Chapter One: Pandora’s Box (10/28/10)
Two days before Devil’s Night, Athene buys an ornate little chest from a homeless druggie coming in, hoping for a quick buck. Paying far more than he expects (but far less than what she thinks it’s worth), she ferrets out of him the address of where he “found” it, and gets his agreement to keep an eye out for similar finds, before tucking it away on a shelf.
Later that day Angus swings by, as does Jaik (the latter here on an errand for the film-company). Both notice the strange box on the shelf (but only Jaik gets an uneasy sense of foreboding, as his shoulder – where his marred tattoo rests – aches terribly), and Angus buys it on the spot, no questions asked. After the box “breaks” Athene’s skeleton key, he & Jaik take it off to a proper locksmith (Angus desperate to know what is inside, Jaik wishing he didn’t), while Athene takes off to find out what else might be found at the dilapidated house where it was found.
Athene explores the old Victorian period house, clearly abandoned for years, possibly decades, and notes it too has similar markings to the box. After taking many photos and looking over surviving bits of furniture, she heads back to the Castle Mall just in time for when the Locksmith finally breaks the latch open, and all feel as if a wave of pressure has been released. In the box are an assortment of oddities, including a shriveled heart, a stake, a metal plate (with the words “Castle Dracula” on it), two ornate puzzle-boxes (one a ball, one an egg), a wooden duck, a journal and a photo. The journal is in some cipher, and so set aside, but the photo is what catches the most attention. Apparently taken in the mid-1940s, it seems to be a wedding picture, with two men in uniform. A beautiful woman in a wedding dress sits before them, while another man in an archaic tuxedo, and a lady in waiting stand to one side. Most startling are the men in uniform – one Athene identifies as her father, while the other looks identical to Jaik. While they wonder if this might be his father or even grandfather, Jaik admits to his amnesia, and that this is the first evidence of any history prior to several months ago, when he washed up onto the Lake Michigan shore. Angus takes his prizes home, stopping briefly to give the local gang, the “6-pack,” a little financial incentive to protect the Mall from other gangs come Devil’s Night, while Jaik and Athene get back to work.
That night both Athene and Jaik have the same dream, though Jaik is the active participant (Athene merely observes invisibly). In the dream Jaik stands naked at the edge of an overcast Lake Michigan, everything in shades of gray. Across the waters rests an island, where he can hear crying, and sees a woman in white wandering the opposite shore. On his shoulder his tattoo is complete, and glows brightly (though he still cannot make out what it is). He leaps into the water, and struggles to swim to the island, but as he approaches, many eels, snakes and serpents swim out to block his way. Each time they approach though, the tattoo glows brightly and they retreat, until he has nearly reached the island. But there a huge sea serpent rises from the waves, and with a flick of it’s tongue, his tattoo shatters, and he (and Athene) suddenly awake.
Athene comes to in her shop (where she had again fallen asleep after work), and hears someone outside. The lights in the Mall are out (which they shouldn’t be), and the figure approaches the window suddenly, placing hands on the pain. Each hand has a mouth filled with gnashing teeth, as does the face. She suddenly awakes, again, still in her shop in the Mall, though now the lights are on, and there is a scolding Mall security guard telling her to be on her way.
The next day they talk with Angus and after a little research and memory searching, recall local folk-tales relating to an Indian myth regarding a Snake King who imprisoned his daughter on Belle Island, who may be the same as a ghost of an Indian girl murdered there by the Indian Warrior who courted her and found her having an affair with a colonial soldier, the ghost still seen by lovers who go to make out on the island as “the Lady in white.” Jaik takes Athene out for coffee, and as they are getting to know each other they are interrupted by an axe-wielding homeless man smashing through the window. Babbling about him being a “Duke no more,” and how the “Hundred” are coming and soon the “Unshaken God” will awake, the madman chases them out into the street, giving Jaik several cuts before being hit by oncoming traffic. As Jaik watches, smoke pours out of the man’s mouth and dissipates. After he’s taken to the hospital to have stitches, the pair drop by Angus’ home, where he offers to give them sanctuary during Devil’s Night.
Chapter Two: Devil’s Night (10/30/10)
After only working a half-day, Jaik brings T.J. up to date about the last few day’s trying events. T.J. notes faint embossing on the back of Jaik’s mystery photo that he thinks could be names, so they swing by Athene’s Antiques shop at the Castle Mall to see if she has the necessary supplies to make the words clearer. While there meet regular customer “Count” Leland Murphy, eccentric owner of Hotel Carphax just down the street. He seems intrigued and invites them to his “Devil’s Night” party come sundown. Each is perplexed to realize, as the names on the photo become clear, some relation or new detail they’d missed before: Jaik’s name (according to the picture) is Colin Oakes, while T.J. realises the well dressed gentleman is his grandfather, Rudolfo Brown, and Leland (looking over their shoulder) mistakes it all for a well-done Cosplay prop as the woman in the far right is a regular to his events, Nichole Meade. The woman in the wedding dress is names Gail Farley, while Athene’s father is listed as Byron Weaver.
Before heading off to the party, Anthene, T.J. & Jaik dress up and go bar-crawling for several hours. By the time they hit Hotel Carphax, Athene at least is well-marinated, while T.J. has brought along a large number of the tech and costume crew from work. While at the party Jaik begins having a series of odd encounters, ranging from a ghostly little girl wanting her mommy to a 12 foot tall, fez-wearing cockroach eating vicariously through other party-goers. The Fez-wearing roach seems quit startled to see “the Duke,” and promises to leave come morning if he will leave him be. Strangest of all is his run-in with Nichole Meade, who clearly remembers him (possibly intimately as she reintroduces herself by giving him one heck of a kiss) but is otherwise vague as to how they could both be in a picture from the ’40s.
Further discussion is brought up short when a pack of Werewolves on the hunt burst through the windows, trashing the place in their pursuit of joyriding spirits such as the fez-wearing cockroach who (like every Lunacy-driven party-goer) flees as quickly as possible. Having had some forewarning from the still drunk (and now entranced) Athene’s screams that “the wolves are coming,” Jaik and Nichole try to head the wolves off with words while everyone else stampedes from the room. Confused over what, exactly, Jaik is (except “Old,” according to Nichole), as well as Nichole’s mentioning something about them breaking the “Truce,” they decide to take their wild hunt back outside.
Jaik chases after them, as they head off towards the Castle Mall, where he finds them shortly, and not alone. The Castle Mall has become a warzone, the Werewolves heavily outnumbered by strange Spirits of alien and horrific aspect. He gains the special attention of a powerful Joker-faced spirit who calls him “Duke-no-more” and giggles about the release of “the Hundred” and the coming of “the Unshaken God,” before giving him another gruesome cut across his chest. The leader of the pack leaps between them, however, and the Joker-faced spirit (along with the rest of his little army) retreats, popping like so many soap-bubbles. The alpha turns human, and briefly introduces himself as Van Luven and states they should talk soon, before he and the rest of his pack again become wolves and dash away before firemen and the police arrive.
Returning to the Carphax, where Leland and company are picking up the peaces, he does his best to tell them what happened, while they in turn wonder how badly he’s lost his mind. T.J. drags him off to the Hospital (again), while Leland escorts Athene back to the Mall to see what can be salvaged (and keep her from running in to the burning building to save what she can of her shop). By the wee-hours of the morning they all again return to the Hotel to commiserate (and listen to more of Jaik’s “delusional ravings”).
|| Antiquarian Scavenger
|| 4 + 4
|“Count” Leland Murphy
|| 10 + 3
||Man with a past
|| 4 + 4
|| 3 + 1