You are Richard Pierce, private investigator, and failing to think through being named 'Dick' before becoming a P.I. is more or less the theme of your life lately. At least Mark down at the bar gives you a free drink a night for it. Shitty sense of humor, good bartender.You stagger in the rain, dragging your closed umbrella behind you. Your other hand is pressed over your left side, putting pressure on the wound that, that - that thing, left you, whatever it was. You should have died, but you got lucky, somehow. It hates the rain, for some reason, somehow and some why, it hates the rain. The job was simple. A concerned mother hired you to check on her son, a student at the University of Michigan. She felt he might be involved with people he didn't need involved with, a cult or a scam, and wanted proof. Getting into the frat house where he stays was easy the first time, and you got the guided tour with very definite 'guests don't come here' exceptions. So the next night, you'd broken in. And that thing was there, waiting for you. The boys sicced it on you, and it got you good, right in the ribs. Missed your lung by a hair, the bastard. Bullets do something to it, though with half a clip in the fucking thing's head it's not nearly as dead as you want it to be. You ran, out into the rain, and the rain did the trick. You saw its flesh melting off in greasy chunks before it retreated into the frat house.
>>1333098The November rain is freezing and you're going to catch your death of cold out here if you drag this umbrella much further. Cautiously, you lift your hand and take a look at the wound. The (claw? Stinger? Needle? Needle might be the best word...) it had hit you with dripped with something viscous and oddly dry, almost like a jellied gasoline to the touch, and exposing your wound to the rain makes it weep more of whatever the fuck it is. You grit your teeth and wince, because whatever this is, it needs to not be inside you. Hospital is right out. Even if you could explain this wound to them, and then the police, you don't have time. You...> Can tough this out. It's time to get some backup> Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.> Know a street doc that owes you a favor or three. Time to call one in and get him to look at the chunk of that needle that broke off in your body.
Welcome to Closed Umbrella Quest, an experimental one-shot that Trick & I will be writing until it either finishes or goes screaming into the flaming abyss. We'll be swapping out updates; that is, Trick will call and write the update based on these votes. For those that might not know where U of M is, this is Ann Arbor, Michigan, in November of 2016.
>>1333108> Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.>>1333113>goes screaming into the flaming abyssIt will and I will be laughing along. But until then, I hope this goes well.
>>1333098> Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.
>>1333108Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.
dice+2d6 for Urban witch.
Rolled 6, 5 = 11 (2d6)>>1333159boop
>>1333108>Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.
>>1333108>> Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.Fun times with our ex?>>1333159Are you the QMs?
>>1333254Not that I know of. Trick'll be around at his own discretion to call an' write.
>>1333265So >>1333159 anon was a phony?
>>1333269On /qst/, everybody is a phony.Especially the QMs.
>>1333108> Stagger towards the shop your ex runs, downtown - the Urban Witch. You parted on good enough terms, and now seems about the time to consult someone who says she knows magic.I'm for this, mainly because I'm wondering if they actually parted on good enough terms or just "parted on good enough terms."
Aight, Trick may be asleep so I'll take this update. My apologies for the brief interruption. Called, writing.
> Know a street doc that owes you a favor or three. Time to call one in and get him to look at the chunk of that needle that broke off in your body.Medic first, witch-ex-lady next.
>>1333465Nevermind, he's alive!
You stagger towards . . . towards the one person you know in this city – Hell, the world – who you think you can tell the absolute, unadulterated truth to about what just happened and not expect her to respond by calling you a madman or claiming you're delirious, as any reasonable person would.No. Tonight, reasonable is off the table. Reasonable has sailed away. Reasonable took a long walk off a short fucking pier. Right now, you're very much in need of unreasonable. And as you finish the grueling trek from the university to Main Street, clutching your wounded side tight and your umbrella tighter, the squat shop of the Urban Witch shines like a beacon of hope against a backdrop of sanity. The structure itself isn't the most eye-catching piece of architecture, nestled as it is between two much larger buildings. But the sign currently swinging in the wind, emblazoned with the outline of an archetypal witch flying on a broomstick over a sprawling cityscape, as well as the various arcane-looking knick knacks sitting on display in the front window, certainly exude an earnest level of quaint charm. One that never really appealed to you. Until tonight that is. Thumping a clenched fist into the hard, gnarled wood of the front door you try your best not to get blood anywhere that won't be easily washed away in the rain. . . .You wait for a long moment, reeling on your feet. For a moment you wonder if maybe she might be out of town or sound asleep in a bed far from here. Boy would you feel like a fool if you came here just to bleed out on the sidewalk. But you realize that's not going to be the case as you hear the soft sound of footsteps and the metallic click of the door being unlocked. It opens only a tad at first, just enough for the upper half of a familiar face to look out and inspect the two hundred pound problem that stands there, smirking ruefully at her on her front step. It only takes a moment for her vibrant green eyes to register exactly who it is had the audacity to come pester her at half past midnight on a Sunday evening. “Rich?” she asks, confusion clear in her tone. “Hey Steph,” you reply. The door opens all the way. She's dressed simply, wearing a grey wool cardigan over a white t-shirt and black slacks. Not exactly prepared for bed, it looks like. You recall somewhere in the back of your mind her saying that she never kept the most usual of hours. She looks you up and down, drenched in the rain and favoring one side. “What happened? Come in.” The invitation rolls right off the question. She moves to let you enter and you oblige, stepping inside.The front of the shop is as cluttered a mess as you remember it. Crystals and tarot cards; plants and cooking supplies; spices and glorified tchotchkes. In the dark it all manages to look more sinister and, you have to admit, more mystical.
