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Nightmares and Demons (IC)

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October 30th

11:00 PM


Rene DeSaens opened his eyes. He stood inside his room in Parkhurst, even though he'd laid down to sleep in his own bed at home. he did not remember how he'd arrived. He was standing in front of a canvas. He heard the gentle rapping of a cold, autumn rain on the windows.


Whatever he had painted, he did so in darkness. Apparently the trance that had overtaken him had left him able to paint even in darkness. He could not see in perfect darkness, and so turned on the light.


His eyes went wide at what he saw on the canvas. Lurid, bright colors slashed this way and that. Green, yellow, white, blue, red. Lots of red. What should have been cheerful, bright colors were made painful to the eyes, and the figure that dominated the painting was horrifying to look at.


It was a clown; a hideous, malformed monster with razor teeth and a cruel, mocking grin. There were bodies, bleeding on the ground beneath him and in one hand he held a cruel, jagged knife.


Everything came on him suddenly as he remembered what the painting was showing him. A clown in bright colors, face twisted into a monstrous visage. He stood over bodies piled upon the floor. Bells on his clothing that did not ring like bells ought, but rather clanked like old, rusted chains.


Jingles. The name came to him suddenly. Who was this Jingles? Was this a painting of the past? Had this thing happened? Was he supposed to stop it from happening, or stop another like it?

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"Zut Alors!"


Rene dropped his paintbush and wiped the thin film of sweat off his brow. He was old, and felt it. 


He shuddered, a deep unbidden thing running up his spine. What he had drawn was disturbing to say the least. Artistic, he noted, but disturbing. And, he realised a warning. 


Jingles the Clown. 


He pressed his spectacles to his nose and examined the painting more closely. Whilst appearances could, he knew better than anyone, be deceptive, it was hard not to conclude that Jingles was a deeply malevolent person. Or thing. Or whatever it was. 


He stood up, feeling his bones creaking but ignoringthe aches, and wandered off to the Parkhurts library. There was probably no finer collection of tomes, dusty and rare, on history and mythology, the arcane and mysterious, in the city - or possibly the planet. He wondered if there was any mention of Jingles the Clown in those old pages...


Or perhaps, Jungles would be appearing in the pages of books yet to be printed...

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There was no historic mention of Jingles the Clown, neither in the history books, nor in any magical texts. However while looking at clowns and such, Rene found a reference to a 18th century jester that somehow stole into the chambers of a respected noble and murdered him and his family. The jester had an inhuman appearance it seemed, there was a mention that the jester had been killed, but that's where the trail ended.

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Rene slammed the book shut. After more than two centuries of life, he knew his memory was getting hazy. But he was damned if he was going to admit it. He vaguely recalled, now his memory was prodded, the tale from his youth. 


Jingles the Clown, Jingles the Clown...


He could almost hear the jungles in the painting. As much as he could not abide the destruction of any art, the creepy visage of the painting he had drawn in his trance tempted him, for the first time in his long life, to tear up or burn the thing he had created. 


Non!  he said to himself. Courage!


Even Parkhurst had delivery of newspapers, and he opened up a copy of the Ledger .His finger traced down the long list of advertisements and announcements in the entertainment section, until he came to what he was looking for. 


Whizzo's Wizzard Circus!!!!


It was a good as any. A special Halloween show, no less. And as good a place to look into as anywhere else. They had a picture of the tent. And a picture was all he need. He looked at it for a moment...


...and then he was there, outside the tent, in the cool autumn air. 

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The circus was quiet, with a few workers here and there setting things up. After a few moments, one of the workers steppped up to Rene, confused.


"Sorry sir, we ain't ready for anybody 'til tomorrow. Unless of course you got other business here." He said, somewhat confused. After a bit of conversation, Rene found himself standing in front of a pleasant looking, somewhat plump man of an indiscriminate age between thirty and forty.


"Hi there. You asked about the clowns?" He said, looking around. "I heard you're one of them heroes, am I wrong?"

