Gateway City

Winter's Hunger - Part 1

"The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead..."

It was a cold night in Gateway City. The kind of night that tells you winter is here. The docks were deserted, save for one old man with a bottle in his hand. The old man looked up from his drunker reverie, out onto the vast, choppy expanse of the lake. His eyes opened wide in shock, and he screamed.

The quiet of the night was shattered by the crash of the vast, hulking ship slamming into the wooden pier, ripping it apart. The old man was covered with the debris. Frost covered the rusting sides of the ship as it lay on the shore.

January and Talismonger were called on by the GCPD to assist in the investigation of the boat crash. One sailor had been recovered from the ship, identified as the William Baldwin, a merchant ship missing for four months.

January began by examining the sailor, who had unusual symptoms. She examined him and found him waterlogged, malnourished and suffering from incipient scurvy. She also found his life being sustained by some strange, alien life-force she had never before encountered. Using her powers to restore what she could of his condition, the man was still left frozen-cold and tinged a strange blue-green.

In the meantime, both Talismonger and Commander Nick Tyler were examining the ship. Talismonger, concerned with reports of ghosts by the lone witness, examined the decks but could find nothing conclusive. Tyler, on the other hand, noticed several watery footprints, as well as torn scraps of cloth from a sailor’s parka.

Talismonger turned his attention to the half-drowned sailor. Using one of his talismans, he tried to trace the source of the strange energies. He found himself in contact with a distant and cold entity, a being of pure hunger and malice. He collapsed briefly, babbling in a strange language than Tyler was able to identify as Ojibway. Two words among the unknown were recognizable by GC’s favorite son: Nishkiskade Gisinibi.

The Master of the Magical was able to pull himself together, and banished the strange energies from the sailor’s body. He was also able to translate the rest of the Ojbiway litany. It was an incoherent muddle, speaking of a great power of ice and storm, a hungry god exiled from this world by the ancient hero Nanabush.

Talismonger made a call, saying he knew someone who might be able to help. The three heroes’ vigil was delayed by a call on the police radio. Strange figures had been involved in an assault and kidnapping. Responding to the call, the heroes headed off five figures, dripping water and dragging two men towards the lake. These five were lurching corpses, animated only by the cold and hungry power that they had exorcised from the sailors.

Commander Tyler mustered the police attempting to capture the creatures, while January weakened them and Talismonger struck them down with lightning. No sooner had the heroes made quick work of this group, however, than reports came in of others roaming the city, dragging people back towards the lake.

The hours between then and dawn were full, but the heroes managed to prevent the waterlogged zombies from dragging any of Gateway’s citizens into the freezing depths. As dawn came, the heroes met at St. Jude’s Hospital. They were found there by a Native man with chiseled features.

“My name is John Twoyoungmen. The Irish feller called me. Gisinibi has woken, and we will need to put him back to sleep. Otherwise, he will devour us all.”

To be continued…



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