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Adventure! RPG: Dark Tidings - Chapter One: In the Dead of Night


jameson (ST)
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Ivan Kowalski's footsteps sounded out on the brick and cobblestone streets. The usual sharp clap was muted into a wet smack by the wet sheen over everything. His footsteps were punctuated occasionally by a splash as he ran through a puddle. The rain came down light and easy, as it had since early the day before, a steady late spring damp drizzle.

He thought back to what he had seen just a few minutes earlier, a horror unlike anything he had ever dreamed. He and Father Patrick "Paddy" O'Mally had gone to check up on Mr. Smythe, one of the poorer members of the parish. Father Paddy claimed that he wanted to bring the man some soup and make sure that all was well but something struck Ivan as odd. Perhaps it was the ornate cross that Paddy had worn around his neck, or perhaps it was the chosen time of their visit, Priests were not well known for making simple house calls near to midnight.

Whatever reason the Father had for the visit their timing was ideal, or the furthest thing from ideal, it depends on your view. The Father had knocked twice before checking the door handle and finding it unlocked. Ivan and Paddy had entered to find poor Mr. Smythe prone on the floor of his small home covered in what appeared to be his own blood.

Father Patrick's crucifix suddenly burst alight with the kind of pure white glow Ivan dreamed would surrounded blessed Mary. Something screamed, or screeched rather, a sound like nails on a blackboard. The light illuminated a gaunt corpse-like figure crouched in the shadows behind the body of Mr. Smythe. Father Patrick has reacted faster that Ivan had seen him move before, faster than men half of the priest’s age. He shoved Ivan back from the door, pushing the crock of soup out of the stunned Pole’s hands accidentally. Before the crock could burst open on the stone door step Patrick had his crucifix in hand and his other wrapped around a small bottle, the kind that he used to carry holy water and holy oil when he needed to visit the sick.

The crock hit the stone step with a crack and shattered, spraying its contents outward in a burp of hot broth and vegetables. “Run Ivan! For all that is good and holy, flee!” Patrick cried before charging the abomination. Ivan had stood stock still and watched as the two danced about; moving faster than any two beings had sane right to do. Ivan knew that Paddy had been blessed with Divine power to fight the creatures of darkness but he had never seen what the older man could do until now.

“Ivan! Run!” Patrick cried again, snapping the big man from his reverie, “Your strength can do nothing against this foul creature!” And so Ivan ran; fled into the night and rain. Now he began to slow. His hands trembled slightly and Ivan realized that he was scared, though he had heard of the creatures that the Knights of the Cross fought against he had never seen one until tonight. Ivan looked about him, he was standing across from a pub and though he seldom drank he suddenly felt the need for one.

He entered the pub and found it to be pleasantly crowded with patrons. He made his way to the bar and fished out some money from his pocket. Looking at the small amount he ordered a beer and settled his frame onto a stool. On the stage a black man strummed out a bluesy tune on a jet black guitar his fingers dancing nimbly over the strings. Ivan looked about him and gave a start; the man down the bar from him had some sort of small animal perched on his shoulder, a little dog of some sort.

*****

After a long day performing in the park near the park street T station Leland Wulfenbach, the Sidewalk Illusionist, has retired to a small pub in Southie to drink and forget his worries. Even in the day time it is becoming hard to shake the feeling that time are getting worse. People look less freindly and the children he sees are less healthy. Leland does what he can but he cannot shake the feeling that a pall has come over the world.

He sits in the bar, Murphy's, and drinks, his little fox Heydrich sitting on his shoulder. The night is slow and he sits alone listening to the sad music of a black guitarist as he drinks. Sometime after midnight a huge man comes into the bar and gulps down a pint as though it were a shot. He orders a second and pulls out a rosary, praying over it. The man looks scared, and for a man that size to be scared he must have seen somethnig very, very scary Leland thinks.

*****

Henry "Crossroads" Johnson walks into the smokey bar and speaks to the owner, the man tells him to set up in the corner and do his thing. Free drinks and $2 an hour to play for the night. Henry takes a chair and moves it over into the corner and takes his black guitar out of its case. He takes a few moments to tune it, the strigs letting out a harsh sound untill he warms the instrument up and gets it tuned. He begins to play and glances at his watch, 7 pm, it'll be a long night but that's not anything he isn't used to.

