January 27, 2006
Early in the morning, Jack and Nevarres headed out to pay a visit to Albert U. Cardinael at his church in East New Orleans. Jack questioned Albert about churches in the vicinity that may house Gregor, but didn’t turn up any immediate information. He did manage to get some holy water blessed, didn’t manage to get some Bacardi 151 blessed, to his great disappointment, and left Albert with his card and Email address in case he turned something up.
Meanwhile, Alandria paid a visit to her father to exchange a favor for a rare and valuable item she needed to produce a powerup potion intended to enhance her magic.
The quartet met up later that evening to tail Gregor’s thrall, but unfortunately, their attempt to didn’t exactly go well. Due to a lack of communication among the three drivers, they all immediately pulled out to follow their quarry as soon as he left work … but he made no effort to shake them off, and proceeded directly to an obnoxiously large, garish church, heavily adorned with broadcasting towers. A televangelist church. Nobody was particularly thrilled to see this.
Alandria took this time to view the church under the Sight, and the results were … unpleasant: The gutted corpses of hopes and faith were scattered about the parking lot and the church proper, while bloated vulture-like creatures feasted on the remains. More usefully, she also perceived that only a few parts of the church appeared to have any kind of threshold or warding at all. And then Jack walked into her line of Sight. He appeared much as he truly was: A boy, painfully young, but possessed of great strength and carrying a heaping load of weapons. But stretched out behind him, far larger and darker than it had any right to be, his shadow held something … a wild, deadly power. And it saw her looking at it. It was then that she managed to close her sight, and none too soon: They had been noticed, wandering around the parking lot talking and looking unkempt.
Ian gave the security guard in his cute little security golf cart a weak story about bringing their friend (Alandria) to be saved, which the rest immediately played along with, and feigned disappointment upon learning that the church was closed. But the kind-hearted security officer wasn’t going to let them leave empty-handed: He gave them all a handful of Chick Tracts for guidance.
Decisions were made: They would get some rest, then come back in the morning. Everyone crashed at Jack’s apartment, after giving him enough time to turn off and unplug everything remotely sensitive. Ian and Alandria attempted to get a little more training in (successfully for a change!) and killed Jack’s refrigerator.
January 28, 2006
Early in the morning, Jack dragged everybody out of bed and led them to his armory: Another storage unit, just like his workshop. After ensuring that everybody else was properly kitted out with Kevlar vests and handguns (he didn’t trust them with anything bigger, and they thankfully didn’t ask), he suited himseful up in a SWAT suit, complete with riot shield. With a towel strapped to the front of the shield. Never forget your towel.
Shortly after sunrise proper, the crew arrived back at Gregor’s church to find … a full parking lot. Televangelists broadcast in the early morning. They decided to park somewhere else and wait on things to clear out a bit, then came back when it was a bit less crowded, to find a trio of security guards in their security carts. Ian checked them with his sight, and found that one was a renfield … and he saw the Church. His perception of the place was a fair bit different from Alandria’s: He perceived it as a large Mayan pyramid, at the top of which people willingly flung themselves down on the Altar to have their hearts ripped out, then were kicked aside for the next supplicant. And the next. And the next. And then he got his sight under control, and attempted to inform Nevarres and Jack of the Renfield. He failed.
Jack gave Nevarres a stun gun and asked him to put the guards and the Renfield down. The normal human guard he attempted to stun went fine. The second one he thought was human, however, was the miscommunicated renfield, and knocked him flying. Then Jack ran him over. Thoroughly. And damaged his car. Thoroughly. Somewhere along the way, the alarm was raised, bars were being lowered over the doors, and … nobody cared, because Ian hexed it down in a hurry.
After breaking (quite literally) through the front doors, they followed Alandria’s memory to the threshold … and had a problem. Namely: There was a threshold, and only Jack could ignore it with impunity. After a bit of thinking while Jack continued to explore the rooms (a kitchen and dining area), Ian managed to bring down the ward, which seemed to serve as a supernatural alarm. As sirens began to wail outside, Ian set up a veil over the kitchen door to delay the police finding them.
They found a door leading downstairs, and after a pause for Jack to soak his toweled shield in holy water, and Alandria to pass Jack a speed potion, they went downstairs. And ran right into a group of Renfields behind makeshift cover, where Jack put his shield and armor to good use keeping everybody from getting shot up in the first moments of the encounter, Ian put his force magic to good use pinning a pair of renfields to the wall with a couch, Alandria started a bunch of goddamn fires, Nevarres played Jump-rope with a pool table, and Jack got hit with a flaming fooseball table. And then he shot the Renfield who threw it in the face with a shotgun at nearly point blank range.
