City Lights at Night

Equinoxes and Expeditions
in which Wren learns several things and the motley goes Hedgeside

I‘m goin’ to leave the most excitin’ part for last. So, I guess I’ll start back on the twenty-eighth. I had a particularly interestin’ conversation with Dirge and David, relatin’ to just why Ms. Silver is so scary. Seems that back in the ‘80s, long before I came to Vegas, there wasn’t such a shortage of prestos or whatever you want to call them. The worst part about them, so it was told to me, is that they’re curious about things they ought not to be curious about. Arcadia, namely. Apparently one from Seattle came around, a real creep. He fell in with one of ours, but she wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to know… horrible, horrible things happened to her, and I don’t want to think about that. Anyway, Ms. Silver found her in his basement, and was she ever mad. David says she sought him out, didn’t say a word but had him sent and sold to the Hobs at the Market. Says she told them how to take away his magic, too.

Remind me never to make her mad.

Anyway, other things are keepin’ us occupied lately. Ondrej‘s Helsing problem has turned out to be a group based in London- the Ashwood Abbey, I guess they’re called. Who knows why they’re interested, but as long as they are that puts us in more than a little danger. It sets me on edge to know they’re watchin’, because if they’re watchin’ him who’s to say they en’t watchin’ me?

Oh, I heard about somethin’ I need to look into, too. Mr. Finch got a hold of me and Red th’ other day, he wants us to take a look at the pelts’ shiny new supercomputer, installed recently at the Inferno. It’s called the Leviathan, built by a man named Cray. He’s a tricky one, and I’d be lyin’ if I said I didn’t think he was a wonder-worker. After that little trick Red tried, I’m almost positive. I ought to ask Ms. Silver ’bout that.

On to the most recent adventure.
Masa has apparently made friends with Jess and Cassandra, as the three of them planned an expedition to go hunting for Equinox fruit. He invited us to come along too, as you can never really have too much help goin’ Hedgeside. So there’s me, my dear brothers, Jess, Cassandra, and Frederick (by the way, he apparently knows how to say ‘Masa’ now. I’m a little worried ‘bout that, but not nearly so much as Red is) plus Masa’s clockwork thing and Jess’s turtle. We wandered for hours, and faced a couple of riddles (not my forte, but we figured them out) and eventually found a tree. The thing was very tall, frozen at the bottom but growin’ like it was May at the top; unfortunately, that wasn’t all.

At the top of the tree and around the clearing were a couple of creatures the likes of which… well, can’t really be explained unless you’re one of the Lost. They were like piles of leaves. Big, hungry, toothy piles of leaves. One of ‘em pounced on Red, nearly killed him. Me and Jess shot up the tree, goin’ for the prize; the rest fought the things off. Masa even pinned one under his contraption. Frederick stabbed one a whole bunch of times, Cassandra beat the tar outta the one on top of Red, and Ondrej took a coupla shots at the one Masa was on top of. I hate to admit, I was terrified of the things. Fightin’ en’t ever been my strong suit (so to speak), but I hate the fear that comes over me now. Didn’t used to… but that aside, we got out all right. Cassandra patched Red up, and we found our way out.

After survivin’ all that, there’s a couple things I’m pretty certain of.

One, Masa is far more interestin’ than I thought. I should get to know him a little better.
Two, if we can survive Hedge-things, we can survive Vegas. (Right?)
Three, Frederick is smarter than I thought.
Four, these wings en’t useless but they sure could be better…

Maybe it’s time for this little bird to learn how to fly.

“Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone
Tryin’ to make this life my own
And I’m lookin’ for a complication
Lookin’ ‘cause I’m tired of lyin’
I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.” (FF)

—Wren

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Lovci

Patrick Talamh passed me a note before Galt went underground. The symbol that I looked into with Wolfe and Saul that Red brought back from his trip with Coyote – An “A” with thorns and moths. I still don’t know what it represents, but I’m working on it. It also read April 1st, 9th Circle 11pm. That’s opening night of the Inferno casino; Tremaine’s ground. And the 9th circle, in Dante’s work, is reserved for the treachery and treason, symbolically this meeting is interesting already.

