I'm shocked at how popular this story got after only one chapter. I'm honestly really flattered. I suppose it's because my other two main stories are these massive crossovers that might be a little overwhelming in terms of characters and franchises.
But hey, this story made it to the The Owl House fanfic recs page on TV Tropes! I'm honestly flattered. It means a lot to me that someone thought my story was worth being advertised like that. Hope I can keep living up to that expectation.
A quick note: I reference the hellboy animated movie Sword of storms… which never actually happened in the comics continuity. I felt it didn't upheaval too much in the grand scheme of things, so I grafted it in to my crossover's canon. Blood and Iron, however, is not canon to this timeline. That still belong to Wake the Devil.
Chapter 2: Get Outta Town
The paper in my hand looks awfully convincing. In a world where the camp didn't call Ms. Noceda, this might've been a clean coverup. It's just as she said… the handwriting looks exactly the same as the kid's. So either Luz herself is sending these letters, or her captors are. It's like this case keeps devolving into some kind of sick joke.
"You just got it this morning?"
"Yes, it was with my other mail." Camilia's shaking. I don't blame her. It almost seems like this piece of paper is taunting whoever reads it. Like it thinks it can spit in your face cause there's nothing you can do about it.
"And your texts?"
"Luz has started to only respond with emojis." That's bad. Sure as hell sounds like a grownup trying to be a kid. The letter, too. It's subtler, but there. One sentence has her wanting to do non-specific "mother/daughter" activities. Whatever the hell that means… "I did get in touch with her last night, but she answered quickly and kept the call short. I heard noises in the background again."
"That's good. It means she's still alive, wherever she is." That might be a lie, but even I'm not sure. Truth is, I've had my fair share of encounters with creeps that can mimic voices. Maybe her kidnappers are trying to taunt Camilia, make her think her daughter is alright before coming out with the horrid surprise. But suggesting that out loud sure as hell isn't going to be light on Camilia's conscience. So I keep it to myself.
"And… the cabin?"
"The BPRD is hard at work finding any traces of Luz or the kidnappers. We think we got something to work off of." That was hopefully true. Our guys and gals found the door to the cabin itself had the most residual magic left behind. Makes sense, using a door as a door. A real novel idea. We're just having a hard time pinning it down, is all. Bad news for me is, they're bringing in a psychic to try and get a clearer image. And man, do I hate psychics. "I can't give you a specific amount of time, but we're on a fast track to cracking it."
She sits down in a chair, obviously mentally and emotionally exhausted. The worst part about all this is that she can't take off any days from work. She's a single mom trying to provide for her (now missing) kid and her job is a nurse in a hospital. You tell me how stressed she probably is. "Every single night this goes on I feel like I'm losing my mind. I can't… I can't help feeling this is my fault. I should have never tried to send her to that camp. I pushed her away, right into the arms of some stranger who wants to do God knows what with her."
I'm not having any of that. "Don't go there. None of this is your fault. You were doing what any mother would, trying to get your kid to make friends and get her to step outside her comfort zone. Whether or not you approached from the right angle is something you can talk with your daughter about… but it's got nothing to do with her being kidnapped. It's the bad guy's fault. They're the ones who thought taking advantage of mother and daughter was a good idea, the creeps who thought that anything good comes from kidnapping kids. Blaming yourself is what they want. They like it when the victims think they're the ones at fault because it's one of the sick pleasures they get out of life."
"I know, I know, but… I can't help but feel I could've done something. I thought she would be safe on our street. A cop reminded me that… shouldn't be assumed." I think I know which cop she's talking about. Officer Brady, a real mouthy guy from what Kate says. Kept delivering smart comments while she worked with them. Or at least, comments he thought were smart.
He's an idiot, is what I'm saying. What kind of asshole gives a mother grief while she's worrying about her missing child? "Don't worry about him. Some people don't know when to stop talking." I take a look at the letter again. I'm not too keen on leaving it with her, if only because it might cause her more stress just by looking at it.
