Campaign of the Month: November 2012

THE EMERALD CITY

BOOK 10: THE WALKABOUT: CHAPTER 01

GM: Justin

RED RAIN OF OLYMPIA

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Transcribed by: James
In Game date: March, 2009
Episode: 74

Chapter: 01

DFFAE_BookCover_10.pngBRUNO WALSH knew that being JACK YOUNGBLOOD’S best friend wasn’t easy. Especially lately. After the young wizard had confronted the THE UN-MAN, an Outsider who devoured all forms of mana, he had been left with a mere fraction of the power he customarily wielded as Seattle’s youngest, and most powerful Warden.


With the disruption of his power also came a degrading of his ability to control his ectomancy. Jack’s connection to the spirit world had always been under his tight control. But that control was almost nonexistent as he was under a constant buzz of spirit “noise” making it difficult for him to sleep or concentrate. His mood had soured in the month following his confrontation with the Outsider as sleep deprivation and despair at his reduced abilities set in.

It didn’t help that his wife, ABIGAIL WHARTON’S condition seemed to get worse and worse with every passing day. Her battle with cancer was looking more and more bleak and Jack was having a hard time facing that. All of his attempts to find his missing daughter had so far failed as well.

In reaction Jack resorted to his own brand of “medicine” to help mitigate the symptoms of being…er…Un-manned. Whiskey. Preferably Jameson’s neat. He claimed it was the only thing that quieted the white noise that plagued him.

Bruno entered the construction site of the Youngblood home and went to the back yard. Jack had been layering the newly rebuilt foundations of the house with elaborate and powerful wards in an effort to prevent a repeat of the attack that had left him captured and his sister, CAROLINE YOUNGBLOOD in the clutches of a mad cultist. Bruno was the foreman for rebuilding Jack and Caroline’s home after it had nearly been leveled in that assault. He approached the small trailer Jack was temporarily living in until the house was complete and nearly tripped over an empty whiskey bottle that had been discarded near the door.

Bruno picked up the bottle with a sigh and put it into the recycling bin knowing all too well what he would face inside the trailer. He knocked loudly on the flimsy door calling out for Jack to wake up. He heard a thump followed by loud crash and winced sympathetically. He could picture Jack sitting up too fast from where he had passed out on the floor and hitting his head on the built in table of the trailer knocking all of its contents down on top of him.

“Jack? Come on man,” he said cautiously. “You have to get up.”

The string of invective that came out of the trailer was impressive in both its scope and its creativity. He could hear the young wizard thrashing around in the debris throwing plates and discarded beer bottles the length of the trailer. Bruno waited patiently until Jack’s tirade wound down before trying again.

“Jack, I have to talk to you. I had a vision from YUQUOT and I need your help.”

With that all the noise in the trailer ceased immediately and the big man could hear Jack’s heavy sigh through the flimsy door.

“Shit.”
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A moment later Jack opened the door and glared at Bruno with bleary, red eyes. Bruno started to enter the trailer but Jack stopped him with a hand on his chest. He held up his other hand expectantly. Bruno gave him a large cup of coffee without a word. With a grunt, Jack backed off so Bruno could get into into the cramped trailer. It creaked and settled under the large man’s massive frame.

While Jack went to the back of the trailer and started up a shower Bruno began tidying up as much as he could. By the time Jack was done, smelling and looking like a human being again, Bruno had finished cleaning the tiny space.

“Ok. What’s up?” Jack asked nodding in thanks.

“Well, you know how ever since I got shot in the head and dumped in the Sound I’ve been feeling off? Even hungrier and not sleeping any better than you are.”

Jack nodded turning away unable to look the big man in the eyes. Bruno hurried on knowing that Jack felt responsible for getting him shot and nearly killed. Even if it wasn’t his fault.

“Well, when I do sleep, I seem to be getting deeper and deeper, and remembering more when I wake up. I’m not quite sure what is going on, but I know Yuquot is there… And this morning I had a vision. A vision that I think includes you.”

The big man went on to describe a vision to his friend:

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He swam in the dark, his vision clouded by murky water and the crushing pressure of the deep clutched him in its unwavering grasp. He sensed a great presence alongside him and beheld a massive orca that he recognized as Yuquot dragging him ever deeper into the bay with the current created by his massive wake. His vision sharpened as we swam, and he eventually came across strange rock formations at the bottom of the bay that portrayed great portents.

He saw a great hunter bringing down his prey and feeding his fellows in brotherhood. He instinctively knew that he was that hunter and that Yuquot was proud of him for his prowess. He saw himself cooking his prey over a great fire and the smell and taste of the feast was more satisfying than anything he had ever experienced before.