Cruces called on me, I went to the meeting, it appears that a group of Hunters is on my trail, under the sign of a crow, he suggested I speak with Francis Wu at UNLV. Worse, he claims he will be unable to shield me once he is no longer ruling, this point seems relatively undercut by other events, I hope it is not two groups. And Neon is apparently unconcerned with this development, I will have to take it to him, if he can but won’t offer some aid it will be problematic, perhaps the Queen of Spring is worth meeting after all, I had begun to think Neon was the way to go. I’ll have to speak with him before my meeting on the 1st. Dirge was at my Valentine’s Night Bash, however and I asked him, he wasn’t to familiar, but he says they are society types, based out of London.

The new security system is up and installed, should be protecting me, but instead it appears these lovci found a way in amongst the guests the other night, which means I have them on camera, and I have their security scans, so perhaps I will recognize them should they come around again. Or perhaps they have decided I’m just not that interesting, aside from being wealthy. ZasranĂ˝ unlikely. I will have to take all due precautions. I need to check with more of our people about this group first, before I take it to Wu. Him, I do not know. If they are truly interested in me because of the wealth the information may even be of interest to Victoria Tremaine.

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Objectives

Well, this might be it. Red always knew that sanity was a precious commodity among the lost, but he didn’t figure on losing his so soon. Because even if Baz was really back, that didn’t bode well for his peace of mind. Neither did that peeping little Hob, either. But right now, he was leaning toward actually having seen his old buddy, his own subconscious wasn’t usually that observant. Baz had asked what he was doing, what kind of life this was for a soldier, and he more he thought about it, the more Red knew he was right. That meant either new objectives, changing methods, or coming up with a new tag to stick on himself, and none of those seemed particularly easy. He had to keep priorities, though, and that was long term. In the short term, he had laid out his trust to the doc and Winter, watched Galt go underground without raising a finger to stop them, and let Wren in on his visitor and whatever that entails. He knew he could trust her, but he really hoped that wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass. Speaking of secrets, with Ondrej’s Helsing situation, it looked like things might heat up. If Red went down, someone needed to know about his family, because they weren’t going to be left alone. Wren already had one secret, this one needed to be for someone else, and as much as Winter has a good rep for that kinda thing, Ondrej understood family. Meanwhile, he’d like to see this for once wrapped up without having to kill anyone who didn’t really deserve it, which might be difficult with the rumors he’d heard about hunters. But that priest seems like a genuinely decent guy, maybe, if things got bad enough, he could be convinced to help. It’d been a long time since Red had been to confession…

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Chang(el)ing of the Guard

At precisely 9:32 and 24 seconds PM on December 29th I realized that Lech Kasizmierz was Patrick Talamh. Thirty-six minutes and nineteen seconds later Patrick and his motley were conversing in code. I couldn’t completely understand but they spoke in a combination of English, a cipher, and the twittering tongue of the hobs. they mentioned “going back” and making contact with something or someone. They seem to be looking for something, perhaps a way out.

Fifteen minutes and fifty-two seconds later Mr. Red and I spoke with Dr. Cruxes. Mr. Red asked him very interesting questions and put a surprising amount of trust into the words of my monarch. Four minutes and twenty-six seconds later Dr. Cruxes spoke with me in private. . .

We made small talk, but then the topic segued to John Galt and its potential members. at 10:28 and 23 seconds PM on December 29th I became uncomfortable with the topic of our conversation.

When Cruxes is prophetizing it seems that he stares at simple objects such as a blank wall. . . good to know. He kept on pressing for a name and at 10:29 and 43 seconds I blurted out a name: Ondrej Gmeur. I did not seem that this caused me to become forsworn so that is a plus. Perhaps it is good that Dr. Cruxes knows. He won’t actively hinder Ondrej and perhaps the Doctor can convince him to wait until after spring’s rule, a most prudent choice.

February 12, 10:18:02 PM: I am a conversation piece.

February 15, 4:13:06 PM: Tea with Cassandra and Jess at the tree. We had a good chat about the Hedge. At the mention of Frederick they acted strange. I think they just need to meet him, then they won’t think me so strange. They warned me about a goblin king however, it seems that chaos ensues when a goblin becomes king. Interesting; if I am to aide Frederick in becoming king then I will need to ensure that my friends will be safe.

We also discussed something called Equinox fruit! It is a new and exciting type of Goblin fruit. We will have to wait until the changing of the “season” to pick these rare fruit. I can’t wait. Preparations must be made.

