The Hills Have Aes Sidhe

Game 5 Recap

Flip's Journal Entry 3:

Picking up from my last entry, we found Sophie trapped in a bunch of branches that seem to have spontaneously grown out of the the house itself. Alexi’s father was in the back room unconscious. I gave him a quick once over – he seemed to have a concussion. Alexi interrogated Sophie for a while and ultimately threatened to kill her by opening the blinds as the sun was about to come up. He needed to get back to basement, so he took off and left us to do the cleanup work. We weren’t really sure how or what would kill a vampire, so we did some experimentations. She tried to get in Larry’s head so we ducktaped her head to toe. As the sun came up she started to smolder. She was fussing a lot and taking a long time go so I dispatched her with my new sledgehammer.

Vampire killing is hungry work, so we headed to Ambrosia Diner for breakfast. I managed to grab some glamor off the waitress, but it was really kind of pitiful. I really need to work on that. While we were eating, Heat Miser calls from my phone. He says something is going down with Shaw and if we want to see him alive again, we might see about infiltrating a secret meeting of the kings at the gym that night.

We hit the sack for the night, I wake up early for a run and some pull-ups. I swing by to pick up Alexi and then meet everyone over at Larry’s bar. We all then caravan it over to the shitty bar that used to be Martin Van Buren’s house. Larry and Alexi are able to sneak into the meeting, so the rest of us just cool our jets and work on recovering more glamor. Why is it always shitty bars? This town needs more cupcake shops, or maybe a nice Jamba Juice.

Soon we see Shaw bust through a boarded up window and head into the woods at max speed. Larry says that they tried to kill him with a silver fence post, he want all red rage – killed two guys, and ran off towards his happy place. He’s leaving a pretty obvious trail so we follow in the vehicles to try and help. We find him wounded in the back of a cave. I’m able to get him patched up enough to move him but we are set upon by that same asshole that shot him in the first place which we later encounter outside that shitty bar. I summoned up that same rage I felt when i finally defeated that walking suit of armor in the Other Place and was able to crush his melon like ….. a melon, we didn’t even break a sweat – loser. This sledgehammer is pretty sweet, but I miss my bat. Larry says a guy named Daniel can probably hook me up with something custom. Need to look him up.

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Game 4 Recap

Flip Journal Entry 2:

So it turns out that guy we found in a body bag has a name. A Dr. Thrussle – Anthropologist out of Toronto. Anthropologists have always been a great source of income for me with their fat research grants that require them to reach remote areas. Not the most exciting work but they pay the bills for sure. I need to remember to give him my card next time I see him. Connor picks him up as we are leaving to go meet Shaw. We pick up Shaw and head to a meeting at this old warehouse. Heat miser is there with a crew of 8. They pretty much demand that we hand over Shaw as a prisoner. He goes willingly but I slip him my phone so that we can track him. Meanwhile, Larry just disappears? I shouldn’t really be surprised by that kinda stuff. Heat Miser and crew take off with Shaw, so we do the sensible thing and head for cupcakes and beer as we use the Find My iPhone app to track their convoy.

They finally stop moving at an old Cement factory shorty before we get a call from Larry…who happens to be just down the Cement Factory. He was a stowaway onboard as the took Shaw away. He says that Shaw is very well guarded – definitely more than we can handle. We pick up Larry and head over to Bart’s where we are inducted into the Autumn Court. I also score these fuzzy dice that grant a boon to driving, sweet!

Next we are off to see Roz. While the fellas are talking to her, I head into the kitchen and make myself a sandwich. Then head into the garage. Sweet ass Rolls in there. I can’t help but wax the thing down a little. I also find a sledgehammer in that garage – might come in handy so I borrow it and leave a note. A call from Val comes in, she’s going to mess with Alexi’s father if we don’t dance. Off to our next location which is an hour away. We are to do the dance off there. Another one of those sunny tunnels that I remember from spelunking appears after Alexi jiggles the dreamcatcher he got out of this box. This might be my chance to get some payback on those sum’s of bitches that did this to me. Unfortunately it turns out that’s it’s just Shaw’s bigger half brother. He wants all of our Glamour in exchange for us getting to be a bunch of chumps. Our deal with the devil is made, he offers more favors but the fellas think it’s a bad idea to entertain – /shrug.

The drive to Alexi’s father’s place is 60 minutes – I do it in 30 minutes flat. Might have pushed the Jeep a bit hard, engine was running warm when we arrived. Hope we don’t need to leave in a hurry. Alexi bursts thru the front door only to find Sophie bloodied and tangled in these branches that grew right out of the floor. Far out!

Not a great time to be out of glamour, but no matter, I feel like I can harvest more now. I also feel twice as Wyrd as I was when I woke up this morning.

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Game 4 Intro
Dreams in the Autumn House

In the small hours before the dawn, the vampire visits with Roz in her “cell” wherein a promise is made.

After two days and nights of action, the werewolf finally gets to rest.

The changelings dream of a forgotten memory.

 

Franky:
Your Keeper is a squat goblin-like creature of indeterminable gender, broader than it is tall. Its flabby gut spills over the rotting rope tied around its waist, serving as a makeshift belt, tenuously securing its frayed and filthy rags to its body. It's crinkled and blemished face is set with beady eyes and wide mouth filled with yellowed needle-like teeth, caked with detritus. Its breath is perpetually as foul at the fetid swamp in which it resides.
Your Keeper reminds you not to venture too far from the lights. Torches of green fire blaze in the endless night, sporadically placed throughout the mire around the hut. Best not to venture too close to the lights either, where the nearsighted Hounds can make out your shape more clearly. The Dark, your Keeper warns you, holds a worse fate than the Hounds though for it belongs to another. And the Other keeps neither pets nor servants. The Other cares only to Devour.
On this occasion, you are zigzagging from the outer edge of one circle of light to the next, seeking something new and exciting for your next concoction. You've made your way a greater distance from the hut than you've even been before. You pause when you spot the next light. It looks tiny. It must be spaced a great deal farther than the last one. You steel your will and try to close the distance quickly, lest you be beset by something hiding in the darkness. As you draw closer though you come to realize it's not that far away after all. Your perception has fooled you. It is in fact a tiny light. It's not a torch at all but some kind of fiery wisp and it's moving, floating through the air. You stand and watch in fascination for a moment as it dances. A cold chill of panic comes over you when you remember your situation. There is no next torch. You're exposed in the Dark. You immediately try to turn back but something at your feet stops you. You realize you're standing at the edge of a pool of still water that stretches out before you towards the wisp. The water is inky-black except for… there is the slightest glow. Somewhere in the depths there is a light and its steadily becoming brighter and… Growing? As the light brightens it also expands. As it expands it takes on myriad shifting and scintillating colors. Colors the likes of which you've never seen before and will never see again. It's utterly mesmerizing. You're so captivated you stand in a sort of stupefied paralysis. You fail to react even as the source of the light rises from the water on the end of a stalk, just as you fail to notice the horror rising with it from the depths below. 
Your transfixion is broken by one thing only. A tiny green light appears in your peripheral vision. The wisp is beside you now. You feel a delicate hand on your shoulder and then you are quite suddenly and forcefully yanked or thrown backwards. You land on your back in the mud, spellbound stupor broken, at the same instant you see a massive pair of jaws rush out of the black water and snap shut in the space you occupied a split second earlier. The wave of abject terror that follows leaves you feeling drained and weak.
You awaken drenched in cold sweat with a name on your lips. “Lorelei.”

 

Larry:
Your Keeper is a grotesque fiend. She has what would be a lovely woman's face were it not marked by the pallor of death and the flesh not stripped away where her missing jaw belonged. Her ruined face is ringed by wild flowing hair that dissipates into oily black smoke that surrounds the rest of her form and trails behind her. Beneath her death mask face, dangling tongue, and bloodied throat lies a bare rib cage burst open. Jaggedly broken bones jut forward around a cavernous dark empty space save for her still-beating heart. Her severed spine hangs midst the smoke below. 
You are nearly nothing when your Keeper brings you with her to the party. You exist as an ephemeral thing, naught more than a cloud of smoke yourself. As nearly nothing, you go largely unnoticed. You observe the goings-on for a time. 
A young man resembling a porcelain doll and dressed like a mummer makes himself look busy even when he is not and especially when the bedazzled statuary at the head of the table is paying attention.
A disgusting, wretched little goblin has brought an older man and a kettle of something that smells foul to the feast. The kettle goes untouched by the rest of the guests for some time until the goblin, offended that no one has elected to partake, forces the man to drink. The rest of the Keepers enjoy a hearty laugh as his expense as he vomits blood and viscera for several minutes. 
A pretty golden-haired girl in her late teens sits passively on the lap of an Adonis in a black-feathered cloak. She looks anemic and like she's having a hard time keeping awake. He looks to be the center of attention so far as the other Keepers are concerned. They ask him rather prying questions in rather roundabout ways. They look at him with hunger in their eyes. “I am but a poor man with naught left but my name. What could I possibly have to offer any of you?” he asks with a sly smile. He mocks them with his feigned humility. 
You grow bored of hovering and listening to them prattle on. You drift away down the labyrinthine passages, exploring, investigating the hidden nooks and crannies. In one such nook you spy something even more out of place than the twisting halls that defy the laws of space and gravity. Something green. There is a crack in the stone and through that crack creeps a tendril of green thorny vine. You remember the thorns. The thorns are outside. The thorns mark the space between the prisons your Keepers warden and the way back home. 
You fly back to the great hall with haste. You float down to the ear of the servant boy, the one whose gilded cage you're in. You shout at the top of your lungs to be heard. Coming from nearly nothing though, all the lad hears is “…know… way out…” barely louder than his own breath. It sends a chill down his spine. You realize you must become More in order to conspire to escape. Fortunately, as your Keeper once said, “you're a Taker, Larry.” You will Take.

