Detroit: Dark Days

Official Report on the Events of the Trial of James Rutherford, Page 1
by Warden Bresnick

As per our orders, we entered the house of Warden Rutherford on the night of the eighth. His wards were significant, but we were prepared to counter them; I suspected something was awry when he did not immediately respond to the intrusion and ordered the Wardens with me to proceed with caution as we searched the house. As we began to search, Warden Helms opened his Sight, against orders or common sense in such a situation and displaying a great deal of inexperience and impatience. If he had done so sooner, perhaps we would know more about what transpired immediately before we apprehended Rutherford.

Helms could not gather himself to do more than mutter about scents and point out the way to Rutherford’s sanctum. Much of what he muttered isn’t worth reporting, beyond the fact that it set us even further on edge, but on entry to the sanctum I also caught a fleeting whiff of sulhpur. Whether it was the “sulphurous stench of the nether reachs of the Nevernever,” I cannot personally attest. As I said, it is inadvisable when apprehending a warlock to open one’s Sight on potential willworking in progress.

We could all feel the collapse of a significant spell construct as we breached the sanctum. We found former Warden Rutherford standing near a cooling magical circle, and his known ascociate Zachariah Wellington seated on the floor staring into the empty space of the circle dumbfounded, or in shock. Rutherford said part of one word before lapsing into silence, and my guess is that he was going to actually say ‘this isn’t what it looks like.’ He surveyed the Wardens present for some time before finally saying simply, “I will go peacefully.”

He did not resist being hooded or placed in restraints, nor did he resist transit to the original destination for his trial. He did become temporarily agitated during the confusion over changing that location, but I take responsibility for not maintaining my own composure when I was informed. I did not understand why the trial was moved to Edinburgh or why so many wizards were invited to attend. I am not questioning the decision, but given what took place I do wonder, on record, if anyone can say exactly why that decision was made.

The trip to Edinburgh went smoothly, and undoubtedly gave any wizard with inclination time to get there themselves.

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Mulcahey's Missions: Ghoul War
Killing Up the Food Chain

Detroit’s ghouls have run unchecked for too long and become too bold, preying almost openly on the few inhabitants of the desolate city’s outskirts. James and Zack are tasked by Father Mulcahey with ending the ghoul’s hold on Detroit. The boys scout the area and begin a series of rapid strikes against roaming ghouls to put the fear into them and let them know Detroit wasn’t their playground, and manage to draw Kang into a duel in the open. James powers Zach up with a few powerful enchantments and Zach wipes the floor with the arrogant ghoul, unfortunately the duo’s plan to keep Kang down is interrupted by a untimely assault by Frank, who has likewise been powered up by his mysterious magical ally. Zach has to scramble back from his pursuit of the fleeing ghoul spectators to save James, who was stunned by the surprise attack and taken out by the potent lightning sword Zach brought to bear; and while James is saved and Frank is routed Kang oozes down to his underworld home to recover.
Kang won’t be lured out again and has time to recover and entrench while James recovers, so the boys have to draw on all their allies to launch a frontal assault on ghoul territory, while they launch a sneak attack into Kang’s throne room from the Nevernever through a portal held open by Henry Engel. The ruse turns Kang’s carefully constructed trap against him, with all of his forces having to rush up through a magical torrent of crushing water summoned by James. Zach goes toe to toe with Kang again with slightly less magical backing but still proves to be the deadlier beast. The boys step back through the portal as the whole underground complex collapses on any surviving ghouls and blocks the main entrance from their section of the Nevernever into Detroit. With the success of the other attacks, and the aid of veiled vengeance from Kate Sith against her treacherous former servants, the ghouls of Detroit are wipe out almost utterly. Those few who get away have no taste for returning, and spread the word that Detroit is not the haven for monsters it had once been.

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Mulcahey's Missions: First Strike
Spirit of the Season

