Poisonville

The Coed Vanishes: Tom O' Bedlam's Story
This is what the Summer Court Ambassador told you over his class of whiskey that night

“Back when Elvis was around, some of our Folk had, well, an interesting idea. See, we got an equilibrium, a balance, between Summer and Winter, a cycle. But it’s also a tension, right? We pull against each other, push against each other. We bleed on the borders, nothing ever coming of it. Sometimes, every now and then, someone will come up with a plan to try and break that cycle, end the war. Maybe a plan to give victory to one side or the other, maybe a plan to negotiate a permanent truce. It never works. It can’t. But back when ‘In the Ghetto’ was first on the radio, a couple of us gave it a shot. One was kin to me, a lady of the Seelie Court, a lady known for her great beauty and kind heart. The other, though, the other was one of the Unseelie. A lord of Winter. Now, some say he was sincere in his desire for peace, and found a willing partner in that kind lady. Others say he had darker ends, and turned her altruism into a lever to shape her into his tool.

“Whatever the truth was, they had a plan. To bring the Courts together, they would bring Summer and Winter blood together. They would experiment in unifying the courts through shared descendants. I need not tell you that this was dangerous politically, and you at least, Wizard, need not be told that it was dangerous magically as well.

“And that is why they opted to begin with proxies. And that, mortals, is where the woman Tara Natworth came from. She was the daughter of that Summer Lady, sired by a mortal man. And it’s her daughter that you’re seeking now.

“The Winter lord, he made a changeling scion as well. A male whelp, with Winter ice running in his veins. Their plan was to breed them, to use the mortal blood to dilute their fae natures, acting as a stabilizing force like cooling rods in a nuclear reactor. Of course, a child who’s half-human and half ours, they can make the choice, did you know that? They decide which world to live in. So if that second-generation changeling were to choose to become a true fae, what would happen, with the blood of both courts in it?

“Maybe nothing. The smallfolk may go one way or another, depending on their actions. Magically, perhaps it would not have been so overwhelming. Politically, who can say? The nitrogylcerin they were playing with was something entirely new.

“One way or the other, it seemed we’d never know. The girl Tara was a rebellious child. She ran off early, and she quickly fell into low company.

“They called her Wendy. Their little joke. None of them wanted anything to do with their fae kin, and they lived as bohemians, artists and thieves and bums by turns. They drifted together, the four of them, all across the country, but the Reagan years weren’t any kind of a time for bohemians. The Lost Boys came to light here, as so many other pieces of detritus do.

“But first my kinswoman and her conspirator returned to claim their due. The Lost Boys didn’t want to let her go, but they didn’t have the strength to hold her.

“But Tara, it seems she didn’t wish to go so gently. Now, exactly what happened next, that’s a mystery. But a year and a day later, there was an infant girl in a bassinet left at the back doorstep of that movie house of theirs, her name on a card pinned to her blanket, and Tara Natworth was no more, at least as a mortal woman. It’s said by some that she made her Choice, gave up her humanity in exchange for the power needed to protect her child. Maybe a bargain was struck. However it was, the certain thing is that the child grew up as a human girl, looked after by her three godfathers, and none of her grandparents’ folk ever tried to approach her.

“Of course, she turned eighteen, not too long ago. A bargain protecting a child may not protect a woman. It seems likely that the young lady may have entered a season of vulnerability now. Vulnerable, and if her father was indeed that Winterspawn, potentially very powerful. World’s full of predators that can sniff out vulnerability, and power. And there’s still the question of the father. The Winter Changeling’s whereabouts aren’t known to me, and what became of him is a mystery in both courts.

“One last thing. That Winter lord, perhaps this girl’s grandfather, is called Jack Glass.”

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The Coed Vanishes I: Three Godfathers
Missing girl, half-fairy godparents, unhelpful vampires

We began in The Leaf, and we began on a rocky note. wWarden Dan Woodrell was unhappy with the way the recent skinwalker mess was handled, and he wasn’t at all shy about letting people know it. In particular he was unhappy about Callahan apparently maneuvering Los Lobos Loco into being lambs for the slaughter. Callahan got mad too, and things got intense. The two men locked eyes, and each got to see exactly what the other was made of. It turns out Woodrell is mostly made of gristle and murder.