 

Flip:
You remember the day the armor cracked. 
Your Keeper is a towering suit of medieval armor, blackened and empty save for cold fire burning behind the eye sockets. The metal stubbornly refused to yield to your fists. That is, until they took on the same coarse character as the gargoyles that served as your jailors. You had been broken down and built back up again so many times, more scarred and calloused each time, you finally became as resilient as the stone itself. With your newfound fortitude, you withstood your Keeper's gauntleted fists, held your ground, and struck back with a blow so mighty a crack sundered his breastplate with a thunderous sound. Your Keeper froze with surprise. You stopped in disbelief. Your Keeper took a step back from you, rising to his full height and staring down at the “wound.” There was a prolonged moment of tense silence which was finally broken by a sound you didn't expect. Laughter. Your Keeper threw his head back in hearty, roaring laughter. He was pleased. “Yes!” He bellowed. “I knew I did well in choosing you!” And he left. The gargoyles came to collect you as they always did. They took you to the surgeon as they always did. But this time, you were entirely unharmed. This was the first time you ever visited the infirmary fully conscious. 
The gargoyles posted up on either side of the door and went still, as usual. You and the good doctor were left effectively alone to talk. His name was Drew, a med student at Rutgers. At least he was a long time ago. A fateful encounter landed him in a different Hell than this. His prior Keeper sold him to the suit of armor when he outlived his usefulness. “You hurt him?” Drew asked you, with hope in his voice. “It's the only reason you'd be here not a bloody mess. You actually damaged the armor?” You confirmed. “Amazing. Then maybe you could…” Drew's voice trailed off as he shifted his gaze towards the barred window. Sure, it was worth a shot. Why not try? You grasped two of the bars and pulled in opposite directions. They bent as easily as clay in your hands. You could never hope fit through such a small opening but the wall of bars in your cell was a different matter. You could slip out of your cell, make your way back here, grab Drew, and together go look for an exit. He ought to know the place better. Before you could voice your plan though, you were abruptly interrupted as the gargoyles sprang back to life. The allotted time had passed for treatment. They escorted you back to your cell.
When your jailors departed and all the keep fell still and silent, save for the stone's weeping, you bent the bars of your cell wide and slipped out. You carefully retracted your steps back to collect the man who saved you so many times, to return the favor. But, when you reached the infirmary, you found it empty.

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Game 3 Recaps

Flip Journal Entry #1.

Starting a new journal today as it seems my old life is over. The reality of this unreal situation was too much at first, but I know now that this isn’t a dream. I’m not creative enough to come up with batshit crazy circus that has become my life. What’s done is done, i’ll not make the same mistake as with my ball playing career and waste years of my life trying to cling to something that is gone forever. Life is an adventure and it’s time to start on the new one. My marching orders were clear, step one was to eliminate my doppleganger. Gladly. That fuck better not have jacked up my vehicles. We are also told to go pick up this lady named Roz and deliver her to some gated community. Oh, and there are people trying to kill us? No problem, got this. I’d like to get some food, but there isn’t time.

Only i didn’t, that doppleganger turned out to be literally a piece of rock. You’d think that would make for an easy target, sadly I was captain wiff. Good thing boys at the club house didn’t see that – i’d never hear the end of it. With some amount of trouble, we are finally able to dispatch the thing.
* note to self, add more work to the fast twitch muscles next time at the gym. Must be slowing down a hair. There’s no food in the house, i’m still hungry.

Next we all caravan it over to pick up Roz. I took the black 2003 LJ Rubicon, it seemed to drive ok, maybe pulled a little to the right, will check the tires when i fuel up next. Arriving at Roz’s place – she seemed to think there is some kind of game being played. I don’t pay to much attention, need to check over my ride to make sure it will perform when it needs to. Oil needs to be changed and the winch was last stowed while still muddy – not cool.

The talk soon turns to dealing with these hunters that are in town. Roz agrees to help, but doesn’t really do much. Joey and Alexi put out some feelers and we track down guys to a dive bar. The wolfguy, Gerry (holy shit? Werewolves are real too?) Larry and I wait in the woods to jump these hunter types. The rest of our crew goes inside. The sea captain agreed to hook me up with some wings – he later stiffs me. I’ll remember that. Side note – i’m always hungry now, all the time. Larry steals some stuff from their nearby hotel room, then tries to stab one that came out to smoke – didn’t work. I’m still hungry. The other guys come from around back with one of the fellows all doped up. There is someone else who appears to still be alive but unconscious in a body bag. We hightail it out of there.

We head back up into the hills with our prisoners. We question the drunk guy for a while who admits to having been working for a local vamp. This is also the guy who apparently shot that Shaw dude. Gerry wolfs out and rips out the guys intestines – which reminds me, i’m still hungry. I go upstairs to order some Dominos. Alexi is on speakerphone talking to someone who sounds pretty upset, all the ruckus made it much hard to order my wings. Dominos shows up 75 minutes later. Finally!

 

Franky:

siamo di uovo sveglio. Non so perché, ma siamo. sposto un po 'più lento di oggi. tutto è più confusa di quanto mi piacerebbe.
Sono ancora un po 'confuso da parte dell'equipaggio. esigenze jeepman aiuto con la sua auto roccia. bene. andiamo. cerchiamo di farlo. lui è grande. rockman non si sbriciola facilmente. alla fine lo abbiamo polverizziamo con una certa soddisfazione.
Roz è richiesto, non so perché. guardiamo per lei con un certo successo, ma lei guarda soprattutto come andiamo a lavorare. Ho potuto menzionare i inciampato stoneyman?
abbiamo anche un vantaggio che ci porta a B & B, io sono felice di obbligare, la folla è pieno di clienti abituali come me ad eccezione di due shiftys. noi li prendiamo in fretta, si attaccano fuori come golette tra skiff.
furcoatman e ottengo birre. birre Heineken. e colpi. sfidiamo le golette a giocare a biliardo che va bene solo. vincono i colpi.
Ho consegnato loro l'alcol, un pensiero perniciosa scorre attraverso il mio cervello e attraverso il vetro. Sento l'odore del whisky, una volta prova di ottanta dall'altra parte della stanza. la sua non è più whisky. sua la elixr. mi non chiedere cosa il elixr è chimicamente, ma come la pornografia alla corte suprema, so che quando la vedo.
Solo si cade preda di elixr, che non ha senso. Ognuno si innamora di elixr. Abbiamo riportare inebriotto al bar a casa. Egli non riesce a rispondere alle domande. Mi stanco della sua schivare e bastone un sacco su di lui, mentre versando la mia ultima birra sul viso. Lo stolto pensa che sta annegando. Non sa niente di annegamento.
Egli vapori verità come espresso lasciati nella notte.
Perché è coinvolto valerianna?

Translation:

we are awake again. I do not know why, but we are. It moves a bit 'slower than today. everything is more confused than I'd like.
I'm still a bit 'confused by the crew. jeepman needs help with his rock car. good. let's go. let's do it. he's great. rockman not crumbles easily. eventually we pulverize with a certain satisfaction.
Roz is required, I do not know why. look for her with some success, but she looks especially as we go to work. Did i mention i stumbled stoneyman?
we also have an advantage that leads us to B & B, I'm happy to oblige, the crowd is filled with regulars like me except for two shiftys. we take them quickly, they stick out like schooners between skiff.
furcoatman and I get beers. Heineken beers. and shots. we challenge the schooners to play pool which is fine only. winning shots.

I handed them the alcohol, a pernicious thought runs through my brain, and through the glass. I smell the whiskey, once proof of eighty from across the room. its not more whiskey. Its the elixr. do not ask me what the elixr is chemically, but like pornography to the Supreme Court, I know that when I see it.
Only one falls prey to elixr, that makes no sense. Everyone falls in love with elixr. We bring inebriotto the bar at home. He can not answer questions. I get tired of his dodging and stick a lot about him, while pouring my last beer on the face. The fool thinks drowning. He knows nothing of drowning.
He truth as expressed vapors left in the night.
Because it is involved valerianna? What?

