The Blake Chronicles

The Dark Side of Town
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Although organized crime is on the rise, and politicians are becoming ever and evermore corrupt, there is still a darker side to this city; a side that like the far side of the moon, will always be hidden to the world.

This dark world is here among us. Conventional borders and territorial boundary lines do not keep us away from this side. There are no train tracks to cross, no fences to climb or rivers to traverse. Each of these would normally reveal that you have left the comforts of your home neighborhood and entered into the shadier part of town. No, this world is all around…and most don’t even know it!

This shrouded side is neither a politically-imposed refuge like our shantytowns home of the lost and confounded, nor a gated-community like Hyde Park where the Bagpiping Barons and Wealth-inherited Weasels live. Yet, this dark side is there, too. It is a hidden world all around.

Last night I had the misfortune of crossing that ethereal boundary and boy was I under-prepared.

I was following a reliable lead on the mysterious disappearances of several young women from various neighborhoods. I had heard of something dark behind the story, but did not know the details at the time. My lead led me to a quaint joint that was across town. It was a social venue, but not very lively. There was a band playing. I asked the bartender for a drink. He pointed to a sign saying that he was legit, “No Alcohol Served Here.” I took him on his word. I asked him if he knew anything about the missing girls. No answer. I asked if he knew if anything strange had been happening lately. No answer, but a cocky-sounding grunt. Man, I was getting no where with this guy. No drink and no answers…which panned out to no good night and no story.

I found my way to a corner both to enjoy the music and survey the joint of anyone that might give me some leads. The music was a bit light for my taste. I could tell that the clarinetist seemed to agree with that. He appeared a bit restless with the choice of song sets as. He seemed to be playing just a little louder than the band director wanted. They kept giving each other the evil-eye.

As soon as I sat down at the table, a tall dark bloak sat down next to me. I could immediately feel something not right about him. Yet, I gave my hand out in friendship. Maybe knew something.

“Knighten Foraine’s the name.”

He simply eyed me up and down, and said, “Interesting. Can I buy you a drink?” Apparently, he couldn’t read the sign.

This invitation was clearly unsolicited. That may fly in France among the Absinthe houses populated by the Parisian Art community; but not in America! Fortunately, a fellow gentleman put a broad hand on the unwelcome flagrant and told him to go bite the curb. It seemed as if things were about to escalate, when the establishment’s owner slammed down an empty mug that he had been cleaning. Both men looked back at him. The owner’s eyes were like daggers on the unwanted stranger. To my relief he sulked away. The more friendly stranger sat down. He introduced himself as Benny. He order us both a meal. He told me that I had just tangoed with a real life Vampire! My blood ran cold…at least for the rest of my night I would be less desirable to any more of these foul fiends.

Since Benny seemed to know somewhat of this dark world that I was trying to learn more about, I asked him if he knew anything about the missing girls. He shrugged me off and said I should be talking about any of this. I tried to get me to “run on home”. Knighten Foraine never backs down from a story, though. He knew something and that meant that I wasn’t going anywhere until I found out. I was going to stick to him like soot on a chimney-sweeps underpants.

When the band ended their song, I turned to clap and acknowledge their performance. As I turned back around we had been joined by a fox. Yes, you read that right…a forestland frolicking furry fox. And if that was not out of the ordinary enough, he SPOKE…in an Irish accent!! Readers, if you are having trouble at this point whether you should continue on or put down that paper—-I know how you are feeling. I urge you to continue. Why? Because this is all true. I stake my reputation and value as a citizen of America, that I am telling it just how it happened.

Returning now to the fox. Please, follow me on this. It actually was a talking fox. He said his name was Kyle (yes, foxes can have names, too); he was a kitsune from legends (well actually half-kitsune…which meant only one parent was kitsune, the other was, well…you know…one of us.) Okay, now if this is too much for you, put the paper down just long enough to take a long drag of your tobacco pipe to calm your nerves because you don’t want to miss what is about to happen. I asked him if he knew anything. He did know something, unfortunately it was nothing of importance something about the moors just South of Dublin and something about buried faerie treasure, yoddy, yoddy, yoddy.

The kitsune’s long monologue was interrupted when a member of the band, the unorthodox clarinetist, slammed himself down on the booth seat. Immediately, I could tell that he was a pistol ready to fire. I made a mental note not to get on this guy’s bad side. The clarinetist began swearing up a storm about how the band director was the worst person on Earth. I must admit that most of what came out of his mouth would not be appropriate for this newspaper, or was simply unrecognizable as words. His accent was thicker than the kit fox. He must have just got off the boat. Once he calmed down a bit, I was able to ask if he knew anything. Again, not much luck. He said his name was Henry. He did know about some strange activity regarding the Vampires. He apparently moonlighted (or daylighted, since his band gigs where at night) as Vampire Hunter.

But, he knew for sure that if some Vampires were responsible for missing girls he would be the first to know about it. I don’t know his connections in the Vampire community, but they seemed quite solid. With that, he was back on the bandstand playing another set.

My friend Celena Glistine (I call her CG for short) walked in unexpectedly. I don’t even know how she knew about this place. CG and I go back quite a ways, but it is too complicated to explain in this article. Just know that I was very surprised to see her, yet she did bring a bit of comforting light to such a darkening place. Somehow, Kyle knew my friend, but she was not liking his vibe at all. By the way, Kyle if you are reading this column (I just assume that if you can talk you can read, too) the name is Knighten, K-N-I-G-H-T-E-N. Knighten Foraine. It is not Knight. It is not Knightly. It is not Knight of the Round! It is Knighten!

Anyway, the last member of this party showed up. A cop from the Southside. He introduced himself as Krzysztof He had just got off his beat. He looked a bit tired. I asked him that same questions. He wasn’t very hospitable. I felt that he was a hard-jawed officer that kept things close to the chest. He looked at me like I was just some kid.

After I was about to give up on these guys, and go looking for answers on my own, Benny sized me up and said, “Look kid, there are things out there that you could only dream of in your worst nightmares. You don’t got what it takes. Go home before you get hurt!”

