Campaign of the Month: February 2022
Dresden Files Accelerated: Emerald City: Requiem
Book 13: Chapter 02
The Conclave on Summer
Transcribed by: Bradford
Date: September 10, 2023
In Game date: December 2012
Episode: 64 (138)
Part 01: Virgil Gugasian
The Conclave was to meet at midnight, so that meant the rest of us needed to arrive early and chug caffeine to stay awake. We needed space, so we did it at Odianna’s club, which had been closed since Halloween. It was a formal meeting, so we some degree of formalwear or outfit denoting our represented faction.
It also meant that I was the first person to be called into a room off to the side and grilled for information.
I was called by JJ Mercer, a state police officer who was also a White Court Vampire. I hadn’t interacted with him much, but I could tell he was up to now good when he called me over and dragged me into a quiet room. But, I didn’t trust police officers let alone ones that gave up any chance they had at humanity by draining an innocent person’s emotions to death.
In the quiet room was JJ’s father sitting behind a desk. Aaron Mercer was the new local head of all the White Court in the area. Rumor said he fed on Greed and got a gourmet meal from the dotcom boom and the rise of the tech giants. He had more income than the GDP of some Third World countries.He made my jaw immediately tighten, but not because of his wealth or his vampirism.
I had stolen from members of the Emerald Conclave including the Mercers. When I got caught, I made a deal in my own blood to pay off my debt. Part of that deal was that the Emerald Conclave who now owned me could command me to do whatever they wanted with a few notable and reasonable ethical limits. Another part was that in the presence of an Emerald Conclave member in good standing, I was compelled by magic to speak the complete truth.
One such member in good standing, Aaron Mercer, started our meeting with a simple question.
“What is going on? Why have we been summoned? Tell me everything you know.”
The blood magic did its work. I couldn’t resist or circumvent it even if I wanted to, which I did badly. But that was the price of staying alive.
My mouth started moving and didn’t stop except for water for about fifteen minutes. I explained the situation as best I could.
Dame Odianna had gotten promoted to a Knight of Mab. Sort of her new Left Hand? She wanted Jack to raise a force to fill in for Fergus MacCormaic as the Guardian of the Seventh Gate. We had no idea who the other Guardians were or how to contact them, but we knew the Gates were important. For the past month, Outsiders had been coming into Seattle and it looked like there was going to be a huge attack on the Winter Solstice.
We needed every ally we could and Mab herself had given us the Winter Court Black Card to pay off anyone we could to help us. It was a huge favor from a God-like power. It was big.
“Hmm…” Aaron Mercer said through steepled fingers, “Who have you recruited so far?”
“We already have support of the Pack, and we were looking at recruiting Vitaly Kolikova.”
“Isn’t the Ghoul Clan under the command of the Knife of Hunger?”
I wanted to keep information close to my chest, but my mouth moved against my will and good sense.
“We were considering offering to help Vitaly take his clan back. Maybe bump off the Knife of Hunger. The Knife is an asshole and not a member of the Conclave, so he wouldn’t be missed.”
Aaron raised an eyebrow.
I went over our other big plan to get the Summer Court onto the Conclave in exchange for using their forces, including some of the inmates of the Woodland Park Zoo.
“Are you looking for support from the White Court in these ventures?”
“We are…” I said, “Both Ventures would be good for the White Court in the long term. The former in the fact that even the White Court can’t take on Outsiders. For the latter, Summer would be indebted to you, and having a counter to Winter’s vote would give you a political advantage. What would you want for support?”
Aaron leaned towards me with a wicked smile, “Mab will no doubt reward those for exemplary service. Go above and beyond for that favor and entrust any rewards to the White Court. Consider this part of the debt you owe The Conclave.”
Giving the White Court a solid from Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness was not a good idea, but I had no choice.
“It will be done to the best of my abilities…assuming I survive.”
“Does the Wizard have a representative in mind for Summer?”
“Some guy I have never heard of. A disgraced Faerie noble of some kind. Never met him.”
I walked out with my tail between my legs and moved onto the next uncomfortable meeting.
Takahashi Hidenori was a strange bedfellow to need, but dammit. It put a weird taste in my mouth to bow to him and ask for a meeting.
“Good evening, Thief.” Takahashi said. Bonus. A step up in respect.
“Do you know what’s going on?”
“Apologies, Hidenori-San.” I corrected myself, “It has been a long month.”
“I have heard things about the current situation. My clan has faced enemies from…beyond.”
I nodded, “How’d you like to win some honor for your clan and a favor from the Queen of Air and Darkness?”