 

Gerry:

So I make it back into town and head over to Shaw's place to find everyone missing and a weird blood stain in the basement. Smells like Alexei and…rabbit? Whatever, didn't one of these guys own a bar?
I check the bar but no one is there although there is another weird bloodstain that smells of Alexei on a brick wall out back. Shaw calls to tell me he is at his place and is going to pass out; also to remind me I already have Alexei's number, duh. I call twice before he picks up.
When I get to them they have found another one and are all excited to go take care of his doppelganger. I really need to talk to Bartholomew who, incidentally, comes out of whatever building they were all in to ask us to pick up Shaw's mom and bring her somewhere. Of course he did. Good thing new guy's place is on the way.
Turns out his double was made of solid fucking stone. I'll give you two guesses as to how well teeth and claws do against that. After a couple of minutes of all of us just beating him with whatever is handy he crumbles into pebbles. There's no burning this stuff so we all take a little and scatter it on the road as we drive to Roz's.
Roz is one hell of a paranoid lady. And hot; like way younger looking than she should be. 
We pick her up and I ask her to tag along. She rolls her eyes mostly and gives about as much information as if I asked the seat she was sitting on. I guess that's where Shaw gets it from. We head back to Shaw's to find him passed out on the couch covered in bandages, one of which Alexei picks up and starts sucking at (blecch!). 
Between Alexei, Larry, and Joey we find out the Hunters are staying at a Bead & Breakfast somewhere out by Grandma's place and head over. Alexei, Frankie, and Joey head inside to see what they can see while the new guy, Flip, Larry, Roz and I stay outside to try and get into their room. I look up and Larry has already broken in and Roz is nowhere to be found. 
Larry comes back with a couple of backpacks. Flip and I disassemble their weapons and toss the ammo and parts as far as we can into the woods. We can't use them now, but neither can they. Larry says there is some guy drugged up in a body bag in the room as well. What the fuck is going on here?
Alexei keeps texting me from inside the bar, giving me a description on the Hunters. Apparently the big blonde one, Christian, is regular human and they get him wasted. The other dark haired one leaves them to go smoke outside and I get my first peek at him.
It's everything I can do not to revert back to the scared little high school kid and go run and hide. He's a wolf alright, the one that killed Nelson. He looks average, dark hair, not much taller than me, but mother moon he reeks of power. He comes outside, lights a cigarette, and looks right at me. Since he knows I'm here I figure I might as well put on a brave face and not let him know how scared I am.
We trade some words, I try to lure him into the woods where my friends are and he laughs in my face for it. I don't piss myself. We both know we aren't going to go at it in a public place so I start to walk away when I see a wisp of shadow materialize right behind him. Oh fuck, it's Larry, and he just stabbed him in the head. Wolfman looks at him scornfully and just fades away. I didn't even have time to react. Oh shit.
Alexei is telling me to get the car, they have his blonde friend. I scramble my brains to find somewhere this fucker can't get us in the night now that he has my scent. I figure if anything Bart would know something and now that Roz is back (out of fucking nowhere mind you) we decide to just take her there. Bart lets us in and doesn't seem at all to mind that I want to torture someone for information. 
The blondie, Christian, was paid to bring the guy in the bag to someone at Silhouette. Turns out it didn't need to be this guy, just any wolf in particular. So he's been hunting wolves, and they decided to kill one of my pack for fun even after they'd already finished their hunt. It's too much: Nelson, these body double things, the Wolf from earlier, this fuck is hunting us, hunting MY pack. He needs to die screaming so I make sure he does. 
I'm shaking after I walk back upstairs to find Alexei on the phone with Val. Turns out she was the buyer. He talks some shit to her and hangs up. Bart tells me he'll take care of cleanup, keep the guy from the bodybag secure and gives us a safe place to rest as long as we don't tell Shaw his mom is imprisoned. Seems a small price to pay; I've been up for about two days straight so I don't think twice about agreeing. Gods I need sleep.

 

Joey:

 I have a blues song in my head
It's all about being your back door man
Beer and a shotgun

Frankie is crawling on the floor
And I confess to feeling a little tempted
Beer and a shotgun

The unholy racket comes to an end
I am still standing by the back door holding
Beer and a shotgun

*******

Flip is free and Jeeped
And we're heading somewhere to pick up
someone that someone that someone knows
knows
Another strange woman with an attitude
They haunt me
Do they haunt everyone?

*******

Werewolves are being killed
This is a bad thing
At least someone is very upset about it
And he's on my team
And that's most of human history
Explained 
through the medium
of bad poetry

*******

I know this town and a few calls gets us the the information we need. Targets acquired at the motel bar. Now it's time to be cool. I believe in the magic rising within me and it's time for it to be unleashed.
I am an utter failure. I am nothing. An unlovable freak.
So we drug the dude, kidnap him, torture and murder him.
I have no idea who the hell he was and that's OK.
Tomorrow I have to go to work. Or find a shrink. Or stay in bed all day. 
Instead I expect madness.

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Game 3 Intro

While the Changelings and Vampire were sleeping, the Werewolves were on the move. Since Nelson was clearly not back in Valerie's clutches, Shaw and Gerry went looking for him at his last known location. Connor has sent Nelson out to the far edge of the territory to “do his fucking job” and scout for disturbances, when he disappeared. They burned nearly all their daylight hours searching before they found Nelson… well, parts of him. Blood spray for yards, a trail of viscera where he tried to crawl away from his assailant, leading to what was left of his body, long cold. “Fucking hell…” Shaw whispered with a look of horror on his face. Gerry and Shaw shifted to wolf form and began sniffing around the area for traces of who or what had done this. It was shortly afterwards, as the dying light of the setting sun swept through the trees, that Gerry heard an awful sound. It was like the startled yelp of a dog whose paw had accidentally been stepped on, only magnified to an intensity that made Gerry's blood run cold. It came from Shaw. Gerry turned, expecting to be under attack. He saw only Shaw stumbling over a front leg that looked to have suddenly gone lame. He barked frantically at Gerry to run. Gerry followed Shaw's lead just as something whizzed past his own ear. 

Gerry and Shaw came up over the top of a rocky ridge and half-leapt/half-tumbled down into gully on the other side. At the bottom of the gully, Shaw darted into a hole among the rocks that he seemed to know would be there and uninhabited. Some kind of animal den and decent size. Large enough for the two of them to sit up after they shifted to human forms to talk. Shaw had a hole bored clean through his shoulder. A wound that could only be the work of something silver. He pressed a hand over it to try and staunch the bleeding. He spoke in short bursts of words between pained gasps for breath. “Hunters. Haven't been any here… since I was a kid. If they have silver bullets… they have silver everything. Werewolf hunting party. Fuck!” Shaw lifted his hand, looked at it dripping blood, and got an idea. “Listen, Gerry. I'm going to leave a trail… lead them away from the house. We can't let them find it. You, go get the Changelings. Get them to help us. Hunters probably won't know what they are.” Gerry hesitated to abandon his wounded pack-mate but Shaw is obstinate once he's made his mind up over something. “GO!” Shaw shouted, pulling himself to his feet, leaving a crimson hand print on the stone. He shifted back to wolf and ran off with an ungainly limp and strained howl.

 

Gerry Recap:

So I was way off, that harpy turned out to be one of the Sirens from the old Greek legends. As equally deadly as she was gorgeous, the type of woman who pretends she doesn't see me even if I'm standing right in front of her, as she is currently doing.

She clearly thinks as little of Shaw as she insults his mother almost immediately. It takes everything I have not to laugh when Alexei starts talking shit to this woman while being held off the ground by his neck; what an absurd situation. Nelson isn't here but she wants Alexei back anyway, the thing is, Alexei has no intention of going back into that house. I wouldn't want to either. She looks just like the type of woman that kills men through seduction. I bet you'd die with a smile on your face.

So we leave, chased from the house by curses and promises of retribution. As Alexei has proven himself to an ally, albeit a loudmouth one, Shaw gives him his key and tells him to get the others over there for some rest; we break off to Nelson's patrol territory to try and figure this mess out. Connor is furious and tells us to teach Nelson a lesson if we catch him sleeping on duty.

It takes all day searching, in and out of wolf forms, for us to find him. Well…parts of him anyway. Nelson is now spread across a small meadow and about 3 trees. His legs are gone, we never found them, by the looks of it he was smashed against all three trees, losing body parts as he went. Half his head looks gnawed on, his guts are everywhere, apparently falling out of him as he tried to crawl with his remaining good arm away from whatever it was. In wolf we pick up scents: blood, Nelson, and a strange wolf?; he had pissed all over Nelson's corpse, marking his kill. Goddamn.

We split up to begin tracking him, trying to figure out where he came in and out of our territory. A shot rings out, and a yelp. Shaw! I run towards the sound when Shaw bursts through the brush on three legs sending at me [Become wind, we are hunted!] The air reeks of men and gunpowder.

Shaw does his best to keep up and we find den to shift and speak. He hasn't healed, and blood is pouring from his shoulder. “Hunters. Haven't been any here… since I was a kid. If they have silver bullets… they have silver everything. Werewolf hunting party. Fuck!” He stares at the blood on his hands, " “Listen, Gerry. I'm going to leave a trail… lead them away from the house. We can't let them find it. You, go get the Changelings. Get them to help us. Hunters probably won't know what they are.” No way I'm leaving him like this, I am the shield that guards the pack, the warrior that destroys our enemies. "You've barely been in a real fight Gerry, these guys are hardened vets, they'll take you apart and where would that leave us. Go man, now!" He shifts and starts a trail.

