Campaign of the Month: November 2012

THE EMERALD CITY

BOOK 7: LEGACY OF BLOOD: CHAPTER 02

GM: James

EVERYBODY LOVES YOU WHEN YOU’RE DEAD

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Transcribed by: James
In Game date: December 2008
Episode: 51

For several months OSAMU NISHIMURA (西村修) and his mentor, REVEREND CHARLIE had traveled the width and breadth of Asia tracking down what elements they could find of the Tora Shagami Clan within the Eastern Temple. What they found was deeply disturbing. The Tigers had apparently infiltrated the Eastern Temple at the highest levels throughout the region. But it was the files they recovered from a corporate office in Viet Nam that chilled both of them to the bone.

EC_COM150.pngOsamu had infiltrated a high security corporate office building and inserted the thumb drive that had been prepared for him by a friend of Charlie’s that downloaded a database. When they examined the information they were startled to discover a large file on the supernatural residents of the Seattle area. Including extensive entries on Osamu’s friends and allies. Oddly the files on the Mercers seemed very limited. Realizing that this information was likely prelude to a power grab in the Emerald City Reverend Charlie insisted that the Renegade Monk make his way back to the States both to warn his friends and to put a stop the the Tora Shagami’s plans in Seattle. Osamu feared for Charlie’s safety but in the end conceded to his wishes out of concern for his friends and his adopted home.

He hopped on a freighter bound for the U.S. as soon as possible. He arrived in Seattle mere moments before his allies came back from Jötunheim but by the time he had made it through customs to the home of ZEBADIAH EINAR, senior warden of the city, he found only an empty house. Osamu was a bit puzzled because he noticed that there were several lights on in the house, the top latch on the door wasn’t locked and that there was an odd pile of winter weather gear hastily tossed in the corner of the foyer covered in melting snow dripping water all over the hard wood floors. Knowing the old wizard as he did Osamu was surprised to see the house in such a state. Under normal circumstances the old man would never allow his home to be so untidy. But there was little he could do. He would not risk the wards that protected the Warden’s home without a very compelling reason. Anxious, he set off from Zeb’s place and decided to go to see if Jack was home. The younger Warden of Seattle lived on CAPITOL HILL, which wasn’t far so he decided to walk there. Even a barefoot man wearing the traditional robes of a Vietnamese Monk was hardly noticed in the eclectic neighborhood.

As he neared the home he became increasingly alarmed. There was a great deal of activity around the house especially since it was well after midnight. Perhaps the whole neighborhood was out surrounding the Youngblood estate held back by a solid line of police barricades and emergency vehicles. Strangely a car’s entire engine block was in the middle of the road half way down the block from Jack’s home surrounded by police officers and forensic experts. Even more bizarre was the fire truck that was encased in a solid block of slowly melting ice. EC_COM151.png

A haze of smoke hung over the scene and Osamu’s nose twitched at the sickly sweet smell of burnt flesh that turned his stomach. When he finally made it to the front of the crowd he was shocked to see JACK YOUNGBLOOD’S house looked like something out of a war movie. The front of the old Victorian home was blasted from what looked like multiple explosions while the entire rear was knocked across the back yard as if from a powerful blow. But the most disturbing was the body that was burnt at the stake wearing what was obviously Jack’s mystically enhanced leather jacket. The body was blackened and burned to a crisp but the jacket was strangely unmarked.

It was then that he saw his friends and allies DETECTIVE ROY MULLENIX and MATHEWWOOFRILEY who were both helping to investigate the crime scene. Roy was questioning one of the other officers and behind him the monk spotted DELILAH MONTAGUE speaking emphatically into a cell phone attempting to expedite a comparison of dental records to properly ID the body.

Osamu managed to catch Roy’s attention who quickly waved him through the police line. He was given gloves, footies and a hair net as he joined the two of them at the crime scene. Roy and Riley looked completely exhausted. Force marching up a mountain in the land of the Frost Giants for a night and a day will take a lot out of a person. Osamu noticed that Riley in particular looked haunted as he examined the devastation of his friend’s home. There was a guilty look in his eyes that was alarming.EC_COM152.png

They talked briefly as Roy filled the monk in. He explained that the group had gone to Jötunheim at the behest of LEIF WOTENSEN and they had just gotten back. Leif was going to join them but wanted to check in on his patients first. ZEBADIAH EINAR had gone on to Edinburgh bringing the fabled rooster, Fjallar, that they had taken from the FROST GIANTS.