That got me his undivided attention.
Part 02: Jack Youngblood
I hate wearing a suit, but for a meeting with the Conclave it was the only armor I had.
I saw Virgil come out of his meeting with Mercer with a sour look on his face. His damned debt with the Conclave makes it impossible to trust him with a secret.
Virgil told me about the meeting.
“You can’t give the Mercers a favor from Mab!” I said, maybe too loudly.
“I don’t have a choice.” Virgil said and walked off.
JJ Mercer looked over in our direction and made finger guns at me. It made a spike of rage grow in me, I almost couldn’t contain it. Then, I got brought back to reality by a giant cat running between my legs.
“Devious,” Kerouac said, “and quite rude.”
“One day we will get his number.”
“Unless the outsiders do it for us.”
“If Aaron Mercer is in charge, he is responsible for the Conclave’s success. If he wants favor, set him in front of the Rhynoserous.”
That drew a smile on me.
“Sometimes, I actually like you.”
“Oh, this was left for you.” Kero turned towards a table with a single envelope on it with my name on it.
I opened the envelope and found a note simply signed “Squire.” along with a rose-shaped lapel pin.
“Squire isn’t showing up I guess.”
Kero purred in excitement, “The pin would suggest that you are Squire for this meeting.”
I swallowed and put the ice cold pin on. One more little piece of armor before the storm.
I heard a honk outside and went to meet our last guest to arrive. I hadn’t seen Silvio Khlores in a long time, but still frequented his lover’s bakery because she makes damned good pastries.
Silvio arrived in a silver convertible sports car. His hair was a matching shade of silver this time around and he was dressed to kill as always.
He greeted me with a big hug that was unwanted.
“Wizard!” Silvio said, “It has been so long.”
When he finally let me breathe, I gathered my courage for the bad news.
“Silvio, We got a big problem. ”
I explained to him the Outsider problem and the need for Summer to be in on the Conclave.
“Summer would be well positioned,” Silvio said, “Who did you sucker into representing Summer?”
Silvio’s smile faded away. The color in his face disappeared.
“I am not made for politics. Or battle with the Outside.”
“Mayberry at the Zoo recommended you personally.”
Silvio sighed, “I shouldn’t have taken her out in 1887…”
I decided to go with the strategy we had worked out and had done half a dozen times so far.
“Doing this wouldn’t be a favor to me, it would be a massive favor to me, and it would get you on Titania’s good side.”
Silvio considered that, “That usually takes centuries.”
“Do this and you get favor from Mab and at the same time get to foil Odianna at every turn.”
That drew a smile.
“That sounds like fun. What do you need from me besides paperwork?”
“I need you to talk to Warden Mayberry at the Woodland Park Zoo. We need as many of their more dangerous prisoners for work release to defend the gates.”
Silvio seemed more scared of her than the prospect of Outsiders and politics.
“Swallow your pride. We need her and her prisoners.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”I ran into Virgil after he came back from a meeting with Takahashi, he looked sunken.
“Will he help?” I asked.
“Maybe.” Virgil said, “I made a major concession.”
“I offered to obtain anything his clan asks for that is obtainable. No questions asked.”
“You offered him a theft?”
“A single theft. But we need him.”
“I need a root canal and something for an ulcer.” I said, “Let’s get the meeting started.”
Part 03: Orenda Peshlakai
The Conclave started with me on the sidelines. As a part of the Pack in everything but rank, I wore my leathers and my kutte. Few in the Pack respected me in those colors. Diesel was really the only one with Dozer gone.
Politics was not my game, so I spent the Conclave meeting just people-watching. One of the few gigs I knew was being a bouncer, so why not?
Jack led the meeting, standing in front of a ballroom full of Seattle’s supernatural nasties in formalwear. He laid out the situation, what was at stake and what we needed to survive.
There was arguing and…politics stuff. It went over my head.
Jack was saying something like, “I propose admitting the Summer Court into the Emerald Conclave. Their forces would be invaluable.”
I focused on what I did understand, the crowd’s reactions. People cringing. People afraid. Predators suddenly become prey at the thought of eldritch horrors looking to eat your face.
Virgil stood next to me, doing the same thing. He was following discussion better than I was.
I think it was when Jack started talking about the Outsiders impersonating people that I saw the wheels turn in Virgil’s head. He leaned over to whisper in my ear.
“Make sure the people out there are who they say they are.”
Oh shit. The idea of an Outsider spying on us and our plans made me taste bile. Even if there wasn’t one in the room, it was a scary thought we couldn’t risk.
