The War of Summer's Ending

Chapter 27 - Tickle-Me-Elmo

Time: December 9
Location: University of Miami main campus

On the last helicopter out from the hospital, the Brotherhood of the Willow discusses what to do with their unconscious prisoners, John St. Elmo and George Zimmerman. Jack, in a seemingly calm, flat voice, says that he favors “spending the crowd’s rage” by beating the shit out of Zimmerman and/or killing him. Alexandre agrees that Zimmerman has to die, but the question is, how? They can’t just shove him out the door of the helicopter. The idea of dumping the body in the Hedge for the Hobgoblins to find is briefly entertained, but Caden counsels against killing the man: he’s never done them any harm, and besides, that way lies madness.

Officer Rico Stallone greets them upon landing with a small squad of ensorcelled security officers, takes Zimmerman away to be quartered somewhere on campus. He also takes Preston’s body away for burial, to avoid inconvenient questions about why a dead body was moved from the scene.

The Brotherhood then delivers the sad news to Naamah, who takes it surprisingly badly. Preston was always kind to her, and as the tears begin flowing, Jim ducks out, feeling very uncomfortable. He decides to talk to Espina about the recent attempt on her life. Selena tells him The Kindly Ones attacked the Queen and some of her followers at a planning-session for the Yuletide party. Ray was shot, and is still in the shop for repairs. The queen was just grazed.

Jim: Well, there’s another group for the list.
Selena: [smiling] “You know, sometimes you and I see eye to eye.”

Jack is in a decidedly non-forgiving mood, and decides to vent some of his spleen upon John St. Elmo. Jack gets himself some “tools” from the science department: pliers, hammer, liquid nitrogen, and protective gear. Rico Stallone requires that before they begin this interrogation, they must Pledge to not intentionally kill John St. Elmo.

The first thing they do is remove John’s signature sunglasses, and discover to their genuine surprise that behind them are a pair of perfectly normal eyes, in every respect. What’s more, they’re the kind that get darker in sunlight and lighter at night, so they don’t actually impede his night-vision any more than a normal pair of glasses would. Apparently, he just wears them to enhance his own mythos.

They begin playing around with the pliers and tools, and probing his mind for fears with Fleeting Autumn (he’s apparently afraid of eels). Jim starts flicking droplets of water onto St. Elmo’s face, where they sizzle like water on a hot skillet. Suddenly, John invokes Ogre’s Rending Grasp, and breaks the chair out from under himself, and smashes Jim across the face with the remainder of it. He fights well, but Jim and Alex manage to subdue him ad re-bind him.

The Brotherhood makes John swear a Pledge to be their spy in the Summer Court:

The Pledge of the Frost-Branded Traitor
Task: Alliance, Medial (-2) – John will report to them about Summer’s movements, and Ban, lesser (-1) John will keep the pledge secret from Grandfather Thunder and the rest of the Summer Court (except for the other members of the Apostolic Knights).
Boon: Favor, Medial (2) – the Brotherhood of the Willow will protect him from any harm with which Summer threatens him, or his motley (1).
Sanction: Curse, Medial (-2) – only 9s or 10s count as successes.
Duration: Season (+2) – 89 days (ends in late February)

As a final question, Jim asks John St. Elmo what would really, really get Deathless Ivan’s goat. Since there’s no love lost between the enforcer and the Sheriff, John agrees to throw Jim a bone: Grandfather Thunder insists on decorum at all formal gatherings, and he compels Deathless Ivan to wear a custom-made tuxedo to every official Summer Court function that the giant attends.

The Brotherhood reasons that since he’s more than eight feet tall, Ivan can’t just go to a store and rent another; if that tuxedo were to be stolen just before a major social event, Ivan would be forced to follow wherever they led, in order to retrieve it, or risk Thunder’s wrath.

John’s story will be that he chased the Brotherhood’s helicopter from the hospital, but lost them after a while. Their story will be that they were transporting him to The Green Man’s Hollow when he overpowered them and escaped. The discrepancy between them will (hopefully) be accounted as the difference of the rumor mill.

