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The Lonesome Death of Henry Darger [IC]


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Wednesday, January 23rd

10:13 PM

There was no reason the Levant Arms should have loomed the way it did. It wasn't even that tall - a mere five stories, and there were much taller buildings on this stretch of the West End. Likewise, the street was fairly well lit, and lights were on in most of the buildings surrounding it. But then, that just made the shadows inside loom that much taller.

Nick took the building in, trying to get a more detailed read off of it. It had only been empty for the last few hours; there was no official word from the city, but so far, their opinions ran everywhere from "gas leak" to "undetermined event" - the usual code for "we don't know, but boy, is this weird." He'd heard rumors over the past few nights, from all over the city. Customers at the Black Petal whispering about the strange lights in closed-off rooms. Ghost hunting websites talking about strange wails. The ghosts themselves at Lantern Hill, speaking of an "overwhelming presence." He had been about ready to check it out tonight when all hell had broken loose.

There was little word on what had happened, but a 911 call brought most of STAR down on the place, and the first response team had been quick to get all the tenants out. Nor was there any one solid account, with stories ranging from "phantom fire" to "I saw this horrible face looking at me in the mirror" to... "there was a unicorn in the elevator."

He'd had to make sure he'd heard that one right. More than once, in fact.

Nick checked his watch and kept his eyes firmly on the building. It probably wasn't the sort of place to go in alone. Fortunately, he wasn't going in alone.

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Equinox walked up behind Nick, cigarette hanging out of her mouth. "I came as soon as I heard about... the unicorn? Is that even true?" She looked slightly bemused at the idea. The witch looked up at the building's facade.

She casually flicked some ash off to one side. "So what's the situation, anyway? One of my girls told me some major "presence" was here. And if I'm honest, I'm not that sensitive to that sort of thing. Kinda flies straight over my head."

Equinox glanced around them. "Are Kimber and Burt showing up?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"'m here," a quiet voice mumbled from just behind Siobhan as Ghost Girl rose up from the ground to float nearby. The events of the week prior had been hard on everyone in Freedom City but from what the mystic heroes had been able to get out of Kimber, she and her high school friends had been mixed up in the very worst of it, with one of her classmates in something akin to intensive care. The mere fact that the usually effervescent poltergeist hadn't wanted to talk about it or much of anything else since was a flashing warning sign on its own.

Hood over her head, she looked to Nick. "D'you want me to sniffing out any fears or something?" She was still determined to be as useful as possible to her mentors but what passed for her heart just wasn't in it.

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Nick had little idea what was wrong with Kimber. Well, he knew what was going on in the objective sense, but the fact that Kimber had said had little as she said possibly meant it was worse than they thought. There was a chance that, if she dwelled on it and kept it bottled up, it was going to erupt in some horrible fashion... but he knew better than to try and drag it all to the surface, especially if she might view it as meddling. Besides, we can take care of this when we're off the clock. We've got something else to deal with right now...

"Would probably be a good idea," he said. "All the tenants are out, but... there are other things that can feel fear."

Kimber did, in fact, get something faint registering from the fourth floor - flickering, almost indistinct, but still there. Like somebody trapped in a nightmare...

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  • 2 weeks later...

"This one's weird even by our standards," Dead Head drawled as he appeared from a shadowed alley way. "The gang on the Hill've been murmuring about this for a few nights -- the usual ominous stuff, but even more cryptic than usual."

He looked over at Kimber, concern showing on his dead face. He'd not had much contact with the group, focused on a few solo cases or the recent city-shaking events; seeing Kimber so withdrawn was a big red flag for him. We gotta help her get it together. But... first things first.

He turned so he could address everyone, "since they was being so cryptic and unsure, I thought it might've been a non-magical thing, someone trying to fool others into thinking something mystical was going on. Wouldn't be the first time, and Raven's fought guys who can make with the spooky. But now that I'm here, looking at it myself," he glanced up at the building, noting the roving clots of magical energies, and the big one up on the fourth floor, where Kimber sensed something, "well, it ain't necromancy, but I'm guessing it's something just as old."

