Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 11: Chapter 04
Small Worlds, Big Problems
Transcribed by: Bradford
Date: May 28, 2023
In Game date: October 31, 2012
Episode: 59 (133)
Part 01: Jack Youngblood
After the whimsy of Toyland, I thought my migraine couldn’t get any worse. Then I found myself a few inches tall at best in the middle of a grassy field, staring at Tad the Trickster with a shit-eating grin on his face as stole a nuclear-powered time-bending artifact and a briefcase full of God-Knows-What.
And he laughed at me.
“He shrunk us?” Hiroko screamed, “What kind of ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’ bullshit is this?”
Hiroko was buried under the grass. David was the tallest of us and only the top of his head poked out over the green.
“Tad sabotaged the Way somehow, “I confirmed.
“Who is Tad?” Orenda asked, “That Jolly-Green Giant guy?”
I rubbed my temples just thinking about him, and explained.
“Tad the Trickster is a summer fey. A twisted, sick little fucker. He plays pranks on people, and they tend to go further than other faeries dare. Recently, they have been getting more violent.”
David nodded in acknowledgment, “Fergus and I ran afoul of him before in the Nevernever.”
“He crashed Fergus and my Cousin’s wedding, too.” Virgil said.
I still remember what the woman in white showed me when she tied me down in her vines. I remember the pain, the fear, the helplessness.
“I’m gonna kill that son-of-a-bitch.” I promised.
“I want a piece of him too.” Virgil said.
Hiroko checked her samurai sword diligently, “I will make sure he cannot hurt anyone else after today.”
Ever-stoic David didn’t share our enthusiasm for Tad’s murder.
“Perhaps we can arrange to get Tad put in the penguin exhibit.”
“Fuck that.” I said, unable to contain my anger, “I’m gonna kill him, roast him, put an apple in his mouth, and…”
“I’m gonna eat him.” Orenda said, licking her lips.
We all looked at Orenda in silent horror. She just shrugged.
“What?” Orenda said, “He’s not human.”
The silent horror lasted a moment longer…then we decided to get our bearings.
Orenda shifted forms into the smallest horned owl in the world and flew around in circles overhead. She returned and confirmed what we were able to figure out from context clues.
It was mid-day, the sun shining over us. Tad had dumped us in middle of Woodland Park, east of the Zoo. Being off-season, no one was there. Just green grass, benches, and a walking path.
We decided our best course was to head south towards the water fountains. Running water could wash off any enchantment Tad put on us. We considered the lake to the north, but we figured the fountain was safer.
At first, we were worried the walk would take too long. Then we tried jumping.
Gravity gets funky with small objects. Being smaller meant our muscles’ power-to-weight ratio was reversed. We jumped like we were on the moon and started making really good time.
A journey that would have us days, if not a week on foot, took a few hours at best. We found the occasional earthworm popping out of the dirt and some ants going back and forth, but our jumps allowed us to avoid the local wildlife.
I threw a veil over us with a ring I had prepared just to be safe. Sadly, magic was shrunk too. I would be lucky if my orbital death laser spell could light a match.
As we headed south, Hiroko jumped away from us and pulled out her phone. Virgil tried to get her attention, but she was too fast.
“It’s syncing! I got it!” Hiroko said enthusiastically. She then jumped back closer but kept her distance from me.
Virgil seemed less than enthused.
“We won’t be able to make calls,” Virgil said, “Not enough power to transmit.”
“I wasn’t trying to make a call.” Hiroko replied, “I wanted to check the time and the news.”
“Good call,” I said. I don’t use computers, so it was no wonder I hadn’t thought of it.
“How bad is it?” I asked.
Hiroko cringed and her face contorted as she continued to jump.
“Today is Halloween at around noon.” She said.
“We’ve been gone 16 days?” I shouted, “Abby will be worried sick.”
“I hope I still have a job…” Hiroko said.
“I hope I still have a lease.” Orenda said.
“I’ll spot your rent if the Pack doesn’t.” Virgil said, “How’s the traffic jam?”
Hiroko bounded forward as she scrolled and pushed buttons.
“The Traffic Jam has been about half-resolved. Local authorities have cleared most of the arterials.”
“That’s good at least.” I said.
“Then the riot started.” Hiroko said.