John: “At least I’ll be where I can’t smell you anymore.”
Jim: “Yuk it up.”

Chapter 26 - The Riot Act

Rico Stallone informs the Brotherhood that Naamah has called an emergency Court in the Arboretum, and all Autumn courtiers available are obliged to attend. Since the hospital is under siege, the Queen is collecting volunteers for a mission to rescue Preston, who may not even realize the danger he’s in; likely owing to the enormous volume of patients and the rioters outside, he’s not responding to Autumn’s attempts to contact him. Since it’s only one person, no matter how valuable his skills, Naamah’s not willing to risk more than one motley for the mission, but she’s been able to pull some strings in the University to get a helicopter for their evac.

The Brotherhood of the Willow volunteers for the job. To avoid notice by rioters, they take the monorail part of the way, so they don’t need to leave Jack’s car lying around in the middle of a riot. Upon disembarking, they see a Latino man being beaten up by a knot of rioters. Jim scares the assailants off with a roar, and then sets the man’s broken nose with a single, clean jerk. “You’ll thank me later,” the giant reassures him over the sound of his protests.

As they finish up, the Brotherhood and Quiet Luke both see each other. Quiet Luke bolts, and the Brotherhood decides to let him go; they’ve got bigger fish to fry. The security guards recognize Caden, who works at the hospital, and let the Brotherhood pass through. They head for Preston’s office and the ER, but are unable to find him. The rioters outside are getting restless, and they overhear a nurse saying that they’ve begun to triage and move patients to a safer location, because the rioters are now actively seeking to break down the hospital’s doors in their hunt for George Zimmerman.

Jack has a bright idea (har de har har) and heads for the Communications room, where he pages Preston over the PA system, asking him to report to the western stairway. On their way to meet them, a door bursts open, and who should step through but the Apostolic Knights! Quiet Luke, for some reason, is not with them. The two motleys engage in melee, forsaking firearms to avoid drawing undue attention, and to prevent deafening both sides in an enclosed space.

John and Matthew charge the Brotherhood, but they are repulsed by the Autumn motley’s newly-improved firepower and weaponry. Mark shields his fellows while beating his chest and boasting that here, in the heart of a riot, the Apostolic Knights are invincible thanks to an unlimited supply of wrathful Glamour (they don’t even need to take time to harvest it!) Jack, after a few moments of thought, comes up with a very simple way to throw a wet blanket over their Glamour-supply: he pulls the fire-alarm, setting off sprinklers and soaking everything as klaxons blare and patients scramble to escape the hospital. Enraged at the loss of their easy Glamour, the Apostolic Knights redouble their efforts.

Rather than allow the Knights to distract them, the Brotherhood decides to split up and find Preston as soon as they can: Jim and Alexandre stay to fight, while Caden and Jack make a beeline for the west stairway, fighting against the fleeing mass of humanity to reach the wayward Chirurgeon.

Two muffled gunshots go off, and to their horror, Jack and Caden arrive to find Preston lying at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of his own blood, and Quiet Luke readying his snub-nosed revolver for another shot. Seeing them, he redirects his fire, but Jack manages to distract him with a blast of Crone’s Fire. Caden picks up the fallen Wizened, and tries to carry him to safety, but a lucky shot from Quiet Luke passes right through the old man’s neck, killing him instantly.

Luke tries to flee the scene, but Caden, using his training in parkour, leaps several railings in a series of lightning-fast leaps, blocking the fleeing Oracle’s escape with a stare as cold and pitiless as ice. Jack, in contrast, seems utterly consumed by burning rage, and releases barrage after barrage of Crone’s Fire against Luke, heedless of the cost. Luke leaps sideways over the railing, attempting to flee downwards, but Jack catches him from behind with a vicious blast, and Quiet Luke is dead before he hits the linoleum.