Hours later and it's half past midnight when a large man comes in out of the rain. He looks scared and immediately downs a beer in one go before pulling a rosary, of all things, out of his coat and praying right there at the bar. Down the bar from the large man Henry notices for the first time a tall skinny man with a fox perched on his shoulder.

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Ivan's hands shuddered as he regarded the beer in front of him, the bartender taking the mix of coins he had dropped onto the bar. He took a sip of the bitter beer, and following the sip he drank the mug empty.

"Anudder." he said to the bartender and fished out some more change, the last of it, he should try to savor this one, though he knew he wouldn't be able to. While waiting he pulled out the only other thing in his pocket; the beloved wooden bead Rosary his mother left him before she went back to Poland. He kissed the icon with reverence and placed his thick steely fingers gently on the first bead.

"Hail Mary, full of Grace, de Lord is wit dee." his words are accented in Polish, so he has some trouble pronouncing the different 'th' sounds in the English language. Tears slip slowly out of his eyes as he repeats the prayer over and over, his fingers moving to each new bead as he does so. The massive man's shoulders are ordinarily straight as a window ledge, now they seem slumped in defeat, as if the big man is deflating somehow.

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Leland Wulfenbach glances back at the door. Even for a night like tonight, it was a slow night. He was mildly suprised that none of his friends were around, and was not used to the extra weight on his wallet. Heydrich was becoming restless, so Leland put him on the ground to stretch his legs.

The musician at the bar was talented, thought Leland. Almost as good as myself in magic. Maybe he'd like a drink. I know that big guy could use some. Wheres Heydrich..

Leland scanned the floor and saw Heydrich running up towards the musician. Leland quickly got up, leaving his drink on the bar. He ran over to Heydrich before the little fox could interupt anything, but the fox was already trying to go to work on the musicians pant legs. Leland gave a quick whistle, and the little fox. The fox stopped and instantly retreated to Leland. Leland mouthed the word "Sorry" to the negro musician, and took a closer seat. He picked the fox up onto his lap, and laid a napkin flat on the table.

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The night proceeds quietly for another hour or so. Near to 2 a.m. the bartender call for last call and begins to toss out those who are too drunk to move on their own.

One of the drunks begins to fight with the bartender, "Damnit I've got to wait here! He said he'd meet me here!" the man crues as Murphy hauls him to his feet and starts dragging him to the door.

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The huge man seems fearful to leave, but not wanting to cause any trouble he finally stands up and waits outside. He's constantly looking from side to side as if uncertain of where to go, or perhaps looking for someone on the streets.

"Fadder Paddy! Where are you?!" he mutters mostly to himself as he clutches the wooden rosary in his massive hand.

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Leland Wulfenbach moves to his feet, eyes half opened and obviously with a buzz. He pulls a wand out of his pocket, and taps the napkin twice. He gives a smirk to the musician, and begins to move to the door. Not people people are left in the bar at this point.

As Leland moves to the street, is isn't careful of where he is walking, and bumps into the large man. Leland has seen the man now and again, but has never conversed with the man. Leland stumbles backwards, and would have fallen over if he didn't back into a poll to stop himself.

Leland speaks with a slight german accent, and doesn't try to cover it. "Sorry, guy. I wasn't seeing where I was going." said Leland with a smirk. The fox trotting at his feet takes a step towards the man, sniffs, and begins to yelp.

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The big man's head spins toward him like his neck was a swivel and both his hands raise up, ready to defend himself. Then he sees it's not...whoever he seems to be so worried about.

"Oh...tink nutting of it." he mutters and then looks down at the cute little dog. A smile, minus a few teeth, finally breaks on the man's face as he regards the tiny animal, and he actually giggles. "He-he! Cute doggie!" and he reaches down to pet him.

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Leland keeps in a relaxed pose, leaning against the poll. He thinks about correcting the man about the dog and fox, but decides against it. Leland wouldn't know the difference if it wasn't his.

The fox steps back, still yelping. When the large man bends down to pet him, the fox stops yelping and looks back at Leland. Leland doesn't particularly respond to the fox so it begins to sniff and lick the big mans hand.

"I am Wulfenbach. Leland Wulfenbach. This is Heydrich, my fox."