“Is it all bullshit?” the words come pouring out your mouth as she closes the door. A wonderful follow up to your initial greeting. You always were a charmer. You turn to look at Steph after the fact.She blinks. “What?” You gesture to the shop's interior. “This. All of it. Is it bullshit designed to take money from tourists and teenagers?”Your gazes meet. The stare you share is serious. Maybe the most serious moment the two of you have ever had. You haven't explained a single, goddamned thing to her since you showed up two seconds ago and yet . . . she gulps. She fidgets with her cardigan. She remains silent.. . .“Is it real?” . . .“ . . . yes.”You lift your hand from your side and let her take a good look at the needle sticking into your midsection. Steph's eyes go wide and you watch as she takes in a breath. “It's a bit of a story,” you admit. Your explanation is as short and sweet as you can make it, considering how much pain you're in. Steph pulls up a chair and listens intently to your tale, nodding along solemnly as you describe the events as they've transpired this night, ending with your fateful arrival at her front door. She grimaces towards the tail end of your retelling.“So,” you finish, “Do you have any clue as to what almost skewered me tonight?”“A few,” she admits. “None of them good, Rich.”You look down at the long barb puncturing your flesh, before staring back up at Steph. “Is it possible for you to deal with this?” She nods, her posture straightening slightly. “Yes. Removing the appendage is not the difficult part. A trained physician could handle that. It's neutralizing the . . . well, I guess you'd think of it as the poison, that would require my talents.” The sour expression she wears after giving that answer tells you that's not all there is to it.“But?” you inquire, eager for the punchline.She sighs. “If I do what I would need to do . . . it will have my scent.”Your narrow your eyes, taking a moment to process that. “What if you don't neutralize the poison?”“You'll have three days,” she answers curtly.“Until I die?” “Until you change.” >You can't ask her to risk her life >You need her to do this
>>1333526>What does she mean by change? Can't she send you to someone who can do this WITHOUT getting attacked?
I'ma call and write this in an hour, rain or shine.
>rip it out. I'll handle the rest when I'm not turning into an evil bug
>>1333526This >>1333532WTF is she asking of us and is there anyone else who could do it who she wouldn't mind throwing under the bus.
Aight. Called, writing.
>>1333526"Steph, you can't just say three-word sentences at me in the dark while I'm dying," you protest, with a groan that might or might not be more frustration than pain. "What are you asking me to do?"Your ex sighs and drums her fingers against the counters. "...This is going to get religious.""We could not and say we did.""Rich.""Fine, fine. Just give it to me as straight as possible."Stephanie gets up and keeps you from doing the same with a warning gesture in the universal parent-and-nurse language of 'stay in the god damn chair you idiot'. She double-checks the locks on her door before shuttering the shades and lighting first candles, then incense, with a box of matches she produces from her pocket. The scents of sage and rosemary fill the shop. "The thing about magic," she tells you, not meeting your eyes, "is that most of what it is, is what people think it is. It's always been a whole lot more simple than anyone gives it credit for. This," she gestures at you with the burnt-up stub of a match, "this is a magic wand. A smile is a magic gesture. The trappings aren't there for the spell, they're there for the weaver.""This doesn't sound religious," you point out, but you don't take your eyes from her. Stephanie lights another cone of incense, and the flame highlights the look of worry on her face. "This part isn't. It's true no matter what. But humans aren't the only things in or around Earth with opinions on the matter," she says, simply. "You've heard of vodoun, right? The Loa, and the ghede, the dead? They're real, for a given value of real. Gods, demons, spirits, many of them perfectly friendly, even wise. Others...""You're not telling me that I got stabbed by a demon.""Demon's as good a word as any. Movie witches would say 'spirit' and insist it's not really evil, but movie witches don't know a damn thing, Rich." She sits back down and looks you in the eyes. "And it has an opinion on magic, like most things do. Sure, I can do a calling spell for just about anything if I have its name and the promise of a safe place to arrive, but not all things come for all calls. You ought to know, given the anniversaries you skipped."You wince."So there are rules," Steph continues, quietly. "Rules made by preferences, by traditions, by agreements, by physics sometimes. Things you can do. Things you can't do. Things you must do, or must not do. Names you don't speak, things you don't call. And one of those rules is that this thing has claimed you now. If I touch you, I've stolen from it. It will come for me.""Nobody likes a thief," you mutter. "...Why call it? Like. Look, remember when I used to go on about conspiracy theorists? What was the number one rule for detecting a bullshit conspiracy?"She thinks, then nods. "If no one benefits from it, it's crazy.""Exactly. Evil cults are fiction. Shit, even the Church of Satanism is like, extended ironic protest. So what do a bunch of frat boys want with this thing?"
