Chapter Three: Minnie at County Hospital
Violet awakened in the Death Realms and met a cloaked woman who told her that her fate was linked to Minnie’s. Night studied in the library and learned that Kevin Meadows, the original killer, was friends with Night’s mother and Maya, both prominent Wicce and that he used Wicce imagery in his rituals. They all went to Cranston hospital. There was residue of dark magic over much of the hospital and people in it. Violet saw that Minnie’s spirit was gone but a decay-covered silver cord stretched to wherever her spirit was. There were strange watchers all over Cranston and in the hospital. One approached Edwin and said her name was Sarah and asked if he knew where her body was. Later that night, Brian touched Minnie and saw a vision of where she was taken — it was the same house he’d seen Maya Ramsey with the dead woman on the pentagram.
List of clues and significant events:
- Violet met a cloaked woman in the Death Realms who says they’ve met before but wouldn’t tell her more until “it’s time”
- Violet’s cat, Isis, apparently helped Violet during the period with the cloaked woman that she doesn’t remember
- There is something happening in the Catacombs below the City in the Death Realms
- Kevin Meadows was friends with two prominent Wicce: Night’s mother, Darya Parks, and Maya Ramsey
- Night’s mother has been in town for a few days
- Meadows’ murders included Wicce symbolism, mixed with dark magic symbolism
- Brian saw images of several people in the hospital dying in a fire or being killed by tentacles like he saw in the Catacombs in his earlie rvision
- Ghost-like watchers are all over Cranston
- One said her name was Sarah and asked if they knew where her body was
- The lawyer, Miya Hartman, is mundane but is covered in the residue of dark magic
- Minnie’s spirit is not in her body, but a silver cord connects to her body
- The cord is covered in some sort of decay similar to the Catacombs
- The cord could be followed to find Minnie or to summon her
- The crime scene where Minnie was victimized is the same house of an unknown Wicce coven where Maya saw a dead woman
The City and the Wilderness
Violet awoke to darkness and whispering. The whispering was the wind. As she listened, the wind rose and fell, changing from whispers to howls then back again. The sky was dark, devoid of stars, but a full moon loomed too close. Violet knew where she was: She was in the Death Realms. Specifically, she was in the Wilderness, a dark mix of forests and jungles and plains that surrounded the City and was surrounded by mountains full of trails to everywhere in the Death Realms.
Violet’s cat, Isis, was perched on a rock. Isis was looking at something on Violet’s other side. Turning her head and sitting up, Violet saw a hooded figure crouched and watching her. The cloaked woman was humanoid, but a little too large to be simply human. When the figure spoke, Violet could hear that it was a woman.
“Well met, Violet Holmes. Your marvelous cat, Isis, brought you here last time, too. You’re lucky to have her. Tell me — what do you remember of the last time that we met here?”
Violet didn’t remember anything, but demanded to know who she was and when they had met before. She also gestured towards Isis, who came to her and nuzzled under her chin in comfort.
“You’re here early,” the woman said regretfully, “It isn’t time to tell you. When you remember, you’ll know everything you need to know.”
Violet asked her several more questions, but each time the woman answered with a touch of regret that it wasn’t time yet. The only thing she would say is that Minnie had been taken, so the time was soon. She also added that the fates of Minnie and Violet were interconnected now. Only Violet could save Minnie and the only way Violet could save herself was to save Minnie.
The woman again deflected Violet’s aggrieved questions and disappeared. Frustrated and worried, Violet took stock of her decision and decided to head towards the City (also called the Necropolis). There were several paces she could leave the Death Realms and get back to her friends, but heading towards the City would let her gather some other information on the way.
The woods of the Wilderness gave way and the spires and walls of the City rose up in front of her. It was an amalgam of every city, past and present. Violet passed through wooden palisades, which opened up to a cobbled road. That became a modern asphalt road, then a concrete highway, then a dirt road. The buildings (all functional, she knew) similarly shifted. She saw the Urchins, a gang of vicious ghost children that claimed the area she was traveling through, watching her. They followed her until their territory ended. They were menacing, but better than the dangers in other areas that she knew enough to travel around. Eventually she reached her destination: One of two Thanatoi Chapter Houses in the City. It was a 17th century tavern run by Josiah Raleigh, a Gatherer and Thanatoi.