"Might be best if I take this letter with me. I'm gonna have some agents come down to check on your house, see if there's anything we can trace from your mailbox. Don't worry, they're pros. They know how to do their job without being invasive about it."
"Thank you, Mr. Hellboy."
I give her a friendly smile. "Come on, ma'am. I keep telling ya, it's just Hellboy. Never been a fan of being called mister."
She gives a small smile back. "Of course." I nod back at her before going out the door.
Since we first spoke a week ago, our group's been keeping in touch with Camilia. Since she'd only just been introduced to the idea that magic and monsters are real, we've been trying to take it slow, so she doesn't panic too much. She's been taking it rather well, all things considered. Sometimes I feel like she might actually already know it's real- but that's just conspiracy at this point. It's more likely that she realizes that either way, someone took her daughter. Doesn't make a difference whether they're a wizard or not in that regard. And I did finally manage to completely convince her I wasn't Satan, so there's that.
Course I realize I tend to be the one who volunteers to go update her on our progress. What can I say? I got a soft spot for kids. You would too if you were a kid summoned to earth by nazis to bring the apocalypse. Seeing a mother so afraid for her girl tugs at my heartstrings. Kinda reminds me a lot of Professor Broom.
The cabin's as lively as ever. Agents in yellow hazmat suits running around, quadruple checking for anything they missed. Kate's muttering to herself about any local legends that might be involved. Abe and Liz are reading through all the books on magic we have.
"Kate, got something for ya." I'm almost glad when I give the letter to her. I swear, holding that thing alone was starting to get on my nerves. "Ms. Noceda just got it this morning. Don't know if it was the girl or her "lovely hosts"." I mean, I have my reasons to believe it's not the kid. What teenager sends letters nowadays?
"This could help us pinpoint the magic energies of the house." She signals an agent over to get some readings done. "Honestly, if we had a more vivid analysis of this specific magic, we'd have an easier time working off of it. I feel like I've been trying to work a connect the dots page, except it's missing most of the dots."
"No kidding. My analogy would've been a crossword with no hints, personally." Once Abe and Liz wander over I give 'em my other errand. "This letter magically appeared in Ms. Noceda's mailbox. Y'all mind running over there to do some scans?"
Liz tosses her book aside. "Might be a good break from a dingy old cabin. I haven't had any luck here so far."
"Indeed. Our usual sources of information don't have anything to help us here." Abe notes.
"And none of the town's folklore really matches this case." Kate piped up from behind.
I can already feel the annoyance. "Guess that means only one option. Ugh..."
"C'mon, Hellboy. We've exhausted our other resources. A psychic can see the picture much more clearly than we can, and it'll be much faster than using what we have on hand." Kate nudges me with her elbow. "Besides, you and this psychic have already met."
"That might make it worse." Unfortunately, she's right. As much as I don't like them, a psychic's our best bet at finding the girl right now. Doesn't mean I have to like it. "Fine. But I won't stick around for the hammy prose if I don't have to."
"Fair enough." Kate acknowledges.
"In the meantime, I guess we better head down to Ms. Noceda's. We don't want the magic energies to deteriorate before we can get a good look at them." Liz begins trudging towards the Noceda household.
Abe wasn't far behind. "Indeed. I doubt we would've been so slow in our investigations if we'd arrived sooner. But that's how things play out sometimes..."
"I told Ms. Noceda you wouldn't be invasive. Make sure she's comfortable before you go poking around everywhere."
"You got it."
"Of course. Good luck with your eternal hatred of psychics, Hellboy." Abe shouts out. He leaves before I can say something back.
Kate must hear the grumbling come out of my mouth. "He makes a good point, you know. Sometimes it's almost as if you think they're out to get you."
"Look, I get they can get visions on crap like this. But if I've said it once, I've said it a million times… They usually only tell you what you already know. And what help they bring is always too little, too damn late. I don't want him to tell me some confusing foreshadowing riddle that I'll only get once I'm holding the girl's dead body in my arms."
"Funny you should say that exact 'million-time' statement..." I raise an eyebrow at that.
"Ma'am!" I don't get a chance to ask before one of the grunts comes rushing in. "The escort has just arrived with Russell Thorn."
