Hard Times in the Big Easy

Blast to the Past

In which the crew hits '88.

February 24, 2006

Everything began simply enough. Ian heard one of his magic shops was robbed. Alandria got word through the Paranet that someone had a book stolen. Jack and Nevarres heard about disappearances, Ian’s robbery, and rumors of something going down at the St. Louis Cathedral.

Then it all got complicated.

The theft at Ian’s store amounted to a good six figures of magical components that would be virtually worthless on the mundane market. The thieves showed incomplete signs of understanding the threat a magic user could pose, and took precautions against it: They Zip-stripped the clerk’s hands together, stuffed them into mittens, and bagged his head, not realizing what while this could make magic more troublesome, it wouldn’t entirely protect them. After his own cursory investigation, Ian contacted Jack about the matter, then decided to hang out at one of his other stores and see if it got hit next.

Alandria spoke to the man with the stolen book, and discovered that it was one of the Gro├če Buch der Zeit Magie, a german book on the very illegal subject of Time Magic. This book is notorious enough to have made it on the White Council’s banned books list, and the man was very concerned that Alandria not let her Warden Associate know about it, for fear that he would either lose his head, or his grandfather’s entire collection of dangerous forbidden texts that he claims to be unable to use.

Jack took Nevarres with him to check out Ian’s store, and found out a few things, none of it overly useful to him: First, Ian is either a terrible artist or he’s terrible at remembering faces, because the sketch of Nevarres he put up telling people not to serve him was off enough to avoid causing trouble. Second, The men who robbed the store weren’t professionals, per se, but they were definitely disciplined and knew exactly what they were doing: They didn’t take any extraneous stuff, everything they took pointed toward a common purpose, the money was left in the till, and nobody was hurt. Third, they were looking at thugs on a budget: All of the stuff used to restrain the clerk was cheap Family Dollar crap. Fourth, the common purpose of the materials was amplification. The components could be used to amplify a spell well beyond its original scope. Or make a really tasty gumbo that would leave you glued to the toilet for a week.

Jack and Ian shared information, and found out they had already come to the same conclusions about the components. Jack suspected Jon Mais and his crew in East New Orleans of the theft, but wasn’t willing to challenge them on it without clearer evidence, so he kept that to himself.

Lacking anywhere further to go with that, Jack dropped Nevarres off to do some further research on the spell components, then scoped out the St. Louis Cathedral, mingling with the crowds while he examined the place, turning up only a closed-off section that he resolved to visit later that night.

And indeed he tried. Jack sought out a side door, only to find a pair of vans already parked there and some young people heading in the door. On quick inspection, one van turned out to be a rental, while the other appeared to be owned by the weaselly pack of dark wizard wannabes that stole Rephaim from Nevarres. How could Jack tell? Slytherin bumper sticker. Jack put in a quick call to Nevarres to come out and make sure they didn’t get away while he was investigating the church proper, then tried the door himself. When Jack tried the door, he got shocked silly and blown back into one of the vans. When Jack tried to smash the door, he got the same result. When jack got ‘clever’, and decided to insulate himself by hacking the Slytherin Van’s tire apart and using the rubber for insulation … he still got the same result. So he called in Ian.

While all this was going on, Alandria was checking around for information on the stolen book. She came to the conclusion that any large time-based ritual would have to be done at some place that had a sort of resonance with the type of time magic in question. For going forward in time, you would need something ‘futuristic’, for travel backward, one would need something historic. So she did a tour of the major historic locations in New Orleans, which ultimately brought her to the St. Louis Cathedral.

At about the same time Ian arrived. Nevarres had made himself scarce, and taken to watching from a distance, Jack did his best to ignore the treacherous wench as he explained the situation to Ian, and fed him a line of bull that wasn’t quite untrue, that he believed there might be a chance the Slytherin twits were responsible for the theft. Then Alandria explained what she was up to, and the two got into an argument about the book where she refused to give the name of the man who lost it, and demanded credit (and payment) for turning it in if it was recovered, while Ian refused to give credit (or anything else, for that matter) unless she yielded up the name.

