The DresdenVerse

California Winter (part 2)

Scene 4: Wizards are from Mars, Changelings are from Venus (5/5xp)

With the information from Faumnach, Miles and Kevin decided to pose as professors and have dinner at Venus while Jasmin sat outside Peet’s to keep an eye on the exterior. Prof. Hyneman came in with a gorgeous young blonde, but upon seeing his fellow wizards gave them more information about the book. It turned out that if authentic was a relatively comprehensive tracking of the exploits of a pair of Knights of the Cross as well as detailed weaknesses. Some time during dinner, Miles noticed Twiz bussing tables in the back of the restaurant. Kevin went outside tell Jasmin to cut him off, while he and Miles chased him out of the Kitchen. The chase was on, but Jasmin managed trap Twiz in a sphere of antigravity. He was mostly cooperative and the team even got a sample of blood from him in which to track his dad.

Scene 5: Into the Fae (8/8xp)

The team merged the blood with a compass to form a simple tracking spell which eventually led them to Eucalyptus grove on the Berkeley campus. Immediately upon entering, the team knew an ambush was imminent, they drew their weapons and readied an attack. Kevin focused his energy into offense while Miles brandished a second gun and hid in the trees. With Kevin and Jasmin exposed, 3 Faerie snipers let loose a barrage of arrows, injuring Kevin heavily. Vinnie was surprised by a brutish looking hobgoblin and thrown to the ground. Meanwhile a giant ogre wielding a spear jumped out of the nearby river and thrust at Kevin. Jasmin veiled herself previously from the arrow attack and concentrated on keeping the veil up.

After re-grouping, Kevin swung his lightsaber into the great ogre and dropped him in a single blow. Miles rolled onto his back an landed two heavy shots into the hobgoblin’s heart and he dropped as well. The Faerie snipers meanwhile let loose one more volley at Kevin, nearly killing him before bounding off in the direction the tracking spell was leading the team.

After the team went out of fairy for some healing, they jumped right back in onto the trail of their quarry but were finally stopped by a dryad that offered them passage and escort, but at too great a price so they headed back to the real world and found themselves… in Orinda?

They needed a ride and since Kevin wouldn’t let Miles steal a car, Kevin called cousin Stacy for a network hookup. It turns out the closest network hook up was Stan Nedermeyer. It turns out the techniques the network had been teaching him has given him a bit of peace.

The needle was pointing west, but it eventually started spinning again, Miles stayed up until sunrise to see if the tracking spell would ping again, but found nothing.

Scene 6: Truckee? Truck you! (3/3xp)

It was easy enough finding Haley Silver’s office and after announcing their presence as White Council members, Haley’s admin directed them to Squaw Valley where Haley was overseeing the logistics of a gala to honor the recent medalists.

The wizards got straight to the point, and Haley was a bit evasive – almost getting a knife pulled on her by Jasmin. However, it turned out that Haley recognized Jasmin – and proceeded to make fun of her. However, they were able to get out of Haley that a) the book holder may be in danger; b) the one seeking the book is a professor named Andy Lachey in one of the bigger universities in the bay; and c) his truename is Anderondineshae. Haley then told them she could not help them any further and instructed them to seek Baroness Tashia themselves.

Scene 7: Cold as Baroness’s Teat (2/2xp)

With Jasmin’s influence, they group easily got audience during the apparent downtime of the Winter Court. Tashia seemed to be in an impatient mood and got right the point of what she needed. She would trade information if they promised to dispose of the enemies of the winter court operating in the bay area. After they agreed… to the best of their abilities – she provided them with a token from Anderondieshae and could now put together a solid summons.

18 normal xp 18 wizard xp

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California Winter (Part 1)

Scene 1: Fight Night (2/2xp)

Miles brought a huge contingent to cheer Vinnie on and he really appreciated it. The fight went… strange. First round was normal with no clear winner, but Jasmin, Miles, and Kevin all noticed that Vinny was getting sluggish and tired a lot earlier than he should have. Meanwhile, his opponent, Mickey McGrath was kicking his ass and slipping out of every hold that Vinnie put him in. By the third round, Vinnie just looked winded. In the last minute of round 3, there looked to be a turn around, but Mickey pulled off an imposible move and flipped Vinnie onto his collarbone, shattering it. With the cheers and jeers of the crew however, Mickey got up and beat Mickey with win by decision. He was quickly rushed by Chuck D to the Kaiser Permanente half a mile up Broadway.

After wading through the crowds Jasmin, Kevin, and Miles went to visit on their injured friend. He seemed fine, saying that although it hurts to breathe, it’s not nearly as bad as being shot with a SAW. He asked the group to go check on Bruce and promptly went to sleep. The team had their suspicions about the fight, but were glad that Vinnie was okay.

Scene 2: Dirty’s Detailing (5/5xp)

On the way to Vinnie’s, a heavy march rain started. Jasmin approached the door to unlock the deadbolt and noticed that it didn’t have any resistance – indicating the door was no longer locked. They listened carefully and heard rustling sounds in Vinnie’s upstairs apartment and from the office. Kevin rushed the office while Jasmin veiled herself from sight and sound. Kevin surprised one of them and in his panic, he took the nailgun in his hand and nailed Kevin’s foot to the floor. Miles came and backed him up with both guns drawn. Meanwhile Jasmin headed upstairs just as a second perpetrator came out with a slice of pizza in hand. This did not make Kevin any happier and he told him to stay put. As if things couldn’t get any worse, they heard the sound of a fire door opening and the sprinklers going off. Kevin TK’ed the nail out of his foot and went up toward the pizza eating guy. Meanwhile Miles secured a now very scared kid and Jasmin went after the 3rd one. Pizza guy ended up bolting leaving his apparent brother to Miles. Kevin went after him, calling forth a small bit of magic to knock him off of his mountain bike. Jasmin went after what was apparently a Free-Runner specialist as the jumps and climbs he was making were more than enough to lose Jasmin. Jasmin let Faumnach lose and he eventually saw that Mr. Parkour put what looked like a book into a USPS box and throw it into “one of those blue boxes.” After much coaxing and an hour of searching, Faumnach finally showed Jasmin which mailbox the package was dumped.

After some questioning, the team had some names and motivations. The one in the office was a scrawny little Berkeley panhandler that was probably under 18 named Zill. He was working with his two brothers, the big one with the pizza was Widdy while the guy that got away was Twiz. Zill expained that their D-bag dad asked them to “grab the oldest book in fighter’s house and mail it.” The box just appeared the next day when they woke up. Widdy told the crew that him and Zill were the distraction while Twiz was “the smart one” that could most likely find it. It was obvious that they didn’t quite understand their natures as being changelings. Miles called the cops on them and decided that it was getting late and time to sleep. On the box with the book, they found a PO box and started a trace on it.

Scene 3: How to Plan Your Weekend (8/8xp)

When the crew woke up, Veronica called with the owner of the PO box – Mickey McGrath. So the crew decided to take a visit to Mickey’s gym and invite him out to dinner. They pretty much called him out on cheating, but found that he wasn’t an overall bad guy and was just willing to take any advantage he had. It seemed he may have been ogre or troll blooded changeling and he had a good amount of court goodwill with Winter. He was able to drop a name though – the fight promoter Haley Silver, who also gave him the Hoarfrost Spine that let him escape grapples easier. The team warned him to not agree to favors with the Winter Court, but he seemed perfectly aware and willing to deal with the dangers.