When the Warden stalked out, Geronimo stepped in to reiterate to the group that upsetting the delicate balance of power in the city was a good way to get on his bad side.

At this point, Callahan was approached by Old Abner. Abner and his associates, Joe Peck and Tom Lane, owners and operators of The Paramount movie theater, needed help locating a missing girl. Mel Natwick, 18-year-old student at Eagleston University, hadn’t been heard from for a couple of days now, either by her roommate or by the three Lost Boys, who as friends of her late mother had long served as de facto godfathers. Sheriff Garnet, it seems, had been less than helpful when they applied to that quarter for aid, and so they sought out Callahan, desperately asking him to find out whatever he could, and to let them know just as soon as he learned anything.

Callahan and Nora interviewed the roommate, Jo Dolly, who didn’t know much. What she did know was that Mel had been seeing a young man lately, a fellow named Trevor. Also, the two young ladies had recently been hanging out at The Succubus Club, which of course is the local Red Court hot spot. Along the way, they also gave the room a thorough going over. Nothing suspicious, no sign of packing or preparing to leave. There were, however, a couple of hairs to be found in her brush. No more than that, however, for her godfathers had taught her to be careful about such things. Meanwhile, Drake sniffed around outside. Nothing weird had been around the dorm lately, and there weren’t any signs of a struggle nearby.

Sorcha put those hairs to use in a thaumaturgical effort to locate the missing girl. The pendulum swung to the western edge of the map, but then ran into some heavy interference: potent wards shielded the girl from scrying eyes, and the feedback destroyed the sample. Wherever Mel Natworth was, it was to the West, and in a place protected by someone with power.

Some digital legwork on Trevor turned up a fairly unremarkable college student. His first semester had been a little rocky grades-wise, he’d been in a band, spent some time delivering pizzas. More recently he’d quit the band, quit his job, and gotten his grades up.

Visiting Trevor’s place of residence, a run-down little bungalow in a bad part of town, they learned from his roommate Dave that Trevor hadn’t been around lately. In fact, Dave hadn’t seen much of him all semester, his room hadn’t been regularly occupied in weeks and he seemed to have changed in demeanor some.

Things again got tense at the Succubus Club, since the vampires didn’t want to let anyone in to see the boss, especially not a wizard. Callahan and Drake escalated the situation, perhaps rashly, but they ended up more or less on top of a Mexican standoff and managed to negotiate their way into the terribly cliched low-budget inner sanctum.

Damocles Ravenborn used a lot of words to say not much of anything, although he did deny all involvement, claimed his people were abiding by the current cease-fire conditions, and suggested that they might check with the fae. Meanwhile, Sorcha and Nora learned from the bartender that Trevor had been seen in the club, coming in on occasion semi-formally dressed and finding solitary or vulnerable-seeming folks and trying to corner them for earnest talking.

The fae lead led the party to Steers and Queers, where Tom O’ Bedlam held court in the wood-paneled back room. Like all the Sidhe, Tom was shy about giving straight answers, and Callahan rashly proposed a bargain. Tom brushed aside Drake’s attempt to get involved in the negotiations with a sudden fierce eagerness, and struck a bargain that had no end conditions for Callahan, in exchange for saying the things left unsaid about who the girl was and why the fae might want her.

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Three Wolf Moon Part II
And then shit got real

Morning came, and with it the screaming headline about the abduction of Eddie Poole’s nephew, in which local biker gang leader Big Lou was implicated. The byline was of course Nora Clarke’s, and she was at home asleep after pulling an all-nighter. and Los Locos Lobo were patrolling the streets looking for payback. Callahanand Drake decided to deal with this trouble head-on, arranging a sit-down with Big Lou at the junkyard. Kojiroand Sorcha remained behind at the tea house, since Callahan got a hot tip from a cold shade that Brian Poole was en route to that location in a hurry.