I am greased lightning getting back to my car. By the time I'm back in Catskill two hours later Shaw is texting me that he lost them but we'll need backup. He tells me to get our new friends while he gets patched up. I start the drive to Shaw's place to pick up the others; they owe us and I get the feeling they would be all too willing to pay up. Tonight, I'll rip the guts from these so-called Hunters, and show them what real monsters live in the dark woods.

 

Shaw thoughts:

On Gerry: When everyone's mean to you your whole life, you turn out one of two ways. Either you become a bitter asshole or you go out of your way to be nice to everybody, so you don't become just like the people you hate. Gerry's a nice guy, he'll go far. There's not much to him, he's a wiry little guy, but he's got grit and sometimes that's what matters.

On Alexei: I don't know what to make of him. He hardly speaks and when he does its sarcasm or some cryptic bullshit. I shouldn't trust the little bloodsucker but he's been cooperative so far. His loyalty will probably come down to whether he's more scared of Valerie or me. I'm fine with that. 
Oh yeah, Valerie. Should I tell mom she's back in town? Probably shouldn't stir that up, I don't wanna deal with it.

On Franky: I can't understand a fucking thing this guy says. And he's not like any of the kinds of changelings I'm used to. I wonder what made him that way but I don't dare ask. He doesn't seem to really understand what's happened to him either. Poor guy. His life seems real complicated. I can't believe Valerie was cheating on Nelson with someone twice his age. Poor bastard, Nelson didn't deserve any of this. I don't like the way Valerie was looking at me either. She looks at all werewolves like a starving person at a buffet table. It's fucking sick.

On Joey: I don't understand anything that comes out of this guy's mouth either but for a different reason. Dude seems a little off. Like, you expect changelings to be fucked up by what they went through, but Joey… Well, I hope nobody gave him a shotgun. I hope somebody's looking out for him. It's kinda a good thing, I guess, that we got so many out of the hedge at once. They can help each other come to terms.

On Larry: This guy, I know his type. One of those City tough guys who thinks he's hot shit with the ladies. I think I've been in his shitty bar too, seemed like a good place to get raped. I hope he doesn't start anything I have to finish. Arcadia changes people though, in more than the obvious ways. There might be hope for him not to be a scumbag if he learned his lesson. Oof, I shouldn't think like that. Nobody deserves a trip through Arcadia.

I wish Cara didn't wrap my shoulder so tight, I can barely move it. I guess that's probably the point. Goddamn it hurts too. I should've asked her to leave painkillers. I hope Gerry gets here soon, before the trail goes cold. Somebody's gonna fucking pay for this and what they did to Nelson. Damn, I'm tired though. How long have I been up, two days? I'll just rest here til Gerry gets here. Couch is already ruined, gonna need a new one again, no sense in getting blood upstairs too. Not looking forward to cleaning up.

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Game 2 Recaps

Beverage recap (all that matters to Franky)

Genesee cream ale, classic example BJCP cat 6A light hybrid
OG 1.052
IBU 13
SRM 3
ABV 5.1
Bolstered with a shot of still-warmed-by-fire wild turkey, straw pale with effervescent carbonation, slight DMS, good vehicle for bourbon

BackInBlack IPA, cascadian dark ale BJCP cat 23A

OG 1.071
IBU 49
SRM 38
ABV 7.3
Clone recipe from 21st amendment, dark, smooth late hop flavor, would benefit from more dry hop, effective to treat sleep disorders when imbibed in large doses

Shaw's Jar o' shine
Grist- Unknown 
Proof- Unknown
Botanicals- likely none
Would have functioned better to treat scrapes or cuts, sippable only to the scoundrels of the world.

 

Franky Recap:

svegliati.
o Guardatevi intorno stanza.
o L'odore del Campfire aria. Perché è, oh che è di destra. Sei stato al forno e costruito che leavesman nel fuoco. OK.

Andare al piano di sotto. Questi sono gli stessi altri, sì? Sì.
o trovare tazza, tracanna, cipiglio – il caffè è andato stantio. Perché il caffè stantio? E 'stato appena tostato la settimana scorsa? Qualunque cosa.

Vai a garage.
o Controllare camera di fermentazione, Krausen è caduta sulla migliore amaro e il hellesbier?
o meglio del campione. Sterilizzare ladro vino, tuffo, il gusto. La bontà, questi sono entrambi maturi.
o Controllare la gravità, FG 1.011 e 1.012, il lievito è sicuramente fatto il lavoro. Come funziona questo continuano a succedere?
o li Get in caratelli e non fanno domande. Non fare domande. Non dire di più di quanto si deve.
§ Ha sempre detto, non dire di più di quanto si deve. Non dire di più. Non in scoperta, deposizioni o camere da letto. Mai nelle camere da letto. Dove è stata? Mi sento come parlato con lei ieri? Lei non può vedere me come questo, Bizzaria che sono adesso. Lei è mancato, è giovane e vitale.

Poke il rudeman, è forte di notte e stordito nelle mattine. Non il peggiore ordine delle operazioni, suppongo.
o Raccogliere gli ospiti.
o guidare la macchina per la cena.
o Trova Joey. Egli è ducking una cameriera. Una cameriera che non fa buon caffè o. Perché non c'è un buon caffè in questo continente?

Approccio un palazzo, questo è l'edificio di La donna Valerianna? !!
o nascondere dietro grossa Monstro jeepman. È INUTILE. Lei sa che sono lì.
o Spit alcune parole. Imbarazzo. Lei parla freneticamente su italia, non ascolto. Mi manca la sua giovinezza, la sua natura e hotblooded sempre la pelle fresca.

Parlare con Barto.
o andare al bar di Larry.
§ Fantasma! Hit con purè paddle- nulla.
§ Trova whisky, luce sul fuoco, non importa. Flip si erge su di esso in trionfo. Parla roba jeep.
§ Non lasciate che il whisky vada sprecato
• Vai a appartamento
o Trova chiaro di luna
• Vai a … Arena?
o Ascoltate le stagionali.
o deriva fuori in pensieri, finitura chiaro di luna. che dire di un blu mais crema ale? Aggiungere i mirtilli troppo? No, troppo lontano Franky.
• Dormire. Che la vita è più così?

Translation:

Awaken.
o Look around room.
o Smell the air- Campfire. Why is it, oh that’s right. You got baked and built that leavesman into a fire. OK.

· Go downstairs. These are the same others, yes? Yes.
o Pour, slurp, wince- the coffee has gone stale. Why is the coffee stale? It was just roasted last week? Whatever.

· Go to garage.
o Check fermentation chamber, krausen has fallen on the best bitter and the hellesbier?
o Better sample. Sanitize wine theif, dip, taste. Goodness, these are both mature.
o Check gravity, FG 1.011 and 1.012, the yeast is surely done the work. How does this keep happening?
o Get them in kegs and don’t ask questions. Don’t ask questions. Don’t say more than you have to.
§ She always said, don’t say more than you have to. Don’t say more. Not in discovery, depositions or bedrooms. Never in bedrooms. Where has she been? I feel like talked to her yesterday? She cannot see me like this, Bizzaria that I am now. She is missed, she is young and vital.

· Poke the rudeman, he is loud at night and dazed in mornings. Not the worst order of operations, I suppose. 
o Gather the guests.
o Drive the car to the diner.
o Find Joey. He is ducking a waitress. A waitress that doesn’t make good coffee either. Why is there no good coffee on this continent?

· Approach a buildi, this is la donna Valerianna’s building?!!
o Hide behind grossa monstro jeepman. It is no use. She knows I am there.
o Spit out some words. Embarrassment. She talks frantically about italia, I am not listening. I miss her youth, her hotblooded nature and always cool skin.

· Talk to barto.
o Go to Larry’s bar.
§ Fantasma! Hit with mash paddle- nothing.
§ Find whiskey, light on fire, doesn’t matter. Flip stands over it in triumph. He talks jeep stuff.
§ Don’t let that whiskey go to waste
· Go to apartment
o Find moonshine
· Go to…arena?
o Listen to the seasonals.
o Drift off in own thoughts, finish moonshine. what about a blue maize cream ale? Add blueberries too? No, too far franky.
· Sleep. What life is this anymore?

 

Alexei Recap:

Shaw(n) stopped the car in front of one of those old spooky Victorian houses that looked like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Alexei groaned as he recognized the building, then quietly resolved himself to be as unhelpful as possible.

This resulted in Shaw(n) literally picking up and dragging him to the door of Haunted Scooby Doo Mansion and pounding on it hard enough to rattle the frame.

Alexei cringed as he heard the banshee shriek of his handler echo through the halls in response to Shaw(n)’s assault on the front door. A moment later, she stood before them in the doorway, looking every inch the lovely career woman in designer clothes. Alexei knew better.

Meeting Valerie was never a pleasurable experience. Alexei opened his mouth to let slip the first foray of insults, as Val gaped in surprise, but Shaw(n) interrupted before he could speak.

Where’s Nelson?” the overgrown werewolf demanded. What followed was a confused exchange of threats disguised as negotiation that gradually revealed that Alexei was to be returned to Val’s coterie in exchange for Nelson, but Nelson was not actually with Val, nor did she even know where he was. This didn’t stop Val from demanding, quite venomously, that Alexei be returned anyway.

