Gateway to Darkness

Session 3

The Shoot-out
The session began with hell breaking loose: A dark-clad stranger has just killed someone in the back of The Second Circle, Darren was witness to at least the immediate aftermath, and a swarm of armed gang-bangers just broke into the club and started shooting up the place. The patrons panicked and fled in every which direction; those who couldn’t get to an exit huddled in any safe spot they could find. The bouncers and the dancers, on the other hand, began to fight with the thugs, returning gunfire and engaging them in hand-to-hand fighting.

The Grims began by leaping behind the bar, trading magical blasts for gunfire. Church assisted one of the dancers being assaulted, but ended up succumbing to several bullet wounds and passing out. His brother attempted to bring the whole affair to a fast close by chucking a handful of liquor bottles into the air and then blasting them with a burst of fire magic, but only succeeded in furthering the chaos; while many of the thugs took a faceful of flaming glass, so did the dancers, as did Finlay.

Finlay ran down from the VIP level to engage the thugs in combat. He eventually opted for grabbing a chair and smacking the goons around. Donovan joined him eventually, though he tripped down the stairs on his way to the main level, and then spent some time sneaking around the room, trying to look like a fleeing patron to the thugs.

Darren, meanwhile, got the jump on the man in the suit and plugged him in the shoulder at close range. Panicked, the man scrambled up the wall and crashed through a small window near the ceiling. Drawn by the sound of gunfire, Darren went back out to the main floor, witnessed the chaos, and began helping Finlay fight off his attackers.

When the chaos finally settled down, Kirk began working on patching Church up, who eventually came around. Finlay was approached by one of the dancers, who was oozing an unsettling pink blood from various small wounds. She thanked him for lending a hand during the fight, and Finlay replied with a warning to keep their holdings on high alert.

Darren and Donovan snuck back to the office to scope out the scene of the crime, eventually joined by Finlay and the rest. A quick survey tells them that the deceased is Will Paxton, now-former manager of the club. Darren notices a chunk of suit jacket on the broken shards of the window, left behind by the fleeing stranger. He also spies a small safe in the corner, and politely asks Finlay if he’d “magic” it open so that he could check for any clues to the crime. Finlay complies, revealing substantial piles of cash and several bags of crack. Darren pockets the cash, mumbling something about, “Evidence.” Finlay mops up a small bit of the blood from the stranger, courtesy of Darren’s quick reflexes, and the group makes its way back to Finlay’s home.

The Hunt
Once back to Finlay’s, Church and Kirk prepare a spell to track down the mystery man, using the piece of coat and the swatch of blood retrieved from the office.

While the twins work the spell, the remaining three find Krystowicz to ask him a bit more about the situation. They describe the stranger to him and ask if he knows him, or why this man might be involved in the death threats. Krystowicz is absolutely stumped, but he thinks he’s seen someone similar before; he may have seen someone of that description talking, away from the office, to other members of the board of Runis. The thought depresses him; he’s partly worried for their safety, partly aghast at the thought his colleagues and friends could be involved.

The spell complete, the group takes off, with Kirk leading the group after a trail of blood only he can see. The path takes them to another seedy neighborhood on the north side of the city, several blocks away from the house the ghouls came from. There are people out and about, but when the group reaches its destination, a miserable-looking apartment building, there is not a soul in sight. Most of the external lights on this building are out, and none are visible through the windows, the lobby being a single exception.

The group finds a side entrance to the building, and Kirk gets the door open with a crushing kick. The door flies open, and a dark stairwell is revealed beyond. A few people hit their lights, and reveals a tall stairwell drenched in blood. Most of it is long dried, but there seems to be a fresh trail of it slicking the stairway as it leads up.

When they finally reach the 8th floor, the seeming location of the stranger, Donovan shifts into an insect and crawls beneath the security door to the floor, then pops up to let the rest of the group in. The hallway is one long room with doors on alternating sides; there are no lights on, but the group’s lights reveal a dead man at the end of the bloody trail, his neck completely torn apart. The group moves on to the apartment at the end of the hall where their mark is, and Kirk once again smashes the door open, despite the locks.