“I can take what ever is dished out to me. I might have been born with a slightly tarnished silver spoon in my mouth, but I have been able to swallow whole pieces of chopped liver for breakfast. You dish, I’ll take it.”

“Really? You’re foolin’ yourself kid.”

“I’m not a kid!”

“Prove it. You take a hit on this guy. One black eye, and we will back you up. We will tell you everything you need to know. Heck! We’ll even take you to the bowels of Hell if you ask.” The ornery clarinetist had just returned and was standing at the end of Benny’s pointed finger. He looked more disgruntled than ever.

“You’re on!”

Krzysztoff stepped into the mix. “Wait! You can’t do this…”

“Step out of the way, I can do this.” I said.

“Possibly you might, but we haven’t place bets yet. I got $10 bucks that Henry lays him flat!”

Benny took him up on the bet, “He looks like he has some Spirit. I will see your $10.”

It felt like an auction at the Stock Yards. What was I getting into? Once the bets were made, Henry spit on a cloth from his pocket and rubbed it on the side of his chin. “I’ll give you one free hit right here.”

The place had cleared out and our party were the only ones left. Half of us were cheering for Henry the other half for me. I thought, one free shot, Knighten you better give him everything you got. I could tell he was a bit over-cocky and if I egged him on he might move just enough off balance. From the way that he moved, it didn’t seem that he was much of a weakness to anything. I didn’t let that stop me though. I knew from my college days that I had brought down many opponents to the mat. They didn’t call me the Knightcap for nothing. I had made many an opponent drift off to sleep with one punch; this guy would be no different. I squared him up, feinted forward and saw him reflex the intended blow. I then released an astounding cross-over stepping in with all my weight. HitIt was like punching right into a bag of flour. I took only a half step back. With all my force, I had not even phased him. In fact, I just enraged him. His face went as red as his trademark hair. I could see Death in his eyes. He was about ready to send me to my Maker just from looking at me, when I suddenly thrust out my hand to make peace and bow out. To my relief he took me up on it. He squeezed my hand like uncle Marvel used to do. He left it throbbing on releasing my hand.

“A bet is a bet.” Krzysztof said to me. He held out the $10.

“What do you mean? I lost. He clearly doesn’t have a black-eye.”

“Listen kid. My father always told me, ‘You don’t question when a man makes the Tatras move JUST an inch.’ Here’s your $10. A bet’s a bet.”

“I don’t need the money. You keep it, give it to someone widow in your neighborhood. Goodness knows she needs it more than I do in these trying times.”

“You’re all right, kid.” He said affirmatively. “Fellas, the kids in.” The rest of the group instinctively knew what he meant.

I had done it! With a bit of luck and one sore hand, they were going to help me get this story. Readers, if this is the last column I write it is not that I do not have anything more to write. It will be because I am going into the treacherous dark, where I might not return. If this dark world takes me know this, you can bet that I am biting on to this story like a British Bulldog and I won’t let it go until it squeals out the truth like a whorish hog.

Knighten signature
Knighten P. Foraine,
Field Reporter for the Ripley Register





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Goon Squad
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It had only been a few weeks on Earth, but it seemed like an eternity. Will I ever get back home? I have no choice. I cannot give up. I will not be like my other fallen brethren. I’ve lost too many friends and have seen them in the battlefield before. Their hatred slowly corrupts them as each day passes. If they lose out on their spots in paradise, why should the humans be any different? Well I lost out on my chance on paradise, but I don’t want others to suffer my same fate. Maybe this is why I have retained some shred of my being. Maybe I haven’t truly been exiled. Maybe this is a chance for me to prove myself in His eyes. All I know is I won’t give up.

I have made several friends since I have been here. One which truly understands me is the pastor of the local protestant church, Pastor Robins. Up until recently he had been questioning his faith. Is God real? What happens after death? He was getting ready to give it all up. It was thanks to my new friend, Krzysztof, who brought me into the church with me wearing only the coat off his back. The pastor was shocked. We sat in his office for hours that night as I told him my story. He sat in complete silence taking in each word. It was later that I learned of the pistol and bottle of scotch that were scheduled to have a meeting with him if our meeting had not occurred.

As time passed Pastor Robins was immersed deeper into our world. The demons and angels of his faith more than just that. They are real creatures that bump and bump back in the night and I was here to help tip the scales in heaven’s favor. It turns out this may be my only way back. This was how I met Kyle. It was supposed to be a hunt for a possible demon trouble maker, a lower one. That is another story leading to a dead end however.

This lead me to the events of recent. I was told that this lead would be much more fruitful. I heard rumors that Nicodemus may be in town. This would be some real bad news. We are talking the opposite of Michael, the archangel. So I set off to find Krys but with no luck. I left a message with his mom and headed to find what I could. As I arrived at the lounge I was greeted by an interesting sight. It turns out my friend Henry has a gig at the joint. Could mean two things either one there is a high amount of vampire activities, or his band manager is a terrible organizer when it comes to dangerous places. Well might as well enjoy the show. That was until I saw the kid walk in. He looked like he was straight out of prep-school. This kid stood out like a sore thumb and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. A red court hopped on him like he was the last drop of blood in the joint. I approached the fool and told him to scram. If it weren’t for the owner backing me up I would have broken treaty and so would he. The kid has no clue what just happened and I don’t expect him to. I decided I should buy him dinner before I send him on his way. Maybe a vamp that hungry would leave and go off somewhere else. After sitting and talking with the kid I find out why he is really here. It turns out its the same cultish lead I am after. At this point Kyle joins us accompanied by some lady who the kid claims is with her. The broad is beautiful, but I don’t have time for this, eternity awaits me. So we sit and have a talk till Henry gets done with work. As he finally gets off who other than Krys shows up. After all our lovely friends have decided to join us we talk about the situation at hand. The kid seems eager to join us on these dangers. I give him a stipulation, give Henry a shiner if he can or go home and never look back. Henry agrees like I knew he would. Krys and I place bets on the spectacle unraveling before our eyes. After bets are placed, we had a slight hope in our mind that the kid would actually win. Maybe it was us trying to get that innocent nature back that we lost when we decided to be the ones that fight back. None the less after one punch the kid joined our squad. Now we rest and see what tomorrow brings. Let’s hope the kid can handle it.

