Time: December 6th
Place: The University of Miami
The Brotherhood of the Willow emerges from the therapy room and discusses their findings with Naamah, who is leaning against the wall just outside the door. “What’s the stick up Espina’s butt?” she asks. They tell her that Rosita “told Winter everything”; Naamah is pissed about this, of course, but impressed that such a young girl managed to get so deeply under Espina’s skin. “Maybe she could give me lessons,” she muses.
Naamah agrees with Espina’s decision that Rosita remain at the University, but for different reasons: they need time to assess exactly what Rosita told the Silent Arrow about True Spring (and Autumn too, for that matter), and if they were to bring Rosita to their meeting with Hensteeth, there would be no bargaining chip to encourage future negotiations with the Onyx Court. They could just “liberate” their wayward courtier on the spot, and there would be little the Brotherhood of the Willow could do to prevent that, on Winter’s home-turf.
In an attempt to make peace with the still-angry Queen of Spring, the Brotherhood goes to the student housing section, where they make an offer they’re sure will cheer her up: “Thunder has a free hand with festivals. Why not upstage him with a festival of our own?” Jack offers. A traditional Yuletide celebration, more akin to Mardi Gras than Christmas, would be just the thing to but a bee in Thunder’s bonnet. Especially if “something unfortunate” were to happen to his own festivities. Espina loves the idea, and immediately begins to set plans in motion to show Grandfather Thunder what Spring can really do.
Time: December 6th
Place: Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial
The Brotherhood then makes their circuitous way to Liberty City, where they meet up with Blue Jenny in the food court of a ramshackle shopping mall. She is testy and resentful, but a few reminders of the debt she owes them makes her less unpleasant to speak with. She then drives them across the JFK Causeway to Miami Beach, for their rendezvous with the King of Winter at Hensteeth, the mobile headquarters of the Onyx court.
They park their cars and walk the few blocks to the Holocaust Memorial in South Beach. In deserted alleyway, they bump into a gang of Latino youths. The leader of the gang accuses Jim of stepping on his new white shoes, and begins (somewhat unwisely) to threaten the giant man with physical violence, demanding that Jim replace his shoes. Jim, predictably, does not take kindly to this, and after trying to warn the kid off, resolves the issue by pinning the youth against a wall, several inches above the ground, and calmly placing a machete against his throat.
The gang members immediately draw their pieces and cock them, but don’t fire, for fear of hitting their leader or drawing the police. Jack, beginning a Tale of the Baba Yaga, says “Now Boggy, I’m sure that this is all a big misunderstanding. Oh, what’s that boys? Haven’t you heard about my friend here? You’re not familiar with the Legend of Boggy Creek?” A few moments of tale-spinning, plus a bit of judicious muscle-flexing from Jim, sends the youths running for safety, but not before warning the Brotherhood to “watch out for the Aces High, ese!”
Jenny, emerging from the empty doorway where she’d been hiding, congratulates them, and hurries them along to an abandoned Art Deco hotel called “The Astro”, which is the current site of Hensteeth, only a few blocks from the Holocaust Memorial. (Along the way, Jack botches his Streetwise roll, and briefly attracts the unwanted attentions of a homeless woman.)
Security is tight, and right off the bat they’re confronted by two unpleasant looking men: Enrique Ironsides, an Ogre with a sour disposition and too many teeth, and Molorus the Strangler, whom they later learn is Marie Saint-Saens’ pimp. The big men frisk all five of them and take their weapons, but Jack manages to hold onto his staff, and Alexandre conceals the true nature of his sword-cane from them.
They are ushered through the building by an acne-scarred youth in a hoodie, and brought to an antechanmber of sorts, where they wait a few minutes for their audience to begin. During their conversation, Caden points out that they’ve got a deadline for convincing Sleet to join Naamah’s uprising: it’s only 19 days until the Winter Solstice, the time of year when Sleet will most keenly feel the pinch of not ruling the Freehold. After that point, he will become progressively more amenable to Thunder’s continued rule.
A small man with a large backpack ushers the Brotherhood into an office where Jeremiah Sleet is waiting for them. Jack dances around from argument to argument, but each thrust is met with a graceful rhetorical parry from the King of Winter. Eventually, Jim gets fed up with the indirectness of it all, and lays all their cards on the table: Grandfather Thunder trusts Sleet not to interfere, which puts Sleet in a very advantageous position over the Court of Wrath. If he chose to, he could slip a knife into Thunder’s ribs, making the Court of Sorrow into the new favorites of the Trident, catapulting Winter into the position of respect and power that has historically been denied to them.
Sleet chews on Jim’s words for a moment, then smiles subtly. “Tempting,” the King of Winter admits, “Very tempting.”
Nibbles enters the meeting room with a tray of drinks, and news for his King. Summer has just posted a watch on the JFK Causeway, to monitor the one bridge to Miami Beach that’s not directly under their control. Slowly, the Brotherhood realizes that this means that, for the moment, they’re trapped in Miami Beach!