About the time Jack was ready to shove them both into the door, the roof exploded, Ian was struck by a chunk of falling gargoyle, and everything went black.

March 21 1788

Everyone woke up seperately. Ian awoke in old-fashioned bedclothes, in a well-appointed bedroom. After some poking around his room, he was approached by a servant, who gave him a newspaper and breakfast, then was sent away to fetch Jack and Alandria.

Jack awoke the same way he always did: Stark naked with the sheets half on the floor. The new part was that he seemed to be in an upscale hotel room decorated with archaic firearms, which was simply ludicrious. Jack liked archaic melee weapons, not firearms! After a bit of investigation and dressing, a bellboy arrived to give Jack Ian’s invitation. He was sent off with a two dollar tip, giddy at his newfound riches, and presumably quit on the spot and bought himself a house with one dollar and lived off the rest.

Alandria awoke in a tiny attic room, and wasted no time taking off to check out what was going on. She was the first to see the blue and silver streaked sky. She wandered the streets, keeping an eye out for the Slytherin twits, but after failing to spot them for a while, she decided to return to where everything began: The St. Louis Cathedral.

Nevarres woke up in a cheap flophouse, stripped off his shirt, rubbed mud on himself, and eventually wandered to the church as well, where he met up with Alandria. The two of them found the church surrounded by a silver and blue field. Rephaim recognized it as being made of Soulfire, Hellfire’s opposite number, and pointed out that Soulfire was literally powered by the soul: The massive field around the church and the city was burning soul from someone, and probably many someones. Alandria convinced someone to walk through the field, and the immediately aged to bones and crumbled to dust. Alandria refused to accept the blame for this callous murder, on the grounds that this was the past and the person was clearly already dead.

Jack arranged for a carriage to visit Ian, when it struck him that he knew where Ian lived, and it wasn’t where he lived on the present. Jack immediately concluded that this meant someone had gotten into his head, and began to quietly freak out. The world as he knew it gone and replaced by the past? Whatever. Someone put information in his head? Freak out time.

Jack eventually arrived at Ian’s lovely plantation mansion, partook his amazing scotch, and got into a conversation about what was happening while their players totally talked over the rest of the group and ignored them entirely. Ultimately, they came to the conclusion that they should visit the church as well.

While Ian and Jack were en route, Alandria and Nevarres spent time testing the weird field. Alandria discovered that it was safe to cross if you went through the Nevernevnever. A look around the church showed that the vans were still there, so clearly the church was still in the modern day. On the reasoning that a few hundred years wouldn’t hurt him any, Nevarres stepped through the field. His clothes promptly disintegrated, his hair grew out to completely cover his body, his nails grew to revolting lengths … but otherwise he was fine. All of this reversed itself when he came back through … except the clothes. Alandria had just finished getting him dressed again when Jack and Ian arrived.

After a bit of pedantic arguing between Ian and Alandria, and some catchup between Nevarres and Jack, the crew proceeded to take a quick hop through the Nevernever to get into the church proper, where Ian used his handy-dandy Warden Sword to cut through the ward that had thrown Jack around earlier. Inside, the building was full of collapsed people. Ian used The Sight to trace the source of the magic downward, and everyone trooped on down to find a man floating in another Soulfire Circle with the stolen book, surrounded by the stolen spell components and passed out Slythern twits.

Jack attempted to question the man, and was informed that the time displacement had taken place due to an accident that he was trying to reverse. Ian confirmed that the guy in question was the one who caused the accident … then he shot him. The man fell half through the circle, and the half that fell through turned to dust. Fortunately, the book was not lost, and after a bit of finagling, Alandria managed to remove it from the circle. Ian settled in to make a potion that would allow him to comprehend old german, Jack looted the sacramental wine, Nevarres walked around uncomfortably … and eventually Ian finished his potion, figured out what was necessary to fix things, and set out to do it alone.

