The Case of Minnie Turner

Chapter Three - Minnie at County Hospital
Escaping the Necropolis, searching the library, and dark portents at County Hospital

Chapter Three: Minnie at County Hospital

Summary

tl;dr…

Violet awakened in the Death Realms where a cloaked woman told her that when the time was right she’d tell Violet what she needed to know. She also said that Violet’s fate was linked to Minnie’s fate and she had to save Minnie. Then Violet met Arianna, a Thanatoi immortal, who told her something was happening in the Catacombs in the Death Realms. When she traveled back to the world of the living, she was pulled to Father Zach, who didn’t seem to recognize her and tried to attack her before she teleported to Edwin.

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. She also learned that her mother was in town. She botched a spell while trying to read Professor Moss while talking to him and he saw something in her that frightened him.

Night rejoined the others and they took Brian to the hospital in Cranton where Minnie was and where Dr. Stevens was an ally in the know about the supernatural (though he is Mundane). There were strange watchers all over Cranston and in the hospital. Edwin talked to Dr. Stevens (with Violet watching). The lawyer, Miya Hartman came in. She was covered in the residue of dark magic, meaning she was either an evil practitioner or a victim or some sort. Either way, she was on Edwin’s radar.

Violet floated into Minnie’s room and saw that her spirit was gone but a decay-covered silver cord stretched to wherever her spirit was. When she told Edwin, he astral projected but on the way one of the watchers approached him and said her name was Sarah and asked if he knew where her body was.

The hospital was creepy in general and everyone was covered in the residue of death, except for Dr. Stevens who was weirdly clean. There was also a creepy janitor who stared at them, but then wandered off.

The TV was on to the news were the reporter, Kylee Betz, did an interview that talked about all of them (except for Violet) and adding that they’d been seen leaving Harpers Crossing together.

Later that night, Brian wandered in and 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…

The Library

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.

County Hospital

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.

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Chapter Two - Minnie's Old Friends
Retracing Minnie's last days

Chapter Two: Minnie’s Old Friends

Summary

tl;dr…

Brian McRae had a vision of Minnie, with another girl. He investigated and had more visions of a group of street kids. He went to the vigil in Harpers Crossing to see if any of the kids showed up.

Picking up where last session ended, when Minnie’s ghost disappeared, it knocked Violet into some sort of ghost coma. Then the Soul Eater appeared. Lina tried to stop it, but she wasn’t strong enough. Father Zachary grabbed Violet and teleported her to safety. The coven banished it with the help of Night, Brian, and Edwin.

Lina was blamed for sabotaging the picture. Edwin strengthened that beleif (to give a mundane explanation) but pushed for sympathy towards Lina. The whole exchange was caught on national television.

The four PCs (except Violet) compared notes and Night recognized the other girl in Brian’s vision as Hazel Weiss, another run-away. They went to New Hope to find her. Night went to the library to investigate while the other three found Jake (one of the street kids), who told them Hazel disappeared the same time Minnie did.

Jake lead them to where Hazel slept last and Brian uses his ability to see into Hazel’s future. He saw a vision of of Hazel as the 8th victim. Some powerful and evil force noticed him and attacked. Brian is badly injured, but Edwin heals him most of the way and they decide to head to the .Cranston County Hospital (where Minnie is).

That’s where we ended.

List of clues and significant events:

  • Minnie hung out with a group of homeless teens in New Hope
  • Those teens hung out with a figure that was clouded in Brian’s visions
  • Hazel will be victim #8 (it’s unclear if she’s already dead or will be soon)
  • Violet is in some sort of ghost coma — what did she experience?
  • There is something vast and powerful (like an ancient god) tied to the murders
  • The symbol of a white triangle might be significant
  • The Catacombs and subterranean graves are becoming a recurring theme
  • Brian has scared and probably pissed off the FBI
  • Some of the PCs have drawn the attention of the media

Visions of Minnie

Brian McRae had an overpowering vision at the moment of the massive Essence surge the night before Minnie was found. In it, he saw Minnie talking to another girl in an alleyway. He recognized it and knew it was in the Hoyt and Cross financial district of downtown New Hope. He went there and found several cigarette butts and other trash that he could read. He was still raw from the massive vision and lost control, getting a flood of visions instead of being able to hone on what he wants. Minnie was part of a shifting group of street kids who often met here. Brian would be able to recognize many of them later. He also saw a blurred, shadowy figure (male and adult, but otherwise unclear). The kids interacted with him and didn’t seem scared or worried, but no matter what Brian tried, he couldn’t see him clearly. Brian decided to go to the vigil in Harpers Crossing in case any of the kids (who were Minnie’s friends) showed up.

