May 1st is the Celtic Festival of Beltane (Bealtaine), in Germany it is called Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht). It is exactly 6 months before Halloween.
In America, if it’s remembered at all, it’s called May Day. Traditionally it’s celebrated with bonfires and parties.
On May 2nd, Dallas awakes to headlines of hate crime – massive church fires, dozens killed at their Wednesday night meetings. The only common elements between these five Metroplex locations? They were each Evangelical Christian buildings and each had “St. Matthew” in the name.
Die Erlfürstin, an ancient enemy of God and Man, strikes… her goblins bring death and chaos.
Jamie – Chewed By A Dragon
Jamie Harper is called to Scotland to a meeting with Ancient Mai. He arrives, and Chandler informs him that Ebenezar McCoy, The Blackstaff, would like to speak with him before he goes in to meet with “The Dragon Lady.” He enters the main dormitories of the Senior Council to meet with Wizard McCoy in his chamber. They briefly talk and McCoy informs “Cowboy” (McCoy’s nickname for Jamie) that he needs the Warden to emerge with his Grey Cloak and position as Warden intact – that he needs help putting together a strike team to deal with an Outsider. Basically, control your temper and say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” a bunch. After a few additional comments, Jamie agrees to leave his weapons safely in McCoy’s office so as to help “diffuse” the potential hostile situation with Ancient Mai.
After entering the Ancient’s chamber, Jamie sees Carlos Ramirez there as well, finishing up a report of his own. After giving his short version of the events involving Hermia, he braces. One knows that 30 minutes are going to be unpleasant when the normally stone faced Mai begins with “What the hell part of I spoke up for her did you fail to understand?” in a very thick accented English with her eyes glowing like magma and literally small wisps of steam from her nostrils.
After the conclusion of the “chewing” – Ramirez and Jamie go for drinks to calm their tempers and nerves prior to Harper going up to see McCoy. Ramirez lets him know that they’re likely to see each other real soon (referencing the strike team McCoy is putting together).
He re-enters McCoy’s lab to see McCoy staring at his axe curiously. “Where’d you get this axe, Cowboy?” Jamie then proceeds to talk about the events of about a year past involving The Erlking’s Daughter. At the conclusion of the tale, McCoy indicates his surprise that the axe was still in such outstanding condition having come from the Nevernever. He then asks if it is alright to cast a counter-spell upon the axe, just to be sure.
After doing so, a Greater Glamour falls from the axe, and it is revealed to be a small wyvern (the blades became wings, the handle, a spiked tail). It laughingly hisses, “My mistress thanks thee for the guided tour of thy city.”
As The Blackstaff reaching for his symbol of office and blasts the wyvern from existence, Jamie’s “Wardflame” link to the magical defenses around his house goes off like an alarm klaxon.
Matthew – Morning Paper
Matthew Consprite comes down for his morning newspaper and sees the headlines about last night’s church fires. Even as he does so, he notices that there’s an ectoplasmic goop moistening the pages. He drops the paper and it falls open to the interior, where scrawled across the spread is the Hebrew word Go’el … written in human blood.
He places a call in to Father Joseph Köhler at St. Patrick’s of Dallas, and after a brief explanation, is asked to come in and give the report in person. Matthew does, and during the meeting, another individual comes in and introduces himself as Dieudonne Mastroisi, or just “Don” in English. The Reverend refers to him as ‘Captain’ and it becomes clear that Don, who exudes the aura of “professional soldier” is, in fact, a member of the Inquisition (or perhaps, more specifically, a modern day knight of the church, or Militiae Christi). After a few tense moments of discussion, and a polite offer of assistance, Captain Mastroisi excuses himself to see to the rest of his unit (one of which walks with him, apparently Germanic of origin).
Elena – Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
Elena Torres is watching the morning news about the church fires, putting two-and-two together regarding Matthew’s involvement in it when she receives a text with an attachment on her phone from her brother Salvador Torres.
When she checks the message, there’s only the attachment. It’s a blurry picture of somebody breaking down the front door of her brother’s house. Judging by the clothing and the large battleaxes… goblins.