Miles went to check on Vinnie at the hospital again to ask him if he could translate the Arabic. However, when he got there, the front desk nurse said he had checked himself out. Everyone figured he went back to his place, but when they went there, he hadn’t quite arrived.

Now the teams stuck with a conundrum – they have a book that’s apparently important to some Faeries and Vinnie’s missing. Knowing that even with a broken collar bone, Vinnie could take care of himself, so the crew called up their contacts in the White Council to see if there was a local translator of Arabic. Central command hooked them up with Professor Hyneman, a professor of renaissance studies in Berkeley. After a soulgaze that left Miles confident and Professor Hyneman scared out of his mind, they left the book with him to translate. He picked out a few of the Arabic passages, and they look very much like a pen pal of DaVinci’s recounting how he found what is very obviously Esperrachius. (Why would the Faeries want a book about Esperacchius?)

Things just got heavy, so Miles went back to the hospital to make a pyshometry reading on Vinnie’s hospital bed and found that he was probably drugged to be knocked out and someone made to look like him, veiled Vinnie as a sweatshirt and left.

Now the team’s a little worried and Jasmin used a powerful contract of Faumnach’s – diviner’s madness. He was able to ask 2 questions: Where will Vinnie be at 6:00pm and where will Twiz be at 7:00pm. Twiz was easy, he’ll be outside of Venus – a bar in Berkeley at 7:00. Faumnach then said the strangest thing about Vinnie – “He’ll be at the hospital. This one only had 3 walls and no roof though.” Everyone quickly deduced he’s being held at some play or studio set somewhere. Simple tracking spells also seemed to have fouled up when using Vinnie’s recovered sweatshirt as the focus.

The next steps now it seems are: find Twiz at 7:00 in Berkeley and talk to Haley on Sunday.

Next Week: What a Twizt! 15 normal xp 15 wizard xp for everyone!!!

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The Devil you Know....

Part 3: Revelations


It was still early afternoon on Monday February 8th, 2010. Jasmine, Miles, and Vinnie decided to let the two idiot gangbangers go and resume their investigation back in Peoria. The situation was rapidly turning into a series of dead-ends (some literally), but a couple bits of key information remained. There was something going on at Stevenson Construction, and they knew where Ricardo was hiding out. The team decided to get a good night’s rest for once and thin hit up the offices of Stevenson Construction in the middle of the night.

Breaking into the office was easy. The front section was mostly for appearances, the back clearly for the more important engineering and design work. Vinnie hexed the security cameras and Miles picked the lock on the rear security door. Once inside, the wardens did a thorough search. The place was legitimate. No signs of hidden rooms or secret storage areas. Looking around it was clear that this firm had done a number of jobs in the area over the last twenty or thirty years. Most of the work was focused on city planning and setting up utilities and framework for the building of new subdivisions, suburbs, and city expansion. They did involve themselves in some actual work, but typically the early stages of construction: digging utility trenches, pouring in foundations, etc. They worked closely with the city and the major home builders (such as KB).

Jasmine noticed something awry with one of the desks, where one of the engineers (a Mike Seals) seemed… odd. Miles used his oneromancy to learn more from the work space and Vinnie continued searching for unusual signs in the area. Vinnie noticed that while all the locks were similar in the office (normal for a place like that), there was a different lock on Seals’ desk. Miles magical divination revealed that the owner of the desk experienced a life transition about 12-15 years ago. In that time he went from loving his wife, to getting bored, to loving someone else, to not caring at all about his wife. Breaking into the desk, Vinnie and Miles found a series of engineering notebooks and an early draft of the plans for an East Peoria Subdivision from 12 years ago. An analysis of the layouts (and comparison to the final drafts on file) indicated that Seals was looking for a way to hide the cost of digging an additional large trench along the southwest and western border of the subdivision.

After taking a note of the plans location, the wizards decided to loot Seals’ desk and leave a note “WE KNOW”, with a phone number for Clauson’s voice mail, hoping it would provoke a response. Leaving the office, the team decided to finish a good night’s rest and headed back to the hotel.

The next morning, the news was all about a gangland fight on the north side the previous day. The news implied the police had either played down the level of violence (and wealth of the gang) or that someone had gotten to the crime scene and made some of the scarier evidence disappear. Veronica called in with an update. It turns out that most of the money being funneled to the kid (Jeff) was through a charity called the McReidy Foundation. The kid had jobs at both Stevenson Construction and Harrison and Sons Contractors over the last few years, but nothing steady. His income was essentially a “gift”. A further search revealed about a dozen other individuals like the kid receiving money, with minimal helpful identification.

After breakfast, the wizards decided to play Ricardo a visit. He was staying at his Aunt’s house as expected. Miles attempted to fool his way in, but the Aunt was a little guarded – even with his story. Jasmine, on the other hand, managed to fool the Aunt into thinking she was “Maricella”, Ricardo’s girlfriend. Once inside, the situation was quickly in hand. Ricardo acted tough, and his Aunt was definitely frightened and angry. The interrogation didn’t actually require anything severe – Ricardo was still injured from the previous day and caught off-guard. He sold out his entire gang in five minutes. He gave likely locations for all the senior members: Billy, Eric, and Abdul. He even fingered Abdul for the murder of the Warden Clauson – claimed they’d gambled for the right to do the job.

From the conversation it became clear Ricardo was a psychopath. He wanted out alive, and wanted to be in charge of the gang. He feared Billy enough not to go after him directly. He had nothing but contempt for Eric – calling him “weak” (implying Eric might have some morals). The only reason he hadn’t killed Eric long ago was that Billy would have killed him for it. Abdul was no real threat until Billy and Eric were out of the way – then he was competition. Ricardo clearly hoped that the wizards would simply kill all three of them and he’d walk into running the gang like it was Christmas day. When asked about his strange powers, Ricardo refused to rat out whoever was giving Billy orders. Ricardo knew that orders came from outside to Billy, and most of those jobs got done by Billy, Eric, himself, and Abdul. He didn’t know about the rituals, or the location of the house. He was truly scared of whoever gave him his powers and wouldn’t speak about it at all. Eventually, the wizards left – knowing they’d have to deal with Ricardo again eventually –but for now he was no longer a threat. It was off to pay a visit to Billy.

Billy Thompson’s house was a small fortress. The windows and doors were well built, and there were signs of good security. There was no supernatural defense, but the place clearly had a decent threshold. Storming inside from the rear, the wizards quickly captured a young man and two women. Inside the house they found records, as well as cache’s of legal and very illegal weapons. They waited inside for Billy’s return.

It took a few hours, but eventually a well built SUV pulled into the driveway. Hidden inside the house, the wizards waited as two men approached the rear entrance. As soon as they came into view, Vinnie pounced on the man who was obviously not Billy and pummeled him and tossed him inside the house, stunning him. Miles charged outside and shot Billy, wounding him. Billy returned fire on Miles –aiming for the head. It was clear Billy also had some supernatural benefits as he moved with superhuman speed and accuracy, quickly getting inside. Miles threw up a defensive ward and Jasmine used her knife to hit Billy’s stunned ally. Vinnie then moved inside and pummeled Billy as well. Lying on the ground, Billy threw a knife at Vinnie – coated with some form of primitive magical poison. Thankfully, it had no effect on Vinnie and he then knocked Billy out. At this time Jasmine stabbed the other man only to find out the hard way he was some form of sorcerer. His death curse burst into the room, seriously injuring her while she called up a defensive ward to deflect some of the blast.