A series of family eliminations take place in rapid succession, the city is considering calling in the FBI, MPI can’t decide if they want the case, and Father Mulcahey thinks it may be the work of predatory fae. Phobophagic Fetches plague the city in significant numbers every October, but the state of fear in the city seems to be emboldening and empowering the faerie fear-eaters. James and Zach are put on the case by Mulcahey, but James needs time to recover from their last skirmish and prepare for his impending trial by the White Council. Zach starts by himself; taking the case from MPI, making sure the FBI isn’t called, and beginning to examine the files, scenes, and victimology for any useful information. James runs into roadblocks on every path he can think of to recover from the hollowness he feels in his soul, or on building a case in his defense, so he calls Henry Engel for advice, but the warlock is busy until the end of the week. James and Zach meet up at the house of the most recent victims, and inside are attacked by a small fetch while trying to calm and interview the ghosts of the family. They are similarly attacked at the next house, and at the third house they encounter greater resistance. A fetch has grown to human proportions and uncharacteristic strength, but the good guys put down the big baddie and the two smaller fetches with it. They gain little useful information from the ghosts, other than that one girl was taken alive. James begins preparing a spell to track the girl, while Zach discovers the empty houses are gateways that empower the fetches coming through and shape them to match the fears of the families who had lived there. Curiously, the fetch that killed the first family evidently crossed over through the second family’s home before the killings began. The boys track the girl to an empty skyscraper and fight their way up the stairs against a movie monster that seems to come back from death several times, before making it to the top floor. There an extremely powerful fetch holds the girl hostage and uses the visage of a warden to unsettle the heroes, who eventually triumph and save the girl.

James works to try and befriend the genius loci of BelleIsle, and meets with Engel, before deciding to go to Edinburgh to try and prevent a trial from happening. A passing comment by Cherberus however prompts James to soul gaze himself, which makes him realize he has been deceived and the evidence is strongly stacked against him. According to Engel, only around 1 in 2500 people tried for lawbreaking are proven innocent. James now doubts that he’d be part of that lucky .04%.

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Journal Entry

Lord things are more complicated than ever. First the church keeps my heritage from me while still encouraging me to develop my martial talents and now I realize that my city is being drowned in fear and being controlled by fae and vampires. J.R. seems like he wants to help the city’s thousands but is facing his own problems all the time. My brother has made a deal with one of the vampiric powers which has kept me from talking with and learning about our past or learning about why we need to fight instead of work together to help the city. J.R. has informed me that he thinks that we might very well be alone here. Something needs to be done. I must help J.R. find the truth behind the Wardens’ accusations. I must show Frank the light. I must remove the Fae, Vampires, and other monsters of the city. I must help build the city back up into a happy, healthy, faithful city. God look after your follower and pray for those that I’m coming for.

-Zach

p.s. I think I’m going to need some sort of nation’s protection if I plan to go to war. I’m not a wizard though I could look at other options after. Also I’m still wondering about my father, who aren’t not in heaven.

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Mulcahey's Missions: Prologue
Late Check Out

Father Mulcahey asks Zachariah Wellington to investigate the theft of numerous bodies from Detroit graveyards, some of which are the dead relatives of parishioners at St. Anne de Detroit. Zach recruits James to help with the task as well. Unfortunately, James has been informed that he is suspended from active duty as a Warden and may face prosecution for his conduct during his fight on Belle Isle. James leaves Zach to begin the investigation while he goes to Edinburgh. Zack finds evidence of necromancy and corpses pulling themselves out of the ground. Meanwhile, James finds himself unable to immediately affect or look into the case against himself and returns home. Both men work together to divine the location of the necromancer involved, an abandoned hotel. The hotel turns out to be a trap, where they are ambushed by zombies and Zach’s brother Frank before they can get to the necromancer on the top floor. The necromancer has older more powerful zombies there, and pulls out an especially powerful zombie to keep Zach at bay. Nearing his limit in the fight, James manages to call on a new form of magic, Soulfire, to turn the tide and force the necromancer to flee. Zach is capable of finishing the remaining zombies once they are weakened, and James tries to draw more heavenly power to finish the fleeing warlock, but the power doesn’t come. The two men rest and recover as much as they can overnight, before James uses a new spell to track their enemies. This time they find themselves at the MGM Detroit, where Caden Malvora greets them personally. Caden informs them their quarry are under his protection. The vampire uses a spell to catch a glimpse of James’ secret fears, and reveals that he “knows what you’ve seen” and that it would not be good for James if Caden revealed it to the world. The threat is backed up with Caden’s potent fear powers. The vampire simply informs Zach that he is prey. The two heroes are forced to let their nemeses live to fight another day.

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Fall Back
to Autumn Melancholy

Following the death of Trevor Smith, the summer passed quickly. Summer Court fae chased off the now listless Fomor forces, but had barely started to re-assert their position when Winter began to expand again. The days are shortening, the nights are growing darker, longer, and more terrifying. Ghouls now hunt throughout the suburbs, checked only by the valiant efforts of MPI and individuals like Charles Conrad. Under Caden Malvora, the White Court has expanded its influence physically and financially, due as much to abundant ambient fear to feed on as any particularly clever plotting. The atmosphere of fear has also began to draw an inordinate number of phobophagic winter fae, both fetches and other less common species.

