Campaign of the Month: May 2017
Dresden Files: Nawlins
(After returning home, post demon summoning. Pre-Ada’s house meeting.)
Mitsuo kicks off his shoes and tosses his jacket onto an end table. He slumps deeper into the futon. His mind’s still spinning from the visit to Hugues’ place – news of an impending apocalyptic event, Hugues as a magic clone of himself, and Hugues as a Warden, for fuck’s sake. He wasn’t prepared for that kind of surprise; it’s got him way off balance. In all of that, though, one thought keeps surfacing over and over.
“A bargain, a bargain like we had of old,” the demon had said. “Let me watch, master, and I will aid you as I can, no binding needed.” From the sound of things the group would need all of the help they could find. A demon… a demon of curiosity, especially, would be far from the most reliable source of aid. But with an agreement in place he would be forced to help and forced to hold back his murderous tendencies. And Murray had already proven just how insightful he could be. Could that be enough?
Mitsuo stands up, hands folding behind his back, and moves to gaze out the window. He stares for a long time, lost deep in thought. Suddenly, he reaches a decision; conviction washes over him. He turns on his heel and moves rapidly to gather supplies. Salt. Scraps of wood. Pieces of paper with kanji inscriptions. Stones and candles and small ceramic statues. He arrays it all in a circle and begins to chant.
The now familiar puddle of purple goo forms into the shape of a badly wounded hellcat. Murray looks terrible, like he’s been beaten. His razor wire whiskers are bent and broken, and one ear horn has been snapped off halfway up. His tail seems to be a few inches shorter than it was, and several snaggly fangs are just gone.
The demon looks up, his bright black eyes burning a brilliant red. “YOU.” He says, throwing himself bodily at the circle. He bounces off, squeaking in pain, but springs back up and starts clawing furiously at it. “This is all your doing! I will kill you mortal I swear, I swear!” In a moment he seems to have exhausted himself and lays panting on the tatami floor. “What… do you want… now…” it wheezes.
“I, ah… I wish to apologize for the treatment you have received at my hands. It was horribly rude and unnecessarily cruel.” Mitsuo stands outside of the circle, gently observing Murray’s struggles, attempting to project an air of contrition. “You have warned me of an impending disaster and given me a chance to avert it, and for that I am grateful. Earlier, you expressed a desire to watch those events unfold. I offer you a chance to fulfill that desire.”
“You think highly of yourself mortal. These wounds were not inflicted by your magic. They are a price for the binding laid on me. Others would know what I know, and I cannot fulfill certain obligations to share that knowledge thanks to you.” It frowns, but the red fire has gone out of its eyes and it is now listening attentively. “So. A bargain then, now that you are alone? I wonder what the little master would think of this.”
“Perceptive as always. I did not ask him. That will be one of the conditions of any agreement we make: you will not reveal yourself to anyone unless I command it. First, tell me what help you are willing to give, and what your price will be.”
“I want to watch, to learn. I have been trapped in the pit for ten long years, and many things have changed since. The help I offer is the same as that which you have already obtained by force. Knowledge, experience, insight. I have been collecting all three for several thousand mortal years. I walked beside the rivers of Canaan in the olden days, and witnessed the fall of the cities of the plains. It was exquisite. But due to circumstances I was banished from this plane, and can only stay so long as I have a mortal sponsor.” Murray grins. “You are probably wondering why I would offer to help at all, but it is not the destruction I wish to see, that would merely be a bonus. It is the deception. This ritual is an attempt to fool God himself. Has such a thing ever been tried?”
Another sardonic smile appears on Mitsuo’s face. “In my religion, many kami are famous tricksters, constantly deceiving the people and each other. Even the mighty sun goddess Amaterasu, who had shut herself in a cave after feuding with the storm god Susano-o, was tricked into moving the rock sealing the entrance and thus forced to resume her place in the sky. I fear there is some chance of success.”