After the fight, the wizards took Billy to the burned out freight car for interrogation. Miles did an aura sight on him and learned (to his surprise) that Billy had no soul. Using the Sight, the wizards saw that Billy had the same silver cord stretching off into the distance and turning oily black. He looked like a man weighed down by his own power and money and desperately reaching for more of it. Billy wouldn’t talk. Threats and trickery didn’t motivate him to speak – Vinnie reasoned that he must have sold his soul – probably for power and money (which explains why he was able to run a mostly Hispanic gang).

At a loss on where to go with the interrogation, Jasmine decided to summon up Malach, a winter court retainer of hers, to see if he could offer any insight. The fey (for the price of many many white mice) confirmed that the man had sold his soul for power. He also confirmed that it was sold to whoever runs things in Peoria, though the creature did not know who that was. That question got “barked up the chain of command” and Malach was able to negotiate a deal: Billy and the right to run his gang in exchange for the name of who was running things in the city. Instantly, a Fey lord appeared taking Billy into his grasp. He turned to the wizards and said one word: “Mephistopheles”. Then he disappeared, with his laughter echoing across the chill winter afternoon.

The Wizards were clearly taken aback at the identity of their (clearly very dangerous) opponent. They researched what they could about him/it and what they found wasn’t promising. Mephistopheles was one of the Fallen, but not a Denarian. As a Fallen (and Outsider) he cannot directly take action in the world, but must work through intermediaries – or possess a human host. Centuries ago, a powerful wizard named Faust summoned Mephistopheles and attempted to outwit him in order to gain more power. In the end, Mephistopheles “won”, gaining a powerful foothold into the real world. This is the reason the Seventh Law exists – it’s simply too dangerous to deal with such creatures.

Since the 16th century, Mephistopheles has appeared rarely. The White Council believes he may have been responsible for WW1 (having organized the political events in the late 19th century such that the war was inevitable). To what end, no one is certain. It is known that a large scale violent act (like a World War) is fuel to the fallen – but to all of them. Mephistopheles is not a “team player”, and would try to hoard power for himself. He is known for trading for the souls of mortals – to what ends no one is sure. It is known that those souls give him power of some sort. He is very patient, capable of waiting decades for a plan to mature (as are most of the more intelligent of the Fallen). Since he negotiates directly for souls, and rarely bothers to simply corrupt anyone, the Knights of the Cross are not charged with dealing with him. He is a loophole in their own system.

.

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Something is Rotten in Peoria...

Peoria Part 2: The Plot Thickens….


Leaving the scene of the ruined cargo container, Jasmine, Miles, and Vinnie took what they could of the radio system as a potential sympathetic link to use later. They dumped the planted weapons into the never-never and headed back out on the freeway. A quick detection ritual indicated that whoever had planted the weapons (or whoever the hair belonged to) was heading to the north side of the town.

As if on cue, in downtown Peoria the wizards were quickly pulled over by the local police, who clearly were suspecting someone armed and dangerous. Jasmine veiled herself and rolled into the ditch, while half a dozen cops secured Miles and Vinnie (and the car). Quick thinking and calm actions on the part of both Miles and Vinnie diffused the situation. The cops had a tip that had come from homicide that some heavy “hitters” were in town, driving a vehicle matching their description. Once everything was sorted out, the police apoligized and let the wizards go. Miles made it a point to call in to check with a laison officer (Dan Gahan) the next day.

Resetting the tracking spell, the target had definitely stopped somewhere in the north side of town. Entering the area, it was clear that the place had seen better days. Most of the homes were older, in decent repair, but many of the local businesses looked down. It had the look of an old neighborhood that was down on its luck. No signs of serious crime, but no signs of any real economic potential. The tracking spell led to an abandoned storefront. There was no activity in front of the building, but tracks around the back and the faint noise of gunfire and explosions inside (the muffled sound of an XBOX). A simple Ford taurus parked along the road was still warm – likely the vehicle of the target. In the back of the store, the main door had a heavy lock. There were also indications that many people and vehicles had been there recently (in the last week).

A quick magical scan revealed nothing unusual, and mundane lockpicks enabled entry. Once inside, the wizards did a quick search. The upstairs and rear break area was being used as a sort of Club house or get together (signs of poker tables, dart boards, etc.). The place was well kept, probably used by some of the older locals as a lodge or get together. Noise and light could be detected from the basement. A quick run downstairs and the wizards easily restrained a young man playing XBOX on a small TV.

The young man was named Jeff, and appeared to be a runaway. He was also clearly in charge of maintainig the place for whatever it was used for. The place was relatively clean, and he clearly had enough money to keep himself clothed, fed, and entertained (and his car moving). In the back of the basement was another room, this one was clearly “creepy”. A search revealed blood stains on the ground, around an obvious magical circle.

Vinnie decided to open his Sight to scan the area. What he saw sickened him – the room was used for some form of powerful black magic ritual, likely human sacrifice of some sort. The whole room was drenched in the blood of innocence. The purpose of the room was some form of “baptism in blood”. When Vinnie turned his sight to Jeff, he got an even wierder impression. The young man had clearly started out life on the wrong track. He’d found purpose early in life, as well as loyalty. He looked like a medieval vassal or squire, but in some ways reminded Vinnie of images of a Hitler Youth. Most interesting was a thin silver cord trailing out from the man’s heart. As the cord faded into the distance, it turned from silver to a murky, oily black.

Interrogation of the kid didn’t go very well. He clearly thought that he had nothing to fear, either from law enforcement, the locals, or any nearby gangs. He said he was “protected” and that he was following “the plan”. Looking through his wallet, Miles found a few pre-paid cards and a decent amount of cash. A number of paystubs and other financial items were confiscated to send to Veronica for some financial forensic work.

Miles and Jasmine did their best to threaten and intimidate the kid. They trapped him in a circle, thinking that might cut off whatever the silver/black cord was. However, before they could decide on an actual form of physical intimidation to do – the kid became suddenly possessed. He said in a deep, throaty voice “YOU HAVE MEDDLED ENOUGH. I HAVE TRIED TO BE REASONABLE. LEAVE THIS CITY OR YOUR FATE WILL BE HIS”. Then the kid simply fell over and died.

Surprised at that, the wizards decided they must be onto something big. Miles tried to divine what had happened in the room, using his thaumaturgy skills. He learned that the room was used in a ritual. During the ritual, a young black man was tied up in the center and other men in the room participated in a ritual killing. The emotion of the killing was one of hate and bigotry. All the men present were white. Miles did notice that the victim was wearing something with “LSU” on it (Louisiana State University). Then he rememberd the Warden Clauson had been investigating a bunch of missing persons cases all throughout the south (dozens of missing persons, both white and black). At the end of the ritual, the energy of the procedure mostly was put into an object, what appeared to be a clump of old barbed wire (the kind used for large cattle). The barbed wire clump was then removed.

Concerned that the ritural might happen again, Jasmine put together a special divining rod tuned to the harmonics of the circle. The device would resonate if the ritual was performed again (at that location) or if it got close to the barbed wire piece that had been removed. Miles contacted Veronica with the details of the location and the kid, hoping to find out more in the morning. Vinnie put a simple ward on the place so he’d know if someone entered after they left.