The End of the Vigil

When Minnie’s ghost disappeared, it pulled at Edwin and Violet like a sucking void. Edwin’s Essence Shield spell blocked the worst of the effect, though it almost broke his shield. He snapped back to his body. Violet was less lucky and was knocked into some sort of ghost coma.

Then the Soul Eater appeared.It was a nine-foot tall shadowed figure. It was humanoid, with a wide-brimmed hat, inhumanly wide shoulders and too-long arms that ended in talons. It appeared to be made completely of shadows, except for its eyes, which burned the same red as the numbers the victims.

Lina tried to banish the Soul Eater to protect the unconscious Violet (against the advice of her mentor, Gabriel), but she wasn’t strong enough. Luckily, Father Zachary grabbed her and teleported her away somewhere. The Soul Eater turned it’s attention to Lina and began advancing towards her. Gabriel pushed through the crowd, grabbed her by the shoulders, and forcibly shut down her death sight.

The coven of Wicce, lead by Maya pulled Night, Brian, and Edwin into their circle and with 7 members they banished the Soul Eater. With the three PCs added to the circle, the remaining three Wicce formed a second circle to hide the large amount of Essence the circle of 7 gathered to lessen attention both locally and lessen how far away it could be sensed. Several mundane bystanders witnessed and afterwards Edwin made a show of thanking the “wiccans” for including him in their prayer for Minnie.

Meanwhile, Lina was being blamed for sabotaging the picture. She tried to slip away and the crowd closed to keep her there. She tried talking to them and convincing them to let her past, but she failed badly and they became more suspicious. She was near tears.

Edwin, Brian, and Night heard the commotion and pulled away from the coven. As they were leaving, Brian touched Maya, the high priestess, and got a vision from her past:

Maya enters a small, but tidy house. Incense burns, the shelves is full of books on feminism and witchcraft. Pictures of the moon and priestesses and cats and occult symbols decorate the wall. Maya pushes through a bead curtain, then walks through the kitchen (soup boils on the stove). Through another door, this one carved with an ornate pentagram, into a Wicce sanctum. A pentagram in a circle is drawn on the floor. Familiar ritual tools are placed around at the corners. It’s a typical magical scene, except for the woman sprawled across the pentagram. Her breath catches in a stifled sob.

“That’s the last of them. They’re all gone,” Maya’s voice fills the room, thick with grief. Brian can’t see the dead woman’s face.

Edwin reached the front of the crowd and had much better luck calming them, talking to several of them individually by name. However, he didn’t try to remove suspicion from Lina; instead he put the blame squarely on Lina in order to provide a clear mundane explanation, but convinced everyone to have sympathy. Lina was not thrilled. Then Brian did a “Sherlock Holmes” and showed off knowing a lot about the FBI agents (from his psychometry) and intimidated and stunned them into silence before they got involved. He succeeded with a dramatic flair and videos of his show soon went viral. Meanwhile, stories of Lina and her emotional disturbance would be front page news (though the coverage was sympathetic, with many of the witnesses interviewed quoting Edwin’s comments about being understanding).

Looking for the Other Kids

Edwin, Night, Lina, and Brian (all of the PCs, except Violet) gathered in a meeting room in the Town Hall to compare notes. Based on Brian’s vision and drawings, Night recognized the other girl as Hazel Weiss, another run-away (though she was 18 and so not reported).

Edwin ensured that Violet was okay, then the rest of them went to New Hope to find her. As they drove out of town (in Edwin’s car), Lina saw that many of the ghosts gathered at the periphery of Harpers Crossing were gone now — they’d been eaten by the Soul Eater.

It was late, so they began searching the following morning (Monday, Sep 4, 2017). Night went to the library to investigate, while the other three talked to homeless until in Grand Junction, the rundown bus terminal were many of the poor entered the city, they found a kid Brian recognized from his visions. The kid gave his name as Jake. He told them that Hazel and Minnie were close, but that Hazel disappeared the same time Minnie did.

At Brian’s request, he lead them to where Hazel slept last. It was an abandoned three story brick warehouse also in the Grand Junction neighborhood. The street kids had squatted there for a couple weeks until rougher elements drove them out. It was a crack den now. Jake found an old hat that Hazel had used and gave it to Brian.

