From the Journal of James Watie: April 29 - May 17th, 1867
Who Doesn't Love A Family Reunion?

April 29th, 1867: We finally make it back to London. Marcus and Mary immediately leave to check on the orphanage, and Sergei heads to go check the mail at the office. Aldo and I have weapons to clean up, so we head to the House.

We arrive in time for breakfast, and for me to receive a letter from my Dad. He asks about my health, is glad to hear I am doing well, and then gets to the point; my Grandmother (Mom’s Mom) is sick and dying. She wants to see me before she passes on.

It looks like this summer will be one of travel. I ask Emily and Jenny if they would like to go see where I grew up (which they very much do), and grab Aldo, Victoria, and Oda as well. Because, as there always is, there will more than likely be violence. Also, because the open air will probably do them good.

April 30th: Ah, the Cardiff train station and docks. People here are beginning to know me by name. I will need to remember to try to network here a bit. It is an important port for us, and thus should be protected. We take off on the City of Paris, one of the fastest boats on the water.

Aldo, as usual, is THRILLED!

May 11th: We hit New York City. Jenny and Emily are super happy to be somewhere so new. Aldo is happy to be somewhere not actively floating. Victoria seems happy to be here, but keeps up with the silent treatment. I send a telegraph to Dad giving him an idea on our estimated time of arrival, then we check in at the hotel recommended by Prof. Poole, the Astor. We leave a note there for the CM of New York from the Professor, and, as if by magic, our room bills disappear!

I make sure Jenny understands that “free room service” does not mean ordering her dessert as “one chocolate cake” is acceptable. We do have cake, though.

May 12th: We take in the sights in New York City. We needed a bit of a break after so much travel, and the girls needed to shop a bit.

May 13th: We roll into Philadelphia. I am given a bit more than a little bit of a cold shoulder everywhere I go. My tribe seem ready to come to my defense, but I urge them to reconsider. That is just the way things are here, and, to be honest, if they knew I was Apache and not just ‘an Indian,’ they would probably think about lynching me.

My Mom’s people are NOT nice to settlers. On an “epic understatement” level.

Our contact here is supposedly at the Academy of Natural Sciences. We get tickets to go in the evening. Inside is a huge dinosaur skeleton (non-animated this time); Jenny is far, far past amused at this. Our guide, Anna (CH member here), leads us around on a amazing tour. We spy a set of crossed Minoan axes, one a twin for our light-weight swinger back home, and one of some kind of near coal-black iron. She said that this ax was forged from a meteor, and let me actually take it from the wall and look at it. If I were going to have an ax, this would probably be the one to have; it was weighted perfectly, and sharper than anything I have ever seen of that size.

She introduces us to her husband, Joseph Leady. He is a world renowned dinosaur-scholar, and the big brute up front is all his. It is not animated, and this makes Jenny and I sad. But he DOES know where a good pub is, and this makes us all much happier!

We hit the pub and get to meet the local CM, Robert Hazard. We start in on the obligatory war stories, showing him Songrid and telling of our recent smackdown of BandanaHam. They have been cut off from almost any info from the other side of the pond, so we catch them up a bit. Oda shows off his swords, which Anna can somehow silence.

Victoria learns from Anna that Sammy T. has been nurturing her bloodline for generations. She is descended from the Delphic Orcales, or, rather, a specific one. Anna outs herself as a relative of Sammy’s, one Hera. She is NOTHING like mythology portrays her, which only reinforces my belief that reading is overrated. We chat a bit. She does a bit of hocus-pocus on Songrid (with Songrid’s permission, of course), allowing Vikki to speak through Songrid. It is a weird sensation for everyone, but better than frantic hand signs. Better, but nowhere NEAR as amusing!

May 14th: We roll into Washington, D.C.. My Dad has a small flat here. Granny Onawa is already here, waiting for me. For someone Dad wrote of as “old and sick,” she looks healthier than me. Introductions all around, with Dad and Grandma being enthralled by Emily and Jenny. Jenny absolutely LOVES Granny Onawa, which is easy to do.

I am actually a bit surprised at this, to be honest. Dad has been ‘in bed’ with the white devils for some time now, but Grandma is Apache. Her hate for the ‘invaders’ used to be profound. But I see none of this anymore. At first I think it is just due to her acknowledging my new tribe, but, as we spend time together in private and public, I see that is not the case. She has softened her stance on this, even if our People have not. Very interesting.

Dad mentions that he is leaving me all of his land in North Carolina, and his various stocks, bonds, and the like. He is going to have the family members that have been running it for him continue to do so for me. He does not know what I am doing, but he is proud of me. Emily takes a liking to him, and it is easy to see why; now that he no longer has the weight of a nation on his shoulders, he can be a bit more genial.

We never had time to get to know one another, and probably never will. Our respective responsibilities keep us apart just as surely as geography did in the past. But, for all of his numerous faults (and mine), my Father is a good man. I hope history remembers this of him; he tried to do right by his people in the face of insane adversity. That is enough for me.

Granny gets to the point; she, being a powerful shaman (she is where my Mom got it from) has seen a vision of her death. It is to be at the Grand Canyon, and I have to be the one to take her.

Wow. The Canyon. The Great Rift. The entryway to the Hunting Grounds. So far as I know, no white person has seen it since the original explorers went through that area. And here Granny is, asking me to take a three British girls, a Japanese guy, and the whitest Swiss person I have ever met to one of my People’s most sacred places.

Sounds fun! I always wanted to show off my wonderful new family to my wonderful old family!

May 15th-16th: We hang out a bit in D.C.. We see the sights and do the whole tourist thing. Anna shows up with a gift for Victoria; she bought her a brand-new voice! Evidently the stigma against buying and selling voices freely given is FAR more lax in the States. Who knew! We wrestle up a circle, throw Victoria in, and smash a new voice into her. And, dear reader, IT IS GLORIOUS. Something to do with the process has rendered Vikki’s inner monologue almost completely inert. THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING.

As we have a CH with a great Library in San Francisco, we decide to travel there to start our trek to the Canyon. Heading out the next day.

May 17th: Goodbyes are had to Dad. It was actually good seeing him; I have grown up a lot in two years. He presents us with gifts, a new-model Remington rolling rock rifle with exchangeable barrels (carbine to rifle in a few minutes!), and a new breech-loading Winchester. He also presents Jenny and Emily with a matching set of Colt revolvers. Smaller caliber for them, these are just like the guns he wore into battle.

I can see how he picked Jenny out as a warrior; everything about her screams, “I WILL HURT YOU” to those who know how to look. But it takes a keen eye to see that about Emily; she hides her new role of warrior princess rather well behind her old role of ‘British upper-crust lady.’ Cagey old guy, my Dad.

We head into a room, doily-up, and pop into The Library. We are met by a library demon, no joking here, sitting at a desk. While wearing reading glasses. He looks up and asks our names, intentions, and desired destination. I respond with “None of your business,” “to go places,” and “places not here.” I also mention that getting a Librarian here as fast as possible would probably do wonders for property values. Recognition flys across his face, and he sends for guides.

Bia comes striding in with our buddy Leo the lion-critter. According to her, the Librarians have been QUITE busy! They have begun bringing order to their domain, mainly by setting for rules and regulations for all the little fiefdoms among the stacks. Work with the Librarians, you can stay in charge. Refuse, and they wipe you out. The old scorpion demon lord tried to make a row, and was Bia’d in the face, fatally.

Dangit… I was going to come back someday and kill him for some new shinguard material. Oh well.

Bia heads back to work, and Leo give Jenny a lion-back ride as we head through. He gets us to our exit, hugs all around (Leo is a hugger), and we head out. We pop into a nice, sealed room full of manned gunports. Hands up, wait a few minutes, and we are met by a now-different-face-but-same-swagger Gerty.

Let the Wild West adventure begin!

From the Journal of James Watie: April 16th - 19th, 1867
Of Bananas and Hammers.

April 16th, 1867: We arrive in Prague in the evening, grabbing a bite to eat and a train to Budapest. It looks like we have beaten the authorities out of Krakow (we may be wanted for murder there… I’ll need to check on that).

April 17th: Arrive in Budapest. While waiting for our train to Bucharest, we are tracked down by none other than Matty T. and a thoroughly grumpy Mary (to be fair, it was daylight out, albeit cloudy). Tyson was heading this way to check on Houses, and thought we could use another resource. Besides, Mary would have been SOOOOOOO sad if we killed an actual Child of Lilith without her! Tyson mentions that he is backtracking to Krakow, where Fritz and Victoria have been jailed for… get this… disorderly conduct. Because how could they be murderers if they were in jail at practically the same time?


Train-time to Bucharest.

April 18th: We finally arrive in Bucharest (in the morning). We purchase a local map (which might as well read “Tour scenic Romania! Ask us about our sadness and history of atrocities!”), and take a reading. North-northwest, through a couple possible decent sized towns or one of a couple of monasteries. We decided to use a bit more time getting a solid reading rather than guess wrong and tip our hand. So, after a few meat-on-a-sticks (decorum MUST be maintained!), we board a train to Sinaia.

Arriving there in the evening, we decide to take in a night at a local inn. As this is a burgeoning resort town, there are plenty to choose from; we decide on The Great Lion for the evening. Compass still points N-NW, though there are only a few possibilities in that line now. Mary goes out hunting (with Marcus as her dinner-buddy), while the rest of us rest a bit. When they get back, Sergei and Aldo do a bit of scouting around town. We rest a bit more, then hop a morning train, heading north.

April 19th: We hit the town of Bran before dawn. Taking a compass reading, I finally get everything mapped out. At last, Marcus has his destination. As of that moment, withing a few miles, his nemesis is in the town of Brasov.

There is no time to wait, as the possibility of impending mayhem and possibly having our souls eaten is just far too exciting! A quick two-hour train trip gets us to scenic Brasov. No joke, aside from a demonic infestation, this is a lovely town! If we live though today and are not wanted by every form of authority this nation has, we may have to come back on vacation!

Checking the calendar, we come to one of life’s little poetic moments; it is Good Friday. Heck, if we pull this off, it may be one of the Better Friday’s we have ever seen. If not? Well, it will be a very, very Bad Saturday.

We get rooms at a local inn, the Red Knight, mostly to store our unnecessary gear. As we are a big train-weary, Mary, Aldo, and I rest a bit while readying gear. Sergei and Aldo scout around, finding that the local church, the Biscerica Neagra (“Black Church”) is a primary tourist attraction in the area. They head in during the sermon, which is, according to them both, not the standard “Jesus is wonderful, he died for us so be good or burn,” you would expect today. As they look around, Sergei notices an area that once housed a reliquary, and, with Marcus’s assistance, they discern that it was removed by force.

NOTE: I would like to take a moment to bring this up, for posterity. My brother, Marcus, has had nightmares for several years, almost every time he has slept, about this demon. It is his life’s primary passion to see him dead and, after figuring all of this out, he knows that said demon is likely less than 100 yards from where he was standing. And, let’s face it, Marcus is known to have a few… impulse control issues. When faced with this, according to Sergei, his first reaction was in no way the one most people would attribute to my friend. His reaction was to return with Sergei and rally his squad.

That decision likely saved all of our lives, specifically his and Sergei’s. People can say what they want of Marcus’s impulsiveness, but, when the chips were well and truly down, he played it like a stone-cold soldier.

As evening was falling, we act as tourists around the church, with Mary acting as a consecration ‘divining rod,’ keeping us in the know of this majestic, Gothic buildings absolute lack of any protections from the profane. One final reading of the compass tells the tale; Banathamon is in residence and slightly underground.