“Started as some parties. They have been escalating into full-blown mass civil unrest. Looting downtown.”
“Unbridled Entropy…” Virgil said, ‘It should burn out now that the watch is fixed.“
“Not soon enough.” I said, and conjured some wind for us to pick up the pace.
Our trip to the fountains was interrupted by a few hiccups. We jumped through the jungle of grass into a sandpit with sandcastles the size of the actual pyramids. We were lucky we didn’t get buried by a playful kid.
A deep-bass growl from the edge of the walking path. My veils kept us out of sight, allowing us to avoid the white mouse that was growling at us.
The doppler effect was fucking up sound for all of us.
Our path to the fountains was also blocked by a mom with her two kids and a dog. A chihuahua. The arsonist and violent repeat offender of dogs.
“We might have to get creative on this one.” Virgil said.
We started plotting our way to the fountain when something caught our eyes. A form bouncing up and down in the grass.
Hiroko went straight for her sword.
Virgil raised his pistol like he knew how to use it. I don’t know what the size change would do to the gunpowder, but I hoped he had earplugs. I raised a hand and shook my head.
“Who’s there?” I shouted.
A green shape the size of a convertible descended from the heavens and knocked us over with its impact. Its mandibles clicked in deep tones, echoing off the green chitin exoskeleton and long legs. When it filed its wings together and chirped, it sounded like the most angry Harley ever reving its engine. That doppler again. It’s a bitch!
The sound threw me off and it took a few seconds to realize it also had a saddle and bridle for its rider. A pixie or pixie-like sprite dressed in armor made from aluminum cans and pieces of cardboard. He held a plastic cocktail sword with sharpened pieces of metal attached to its blade like it was a real weapon.
Because of our size, he spoke in a regal-sounding baritone instead of his usual chipmunk.
“Ahoy there,” The faerie said, “Identify yourselves!”
Orenda blinked in surprise, “Is that a littlefolk knight riding a grasshopper?”
“That’s not a grasshopper, that’s a rancor.” Hiroko said, holding her sword tighter.
I raised my hands up and tried to be more diplomatic.
“We mean no harm, this a public park. Who might you be?”
“I am Gaily-had, “ The Faerie said, “Sworn knight of the Lid. Vascal to King Artoor.”
Virgil put his gun away and put his own hands up.
“We are friends, sir knight.” He nudged me in the ribs, “Announce yourself, dude.”
I straightened and spoke as regally as I could, “We are but travellers in this land. I am Jack Youngblood, Wizard and Warden of the White Council of Wizards. Sworn protector of Seattle.”
Gaily-had bowed his head slightly and put away his sword, clearly recognizing me.
“Wizard Youngblood? A minion of the Dread Beast Kerouac!”
That burned my fuse down a little.
“I am not that cat’s minion!”
“Of course you are, fool.” Gaily-had said, “Everyone knows that humans belong to the cats they serve.”
Orenda started laughing, almost falling over. Hiroko sheathed her sword, but clearly was as angry as I was.
“I…hate…faeries.” Hiroko said.
Virgil put a hand on my shoulder and dragged me back a step.
“Sir Knight, we require aid.” Virgil said, “Tad the Trickster has assaulted us.”
“Tad the Trickster is known to us.” Gaily-had said, “A faerie of ill-repute and devious intent. What has the green devil done to earn your ire?”
A vein popped out of Hiroko’s head, “He shrunk us!”
“Were you coming through the Ways?” Gaily-had asked.
“Yes.” I confirmed, “He seemed to have sabotaged it.”
“Heavens. That is dire. Perhaps our own Wizard Mer-loin could be of some aid.“
I sensed he was going to take us in circles. Thankfully, David had a better idea.
“Sir Knight,” David said, “Tad has interfered in our quest.”
Gaily-had shifted and raised an eyebrow.
“A quest you say?” The fey mini-knight said.
“Yes, for the White Rabbit.”
Hiroko lost her patience at some point and just started shouting.
“If you can get us big, I will buy you and your court two large pizzas.”
This declaration made the knight freeze in place.
“Two…large pizzas…” The knight said, “Wait..you said the White Rabbit tasked you with this quest?”
“Yes!” several of us said in unison.
“Why didn’t you say so? We must go to the court at once. Forward!”
Gaily-had turned his mount and hopped away on a mission.