As far as they could tell someone had attacked the Youngblood home and it looked like they had murdered the young wizard. There was no sign of his sister CAROLINE YOUNGBLOOD. Apparently the entire crime scene had been sanitized with some strange mixture of vinegar and silver nitrate making gathering forensic evidence all but impossible. Also, all of the brass shell casings had been gathered by whoever had attacked and they had used frangible ammo that broke into fragments when it struck anything hard and was impossible to trace through ballistics. Finally, the silver nitrate would completely neutralize any chance of tracking through magic. Clearly this was the work of pros.

Leif’s fear for his friend, Jack was at the forefront of his mind but he had responsibilities and he could not think clearly until he confirmed for himself that his patients were safe. He arrived at the Radcliffe Clinic, only a few miles from Jack’s house, and after talking to a night nurse was relieved that everything seemed normal in the coma wing. JAYME HEUPEL, the poor child whose mind had been devastated by a Black Court Vampire was unharmed. The nurse reported that they had transported a few more of the Black Monday Coma Patients to other long term care facilities because the clinic wasn’t really able to handle their needs. But other than that nothing exciting was going on.

The doctor knew that the coma patients would never recover after Sawney Beane had turned them into his Cannibal Thralls. His death and defeat had taken the efforts of nearly every major player of the Seattle Supernatural community. However, even vanquished he still brought misery to the poor souls that had been possessed with his madness. He had left behind over 300 soulless husks that were completely unresponsive to any treatment. With a sigh Leif Wotensen mentally promised to do everything in his power to prevent that kind of Evil from touching his city again. After a hasty call to assure himself that EMMIE MERCER, for whom he had come to care for a great deal in the past few weeks, was all right Lief hastily made his way to join his friends.EC_COM153.png

After a thorough examination of the crime scene this is what the four of them pieced together:

The assault had started with the fire hoses spraying down the front of the Warden’s home. The Running Water had obviously rendered Jack’s wards completely ineffectual as the magic was washed away. Jack must have realized what they were doing because he had lashed out with some potent magic freezing the fire truck in a block of solid ice.

The attackers had then fired a series of grenades at the front of the house blowing out all the windows and attempting to distract the Warden. But Zebidiah Einar had trained Jack well and when the assault team attacked the rear of the building he had hit them with a powerful force blast that knocked the entire facade off of the rear of the old Victorian home.

However, the main hallway that ran through the house was now exposed from the front AND the rear. The investigators had discovered hundreds of bullet fragments from frangible rounds laying spent on the ground in a circle that was at the top of the stairs to the basement. Clearly Jack had used his magic to create a force shield to protect himself and perhaps Caroline. A series of impacts and the remains of flashbang grenades suggested they were used to shatter the wizard’s concentration forcing him to retreat down the stairs.

Based on the blood splatter Jack must have met his attackers as soon as they came through the door and decapitated one of them at the top of the stairs. Another spray of arterial blood was found at the foot of the stairs where it seemed likely that he had stabbed someone through the heart. The basement was obviously where Jack made his last stand.

Lief sought to confirm that with a ritual that would allow him to see the final moments of the fight in the basement. After several minutes of concentration and meditation he slowly slipped into a trance and witnessed the tragedy in the basement as if in a dream:

“We aren’t all going to make it,” Jack realized during a temporary lull in the attack. They had been firing down at him relentlessly for several minutes but so far his shield had stopped them. The attackers had backed off for a moment calling out a general retreat. The young Warden knew that wouldn’t last though. They were preparing for a final assault and he feared the outcome of that attack. EC_COM145.png
“I can’t keep this pace up forever and obviously no one is going to come to help us. And these guys seem to know my every move. Almost as if they got some inside information on me or something.”
He turned to look at his sister and saw only determination and resolve on her soot covered face. Her eyes were bloodshot and watering and she was coughing from all the smoke that filled the cramped basement. She might be scared but she was ready to face her enemies. “She’s so strong,” he thought, pride and affection swelling his heart, “stronger than I ever was. She deserves a chance at life.”
She was held protectively by Bruno Walsh who was unconsciously shielding her, his huge body dwarfing Caroline’s slight form. “Best friend a guy could have,” Jack thought a crooked smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “but a terrible wing man when it comes to women.”
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Jack looked around the basement of his home with a profound mixture of sadness, shame and despair. Because of him thelove of his life had been possessed by a Fallen Angel in this very room. Because of him his father, John Youngblood, had sacrificed everything to save his children ending up in a coma that persisted to this day. Because of him his sister had nearly been murdered in a ritual that threatened the world. She still bears the scars from that terrible day.
“All because I was a foolish boy rebelling against his father,” Jack whispered causing Caroline to jump. She stared directly at Jack with concern. She knew the guilt he carried from that day. That it weighed heavily on his soul. She had long ago forgiven him and fought fiercely to get him to forgive himself.
“Bruno,” Jack said, looking deeply into his friend’s eyes, “Promise me that no matter what you will get her to safety.”
“Wait. What?” Caroline exclaimed, “Jack, what are you talking about?”
Jack ignored her holding his friend’s gaze. They had long ago Soulgazed and Jack knew that Bruno Walsh could be trusted with the only thing that mattered to him in this world.
“Please,” Bruno whispered and tears started forming in the big mans eyes as he shook his head in protest. He knew how far Jack was willing to go to protect his sister.
“Jack, no! Dammit Jack. You can’t do this!” Caroline cried becoming increasingly agitated. Bruno’s huge hands gripped her tighter and she twisted and squirmed pounding on the huge man’s chest. “Let. GO of me you jackass!” Jack’s gaze was steady and unwavering and Bruno’s shoulders sagged. EC_COM147.png
“No! NOOOOOOOOO! You can’t do this! You can’t leave me!!! Please, Jack you’re all I’ve got!” Caroline frantically pried at his hands but Bruno simply hugged her tighter and tighter to his chest, and he finally nodded tears flowing freely down his cheeks. Unable to speak he scooped Caroline up over his shoulder and went to the back of the vault. To the secret entrance to the tunnel that he and Jack had excavated last summer that lead to the detached garage. Jack watched as they went down the passage catching Caroline’s eyes.
“You can’t leave me! Please Jack! Please! You’re all I’ve got! You’re all I’ve got!”
“I so sorry,” Jack said. The vault door slammed shut with finality and Caroline’s heart rending plea echoed throughout the basement.
Just in time too. Jack knew that his foes must have been up to something. So far their attacks had been relentless and without let up. But Jack’s efforts had forced them to rethink their strategy. Grinning fiercely he stared at the two black clad bodies on the stairs and swung his sword in an expert arc. “You taught me well, old man,” he thought, “Take care of her for me.”
The savagery and power of the attack was unlike anything Jack had ever experienced before. Two emaciated and hooded figures exploded down the stairs almost faster than the eye could follow and slammed into Jack’s shield with the power of a Howitzer. Jack gritted his teeth as he was hammered to his knees by the impossibly powerful blows and despite his efforts his shield shattered with the sound of huge gong. EC_COM148.png
“That the best you got?” Jack snarled, getting to his feet and pouring all the power he could muster into his staff. He released a blast of light and heat so intense that it instantly incinerated the two strangely mute assailants leaving only a blast shadow on the far wall. Panting, with blood flowing from his ears and eyes because of the intense strain of casting so much magic in a short time, Jack immediately started to reconstitute his shield knowing he was vulnerable. Two gun shots rang out and he felt a pair of impacts in his belly. Jack looked up to see a single figure at the foot the stairs holding a pistol in the classic Weaver stance.
Leaning on his staff Jack stared at the figure in shock as agony spread through his abdomen. With shaking hands he tried to lift his his sword but nothing worked. He couldn’t concentrate. He couldn’t even speak. His knees buckled and Jack sunk to the ground his sword and staff clattering to the concrete as he clutched the two gaping wounds in his midsection.
“Abby” he coughed as blackness overtook him, “please forgive me…”


Caroline’s anguished cries were heart wrenching and it took a moment for Leif to compose himself after the vision. He shared what he had learned with the others and they found the secret door in the back of the vault. The tunnel didn’t go far though before collapsing. They realized that Bruno must have used his own considerable strength to bring down the tunnel behind him after hearing the vault door blasted off its hinges by well placed C4 charges. All the wards had then been neutralized by hosing them down just like the outside of the house.

Bruno and Caroline must have made their way out to the detached garage through the tunnel and hoped to escape in Jack’s beat up old Station Wagon. They never made it. As impossible as it seemed someone had grabbed the heavy vehicle by the steel bumper, leaving a hand print in the metal, as it was driving away and turned the whole thing forcing it to crash into the garage frame at speed. The attacker had then shoved their hands through the hood of the heavy vehicle and ripped the engine block right out of it and thrown it through the wall and 30 yards down the street. EC_COM149.png

While searching the wreckage of the garage they had found a black clad arm that had been torn off and thrown across the garage. Because it was under considerable rubble it had been missed by the attackers and the forensics team was able to get clean prints from it. They were also able to get a good print from the hand print left in the car’s metal as well. They sent them to the lab and hoped to get results soon.