My heritage gave me some special eyes. I could see past the veils and disguises of most shapeshifters. I could see the bumps in the night for what they really were or was at least very skilled at spotting the zipper on the sheep’s clothing. But to do so I had to relinquish some of my humanity. I had to tap into something primal. Forbidden.
I looked over the crowd and inspected people. Lots of fidgeting. Lots of people who didn’t like being stared at. Nothing out of the already extraordinary monsterness.
But we couldn’t risk it.
So, I dipped into my power. The power in my veins more ancient that any of these close-to-mortal assholes. The power of a beast of great power.
I found that power and used it to open my eyes. Really open them. Tapping into my fear.
I looked over the crowd again…and found nothing. Everyone was who they said they were. But I did see something. Two somethings.
First, I saw Hrolf Helgarson, the representative of Monoc Securities. I assumed an Einherjaran of Odin’s ilk. Strong fighters. But he was so much more than any Einherhar. He was beyond everyone on the Conclave. Just the sight of him terrified me to my core. Shook my understanding of reality. And his hands were marked.
“Hrolf has blood on his hands.” I whispered to Virgil, “Outsider’s blood. Very Potent Outsider’s blood.”
“We’ve all been fighting them.” He said, “Anything else?”
Delilah Montague was a White Court Vampire who used to be hot shit. Her family skated the rules of supernatural order by taking positions in the Seattle Police. They had hooks in a lot of people in black and blue.
She seemed scared. Delilah was never scared.
I nudged Virgil towards her and watched his back as he made his way over to her. He looked her over like he was examining the best place to stab her in the back, but Virge had no form. He wasn’t trying to hide, just trying to see. He eventually put a hand on her and I could see the hairs on him stand up.
The pair of them spoke and…I could hear them across the room at least in that moment.
“Something wrong, Lady Montague?” Virgil asked, “You don’t look like yourself and your attention is elsewhere.”
“Very perceptive.” Delilah replied, “Have you seen Lucy Einar recently? I have not heard from her in far too long"
Based on Virgil’s pre-meeting briefing, I knew Delilah and Lucy were dating, they were keeping in quiet, but they have been seeing each other quite a bit recently. Delilah would surely not be this worried if it was just a missed date.
“Lucy is missing?”
“I haven’t seen her in days. She never just disappears.”
“That is concerning. I will see if I can find her.”
“I would be appreciative.”
Why was he breaking bread with her? She’s weak. We could take her later and…
Virgil nudged me back to my senses and handed me a pair of sunglasses. He pointed to my eyes.
I looked in the reflection and saw that my eyes had changed. They were gold…and not human.
Part 04: Jack Youngblood
The Conclave meeting was so long, I’d rather have a root canal. Like tap dancing on broken glass or something.
Bringing in Summer was not as popular as I had hoped. Some thought we were trying to stack the political deck and others though we were giving two seats to the faeries.
People didn’t really start listening until Kerouac used his glamors to show off an accurate recreation of the Gaussian Horror.
“We need everyone who can help us.” I said, “That includes the Summer Court. I propose we welcome Summer into the Conclave.”
“Who would be the representative?” Someone asked.
“Silvio Khlores has agreed to the position.”
Unfortunately, Silvio wasn’t around to speak for himself. To get the Dragon Lady’s support, we had to make a concession. Silvio had to get the agreement to use the Zoo’s prisoners as cannon fodder in case of Formor invasion in addition to serving in battle at The Gates this Solstice.
Rather than attend the meeting, he went to the Zoo to negotiate.
That left us with so few allies, I had to just make the proposal and cross my fingers and everything else.
“All in favor of admitting Summer to the Conclave?” I said raising my hand, “Ayes?”
Vitaly surprised me, but said that it was “A procedural matter.”
Takahashi Hidenori voted Nay.
We got the votes.
“Motion passed.” I said, “Summer is admitted.”
About then, Silvio showed back up looking rather exasperated. He whispered in my ear and looked a bit bewildered even for a faerie.
“Mayberry agreed, but for a big favor in return.”
I swallowed. More faerie debts. More bullshit.
“Second motion.” I said to the room, “I vote that we band together and face the Outsiders as a united front. All in favor?”
I was reminded why the conclave was a mess. We got a motion passed supporting the idea of facing the outsiders and commending those who went to fight.
It was down to us to get whoever we could find, but between The Pack forces we had already arranged, Takahashi’s clan, and the Summer Fae prisoners, we had a start.
The Patient One offered his own and the Knife of Hungers service both for more Winter Favor than I thought ‘fair’ would cover, so I need to figure out how to cover that gap if I want them too.