>>1333939Stephanie shifts in her place. "...Using the ignorant or innocent as pawns is an old move. Like old ciphers, it sticks around because it works. I don't think the fraternity knows what it has. Someone is pulling the strings.""That's great. Fucking who?""You are a detective, Rich. Look, we'll head in back, and I'll -""No," you interrupt, shaking your head. "Pull this out, get me bandaged. Three days, you said? If I put this thing back where it came from, can you cure me safely?""I...suppose I could, but - Rich, you can't be serious. I can defend the shop, it's a risk I'm willing to take."You stand, slowly, and put your hand back over your ribs. "I'm not going to make you a prisoner in your own home, Steph. I know I wasn't the best boyfriend but I'd like to think I'm a decent human being. How do we kill it?""Shot it, did you?" Stephanie guesses. She stands too and leads you to the back room, where she clears off a table for you to lie on while she prepares to remove the needle. "Material attacks will only work so well, usually. Bullets don't hurt it so much as your intent to hurt it does.""What, I can hate this thing to death?""If your will is stronger than its will, sure. Did it die?"You don't get the chance to answer; Stephanie yanks the needle in a swift, smooth gesture that rips a scream of surprise and pain out of your throat. The splashes of salt and water that follow, forcing a gout of that jellied whatever-the-fuck from your wound, bring on Scream The Sequel and Scream Rides Again. You take her offered hand so you can sit up and shrug out of your shirt so she can bandage you up. "Reversing the calling usually does the trick, but that's usually hard, with demons. They insist on a human sacrifice.""What, we'd have to kill a guy?" you ask, in disbelief. "No, we'd have to bring one back to life. You know any Jews nailed to sticks near here?"Oof. "Option two?" you press. "Defile its anchor. That'll be the shrine in the frat house, where it's lairing. Could wait and see what use they have for it, but that means they can command it. Might be bad.""Could break in again and see who their backer is," you muse. "I could help with that," Stephanie offers, meeting your eyes. Hers are blue, so very blue, and for a moment it's like meeting her for the first time all over again. "Look, I did some things I shouldn't have too. And this is my home too. I don't like demons just running loose in it.""Steph...""It's the year of our lord two thousand and sixteen, don't you dare tell me it's not right to risk it."> Accept Stephanie's help> Refuse her helpAND> Investigate the frat house> Wait out the rain and try to break in to the shrine then> The kid's mother set you after this in the first place. Bet she could provide more information on this mysterious backer> Stake out the frat house and gank someone for what they know. They're all guilty anyway
>>1334005> Accept Stephanie's help>> Stake out the frat house and gank someone for what they know. They're all guilty anywayNext time I tackle some freighter on a gate I'm going to open comms and instead of demanding ransom, I'll start shouting WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR
>>1334005> Accept Stephanie's help> Stake out the frat house and gank someone for what they know. They're all guilty anywayLet's do this
>>1334005>> Accept Stephanie's help> Investigate the frat house
>>1334005>Refuse her helpNo, I am a hardboiled detective. I take things on my own shoulders to protect my friends.>The kid's mother set you after this in the first place. Bet she could provide more information on this mysterious backerSteph didn't really give us any actional intel. Can we counter these demons with holy magic, could these cultists have pages that will call the demon to their location when they are in distress?I would like to just throw a grenade in the shrine and be done with it but we would need to draw the monster away first. Maybe by having it come after Steph, she did say she could defend her place.
>>1334265>No, I am a hardboiled detective. I take things on my own shoulders to protect my friends.This sounds like something Batman would say before he gets his teeth kicked in. We're a hardboiled detective, but that doesn't mean we should take unnecessary risks that'll endanger both ourselves and others if we fail.>>1334005> Accept Stephanie's help>>1334265> The kid's mother set you after this in the first place. Bet she could provide more information on this mysterious backerI support getting more info and building up our contacts network before meeting our enemies.
Rolled 1 (1d2)1 - Stake out the frat house and gank someone for what they know. They're all guilty anyway2 -> The kid's mother set you after this in the first place. Bet she could provide more information on this mysterious backer
You spend a moment pretending you're actually considering whether to accept her help or not, as if taking one second longer to choose letting her risk her life might make you one second more of a decent human being. But the cold, hard, seventy-one-hours-and-fifteen-minutes-until-God-knows-what truth is – you're so far out of your fucking element right now and on a time crunch to boot. You don't have time to waste on trying to lone wolf it out of a misguided sense of pride. Although, you suppose you do have enough time to spend a moment of it pretending the reason you're saying yes actually has anything to do with practicality.“Fine,” you spit out, simultaneously rising off the table and standing tall, stretching to test how badly your wound is going to affect your movement. Nothing too major, it seems, although you're going to have to recommend not getting punched in the ribs anytime soon to be on the safe side with your recovery. “But let's risk it smart, alright?” You flash her an attempt at a genuine smile and receive an attempt in return. “Pretty rich advice, considering what you've done.” You shrug. “I didn't know what I was walking into.” “Didn't say I was talking about tonight,” she replies.“Neither did I.”. . .Steph chuckles darkly, shaking her head. “You're a dick.” She taps her foot for a moment before choosing to switch subjects. “So, you're the detective here. What are we doing first?” “First,” you begin, “I need a new shirt.” You cast your glance over to the punctured, blood-stained, drenched pile of black fabric lying on the floor. “You wouldn't happen to have anything, would you?” Your ex nods. “I have something lying around. Then what?” You sigh out. “Then we stake the place out tonight and ambush the first frat boy we can to find out what they know, if you're up for it.” Steph takes a moment to consider it. “Yeah. I can do that.” “Good. Because we'll need to use your car.”“Alright. I'll start getting my things together.” She stands up and prepares to do just that. “Hey Steph,” you call out right as she's about to enter back into the front of the store again, stopping her in her tracks. She turns to face you. “Yes?”“ . . . Thank you.”She grins. “You're still a dick.”
Sitting passenger side beside Steph in her old Ford Focus, you alternate between tapping on the handle of your umbrella and fiddling with the topmost button of the plaid blue shirt she found in a closet somewhere on the second floor of the Urban Witch. You've been sitting camped outside the university for a few hours now and are starting to get antsy. Usually you have all the time in the world to sit by patiently and wait for your target. But now every hour you waste is an hour closer to a bad fucking fate. It comes as a relief when you finally spot two members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity that you recognize among the faces you saw during the tour yesterday stumbling drunkenly across the campus. You quickly point them out to Steph. “There we go,” you tell her. “Stay in the car.” She gives you a dry look. “You're kidding me?” You squint at her. “What? You're the getaway driver.”“There's two of them.” “They're drunk.”“You're wounded.” “I have a gun.”“I have magic.” >Stay here. Please.>Alright. Try not to do anything too flashy or noisy though
Aight folks, I gotta hit bed. I'll call and write in the morning. As is traditional with me by now, questions, comments, discussion, feedback, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated. Thanks for reading and participating thus far!