Bribing city, state, and federal officials through Cherberus, James has managed to take legal possession of the once haunted house on Belle Isle and with it the right to live on the island and be there when the park is closed. So far he has yet to abandon his better defended family home, as he is not ready to start from scratch on a new sanctum or its wards. The White Council underwent significant turmoil, with a supernatural epidemic incapacitating a large number of its members and internecine politics temporarily removing numerous wardens from active duty (while others disappeared mysteriously, to return after the trouble was over). On the other hand, Harry Dresden appears to have ended the ancient hostility between the White Council of Wizards and the Red Court of Vampires, by destroying the entire species. He was apparently murdered a mere hours after returning from his climatic battle, and now his political enemies are searching through his record for any wrongdoing. James is recruited into the Wardens and trained for several months, before being assigned to cover the area around Detroit, under Carlos Ramirez (who is now supervisor of all Wardens in North America). The recovery from a coma of a warlock that James was suspected of breaking the laws of magic to defeat has reopened the case against James, which Dresden had summarily closed without a formal report.

Some good news occurred, a new crusader for good has shown up in Detroit. Zachariah Wellington and James have begun to collaborate on combating the evils plaguing the city, including Zach’s half-demon half-brother Frank Wellington. Father Mulcahey has decided to help guide the two men in their good works.

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And Then There Was One

James and Trevor continue to look into the werewolf in town. Tera comes forward with some hair and brings to light that the person they’re looking for is a child. During the nasty weather Trevor decides to finish the summer court challenge and deal with the Eldest Gruff. Turns out that was foolish. The Eldest Gruff almost completely destroys Trevor while James negotiates with the Summer Lady to end the fight. Trevor gives up the Fomor, has Balor offer him a private contract, but ultimately turns that down. James continues to investigate while Trevor decides to hide out at Elysium. The two track down the hotel where the child is and release the child to Tera. After which Trevor decides to follow up on the last signatory he hasn’t cut and ran out on. Upon hearing about the job only being open to those that die in battle, Trevor decides to challenge his old draconic patron. James sends a request to the new signatory, warns Trevor against this, and then opens a portal to the Nevernever. Trevor issues the challenge to find out that dragons think of him as tasty. From there James marches forward, working his way toward Warden. The good Father asks James help with a problem that’s been plaguing one of his flock. Scions are showing up in the city and one of them is bringing his friends.

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Foreign Eye

James and Trevor go see MPI, who is hesitantly willing to trust Trevor now that he is no longer affiliated with a Dragon or Demon, and are briefed on two cases MPI has been unable to crack. A serial killer has been stalking the city since winter, and at the beginning of the month seven people were murdered and their bodies destroyed in one bloody weekend. MPI hands the two copies of all the case files, and they both head out to investigate.

Trevor is diverted by his new cantrev lord, Balor; the new form taken by the being that had been AlpLuachra. Balor sends Trevor to recover his long lost eye from a lake in Ireland. James continues the case for a day before getting a call to come to Elysium, where he is offered a job from the Fomor to stop Balor from retrieving his eye. Taking a much fast way through Faerie to Edinburgh then following another wizard to Ireland, James arrives in County Sligo at the same time as Trevor.

The two of them wander a bit and ask help from the locals before finding the lake, which is now a dry mud flat. Trevor’s connection to the Fomor and power from an Oath James swears to Trevor (to use this situation to improve Trevor’s standing with the Fomori Court), allow the two to draw down a monsoon to fill the lake. James convinced Trevor to let him transport the eye, and then subsequently loses the eye when the Summer Lady appears and claims it. Balor is angered at Trevor’s failure, and confused by his half-considered lies.

Back on the case, James and Trevor manage to identify the serial killer as Lorenzo Valentino, Trevor’s ghostly spy. The two of them manage to kill the ghost on it’s own home turf and Trevor claims the demesne as his own. Summer begins to send a series of increasingly dangerous agents after Trevor, and he quickly finds himself hiding out in his new demesne; leaving James to investigate the other killings on his own. James manages to identify the culprit as a Loup-Garou, a rare and extremely dangerous kind of werewolf, but everyone he calls about it just warns him to stay away.