Alexei mused that it was probably a bad idea to provoke Val; she was the kind of lady who cracked open people’s skulls with her bare hands when she got angry. However, with Shaw(n) seemingly in control of the situation, he decided to risk it, and replied that he didn’t really feel like comin home, and that Val’s outfit made her look especially skanky today. She didn’t like that.

Shaw declared he was leaving. With Alexei. She didn’t like that either.

As Alexei listened to her rage impotently in the background, the discomfort of being carried back to the car by his collar didn’t really bother him anymore.

The crew made their way back to Sleepy Hollow Lake to pay a visit to Gnome Chomsky, the little old Yoda of a man who had helped the 3 other assholes when they first popped out of the woods. He had a visitor, a red-headed LARPer with an actual claymore on his back. He looked surprised to see them, then left, probably to go fight a goblin army or something. Whatever. It was hardly the weirdest thing Alexei had seen tonight.

Gnome Chomsky explained that there was to be a meeting of the “Courts” tomorrow night and that the other 3 assholes would finally meet their “King.” So they were LARPers. Neat.

Shaw(n) went off again to do werewolf shit, leaving Alexei with a key to his place to crash for the night. Alexei returned the favor by going upstairs to take whatever cash he found laying around. One of the rooms upstairs was hardly used. Judging by the Calculus textbooks and the button-downs in the closet, it wasn’t Shaw(n)’s. Alexei helped himself to a fashionable blazer. After all, he’d need to look his best to meet a King.

He made his way to the basement, hanging the blazer on some of the exposed piping. The basement was bare and covered in scorch marks; apparently this house had been on fire before. The thought made Alexei shudder involuntarily. He threw his fur coat upon the floor, gently folded and laid his aviators next to it, then fell face-first into torpor.

Alexei woke up next to a pool of bloody vomit, the taste of stale beer and other fluids still fresh in his mouth. Frankie stood over him, wide-eyed and panicked, a hand still on Alexei’s neck where he had been trying to check for a pulse. Oh, right, Alexei thought, should probably start breathing again.

Wiping his mouth as Frankie stammered, Alexei headed upstairs to see Joey and Larry. Joey was also panicked, and was wearing a pair of Wonderbread bags around his shoes, hurriedly trying to wipe down everything in the kitchen with a rag soaked in moonshine. Alexei didn’t even ask.

Instead, he wandered outside into the night. Several minutes later he came back inside and spat a dead rabbit into the trash can. “Alright, I’m good,” he said to the confused gaggle of assholes. “Let’s go.”

The meeting took place in an old abandoned boxing gym, far removed from prying eyes. The inside was split into 4 sections of bleachers, one against each wall, and the old boxing ring in the center, serving as a makeshift stage. Gnome Chomski was there, and he waved everyone over to his side, the “Autumn Court.” Alexei had expected more people in robes and chainmail, but was pleasantly surprised to see a group of ladies on the bleachers across from him who looked less Dungeons and Dragons and more Victoria’s Secret. They smelled good too. He bummed a cigarette off of some Van Helsing-looking motherfucker.

Despite the distance between them, he could still hear Gnome Chomski drone on about the different courts, their roles, beliefs, and powers. None of it was as interesting as the beautiful woman before him, who Gnome had referred to as “Gilded Lily.” She was surrounded by a flock of like-minded and equally intriguing girls who looked like they knew how to have a good time. Alexei’s kind of people. He unbuttoned his blazer and moved in for the hunt.

Ten minutes later, he had Lily’s number on his arm, and a whole new market of “clients.”

 

Flip Recap:

One minute, I'm spelunking thru a cave system, the next minute I'm running for my life thru that same cave system. I must have fallen and hit my head. While I was out I had these weird dreams about living in a gladiator arena and being operated on my some psychopathic doctor. What a messed up dream… Wait, why am I running, and why is Heat Miser motioning me to the exit of the cave with William Wallace's sword. Heat Miser says his real name is Ryan and that I was in Hell. He gives me a lift back to this old timers place named Bart. Clearly, I haven't woken up yet.

I spend several hours in a waiting room before I'm introduced to a bunch of degenerates. They kinda look like real people, but kinda also not so much. Wait – is that one guy Brad Pitt from Fight Club or is it Leonardo Di Cap—-oh wait, this is one of those Inception dreams. Ok, I'll play along.

We are told that we need to go to a boxing club? Wait, maybe this the Fight Club dream. Sadly, it turned out to be a boring community meeting – more on that later.

So we had to go do this chore first. We go to this dude's bar and there is this copy of him there, it's like a xerox person. Crazy, I know, but that Bart guy said there was a Xerox Flip out there too. He tries to run out the back and everyone runs after him. I'm not sure what came over me, but I went full on hulk smash on this guy.

Ok, back to the community meeting. There are all these suspect folk jockeying to be king of the hill. Boring smack talk, then promise of cup cakes, followed by failure to come thru on said cup cakes. Why am I always hungry?

One last thing, this crazy old Italian guy let me crash at his place, guess he's not so bad. He seems way overly preoccupied with finding his next drink, but it does help his English so I'll let that slide.

 

A poem by Joey:

When did the madness start?
Has it been here all along?
Have monsters been hiding within my skull?
clawing, hissing, scratching to get out

It's 4am and I'm standing in front
of a house and a woman,
angry
And the terror takes hold
Flight! Run and run again and again and again and

These strangers, others, friends of circumstance,
freaks and demons
Where do they lie?
Inside or out? Truth or lie?

We make arrangements,
Breakfast at the diner,
As if any of this is real.

Sanity returns or so it seems
There is nothing more real than a beige Buick
Slumber and the familiar mid-day morning
Ambrosia, the usual

But freaks and demons there are
Nattering away
Planning their way through craziness
by going to a bar
Just like real people

It's like a movie set
darkened dive
danger
It runs, exhilaration!
Chase! Kill! Live!

Christ, I've lost my mind
Did I leave it in the bar?
Run! Flee! Hide!

Fragments of my mind defeat
scraps of imagination
and celebrate with shots

"we must go to the ball, we must"
hence we set out to rouse Alexei
CSI
I won't be taken again
Commence the purification ritual
Bags of Wonder and bottles of bleach
Lazarus
Which one's Jesus?

I can feel the rambling,
bumbling, stumbling,
remnants of mind
disintegration

Another building at night,
and we are playing hearts with a mismatched
deck of players
in suits of seasons
playing political tricks
calling out the hounds of war

There is something growing within me
Something beautiful and terrifying
The fall from summer
Bounty and then death.

I will not be taken
They will fear m

View
Prologue Pt. 6
Filip Jansen

You're possessed by a need for adventure. As such, when you read the news article about unusual seismic activity in the area (An Earthquake? In Upstate New York? Unheard of.), and how it seems to have uncovered some kind of cave system in the Catskill Park nature preserve, you know you need to check it out. The Park Rangers have declared the caves off-limits until they can be properly surveyed and deemed safe, but you know you can handle yourself. You just want to get an idea of what it's like down there so you can start pitching it to your clients.

You hike out to the spot under cover of darkness. You know these woods fairly well already. The cave entrance is a gaping maw in the ground midst freshly overturned boulders and uprooted trees. You crack a light stick and toss it over the ledge. Looks to be solid rock down below, ought to be stable to walk around. You anchor a rope to a tree and lower yourself down inside. You find yourself in a tunnel. The walls and floor are solid stone but very rough and marked by unusual jagged projections. You venture farther inside, aiming your most robust LED flashlight forward. You come around a sharp turn and enter a huge domed chamber. You slowly pan your light along the walls and across the ceiling. There are stalactites hanging an-… Wait, did one of them just move? No, just a trick of the light. Speaking of light, there is light coming from the other end of the cavern. You walk closer. Is this the end of the cave system already? Does this lead back outside? No, that doesn't make any sense, it's the middle of the night. You can see it more clearly when you turn your light off. There is a crack running vertically up the stone wall, large enough for a grown man to walk through. The other side is a lush forest, the undergrowth thick with thorny vines. It's a bright as a midsummer's day. You stand contemplating the impossibility of it all when you hear a noise behind you. A sound like stone scraping against stone. A heavy crash of the same falling. You swiftly whirl around, fumbling to relight your flashlight, fearing a cave-in leaving you trapped. What you actually see is more disturbing. The stalactites and strange jagged outcrops on the walls are not natural formations at all, but rather some kind of winged demon has dropped from the ceiling and a second has stepped away from the wall to join it. Their flesh looks identical to the surrounding stone, making them blend in perfectly. The gargoyles are advancing towards you, their footfalls heavy. They come from the direction of the tunnel, cutting off your escape route. In your panic, you run towards the green portal instead.

You feel the wind on your face and open your eyes. You're soaring high above an expanse of green, legs dangling, arms clutched in the talons of a gargoyle. You notice the many labyrinthine paths twisting through the dense trees, choked with tangles of thorny vines. The verdant green spans out before you apparently into infinity. After some distance, you start to descend. As you come closer to the canopy you become able to make out other things in the green. There are what look like pockets, in all varying sizes, of different biomes entirely. Many look natural, though abrupt and out of place in the forest, and some look completely alien or bizarre. One in particular seems to be your destination. You glide down towards a gray rocky plain devoid of vegetation. A foreboding great stone keep stands perched atop a sheer cliff. Beneath the cliff is a roiling sea, it's dark waters crashing against the stone in mighty waves. Above you is an overcast sky, blanketed in slate gray storm clouds. The flight in is the only time you recall seeing this bleak and desolate landscape. You spend the entirety of the rest of your durance within three rooms.