As he cooked the food the shadows caused by the flames danced and moved as if they were alive. In the shadows he saw a shrouded figure who appeared at one moment like a man and the next like a great hound holding something shiny like a blade or a present covered in tinsel on christmas morning. The shadow changed back and forth between the two shapes at random and seemed to have no control of the transformations except when the light reflecting off the shiny object held it steady.

Bruno witnessed a second figure with a staff who stood atop a pair of spinning wheels. Bruno couldn’t make any details out but he knew that the wheels were old. And that they had tire tread? The vision was profound but it left the large man puzzled. He felt that he needed to go on a hunt but he couldn’t figure out what his “prey” would be.

“So when I asked Craig what he thought of the vision he told me that I must go on a Vision Quest to find answers to my questions,” the large man continued.

“Vision Quest? Are you sure you didn’t take the brown acid?” Jack asked with more than a bit of sarcasm. He noted the hurt look in Bruno’s eyes at his quip and held his hands up palms out to supplicate his friend.

“No. Craig’s right. Yuquot was obviously setting you on a path and you can’t ignore that. We both know how difficult the old fish can get when you don’t do what he wants.”

“Mammal.”

“What?”

“Whales aren’t fish. They’re mammals,” Bruno corrected.

“Right. My mistake,” Jack acknowledged with a sigh. “Look. I am starved. Let’s go to the IHOP and get some breakfast and talk this over.”

EC_COM296.pngThe two sat at a nearly empty IHOP and Jack was devouring his Big Breakfast with gusto. Bruno, who usually ate enough for 3 grown men, didn’t seem as interested in the food in front of him. He realized that it was because it just couldn’t compare to the food he had eaten in his vision. It didn’t have the primal nourishment his soul craved.

“Woof,” Jack said, his mouth full.

“What?” Bruno asked puzzled.

“Come on man. Who else do you know who can change from human form to a hound? We have to get Woof. And the figure with the staff is obviously me.”

“Not sure why I should come along though,” he said his voice rising in bitterness and anger.

“I can’t do a damn thing in my current condition. Can’t save my sister from that loser, Goldman. I can’t even stop that stupid kid from being possessed by an Outsider. I couldn’t save my dad. Hell, I can’t even save Abi or find my little girl! I can’t save ANYONE!” he yelled knocking his silverware to the floor.

The few patrons of the restaurant all stopped at the commotion and stared at Jack. He seemed to wilt under their regard holding his head down trying to control the emotions that raged inside him.

The waitress came over with some new silverware and seemed to be braced for a confrontation. One of the cooks was standing watchfully to back her up if there was trouble. She eyed Jack and the very large Bruno nervously, obviously a little afraid.

“Sir? Is everythi…”

“Sorry,” Jack interrupted smiling wanly. “It’s just been a bad day is all. Nothing to worry about.”

“Well I hope things get better soon,” she replied not unkindly and refilled his coffee.

After she was out of earshot Jack almost whispered,“She kicked me out you know?”

Bruno looked up at the pain in Jack’s voice. "She told me to get out and not come back until I stopped acting like an “Emo Brat”. "

He laughed bitterly. "I guess this little “Walkabout” is just the kind of thing she would want me to do."

Riley’s quarters barely qualified as a broom closet much less a full fledged apartment. Every square inch was crammed with weapons, ammo and other tools of his very deadly trade. Bruno was forced to stand in the door while Jack propped himself up against a stack of ammo crates, his sunglasses hiding his blood shot eyes if not his disdainful attitude. Bruno was just finished explaining what he had seen in his vision.

“Are you sure you didn’t eat the wrong mushrooms?” Riley asked skeptically at the odd story. Jack smirked at that while Bruno threw up his hands in exasperation.

“Look. I don’t know why Yuquot wants me to get you and Jack involved with this but I can tell you this. You are both struggling right now. Jack has lost touch with his magic and is so twisted up over what is going on with Abi that he is ignoring his duties as Warden, brother and friend.”

“Hey! Now just one damn minu…” Jack began indignantly.

“Jack shut the hell up!” Bruno all but screamed. “I am your best friend and you are going to listen to me for once! You can’t keep blaming yourself for everything that has gone wrong in your life. Instead of drinking yourself into a stupor every night you need to man the fuck up and do something about it.”

He turned to Riley, “Woof, you have learned that you have Fae blood in your veins. Instead of treating it like a curse you need to accept it for the miraculous thing it is. Until that happens you will never get any closer to mastering your new abilities.”