She takes off at her inhuman speed, running as fast as she can (which, due to her ability to go across backyards, down narrow alleyways, across rooftops, etc. is actually much faster than using a car, nevermind her ground speed itself rivals a car in the city). She picks out a path that avoids as many city cameras and surveillance systems as possible – a fairly trivial task for Elena – this is her ‘hunting ground’ after all.
By the time she arrives at her brother’s house in Highland Park, it’s looking grim. All the power is off and the front door has been chopped from its hinges. She cautiously investigates the interior and it’s clear that the place was trashed by at least a half dozen individuals. Her brother’s family (brother, wife, college age daughter) have been taken out the back door. As she goes to the back door, she sees written across the back wall in blood “Kill Staple or they die.”
Elena remembers that a recent other group attempted something similar with Conor and it didn’t go over well for them either. She sets out for Conor’s new house (as it’s also in Highland Park).
Conor, Erica, & Oreamnos – Spring Showers bring Summer Flowers
For some days prior to the events of the 1st and 2nd, Conor O’Neill and Erica GoodChilde had been working together to try and figure out what was going on with The Marchioness, Staple , and the Winter Court of Dallas in general. Conor because he was ordered to look into it, Erica because Conor didn’t want her to mope following recent events.
Their investigations determine the following:
- When The Erlking’s Daughter moved into the Dallas area, it was autumn and Winter was approaching the height of its power. Not wanting to have to face two powerful foes at the same time, The Duke had negotiated a non-aggression pact with The Daughter until May Day. The Duke then basically withdrew all of Summer’s forces from the eastern half of the Metroplex (Dallas).
- In the vacuum created by Summer’s withdrawal, the forces of The Daughter came in and pushed The Winter Court up against the ropes. It would have been a complete sweep and clear if not for the actions of The Scooby Squad (the PCs) and a handful of independent individuals (particularly Belle Starr who used her “free time” from Donna‘s coup to engage in a one-woman crusade to Ward and defend as many children’s hospitals, orphanages, halfway houses, and women’s shelter’s as she could) that had actually hampered her force’s efforts significantly.
- Into all that chaos caused by The Red Court’s destruction in October, Hell T (marked and favored by the Erlking himself) and The Erlking’s Daughter allied and joined forces. Hell-T’s gang provided mortals that could do the things Fae could not (like bypass Thresholds), and The Erlking’s forces provided resources Hell-T lacked, like access to powerful Fae magic (via individuals like Skranglestylte. After Hell-T’s hold on the cocaine trade in Dallas was solid, it was Hell-T’s turn to help the Erlking’s Daughter.
- In a surprise attack, the combined goblin forces of The Erlking’s Daughter and Hell-T’s Orc Cliff gangbangers invaded The Marchioness’s Nevernever Demesne of the Trees nightclub. That was when The Marchioness vanished.
- The answer then to The Duke’s direct question to Lord Dallas was “Staple is marshalling Winter’s forces to attempt a rescue of his liege Lord – The Marchioness”
Conor travels to The Demesne of the Duchy of Panthers at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens to deliver his report to The Duke. Erica goes with him and when she arrives, she meets Kenna, the Daughter of the West. Kenna is fascinated by her (young mortal and yet a powerful sorceress, talented musician and yet blind, etc.) and, while Conor is delivering the report to the assembled Lords of the Fae, she and Kenna get better acquainted. During the course of the visit, Kenna asks Erica to teach her a few vocal tricks, singing. Even though Erica’s been hesitant to sing for years, something about the location, the charming Fae doing the asking, everything seems to “click” and she begins to sing like she hasn’t in a long time.
After delivering the report to The Duke and the assembled Lords of the Duke’s Council, he’s told by the Duke to basically rescue The Marchioness. “Better the ##### I know, than the ##### I don’t.” After all, The Marchioness must obey the Accords – The Daughter does not.
Conor sets out to see about what can be done to deal with the situation in Dallas – but first he goes to fetch Erica. He discovers that Kenna’s suite within the Ducal Palace has slipped into an alternate time. Unsure of how to proceed Conor inquires of The Duke, where he’s informed that since The Duke’s daughter has “borrowed” his companion temporarily, he assigned Lord Invictus (Oreamnos) to take her place but for him to not delay. Conor leaves Erica a note with the household “butler” before leaving.