Leland takes a long look at the large man, and begins to feel more and more uncomfortable. What is it about this guy? Why is this guy making me so nervous? Why is he so one edge?

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"Eh? Fox?" he asks once the little animals gets a good sniff and begins to lick his hand. With surprising gentleness he pets the fox and smiles with genuine happiness at its playful response.

"Heydrich? Ah little Heydrich. Good dog." he finally says as he stands up again. He looks up and down the street nervously again and then back at the man once he introduces himself and he pockets the Rosary and holds out his massive and rough hand.

"I'm John, John Kowalski."

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The bartender, Murphy, finally drags the protesting man out of the bar and gives him a short toss to the gutter. The drunk lands sprawling on his back and for a moment just lies there in the dank waters at the edge of the street.

Finally he gets back to his feet and throws looks in every direction, "Where is he? Where is he?" the man mutters to himself. Leland and John both notice as he pulls something out of his pocket. The object is wrapped in dirty cloth and by the way he handles it must be heavy for it's size. He turns the object over in his hands a few time continuing to mutter to himself. Finally after a couple of minutes he stumbles off into the dark.

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Boston was one hell of a town, Crossroads told himself. He'd been here twice before, and both times he'd been run out, clutching his trousers up to his waist with one hand and slinging his guitar with the other as he made hasty retreat from some sweet young thing's home. He left a lot of towns like that, and a steaming scarlet trail of broken hearts and angry husbands and fathers wended its way across the US of A wherever he traveled. But Boston is a big town full of big people with little concerns, and it's easy to get lost if you try, and because the money's good and the mick fellas get treated almost as bad as the colored fellas, Crossroads kinda liked Boston.

His set went on for hours, which he reckoned was a lot longer than most folks wanted to see a lone musician up on stage. He started with strictly third-rate fare; he had all night, after all, and there sure wasn't no reason to go starting in with his best. He strummed for a little while, playing a song here or there but largely just playing, making it up as he went along. When the place got a little livelier, out came the harmonica to replace the guitar. He didn't make as many tips that way, but the upbeat, happy tempo over the clatter and chatter of the busy hours of the bar would have them that stayed afterwards primed and in good spirits to give him everything they had when he started up the real show.

There were some odd characters out tonight, no doubt about it. Some fella was carrying a runty-lookin' animal with him, and just about the biggest white boy he'd ever seen stumbled to the bar and looked to be drowning himself in hooch. He spotted a fella workin' the joint, probably dipped five or six pockets in as many hours. Still, most of his attention was focused on a sweet-lookin' little redhead sittin' to the side at a table with a couple who looked like her mom and dad. Her eyes were damny flirty; if he played his cards right, he'd be taking her home.

By eleven o'clock or so, Crossroads was in full swing again. With an almost reverent solemness, he stowed the mouth harp and produced his guitar from its case, running his fingers over it like a lover as he retuned it to perfection. His eyes floated intently to the little redhead, who blushed. She was getting a sneak preview of what those fingers could do, all right. Crossroads lowered the brim of his hat over his eyes, lit a cigarette from his polished case. An ominous feeling washed over the people closest to him, and the lights seemed as if to dim imperceptively. His fingers dance across the strings, and with the voice of an ancient, whiskeyed raven, he sang of death.

The bar will be closing soon, Crossroads observes. If he's done his job right, another soul'll be riding that train to the great beyond tonight. And that pretty young thing staring at him like a doe in front of a speeding car'll be in his bed.

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The redhead approaches the stage and shyly looks up at Henry, "That was real nice music," she says, "Are you going to be playing here again soon?"

She looks at Henry hopefully but before he can even think to respond the older man she was with grabs her by the arm. "Wendy, I don't want you talking to no music playin' drifter, those folk aren't right with the lord." He looks at Henry scornfully, "Besides, he's anegro." He says the word with a sneer and the kind of venomous hate behind it that is difficult to find in the north but nonetheless exits within poor immigrants.

The man drags his daughter off as the bar clears out. A short time later as Henry is packing his instruments up the owner approaches him. "Buin'ess was slow tonight, here," he thrusts a handful of money at Henry but it is evident that there is less than half of what was promised, "You come on back tomorrow and play if you're around." The man finishes almost as though it was not a request or question but a command.

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"John? Great to meet you John!"