Nevarres took care of the fire, Jack took care of survivors, and once they found another set of stairs down, Jack wasted a flashbang. Downstairs was what appeared to be an old bomb shelter with two heavy submarine-style doors. The first one contained a box, and nothing else. Somebody had the bright idea to close the door behind them, and then someone else poked the box. It was essentially a magic flashbang. And then a chunk of ceiling collapsed and water began to pour into the room. Jack attempted to open the door and found it locked, naturally. Ian attempted to magic his way out, both trying to take out the door and cut a hole into the nevernever, but the water was grounding out his magic. Alandria tried to melt it, and her magic washed off. Nevarres and Jack made their own efforts, with just as little success. As the room was getting full, Alandria continued to stand on the floor, underwater … and with some struggling, managed to pull on her fae side enough to force the water into the room faster, harder, and blow the door completely off its hinges, washing the men out into the hallway. Alandria was able to exit with considerably more dignity.
After drying off, rearming, and bracing themselves, they tried the other door. Nevarres opened it, Jack took point behind his shield, and the magic users stayed in the back, as is the natural order of things. As soon as the door was open, Jack had a brief moment to see a dark room full of more furniture converted to cover, then a bright flash, and then a bullet flew through his shield, and lodged itself in the strike plate of his body armor. And it was hot. Nevarres tackled Jack to the ground, landing them all in a tangle. Jack got himself loose, chugged the potion, and things got crazy.
A grenade was used to no effect. A super soaker backpack full of lighter fluid was shot mid-throw by an armor piercing incendiary rifle shot. Flares were thrown, shouting was done, and eventually Alandria lit the entire room on fire. Gregor came barreling out, threw Alandria into the flaming room, and made a dash for the stairs. Nevarres pursued, managed to knock him off balance so that Jack, close behind, could get in a shot with his own incendiary rounds: Shotgun shells, in his case. Unfortunately, Gregor managed to use Nevarres as a human shield, and only caught part of the blast. And that is when Ian showed them all what a White Council Wizard could fucking do. He gathered up all of the fire Alandria had spread around into a single blast, along with most of the heat in the area, and essentially shoved it down Gregor’s throat. There wasn’t enough of him left to bother sweeping up.
And all that left was the little issue of the police. Going back upstairs would get them arrested. Staying downstairs would eventually get them arrested too. Their only choice was to retreat into the nevernever, a dubious proposition at best, but the only choice they had. So Ian opened a Way. Into the middle of a pack of Acid-drooling Hellhound Hyenas.
The hyenas spread out to circle the small group, laughing maniacally. Ian, Nevarres, and Alandria all managed to keep their heads. Jack, however … the circling, the laughing, the acid, the nearly getting shot through the chest with incendiary ammunition, it was all too much. The Hyenas, normally something that wouldn’t bother him, frightened him. They were intimidating. And Jack responded to this in the only way he knows how: He found the biggest, boldest looking one, assumed it was the Alpha, and shot it dead, then started shouting threats at the Hyenas until they gave him a little space.
Everybody expected Ian to have some idea where to go. Ian had no clue where to go. He spotted a building of some sort, decided it was better than nothing, and told them that was the proper way to go. So Jack started marching that way, gun trained on the Hyena most directly in their path, and kept walking. The Hyena flinched first, and they proceeded unmolested to the building.
They found a pair of goblins, that proclaimed themselves followers of The Autumn Court, and expressed interest in collecting a bounty on Ian for being a wizard, until asked what it would cost for safe passage back to the mortal realm: A service to their lord for each that sought passage, or Alandria making her Choice and swearing fealty to the master of the Autumn Court.
They were all led to the great hall of the autumn court, where goblins and other less recognizable wyldfae of all description were gathered, feasting raucously … until the mortals stepped in. A hush fell over the room, so quickly and completely, it was almost (almost my ass) as if it was practiced specifically to unnerve interlopers. Not that it was necessary. Lounging at the head of the hall, up several stairs to a raised dais, upon a massive throne, was The Erlking. Jack was dumbstruck. Alandria and the others took to their knees. Jack was too shocked to join them.
A female satyr, acting as mouthpiece for the Erlking, laid down the terms necessary for safe passage, once it was made clear what they sought: Agree to answer the call of The Hunt, once. Or, should she prove herself worthy, Alandria could make her Choice, and swear herself to the Erlking and his court. As she was in the process of agreeing, Jack snapped back to himself and shouted over her, declaring himself worthy, completely ignoring that nobody had been talking to him.
The Satyr made the mistake of expressing amusement at ‘the human cub’, and set Jack off in a sort of calm fury: He stalked up the stairs to her (despite Alandria’s attempts to hold him back), and bitch-slapped her with his riot shield, then proceeded to loudly declare his name and prowess to the entire court. The Satyr, fully prepared to shank the young Belmont for his insolence, was halted by her King, who laughed uproariously at this display, and asked for proof of his claims. Jack then promised that he could, with ease, accomplish anything the Erlking could ask of him. The Erlking accepted this oath, and Jack felt himself bound by the power of it. They were granted passage back to the mortal realm, down a well well that landed them in the New Orleans bayou.
Ian has succeeded in his task.
Alandria has taken a further step toward her fae side.
Jack has recklessly bound himself to the Erlking’s service.
And Nevarres is still doing fine.