MADNESS TAKES ITS TOLL
ZEBADIAH EINAR woke up to a windy morning with his daughter fixing a pot of coffee. Which was unfortunate since he only drinks tea. SILVIO KHLORES was nowhere to be seen. He was probably out with his lady love, MAGGIE SIMPKINS, for the day.
Over breakfast made by the eager-to-please-wonder-acolyte KAROLYNN KENNEDY, LUCY SMITH-EINAR once again scolded her dad for trying to relive his glory days as the Magma Kracken. She told him he should stay away from the madness that comes with being a Warden and get more involved in the private sector. In fact the reason she was in Seattle was because she had accepted a job working for the Peter Kirk Syndicate doing security consulting for TREVOR RADCLIFFE.
Zeb was skeptical of this decision and told her to be careful but Lucy pointed out that he himself had done similar work for WILLIAM WEST in the past putting up wards on some of his collections and facilities and how was this any different?!?!? Kennedy even chimed in that she was only able to afford college because she had gotten a Radcliffe Scholarship pointing out that he was a patron of the arts and had a reputation for giving money to worthy causes. Undaunted Zeb made Lucy promise to consult with his lawyers before signing any contracts and she took off to go to work.
Zeb asked Kennedy if she had done her assignments. She gave him her notes which contained a surprisingly well thought out summary of the chapters she had studied with some erudite notations and theories. Impressed despite himself Zeb turned his attentions to updating his house wards to allow for his new house guests and apprentice. He also put in a few calls among the booksellers and dealers of rare books to keep an eye out for the missing BOOK OF THE OUTER DARK with little initial results.
OSAMU “AWESOME” NISHIMURA) accompanied by IVAN IVANOVICH decided to visit the Emerald City Detective Agency that LISA SHAN had initially hired to look into her husband, Roger Sim’s, late night activities. They arrived at a well appointed modern office in IVAN’S old work van. What was a bit odd was that all the desks were empty with their computers off despite the fact that it was well within business hours. Osamu rang the bell on the reception desk several times before a loud voice from the back office screamed at him to “Go away!”.
OSAMU ignored ALLAN DAVIDSON and approached his office. He was immediately struck by the pungent smell of alcohol and found a very nicely appointed office that was a complete shambles with old Bush Mills bottles littering the floor and masses of papers strewn all over the place. The man who sat at the desk was slovenly, his well tailored suit stained and wrinkled, and he was very, very drunk. IVAN approached DAVIDSON asking him if he could tell him why he had abandoned LISA SHAN’S case. DAVIDSON’S reaction was startling. He started rocking back and forth chanting “Lisa Shan, Lisa Shan, I don’t know a Lisa Shan,” over and over while tears streamed down his face until finally he started screaming it at the top of his lungs. He bellowed for OSAMU and IVAN to leave him alone before collapsing back into his seat. With bleary, devastated eyes he then turned to OSAMU and calmly asked him who he was and what was he doing in his office and seemed completely oblivious to what had just happened. IVAN gave DAVIDSON a bottle of vodka. He obviously needed it.
Unnerved OSAMU and IVAN left Emerald City Investigations not noticing the man in the Cincinnati Red’s baseball cap who was watching the building. Realizing something was odd they headed over to ZEB’S house to get some help.
STACY KEENE continued her investigations into the missing BOOK OF THE OUTER DARK, going to FOSS ESTATE SERVICES to look into the crew that helped transport Miller’s estate. MRS. WILEY, a kindly blue haired receptionist, was reluctant at first to divulge any information. She stated that all the employees at Foss were licensed and bonded by the State of Washington and totally trustworthy. However, when Stacy explained that a very valuable book was missing she became instantly accommodating.
Looking over the records STACY noticed that ELADIO BUENEZ worked for the company for only a day which seemed odd. MRS. WILEY explained that BURL ROBERTSON, a longtime employee, had won an all expenses payed trip to Cancun and they hired BUENEZ to replace him. She seemed very fond of him saying he was very handsome and a good boy. Convinced she had found her suspect Stacy thanked MRS. WILEY and called ZEB asking him to meet her at BUENEZ’S house.
Meanwhile, OSAMU and IVAN arrived at ZEB’s and told him what they had found. ZEB grabbed his Sword and Cloak of office. Obviously the Laws of Magic had been violated and he was determined to punish whoever had done it. Together the whole team went to BUENEZ’S house in IVAN’S truck. They arrived in time to see ELADIO BUENEZ being wheeled into an ambulance his eyes wide in shock his lips moving incoherently. His wife was standing on her small apartment’s front porch crying with her young daughter cradled in her arms. A small crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle.