Inside there is no one around (between sermons). A know how to summon priests in such a Church, and ask Marcus if he would like to go confess. Suddenly beset with guilt, he does so. Sure enough, a young priest (not the one who gave the sermon earlier, according to Sergei), heads over to hear Marcus’s confession.

Judging by the muffled, meaty ‘thunk’ noises, I do not think he liked what Marcus had to say. Marcus exits the little booth, and send Mary in. Good Lord knows she probably has something to chat to the priest about, but she is also only in there for a few moments before heading out. I did not know people with her condition could cough, because she sure was wiping her mouth with a hankie…

(For the dense folks reading this, Marcus rendered the fellow unconscious, and Mary drained him of blood. She said that doing so was not different than eating an animal, meaning that this young man’s soul was already vacant from his body.)

Doing a final check of the finally at-peace body, I find that he has a stylized “B” as a symbol on his body. As this is an affront to God, I destroy it. Well, that and several other reasons. But, for posterity, I shall record that as my primary reason.

Heading into the back area of the church, we are met by an adorable little altar boy. Well, adorable except for the immediately darkening eyes and suddenly very, very aggressive posture. A head-shot does nothing to him, but a heart shot puts the sad husk down. As Marcus has explained, this condition matches the soulless children from his previous encounter.

This is going to be one of the saddest harvests of my life.

We begin fighting our way through to the back stairs down, culling a wave of soulless children down. It looks like the church had been the town’s primary orphanage or, even worse, these children were volunteers from the local families (Do not dwell on this; it will just make you sad). It is tricky combat, as the heart is a tough place to strike. We are used to bulk, center-of-mass fire, so precision skills are a change of pace.

We finally head down the stairs and into a large basement area. I assume this is our location du jour, as it has several soulless children and adults, an armored knight, and the sermonizing priest from earlier. Oh, and a huge, 40’ diameter pit with a large portal 20’ down that, according to its the patina of its horizon, leads straight to Hell.

Fight time. We know the weaknesses, but our lack of precision slows us down. Their caster is fiendishly clever, keeping us moving and hurting through the fight. We finally begin to pare down the ‘basic’ husks, making our way out of Sergei’s darkness bomb (which Aldo had previously dark-vision’d us to prepare for) and toward the caster. Marcus finally breaks free and heads for the caster…

NOTE: Some portals cannot be seen through, some can. Some are two-way transparent, some one-way. This was the latter, as something was waiting for one of us to get near.

…and out pops Banathemon. Twenty or so feet tall, covered in wings and scales and a 10’ long sword-axe thing. Seriously, he is the most frightening thing I have ever seen, and I do not scare easily. Luckily, the current boondoggle we were in, combined with a sudden surge of ABSOLUTE HATRED prevented any jitters. Everyone else pulled through the initial shock as well, with Mary being the most affected. When you have lived as long as she has, I suppose seeing your possible death jump out of a pit, laughing, is a bit worrisome.

BantamHerman immediately hits Marcus, damn near cutting him in two. Seriously, all of the times in practice we worked on rolling with a hit came into bright, shiny focus on that initial impact. He hit Marcus so hard it looked like Sergei was the target! After the initial hit, he grabbed Marcus in a gigantic fist, laughing and casually dropping the hint that Marcus’s next hat will be the interior BantuHarambi’s gullet.

I had a plan; a daring, probably suicidal, but, in hindsight, feasible plan. But Sergei beat me (and, thankfully, the demon) to the punch. The bouncy Russkie bounded in leaped up, and grabbed Marcus’s foot…

…because that is all he needs for a teleport.

Gentle reader, let me tell you, when Sergei and Marcus popped up across the room next to that caster, that demon was very, very angry. The fact that this opened him up to a barrage of gunfire from our squad did not help he anger management. Mary and Aldo kept at clearing the minions as the tide turned.

BargainHammock lept across the room, still focused on Marcus. But he had decided to get mobile, and he and Sergei danced away (not before ringing up the ‘priest,’ tho). As I decided to tag out with Marcus (my dance partner, the knight, had folded at that point), I figured it only fair that we trade weapons. Marcus was skeptical at first, as he trains almost exclusively with his Tysonic Blade. But he got the picture as Songrid and the quiver hit his hand; the fiend needed a beefier dance partner (and, with that sword in my hand, he dared not show me his back). And Marcus now had the weapon forged to kill this critter (and its siblings). Kill it, for good.

I switched the sword over to the WORLD’S BIGGEST BANANAHAMMER, and started swinging. The caster goes down as the demon begins making its way back around me and towards the now very, very threatening Marcus. Seriously, he almost pooped when Marcus pulled Songrid back for that first shot. And she OBVIOUSLY hurt it, as it screamed bloody murder at every strike. Aldo sprinted over to heal the still-grievously-wounded Marcus, and was greeted with a loud POP and the smell of burning metal that accompanies his healing gloves burning out.

(At least they did not explode!)

And, noticing that escape was in this beast’s eyes, I took a chance at a suggestion to our new-christened archer.

“Marcus, shoot the portal.”

That demon looked like the horse he bet it all on just broke all four legs as it burst into flames.

Marcus, though bleeding and hurting, grinned A LOT, and dropped a shot into the portal. And, as we all thought it would probably pop the portal, it did something much, much more interesting. The demonic energy shattered, leaving a cool, blue disk of energy in its wake. Out of which stepped Sammy T.

And let me tell you, she looked happier than I have ever seen her!

She stepped over to Marcus and, with a wave of her hand, his wounds vanished. This freed up all of our casters for the offense; Mary responded by stunning every enemy in the room except the demon, and Aldo and Sergei begin a little bit of ranged heart surgery. BirmingHamburger is on the ropes, preparing for (what we were later informed by Sammy) was a likely teleport to safety. I decide to make his life a bit more exciting by, and I am not kidding, grappling the demon. Jacob wrestled an angel, so I figured I had to have at least a chance, right? His attention thus turned to me, it allowed Marcus to line up that final, perfect shot into the creature’s heart.

That creature let out a literally unholy scream as its essence was rent asunder. It was unlike any sound I had ever heard. This being was old when humanity, as a whole, thought tools were the new rage. Thousands upon thousands of years of experience were shattered that moment, gone forever. And though it was horrifying and cacophonous, it was one of the best sounds I have ever heard. Because it was the sound of an impending good night sleep for my tortured brother.

What happened after was a bit of a blur. We said a prayer over the bodies (the knight I was one of the men in Marcus’s previous crew, sad to see). Sammy offered us a teleport, but that would have taken us to her sanctum again, and the less we know of that the better. We loot the place (including one very, VERY large sword-axe and about 30lbs of demon-related body parts), and head back to the hotel. Mary and Aldo (the least covered in ichor) grab our gear, we clean up as best we can, and board a train.

That night, a good man slept the sleep of the vindicated. He will have to reevaluate his life in the upcoming months, as his nemesis is no more. But, on that train, he slept.

Seriously, it was ADORABLE.

From the Journal of James Watie: April 5th - 16th, 1867
Hunting season starts!

Apr. 5th, 1867: An amazingly stormy morning keeps us indoors. Breakfast is lively, though, with a pretty full house. As the Chapter House customs demand, there is a knock at the door. Lo and behold, it is Matthias Tyson (and crew). He has brought Mother Irenia from Athens, a dark-haired young lady named Lysandra, a well-dressed older German fellow (Michael Haas), and a younger Mediterranean fellow (Ethan Nazario).

Tyson is moving these folks from the now-closed Athens House. He gives us the run-down on what happened in that area during the weeks our organization was attacked:
Athens: Fire-bombed to the ground. The tree there is alive, but everything else is gone. Most everything of value was saved.
Rome: Both Houses were attacked (unsuccessfully). Now on full alert.
Munich: Attacked by necromancers and composite flesh-creatures. Still standing.
Prague: Members attacked in their own homes. House no longer open.
Oslo: Ignored.
Copenhagen: Ignored.
Kiev and St. Petersburg: No word. Mentioned to Tyson that they were considering going dark due to mistrust of Rome.
Aberdeen: Ignored.

We chat about things a bit. He agrees with pretty much our whole lexicon of issues with Rome, and is impressed with our progress in strengthening our area. While we have his attention, we also ask about the symbols we got from the dragon-worshipers. He thinks that they are a cultish offshoot of a group called the Illuminati (Enlightened Ones). These folks are usually not against us, but tend to fracture into cults easily.

Tyson and the refugees he has with him also have several items that they need to be taken somewhere safe. The Librarians offer to go with them to Aberdeen, where they plan to hole up for awhile.

April 6-7th: While Tyson bounces between the two Houses in town talking important things to people with real jobs, we head to visit the Shadow Men. I figured that they would not mind a bit or warning that a bit of their allied firepower is going to be gone for awhile. They wish us happy hunting. They also give us a bit of good counsel; St. James Park is a hot-spot for the weird, and our park patrollers may want to shy away from there for the time being. When we get back, Tyson shows up and agrees with our assessment; London is as protected as it has been in years, and we should be good for a nice safari vacation.

Apr. 8th: Knowing that any safari is doomed to failure without a proper lady to impress with our macho antics, and knowing that Emily has a job to do (she is rapidly becoming the de facto leader of the Park Patrol!), we head over to see if Victoria wants to go hunting with us. It is GREAT that she does, as I had already packed for her the day before. She comes over for breakfast, and, as ALWAYS, we are interrupted by a knock on the door. It is a kindly old blind man (Gudrigr Vahg?) and his dog, Rowdy. Their papers check out, and it becomes readily obvious that they are friends of Prof. Poole. He is super-happy to know that the Prof. is back on his feet, and decides to camp out here and catch up while we are gone.

My bet? Tyson sent for him as extra muscle while we are gone. He is probably some Mesopotamian ex-deity who CAN see, but chooses not to because it makes life WAY too easy/boring. And the dog is the Prussian god of walkies.

Before we head out, we go visit Stanica and the gypsies. They are going on tour soon, and wish us the best. Better yet, she gives us papers that she says SHOULD at least get us in with any Romany troupes we meet. Good enough for me! I hope our paths cross again soon; her family reminds me of my old family, and a good bit of my new one!

Apr. 9-10th: Head out of town and through Paris, towards Munich. No one has attacked us yet, which makes us sad.

Apr. 12th: Reach Munich, keep on heading through to Vienna. Fritz is a wanted man there (he perpetrated shenanigans), but it saves us time and may get us jumped on a train. This sounds good to most of us, though I think Victoria may believe we are mad… MAD, I TELL YOU!

Apr. 13th: Wonderful Vienna! You can almost TASTE the pretentiousness in the air! Because Fate gets a bit antsy if you do not tempt her from time-to-time, we decide to stay the night. We book rooms at a nice hotel, then go out for a nice dinner.

Apr. 14th: During a nice, hearty breakfast, we notice a local constable paying a bit too much attention to us. No problems here, I have always wanted to assist in a jail break! After a bit of eyeballing us, he heads out. As we finish up, a few rather nice chaps come in and, mentioning that they are chums of Fast Eddie la Salle, ask if we would like to meet them at a local bar, the Snow Cafe.

Meet with total strangers professing to be friends of our ex-enemy in an unknown bar in a more-than-a-bit-hostile country? I honestly do not think we could have passed this up, PERIOD.