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Locked up
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Robert,

Its 3:00 A.M. in the morning and I am back in my one room apartment here on the second floor. I just got out of jail. The silence is killing me. I want to go out with Benny and do some drinking because of the stories that the gang told me.

While I was in jail… well first let me start how I got there. It all started with meeting this reporter yesterday. He wanted to investigate some disappearances of women in the area. One thing lead to another and we became friends, acquaintances really. At any rate, we agreed to meet at our friend the policeman’s place in the morning for coffee to discuss the disappearances and if the supernatural had anything to do with it. Not that I would like a reporter in on this but Knighten (that’s the reporter’s name) is also invited. Now I usually try to keep the paps out of this because they can really mess things up (then again I try to keep the cops out but I have one for a pal). At any rate, we get together to discuss what we are going to do and we decide to let Kristoff (that’s the cop) do what he does so well and check with neighboring precincts. He knew a guy (I cousin of his I think) who possibly knew what was going on because it was in the middle of the ‘Reds’ territory. Well story goes that about 14 virgins (I still could not imagine that there was that many in Chicago) had turned up missing but not on the paps (not popular enough eh). Well we got impulsive and while our dear friend was looking into it the legal way we decided to do a little looking of our own; bad idea.

We go looking for disappearances and got a small list of names of people that had lived in the area and go knocking on doors like a bunch of mormons (you know the guys with the suits). Stupid us we bring the annoying fox, Kyle, along for the ride. While we are attempting to be serious he uses his magic er, what ever to manipulate my looks so that a kilt wearing guy like myself appears like a woman. It works, there’s the three of us humans (and the fox worn around Benny’s neck like grandma’s shawl). This old geezer answers the door and looks at us. Of course I introduce us and because the fox’s trick the guy freaks out and then the fox speaks and the man passes out. I wanted no part of it but Knighton ask me to help him back into the house and Benny starts looking for clues as to why this old guy’s daughter disappeared. Yea, we found nothing. The guy comes too and calls the cops.

Now we didn’t know this but it complicates out lives even more because again, we are not in Kristoff’s turf but in fact his cousins and as I heard he was making nice with the police chief of the area. Well the cops show and the fox will no shut up. Naturally someone has to explain the supernatural and the next thing I know I am taking one for the team and claiming that I am a ventriloquist and an ass.

So I go quietly but the fox (who I took with me) will not shut his hole and keeps talking). The cop who thinks that its me asks politely to keep quiet and the fox continues and I finally have to shut him up myself because the cop is quite upset (as am I). Well we got book and arrested and I spent some time in the clink while the fox went to the locker.

I heard that while the fox and I was in the lock up that our friend the cop returned and he was quite upset with what we had done and cussed about his efforts to keep the peace with the other cops and told them that he planned to meet with family to discuss the case (I really wished it had turned out for him; I explain later). The arrangements were made and the two were going to meet at Rigley’s Field. Kristoff had worked out with Benny and Knighton (whom I refer as Baby Face affectionately; he does, he has a cute face. I almost punched it once. I’ll tell you the story some time).

Well when they went down to the meeting, Benny and Baby Face followed Kristoff to the field and they were supposed to watch from outside and stand watch if there was any monkey business. They came to nothing but an empty car with a corpse inside; yup, the cousin. More dead then a bag of hammer and with his throat ripped clean out. No blood just a dead guy. The shock shook the cop to the core and the hunt started to find out what the missing girls and dead cop had in common and what was really going on; who knows. We need to get to the bottom of this and fast because people are going to die fast if we do not get this figured out.

Now I know that you are a vampire and are still friendly to me. Repulsive but entertaining so brother, I hope that I am to you; I remain yours.

Henry

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Before the Angel Lost His Wings
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I have been experimenting a little bit several spells I am learning in this Parcaemancer book I found by happens stance in my old college library. I didn’t steal it…I am just “borrowing” it until I am fully done with it. (Which according to how some of my spells are going, might not be for a LONG time! Rats on that HEMOTHAUMAGORGIUM spell!) Anyway, I am definitely not good enough for any ritual spells, so I have been practicing on my spare time. Yet, it seems that my powers are more focused when CG is helping me. At any rate, I created from an ordinary photograph that I “borrowed” from a co-worker at the Register, and some hair I gathered from Sandy’s(Name changed to protect the innocent) comb (I hope you don’t mind buddy!) what the book calls a Memorata Lumotograph. I used the old photo to focus my spirit magic and pull a memory from Sandy’s past using his hair, at least that’s what I think the spell is supposed to do. I included the Lumotograph in this book. Let me know what you think. And…Sandy don’t kill me…it wouldn’t be good for the soul.

Before the Angel Lost His Wings

You must touch the triangle above. I have imbued a little spell that will cause the Lumotograph to appear.

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Man Down
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Newspaper article01

Crap! This is just a bunch of crap! Why won’t Ripley let me publish what I really want to publish? He goes and takes my article and chops it up. This only gives the public a mere fraction of the events that really happened. He says that the public just won’t believe it. Isn’t he the one who’s catch phrase is, “Believe it, Or Not”? I mean really! Ripley even changed the name of the downed officer. How far from the truth can you get? Well, in order to make sure that these truths are never forgotten, I am writing them here. Where Ripley has no authority and editing rights.

The new troupe that has promised to help me on my latest case, started the day early. Officer Krzysztof Krystkowiak headed over to the Little Italy Police Precinct to get some assistance. He is very “by the book” kind of guy. In my opinion this slows him down a bit. I think he sometimes doesn’t see the bigger picture at times. Yet, I realize that if he steps over too many lines, he could ruin his career. That would be terrible for his family; and would probably ruin all his possibilities to work on leads. So I respect him for that.

