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angrydurf

Darkness Rising IC

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Date: October 1st, 2009

Phantom had felt something in the ether for weeks, something dark, but with everything else that had happened recently hadn't really had time to pay it propper attention. When Jack mentioned off-hand, the cover-up of a rash of grave roberies his people were working on it finally clicked into place. That growing forboding was necromantic, with bodies gone missing it wasn't hard to place though no matter how hard she scryed she couldn't get a fix on the power, there was something powerful hiding it from her. She might have gone to the other mystics but with the Vampires working double duty to cover for the missing bodies it would be hard not to expose Avenger and his cohorts to less understanding mystics then herself.

***

Deadhead generally tried to keep a low profile in his activities. He was well aware of the effect his appearance had on the average bystander after all. Recently however he was growing concerned that he needed to reach out for some kind of help. The dead of Freedom were growing restless, thier graves defiled and while he had been able to capture some few of the perpetrators they never knew enough to prove themselves usefull. Worse some agency was hiding the thefts fromt he public, investigation by the authorities was almost non-existant. He was but one 'man' and couldn't watch every cemetary. But who to turn to? Who or what would look past his corpsen shell and offer aid?

***

Weird Maggie was a legend on the streets of Freedom, the odd old bag lady offering cryptic advice and obviously crazed stories with the same breath. But those who lived on the streets knew there was more then met the eye when it came to her actions and her tales. Atlas knew something was wrong, the streets of the Fens more full of societies forgotten then usual even. The ones who used to huddle in the abandoned subways and storm drains furtively trying to carve space on the surface once more. He'd asked around and tried to help where he could but there was only so much space and so much he could do. So when Wierd Maggie came up to him and told him his answer was across the river he was willing to listen. The year old obituary she pressed into his hand was the only further clue she gave. Burial to be held at the South Lincoln Cemetary.

***

Thus as the chill autumn air heralded the coming of October four heroes prowled the grounds of the cemetary most recently defiled by the rising darkness, converging on the now empty grave of a forgotten man.

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Phantom floated over the now empty grave, her expression dark under the shadows of her hood. Ghostlike, the ephemeral edges of her cloak drifted through the dirt piled high on either side of the now clearly empty grave site. She made a faint tsk-ing sound deep in her throat as she drifted over it to get a good look at the grave marker, before she began casting the detection spell. Hopefully that might give her some insight into what exactly was causing it. Necromantic, but highly doubtful it was vampiric, she imagined. It was probably zombies. And it wasn't even Halloween yet.

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By the time he got to the graveyard in south Lincoln, Dead Head's clothes were mostly dry from the swim he'd taken across the South River on his way from Lantern Hill. But "mostly dry" still meant "slightly damp."

"I have got to find a better way to get around," he mumbled, "Maybe find some spell-slinger who'd help me figure out how I can sometimes teleport, and learn to get that under better control."

Approaching from the north, he saw what looked at first glance to be a phantom hovering above the disturbed grave.

Wait, I thought this was a dude's grave? Hunh... this bears investigatin'!

And so Dead Head walked up to the grave, and very nonchalantly asked the phantom "Friend of yours?"

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Samael cursed his luck as he made his way through the row of graves. If Maggie hadn't found him, he wouldn't be way the heck out here so late at night. He paused at the grave site and dug the news paper clipping out of his jacket again. He really didn't need to, he had looked at the clipping so many times by now that he practically had the obituary memorized. Through the few small wisps of steam that issued from his nose he read the name and day of death again. Getting close... mused Samael as he noticed the dates were getting closer.

Another minute or two of trudging brought him close to where the grave should be. Then he noticed a few rows over there was a girl... floating over the grave with a massive billowing cloak, and next to her was - "Ah crap." muttered Samael as the scene before him registered. He immediately regretted his decision to come here this evening, let alone make his presence known to these people. He stood there for a moment, too stunned by this turn of events to go much of else.

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"Well." Like a grim master of ceremonies, Avenger simply appeared where he crouched behind the tombstone of the risen corpse, his white hockey mask gleaming in the darkness. His voice fit the night, all black coldness in the grim surroundings of the cemetery. "Quite a little midnight party. Avenger. Phantom. Know why we're here. Don't know the rest of you." He studied Dead Head for a moment, his icy blue eyes assessing the other man carefully. Something...I don't know.

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A cursory examination of the gravesite quickly revealed that the grave had been dug up by hand. Much like the others Deadhead had investigated. From the shovel marks and angles it seemed likely that this was done by a fairly sizeable group.

At the bottom of the grave layed the empty casket, the lid pryed up. There was very little finess to this and one would think it was a simple graverobbery for profit of some sort. Phantoms senses told a different story however. The area was permeated with necromantic energies, no sighs or traces of ritual were easily seen however so it seemed likely that the perpetrators themselves were the source.

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To Phantom's senses, the... zombie that had just shambled up to her was rather unlike any she'd ever seen before. First off -- which she didn't need her special senses to determine -- it talked to her. What her special senses did tell her was that within the thing before her was quite possibly the strongest concentration of necromantic energy she'd ever seen, shot through with "streaks" of pseudonatural corruption.