Violet entered and saw many faces watching her. here in the Death Realms, a ghost’s inner nature eventually began to shape their appearance, giving the patrons an uncomfortable, twisted appearance. Violet saw Arianna, a powerful immortal Paladin of the Thanatoi who currently dwelt in New Hope. Arianna gestured Violet over to her table.
Arianna was friendly to Violet, which was new. They knew each other, but had never been close or exchanged more than passing pleasantries. Violet asked some questions about what Arianna knew. She didn’t know a lot about Minnie that Violet didn’t already know, but mentioned that the City was abuzz with fear and rumors. Something was happening in the Catacombs below the city. Strange energies and beings were moving in an out. And something was stirring down there. She told Violet to seek her out if she needed help later.
Violet decided it was time to head back. She tried to appear next to Edwin, but she felt something go wrong and she was pulled somewhere else…
After Night split away from her friends, she headed towards Hohenheim College where the Colum Library was located. It was on the west side of New Hope and as she traveled across town, she was reminded again how much she disliked the big city. She felt a vague sense of being watched, but most likely that was the result of residual Essence from the massive burst a few days ago, combined with stress.
Hohenheim College was a sprawling campus, full of a mismatch of architectural styles as new buildings went up every year but old buildings were seldom replaced or renovated. over all, the college gave an almost Gothic sense of age and furtive studies. But Colum Library was amazing. It was a beautiful building, often listed as one of the top five most beautiful libraries in the world. It also had a reputation for having rare and unusual books. Night had spent many hours here as a child (those were some of her favorite memories of her father).
Night researched for hours. She’d studied Kevin Meadows (the “New Hope Devil”) and the original murders extensively, becoming a known expert on the topic. Now she was looking for things she’d missed, particularly related to ghosts, magic, or the Soul Eater. She did find some information about the Soul Eater (which seemed to be a class of spirit rather than a specific one), but most of her discoveries were about Kevin Meadows.
She’d already known that he had been a student at Hohenheim College. She’d also known that he had “been into the occult” (something the media had sensationalized without any understanding). What she discovered now is that he had specifically been friends with several people who had been unknown at the time but were now prominent magicians among the Wicce, including Maya Ramsey and Night’s mother, Darya Park. She found several pictures of the three of them together.
Night knew that her mother hated Maya and held her in disdain, so it was a surprise to see them smiling and leaning against each other in pictures. It was even more shocking to see a young, happy Kevin Meadows in those pictures. Her mother had never mentioned knowing him and Night had never heard of a connection between Maya and Kevin before, either.
The link to Wicce prompted Night to look at some of the images found at crime scenes. She hadn’t noticed the Wicce elements before but now they seemed obvious; there was some other dark magic imagery that dominated, but the Wicce influence were clear.
Just then, a familiar voice interrupted Night’s reading. The rich baritone and charming British accent belonged to Dr. Moss, a history professor at Hohenheim College and a friend of her father.
“Why, if it isn’t Nighteen Hoffman! To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit to Colum Library?”
Professor Moss glanced over her shoulder and saw a picture of her mother, Maya Ramsey, and Kevin Meadows.
“Ah, of course. I suppose it’s understandable that Mr. Meadows would be the topic du jour once again, and you are one of the premiere New Hope Devil experts.
“Did I ever tell you that I knew Mr. Meadows as a student? I must have, though I can’t remember. He was a quiet, but friendly young man.”
The two of them talked for a bit, catching up. Night’s father was a big donor to the college as well as a friend. Prof. Moss also talked fondly about memories of Night as a child and then young woman. They also talked briefly about Night’s mother, who Prof. Moss had never particularly liked (a fact he barely hid).
“Have you seen your mother since she’s been in town? Your father mentioned that she came into town a few days ago.” That was news to Night, who hadn’t known she was back in town.
Something about the conversation and Prof. Moss’ behavior made Night uncomfortable. On a whim, she decided to cast an Insight invocation to see what she could learn of his motives. The casting failed and instead of getting a read on the Professor, he saw something in her. His eyes widened and he hastily excused himself. She tried to Dismiss the Essence of the failed Invocation, but it slipped out of her control and books and papers flew off the shelf around her, clattering to the floor. She stacked and tidied quickly, then left.
She called the others.
Edwin, Lina, and Brian were heading to the Cranston County Hospital when they got Night’s call. She was on the way so they picked her up. County wasn’t the closest hospital, but they wanted Brian seen by someone clued in to the supernatural. They also knew Minnie was there, which meant it was killing two birds with one stone.
