Nick carefully clears the rooms in his house and realises that the intruder has somehow breached his “panic room.” He sees nothing when he first scans the room, but when he goes to close the door again, a large feline leaps past him and for the open door. It has the waterbottle with the remains of the Acantha clutched in its teeth.
Nick fires with the shotgun. The second shot connects and the thing yowls in anger, but continues heading for the door. Nick fires a third time and this time, when the shot connects, the animal discorporates into a misty form. It drops the waterbottle and keeps running, through the front door and outside.
Han, Vincent, and Stephanie all arrive at about this time. Vincent and Stephanie both see the still-misty form of the cat running into the woods and go driving after it. Han sees something else: the silhouette of a tall, lanky, humanoid form, slipping behind a tree. Rather than drive his car into the woods, Han goes after it on foot.
In which the party uses their downtime between adventures to cause SHENANIGANS
Han Zian returns home after a couple weeks helping his parents through the aftermath of a recent car accident, and more than a couple of awkward conversations after his parents find out exactly what he does for a living. The other characters fill him in on their previous adventures.
Stephanie Schulman goes to lunch with her friend Rachel Valenzuela. Rachel grills her about an incident where Stephanie asked for some “makeup help” (to visit a crime scene in relative anonymity, but Rachel doesn’t know that). Rachel lets Stephanie change the subject, but she makes a point of not being fooled.
Vincent Valenti spends his downtime searching the city for rumours of ghouls. He finds some interesting things.
Nick Shelley drags Han out to a nightclub, despite the fact that neither of them have any idea what there is to do at nightclubs. They decide that nightclubs are for being famous people, and draw out their fans with a few well-crafted Tweets.
Nick lets his frustrations get the better of him. No one in the club is willing to pick a fight, but as they leave, they pass a couple of teens silently handing out business cards for a brothel. Nick sucker-punches the closest kid into unconsciousness while Han, dozens of fans, and several filming smartphones look on.
Nick and Han both give impromptu speeches about the evils of human trafficking, because at this point, why not.
A less-than-impressed Han drags Nick out to a coffee shop where they can talk, but Nick’s not in a particularly talkative mood.
Morning arrives. The police do not. Stephanie emails around to the group, suggesting they try to find out who summoned the Acantha. Nobody’s very thrilled with Nick, but he’s not apologizing, so they move on.
The group heads down into the storm drains beneath the city where they fought and killed the Acantha. Annette Thomas informs them that to the best of her knowledge, nobody else has come down to the tunnels asking about the creature, and there haven’t been any more murders. She’s still willing to help, but seems a bit wary of the party now that they’re openly claiming to be monster hunters.
As they work their way through the tunnels, Vincent asks around about the graffiti circle that the party had discovered near David Walsh’s body. One of the other tunnel residents with a long-standing interest in the occult reocognizes one of the runes the party hadn’t yet deciphered as something to do with dowsing or finding. He informs them the rune is of Estrucan origin.
Before leaving the tunnels, the group heads down to the site of the Acantha’s most recent murder, as it tried to bait the party into attacking it. The body of the victim has been removed, but the site is otherwise undisturbed, with no trace of graffiti.
Han asks to see the original graffiti, since he’s only seen it in pictures. With a keen eye, he’s able to confirm that it was used for a real magical purpose. He also suspects that runes were meant to help find someone from Walsh’s bloodline.
Before they leave the scene, Nick puts up a series of posters with a picture of the graffiti spell circle and the caption “Have you seen who did this?” He adds the number for one of his disposable phones on tearaway strips at the bottom of each poster.
The party takes another look at the two murder victims who were not residents of the tunnels, Sean Bulmer and Toni Hopf. The two victims don’t seem to be related to either each other, or Walsh.
Nick takes a trip to the local county office, and comes away with a geneology of both Bulmer and Hopf, at least what can be put together from publicly available city records.
In trying to learn more about Bulmer, a casino manager, Vincent learns that there is a new prospective casino in the same neighbourhood as Bulmer’s place of work, a prospective development called Red Reef Casinos. The casino doesn’t exist yet, but its owners have apparently been making inquiries about zoning permits and property sales.
Wondering if there’s a connection between Red Reef Casinos and the murders, VIncent does a bit of digging and learns that Toni Hopf, an educational activist, had previously spoken out against the prospective casino, as the property it was aiming to buy would displace a block of low-income housing.
The party decides to call it quits for the day, as it’s getting late by now. They go their separate ways and head home. Nick arrives on the farm to discover a dead mouse left prominently on his front porch and a small but noticeable trail of leaves and brush in the hallway just outside his “conspiracy room.” He immediately grabs the shotgun by the door, calls Han to request reinforcements, and hunkers down to wait for whatever comes next.