>>1334737>Alright. Try not to do anything too flashy or noisy thoughWait, you know offensive magic?! I thaught you just did naked dances in the moonlight and cooked up nasty stew in a cauldron. Are you a battle mage? Can you teach me fireball? That's, like, an easy one, right?
>>1334737>>Alright. Try not to do anything too flashy or noisy thoughThey might get backup, so it'll help to bring ours to speed up the kidnapping.>>13348812nded for being cheeky, might help lighten up the mood a little.
>>1334737>>1334881> Wait, you know offensive magic?! I thought you just did naked dances in the moonlight and cooked up nasty stew in a cauldron. Are you a battle mage? Can you teach me fireball? That's, like, an easy one, right?Commence maximum cheek.
>>1334737"Wait, you know offensive magic? Here I thought it was dancing in the moonlight and cauldrons.""Mother goddess preserve me," Stephanie sighs. The two of you get out of the car and approach the frat boys across the lawn. The rain has everyone inside, and the few that aren't are actually using their umbrellas. Yours stays closed, and you get soaked in moments with freezing water. You'll catch your death of cold, but at least you won't catch your death of that thing. "Is fireball on that list? Can I learn fireball?""If you want a fireball do what everyone else does and study demolitions," Stephanie snaps under her breath. "Are we doing this or not? It's freezing.""We're doing this, we're doing this," you reassure her. The banter is helping; between the near-death experience earlier and the threat of your imminent death-or-something-worse coming up, you're stressing out more than a little. Thankfully, this is also not your first time strongarming people for information. No, you violate the law for a paycheck. "Hey guys, I can't get my umbrella open," you greet, putting on a face of amiable frustration. "Can you -""What the fuck? Brian said you were gone, man!" one of them - the taller - interrupts, wide-eyed and fearful. Stephanie takes a fistful of matches from her pocket. "Obviously I'm not," you answer, in a low tone. "Now that we all know each other, let's talk."Tallboy there telegraphs a sloppy jab; you sidestep it easily and hit him in the kidney, knocking the wind out of the poor kid. His friend yells, only to stop at the sound of popping matches. You wrestle your victim to the ground and hit him again before looking up. Stephanie holds the matches between her fingers; the weatherproof sticks fizz and spark in the rain, forming a smoky, messy hand of glory that has the other frat boy hypnotized. "Sleep," Stephanie murmurs, before she blows out the matches. The kid goes down like a sack of bricks. "Let's go. Now."Tallboy is heavy as fuck, but Stephanie spooked him something fierce, and that's done wonders for his willingness to cooperate. You twist his arm behind him and march him back to the car through the rain before you force him inside. "You fucked up," you tell him, flatly. "You fucked up big time.""How'd she do that, man?" Tallboy moans. "Don't eat me man, don't fuckin' eat me -""What the fuck did you get involved with that you think I'm going to eat you?" you demand. Tallboy looks at you, then at Stephanie. Your ex lights another match with a meaningful expression. "It wasn't supposed to be like this, man! It wasn't! It was a Classic society, like, living like Greeks and Romans and shit, man, it was supposed to be educational!""Keep digging, there's gotta be a good reason in here somewhere," you prompt. "Get to the human sacrifice part.""How did you know about that?""You did just confirm it for us," Stephanie points out.
>>1335761Tallboy groans and curls up on himself, then starts to sob. "Kid, you still have the chance to make this right," you tell him, gently. "Who's in charge? Why did you summon that thing?""It didn't used to be like this. Some of the guys got some help with their grades from a professor. It was like, like, they were just clear, you know? Like overnight everything about them was in order, you know? And they helped some of the other guys out, in low spots. Trouble with profs, or with tests, just...you know, being clear. They said it was this society they joined that helped them out.""Raising power," Stephanie clarifies, next to you. "Small rituals, pacts across the worlds. Classic, again because it works. It's a perversion of faith, but it works."Tallboy nods, miserably. "And the literal demon summoning?" you press. "I didn't know until it was already here! I just guard the door, man! They said they were going to help out even more, like, we were gonna be famous and shit, cure cancer or something. We got all we could without opening the door!""Also a classic," Stephanie explains, helpfully. "Who leads the society?" you demand. "I have to kill that thing before it gets loose and you are now officially wasting my time with -""The prof! The prof, Professor Alexandros! Her and Brian and Trevor!"You suck a breath between your teeth and turn around. "Rich?" Stephanie asks, concerned. "Trevor's the kid I was after in the first place.""...Fuck.""Can I go now?" Tallboy asks."First you're going to drag your friend out of the rain before he drowns," you tell him. "Then you're helping us..."> Break into the professor's office> Get information from Trevor's room> Go to the police? They might take a confession, if you leave out the thing...
>>1335784> Get information from Trevor's room
>>1335784>Get information from Trevor's roomBecause most college kids are sloppy as hell.
>>1335829That and going after the chief of the cult doesn't sound like a good idea until we're 100% prepared.
> Get information from Trevor's roomLess chance for things to go horribly wrong, but still a good chance to find something useful.I wonder what the deal with the name-giving closed umbrella is, incidentally. Rain seems to be our best friend tonight.
>>1335784> Get information from Trevor's room>>1336036We haven't opened our umbrella either.
>>1336044That's what he meant.We don't open our umbrella, for some reason. We probably carry it everywhere with us. It must be special to us.Also, Trevor's room.I love noir.
>>1335784> Get information from Trevor's roomThe umbrella is actually a shotgunWhat's our histopry with Steph? Who dumped whom and why?
>>1336281Rich was saying that he thought they parted on good enough terms, so my guess is that he was the one who dumped her. The dumping party usually has a more positive view of the breakup than the dumped party.
Trick? You alive buddy?
>>1336644Starting to write now. And then soon after Vox should be getting off work for the next post afterwards.
