Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 03: Blood Ties: Chapter 07
The Demon’s Strife
Transcribed by: James
Date: December 10, 2017
In Game date: November, 2011
David Clay was in darkness. As a golem he did not sleep and had never understood the human preoccupation with dreaming. But after a few hours in isolation he found his mind strangely at ease. His righteous rage was quieted and he felt a profound peace that gave him a deeper insight into mortals.
When Lucy Smith-Einar had proposed putting him in a packing crate and shipping him through the heavy security at the Radcliffe Interdisciplinary Research Center he had realized that the idea was quite clever. Lucy was right that he didn’t need to breath and wouldn’t be bothered by being sealed in the shipping container. The golem did not experience claustrophobia and could reform his shape to conform to the crate. No human, no matter how much they contorted their body, could manage to fit in the container without the removal of a limb or three. It made it extremely unlikely that he would have any trouble making it past the check points. Especially if his box was marked hazardous materials and Lucy submitted the proper paperwork for a shipment. However, the golem felt the pangs of anxiety threaten his calm. He was at least a half hour overdue for being released by Lucy. Something must have gone wrong.
David had grown impatient and as stealthily as possible had pried open the crate he was in and climbed out. It was pitch black in the parking garage with absolutely no lights working at all. Alarmed David did his best to use his other senses to figure out what was going on. He wasn’t sure but he thought he might have heard some muffled gun shots. Cautiously he made his way across the loading bay. It was the smell that alerted him that something had gone horribly wrong. The sweet, coppery smell of blood was overwhelming.
He came across a body and he realized that it had been ripped apart by someone or something. He determined it was a security guard and grabbed the dead man’s flashlight. It flickered and sparked for a moment and David held his breath. He suspected that magical energies were wreaking havoc with the local power grid and worried that the flashlight wouldn’t work. Luckily, it was a very basic and relatively old technology and it cast a dim light that pierced the oppressive darkness. David panned the light over the corpse on the ground at his feet. The man was obviously a security guard who had been ripped to shreds by something savage and powerful. Everywhere the man’s blood had spilled was now covered in a mass of black mold. David grimaced. That was not good. Could the demon, Sebassis, have gotten free?
He cautiously made his way to the thick door and opened it. He saw bullet holes that riddled the walls and two more bodies. They were ripped to shreds and covered in the same corrupting black mold. He heard a woman’s screams from down the hallway that were answered by savage, inarticulate bellows. Recognizing Lucy’s voice he charged toward the cries.
He rounded a corner and found a mold covered body that was blasted into a heavy brick wall by some mysterious force and another one that had been nearly incinerated by an unimaginable heat. David had been around wizards before and recognized the signs of magic. Lucy had defended herself bravely. What chilled the golem’s heart was the bright splash of blood that hadn’t been corrupted by the black mold. David’s analytical mind immediately deduced that Lucy had been ambushed and had used her magic to defeat two foes. But it wasn’t enough. She had suffered a terrible wound and a blood trail led down the hall to where all the commotion was going on.
Enraged David charged around another corner to see a desperate Lucy holding a battered door leading to the security office closed while a horrific, mold covered Lunatisidhe, a corrupted minion of Sebassis, screamed for her blood. Using his momentum David slammed into the murderous creature with all of his considerable might embedding the creature into the wall with a horrific crunch. Lucy collapsed to the ground holding the terrible wound in her abdomen. She coughed blood and desperately told David that it was Sebassis. He must have gotten free. They had to stop the demon or the whole region would suffer. David grabbed a med kit from the wall and did his best to stop the bleeding. He realized that without medical aid it was likely the brave young woman would eventually succumb to her wounds. But she was clearly determined to see this through. Concentrating Lucy held up half of a heart pendant and it began to glow warmly. But David did not notice. He was distracted by the wild screams of more Lunatisidhe that charged down the hall at him. He braced his powerful shoulders and prepared to meet the onslaught.