Part 02: Virgil Gugasian
With gravity being wonky, we were able to haul ass moonjumping across the park. Relative journey that would have taken days on foot was taking us less than an hour.
The experience inspired me to write notes for myself for some gravity experiments later on for the practical applications. Experiments I could try once the Tengu finished my Worldsplinter.
On the last leg, Gaily-had walked his grasshopper like you would a horse, albeit one the size of an elephant.
Kerouac had mentioned the Knights of the Lid to me before, and I used our journey to fill in the gang on them.
The Knights of the Lid are a collection little folk living on the roof of Zeek’s Pizza in Fremont. Being only a few inches tall at most the Lids are not dangerous violently speaking, but Kerouac uses their obsession with mortal pizza to tap them as sources of information. Little folk, especially ones that domesticated animals like grasshoppers and pigeons can go places mortals can’t and see more than most while remaining unseen.
I made sure to stay on Gaily-had’s good side by steering the topic to Pizza.
“David over here is from New York, the jewel of Pizza.” Someone said.
David went on to explain the various pizza places he knew back from the old days. All told, it was the weirdest conversation I had ever witnessed.
Finally, we got to a drain pipe sticking out of a hill.
“Back to the stables!” Gaily-had shouted to his mount as he slapped it on its thorax.
He took us through the drainpipe and into…a mushroom forest. Neither Jack nor I could tell when we stepped into another Way, but we could see we had entered a faerie domain. Wonderland to be specific.
We knew it was Wonderland because we found a giant caterpillar smoking a hooka and a pair of twin faeries speaking in rhymes.
Jack sniffed the air and nodded.
“That’s opium.” He confirmed, “Pure shit. Dodgeson’s kids must have been blazed out of their minds. It’s no wonder Alice’s tale doesn’t make any fucking sense.”
Jack and I had done bad things as kids. We both did some B&E and some cons and he also dealt faerie weed and mushrooms. We both got out of anything truly dark, but I stayed in the game while he got out in favor of wizarding after Abby was possessed by Azael.
“Keep an eye out for a Mad Hatter, I guess.” Orenda said.
“Not possible,” One of the twins said.
“He’s under house arrest by order of the queen.” The other finished.
“For what?” I asked.
“Partying.” The said in unison.
That took even me by surprise. Faeries knew how to throw a party. But to be punished for one?
“Must have been some party.”
“Quite excessive,” The twins said, “He also defied the queen by leaving during court.”
“Ah.” I said. I couldn’t remember the details of Alice’s story, but if the Mad Hatter pissed off the queen of hearts, he is lucky he still had a head.
An important lesson in the law is never to piss off the judge.
Gaily-had, bound by his oaths, took us where we needed to go. I don’t think it truly clicked for us exactly where we were going until we arrived.
We went through several spaces where perspective was a suggestion and MC Escher had a seizure. Our collective nausea ended in a pair of wooden doors guarded by sidhe in modern tactical gear and submachineguns like the ones we saw in Toyland. Each one had a distinctive red rose on their lapel. No anthropomorphic playing cards here.
Bullshit was waded through over appointments and business. Given that it was almost six-pm on Halloween when we got to the drain pipe, the red tape was threatening to let Tad get away with whatever he was planning, Scott-free. Fortunately, we found a familiar face walking towards the court with a clipboard and about a dozen different time pieces including an hourglass and an honest-to-god sundial.
“Wilbur?” I asked the White Rabbit.
“You’ve arrived. Very good. I was wondering where you had gotten off to.” He turned to us and joviality turned to concern, “You have much to explain…”
Wilbur’s normal-sized bunny form loomed over us. Less a Kaiju and more like a Transformer.
“Tad the fucking Trickster shrunk us!” Jack shouted, “He stole your watch and the case I had for Odianna.”
The White Rabbit somehow hadn’t noticed that we were really small in comparison until just that moment.
“Oh dear…” The White Rabbit said, pushing up his glasses, “A moment please.”
Wilbur Rabbit walked into a nearby door. He came out of a similar but much smaller door putting him on our scale.
“Please explain.” He said, pulling out a quill.
We did. Wilbur gasped.
“Can you undo this magic?” Jack asked.