Leland bipasses the handshake and gives John a nice and quick hug. Its at this time that the drunk was thrown out. Leland just looks at the guy, wondering whether or not saying anything could possibly do anything. Once the man walks away, Leland looks back to John.

"That was weird. Hey, I bet you like magic, right? Everyone likes magic. Watch this trick."

Leland pulls a coin out of his pocket. It looks foreign.

"This one is simple, just keep your eye on the coin, alright?"

Leland tosses it up once in his left hand, than catches it in his left hand. He does so again, and a third time. The throws it high up on the forth throw and shouts something in a foreign language. He makes a quick catch with his right hand, and John's rosary is hanging from Lelands fingers.

"Check your pockets. The Sidewalk Illusionist, at your service."

He takes the rosary with his left hand, and hands it back to John, smiling.

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"Sheeit!", Crossroads cackles back at the protective father, slapping his knee. "Tell you what, white boy, when yo' wife gets bored of yo' buffalo butt up on top her, I'll be happy to take both those sweet little things home with me." Nearly shouting over the bar to be heard as the man's eyes glinted with murderous hate as he attempted to drag his reluctant daughter and wife out the barroom door, Henry softens his voice, lowering his rose-tinted shades to the ladies who were still keeping their eyes to him even as they walked out the door. "Aw, don't you ladies worry none. I'll be back. Crossroads'll have a nice slicea you fine lookin' ladies then, non?" Mother and daughter both flash him a sly wink as they disappear out the door. Crossroads smiles wickedly and sits back down to pack up his equipment. Fuck it, the show's over.

Henry had neatly packed up his things when the bar owner approached him and shoved a handful of bills towards Henry, protruding from a greasy mitt of a hand. "Buin'ess was slow tonight. Here." Henry smiles and takes the money, knowing at a glance it's far less than he was promised. "You come on back tomorrow and play if you're around."

Tipping his hat with a roguish flourish, Crossroads reponds, "Sho' nuff, sir. I'll be back, all right. An' you can give me the resta' ya owe me." He smiles, but his eyes are all menace. "Matter-o-fact, this here's a real hip joint, you know? I'm thinkin' maybe I oughta come back every night. Maybe tell all those nice colored boys down in Harbor Point about this place, too, see if maybe they wanna come along. Y'feel me, brother?" He flashes a smile that's all pearly white teeth and gets ready to make an expeditious retreat if he must.

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John returns the hug with some confusion, but it happens so fast that he really can only clumsily pat him on the back. Then he watches the display with the same kind of addled look. Finally when he sees his beloved Rosary in someone else's hands a startling change comes over him.

His eyebrows furrow in sudden and shocking rage, his hands clench hard enough for the knuckles to pop and he stands to his full height (Leland didn't realize he was actually slouching!) of near 7 feet, and his lips curl into a snarl. As Heydrich makes a low growl and sneaks behind his master's legs, Leland wonders if he's made a truly terrible mistake.

Then the snarl changes into that goofy semi-toothless smile and the clenched hands clap in delight and he takes the Rosary back when it is offered. He giggles with excitement and joy at the trick and claps Leland heartily on the shoulder. If he hits that hard when he is happy you'd really hate to see what happens when he is mad.

"He-he! Dat was good! Dat was very good! Tank you! Tank you sir! He-he! Sorry if I scared you." he says. He giggles and titters a few more seconds and then fetches a deep sigh.

"Well I got to go now. I have to find Fadder Paddy." his hands clench into determined fists again as he turns to look down the street that he came from earlier this evening.

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Leland attempts to take a step backwards when he sees the change in expression. The only thought that he can possibly think is Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit! He realizes that Heydrich ran behind him, and stops his step for fear of hurting his little friend. I've made a huge mistake.

Lelands feelings don't much change when John's expression changes to boyish laughter. If he can lose his head that quickly, I am not touching this guy. Leland lets him have the rosary without incident, and Heydrich continues growling. That was terrifying.

"Well I got to go now. I have to find Fadder Paddy." said John.

"Oh, yeah. Uhh. Goodbye. I'll see you around, I guess." replies The Sidewalk Illusionist. Though still terrified, he sounds sad. "Have a good night." Leland pulls a deck of cards out of his pocket and shuffles through them mindlessly.