- Story Arc beginning: Compel of “Lord Dallas, Earl of the Summer Court, Sidhe Scion”
- Story Arc beginning: Compel of “Scrappier than She Looks” (the investigation)
- Since the player couldn’t attend this session we needed to shove her off into the Nevernever to deal with some passage of time, so Compel of “Midas Voice”
- We have a guest visiting from Arizona this week, so I gave him Oreamnos to “drive” for the session, Compel of “Lord Invictus, Ant Master”
Jamie – Trod From Edinburgh
Jamie arrives at the Dallas side of the Pathway only to discover it is blocked. Behind three Wargs and three Goblin Warriors, he can tell that Uncle’s Shop is on fire. Not really feeling like dealing with six-to-one odds, he Veils and tries to go around. Unfortunately, Warg senses are very sharp and they move to pursue. Running out of options, Jamie rips a hole back to the physical world and, as he slams the opening shut again, the taunting words and laughter of the Goblin riders fills him with dread – “I wonder how long it will take to bleach your family’s bones white?”
He finds himself in Farmer’s Branch, having exited the Nevernever in a completely random place. Needing transportation and the ability to get in touch with the people he cares about, he staggers over to a seedy, old style gas station to use the phone. The owner tells him that he has to buy something… so he buys all the bananas that were sitting on the counter.
As the phone rings at his home without being answered or going to machine… his heart falls through the floor. He calls Ramirez and gives him a quick update, he’s not going to be able to help put down the Outsider with McCoy’s “strike team” … and the White Council has nobody spare to send (the Outsider must take precedence over a local dispute) to help.
He calls Elena… he needs a ride – fast.
Matthew – Prickly Situation
Matthew arrives at Belle’s house to discover it completely overgrown with climbing rose bushes/vines/thorns. It’s all green (the buds haven’t opened) and the entire building is covered. Pallas, however, is ripped to shreds and bleeding all over the street. He clearly tried to enter and get past the thorns. After a quick look around, Matthew determines that the vines are just on the exterior – no lights, no power inside.
Meanwhile, Pallas sits down, nearly passing out from blood loss. He needs an emergency room or something. Matthew kneels and asks for a truly powerful healing miracle. He has Pallas shift into his Wereraven form and he cradles the huge black bird. When Pallas once again dons his human shape, he’s scratched to pieces but … no longer bleeding.
After a brief discussion about what’s going on today, and a few phone calls, it’s clear that something’s also happened at Jamie’s residence. Finally, Pallas asks the question Matthew hasn’t dared think about… “Have you checked on Barbara?”
He sprints to the home of the woman he would like to marry and discovers her front door chopped to pieces and blood smeared all over her back door (along with the clothes she wore yesterday and her spellcasting focus items). “Kill Staple or She Dies.”
Matthew goes to take her car, he needs help… but in the garage he discovers a surprise gift that she hadn’t had the chance to give him. A fully restored 1942 Harley Davidson WLA, the WW2 era motorcycle used by the US troops (now with a handful of modifications to make it street legal, including a keyed ignition). It is olive drab, has saddle bags, and two large white star decals on either side of the fuel tank. In the ignition sits a key with a silver Celtic cross fob inscribed “Vaya con Dios, mi Amor.”
He sets out on a tear to Jamie’s house (well, as fast as a ’42 WLA will do, which is just under 60mph).
Elena, Conor, Oreamnos – Step On It!
Conor’s home becomes something of a central communication hub. Elena arrives, but is met rather cooly by Oreamnos. After all, an ex-drug abuser and an ex-DEA agent… what would they talk about, really? Conor finishes on the phone and Elena is invited in.
Then it becomes painfully clear that the heroes are scattered all over the Metroplex… undoubtedly by design… and that nobody is answering the phone at Jamie’s residence.