The first room is a cell. Smooth stone on three sides and iron bars on the last. It is bare save for a straw mattress in one corner. The straw is far from what you're used to in terms of a comfortable bed but is luxurious in comparison to the hard floor. Still, sleep is intermittent. It is difficult to tell night from day in this place. There is little difference ever in the amount of cold light that emanates from stark gray world outside through a tiny barred window high over your head. You know it is night when the walls weep, as if the stones they're comprised of are held here against their will and it pains them to exist this way. Their whispers and moans keep you awake. Only when completely exhausted can you nod off despite their cries. You are frequently exhausted, due to what goes on in the second room.

The second room is a large round one in a high tower. The walls are decorated with all manner of bladed and bludgeoning weaponry. It is in this room you meet your Keeper. He is, by appearance, a towering suit of blackened medieval armor. Seemingly empty, though cold fire burns behind the eye openings, and he must be ten feet tall. He is, by nature, a sadist. He comments appreciably about your physique. You will be a fine sparring partner. Your purpose is to entertain your master by satisfying his battle-lust. As such, you fight. Day after day. At first, you do more damage to yourself than the armor while he scoffs and laughs at your vain attempts. You fail in futility against cold metal that never yields; bloodying knuckles, straining muscles, and causing fractures. He reciprocates your attacks with crushing blows that shatter bone and rupture organs. If you refuse to fight, he satisfies his blood-lust through torture, selecting a weapon from his collection and displaying astonishing creativity in bringing pain.

The third room is where you find yourself after spending the day in your master's toy box. You are seldom conscious in this room however. Here, a gaunt man in a stained lab coat with surgical instruments for fingers toils away at stitching your sundered pieces back together. Under the unwavering watch of ever-present gargoyle guards, as this man is a prisoner too. He undertakes his duties with silent stoicism. When he is finished and you are back in working order, the gargoyles return you to your cell where the stones sing you to sleep.

You are on the ground this time, down among the green, and you are running not soaring. You are racing away from the stone talons and metal fists. You try to remember the route, what it looked like from above, but it is no use. You press on regardless, anywhere is better than where you were. Up ahead you catch sight of a light that's different than the summer sun filtering down from above. You are running towards a man, fair-skinned, dressed in plain clothes and a leather jacket. A man, but maybe not entirely human? There are waving flames where his hair should be and his eyes are like burning coals. There is a claymore, of all things, strapped to his back. He appears to be searching for something. If he is dangerous, it's too late to change course. He sees you coming and draws the sword while flicking open a silver lighter he had palmed in his other hand. Flame flows from the lighter up the length of the blade. He stands, sword ready but not for facing you. He is watching for something to come following you. “This way!” he yells, pointing behind him, further down the path. “This is the way out!” You keep running, your footfalls heavy. The man steps aside, slightly off the path, for you to pass. The foliage seems to react to his presence, in a sphere of influence around him, the vines and leaves yellow and wither. As you dash by, you learn why. He radiates immense heat, like standing in the middle of the desert in summer at noon. He steps onto the path again after you pass, to block pursuit. You charge out of the brilliant green briar into a more mundane woods. You look back to see a green portal, similar to the one in the cave, within an arch made by two trees that have bent together and entwined their branches. After a few minutes, the fiery man follows you out. He introduces himself as Ryan Callaghan. He knows you're probably confused and have been through Hell but he's going to take you to someone that can help. Someone that can help is just a short pickup-truck ride away, between Coxsackie and Athens. He is a small gnomish old man named Bartholomew, who resides at 0 Haunted Circle, on Sleepy Hollow Lake.

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Game 1 Recaps

Recap of Session 1 from Alexei's perspective:

Alexei's homecoming didn't go quite as planned. On one hand, it spared him the humiliation of begging his dad for a place to crash. On another…

Time didn't really flow the same anymore. It was always dark outside when he woke up. He kept track by counting the spent cigarette stubs he'd flick away.

Cigarette #1 was watching Jerry and ShawN slap each other around til one of them fell down. Apparently this was some sort of training. ShawN usually won. He also didn't like being called ShawN. This amused Alexei.

Cigarette #2 fell from his mouth, half spent, when a trio of bloodied vagrants stumbled into the clearing through some sort of hole in reality. They looked like assholes.

Cigarette #3 was a slow burn, as Alexei watched the trio stagger through dazed attempts at conversation while ShawN fumbled with his cell phone.

Cigarette #4 confirmed that they were, indeed, assholes.

Cigarette #5's ashes scattered into the wind through the open window of ShawN's car. ShawN was worried about something, and decided to drive the Assholes into town to "take care of something." Alexei didn't bother asking what, since all conversation in the car was drowned out by ShawN's shitty music.

Cigarette #6 was thrown into the mud by the front porch of a mobile home in some godawful trailer park. The sounds of mayhem and death echoed from inside the trailer. Alexei dared anyone walking by to say something. He was greeted with silence.

Cigarette #7 was actually a joint, rolled by one of the assholes as they sat around a burning metal drum out back of the trailer, drinking Keystone Light. The free smoke made him seem like less of an asshole, until Alexei inhaled the fetid garbage that passed for marijuana here. He went back to his cigarettes.

Cigarette #8 flew out the window on the way to another one of the asshole's country homes. It was the kind of house tailored to rich folk looking for a taste of the small town life, post retirement. It smelled like fake hardwood and deceit. Apparently it was killing time again.

Cigarette #9 sparked as it bounced off the snout of some nightmare beast before Alexei crushed its skull with a croquet mallet he found in the garage, before it could finish tearing off Frankie's leg. Frankie was asshole #2. He earned the use of his actual name after he gave Alexei some homemade Dom Perignon bullshit. Alexei returned the favor by letting him not die.

Cigarette #10 dropped into Alexei's lap as ShawN took a curve particularly hard, causing Alexei to have a minor panic attack. After the showdown at fake mansion, ShawN finally got a call back from his handler. It was time to make these three assholes someone else's problem.

 

Recap session 1 from Larry's perspective:

The first thing I remember is running. I don’t mean that in a clever, funny, bullshit kind of way. I mean it is literally the first memory I have right now. I don’t even fuckin know what I was running from. It was just me, some fat Italian, and a punk kid who never stops smiling. All three of us running as fast as fuckin possible away from I don’t know what. Everything was trying to stop us, it was like the fuckin trees were reaching out to trip us over. It won’t happen though, I been running my whole god damn life. Running from bills, running from women, running from everything. So no fuckin way is a god damn tree gonna slow me down. Fucking right?

Next thing I know we almost crashed into a couple of dudes. They looked like a couple of assholes but one of em was bigger then my fat Uncle Tony so I didn’t try and start any shit. I knew one of them, but I played it cool. He was scrawny pale fuck who would always wear weird fuckin coats and shit. He used to sell shit at my bar. I think his name was Alex or some nonsense. Who fuckin cares. Anyway its him, the big motherfucker and some scrawny fuck who was asking a lot of questions. The big one calls himself Shaw. He seemed useful so I made sure to remember his name. He called his ma of all fuckin people though. I mean I got respect for my ma too but I don’t call her when some fuckin dudes run out of a tree. Whatever, he took us to some big run down house.

There was a cute older gal who answered the door, but get this; she had fuckin rabbit ears. You believe that shit? Fuckin hell. Whatever I’d still buy her a drink or two. We waited in this place forever while some old man tried to explain what was going on. I only half listened, I was pretty distracted by the smoke coming off of every fuckin inch of me. I really wanted a drink but I aint got my car so I was stuck with these assholes.

The old man said some shit that pissed of the big kid. He also mentioned that we would have to kill some folks. I thought that shit was behind me… whatever. So we set off to this trailer park. I knew it because I buy my shit from one of the trailers in the park. Turns out the creepy kid who never stops smiling lives here. He keeps talking about some shit that I don’t think even he understands, I’ve mostly been tuning him out. Anyway we get in there and we see some fuckin guy in his house. But the guy looks just like him! We all jumped the asshole who was pretending to be him, and beat his ass. To make everything fucking weirder the guy just falls apart into dirt, and twigs, and leaves. Fuckin crazy night. I gotta lay off the pills. So once the guy aint a guy no more we burned the twigs to get rid of the… “body”. While we watch the fire burn the kid lights up a joint and starts passing it around. Its shit weed but it takes the edge off and makes me wonder what I might find at the bar.

Soon after that we head over to the italians house. This house is nice, it reminds me of my old place before that bitch took it in the divorce. The guy has a whole brew setup in his garage. It’s good shit too, I pound one back before we get into the house to kill shit. Turns out though, there aint no one at the house. We do all this sneaking around only to find jack shit. The whole time the italian and I are in the house, the rest of the assholes are fucking around out back. So we get downstairs and that’s when we saw it. Some big fuckin thing on the porch. It knew we were in there, I could tell we were in some major danger. I try to sneak out to the back to tell the assholes to shut the fuck up but it was too late. By the time in outside I hear that fuckin awful scream and the god damn thing comes charging around the house. Fuck.

