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The Butcher


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Feb 3rd 2017, Early Morning

On the outskirts of Freedom City...



Where does a city end? It was hard to tell. But wherever it was, Morgan's Meats was right on the edge. That hazy place where the city drifts into the country, to the south east. It had a kind of sleepy air to it. Nothing much happened. 


Usually nothing much happened. 


But when it did happen, like today, it really happened. 


In a beat up old car, smoking cheap cigarettes, Vic Vazquez waited. She was a tallish woman, dressed in unassuming clothes, running hear and a baseball cap. She had olive skin and dark hair, and had that air of South America about her. If one looked at her closely, one could tell she spent long hours at the gym, giving her a muscular or even squat appearance. 


Vic was watching Morgan's Meats intently, behind dark sunglasses. And taking pictures with her camera. 


And waiting for Jessica Witchblood to arrive. 


She had judged the fledging demon best person to call. Hell, the police wouldn't believe her. And if they did, they wouldn't be of any help. 


Vic worked for Arcanus Arcanum magazine, dedicated to exposing and explaining eldritch forces. It was sometimes right on points of history and occultism, but rarely if ever right on points of real magic. 


Although Vic was the exception. She knew a thing or two...




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Jessica rarely left the city. After living in the middle of nowhere for most of her life, she wanted to go somewhere big and full of people. Freedom was her first choice, but New York, Philly, Boston, they were all around. So when she was told to meet at the edge of nowhere. Well, she groaned. But hey, information. The ever constant. Arcanus Arcanum was one of the few dead tree publications she read. When Vic Vasquez asked for help, she jumped at the chance.


"With a high of 32, bundle up, you're going to need," the radio clicked off. Jessica never needed to know the weather. Radio was just to keep her alert. She got off of work, dressed - jeans and a pullover hoodie that both flattered her form - and drove out to the agreed meeting place. Parking on the side of the road, she got out of her car and waved to Vic. "Hello, Vic," Jessica saw her breath. Cold. She was glad she never had to feel this. "I'm Jessica Witchblood. For what do I owe the pleasure of this early morning rendezvous?"

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"Snakes alive! You really are red!" declared Vic, the cigarette falling out of her mouth. 


"I mean...uh....thank's for coming. And...uh....you are red! I mean, really red. Kinda cute" she stammered, picking up her cigarette and putting it back in her mouth. 


Vic got out of her beat up car and kept her baseball cap low. She appeared to be a fan of baseball, because Jessica spied a baseball bat on the passenger seat. One might suspect it was there to hit skulls rather than baseballs. 


"I'm Vic Vaquez" she continued, with a South American accent. "I work for Arcanum magazine. Its trash, but its a job" she said, a little ashamed. "Every now and again, I get wind of something that's spooky. And usually, it ain't. I try to write it up as spooky, but its a load of bull"


"That" she said, pointing to Morgan's Meats. "Is not. A butcher selling snake meat. A butchers shop built on top of a Lemurian ruin. Not to mention rumours of hell hounds roaming at night and some red skinned she devil summoning Beelzebub under moonlight. Uhhh...no offence..." she explained, her defiance melting a little at her foot in mouth last point. 

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The red skin was not a secret, but there were people still shocked to know that she was a different shade. It amused Jessica. "And you're a sight yourself," she smirked when the woman complimented her. She nodded when Vic described the magazine. Most of it was rubbish, but enjoyable still the same. Every blue moon they got something right, and even that was misinformed.


Jessica smiled at Vic's verbal faux pas, "yeah, I get used to it. So, you think you have a demon of my sorts on the loose? Some snake sorcerers?" She looked over at the meat processing place, pulling out her phone she snapped a few shots were Vic pointed out. It wasn't going to be professional quality, but enough for evidence hopefully. She looked to Vic, "so, what's our stake in this? We go in forthwith and make them answer questions or do we do some sneak work?" She put her phone and her hands in her hoodie pockets, "You're more an investigator than me, dear. Teach me your ways."

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"Snakes, dogs, you name it, we have it. And I bet its all coming from that their house. He ain't just selling steak and pork, you know? Snake meat. At least twice, and by accident. And blood. If you happen to have a forensic scientist in the boot of your care, I'd love to know what type of blood" she sighed. 


"Someone called the police. It went away. The detective said he had a migraine and has been on sick leave since. That's all I could find. Sorry" she apologised. 


"I've been sitting here watching the place the last twelve hours. I'd kill for a burger right now. Except not from that joint. Took plenty of pictures. A couple of suspicious faces...." she said, pondering the last half day. 


"But I reckon know I have a real life sexy demon witch babe to help, we can make some progress, huh? I'm just disappointed you don't have a tail. That would have been cool. And hot. Cool and hot. yeah...."