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Inside the bartender gives Henry a sour look as he goes back to putting up tables and cleaning the bar before closing up. The remaining patrons finish their drinks and wander out on their own a few giving sideways glances toward Henry as well. Finally packing all of his stuff up Henry heads outside.

Outside John looks down the street, cobblestones glistening in the rain, and shudders a bit at the memory of that ... thing, that Father Patrick had been fighting. Leland is still nearby and watching the big man carefully and see the shudder, What could frighten a guy like that? he wonders. The bar's door opens once more and the black musician walks out into the drizzle his guitar cased up and his other items bundled neatly.

Suddenly there is a report of gunfire, a dry pop-pop. A moment later and the three men can hear footsteps slapping wetly on the road and a man rounds the nearby corner and dashes toward them. John and Leland recognize him as the drunk earlier who was mumbling about meeting somebody. The man crashes into John and rebounds from the larger man like a pebble off the side of a building. He goes sprawling in the gutter for a moment before scrambling to his feet scrabbling for his gun and continuing to flee.

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With the report of the gun John looks around rather than ducks for cover. When the man bounces off of him he says "Hey! What you doing?". The man doesn't seem to respond and tries to flee.

Like a striking snake John's huge hand lashes out to grab the man by his wirst, the one that's holding the gun.

"I said what you doing?". He doesn't seem mad now, perhaps just concerned.

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The man gives the huge John a frightened look and plants his feet. He pulls hard and despite the strength of John's grip the man's wet wrist and hand slip through John's grasp. The gun clatters to the cobblestones and discharges accidentally. The man stables back a moment as he slips free then turns and runs reacting fast enough that nobody is able to intercept as he flies into the night.

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"What de Hell?" mutters John, uncaring that the bullet whizzed by his head within inches.

"What was dat about?" he wonders aloud as he reaches down and picks up the gun. Not really knowing what to do with it he hands it to Leland.

"Maybe we should call de police?" he pauses in indecision tapping his feet. "But I have to find Fadder Paddy!"

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Crossroads is still sneering inwardly at the niggardly barkeeper and contemplating how best to get recompense for the impolite screwjob he'd been handed when the gunfire broke the pitter-patter of rainfall falling to the pavement below. Henry stood comfortably still, almost as if he expected to hear shots fired at that moment. A bedraggled white boy scrambled from the direction of the blast, knocking his way through the heavy from the bar and then scurrying away like he'd seen a ghost, leaving the big guy the rod he dropped in a panic.

Coolly, Crossroads pulls a cigarette from his tin and lights it, shielding it under the brim of his hat. "Sheeit", he says, smiling wide. "Why you wanna go draggin' th'po-leece 'nta somethin' like this? Looks like motherfucker got problems'o his own t'worry 'bout." Henry laughed, chuckling out a snake of smoke that was quenched by the rain above. His calm was almost unnerving, as if he was actually used to this kind of thing. Maybe it was just the most recent in a long line of abnormalities the man had met with.

He looked over the two men left standing. Something had gone on, here, and these three men were bound, somehow, even if only temporarily, by a strange experience. This thing now held their common interest in pique. At least, it was good enough a reason for Henry to stick to them in the hopes of not having to pay for a room tonight, after all. If he could use this incident as an excuse to claim shelter from the rain, that was good enough. He extended his calloused hand to neither of the two in particular. "Henry Johnson", he introduced himself. "But most folks, they jus' call me 'Crossroads', an' I figure y'all can, too."

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The large man looks over at the newcomer, looking as if he didn't quite understand what he just said, but he knows a friendly handshake when he sees one. He's about to reach out with a hand when he realizes he still has the gun in it, so he switches it to the other hand. He shakes Crossroad's hand with a warm firm handshake, unconcerned by or uncomprehending of the color difference.

"Hi! I'm John, dis is Leland and dat's his little poochie Heydrich." he pauses for a moment just staring at Crossroads, probably a moment or two longer than anyone would be comfortable with when he finally speaks up again. "Hey! You were playin' de music! Dat was good! Dat was very good! Mr. Leland here does magic tricks!" at this John leans down and gathers all to him close with a wave, looking like he wants to share a secret.

"I perform too sometimes. Dey call me Da 'Warsaw Crusher', I'm a Hooker, I wrestle people."