Officer Krystkowiak met his second-cousin at the precinct. His cousin told him that nobody was looking into the 14 missing persons case. In fact, they didn’t even think it was a case. I don’t know how Krzysztof even kept his cool at moment. Krzysztof asked to talk with the police chief, a big broad man by the name of Captain Luigi Armario (interesting name; I wonder if he is keeping any skeletons in his “closet”?) The Chief was not very please to even meet with Officer Krystkowiak, yet out of respect for a fellow officer he gave Krzysztof some time to address the recent events. I wish I could have been there. From what Krzysztof told us, once Krzysztof opened his mouth the Chief bowed out like a whipped dog. One quip from Krzysztof and the Chief turned the case over to Krzysztof. Unfortunately, that “by the book” code took over, and Krzysztof realize that he still did not have any jurisdiction in Little Italy; so he gave the assignment over to his cousin.

Meanwhile, Benny took us all to his library. Its not actually his library, it is more like His library. The collection of books belongs to one of the local cathedrals, the same church that Benny has been staying at. The priest was very kind and let us all peruse all the ancient text. We were looking for something that fit the description of the supernatural creature or being that could be causing all the Red Court Vampires to be leaving their territorial feeding grounds; and that could be behind all the reports of the missing girls. Our searches didn’t reveal any direct details, but it did narrow down some hunches. Henry could have been a little more help in providing more clues about his specialty, Vampires, but it seems that he hung out with his band the previous night drinking. I suspect that he didn’t get to bed until 4 am. I hope he will be of more research help on later days.

Other members of the troupe were kind enough to add to the library. I gave what I could from my personal collection. A few minor books on magic that I have been collecting in old book stores. I don’t know how much of it is useful or not. The only book that I kept is the one that I am still “borrowing” from my old university’s library. It is a book on Parcaemancy.

After about 3 or 4 hours of researching in Benny’s Library, Krzysztof returned from Little Italy. He told us what I have already written. He then went on his own again to get some more leads from a “friend” in his neighborhood. I offered to give him a ride, but he preferred to walk. I think he just likes to do things alone. His “friend” was a leader of a small Prussian Syndicate named Ludomir. Ludomir would not reveal much. Fortunately, one of Ludomir’s cronies, Petrov was a little bit loose with his tongue. Not one of the brightest chaps, but not someone I want to meet alone in a darkened alley. Petrov let slip that some mob activity might be involved in all this supernatural goulash.

While Krzysztof was away, I felt that we would best be of help if we looked from some clues on our own. Even though he directly advised us not to, we decided to go to Little Italy and ask some questions. Ripley had given me two names of the girls that went missing. I knew that it wasn’t much, but they were something. Kyle, Henry, and Benny joined me. I wanted to find out if there were any connections between the missing girls. This might reveal the reason why they were taken.

At first it seemed like a great idea, all up until we arrived at the first house. As I knocked on the door, the wretch of an demon, Kyle decides that he is not too keen on “just” going to ask questions. He decides to have a little fun with our friendly Scotsman. The Scot stayed friendly all the way up till he found himself wearing a lady’s-dress-of-a-kilt with bosoms to match. The grandfather that answered the door became startled when Henry’s deep Baritone voice came out of a woman. Henry, though infuriated, quickly changed roles to play the part. I vouched for him stating he was getting over a cold. But all that was for not, when suddenly the Kitsune beast, who was masterfully playing as if he were a fur tuff on Benny’s collar, suddenly proceeded to have a conversation with the grandpa. The grandpa’s heart might not have been well (that rat might have killed him if he pushed him any further), he collapsed in a sudden faint. Henry and I carried him to the couch. Benny (who should have been keeping that fox in check…I suppose it didn’t seem out of the ordinary for him, after all Benny was still getting used to being human).

Benny began searching the man’s house. We did not finding anything out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, I was looking around the house for some ammonia to use as a smelling salt. I couldn’t finding anything. The way the house looked, I bet this guy could afford a maid to come in and clean twice a week. No wonder why I didn’t find something as simple as ammonia. Once Benny was satisfied that there were no clues to be found, he filled a glass of water, took one sip, then threw the rest on the elderly gentleman. This woke him up with a jolt. But that didn’t last long, when Kyle opened up his big mouth again. We decided to leave him on the couch and go our way, since there was nothing to be found.

The next house went better (Kyle was not permitted on the grounds), but our results were the same. Nothing. As we were leaving, a patrol car pulled up to our car before we could get in. The officer put on his lights. “Were you three the ones that just came from the Giacomo Estate?”

I couldn’t lie. I told him we were. “Might I ask what this is all about, Officer?”

“No you may not! I am taking you in for interfering with an police investigation.”

“Taking us in? But why what did we do?”

“Old man Giacomo is pressing charges on you three for illegal interrogation and disturbing the peace.”

“Officer, I can explain.”

“Try me”

“I am a reporter for the Ripley Register. I was asking Mr. Giacomo about his granddaughter. Here is my press pass. What ever inconvenience we caused Mr. Giacomo, we apologize and would like to make restitution…”

My apology was rudely interrupted by Kyle yawning, “BORING!”

“What the?! Okay, who is the ventriloquist?”

“Ventriloquist? Where? I want to meet one.” Kyle blurted from Benny’s collar.

“Okay who is the wise guy? If you don’t tell me I am taking you all in.”

That is when Henry stepped up and took one for the team. “It’s me, Officer.”

“A wise guy, eh? You are coming down to the station.” The officer put the cuffs on Henry. Once in the car, it became apparent that Henry had more plans than just “taking on for the team”. We could see him wailing on the defenseless Kyle. He was doing it for REVENGE!

Before, the officer got into his vehicle, Benny notice a vague resemblance to our friend Krzysztof. Benny point this out. The officer confirmed that he was Krzysztof’s second cousin. We tried to use this as one last pitch to get Henry off. Unfortunately, it blew up in our faces. The officer just turned to get in his patrol car and scoffed, “Krzysztof’s friends, eh, should have known.” Then, drove away.