>>1336721My body is ready
“Then you're helping us with our investigation. My partner and I need to gather more information from one of your cult's inner circle.”Tallboy protests, instinctively. “Man, it's not a –” “It's a cult,” you cut him off. “Now, we need access to this Trevor kid's room without a repeat of earlier with regards to your guard dog. And you desperately need to distance yourself as far as you can from this dumpster fire of an organization before it implodes, to save your own skin if nothing else. Do you think we can help each other out?” It takes him a moment of introspection, prolonged by his insobriety, before he meets your harsh gaze again to answer you. “Yeah. Alright.” You nod. “Good. Get out, grab your buddy and drag him back to the frat house. We'll meet up with you at the front door. And we're going to be tailing you the whole time so don't do anything stupid. You've done enough of that.” He nods almost erratically in acquiescence of your orders, leaping out of the back seat of the car and into the rain, rushing to the unconscious form of his friend. You keep your eyes peeled, watching Tallboy lift up his friend and struggle to get moving. “Partner?” Stephanie quotes jocundly, grinning at you from the driver's seat. You groan. . . . It's about half past four when you enter the frat house for the third time in as many days, technically. Thankfully, most if not all of the fraternity members should be asleep right now, as Tallboy assured you in a whisper. The college kid guides his unconscious friend – who is either still out because of Steph's spell or perhaps is just naturally sleeping off his drunkenness – over to a couch in the main room of the 1st floor. Tallboy turns to you after finishing with the task of tending to his friend. “Trevor's room is up on the second floor,” he informs you. “Third door on the right.” “Thanks,” you tell the kid honestly. Looking over to your ex, you cock an eyebrow expectantly. “Steph?”The urban witch draws a few more matches from her pocket and repeats the process of knocking out a drunken frat bro with magic. You avert your gaze just to be on the safe side. Sitting your reluctant informant's carcass in a reclining massage chair, you turn back to Steph. “The first time I encountered it, the demon came after me from the basement,” you explain quietly. You assume that's another classic.“I know. I can feel it from here,” she answers, visibly shivering for a moment. Ignoring that horrific problem for now, the two of you sneak up the stairs and approach Trevor's room. Pushing open the door with nary a sound except a low creaking of wood, a quick check reveals the room is empty. It seems if Trevor is asleep at the moment he's not doing it in his own bed. That's lucky for you.
Steph follows you inside as you flick on the lights. A solitary lamp without a lampshade brightens the room. Movie posters are plastered on all four walls, haphazardly taking up space. The bed is messy and unmade, with one of the pillows lying on the ground beside it. A laptop sits on Trevor's desk beside an open bag of potato chips and in front of a currently unoccupied swivel chair. Well that would be your first target. You press the power button and the screen lights up. It asks for his password. You figured that was going to be the case, but you had to at least give it a shot. Steph keeps watch while you start rifling through drawers, under the bed, through the clothes in his closet but not the clothes on his floor just yet. Rifling through the pockets of a hung up leather jacket, you find a crumpled up piece of paper that you quickly smooth out on top of Trevor's desk. You squint as you make out the words, faded as they are having been written in what looks like dull pencil. [Between Scylla and Charybdis]You blink as you try to pronounce a few of those words in your head. >Pull out your phone and Google 'Charybdis'>Ask Steph if she knows what this means >Type them into the laptop to see if one might be Trevor's password>Search the room more intensely, making it obvious you've been here
>>1337148>>Pull out your phone and Google 'Charybdis'Imma do that now, but on my computer.
>>1337148Is it bad if I already know what that sentence means?Anyway, >Search the room more intensely, making it obvious you've been here
>>1337148> search the room more intenselyBe sure to take any valuables so, erm, he will think it was just a robbery, yeah.
'm home from work. Will call and write in about an hour after I secure some dinner.
>>1337148>>Pull out your phone and Google 'Charybdis'More info is helpful.
And called, writing. Last update before bed tonight, got work tomorrow too.
Rolled 2 (1d2)Fuck, vote is tied and I just now noticed. Fuck it, rolling the die. 1. Phone2. Toss the room
>>1337148You indicate the note to Stephanie before you turn to start tossing the room, something you've done before. Most attempts to make something look like a robbery are done by people who have never robbed anyone before and as a result consistently look off. You paid a professional to teach you how to rob a house about three years back, and once the statue of limitations runs out on those 'lessons' it'll go down in your memoirs as one of the best investments of your life. "That is an aggressively Greek reference," Stephanie points out, under her breath. "Why save it? I mean, it's a classic story, used to be part of the common vernacular for a little while, but -""He's a poet," you answer, absently. "His mother tell you that?""No," you answer, lifting the book you've found beneath a set of clothes. "This book of poems told me that. Lots of crossed-out drafts, lots of...oh hell.""Don't 'oh hell' me, what is it?" Stephanie lights a match; you hear it pop, you can /smell it/, but you can't see any of its light until she takes your hand and it illuminates the pages for you. The page you're on is coated in love poems to 'Diana', sometimes referred to as 'Professor'. "Oh hell," Steph echoes. "...Find what we're finding quickly. The shrine is...it hurts," she admits, in a hard voice. You flip, hoping against hope that there's something in here of immediate -Yep. "Diana says she needs my help. Something happened, with the things I've been learning. A debtor came calling and she needs something stronger to defend herself. She won't tell me what she owes or what she got in return, but I saw in the folder she thinks she locked up safely. Her original birth certificate is pretty old, I guess. She doesn't look it.""Mother goddess it's a Bathory," Stephanie swears. You keep reading. "She says it's okay. That I'm different from the others, that I can live with her forever. I want to believe her, but some of the things she wants me to do for this. I don't know."You flip a few pages. "Mom's worried. Found some of the notes I've been writing, on the project. She doesn't understand. I know Dad left, but this isn't like that. What Diana and I have is real and I won't let it get taken away."The final entry is in shaky handwriting, on paper blotted by tears. "It worked. The thing she owed is dead and now the demon is at our command. When this rain lets up, it'll keep Diana safe for ever and ever." You pull a set of rubber gloves from your pocket and snap them on, then hand another pair to Stephanie. "Toss the place. I don't care if we get caught any more," you tell her, flatly. The search turns up more 'classics' - a silver-bladed knife, a stone cup for catching blood (still flaked with with the dried substance), and the wallet and effects of one Veronica Jones. You recognize her face. She's a barista, at the Starbucks where you shell out your money for a bit of wakefulness in the morning. She wasn't there today.
