As you could no doubt tell, it was a bad time in Pannawau last night. A lot happened, and I’m not sure my Osceola-fueled mind-hopping exploits entirely captured the scope of it. So I thought I’d codify things with a slightly more formal report than is my norm.
SECTION A: The Events of the Evening
- First, and most obviously, the Black Mirror Brute came out. I discovered that the Sad Man was not, in fact, summoning the Brute, but trying to distract it from leaving the Mountain and wreaking worse havoc. See Section B below for more details on the Sad Man’s plan.
- Alexandra Melmoth was on the loose, as well, in a Yig-Form transfiguration seemingly triggered by the presence of the Brute in the Gray World. She changed back in the early morning hours, and is currently in custody on the Alo Reservation. Her family is demanding her release, but the Alo are thus far holding firm. I’ll be heading out to speak with her again later.
- The Opa Lodge was set on fire, and badly damaged in the act. Alo fire fighters arrived before the building was a complete loss, but they’ll be closed for repairs for quite some time. One curious aspect of this: at the time of the fire, Denise and myself were the only people in the building. Everyone else, staff and guests alike, disappeared from the Lodge sometime during the hour before the flames took hold. They all awoke this morning, safe and sound, but scattered around Pannawau, many in the beds of complete strangers.
- Jackson Curry arrived in Pannawau, as promised, and immediately involved himself in the case. He may have set the fire at the Opa Lodge, though in retrospect I’m not entirely sure that the impressions I got from his mind tell us that definitively. He does seem determined to capture Alexandra Melmoth, and at last contact, he had already captured Cecil Murden, horribly transformed into a shrunken creature devoted to the service of Yig.
- Cecil’s transformation is only the most obvious of many terrible things inspired by the light of the Black Mirror World. Influenced by that harsh light, people all along the western side of the Mountain gave in to rage and despair, and Sheriff Patton’s office was inundated this morning with multiple cases of suicide, rape, murder, and assault. The Mountain Door’s influence is growing, and I fear for what will happen when it opens next.
- Denise, you will be happy to hear, is recovering well from her head injury. She suffered a concussion, but is now resting comfortably at the Fat Beaver Inn, from which I am currently writing. My laptop seems to have been lost in the fire, and so I’ll be reporting via Denise’s machine until an appropriate replacement can be delivered.
- A personal observation: Edna was not as fortunate as Denise. Under the influence of the light of the Black Mirror Door, she sliced her wrists open with a broken beer bottle, and bled out in the cooler at the Stop N Go. By the time the paramedics got to her, it was too late. So sad. I liked Edna, and after being in her head at the time of her fatal decision… Well, I suppose it’s made the case more personal to me.
- The White Mirror Door at the bottom of Lake Mammedaty opened last night, as well, but its effects were harder to measure. Alexandra Melmoth’s Wanageeska encounter is something I’ll be discussing with her when I see her, but a delivery man was found at the lake shore today, as well, drawing in the dirt with a stick. He refused to leave until threatened with police action, at which point he snapped a photo of his sketch and walked home, leaving his truck for his employers to retrieve.
SECTION B: The Sad Man and the Black Mirror Brute
The full story of David Tahki and the Brute is stranger than I had imagined, and perhaps marks the Sad Man as a less dire figure than I had assumed, less sinister than desperate. Tahki did not summon the Brute, but was rather reacting to visitations that were already happening. But perhaps the story is better-told in his own words…
The Brute first came through the door two months before we took the Melmoth girl. On his first visit, he attacked a Nukpana. They found the victim the following morning, violated. Ripped open from crotch to navel by the force of the creature’s assault. I worried, but didn’t know what was happening. So we set a watch on the Wambli Waste, and a month later, the Door opened again. This time, the Brute made his way down to the Alo reservation and took a street walker. Dragged her back up the Mountain and raped her in the light of the Door. Terrible. Ripped her in half.
The Council found it easy enough to cover her disappearance, but it was left to me to do something about the problem. We knew he’d be back, you see. My plan was to lay bait, to draw the creature where we wanted him to go, and attack him once he was there. So on the appropriate day, I instructed my warriors to take a pair of lovers from where they go in secret, down by the Lake. I didn’t know who they grabbed, and at the time I didn’t care. “No Alo,” was all I told them. I was trying to protect my people. But that was wrong. The Holy Burden is ours. We should be the ones paying the price. It wasn’t the last mistake I would make.
But I didn’t know that then. So we lay the boy out, and cut summoning runes into his chest. This would draw the Brute to him and away from the population. Then we took a piece of the girl’s body… a finger to point the way… and placed it in the boy’s mouth, knowing that the Brute would find it, and get her scent.
