The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Signs and Portents (Part Two)

Karkana Chronicles Nine

March 14, 2013 (Late Afternoon)

Brianna and Joey head back to the Mission House after researching at Powell’s. They find Cartland in office, continuing his own researches. Brianna announces herself and shares what they found.

“Well, did a bit of research, some more information. Keegan could be a phobophage or from House Malvora. So what we know about phobophages are that they’re spirits that can posses a human host and are vulnerable to sunlight outside of that human host. Or to exorcism while inside that human host. However both these creatures could be affected by True Courage. That may be whey things did not go as entirely as planned last night.”

Cartland thinks quietly on what he’s heard. Brianna continues. “Rage is not quite the same as courage.”

Cartland looks up. “Then perhaps I’ve made a mistake in dragging you into this.”

Brianna shakes her head. “As I said yesterday, I don’t hold truck with some creature enticing kids into some compound out in the woods and feeding off their fear. That bothers me. And you have more information no than you did before, so I don’t think it was a mistake.”

“So what do we do now?”

“If we attack him with True Courage, that could hurt him. That not something you can manifest, that’s something you have to have. Unless you can do an exorcism. Although, that will only work if this is a spirit. If this is a Malvora, he’ll just laugh at you. Besides the fear, did you notice him exhibiting any other traits when you dealt with him before?”

Cartland shakes his head. “No.”

Joey says, “If our last encounter is any indication, True Courage will be hard to find.”

Brianna nods. “He is strong. The true nature of courage is gong up against something when you’re scared to do so. I managed to dodge the effects, so…I don’t know how hard it is going to be to have that coherent thought of ‘this guy’s scaring the shit out of me but I need to punch him in the face’. My talents are more along the lines of knocking him unconscious. I don’t relish trying to do that with two kids with rifles.”

Cartland says, “I’ve never done an exorcism. I can only pray to the Lord to cast the spirit out.”

“That is more your forte,” Brianna says.

“‘And he called to him his twelve disciples, he gave them power to cast against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction’. I am a disciple of Christ,” Cartland says.

Brianna gives Joey the side-eye. “Do you need to be touching him when you do this?” she asks Cartland.

“Probably,” the preacher says.

“if that’s the case, then it becomes more of an infiltrate and neutralize option. Me and Joey getting over the wall, taking out the guards with guns. The light at the top of the church. Then there’s the older man. I don’t know what his role is in all of this. The only wild card is the congregation, whether or not they’re going to try and fight us if we go after their leader.”

" And if Aiden will fight with them, " Cartland adds.

“I still think if the idea is to get in there to nab this Keegan and you lay hands on him, our best shot is to do it at night. For us to go over the walls as quickly and quietly as possible. They’re not going to let us in the gate. After last night, that ship has sailed. They know all of us now. I mean, I assume none of us have access to tear gas or Tazers or any of that stuff. All we have is a man of faith and two people that can punch the crap out of someone,” Brianna says.

Joey says, “It’s as good a plan as any. What do we do once we get rid of the phobophage?Grab the kid and run?”

“I think so. My hope is that once we get rid of the phobophage, everyone will just break up. There’s that other guy there. He doesn’t fit the profile. There’s something about him. He might be an issue,” Brianna says.

“I’m only there for my boy. Hopefully we can exorcise this spirit and set the others free,” Cartland says.

“I hope so, too,” says Brianna. “Right now, there’s a girl going through some weird-ass ceremony everyone was scared shitless about.”

Everyone loads up in Brianna’s car and they head back into Washington. Brianna stops at a dive roadhouse on the way to feed. Cartland sits in the car.

Once they get to the turn off the main road where the compound is, they park the car about a mile way, turning it around for an easier get away. Joey and Brianna approach from the side fence and sneak up on the guards. They knock them the boys out with a single punch. They check them for keys, but neither have them. They drag the unconscious bodies into the shadows and open the gate. Cartland comes in through the open gate. They all hear singing in the church.

Brianna whispers to the others. “The congregation are all in the church where they’re singing. Last night, when I got caught, he had the keys on him and he was heading for that larger building with the girl for the ritual. It might behoove us to check out the building before he heads there with all the people. Anyone have a problem with that?”