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Well, that wasn't expected at all. The chain of logical events laid out in Jessica's mind. "If you're hungry still, I have a couple of egg muffin sandwiches I picked up on the way here," Jessica pointed at her car, "you eat and I'll take a look at those pictures." She laughed as Vic played her up, "sorry, not that kind of demon. Close enough though! No horns or wings either," she grinned.

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Vic took the sandwiches greedily. "Thankyou! God, I am as hungry as a snake!" she said through stuffing her face with bite after bite. 


The pictures were of pretty good quality, by and large. Vic could take a good shot. For the most part the pictures were unremarkable, of people entering and leaving the shop. It was not, it seemed, a busy place, but it did do business. 


Vic had got a couple of shots of the owner; a balding man who was a bout five feet tall and five feet wide with a few missing teeth who looked strong enough to rip and ox in two. He was not obviously aggressive but had a huge grin that wasn't very pleasant. His name, predictably, was Morgan. 


Various thugs seemed to be going in and out for meat. Or at least something. 


But one woman stood out. A tall, thin, flame haired woman with a kind of orange flavour to her skin. She looked sunburnt, maybe. Or just someone with a bad tanning spray. But too Jessica, it looked very much like she was a devil woman...

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Jessica poured over the pictures while Vic chowed down on breakfast sandwiches, as arranged. The orange woman wasn't directly in focus, but it did make her question. The other pictures of the people and the place were helpful too. It looked like they were going down the rabbit hole. She looked to Vic, "is this all you have? Pictures," she asked trying to pick Vic's mind, "any other intel? I'm still here for you, I just need to know what I'm working with." She smiled, "who I'm working with," striding slowly towards the voracious woman. From what Jessica knew about Lemuria, the snake metaphors were a warning siren. She wasn't about to get bit if the reporter was snake.

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Vic shrugged, looking coy. 


"That there is two days worth of surveillance, dull as ditch water" she conceded. "I'm all out of intel, I am afraid. I'm a reporter not an FBI agent" she explained. "That's about it"


"If you want to know about me, I'll need to get to know you better first. You know, drinks and dinner" she smiled, although she was probably joking. "I'm a private person, really. Always had an interest in black magic and history. But never had the patience to go all academic. So I end up working for Arcarnum, with enough money to live on. Hell, I don't stop to think about myself. I'm too scared too". 


She got out of the car and lit another cigarette. 


"I'm a mess. But I'm a mess that's onto something, today. I'm not aiming for a Pullitzer. But a bit of wealth and fame would be nice..."

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"Drinks and dinner later, Vic," Jessica said stepping ever closer, "though your interest in magic can be rewarded right now." She spoke an arcane word that sounded like 'Pride' in the mortal tongue but with so much spirit static that it didn't even sound human. Her hand was wrapped in chaotic wispy smoke tendrils. "Before we get you all rich and famous, let's clean you up a bit. I can take your lungs and make them like new," she said looking Vic in the eyes, hovering her hand between their chests. "Consider it a freebie. And if you're still interested later - after we clear this investigation - I can take you on as an apprentice." She grinned slyly, "well, after dinner and drinks."

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"An apprentice! Cool, I like the sound of that! Get me out of this hell hole...ah...um...I mean, well....you know. Something other than hell hole. Ahhh...never mind. No offence!" she garbled her words. 


Vic breathed deeply, and took off her cap. She was beautiful, in a way, and had a tomboy, androgynous type of look as evidenced by her short bob haircut. 


"I feel better already. Well, as better as I could hope to feel. I'm still a mess" she admitted. She sighed and threw away her packet of ciggies. 


"So what's the plan, Red? I mean, I hope you aren't going to set the place alight with hellfire or anything. Problems might be solved, I guess. But burning people alive isn't part of my deal..."



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Jessica couldn't help but smile and stare at the pretty girl as she let herself give into Pride. It was one of the very few times Jessica was quiet. Vic's words broke the silence. Jessica had already gone over the first few lessons in her head when Vic had agreed. "No you're not," she said under her breath rebuking the 'mess' comment to herself. But Vic was right, they had to have something to do about the problem at hand.


"Well, you did capture some evidence," Jessica said tearing her eyes away from Vic to look at Morgan's Meats. "A direct approach could be viable," she said thinking out loud, "since we know nothing, if Morgan doesn't know anything, I could come in as an interested party. You could be my assistant." She paused for a moment and then asked, "how good are you at looking like you know how to take notes and nod? I'm pretty sure you've gone undercover," smirking at her own pun while still looking at the maybe sinister meat processor. "If this goes egg-shaped though, I have a sure fire escape plan."

