The Never Ending Rumspringa

It's just a delivery, right?
It never is...

Deborah gave me a call on Monday to give her a hand at the coven’s magic shop. Apparently she was swamped with work and needed me to deliver a package of supplies to a customer. It also turned out to be a test to see how I would interact with non-humans. To be honest, I was a little excited to finally get my feet wet. I took a cab to the location – some abandoned looking warehouse on Grays Ferry. It was right next to that broken billboard I always pass by and I swear it says, “Checks Cashed, Murders.”

I was met by Mr. Brogan, a goblin, and was suprised by his operation. About a dozen of other goblins working on a number of cars. Can you believe it? A goblin chop-shop. Aside from the fact they were goblins, it was pretty ordinary. Brogan signed for his package, but just before I could leave, a surprise shipment came through the warehouse door. It was this massive crate and whatever was inside kept slamming against the wood.

Then it happened. Tentacles burst through the wood and grabbed two nearby goblins. The whole place just erupted into chaos. All the mechanics pulled out their guns and turned the crate into so much Swiss cheese. It didn’t stop it though. The two goblins were pulled into the crate. I don’t know what happened, but the poor sods probably suffered horribly. Brogan ran out the door and I screamed to everyone to get out just as I started firing shots into the crate.

Before anyone could respond, the crate burst open and a massive tentacled beast with gnashing teeth stood in the middle of the warehouse. It was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. It grabbed two more goblins, but everyone else was able to make it out okay. That’s when Brogan, that crazy bastard, came barreling into the warehouse slamming his car into the monster. Nearly killed him, too. Brogan went through the windshield and was out like a light. I barely managed to pull him out of the warehouse to safety after the monstrosity got a nasty bite on me.

Thank God I prepared the spells I had. I made the hand symbols the coven had taught me and mouthed the strange words for the Shield spell. I felt that weird tingle on the back of my neck and knew it had taken effect. I ran in and barely pulled off my Burning Hands spell as the Shield spell did its job and deflected the tentacled attacks. Fortunately, it seemed to do the trick and the tentacles made a sickening pop sound as they “snapped” off and dropped the other goblins. We hightailed it out of there while that thing wailed in its pain.

Brogan mourned the loss of Bill and Ted, but he thanked me for the help and said if I needed anything repaired or a ride, I could give him a call. He also clued me into a fighting ring he holds every Friday night and suggested I come and participate. And Deborah said I handled myself pretty well considering the extraordinary circumstances.

Now to take a nice long bubble bath and let myself heal up.

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Another Day, Another Dollar

So I got a nice little paycheck from Deborah for my help with Brogan last week and boy did I need that. I can actually afford things now! She did have some follow up work that she needed done, though. The crate that was sent to Brogan’s shop was apparently from a group called PTC and she wanted me to look into it. Her best guess is that they’ve been specifically targeting our clients and we needed to know the “who” and the “why.”

Naturally, I went straight to work and discovered that they’re a shipping company called Planar Trading Company. Their website was a god-awful mess, but I was able to pull some information and got a copy of their shipping manifest. According to the records, there were two other shipments made around the same time Brogan got his otyugh-filled crate. One was to the Academy of Natural Sciences and the other was to Spider, a new restaurant/night club on 3rd and Chestnut.

I did some digging on Spider first and found some odd reports of vandalism and assaults on employees that were never followed up on. I think the management dropped the charges every time there was an incident. Figured I’d check the place out first. My impression of the place? Ritzy. I picture lots of young Philly socialites spending their nights here to enjoy the food and be seen. Not really my scene or in my price range. Also, the maitre d’ was a massive shadowkind – bugbear probably. I said I worked for the Daily News and asked him to leave a message with the management to call me back in regards to an interview.

Then, I did a quick casing of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Turns out the place was closed due to some kind of incident. My guess is they already got hit with the same type of thing Brogan did. It was getting kind of late and I really didn’t want to sneak into the museum so I decided to check out Brogan’s fight club instead.

I drove over to Brogan’s place where he lead me downstairs to a hidden basement area. I got the quick rundown of how the fights go. You can use anything you have access to, but try to keep the collateral damage down. Even live ammo gets a green since they have their own medics on standby. The place was packed – mostly goblins and other humans, but there were some other shadowkind that I’d never seen before – and it was like a European soccer game crowd on steroids.

My first fight was with a minotaur called Bolero. I know right? Even so, the guy looked dangerous. Brogan told me to watch out for his charge since one stab from those horns would probably end me. Then I had to suffer the most dreaded part of fight club – coming up with a code name. The best I cold blurt out was “Nightshade.” God, I’m so lame.

Once the fight started, I barely managed to dodge Bolero’s initial charge. The guy’s fast! I managed to pull of my shield spell before he started to wail on me and it barely held. I got off a couple shots on him (kind of hard to miss a giant minotaur) before he backed up for another charge. I managed to close the distance and started taking more shots as I circled around him. Unfortunately, I forgot about the pipe he had picked up earlier and he somehow landed a pretty nasty blow to my head. We were both pretty banged up, but I ended the fight using my burning hands spell as a nice little finale’. I think I singed the crowd a bit, but they still ate it up.