“Here, then, are my terms. You will make yourself undetectable in every possible way and to the fullest of your ability. You will not interact with the mortal world at all, except at my instruction. You will follow my instructions faithfully. You will answer all of my questions completely and truthfully. You will return to the Nevernever immediately if I dismiss you and you shall not return. And above all, you will not harm any human being unless I specifically instruct you to. In return, I will sponsor your presence in the mortal world. You may travel with me and observe the unfolding of this plot, though I reserve the right to instruct you to stay where I tell you if I feel your presence is dangerous. This is not yet a final offer, but are those terms acceptable?”
“I am no spirit beast, taichou. I must have a physical form on this plane. But I can be… unobtrusive.” Murray shifts his form and a plain grey housecat sits in the circle, looking entirely ordinary. “This should do for most times.” His form shifts again, this time into a very familiar statue shaped like a cat with one paw raised, holding an oblong coin. “And this for others.” The lucky cat statue melts back into Murray’s spiky form. “Is that acceptable? The other terms..” It bristles slightly, but calms itself. “I am here to witness a great event. You shall not prevent me from doing so by banishing me to the pit at the climax. Your oath, taichou, and I will abide by the terms.”
Mitsuo nods gravely. “I will not prevent you from witnessing the conclusion of this plot. We shall have to find you a smaller form, something I can carry around with me – a coin, perhaps, or a cufflink. But I believe we are in agreement.”
He steps back from the circle and kneels on the floor. Staring into the circle, he speaks solemnly. “私はこのを誓います。Murrazonoth, 私のところに来て。私に仕えて。”
“Watashi-wa kono-o chikaimasu. Murrazonoth, watashi-no tokoro-ni kite. Watashi-ni tsukaete.”
“This I pledge. Murrazonoth, come to me. Serve me.”
“隊長、来ますよ、役立ちますよ。” Murray answers in the same tongue, if a bit more archaic sounding. He lifts one paw and slowly, carefully, places it outside of the circle. The sound of a temple bell echoes in Mitsuo’s ears, low and heavy.
“Ah, you have no idea, mortal. None at all. Pray you never do.” Murray takes the form of the grey housecat and rubs against his shins. “What shall we do first?”
“Taichou, kimasu yo, yakudachimasu yo.”
“Major, I come, I will help.”
(upon meeting Nazarene at the ruined daycare)
While scoping out the remains of the daycare, Mitsuo sends a thought-pulse out into the aether. //Murrazonoth, I need you.//
Mitsuo’s left shoulder burns as the demon replies. //And how can I be of assistance?//
Mitsuo’s eyes narrow but he refuses to flinch. //I thought you would want to see this. A demon came through here looking for an artifact of faith. That man,// and he turns to look at Nazarene, //is the husband of the woman we found dead and enucleated. His daughter has been taken by the demon. When you have had your fill of examining the scene – discreetly – I want you to find her. There is a toy hairbrush in my coat pocket, with hairs from both the girl and a toy she likely carries. But! I forbid you to harm her or interact with her in any way. And I forbid you to inform any entity but myself of her whereabouts or your presence. Clear?//
//As you will, taichou.// Murray replies. Out of the corner of one eye Mitsuo notices a small grey cat duck into the door to the VFW hall. No one else seems to see it. Once inside Murray sniffs the air and follows the scent of brimstone down into the basement. The place is a wreck, the once-neat office has been torn apart. But it is not without clues. Blood on the floor seems to belong to the human Andy, and Murray skirts it without touching it. It has the scent of faith on it and he wants nothing to do with that. A splash of darker, fouler liquid coats the edge of the broken desk. Demon’s blood. There was a fight here then. Murray tilts his head, pondering. The blood is unfamiliar to him, he does not know the demon, but the type is unmistakable.
//I know what you’re looking for, taichou. It will seek water and darkness, the girl will be held somewhere below ground.//
Murray looks through the wreckage of the desk. //The artifact was kept here. I can feel the aura of the old wards. Very clever. But your enemy did not stay and hunt for it. I will do better.//
Murray rolls investigation
/- +4 = 1. Nice.
