After their adventure in sabotage, they retreated from Blakelee West and the Candlemach Cathedral. Terry dropped off the rental and got his car back, and headed to Shroud Ridge. Truc and Jason got into a fender bender with an irate cabby, but eventually made it back.
They reflected on the various scenarios that could result from their adventure, hoping that Fr. Silva would destroy himself, but unable to be sure. A phone chat with a largely unsympathetic Bought didn’t settle their nerves, so they decided to revisit the Slaysor Mansion.
Sneed was quite pleased to see them, and Truc returned the altar-finding amulet to him. They accepted Sneed’s offer of tea and biscuits, and lingered past sunset; he found sunset a pleasurable experience. Danielle Sawyenta (“the Mistress”) wanted to see them if they were open to the idea. They strolled into the parlor, an area behind the velvet rope that museum patrons got to look at but not enter, and made themselves comfortable.
Danielle was sympathetic to their uncertainty about whether the sabotage would work, and Fr. Silva would summon a vengeful ghost but it would kill him instead of his target. She could not scry through the defenses of the cathedral, but she was willing to risk going with them after midnight to the cathedral to see if the deed was done. She would consult a ghost who could tell her what happened. They agreed.
Truc was somewhat unsettled by Sneed and Danielle’s attention to him, especially in the context of Grifton as a dark and lovely conflagration of power that draws hopefuls from all over, and has seasoned Truc since before he was born in its energies. There were too many meat analogies, and the creepy wizard types looked too salivatory when they looked at him. Especially since they were only polite to Terry, and Jason mainly got into philosophical challenges with them, regarding life and death and the role of the doctor. She asked if he would say she was alive, enjoying his discomfort. She airily noted that when Sneed died he would continue to serve her until she was finished with him, and he didn’t seem upset by that idea.
Truc loaded an app on his phone to pick up police band and tuned it to Blakelee West after some struggles with the technology. He also sent Emilia a vague text that everything was fine. Eventually the midnight hour was upon them, the clock chimed, and they headed out.
Truc noticed he was smelling something like a musty old library, and he commented, but no one else could smell it–then he felt Danielle’s voice in his mind telling him she linked to him to keep him safe, and that was distressing.
Quarter after midnight, and there was chatter on the police band for a “code 71.” Nobody knew what that was (and Terry would, as a former cop) so it was a made-up code. They got to one of two main entries to Blakelee West, and saw a policeman had set up a roadblock to check cars. Danielle telepathically assured Truc it was fine, and drove past it; Truc did too.
They turned off the lights on the vehicles, seeing the black SUVs with their paramilitary teams sweeping the silent and abandoned neighborhoods looking for lights or cars. Parking a quarter mile away, they slunk around to approach the cathedral from the rear.
Sneed cast a ritual involving stones in a circle that would hide them from ghosts if they stayed inside it, and Danielle focused her energies. She was dressed in black leather, with a big knife and a heavy ornate staff of black wood.
She called forth “The Bishop” and a cowled figure stepped through some sort of intangible barrier at the back of the church, touching down on the grass and wilting it instantly with a blight that spread every second of the conversation. Lapsing into an Irish accent, Danielle greeted Bishop as an old friend, but very respectfully, and asked after Fr. Silva. Bishop confirmed he was dead, and would not escape. He confirmed by pulling back the hood to show them Silva’s horror-wracked last expression, and Silva’s face flicked off the ancient bone of the Bishop’s skull a moment too soon as the cowl was replaced, affording Terry a disorienting look at all the death he ever saw etched into that skull.
Danielle thanked him and offered him favors, and the Bishop stepped back into the intangible barrier surrounding the cathedral. Spent and drained, she was ready to go, trusting that the Bishop would not lie. They left a 10 meter patch of dead grass, and headed back to the cars. Danielle assured them they did not want to know what she would offer as favors; it wouldn’t be Silva’s people still in the cathedral, anyway.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Danielle and Sneed went one way, and the SUV with Truc, Terry, and Jason went another. Soon the intreped investigators were back in the Havershaum Estate in Shroud Ridge, returning to the cabana in the wee hours of the morning.
As they entered, they saw a horrible stinky figure in a duster, heavy gloves, and a stained hockey mask waiting for them inside. He introduced himself as Brick, and made himself comfortable as his stench swelled around them. He congratulated them on a job well done.
Truc asked about his friend, the one they saved, and he suggested Truc didn’t REALLY want to know. But offered to tell him, if he insisted. He didn’t insist. (By now Truc picked up a habit of stress eating when confronted with difficult news.)
Brick was feeling friendly and chatty, offering them a reward. Terry banked his, and Jason banked his with Terry, reluctant to enter into a personal relationship with a Power. Truc wasn’t sure what to make of the offer, so Brick left it open; he offered his services hunting out mysteries or people in the slaughterhouse district, for example, a place he knew well. Brick observed the wizards didn’t pay much mind to Terry because he smelled of Singleton, and they would be reluctant to tangle with that. He left them with Bought’s phone number on a stained business card, and after a pleasant chat, he stumped out of their cabana, his stink mysteriously vanishing behind him (though Jason still resolved to burn the chair he sat in.)
With that, Terry broke out some thin cigars he had been saving for a special occasion. Their survival in navigating this tricky minefield seemed to be as special an occasion as they could hope for. Reflective, they celebrated life and its surprises, as dawn hinted at the horizon.