STACY decided to use The Sight to examine him to see if she could find out what happened while the others investigated the crowd. She wasn’t completely prepared for the horror she witnessed. In her Sight ELADIO appeared dressed in old Conquistador Spanish armor with a huge tears in the helm and the breastplate. Staring into the wounds she was nearly overwhelmed by insatiable hunger and a fundamental wrongness that was alien to this existence. For a moment she felt like her ties to reality were violated by perceiving the Beyond. Shaken she was able to wrench herself away from the horrible vision. Ivan gave her some vodka. She obviously needed it.
Meanwhile ZEB had overheard a young lady exclaim that ELADIO had been attacked by “El Diablo”. He approached her and asked her to explain. It took some doing but they were able to coax from her that she had witnessed an OLD HAG emerge from a living shadow and attack ELADIO. He screamed out in such agony that it gave her the shivers. That was all she knew. ZEB pursued another line of questioning and she told him he should ask LADI’S wife. When he asked her to introduce him she screamed out across the street, “Hey, Carmen! This old guy wants to talk to you!”
CARMEN was reluctant at first but seemed eager to do anything that could help her and her ELADIO. Her young daughter did her best to comfort her brushing her tears away with her tiny hands. She explained that she and her daughter were at her Aunt’s house last night because she was having a fight with him. She had promised to marry him if he cleaned up his act and he had been so good about it for the most part. A year or so ago he had told her that he had to do one last job. He had no choice he said. It was obvious that someone had blackmailed him into taking the BOOK. When ZEB asked about who hired him she said that she didn’t know anything about him. She never met him but he was obviously rich since he dropped ELADIO off in a limo.
ZEB was able to convince her into letting him do an INVESTIGATION RITUAL in her house allowing him to witness the attack on ELADIO from a protective circle. He viewed THE SHADOWMAN erupt out of a dark corner transporting an OLD CRONE who immediately attacked ELADIO destroying his mind with magic. THE SHADOW was obviously a creature from BEYOND the outer gates of our reality and was disturbing on a fundamental level. But it was the CRONE who radiated insatiable hunger for spirit and flesh and madness that could easily have overwhelmed his mind if he had not had the protection of the ritual circle.
Realizing that OSAMU’S case and the missing BOOK were potentially related the whole group decided to go back and examine ALLAN DAVIDSON. They arrived at Emerald City Investigations and noticed the man in the trench coat and baseball cap who was obviously keeping an eye on the building. OSAMU stealthily hung back from the group as they entered the building to keep tabs on the mysterious figure.
Upon entering the office STACY, ZEB and IVAN caught the inescapable scent of blood and cordite. They cautiously approached DAVIDSON’S office only to find his dead body with a smoking pistol in his hand. It was a pathetic and disturbing sight. DAVIDSON had obviously been driven mad by whatever had tampered with his mind and killed himself. They immediately wiped their finger prints off anything they had touched and left the building. Ivan grabbed the bottle of vodka he had left with DAVIDSON. He obviously didn’t need it.
They decided to capture the spy to get some answers after leaving the office. After a quick skirmish with OSAMU and STACY that made it clear that he was faster and tougher than a normal human the nondescript man managed to escape around a corner and vanish in a blast of cold wind. IVAN attempted to give chase in his van managing to slam it into STACY. Luckily the only thing injured was her pride as her enchanted necklace absorbed the impact but she was knocked sprawling into a garbage dumpster. IVAN hid his bottle of vodka.
Realizing that the only remaining lead they had at this point was ROGER SIMS they decided to stake out his house and see where he went during his late night excursions.
Strangely they left the motel almost immediately and headed for a local cemetery. The party got out of the car and attempted to shadow the mysterious couple but ZEB tripped over his cane and fell to the ground with a clatter accidentally knocking several of them into the light. The couple spotted them easily and leaped with supernatural ability over the 10 foot high fence of the cemetery.
Luckily OSAMU had used his Ki to hide in the shadows and give him speed and he quickly pursued them. He followed them to a small mausoleum which would barely hold one person much less two. He felt a cold gust of wind and ran to the door and opened it to find a small cramped space with no one there. ZEB and STACY could both feel that the veil to the Nevernever was very thin here and that they could pierce it easily. ZEB concentrated for a few moments and a portal opened up with a blast of cold wind.