These mooks obviously work for the effeminate guy that they lead us to at the bar. Sergei guesses it early, the ‘guy’ is Helen, on of the people on Berringer’s (the demon-summoning, child molesting/eating, now enjoying his time being sou- rended ass-cake) list.

Having done her homework, she gets to the point. She wants to try Fast Eddie’s route, professing that she is NOT one of the head honcho’s, is actively staying OUT of the ’doing things that might get her a midnight visit by our London troubleshooting squad, and, as a show of faith, is willing to give us the current location of Randolph and Mortimer.

Little lady, for the time being, you have a reprieve. We do not know what you did to get on that List. Randy and Morty? We owe them. We owe them, bigtime. DEAL.

SIDE TRIP TIME! Next stop, Krakow, Poland!

Apr. 16th: We hit Krakow. Nice town, but we don’t plan to stay. We get a room, mostly for costume changing. I dress up as an Asian subcontinent Indian (Emily’s idea!), and carry a pack with my gear, just in case. Fritz and Vikki head over to R&M’s pad to check if they are there. It does not seem so, and is confirmed when a runner heads out to tell them they have strange visitors. We confront the runner kid and convince him we are trying to help them (which is NOT THE CASE!), and he mentions that they are at a local gentleman’s club.

Crap. That is bad. These kind of fellows would only be a member of an exclusive club, and they probably have all manner of friends/acquaintances there who, if we go in weapons blazing, would be honor-bound to fight us. And, as much as many of them may deserve it, we simply do not have the time or resources on one hand, or, to be honest, to desire to risk lumping everyone in that building in the ‘needs to die’ category.

We do have ONE good piece of knowledge, though… I head around the corner to a nice spot and change back into my regular garb. I have the rest of the gang (Marcus, Vikki, Sergei, and the Wonder Mr. Vanderfaust) post up in the back. And Aldo and I go to the front, knock on the door, and deploy MY SECRET WEAPON.

My Chapter House card shown to the butler. And a message to R&M; they can come out now and die quickly, like men, or they can prepare themselves for a slaughter.

As bluffs go, Aldo and I felt good about this one. Because we all knew we had one piece of crucial knowledge on these guys; they are cowards, through-and-through. THEY WILL RUN.

And run they did! Sending out their guards, then themselves, straight into our waiting ambush. And, according to the Backyard Gang, it felt REALLY GOOD to be on the ambushing side for once! By the time we got back there, it was practically mop-up time. Aldo hit me with his time-booster watch (which is a VERY strange feeling, by the way! and then himself, and we still barely managed to get there in time to help kill this filth.

But kill them we did. To their credit, they fought to the last, realizing that begging and bargaining was totally off the table. And we did it without hurting the horses or stable-folk, which is always a good feeling. Civilians sometimes get hurt, and that is regrettable. But we have progressed to the point that we can spare some inconvenience to let the possible innocent scoot away.

We loot them and I leave arrows in their heads. Since there were witnesses, people now know that folks i their line of business can be expected to be hunted down and killed. A semi-bluff, as we only got these guys today due to some unexpected help. But we will take all the publicity we can get, so long as we can control the message.

We hit the hotel, grab our gear, then head out. The local constabulary and military presence is starting to rouse, so we decide to break into more manageable groups. Fritz has a plan for a con to get him and Vikki clear AND make a diversion for us to get to the train for Prague. It sounds good, so we tell them to meet us there if they can, and leave a trail for us if not. Fritz and Vikki are both solid; they have this covered.

On the train we take stock over a nice bottle of wine. We are still on the trail, albeit with two members (Veronica and Fritz) in the wind. And we have two names off our personal List. Two names who we owed to judgment.

All agree, it was a very, very good day. And a pretty good bottle of wine.

From the Journal of James Watie: March 17 - April 1
Samurai, fancy parties, and dinosaur battles!

Mar. 17 – 29th, 1867: Nothing work-wise to report. Emily and I continue our courtship, and are enjoying our time together immensely. We especially enjoy our combined efforts in educating our ward; she is reading the Bible and the various works of Mr. Dickens (with some difficulty). From where she was a year ago to now is quite a transformation! We have procured a dress for Jenny for the upcoming party; she does not know that she is going yet!

Mar. 30th: Elizabeth Cullen strolls in for breakfast. Cyrus has been called away on urgent business; members of his old regiment have been called in to work on a incident in west England involving the death of several prominent members of the peerage. As it was steeped in ‘weirdness,’ they called their old buddy Cyrus out of retirement for a spell.

(NOTE: Cyrus is going to laugh a LOT if it is what I think it is!)

We catch her up on what we have been up to. She is suitably jealous of our adventures (especially the dragon), but also worried over the same issues that we are. Storm clouds on the horizon, if not for us, then for our allies.

A knock on the door. Always when we are eating! But a pleasant surprise; our favorite Pooka haberdasher, Mr. Caning has come a-calling! And with him is a pleasant enigma; a 6’5" Japanese man in traveling peasant clothes, carrying a set of warrior’s blades. He met this man on the way to work, and, as he had a CH card referring him to us, decided to lead him our way.

Fate, now delivered fresh to your door!

We chat up Mr. Caning a bit; I have a headdress that he had been waiting for, and Elizabeth invites him to her party. He is thrilled, twice. He met the samurai on a crossroads, and these things have a special significance to his people; his duty done, he takes his leave.

The samurai is one Oda Saicho. He mentions that it is customary to present a host a gift on entry, so I take his shoes. I noticed them on his entry; they have almost disintegrated from hard walking. I will have him some new ones made from Raoul in the Fae Market, then find a reason to gift them to him. Sergei magic-eyes his blades; the long blade (a katana) is demonic in nature, and the wakizashi is angelic. Oda is quick to his story:

He was a up-and-coming swordsmith in his land; a position of some renown. Once, when starting work on a new katana, he was overcome in some sort of crafter’s trance; when he finished some days later (exhausted from working a few days straight), the katana he carries was the result. It is his greatest work, and is also possessed by the “Demon of Pain.” This weapon possessed him, forcing him to find battle wherever he could to satiate its bloodlust. He became a soldier, killing ‘a thousand men’ with said blade with little thought of anything else.

One day the wakizashi was delivered to him, and the merest touch of its hilt in his hand was enough to snap him out of his bloodlust. Within it lies the recently deceased soul of the Emperor of Japan (who died mere days ago). It is the Emperor’s desire to see Oda’s blade purified, and Oda’s honor restored. Why? Who knows; he is some mystical oracle quest-fellow. But it does keep Oda in check, and that is good. The Emperor is now guiding Oda in his journey (one form of control for another, but with less mutilation). Oda took a boat to China, hoping to find some way to cover expenses for his trip as a laborer (he has no concept of money, or the modern world). Instead, he found himself on a long road (made of magic, probably). At a crossroads (you have heard this story, right?) he meets a weird little guy who agrees with his Emperor that his journey should take him to visit folks at the Munster House in jolly ole England.

Well, when your talking cutlery and the mystic hobo you just met on a Chinese mountain path are in agreement, who are you to argue?

A brief walk later (MAGICAL GOAT PATH!), and he bumps into one Archibald Caning. Explaining his mission to the Pooka, he shows him the card (which imprinted itself with our House’s letterhead at the previous owner’s request, according to Oda) and is walked here.

Well, at least none of that is WEIRD

Needing an expert in Eastern magical whatsits, I send for Mr. Ling. I assumed (correctly) that he HAD to get in on this craziness! He said that the card belonged to a friend of the CH, one Kano. A Londoner born of Chinese descent, he left years back for China, and send wayward folk back along the mystical roads from time to time. Like my dear Emily, he has a knack, and his is in mystical thoroughfares. Handy, that!

Oda is amazingly compliant; it is obvious that all of this is about as strange as a buffalo on a bicycle, but he accepts what he must for his quest. Admirable focus! As he has no clothes suitable for walking around as a homeless person in London, much less going to a party, we endeavor to take him shopping.

(NOTE: To be fair, we were going shopping, anyway. Emily and I told Jenny she was invited to the party if Mrs. Cullen said it was OK, and since Elizabeth was delighted at the thought, we are going to take Jenny shopping and let her pick out a hat for her dress. I love shopping with my girls!)

We hit the Fae Market, meeting with all of our now-familiar friends among the shops and stalls. How weird is it that being surrounded by trolls, elves, pooka, and the like feels more natural than a walk in Piccadilly? Oda, once again, just takes us at our word on what he should wear. Aldo realizes that, along with his new attire, Oda will require a new sword-belt for his blades. He and Sergei get to work on that after we return from our trip, triumphant. Sergei has the brilliant idea to hire Oda on as a ‘security consultant’ at the practice; Oda galled at the idea of loafing around for free, so we will help him with a spot of occasionally-blade-dependent employment.

Mar. 31st: We help Elizabeth prep for the party. Due to the growing list of people invited, it is being held in the National Museum, which is good; we know that place, the people there know and respect us, and if it burns down, Cyrus and Elizabeth still have a bed to sleep in.

April 1st: The day passes quickly into evening. Jenny is about to bounce out of her dress she is so excited! We get dressed up; the ladies are stunning (Emily, Zoe, and, as we see when we get there, Elizabeth), and the men dapper. Mary and Marcus will not be making it; the last I heard, they were tracking down a lead on a possible child slavery issue in town. It is probably for the best; Marcus would have NEVER decided what to wear, and Mary would have melted from the sheer dandy-ness of everyone at the party!

We hit the party, and are introduced all properly at the door. I am actually pretty excited myself; this is the first public party that Emily, Jenny, and I have gone to, and with her father in attendance as well!

Mr. Birch, the head of the museum, comes over to say hello. He has used Sergei and I to check security on occasion, and we like working with him. Mr. Braddock introduces us to his business partner, Mr. Finch. He is kind of a withdraw, quit kind of fellow. Sergei recognizes him as having a slight Slavic accent, the kind he has probably spent years trying to wean himself off. I imagine he is in worse shape than Mr. Braddock on the ‘new rich’ scale; at least Mr. Braddock is British. Sergei also catches Mr. Balin (of Her Majesty’s Shadow Men) in attendance. Faint, polite nods from across the room all around.

The party starts off wonderfully. Elizabeth is radiantly happy, and charming the socks off of everyone. If her mother-in-law could be any prouder, I cannot see how. They are schmoozing, hob-nobbing, and whatnot. Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Aldous Huxley all make the scene. This is truly shaping up to be the party of the year, and the donation pledge box for the orphanage is filling fast enough that we will probably have to empty it a bit before night’s end!

And then the band started playing, “Here Comes The Queen.” Or whatever that song is called.

Wow! Elizabeth’s party is so awesome that THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND is making an appearance! She strolls in (definitely the best dressed now!), Balin and other official functionaries get ready in case of bad things. Well, as ready as they can be when taking a knee.

Just like everyone else is.

Except me.


As much as I try to keep these entries about important events, here is a little nugget of information about me, for posterity’s sake.

I am a child of three nations. My mother was Apache, my father is Cherokee, and I fought for a portion of America (under protest, but still). Of those three, I identify most with my Apache heritage; I was raised with my mother for 12 years, before her passing, and then went to live with my father (who did his best to ‘civilize’ me). I loved my time with my mother and my family there; it was exciting, a bit scary (because we were always at war and on the move), and simple.

Apache do not kneel. And, though it would have made so many of my peers (including my betrothed) much more at ease, I refuse to dishonor my mother by doing so now, even for such a personage as Queen Victoria. I do bow my head, respectfully. But that is the limit I am capable of doing.