Hazel had lost the hat before she disappeared, so Brian couldn’t simply read the past. Instead he had to read the future, which was harder and also more dramatic to witness. There was a block and he couldn’t see anything from the time the hat was lost until the present. He pushed further into the future, past the block and felt an ominous sense of danger and that something was beginning to notice him. He refused to stop and pressed on, knowing the danger. He found himself in what at first seemed like hallways, then he realized they were the tunnels of a catacomb, complete with corpses laid into tombs and slots in the walls. There was a glowing triangle in the distance. He approached until the triangle had grown into a large portal. On the other side he saw Hazel with a number “8” on her. She was dead. Then she convulsed and screamed silently like Minnie had. Behind him, something wet and tainted and wrong gurgled. When he turned, it slashed his face with dripping appendages somewhere between fingers and tentacles.

Brian snapped out of the vision, but the deep cuts were carved into his physical face. Bone showed through the deep cuts and black and green ichor was mixed in with the blood. All of the crack heads had started moaning and thrashing during his visions and many had screamed at the same time he was slashed.

Edwin rushed Brian, Lina, and the kid out of the crack house. The Essence in the crack hosue was terrible to begin with and worsened by the fallout of the vision and Edwin didn’t want to try to heal him there. The kid ran off. At his car, Edwin began regular first aid while he channeled enough Essence to heal Brian magically. Edwin felt all of the pain while healing and stifled his own screams. The wound closed most of the way, but even with magic it remained raw and loosely scabbed, ready to break back open. The infection seemed to be abated.

Brian needed further medical attention. They decided to take him to the Cranston County Hospital. First, the head doctor, Dr. Thaddeus Stevens, was known to all of them but more importantly at least partially clued-in. Second, it just so happened that they knew Minnie Turner was being kept there, so maybe they could pay her a visit and kill two birds with one stone.

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Chapter One - Minnie's Ghost
A Gathering of Victims and Investigators

Chapter One: Minnie’s Ghost

Summary

tl;dr…

Four of the PCs (Lina, Night, Violet, and Edwin) all meet up in Harpers Crossing. It’s a media circus and the normally bucolic Harpers Crossing is stuffed with people that night for a vigil held for the still unconscious Minnie Turner. At the vigil, Minnie’s ghost appears, but it is not like other ghosts. Her ghost approaches the display with her picture and flowers and touches her own picture, before grabbing the hands of Violet and Edwin (in spirit form). Violet and Edwin are burned by her touch, and her hand print is burned on the glass of the picture, along with the words: “Help me.” Everyone can see the hand print and writing and people begin screaming.

There are some clues and troubling portents revealed:

  • Ghosts are acting really strange and are drawn to Harpers Crossing
  • Minnie’s classmates know more about where she’s been the last year than the police do
  • Minnie is being held at Cranston County Hospital; it’s a secret, but all the PCs know the head doctor (Dr. Stevens) treating her
  • Minnie appeared as some form of ghost even though she isn’t dead
  • Minnie’s touch left marks similar to the numbers on the victims
  • A seemingly mundane CSI tech (Morgan Fredericks) aroused Edwin’s suspicion
  • A unknowingly Gifted reporter (Kylee Betz) recognized Night was more than she seemed and has become curious about her
  • Something called the Soul Eater has returned after not being seen since the murders stopped
  • Adam Hoffman (a Rosicrucian and Night’s dad) has invited both Night and Edwin to dinner, though different times)
  • The Wicce consider this case their responsibility and Edwin offered to help them

Ghosts in New Hope

Lina Harper had been stalked by the media and curious acquaintances since Minnie Turner was found. Twenty years ago, Lina’s mother, Linda Harper, was the face of the Hew Hope Devil murders. She was the second and most famous victim of Kevin Meadows and every news story at the time (and every documentary and made-for-TV movie since) always displayed her face. Lina didn’t remember her mother, but she looked almost identical. Now many of those same news stations were looking to get her reaction and face to display during the new round of stories.

Lina was staying on a friend’s couch in New Hope in a crappy, but relatively safe area on the edge of the Lockam slums and relatively nicer Morgan County Reservoir neighborhood. She’d been keeping her head down and not answering any of her growing number of emails and voice mails. Eventually, Lina risked venturing out (in disguise) to a local coffee place.