Vinnie got a signal on his ward sometime around 4:00am. When the team woke up they received an alert from Veronica that the local news was talking about a fire at that location. Police were tentatively blaming it on a local meth lab. Details on the kid were limited. He was an orphan, taken care of by local charities growing up. His pay (or his source of income) came from a temp agency (likely a dummy corporation). Veronica would look into it more, but it would take some time. The only obvious thing was that the kid didn’t have a real source of income. He had mentioned during questioning that he’d worked “construction” a few times, but it was clear that he hadn’t done it recently (or often) – judging by his lack of equipment and working clothes.

Not sure where to proceed next, Vinnie reminded the team of the radio parts from the railway car. They decided to track down the source of the explosion. This time, it led them into the ghetto (or what passes for a ghetto in Peoria). They found themselves in front of what was probably a gang/drug house –with a hispanic gangbanger watching out front on the porch.

Pulling over and getting out of the car, the situation quickly turned violent. The gangbanger out front shouted something inappropriate to Jasmine. Miles hexed his gun so it went off in his pants (possibly making it a gender-altering experience). The gunshot was enough to send most of the inhabitants running outside with a “shoot first ask questions never” attitude. About a dozen gang members with everything from handguns to an SAW opened fire. One of them had some form of supernatural bit to him, as he dove out wielding two handguns that cackled with magical energy.

Jasmine and Miles activated defensive auras, while Vinnie used his evocation to yank some of the shooters off of the front porch. Between the SAW and multiple gunshots, Vinnie was seriously injured (as was Miles’ car parked in the street) but so was the gang leader “Ricardo”. Miles ducked behind a car in the driveway, then flipped it over onto several gangbangers with a nasty evocation. Jasmine did a quick portal up to the second floor of the house and dispatched two riflemen with her crysknife, while Vinnie jumped through the first story window and beat the gangbanger with the SAW into unconsciousness. In the confusion, Ricardo managed to run away before anyone could see where he went.

A search of the house and interrogation of the gangbangers revealed a lot. A search of the house revealed that there was a “tech” room for spying on several locasions: two were blacked out (possibly the cargo container, and the ritual room), another contined a second ritual room, one the headquarters of the “America First” in Peoria, and two more showed the front and back of the house. A search of the basement revealed equipment for measuring and packaging drugs, but hadn’t been used recently. Vinnie quickly repaired Miles’ car with a simple transmutation (to hide the bullet holes), and they rode off with two prisoners for “quiet” interrogation outside the city.

It took a while to get useful information out of the two gangbangers. A mixture of unnecessary bravado and blunt stupidity took a while to deal with. During the conversation, Vinnie picked up on a subtle fear of the Cortez drug cartel. Jasmine and Vinnie used this to trick to the two into telling what they knew – thinking they were some kind of deadly hit squad from south america. It turns out that the Eduardo gang in Peoria had been “moonlighting” in ways that could get them in big trouble with the Cortez Cartel. The Cartel had put them in charge of drug trafficking through most of the midwest (mostly by re packaging and re-routing drugs via the freight train yards). The gang was “allowed” to sell some of the drugs, get involved in prostitution, gambling and extortion (typical gang activity that would not draw undue attention). However, getting involved in human trafficking was on the “no-no” list, since it is high profile activity. If the Cortez cartel found out what the gang was up to, there’d be a very vicous and thorough “house cleaning”.

The wizards further learned that the gang was led by two white guys, Billy Thompson and Eric Lang. They took over about 10 years ago (violently) with some outside help. But things ran smoothly so the Cortez leadership didn’t care. Since then, they’ve been involved in some newer, unusual activities. But the result has been minimal police interference, a lot more money, and very happy gang bangers. One of the unusual tasks was the human trafficking. They knew the kids were taken somewhere else, but not where (someone else would take them from the cargo container – but only Billy, Ricardo, and “Abdul” (who they later found out as recently in Memphis for a job) handled that. The gang bangers also watched the video feeds. None of it was recorded (for security). The two “basements” for rituals they only watched when they were empty (the cameras were shut off during normal use). Their job was to watch it for anyone snooping around and contact a phone number if they noticed something. Similarly, if anyone poked into the cargo container, they were to call another phone number. As for the America First location – that was put in recently, and they were just supposed to contact a number if anything violent happened in there. In addition to all this information, there was a bunch of equipment from a Stevenson Construction and Harrison and Sons contractors. The gang banger indicated they’d worked some sites for those companies in the past (partly as “security”), and kept some supplies as payment (but they weren’t supposed to). The wizards then scared the two gang bangers off, threatening various mutiliations and torture if they ever saw them again (thus keeping up the charade they were with the Cortez Cartel). It’s now mid-afternoon on Monday, February 8th.

To Be Continued…..

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From Memphis to Peoria

DM’s Summary: These notes are the DM (storyteller’s) perspective of the events.

Part1: From Memphis to Peoria.

After hearing Sanya’s story, the Wardens Vinnie, Jasmine, and Miles decided to head to Memphis and take a look into the death of the warden Robert Clauson (and pick up Miles’ new car). Before heading out east, Miles made appropriate calls with the local Memphis law enforcement to “check in”. He learned that there was an FBI field office, and that Robert (as an employee of Atlanta Personal Investigations, LLC) had already done so. In fact, it turned out Robert was a friend of an FBI agent by the name of Mike Malone. Miles also arranged for Veronica to get housing, maps, and basic info on both Memphis, TN and Peoria, IL before heading out. The wardens arrived in Memphis on Feb 5th, 2010 via a never-never passageway. They first checked in with the FBI agent Malone, who gave them what little information he had on Clauson’s death, as well as some useful contacts in the Memphis P.D. and particularly the homicide division. Miles then picked up his “new” 1941 Ford, purchased from a nice elderly gentlemen (a Steve Sommers) who had named the car “Gertrude”. Clearly, the vehicle had lots of sentimental value.

At the Memphis PD, the team talked to Jerry Hatch, an aging cliché’d overweight homicide detective. He didn’t have many leads, but let the wardens look at the case files. After some quick legwork over the phone, the team was able to obtain one of the actual bullets pulled from Robert’s corpse. A quick magical ritual on the bullet revealed that whoever killed Robert new who he was, planned it ahead of time, and took a sadistic pleasure in the killing of another human being. Before leaving the police station, Vinnie and Jasmine noticed that there were a few “John/Jane Doe” murder investigations on Det. Hatch’s desk – all with “mysterious anatomy”. Vinnie quickly figured out these were likely some kind of vampire corpse. The team then talked the detective into meeting up with them later so they could learn more about the possible vampire corpses.

During the afternoon, the wardens investigated the murder scene. A thorough look around revealed several places where an ambush could be made, but even Robert would have been a fool not to at least keep an eye on them. None of the residents claimed to have seen or heard anything, which fit the police report (and one theory Det. Hatch had that the killer was using a silenced weapon). Jasmine wanted to summon a local spirit, using the crime scene evidence as bait and payment, but the group agreed to wait until night (when they would likely get better results).

That night, at the local police watering hole, the team found out a bit about the “vampire” murders. Apparantly about a week ago these strange bodies showed up –with multiple gunshot wounds. Other strangeness was that all the gunshots were to the head, and two of the bodies had been mangled as if in a struggle – except that bones and joints had been broken in ways that suggested someone with a lot of strength or skill. Vinnie, with his martial arts expertise realized that even a well trained fighter wouldn’t have the strength to cause those injuries (and certainly not against an unwilling vampire target). The attackers must have had superhuman strength as well. Additionally, the attackers must have either been well prepared, stupid, or else immune to the red vampire saliva to have even considered taking a red court vampire on in hand-hand combat.