Outside the heavily secured research facility Fergus Mac Cormaic paced impatiently. The three of them had worked out a pretty good plan to get David and Fergus past the powerful wards and mundane security of the research facility. After releasing the golem from his crate Lucy was supposed to lower the wards that prevented Fergus from using his affinity for gating through the Nevernever to any place he desired. She was then supposed to activate a beacon for him to hone in on with her magic. The young Guardian held up the necklace that Lucy had given him. It was one of those half a heart pendants. Lucy carried the other half and was to use her magic to create a sympathetic bond between the two pieces and Fergus was supposed to gate to her location. But she was late and the young man was getting impatient. He paced the outer edge of the facility’s perimeter while under a veil trying to discern if the guards were acting any different. All seemed calm at first but then a whole bunch of the guards grabbed weapons and charged towards the main building. That was when the power went out for the whole neighborhood.
Fergus was just about to charge into the facility and damn the consequences when the sigils on the outer wall flashed briefly with a bright light that faded out slowly. Was that the wards? Then the heart pendant began to glow. Centering himself, Fergus concentrated and gated to the other pendant. He appeared in the middle of bedlam.
He was in a hallway leading to what was obviously the main security office for the floor. David fiercely held off a pair of grotesque creatures covered in black mold who were screeching and tearing long furrows in his clay body with their bony claws. Lucy, covered in blood lay in a heap on the floor of the office and Fergus knew she had been seriously hurt.
Angered, he charged up behind one of the creatures and grabbed it. It squirmed and struggled to get free but Fergus was able to use his superior strength to break the creature’s neck with a savage twist. David took advantage of the distraction and punched his massive fist into the other one so hard that its head crumpled under the impact. It fell like a puppet with its strings cut.
After they all caught their breath (except for David who doesn’t breath) Lucy led them down the hall toward a power junction box. David tripped several breakers after examining the diagram on the door and eerie red emergency lights came on. They went to a door marked “Stairs” and were confronted by a wall of spores that whirled around on some unseen breeze.
Realizing that Sebassis was using the spores to spread his influence over all who breathed them Lucy quickly shut the stairwell door. After a moment’s thought she staggered over to a utility closet clutching her wounds gingerly. She used her card key to open the closet and pulled out gas masks for her and Fergus. David grabbed another one as a backup. They went back to the stairs and peered down into the darkness. David was impressed by the young woman’s resolve to continue despite her wounds. He found a table and used it as a litter to carry the wizard hopefully reducing stress on her injuries.
The trio descended down the stairs in silence going several stories below ground level. They paused when Fergus spotted a broken door barely hanging on its hinges on the landing below. He could see an arm sprawled out on the floor but couldn’t get an angle to see beyond that. Several stories below they heard terrified screaming and gunshots. Erring on the side of caution Fergus used Fae Magics to veil himself from sight and proceeded to the landing below. The Guardian realized that the arm was not attached to a body. Several mold covered Lunatisidhe wandered aimlessly around the devastated offices on this floor. He saw bodies on the floor that had bee ripped apart that were twitching as mold covered their wounds taking the place of devastated flesh. Fergus got David’s attention and signaled him to be ready. He went to the severed arm and picked it up and threw it down the hall hitting a desk causing a loud clamor. The moldy creatures all cried out at the sound and charged toward the commotion. David lumbered past the doorway on Fergus’s signal and the three of them continued down the stairs unnoticed.
They all observed the black mold that seemed to be growing over every surface becoming thicker and thicker the further down they went. The last couple of floors the walls and floors were covered in organic growths making it seem like they were in the belly of some giant mold creature. Fergus felt a strange tingle and realized that this part of the facility had been dragged into a corner of the Nevernever. Sebassis’s own demesne most likely. David put Lucy down and the young woman approached a massive vault door leading to the main lab. Pulling out her key card she ran it through and then placed her thumb on the fingerprint reader. The lock squawked negatively and a red light came on. Lucy tried again and got the same results. She explained they must be on Lockdown. The only way they could get into the door was to get the identity card of the Security Chief. His office was on the floor that they had skirted by with the severed arm. Someone was going to have to go in there and find that card.