Mr. Red seems to have taken a keen interest in my hedge activities. When I told him about my new goblin Fruit gathering outfit for when I go on my excursion with Cassandra and Jess he seemed very eager to join. I think my outfit impressed him. I look like a professional now and I think it is garnering more respect from my peers. Yay

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Artifice and Apprehension
in which there is much catching up

I haven’t received a letter in over thirty years- god, don’t that make my head spin- and I have to say it threw me for a little bit of a loop. It was unexpected, for sure, but I was awful glad to get it. More than it might’ve were it from someone else, I think, and while my heart’s real happy my head’s a little worried. It’s been made abundantly clear that I ought not to trust anybody but my brothers, and that’s goin’ to cause problems. Complicated problems. Really, really complicated problems.

I’m not tryin’ to think about that, but this little naggin’ voice in my head is startin’ to sound a lot like Ms. Silver.

Anyway, there’s a couple things I ought to write down before they fly outta my head. First thing’s that I really should check out the goings-on down on the Strip— so says Leah. Aside from that, I learned a few things on my particularly enjoyable evening with Dirge. I knew he traveled around quite a bit, but I need to remember to ask him why he said that travelin’ by Hedge is “safer”… I didn’t ask, but I ought to. If there is somethin’ out there that makes it safer to travel outside the world of men, I want to know about it. He told me a little more ‘bout what happened in Texarkana, too. Said there were wonderworkers involved, and that’s definitely somethin’ to look into as well. (For the record… his friend Keith seems to get in an awful lot of trouble.) He’s well-traveled, but I’d expect that (him bein’ an ambassador and all). Told me about Miami. He says their freehold is ruled by Summer, all the time- the City of Eternal Summer, they call it. It en’t somewhere I’d like to go, knowin’ that.

We talked about Ondrej‘s Helsing problem, too. Seems they’re closin’ in on him, and that bodes ill for me and the rest of our motley. (Me in particular, as they seem to have found where he lives… there was someone down on the first floor messin’ with the security system…) Next mornin’ (when my dear brother came into the kitchen wearin’ shoes that weren’t his) they had a bit of a conversation about it.

Mr. DelRay knows a lot of things.
I need to ask him about more of them.

That gives me plenty of reasons to spend more time with him… and though I still don’t know (might not ever know) if I can trust him like I do those I’m pledged to, I’m honestly, eagerly lookin’ forward to that. I wish I could fall for the man without this worry, I hate the paranoia that’s taken hold- but what can I do?

“Worry, worry, worry
Worry is all I can do
Oh, worry, worry, worry baby
Worry is all I can do
Oh, life is miserable baby,
Oh, and it’s all on account of you.” (B.B.K.)

(All right I suppose that one’s a bit much, life’s anything but miserable— but I got plenty to worry about.)
—Wren

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The August Motley in Wonderland
How deep the rabbit hole

There is a symbol on the grave of Jeremiah Wolfe. I asked Wolfe about it and she told me it was business she won’t talk about. I’ll have to check with Saul.

The investigation of Patrick Talamh’s death has wrapped up, for the most part. He’s alive as Lech. Winter hid him, but why? probably for his involvement with Galt. I’m in contact with a lot of John Galt now: Leah Rexpin, Patrick Talamh, [[:jean-lunask | Jean Lunask] and Roland Checkers. Jean is good with computers, that is a skill I should pick up. She also has it bad for Pockets, he’s not interested in it. Their whole motley met us at the Flamingo. Supposed to be a small gathering, I’m glad I brought my family or I may not have come back. Pockets was most forthcoming with what had happened, apparently there are not hard feelings for us giving him up to Wolfe. I put a call out to my friends on the body after we dug up Pat. It was his fetch. We brought along this guy, Raoul Kemp. I guess Red and Wren knew him. He was also at the Flamingo, an odd circumstance. There is a flaming skeleton on his back. He’s worth looking into. Galt (is a she) used to run Spring, Neon led a revolution and now spring stands divided. Well, sort of. The Satrapy in Vegas is unique in that it admits members outside of Spring, also that it is sort of a court in exile.

The secret of Lech is big, it’ll have implications for our family no matter what else happens. We might have trouble. I don’t know how ready the others are for what might happen now that we are this far down the rabbit hole of John Galt. Red seems the type that will do fine with what may happen, but Masa is less well socialized for this type of situation, and, more troubling still, is having trouble keeping his thoughts to himself. And Wren, things will not end well if something happens to her over this. I feel very protective of her, but she’s Autumn, they can take care of themselves, and she seems to be Silver’s pet, she also can take care of her own, unless this secret comes between them…

On the upside, my new Morgan Sports car is supposed to be on its way; they tell me Simon Cowell owns the only other one in America.