Meanwhile, Jim and Alex take on Mark Stalwart while the other Knights lick their wounds. Mark manages only a few body-blows before Jim brings the Stonebones to his knees with a well-placed stab of his skinning-knife. Mark draws a magnum in a last-ditch effort to turn the tide, but Alex parries the gun right out of its owner’s hand, knocking it into a puddle and rendering the firearm useless.

Howling with rage, Strong Matthew hurls his sledgehammer at Jim’s shoulder and charges, sidearm forgotten, ready to tear the Farwalker’s throat out with his bare teeth. Jim manages to break the hold before the Gristlegrinder can take a bite, and another well-placed stab, this time from Alexandre, brings down the other Ogre. Badly wounded, all his comrades-in-arms missing or gravely injured, John St. Elmo is forced to surrender to the Brotherhood of the Willow. He asks only that they lead Mark and Matthew unmolested, so the hospital staff have a chance to save them. Alexandre binds the Elemental’s hands with his leather belt, and they lead him off to the west stairway.

When they see Preston’s body, the arriving members of the Brotherhood are horrified, and John is enraged at the murder of his companion. Jim is forced to knock him out to quiet him. Jack is prepared to kill St. Elmo on the spot (“an eye for an eye”), but surprisingly, Alexandre acts as the voice of reason, urging Jack to not “let himself go”, and to “remember what brought you back [from Arcadia].”

Once they arrive at the roof, the Brotherhood is greeted by the promised helicopter, but a team or nurses arrives on the roof and urges them to take another patient with them: George Zimmerman! Management has decided that Zimmerman needs to leave the hospital, and the fastest way for them to do that is by helicopter. The hope is that once the rioters learn that Zimmerman is no longer in the building, they will disperse.

The Brotherhood is now faced with a difficult choice: Should they kill a man who’s never harmed them, to cut off Summer’s supply of easy Glamour? Or should they let him live to save their Clarity, and possibly make the University of Miami the new target of the irae populi?

Chapter 25 - To Grandmother's House We Go


After the battle with the Stimmies, Captain Mollymawk brings the Brotherhood of the Willow to safe anchor in the marina at Dinner Key, in the shadow of Miami City Hall, not far from the University. Officer Rico Stallone (a handsome Autumn courtier who they’ve seen but never introduced themselves to) arrives to pick them up in his squad car. Taking them back to campus, he tells them that the war isn’t going as well, after the Trayvon Martin case. The city is being throwing off wrathful glamour in the wake of the shooting, giving the Court of Wrath an unforeseen edge in the conflict.

Rico says that thanks to the fistfights and petty assaults which have gripped Miami in the shooting’s wake, Prof. Goldstein is now too busy at the hospital to treat even members of his own Court. They’re swamped with injuries of all stripes. Instead, Jack is rushed to the University, where he’s treated by Granny Smythe, using a poultice developed from various Goblin Fruits by a young Autumn courtier named Donna Bellagio. While she’s treating Jack’s wounds, Jim shows her the corpse of a Stimmie he kept in his jacket; she comments that Stimmies were driven ashore back in ’28, just before the Big Blow.

While he’s under sedation, Jack receives a dream visit from Dame Dob, telling him that she has some mystical training for him. Surprisingly, she says that she’s also got some instruction for Jim, if he wants to come along. She says that she’s doing it “as a favor to Morrigan”, but won’t elaborate on who Morrigan is. (She also says that Alex and Caden can come too if they like.) When Jack wakes, Granny is stuffing the other members of the Brotherhood with Crawfish étouffée. Alex is busy reading up on the Trayvon Martin case. He doesn’t like what he sees. “This could explode all over us,” he observes.

Before heading to the Everglades for their meeting with Dame Dob, the Brotherhood stops by True Spring, to tell Espina about the meeting they arranged with Admiral Finn. On the way, they run into Naamah in conference with Rico Stallone and Donna Bellagio. They tell her about the meeting with the Admiral. Naamah says that Mollymawk’s excuse for taking them through the Deep, saying that the harbor was full of glamour-mines, is the dumbest idea she’s ever heard. “There’s no such thing as Glamour-mines,” she claims, but she still agrees to meet with Finn (if for no other reason than the Neptune Society will make good meat-shields when the storm comes in from the sea.) Naamah assents to the meeting but reminds them that “You’ve still got Espina to convince.” “That’s what Jim is for,” says Jack, patting the giant’s arm.