"Hey there," the... zombie? said to Samael. And, despite the gravelly nature of its voice, it said so... cheerfully? It then pointed to the open grave, "friend of yours?"

Oh, great, one of those types.

"Dead Head, I am. Called, I was. Grim tidings, brought me. Zombies, are risen. Brains. Use them, we must. To rest, we must return. Them."

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"Zombies," Phantom concurred as she brushed her fingertips over and slightly through the headstone before she floated out to land next to the others. "Although I don't believe the body was risen here. No ritual was performed here, nor no sudden influx of necromantic energy. I can tell you that whatever dug up the body was infused with power. Several of them, by my buest guess. It's an assumption, but whatever is taking the bodies and raising them probably has a relatively involved ceremony that they wouldn't want to perform at gravesite. Some necromancers need more ritual than others."

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"Recent upheaval in the necromantic community in Freedom City," said Avenger evenly, shrugging off Dead Head's parody of him. "Could be new arrival; could be current resident with access to new resources. " He looked around at the others. "Have been watching local cemeteries. No luck so far. If any of you have extra-sensory perceptions, now's the time."

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Samael was flat out flabbergasted. "I - I ... How can you act calm? Is this normal? Was this some sort of meeting? All I know is weird stuff's been happening. Weird Maggie gave me this obituary, and I came here." Samael strode forward to the group with the newspaper clipping presented, but not really expecting anyone to take it or pay him much attention. He hung back a few paces, obviously not fully trusting any of them yet. Now that he was closer and could see them clearer, he recognized the two of them. One was Avenger, the other Phantom, and he assumed the third was the body that was buried here. "Lots of the bums from the subway have moved up to the surface, avoiding whatever "monsters" are down there. Guess I found out why." said Samael, hoping someone could piece together some info he was missing.

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"'Normal'?," the obviously dead man asked "I woudn't say that, but it is far more common than it ought to be. And if the underdwellers are movin' out, then something else has moved in. So tracking what part of the city the underdwellers moved away from first would tell us where the does behind this likely first set up shop, and finding where they've most recently been driven from would tell us where the are now."

It swiveled towards Avenger, twisting its back in a very unnatural way, "'Upheaval,' eh? Care to go into a bit more detail... Avenger, was it?"

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"Who can follow mystics?" replied Avenger with a bland growl in Dead Head's direction. He was actually fairly unsettled by the walking corpse the more he looked at the man, having definitely concluded that this was not the cheap Halloween trickery he'd mistaken it for. But he was good at covering his own unsettled feelings, particularly behind the mask. "Surprised they took a body like this. Too old to be part of rituals I'm familiar with. And the crowd..." He looked around the cemetery. "Either they came invisible; or someone saw something. Suggest we hunt."

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"Even though no ritual was performed here, I can still track the entities. They possess enough necromantic energy in their forms that they leave a trail to my senses." Phantom volunteered mildly from where she had quietly been examining the grave site. "As long as they don't utilize more magic to cover their tracks, at least."

She gave the assembled group a faint smile and began floating away from the cluster to make certain that she picked their trail and not one of the OTHER necromantic signatures in the area as both Avenger and Deadhead were stronger presences than the group. Once she'd picked up the trail again, she called to them, "This way."

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The trail wasn't hard to follow once Phantom siezed on it. She quickly winded her way across the grounds, it seemed that they kept to the low lying regions of the cemetary predominantly where even now low hanging mist lingered.

The point of entry was obvious once they reached the wrought iron fence that encircled the cemetary. several bars lay scattered where some mighty force had torn them assunder. There was no way this wasn't heard. The trail vanished not far from there in a deeply shadowed ally with a powerfull flare of necromantic energy, Likely some kind of portal, it had an odd dimensional tinge to it but was defiantely not interdimensional.

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The zombie follows as Phantom tracks the trails, sniffing at the air and the ground occasionally.

Wow, this graveyard smells really nice! As far as graveyards go, of course.

He sniffed more once they got to the fence, and stared off into the same pools of shadows Phantom focused on.

"Somet'in' dread be t'rough 'ere," it said in a thick Hollywood Jamaican accent. "Truly dread."

Confused stares prompted him to continue, without the accent, "been hearin' some splinter group of Samedi's worshippers are up to something nasty. Something nasty enough that it freaks out the 'mainstream' Samedites, somethin' goin' down soon. If his power's behind this, the ones doin' this could be creatin' and movin' through the darkness."

"So... anyone know where the Samedites hang out?"

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"I heard that people have been removed from their usual spots in the subway and the underground. Where exactly I don't know, but I could probably find out if I asked around for a bit. To move that many people is to take up a real big spot down there, or at least scare many off. There's also rumor of some "Giant Thing" running around down there, but that is nothing more than rumor - hopefully." But aside from this nugget of wisdom, Samael stayed pretty quiet, feeling more than a little out of place.