Regardless of his smug little pledge it’s not easy to make heads or tails of the scene. Hellfire has a nasty habit of overpowering mostly everything around it, which may have been why the attacking demon didn’t bother looking for the box when he couldn’t find it right away. Still, the little grey cat digs through the rubble. He doesn’t find anything. //Grrr.// Mitsuo can hear the demon’s frustration in his head and his shoulder burns again. He should probably look at that later.
Finally Murray stops and sits, in that unnaturally still way that he has. He opens his ears and Listens.
The cat breaks into a cheshire grin. //Oh hoh, an artifact of Faith? That’s one way to put it.//
Frowning, Mitsuo replies, //What is that supposed to mean? Does Nazarene have something to hide, or is he wrong about its nature?//
//I doubt he knows, though his woman may have. What did he call it, a battery? Accurate, if crude. It is a soul. A human soul locked in a box for hundreds of years. Sort of… a pre-packaged sacrifice.// The demon snickers. //The best part is it will regenerate its power over time if you don’t use it all up. Poor fool, trapped in a box for eternity. I doubt it even knows what happened to it.//
Murray follows the sound of the crying voice up the stairs and into the playroom, stepping gingerly over the broken glass. He hops into the toybox and starts digging. //Here we are. It is too heavy for me to carry taichou, what would you have me do with it?//
//Wait, you HAVE it? It’s still here? Um.// Don’t panic. Stay cool. Should it go to Nazarene right now? Does it need to be examined first? Can you even think of a way to lead the group to it that isn’t fucking suicidally suspicious? //Murray, you should make yourself scarce. The group will be examining the building. I am not sure yet whether they will acquire it, but if they do not I will. Just hang about outside and alert me if anyone else decides to come looking.//
Murray hesitates before replying. //Do not leave it unattended for long, it is a powerful thing. Dangerous. And it is crying as loudly as it can for anyone with the ears to hear it. The Hunters kept it quiet with spells. Those spells are gone. Only the stench of Hellfire kept it hidden during the assault. Lucky, for you. And lucky I was here to help.// There is a vicious little note of pride in his voice.
The grey cat sneaks back up the stairs and out the door without a sound.
(at the country music club)
Barely shaking off the draining effects of the sleep spell, Mitsuo focuses his mind. //Murrazonoth. I assume you are enjoying the show. There was a woman here, a manager type. Grey suit and skirt. Do you know where she went?//
//Oh, I am indeed. There is nothing so delightful as a betrayal, especially between blood relatives.// Murray laughs. //The woman… she said she was going to speak to the musicians, did she not? Perhaps we should look there.//
Mitsuo stares off into the distance for a moment. //I thought I had already checked everywhere. This sleeping spell must be getting to me. Where can we find the band?//
//Seelie magic is powerful but fades quickly. Come. Veil yourself, if you must.// A small grey cat walks in the door of the building. Right between a cop’s legs. Mitsuo is starting to wonder if anyone else can even see it.
Muttering to himself in jealousy, Mitsuo reactivates his veil and follows Murray. It takes a little maneuvering to keep away from patrons and policemen, at least at the pace the demon is setting.
The half-stage off to the side where the band plays is empty, except for chairs and sheet music stands. Murray mrrowls and digs under the edge of the curtain, revealing something the cops hadn’t found. One grey shoe, the same short heel as Renee had been wearing. Murray looks up, and his eyes narrow. //Here she is.//
Renee Hewitt’s body is hanging by the neck about ten feet off the ground on a stage rope, trapped between the red curtain and the cement wall. The fold of the heavy curtain had concealed it well. Mitsuo can’t see her face or if anything’s been taken from the body from this angle.
Mitsuo takes this opportunity to fake Investigation in the thread, using an FP to fake-invoke Troubleshooter. In reality, this is Deceit to lie about how he found Renee’s body. Deceit = +3 to the lie.