They proceed to check on the progress of the Yuletide celebration. Not well, as it turns out: Queen Espina is somewhere between put-out and frustrated: True Spring is badly out of practice with throwing parties. They’ve been living hand-to-mouth in the ’Glades for several years. They’re arguing about waste and cost and secrecy and security for the party, and nothing can be agreed on. Selena points out that, as immature as they are, Shimmering Spring (a.k.a. Vichy Spring) does have more experience throwing parties. “She always loved her mother’s parties," she observes to no-one in particular.

Finally, the Brotherhood makes their way to the Aboretum, and Jim’s Hollow. There’s just one problem: the entrance has moved! Jim is, naturally, quite upset, but manages to find the entrance only a few yards away from where he left it. They pass into his Hollow, only to find Dame Dob waiting for them! She laughs at their surprise, and counsels Jim to double-check his security: the Ward he placed involved killing a turtle, and as such it will admit Beasts. The entrance, mole-like, will continue to burrow around, moving the entrance to his Hollow in an unpredictable fashion. Jim vows to discuss it with the Widow Mactan.

Jack introduces her and explains how he came to meet her, and Caden makes a surprising revelation: he met a similar woman during his escape from Arcadia, though he met a White Lady, not a Crone like Jack. After this, Jim reveals that he, too, met a mysterious lady on his return, a warrior-woman who called herself Mother Morrigan, and taught him how to be human again. (Alex looks at them all a little mistrustfully, saying that he never met anyone like they’re describing.)

Dame Dob offers to teach them “bits and pieces” of stronger magic and lore, which could save their hides in a fight. She offers to teach Jack “Contracts of Light,” and Jim “Contracts of the Stalking Cat.” It takes two days, but the Brotherhood of the Willing learns well under her tutelage, and return to the Trident stronger (and more tired) then when they left it.

Epilogue: As they walk out of the Arboretum, Officer Stallone stumbles across them, and has his sidearm half-drawn before he realizes it’s them. While they’ve been gone, the city has exploded: there’s been another attempt on Queen Espina’s life, and George Zimmerman has been shot by protesters on his way to his bail hearing. He’s been taken to University of Miami Hospital, which rioters have surrounded. Even now, they’re beating down the gates, baying for his blood, being whipped into a frenzy by Summer’s courtiers.

Chapter 24 - Clearwater Horizon

Place: Hensteeth (Miami Beach, FL)
Time: December 6

After Nibbles’ unexpected revelation that The Court of Wrath has begun posting its own guards to the JFK Causeway, effectively sealing the Brotherhood of the Willow off from support, Jeremiah Sleet apologizes to the Brotherhood. He says that while he won’t turn them out on the street, he has to put his own Court first. Winter can move around on their own to get past Grandfather Thunder‘s guards if necessary, but they can’t afford to compromise the secrecy of their movements. However, since they are his guests, he points them in the direction of assistance: The Neptune Society maintains much of its fleet at the Miami Beach Marina at the southern end of the island, and if the Brotherhood can make them an offer, they might be able to get a lift back to Autumn territory. Sleet tells Nibbles to escort them, unseen, to the marina. Sleet sets to making preparations to move Hensteeth to a new, more secure location.

Nibbles leads them an uneventful few blocks to the marina, where they see a breathtakingly-beautiful mer-woman climbing out of the water. (Alexandre‘s reaction is typical; he lays it on thick, even going so far as to actually kiss her hand. She does not seem to accept his advances.) She sees them as well, and introduces herself as Melissa, a member of Maria Espina’s retinue. She observes (correctly) that they are quite far from home, and she knows that Summer has posted guards to all the land-routes in or out of Miami Beach. Assuming (again, correctly) that they’re here to get a ride from the Neptune Society, she urges them to reconsider: the Society is weak in Freehold politics, and unpopular with Shimmering Spring (a.k.a. Vichy Spring) in particular. Associating themselves (and by extension, the Autumn Court) with the Neptune Society would be “social suicide”.