And, lo and behold, a 6’6" Indian standing alone in a field of kneeling-folk tended to stand out to Her Royal Majesty. And, not coincidentally, to everyone else in the room.

Well, Elizabeth thought that there was about to be a war right then and there. I could see the “BEST PARTY EVER” draining from her face. Emily was too stunned to speak; I think that she alone understood why I did what I did, but never thought it would be an issue, especially on so grand a stage. I think Sergei was thinking of hamstringing me, but decided to let it play out.

Now, I have seen many wonders in my young life. I have been blessed with an extraordinary life, and have met extraordinary people because of this. But, as the monarch of the most powerful nation on earth strolled over with her guards directly to me, I was preparing myself for several possible outcomes; fighting, incarceration, and maybe the most talked-about hostage situation in history. I was not ready for what happened:

The Queen acknowledged me and asked if I was James, son of Stand Watie of the Cherokee Nation. When I answered in the affirmative, she smiled, greeted me, and asked how my father was doing. She then took her leave of me and circled the room once, saying her hellos, before leaving.

In doing this, she left me keep my pride. She acknowledged me, in front of her people, as my father’s son. Sure, my Dad and I do not have the best relationship. But I love the old goat, and he is the chief of the Cherokee nation, as recognized by the United States. She recognized me as a visiting dignitary, and gave my breach of etiquette her approval. She made it public that she welcomes me to her nation in a way that people who are now called my ‘brothers’ (re: GM Montague) cannot do in the House. She accepted me, savage though I am, in front of the type of people who live off of scandal.

Suffice it to say, Queen Victoria is the classiest Lady I have ever met.


The party goes on, and it is SOOOO much fun to see people now unsure of what to do about Emily Braddock’s arm-candy.

King Bob (VoL) and his daughter Lady Grey sashay in and make rounds. He may be a blood-sucking uber-aristocrat, but he also has style, and that counts for a lot.

Zoe catches a shifty looking fellow making for the museum’s back area. This, being a no-no, gets us moving. Fast Eddie laSalle, who crashed the party earlier, seems quizzical on this as well. He stays back (not one to risk himself for what may turn into a fun experience), while we move to investigate.

Aldo uses his gizmo to keep the darkness from our eyes, and we sneak through the eerily quiet museum halls. Well, most of us sneak. Aldo and Oda sneak about as efficiently as a Cape Buffalo covered in tiny bells rolling down a mountainside.

We scout around, when a fellow moves into view from behind us. He tries to hit our guys with some crazy phrase in French, probably a code. And, after we insinuate to him that we are NOT the people he is looking for (and the LAST people he wants to see), he tries to run. Aldo misses a trip, but this lines him up for Sergei’s Sap-of-Doom. Lights go out for our new friend.

As he drops to the floor, a large beetle runs from his sleeve and scampers impossibly fast into a storage area. I grab Frenchie and we give chase. We get in there in time to see the beetle burrow into a nearby crate. And then starts the scuttling, which gets louder and louder.

The box explodes, and out comes about a million beetles. As they have big, sharp mandibles and make a beeline (beetleline?) for the door, we decide that they are NOT allowed to crash the party, and start stomping. The mandibles are not for show, they actually cut up a few of us before we can finish squishing. Some poor janitor is going to have a NIGHTMARE after this clean-up!

After we fight, I hear a bit of box-cracking in a nearby room. We tip-toe to the door, and, lo-and-behold, there is sneaky guy #1, carrying a gigantic urn. And, since we were all just dying to know what was in the urn, he obliged us by slipping and dropping it on the floor.

Contents: dinosaur bones. Well, the were just a few bones and a lot of dust. Which rapidly reformed into just bones. Then a full-sized, animated dinosaur.

(NOTE: Elizabeth, ever the educator, told us later that it is what is known as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or “Giant Lizard with Swords for Teeth”)

As mister Fumble-fingers tried to run, Aldo sped up himself and Oda, and moved to intercept the fleeing thief. It was a good call; I had mentioned earlier that firearms were an emergency-only issue, and this, and I cannot believe that my life is so awesome so as to say this, was not yet an emergency. He immediately altered strategies into a support role, slipping on some brass knuckles and doing what was needed.

I would like to say that what happened next was a protracted fight worthy of epic ballads, but, honestly, this lizard was outclassed. The fleeing thief cast a globe of darkness on the dinosaur, which Aldo’s magic countered for us but not the beast. Make no bones about it, he was big and scary. But, after what we have been through, the Ladies did not even ruffle their dresses. Heck, Zoe just hung back and threw magic at it to keep it rattled. Trust a lady from Paris to only risk a fancy dress if she ABSOLUTELY has to! Elizabeth spent a few rounds punching and kicking it until she found one little bone in it’s spine. She poked it, and the whole thing came crumbling down.

But, as it did not turn to dust, the museum now has, instead of a urn of dust and unidentified bone fragments, a full dinosaur skeleton! HOORAY, COMBAT PALEONTOLOGY!

(Note: Seriously, Zoe and Elizabeth we not IN ANY WAY frumpled. If it is not some form of magic, then it should be!)

The now-not-fleeing Frenchie is no zealot, a bit of angry over-acting and subtle persuasion from my colleagues has him spill. A man named “Monsignor Garnier” hired the two of them; him to get the vase and his unconscious friend to take a small box (containing the beetle) to the box full of bugs. It seems like us that it is a diversion, so Elizabeth, Sergei, and Zoe head back to case out the party and send Mr. Balin back here to deal with these two.

Zoe tells us later that she recognized a French vampire named Leopold at the party, looking nervous as hell. Probably waiting for his distraction to come crashing in. He is a mamber of one of the more naughty vampire groups in Paris, and definitely not on the guest list. When he sees Zoe stalking his way, he and his crew make haste for the door and leave. Zoe, being a genius, immediately concludes that to give chase would frumple her dress, and instead says hello to King Bob, telling him and his kid the situation. He is not amused, and sends Lady Grey out to… ahem… ?speak? to Leopold?

Mr. Balin makes his way to us, with guards. We fill him in, and he thanks us for the assist. Man, I hope we can stay friends. The more friends we have, the sooner we can go hunt Marcus’s demon, and Vikki’s devil, and every Teutonic on Earth, and everyone on our list.

But, to close this entry, let me say that Mrs. Elizabeth Cullen was the belle of the ball, and her entry into polite society was assured. Well done, m’amn!

From the Journal of James Watie: Mar 15-16, 1867
I head back home for a bit...

Mar. 15, 1867: We get back home very early in the morning. All of our casters immediately head to sleep (they are wiped out). We wake up around noon and eat a bit. Huxley comes over and we talk a bit of shop; the VoL is going to clean up his place a bit, and will set up formal and informal communications with our House as soon as he gets things back where he needs them.

We head over to check out the office. No real leads on fun new clients, according to Patti. Probably some standard ‘downtime’ cases; missing persons, unfaithful spouses, ghost sightings. We can get back to most of that later, I suppose. We have an idea on current events, though, and head to the other House to work it out.

Speaking to Ling, we mention that we would like a meeting with Her Majesty’s Shadow Men; the organization that keeps her country’s interests safe from our kind of threats. Our fear is that our adversaries will continue their modus operendi, doing some grand gesture that cannot be ignored and pits the Shadow Men against another London-based occult group. Ling knows a guy, one Benjamin Balin.

This guy works in the actual Tower of London! Being the very souls of subtlety, we stroll on over for a chat. And, surprise, surprise; they let us in to see him.

Nice, plain office. Very business-like. Benny is personable enough, for a British administrator. We explain our position, and, without going into too much detail, give him a rundown of current events. He is troubled, wondering if this is being orchestrated by “The Enlightened,” a group of power-seeking rich guys. He lists Wilhelm Franz, the Archduke of Austria, as the head of the Teutonic Order and a member of this group.

Welcome to “The List,” Mr. Franz!

We warn Benny about the various ways our enemies have attacked, and that he should be very careful of assassination attempts, especially with the current political situation. He thanks us for the cautionary tale, and seem generally appreciative. I hope he is; we all live here, and would prefer this city to be as free from evil as possible. Well, aside from standard, human evil; that seems to be perfectly okay.

We head back home and chat a bit. We snag a late dinner, and get Emily and Jenny suited up for their patrols. At around 11PM, there is a knock at the door. I would say that is strange, but I really do not know if I understand the meaning of that word anymore.

A tall, blond, and almost impossibly pretty white guy walks in. Coat and cane go into the cloak room, and he is led in to meet us. Sergei excuses himself to go check out his gear (later informs us that the cane is VERY powerful, and masked from detection while on his person).

The stranger introduces himself as Benedict Halvard. He claims to be an old friend of Samantha Thayer, and that he desperately needs to talk to her. We get Bia (who is working out in the practice room) to come in and take a glance at him, but she comes up blank as well. We mention to him that we might be able to get in touch with her, and that we will meet him tomorrow morning at his hotel’s restaurant to talk it over.

Mar. 16th: We sleep a bit, then head over to breakfast. Victoria meets us there, ready for action; well, as ready for action as any of us can be with perpetually wrecked sleeping patterns! Sergei preps up detection magic and we head in to chat. Benny throws down some magic (Sergei isolates it as ancient Enochian angel magic) that muffles all sound where we are, and we get to chatting.

Benny (outing himself as something of an angel) has come into possession of a magical artifact that is both powerful and immensely evil. This is a major corruptive artifact, and only the countering effect of his cane (re: flaming sword) has let him stave it off so far. He knows Sammy from way, WAY back, and wants to drop it off with her for possible destruction.

(OF NOTE: Interesting. An angel also wanting to use Sammy for a similar purpose as Sammy’s ‘siblings.’ This must mean that, within our kind of circles, she is well-known as incorruptible from such forces. How do I get me some of THAT ability?)

We inform him that we do have some contact with her, and that we will try to do what we can. He is thankful, but desperate; even an angel’s indomitable willpower seems to be fraying a bit.

Well, my first thought is that we hit Victoria over the head until she starts speaking like Sammy. But I do not voice this, because: A. I do not know if that would work, and B. I do not want to risk getting beat up by a petite girl. So, instead, we decide to go check out Sammy’s old blown-up residence. We find the same book that teleported us last time; it no longer does, but we find through trial and error that any message stuck in its pages disappears. A few minutes later, a note pops into the book for us to meet up in a bit at “Cleopatra’s Needle,” the Egyptian obelisk in London.

We head to the CH and grab Aldo and Victoria (those two seem awfully chummy as of late…). More firepower is good, and those two specialize in firepower. We head to the Needle, and a precocious street urchin brings us a note to meet in a nearby Pub. We are ushered over to a side booth, and there is Sammy, in disguise. She does not want to be in the open like this, being hunted and all, but she has some concerns on this one.

Benedict is, in actuality, Barachiel, otherwise known as “God’s Lightning.” Sammy portrays him as a warrior, a bit of a naive goofball, but very powerful. If this item is corruptive to him, it must be bad news. But she does not want the item with her, as she has a lot on her plate at the moment and, as we all chat about it, it starts to feel more-and-more like a trap. I go so far as to wonder if the item has some form of magical trace on it specifically to find Sammy. She okays us to take it to Gerty in San Fran; if it is a trap, that CH can handle it (or no one can).

We head back to meet Benny, and give him the old good news/bad news; Sammy cannot help, but we can get him to Gerty. With a little prodding, we get the truth, he did just kind of ‘luck’ into this item.

We have set enough traps in the last year or so to know one when we see it.

