoops the shotgun up off the ground to level it at the goons. However, as the gun settles into he hands, the curse suddenly crashes down around us and I nearly lose my footing, bracing myself against the wall as the guy I’m wrestling falls backward. He pulls out a pistol, which I am able to quickly snatch from him and level at his head.
“Step back!” I yell. He grins as his boys pull their own guns and start shooting.
I instinctively flip backwards, narrowly dodging the spray of bullets as David leaps past me at the attacker, swinging the shotgun like a club. The thud of the wooden stock against bone and tendon is almost sickening and I move in to back him up. Suddenly as he pulls the shotgun back for another bruising attack, the curse swells to a fever pitch and I’m suddenly looking down the barrels as the gun calks on it’s own. Oh. Shit.
I begin to see my life flash before my eyes when suddenly the curse collapses and disappears, the malice disappearing as quickly as one of my faux delivery bags. The gun clicks but does not discharge. Way to go Lucy!
I quickly dispatch the last two thugs as David moves to the door they were guarding. I think I can hear muttered curses from the other side. David tries the doorknob halfheartedly.
“Locked?” I ask.
His mouth quirks in a wry grin before calmly kicking the door off it’s hinges as if he were simply scraping a turd from his shoe. Man, I’m glad he’s on my side right now. The room we enter is somehow even more filthy than the rest of this forsaken flophouse. The walls seem to be weeping with mold and squatting in the center of the squalor is a small mannish type figure, surrounded by all manner of magical symbols. He, no, it rises to it’s feet and screams, his words sounding somehow soggy; “My life for the master!”
I grab a chair beside doorway and fling it at the charging figure, connecting with the knife he is trying to gut me with. It is only a few moments of exchanged blows before I’ve driven the little fiend into a corner. He suddenly turns the knife on himself. Gutting himself like a fish as he screams unintelligible words. I turn to see David knocking over and obscuring the magical symbols with a fire extinguisher he’s found somewhere in the kitchenette. He tosses me a bag that he tells me has some important stuff in it. I assume it’s probably some of my blood and who know what other nasty ritual stuff. We step out onto the fire escape and I bring up my invisibility veil to cover David’s imposing form. I’m pretty sure I can sneak back to the car, but he’s not exactly easy to miss. A few minutes later he catches up to me at Lucy’s car where she’s anxiously waiting to whisk us away. Phew. What a night. David tells Lucy to get us onto Mercer Island, where we can get a bit of natural protection surrounded by water. I ask where we can get a cup of coffee. I’m exhausted.