After drinks, the team went back to the scene of warden Clauson’s murder and performed the spirit summoning ritual. Keying herself to the emotions of the murder, Jasmine summoned a particularly sadistics and creepy “murder spirit”. As payment, Jasmine offerred up the bullet used to kill the warden. The spirit eagerly accepted the payment, putting the bullet in its mouth and rolling it around like a succulent mint. Jasmine learned that the warden had been tricked into coming to the area. His killer had used a magic potion to conceal himself, then shot him from the shadows. The killer enjoyed the killing, and was sent from “somewhere else”, then left after the murder.

Trying to get the creepy words of the spirit out of their minds, the wardens then investigated the scene of the “vampire” murders. At the scene they found what looked like a military style ambush. Clearly, the attackers knew what they were doing. Vinnie and Miles soon spotted another person watching them from across the street. Portalling next to the spy, Vinnie quickly got him into a choke hold. The man then cursed “filthy vampire” and escaped the grapple, pulling a gun on Vinnie. Thinking quickly, Vinnie convinced the spy he wasn’t a vampire, and noticed the dark tattoos all over the man’s arms – indicating membership in the order of St. Giles.

The vampire-hunter, named Sean, then related his story. About 10 days ago, his organization (based out of New England) got a tip from an old source that a group of reds were operating a crime syndicate in Memphis, and where they could find them. The source had been reliable in the past, so they sent a team down quickly to deal with the upstart reds. Their team did a few days surveillance, identifying at least nine vampires. When the hit went down they killed six, and chased down and killed a seventh. Two got a way (presumably long gone, but he was hanging around to be sure). When they checked out the Reds lair, they found evidence of smuggling stuff on trains. Sean offerred to turn over what he had to the wardens the next day (at noon, in the open, at Graceland) and they parted ways.

On the morning of the 6th, the team wrapped things up in Memphis. They learned from Veronica and Mason that Robert’s calls indicated very little – he’d been following a series of missing persons cases throughout the south (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, all in medium sized cities), and most of his calls were to such organizations. He had two calls at his hotel room from a phone booth near where he was murdered. Further investigation indicated that calls were made from that phone booth in that time frame to another pay phone in Peoria, IL. At Graceland, the team picked up the evidence from Sean – the documents indicated that the reds were smuggling something from various locations in the south. Their single biggest customer was someone in Peoria (easily three times the size of everyone else). About three weeks ago they got their last “shipment”. Paperwork indicated it should have gone to “the Peoria customer”, except that he had stopped payment. The wardens then drove the rest of the night into Peoria and spent the night there, resuming their investigation in the morning.

The next day, the wardens began their search at the train station where Sanya reputedly met with Warden Clauson (while he was four weeks dead and cremated). Looking at the surveillance tapes, it appeared as though Sanya was talking to absolutely nothing. The team went to the food court where they had their conversation and opened up their Wizard Sight and looked into the never-never. The never-never revealed very little (what would be expected of a major cross roads). Wizard sight revealed the fading echo of a silver archway.

Not sure what to make of that (although Miles and Vinnie were willing to believe an act of divine intervention), the team headed out to the cornfields outside of town to enter the never-never and get some information from the local faeries. Finding a local centaur, who addressed Vinnie as “he who rides with Chuck D”, Vinnie offerred to “hunt and scout” for them in three moons time in return for information. The centaur agreed and indicated that the local fey “do not go to that place (Peoria) as it is forbidden by the queen – though it was not always that way”. A serious look at the city from the never-never side revealed an absolute fortress, akin to Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings.

Miles used his contacts to determine the criminal history of Peoria. A thorough look revealed that the city has a normal amount of crime for it’s size. It has absolutely ZERO supernatural incidents. None in over 50 years, even researching articles in the “Midwest Arcane”. Even more interesting, in the days prior to Sanya’s arrival, the day he was there, and one day after, there was virtually no crime of any kind reported.

In order to find out more about what was going on, the wardens decided to talk to the local water spirits – specifically that in Lake Peoria (a man-made lake that’s part of the Illinois river that runs alongside the city). When they looked into the never-never what they saw was horrifying. It looked as though the spirit had been bound in giant barbed chains reaching out from the shore (no easy task given how running water can ground any magic out). Regardless, viewing the spirit caught it’s attention, and like a rabid dog it lashed out at them in the real world. Vinnie quickly threw up a wall of magic to protect the three, and Jasmine used evocation to suck all the heat out of the water, freezing the spirit instantly and banishing it back to the never-never to recuperate.

Not sure what to do next, Miles conducted an Entropy ritual hoping that it would lead him to some important information. It did, or at least, everyone thought it did. The team of wardens drove around and stumbled upon a protest rally in front of the Caterpillar corporate H.R. building in downtown Peoria. They saw several groups consisting of a few UAW, and about 70% “America First” and 30% “Union Now”. Talking with the three groups, they learned a bit about the labor and job situation in Peoria, with respect to Caterpillar, Inc.: • Union Now is a southern organization that fights to get rid of the “right to work” legislation that hurts unions. It has a very strong diversity element and campaigns heavily amongst minorities. • America First is a white organization that is basically a front for white-power. They oppose most anti-union setups as non-union shops typically hire african americans, hispanics, and other “non-whites” to break / defeat union control over blue collar jobs. • Both groups have been heavily campaigning amongst the Caterpillar workers (current, former, and retired). • There have been lots of lay-offs recently (due to the recession) and even though there are several major highways in the area, zero stimulus money has been given to Peoria for infrastructure work and job creation. Tensions amongst the “blue collar” demographic are high, as there are rumors Caterpillar may hire again, and there will be lots of people wanting those jobs.

Following the investigation into the protests, the team decided to head to the freight train yards to see if they could find the location of the “goods” shipped up from Memphis. A thorough search revealed an old cargo container that just didn’t seem right. Vinnie noticed a magical circle around it, Miles noted the circle was designed to stop the passage of sound. Vinnie also noticed several electronic devices around the entrance (probably alarms) and a subtle antenna along the side of the container. Jasmine opened up her wizard sight – seeing the images of dozens of young people screaming without making noise, trying to get out. Vinnie transmuted a doorway along the rear of the container to gain entry. Looking inside they found what appeared to be a holding cell, but no one inside. The container was clearly used to keep people chained up for a time, and had a surveillance camera inside. A few seconds after peering inside, Vinnie noticed the camera start to move, then a subtle “click”. Diving to the ground he barely avoided the detonation of high temperature material that destroyed all evidence of what was in the container.

Heading back to their car, Miles and Vinnie noticed someone had tampered with the vehicle. A thorough inspection revealed that someone had planted illegal weapons (sawed off shotgun, automatic weapons) under the floor of the trunk. More importantly, the person doing it wasn’t entirely careful, and had left a strand of hair behind…. To be continue in Part 2.

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Intro: What Heppened in Peoria?
Peoria Warden Memphis Sanya

Game Date: February 5th, 2010

The whole team is up at Father Gutierrez’ for a pretty standard de-brief. A local kid (about 14) has shown some talent and his parents freaked (thought he was possessed) and (long story short) he ended up with Father Gutierrez and you guys for a quick education on the seven laws, and what he can expect from life. You guys get a case like this about every 3-9 months, though usually it’s you stumbling on an older person just trying to work their first spells. Someone could choose to take the kid as an apprentice if they want.