Alandria shuttled everybody into the Nevernever, into her own private demense. Back in the real world, Ian tore down the spell, but couldn’t fully control the power unleashed, and had to make a split-second choice: Let the backlash hit the past or the present. Thus, the first great fire of New Orleans was begun.

Back in Alandria’s demense, Jack was approached by a Neried named Nissa who had heard about his situation. She offered him the innocence of one maiden in a container that could potentially hold more … in exchange for his endurance. Jack would just have to settle for having the endurance of a normal human of his age. Jack told her he’d get back to her. … If he was desperate. He wasn’t entirely sure losing a forearm was worse than losing his stamina. Prosthetics are a lot nicer these days.

Once everybody had returned to the present day real world, Jack got angry because his jacket was gone, lost to the mists of time somewhere, and then everybody went their separate ways. Nevarres and Alandria both offered to help Jack find containers for holding innocence, and Ian went to report the situation and put his head on a chopping block.

After a meeting with the incomplete Senior Council, Ian was saved from the sword by a vote from Ancient Mai, after subjecting him to a soulgaze that damn near killed him anyway.

Alandria spoke with her father about containers, and was directed to a creature in the bayou that appeared as an old lady. The two exchanged a bit of banter, and ultimately came to an agreement: If Jack was willing to get the woman with child, she’d give him a container to capture innocence. If he didn’t do a good job, well … she’d eat him.

Meanwhile, Nevarres spoke with Rose about the subject, and secured a much sweeter deal … in a manner of speaking. She would give him four vials that could be used to capture the innocence of a maiden, provided one of them was returned to her full. Jack opted to go this path despite it giving a fallen angel what was surely something that could be used to fairly potent and unpleasant ends.

After only a few nights, Jack had managed to collect everything he needed and more. His strategy of circling the high school herds and preying on the weak, the outcast nerds, ugly girls, and fat chicks, served him well.

Jack paid Alandria five hundred dollars to arrange transport to and from the Erlking’s court, where he paid up his debt, and called out the Erlking’s Speaker, a Satyr that had never failed to harass him every time he appeared at court. He called her a coward, citing her reluctance to meet him, a ‘mere mortal’ on even ground last time they met. Left with little choice (and believing she had nothing to fear), the Satyr let herself be lured into a fight with Jack, armed with a set of Cast Iron knuckles and a brace of knives. All the Satyr had was a shield and a spear. Really, how is that fair?

Jack proceeded to make things more unfair by shatting her shield with his iron knuckles, took a minor gash from the spear while taunting her, then cut off her hoof with his knife mid-kick, she was finished. He offered her a chance to yield, was informed that there would be no yielding, and cut her throat. He then proceeded to slowly, and messily, hack and twist her head off its shoulders and drop it before the Erlking.

A set of bracers were brought to Jack, and laid out before him. The Erlking spoke, asking Jack if he was ready to accept his destiny. There was no hesitation. Jack clasped the bracers to his arms, digging spikes inside them into his skin until they drew blood. The Erlking declared Jack the Knight of the Autumn court, and the scene faded to black with Jack’s bloody arms upraised, laughing maniacally.

A few days later, the whole crew arranged to meet at Neutral Grounds, the Accorded Neutral Coffee Shop. Ian, Jack, and Nevarres argued about whether Nevarres could be trusted after his behavior at the Asylum. This mutated into a discussion about trust between everybody, and they all agreed to sign and seal a blood oath not to harm, or arrange for third parties to harm, each other, unless someone else broke the oath first and instigated the attack. Everything was laid out on the table between them: Nevarres’ full reasons for his dealing with rose and his favor to Nicodemus, Alandria becoming full fey, Ian stealing a goddamn denarius from Jack, and a quick explanation of the White Council’s general collective goals. And Jack let everyone in on his new position, and vaguely explained that there was more to his family, but they didn’t get into it.

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