Got paid for a job well done. My head still hurts though and the weird doc didn’t do much to help. Probably some kind of quack.

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It's Never that Easy

Decided to take it easy today and do some research on the Academy of Natural Sciences. Managed to find out the curator was Alice Hardy and I managed to get her personal contact info to boot. I called her up and discussed the “incident” at the museum.

She was still kind of shaky on the details, but some strange animal that looked like a dog had broken into the exhibit and attacked a number of people. Thankfully, no one was killed, but one of their interns, Ariel Oakwood, had gone missing. Some more digging turned up that she was an anthropology grad student at Penn. But that’s about all I could get.

Alice agreed to let me see the security footage, but said it was pretty bad and that I wouldn’t be able to get a good look at the thing. I figured I’d have to fiddle with the tape to improve the quality, but once I watched the footage I realized it wouldn’t be necessary. The footage wasn’t blurry because it was low quality. It was blurry because the damn thing was a displacer beast! There it was in all its blurry glory attacking a few people and demolishing some of the exhibit’s installations. Then it hit me. It wasn’t just going crazy in there. It had specific targets and was systematically going after them. Alice had mentioned the exhibit was named “Real Monsters” and was showcasing various items related to the myths of all kinds of monsters. The targets must have been related to shadows somehow.

Gah! My head hurts now. I miss the old delivery jobs.

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Brunch or Death?

No news from Spider so figured I’d have to take the initiative today and do a little infiltration work. I was worried the maitre d’ would remember who I was so I came up with this elaborate story to get myself into the place, but when I got there in the morning he just said, “Deliveries in the back.”

O…kay.

I walked around towards the back, did the incantations for my magic ID spell, and managed to pass myself off as a health inspector. Everything was pretty much in order. The kitchen looked pretty standard and a search of the area didn’t reveal much. So I headed down the elevator to the club area. Christ, the place must have cost several arms and legs to make. It was a freaking underground cave molded into a club scene. And there was an honest to goodness lagoon!

I did some more searching and found an open crate in the storage room. It was about the same size as the one Brogan received and the inside had a lot of scratches as if there used to be something alive inside it. Not good. Not a good sign at all.

I pulled out my gun and took a closer look around the club area, but couldn’t find anything. That meant the only place it could be hiding was the lagoon. I tried to look inside the water, but all I could see was my reflection. So, I put a light spell on a spoon from a nearby table and tossed it in to see what was inside. I will say that his probably wasn’t one of my most intelligent ideas, but what else was I going to do? I sure as hell wasn’t going to put my face up to it or stick my hand in.

And that’s when it all went to hell. I almost dropped a brick in my pants when I saw the reptilian monster at the bottom of that pool of water. It opened its eyes and the whole lagoon exploded in a frothy mess. I ran for cover and to keep some distance between us, but it was pointless. The thing just opened it’s fanged maw and spat out a stream of acid at me. I took a couple shots at it, but I don’t think I hurt it at all. I made a mad dash to the elevator, but the thing just caught up to me like it was nothing. I put up my shield spell and managed to make it to the elevator just as the thing broke through my shield and clamped its teeth into my shoulder. And that’s when I passed out.

All I could think as I lost consciousness was that I was really going to die here. This thing’s going to eat me in this over-the-top James Bond-esque club. I should’ve stayed in Lancaster. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t the end. I woke up to that odd quack of a doctor from the fight club and two slim, dark-skinned men were looking over me – kind of reminded me of that time I was in Cancun. Twin drow and two bugbears (I think?). What the hell did I get myself into.

After a short talk, I spilled the beans and we swapped info. I mean, I was still alive and they seemed the kind of the honest sort. The slick looking one was Kerrinor and he said he was the owner of Spider. The other one was his assistant, Deryn. The best we could figure out was the crate was sent by a faction of PTC that’s been trying to wrest control from its current leader, Estevan. Three of his associates – Alc’arteth, Pain Bringer, and Bittle Beak – were apparently making a power play and “encouraging” PTC’s clients to side with them. Kerrinor turned them down and that’s apparently why they were sent a crate with a crazy ass dragon in it.

He said the Corsone family was also making a similar move, so there may be a connection. It also explains the assaults and vandalism reports. I’ve got to figure this all out, but right now I need a cold beer and a lot of sleep. This is getting ridiculous.

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Retrieval Specialist

So I got a call from Deryn, Kerrinor’s assistant, regarding Kerrinor’s lost cell phone. To make up for the help they gave me last time we met, he said this would even things out. I’m not particularly keen on debt, so figured this was a good deal to be had.

