After the death of Albert Cardinael, Jack and Alandria decided that it was time to take a less reactive stance to trouble in their town. So the two hatched a plan, and began working on its implementation:
Alandria spent the better part of two days studying the magic items that she managed to steal from Giovanni, most notable among them being a book by the Dread Necromancer Kemmler. She also took a brief trip to the mortal world to collect a rain barrel full of holy water from Father Max Massey at St. Louis Cathedral, in preparation for their planned attack.
While Alandria was doing research, Jack was doing hard work: He was struggling to contain the loose energy from the destroyed Kemmlerite artifact within one of his blades, in hopes of creating a weapon powerful enough to give him a necessary upper hand in their attack. He succeeded, far better than he realized at the time, and the resulting blade fairly hummed (actually, shrieked) with the dark energies contained within. Afterward, he took a brief trip to his home to check his messages (Juniorhad finally gotten back to him), and give Nevarres a call, asking him to do some research into R.C. Holdings and Giovanni.
While he was doing so, however, he was visited by an upleasant surprise: A knock at his door revealed Three elite red court infected, shotguns at the ready, looking for his blood. A vicious fight ensued, the highlights of which include a broken Scapula on Jack’s part (the same arm he had dislocated, too), one of the infected using his downed comrade as a weapon, and Jack setting fire to his home with incendiary shells, then shoving the white-hot barrel of the shotgun into an enemy’s crotch.
Jack opted not to take time to recuperate before heading back out to meet Nevarres and discuss his findings. After a fair bit of internal debate, he opted to bring Nevarres in on his and Alandria’s plan, and invited him to come back to Alandria’s Demesne to discuss it.
The plan was thus: While Giovanni had performed the hit, it was ultimately Rose Weaver who had pushed him to do it with faulty information. She was also grade A trouble, and unlikely to be expecting them to take a shot at her, given their past pattern of handling things. Plus, Jack wanted to kill Giovanni’s allies before hitting him, because his one life simply wasn’t anywhere near worth Albert’s.
With target chosen, the method would be both simple and complicated: Basically, jump into her office through the nevernever and jump her. The complicated part came in the execution: They needed to get a piece of Alandria’s Demense there to act as a beacon for her to do so. While they had a number of ideas in place for how to do this, the simplest way would be to have Nevarres take it to her in the normal course of his duties as a messenger / boy toy.
Despite great reluctance, Nevarres ultimately agreed to help them gain access to Rose’s office, but refused to take any further part. Jack accepted this as good enough, and casually informed Nevarres that were he to betray them, he had best ensure that they never, ever see him again.
Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue. He delivered the beacon, in the form of a coffee receipt, in good faith. Alandria opened her way, and Rose was not caught quite as off-guard as they had hoped. She managed to erect a wall of thorns over the portal that prevented Jack from rushing through, forcing Alandria to clear the way with conjured acid. In the interim, Rose had taken a demonic form that strongly resembled a dryad, covered in a barklike skin and possessed of wicked, branch-like claws.
Alandria wrapped her in holy water, effectively binding her down so that Jack could dash in and run her through with his Kemmlerite blade. The mix of holy and decidedly unholy energy destroyed the holding spell, but Rose was wounded horribly. Alandria’s next attempt to attack, with the remainder of the holy water, was foiled by Rose seizing on Jack’s horribly mangled arm and using him as a human shield.
And then the puppies arrived. Jack’s pack came plowing through Alandria’s portal, having literally chewed their way through the walls of her Demense to get to him, and tore at Rose, their inexpert attacks only serving to distract her. Jack attempted to split his attention between calling them off for their own safety, and attacking Rose, and only barely managed the former before Rose simply erupted, showering the entire room with massive thorns.
Richter, Jack’s biggest, meanest, and favoritest pup, threw himself in front of Jack. A thorn the length of Jack’s arm pinned him to Jack’s chest, directly over his heart … and through the pup’s.
Jack was overcome by a pure, rightous furty such as he had never known before or since. He let out an bestial scream, and hurled himself at the Denarian, caution to the wind, all thought of protecting himself gone, risking everything on a single stroke of the horrible Kemmlerite blade.
He hacked her from hip to shoulder, and left a rapidly disintigrating ruin behind. Halfway through her chest, the blade struck metal, and her coin went flying out, landing inches away from one of his wounded pups. Jack all but flung himself on the coin to protect his
pets children from the corruptive influence, and pocketed the coin posthaste.
What followed was something of an anticlimax: Jack and Alandria hurried to haul the wounded pups and Richter’s body through the portal before security could arrive. Beyond the portal, he simply collapsed with his pups, quietly crying and holding Richter. And then the pup stirred, and turned lifeless, undead eyes on its master. Somehow, likely due to the power of the blade he carried, he had raised Richter’s body. To this day, I am still unsure which is worse: The death of Richter or his accidental raising. Jack quietly shut the obedient zombie away until he had the emotional fortitude to deal with it, and went on to comfort his still-living brood.
In the end, most of the pups came out alright, thanks to faerie healing and toughness, but the battle cost Trevor an eye. Despite attempts to convince him, he still will not consent to wearing an eyepatch. Jack delivered Rose’s coin to the Erlking, at long, long last delivering on a promise made before he even became a knight. The Erlking was quite pleased, and praised Jack highly. He restored Jack’s body, healing his wounded arm and horribly embarassing tattoo, and Jack finally earned some measure of respect among his court.
One down, three to go.