Morgan aero max supersports

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Tyger, Tyger

Red leaped off his cot, rolling into a crawl, his hands already searching for his pack and his rifle. Goddamnit, where was it?! Wait, not cot. He had leapt out of bed. In his new room. At Ondrej’s. Jesus Christ, what was wrong with him, he hadn’t done that in months, not since the Barnswallow. Could’ve sworn he heard something… He knew there was no point in trying to go back to sleep, at least not until the adrenaline flushed out of his system. Good a time as any to get his run in, the sun would just be rising by the time he made it outside, and he could make it just in time to watch it bounce off the Luxor.

The run was peaceful. Normally you never saw the city this quiet, here there was always a party and home there was always a fight. No reason for the tourists to be out now, he supposed, it was the night when you got drunk and passed out or blew your kids college fund at the tables or jumped straight from Celine Dion to those tiger guys, or…

Wait, that was it. That’s what he had heard, the up-and-at-‘em alarm for his unit. Whenever they needed the incendiary brigade, the bastard officers would just shout “Tyger! Tyger!” Someone had explained the reference to Red, and he’d looked up the poem when he got back, but he still didn’t really understand it. Still, couple good lines. But why the hell had he heard it this morning? He was normally pretty good at telling the difference between dreams and alarm bells, he had to be. They weren’t always so different back in the war. He could’ve sworn this was real. Besides, he normally never held on to anything specific from his nightmares, but today it was all coming back to him. The attack sounding while he caught shuteye in the trenches, that sick, excited look on the not quite human lieutenant’s face, leaping the thornwire with Baz. Holy shit, how had he forgotten Baz? Red was never sure what he was, that was before he had a word for Hobs. But Baz had dragged him through the war, he was ashamed he had forgotten him…

The memories were still coming, and Red didn’t like it. One of the only comforts they’d given him the first day back was the promise that he’d forget, and, if he was lucky, be forgotten. He wasn’t sure if those were codependent, but he didn’t feel like finding out. It was probably just all the shit of the past couple days piling up on him… The fight, the poison, that poor Emilio bastard, the hike with the general, finding out good ole’ Joe was still around, then the shit with ‘Lech’ and the doc… It was just getting to his head. The run would help.

But that goddamn nagging voice. It was still telling him everything he didn’t want or need to hear, and occassionally it used her voice. Right now, it was telling him that this was the price. The more he moved up in the freehold and the world, the more of it would come back, the harder it would be to hide. It said living like a bum in the tunnels wouldn’t keep him safe anymore, even he was smart enough to know that. It said that for everything he and his friends accomplished, for every scrap of power or respect they won, there’d be a price. And they’d pay it with their blood, and their sanity, and maybe their souls.

Red had plenty of blood he wasn’t using, and he wasn’t entirely convinced he hadn’t had an episode and become one of the street crazies 16 years ago as it was. But he didn’t know if he had a soul left to trade. He was what they made him, a soldier, a killer, a predator, a monster. And how did that line go? “Did he who made the lamb make thee?”

The sunrise was beautiful.

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Galt and Graves
in which the motley finds out just what happened to Patrick

Yeah, I knew it when I got here, but I’m gonna say it again, just to reiterate…

I am in WAY over my head.

Patrick en’t dead. I knew that as soon as Mr. Finch said that they weren’t sure that the body they found was his— knew it was his replacement. What else could it’ve been? Didn’t expect him to turn up though, but soon as Masa mentioned Lech… well, where can you put someone don’t want to be found, where no one is liable to look?

There’s a coupla things I know now that have me thinkin’. First bein’ that Ms. Silver was involved springin’ Pockets— but I’d guessed that, when I talked to her on Monday. Second bein’ that she en’t the only one interested in Galt, especially since I know now that Dr. Cruces was involved in hidin’ Patrick. Third thing is that John Galt en’t a man, and that Spring is divided— and the other camp’s head (not Neon, understand) is a woman. I haven’t the foggiest who she is, though.

I don’t know who to believe any more— well, I say any more when I really en’t been able to since I came back— and I suppose I ought to do like I’m told (like I’ve ever been very good at that) and trust only those I’m pledged to. I’ve got more questions than answers, but at least I’ve got some kind of lead on what I’m supposed to be finding out. Y’know, it occurs to me that I don’t know why people insist on hiding things from me but expect me to find other things out for them. I suppose I’m the little bird they mean when people say “a little bird told me”… how cliche.