While the group of friends had examined the crime scene uniformed officers had interviewed all the potential witnesses in the neighborhood. Oddly not one single one of them reported hearing gunfire or noticing anything amiss. They all used the exact words when asked about what happened:

“Jack Youngblood was always getting into trouble. He ran with a rough crowd. Obviously, this was the work of gang violence.”

Roy recognized the pattern and concluded that someone had manipulated all of their minds forcing them to forget everything they had seen or heard. He would be able to get nothing from eye witnesses. While they had figured out how Jack had been attacked and slain they still had no idea what had happened to Caroline. And if she was alive then time was of the essence.EC_COM154.png

It was Osamu who had noticed someone from across the street secretly watching the chaotic scene from a darkened second story window. He asked two officers to join him and he went to the door. He noted that there was a wheelchair ramp to the front entrance of the house and when he knocked he could hear the sounds of an elevator before an older man answered the door. The man seemed fearful and withdrawn, especially around the uniformed officers and told Osamu to go away. He wouldn’t answer any questions.

Osamu left and went to join the others when a flash of light caught his eyes. From that same second story window the old man was secretly signalling him with a handle held laser pointer. Osamu melded with the shadows, escaping everyone’s notice and made his way to the old man’s home. He circled the house and found the back door was left cracked.

EC_COM155.pngHe entered the home and was greeted by the old man who introduced himself as Mr. Watkins. He was obviously shaken but determined to tell the monk something. Osamu noted that he had a Marine Corp tattoo and was unsurprised to learn that he had fought in the Viet Nam War where he had lost his leg. He seemed to trust the young monk for some reason. Apparently, during the war, a man wearing the same robes as Osamu had saved him from something demonic that had devastated his whole platoon.

He explained to the monk that he kept an eye on the neighborhood through his binoculars. He wasn’t a pervert though. It was just the only way he was able to feel like he was a part of humanity by watching them go about their daily lives from afar. Osamu realized that the lonely man suffered from extreme PTSD and believed him when he said he wasn’t a Peeping Tom and that he wouldn’t try to watch anyone undress or anything. He finally revealed that he had seen the attack on the house across the street. Or part of it anyway.

The first thing the man had noticed that was odd was that a lone woman was standing on the front of the Youngblood’s lawn for several minutes mumbling to herself with her eyes squeezed shut. She was a pretty girl but his hackles rose as she swayed back and forth in the wind. Suddenly, the woman fell, knocked down as if she was shot maybe? EC_COM156a.png

The whole front of the house transformed in front of his disbelieving eyes becoming a war zone. He saw black clad figures wearing SWAT gear all over the front lawn and noticed the firetruck frozen in a block of ice parked next to three Hummers. He could also suddenly smell burned flesh as he watched a lone figure catch on fire and burn with great heat. The burning man did not struggle or fight as the flames consumed him.

Gunfire sounded to his right and an engine roared and he had turned to see the station wagon slam into the wall of the garage as bullets from the “SWAT Team” shattered its side windows. It was driven by that huge thug who hung out with Jack Youngblood all the time.

Osamu tried to defend Bruno’s character to the older man but it was clear that he didn’t approve of him or of the young Warden who lived across the street. Mr. Watkins had watched Jack grow up and knew of his troubled childhood and rebellious actions. He seemed to truly care about Caroline though. Osamu realized that the young woman would likely be one few that would bother to get to know the shattered ex-Marine. Her compassion and willingness to help others were deeply ingrained in her character and he imagined she might have been this poor man’s only friend. EC_COM158.png

Mr. Watkins had watched in awe as a smaller man with a shaved head suddenly leaped to the front of the car as Bruno frantically tried to restart it and ripped the engine block right out of the hood of the car and threw it through the garage wall and down the street. Bruno got out of the vehicle and the smaller man had backhanded him knocking the massive man into the wall. A “nerdy little loser with huge glasses” who was obviously in charge screamed at him to get the girl and they had grabbed Caroline and made their way to a VW bus parked down the road. One of the SWAT guys had gotten in their way and the bald man had ripped his arm clean off and thrown it into the rubble of the garage. The three of them made it to the van and drove away at top speed. Two of the Hummers had loaded up and they had left in wild pursuit.

He said that he had seen the VW before. For several days he had seen it parked on the street watching the Youngblood house. Unfortunately the license plate was so dirty he was unable to read it.

The SWAT guys left behind had gone around the scene and sprayed everything with something while loading up several body bags and gathering all the spent brass. They had pulled Bruno from the rubble and forced him to his knees and shot him in the head. They then loaded up his body into a bag and took it to their vehicle.

“He may have been a thug,” Watkins said, his eyes shining with tears and perhaps some terrible memory, “but he fought bravely and didn’t deserve to be executed like some wild dog.”

