he Midnight has become the “for now” group haunt of the circle.
Once a six-story warehouse that was then converted into a hot night club and then decayed into the city’s top goth club. The interior was half gutted so the dance floor / main bar is open to the 6-story ceiling and skylights. The back half of the structure still has 4 floors intact – the main and second floors are 2 stories tall, and the two upper floors were offices, private rooms, short term rentals, and storage.
Then some kids died up there in the back rooms and the place caught fire on the same night in early March, 1994.
Used by the Sons of Tertullian as a base for a few months, they moved their font there to be at the presence of a pinhole nihil to empower it.
Slipping (time slips)
This takes the form of ghostly echoes of classic goth dancefloor hits – lots of Sisters of Mercy and of course Black #1.
Isolation (hard to find)
The difficulty to find the Midnight is up to 4 points higher than normal. People walk by it without ever registering that it exists.
In addition to the circle and the mini-nihil, the Midnight is home to a solitary drone – a skinless man holding a gory disposable razor wanders from the men’s bathroom on the second floor to the balcony overlooking the dance floor trailing blood behind him and laughing then jumps off the balcony towards the dance floor and disappears. This happens every 1d24 hours. The circle has nicknamed him Skinless Spooky Sam. They don’t like him at all, but the other option is to get him soulforged, and they like that idea even less.
After a couple of nights settling into their new Haunt, Tyler awakens from his slumber to a note drawn in the blood of the drone on the 1930s issue of the Alpharetta Free Press – “meet me at Little Five Points” – and marked with the knife shape that he recalls from when his caul was cut off.
Aidan has already described how Five Points and the downtown core of the city are the strongholds of the “Hierarchy” – the defacto government of the underworld in Europe and the Americas, and that Little Five Points is the gathering place and haunt of many renegades, heretics, and independent wraiths that don’t want to bend a knee to the totalitarian government of Stygia. He describes the Hierarchy of Stygia pretty much as totalitarian fascists who still engage in the slave trade while admitting he hasn’t had many dealings with hierarchy wraiths.
And of course, The Midnight is nicely placed almost equidistant between Five Points and Little Five Points.
So, finally seeking out Tyler’s mysterious reaper, they head to the bohemian capital of Atlanta.
A Voice in the Urban Wilderness
Almost as soon as they wander into Little Five via Euclid avenue they are joined in their walk by a wraith of classically hippie stylings – wearing only bell bottom jeans and leather sandals and adorned by a peace sign necklace. But what caught Trent’s eye was the track marks on both arms as well as between his toes.
Introducing himself as Max, but everyone calls him Crier because he keeps tabs on what’s going on and keeps everyone in the loop as best he can… and speaking of the loop – the reason he tagged on to the circle is they are obviously new here, and also look like “enfants” – recently reaped wraiths, the freshly dead.
You see, there haven’t been any new wraiths turning up in Little Five Points in the last few months… and not too many in the rest of Atlanta even. So it is nice to see some new dead on the streets again. But there’s issues…
The lack of new dead has a distinct economic impact on the Hierarchy (and thus on most wraiths in the city) as corpus and pathos are the basic commodities of unlife. In fact, word is that there’s going to be a Hierarchy sweep through Little Five tonight looking for rebels and heretics and those deemed unsafely close to oblivion… the kind of thing the Hierarchy usually avoids doing in Little Five. The sweep is supposed to be at the witching hour tonight, leaving the circle a good day of hanging out in Little Five ahead of them, meeting the local dead.
Oh, and speaking of the witching hour… he explains there’s a secretive faction of heretics called the Burning who sacrifice wraiths to the “local” spectres in some fucked up attempt to keep the balefires from destroying the city again. They might just be a convenient boogeyman, but they do sound mighty creepy.
Then as he turns around to head back towards Bell High School (abandoned since the late 70s and now home to a few homeless squatters) – his last piece of advice in response to Trent checking out his track marks is to head to the Merchants’ Guild based out of Urban Primitive if they need anything… especially if they need to buy anything.
Sitting opposite the intersection of Colquitt and Euclid, Modern Primitive is an African motif clothing and accessories store incorporating tattooing and body piercing rooms in the back. As they wait for someone to open the door to slip into the store, another wraith makes herself known in the crowd – the classic lady in the red dress. Holly is a stacked blonde with perfect makeup, long hair, a slashed throat, and nearly irresistible physical charms which immediately get Tyler’s attention (which she returns). She comes across with classic southern hospitality, checking in on the new wraiths on the block, filling them in about the communal haunt that many newcomers to L5 use at Bass High School, but graciously stepping away once the door to Urban Primitive opens as she tells them to enjoy their shopping and not to be strangers if they run into each other again.