Melissa offers them the support of Shimmering Spring, but admits that they don’t really have a way to get them home right away, though “anything would be better than hanging out with those losers, right?” Jack thanks her kindly, and manages to change the subject to Isabel Espina’s upcoming Yuletide celebration, which puts Melissa on the defensive, since she is, of course, “better-informed than anyone” about Miami’s social calendar. The mermaid’s interest is piqued, but the Brotherhood excuses itself, leaving the Shimmering Spring courtier quite put-out.

The Brotherhood makes its way to the harbormaster’s office, where they meet Captain Larus Mollymawk, master and commander of the S.S. Gossamer, and a ranking officer in the Neptune Society for more than four decades. He is gruff and mistrustful of them at first, but upon perceiving the attention they could bring him, he explains the situation more fully to them.

The Neptune Society is part of the Freehold of Miami, but not part of any Court: they serve the Freehold, not any particular ruler. This has, understandably, made them unpopular with many rulers, but especially with Grandfather Thunder. This lack of official support has cost them much of their funding and other resources. Much of the fleet is in disrepair, and the Neptune Society has difficulty even making the basic patrols necessary to keep the Trident safe from the horrors of The Deep. Mollmawk is willing to cut a deal with them: he will provide them safe passage, free of charge (a rare offer indeed!), in exchange for their Pledge to set up a meeting between the Neptune Society’s senior officers and the Queens of Autumn and Spring, to discussed increased funding and support for the Society’s operational budget. Seeing little choice otherwise, the Brotherhood agrees.

Captain Mollymawk takes them to his ship, the S.S. Gossamer, and introduces her crew: Big Bertha, the quartermaster; Willard Seacrest, the Engineman; and Monique Washington, Master-at-Arms. Mollymawk gives the order to cast off, and soon they are under way. The captain explains the because Summer has recently mined the harbor, it will be necessary to take them home by way of The Deep. About midway through the voyage, the Gossamer is boarded by a sharklike monstrosity which (after nearly attacking it), they are told is actually a member of the Gossamer’s crew: Bruce, their Special Reconaissance Operative.

Bertha spots a strange cloud off the port stern. Monique takes a closer look, shouts in dismay, and disappears to warn the captain. The cloud is not a cloud at all, but a massive, shrieking flock of bronze-feathered Hobgoblins called Stimmies, and they’re getting closer. Willard throws everything he can into the engines, but the flock overtakes them. A fierce battle ensues, leaving Jack seasick, heavily wounded, and slightly shotgunned, but the crew manages to pull through and drive off the flock, and bring their passengers safely to shore, in accordance with their end of the bargain.

Chapter 23 - Hensteeth

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!

Chapter 22 - Good Court, Bad Court

Time: December 1st
Place: UofM Psychology Bldg.

Once they arrive safely back at the University of Miami’s main campus, the Brotherhood of the Willow makes a beeline for the Linda Ray Intervention Center, where Jack, posing as a staff member, requests a session-room for a few hours (“for treatment of a hysterical adolescent patient”.) They take Rosita in through a delivery door in back, to reduce the likelihood of being seen.

Selena checks her cell phone and tells them that the queens are on the way. Jack buys candy and pop from a vending machine downstairs, and bumps into Isabel Espina as she arrives. Jim, while guarding Rosita, lets Naamah and Cerastes into the session-room. Once both queens are there, they immediately come to loggerheads about who gets to be present for the actual interrogation. Naamah says that if Selena can stay, then so can Cerastes. Espina counters that she only has one of her courtiers in the room, while Naamah already has four. Eventually they compromise, asking Alex, Caden, and Cerastes to leave.