With Roxie driving, they set out for Jamie’s house. While driving, they’re at last able to coordinate with Jamie from his gas station phone. They immediately reroute themselves and travel, under a double Veil, to pick him up. Roxie is told to “step on it” while under the Veil and she happily does so. They pick him up as he’s pacing in front of the gas station.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” – unsurprisingly Jamie’s ready to go. Roxie again, under her and Conor’s combined Veil, “steps on it.” They finally arrive at Jamie’s residence.
Jamie, Elena, Conor, Oreamnos – Broken Hearts
They arrive at Jamie’s house to a sight of horror. Puddles of ectoplasm mark the final resting place of the Goblins destroyed by Jamie’s home defenses. However, the front door is chopped from its hinges and inside…
The living room has been cleared in a blatant attempt to turn it into a “fighting ring.” In the middle of the ring, with an axe resisting next to her headless body in an eerie mirror of a duel in the Nevernever a year ago, is Alice Jones.
Inscribed across his living room wall, “You can still save your children. Kill Staple.”
Words fail; Jamie goes upstairs.
The rest of the heroes search the house, finding carnage, a small pixie sized puddle of ectoplasm defensively positioned in front of the children’s rooms, and a single black paisley do-rag – the “colors” of The OCT.
Conor has Roxie bear Alice’s body back to the palace of The Duke to rest in state amidst flowers until things calm down.
Jamie puts together a handful of spells (difficult to do as it’s nearly impossible for him to control his wildly conflicting emotions – grief and rage being poor bedfellows to focused spellcasting).
The first, a minor divination, discovers that the original wearer of the do-rag is dead only several hundred yards away. The second, confirms the fears, the kidnap victims are all deep, deep, within the labyrinth of The Marchioness’s Demesne of Trees.
When they go and confirm the bodies, they find two mostly eaten mortals and abandoned ’68 Dodge Charger with a flame paint job.
Offer You Can’t Refuse
The heroes go back to the wreckage of Jamie’s house to plan, plot, and scheme.
They’re in check.
They take out Staple and it fulfills the conditions of the kidnappings, Fae are bound by their words. However, doing so will likely wreck their own ability to do anything against The Daughter herself. The Daughter is in a prepared position, bolstered by unknown magic that was powered by the dozens and dozens of deaths of the Christian faithful incinerated in the church fires. Worse… The Erlking’s Daughter herself may be a true immortal (unkillable except on Samhain, Halloween). If they move against her directly, and fail, their bloodlines may be cursed with a vengeful fae forever.
The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend… or at least they hope so. They decide to send a missive for Accorded talks between Summer, what’s left of Winter (Staple), and a representative of The White Council (Jamie). Lake Cliff Park, the recent site of the late unpleasantness with Hermia and where Blaylocke was killed by The Loser’s Club (a group of hunters) is chosen as the meeting place.
Within a the hour, (after Jamie first throws off some minor Divinations tracking him) they enter the park. The remnant of the Winter Court, perhaps 40 strong, with a few trolls and ogres, stand with Staple. Facing them are the heroes and the numberless host of Lord Invictus’s “Red Scare” of ants.
Staple can’t believe his ears, they want to help him rescue The Marchioness. Officially. The Summer Court will even assist to bring things back “status quo ante bellum” … well, since mama didn’t raise no foo’ … he agrees.
They begin to discuss plans for penetrating the Labyrinth. Then the first complication arises. Staple cannot divulge anything about the layout or assist with that in any way – a powerful compulsion upon his ability to speak. However, he indicates one Fae who isn’t under such a compulsion and that would know the defensive wards and spells as only one who was there to help cast them would… Zanna
In An Iron Box
Jamie casts another complex divination, this time getting help from everyone.
She’s in a house, in Pleasant Grove, trapped in an iron room with Elga. Judging from the wounds and general state that Jamie could scrye… they’re nearly dead.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in “Queen to Big-D, Check” part 2!
- Game Date 5/30/2013 (in Game date May 2, 2011)
- GM Wolfhound
- Milestone: Minor
- Note that Rahal, the player of Jamie Harper Consented to the in-game death of the Alice Jones NPC for story purposes and character development.
- Ending Bennies
- Elena 12+3
- Conor 11+2
- Matthew 5+1
- Jamie 2+3
- Oreamnos 0+1
- Conor 11+2