The other two shake their heads and they all head to the larger building behind the church. There’s a deadbolt on the entry door, which is locked. Heading around to the side, they can see a large garden to behind the building and two smaller buildings beyond that. On the side of the large building, Brianna finds a loose window. She slides it open and flicks her flashlight in. Everyone climbs their way into the room.

They find themselves in the a large room, sectioned off by long velvet curtains. there is a large altar in the room along with various other occult paraphernalia. The room seems to take up most of the building. There is a also an ominous-looking stone idol of some ancient goddess in the corner. On the altar is a curved-bladed knife. The entire building smells of strong incense.

Cartland says, “Satan’s work has been done here.”

“This looks very ugly,” Brianna says. “This looks like a good ambush spot, though.”

Time-wise, Brianna figures that the service in the church is probably wrapping up soon. Brianna shuts the window that they climbed in through and all three of them hide behind the curtains that adorn the room and wait to see if anyone comes in.

Eventually, they hear the entry door open the sound of murmured prayers. The door shuts and the dead bolt is thrown. They then hear Doyle’s voice over the prayers. “Come, Aiden, the time has come for the Ceremony.”

Brianna comes running out of hiding and strikes Doyle, surprising him. He opens his mouth, but a voice that is not Doyle’s comes out. “White Court bitch!”

Brianna suddenly finds herself trembling in fear. She grabs Aiden to run. Joey is afraid as well and making to get out of there. Cartland faces off with Doyle and strikes him. “Get away from my son.” Doyle falls. Suddenly, everyone’s fears drop away.

Aiden shakes Brianna off. “What’s going on here?”

“Your father’s saving your sorry ass. You stay put,” Brianna says.

Brianna edges over to the unconscious Doyle. “Well, that’s possession right there. Do you need to lay hands on it? Is it gone?”

Cartland reaches down to touch him, but stops when everyone hears a voice come from the entryway of the building. “Allow me.”

Brianna turns to see the older man she saw at the rear of the congregation last night. “Allow you to what?”

“Send Xuxiamous back to where it belongs.”

“You know its name?”

“I do.”

“Are you the one that brought it here?”

“I am.”

Brianna narrows her eyes. “Well that seems like that was a poor fucking decision, don’t you think?”

The man shrugs. “Hindsight, and all that.”

“What was the point of all this?”

“Power. Isn’t it always?”

“Why didn’t you send it back before now?”

“Doyle was too powerful. I bided my time.”

Brianna looks to Cartland. “Is there anything else you can do?”

“Pray,” Cartland says.

“Let’s have you two work together then. We don’t want this thing here anymore. If I think this is some kind of ploy to bring thing thing back up to hunt us, it is not going to go well for you,” Brianna says to the other man.

The man says, “Help me get him onto the altar.”

Brianna and Joey help drag Doyle onto the altar. The other man murmurs in Latin as he draws a chalk circle around the altar. Cartland stands nearby and prays to himself. As the man chants in Latin and Cartland prays and begins speaking in tongues, the circle begins to shimmer. Finally, the man chants “Xuxiamous! Xuxiamous! Xuxiamous!”

A purplish light emerges from within Doyle, twirls, then disappears. The other man sighs and says, “It is done.” Cartland stops praying. “Amen.”

Brianna says, “Hopefully that’s the end of demon cults in the woods, however I advise you to let all these kids go.”

“The man sighs and says, “The Fellowship of the Sacred Lamb will live on. But not here.”

“Good. Cartland, are you ready?”

Cartland nods.

“Aiden,” Brianna says, “you’re coming home. Let’s go.”

Aiden nods.

They all head out. They walk back to the car though the open gate. They get in the car and drive back to Portland. It’s a quiet drive.

Brianna tells Joey, “I know what you were talking about, that feeling of terror. When it spoke with its own voice, I felt it.”

In Portland, they drop off the father and son at the Mission House. Cartland thanks Brianna for returning his son. Brianna puts out her hand and Cartland takes it.

“I’m glad we got your son back,” she says.

“I’m glad I was wrong about you,” Cartland says.

“I may check back in a few days and make sure everything went well,” Brianna says.

She and Joey head home.

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