“This is not magic, I’m afraid.” Wilbur said, “Tad has altered the departure point into a funnel. Not a common occurrence, but not an unknown phenomenon.”
I was completely lost. It took him a minute, but Jack got what he was saying and slapped his own face.
“Fuck.” Jack swore.
“What?” I asked.
“He changed our aperture of reference.” Jack said.
I understood only because I had been reading in his library.
“The what now?” Orenda asked.
“Space-Time gets funky in the nevernever.” Jack explained, “Time flows at different rates. Spending a day in the Nevernever could be an hour in real-time or visa-versa. But space can also be affected. Think buildings that are larger on the inside than on the outside, and that’s just for starters. Somehow, Tad made us come out a smaller Way than what we entered.”
He tried explaining further, but it seemed to go over even his head, and he was the damned Wizard.
“Tad abused physics to make us small.” I said with resignation and boiling anger, “We can’t just wash this away. We’re stuck like this.”
Swears in several languages were had. More plots to murder Tad were made.
“Are you certain that it was Tad that did this to you?” Wilbur asked, looking over his notes.
“Yes.” I confirmed, “He looked right at us and laughed.”
Wilbur, checking notes and time pieces, furiously scratched his ear in confusion.
“That’s not right. I spoke to Tad not ninety-six minutes ago.” Wilbur said.
“Tad was here?” Jack asked.
“Yes. Since he is from the Seattle region, I asked him if he had seen you. He said he hadn’t seen you since your encounter at the wedding.”
The statement left us collectively confused.
Spending time with Kerouac, you get used to faeries speaking a certain way. They aren’t like humans and are bound by several concrete principles. One of them is that they cannot lie. They can deceive and create illusions, but a true fae like Tad cannot speak a deliberate falsehood, especially not to someone in his own court who outranks him by leaps and bounds.
With that in mind, we went with Occam’s Razor.
“That probably wasn’t him then,” Jack said, “Someone is impersonating Tad.”
“He does have enemies around the block.” I said.
The only alternative to that theory was one with metaphysical implications that made my stomach drop out.
Part 03: David Clay
Being near a faerie court, I decided our best course was to use what was available.
The receptionist, an oversized pixie in business clothes a few decades out of date, was helpful enough.
“We seek restitution against wrongs done to us by Tad the Trickster of the Summer Court.”
I explained our situation and filled out the appropriate paperwork in a very short time.
“Who is your advocate?” The receptionist asked.
“We don’t currently have one.” I said.
“That’s not good.” Wilbur the White Rabbit said behind me, “You need an advocate if you are to be heard.”
“David Clay is our advocate.” Jack volunteered.
“David Clay…” The Receptionist wrote down.
“My apologies,” I said, “I am not certified for this court.”
“None is required.” The receptionist said as she pushed a button, “You may enter.”
The doors opened to an opulent courtroom. The Faeries’ court. Besides various depictions of justice and the queens of faerie, there was a highly visible sign that read, “Accorded Neutral Territory”. That was fortunate for us.
The courtroom had benches for spectators filled with more than a few different kinds of faeries. There were Gruffs acting as bailiffs as well as a Centaur and an Ogre. Next to the witness stand was a standard jury box. Next to that was a small dais with blood stains and an executioner’s axe sitting at the ready. We entered the room by way of a small mouse-sized door that opened onto a divider that ran up in front of the judge’s bench, cutting them off from the rest of the room. Part of the divider could open up to allow access to the back of the room for people like witnesses or advocates. A small sprite sat on a small chair next to the door in the divider, acting like a traffic controller and making sure no smaller faeries were standing on the door railing when it was opened.
In front of the judge’s bench was a small platform with two small desks and a small collection of chairs. Given how small some faeries were, the setup made sense. We were directed to the small platform to make our case by the sprite.
On the Judge’s bench was a woman that looked familiar to me. I had seen similar women in the various depiction of the faerie queens. Not a copy, but definitely a relation of some kind. By human standards, she was preternaturally beautiful, though to me she looked more than human in a red dress made of flower peddles and vines.
Our group collectively bowed before the Queen of Hearts as politely as we were able. We only raised our heads when Wilbur signaled to us that it was okay to do so.
“David Clay…” The Queen said, “It is an honor for you to grace us with your presence finally.”
The statement gave me pause.
“Have I offended your honor in some way?” I asked.