This was key, you understand. We couldn’t cut the runes into the girl. She had to be clean, because she was the bait for a more powerful ward: a binding circle. That circle would be activated when the creature took the girl, and then the Nukpana could swoop in and attack while he was rooted to the spot. I chose to lay the girl out at the entrance to the Liar’s Path. It’s a place of power, and a place from which it would be easy to dispose of the bodies. So we prepared the circle, lay the girl on it, and waited.
That night, he never came. I couldn’t understand it. We gave him what he wanted, and he didn’t take it. Didn’t take anything. He savaged the boy, and fled back up through the Door. It was something about the girl, I thought, something that soured him to the trap. So we took her down to the cabin and fed her the Osceola to make her more pliable to my probing. She… resisted. So we gave her more. She spat it in my face, forced me out of her head. I’d never experienced anything like it. So, shamefully, I withdrew. I had to think, to gather my strength for another try.
That’s when I heard the first news reports about the missing Melmoth heir, and I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. That girl had an Outer God in her head, and I was awakening it. I rushed back to the cabin, but it was too late. The girl was gone. While I’d been licking my wounds, that redneck… Jase Peterson… had swept in and taken her away.
At that point, Tahki knew precisely why the Brute had retreated: it was scared of Alexandra. So was he, for that matter, and he searched desperately for a means of putting the genie back in the bottle. But events escalated too quickly. The Alo Rangers and the Pannawau Sheriff’s Department got involved, I arrived demonstrating more than normal investigative abilities, and the ransom demand was made. When we raided Peterson’s house, Tahki was both panicked and relieved. His words, again:
I needed to silence the girl, and get rid of you. So I got drunk. Drunk, on the Black Drink. I had help, mind you. The Council has agents everywhere, including at the hospital in town. I sent orders for them to load the other redneck… Possum, they call him… to load his IV with the Osceola. His body was vacant, but it opened his living brain to be ridden by me, and I made his confession.
They dosed you that night, too, Agent. Did you know that? The delicious coffee given to you by a kindly nurse? Two drops of the Black Drink to make you more pliable, to make you more likely to believe the story I wove from Possum’s mouth. Or so she thought. Obviously, it had the opposite effect.
My mistake, again. She was under orders to give it to Sheriff Patton, on whom it would no doubt have worked. But then you showed up, and since you were going to hear the confession, the dose was given to you. So many complications you’ve caused! When I dragged the Melmoth girl into the Black Mirror World later that night, you were there, and you came with her. I’d planned to abduct her and abandon her on the other side, but your presence turned it into something much more dangerous.
There’s a bond between you and her, Agent. She’s marked you for mating, and once she was in that place of dark light, it woke up the god inside her. I lost my grip, and you both came tumbling back into the Grey World. All I could do then was damage control. The girl was beyond me. What man can do battle with Yig? But you were another matter. Your brain had shut itself down to accommodate the changes happening to it, and I used the opportunity to go into your mind and seal off unfortunate memories. But you got past that, too.
You even got in the way on my second try at baiting the Brute! I chose my own grandson that night, he and his fiance. If the Alo were going to protect the Nukpana with blood, it only seemed right that I pay the price first. But he wouldn’t take the girl. Possibly because she was a virgin. I thought that might make her more enticing, but the Wanageeska operate under different rules than men.
But even if he had taken her… My warriors wouldn’t have been there to attack him. Because that was the night you killed the Nukpana hunter in the kitchen, and they ran off to help him! That’s why we did what we did to you tonight. When you came back to the Lodge, I assumed you knew that the Brute would return again, and that you’d try to interfere with the plan. So I had them dose you to keep you occupied.
I thought about killing you outright. But now things have become more complicated, and I can see that I need help. So why not turn to the man I can’t seem to beat?
And so we struck our deal. Tahki has agreed to stop the human sacrifice, and I’ve agreed not to turn him over to Cheveyo for his crimes. Another lie to tell, another face to hide. There’s a time limit on this one, though. Every time he leaves the Grey World without satisfying his lust, the Brute comes back sooner. If we can’t find a way to stop him on his next visit, the truce is off, and Tahki finds another pair of lovers to sacrifice.
One curious side-note here: Tahki claims to have had nothing to do with the Osceola being pumped into Alexandra at the hospital. He wanted to get rid of her, not awaken Yig in her further. So I still don’t know who’s responsible for giving her more of the stuff. My suspicion would be her grandfather. I don’t know how he’d have gotten his hands on the Black Drink, but I think it’s time to turn my investigation more toward the Melmoth family, before it’s too late.
Speaking of which, it’s time for me to head up to the reservation for my interview with Alexandra. More on that when I return.
– Agent X-23, signing off.