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"Oh I am a merely an artist" replied Rene full of false modesty. 


"It is true, I have been known to dabble in ze mystic arts. I have un petit knowledge of ze world beyond ze veil" he said theatrically. He waved his hands in a faux stage magician way, and for effect produced a small flame and puff of smoke as would befit a stage show. 


Rene did not so much conceal his power, as downplay it. He viewed this as the safest path. With entities from vast and mysterious dimensions scrying the world at every juncture, he did not fancy the complicated deceptions and discipline of a double life. By merely giving the impression he was an aged man with far less power than his considerable ability and wit actually possessed, he could still stay out of the eye of the more malignant entities. 


"Enough to help a cat down from ze tree, and cure ze warts from your behind" he chuckled. 


"And, oui, to help with clowns. Very jolly, ze clowns, non? But, alas, it is not always, so, it seems. History has some very sad and bloody stories about clowns. And it is the season of Halloween. Sometimes my nose, it itches. And I wanted to know if this grand circus has had any itches too. So, what can you tell me about clowns, and are you happy with them?"

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He blinked. "No trouble out of our clowns, not really. Though it makes me wonder, why you came all this way to ask about our clowns. Did something happen with a clown?" He asked. He looked around. "We had a few...disgruntled applicants not all that long ago. We had tryouts for new clowns and had to turn a few away. You'd think jolly folks like that wouldn't get so mad about it. Then again most people are afraid of them, nowadays. Not me."

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"That is good to hear, good to hear" smiled Rene, stroking his white goatee thoughtfully. 


"Circuses should be about fun, Non?" he said, cheering up. He actually had found memories of the Circus growing up and through the years. They had been a source of enjoyment for all the family. Before the radio and television, they had been a marvel, an event of great magnitude. And clowns had always blended great jocularity with a little fear. 


"I am glad that your Circus is still a source of merriment. I must visit your marvellous show tommorrow! if you still have tickets, that is!" he added, with genuine enthusiasm, lost in his memories of yesteryear. 


"I will bid you adieu, monsieur!" he said, doffing his beret and wandering off. 


As he pulled away, he brought out a picture of his own flat, and, concentrating, stepped into it, appearing in his own bedroom. It was late, he was old and he was tired. And Jingles was disturbing him, 


He did not expect a good nights sleep, but he poured himself a glass of wine and retired to slumber even so...

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Fire, smoke, knives, blood. The hideous, screaming laughter of a desperate madman mixed with the screams of the dead. A cacophony of noise mingled with the smell of blood and smoke, and an assault of vivid colors in the eyes. Rene's eyes shot open and glanced around. The room was a twisted parody of his own chambers, every item in it changed to a horrifying and nightmarish form.


A flash of red lightning lit up the room as rain beat the windows just outside his room. The thunder was a rumble of cruel, mocking laughter that filled the room and nearly hurt Rene's ears.


He floated in the middle of the room, the clown. He wore a clown's costume, vile as it was. There were bells everywhere on it. Jingles' feet touched the floor and all the bells rang. It wasn't the soft sound of bells that filled the air, but old chains. He stepped slowly closer to Rene. His limbs were too heavy to move even as the clown stepped closer.


Another flash of red lightning and more rumbling laughter. Without the lightning, the room was too dark to see Jingles move. Each flash of lightning brought him closer, but the rattling of the chains never ceased.


"Old man." The voice was loud and rasping, cruel to the ears. He stood over Rene. "A warning." his hand lifted high into the air, brandishing a blood soaked knife.


The man had no eyes.


Rene's eyes shot open. Dawn was creeping through the windows. It was the morning of Halloween, and the room was back to normal.

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Rene moaned in terror even awake. 


It was as he had expected, a bad night, with horrible dreams. He had barely needed to be warned. His painting had done that for him. 


No...this was taunting. A gloating horrible taunting but a creature that revelled in the horror it caused. 


Empty eyes....