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Leland watches the spectacle of confusion, too stunned to act. As everything calms down, he tries to catch his breath. Heydrich was nervous, and Leland could feel it. 'This night is terrible' he thought to himself. Heydrich began biting the back of Leland’s pants, as he did when nervous.

Leland is about to take the gun from John, and answer him about Father Paddy when the black musician began to speak. Leland hung on his words, trying to figure out what he was saying. Once he figured it out, he thought about the man having problems of his own. 'I should have marked him; to make sure he would be okay later. Too late.' Leland thought.

He was about to introduce himself when John broke in. Leland nods when John introduces him, and decides to forget the theatrics. They'll get it enough later. As John signals with a wave, Leland draws in. He takes the handgun very blatantly, and checks it as John admits his profession.

"A wrestler? You mean, a guy who destroys others while third parties place bets while watching?"

Three performers, all in the same place at the wrong time. Too coincidental for Leland.

"In any case, we shouldn't stay here. Some shits already gone down, and I wouldn't be surprised if more was and we were drawn into it."

Leland looks at the two. John really wants to find Father Paddy, and Leland doubts that he'll want to do much otherwise until it is done. The musician, Crossroads I think, seems to want to hang around. No idea why. But he was a traveling performer, and Leland could sympathize with that from his days in Germany post war.

"Crossroads, need a place to bunk? I've got a house not far, and I keep it to my lonesome."

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Crossroads maintains his smile as he shakes each man's hand in turn, surreptitiously keeping a careful eye on where the rod ends up, just in case. The odd serendipity of three performers ending up together, especially from such odd and disparate arts, didn't pass Henry by, either, but he didn't think much of it. Watching Papa Legba use an eviscerated goat to summon his grandfather from the dead to lay a curse on his neighbor, that was strange. This was merely quirky.

Crossroads tips his hat forward without taking it off his head as he half-genuflects to the street performer, the one who identified himself as Leland. "That'd sho' be fine a y'all", he smiles. "An' I appreciate very much. Awful strange, huh? Th'threea' us, p'formers as we'all are, meet'n up like this?" With a sly smile, Crossroads makes a show of turning his gaze up to the moon above, and chuckles.

With a step in whatever direction Leland seemed to be implying when he mentioned his place, Crossroads pats Leland and John on the backs as if to prod them into slow, conversative, movement. An acid chuckle rises from his throat, and Henry adds "Y'know, I knew me a 'hooker' once, now, but he din' wrestle nobody. N'fact, that name means somethin' altogether else, down where I come from."

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John nods and chuckles and raises eyebrows when it seems appropriate, but for the most part it's obvious he doesn't really comprehend all of what either man just said.

"OK...um well I'm gonna go find Fadder Paddy. But you two are pretty smart, maybe you can help me? We went to ol' Mr. Smyte's place and...he was sick and so we was bringin' soup..." John's eyes begin to shift up and down the street, and cold sweat falls from his scarred brow. He rubs his hands on his pants and then wipes his forehaed.

"...And so we knocked on de door. And he din't answer so we went in...and s-s-somethin' was dere! An' Fadder Paddy told me to run and so I...I did. I run here an.." he sniffs and wipes away a tear, and sets his chin hard like stone. "And now I'm goin back dere. An if it's still dere..." he clenches his right hand until his knuckles are white and straining, the tendons on his wrists rising like steel cables under his skin as his fist shudders with unimaginable strength. "If it's dere, I'm gonna show it...I'm gonna show it!"

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When Crossroads mentions what Leland was thinking, that they were all performers, than looks up at the moon, Leland doesn't laugh. He gives Crossroads a serious look, than glances at the moon quickly.

Leland listens intently as John tells the story, occasionally looking at Crossroads and rolling his eyes. The guys story was punchy.

"Something was there? Like a dog or something?"

Leland looks down at Heydrich, who was stalking near Crossroads cautiously.

"Wha'd'ya say we go check this place out, Hen?"

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John turns to Leland and he visibly struggles to find the words. "Noooo...not a dog. He looked like a man...but he was...sick and scary looking. And he made noises...people don't make noises like dat. And Mr. Smyte! I tink he was dead! Dere was blood! Fadder Paddy was gonna fight it! I gotta go! I gotta see if Fadder Paddy is OK! Come wit me please!" he practically begs the two men.