Feeling the thrill of the hunt, the two Grims rush into the apartment. It is quite well furnished, given the poverty of the rest of the neighborhood. A well-lit living room is at the end of a short entry way, with a couch, a computer desk, and a TV. From out of the darkness of the bedroom, out of view of the entrance to the apartment, the stranger leaps out and lays an incredible punch across Kirk’s jaw. Shortly thereafter, his skin melts away, revealing a hideous bat-like creature beneath; the stranger is a Red Court Vampire.

The group makes quick work of him; the magic of Church, Kirk, and Finlay is enough to put a big hurt on the vampire, and Darren’s combat shotgun finishes the job. After the vampires collapses, Finlay drags the dying vampire up to the roof, while the rest of the group searches the apartment. The magic used to down the vampire fried the computer, but near the printer the group finds a list of names. In the bedroom, they also discover an ID badge, but it bears only a barcode and a logo for a company named Cyberia.

Up on the roof, Finlay has assembled a fast ward to prevent the vampire from escaping. The vampire started coming around right about the time the rest of the group returned from their search. The vampire made a few half-hearted attempts to break out of the ward, but his injuries prevented any real success.

The ultimatum was clear: Dawn was coming, and the vampire needed to tell them what he knew. Why was he trying to have Krystowicz killed? Boss’s orders. Who is the boss? He refused to answer. How many of them were there? Well, there were 5 others leading the charge, but soon they’d be drowning in vampires. The names on the list? Targets. When did they make it? Before they came to St. Louis, about 6 months ago. One of the people on the list, Thomas Downs, was already dead when they arrived. William Stephens may as well have been. Tierney Hogan, Finlay’s grandfather, was also on the list. The vampire laughed. “Don’t really know how your grandfather died, did you, boy?” Finlay was not happy to hear this, but the vampire stopped talking and stared at the sky, waiting for the sunrise.

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Session 2

The party continued its encounter with the pair of ghouls there to kill Krystowicz. The ghouls had both been blasted into the house, and Church had previously laid down an ice slick within.

Church attempted another spell, this time one of decay and rot. Unable to control the spell, however, it ended up hitting the floor, causing the floorboards to quickly rot. The ghouls made to escape, but the now fragile floor combined with the slippery ice prevented them from escaping.

Darren, seeing his opportunity, took aim at a chandelier in the entry way of the house and fired, severing its connection the ceiling. It crashed into the fragile floor, bringing Church and both ghouls crashing into a recreation room in the basement. Church was lucky enough to land on a couch; the ghouls managed to soften their landings with a foosball and a pool table, respectively. They struggled back up the stairs, where Donovan was waiting. He leapt over the huge hole in the floor and visciously attacked one of the ghouls, knocking him back into the basement; the ghoul did not get up this time.

The other made for the back door and attempted to leave, but Darren had made his way into the house and pulled off a lucky shot, putting a gaping wound into the ghoul’s chest. The ghoul collapsed and ceased the struggle.

The party dragged the wounded ghoul into the basement with the other, and Finlay set up a simple barrier to keep the ghouls from escaping. The ghoul lacking the chest wound had a broken leg, so he wasn’t going anywhere, but he could at least hold a conversation.

Why were the ghouls there? Their leader ordered them to kill Krystowicz, otherwise they knew nothing. Their leader? A ghoul by the name of Galakron. How do they find him? This takes some convincing on the part of the party, as the ghoul thinks Galakron will have him killed if he tells them this. He eventually relents and tosses them a wallet; the ID inside would be the address at which they could find Galakron. Satisfied, Finlay cuts the ward and the ghoul grabs a pool stick and hobbles out the back of the house; his companion remains behind.

Krystowicz provides an SUV for the group to return to Runis and retrieve their vehicles. Before meeting at the address provided by the ghoul, they made a few stops first: Finlay to his home to drop off Krystowicz and grab his warden gear, Donovan at his apartment to get a fresh change of clothing, and Darren to his apartment to grab a rather hefty combat shotgun.

The address in question is in a rough neighborhood on the north side of the city. As the group travels, the houses gradually become seedier and sketchier. They arrive at a small, ranch-style home with a decaying “For Sale” sign in front. The windows are all boarded up. Despite the early spring weather, the grass in the yard is completely dead.