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Winter Gives Way to...
A New Day

Wet Hot Faerie Summer

As Summer approaches, the Summer Court retakes all the territory it had once been given by Trevor, territory that had been entrusted to him in exchange for a deal he thenbroke. Summer Fae manage to expand all of those areas, and take significant chunks of Kate Sith‘s territory as well. Winter is left with only pockets in the city where it is closest to the Winter regions of the Faerie. None of this seems to phase Trevor’s masters, whose messengers seem content with his status reports and give no new directions for him. Trevor fights to hold on, based on his own desire to maintain his holdings and status in Detroit’s supernatural community.

As the economy worsens, more factories, schools, hospitals, stores, and the rest close down, possibly forever. The previous miasma of dread and despair that things weren’t getting better gives way to outright fear that things are going to get a lot worse. Gang activity increases. More and more of the people who can leave do. Adding to the fear, a serial killer seemed to be on the loose in the city, but almost as quickly as he appeared on the news the police denounced the reports and claimed the killings were all independent and gang related. The case was quietly passed to MPI. On top of all of this, supernatural predators now haunt the night feeding on the populace’s fear. For the citizens of Detroit, things have only gotten worse.

Wizard Shakeup

Shocking the entire White Council, Aleron LaFortier was murdered in his quarters within the most heavily guarded section of the White Council’s headquarters under Edinburgh. After a two day manhunt, long by wizard standards, and a short trial Warden Donald Morgan is executed for the crime. The trial was more eventful than anyone present is willing to admit, because a number of wizards and warden present to witness, officiate, or give testimony died. The White Council has released no information on what happened to those who weren’t there, and those who were seem sworn to secrecy. In another shocking move, the eldest wizard was passed up without explanation in choosing a replacement for the Senior Council seat. LaFortier’s protege, Gregori Cristos, takes the seat instead of Klaus Schneider, or a number of more senior wizards.

James continues taking care of the cat, Shadow, to no noticeable effect, while training with his father’s friend on building defenses against the supernatural dangers the White Council won’t talk to apprentices or junior wizards about. He also hears about the rumors and excitement (mostly hostile) about Harry Dresden performing a “Sanctum Invocation,” which appears to be exactly what James wants to do at Belle Isle. Janeane explains, when asked, that such an act is quite different from either binding a Ley line or becoming a shaman and “spirit partner.” The Sanctum Invocation is simply a magically reinforced claim that a location is the wizard’s home. It requires a non-hostile location with a significant magical charge, and most wizards who do so use their own homes, towers, or sanctuaries where they have spent a lifetime practicing magic.

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A Blue Stole
Entry into the halls of Wizardry

James Rutherford III heads to Edinburgh to become a full Wizard, and Trevor Smith tags along to witness and make a deal between the White Council and the Fomor. Trevor brokers a deal that gets goodwill for the Fomor and opens ways through the Fomor regions of the Nevernever for Wizard use. As he waits for the tests, James encounters the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper presents James’ father’s watch as delivered for him and informs James that the Gatekeeper will not be voting in his favor. James had purposefully left the watch behind and begun to enchant a new focus item, because it was featured in the vision he had of his own death. Now James finds himself with the watch on his person in the dark headquarters of the White Council surrounded by black-robed wizards and gray-cloaked wardens, any of which could be the figures from his Vision of My Own Death.

James fails Ancient Mai’s test of Earth Magic, which is a weak point in his studies of magic. The Gatekeeper simply goes down the line pronouncing who passed his “test,” and James is surprised when he passes. Aleron LaFortier soulgazes each candidate, and tells James he passes because he is willing to do what is necessary while maintaining the restraint to not go too far. James manages to disable the test wards the Merlin, Arthur Langtry, set before the students. James passes two of three sections of Martha Liberties test of practical use of veils, which she says is good enough. Listens to Wind puts forth sick animals to be cured, and James flushes sepsis from a cat’s intestines but doesn’t mend the internal wound. Listens to Wind heals the cat the rest of the way, and gives James a pass and the cat. James names the cat Shadow. James passes the Anastasia Luccio, Captain of the Warden’s test by applying a trick Giorgiel had once used against him. Ebenezer McCoy presents a test of honesty and integrity rather than skill or knowledge, which James quickly fails. White Council chief secretary Peabody gives a difficult written test, which James passes with a 72%. Finally, the Toymaker Klaus Schneider simply asks each candidate why they want to be a wizard. Klaus is satisfied with James’ answer, and having passed 8 out of 10 tests, James is one of two apprentices to graduate to full wizardhood and receive a blue stole.

After a brief celebration, James and Trevor return home, and Trevor begins to set up his new houseboat/headquarters.

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