During the meeting, Father Gutierrez gets a call from Sanyo. He’s in town (or rather in oakland) planning on getting on a ship headed to Asia for a job there. For various reasons, the ship-out date got delayed a few days and he asked if the father wouldn’t mind him staying with him during the interim. So he shows up an hour later, you guys have a friendly chat, and he drops the following information:

While in Peoria, IL (about a week ago) he was changing trains and ran into another Warden by the name of Robert Clauson. He had remembered the warden from the assault on the white court base in Italy, and they chatted for a few hours until Sanjo got on his connecting train. This is incredibly wierd, since Robert is reported dead/murdered in Memphis, TN about six weeks ago.

Sanyo remembers some details of their conversation. Robert was investigating a “gang” of red court vampires involved in various illegal enterprises in Memphis. He believed that they had a strong connection to some other organized crime (possibly an employer) in Peoria – he didn’t know if the criminals in Peoria were supernatural or mundane, but was “looking into it” when he ran into Sanyo.

White Council investigation reported that Robert died of multiple GSW, in what is believed to be a gang-land killing. Local Memphis PD attributed it to either a “wrong place / wrong time” or a “nosy P.I.”. No arrests have been made. The White Council does not thing it was Red Court related, though it’s possible they put out the hit (though highly unlikely).

Miles remembers Robert from multiple Warden training, etc. Mostly this is because they have a lot in common. Robert was very cop-ish in his demeanor and style, so they frequently talked during council meetings. Miles’ recollection is he was a good cop/warden, though possibly not as powerful as your group (and definitely operated by himself).

For various personal reasons, Kevin will not be joining you on this trip. His mom was in a semi-serious car accident and broke her hip and bruised a few ribs. He needs to stay local to help care for her (and watch the baby, since she won’t be able to). Of course, he says “May the Force be with you”.

It’s trivial to use the never-never to travel to either Peoria or Memphis, and if Chip wants, his new 1941 Ford is waiting for him in Memphis.

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Dancing the Black Spiral

Player’s Note: This was Chip’s first time taking over the story, and also the first time someone other than Les ran the game. What made it interesting was that it was a mostly investigative adventure, and our main investigator (Chip’s character Miles) was out of most of the adventure.

Kevin’s Journal (typed up from Aunt Gladys’ shorthand and submitted to the White Council).

This investigation began much earlier, with Miles doing most of the work. However, as my report shows, the rest of us jumped into this with about half the informatin, and proceeded without the benefit of Miles’ information until we had nearly resolved the issue. I’ll start with where we (Vinnie, Jasmine and myself) got involved.

It was a Saturday morning in early December. We had planned on meeting at my residence for a personal get together. Miles didn’t show up, and attempts to contact him or his closest ally (the Federal Consultant Mason) failed. Concerned, we drove from Santa Cruz up to his residence in Silicon Valley.

He had clearly not been home in some time (we found several days of mail left in his mailbox), so we went to his office (Second Sight Investigations). He could not be found there either, though there was evidence in his office that he had been working hard on a recent case. Discussions with his secretary, Veronica, confirmed this.

(Kevin’s personal note, editted out of the official report to the White Council): Miles had been distant for some time. A few months ago, two recent hires of his had been killed under mysterious circumstances while on a case. He’d taken it personally and had become very guarded and uncommunicative.

I went over to his office on Thursday to say high, and noticed how bad of a shape he was in. I felt he could clearly use some good company and a break for his work. I quickly put together a sort of baby-shower party and invited the whole group – including Veronica and Mason. It was admittedly just an excuse to get Miles out of his office and around his friends. I felt he could really use us right now, and I was worried that his drinking might have gotten out of hand. Unfortunately, that meant that Veronica was with us Saturday morning, and hadn’t seen or talked to Miles since she left work on Friday. [End personal note]

We spent some time going through Miles’ notes and various documents scattered about his office. From what we could piece together, his current project had something to do with several people that had gone to school together at Berkley. The names were Stan Neidlemeyer (accused serial killer?), Kevin Williams (Mayor of Albany – near Berkley), and Tim Cohen (a Lawyer, that represented Stan). Additionally, there was mention of a …… , and something called “dancing the Black Spiral”.

A quick research of the name … revealed he was a (role playing) game desinger that lived in the east oakland hills. After visiting him and asking about the black spiral, we discovered that Miles and Mason had been there the previous day asking the same questions (neighbors confirmed this). In addition, we learned that he had made up the “black spiral” for the game, and had originally come up with it because he had overheard K. Williams talking about it at Berkley in the library.

We decided to follow up on the Berkley / K. Williams link next. Utiizing my alumni status at the univeristy we were able to learn that several Aptos High School graduates had hung out in the library together, matching our list discovered at Miles’ office. Checking back further, we got a larget list of names (using our non-magical allies) of a group of students that worked together at Aptos and Berkley, all tremendously successful. One of them was Oakland police chief Jim Baker.

At this time, we got a tip from one of our allies in the Oakland PD. He had apparantly been helping out Mason and Miles with the investigation. Miles and Mason were interested in several locations in the east oakland hills, and had asked their police allies to monitor them for unusual activity. Unfortunately, one officer had put out an official APB on several of the locations, and everything was going to crap. This made us suspect immediately that whoever Miles was investigating had strong ties with law enforcement (likely chief Baker himself, given his already connection). We tried to track down the officer who had put out the report, but he could not be reached. Concerned, we went to his home. At the officer’s home, we saw him as he was walking up – he was agitated and clearly worried about something. A brief talk revealed he’d just been grilled by his superiors like he’d done something wrong. We asked if he’d seen anyone matching Miles or Masons’ descriptions and he confirmed he’d seen both of them at a safe house (NOT an actual police office) in the east oakland hills. We got the location and immediately headed out.

Arriving at the safehouse, we parked a mile away and approached quietly on foot. Using some quick magic, we were able to determine there were four people in the house – one clearly tied up, and one of them giving off more heat than a human could survive. Two cars (still warm) were parked out front, and a fifth policeman was standing out front keeping watch. As we planned an approach, a third vehicle drove up. We waited for the driver (a man in a suit) to enter the building, then veiled ourselves for the approach. We hexed the three vehicles (modern cars with complex electronic ignition systems are easy for wizards to disable) and Vinnie quietly knocked out the policeman with his martial arts skills.

With the guard knocked out, we proceeded around the side of the building, to where the prisoner and the “hot” humanoid was. We quickly opened a magical gate into the room and saw Mason tied up to chair, with a strange man in robes standing over him. The man in the suit (some type of legal person) was anxiously watching whatever he was doing, with a recording device and papers on the table. I quickly freed Mason from his manacles, as the two other policemen entered the room (with heavy assault weapons). Then the robed man began some form of rite, summoning up a spirit to enter his body. Later investigation would reveal the man to be practicing a variant of native american shaman magic, he summoned a powerful spirit to enter his body and grant him power. The robed man summoned a powerful sandstorm spirit, and Vinnie and Jasmine fought him off. The two policemen opened up with their weapons, but I was able to deflect or absorb their attack with my magic. I quickly convinced them to exit the room (the policemen were surprised and alarmed at the robed man’s transformation – clearly they were not aware of his abilities or true nature). Jasmine and Vinnie defeated the spirit, but when it left the man it damaged his body enough to kill him. With the immediate threat over, I began calming down the police and we talked things out.