The group makes a quick sweep of the house. The main floor is empty, filled mostly with the scent of decay, tattered carpets, and moldy rags. The basement is mostly bare concrete, with a blood-stained drain in the middle of the floor. However, the basement is distinguished by a very large hole in the wall, leading to a tunnel carved into the earth.

The group sets a few magical lights and ventures into the tunnel. They soon find themselves in a complex of natural underground caverns. They had heard rumors of such caverns running beneath St. Louis, but none had yet found any evidence of their existence. Amongst the supernatural community, it was even said that those creatures that couldn’t blend in to human society found refuge down below.

After a few twists and turns, the group comes up to an antechamber of sorts, with a few paths leading off in various directions. Finlay thinks he hears voices coming from one direction. From the other, shadowy figures loom in the distance. Donovan “adjusts” his eyes to see ghouls lingering in the distance, observing them curiously.

Following the tunnel, Finlay leads them into a well-lit chamber; electric lanterns hang on the walls throughout the room, illuminating battered furniture and piles of filthy rags. Ghouls are lounging about or huddle together around the perimeter of the room. Towards the back of the room is a “throne” of sorts: A battered barcalounger sits on a small stone platform, seating an incredibly large ghoul. Clearly, this is the Galakron they were looking for.

Over the course of a long conversation, it becomes clear that Galakron is many things: Pitiless, overconfident, and ambitious. It turns out they aren’t the first strangers to have come from the surface; a while back, another surface dweller (tall, pale, with slicked-back dark hair and a dark suit), arrived and offered to work with them. If they went out and performed errands for him, such as killing Krystowicz, he’d pay them with fresh meat from the surface, as well as higher rewards to come. It was a fine arrangement for a while, but they hadn’t received much in terms of payment recently, and Galakron was feeling bored. The group wanted to know how to find this stranger, but Galakron had to be convinced. Finlay attempted to convince him, but Galakron wasn’t really moved by his words. Church emerged from the shadows, glamoured to appear like the ghoul they’d nearly killed earlier. Donovan pretended to cast a spell at Church, and Church vanished at precisely the right moment. Galakron bought the illusion, and was fairly pleased with the display, though he was hoping for a little more “bang.” Kirkseized the opportunity and gathered energy for a big, showy display of power, releasing it into the ground and shaking the cavern. A stalactite shook loose and nearly crushed several ghouls nearby, but Finlay grabbed it at the last second with some magic of his own. Properly impressed, Galakron relayed information for a “meeting” he was to have with the mysterious stranger that night at The Second Circle, 9pm. The group cautiously left and made preparations for the meeting.

Church and Kirk spent some time examining the watch, attempting to discern its nature. Some research revealed that the runes were fae magic, and related to the element of air, but could not find anything about their purpose. A bit of magical poking and prodding found that the watch was a powered from another source, but currently was cut off from said source.

Darren, meanwhile, found himself fending off his landlady, who was fairly perturbed that he’d come up late on this month’s rent payment. After some yelling back and forth through Darren’s door, he agreed to an “alternative” method of payment. Twenty minutes and several showers later, Darren was ready to meet the group at the club.

Most of them arrived separately. The club was quite packed, not unexpected on a Friday night. As each arrived, a dancer circulating the room offered a “private dance” in the back lounge. Most refused, somehow; the dancers, White Court Vampires all, used their special brand of “inspiration” to lure the men, unsuccessfully in each case. Finlay made a bee-line for the VIP section of the club, a reserved section on the upper level. Though he wasn’t expected, a few hundred dollars in the hands of the bouncer saw his way up.

Donovan entered right before Finlay, attempting to emulate what Galakron might look like in his human guise. Stating that he was “here for Galakron’s man” did not move the bouncer to let him into the VIP section, though. When Donovan started heading back to the private lounge with a dancer, Finlay pushed a few more C-notes on a bouncer to get him to retrieve Donovan before he went behind the curtains; having overheard Donovan’s statements, Finlay guessed at the beefy stranger’s identity.

Church and Kirk lingered at the bar after entering. Darren sat at the foot of the stage and enjoyed the show. After a while, Darren was the only one of the group to hear gunshots in the office area over the music. He snuck into the back and found an office door wide open. He peeked in and found the dark-suited stranger holding a gun over a dead man at a desk. He whispered, “Now” into a cell phone, spied Darren, and turned his gun on him.