Russell Thorn? Ah, damn. I do know this guy. He helped us out with the incident in Japan. Yeah… yeah, I remember, the one with the Japanese demons and the magical katana. We got breakfast afterward… and aspirin. Everybody was feeling sore after that little event. We've … tolerated each other since then.
Maybe he'll learn from last time and know how much I hate it when the brain boys tell me what I already know.
"Yes… yes. I see a doorway was here… yes, an opening between realms was torn for the longest time, only to suddenly vanish. I see a girl cast into that other world…"
I know Kate's looking at me. She can tell when I start getting pissed. "Why don't you… step out for a smoke, Hellboy?"
"Yeah. Think I'll do that. Maybe look for more trinkets while I'm out…"
I don't hate all psychics. But man, do a lot of 'em not live up to Lady Cynthia.
Whatever. At least looking for toys and other items around the forest isn't so frustrating. The items might not have fingerprints on them, but it looks like even they have some residual magic on them. Which might as well be fingerprints for us.
A glint catches my eye. Looks like another marble, same pattern as the one I found before. Whoever took 'em must've accidentally ripped the bag they were in. Gotta say, monsters kidnaps humans a lot, but that usually makes sense. I can't seem to wrap my head around why they would take all this crap.
But it's evidence, so I can't say I don't appreciate them leaving breadcrumbs. As I reach for it, I suddenly find myself grasping at nothing. I look around, seeing if I somehow pushed it away…
Only to find myself with a tiny new friend. An owl… looks like a pygmy owl specifically. He's got the marble in his mouth and is giving me this odd look. "Hey. I know that looks interesting and all, but I'm gonna need that back. Now just hold still a moment and-" The thing runs. Cause of course it does. "Damn…"
What follows probably isn't the most embarrassing I've done, but it's up there… a big demon guy chasing a tiny owl for a marble. Must be the funniest damn sight in the world from the outside.
The bird bobs and weaves, turning sharper corners than I thought it could. Eventually, it starts flying, but I manage to keep up with it. It lands in a clearing… one that I know is close to the cabin, so I better wrap this up before someone sees me. Looks like it hasn't realized I was able to follow it; its attention is on some bag on the ground. Looks like it found more goodies. I use the opportunity to sneak up on it, do my best to not rustle the grass… then jump on it, covering the bird with my stone hand.
It wriggles, but I've got it now. It doesn't take me long to pry the marble from its mouth. "Sorry, little guy. But like I said, I need this thing." I pocket the marble so he can't get to it. Satisfied with what I have, I open my palm so he can move freely.
"Hoo!" He says to me. Looks like he's not too happy.
"Hey, I'm sure you would've gotten a kick outta this thing. But you might wanna stick to mice for now." I give him a little pet- he doesn't try to bite me for doing so. But instead of soft feathers, I feel… wood?
Before I can register, he jumps from my hand and grabs the bag he was looking at. I manage to glance what's inside: a slinky, a silly straw, a witch doll-
Wait. Those were all things we found in the woods. Things we left in… "The cabin!"
The owl seems to not like the situation anymore and shoots up into the air with the bag. I reach for him but miss both the bird and its cargo just a tad too late. "Get back here, you wooden antique!"
It doesn't take us long to get to the cabin. It's open, not like how I left it. "Kate! Get that damn bird! Before he gets in the house!" Unfortunately, none of them can register what I just said. The bird makes it inside and shuts the door. Even jumping the porch, I don't make it. Before I can touch the doorknob, a flash of light comes from within the house. When I open the door, everything -our evidence, the bag, the bird- all of it is gone. "DAMN IT!"
Kate ran up to the house behind me. She probably didn't even see it. "What the hell is happening? What was that?"
"A tiny trash thief, that's what. You see who opened this door?"
"I thought… I thought it was just one of the agents."
"Nah. A little wooden owl. Took all of our items and flew off into another world."
"Damn. They must've sent the owl to cover their tracks and keep us off the trail. And considering the letter… they're trying to stall us as long as they can."