There was considerable tenseness at the junkyard, where the Lobos were acting even more like a feral psychotic pack of animals than usual, which brought out the animal inside of Drake in response. Add in Big Lou’s extreme irateness about the way his face had been clawed up by a giant wolverine, and it was a bona fide powder keg. Even so, Callahan managed to convince Big Lou that the best way to handle the situation was to let Callahan find out who was actually pulling the strings on this mess. They had a deal, Callahan and Big Lou had a truce, and he was free to just walk out of there.

That didn’t apply to Drake, however, despite his initially trying to decline Big Lou’s invitation to step into the chain-link arena the lycanthropes maintained out back of the office. Long story short, the talk ran out and there were a couple of animals rolling around on the floor trying to rip each others’ throats out.

Meanwhile, the blind swordsman and the wizard managed to intercept and detain the terrified teen, and also retrieved the secret stash of smuggled shit he’d been trying to skip out with. It was a modest-sized bag of fungus.

The boy wasn’t talking, being too terrified of his mysterious principal, and they were in a hurry, so Sorcha decided to cut to the chase by opening her third eye. This had interesting results. The bag was a festering morass of oily black evil, seething and twisting between realities. Some kind of hallucinogen intended to open the very worst doors of perception. The boy chose that moment to bolt, and Sorcha turned to look his way before closing off the Sight. What she saw wasn’t pretty. James Kojiro, seen through the Sight, had life force bubbling up through him like a fountain, but his most distinctive feature was the blood that drenched him head to foot, blood that seeped constantly out of his sheathed sword.

Brian, on the other hand, had a spectral wolf-corpse trailing him, an abominable monster evidently raised and bound by sorcery, and fed upon souls. A literal hellhound on his trail.

Callahan managed to use some revolver diplomacy to get the two of them out of the lycanthropes’ den in one piece, moving very slowly while maintaining constant eye contact with the predators. Once driving back, the car’s radio switched over to the frequency only Callahan was tuned to, and his late informant warned him that Eddie Poole was en route to the tea shop. He hit the gas.

Eddie Poole busted in, demanding to know exactly what the fuck was going on. There was considerable yelling. When Callahan and Drake pulled up, they joined in. The kid finally gave up a name.

Old Man Wolf.

Poole was persuaded to join in Callahan’s plan: roll up to Old Man Wolf’s desert shack in force, with the Lobos, and fuck up his shit.

This plan was put into effect.

Of course, Callahan’s real goal was encouraging Poole and the Lobos to weaken themselves in battle as a way of destroying themselves. It seemed to pay some dividends almost immediately, as Big Lou’s vanguard took the brunt of the ghost-wolf pack assault on the desert road leading up to the old man’s shack. Los Lobos, together with a furious four-pawed Eddie Poole, started ripping up the spectral pack in a chaotic melee. Callahan’s big steel boat of a car pressed onwards.

Kojiro, however, gave in to the demands of the bloodthirsty sword in his hands. The scent of battle in the air swept him along with it, and so he leaped out of the moving vehicle and tried to ride atop it, slashing all around him.

He fell off pretty quickly.

Callahan, meanwhile, tried to ram his car head-on through Old Man Wolf’s wards. This didn’t work. The car was rendered hors de combat, and its occupants set to work breaking down the spirit wards, which took the form of wooden posts adorned with animal bones and skulls, and to the ghost sight took the form of flocks of skeleton crows and other ghost watchers.

Kojiro, meanwhile, realized he needed to rejoin his friends. The most expedient way to do this was to borrow the unmanned Harley at his feet.

The wards went down just in time for Kojiro’s blind motorcycle rampage to hit. This was this good news.

The bad news was that Sorcha’s plan to shut down the wards was to turn the whole zone into a slurry of quicksand, toppling the bone poles. It worked like a beauty, but the unintended side effects left Callahan’s punched-up Plymouth and Kojiro’s borrowed bike sinking in the mire as the blind man pinwheeled wildly through the air. From below, they could hear the very angry voice of Big Lou demanding to know where the fuck his motorcycle was.

At this point, the ghost wolves descended. Old Man Wolf defied his guests, and lashed out wish sorcerous power, which Sorcha dealt with by knocking his damn house down.

