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.”