Case File: The Forest Killer, part 1
It’s been a year since I returned to Portland, and this city certainly proves the old adage " the more things change, the more they stay the same". The City of Roses is still deeply steeped in the strange. I have to chuckle every time I see one of those “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers. Some one in the know has to be behind that one.
What little information I’ve been able to glean about Julian and my old cult leads me to believe they’ve only grown in power. While they’ve disappeared from view, I have no doubt they’re still operating behind the scenes. At least I’ve had no problem finding work in a city that almost takes the occult for granted. There are plenty of normals who are ghost hunters, Bigfoot experts, and new age mystics, so I don’t stick out too much.
Last week Smithe let me know that Agent Starling had someone who wanted to talk to me. When I returned her call, she let me know a woman named Debbie Smith had approached her about a violent murder she had witnessed. The circumstances involved led Agent Starling to believe this case would be up my alley. As usual, Starling refused to acknowledge that it may be supernatural, but insists I have an outside perspective that may be helpful. We agreed that we would all meet at the Third Eye Cafe, one of Portland’s neutral meeting places for the supernatural.
Once there I ran into that odd young woman from the train, again. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my new client, Ms. Smith, and the young woman turned out to know each other. Ms. Smith and Ms. Maureen Sullivan, as she was introduced, work together at a firm in the Pearl. I suspect there’s something supernatural about Ms. Sullivan, but I can’t put my finger on it. My attempts to discern her nature were clumsy, at best, and she turned aside my probing with charm and ease. I feel strangely connected to her.
While Ms. Smith and I were talking (and Smithe was hitting on Agent Starling), we overheard some redneck at the counter complaining about missing campers. While something like that would normally fall under the purview of the regular authorities, the Third Eye is not the demesne of anything “regular”. We invited the bumpkin over to explain the situation. I’m afraid that I let my usual charisma get the better of me, as I think I insulted him, and countless of his dentally challenged forebears. Luckily Smithe was there with his silver tongue. After he smoothed things over, Earl, the bumpkin, explained that three different groups of campers had gone missing in the last month. All the disappearances occurred in the
-REDACTED- wilderness area. He said that the camps had been torn to shreds, and the only evidence left behind was copious amounts of blood, and the odd tuft of coarse hair, or fur. Apparently the authorities are using the usual “animal attack” explanation, but Earl believes it to be the work of a rogue Sasquatch. I’ve encountered a few of the other Skunk Apes that dot the country, and heard story of many more, some violent, some not. Our hometown version, though, is generally a pacifist creature. They are a rare type of shapeshifter, indistinguishable from human if encountered in an urban environment, but growing more and more bestial the further they get from civilization. Those Sasquatch who do show signs of violence are often “environmental terrorists”, such as the ELF (guess how many actual elves are part of that group? It’s called ELF for a reason).
I agreed to take the “case”, though Earl didn’t seem to care to pay for my services. Another pro bono job, then. Of course, Smithe wanted to accompany me, as he’s growing very accustom to the strange, as did Agent Starling who felt a representative from the authorities should be present. Oddly enough, Ms. Smith and Ms. Sullivan wanted to come along, as well. Having Ms. Sullivan along will give me the chance to observe her further, but I wasn’t so sure about Ms. Smith. There was no telling her no, though. She has a strong will, that one.
Asking around town led us to the name of one of the missing campers, a Jennifer Ball. If we could get our hands on a personal affect of hers, I could perform a divination ritual to try to track her. Agent Starling and Ms. Smith went to Ball’s house, while the rest of us tried to get our hands on some ammunition big enough, or mean enough, to take down a raging Bigfoot. Mundane ammo loads will hurt one, sure, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
Starling and Smith were successful in retrieving Ms. Ball’s favorite hat, so we met back up at my apartment to perform the ritual. As usual, my place was a mess. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn, but I feel oddly self conscious in front of Ms. Sullivan. I moved some old tomes off the couch, and cleared the floor of the living room for my circle. After inscribing the necessary sigils, and placing the various foci, I set the hat in the center and prepared to summon the energy to power the ritual. Once my incantation was complete, I instantly felt racked with pain. I was confused and scared, in a strange, dark place. I realized my spell was more effective than I anticipated, and that I was experiencing what Ms. Ball was seeing and feeling. Her heightened state must have strengthened the link between us. The biggest surprise was that we weren’t dealing with a Sasquatch at all, but a far more terrible entity called a Wendigo! Soon enough, though, I was able to control the divination, and determined her location. Now that we know where to look, all that remains is physically trekking to the Wendigo’s lair, and destroying The beast. I don’t know enough about the creature, though, so more information is needed. We are on a diminishing time line, but I know just the guy to call. If anyone can tell us the biology of a creature like this, it’s Ichthyan Stark. The plus is he’s a crack shot, too, and tough as nails. We’ll most likely need him along when we face the Wendigo.