“No, you have not, Advocate. This court merely welcomes an accomplished barrister such as yourself. I believe this century the mortals say, ‘Game recognizes game.’”
I decided the best course was to accept the compliment.
“It is an honor to be before you, your honor.”
“What business have you before my court, mortals?” The Queen asked, her tone turning serious.
I started with a statement I had prepared in the lobby. I didn’t know any of the legal procedures for a faerie court, so I had to make an educated guess.
“We have two matters before the court this day in regards to Tad the Trickster of the Summer Court of Faerie. First, he assaulted us leaving Toyland and shrunk us to a much smaller size as the court can plainly see.”
None of the faeries had noticed our size as anything strange until I pointed it out.
“He also interfered with a pair of quests given to us by the White Rabbit and Odianna of Winter. We petition the court for restitution for these wrongs.”
She looked back to us, “What is your evidence that it was Tad the Trickster who assaulted you?”
“We were all witnesses to his assault.” I said, “We are willing to testify to that effect.”
“Show me…” The queen demanded, gesturing to the witness stand. She then gestured to Hiroko.
“Me?” Hiroko asked.
“Shinigami Kensei are known for their honor and…trustworthiness.”
Hiroko walked up and sat in a tiny witness stand on the Queen’s bench. She looked around, confused.
“Do I need to swear on a bible or…?” Hiroko asked.
“Just remember what you saw from the minute before it happened to a minute after the offense occurred. Do not resist. No harm will come to you unless I command it.” The Queen said.
Hiroko closed her eyes and focused. A glamour appeared over her head for the entire court to see. The glamour was, I assume, her memory. We saw through Hiroko’s eyes as she walked down the tunnel to the Way and readied her sword for danger on our way out.
We entered the Way, found ourselves in the park, and Tad the Trickster loomed over us as a giant, taking the watch and briefcase.
“Gooooottttt… yaaaaaahhhh…” Tad laughed as he filled Hiroko’s vision.
The Queen of Hearts’ face crinkled in anger, “That is definitely Tad the Trickster. I did not command him to take the watch or your briefcase. He has indeed wronged you. Bring him here.”
“I’m sorry, my Queen,” Wilbur Rabbit said, “Tad is not here. He left half an hour ago and cannot be immediately found.”
I saw the subtext and seized on it.
“As a member of Summer Court, you could be held liable for any damage Tad inflicts on the mortal world.”
Hiroko raised her hand and said, “We would be happy to locate Tad if we were returned home at our normal size, my…Queen.”
The Queen of Hearts thought a moment.
“Such a proposal would be acceptable and would make us even. Do you accept the task of finding Tad?”
“We do,” I said.
“The offer is accepted.” She looked to Wilbur, “See them home and returned to normal size.”
“Yes, my Queen.” The White Rabbit said and dashed off.
The Queen of Hearts gathered us to the front and loomed.
“You are to find Tad, minimize his damage, and bring him back here for justice. If you are unable to bring him in alive, bring back what is left.”
“Would you prefer paper or plastic baggies?” Virgil said. His tone made our intentions clear.
“Plastic if you can. One of those with a zipper.” She slammed her gavel onto her desk in a loud boom, “Next case!”
Part 04: Hiroko Noshimuri
The mission was starting to damage my calm. But thankfully, with the Queen of Hearts on our side, the faeries finally managed to pick up the pace.
We followed the hallways pointed to us. We ate the mushrooms provided. Went through the doors.
I saw Virgil pocket some of the shrinking mushrooms, but I didn’t say anything. He clearly had something in mind, and I didn’t care anymore.
We found Bugs in a stable. It was full of mice that were harnessed and bridled like horses. In front of them was a locked door covered in green sigils. I didn’t need my sight to know it was not good.
“We’re riding mice?” Orenda asked, “That’s a new one even for me.”
“A temporary measure.” The Rabbit said, “It is necessary for our journey.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Whatever. Just get us big.”
We mounted up, and our guide moved to the door.
“We must take some damaged Ways to resolve your size. ” He said as he began to unlock it.
“Damaged Ways?” I asked, “What kind of damaged?”
“Ways damaged by many things.” The rabbit said, “Space, Time, and potentiality do not flow as they should. The exits are off their normal axis. But not to worry, I have attuned these mounts to your essence. They will take you where you are needed.”