I didn’t know how Krzysztof would take that. It turns out that Kyle’s little stunt affected more than just an angry Scotsman. Krzysztof was livid that we had directly went against his advice. He believed that our simple actions might have lost his influence in the Little Italy Precinct, which meant that we were about to get shut down complete from this story. Fortunately, Krzysztof knew a thing or two about family. He told us there might be a chance if we stuck to his lead. After all the dead ends we hit to day, I wouldn’t mind some much of sticking to the book if it meant we could get some answers. We all agreed to follow Krzysztof’s lead. His first command: Borsht.

We were invited to eat at Lumita’s place. Krzysztof introduced us to his mother. But before doing so, he gave us the strictest of instructions that there was to be absolutely no funny business in front of Lumita. She was a precious portly woman with dark hair and a bright smile. Her cheeks were warmly, just like her Borsht. She took pride in her culture. Her house was decorated in small trinkets and curios from the old country. Though her English was a bit broken, she described each piece in exquisite detail as she provided us her personal tour. My favorite was a painting of a mountain cottage painted by Krzysztof’s great-great grandmother. That mountains, oil on canvas, seemed so bold and life like with color. The cottage though was serene and simple. The detail with in the windows of the cottage was something to behold. I could not fathom how she capture such detail with a brush. It reminded me of some of the works of art forged through magic, that I have read about in my book. Maybe, Krzysztof comes from a magic bloodline after all.

She sat us down at a large wooden table. By now the whole house was filled with the savory aroma of her homemade Borsht. Benny was the first to finish his bowl. Krzysztof was hardly even touching his mother’s Borsht. Instead he seemed lost in thought gazing through the shear drapes hanging in the front window.

“Mama, excuse me, there is something I must do. He stood up and put his napkin on his empty chair. He did this so neatly, it was clear that this was a tradition that meant he was only leaving for a short while. I left out the front door. Sure enough, he returned but he was not alone. Behind him heavily walked a large man, definitely Polish with a large chin and wide-spaced eyes. His two eyebrows nearly touched each other in one continous hairy arch. “Mama, this is Petrov. He is a friend of Ludo. I did not want him to wait out in the cold.”

Within seconds another chair was added to the table.

“You lika Borsht?”

Petrov just responded with a big grin and a single slow nod. With one scoop of his spoon his bowl was emptied. I sensed that this did not set well with Benny, who was trying to make a good impression on Krzysztof’s mom. Benny asked for another. Petrov realized the challenge, filling his bowl again, too. Bowl after bowl the two were locked in barf-inducing beefy buffet battle. Neither had the desire to be bested. In the end, Benny had to pull out all the stops to finish his last bowl. Petrov bowed out just shy of a tie by less than half a bowlful. Krzysztof enjoyed their enthusiasm, but was just grateful no one stained his mother’s rugs with a slip of emesis. By the end of dinner everyone seemed to be old friends. Incredible the magic a pot of Borsht possesses.

Once Petrov had left we were all replaying the events of the Borsht Contest. The laughing and gaiety was broken with the phone ringing on the wall in the sitting room. Krzysztof paused before answering it. He picked it up, “Hello?”

“Yes, yes I can…. where do you want to meet?….okay, I can be there in an hour.” He then hung up the receiver.

“What’s going on, Krzys? Do you need a ride?” I asked.

“Its nothing…actually, it might be something. How good are you at not being seen?”

I had been woking on some veils in my spare time. “I am pretty good. What do you have in mind?”

“Well hopefully nothing. But just in case, Benny do you still carrying your ‘you-know-what’?”

Benny looked a little confused until Krzystof gave an unsubtle gesture directing Benny’s attention to Lumita who was clearing the last bit of dishes from the table.

“Oh! Yes, yes. I left that out on the back porch as you had asked.”

“Good. How about you come with us? Knighten, I will take you up on that ride. Do you know the way to Wrigley’s Field?”

“Yeah. Who doesn’t?”

“Mama, I might be out late to night. Make sure to lock up.” With that we put on our coats and hopped into my car. Krzysztof had us park about a mile away from the field and walk.

“What ever happens, I want you to stay hidden. If anything goes wrong you run and get Benny. Benny, I need you to keep your distance a bit. It will all make sense a little later.” Benny and I both agreed to the plan. The rest of the mile was all in silence. It seemed like a long single mile.

I stayed in the shadows while Krzysztof entered the park. He had told us he was meeting his cousin about something important. He was gone only five minutes when I saw him drop to his knees. I struggled to decide whether to stay put or run to his side. I made up my mind once I heard him wailing in to the night. I ran to see what had happened. I found Krzysztof splayed out over the body of his cousin. I recognized his face as the officer that had taken Henry and Kyle to the station. The body was clearly lifeless. His mouth was gapping horrifically, as if his last moments were spent in agony. I immediately felt the pain Krzysztof must have been feeling. In the dim quivering light coming from Krzysztof’s flashlight I could sort of make out the wounds left in the victim’s neck. Krzysztof was not thinking about holding his light steady. Rather, his mind was transfixed on the macabre scene in front of him that was so close to him on more than one level.

Deadbody

“Go get Benny!”

“But I can help look for clues.” I was ready to cast a light spell to illuminate the scene.

“No, go—-get—-Benny—-NOW!” The tone of his voice was slow and deliberate. I didn’t question him. I ran off the field and down the road where we had left Benny.

By the time Benny and I had returned, Krzysztof had already combed the area for any clues. He had skillfully regained his composure, and was back to being an nose-to-the-ground beat cop. Krzysztof pointed out the lack of blood on the body, even though his cousin’s wounds must have cause a lot of hemorrhaging. There was no blood on his clothes or even on the ground. He also pointed out that there was no forced entry into the park. It appeared as though Antoni was murdered in locus alterum and planted here inside Wrigley’s Field.