>>1338677"This is blasphemy," Stephanie whispers. "No matter what faith or creed you follow. I'm going to - shh."Footsteps. You look up just in time to see Trevor, illuminated in the match's light. He peers blindly into the room, and you're wondering how in the fuck he can't see you. "Is someone in here? I heard something," the frat boy says aloud. Seriously, you're standing in the middle of the room around a lit match, how is he not -Your brain helpfully supplies you with the fact that the original hands of glory provided light, but only for the bearer. You hadn't been able to see Stephanie's match before she touched you. Trevor takes a step into the room, and you feel a weight leave your hip. You look down to see Stephanie raising your gun at him, cold, righteous hate in her eyes. She thumbs the safety with practiced ease. > What do you do?
>>1338691Grab Steph's shoulder, fingers in mouth as if shushing her. Pounce on Trevor, hold and cover his mouth. Them ask Steph to cast a sleep cantrip on him. Last thing we need is an entire frat of drunk cultists hearing a loud blam and rushing to the room.
>>1338691>Stop her from shooting>Silently
>>1338691Get her to put him to sleep. We'll need the bastard, probably. Plus, we need to give him to his mother.
>>1338783I'm all for offing him, actually, but Steph's magic doesn't dampen sounds.
>>1338691>Take him down silently, we need his information. There is still time to help the girl or do I prepare myself for the worst?
>>1338859>There is still time to help the girl or do I prepare myself for the worst?Probably best to, given the type of people we're dealing with.2nded for the info though, we still need to find out more about the frats.
Your eyes bulge in your skull as you watch your ex prepare to kill a man with your own fucking gun in the middle of a B&E. Cultist, murderous scumbag or not that's a surefire way to land you both in a prison cell for a very long time. You seethe, trying to remain silent as you quickly reach out to grab her by the shoulder and arm in the hopes you might get her to stop and think about what exactly it is she's planning on doing. Time seems to slow down as you grip her, even though the next few events happen in the span of no more than a quarter second. In that split moment of calm, right before the series of events that directly lead to the shit storm that's about to transpire, you inwardly curse at yourself for every single decision that has accumulated over your lifetime to lead you – personally – up to this sideways fucked situation.Steph jolts from the physical contact. Her finger pulls the trigger. BANG BANGThe muzzle flashes twice in rapid succession.The first bullet tags Trevor in the shoulder, burrowing through the puffy University of Michigan sweater he was wearing.The second bullet strikes the lamp to his left, shattering the light bulb and creating a momentary bright spark. You rush the kid even as he starts to scream in pain and terror, stumbling backwards from the shock of it all, falling through the doorway and landing on his back in the middle of the hall.You land on top of him, straddling him about the waist as your open, left palm clamps over his mouth in a futile attempt to contain the situation by stifling any pleas for help and your closed, right fist reigns blows down upon his face in a much less futile attempt to pummel the son of a bitch into submission. Trevor scratches at you feebly, kicking his legs and shaking his head so vigorously back and forth that his glasses go flying off his face. He struggles as best he can to get you off of him, which isn't that great considering you have the advantage of about fifty extra pounds working against his efforts. You jab him once quickly in his bullet wound, getting him to yelp into your unrelenting hand. You try to get him under control as Steph quietly curses behind you. SLAMSuddenly a door on the opposite side of the hall from Trevor's room and about ten feet down flies open, banging against the wall. It startles both you and you formerly bespectacled cultist just long enough to bring a lull in your scuffle as a very familiar figure bolts into the hallway. A figure that inspires a certain level of dread and, much more importantly, annoyance, in the core of your very being. Dressed much more simply than the last time you saw him, the musclebound meat head who leads the University of Michigan's Alpha Phi Alpha chapter – Brian – stands there armed with a baseball bat, wearing a black pair of Adidas track pants, a white tank top and a red Make America Great Again baseball cap . . . worn backwards.
Similar to yourself and Trevor, Brian is also stunned into stillness as he gazes, flabbergasted, at the action tableau in the middle of his frat house hallway. Once he recognizes exactly who you are, however, a slimy smile quickly worms its way into existence upon his face. “You dumb motherfucker,” he says with a laugh, lowering his bat towards the floor. “You actually came back AGAIN.”Before Brian can say or do much of anything else besides premature gloating, Stephanie comes up to the doorway. With her lit match discarded, she is able to keep both hands on your pistol and adopts a nigh-professional shooter's stance. The sight of a loaded gun pointed in direction spooks the jock. “SHIT!” he bellows, diving back into his room, baseball bat forgotten. You reaffirm your hold on Trevor so he doesn't think to start resisting again. Your blood runs cold as Brian's sharp whistle reverberates through the fraternity house. “SICC 'EM, BOY!” NOT.GOOD. >Charge down the stairs and out the front door. Forget Trevor. >Grab Trevor and take the express exit together – through the second story window.
>>1339063>Grab Trevor and take the express exit together – through the second story window.We need all the info on how to fight that thing
>>1339063>Grab Trevor and take the express exit together – through the second story window.The beast didn't like the rain, do we have convenient water sources nearby?
