Compelling Darkness (pt 1)

It was their first day out at sea and there, in the distance, was an island. An island, the Captain Mildred Fairweather was saying to the group of squabbling rogues and outcasts that made up their small mercenary band, that appeared on no chart. It was a great concern, of course. What wonders would await? What treasures could be uncovered? What were the chances of their good smuggler Captain marooning them at the slightest opportunity?

Delphie had stretched all three feet of her lithe little self out along the decks of the forecastle, enjoying the midday sun and the steady wind. She had but to turn her head slightly to look out over the sea to the dot of land off to port, her view only slightly hindered by the gunwale. As the wind tousled her mop of  raven black hair, she breathed a sigh of grattitude that she was no longer shut up in the small room that had been apportioned for them belowdecks. It had smelled of sweat, old straw and dried bile, and they had been packed in so tightly that even the few short hours within had been unbearable. Continue reading →

The Fifth Floor: Break-ins and Bribery

This post is one in a series of Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to start from the beginning, or read the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

The group now has files for the three murder victims on hand, but none of them offer any additional insight. Certainly all three murders are a bit odd. The young woman’s body was left on display in a nearby park. Juniper isn’t exactly known for packs of wild dogs roaming its street, so the case of the senior citizen who died in a “dog attack” seems suspect. And the third victim’s death was particularly brutal. But only the third victim, one Hector McNeil, has any obvious connection to Shady Acres, where he worked as a nurse’s aide. Having happened barely a week ago, it’s also the most recent death of the three.

In fact, McNeil’s death is so recent that the group arrives at his apartment building to discover that the apartment is still behind crime scene tape. But the place seems entirely empty of cops, the apartment is only on the third floor, and McNeil’s apartment has an out-facing window. And so the party decides to investigate McNeil’s home in true Hunter style: by breaking in.

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The Fifth Floor: Blowing Over

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

Now that John’s alone, he takes the opportunity to explore the coma ward more thoroughly. Unsurprisingly, he mostly finds old people in comas, including Felix’s new friend Mary Louis. Unlike John’s own grandmother, Mary Louis seems tense, even in a coma. A folder containing her medical charts has been left on a nearby table, and John picks it up and leafs through it. Last updated a month ago, her charts actually show significant brain activity, which spikes every 16-18 months before dropping off.

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Something’s Gotta Give

Cracadoom Island wasn’t really the kind of place where one could take it easy. Filled to the brim with smugglers, pirates, mercenaries, cutthroats, cutpurses, and crafty sword merchants (who made a killing off of daggers alone, but who rarely slept easy at night), it was the kind of place where you kept an eye in the back of your head, lest you lose it.

That being said, on that day the sun shone bright on the tropical island, and the ramshackle wharf’s many smokehouses and ale shacks were crowded with lazy nogoodnicks too busy fighting off the mid-day heat to bother fighting one-another. Toothless old crooks sat in the shade and stared out at the sea – forgetting their spiderwebs of puppeted contacts and bootlicking and bribes that had kept them alive so far and remembering instead their glory days out on the blue, the salt in their bones calling them back. Continue reading →

The Fifth Floor: Man Eating Man

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

After stalling the police outside his house long enough for Shannon and Felix to slip safely out the back door, John heads back to Shady Acres, where his grandmother has been successfully transferred to the centre’s coma ward during all the other excitement. As expected, she seems to be sleeping peacefully when he arrives. John talks to her as he sets up her personal effects,  telling her about the incident of astral projection and other associated weirdness at Shady Acres. He adds that he’s got a friend in trouble when his grandmother suddenly sits up in bed.

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The Fifth Floor: Evading Pursuit

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

A little while after Agent Greenwood pulls away, Felix wanders back down the hallway. “Is she the woman on TV with the FBI badge? Because she sounds like the woman on TV with the FBI badge.”

“If not,” John says, “she’s a very good impersonator.”

“Well… thanks.”

“But, to fill you in,” John continues, “you need help, and apparently things will go better if you turn yourself in.”

“Okay, thanks. I’m seriously considering it.”

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The Fifth Floor: Blood Bank

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

After Felix’s apparent brush with possession in the Shady Acres lobby and the subsequent discovery of Mary Louis’s presence in the coma ward upstairs, the group decides to keep investigating. Over the next several hours, they learn that there have been several odd deaths in the area, although none actually on the premises; that the Phoenician runes decorating the building apparently have something to do with eyesight; and that the place apparently used to be owned by mobsters.

Shannon also finds a relatively credible-seeming source that suggests there are spirits active in the area, even a few incidents similar to what happened to Felix. None of the activity is what one might expect from ancient spirits, and a neighbourhood haunted by little old ladies is starting to look entirely plausible. Felix, on the other hand, finds something entirely more dramatic: according to the sources he’s unearthed, Shady Acres is nothing more than a blood bank for vampires.

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The Fifth Floor: Astral Possession

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

Shannon ushers a very confused Felix out the front door. Once they’re out of earshot of security, she turns to him. “Okay, seriously. Are you messing with me?”

“I don’t know,” Felix says. “What did I do?”

Shannon studies him for a moment. “You really don’t remember, do you?”

“No!” he protests.

“Okay. So… do you have any idea why you might have thought you were a 94-year-old woman?”

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The Fifth Floor: Day One on the Run

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

While John is still at the hospital and Felix is watching people say nasty things about him on the news, Shannon is elbow-deep in research material. She hasn’t head from John or Felix yet, after all, and her studio is still closed in the wake of Bella and Louisa’s deaths, so she takes the opportunity to learn more about the creatures that killed her coworkers.

Eventually, she finds some credible-looking information on creatures called Tuscany Tonguebeasts, who seem to be a match for what we faced, and sends it to John. In reply, John texts her his address and asks if she would mind checking on “Duke” (for the benefit of any listening wiretaps, of course).

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The Fifth Floor: Late-Breaking News

This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.

The party’s quest to stop the tentacle-tongued monsters of Disco Nuit could generously be called a mixed success, but right now there’s nothing anyone can do except go home and hope for the best. Felix, of course, can’t even do that, since “home” is probably the first place the police will look. He accepts John’s offer of a ride and a couch to crash on, at least for now, and the two of them head back to the house that John shares with his grandmother.

After arriving back at his place and making sure that Felix won’t get eaten by his dog, John goes to check on his grandmother. She seems to be sound asleep, but she hasn’t taken her medication, and she doesn’t respond when John tries to wake her up.  All her vital signs seem normal when he checks her over, but she still won’t wake, so he calls an ambulance.

Once at the hospital, he’s approached in the waiting room by a man who introduces himself as Dr. Bob Johnson. The prognosis: She’s had a major stroke, and the activity in her brain has dropped off as a result. She doesn’t require life support, and it’s possible she’ll wake from her coma in the future, but right now she needs round-the-clock care.

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