Edited by Jessica Witchblood
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"How good at that am I? That's my damn job!" laughed Vic. She brought out a note pad and a pen. 


"Yes sir, no sir. How very interesting sir. Yes, I would love to lick your boots sir. It would be an honour sir. Please tell me how to lick them sir" she said, nodding all the time and pretending to take notes. 


"How did I do? Eh, I do that all the time to my boss and to boring people I interview but can't offend and have to pretend they are interesting" she muttered, bitter. 


"And I have also gone undercover and lied. Hey, I'm a reporter! So whats the plan and do I take my baseball bat?"



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Jessica grinned at the 'performance'. "You got the part," she said amused, "truly I was on the edge of my seat." She looked over to the bat Vic was thinking about taking, "no," she said looking to Vic again, "I'm pretty sure assistants don't carry baseball bats. Interferes with the note taking. Besides," she took a step back and looked around, trying to spot if they were spotted, "there are things I can do much worse than slapping them with a bat."


She looked to Morgan's Meats and waved on Vic, walking towards the building. "Before we get in here," she about faced to look at her future apprentice, "I need you to promise me, if I have to do things to save you, just trust me." She looked to assure Vic about her ungainly sin magic. If Jessica was right about what they were doing in there, well, she was not leaving anything behind. Vic already left an impression on her, and she wanted to get to know her more.

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Vic's face looked uncomfortable. "Yeah, sure" she answered, although her conviction was tepid at best. "If I'm getting shot at, then frankly I don't much care how I get saved. As long as I do" she explained. 


She took off her baseball bat and ruffled her short hair into a mess. "Errr....disguise?" she offered. It was a thin one, but there was a palpable change. The cool sunglasses remained over her eyes, and remained cool. 


And so...outside Morgan's Meats


An old lady with weathered skin and a bitter soul was hobbling into the Meat store and gave Vic and Jess a foul look. But then, it looked like she had a foul look tattoo'd onto her face permanently. 


The butchers itself was and old, rather small building, crumbling a little. It could certainly do with a lick of paint and didn't look architecturally robust. Some pipes round the back emitted a slow, lazy steam. Some music floated gently from the shop, sounding Arabic. 


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Jessica had never been in a butcher shop, but if she had to imagine one, this is what it would look like. The little old lady was out of place though. Her butcher shop had nicer people in it. Ah well, you can't have it all. She went up to the counter, looking at the person on duty. Acting wasn't her deal, but lying came easy to her. Especially to those who favored her. "I'm here to speak to Morgan. It's  for a meeting." She nodded toward Vic, "my assistant will be taking notes on your establishment. Pay her no mind."

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The old woman turned around, her scowl consolidating. 


"You know who you are talking to you b...."


"I'll deal with this, Vera" came a rumbling voice. Morgan himself. He was a big man, with plenty of fat. It had that solid feel, as if hard plentiful muscle lay underneath. He was bald and was wearing a blood stained apron. He had a middle eastern, maybe arabic look, Bald, with a dark stubble that was nearly a beard. 


He slammed down his meat cleaver into the chopping board, nearly splitting it in two. 


"I'm Morgan. Who the hell are you..." he said, grinning with a mixture of lust and paranoia. 



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Though there was no sign of fear on her face, Jessica reflexively jumped as the cleaver slammed down. Morgan was just as he looked in the pictures. "Nice to meet you, Morgan," she said leaning forward, playing into his obvious glare, "my name is Killian. I'm here about a certain kind of meat that you specialize in," she said suggestively. She looked at Vera as if she were interrupting their conversation. She looked back to Morgan, pressing forward again, "I also hear you have, let's say, certain people in your employ."


Jessica was not sure if the other red woman was an employee or meat, but she was eager to find out either way. Hopefully Vic was snooping around, getting information, while she distracted Morgan. Hopefully, she could get Morgan to answer a few questions without him knowing. Hopefully Vera would scram before she got into any trouble.

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"Killian, eh?" said Morgan with a cruel lustful smile. "I can give you whatever meat you need..." he slobbered, licking his lips. "We specialise in exotic meats. Fully licensed...."


The cleaver came down once more. 


"Now you look like a strange lady. Someone with exotic tastes. I gotta ask. The skin. Red. And not in a Red Indian way" he said, frowning at her. "What does that taste like...I mean...ah....What would you like to taste?" he stumbled but recovered quickly, showing her his collection. 


"You related to Ash?" he asked, casual but clumsy in his probes. 

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She didn't let the 'how does it taste' thing out of her mind. Ash was probably somewhere here on the chopping block. "Think salted cherries," she said with a matter-of-fact grin. She had no idea how she tasted in any way. Gluttony hadn't even asked for that. Though she was sure it would be on it's mind soon.