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Crossroads wrinkles up his chin, seemingly scrutinizing, but mostly just thinking. Whatever the big boy was talking about, it definitely sounded like it was more in his area of expertise than either of these two. Besides, he figured, if Leland was going, it beat shelling out the cash for a place for the night. And hey, there might even be some grift to be had wherever John was dragging them. Either way, it sounded more interesting than calling it an early night on somebody's floorboards. Not half as interesting as the night would have been with that redhead, but still.

With a resigned glance over to Leland, Henry offers a surrendering shrug of his shoulders and pulls the reigns on his guitar up to his shoulder, following closely in John's footsteps.

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As they talk Leland notices his little fox is nosing about in the gutter he quickly scoops up the animal saying something about the gutter being filthy and disgusting (both true by all accounts).

John turns and begins to trudge through the alley, Leland and Henry in tow. After 5 or 10 minutes they come to the door John says is Mr. Smythe's place. John sees no signs of the broken crockery or the spilled soup and when he tries the door he finds it locked. Knocking elicits no reply from within but after five minutes a neighbor shouts some obscenities and tells you to go away.

****

In an adjacent ally a young English-woman watches as an extremely large man, a tall skinny individual carrying a small animal, and a black man with a guitar across his back pound on the door. Lady FitzRoy had been sent here by the Arkham society to gather information about a supposed vampire feeding in the area.

Earlier she had seen a man clean the stoop before leaving the house and locking it behind him; now these three were apparently interested in speaking to the resident as well. All of it very strange but hardly reason to suspect something as absurd as a blood drinking vampire.

Sometimes Millicent thought that her uncle was keeping her from the real action; every other case she had been sent to investigate had proven to be anything but a case of the supernatural.

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When they begin to walk, Leland lets Heydrich down to follow along. His hands go to his pockets, and he stays quiet.

He thinks while moving, wondering what John is speaking of. Could he be just another insane guy? He sounds foreign, maybe he was in the war. That messed a lot of people up, that war.

Or maybe we're walking into a trap.

Leland looks at the dark man, wondering if he can handle himself in a fight. Leland has the gun, but didn't know too much about handguns. And he only used a rifle when he could.

His mind began to wander to a french girl that he was involved with for a while, and before he knew it they reached the door. They knocked and knocked, but there wasn't a response. Someone yelled, and spooked Heydrich into yelping quickly. Leland moves over to him and begans petting him.

As John starts ramming the door with his shoulder, Leland stands up straight, looking ready to bolt. "Hey! I'm not looking to get arrested here for breaking and entering!" Heydrich begins to noisily move towards John.

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Crossroads designates himself the official lookout, his calm, utterly impassive demeanor helping to mask what was an otherwise awkward scene. He lights a smoke and does a good job of looking like he belonged there. That was the trick with this sort of thing, he knew; look like you belong there.

"Sheeit, calm down", Henry chuckled out through a puff of smoke. "Like anybody inna neighbo'hood like this gon' give a shit." He smiles and pats Leland on the back, trying to calm him. If the musician had any fear or nervousness about being on a darkened street in the middle of the night trying to break into the front door of a private residence, he didn't show it. His cool was maddening, chiefly because it was so genuine. He didn't care one way or the other. He was just along for the ride.

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Leland looks at Crossroads, and takes a deep breath. How the hell is he so calm!? Heydrich stopped in his tracks to look back at Leland, and Leland looked down on him, obviously worried. Leland gave a quick whistle, and Heyrich moved to him quickly.

"This is stupid. We should get out of here. There's no reason for us to go to jail because this guy, drunker than I, is trying to break into a place where he doesn't belong. Why are you so calm about this!?"

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Crossroads shrugs in reply. "Cause there ain't nothin' t'worry 'bout. You think we gonna see cops on a street like this? Hell, naw." He blows a cloud of smoke out in to the street flippantly. "Even if som'ne calls 'em out, they'd take their time. An 'sides", he gestures over to John, still whaling on the door, "You wanna try n'stop big boy?"

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Leland takes another deep breath. He was always rule abiding, though he knew that he could slip out of a pair of hundcuffs in an instant, and was sure he could amaze the cops enough to let him go. He looks back at the big guy.