Then that's it. If they want to stall us then that means they're planning to do something with the girl, and they don't want us interrupting. Trying to track them down with the letter or what little trinkets are left in the forest won't be fast enough. "Hey! Brain boy!" I head down the porch to my "friend" Russell. "We're running out of options here. We've got a gateway that only freshly closed, and you're the only one who might have a chance to see how we can open it back up."
"Look, it's not that I don't want to. But I can only see what they show me."
"If it worked in the Japan incident, it'll work here. Just try." Kate adds in. Russell gives a sigh of resignation and walks up to the door. He stays silent for a few moments.
"…I'm sorry. It's just the same as I told you before, Kate. I see a black mass that consumes all in fear… a curse that comes from incredibly close… and I see a girl in the snake's- no, the owl's nest. There's nothing mor- Hold on. Yes… yes! I have something!" He reached his arm out to us. "Please, hand me something to draw with!" Kate's quick to throw a pen to him. He begins drawing on the door itself. "This image is burned into the place where the doorway opened. It's fading quickly, but I think I can… here."
He finishes up his little art class, shows us his work. It's a circle, and inside the image is… well… it's hard to describe. To me at least, it looks like a spiral, with hands holding it open all around its circumference. In the middle is the image of an eye… a demon's eye. While I can't describe its appearance any better, both Kate and I know exactly what it is. "It's a glyph."
"And it might just be the lead we needed." She pulls out her phone and takes a picture, then starts dialing a number. "I'm going to call Liz and Abe, then the Bureau. If this image or anything like it is anywhere in our archives, we'll find it. Russell, I need you with me in case you have any newer visions."
I see 'em walk off towards the other agents. Kate starts giving them new directions. I decide to stick around, looking at the image on the door. Part of me's relieved, we've got another lead and it'll hopefully get as further than before. Just hope we're not too late.
That image though… there's something about the eye. Something I can't quite place… it looks familiar to me. Guess that'll be a mystery I'm gonna have to solve as we go along. Since we just avoided a near miss, I decide to relive the rest of my stress with a smoke. Poor, clumsy me accidentally drops my lighter however, and it falls under the doorway. Today's been filled with major and minor inconveniences alike.
What probably was a bad idea on my part was pushing on the glyph part to open the door.
The thing lights up like a New York night, sparking and glowing. The light overtakes my sight, blinding and covering me before I can make a run for it. I can feel the magic coming from the glyph… the kind that can tear open dimensions. I've got just enough time to realize what's probably about to happen to me.
The light finally stops, and I can see again. What I see isn't really a happy sight.
It takes me a split second to realize that I'm hundreds of feet in the air. Take me about another to make an appropriate response.
I've survived falls like this before. But it's not fun to hit the ground at terminal velocity, I can tell you. It's pretty breezy, kinda feels nice for the most part. Then you slam into the ground hard, and it feels like every hangover you've ever had combining into one monstrous pain.
And yeah, my expectations were met pretty accurately. I'm thinking on this while I'm sitting in my own personal crater, and I sure as hell don't feel like I'm in a bed of flowers.
When I finally brush off the pain and dig myself out of the dirt, I take the time to get to know my new surroundings.
It's pretty hard to miss the giant skeleton in the ocean. "Hell of a landmark…"
And that was just the beginning. Looking inland, I see what looks like a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. Demons and monsters with absurd and terrifying appearances, acting like folks you would find in any other human town.
In other words, I'm exactly where I need to be.
"Well, Hellboy. You've found yourself a new vacation spot… how about you take in the sights, talk to the locals… and make some demons wish they hadn't taken a trip out of town."
Yeah, we're not quite at Luz and Eda yet. Next chapter, I promise.
In the meantime, if y'all are open to it, I'd love to hear comments and reviews on my other main stories:
Exiles: Across the multiverse- In which several characters are taken from their worlds to fix timelines across cartoon, movie and comic worlds, and more.
The Games rich People Play- In which Pacifica Northwest is brought by her father to a rich resort for Spring break and meets several other rich characters there.
See you next chapter… and watch the right hook.