Brian was in shock; his psychic abilities were running crazy in a sort of fever dream-like cascade of memories and impressions. They drove about 30 minutes to Cranston. Cranston felt odd, muted but also buzzing, with more ambient Essence than normal, as if something happened there recently.
Lina saw several strange, misty figures watching them. They were ghost-like, but not quite ghosts. The figures were stationary, watching from a distance. They had no faces. Their shapes were basically humanoid, but each had something different that was vaguely animalistic about them: one had too many joints, another had a head suggestive of a beak, another had too long limbs, etc. When the car approached where one was, they’d vanish like a mirage, only to reappear in the same spot after they were 50 yards away. Lina was angry at Edwin, but eventually told the car what she saw, though she spoke to Night instead of directly to Edwin.
They arrived at the hospital. It was an ugly, industrial style red brick block. It which was under construction; an entire wing was covered in heavy plastic sheets that rippled in the wind. Dr. Stevens and Nurse Bakker helped Brian out of the car. Brian got no visions off of Dr. Stevens (in fact, even his voice seemed to come from a distance), but he saw Nurse Bakker would die soon in a fire.
Brian was ushered to a room. It was next to another room with a police officer, Officer Parish , sitting outside (clearly where Minnie was staying). While getting hooked up, Brian touched others, though he tried not to. The receptionist, Quan Li, a pretty Chinese girl, would also die by fire. Brian thrashed and Officer Parish helped hold him down (he would be killed by tentacles like the ones in Brian’s vision in the Catacombs). Brian was finally sedated.
The Haunted Church
Violet appeared in an old stone building. There was a sound like distant cannons and wailing. The walls were covered in soot, which was cut with trails of dripping of water. Then those drips became blood, mixing into greasy red and black runnels that pulsed in time with the cannon blasts, which were coming closer. She realized she was in the church where Father Zach dwelt. He was like her during the day, free from anchors and able to travel freely, but at night he was pulled back to this church where he had died when a cannon destroyed the church she was standing in.
Father Zach walked through a wall behind her, startling her. He was holding a child in his arms and his eyes were vacant and terrifying. He walked past her, seemingly not noticing her, then walked through another wall. Violet tried to leave, but there were no doors. The church didn’t want her to leave. She reached out and found a thin echo of her connection with Edwin. It should be enough for her to jump to him. Then she heard a noise behind her and spun around. Father Zach (the unnamed child no longer in his arms) was only feet away. His eyes were still empty, but he radiated malevolence. He swung at her with what looked like a broken candle stand and she barely dodged. She reached out frantically and teleported to Edwin moments before Father Zach would have struck her.
All Together Again
Violet appeared in the hospital. It took her a moment to catch her bearings and figure out where she was, but she’d been to the hospital before. She also recognized Dr. Stevens.
Dr. Stevens took Edwin into his office to talk and Violet followed, invisible to the mundane Dr. Stevens. They talked about the events more openly as Templars. Dr. Stevens confirmed that Minnie was in the room next to Brian. Violet watched Dr. Stevens throughout and his emotional responses were almost boringly normal and honest.
Out in the reception area, Lina saw another watcher down a hallway watching them. Lina stayed where she could keep an eye on the figure, but didn’t approach. Any hospital was a terrible place for someone with her sensitivity — full of death and suffering. Night went to look for food or drink. While she was gone, a woman in a sharp pant suit walked by and knocked on the door where Edwin, Dr. Stevens (and Violet) were talking.
Dr. Stevens invited her in and introduced her as Miya Hartman, a lawyer who often represented the hospital. Miya recognized Edwin and tried hard to impress him as a potential client. To Violet, her predatory intent was obvious, but in a greedy, business-oriented way rather than seeming more sinister. Miya asked a lot of questions about the status in Harpers Crossing and Edwin was suspicious. He cast an Insight Invocation and saw that she was coated in the residue of dark magic; he couldn’t tell if it was because she’d been directly involved or merely been very close to dark magic when it was released. Either way, his interest was flared. She was involved in dark magic or a victim. (She wasn’t Gifted, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t participate in ritual magic.)
Violet heard Minnie mentioned, and where she was, so she floated over. She saw that Minnie’s spirit was not in her body, but that a silver cord stretched out of her. Violet would be able to follow the cord to wherever Minnie was. It was also likely that they could summon her with the cord. However, Violet also noticed that the cord was covered in black decay, similar to the wet, black, subterranean decay she’d smelled and seen when Minnie appeared at the vigil in Harpers Crossing the night before. The cord itself didn’t seem damaged… yet. Violet drifted back through the walls to tell Edwin what she’d seen.