We head back to the CH, then to Librarian Bungalow. Veronica is awake, and is who we wanted to chat with, anyway. We inform her of our plan, and she is on board (anything for Sammy, as usual for her and her sisters). She gets out a doily, mumbles some incantations, and BAM! Into The Library we go!…

…and out comes Zoe’s lunch, breakfast… heck, maybe her shoes. I forget that everyone has not done this; I have teleported more in the last year than I have ridden a horse.

(NOTE: I should get Emily, Jenny, and Prof. Poole and go out to visit Willy. He has lots of horses, and it would do them all good. Emily needs to remember how to ride, Jenny needs to learn, and I bet the Prof would LOVE it!)

We are met by Leo the centaur-esque lion guy. Big hugs all around; Leo is all about hugs. Veronica gives us a spare doily in case the one we have burns up on exit, and is going to stay back to guard the exit. Leo can also track back to her pretty quickly, so she is a good anchor all around.

We head on through. It is a quiet ‘day’ in The Library; no spider or scorpion demons, no necromantic trees, nothing. It kind of makes me sad, but is probably for the best; Benny is nearing the end of his tolerance for this evil artifact.

Welcome to sunny San Francisco! We pop out to a cascade of rifles being cocked. Waiting as appropriate, we are met by “Annette” (ex-Gerty). She introduces us to some of the new folks, including to young kids (Quet and Tzal both decided to memory wipe and start over; the culture and time shock was a bit too much) then we get to business. Explanations abound, and she agrees on the trap idea. She hands the item (a pretty cool-loking draconic ring) to “Paulo” (Feyd), and he heads back to start checking it out. Benny IMMEDIATELY perks up; he is, indeed, a lovable goof. Paulo comes back with a 100% identification on it being: A. ancient, B. Evil and corruptive, and C. a VERY well-masked trace spell.

The San Fran House takes over from here, being glad to assist us by setting a trap for our common foe. Benny decides to stay with them; he has been played for a fool, and, depending on what the enemy brings with them, a warrior-angel has to be a good thing to have around. They will expect the extremely powerful mage, Sammy Thayer and her magical minions; they will get an OCEAN of high-speed lead, followed by roughly all of the blades in the world.

Wish I could be there! But, alas, my stay on the home continent is short. We head back home through The Library (after the doily-portal opened, we hand off the spare to Gerty, just in case) with no incident. Chat a bit with Leo, then pop back to London and head home.

Upon reaching the CH, the Prof mentions that he did a bit of research on the item. It is an ancient Nordic Dragon Ring. Nordic Dragons are a bad sign; always destructive and evil. It is good that such an item is being taken out of circulation, and even better if Paulo and Gerty can get any more info about them.

From the Journal of James Watie: March 12th-14th, 1967
We Tour Scenic Chudley.

March 12th, 1867: Another relaxing breakfast at Munster House. Bacon, eggs, toast, gun oil… all the smells of home. Jane and Fritz pop in for a visit (they are recently back from pirate-style adventures in the Americas), as well as Georgia, who was probably wondering what in the hell happened to Zoe. As we were already planning on shopping today, we invite all involved on a trip to the Fae Market. Emily and Jane enjoy dress shopping, but more remarkable still is how well a lovely dress suits the normally super-tough Georgia.

Just because your life has been horrible does not mean you do not deserve to be pretty, my Sister! We ALL deserve to be pretty from time-to-time!

No sooner do we get home than Jane gets a message from King Bob. Nice to know he is stalking her; why else would she get a message at our House? We also get a visit from Mr. Ling, who wanted to let us know that he had a fellow pawn an emblem that was remarkably similar to the one the Exploding Demon Altar Cultists were so fond of earlier. I wonder where this person came into possession of the symbol? I hope that cult is out-of-town now; people who explode are just bad for property values in every way!

As King Bob is currently slumming it with his daughter, we head on over to Lady Gray’s Vampire Boobie Emporium. King Bob strolls into the meeting parlor with her. He looks non-plussed, as usual. She looks… less so. He and Jane banter a bit back and forth, with her keeping pace rather well for a steak confronted by a bear. He makes her the offer to take her in under his wing, should the CH organization prove not her thing. Awful nice of him, but she is rather fond of her current Family at the moment. We all have a nice, amazingly uncomfortable chat, then we head out.

(NOTE: King Bob said he would eat my shoe if I could convince Bannerman to let Jane read the other House’s copy of the Vampire Nocturne. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.)

On the way out, Lady Grey stops us for an personal chat. As much as it pains her, she has a problem that she needs help with and, far be it for her to believe that the CH would help her, a blood-sucking monster-of-ill-repute, she instead wishes to hire out Pedorin and Watie Investigations for the job. As we have fewer qualms about such things, we hear her out.

For a while now, every major celestial event is accompanied with one of her ladies being kidnapped and never seen again. This has been going on for a while and, even past the financial repercussions, she obviously seems to care for these girls. We quiz her a bit, and she tends to take care of specifically those girls that society forgot; victims given a second chance at life. So far, none of the girls thus captured were vampires. In fact, all seven disappearances were just regular servants. As we ask about them, we also find that all seven had abortions at some point prior to their abductions.

Well, it definitely is a vendetta against her house, and these girls do not deserve whatever fate is befalling them. I agree to take the case, with standard payment options. Lady Grey agrees. This makes me VERY HAPPY (I will go into that a bit later). We ask her if she has any girls who can take care of themselves in a scrap, because, due to the short timing of this, we have no time to insert our own plant for this. Lady Grey reluctantly offers to send Anna, her favorite servant, out on that evening as bait. As much as we hate baiting such a trap with an innocent, it is the only way to forestall this quickly.

Mar. 13th: We spend the day roaming a bit, going out in small groups and mapping the route Anna will likely take, as well as alleyways and probably rooftop features. Emily goes with, as she is going to go with on the mission; we may need a tracker, and my Lady has very pronounced advantages in that arena!

Mar. 13th (night) – 14th: We set up our surveillance, sending our sneakiest people to follow Anna while we have static folks hidden on the main street she will be traveling. We chose well, as the adversaries took the bait. But HOW they took the bait…

Several casters from a nearby rooftop open two portals, which begin to disgorge some form of zombie into the street around Anna. They follow this with a Darkness spell, with Victoria immediately counters with a Light of her own. Fritz obliterates the casters with some kind of lightning orb (I wish I could see THAT news headline: “EVENING CHIMNEY SWEEPS KILLED BY THOR!”) while Aldo guns one down and Georgia eviscerates another. The remaining ones, obviously possessed of intelligence, grab Anna and, as we feared, jumped into the rapidly destabilizing portals.


We all charge through the portals (Aldo nearly losing a leg as it snaps shut just as he gets clear), and proceed to do what we do best: make soup. Some form of wraith is in the room, but we manage to take it out. On of the zombies attempts to run for the door (seemingly to get reinforcements, but is smashed FLAT by one of two crimson-stone golems by the room’s single exit.

After clearing the necromantic trash, we were faced with a dilemma: we were now stuck in a room with two VERY tough-looking golems. This was made even more surreal in a few moments, when one golem woke up, slowly paced over to us, and began ‘eyeballing’ each girl. It ignored Jane and gently picked up Anna. When Anna slapped the crap outta it, it gently put her down and returned to its post. A few seconds later, it tried this again. And again. And again.

These were the most polite constructs I have ever seen!

After a bit of trial and error, we deduced that Rocky and Stoner somehow could detect… hrmmm… how to put this delicately… whether or not a lady has previously made sexy time with a man. No spoilers as to what we learned here, but this gave us the information we needed to gain an advantage. Emily jumped into one of the golem’s cradling arms, knowing that, if things got scary, she had several options as to how to make things interesting. Rocky walked with her down the hallway, allowing us to follow. Stoner, being also placated, just stood his post.

As we moved down a few underground hallways, the sound of chanting began to carry towards us. Cultists. This made me FAR happier, as I rarely feel any compassion towards hurrying a cultist to meet whatever critter they chant over. One came around the corner (probably to see what the holdup was), so I sped him towards the next life, post haste. Emily shape-shifted into a large cat, causing Rocky to drop her and head back to his room. And, with that, we peeked around the corner to see the main event.

Cultists, yes. Several of them in fine culty-clothes (with slightly Catholic-looking iconography). All chanting around an altar, suitably blood-stained. And what, pray tell, were they chanting towards?

A dragon. A real, living, dragon. A large, scaly, and aggravated-looking dragon, chained behind the altar.

You know, looking back at it, the dragon impresses me more now than it did then. At that moment, though, all I could see was that gore-soaked altar. All of the girls whose last, terrified sight were these men and that altar, knowing full well that their screams were for nothing. ladies who, whatever their past crimes, did not deserve to die in such horror.

So, being the rational man that I am, I rounded the corner and started to make human wall-art.

This fight was far tougher than most; each of these men was a trained combatant, and many were casters. Many of us, myself included, almost fell. The dragon helped a bit, snapping and breathing fire at anyone who came near (which we took pains not to do). They fought together well, but we finally managed to down a few of them, and from there on out it was cleanup time.

The dragon is young, and was just being used as a part of this dragon-worshiping cult. Each of these men had a ring denoting a dragon with a circle in its mouth, and the leader had a similar tattoo. They had been feeding these ‘unclean’ girls to the dragon for some reason (we will need to research this), and the dragon, being a child, was just happy for the free food and attention. We examine the compound, finding another of Grey’s girls, plus a girl that one of Grey’s brothers uses to feed from (willingly, to be noted). After talking to the dragon (we promise he can eat some of these guys), we pack up and get ready to head out.

I get everyone to head out before me so I can clean up. No need for them to see me pick a couple of guys to feed to said dragon (we did promise him). He gets sleepy after din-din (how adorable), and drowses off. And I leave a message to those who investigate after us.

These types of people will learn to fear the repercussions of these actions. Or, barring that, to respect the time and energy it takes for me to make these scenes different each time I do it.

We pop up from what we surmise is an old Roman bath house, covered and hidden. There is a manor house nearby, and we figure out we are just outside of Denberry. We catch a friendly buggy to the nearest train station in Chudley, wait a few hours for the mail train to Bristol, then catch a train home.

Lady Grey is thrilled to have her girls home, and leverage over her brother. She is NOT thrilled that now she owes us one.

From the Journal of James Watie: March 10th-11th, 1967
If I Would Have Known It Was Going To Be THAT Kind of Party...

Mar. 10, 1867: We arrive in Paris. Aldo and Victoria make their goodbyes, as they have a crate-load of ape-related, military-grade research material to transport. The Cullens are in town and take their place, being rapidly caught up on the events of the previous days.

Watching Cyrus’s eyes light up at the idea of forbidden magi-science is only surpassed by watching Elizabeth practically turn into a lightning bolt at the idea of a biological component to the mechanical-hybrid primate. But, as they both wanted to see the Paris CH, they wave goodbye to the ape remains and stick to us.

We hit the Paris CH. Zoe and Georgia head out to get work done (always good to see them). We chat with various members of the House on what happened in Madrid, and learn that the Paris House was hit as well. Due to their being prepared, the attack was turned away with no real casualties. But the method of attack was interesting; the attackers were made up to look like members of various Paris vampire groups. If the warning had not gone out, the attack may have caused an outright war between the Paris House and the vampires in Paris.

After chatting a bit, Xavier (the CM) confirms all of this as he rushes out for a meeting with the head of one of the main vampire houses in Paris. He had warned them as well, and now both sides enjoy a common enemy for the first time in a LOOOOOONG time.