Once in the store, they find that the door to the storage room is open as well as the back door from there to the alley, letting a fresh breeze into the store. Eerily, several of the African sculptures in the displays exist solely in the shadowlands…
But before any real investigation into the sculptures can be made, they hear arguing from the back room where they meet the “Merchants’ Guild” – comprised of the very dark and African “Jomo” and a paler black man with blackened arms named Willie.
The two of them are in an argument about the same issue that Crier warned them about – the lack of new wraiths in Little Five. Jomo is blaming the problems on “The Burning” who are kidnapping enfants and sacrificing them to oblivion, whereas Willie pooh-poohs the whole devil-worshipping boogeyman theory and posits that it is a crack Hierarchy Harbinger squad that has to be behind it – slipping in and out of the tempest to reap new wraiths as they are created. Meanwhile, the whole conversation almost seems to be observed by a black cat sitting on a box in the alley outside.
The argument pauses when Willie notices the circle’s arrival, and Jomo asks them who they think is responsible before realizing that they are specifically what they haven’t seen lately – new wraiths.
Then the sales pitch begins, still mixed with the argument between Jomo and Willie. And the circle learns about Oboli – the souls of wraiths deemed to likely to feed themselves or others to Oblivion that have been soulforged into coins. In fact, everything in the shadowlands that isn’t a relic brought over from the living is made of the corpus of wraiths – either melted down with soulfire and forged into steel by artificers and ex-artificers (pointing at Willie) or torn asunder and remolded into useful forms via Moliate (as Jomo starts braiding his own arm while talking).
And yes, there is wraithly drugs and Trent can be hooked up for only an Oboli or two…
As the black cat in the alley yawns (seemingly in reaction to the conversation returning to base commerce), a few of the circle note that it is clearly dead – it has no presence in lifesight…
Once spotted, the cat launches off the box and runs down the alley out of sight – when the circle describes it to Jomo and Willie, Jomo somehow has the shop staff close the door for him and explains that no, while some animals can see the dead (especially cats), animals in this realm do not ever cross over to the shadowlands in death.
A little freaked out by their introduction to the wraithly economy, they leave Urban Primitive, looking for that spy cat… perhaps someone’s familiar?
But it isn’t the cat they find, it is Holly standing at the end of the alley, then pushing herself into the body of a local homeless man trying to sell flowers to passersby. Skinriding the homeless man, he gets more and more aggressive with his attempts to sell flowers, finally screaming and chasing some poor tourist into the intersection of Colquitt and Euclid.
At the last minute, Tyler Fluxes the tire of a car slamming towards them. The tire blows out, the car skews to the side, and the tourist is saved, but at the cost of the homeless man’s life as the wheel of the car runs directly over his head. Just before he is struck, Holly pops out of him (probably not wanting to experience another death, one would assume, until…) and promptly pulls out a straight razor that she uses to cut open the asphalt and shove the still-cauled wraith of the homeless man and herself straight into the tempest.
As the police, locals, and paramedics come out to the scene of the accident, Trent focuses on a new person – a younger likely homeless person with matted filthy hair and the obvious signs of junk-sickness picking at the scabs on her arms from her track marks. Seeing his chance to finally score a good hit of horse, he immediately skinrides her hoping she’s heading for her next hit in reaction to the bloody horror of the accident. Much to everyone’s surprise, in the process he pushes out another wraith who was already skinriding her and we are introduced to Sarah – a renegade wraith and ex sorority girl who’s half-hearted suicide attempt got a little out of control leaving her with a few incompletes on her transcript.
She and Tyler commiserate about the whole Delta, Delta, Delta life and expectations, but then she remembers why she’s meeting these new wraiths and freaks out about Trent stealing her ride!
Meanwhile, Trent’s shadow strikes a deal with him – offering him two new levels of Puppetry (and the ability to affect his ride’s metabolism so he can make the trip last much much longer) in exchange for just a little bit of permanent angst as Trent rides Suki back to Bass High School where she hides under the auditorium stage and pulls out her kit and her last little hit…