This whole situation puts me in a spin. I can’t shake the feelin’ that I’m always bein’ used as a pawn, a game piece in a game no one’ll talk about. I’m terrified of the people around me, all but my family. Seems everybody’s out to use each other. I’m startin’ to develop trust issues, damn it all… and they might just save me. Worst thing ‘bout that though, much as I love my brothers I need somethin’ else, somethin’ deeper than that— and the fact that I can’t trust anybody’s makin’ it a thousand times worse. It’s aood thing I’m a blues singer. I got plenty of blues to sing, and maybe it’ll keep me from goin’ mad. Has so far. Song’s my only salvation, ‘cause if there’s a God somewhere he sure hasn’t gone to any trouble to save my ragged hide.

I had one of the worst dreams I’ve had in a while th’ other night— woke up panicked with my heart beatin’ a thousand miles an hour, only thing I can remember ‘bout it was beatin’ against the bars and that awful tune ringin’ in my ears. I had to walk outside, couldn’t stand bein’ closed in even by walls. All I could think of was flyin’ away… I burned an entire pack of cigarettes tryin’ to calm down. I stood up on that roof until the sun came up, shakin’ like a leaf in the wind.

I don’t know what I’d do without my brothers to lean on. Might just fall apart at the seams, or get torn apart by the wolves— and I don’t mean the incredibly wealthy mutts running Vegas.

“Oh, but I done got wise to you baby
You’re not the only bird in the sky
So now don’t you ask me no questions
And you know I won’t, I won’t tell you no lies.” (B.B.K.)
—Wren

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Secrets secrets are no fun...

Renovated our Hallow, ‘bout time too. I got Mr. Red’s wire clock working too, wonder if he will ever notice.

Everyone seems to have developed the ability to hear my innermost thoughts… quite disturbing… I will have to look into that. Perhaps focus on blocking them out of my mind. Perhaps I need a checkup, make sure everything is ticking properly. Or maybe I just need to avoid fertilizing the fruit of the Dao regularly…

Giuseppe Ferrera is a charming man. He is an artist who uses food as his medium. I would love to get to know him better. Perhaps accept hedgefruit in exchange for his delicious food. Or maybe some of my craft in exchange for his.

Then dove headlong into the case of Patrick. Dug up Patrick’s grave, Ghostman disappointed that it was his fetch, I found it fascinating, I should give my fetch a “call”. Used the snow globe, interesting side-effects. The wolves have a pathway into the hedge in their Hotel… probably don’t know that.

Patrick Talamh is Lech Kasizmierz! Patrick is Lech! Ingenious! Dr. Cruces is truly deserving of his title. Perhaps I should take a more active role in the court, and for that matter it wouldn’t hurt to become associated with Autumn as well. Their secrets can prove invaluable to my research. Winter has many secrets as well, I will need to cultivate my own trove of secrets so that I will have currency to find what I need.

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Summer is up to Something

Red was abducted from my house. Coyote picked him up. This is not acceptable to me. I looked into it, for now there is nothing I can do but wait. Enrico is with them as well. Something will have to be done though.

I met with Leah at the Joseph’s Deli. She told me about Patrick “Irish” Talamh. He died under rather “mysterious conditions.” So that’s how they say brutally murdered in english. Maybe it was Helsings, maybe it was the Lamb of God killer, or maybe it was Leah or Wolfe. Anyway, Leah let slip that Neon is definitely not in with John and that the Satrapy’s money is handled by a “her”. The cops have pictures of the scene of the murder. I talked to Wren about the issue, she’s looking into the same thing for Ms. Silver, hopefully we can work together on this.

We met those who live near us in the Hedge without Red. This may have been fortunate, one of the neighbors turns out to be Jess, who he…ehem… knows. We brought Big Jim along. She seems to be very intelligent, worth keeping in mind. Sister Clarice’s hollow is also nearby, her hollow opens on the Guardian Angel Cathedral where Father Radcliffe works. He is quite dangerous from what I’ve heard, tales that he single handedly fought a demon and emerged to tell the tale without taking any casualties. Jess told us he tends to leave our kind alone, but I feel no need to tempt him.

Also, I need some Hedge gear. I’m well equipped for work in the real world, but there amongst the thorns I continue to lose good suits. Frederick killed a hedge snake, and while moving it it’s poison ruined some of my shoes, I gave them to him to eat, he seems to enjoyed them far more than I was disappointed to lose them. Perhaps a good hedge spun TAC vest and such is in order…

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