The creature could be a creature of dreams. He knew well enough the power of dreams, and was able to travel to these places. But his courage failed him - the world of dreams was dangerous even for him. He needed to know who Jingles was, and soon. He was tired, and Halloween was approaching. 


Rene closed his eyes and drifted. In a daze, his mind lifted out of his body, the world blurring in front of him. He was dreaming, in a lucid state, the world just as real as it always was, but his essence free of the constraints of the flesh. He was floating, free and ghostlike. 


High he soared, distance had no meaning, nor had any barrier. 


Off to meet the worker he had met last night. He was invisible to the eye, to all but the man he had met. 


"Monsieur, it is I again. I beg of you to listen, and to help. You were right that I have more than a few conjurers tricks up my sleeve. My premonitions have grown stronger. There is a threat, grave and terrible. I fear that one of the men you turned away may know something, please monsieur, I would speak to those men..."

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The man nodded and handed a list of names. Unfortunately, the contact information only included their real names, and not any pseudonyms they may have entertained under. With that said, there were only three such names.


"I wrote it up, assuming you'd come back. I wouldn't imagine one of you superhero types would come looking around for nothing." He said.


"Thomas Mallory, though..." He shook his head. "Once my memory got kick started I remembered. He was the one who got a little angry. Didn't attack nobody, but when we told him no, he didn't take it all that well. That's his address." He said, pointing to the spot on the paper. "Two years ago, my brother was saved by one of you hero types from some villain or another. Since then, I've done my level best to cooperate with you guys."

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"Thomas Mallory! Merci Monsieur! This may be ze name I am looking for! You may just have save the City, if not the world!" said Rene with a wink. "Your brother will be proud of you!"


With that he flickered from the room and his dream spirit floated and soared over Freedom City once more. He had lived in Freedom City long enough to know, at least roughly, its anatomy, and when in a dream, time and distances lost their meaning. In moments he drifted through the streets, names wafting past, numbers going up, numbers going down, wheeling left and right and circling, until he found the address. 


He drifted through the door, wondering what he might find. His roaming dream body might be immune to bullets and fire, to fists and lightning, but he could not help a rumble of anxiety, for Jingles the clown was not just a threat to the flesh...

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It was quite the plain home. An apartment like any other. It was not especially clean, nor especially filthy. It seemed as though Thomas Malloy was average in his ways, and seemed not to be at home.


To an untrained eye, this apartment would be so identical to others as to seem disappointing. It was fairly well lit and none-too-expensive. Rene, of course, would likely have seen it as abject poverty, but your average person would not think it a bad place to live.


However, Rene did not have untrained eyes. So amidst the normalcy, he spotted an unusual looking book that sat amidst a bunch of normal ones on a shelf in the living room.

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Rene's spectral dream body floated close to the book, and examined it closely. Things looked clearer like this - well, in so much as he did not need his spectacles to read. 


Rene knew many languages, and was an expert on all things sorcerous and mystical. But he could not place the symbols on the book. Which disturbed him. Perhaps...perhaps if he had his spectacles, though which wond'rous lenses all things were understandable, he could understand. Perhaps if he could open the book and peer through its pages. 


But he was but a dream, insubstantial and without substance...


In a moment, he snapped open his tired eyes and he was back in his home. He got up and made himself a strong coffee. The day had only so many hours in it, and he wad an inkling that time was of the essence. He needed to get to Malloy's place and examine it for himself. 


With his coffee still in his hand, he went out to the street and raised his hand. 


"Taxi!" he called. 

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It did not take long to hail a cab, nor to get it out on the road. Within the hour, Rene stood in front of the apartment building. No one seemed at home, and it wasn't difficult to get in.


Once inside the apartment proper, he saw the book exactly where it had been. The book had a strange aura to it. Malevolent and vile. When he opened it, it was clearly a book of occult rituals. Clearly dealing with dreams and nightmares. With this book of spells and rituals, it was clear that Jingles, or Thomas Malloy, had access to a lot of different magical abilities.


The sound of laughter filled the air. Cruel and biting to the ears. Yet, no one was there.