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Ghost Girl floated a few feet higher in the air, closing her eyes and sniffing the air like an animal tracking prey. She sniffed again as she descended back down to address the elder heroes but it was a more dejected sound. "There's somebody on the forth floor, I think," she told them apprehensively, biting her lower lip and letting her hooded head sink between her shoulder. "It's kinda coming in and out, like maybe they're dreaming or something? I dunno, I'm probably wrong about it anyway." Folding her arms, she looked from face to face, glumly waiting for instruction.

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Siobhan bit her lip slightly as she looked at Kimber. The girl was hurting, and she didn't really know what to do about it. Not even like she could pat her on the back. And she couldn't very well verify that the girl was right, because next to these three she was near-deaf to certain kinds of weirdness.

"Well, we'll just have to go take a closer look, then," she said, sounding more confident than she felt inside. "No use standing around wondering whether you're right or not when we can just go check, right?"

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Nick couldn't take seeing Kimber act like this, but any drama would be the last thing the team needed at this point. If there was something psychoactive going on in there, the last thing it needed was team-based catharsis to feast upon. "It's a lot more than we had to go on coming in," he said to Kimber. "Best thing to do now is get some confirmation."

The door yielded easily, especially when Nick commanded the lock to open. The main foyer was a simple affair, with brass mailboxes and a fairly standard front desk. Getting beyond there, however, the halls felt... strange. The lights were still on at some junctions, but at others, they were off entirely. The dance between light and darkness was a bit strange, and Nick, Equinox, and Dead Head could feel something rising off of the darkness. It was... almost familiar. It was a sensation like waking in the night and walking down the hallways of one's house in the half-light. It reminded Nick of nights as a kid when he'd wake from a dream and make his way to his parents' bedroom.

"Stairwell's gotta be here somewhere," he said. "Maybe even an elevator."

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"I'd stick with the stairs," Dead Head drawled, "an elevator'd be a bad place to get stuck if some nasty came for us. Besides," he grinned and winked at Ghost Girl, "a little climb shouldn't tire us out, right?" He'd hoped his brief levity with his similarly indefatigable teammate would raise the spirits' spirits, and help her back to her old garrulous self.

Dead Head took the lead, as he preferred to do; if anything did leap or hop or slither out of the darkness to tear them to ribbons, it was best if it did so to the one who could most easily pull himself back together.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Equinox instinctively pivoted to watch the team's back. Dead Head was the man to take a forward assault, but that left them with a need for someone up back in case of a surprise. She called up her power in the creepy gloom, letting invisible magic flow out from her chest to surround her in a near-impenetrable shield.


"There's never a good place to be when something comes to gut you," she muttered. "But you're right, an elevator's an especially not good place. And I'd each of you try to keep an eye on doors and windows, these hallways... don't feel right, we should keep an eye on the location, not just what's in it."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Huh? Oh, because we don't-- right, I get it," Kimber agreed distractedly at Dead Head's glib remark, offering the putrefied hero an attempt at a smile that didn't quite hit the mark. She shook herself more forcefully out of her clouded melancholy when Equinox gave her instructions, however, tapered jaw setting in a determined game face. Worried as was about her friend, the last thing she was going to let happen was another teammate getting hurt because she wasn't paying attention. "I'll go first!" she insisted abruptly, floating to the front of the group hurriedly and placing herself a few paces ahead of the corporeal adults. "Nothing to gut, eh?"

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The lights and the shadows kept struggling with one another down the hallway, painting the entire first floor in chiaroscuro. Nick kept his eyes and ears open as they proceeded to the stairwell, looking for any sign of whatever might be doing this. "The benefit of taking the long way around," he said, "a better chance to case the place and track down signs of weirdness. That, and less of a chance of getting killed by elevator goblins." 


The stairwell door yielded easily; no one had thought to lock it on the way out. If the hallway outside was a dance of light and darkness, this was pure shadow. Nick had to probe with his foot for a good while until he found the first step. At that point, he figured he'd take his risks with the flashlights. Halfway up the first flight, however, sounds rang out from upstairs - scratching, and a rushing like the wind.


"Yup. We're far from the only visitors here." 

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