We learned that both Miles and Mason had been taken to the safe house and interrogated. They were arrested as suspected terrorists, on the authority of the Oakland police chief. The lawyer was present to observe and record Mason’s testimony, ostensibly to later “legalize” what had happened. The police were in way over their heads, and after much talking realized what they were doing was way out of line. Once we explaine Mason’s status as a federal agent, they were even more concerned. We convinced them to leave and then focused on the lawyer.

The lawyer caved quickly after Jasmine talked to him. He said he knew the law firm was into some deep thing (Cohen’s firm in San Francisco), and that he was just there to help make things “legit” later. We let him go and then proceeded to search the vehicles. It turned out the shaman was a harold stormcrow, probably related to Maneesh stormcrow (known to be in the circle of friends from Aptos high school and UC Berkley). We quickly got Mason to safety and regrouped for our next action.

Sunday Morning we found out that a bunch of strange murders had happened the previous night up in the Aptos hills. We weren’t sure about the significance, but since the entire Oakland PD was on a manhunt, we used the opportunity to sneak into the police headquarters and acquire something of chief Baker’s (from his office) that would be a strong sympathetic connection. Using his shot glass, we found out that he was in the East Oakland hills directing a manhunt (so far unsuccessful).

With our team more rested, we discovered that the killings in the hills were following a spiral pattern, perhaps related to this “black spiral dance”. We extrapolated the path of the killer and intercepted, avoiding the police on the way. What we found was a homeless man, clearly possessed by some angry spirit. The man was also trying to fight it, or at least the spirit didn’t have him entirely. Vinnie and Jasmine tried to assemble a circle to suck out the spirit (or at least ground out it’s power), but couldn’t get it ready in time. Fortunately, I was able to conjure up a happy image and distract the man long enough for us to get him to fight the spirit and banish it from him. When the man recovered we learned he had been grabbed and forced to have the spirit “ride” him, performing the “dance of the black spiral”, murdering random people in a pattern. What’s worse, it appears that the dance itself was just the icing on the cake – whatever the ritual was intended to do had already been done. To make matters more ominous, the weather was getting colder (this was confirmed by our sources in the fey courts).

The homeless man was taken to a care facility and later smuggled out of state. At this point we realized we really needed Miles and had run out of places to look. On a hunch, we headed back to the safehouse in the hills and searched the vehicles again – looking for anything of Miles’ they might have left behind that might give us a sympathetic connection to him. We were lucky and found his “lucky hat”. A simple trace spell led us to the law offices of Cohen in downtown San Francisco, late on a Sunday night. What was wierder was that the spell indicated that he was between the 12th and 14th floors (no 13th floor on the building), though there was no sign of such a hidden place in the real world or the never-never. Someone was either very clever or very talented. Additional spying on chief Baker revealed he had some regrets about what he was doing, and we planned to approach him later. We also learned that there was an important meet-up in seven days time between him and the rest of his group.

Searching the law office, we figured out that there was a secret floor reachable by elevator. We stormed in, finding two guards who were quickly convinced to surrender. A third man, capable of some minor mind/though magic (breaking the first and third laws) using some artifacts attacked us. Clearly, he had never heard of the “white council”, “wardens”, or “wizards” and was no match for us. In a back room, we found Miles fighting off the laywer Cohen – when the man unleashed another artifact (breaking Miles’ legs, a few ribs, and bruising his hip) and escaping through some type of portal device. We quickly gathered Miles along with a large amount of legal files hidden in the room and left.

Between talking to Miles and searching through the law offices files we learned a lot. The whole thing began when the lawyer hired second sight to go find some dangerous artifacts for them. Miles thought it was a simple investigation, but Cohen intended to keep the artifacts for his own use. In the confusion, Miles’ new hires were killed (this was a few months ago). Digging deeper, Miles eventually learned about this Black Spiral Dance. Apparantly, it had been going on for years – often every 6-18 months a homeless man would go on a spiral dance, killing several people. This process was powering some large ritual, and the dance this week was the last one.

Miles had thought the dance would occur at mid-winter, but he had instead been contacted by Stan Neidlmeyer, who’d done the first dance willingly, to tip him off that it was happening NOW. It turns out Stan (after being acquitted of those murders) has had some second thoughts over the years and wanted to help out. Unfortunately, we’d not yet talked to him. It also appeared, through research done by my cousin Stacy, that the Stormcrow family and others had been quite successful in the bay area, ever since the late 1980’s.

Looking into the law firm, it was clear they were some bad people. Everything from defending very guilty and bad people to smuggling, money laundering, you name it. Cohen had been using his limited knowledge of magic to find and use whatever items he could to expand his own power base. At this point, we decided to confront chief Baker – thinking we could get him to turn on his allies, or at least provide us with better information.

Unfortunately for us, after confronting Baker that evening, he simply called his allies and brought them in to talk to us. We had a brief talk with someone claiming to be Maneesh’s uncle and saying “it had all been a misunderstanding” and he wanted to set up a neutral meeting between us and his nephew. We agreed on a spot the next day in the Saratoga hills.

We used the time between the meeting and now to learn more about the locals. A third attempt to spy on Chief Baker was thwarted – this time by a magical defense. Clearly our opponents had an ally with real magical ability. More research into the black spiral and the former students of Aptos high revealed a surprising amount of luck in their history. An unusual amount of success, even for an affluent city in California. We also looked into the geography as well. Seismological data revealed that several key ley lines overlaid key fault lines in the area. And during the 1980’s while the students were at Aptos there was a major earthquake right on the Aptos fault line. As if on queue, we experienced a medium earthquake that morning. My cousin (with her expertise on native american culture) learned that there was a location in an Aptos hills park that was sacred to the local tribes as a “victory” spot. Perhaps this was where the Aptos alumni intended to meet in a few days.

The meeting with Maneesh was surprising. A view of the area revealed that he and his family were guarded by many spirits in the never-never (mostly wild, hunting or animal themed). Maneesh claimed that he had done what he did to raise up an ancient spirit named Uthgar. He believed this spirit gave him power, to reclaim the area for his tribe. The area would be in a permanent state of winter. He acted like he knew about the never-never rules, and the laws of magic. He claimed he never broke the laws (HE never murdered with magic, never contacted an outsider, etc.). It was a shaky argument. What’s more, he offerred his power as an ally of the White Council (probably to buy us off). I didn’t like the idea of negotiating with anyone that was a killer (magical or otherwise), but the team couldn’t agree, and we decided to talk to a council member first.

Messages were left for Listen To Winds (as the appropriate member to call, given his area of expertise, and our previous contact with him). We then decided to finally talk with Stan Neidelmeyer, Miles’ contact. Stan was understandably nervous, and revealed some key points to us. What had happened was that in high school Maneesh had discovered that by performing a ritual dance by the Aptos site, he could gain luck and victory in “battle” (in this case sports). Over time, he invited more people to this event. Everything changed when Greg joined them though. Greg figured out something must be going on and actively sought out Maneesh. Greg suggested they sacrifice an animal for greater effect. On the day the sacrifice was to take place, Greg brough his girlfriend and changed the plan – they would sacrifice HER. The result was the 7.5 earthquake in the Aptos hills and power they’d never dreamed of.