After doing his best to conceal Lucy under the stairs David joined Fergus on the landing below the offices. Conferring quietly they decided that Fergus would go in under his concealing veil and David would wait here as backup in case the changeling was spotted. Fergus made his way to the devastated offices and began creeping past the milling mold covered monsters. They twitched and jerked randomly making it so much harder to get by them no matter how much he studied their movements for a pattern. Despite being as careful as possible the random movements forced Fergus to jump into an office to avoid running into one. There he was confronted with several more of the creatures milling around.
Deducing he would be discovered if he continued in this manner the Guardian scrutinized his surroundings and found a large bunch of cables going into the ceiling. Remembering that the heavy cables often had reinforced access ways that could take him across the office he decided it was his best course. Like a wild wind dancing around a rainbow, he flowed up a bookcase and into a ceiling panel before the Lunatisidhe spotted him. He followed the heavy cables to the main security office in the corner, waited for his moment, and dropped down and quietly closed the door with a heavy click. The sound galvanized the monsters but Fergus’s veil kept him hidden and they eventually lost interest.
Letting out a sigh of relief Fergus went past the entry room full of darkened monitors to the posh office for the Security Chief. He found him lying on the floor, twitching, with his throat ripped out. Black mold was growing in the wound and Fergus realized it wouldn’t be long before the creature rose again. Fergus stepped on the fledgling Lunatisidhe’s throat and when its eyes flew open and attacked he twisted his leg, breaking the creatures neck. He patted the corpse down and found the security card he needed. Now he just needed one more thing.
After getting everything he needed Fergus created another disturbance away from the main entrance and when the Lunatisidhe were distracted he ran as fast as he could, hurtling desks and flipping over debris and out to the stair well with supernatural speed. David awaited patiently and acknowledged his bravery with a stoic nod and the two went back down the stairs to confront the demon and end this madness once and for all.
Lucy ran the card through the reader and placed her thumb over the fingerprint scanner. It buzzed negatively again. Fergus, smiling, held up a hankerchief and pulled out a severed thumb he had taken from the Chief. He placed it on the scanner and it beeped merrily flashing green. The door was unlocked! The massive vault door swung open and they were confronted by a scene out of nightmares. The large open lab was overgrown by molding black vines and branches that covered the walls and much of the modern equipment. A massive blackthorn tree grew in the back of the lab taking up a huge amount of space. It had glowing eyes and a mouth with an expression of naked hate and a hunger for blood. It roared in challenge at the sight of the two who had defied it so effectively.
Around the tree was a litter of bodies including a young man who was in what appeared to be a coma. His hospital bed was in the middle of an elaborate magical circle that held Sebassis’s roots and branches at bay. Lucy explained that they had used the strange ability of the comatose Troy Wilkerson, called the Un-Man, to absorb vast amounts of mana from Sebassis allowing them to control it. If Sebassis was able to get that power back it would be unstoppable. They had to prevent that from happening. She then passed out from her wounds.
David saw that his old nemesis, The Patient One, was wrapped up in prehensile branches and vines with one of them seemingly digging into his skull. He surmised that Sebassis was attempting to gain the knowledge necessary to break the circle that was keeping it away from the Un-man. The demonic blackthorn tree roared again in challenge nearly deafening them all.
David placed Lucy on the stairwell and charged into the room with righteous fury only to be repulsed by a whirling mass of branches and roots that flailed his clay body knocking him back. Fergus, calling on his substantial speed, jumped over, ducked beneath and even danced along the length of the branches that attacked him. He rode the momentum of a whipping branch and landed gracefully barely avoiding another root that erupted at his feet. Sparks flew from the circle around protecting the Un-man and they could both smell the ozone as the wards struggled against Sebassis’s attacks.