Back in the waiting room, Night returned with some vending machine fare for Lina and herself. A janitor (Mario Gonsalez) was standing in a hallway staring at them, idly moving a mop without making any real effort to act like he was focused on cleaning. After a few minutes, he wandered away, glancing back at them repeatedly.
Dr. Stevens and the lawyer Miya left the office (though not before Miya gave Edwin her card and another high-watt flirtatious smile). Violet returned and told Edwin she had something to tell him. Edwin pretended to knock over some papers and said he’d straighten them and be right out. Violet told him what she’d seen and Edwin decided to Astral Project and follow her over to see (that way he didn’t have to get past the cop).
Dr. Stevens walked over to Lina while Miya saw Night and hustled over to her with another predatory smile. Dr. Stevens asked Lina how she was with everything. He said that it was rough for him and he’d been thinking of his daughter, Amelia, all the time since the news about another victim. He made the odd comment that everything he did was for her. Lina also noticed that Dr. Steven’s had almost no death on him, which was weird in a hospital. All of the other workers, even the receptionist, had at least a layer of death like soot.
Miya recognized Night because of her rich parents. She tried to ingratiate herself, mentioning that she’d heard Night’s mother was in town. She gives her a card, also, and mentions that she shouldn’t hesitate to reach out and she’d always make a daughter of Adam Hoffman and mother a priority. Night was uncomfortable with the attention, but grinned her way through it rather than causing a scene. That was the second time her mother being in town had been mentioned.
The TV was on a local station and a news segment began. The reporter, Kylee Betz, who had approached Night in the Harpers Crossing Library was interviewing people about the events at the vigil. She interviewed several locals about Lina’s “display.” Most parroted Edwin’s line about having sympathy because she was clearly disturbed. She also interviewed Gabriel Silva, Lina’s mentor, who told a different story: That Lina was innocent and that it had been Minnie’s ghost. He also added that there were many ghosts active and he plugged his Spiritual Guidance Center (which was a mostly fraudulent “psychic” center that raised a lot of money for the Twilight Order with fake psychics, but defended itself by saying that it did refer real issues to actual mediums and psychics in the Order). There was an obligatory cutaway to Lina’s mother, Linda Harper, the beautiful face of the murders two decades ago. The reporter also interviewed the FBI agents, Special Agent Elder and Special Agent Garland, and played some clips from Brian’s public display of humiliating them. It was clear that the agents were not impressed and considered Brian a “person of interest.” She ended with a clip about Mayor Edwin Stowell praying with “pagans” and a mix of reactions ranging from praise to concern about such “Unchristian behavior.” Even Night was mentioned as having been seen with Edwin. Almost in passing, Kylee mentioned that Edwin, Night, Brian, and Lina had all been seen leaving Harpers Crossing together. Only Violet wasn’t mentioned by name and shown.
Just then, Edwin and Violet came through the wall. The watcher that Lina had been watching was in the same hall they had to cross to get to Minnie’s room. Edwin noticed and stopped. He knew casting an Insight Invocation might be risky, since he didn’t know what it was, but he decided to risk it. He saw that it was almost a ghost, but also not a ghost. It had once been a human woman. The figure started floating towards him slowly. He stood his ground, though his heart (in his body slumped in a chair in Dr. Stevens’ office) began to race. The figure put its hand on his face. A burst of intense emotion crashed through him at the same time as a human, but distorted voice:
“I’m Sarah. Do you know where my body is? I’m Sarah? Do you know where my body is? I’m Sarah…” Who was Sarah?
The House Where It Happened
Hours later, in the middle of the night, Brian woke up. In an almost dream-like state, he stood up, unhooking sensors and pulling out his IV. Monitors began to beep, but he ignored them. He walked into the hall, then into Minnie’s room. The same cop was there, but was sleeping. The nurse desk was empty, too. Brian touched Minnie and got a clear flash of the last place she was before whatever happened to her occurred. She was in the center of a pentagram in a room. Beaded curtains hung in a doorway behind her. Wicce themed art and symbols covered the wall. It was the same room in the same house as he’d seen when he’d touched Maya. The same room where she’d stood over a dead woman and said sadly that was the last of them.
Brian couldn’t see them, but half a dozen of the not-quite-ghost watchers were in the room watching him and Minnie.