Game Time: March 17th, 2012
Real World: October 30, 2012
The knocking at the door pulls Alex away from the rest as they discuss the clues and next steps. Through the peep hole he spots a rather upset stepfather.
“Antonio. Hi. Listen, about this morning.” Alex pauses as he takes a closer look at Antonio. There are rips in his clothing and is that blood?
A quite, strained voice replies.
“Get your coat. We are going to Edinburgh. Now.”
“They got your mother.”
“The Red Court.”
“You make one ugly human Isaac.” says Dom holding the history book.
“I am a god as a fey!”
Ignoring the exchange Alex heads out with barely a word to the others asking them only to lock up when they leave. Not one to miss opportunity Paddy makes his way around the condo ending up in the kitchen putting a sandwich together. Isaac has similar plans for the liquor cabinet. Imogene tries to slow Isaac down, but no one can hold back the master of vice for long.
Sandwich in hand Paddy continues his tour of Alex’s home. Just before entering the doorway Dom slips in front of him for the his various weapons on the bed.
“What else do you think he keeps in here?”
“That wasn’t me”
The pair look around the room. Dresser, closet, night stand, bathroom.
“Uh, Imogene; Isaac. You might want to come in here. It’s getting weird.”
Carefully the foursome check out the bedroom suite. Very nice and empty bathroom. A good size closet with some great clothes. Nothing under the bed.
Paddy is sure the voice came from the bed.
“Hi there. Who are you again?”
Definitely from the bed. Likely the staff thrown on the bed.
“I just brought that for Alex.” notes Dom as he carefully removes his weapons from the bed.
“You mean the bo staff?” asks Isaac.
The four back out of the room and close the door carefully. Never mess with a mages swag.
“That’s enough strange for me for one night boys. I’m heading home. Try to leave the place standing.” Imogene heads out. The other three chat for a bit before heading out to find some schwarma.
Iomgene tries wiping the weariness out of her eyes. Staying up late last night had not been a good idea. The Tracking Flour potion had not found anyone besides her and the girls in the upstairs bathroom. How had those PROJECT TOMORROW tags gotten into her wastebasket up there?
She spots Mary coming out of the kitchen with a tray of fresh bakes goods to put into the front display. Could it be that easy?
“Mary, do you know what this is?”
“Project Tomorrow? Yeah. It’s a charity organization that helps people get off the street. Soup kitchen, shelter and a second hand store. Isabella and I got some clothes there a while back.”
Dom shuffles Imogene’s bags of donations around once more. “So this place is just a few more blocks, right?”
“Been meaning to give some of these things for a while now.”
“So how do you want to play it?”
“Let me do the talking here.”
Imogene walks into the second hand store and strikes up a conversation with the store’s clerk. Project Tomorrow’s has roots with a number of small religious groups in the local area. Their main focus is providing a first step to help those who are looking for their first steps to get off the streets. After meeting Guyzell Cooper who runs the shelter, and a small local church, the pair volunteer to help out that evening in the soup kitchen.
Isaac slips into the soup kitchen. Faces of nearby patrons at the odor he is giving off tells him his disguise is more than adequate. Scowling he grabs some soup and finds a seat.
“Where you from stranger?”
Isaac plays it cool. “Around. I hear the soup here is pretty good.”
“Meh. There is better. But they don’t preach you up here.”
“I miss Ms. Maria’s brownies though.”
“Ms. Maria. She use to give us brownies after we left. They were so good.”
“Don’t pay attention to him. Coke head.”
“Man, I never touched the junk.”
Isaac is quick to pick up on the opportunity to get this chatty guy alone. “I know where to get some killer brownies. Just like Ms. Maria’s.”
“You serious man? "
“Yeah. Come on.”
“How much longer man. I need my brownie!”
Conrad’s rant starts becoming physical. Isaac and Paddy quickly subdue the man into a bawling pile of pathetic. Isaac gets on a phone booth at a local CTA station and calls Imogene.
“Gonna need some brownies. And something to calm this guy down. Fast.”
“I got just the thing.”
Imogene pulls out of her special supply some brownies she had baked this morning. It just had seemed right somehow. Brownies of Contentment.
They navigate Conrad back to the shop and the brownies. As the magic sinks in he calms down and shares Maria had stopped coming to the mission a few weeks ago. Maria had provided some brownies that made him feel stronger and faster. With the little information he had out Conrad heads back out onto the streets a calm and content.
Paddy shadows Conrad for a bit wandering the streets ending up in Millennium Park. Bored while watching Conrad sleep he thinks on Isaac’s comments about the Resko connection. Causally he wanders up to building on N. Elston and the former offices of Rezmar Corp.
The lock on the door is simple enough to pop and Paddy slips under the various police tapes. The lobby is mostly empty. He makes his way back to the executive offices. Mr. Resko’s old office is nearly empty except for a lamp, desk and a few empty boxes.