Welcome to Paris, where it is now Teutonic Hunting Season all year round!

As much as we would like to stay and help them root out these vermin, we have our own giant city to protect. The Paris Weaponmaster, Natalie, has a favor that may help us as well. She has a friend (also a friend of Zoe) named Mary. Mary needs to meet the Vampire of London, specifically to obtain permission to move about his city, but also to warn him of this all-out assault on the various supernatural organization in Eurasia. It is Natalie’s hope that doing this will garner support from the VoL, show the CH as honorable neighbors, and prevent anything like what almost happened in Paris from happening in London.

Mary is oldish-looking; black cloak, cane, and rather spartan attire. She is also cranky like few people I have ever met; she initially wants nothing to do with “a bunch of dandies” (probably talking about Marcus’s new fetish for snappy clothing) and insist she needs no help.

She is ornery, cantankerous, and a bit mean. She is also passionate, hates demons, and not afraid to speak her mind. Marcus and I take an immediate liking to her. Sergei… not so much. He seems a bit agitated the moment he sees her. When we finally figure out that she is a vampire, that makes a bit more sense.

When Marcus asks her if she is a Child of Lilith and she answer vehemently in the negative, she gains points with the Cullens, Marcus, and I. When Marcus mentions giddily that his life specialty is killing demons, we go up in her estimation. She agrees (grudgingly) to travel with us to jolly ole London.

We decide to head out that night, with Cyrus going to secure tickets. Those Cullens… smart, moderately fearless, imminently useful in a jam, and with enough money coupled with curiosity to grease the wheels. What great people I have befriended!

Although Cyrus does decide not to buy Marcus a train. Marcus gets over it.

Mar 11th: We ride on the train. Sergei and Marcus patrol the cars, just in case, and find a fellow in the dining car that looks to have been fed on (non-lethally) by a vampire. No identifiers on the man, and still has his money. Worrisome. We chat a good bit (Mary is a light of happiness in this dark, dreary world!), and then, right before dawn, we get Mary into her comfy-as-possible travel crate.

As we do, I have a quick chat with Mary on emergency exit procedures, group dynamics, and what we deal with as a group. This insight seems to put her at ease a bit. I guess; with her it is hard to tell. Whatever her story is, I bet it is FASCINATING, and probably very sad.

We hit the lovely city of Calais. We take stock of the place as we wait for our ferry, and note three men wheeling six caskets from the same train we are exiting. What an amazing coincidence! Cyrus and Sergei find the shipping label on the caskets, and we telegraph Huxley to let him know there are probable vampires entering London sans permission from the VoL. Better safe than sorry!

We ferry across to England, and are met by Huxley at the dock. We get Mary-in-a-box to Huxley’s office, then Marcus and I go with her to help her get something to eat before her big meeting. That goes better than I expected, all things considered. It is strange seeing a predator in a little old lady’s body. But a gal has to eat, and she is preying on people no less than we see every day. Just a bit more literally.

We head to the VoL’s estate with Huxley. It is in a very nice part of town, but not ostentatious on the outside. The interior, on the other hand, is just under French-level extravagant. Very British, very ‘an important man lives here.’ Everywhere we look we find vampires and human ‘attendants’ in various stage of undress and physical exertion.

Mary is disgusted. Sergei is an inch from rioting. The Cullens walk through like it is a walk in the park. Marcus is exited to be seeing something new. So far, this has been a great evening!

We head into the VoL’s meeting room. It has, and I kid you not, a centrally-located big-ass chair, aka a throne. He is perched on it, lounging, with his brood carrying on rather lasciviously around him. Perfect atmosphere of casual power; the fellow is a pro, I will give him that. Mary starts her conversation and, he, sensing the unease that some of our group feels, offers to take this to a private meeting room. What a classy guy!

Mary chats him up a bit, making her introductions and receiving permission to be in his city. She goes over the happenings in Paris in some detail, and makes sure he understands that, while not a CH member herself, she represents them in this meeting as a concerned independent (NOTE: if ‘Independent’ were Mary’s middle name, I would be surprised not-in-the-least!). He begins his spiel about neutrality and keeping out of such affairs and whatnot when, as usual, all hell breaks loose.

One of his brood come in with her head nearly severed to alert us to uninvited guests. Sergei gets moving quickly, but not quickly enough; the room is flooded with white-robed, silver masked assailants. Marcus greets the first man in with a beheading; the second guy in runs over and stabs Elizabeth (which is just really, really rude. She is a LADY, man!) The room fills up, with all newcomers missing their targets; but then the last attacker comes into play. He heads to a far corner and drops a ball of burning radiance into the center of the room. Not fire, which is scary enough. No, this is searing sunlight, and it does a number on everyone in the room. I shrug off the blast, but no one else is so lucky; it ignores our attackers, and scorches everyone else. That plus attacks from the mooks almost kills Sergei (a bit of bad luck on where he was standing did not help him at all). Cyrus, knowing which side of the bread is buttered, heals up his wife, Lady MurderDress.

Our turn, assholes.

Mary shows a propensity for mind-altering magics right at the start. She addles the minds of most of the attackers, letting Marcus, Elizabeth, and I do what we do best; make soup. The VoL and Huxley prove remarkably ineffective, but, to be fair, both had taken big hits in the initial blast. We clear our room (making sure our host is safe), then move on to the throne room.

More chaos. Casters, sword-wielders, and hellhounds abound. Well, for about 30 seconds; we get to cleaning house. More confusion sown by Mary gets us openings for attacks, and we capitalize on this. As always, we prioritize saving the… uh… ‘innocents?’, and are largely successful. An enemy flanking maneuver to come around on the VoL and Huxley’s position is turned back by Mary making a VERY scary face at them, turning them right back into the fray, anchored by, and I am not kidding, a 10’ tall, sword-wielding giant summoned by Cyrus. ‘Reginald,’ as we call him, seems to have the sword skills of a teacake, but he is resilient. Marcus beheads, Elizabeth caves in skulls, and I disembowel.

Huxley comes tearing around the corner a bit more than worried. Some kind of creature has been released in the rear of the house. This ‘fire elemental,’ as he calls it, is a 12’ tall, semi-sentient column of flame. And it is busy licking the walls, setting them a-blaze. The VoL orders a retreat of his people, and Huxley does the same with us. But, being that he is not 100% caught up on what we bring to the table (and our general lack of anything resembling common sense), we decide that killing this elemental before it gets done here and rampages through the neighborhood is worth the risk.

Well… what risk? Mary confuses it, Sergei (who has spent this whole donnybrook bleeding in various corners) serves it up a helping of ice lances, and Marcus finishes it with a stab to the… uh, gut? Who knows, but it works; it winks from existence. Hooray, we win! Oh, and decide to flee the now merrily-out-of-control house fire.

From there, we help the VoL (real name is Earl Robert deVeer) organize his evacuation to his favored daughter’s abode (Lady Jane Grey). She is glad they are alive, but less-than-thrilled at the sudden intrusion. Vampires take hospitality VERY seriously! He holds court, such as it is, and offers Mary a personal boon (read as, “That’s MY boon!”) for her bringing us to his door at that perfect moment, as well as her assisting him personally in the fight.

He offers to ally with the London CHs, because whomever attempted to do this had false CH cards and enough firepower to have killed him and every one of his brood present that night. He owes her, and us, his life, and that has to bother him; his hospitality was overwhelmed by selfless heroism from people who, before that evening, he was probably sure would have preferred him dead. Sergei probably still does, but that is beside the point.

For all the failure the Teutonics have met with, I fear for their successes closer to Austria. We have Western Europe pretty well intact (even Madrid’s losses were minimal, personnel-wise), but we have heard nothing from the other cities. I hope Tyson can find out more there, because I fear we have our hands full here.

(Footnote: Mary is going to stay a bit in London, or at least set up a home there. Patty has another bungalow near ours she is going to rent her VERY cheaply, and we are going to help her move in. She is now our favorite neighbor, and would request that Marcus stay off of her lawn as much as possible)

From the Journal of James Watie: March 4th-9th, 1867
Vicki Can Talk! Well, Telegraph, Mostly...

Mar. 4th, 1867: We wake up a bit early and begin our planning session for our trip to Madrid. Double-fake setup, false trail of mail for our trip, and sending out some early in disguise to prep for the secondary team. REALLY well done! The plan is to wait a few days before setting out to see if anything bites.

March 5th-8th: Nothing bit. Montague loans us Vaughn and Sixsmith for the bait and chats with Poole the day before, so we all set out. We do find that some guy (or family) named Atawolf was who was intercepting our correspondence, so he is on the list. Even though we were not jumped, it was a GREAT plan, and we pulled it off well. We rode through to Toulouse, then swapped trains to Madrid.

Mar 9th: So, we are eating breakfast, preparing ourselves for the day, when Victoria’s eyes roll back in her head and, in a nice, soothing, eerie-as-hell alto she remarks:

“Magne mater leonibus sunt qui imprimatur per driven niger. Ursus in viniculis.”

…and then continues to nibble on a croissant.

I seriously had so many funny things I wanted to say right then, but, as Victoria obviously had NO IDEA what she had just done, I did not want to seem rude. Two years of etiquette lessons paid off, Dad!

she took the news in stride, but was a bit upset that she had spoken but did not get to hear it. Our ancient language people translate this as:

“The Great Mother’s Lions are under attack by the Black Cross. The Bear is in chains.”

Now, I have read my share of fairy tales and epics, and that is the most succinct prophesy I have ever heard. The Lions? Easy, Spain has always been associated with leonine heraldry. Black Cross? Teutonics, because they are just made of butts. The Bear? The Chapter Master of the Madrid House is Garcia, which translates to “the Bear.”

Whomever used Victoria as a magical mail service just wanted us to know, in VERY specific terms, that we are heading to battle (or, as we worry, the leftovers of one).

We arrive just after lunch, and book into a hotel (in case we are being watched). We carriage up, and pass by the Madrid CH building. It looks fine to us, but Sergei activates his Magic Eyeballs gift and says that it is an illusion; the House is a gutted, burned husk. We investigate. Hernando de Silva, the guardian to the Loyola twins, is upstairs, burned to death. As I am the nearest thing to a medium, we rustle up his spirit to chat.

They had just enough warning of the attack to usher the Loyalas and support members out of the House. The warriors stayed to fight, but were totally unprepared. De Silva and his men made a last stand above on the stairs, but were attacked by…

…and we get attacked. Sergei gets the barest sense of “Hey, Dummies! AMBUSH!” before we are set upon. He dark-blots out the door they are rushing from, only for us to get hit from the opposite door as well. The cover is needed though, as these are no mere mercenaries; swords, guns, the works. And, after a few frenzied seconds of introductory bloodshed (I removed the head from the initial attacker, Victoria whipped out a gun and introduced two assailants to the wonderful world of ballistics, and Marcus danced the afternoon away through the gutted corpses of four), something curious happened.

NOTE: I should have been surprised; all of us should. What we saw charging around the corner should have sent our minds reeling into lunacy. But, to our credit, it did not. This means we are either steely-eyed veterans of the weird, or crazier than a Texan trapped in Japan.