Of course, Jack and Jim don’t use any “intensive interrogation techniques” on Rosita, but they do play “Good Cop, Bad Cop” respectively. Jack offers Rosita a bar of chocolate and a bottle of water, which she (of course) refuses. Jim glowers and grumbles, seemingly ready to burst forth with a torrent of rage. “This is a waste of time,” he shouts, “Let’s get some answers already!”

Rosita remains boldly defiant. She hurls invective at the older changelings: how they failed to save her, how they never helped her learn to take care of herself like her new friends have. How they bicker and argue even as they take on the full might of Summer, and fail to present a unified front against him: resistance is pointless, only by remaining hidden can they hope to brave the storm of Thunder’s wrath. She calls them names, she threatens, she belittles, she rages, she even weeps occasionally, but Jim and Jack continue to slowly-but-surely wear down her defenses.

With time, they obtain useful information: Rosita is a new convert to the Onyx Court, so she’s an unlikely source of the leak that’s been plaguing Autumn and True Spring; Rosita was taken in by Winter after her partner Cedric was killed by Summer enforcers; and in gratitude for their “kindness” Rosita told them absolutely everything she knows about both Spring and Autumn.

At this news, Queen Isabel bursts into a rage, calling the girl “a traitor of the worst sort” (and many unkinder names as well). The Antler Crown vows that she will not allow the girl to go free to be killed and/or captured by the Iron Spear, or even some of the more unscrupulous members of Vichy Spring. Jim steps between the girl and her queen, and Jack tries to calm her down, saying that keeping Rosita against her will makes them “no better than the Gentry.”

Espina gives a noncommittal “We’ll discuss this later,” and storms out, leaving Selena to watch the girl until she can be moved to a more secure location within the University.

Chapter 20 - Big Trouble in Little Haiti

Seeing that Rosita’s alliances have shifted (or been revealed), the Brotherhood of the Willow decides to return her to the Court of Spring, for her own good, and for the protection of Courtly secrets. Jack and Caden drive off to the University, taking a circuitous route to avoid Summer-controlled districts. Jim and Alex remain behind to keep watch over their quarry, lest they flee. The giant and the mute set up a stake-out in the diner across the street.

Jack and Caden arrive in Coral Gables without incident, and rush to the student housing area, seeking Queen Isabel. They find her painting and cleaning, alongside her courtiers. Jack and Caden come up to her and say simply “We’ve found her.”

CUT TO: Little Haiti
After a few minutes, Rosita and Marie leave the apartment, carrying laundry baskets full of dirty clothes. Jim and Caden follow, managing not to be seen by the two women. They walk to a nearby laundromat, and begin, strangely enough, doing laundry. Like it’s totally normal or something. Jim and Alex shift their outpost to a Creole-style diner across the street from the laundromat, and order tassot sandwiches while they wait.

CUT TO: UofM student housing
Jack explains the situation and the circumstances through which they found the girl, while Caden takes text messages from Alex letting him know what’s going on. Espina decides that the girl knows too much, and must be returned home. She tells the Brotherhood to bring Rosita back, and sends her bodyguard Selena to accompany them. During the ride to Little Haiti, Selena states simply that she doesn’t like the situation, and feels like it was too easy to find the girl.

CUT TO: Little Haiti
Officer Larouche walks into the diner, asking Jim and Alex if they had any luck finding Marie Saint-Saens. They say they didn’t and were just sitting down for a bite before they continue looking. Larouche offers to have his fellow courtiers put out a search for the girl, but Jim and Alex politely decline. Jim notices that Rosita and Marie are leaving the laundromat, and are heading across the street, straight for their diner. Jim excuses himself to the bathroom, fearing that the sight of him would spook the girl. Larouche recognizes the two women and greets them, saying that “these guys have been looking for you two.”