In the hall Paddy notices the office next door has a name placard of Jack Bowling. Could it be the J.B. from the book? Opening the door he sees an empty office. Around the office are some yellow sticky notes that say things like “Book Shelf” and “Old Oil Painting”. He takes two of them and heads out.
While locking the door he notices a new sticky right by the lock. “Paddy, meet me in the car garage at the end of the block, 5th floor. 5 minutes. – J.B.”. Paddy rushes with inhuman speed downstairs and toward the meeting spot. Whomever this JB is not only did he realize Paddy was here, he knew about his unnatural speed as on one else could make this distance in such a short time.
Paddy palms and forehead felt hot as they always do when he truly sprints. Eventually a high end car circled down from the upper floors, the driver side tinted window rolling down as it approached Paddy.
“Good day young Mr. Murphy.”
“Hello Mr. Bowling.”
Jack Bowling is an older man, but in good health despite the white hair. He hides his eyes behind mirrored glasses. He does not look like a man in trouble with the law or without his fortune. The pair sits in silence for a moment before Jack breaks it.
“I don’t have long Mr. Murphy.” The voice was so devoid of emotion it was almost metallic.
“You know my name. You want to tell me what’s going on?”
“Having some strange things happen recently? More than usual?”
“Yeah. The library. That book.”
“Good. You’ve found the secret library.”
Paddy sighed internally. Why does Jack need to be so obtuse?
“So, are you going to tell me what is going on?”
“Don’t assume that things are always as they seem. I want you to imagine something for a moment, Mr. Murphy. Imagine you are in charge of protecting something. You know that if too much attention is paid to what you are doing, then someone might come after this thing you are protecting, or they might come after you. Now, how would you go about ensuring that too much attention was never paid to you?”
Paddy tries to make sense of what he was hearing. Isaac is the conspiracy buff. He would know what to ask. This is just annoying.
“I’ll tell you, Mr. Murphy. You set up a charismatic decoy. Someone to draw attention.”
“So Rezko is just what? A front man?”
Bowling ignored the question and continued with his story. “The decoy allowed others to work behind the scenes, unnoticed and unhindered. Now imagine that this decoy was, while useful, still expensive to maintain. And then one day, fairly recently, we were done. And the decoy was no longer needed. So my employers are letting him fall.”
Paddy started to get annoyed. “Do you have anything to say that will be the least useful or make any sense what so ever?”
“Stay with your friends. They will lead you to the answers you seek. They have your back. And you will have theirs. It is all you will have for the coming darkness.”
“Uh-huh. So you got nothing then. Can you at least send me a post card from where ever you are going?”
“Perhaps Mr. Murphy. May good luck pursue you each morning and night.”
Bowling put the car into drive and leaves the garage. Paddy vows someday he will find whomever creates these odd ball oracles and give them something to think about.
Isaac took another sip of the soup from the Project Tomorrow kitchen. It was not that tasty. Soon he could be home with a nice glass from his home collection and get back on the new track he had found. There were 5 construction projects Rezko had been involved with in the past year through his generous donations. The library, the hospital and the church were all involved. The next two was a conference area in the Museum of Industrial Science and a construction site for a new mixed income condo tower in downtown. First, focus on that task at hand.
The conversation so far had been pretty dark. Gangs getting tougher. More beatings and fewer safe places for those on the streets to catch a nap. Almost everyone claimed to know a guy who knew a guy that disappeared.
“Hey new boy. Heard you took Conrad out this morning. You must be one tough dude. That guy is seriously messed up.”
“Ah, he’s a softy. Just needed some sweets and he calmed right down.”
“Well brother, we owe you one. This is the first peaceful meal we have had hear since he first showed up. Heard he was sleeping off what ever it was you gave him off in the park.”
Meanwhile in the kitchen Imogene rushed into Gyzuell’s office to grab some medicine as he was suddenly ill. While in the office she by chance comes across an old address listing with Maria’s home address. “You have guided me here and I will follow” she prayed, slipping the address into her purse. She then hurried out with the medicine.
Antonio had seemed preoccupied instead of quizzing him the entire way to Edinburgh. Alex asked him about the unlock symbol. Antonio said it was part of a process to tear down a powerful ritual called the Five Locked Walls, designed to protect someone. He did not inquire why Alex would be asking about it.
Antonio left Alex at the first guard post due to some sort of major diplomatic event limiting access. It had been a long, boring wait. Then the vision came.
The old Native American said his mother was very ill with a magical plague created by the Red Court. Edinburgh was off limits or the plague she carried would spread. The Indian and Antonio were already caught in its grasp. They would care for her as long as they could. Alex needed to find the cure or they were all lost.
The final words of the message still echoed in his mind. “Seek out your new friend the Coyote. He shall lead you to the Green Woman; And she to the cure.” As the portal returning Alex to Chicago closed the cold Chicago wind cut through his coat.