"I see your point." He says to Crossroads, without looking at him.

Leland stands back up and looks around nervously.

"This reminds me of a time when I was in Germany. I was showing this girl a trick, and she thought I was stealing her money. She called the constable immediately, and I ended up spending a night in jail until Heydrich could bail me out."

Leland looked down at Heydrich nerviously, wishing he was more drunk.

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John slams into the door and suprisingly it doesn't immediately break inward. He tries again repeatedly and over the course of a minute he breaks through the solid door. The police bar finally clangs to the floor and the broken deadbolts hang from the jamb. Inside the small home is dark and a strong coppery odor emenates from the home.

John is very familiar with the smell, he smells it during wrestling matches all the time, it's blood, and but the strength of the odor there must be alot of it. John pushes past the ruins of the door and enters the house. With the smell is think and clinging and even pinching nose between fingers the group cannot escape the smell. Looking about the main room John quickly sees Mr. Smythe's corpse lying near the pool of blood.

*****

Across the way Millicent watches as the big man rams through the door AND the police bar. The other two men seemed locked in conversation. The black man seems very much at ease as though there were nothing out of the ordinary. Beside him the tall blonde man is clearly nervous his hands making the same gestures repeatedly and his eyes searching through the night.

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Millicent walked softly towards the men, trying not to be seen but also not looking like she's really creeping up on them. When she's eventually seen, the young woman dressed in black walks purposefully towards the broken door and, in an authorative voice, commands,

"What exactly do you think you're doing?"

The high class British accent sounds out of place in this time and place, but the tone of the woman beneath the expensively embroidered black umbrella is piercing and unforgiving, designed to attack their already guilty consciences.

Quote:
Millicent is definetly using Intimidation, and possibly also Command (if applicable), and will use Brain Skimming, if possible, on whoever answers, to determine the reason they're there
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Leland goes to walk inside, but turns his head at the last moment, noticing a figure moving towards them. Immediately, Heydrich starts yelping at the woman, and in rapid speed. Lelands face goes white.

"I told you someone.. "

Leland was shouting when he spoke, but faded out on his own voice. His face immediately goes back to its normal shade, than a shade more red. Heydrich stops yelping when Leland becomes composed, but is still very cautious.

"You're no cop." He smiles slightly. This only lasts for a minute though, as the smell hits him all at once. He takes three steps away from the door, and is doubled over; ready to throw up. The war was coming back to him, and all at once. Heydrich slowely approaches the woman, still cautiously curious.

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Quote:
Crossroads is taking full advantage of Sex Symbol upon sighting the young woman.


Crossroads gives only a passing glance to the mess inside the apartment as John finally succeeds at wrenching the door of its hinges. Still playing at being lookout, he hangs back while John rushes in, nearly followed by Leland. He's still smoking and looking around passively when he sees the young woman approach from 'cross the street, a realization that puts a dapper but sharklike smile across his face. The street magician attempts to answer her sternly-worded question, but seems to lose his nerve to whatever's gone on behind him.

Henry steps up, bowing slightly at the waist and neck, still smiling. "Evenin' there, miss. We jes' visitin' a friend, now, t'ain't no reason f'alarm." It was bullshit, plain and simple, but he was selling it well, and if the dame was a dupe, she just might buy it. Whoever she was, Henry could tell that Leland was right, she wasn't a cop, which meant that for the moment, they still had nothing to worry about. "Now, bein' thas th'case, gor'jus, you mind tellin' a fella what you be doin' here?" His maintained aloofness and ease is a stark contrast to the young woman, who gets the impression that the musician really doesn't know or give a damn why he's there.
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John is oblivious to the conversation outside as he hammers on the door, harder and harder. He finally fixes a dark glowering stare on the door and takes a step back, clenching his fists till the knuckles pop. He surges forward and slams into the door like a runaway freight train, blasting through the door, the extra lock and bars clanging on the floor. Once inside he brushes himself off, cringing at the all too fmailiar smell.

"Fadder Paddy! Mister Smyte! Mister Smyte!!" he cries when he sees the body. "Mister Smyte! Are you OK?!" he runs over to the body and picks up the clammy hand, lightly pats the wet and cold cheek. "We need to get help! We need to find Fadder Paddy!" he cries, tears filling his eyes.

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