Using the distraction of Fergus’s amazing agility David grabbed the branches that were wrapped around The Patient One and, using his prodigious strength, ripped them apart freeing his old nemesis. The demon screamed again and its cries were answered by all the Lunatisidhe from the floors above. Fergus caught the Patient One and ran to the stairwell where Lucy lay. A multitude of branches and roots stabbed, slashed and whipped at the Guardian of the Seven Gates and he somehow avoided them all. Fergus jumped over, flipped around and ducked beneath the onslaught in an impressive display of acrobatics. But Sebassis was an ancient foe and canny. He tricked the changeling with a feint from the ground again and when Fergus jumped Sebassis engulfed him with some branches grabbing The Patient One as well.
Seeing that his friend was in peril David charged toward the main trunk of the demon. Using his momentum, David wound up, his fists burning with righteous fury and landed a powerful haymaker that rocked the demon in its place. The mighty blow sent a deep crack through the main body of the demonic blackthorn and its cries were yet again echoed by its Lunatisidhe minions.
Squirming Fergus slipped out of his jacket leaving it behind in the grasping vines. He was about to move to attack Sebassis but saw that roots and vines were hurtling toward the unconscious Lucy. She would be flailed alive if he didn’t act to save her. Having no choice he dove to her and deflected a stabbing vine away from her chest at the last second. The demon kept him pinned down on the stairs protecting the young woman from a flurry of attacks. Above he could hear a horde of Lunatisidhe coming to their master’s aid. They would be overrun in moments. Their chances of survival would be insignificant if they were pinched between the blackthorn demon and its followers from above. He scooped up the unconscious Lucy and charged inside the main lab closing the heavy vault door behind him. They would have to take their chances against the blackthorn.
Taking the fight to the demon, David grabbed a slab of metal from the wall and slammed it into the crack he had created with his powerful blow. Sebassis snarled and defied the golem’s might and began to try to pound its way through the wards again, using the recaptured Patient One’s knowledge.
Wanting to go on the offensive Fergus spotted some flammable chemicals and created a ring of fire around the unconscious wizard. He then charged back into the fight alongside his friend. David began grabbing limbs and roots and ripping them apart doing as much damage as he could.
Fergus was struck a glancing blow by the flailing limbs but managed to get close enough to light the vial of ether he had and throw it on the demon’s branches. The demon shrieked in panic and rage the sound echoed again by its savage minions. The blackthorn writhed around plunging the burning parts of it into the ground smothering the flames. While it was dealing with that David ripped the monster from the earth with a terrifying display of strength, uprooting the demon and exposing it to the flames. Fergus threw another firebomb on the bare roots and it ignited in a conflagration that burned with a white hot heat. Sebassis’s shrieks reached a fever pitch and with a sudden implosion the demon lost its hold on Earth and was burned away in a frenzy of flames.
Before the two victors could react a shadowy figure exploded out the shadows and caught the Patient One before he fell to the ground. The Knife of Hunger – Nôž Hladu glared at them before opening a passage into the Nevernever to escape the shaking subbasement.
Fergus grabbed Lucy while David went to the comatose figure in the bed. Fortunately, the demon’s death throws had broken the circle allowing the golem to grab him. The golem felt slightly drained by the contact with the young man. As if he were somehow absorbing the magic that animated his clay form. The four of them gathered close and with a mighty effort Fergus was able to open his own Way through the Nevernever back to the grounds of the facility.
Fire and police sirens were almost upon them. Fergus laid Lucy out in the open so the first responders would find her and tend her wounds. She was employed there after all so she should be fine. Suddenly the building seemed to implode in on itself before a gas line detonated and it was engulfed in flames burning away all evidence of what had occurred. He and David absconded into the night with the young man’s comatose form.