“And I haven’t been able to keep Yuquot under control since I got shot in the goddamn head! I keep seeing that barrel pointed at my face over and over in my mind and it is messing me up. I feel like I am going to lose it any day now and you know how bad that can be. Not that you have noticed. You are so damn concerned with your own bullshit you can’t see that your friends and family need you!”

Jack sat stunned blinking in surprise as Bruno’s words hit him harder than any punch. In all the years he had known the big man, Bruno had never raised his voice to him. The ring of truth to his words was hard to face but the wizard knew deep down that Bruno was right. As did Riley.

The former SEAL nodded his head, “OK. So what is our next move?”

“We should go to Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park,” Jack suggested. “It is right on Puget Sound and we will be closer to Yuquot there. Maybe he can give us more insight.”

An hour later Jack and Woof sat on the dock looking out over the placid waters of Puget Sound watchfully. Bruno had been under water for at least 10 minutes at that point. Long enough for Jack to go back to his battered old Jeep and get some donuts.

EC_COM298.png“Geeze! How long can the big guy hold his breath?” Woof asked incredulously. As a former Navy SEAL he had trained to hold his breath for far longer than most. But Bruno was well past human endurance. Riley was impressed.

“Not sure. But when he was dumped into the Sound after being shot he was under for over 20 minutes,” Jack answered sitting down on the dock.

“Here,” he said holding the box out for Woof. “They are from Sweet Tooth Bakery.”

Woof’s eyes lit up at that and he eagerly selected a slice of culinary heaven from the box.

“There he is!” Jack said pointing out to the Sound. They both saw Bruno breach the surface of the water explosively much like the whales that were his totem. Bruno looked to shore and saw Woof reach for something bright and shiny, something suited to his clearly human hands. He also had a vision of Jack with two wheels around him. They looked familiar. Like motorcycle wheels almost.

He made his way to shore and explained to the two men what he had seen while devouring the rest of the donuts. The pastries didn’t quite assuage his hunger. But they were strangely satisfying. After some discussion the three decided that they should visit the local werewolf bikers, The Pack.

They drove up to The Pack’s clubhouse situated inside an old strip club called Lynne’s Den. It was a seedy place but they couldn’t help but notice the security The Pack had in place hadn’t lost a step. They were shadowed by wolves flitting in and out of sight as riflemen on the roof with clear firing lanes kept them in their cross hairs. After he parked the three of them found themselves surrounded by menacing looking men as well as a few hungry looking wolves.

“Guys. We just want to chat,” Jack said holding up his hands. “No need to get excited. Just point me to whoever is in charge.”

EC_COM297.png“That would be me!” a voice rumbled. A massive man who was almost as big as Bruno strode out from the entrance of the club and waved his pack off. “Jack Youngblood. Just the man I was looking for,” he stated with a grim smile on his face.

Dozer? Holy crap. I didn’t realize you were back,” Jack said in surprise. “How is the Indian?”

Dozer’s face broke into a big smile, “Smooth as silk. Come inside. I have a proposition for you.”

The four of them sat at Dozer’s desk in the back of the Den. Dozer, who had taken a leave of absence after he lost his connection with the wolf spirit that enabled him to shift into a werewolf, explained to Jack that he needed his help.

“How would you like to get the Indian back?” he asked Jack. Jack’s eyes lit up at the prospect but Riley put his hand on the eager wizard’s shoulder as he was about to reply.

“That might be cool. But what would it cost?” Jack asked cautiously. Dozer smiled broadly knowing the hook had been set.

“There is someone who I am in debt to. They are having some trouble that is right up your alley and I need someone to hunt down the problem and deal with it.”

“Hunt?” Bruno asked. He looked at Jack and Riley meaningfully. Jack nodded his head in acknowledgement as the pieces of Bruno’s vision fell into place.

“Yeah. OK. We might be interested in the job,” Jack replied. “Who is it for?”

“I can’t tell you that,” Dozer said. “The job is in Olympia. I will set up a meeting between you and your contact there.”

“What are you hiding? Why won’t you tell us the name of this contact?” Jack asked suspiciously.

“Like I said before, I can’t tell you that. But if you help me out with this I will owe you. The Pack will owe you.”

“The Pack already owes us,” Woof pointed out. “We protected you when the Venatori attacked the warehouse.”

Dozer tilted his head in acknowledgement,“You are right. We will owe you another one.”

“Don’t forget when we stopped Black Agnes from killing you,” Jack piped in.

“OK. OK. More than one. The Pack will owe you big time, and if you need back-up in the city, we are there, but random debts don’t get you such a sweat bike.” Dozer said holding up his hands in surrender.