As soon as the stranger spoke into his cell phone, the front door of the club burst open, and men with guns came streaming into the club.

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Session 1
The story begins

The Grims
Church and Kirk Grim, proprietors of Aladdin Antiquities, have gotten a phone call asking them to take a look at an item they might find interesting. The caller is Jonathan Sandstone, another local antiquities dealer. Assuring them it’s a great find and an even better deal, he asks them to meet him at his office. The brothers agree and set out to meet him.

Said “office” is merely a large broom closet in a small warehouse in the industrial neighborhood on the south side of the city, right off the riverfront. When they arrive, a rather bored rent-a-cop escorts them from the front door, through a small and barren lobby, to Sandstone’s office. Pleasantries out of the way, he hands them a folder with pictures of the item in question: A small, gold-colored pocket watch. An indecipherable inscription is etched inside the cover, but the real point of interest for the brothers is the face of the watch itself; where the numbers would be, there are instead fae runes.

Interest piqued, the brothers ask to see the watch. Sandstone calls the the security guard and asks him to go fetch the item when they hear a gunshot outside.

Darren and Donny
Meanwhile, Darren McCaver, P.I., and Donovan Kincaid are sitting in a car behind the very same warehouse. Two days ago, Darren received a call from a lawyer; during a recent estate auction, someone managed to pocket a very important pocket watch, and requested that Darren. After some minor investigation, Darren concluded that Johnny Sandstone, known for having sticky fingers, must have taken it. He tracked Johnny back to his “office” and realized he’d need some help if he wanted to get the watch back without much hassle. Having worked with Kincaid before, he knew the man had some talent for “procuring” lost items, so he called in a favor and brought him along.

The rear of the warehouse doesn’t boast much: A single door with a security camera above it and a dumpster nearby. Darren gets out of the car and determines to sneak around front. Donny shapeshifts into the form of a St. Louis policeman and simply knocks on the rear door. Two more rent-a-cops answer, confused to see a policeman at the rear of the building. Donny hastily assembles a story about crime in the area and wanting to verify their setup, but the guards rebuff him and tell him to get lost.

Darren, up front, sees through a glass door that there’s a security guard in the front lobby of the building, but doesn’t want to go inside to deal with it. Instead, he pulls out an enormous handgun and fires a shot off in the air. When the shot goes off, Donovan attempts to pull a fast one on the guards. “That sounded like it came from out front. Let’s go!” They still don’t give him access to the building. “The quickest way is _around _the building. _You _go deal with that, _we_’re going to lock the door.” With the door shut in his face, goes outside the range of the security camera, transforms into a rat, and finds a hole near the roof to climb into the warehouse.

After the shot goes off, Darren waits for a security guard to emerge; when one does, he come stumbles out from the corner of the building, feigning a gunshot wound while moving towards the guard. The guard isn’t buying it, but his only defense is a nightstick. When Darren gets within arms reach, the guard tries to push him off with the stick, only to have Darren sweep him off his feet and knock him out cold with a blow to the back of the head.

Finlay Hogan
Earlier in the same week, Finlay Hogan received a phone call from a representative of the Runis Corporation about an appointment for his grandfather. Tierney Hogan being deceased, the representative said that Finlay could fulfill the appointment.

The day of the appointment (today), Finlay shows up to Runis Corp. HQ, a large building located in the same neighborhood as Sandstone’s warehouse. Finlay is directed up to the third floor (via the stairs, of course) for his meeting with the CEO, Celeste Runis.

The two exchange pleasantries; during the handshake, Finlay can feel that slight spark indicating she holds at least a touch of power. Celeste apologizes for not meeting Finlay sooner, offering her condolences on his grandfather’s death. She explains that Runis actually had a working relationship with Tierney. Finlay’s grandfather being a, “good judge of character,” he would “evaluate” prospective employees for the company, ensuring that they were capable, competent, and trustworthy. Runis asks if Finlay would like to pick up where his grandfather left off, at least temporarily, and he agrees. His immediate task, then, is to seek out the Grim brothers and return them to the company, as Runis has an interest in them. She adds that they should be only a few blocks away for a meeting, giving Finlay the address of Sandstone’s warehouse.