At the sight of Alexandre, Rosita freezes, and Alex gives Jim the signal (a dropped fork), that things are about to go south. Rosita bolts out the door and into the parking lot, just in time to see Jack and Co. get out of their car. Rosita, truly panicking now, runs away from both groups. Maria draws a switchblade and stands up to Jim, to give the girl more time, but Jim simply shoves the woman aside and leaps over her. Selena is upon the girl almost immediately, but Rosita slips from her grip. Throwing caution to the winds, Jim tackles the wayward girl to the pavement, while Jack goes into damage-control mode, invoking the Mask of Superiority to make himself appear a white-labcoat-wearing psychologist who’s just taking a hysterical girl back to the psych ward where she belongs.

They drag Rosita into the car and drive away, and make Clarity rolls for kidnapping. Jim and Jack both lose Clarity but do not gain derangements; the rest of them succeed on their Clarity rolls.)

Chapter 19 - Whorefrost

Naamah tells the Brotherhood of the Willow that Isabel Espina is “being impossible”; the queen is holding up the entire operation and making Naamah’s life very difficult by holding up the entire operation with a search for “some lost chit of a girl who didn’t make it to the rendezvous-point. Name’s ‘Rose’ or something.”

The members of True Spring who are still at the University are making their dwellings ready for habitation. Isabel Espina is their too, with Selena, and much of her entourage. She tells them that Rosita hasn’t been seen since the firefight at Mariposa’s. The other half of her two-man-cell, Cedric the Satyr, turned up at the City Morgue, but they don’t have any leads on Rosita’s wherabouts. All they know is that the route they were taking would probably have brought them through Little Haiti.

The Brotherhood piles into Jack’s car and head’s for Little Haiti, where Alexandre introduces them to Old Ti, the aged, nearsighted, Ensorcelled vodouisant with whom Alex has been staying for the past months. Ti doesn’t remember seeing anyone matching Rosita’s description (not that that proves much), but he tells them Ludovic Larouche, the Winter Court police officer whose beat is Little Haiti, might have a better idea.

Officer Larouche has a vague recollection, but says that Marie St. Saens, an Ensorcelled mortal hooker has a fondness for runaways, so the Brotherhood decides to knock on her door. They wind up running into her while she’s out getting groceries, and they ask her about Rosita. Marie is not forthcoming with information, and she clams up a little too quickly for Jack’s liking. Jim stalks her to her house to see if there’s anything funny going on, and when she knocks on the door of her apartment, it’s answered by none other than Rosita! The girl appears to be unharmed, and she’s sporting flip-flops, jean-shorts, a t-shirt… and a touch of hoarfrost on her curly, vine-like hair.

Chapter 18: Offers and Offerings

Act 1: On the Mend

Jim, the only one with serious injuries, is taken to Prof. Goldstein’s office at the University of Miami hospital, where he is treated in secret by the vernerable surgeon. Once Jim is on the mend, Jack and Alexandre make a trip to Miami Memorial Park Cemetery, to see if they can contact the restless spirit of Tom Hood.

Upon arriving at the military cemetery, they bypass the guard and make their way to the black obelisk which marks the final resting place of Hood’s earthly remains. They are confronted by four ghostly soldiers: their tags identify them as Maj. Forbes, Lt. Cmdr. Gardner, Lt. Wilson, and Lt. McCallister. They claim to be compatriots of the late Commander Hood, though Alexandre’s analysis claims they’re only partly-revenant; much of their ectoplasmic structure is shaped by the expectations of visitors to the graveyard. In effect, they’re partly the memories of soldiers buried here, and partly the memories of loved ones coming to pay their respects.

Alexandre makes them an offering of rum and tobacco, and the soldiers agree to truthfully answer one question apiece. They say that 1) Ivan’s curious ability is Glamour-fueled, 2) that Tom Hood’s ghost does not walk the earth, 3) that Tom learned much of his lore from “The Book of Crows”, which he brought back from Faeire when he escaped from his Keeper in the Bastigone region of France, and 4) that The Book of Crows was stolen by La Llorona, and is currently in the hands of Jeremiah Sleet. Jack and Alex make the proper obsequies to the restless dead, and make a judicious exit from the cemetery.