Unfortunately, magic wasn’t the only arrow in Old Man Wolf’s Quiver. It turned out he was a skin-walker as well, as our heroes found out when an impossibly huge wolf burst from the wreckage of his hut and started wrecking shit.

Serious injuries were sustained, and Drake’s pyrokinetic abilities lit a lot of things of fire, but when the dust settled the old man’s wolf-skin had been stripped off him and burned, and Callahan had him in his sights.

That’s when the Soulgaze hit. For just a moment, Callahan was struck full-force by the essence of who Old Man Wolf was, and beheld the shadow of the thing that walked behind him. He ended up passing out.

At that point, Kojiro calmly took the old sorceror’s head.

Poole and Big Lou were not ignorant of Callahan’s true intent, and were not pleased, but their mutual enemy had been destroyed. Lou, however, still has unfinished business with Drake (and also Kojiro, now), which he intends to settle under the next full moon’s light.

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Three Wolf Moon Part I
Howling gangsters, carloads of drugs, and some REALLY bad shit

It was a bad night at the outset, and it kept getting worse. Our heroes found themselves riding like the devil in a decommissioned school bus on a moonlit desert road, with a pack of werewolves on wheels chasing them and their cargo of evangelist mimes.

Our heroes:

Callahan Donnough, hard-boiled ghost-whispering detective.

Sorcha Shanahan, Druidic wizard of the White Council, born of an ancient yet tainted bloodline.

James Kojiro, blind teahouse owner and Immortal blademaster.

Nora Clarke, insatiably curious mortal reporter.

Jason Drake, fire-breathing were-wolverine pawnbroker.

Callahan was hired by slaughterhouse owner, alleged gangster and reputed werewolf Eddie Poole. Sorcha was dragooned by Warden Dan Woodrell. Drake was dispatched by his mysterious patron. Nora was acting on an anonymous tip. Kojiro was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The net result was the same for all five: they were trying to rescue Eddie Poole’s nephew Brian and his fellow Mimes For the Messiah from the Big Chief Junkyard, where Big Lou and his fellow Lobos Loco had been interrogating Brian as though they believed him to be moving in on their business.

After a dangerous and destructive chase that left a couple of the lycanthropic bikers h’ors de combat and gave Big Lou some new scars from Kojiro’s sword and Drake’s teeth, they escaped, and moved to deliver Brian to his uncle at Poole’s place of business, the Pack. Drake shepherded the other mimes to safety, learning that they were coming back from Mexico after a Spring Break mission trip, and had no idea what was going on.

Brian was a different matter. While waiting for Poole to arrive and collect him, the rest of the party interrogated him, finally utilizing thaumaturgy. But either some kind of compulsion was on the boy, or there was something scaring him a lot more than our heroes.

When Poole arrived and took his nephew away, Nora stalked after them, and overheard the gangster angrily questioning the boy himself, and smacking him around some when he didn’t give any answers. Clearly, Eddie Poole didn’t know what kind of bad shit Brian was into either. She did not share this with the rest of the group.

They proceeded to search Brian’s Kia, still parked outside of Kojiro’s teahouse, where the abduction had taken place. Drake’s keen nose found the drugs right away. A briefcase full of cocaine, and another one full of marijuana, stowed in the car’s trunk out of sight enough to escape casual inspection, but not really well hidden. Callahan, going over the car more thoroughly, found something even more interesting: a very well hidden compartment inside the driver’s door, about large enough for a half-pound stash bag, but completely empty. It seemed Brian had been smuggling something else, something he wanted to keep far more secret than the drugs he was running.

Rather than involve the utterly corrupt Sheriff Wilson Garnet, they opted to take the drugs to Father Martinez, the most trustworthy man they could think of. However, on visiting his church at 3 AM, they found Martinez was at home in bed, the church occupied instead by Father Thorvald, recently arrived from Minnesota.

While discussing what might have kept Brian from talking, and speculating about the possibility of some kind of geas or binding oath having been placed on him, they were startled when Father Thorvald calmly joined the conversation like it wasn’t even a thing.

Deciding that some assistance was called for, Callahan decided to step out and get some help from the other side. A shade who owed him a favor agreed to keep an eye on the Pooles, and the party retired for some sleep.

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