Once our search revealed nothing else, per Krzysztof’s request we carried the body off the field. It was a cold, lonely precession just the three of us. It felt very eerie. Something just didn’t feel right. Maybe I was sensing something magic (CG said as I became more in tune I would start to feel something, much like a sixth sense); or maybe it was that fact that this was the first dead body I had ever seen, let alone touched. I never did get to see Granddad’s body, unfortunately it was a closed casket; his death still weighs at my mind.

It took us about ten minutes to carry him to the street. Once we arrived, we propped Antoni’s dead body in a sitting position on the sidewalk with his back leaning on the stone wall, which surrounds Wrigley Field’s perimeter.

Without warning, local cops showed up to take the body away. This seemed strange and out of place. I did not object to it because Officer Krystkowiak wasn’t concerned. Officer Krystkowiak went to the precinct to accompany the Little Italy officers. I took Benny back to the church and went back to the office to write somethings down. Late that night I got a call from Krzysztof to meet him in the morning. I am very curious what it is all about.

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Paradox
Or is it Triodox?
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It is strange enough to have a friend that is a fallen angel. Now I have a companion that is a magic fox. The events of the past few days have led me to believe that anything is possible- in fact, probable.

My dead cousin left me a note- a note that read, "Mr. Moran,

We expect to receive our next ‘Shipment’ tomorrow night at nine. This is working out better than any of us could have hoped…except for the human portion of the cargo. Still don’t know what he needs all of those virgins for, but as long as he keeps up with the whiskey we’re good.

Just make sure that the police are looking anywhere but at the Harrison and Sons warehouse tomorrow at nine and we’ll have our booze in and you’ll be set for another week.

Bert"

Talk about not needing any investigation, stuff falling into your lap, etc… This one even Henry could figure out (great guy, no one better in a fist fight, but lets face it- the Scot has had his bell rung a few times). So, we cased the place out- first with Henry, Kyle, and that kid reporter Knighten, who has turned out to be invaluable and a good guy- although I don’t think he likes borscht…. They saw a few thugs from the Purple Gang with guns, but no signs of the girls, other than a whiff of perfume. After work, Kyle disguised himself, with MAGIC, to look like a kid, and we slowly walked by. This time, we got it- the girl was on a boat, and the whiskey was in the warehouse. We called in the cops for the warehouse, and went after the girl ourselves.

We decide that we will sneak up on the 3 goons holding the girl by going under an “invisible glamour” cast by Kyle- yes, more MAGIC. We will use its cover to sneak on the boat unseen, and take out the Italians quietly- or so we thought. Somehow the magic users, Kyle & Knighten, forget that the moving water of Lake Michigan would dissipate the spell! So, one moment we are quietly sneaking up, the next the veil has dropped and we are standing there, in clear view, on a gang plank! Oops!

The battle went quickly, however. They decide to try and make a run for it, one of them laying down a stream of tommy gun fire. I swing at one before he gets past the covering fire- and hit an invisible wall of force- Paradox! Henry decides to throw a crate at the shooter, and he proceeds to shoot the rigging around Knighten- who of course goes unconscious on the dock. Hmm, wasn’t Knighten unconscious at the beginning of the Car Chase? I yell to Henry to drive, grab Knighten, and with Kyle still wrapped around Henry’s neck we get to the car- and see Benny on the corner. He mumbles something about a divine message to meet us there- and the chase that happened before, happens again.

When hit by 3 paradoxes, is it a triodox?

Krzysztof Krystkowiak

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Kitsune Pride
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I’m hungry.. well I often am..I choose to try to get some food from a human I knew but since he didn’t like my fox look I tried being a human I knew named Benny. But the humans I knew seemed to be grumpy today and Krystof made me eat out side. After that they wanted to find the missing girls and hoped they where by the waters they called the docks.

And so the human that guarded human law and I went there and I showed myself as a human child and I smelled the missing girls. Later we went in and I made them all unseeable and all was well. That is up to when we got to the human boat.. forgot moving water washes magic away.. I feel bad I chose to guard these humans I’ll do better..I promise…a Kitsune learns..a Kitsune grows, the bad humans will not get away I’ll make sure of it!

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Leave Me Alone
I Am Working!
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We had stopped the bad guys- see the logs Car Chase and Paradox- now we had to bring them in. I got a lucky shot off, and disarmed the guy with the tommy gun. I put him in cuffs, and looked over to see how the others were doing. Kyle had changed into a slobbering werewolf like that movie Wolf Blood- scary stuff. Benny was sitting on the guy. I asked Henry to take care of calling the local precinct, and looked for Knighten- who was right where I figured- comforting the damsel in distress, the virgin girl that had been in the trunk, a Miss Karen Masters. Knighten seems to have that way, always around the young beautiful women, it must be his youthful face.

Knighten & I accompanied the cops when they arrived, Henry having stayed until they showed up. Benny and Kyle had already gone ahead, seems they had gotten an address from one of the bad guys. Must have been their natural charms, or the fact that Benny is house size and Kyle had been a werewolf, and somehow I think Henry had something to do with that as well. All I knew is that I had a lot of paperwork to do, and was surely going to have to say that the bad guy was hitting the sauce too hard- I could not let the cops think I was working with a magic fox!

Arriving at the station in the Italian district, for the second time in less than a week, was more than a bit uncomfortable. The Chief, I am sure, still blames me for my cousin’s death, and the looks of the officers told me the same story. I was, however, getting some pats on the back for nabbing 2 of the guys that were responsible for the kidnappings of the 14 young women.

Paperwork. That most rancid of duties. It must be done, especially now, especially here. Then Knighten shows up, while I am in a most foul mood, at this temporary desk, where half the force hates me and the other half thinks I am a good cop, which means even more hate me. He tells me that the girl, Karen Masters, is fine, and it is time to go. I ask him nicely at first, to go ahead. He then starts badgering me. I think, trying to shut out his words. Lucia is sleeping with her dead husband’s brother, my dead cousin Antoni. Antoni’s former partner is staring at me. Knighten keeps going. Finally, I snap.

“Leave me alone” I scream. “Can’t you see I am working here? Work comes before anything! Now GO!”