EC_COM157.pngBy this time the whole neighborhood was out and gathering around the scene. A beautiful woman called them all together and the people seemed to be spellbound by her. She spoke to them for a moment and even from across the street Mr. Watkins could feel something was happening. He felt a need to hear what the woman had to say. They all watched her as she explained something to them and then she spoke to one of the SWAT Team members and they had left in the final Humvee. But the beautiful woman had remained behind.

The old Marine pointed her out to Osamu. It was Delilah Montague. After witnessing her brainwash his entire neighborhood covering the asses of what he assumed was a SWAT team of police it made sense to Osamu that Watkins was terrified of the cops. He thanked the man for confiding in him and assured him that it wasn’t the police. But he told him to keep what he saw secret and told him if anyone asked to repeat the following word for word:

“Jack Youngblood was always getting into trouble. He ran with a rough crowd. Obviously, this was the work of gang violence.”

After reporting this new information to Roy, Lief and Riley they all quickly concluded that the woman who had been standing in the front lawn swaying must have been Veiling the whole scene with powerful magic during the attack. Lief imagined it would have taken incredible skill and power to pull such a feat off. Even Jack, who was widely considered one of the most powerful Wizards of his generation, would have found such an task daunting. As they quietly discussed who might have been able to pull off such a feat an officer called Roy’s cell phone telling him that there had been some hits on the fingerprints from the arm found in the garage and the hand print embedded in the station wagon’s bumper.

The arm belonged to an Italian national named Paulo De Jacomo. Paulo was apparently Ex-special forces serving in the elite Monte Cervino unit in Italy before mustering out several years ago and falling off the grid entirely. Roy was heartbroken to realize that De Jacomo had the perfect profile to be recruited by the Venatori Umbrorum. The hand print was even more disturbing however.

Only Osamu connected the name Casimir Sokolov, a Russian national who was suspected in several murders and crimes by the Russian Mafia in the Seattle area, to their former ally RYAN DELMONT. Ryan had been murdered by Luzkhov years before and somehow he had ended up in the body of his killer after making a bargain with an unknown dark god. Ryan had mysteriously vanished a few months ago and they had all secretly been relieved. Delmont had always been creepy and had a legitimate beef with Zeb since the old Warden had killed his girlfriend, KAROLYNN KENNEDY after she had been possessed by BLACK AGNES two years ago. Maybe he was acting out of revenge. Osamu was the only who didn’t think so and pointed out that Mr. Watkins had said that Ryan was being bossed around by the younger man in glasses. Maybe he was under duress? EC_COM159.png

Fearing that Ryan could want revenge on Jack’s father Lief suggested that they call the hospice that he was kept at. After Roy explained it was a police matter they learned that Jack’s father had woken up just that morning and checked himself out. It was especially eerie since he had awakened while the whole building was shaking and the lights were flickering. This was unsettling information and they all wondered why John Youngblood hadn’t contacted them. Was he possessed? It was a pressing issue but they needed to figure out what happened to Jack and Caroline first.

Through some traffic incident reports they discovered that the Humvees had chased the VW Bus for several blocks but then the streets at the corner of Broadway and Olive had mysteriously flash frozen sending the military vehicles careening into several parked cars. The trail went cold after that.

Osamu volunteered to go check on Ryan’s apartment in the U-district. He learned that the apartment had been abandoned for months and he didn’t find anything else of interest. The sun was rising and they were all nearing the ragged edge of exhaustion. They decided to head home and get some rest.

Roy got home to his silent house and was startled to find his daughter, MEGAN MULLENIX , waiting for him in the living room. She had been out of town for months now. She greeted him sleepily and he was taken with how different she was from the rebellious teen he had sent off to train with the Venatori Ubrorum. After all the intense conditioning she looked tougher and more confident. But her affectionate smile still warmed his heart. She hugged him and Roy had no difficulty noticing that she winced a bit favoring her ribs. When he asked her about it she got a little glassy eyed and said it was from a training accident. Trepidation in his heart he asked her what kind of training? She looked vaguely alarmed for a moment as if she couldn’t remember and then said it was just a training accident and nothing to worry about with a glazed expression in her eyes.

Alarmed now he asked his daughter what she knew about what happened to Jack Youngblood last night. Her reply chilled him to his very soul.

“Jack Youngblood is always getting into trouble. He ran with a rough crowd. Obviously, this was the work of gang violence.”

Just as he was about to speak again the phone rang. Roy answered and was told that Bruno Walsh had been fished out of Puget Sound. Despite being shot in the head he was still alive…

END OF CHAPTER TWO

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