The Equilibrium Files #4.2
The guys took a time out to recover from the struggle with Thursbee and then began a search of the house. Dreyfus hacked the computer discovering large payments into a numbered bank account. Not surprisingly the number matched the one into which the dead Dixon had been transferring money. Thursbee had accrued a sizeable fortune given the short space of time he had had control of the succubus. There was also a large payment out; Y 10,000 to a certain Lucius Eldritch for ‘an item’.
"Looks like we might have found the source of the Demon’s Eye” said Dreyfus.
"But” put in Jack "I still don’t think anyone in this feckin’ reality could’ve made it. There’s more to it, I’m sure.”
‘Wheels’ and ‘Potty’ had done a physical search of the rooms and had uncovered a key with a lock up address.
"This could be worth checking out,” from ‘Wheels’. "Let’s do it when it gets light. I’m bushed and it’s three o’clock in the morning. Sack time for me,” yawned ‘Potty’. So they agreed to continue the investigation later.
The following morning the four met. They went immediately to the Industrial Estate where they found the lock up which matched the key they had found. It was magically protected but they were soon able to gain entry. It turned out to be Thursbee’s lodge. They searched and found a number of books and magical items. The majority were pretty commonplace; available from your local magic emporium, but one book attracted Jack’s attention.
"This is interesting,” he said to the others.
"What is?” asked ‘Potty’.
"In Libro de Prophetas’, The Book of Prophecies” he translated. "It was written in the 11th or 12th Century by a dude called Johannes Karnak Incantator, that’s Latin for mage or seer. I always thought it was just a myth but…”
They continued their search and found a note book with references to the book they’d just found. "I’ll take this and have a go at translating it.” With that, Jack called a cab and headed off, the book fully occupying his mind.
The others remained and searched for a clue to the whereabouts of Eldritch. Time and effort paid off and they found an address not far from where they were. As they walked they were approached by a ragged, homeless man. He looked at them in a disconcerting manner, asking for money. They felt compelled to give but as they handed him the few coins a feeling of wellbeing came over them. They walked on, looking back, but the beggar had disappeared. They arrived at their destination which, unfortunately, proved a dead end so they decided to visit JW Wells, a talismonger they used regularly.
"Up until recently there were only two of us in Gibsonville,” said Wells. "Myself and Lilith Hyde, a shaman, but a few weeks ago there was talk of a new kid in town with real upmarket goods on offer. I think he has a shop in the industrial estate.”
"Yeah, we tried there but he was out. Any other clues?” asked Dreyfus.
"There’s this coffee shop, café really, ‘The Java’, somewhere Downtown. I heard he likes to do deals over an espresso or three.”
"Thanks, man, we owe you one.”
"Just remember to come to me next time you need anything.”
The three had been sitting in the café for a while, the empty cups cluttering the table testified to that. They were about to give up and try another plan when a man walked in and ordered an espresso. This was either going to be a waste of time or he could be there target. A quick magical scan revealed the new arrival to be an Awakened so it was a safe bet he was Eldritch. A few minutes later someone else walked in, looked around and went to sit opposite Eldritch. The two talked in low tones for several minutes and then the second man left leaving Eldritch on his own again. Dreyfus, ‘Potty’ and ‘Wheels’ decided to wait for him to make his move. After a brief interval Eldritch, too, stood and left the café, quickly followed by the three mages.
‘Wheels’ drove carefully, blending into the busy Gibsonville traffic avoiding detection whilst keeping an eye on Eldritch’s automobile. They came to a derelict housing project which was in process of being demolished. Eldritch drove into an area fenced off and patrolled by security guards. ‘Wheels’ parked a couple of blocks away and they considered their options. Once again it was agreed that Dreyfus should assume invisibility and catch the security guard at the gate by surprise, and then they all would follow Eldritch to his destination. The guard was subdued without any problems and they drove on. There weren’t too many vehicles around and it didn’t take them long to find where Eldritch had parked. They pulled up, got out and proceeded to an abandoned building. Entering stealthily they searched the rooms. Rotting wood, the odd piece of abandoned furniture and peeling wallpaper was all they found initially. Then someone noticed that a part of the room they were in had been recently improved. A new door, a new lock which was open. A sinister green light shone under the door. "Not another green light,” said Dreyfus. Still invisible he quietly looked in and saw a nervous guy sitting. It was Eldritch’s contact from the café. More surprisingly there was an oval pillar of shimmering green in the centre of the room, casting an eerie glow. The sitting man drew his gun nervously "Who’s there?” He fired randomly, missing Dreyfus. Dreyfus hit him on the back of the head and silenced him. The other two entered the room and gazed at the pillar. "A portal,” said ‘Wheels’.
No sooner had he uttered the words than Eldritch appeared out of the green cloud. Dreyfus shot him before he could react and he fell to the ground, helpless.
"What do we do now?” ‘Potty’ asked no one in particular.
"The hell with it, I’m going through.” ‘Wheels’ strode confidently into the portal.
He emerged on the other side and found himself in a featureless environment. A white light seemed to suffuse the whole scene. It was like being in a room with infinite dimensions. There were no reference points allowing him to judge distance or height. A door opened and out stepped a figure in a white suit. The stranger walked towards ‘Wheels’, smiling.
"Welcome,” he said. "Please follow me. I must apologise for the portal and all the unpleasantness. You see we’re having a bit of a disagreement here; you know, all that good versus evil stuff. The portal is a by-product of some pretty heavy spiritual fisticuffs. Shouldn’t have happened but did. Now we’re trying to rectify our mistake. Last chap that came through was a real time-waster; got it all wrong. Hope you’re made of sterner stuff. Just through there old chap. Good luck.”
‘Wheels’ walked through another door, unprepared for the new surroundings. A greasy looking man in a grey suit, smiling widely, approached him. "Please welcome our next contestant who wants to play ‘Riches Beyond My Wildest Dreams’” Applause greeted him as he walked forward. He looked around him and it appeared he was on some sort of game show. He scanned his surroundings, seeing the audience for the first time. On the right sat rows of white suited men and women, clapping politely and shouting ‘bravo’ encouragingly. To his left there was a jeering, rowdy crowd of imps, spirits and lesser demons who shouted obscenities at the quiz master. ‘Wheels’ stood behind a lectern and the quiz master began to question him.
"Now sir,” he leered as he spoke, "can I offer you power over others, untold riches and a place of honour in the new world to come?” ‘Wheels’ knew he was being charmed and tried to resist. "If you like,” he said, despite himself.
"Wrong answer I’m afraid, if you’re good that is.” The demons cheered.
"Let me ask you again.” This time the white suited ones shouted encouragement. "Come along young man. Do the right thing.”
‘Wheels’ stuttered "Give me time to think. OK, yes, I think.” Again he tried to resist the question master’s spell.
"Sorry, I’m going to have to hurry you. Last chance now.”
‘Wheels’ remembered the beggar and the way he had looked as he and his colleagues had handed him money. He heard the shouts of the white suited audience members. He looked in disgust at the demons jeering at him. Did he really want to be like them?
"No!” he said emphatically, "I don’t want any of your false advantages.”
"Final answer. "
As one the white suits stood and applauded while the bad guys shouted their disapproval, "Left wing, liberal, pinko goody-goody, gerroff!” Then he was back in his own world with Dreyfus and ‘Potty’. The portal had gone and it was all over.
"You’re not gonna believe what I’ve just been through,” he said and the trio left the scene for the police to ponder over.
A Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year to all our readers.
More adventures from the Equilibrium archives to come in 2013.