Knighten is a good guy, but the pressure of 2 worlds is starting to get to me. Hopefully he understands. I sit back to my paperwork, and a few minutes later a man in a coat who sticks out to me comes into the station. He asks questions of the detective that I had made my verbal report to, and something he says catches my ear.

“I am trying to prevent more deaths.”

I introduce myself, and ask the man to join me outside. He tells me his name is William Blake, and he is a lawman for the magic side of the world. For some reason, I trust this man. I finish my paperwork quickly, and we take his horse and carriage to the address that Benny, Kyle, Henry, and Knighten were bound for. I will not detail my conversation with William, but I like him, trust him, and I think we can help each other.

Arriving on the scene we found an unconscious Kyle. I knew I had made the right decision on Mr. Blake when all he said was, “A Kitsune? Fascinating,” and continued through some shattered root cellar doors. (I learned later that the discussion of how to get in ended with “Who needs an axe? We have a Scotsman!” Henry, Henry, Henry)

We entered just in time- the battle was not going well. Mr. Blake disabled a wall of force, Henry got to the bad guy, and Mr. Blake literally cut his head off.

Strange, the situations we are in now. I feel that light is coming in over the city, although it is the middle of the night- oh, got to get back to Dr.John Johnson at 2 am!

Krzysztof Krystkowiak

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Showdown
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Before anyone jumps out of the car Henry threatens, “Keep this inside the Law! Or else we cost Kris his badge…I’d rather not be thrown in the pokey again, either. Angel-boy this means you!” Something about his presence felt uncomforting as he said this.

As the car was rolling to a complete stop and before I even put it into park, Benny flew out his open door and pounced on top of one of the thugs trying to flee the scene. I saw Kyle throw a horrifying glamour like a cloak over his small fox-like body. The glamour liquidously lurched upright into the form of hideous wolfman with vulpine features. The visage had a narrow muzzle full of razor sharp teeth; thick gelatinous drool dripped from its blood-red gums. Its black ferociously charged lips were pulled back and quivered with readiness. If I didn’t know it was Kyle underneath I would have felt the urge to pop the clutch back into drive and run him over with my bumper.

The one thug still in the car was suddenly barred from opening his door as he stared bare faced into the eyes of the Vulpine Man. The thug couldn’t speak or even move. I could not seen the exact details of his face from my point of view, but I thought I saw his eyes closed tightly and is lower lip shaking. Even from my distance I could hear him mumbling something incoherent.

The last thug escaped the gaze of Kyle’s glamour beast. He raised his gun to shoot it. Bang! A gun went off. But it was not the thug’s gun. Krzys was now out of the car bracing his shooting arm on the open door, smoke rising from the barrel of his pearl-handled revolver. The thug dropped the gun losing immediate strength from the bullet that had passed through his hand. He dropped to his knees clenching his jaw to the pain. He tried holding back a scream so as not to appear weak. Blood fell in large drops onto his black brightly polished Ferragamo shoes. Although he didn’t prove to be much of a fight, he was being paid well to afford those shoes.

Being the last one out of the car, I had seen this all unfold. From seeing how well dressed these thugs were, I immediately saw the marks of organized criminals. Usually these forms of low life deal in high priced crimes, ones that were easily controlled and monitored. Crimes that could easily be covered up with high priced attorneys and bought-off politicians. That way, the profits were higher, the risks were lower. Kidnapping was not one of these typical crimes. I had to ask myself, what did these suits want with a handful of girls? GIRLS! My goodness I forgot almost about the reason we risked our lives in that deadly car chase.

I raced over to the back of their car. I took out of my pocket my Grandfather’s knife that he had entrusted me before he died. I used it to jimmy open the lock. A young woman in her early twenties was gagged in the trunk, terrified as a mouse waiting to be attacked by a lurking viper and swallowed whole. The street lamp behind me cast my figure as a silhouette. The girl look at me with terror. I immediately recognized her confused fear. “Its okay. I am Knighten Foraine I am here to help you.”

Her body immediately let go of her tension and began to shake uncontrollably followed by an deluge of tears and uneven breathing. I helped unbound her hands which had been tied behind her back. I picked her up out of the trunk and carried her to the curb to sit and reform her composure.

“I am sorry this is all happening to you…Ms.?” I let my voice subtle elevate in pitch to infer a question.

“M-masters, I mean Karen. Well, i-its Karen Masters…b-but you can just call me Karen. I mean, not JUST you…m-my mom and dad of course call me that…what I meant to say is that ‘just’ meaning you don’t have to call me Ms. Masters…that sounds too much like a librarian…”

“Karen.” I said with a sincere smile. “Karen it is. That’s a very nice name, Karen. And don’t worry about ‘Ms. Masters’, you might think it sounds like a librarian, but I happen to like librarians. My mom was a librarian before she met my father.”

“Really?” She asked dreamily. Oh no! I probably went too far on revealing this to her. But it worked. She was no longer shaking and her voice wasn’t trembling. She was transfixed on what else I liked. Not wanting to push it too far I shut my mouth after asking her about what happened. Unfortunately, my strawberry blond hair was distracting her from remembering too many details. Or at least in details that mattered to solving this case.

Fortunately, Benny had more useful talents than getting girls to stop trembling. He manage to rough up the guy he was sitting on to reveal some valuable information. Lucky for Benny, the officer and the Scottish band stander didn’t see the semi-illegal position of Benny’s gun to the thug’s head. That was the true talent…making it look like it was all clean.

Meanwhile, Henry went to find the nearest phone to call in the police…the one’s who were actually on duty. Benny let us know what he found out. We had an address where our suited friends were taking Ms. Masters…I mean Karen. Dang it now she’s got me doing it.

Krzys and I stayed with Karen to await the police. Krzys had already detained the thugs. Once Henry got back, he, Kyle and Benny all caught a cab to the address.

The officers that arrived had a lot of questions for Ms. Masters. They wanted her to come down to the station to give a statement. She said she would only go if I went with her. Well, a hero has got to do what a hero has got to do. Besides, Krzys would need a ride back once he got the paperwork done that he said he needed to fill out.

