The Lost Lost
Jay and Mal met on the streets of Austin, both emerging from the Hedge in nearby alleys after escaping from Arcadia. Confused and with the bays of the briarwolves still ringing in their ears, they soon met others of their kind. The first was Bob, an Oger on his way to work. Bob directed them to Shrink, a local psychologist who had taken it on himself to be the “unofficial, impartial” welcoming committee for Lost returning from the Fair Lands.
As Fate would have it, they were given very little time to adjust to their surroundings before an elderly Wizened was pulled into a van just across a parking lot from where they stood. Rather than taking down the license plate or choosing to leave the matter to more experienced members of society, Jay decided to chase down the van, which he caught. Not to be outdone, Mal decided that the vehicle needed to be stopped. Apparently the best way to do this was to throw a shopping cart into oncoming traffic and cause an accident.
To make a long story short, the abductors found themselves rather worse off than their captive and assailant, and after a short, attempted escape (and a second accident), it was over. Confiscated wallet in hand and with Lawrence (the abductee) safe, our two protagonists began to search for the reason behind the incident. Shortly, they were directed to a changeling who still served on Austin’s police force.
Dirk Magnum was obviously an Earthbones Elemental, from the way his feet almost seemed to melt into the ground when he stood still. Jay and Mal gave him what information they had, and Dirk let them know that he had been working on several disappearances of the sort lately. With this new information, he might be able to track down the culprits. Not content to hand the matter off, the group decided to continue their own investigation.
They tracked a third conspirator via email messages sent to one of the now-in-custody kidnappers. When they arrived at the guy’s home, they found him under attack by the very same van-driver that they had previously bested that same day. The fact that this person wasn’t in jail did not bode well for Austin’s changeling police detective, and they quickly found evidence that he was somehow involved in the kidnapping plots.
Jay and Mal presented their evidence to Gale, of the Autumn Court at the changing ceremony that night (it was the banquet of the Winter Solstice). The cop was pronounced banished before the entire freehold, and a reward promised (the use of Lord Frost’s tailor) to any who actively hindered Dirk Magnum. Of course, by this time, tracking him down became difficult.
It took a lot of investigative work. A trip to the bank, the dry-cleaners, a pharmacy; they even got a look at some security camera footage. Ultimately, they tracked the detective to a small house in a less-than-honest-looking neighborhood. The house was empty.
Jay and Mal made a thorough search of the place. Dirk’s scent led to a bedroom closet in the trashed house, which seemed (when first opened) to be uninteresting. Being what they were, though, the two knew what this probably meant. Having just recently escaped their keepers, the two were hesitant to journey back through the gateway and (presumably) into the Hedge. Mal solved this problem by pushing Jay through when he was distracted.
The portal opened onto a short trod that led to a cave; cleared on purpose by someone. The entryway was covered with bars that almost hurt to touch, but the gate was open and the two changelings entered. Inside they found the abducted Lost, and someone who had Dirk Magnum’s face, but was clearly no Changeling.
Around this time, the real detective appeared and tried to shut everyone inside the makeshift jail. Jay’s quick reflexes allowed him to put a shoulder to the gate before Dirk could throw the bolt, and they tumbled onto the ground together. Between Jay, his temporary canine companion, and Mal’s pistol, they had Dirk on the ground and defenseless in short order. It was about then that Dirk’s fetch regained his senses enough to start thinking about revenge.
Ultimately, Mal shot the fetch, and Dirk was given a chance to explain himself. He claimed that he was being blackmailed by someone who was threatening to reveal his location to Dirk’s former keeper. Rather than end the man’s life, Jay and Mal chose to let him go in return for swearing a pledge that he would never come back to Austin, or suffer the consequences.
Their task finished, the two Changelings and the freed captives started to make their way back to the mortal world.
To be continued…