Next thing I know the kid in the fur coat charges in and kills the god damn thing with a croquet mallet. What. The. Fuck. Who knew that kid had it in him. At this point the weed and beer are wearing off and I want to get out of here. I really just want to get back to the bar but the big fucks phone rings and he starts talking about some trade. Now I’m curious so I don’t say nothing. He takes us over to some huge house, and grabs the fur coat kid and starts dragging him toward the house. I knew that kid was strong, fucking hell.

 

A poem by Joey Balboni:

I fled from a dream, torn from theose faces sculpted in terrified joy.
The dream pursued me out into the night.
I still feel it, following, searching,

I gathered my army of hate and threw it at my demons.
The life-stealers. The puppets. The perpetrators of this greatest fraud.
The blows landed. Brutal in their joy.
The smoke burned about the battle, twisting and curling about the mad scenes.
Leaving me back home,
Smiling in the ashes of freedom.

 

Gerard:

So Shaw, me, and this walking chimney stack of a prisoner go out in the woods to train; well me and Shaw to train and this guy Alexei to grumble and puff cigarettes. Shaw and I get into it and I know I'm doing ok cuz Shaw is grinning from ear to ear. I'm shifting on the fly and doing my best to to make him swing and miss while I nip at him or get my jaws around him without actually biting down. Death by a thousand cuts; puppies have the sharpest teeth you know.

So we are right in the middle of it when out of nowhere Shaw stops dead, which I thought was a feint until he brushed aside my next attack without even looking. Right between these trees is some kind of portal I shit you not. This is the middle of the night but on the other side of this portal is bright daylight in another wood that kind of looked inviting were it not for three of the most bedraggled people I'd ever seen.

There was an older guy and two guys around my age, I think I went to school with one of them. The one from my school has this weird grin on his face but his eyes say he's on the verge of screaming. Shaw calls up his mom (why not Grandma?) who doesn't answer but he gets this idea to take them somewhere else. The smiling guy keeps talking about wanting to be alone with a shotgun. I think we should check him into a hospital with a 24-hour watch.

So we get to this old guy's house named Barnaby who tells this really weird story about being abducted and abused. Makes sense to me considering Smiler over here. I try to ask Shaw some questions but asking Shaw about anything other than combat doesn't usually go anywhere. I ask Barnaby if its ok for me to come back and talk with him. He agrees but then says all three of these guys have dopplegangers living their old lives that we have to go kill. Smiler perks up at this, and once again insists on getting a shotgun.

We get to Smiler's house first to calm him down and no fucking shit does a healthier looking version of himself answer the door. Smiler 2 bolts and I go Urhan to run around the back and cutoff escape. Immediately I note that Smiler smells weird but Smiler 2 smells like the woods. No kidding a dude that smells not like sweat and blood but sticks and fucking leaves. Since there's no back door I go back in through the front to find Shaw in Urhan too, both of us trying to track this fucker. Smiler has a full blown smile going now with a almost manic look in his eyes and seems to think we are some kind of benevolent manifestations of his own wrath. Whatever, sticks and mud are wafting out of the back room.

Smiler 2 goes down way too easy and although I see blood and guts it smells like straight mud. I start to pull the body apart but as I do it all crumbles into leaves. This shit is crazy. We burn the leaves to make sure while Smiler seems ok by now and is handing out beers and shit weed, but hey, at least its free. We get a buzz on and decide to go to the old Italian dude's place next.

Old Italian dude homebrews so the whole place reeks of mash and weird chemicals; no mud though. Urhan ain't telling me shit until this giant crab looking thing starts screaming and charging around. Alexei actually puts down his cigarettes long enough to flatten the thing's head with a croquet mallet. Turns out he could be pretty useful, who knew?

Right after all this crazy shit Shaw gets a call from Connor, Nelson made a run for it right back into the arms of his crazy ex-girlfriend and now we gotta give Alexei up to get him back. Smokestack talks some shit to Shaw who just man-handles him into the car and literally drags his ass to the door. What kind of harpy is going to be on the other side of this thing? Fuck

 

Game 1 Beverage Details: (All that matters to Franky.)

Keystone Light, Classic example of BJCP Category 1A (2008) American Light Lager.
OG 1.038
IBU 8
SRM 2
ABV 3.8%
Served warm, but not on purpose. Fridge seemed to be on the fritz. Quenching, much carbonation and thin body

Birra di prove di forza, American Barleywine BJCP 19C, Nacosto homebrewing, Castskill, NY
OG 1.094
IBU 84
SRM 15
ABV 10.4%
Last bits of the corny keg, ripe, Malty and bitter, lessened hop aroma for some reason I don’t understand- it should still be fresh?,

Apfelwein, BJCP 28C, Nacosto homebrewing, Catskill, NY
OG 1.070
IBU N/A
SRM N/A
ABV 9%
Petillant, Strong but oh so smooth, there is no reason this wine should taste this good. I just made it a month ago, it tastes at least six months old. Best beverage of the night due to perfect lagering.

 

Franky Recap:

Non solo non so cosa sia successo, non ho potuto dire con certezza che nulla è accaduto a tutti.

Ecco quello che so.

Le brezze più piccoli mettono i brividi al mio nucleo. tocchi alla mia pelle sarebbe pascolare fuori dalla rugiada e sudore, c'era davvero dire che era che. Dovevo fare qualcosa, di fare qualcosa in ogni momento. ma non ricordo cosa. Improvvisamente, i brividi non sono state brezze. Era solo l'aria viziata in transito sul mia fronte dal sprint. Esecuzione a niente di meno che il più veloce che ho fatto funzionare sarebbe stato disastroso. Ma io non so perché. Una maschera mi stava camminando avanti e indietro, e lui potrebbe anche essere una maschera, il ragazzo stava sorridendo tutto il percorso. Sorridendo. Basta grinner! Stiamo prendendo in acqua in una barca che perde e la tua GHIGNARE?

Gli altri erano oltre la mia comprensione. Uno è stato anche in esecuzione. Gli altri si trovano alla fine di un sentiero boscoso.

Ero in una casa, ricordando che il caffè esiste in una poltrona corsa verso il basso. Gli altri hanno chiesto una donna e le sue domande per cani che non mi interessa fino a quando ho messo le mani sul viso. Il fronte che era freddo prima era finalmente caldo. Non ero stato caldo per secoli. Ho messo la mia mano per per confermare, era stato non meno di 15 centimetri allungato. MA CHE SEI Grullo? Quello che è successo a me? Mi si rianimò le chiede il cane e l'amico cane, se si guardano a vedere quello che sento. Bizzaria. Sono Bizarria. Sono mostro.

Abbiamo portato su e vestito con abiti reali invece dei brandelli laccati alla mia pelle da tempo, sudore e torba. Tutto odorava di torba. Se Non bevo mai un altro grammo di torboso Lagavulin o Laphroig sarò meglio per essa. Qualcuno ha avuto un auto, siamo andati a rimorchio di grinno e tirò fuori il suo fratello gemello. Mi lanciai pietre contro il fratello. Per festeggiare, abbiamo bevuto intorno al fuoco del fratello e partecipava nel fumo di erbe infestanti. Non avevo toccato la roba in un lungo periodo di tempo, il mio cannabis lager era ossidato. Dumping che lotto era un affare triste. Abbiamo guidato fuori in un tracker geo al mio garage. Ho dato il mostro, i cani, e gli strumenti di prato sigaretta uomo. Ho preso il mio paddle poltiglia, la nuova 318 in acciaio uno con il mio logo Nacosto e la mia firma inciso sulla lama del a forma di remo pagaia.

Ci hanno preso d'assalto la casa, ubriaco barleywine e ancora un po 'lapidato. Non c'era nessuno per essere visto. Gli altri hanno seguito dal patio. Abbiamo visto altro che polvere. Una cosa è saltato su di me, mi pinning a terra sul petto barile. La cosa era piccolo, un po 'di aborto spontaneo di animali e Goon. L'uomo sigaretta lamentò sul aborto spontaneo con un martello da croquet. Egli ha forse salvato Franky.

Noi continuammo la festa, ho pensato che la mia apfelwein era troppo giovane per bere ma in qualche modo aveva il sapore di almeno 6 mesi di scadenza, il Che figata !! Abbiamo ottenuto in macchina e iniziato a guidare di nuovo, al bar. Bar di Larry.

Translation:

Not only do I not know what happened, I couldn't definitively say that anything transpired at all.

Here's what I know.

The smallest breezes put chills to my very core. touches to my skin would graze off from dew and sweat, there really was no telling which was which. I had to do something, to make something at all times. but I don't recall what. Suddenly, the chills weren't breezes. It was merely the stale air passing across my brow from sprinting. Running at anything less than the fastest I have ran would have been disastrous. But I don’t know why. A mask was pacing me, well he might as well been a mask, the lad was grinning all the way. GRINNING. Basta Grinner! We are taking on water in a leaky skiff and your GRINNING?

The others were beyond my comprehension. One was also running. The others we found at the end of a wooded path.