Act 2: Small Business Saturday

Once Jim has had a couple of days to heal, the Brotherhood makes its way to the Bayside Marketplace, to join in the busiest shopping weekend of the year. They encounter several Hobgoblins, including the Widow Mactan. Jim needs to make some improvements to his Hollow, so he purchases two things from the Widow: a mole which will dig another entrance through the Hedge, and a turtle which Jim can smash on his threshold to increase the power of its Wards.

Jim also conducts some business with Estevan: Jim offers the hyena-faced merchant a used machete coated with with Deathless Ivan’s blood, a stabbed alligator-hide jacket splattered with Jim’s own blood, and a flak jacket. In exchange, Estevan prodces a 3-dot suit of Hedgespun made from the hide of a Blackgator, which counts as armor (and gives a Stealth bonus when the wearer is standing still in a natural setting), and a pistol holster that will conceal an entire shotgun.

Chapter 17: Game Faces

Thanksgiving Day is here, and that can only mean one thing: feasting! But there are many ways to feast, and for the Lost of Miami, their preferred course is the bumper-crop of Glamour produced in the bleachers of Sun Life Stadium. Every vice, every virtue, and every flavor of emotion can be sampled or indulged at this annual tradition, and this year the spread promises to be especially rich, as the Hurricanes are hosting their traditional rivals, the Georgia State Panthers. Grandfather Thunder promises that the ancient pacts of sanctuary will hold true, even in this time of war: he personally guarantees the safety of every changeling who chooses to attend, as long as they do not attract too much attention from the Muggles.

At first, it sounds like an obvious trap, or else terrible hubris on Thunder’s part, but Naamah thinks he means what he says. It’s in no one’s interest for him to have killing at the stadium; it’s a powerful tool for keeping his subjects happy, and far too valuable in the long term for him to throw it all away on killing a few random revolutionaries. Second, by throwing a party in the midst of a war, he’s showing off the Iron Spear’s confidence and strength, to its friends and its enemies. Finally, Thunder couldn’t cancel the event even if he wanted to: every changeling in the Trident has been looking forward to the game all year long, and especially since two weeks ago when the Dolphins trounced the Patriots and the matchup was announced.

The Brotherhood agrees to attend, and to harvest some extra Glamour on the Autumn Court’s behalf. The stadium is absolutely packed with people, both Muggles and changelings alike. They meet up with several personalities, some new, like Bruno, some already well-known to the Brotherhood, such as Blue Jenny. Jenny owes them a favor, and after a little “cajoling,” she agrees to take them to Hensteeth itself for a rare audience with Jeremiah Sleet, the King of Winter.

The Brotherhood of the Willow even manages to catch a glimpse of Grandfather Thunder himself, seeing him in person for the first time. He takes no notice of them, but his bodyguard Deathless Ivan takes brief notice of them in his continual scanning of the crowd for signs of danger.

To avoid the rush, the Brotherhood leaves a little early, and heads back to the University in Jack’s car. They stop by to check on one of the houses which is being vacated for the Court of True Spring, when a very large person approaches them on the sidewalk: Deathless Ivan. Ivan hands Jack a letter which he claims comes from Thunder himself, but suddenly lashes out and decks Jack in the face, setting off a vicious street brawl. Jim holds his own against the other giant, but is seriously injured by Ivan’s brutal war-axe. In the course of the battle, they learn three important facts about Ivan: first, he’s here without Thunder’s knowlege or permission; second, he knows that Thanksgiving Day is a day of truce, and he doesn’t care; third, Ivan apparently has the ability to force his own wounds to knit and heal instantaneously. How he does this is not immediately clear.

As the battle begins to look bad for Jim and the other combatants, the Slender Man arrives on the scene, no doubt at Naamah’s order. Ivan, seeing what he believes to be a True Fae appear in the heart of Miami, decides discretion really is the better part of valor, leaving the Brotherhood of the Willow to escape on their own from the many-armed monster.

For the sake of verisimilitude, they flee as well.


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