From this point several things became clear. One, Greg was the dark wizard helping them – and he was guilty of breaking at least the First Law. With Greg’s change to the ritual, they realized what they could achieve – and that they could gain more power and success. Over time that’s what they did. When Stan made the first Black Spiral Dance, he was horrified at what he did. From that moment on, he and all the members were haunted by dreams from the sleeping ancient spirit.

When we got back to our tower, Listen To Winds arrived with several apprentices to inform us that ‘hell no’ was the answer. Apparantly this spirit was nasty, deadly, and had been put down by his ancestors for a “damn good reason”. With this directive, we launched an attack on Greg’s home. Sure enough, we found Maneesh and some of his allies in residence. I called out to Greg that he was guilty of breaking the First Law and must face justice. He stormed with Maneesh and some other of the Stormcrow clan.

I quickly dispatched Greg, beheading him as his crime warranted. Maneesh and his brothers used spirits to gain animalistic powers and strength. Jasmine was able to summon a gust of wind to pin down the two lesser spirit “riders”. They did manage to maul both myself and Jasmine a bit. Vinnie and Jasmine were then faced with dealing with Maneesh while I attempted to stun and incapacitate the lesser foes. Finally, it became clear the Maneesh needed to be stopped and I approached him and calmed him down by reaching his spirit and preventing him from accessing its powers.

With Maneesh and his allies stopped, and Greg brought to justice we worked with Listens to Winds to put the ancient spirit back to rest. It has fallen on us to see to that the justice system of the mundane world deals with those that deserve it. We have also decided to allow Maneesh to continue learning magic, though he will be watched for any violation of the laws. Through a tragic set of circumstances, a bunch of misguided (and also some rather evil) people did quite a bit of harm in the area. It is my belief that Maneesh and his family are redeemable, and I will work to make sure he becomes a capable and responsible wizard. Should he fail to do so, his punishment will fall on my shoulders.

End of Report.

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Final Reckoning with Rafielli

From Kevin’s Journal (as transcribed by Aunt Gladys for the White Council).

The vampires have made a critical error, and the time for our attack has come.

A gathering of wardens was called for, at meeting location nine. Jasmine, Miles, Vinnie and I arrived with the bulk of our peers for a briefing on what turn out to be one of the first major large scale offensives of the war. In the briefing area, we met Sanya again, which was nice. Having that kind of ally on hand is always welcome.

The purpose of the meeting was simple, the White Council had identified a major stronghold for the vampire alliance. The Red Court was relying heavily on the financial and political influences of their White Court allies throughout Europe and the United States – especially in the funneling of funds and other resources. Our allies had been doing a very good job of ferreting out and destroying these resources, but the time had come for decisive action. It also soon became clear why our team had been summoned.

The White Council had located an estate in northern Italy being used by the White Court, specifically David Bell and the vampire we’d come to know as Rafielli. It turns out that their family had been responsible for a number of major operations for the Red Court, and their estate was a central location for various money laundering and resource management operations. The mission was simple: Destroy the stronghold, and get whatever information and intelligence was possible from the files and equipment there (our human allies were on standby to recover anything technological). There was a catch, however.

We’d learned that the Demon we’d seen in Portland was near to completion of its emergence into our world. The night of our attack was chosen to coincide with a ritual being performed by Bell and Rafielli. It would mean their attention would be focused elsewhere, and they’d be guaranteed to be on the premises. It also meant at least one innocent pregnant woman would be there, awaiting sacrifice. We could not strike too soon, or risk them fleeing or fighting us at full strength. An innocent life was being hung in the balance.

The plan was for a small strike force to penetrate the complex and deactivate the shield generator – Sorry, I got distracted there. Our team would infiltrate the compound using an underground escape path that emerged in a nearby church. We would expect minimal guards, as the path was supposed to be well hidden. I of course, expected a trap – possibly an entire legion of their best troops. In order to enhance our force, we were given the option of various allies to bring along. We chose to bring along an Ogre. He wasn’t very bright, but he could hit hard and was nearly impervious to magic (so friendly fire was not really an issue). We also took several magical potions and tattoos to use during our attack. It would be dangerous for us, but we best knew what to expect from these White Courts and their allies.

We approached the church from the never-never side. It looked normal for a church, especially an old one. We entered quietly (the ogre still outside- I named him “Chewie”), and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Miles opened his site and noticed something… dark behind the altar. Whatever it was quickly manifested (it was a veiled sorcerer, one we had actually met before). The sorcerer used some black magic (unsuccessfully), and we dispatched him quickly and moved towards the secret passage.

Once inside the tunnels, we relied on chemical lights and a big ogre to keep us safe. We came across a series of cameras which were easily hexed (thus alerting any guards to our approach). The first guards were human mercenaries, equipped with high quality military gear. We used evocations to stun them, and did our best to knock them out with mundane means. Unfortunately, a grenade angered the ogre and he dismembered two of the guards before the rest surrendered. Another passageway lead to a heavy metal and stone door, which we found to be trapped (both magically and with explosives). We quickly created a ward to protect ourselves while we detonated the trap (focusing the blast outwards towards any other guards). We had to hurry, as the ogre was becoming increasingly erratic and impatient. When the dust of the blast cleared, we charged into a large underground room – full of surprised guards (surprised we were still alive).

The large room must have been part of some audience hall at one time. A dozen guards with grenades, automatic weapons, and shotguns engaged us. The ogre charged in, drawing most of their fire. The rest of us spread out, denying them the ability to focus fire. Two white court vampires (skilled in melee fighting) entered as well. The fight was brutal, but Jasmine and Vinnie hounded down the two vampires while Miles and I kept the guards busy. When the vampires broke, so too did the guards. At this point in the fight, the guards were aware of the assault on two fronts and they were easily routed (many would later surrender to our forces outside). With the entry secure, we pushed on to find David Bell and Rafielli – and stop the ritual.

We quickly found the main room, most of the guards were defending the perimeter and few other defenders gave us any trouble. Inside we found Rafielli, David Bell, a Demon, and another warlock. The warlock was no trouble, but Bell and Rafielli used powerful mind magic and wards to prevent us from entering. I charged in anyway, and between myself and Vinnie we managed to kill Rafielli and seriously injure David Bell – disrupting the ritual. Bell showed his true colors and fled, leaving his brother to die. The Demon worked its powers against us, and the young woman was clearly close to death – the baby still inside her. I charged through the demons wards and was knocked out by the force of it.

Afterwards, I found out that the rest of my team was able to force the demon away (without the ritual to power it). Miles successfully delivered the baby, but the woman died during the procedure. We quickly learned that she (and likely the baby) were gifted with magical talents –which might explain the complex ritual. A thorough search of the estate netted a huge repository of dangerous magical artifacts. As expected, we found a great deal of other intelligence assets: money, maps, and details of various operations throughout the world. Our allies will have a field day with most of it.

In the aftermath, the council assayed the damage and results. I offered to take the baby girl and raise her, since her family had all been killed. My fellow wizards and I named her Mathilda – in honor of the poor Filipino girl who had been corrupted and taken by the Red Court and the Denarians. It is my hope that the child will have a better chance in life than her namesake.

End of report.

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November 11th, 2009 (Dealing with the rescue of Warden Ramirez)

Place holder for our next session

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Our first 5 years...

*See the Case files of Vincent DeSanto for the story so far… Case Files of Vincent DeSanto

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