>>1339063>Charge down the stairs and out the front door. Forget Trevor. We should probably be more worried about the demon that we can't hurt because we are too much of a weenie.If you had allowed writeins I would have told whatsherface to stop being a stupid gun bunny and start using magic to make a ward or something but since you didn't I'm just going to say OMG, We vote to take him down silently and You make us make the bitch shoot wildly to make a big noise and alert everyone of how retarded we are without even a roll? You brine soaked railroading lizard, why am I even surprised reeeee
>>1339063>Grab Trevor and take the express exit together – through the second story window.
>>1339062I don't like adding politics to this. It always just makes shitstorms. And how could you even see that it was a MAGA hat if it was backwards?
>>1339079It's November 2016. Shit was charged. I'm not going to be able to update before work. That means EITHER ya'll will be waiting until 10 PM OR Trick will pick up the next update, depending on his feelings on the matter. I leave it in his hands.
>>1339089Still, I at least hope that the professor will be wearing a Hillary shirt, or something, so that the bad guys aren't all supporters of one, because that's letting personal biases seep into one's writing, which I don't like.
>>1339101I can confirm right now that Trevor is a Bernie bro.The professor believe its time for Hillary to break the ultimate glass ceiling.MC is a Ron Paul/Rand Paul type of guy. And Stephanie is really into Jill Stein.The demon supports Gary Johnson.
>>1339063>>Grab Trevor and take the express exit together – through the second story window.Quick escape.
I'm home. Gonna call and write in about an hour or two, after I handle Real Life stuff.
>>1340271Yeah I definitely lied. I'll update in the morning; work kicked my ass way harder than I thought.
>>1339070Lol. Although I agree I would've preferred more info on just how much anything could've set her off.>>1338691>She thumbs the safety with practiced ease.I got the impression with this that she was good with firearm safety and wouldn't start flailing wildly shooting bullets if her partner, which she knew was behind her happened, happened to touch her to avoid blowing our cover.>>1338691>You look down to see Stephanie raising your gun at him, cold, righteous hate in her eyes.Although I suppose I should've considered her emotion might overridden her training.>>1341167>Yeah I definitely lied.How could you lie to us, Vox? I can't believe you've done this.
>>1341167Okay, so it is now morning relative to my sleep schedule. I'ma go get my paycheck and then update.
>>1342334>Okay, so it is now morning relative to my sleep schedule.So are you a night owl, perchance?
>>1342322>I agree*I agree in the sense* that is. I don't really know if Trick is known for this type of stuff besides what his name tag says, and I think it'd be a bit too early calling it railroading.
>>1342340My life was not great for many years and one of the side effects is that I'm now most comfortable being awake between about 2 PM and 4 AM. Called, writing.
>>1339063"Window!" you snap at Stephanie. She doesn't argue, she just moves, dashing to it. She flips the lock on it - note to self, not the first time she's done this in a hurry - and wrenches it open before checking the landing. "Bushes," she warns. "Demon," you point out. That's good enough for her. Stephanie drops out the window, landing about as gracefully as you can manage when your end point is thick, leafless shrubbery, and scrambles out of the way. She looks at you in mild shock when you toss Trevor out after her. "Don't let the idiot die," you scold, before you turn for your umbrella. The thing slides into the doorway, screeching in its inhuman voices. You pick up your soaked, rain-spattered umbrella and hope you've been lugging it around all this time for something besides the look of it before you open it directly into the demon's face. It recoils, hissing and screaming at the barrage of rainwater, and you take the opportunity to jump out of the window. You didn't need those ribs to live, right?"It hates rainwater," you groan, picking yourself up. "Burns it bad.""No shit, but the cult is coming now," Stephanie points out. You get up and gesture, and together you go staggering towards the car. "We need to kill the Bathory and then the demon.""Did you have a master plan about that before you gave away our position?" you snap. "What the fuck was that?""They - it's - you wouldn't understand.""Try me.""How about no, Mister Lets-Not-And-Say-We-Did," Stephanie retorts, bitterly. She wrenches open the back door and throws Trevor inside while you get in the driver's seat. "For someone who always made fun of my faith you sure came running fast the minute you thought it would help.""You said you knew magic!""I said that before too!"Dear fucking Jesus this woman. You start the car and keep the headlights off; the frat house is starting to light up, and now is the time to leave while their night vision is still going to be shit. You peel away and get out onto the street, praying to God the campus police force doesn't notice. "You really want to do this now?" you manage, through the pain. "This is the most important thing on your mind?""It sort of is, yes," Stephanie answers back, sounding hurt. "You never understood. You refused to understand. You didn't want to be there on my holy days and didn't want to trust me for some of them by myself -""If this is about Beltane -""Shut the fuck up about Beltane. You didn't trust me. But the minute you got in over your head you came to me in the middle of the night, fucking, just, fucking dying, Rich! Why?""I still love you, alright?" you yell, at what is only not the top of your lungs because you still have a wound near there. There is a long, pregnant silence in the car, punctuated only by Trevor groaning. "What are we doing?" Steph asks, quietly.
>>1343354> Use Trevor as a hostage against Diana> Drop the kid off with a street doc> Hole up and rest, get a plan of attack out of the way in the morning> Circle back around, break in while the frat boys are all gone. Should "just" be the demon then, right?
>>1343371> Hole up and rest, get a plan of attack out of the way in the morningActivate the fire alarm, it'll clear the building of people not in the know. Go in guns a blazing?
>>1343371> feed Trevor some fake Intel about where we are headingThen> drop him off at a street docThen> circle back and watch the placeAnd when the demon leaves to hunt you> blow up the shrineWe can deal with the professor later
>>1343682How bout burning the building down?
>>1343691Well, yeah that would be bad if there were people caught in it. I guess we could go in there and desecrate the shrine manually but we might get in a fight!