"Did you think me so stupid old man?" A voice said suddenly. Loud and cruel, yet laughing. Ever laughing. "I'd sit there in my apartment and let you just come to me? You should have left well enough alone, old man! A powerful friend gave me the power to punish whomever mocks me, made me smarter and so much stronger."


"Yet I'm not there, and that's the ticket, isn't it? You can't fight what you can't find!" The laughter filled the room again. "You probably have until tonight, you know. The daylight is yours, old man. But the night is mine." He laughed cruelly again, and the sound of chains filled the room. Loud and concussive, almost hurting his ears.


"The night is mine."


The spectre had not fled, Rene could feel him still.

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"You think you own ze Night?" said Rene, defiantly. 


"I have heard those words, many times, through the years. Sorcerers, Magicians, the undead. All thought they were safe in ze Night. Then, they met me!" he said back. His voice was not loud, not soft, it was simply born of two decades worth of confidence. Gone was the pretence he was simply some doddering old fool. 


True, his body was no longer sprightly, but behind his eyes was pure steel. He was grown in stature, somehow. 


"Do you not remember the stories, Jingles? Of burning houses and drowned witches? Do you not remember them through the ages? who do you think laid those black magicians to rest in Europe? who do you think it was? do you not remember the whispers of the artist?" he asked. 


"Or has your memory failed you? Are you not as smart as you profess?"

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The shadow receded slightly as Jingles seemed to mull over what he said.


"Oh ho, old man...are you truly someone to fear then? More than some old wizard artist?" He laughed, cruelly again. "Bah, all that means is another bell. Yes, when I kill you or drive you mad, I'll add another bell to my costume. A bell that rattles for the dead or crazy old man." Laughter filled Rene's ears.


The spectre...left. It was obvious that Rene did not fear him, so it seemed as though Jingles had no reason to remain. A small victory, and a temporary one, but a victory nonetheless.

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"Anothe bell? He has quite a collection already!" said Rene, chuckling to himself to cheer himself up, although in truth he was in no laughing mood. 


"I wonder what Henri would make of that racket" he said, deflating slightly now that Jingles had left. He had half a mind to ask him. Deadbeat was as comfortable in the land of dreams as he was. 


He thought about what Jingles has said. Whatever else, the clown was a gloater, and revealed to much of himself. A powerful friend? well that could mean anyone, or anything. He dismissed that for now. What concerned him more was Jingles mission to punish those that mocked him. Given Mallory's apparent anger at being turned away by Whizzo's circus, that certainly indicated a target for the night. 


And the night, said Jingles, was his...


Damn, i'm tired...


He turned to walk out of the Circus. Time to see Whizzo's Circus, and see about defending the night...

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The circus was bright and colorful, with people laughing and walking everywhere. Rene's senses were assaulted by the scent of popcorn and fried snacks. It didn't take Rene long to find the same man who he had spoke to previously.


"Still lookin' into that stuff?" He said. "Can't say I've seen hide or hair of that guy. Still, I'm all for cooperatin' with heroes." He gave an honest smile and offered his hand. "Anything we can do to help stop whatever it is you're lookin' to stop, let me know."


It was fairly obvious that he did not act alone, either. Several of the circus staff nodded to Rene as they passed. Full cooperation with the circus would certainly help. Especially given the circumstances.


The day was bright, colorful, and full of promise. It was better to solve the situation now, because the clown said he owned the night.

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Rene scooped another mouthful of popcorn into his mouth. Despite his general contempt for American cuisine in comparison to French cooking, one of his guilty pleasures was popcorn. Somehow the homogeneous banality of its flavour and texture was pleasing all the same. 


"I am indeed Monsieur, and I regret to say that ze new is not good, not good at all" he said, sadly. "Monsieur Mallory is not only - how you say - a fruitcake! - but a dangerous one, and possessed of malign and mysterious forces that even I do not fully understand!" he said dramatically. 