“Look,” he said matter of factly. “I can’t give you a name but I can arrange the meeting. I would do it myself but I have my own…concerns right now. And I can’t go to Olympia without igniting a full scale gang war. Something we just aren’t ready to handle right now.”

Jack nodded his head, knowing that The Pack was a far cry from the powerhouse it had been in the past. They had taken too many hits over the last few years. He looked to Bruno first with a question in his eyes and the big man shook his head in an affirmative. Riley also nodded curtly when he glanced over at him.

“OK,” Jack said standing up, holding out his hand. “We’ll do it. Now give me the keys to the Indian.”

EC_COM299.pngThe three of them were riding south just outside of Olympia a few hours later. Jack was excited to have the Indian back. He had missed his old bike. The roar of the engine and the open freeway were exhilarating. Just what he needed to take his mind of things. He gunned the engine of the vintage motorcycle accelerating far past the speed limit and Woof and Bruno had to struggle to keep up.

Woof was riding an old, battered ’92 Harley Davidson Softtail that Dozer had provided. It was a good bike but badly in need of a tuneup. Bruno was on something else entirely. The big man had been given a custom bike that supposedly resembled the one ridden by the DC comic book character Lobo. While it was impressive to look at, the bike was bulky and slow as a turtle. Which is probably why Dozer was so happy to be rid of it.

The three of them were in a good mood, enjoying the ride, when their fun was interrupted by flashing lights and a siren. Annoyed but not willing to flaunt the police over a speeding ticket Jack pulled over. They were right next to a busy McDonald’s full of children laughing and playing on the playground. A ruggedly handsome sheriff got out the car and slowly made his way over the the trio of riders, his hand never straying far from his firearm. After a moment of shock they all realized they knew him.

YOU!” Jack snarled pulling his staff and channeling power into it. The tip began to glow with mystical power, although Riley saw that it was not nearly as bright and steady as he remembered it. Bruno started walking toward the sheriff with deadly intent clearly written in his countenance.

“I am going to blast you into dust!” Jack exclaimed. Riley started to draw his pistol but noted all the surveillance cameras on the scene and the people that had so far not noticed the trouble that was brewing in their midst. This was the worst possible place and time to do this.

EC_COM300.png“Are you?” JJ Mercer drawled calmly. “With all these fine upstanding citizens as witness? Being a cop killer is a sure-fired way to end up in prison. And I am sure you wouldn’t want any of these innocent children to be hurt in the crossfire?”

Jack looked around to the kids playing on the playground. He turned back to face the White Court Vampire. Mercer had enslaved the Venatori Strike team that had attacked his home, destroying it, and turned him over to the Denarion demon, Azael. The demon had taken over his father’s body after abandoning Abigail’s form. It was only because of his friends that Jack wasn’t dead. Or worse, enslaved to the Denarion. With an effort of will Jack released the power he had gathered and lowered his staff.

“I didn’t think so,” he said smugly. Bruno, barely keeping his rage in check, started forward until Jack put a hand on his shoulder.

“What do you want, Mercer?”

“Why I want what you want my young friend. To keep the peace. You see, a group of Red Court Vampires have recently opened up a nightclub in Olympia. People are disappearing. Far too many for me to cover up.”

“And the more attention they bring to themselves the more likely the authorities will learn about your own lying, traitorous history of murder and depravity,” Riley growled.

“I’m flattered you think so well of me but yes. Yes. That could be a problem,” Mercer said without apology.

“Besides the White Court is an ally of the Red Court Vampires. You can’t make a move on them can you? Not without censure from you own family and court,” Jack pointed out. JJ Mercer beamed at the wizard like a teacher proud of their prize student and nodded his head urging him to continue.

“But if a Warden of the White Council came to town and destroyed them,” he went on. "It would simply be regarded as just another tragedy of the war. It would have nothing to do with you. "

“That is an interesting supposition. I, of course, could never suggest that any harm should come to my stalwart allies of the Red Court who just moved here from Eastern Europe,” the vampire said rubbing his chin in thought.

“So please. Let this be a warning to you,” he said with great insincerity. “I am cautioning you to leave the Red Court Vampires at the Rainmaker Nightclub alone. You are forbidden from hunting them down and destroying them. It’s too bad I won’t be anywhere near them to protect them for at least the next week.”

He flashed a predatory grin, “Y’all have a good day now. Yah hear?”

With that the smug vampire got back into his cruiser and drove off. Jack’s gaze followed the police car with murderous intent.

“I am going to kill Dozer for this,” he muttered under his breath.

END OF CHAPTER 01

NEXT

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