I was in a house, remembering that coffee exists in a run down armchair. The others asked a woman and her Dog questions that I didn’t care about until I put my hands to my face. The brow that was cold before was finally warm. I hadn’t been warm for ages. I put my hand to it to confirm, it had been stretched no less than 15 centimeters. MA CHE SEI GRULLO? What has happened to me? I perked up asking the dog and the dog friend if they look see what I feel. Bizzaria. I am Bizarria. They are mostro.

We carried on and dressed in actual clothes instead of the tatters lacquered to my skin from time, sweat and peat. Everything smelled of peat. If I never drink another gram of peaty Lagavulin or laphroig I’ll be better off for it. Someone had an auto, we went to grinno’s trailer and took out his twin brother. I hurled rocks at the brother. To celebrate, we drank around the fire of the brother and partook in the smoking of weed. I hadn’t touched the stuff in a long time, my cannabis lager had oxidized. Dumping that batch was a sad affair. We drove off in a geo tracker to my garage. I gave the mostro, the dogs, and the sigaretta man lawn tools. I picked up my mash paddle, the new 318 stainless one with my Nacosto logo and my signature etched into the blade of the oar shaped paddle.

We stormed the house, drunk on barleywine and still a little stoned. There was nobody to be seen. The others followed from the patio. We saw nothing but dust. A thing jumped at me, pinning me to the ground across my barrel chest. The thing was small, some miscarriage of animal and goon. The sigaretta man wailed on the miscarriage with a croquet mallet. He has maybe saved Franky.

We continued the celebration, I thought my apfelwein was too young to drink but somehow it had the taste of at least 6 months maturity, Che Figata!! We got in the car and started driving again, to the bar. Larry’s Bar.

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Prologue Pt. 5
Francesco Schettino

It was your foxy young paralegal's idea for you to retire in the Catskills. “It's the middle of nowhere,” she said. “No one will know who you are up there, nor will anyone give a shit.” It was a pretty good tip. The town itself was small and quiet and you found yourself a cozy little abode surrounded by farms where nobody bothered you. Your own Fortress of Solitude. What she neglected to tell you was how boring it'd be. It wasn't the right season for camping, boating, fishing, or driving around to look at leaves so when you got bored with antiquing (quickly) you needed a hobby. Brilliantly, the realization dawned on you that now have all the time in the world to devote yourself to your real passion. From then on, your home was perpetually filled with the yeasty, malty, fruity, sweet, and sour aromas associated with homebrewing as you churned out batch after batch experimental beers and wines. Limoncello too, of course. Each hangover caused by over-enjoying your latest creation was assuaged by a rich French press in the morning, pressed from coffee beans you also roasted and ground yourself. All in all, it was a fine few months, if a bit hazy.

One of those fine days you found yourself at a loss. Stricken with the creative brewer's equivalent of writer's block. You spent hours skimming books, surfing the net, and pacing about the house looking for inspiration. While crossing the front of the property, you spy a man walking a dog down the road towards your place. Unfortunately before you can backpedal or turn out of sight, he spots you, throwing up a hand in a friendly wave. Damn, now you have to be polite. You reluctantly wave back. He stops at your gate. He's a bit younger than you, definitely of rural country stock, and walking a shaggy mutt of indeterminate breed. He seems nice enough though when he says, “Hey, neighbor. You just move in?” You've been here a few months but sure, yeah, no way you're a recluse hiding from your mistakes. You left your garage door open, airing the place out after a foray into pickling went awry, and the various apparatus inside catches the man's eye. “Huh, what you got going on in there? Moonshine?” Oh no, good sir. None of the hard stuff. A nice craft beer suits you just fine. You quickly learn that “craft beer” is not a thing here and so you pass some time with this fellow, leaning on the fence, chatting about what you've been up to. It's actually nice to talk with someone that isn't a lawyer. You even share your current frustrations. “Well,” he offers, “I tell you what. I've got this funny hybrid fruit tree on my property. You ever try a plumcot? Or a tangelo? Kinda like that. I didn't even grow it on purpose, just kinda sprang up out by the compost. Why don't you come check it out? You ought could make somethin' real different with it. Might be just what you needed.” Interesting. Why not? What's the worst that could happen?

You hear the beasts snarling, can feel their hot, fetid breath. How did you ever think that was a dog? And there's more of them coming. You try and push yourself to your feet, make another run for it, but it's too late now. Those damned thorns have tripped you up. The fall has knocked the wind out of you. Your lungs burn and muscles are cramping, you're just not fit for exertion anymore. One beast takes your arm in its jaws, it's teeth like hot knives, and throws you as a cat toying with small prey would. You try crawling away this time but a second one takes hold of your leg, dragging you back toward the other. They seize and pull like two dogs as opposite ends of a rope. It's too much. You lose consciousness.

You can remember the bog. The mud, the murky water, the dark, and the horrors that lurked within. The master of the mire sent you on fool's errands to collect bizarre fruits and flora of the fey to fill his stocks. You crept through the shadows and muck to skirt the baleful beasts that also called this place home. If they see you, hear you, smell your fear, they will rip you apart but at least the master, witch doctor that he is, knows just the concoction to make it right again. Eat Me, Drink Me. Quit squirming til I've packed your guts back in. There's a good lad. You did just fine. But, I wonder what would happen if I tried this dose? Fascinating. Your creativity is called into play. You get to toil at the cauldron and the pestle. Say add this, less of that, but the design work is only part-time. You are just as much the test subject. Each new recipe is a new grotesquerie. Potion, poison, tincture, toxin, salve. Agony and panacea. Sickness and health.

You almost feel better than you did in your youth. You seem possessed of robust fortitude. You're running but the beasts are far away, not at your heels this time. The force-fed suffering and experimentation also seems a distant memory. Maybe it was all just a bad dream. You are running to freedom. Someone else leads the way, since you don't recall this well-worn path. You weren't conscious when you passed this way in the opposite direction. You don't recall this man you're following either, but at least he's no mad alchemist

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Prologue Pt. 4
Joey Balboni

You are walking your usual nightly beat. Patrolling the small strip and two big box stores of Catskill Commons is never eventful. You might shoo some loitering teenagers or tell kids they can't skate here but that's about as interesting as it ever gets. To keep yourself occupied, you have taken to carrying a pocket-sized Moleskine journal and pen. Tonight you feel particularly inspired, enthusiastically scribbling away.

You are so engrossed in penning your prose, you fail to notice the woman standing there marveling at a bit of graffiti. You walk directly into her, knocking her glasses from her face and fumbling your journal in surprise. Both tumble to the ground at her feet. You stammer and apology, terribly embarrassed, while she she crouches down to feel around on the concrete for her glasses. When she locates them and returns them to their proper orientation, she notices your journal lying open before her on the ground. When she looks upon the pages, her breath catches in her throat and she snatches it up, “Oh my!” She quickly flips through several pages, reading excitedly. “This is lovely!” She stands and turns towards you. “You, young lad, have a gift!” She's right. You do have a gift. You've always known. You are beside yourself with joy to hear someone acknowledge your talent. She takes your hand. “I simply must introduce you to my publisher. Joey, my boy, I'm going to make you famous!” Did you tell her your name? Oh yeah, it's written in the back of your book. She starts walking. You follow. You can see it; your work on the best-sellers list, your name in the Times, your words celebrated by millions of adoring fans on Goodreads. You're finally achieving your destiny. You snap out of your daydream. Hey, wait, where are you going exactly? There isn't anything back here but trees.

You're no longer walking, being led by a gentle hand. You're now being dragged by the ankles, face down, flailing and clawing at the ground. Your fingers gain no purchase in the hard, packed earth. You only succeed in ripping back your fingernails and grabbing at handfuls of fallen leaves and prickly twigs that tear your palms. The thorned vines that fill this strange verdant passage writhe around you, lashing at your back and arms as you pass through. There is the smell of damp leaves, sun-warmed flowers, and blood. Your mouth is filling with dirt and debris from screaming into the earth. You cough violently, feel like you're suffocating.

All you remember is beauty and pain. Your mistress is just as exquisite as she is cruel. She takes many forms. She may make herself into an immaculate recreation of the human form in alabaster today. An impressionistic rendering in stained glass the next. Perhaps strands of silk threading through a moving tapestry? Or, one of any other precious works of art. She suffers the presence of nothing in her world that is not beautiful. Beautiful and perfect. You have seen her unmake the ugly, ordinary, or even the slightest asymmetry and recreate it to her lofty standards. Should you sing a single sour note, she may cut out your tongue and replace it with silver. Most of the time you must write for her, of her loveliness and grace. You write til your inkwell runs dry and then you plunge the pen tip into your own wrist and write more. You fear the consequences of daring to leave a work in her honor unfinished. You must please her and for every failure to do so a punishment is rendered – sometimes painful, sometimes humiliating, always scathing. How long can a man measure up such expectations before he breaks?

You're not being dragged this time, you're on your own two feet. You are running, your boots thudding down the trodden path. The sun filtering through the too-green leaves warms your face. The floral-smelling breeze tousles your hair and you feel relieved. There's someone running alongside you that you don't recognize but it doesn't matter. Nothing matters except that you feel free.

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