"And, more ominously, I believe he aims to cast his shadow this very night, and I suspect your rejection of him, justified and innocent as it was, may have lead his derranged mind to cast his eye over this very circus!" he said dramatically, raising his finger to the sky and spitting out a popcorn or two from his over full mouth. 


"But never fear, I am confident I can defeat his wicked intent!" he lied "moreso, if the spirit and will of your circus is behind me!"

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The man nodded and smiled "Thank you, though I am concerned about the exact nature of this threat. You say 'night', do you mean that you think he'll attack at night? Hmm, is there anything we can do to help? Anything at all?" He gulped. "To be honest, all of this mystic business is, well, a bit scary. You know? I'm sure when you've got powers and the like, it all seems fairly mundane, but, for us it's...a different matter, you know?"

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"It is never mundane, monsieur. Ze more ze veil is parted, the more you see that there is merely another veil behind..." replied Rene. 


"Non, there is nothing mundane in this world, or ze next. From your American Popcorn to ze babbling insanity of the Yellow Sign, it is all mercurial and magnificent. Savour it all!" he said, popping some popcorn into his mouth and licking his lip. 


"Although I prefer salt to sugar, myself!"


"So, my friend, we are all in this together. This Jingles, this Mallory. I cannot know for sure, but if he is a creature of ze night, he may feed on fear, on panic, and it is ze human spirit that is ze shield!. Resolute, brave, strong" Rene was speculating wildly, but the thing had that spectral quality, and some of what it said hinted that it fed on something. Perhaps not the night itself, but the night of the human heart. 


"So, perhaps we should put on a show for him, oui?" he suggested. "Is your circus full of ze heart of ze line tamer? ze strength of ze strong man? will elephants roar in his face, and will ze human cannonball bowl him over? Will ze custard pie blind him?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

The man chuckled nervously. "I think maybe we should, you know, stay out of the crazy evil clown business. But hey, if he relies on fear, we should try to be brave. Put the show on anyway, give the crowd a hell of a night. Maybe this Jingles guy will expect us to be terrified, but we'll just give him cold looks."




The last light of day vanished beneath the horizon as the circus rushed for the night's showing. Halloween night, promised to be a hell of a show.


Rene spent the day in communication with various circus performers and workers, and between them, they worked out a network of radios. If anything unusual happened, they would contact Rene immediately so he could intervene. As the circus set-up was quite large, this would help Rene get to wherever Jingles decided to show his face.

Edited by Thunder King
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Despite liking Popcorn, Rene preferred French Cuisine. He had gone home to collect a small hip flash of fine Claret, and a basket of bread, ham, and mustard. He also decided to dress up for the occasion, wearing a more flamboyant and gay bright red waistcoat and trappings. He would not have looked too out of place flying above the streets of Freedom City with a cape fluttering in the wind, so forceful was his color. 


But he decided he was to enjoy himself tonight. 


For the most part, he stayed in the sidelines, behind the scenes. He befriended Nelly the Elephant with a ham baguette, and befriended Lars the Strongman with his claret. He chatted to all, trying to calm nerves and provide reassurance. As much for himself as the crew. 

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Rene was chatting with a few of the circus workers when he heard the scream. It cut through the air like a knife. All the lights in the area flickered momentarily. All the chatter stopped dead.


Then the laughter came. It was loud, almost painfully so, and the air filled with a cacophony of jingling chains. It came at his ears from all directions. People held their hands over their ears and somewhere, a child began to cry. Then, as suddenly as it began, it stopped.


The air was still, and a cold crept in like the chill of the grave. Two of the workers backed up against the wall and started to shake. One man, tall, broad shouldered and strong, covered his ears and cowered like a beaten animal. People were crying and shaking. It was apparent to Rene that everyone was in the grip of pure, raw terror.


It was like nitroglycerine. The only thing stopping everyone else from running blindly to the exits was the sheer terror they all experienced.


Only Rene remained unaffected by the effect. The area stunk of foul magic, and he knew this fear was not natural.

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