“In other words,” Jack said, “These Ways can take us almost anywhere and anywhen. The things we see might be the past or any number of possible futures…probably involving us.”
It suddenly made sense why the rabbit needed his watch fixed. Enough of these ways would really mess up reality.
The Rabbit opened the door to a miniature black hole. Not like black holes in space, just a sheet of black. No light, sound, or movement.
“Follow me, and whatever you do, do not stop.” The Rabbit said and hopped into the darkness.
Before we could ask about anything else, we set out into the Ways Unknown. We were shoulder to shoulder, keeping pace with each other wherever the damned rabbit was taking us.
The way was dark, but the lamps on our mounts gave our faces light. We at least could see each other and check if anyone had fallen off.
The first door dropped us on a shelf in a vault with complete magical security. I recognized the wood as the Youngblood mansion, but different than it was today.
A teenaged Jack opened the door for a teenaged Abigail.
“This is my Dad’s good shit. Take a look at this stuff.”
Something fell off the shelf—a blackened gold coin.
The younger Abby reached down for the coin and picked it up.
“Abby, no!” Jack screamed. I grabbed him and held him back on his mouse.
“We can’t change it,” I said.
Abby looked in our direction. Her eyes were not her own anymore. In fact, she had four eyes.
Then we hit the exit.
In the black tunnel, Jack cried.
“That was the worst day of my life.” He said.
I thought about the worst day of my life and immediately regretted it.
We emerged on the ceiling of a mansion. Somehow, there was no vertigo.
“I think we’re in Hawaii,” Virgil said.
I looked down and saw myself. I was ten years old. Opposite me was an older Japanese man and a woman. I knew where and when we were.
“Father…” I said.
Michelle Shioma grabbed my father and changed. She became a Jade Court vampire as she fed on my father. Someone covered my younger self’s eyes and turned me away. I hadn’t seen what happened. I only heard.
As we passed by, I saw the rest.
At the moment of his death, my father used a tanto blade to open his bowels. He committed Seppuku as he died. He hadn’t let himself know dishonor…
We passed into the next passage.
We emerged in several places. Several that didn’t make sense. Some that did.
One was in a park. Three teenage girls were hanging out by the lake. One was dressed in goth attire with a lacy parasol. She wore the same jacket that Jack now wore.
One of the other two clearly had features I recognized. Fergus’ features.
We hit another dark passage and caught our breath.
“Remember, possible futures,” I said. I didn’t want anyone thinking too much about what we saw.
Then we exited again, and my stomach dropped out.
We rode along a sidewalk in a bad neighborhood at night. Cross Street and First. I knew the intersection.
There were three corpses on the ground. Each one was no older than 18 or 19. Blood pooled beneath them from seven fatal bullet wounds.
I recognized one face that stared at me. Kenny Paxton, aka K-Pack. Rolled me with me and Jack, back in the day. He started getting into bad shit. Harder drugs and a worse gang. Then he disappeared.
Only he didn’t. I know exactly where he went.
A sixteen-year-old version of me, back when I was Wyatt Avila, sat across from the corpses. I was covered in blood. The .45 Pistol sat in front of me as I sat in the fetal position.
Out of the darkness, a man in a suit appeared behind me. He looked down at the three dead gang members with a look of utter contempt.
“I was defending myself,” I said for the thousandth time that night. I’d say it a thousand more, and it didn’t get better.
A hand was put on my shoulder.
“It’s okay, Wyatt.” My father said, “We’ll make it go away…”
We hit the next Way. Jack just stared at me. I hadn’t told him.
I didn’t understand why the hell we were seeing the worst parts of everyone’s life. Must have been a sign or something—a price to pay for taking us home.
One leg of the journey actually took us back to Seattle. We weren’t the right size, and Wilbur Rabbit told us to keep riding, so we kept going.
I saw myself in the alleys. I was tracking something. It took a minute before we saw what it was.
In the darkness of downtown was a wolf the size of a Grizzly Bear. A dire wolf.
That would be a hell of a hunt.
The White Rabbit took a sharp left, and we hit another passage.
I didn’t know who the people were. No one I knew. They are at a picnic just by the sea.
“That’s Fergus’ Commune.” Jack said.