A larger-than-usual ape of some description rounded the corner. Okay, I have fought crocodiles, animated plants, and werewolves; no problem. Only this ape had some additional accouterments; mainly a armored skullcap bolted to its head, a rotary gun on his left arm, and a large, metallic fist on his right. He sprayed the group of us, winging Aldo, then charged into melee…

…and, sensing my new best friend, I met him in the hall. We started trading blows, but many or my normal favorite spots to chop into things were either armored (the head) or just tough to pierce. He was having nowhere NEAR the luck he wished fighting me, so he grabbed the banister to the stairs and attempted to bully Sergei (who was upstairs offering ranged support). As I found this exceptionally rude, I removed the supports to the banister and brought this silly creature back in tune with who his target is.

As we traded blows, the combat was joined by a caster. Offensive spells are not appreciated, and he showed a bit of knowledge on at least what he faced (if not exactly who); he maneuvered around the way to shoot fireballs at a now-time-twisting Aldo, who shrugged off his attacks with difficulty. As Aldo was trying to control the warrior surge in the room with Victoria, he was a bit busy. Luckily, Marcus had just dispatched his last melee assignment, and was in need of a new dance partner.

Marcus loves to dance in the firelight. This caster… not so much. He retreated to the back ranks, but was brought down by a shot from Victoria. Sergei did a backflip off the ape’s head (it was AMAZING to see, dashed outside to see if there were more attackers, and was nearly shot by snipers from across the street.

By the way, there were more attackers.

Victoria and Sergei finished off the attackers, Aldo and I finally drop the ape, and the assailants outside ran for it. a tough fight, and a Pyrrhic victory. Aldo goes about removing the technology from the ape, and Marcus and I begin interrogating the caster. A zealot, though-and-through, and we have no time to take this questioning slowly, so I send him to his Maker. De Silva mentions that the ape had a different hand last time (that shot a cone of flame), or there is another one out there with it. We remove the apes weapons a bit higher up so Aldo and Co. can investigate the attachments, and I take the creature’s head.

And then new people flood through the door. I have seen thoroughfares with less traffic than this place!

Well, at least the newcomers are a welcome sight. In strides Mattias Tyson and a small crew of bashers. The timing is great, but understandable; other Houses have been hit within days of this, and he feared for Madrid. Paris was hit by a large force, but as they were forewarned they repelled it with no casualties.

Tyson has recovered the Loyolas and Madrid CH’s support staff, and, like us, mourns for our fallen warriors. Marcus and Sergei take the bodies of our fallen Brothers to what is left of their CH room, with the exception of de Silva, who would rather stay with us. I take a finger (sporting a blackened ring) and add it to my Bundle. That should keep him linked to us.

On the way out, I ask for folks to give me a few minutes to reframe the scene for any who may check in after us. Without going into detail, I leave a message to the Teutonics, written in the remains of their men. As words will not sway them, I will write these messages in horror. That language is nigh universal.

Tyson leads us to the safehouse, which happens to be the Imperial Palace. So, we got to go to the Imperial Palace… this is almost as surreal as a mechanical ape to me. I am glad that Victoria did not have the time to fully conceptualize that she was in the same building as the Queen of Spain, dressed like a street hood, covered in sweat and death. She might have died of embarrassment!

Tyson brings us in on the hasty plan to rescue the men captured in the raid on the Madrid House. He was going to raid using conventional military forces (the Queen owes him favors, which he is cashing in in toto. Also, A FREAKING QUEEN OWES HIM!) and his group as a strike force, but Sergei’s new teleporting trick, combined with Tyson’s inside man already in the keep, gives our group the best chance at freeing prisoners. We figure that, should they be attacked with overwhelming force, the Teutonics will start killing prisoners. Tyson was willing to risk that with his one inside man to free what he can as the best of bad options.

The Magical Ruskie gives us a shot at a big win.

As we are rather wiped out from the fight, Tyson calls on his TYSONPOWER to, for lack of a better term, transfer destiny straight into us.

I would be surprised, but that seems about normal for his kind of thing. Besides, since he is going to be out front looking all scary and whatnot, he probably will not need it as much as we will inside!

We sneak around to the wall, and Sergei teleports us in. This knocks him straight the hell out, but Tyson’s inside man reveals himself as a canine-shapeshifted Jacob Mercer. He re-humans up, and uses a bit of magic to wake up Sergei. Sergei, still having one teleport to go later, is going to have a headache that the bards will sing about (albeit quietly around him) tomorrow!

As Aldo, Sergei, Mercer, and Victoria set up a strong fire-point and scout the nearby cells, Marcus and I get to hunting. A couple of startled-then-no-longer-in-any-shape-to-care guards later, and the cellblock is clear. Sergei and Aldo pop the locks on the cells and we arm the former prisoners (who have all been roughed up and starved for a couple of days).

In the last cell, we find Master Garcia. He is suspended by his own body weight from chains (as they are glowing, we assume magic at work). Sergei prepares to break (or remove, if need be) his hands, while Marcus and I decide, in the sake of leaving Garcia able to applaud our audacious jailbreak in an hour or so, to just cut the wall around the chains using Marcus’s death-to-inorganics gem in his sword. Garcia is lucid but exhausted, and, most importantly, seems unbroken.

NOTE: What power or powers does Garcia command requiring such shackles? A caster, more than likely, but still. The manacles were not there to torture, but to secure him. Interesting…

Well, the alarm goes up (probably from Tyson ordering cannons to be shot into the walls). We all huddle up, put hands on the Amazing Disappearing Russian, and pop out of the jail. Sergei passes out so hard he nearly knocks us out by proxy, but Mercer wakes him up again, more or less (closer to less at this point). As we round the fortress to reach Tyson, the head Teutonic of the fort comes out, and is immediately possessed by some sort of demon. Tyson jumps into the fray, blade flashing, and we support as we can. Outnumbered a regiment-to-one, we dispatch the demon, and Tyson, who used the excuse “they are evil occultists using dark, heretical magic” is vindicated. Heck, the Queen might owe him MORE favors after this!

We head back to base and clean up. Tyson tells us that the voice that warned us was likely Samantha Thayer. She has a tie to the Loyolas, and a vested interest in the Madrid House. Evidently Victoria has some sort of tie to Thayer as well, which Tyson urge we ask her about the next time we see her. We swap info with Tyson, letting him know of Aldo and Sergei’s new magical repertoire and our investigations into the infiltration and sabotage in the northern Houses.

He affirms our fears that Rome is likely compromised and that our plan to form a coalition of the Houses local to us is a good idea, just in case. He warns us that more of this is to be expected, and that he and his are going to do broad-based investigations as best they can. For now, he urges us to return home and fortify for war, because that is what these actions by our foes have caused.

I was born of war, for war. I hoped to leave that behind me, but the enemies I slaughter this time bring my soul rest and my spirit fire. We will burn them to ashes, then use those ashes to flavor our tea.

We British like our tea.

From the Journal of James Watie: March 1st, 1867
The Winter Passed Uneventfully

Nov. 1866 – Feb. 1867: As we were all but snowed in for these months, I have little to report. We closed a few cases (mostly missing persons), and Emily and I started formally courting. As much as the formality of this may chafe, I do not mind going to the operas and fancy dinners. Culture has it’s uses, I suppose!

March 1, 1867: Our nightly dinner is interrupted by our friend Tom from Scotland Yard. He looks as if he has been in a fight that he may have won. He goes on to say that there was a tremendous fire at a local brownstone, which is not that strange. But, as the fire was green in coloration and reluctant to die off, this piqued his interest. When he rattles off the name of the resident, my blood chills a bit.

Samantha Thayer: the last know holder of The Song Thief.

Dinner is over! Emily and Jenny go to get ready for a patrol with the other House folks, and we kit out for work. Tom is right; the house is a mess. We start our investigations, ready for the inevitable traps someone like Samantha would leave. Her desk is mostly intact, especially the secret compartment we find. Inside is a journal and… hrm. How to explain? How about a sentient green cloud of unknown origin? It envelops each of us in turn, and decides we are good enough to be here.

As we investigate further, we find a functional portal to… somewhere. Cyrus, being a true paragon of bravado and derring-do (read as: needs a leash) walks on though, followed by an exasperated Elizabeth. We pile in, readying ourselves for a murderhole…

…and, thank goodness, are not disappointed. the room we walk into is a dome, seemingly underground, with no obvious exits. Before we decide to dismantle the whole place, Samantha strolls in, no worse for wear.

The story unfolds. Her house was assaulted by a well-trained group of mercenaries (or troops) led by a demon of some sort. She handled her business, blasting the mercs and besting the demon, who was screaming that all he wanted was the Book and he would let her live. She replied by shredding him like a slow-cooked roast.

Samantha is good people.

Sam decided that it was time to relocate, so she got her important people and things through the portal, and will soon be heading off to parts unknown (by us). She left us mentioning that she would be back in touch when she gets settled, and the cane that the demon was using. The can has some kind of giant injection spike in the base, and a reservoir of foul, fish-smelling goop inside.

OF NOTE: VERY few people could possibly have known that she had what she had. Someone told, simply put. A few members of the other House, several from ours, and several of Sams ‘siblings.’ Other than that, I cannot think of anyone else. Short list that will need to be reviewed and perhaps trimmed.

We head home. Patti takes a look at the cane, and identifies the goop. She believes it is Oil of Shuggloth; used in rituals to transform people into fish-demon things. We figure that Erasmus might know either who can make the goop or who can make such an interesting cane. Also, Cyrus and I are both nearing the end of our tobacco stores. Priorities and whatnot!

ED looks it all over, and agrees with Patti’s assessment. Moreso, he knows people who deal in exotic canes in the area. One maker is in Cardiff and the other in Dover. ED believes the Cardiff crafter the more likely, so we thank him, stock up on tobacco, and head home. Cardiff in the morning it is!

March 2: We meet up with the Cullens for a bite of breakfast, then head to Cardiff. The concierge of the very nice hotel the Cullens choose states that any crafter worth his salt would be in the artisan district. As good an idea as we had, we head out to look around.

A woodcarver in the artisan district checks out the cane, and identifies the work as likely by a Riddick of Riddick and Sons. Heading over there, he checks out the work and admits he crafted it, and several other just like it, for one Abraham Morgan. We head back to the hotel, and mention to the doorman that we are looking for one Abe Morgan. He knows of one, a local coal merchant of some renown and wealth.

DID SOMEONE SAY WEALTH!?! Man, it is good to have Cyrus around for this kind of stuff; it opens up dialogue options that used to be filled with blood, screams, and high laundry bills! Cyrus sends a message to Morgan’s local gentleman’s club with a request to visit, which is replied to in the affirmative in less than an hour.

Cyrus and Aldo (our two most normal non-Russian white guys) get ready to socialize, while the rest of us get read for war. They have Aldo go in the servant’s entrance, allowing him to get a head count on the goons in there and analyze the area, just in case. Cyrus mentioned after that they gave him the tour, then schmoozed over him for a while. The standard treatment.

Meanwhile, outside, we attempt the most comically doomed attempt at stealth in history. But, it was either that or release the krinkle-crackum; and NO ONE wants that! We recoup, regroup, and follow a hastily leaving Morgan to a local, dingy apothecary’s shop. We decide that it is no coincidence that this is the shop in town that ED said could make Essence du Shuggerloff.

We enter the establishment, and I try to explain to the clerk up front that his counter has a spot on it. He is perplexed, then concussed, then Marcus’d into unconsciousness. Hearing conspiratory nonsense being blurbled in the adjacent room, we line up, Sergei drops the lights, and we go to work. The shopkeeper being accosted by Morgan is terrified, and also pukes up a nascent Shotgolf. Morgan and his goons fight, then die. It would have been nice to get some information from him, but he was too dangerous to let live. The shopkeeper admits to summoning Sharpclocks, but does not want to; Morgan knew the shopkeeper’s family had old ties to fish-people, and used his Sugerloaf grease to curse the poor guy.