The meetup
After the gunshot, Church gets out of his seat and sets up a glamour, concealing the two brothers and Jonathan within it. “Show us the watch, now!” Johnny, completely rattled at this point, leads them into the warehouse. He’s too nervous at this point to think about why the two guards in the warehouse don’t notice their entrance, but he unlocks the display case housing watch. “How much, Sandstone?” “Uh . . . $5000?” “Half that and you have a deal.” “Done.”

Finlay pulls up to the warehouse just in time to see Darren cleaning the clock of the unlocky rent-a-cop. They exchange pleasantries, Finlay chiding him for attacking someone who probably didn’t deserve it. The two enter the building, seeing no sign of either Sandstone or the Grims. Darren peers into the warehouse and spies the two remaining guards. He attempts to roll past the door and behind some nearby crates, but he’s not nearly as stealthy as he thinks he is, and one of the guards comes over to investigate.

Upon seeing this, Sandstone freaks out and bolts for the front door. Despite not paying Sandstone, Church snatches up the watch and the brothers make for the front door directly behind Sandstone. Poor Johnny smacks right into Finlay in the lobby, but doesn’t miss a beat and continues on his way out the door. The Grims sneak around Finlay and make their way out the door.

Darren pulls his big gun on the guards and convinces them they don’t make enough money to worry about this situation. They agree and slip out the back door. Donovan has been watching this from the ceiling with a “rat’s” eye view the entire time. He slips out towards the front to continue watching.

The Grims step out from their glamour once outside. Moments later, Finlay and Darren also exit. Both are fairly certain the Grims have the watch, but they admit to nothing and nobody wants to start a fight. Finlay convinces the two to accompany him to Runis Corp., at least. Donovan, meanwhile, finds himself spent and pops out of his rat form, only to fall to the ground and lacking his clothing from before. Darren picks him up and the two follow Finlay and the twins off to Runis Corp.

A part-time job
Finlay, Church, and Kirk head up to Celeste’s office. Once up there, Celeste lays her cards on the table: One of the Runis board members has been receiving death threats, which could culminate that night. They need protection for him, but all of their local operatives are out of the country. For $10k a day, the Grim brothers would be hired to keep the board member safe and work towards determining the source of the threats. Finlay is invited to participate as well. The pay would mean nothing to him, so Celeste emphasizes that it would be a personal favor to her if he would help. Finlay agrees. The three meet the board member and head out to the car.

Upon their arrival, Donovan steps out of the car to “get a soda.” After he’s out of site of the car, he turns into a raven and flies up to find a window from which he can eavesdrop on the Grims’ meeting with Celeste. He finds the right window, but it is warded to prevent any eavesdropping.

When Finlay, the Grims, and the board member emerge, Darren is there to greet them. It turns out the board member also hired Darren to investigate the death threats. Donovan returns, and the six of them load into a limosine and head out.

The board member, Mark Krystowicz, has no idea where the threats are coming from, or why. The most recent one, threatening him today, was slipped under his door. Darren examines it, but there’s nothing that indicates its source. He insists on inspecting Mark’s home for clues. Mark was on his way to a meeting, but relents and has the driver take them to his home.

The limo pulls through a gate and up a long driveway to a rather large home in the western part of St. Louis. Large bushes line the yard, and block the driveway from the next yard over. Kirk gets out to investigate, seeing a disturbance in the bushes on the far side of the yard.

As he nears the bushes, a clawed hand reaches out and yanks him inside. A ghoul pops out in his place, and another one emerges from the bushes adjacent to the limo.

The battle is chaotic. Kirk continuously tries to emerge from the bushes, only to be pushed back in by the ghoul. He eventually settles for blasting fireballs at the ghoul from in the bushes. Darren pulls his gun on the ghouls, but they’re too fast for him to get in a good shot. Church uses magic to make himself appear like Krystowicz. The nearby ghoul falls for it and follows him into the house, but not before getting a nasty attack on Church. Once both are in the house, the threshold of the place saps both of their powers. Donovan turns himself into a werewolf and attempts to duke it out with the ghoul, but doesn’t make much progress. Finlay attempts to blast the door off the limo, projecting it at the ghoul, but misfires and blasts the windows out of the limo. In the end, he settles for launching the other ghoul into the house as well.

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