Philadelphia By Night

Sympathy for the Devil

Session 39

The next night Deep Throat struck his deal. They were determined to put Ellsworth to rest, and to find the other half of this folio and leave Chicago. Its webs seemed no more dangerous and complicated that Philadelphia’s. And at least there they knew who they were dealing with. Vampires and werewolves were one thing. Even Brood or the occasional spirit were reasonable. But ghosts who lived in the very city itself were another thing entirely.

Deep Throat picked up Ellsworth’s remains from the morgue (something he’d arranged on the side). Rowana, Elijah, and Deep Throat went to a small residential building where the diary suggested he wanted to be buried. “The places where we live also live in us,” Simon Ellsworth had said. And now he wanted to live through the people he built homes for. The little bungalow looked just the
same as the others on the block, until they got near the front door and see that, inside, it was full of restored details like leaded-glass doors on built-in bookshelves — and decorative flourishes that recalled the golden spiral of Ellsworth’s folio. Under Deep Throat’s Cloak of the Gathering they went to the backyard, but there they found an old hound guarding the yard. Rowana looked deeply into its eyes and entered its mind. Her body dropped to the ground like Deep Throat’s did when he entered Twilight Projection. Rowana, as the hound, dug a deep deep hole for Ellsworth’s remains and they left.

When they walked back to the sidewalk, as they discussed their next course of action, they saw a decrepit figure on a bench – the familiar and unassuming figure of Ellsworth. He held his cup of tea as he had the first night Elijah met him, and he invited Elijah to share a cup of tea with him. Elijah accepted courteously. “We were friends, John and I. But, he… Burgess confused who he was with what he owned. He’s so far gone now. I can hear him in the rails, through the rafters. I can hear him all over. He killed me. He killed me. He was afraid I was going to find him and ruin all his hard work. It won’t be me, but he’s right: someone has to. He’s become a part of his house, where he was buried. He’s stealing the people who live in those buildings of his. He’s taking their lives. It’s not enough that he take people’s homes now and get rich off those. Now he’s taking their lives… their bodies. He can’t tell the difference between people
and things anymore. Dig him out of his grave in his cellar. He’s underneath that ugly stone
townhouse across from the Fichtner’s in Gold Coast Down in the cellar. Break his casket and break his spell.” When he disappeared Elijah was left sitting on an empty bench, though he could still smell the earl grey tea Ellsworth drank.

They called the other half of the coterie and agreed to go to Burgess’ remains. After a brief investigation they broke in through the back and discovered a mundane looking man who greeted them with the words of the ghost of Burgess. Soon thereafter a police officer drove up and came through the front door, but his cold eyes gave him away and they knew him for another puppet of Burgess’. Together they overpowered the puppets though and Tyler led them into the living room to discuss a deal. He sensed the power in the spirit. He noticed that it resisted even Sola Ina’s charms. It was no mere human puppet, or even spirit. It was the very city, more like a minor Incarna spirit, beyond the limitations of a simple ghost. But it did still believe what it saw, and Deep Throat used that to his advantage. He appeared as Simon Ellsworth, through his use of Familiar Stranger, another use of Obfuscate. As Simon he enraged John and frustrated him all the more, which Tyler then used to his advantage. Sola Ina supported him by disturbing the human puppets with threats of unspeakable torture, though the spirit seemed nonplussed. Through conversation Tyler suspected that the remains were guarded by many more constructs below, so he negotiated a deal. He saw no need to martyr themselves for Ellsworth’s cause, however just it appeared.

Tyler would not disturb Burgess’ remains, nor his coterie, in exchange for Burgess’ half of the tome. In addition, Tyler would negotiate a sort of working arrangement for Burgess in which the kindred here would serve as allies, sometimes students, sometimes willing servants. It wasn’t complete control, but it was better than complete destruction. Burgess agreed, somewhat unhappily.

And so they left, leaving Ellsworth and Burgess to continue their eternal struggle. Perhaps Burgess would win, with the experienced support of the Ordo Dracul. Or perhaps Ellsworth’s angels would serve him well. It was no longer their problem. Only as they were leaving the building who is waiting for them, but their old old friend Dove, the man they all suspected was a devil.

Dressed in white, with a white limousine, he was obviously dressed to impress tonight. He twirled his cane, and stroked his new mustachios. He wanted the folio of course, or at least this half. And he was willing to trade well for it. They dismissed him out of hand. For the first time, they saw his eyes flare with a dangerous flow for just an instant. He reminded them that he had not forgotten their betrayal and Sebastian Goulet’s estate, how they had never made good on the deal to obtain Byron’s skull, and yet he’d given freely of his knowledge. Deep Throat kept walking, as did everyone else. He quietly said, “Once a bargain struck, the bargain must be kept. I have been patient, very patient with you. Our next meeting will not be so cordial.” They walked away still, their thoughts their own.

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