>>1343407>>1343834Fire alarm to alert people there is a fire, then firebomb the shit out of that demon shrine thing.
>>1343371I like this >>1343845 combined with this >>1343682
>>1344495Anybody who rushes to the shrine knows about the shit, so I'm not worried about them.
“First,” you begin, forming the plan in your mind as you drive through the streets as fast as you're willing to risk it, half-blind because even the windshield wipers on their fastest setting can't seem to keep the front window clear of rainwater, “We're relieving ourselves of the issue in the back seat.” As if on cue Trevor redoubles his groaning. Steph nods, listening to your words as she draws out your gun and inspects it, ensuring it wasn't broken or damaged in the fall. “Fine, but not in the car. I know of a place we can go where no one will hear – ”“Woah,” you interrupt, casting a sidelong glance at her, forced as you are to keep most of your focus on the road. “That isn't what I meant.”Stephanie stares at you, amazed and simultaneously angered. “You know what he did,” she speaks slowly and venomously, that righteous hate from before returning in full force. “Yeah, he killed a person. At least one. Not the first murderer I've had to deal with. Plus, we were spotted. We're already fucked if Brian and his cronies call the cops to press kidnapping charges.”Your ex shakes her head. “They won't risk involving the police. Ritual human sacrifice – for a demon or eternal youth or prosperity – it is a MUCH different beast than mere murder. This is profane and it can only be remedied with death. His death and then hers, when we find the Bathory. ” You shake your head. “No dice.”She licks her lips and her stare goes cold, before she shifts her gaze to watching the road. “It's hard to believe that little outburst of yours when you still think so little of what I believe.” You grimace. That might have been the nastiest wound you've received all night. “Steph . . .” “How can you love someone when you either don't understand or don't care for what they think?”“I do!” you retort, defensively. “Or . . . I'm trying. I believe you when you say he needs to die. But . . .” “But what?” she asks. You gulp, licking your lips. “The kid has a mother who is worried sick about him right now. That girl he killed – Veronica – she has a family. What they need – what I do – is give people the answers they're looking for. Closure, Steph. It's about the only net good I add to the universe in my life and I can't do that killing people.”You're forced to listen to the sound of the windshield wipers going back and forth for a moment as you finish your spiel. “So what did you mean, then?” she asks, her tone much more conciliatory. “Well, . . .”. . . The bushy-bearded street doc takes another drag off his cigar as he stares down at the lanky, bound and gagged college student staring up at the both of you in wide-eyed terror. You've already gone about taking Trevor's jacket and shirt off, leaving his upper body bare so Solomon can inspect the extent of the damage to the cultist's shoulder.
The man growls, sucking air through his teeth in bursts. “The fuck did you shoot him for, Pierce?” He looks over to you. You sigh out. “Can you fix him up and keep him from bleeding out until I come back?” Solomon knows well enough that asking questions isn't part of your mutual understanding. “We're fucking even after this,” he spits at you. You give him an incredulous look. “It would take a lot for us to be even.”“Neither kidnapping nor babysitting is in my job description. We're fucking even.” “Fine,” you relent. You turn to Trevor, leaning in towards him to have a quick one-sided chat. The boy shrinks away from you, scared out of his wits. “Solomon here,” you explain, jerking your thumb towards the unlicensed medical practitioner, “is very good at what he does. However, he only does what he's paid to do and since I'm cashing in a few favors that leaves things a little up in the air. For example, anesthetic. I just need you alive. Don't really give a flying fuck how much pain you're in. So I'm leaving it in your hands as to whether you think it's prudent to stay on Solomon's good side.” You clap Trevor on top of his wounded shoulder, turning around to see Solomon grinning madly around his cigar before you stride off back to the car. . . . “Now what?” Steph inquires, looking at you curiously.“Now we're going to make a pit stop by my apartment, because I've taken some advice you gave me earlier tonight to heart.” Stephanie crinkles her brow, perplexed. “What advice?” You grin at her. “I think it's time to cast fireball.” “ . . . Mother Goddess preserve me.” . . . You had enough supplies at home to outfit yourself with four molotov cocktails on such short notice. The only downside is that it took you a bit of time to put the materials together and also you now reek of gasoline, petrol and alcohol – a fair bit of that last smell wafting off your breath. It's coming up on six in the morning and the first, bright rays of sunshine are starting to illuminate the University of Michigan's architecture. You've parked again near the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity house. No police cruisers are in sight, so it seems no unrelated bystanders heard and identified the gunshots nor did the cultists attempt to bring the law down upon you. A large portion of the cult might be out and about prowling the nearby area for you and Trevor. Or perhaps many of them are still inside, on the defensive for your inevitable . . . 4th return to their lair. Or fuck – maybe a few of them actually have classes this morning. Whatever the case may be, you need to make a decision quickly. The rain is starting to let up and that means very soon you're no longer going to have a place to hide from the demon. >Look for a direct entrance into the basement you can sneak into. >Enter through the front door and hope for the best.
>>1345404Gonna regret this, but>>Enter through the front door and hope for the best.
>>1345404>Look for a direct entrance into the basement you can sneak into.
>>1345404> look for a direct entrancePity we didn't manage to lure the demon away.
Okay, so: this may end up having to go into another thread. Not because we're planning a twenty update extravaganza or anything but just because work is kicking my shit in and I have no ability to focus. I'm on track for another session of that tomorrow, with Monday being my first chance to write free-and-clear. Thank you for your patience.
>>1350203That's ok, I'm very patient.
>>1350203Sure it's fine.I'll just have to find you and kill you for the iredeemable offense that is refusing for me, the FABULOUS ANON.... Nah seriously it's pretty nice so far, got a real Dresden Files feel that I enjoy, urban fantasy isn't nearly popular enough.
>>1350203Oh, and link back to this thread, if it is still up.