The cell phone apparently has sentimental value. That and some really important, confidential information on it. Deryn said that it’s probably at a warehouse owned by the Corsone syndicate – of course. It’s located down in the Italian Market named, aptly, Mom & Pop’s Italian Goods. Some initial research into the place turned up little info. It’s a pretty clean cut produce store that’s been operating for the last 20 years after the couple moved to Philly from Italy.

I finally did a little stakeout (how cool is that!) and managed to sneak into the back of the place. I managed to get into the basement which lead to this massive storage area. I don’t think this is normally included in typical South Philly establishments. Before I knew it, it all went to hell. Guards found me and I think I blew up their generator.

I did manage to find the cell phone in one of the storage areas after fending off more guards and a freakin’ panther! In hindsight, when it turned back into this onyx statue, I should’ve nabbed it. Poop. Whatever. In the end, I got the cell phone back to Kerrinor, paid off my debt, and managed to get home in one piece. I count that as a win.

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Love is in the Air
The Great Sexscapade

It finally happened. My turn came up and I got stuck on cash register duty at the Raven’s Loft Occult Shop. Fortunately (sort of), the night wasn’t an uninteresting one after Devon came in with a guy practically on his arm. Which is weird, considering he’s totally a lady’s man. I guess the rumor’s were true.

Anyway, it seemed like he was trying to show off to his “friend” and gave the guy a tour of the shop. When Devon started trying to get into the shop’s special vault, the red flag popped up. I suggested he probably shouldn’t be doing that and in the end, he got a nice shock from the arcane lock on the door. For some reason that didn’t deter Devon and he wandered into our magic stock looking for something – probably a dispel scroll or something. I gave Caleb a call to update him and then I tried to buy some time. A good old Obscuring Mist helped a little, but the real hero was Devon who’s ineptness at casting spells off of scrolls bought us enough time for the firemen to show up. After I set off the fire alarm. And cast Burning Hands on the guy. After he charmed me. And after he french kissed the life force out of me. ‘course he grabbed Devon and ran.

I hate that guy.

Caleb was pretty understanding considering his shop was… um… a disaster zone? The coven decided to gather and perform a Locate ritual to find Devon and I was sent out to do what I apparently do – field work. One expensive Unitarian Church visit and Restoration spell later, I entered Devon’s apartment and found out he’d been to Bliss – a gay club. So next stop, Bliss! For brunch!

Embarrassingly enough, it turned out the mysterious guy’s name was Rizwan and he had pictures of himself plastered all over Bliss. I headed back to the coven to check on Deborah’s progress with the ritual spell and they confirmed Devon was at Bliss. I need to get some kind of mileage program going with the coven with all this driving.

I managed to get past the front door by casting Haywire on the poor coat check’s automatic coat hanger. As I snuck into the back behind the stage to try and get to Rizwan’s place upstairs I was assailed by four anatomically correct mannequins. I guess we know where he gets those strippers from. Good ol’ Shield kept me safe, but Burning Hands just made them walking fire hazards. I managed to run past them upstairs into Rizwan’s place only to find the most interesting thing.

Devon was jackhammering Rizwan like there was no tomorrow. Holy crap. That’s one way to get your life force sucked out. That’s when I realized I completely forgot to prepare for a fight with Rizwan. Who I learned earlier was a succubus/incubus. Damn you my crappy short term memory! I had to get Devon out, but there was no way I could take down Rizwan and the four fiery mannequins were tailing me upstairs. So I did what any normal person would do in my situation. I stole Rizwan’s wallet and glasses, and then snagged a video of the whole sex scene on my cell phone. After that, I managed to get the jump on the lovers, wrapped Devon in a curtain, and burst out of the window into the rose bushes below. It was like out of an action movie.

I don’t know how we managed it, but neither of us had a scratch on us. I returned Devon back to the coven where he could recover from the charm and drain, and I cashed in Rizwan’s wallet. Not exactly the perfect night, but hardly the worst.

Now excuse me, I have to upload a certain video into a secure database server for safe keeping.

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Ephram's Inbox

from hottguydevon@gmail.com

Yo, uh, sorry for being a douche at the store. As you know, I wasn’t in control of my actions. In fact, not only do I not remember anything that happened, everything I did was because I was under a compulsion. I don’t know where I met that guy, but, yeah, I was not in control of any of my actions, and I just wanted to make sure you knew that I’m not normally like that, you understand. So, yeah, just wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t in control of my actions, and so anything that happened I wouldn’t normally do.

So, uh, sorry.
Devon.



from rizwan@bliss.nightclub.com

You, good sir, are on my shit list. You cost me a lot of time and money, and ruined a very important venture for me. You owe me $120k for my ruined dancers, $9k for my wallet, $80k for my custom-made designer glasses, and $100k in fire damage, not to mention the unspecified loss-of-revenue caused from having to close the club for repairs.

I’ll make sure to collect what you owe. Current balance: $309,000.

Of course, we could always settle your debt in bed.

Rizwan Einziger
Owner and CEO of Bliss Nightclub Ventures
www.bliss.nightclub.com

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