The picnic ended when the crown of a huge head 100 feet wide emerged from the sea and was followed with a massive tidal wave.
We found ourselves in a library—the stacks in some part of the White Council Headquarters in Edinburgh.
A bloodied Kerouac in cat form screeched a battle cry on Lilith’s shoulder. My daughter hid behind Abby, who stood in a fighting stance wielding the orange flames of the Summer Court’s magic.
I looked the other way and saw why.
Three figures stood in utter silence. They were dressed in tuxedos from the 1940s and top hats. The only colors they wore were black and white. They approached my family with fury.
I recognized the man in the center. A bald man with sharp teeth. I hadn’t seen him in years.
“Who the fuck was that?” Someone asked.
“You don’t want to know,” I replied.
Our next stop was even weirder.
We saw ourselves running away as fast as our feet could carry us through some forest in Washington State. The pine was unmistakable.
Our pursuers were a collection of pointy-eared Nordic elves straight out of JRR Tolkien’s books. Behind them was a multi-headed dragon the size of a building. Each head was a different color.
Then we skipped forward into what could only be the sound of Seattle Riots.
The next destination was a long concrete wall. The wall sported a painted mural with all manner of designs, one flowing into the next. It was inspiring.
I recognized it as Seattle’s latest urban legend: The Eternal Mural. It was a work of art, the artist unknown, that was put up in one of the parts of West Seattle hit hardest by the quake. The mural was described in every account with the same word, “Inspiring”.
The Eternal Mural inspired the neighborhood around it. The residents had come together and started to rebuild the broken part of the city in record time.
What’s more, the Eternal Mural couldn’t be taken down. Anything that defaced it didn’t last. Any alteration did not stay unless it was inspiring as the image that preceded it.
This night, the mural seemed to be a rendering of…me as rendered by John Liefield. I had a sixteen-pack of muscles. Abs for days…
The mural stood above the street we passed, which was full of unconscious people. I could only tell they were all alive because they all ached despite broken bones and fresh bruises. When a light came on, I saw they were members of the Pack and Bosozoku bikers that had been getting in each other’s faces lately.
A member of the Pack hung upside down from a street lamp.
Two cops in riot gear searched the scene. One keyed his radio.
“This is Mullenix.” The cop said, “Move triage to my position. And send as many RA units as you can. We have about two dozen bikers with multiple visible injuries.”
I recognized him as an old friend who had responded to several riots. I hadn’t seen him in years, but I was glad he was there to help.
Lieutenant Roy Mullenix took out a knife and cut the hanging biker down. He checked him for injuries and such. He did it right.
The Pack member’s arm was broken in several places. A gun was crushed in his palm.
“Stay out…their neighborhood.” The Pack member said.
“Who did this?” Roy asked.
Our last passage was abrupt.
It was a magical workshop. A fullblown Wizard’s laboratory. As we rounded a corner, we saw its owner, a man of indeterminate old age, writing.
The Old Wizard looked over towards us and a slight smile crept across his face.
“Interesting,” The Patient One said.
Part 05: Orenda Peshlakai
Our mice collapsed from exhaustion when we emerged from the last passage. My internal compass was so fucked, I almost fell off.
We found ourselves in the rose garden of the Woodland Park Zoo. A Gruff guard was waiting for us to take the mice, now the size of horses, off our hands.
We gathered ourselves and stretched. I looked up and down and smiled.
“Hell, yes! We are big again!”
The sun was starting to set in the distance. Halloween Night was minutes away.
Without warning, a small faerie rushed towards us. It took a moment to realize it was a messenger with a letter for the Rabbit. It took a moment more to realize it was a Winter fey and that the letter looked and smelled very expensive.
The Rabbit opened the message, and his eyes got big. He looked in his pockets, clearly forgetting he didn’t have his pocket watch. “Does anyone have an accurate timepiece?”
“Over here,” Virgil said, holding up his mechanical wristwatch.
The rabbit tapped it twice, which synced it instantly.
Virgil looked down at the face and exhaled, “Six o’clock. Still Halloween.”
“Oh, dear. You must hurry. Whatever Tad is planning, it will resolve before daybreak. You must stop him before that time.”
“Why, what happens at daybreak?” I asked.
The White Rabbit was already gone. Vanished.
Something was up in faerieland. Something big.