The precint was a mad house. Apparently there was a bootlegging bust that went down at the train depot less than an hour before we arrived. It was like an Italian family reuinon at the station, except someone forgot the food. Man, one could have made a fortune selling Chicago dogs to all these hungry, disgruntled Italians. The scene didn’t get any more friendly when our party arrived with members of the North Side Gang.

I stayed with Karen for as long as I could stand, until she gave her full report to the cops. At that point, I knew there was a greater good that was calling me. The group needed me. I found Krzys at a spare desk thumbing through files. We had been there for almost an hour, surely he was done with his paperwork.

“Krzys, you ready? The guys might be in trouble if we don’t hurry.” I thought I said this gently….

“Dammit, kid! Can’t you see I am working?!”

…Apparently not.

“Look Krzys, it not supposed to be on duty anyway. Didn’t they put you on mandatory leave when Andreas…” I trailed off knowing I should have gone there. Krzystof gave me a look of a bronze Gorgon, one of those that could kill a man.

“I get. I get.” I thought myself. I could take the hint. He did have to say anything more. But he did anyway.

“Listen Knighten. You might have been raised with a @&%*ing silver spoon in your mouth where you didn’t have to raise a hand to do any work. But this is the real world, kid. I am working. This my job. People depend on me to consistently give it all I got. Unlike you, writing for a worthless, no-name paper that nobody reads anyway. The only one that really cares if you miss a deadline is YOU when you belly clenches the slightest when you’ve run out of mommy’s and daddy’s caviar a day early. Now go away and leave me to my work!”

I stood there feeling like Karen might have felt in that trunk. Something sunk inside of me. Repressed emotions swelled up in me about my father talking to me stearnly after I had ‘carelessly knocked over’ a tray of Burboun at a gala he had been hosting with many of his business associates. The Burboun had spilt on to the dress of a gorgeous young lady I had been standing next to. She was the eldest daughter of a senator, at least twice my age. I can still remember the smell of her sweet perfume. I had been leaning in to steal a wiff, while holding the tray and serving the guests. It was embarrassing enough having dropped the jar of spirits on the girl, but to be reprimanded by my father was unbearable. I remember that everyone was silent, looking at me. I ran up to my room and cried into my pillow. I felt so sissy afterward.

Here I was again. The whole second floor of the police precinct was suddenly silent. All were looking at me. I froze. Then I grabbed my coat and gentleman’s cane, turned and walked out. I had learned over the years that sissy doesn’t make friends. I tried to preserve my dignity. I made it out of the station and into my car just in time. It was hard to breath, like I had got hit in the gut. I struggled to regular my breathing. I could feel the adrenaline kicking in. My hands were shaking, now.

I was good at helping others work through their feels. But not so good at doing it for myself. I could actually feel myself burying something deep inside of me. I knew that it would hurt me later on like the memory of the spilt Burboun. Yet, I didn’t stop it. I let it seep down into an empty recess of my heart. One thing was for sure, I wouldn’t mess with Krzystof again while he was working.

I started up the engine of my Mercedes-Benz Mannheim 350 Tourer. The purr of the pistons instantly calmed my hand tremor. I looked over the curved cabriolet body, with its red high-end fenders and golden brass trim. I suddenly remembered that perfume again. I shift her into gear and peeled away. Krzystof would have to get his own ride.

I arrived at the address and went around back. The root cellar doors had been blown to pieces. I smelled gun powder and saw 5 or 6 empty shotgun shells on the ground. The number of shells immediately put me into alert mode. I raced down the steps expecting to run into trouble. I entered into a black narrow stone hallway. At the end was a faint light. Kyle was on the ground, muttering incoherently. I ran to him. He lay in an open doorway. Beyond the door, Benny and Henry were inside a morbid room. The walls and floors of the room seemed stained with blood. It was being lit with thirteen torches mounted on thirteen iron candelaras standing at least six-feet tall encircling an alter.

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Impenetrable Walls
Call Me When You Need Me
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We were back to where we were at the beginning. I approached the car with caution, ready to fire at a moments notice. My only problem was they weren’t looking for a fight. I see one leap out and start bookin’ it towards his only route of escape. His only problem? He was too slow! In moments he was taken to the ground and made a nice lounge chair. “It’d be really nice of you to tell me where your boss is,” I said as I placed the muzzle of my Tommy into his the back of his knee. After that he sung like a canary. We got the location of the place, but not before Kyle decided to mess with the guy by taking on the form of some monstrosity. The guy literally pissed himself.

This was all fun and games, but now it was time to get serious. I told Krysztof where we were headed and we took off. We must have got loss because we were there for less than a few minutes and everyone except Krysztof was there. So we began examining the area. It gave off a strong sense of evil and the evil seemed to be coming strongly from the back cellar. We were gonna break it with an axe, but Kyle said, “Why use an ax when we’ve got a Scotsman.” With that Henry began to beat the door in. After a few minutes we were in the basement with what looks to be some kind of alter and candles spread throughout the parameter of the room. It was here where we found some kind of invisible barrier. It was impenetrable by myself. Suddenly something was causing the fox some serious pain and he passed out. I asked the kid to take him out of the room to get some fresh air, so he did. When he returned some type of flame filled the room. I barely avoided it, so I decided to sit up top till I was useful. After a few minutes I came back down to see a creature of complete evil and horror. So I did what anyone would do. I shot at it. The creature gave off a shriek of pain, but it was pretty tough. After a few moments Kryz came down with some guy. The guy mumbled some words and did some magic, which knocked a man down from the ceiling. At this point the evil creature turned into Henry and he stood over the man that emanated pure evil. I approached the man to interrogate him, but before I could Kryz’s new friend lopped the man’s head off. This guy pissed me off to no end. He was the most arrogant, self-entitled person I have ever met. It took everything in me to keep from laying into him with my fists. He made a bunch of claims about how he was doing right, but he has a long way to show he’s not the douche he presents himself to be. For now I shall avoid contacting him at all costs.

Benny

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