Morgan, and most people, were like putty in her wiles. It came easy. "Ash," she let the word hand there with a questioning inflection. She tilted her head, "then again, if it's why you think I'm related, we've most likely met at the family reunion." She happily scoffed at the thought of a family reunion with the Witchbloods. So many had scattered to the winds.


"Morgan," she eyed the butcher, "I'm here to test your more exotic meats," she kept the innuendo going. "Me and my assistant are connoisseurs of certain types." She looked over at Vera with an evil grin. "But first," she looked back to Morgan, "I'm sure you have a position open? A little bird on a grapevine says you might have some need for," she leaned forward and whispered, "assistance?"

Edited by Jessica Witchblood
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"Ash? You related?" said Morgan, looking disconcerted. "Ah...well, that changes things..."


He put down his cleaver. But not too far from his hand, and tried a warmer smile. 


Vera scowled and scuttled out, looking frightened. This was out of her depth. 


"As for positions" continued Morgan, now the shop was empty of eavesdroppers "it depends where your talents lay. Ash, now, she is something special. Never seen a woman burn like that before. And a taste for blood. I got certain supplies. But I need certain things done..." he said, a hint of caution. 


"You a sorcerer?"

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As Morgan described Ash, Jessica hoped Vic was getting this all down. "Am I a sorcerer," 'Killian' smiled as she 'absent-mindedly' drew an arcane symbol on the condensation. "Thirst for blood? Able to burn? You just described most of my week nights."


She looked over to Vic, "come here, doll," she said in a stern but sensuous voice, "this is my doll... Alexa." She looked Vic in the eyes, wordlessly asking her to play along, "she's my new apprentice."


She looked to Morgan, "The reason I am here, since the little old lady is gone, is that I've been told you sell special meats," she goaded him with her voice, as she stroked Vic's neck line, "and maybe if you provide me with some meat and that 'position'. I'll provide you with sorcery. Very. Powerful. Sorcery."

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Vic wasn't much for looking glassy eyed and obedient Not her nature. But, to her credit, she played the part. And people believe what they want to believe. 


"Really? Never let it be said that Morgan won't turn down some custom" he said, eagerly. A flick of vexation crossed his face. 


"But I have a problem" he said, not liking the words that came from his fat lips. "I'm not in a trusting mood, and I'll tell you why. Hector, the old devil, he bought some special meats from me just two weeks ago. Turned his dogs into blazing hellhounds". 


He slammed his cleaver once more, heavily, into the counter. 


"Never knew the old dabbler had it in him. But, curse my luck, he did. Got a pack of infernal wolves at my door. Ah! It stings doubly that I was the engine of my own misfortune..." he shook his head. 


"So I am left paranoid. With good reason, for Hector wants more meats. And if you are selling something special, he will do whatever it takes to get it..."


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Jessica would usually invoke the spirit by name and let it taint their own name to unrecognizablity. Though she didn't to do it. It was a mnemonic her mother taught her when she was young. That and It looked cool in hero work. But this time she needed secret. Stroking the back of Vic's neck, Jessica let loose the spirit of Pride to be a messenger for her.


"Hey Vic," the spirit announced in her mind, "since you and Jessica cannot talk aloud without alerting the Butcher there, I'm here to act courier. I am Jessica's Pride. So, let's see. She wants to do this thing for him. Not because she trusts this guy more than she can throw him, but hell hounds are dangerous and need to be taken care of. She's made up her mind. She's going to do this. She just wants you to keep doing what you're doing. Maybe this Ash person needs to be taken down a notch or two. So, message passed. Don't speak, think. You'll hit her back and I'll relay."


Jessica nodded, "Hell hounds," she smirked wickedly, "easily taken care of. Point the way. We'll take care of this." She spoke quietly into Vic's ear, but it was more a show for Morgan to see and hear, "you'll learn something, doll."

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Whats that? answered Vic. You are the most beautiful woman in the world and everybody should worship you? And you wanted to kill some hell hounds because you are so awesome and can do anything?


Did I hear that right? I mean...it's a bit of an ego you got there....


But OK....Vic said, in her head to the spirit, her confidence in the sanity of Jessica rather crumbled. 


"If you get rid of Hector and his dogs...and I mean get rid of..." said Morgan, smiling broadly, drooling slightly. He stroked his cleaver to emphasise exactly what get rid of meant "then you can have whatever meat you want. And I do mean any. Lemurian sorcerer flesh. The best!" he explained, eyes darkening. 


He wrote, in rather bad, grubby handwriting, the address of Hector. 


"Here you go, he runs a car scrapyard thing. Nobody likes him. Nobody will miss him..." he added, by way of encouragement. 

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