Did someone say, “Poor, moderately innocent person with a permanent and crippling affliction?” That sounds like a task for the Electric Cossack! And, even better, it worked! The shopkeeper is left happier, still creepy as hell and needing to move, and happy we did not kill his whole family. It looks like this ‘dark water’ was less a curse and more a poison, and Sergei has a good track record with that kind of thing! The shopkeeper is going to grab what is left of his family (Morgan had been using them as shock troops) and get out of town that very night.

As we prepare to leave, I have a bit of an idea. I retrieve the ring we took off of Herr Bechner’s assassin and, after a bit of creative corpse-modification, leave the ring clutched in Morgan’s hand.

Let them figure that one out. Anything to ice our trail a bit. Also, this guy was a monster, and sometimes you have to leave a display to the other monsters.

Darnit. Now I need another Teutonic’s ring. The Hunt continues…

From the Journal of James Watie: Nov. 19th
The Doctor and the Walking Punch Machine

Nov: 19th, 1866: We sleep in a bit (rest well deserved). Victoria mentions that she could use some time to adjust to the new paradigm of her life, so Marcus offers to take her for a trip out to Willy’s place in the country. It is safe for her there, and Marcus needed to work on some research, anyway. She leaves us with a list she spied at Stafford’s place: Cecil Guinness, Erasmus Dein (we know that one!), and Cyrus Cullen. Prof. Poole mentions that he knows of Cullen; he was being vetted for membership before everything started going downhill. He lives nearby, so we decide to go meet the guy.

His address is a VERY nice manor house. Great… probably another noble. We meet Dr. Cyrus, who, while no doubt wealthy and noble, is by no means exclusionary. He is a world traveler, and has been as far as India and China in order to hone the medical arts. While in China, he met and married the second person we meet here, Elizabeth. She is bright-eyed, if a little manic. Looks to be suffering the initial stages of “Holy-crap-they-will-not-let-me-do-anything-fun-in-this-country” syndrome.

The Cullens are steeped in the occult: Cyrus seems to believe that the fusion of science and magic can lead to the perfection of the medical arts, and Elizabeth was trained in Eastern martial arts at some kind of girls-allowed punching school. I never knew China was so enlightened towards the fairer sex! How progressive! Since they seem like they are nice enough people (Prof. Poole had mentioned this as well), we tell Cyrus about his name being of Stafford’s list.

Cyrus is NOT AMUSED at this. And Elizabeth… well, let us say that the subtle shift from lady-in-a-dress to tiger-in-clothes was not all that subtle. While we plan what to do about this, we decide to show them around the more mystical part of London, starting with the Fey Market.

As we stroll around (it is amazing what can become ‘routine’ in one’s life), we overhear Patrick Stafford’s whiny voice over the din. He is in a box shop, arguing with the nice lady behind the counter. Evidently he had ordered a box to contain some item, and no longer needs the box. I wonder why not? (If you are reading these out-of-order, it is because we robbed him. Carry on.) After he leaves, Cyrus confronts him as one occult-leaning noble to another peer. Elizabeth does her best to not rip this smarmy, oily creep’s arms off and slap him to death with his own hands.

Stafford, seeing a possibility to recoup some face in the occult neighborhood, invites Cyrus over to schmooze, which Cyrus accepts. HOORAY, A PARTY! We buy some things while in the Market, including a very intricate puzzle box that was once owned by one Mr. Berringer. Sergei gets that one, and we decide to store it in the fireplace locker at the office.

Wait, a closed puzzle box once owned by a cannibalistic, pedophile, demonologist, mass murderer? SURE, that sounds like something we want to have! Seriously, for people with such good instincts 99% of the time, they really, REALLY make up for it in that 1% left over!

We escort the Cullens over to our House and let Cyrus give the new Stone of Dee we have a once-over. He confirms what we know; it is a summoning stone for Phanuel, the Enocian Archangel. I think we will send this one to a nice, safe place; no need for it to stay here.

Cyrus sends Stafford a missive, telling him to expect Cyrus, Elizabeth, and entourage tonight. Yes, you read that correctly; Cyrus tells Stafford, in no uncertain tones, that Stafford is hosting a party tonight. Cyrus is a funny guy to know; he wields his money and such as a tool; he defines what this power is, rather than let it define him. Rather refreshing, actually!

We get kitted out for the shin-dig (enough weaponry to stop a small cavalry charge, and then everyone else gets dressed). We head to Stafford’s place, and are greeted with many more people than we expected. There is a Mr. Bechner from Munich (a banker of note), Edward la Salle (whose eyes light up in delight when he spies us enter), and then a big, burly guard followed by a stately Germanic fellow. Well, Prussian, actually; one Major Fredrick Lebow. He is some kind of war hero.

This is no party; it is all business, and Beckner is OBVIOUSLY pissed. He and Stafford move to a back room to chat, as Cyrus rambles a bit with the table-folk. Sergei moves like a guard, noticing and indicating to us that there are guards outside. We hear a rather ill-hidden argument coming from Beckner and Stafford in the other room, leading to Beckner storming off, trailing the guards from outside with him. The party breaks up a bit, as Lebow also leaves.

After setting Stafford’s nose (I do not think he can resist), Cyrus lays in on the table for Stafford. He knows his name was on a list, and wants to know why. Stafford confirms our hunch; he is wanting to become a broker in the area. I think he believes that his brother’s status as some big muckitey-muck is how he plans to shield the fact that he is robbing other people in the area to get the items he wants to sell. Cyrus buys a set of really old, non-magical surgical tools (good museum pieces) for 30 pounds; I counter by offering to tell him who robbed him for 30 pounds. He pays up.

Hilarity ensues.

We almost kill him then and there. I really, really do not like killing people unless it is absolutely necessary. This walking example of multi-generational cousin-banging is going to kick off a city-wide turf war with his inane antics, and is not only oblivious to it, but believes himself immune to the effects of his actions because of his BROTHER’S status as one of the ultra-white people in town! Seriously, Sergei and Marcus rolled their eyes so hard I think they collectively sprained them!

When Stafford all but blurts out that he now realizes that her recognized Victoria and is going to tell her brother about all of this, Sergei does what Sergei does; informed Mr. Stafford that doing so would lead to his immediate termination. Simply put, if we even THINK that Stafford is doing something that may irritate Victoria in the slightest, he would receive another visit, and it would end poorly.

This was PERFECT of Sergei; Stafford is simply incapable of realizing when he has lost, and will likely transfer his anger at Victoria towards Sergei. And Sergei, being Russian, can wholly subside on a diet of hatred, cabbage, and vodka.

As we excuse ourselves, Fast Eddie leaves as well, outside and out of earshot, he laughs his ass off, stating that bottom-feeding imbeciles like Stafford give the profession of middle-man a bad name, and letting us know that, while Stafford’s people were out looking for us post-robbery, he had his people break in and steal a translated copy of The Book of Enoch.

Take note, Stafford; that is how a PROPER criminal operates! Also, why does Fast Eddie want that particular book? I know he likes to get stuff to sell, but still…

We his Erasmus’s place (the Cullens are both entranced by his collection of oddities), and ask why his name would be on some list with these other folk. He states it looks like a list of possible buyers and sellers of authentic occult items in the immediate area, with Becknair being a know collector of the Stones of Dee. That tracks pretty well. Erasmus thanks us for the info, mentions that he might have a job for Sergei and I as investigators later, and Cyrus and I load up on some good ole American tobacco.

Well, as we know that Stafford will almost certainly send out thugs to avenge the numerous slights on his honor, we head over to Cyrus’s place to rearm and garb up. We pick nearby Regency Park as our battleground, head over there, and wait… for about two minutes. Two very, very large crocodiles burst from the stream to start the evening’s exercise.

Let me start with this: Elizabeth Cullen, when faced with a crocodile of about 13’ in length, responds by PUNCHING IT IN THE HEAD. And, to make this night oh-so-much more wonderful, the DAZES the creature!

A group of guys charge us from some nearby woods. They are probably ex-soldiers; they are all armed with modern-look swords. The standard donnybrook begins; lots of gnashing and wailing and people getting stabbed. Eventually, I dispatch a gator with my crescent-sword (which I now call Moon), and Aldo drops the other with a couple of well-placed shots.

While the fight goes on, two shambling mounds of vegetation are summoned onto the field to harass us; they, and the crocs, have glowing green eyes! This is the same modus operendi as the other times we have been attacked by critters or shrubbery! Everyone scans for the caster, and Sergei feels that he spots him in a distant copse of trees. It looks like he and a pistol-armed guard are about to make a hasty retreat.

Sergei is officially not having any of that crap.

Now, chalk it up to our Mad Russian to keep an ace up his sleeve, but this is near-operatic in its beauty. While we are croc-wrestling and playing among the swords, he rolls over one crocodile and, with the merest touch of his hand on Elizabeth’s arm, moves them both into the trees with the caster. No travel in-between; one second they are with me, the next they are with him.

The caster is more surprised than we are. He is even more taken aback when Elizabeth says, “Hello” buy, in one strike, shattering almost every tooth in the man’s head. It is one of the funniest and surreal things I have ever heard to hear that man curse in German, then sputter through his ruined mouth, “I am a vurry important person!” Seriously, reader… I almost quit and went home. It was not going to get much better than that.

As Sergei and Elizabeth soundly handle their new playmates, we make space for Cyrus to show off his skills. He seems to have a lot in common with Willy’s casting, but is much more varied. He knocks people, topiaries, and landscaping around with some kind of force-wave, and, in a very chilling scene, seems to use magical persuasion to force one man to turn on his friends with lethal precision.

In a few more seconds, the battle is over. Most of the mercs/soldiers are still alive, but unconscious. We leave them for the authorities, who show up and are very, VERY puzzled to find Dr. Cullen and his lovely wife claiming to have fought off some lowlifes with the help of a local savage (I was still there, because I am not letting 20+’ of croc skin rot). Seriously, they had hardly a hair misplaced, and the scene looked like a battlefield. The looks on those copper’s faces was beyond priceless!

We take our caster back to the office (Patti and Bia are there and puts a kettle on), and the interrogation begins. He is actually pretty forthcoming; he knows that he is unlikely to live to see the morning, and would rather not suffer whatever indignities we would force upon him between now and then if he were to keep quiet.

This man was hired by Herr Bechner to slowly and methodically kill off the members of the Munster House. He was the man who set up and ambushed Patrick Warburton, summoned the undead to kill Uriah Murray, and pushed Kit off a bridge. Bechner is a high-ranking Teutonic, and, for some reason, has it out for us.

Fair enough, Mr. Very-Important-Person. You get a quick death, as promised. But the issue of disposal… well, as this man killed several people that my life would have been enriched to get to know better, tried to kill us on many an occasion, and would continue to do so until death-do-us-part, he gets the special treatment. With a full-house okay for this course of action, Bia snaps his neck, takes him aside, and, after getting into an ‘outfit’ that better suits the task at hand, eats him.

But not before I snag the Teutonic ring off his finger. We have your name and face now, Bechner. Run away to Austria. Run to India; run to the deepest part of the Congo. I know you now, and not even death itself will stop me from having vengeance for Uriah. I will hunt you and yours until there is nothing left, and the people with me are no less resolute.

And then I will feed you to an Egyptian Booby-Beast and use the poop to plant a pretty flower garden. Because this is funny to me.


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