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"Hrm. Have dealt with Samedi before. He recognized me," Avenger added, more for Phantom's benefit than for the others. "Suggest we scout this opening," he added. "Have ways of disguising myself from most forms of detection, even magical. Suggest the rest of you do the same, as convenient." He wasn't at all sure the others could do anything like he could; even among vampires, he stood head and shoulders among the others.

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Phantom gave Avenger a droll look under her hood. He knew perfectly well that unless she was teleporting in or sneaking through the ground, she was usually an obvious first target. Usually, that made an excellent distraction but these days, everyone had some sort of ability to affect ghosts. Personally, Phantom blamed Dark Star. "I'll go in with the big guy. Hopefully he's on par with my sneaking skills."

She gave Atlas a faint smile, "I usually get to be the distraction."

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"Uhhh... which 'big guy' do ya mean?" Dead Head asked, looking back and forth between Phantom and Samael. The zombie stood a good six inches taller than him, but the Russian was broader and appeared the stronger of the two.

"And since I'm guessing you do have some way to conceal yourself," it said to Phantom, "I would suggest I go in and be the distraction. Fair chance they'll mistake me for a rogue zombie that got out of the pens, and assume I'm a mindless clod. Hide in plain sight, an' all that."

It turned towards Samael, "Not sure where that leaves you, though, tovarisch. Never did get your name, either."

The zombie's eyes flicked over towards Avenger, "say, here's a wacky idea -- instead of us all charging in, and hoping we can take care of ourselves and maybe each other, why not pause a moment and properly introduce ourselves, so we know what we have to work with? It ain't as if a few minutes will make that much difference."

Samedi recognized you?, he thought. That could be either very good, or very bad.

"I'll start," he said, clearing his throat and then bowing to Atlas, then to Phantom, and finally to Avenger... and then his head fell off his shoulders and rolled down his arms! His hands caught the head before it fell to the ground, then he held his head up high before plopping it back onto its proper spot. "Folks call me Dead Head, for reasons which should be obvious. I've been this way for about a decade, since Y2K. Not entirely certain how I came to be this way, but I know whatever did this to me also killed lots of folks I cared for, and I try to make sure that don't happen to anyone else again, and help those who've passed, but not passed on, to get their affairs in order. I'm pretty strong, lots stronger than I was when I was alive, but not enough to lift cars or anything. My main thing is that I'm persistent: so far I ain't found a thing that can permanently put me down, not for more than a day or so, and even that takes a lot of doin'. I can also talk to the dead, and they talk to me. Hoo, boy, do they ever talk to me! Matter of fact, that's how I came t'be here."

"So," he said, looking around at the three people he'd just met, "who's next?"

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Samael smirked at Phantom's aside. "I am pretty good at that."

Samael took the initiative after Dead Head. You would know me as Atlas. I am not sneaky, I am not quick. But I am strong and tough normally, beyond human. As Atlas... I exceed what I thought was possible. Where that puts me, I don't know. But I can't stay Atlas for too long. Ten, 15 minutes."

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"Well, as Avenger mentioned, I go by Phantom. I spend most of my time dealing with interdimensionals that need to go back where they belong but I also help out in mystical matters in Freedom City. In addition to the insubstantial thing, I'm a more than decent magic user. Also in the heal most things and come back from death boat."

Phantom frowned as she added the last as she didn't remember whether or not she'd actually ever mentioned that to Avenger. It didnt come up in conversation generally.

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Avenger hesitated a long moment, absorbing what everyone else had said while thinking of his own story. The walking dead. I'll have to remember that. He'd put down his share of mindless shamblers in his time; failed vampires who had risen from the grave with only a hunger for blood. The other seemed less threatening, though sometimes that didn't mean a thing on the streets. "Avenger. Clean up the streets. Deal with magical threats. Sneaking, strong, very hardy..." He hesitated, and when he spoke again, his voice had changed a little. "We'll talk about me afterwards. Have to see the work being done first. Easiest thing to do now is find where the necromancers hang out. Happen to be aware of places."

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"Do ya, now?," Dead Head replied, his eyes going a bit wider, "mind leading the way? I'm new to town -- only been here about a week -- and I don't have any way to track things like that. At least, not unless some ghost comes to me and leads the way."

Silent movement, dresses all in black, knows all the necromancer hang-outs, familiar mode of speech... you wouldn't happen to be some sort of revenant, wouldja, Avenger? Yes, I'll definitely have to keep an eye on you, make sure you don't become what I almost did.

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Atlas just looked around at the group, and just shrugged his shoulders. "What stumpy said. Get me in room with them and I do the rest. I can ask around, but if you have better way..." Atlas trailed off and jammed his hands back into his coat pockets.

This is too much. Witches, magic, undead, necromancers, zombies? What the heck did I get myself into here? Gonna need a stiff drink when this is all over...

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"Into the sewers," agreed Avenger. "Best spot." He led the way into a nearby alley, bending down and casually lifting up the manhole there, the stone scraping as he pulled it free. "Storm drain. Leads into the entire city system. You can go for miles and no one will spot you." With a look down into the darkness beneath his feet, Avenger stepped down and vanished into the gloom below, a splash marking his landing.

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