It didn’t take long for Lina to notice the ghosts. Lina was a necromancer and had seen ghosts her entire life, but there were several of them out on the streets in the daylight and heading west (in the direction of Harpers Crossing). That would have been strange enough under any circumstances, but several of them were mindless echoes at best and shouldn’t have been away from their anchors for any reason.

Lina had already planned on heading towards Harpers Crossing for the upcoming vigil. Combined with the massive burst of death-flavored Essence two nights ago, it was becoming clear that there was something big happening. Odds were it wasn’t anything good.

Preparing for the Vigil

Nighteen Hoffman (usually called Night) was in the Harpers Crossing Library helping prepare for the vigil later that night. She was gathering books and materials, her aging cat familiar curled on a shelf, watching impassively.

Night had spoken briefly with various members of the media that had descended on Harpers Crossing like thick flies. The library had significant and historically significant archives, almost none of it digitized yet, as well as a large collection of local history books. The head librarian was on an extended absence while she traveled and Night was currently in charge at the library.

Night overheard some voices in quiet conversation on the other side of a row of shelves.

“…her own fault, you know?” said the fist voice.

“I know,” the second voice said after a nervous giggle, “I heard someone saw her in ”/wikis/new-hope" class=“wiki-page-link”> New Hope hanging out with Morty and Autumn."

“Oh my god, those two are so creepy. It really is her fault…”

Just then they walked around the corner and saw Night looking at them. It was two high school girls she knew, Kristin Sparkman and Cyndi Dickman. They were both about Minnie’s age and had been in her class.

They both looked at Night, embarrassed that she had obviously overheard them. They mumbled hello and scurried out of the library.

Before the door closed all the way, it was pushed back open and two people entered. One was a pretty young black reporter Night vaguely recognized from some New Hope TV station. Her name was Kylee, though Night couldn’t remember her last name.

Kylee was Gifted, though she didn’t seem to realize it. The Gifted can sense each other and Kylee realized there was something about Night, though she didn’t understand what she wass feeling. She latched onto Night based on a “hunch” that she was significant. Night brushed her off by acting obtuse and cheerful and giving inane answers, but Kylee wasn’t convinced. She left with a knowing smile, a wave, and another appraising look. She’d be back.

Across the town, Violet Holmes stood at edge of city looking at where dozens of ghosts had already gathered. The red number “7” from her murder was clearly visible and couldn’t be hidden in the Twilight Realms. More ghosts were coming in a slow but steady stream. The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, which surrounded Harpers Crossing on three sides formed a barrier they couldn’t cross, so they stood around like gawkers behind police tape.

Harpers Crossing was old and full of ghosts. The two other powerful ghosts in town were also nearby watching. Father Zach, an old ghost of a priest, a little addled, but charming and chatty (during the day at least), stood by Violet’s side companionably. The other ghost, known only as “Blue”, stood apart, radiating cold and anger. Blue was a terrifyingly powerful ghost of an unnamed Civil War soldier and normally never left the caves in the rock ledge that “Lower Town” Harpers Crossing sat on.

Father Zach talked to Violet about the ghosts gathering. It had happened before, he told her, when the murderer Kevin Meadows began murdering in Harpers Crossing two decades ago. He glanced at her number several times. He knew she didn’t remember being murdered or anything until after Meadows was caught. Father Zach continued, saying that the buzz in the ghost taverns in New Hope was that the Soul Eater was back.

Violet hadn’t heard of the Soul Eater but felt a chill. She decided it was time to talk to Edwin. They’d made a pact, sealed with a shake, years ago and she could sense him and appear in his presence at will as easily as any of her anchors.

The Harpers Crossing Town Hall was a small brick building in the heart of the historic district of Harpers Crossing. Inside, Mayor Edwin Danforth Stowell came out of the second meeting of the Harpers Crossing Town Council that day. The other six members besides the mayor were all wired, ranging from worried to poorly hidden excitement. Edwin calmed and chatted with each in turn. Once he was satisfied that everyone was at least reasonably level-headed, he begged off saying he needed to call his wife, Marie. He stepped into the small hallway, crossed to his small office, and called her. They talk briefly before the ghost Violet appears next to him. Edwin acknowledged her presence with a nod and wrapped up his call.

Edwin hung up and turned to Violet. She filled him on what Father Zach had said about the Soul Eater. Edwin had heard of it back when he’d first arrived, but didn’t know much. It was some sort of ghost or spirit that ate ghosts. It was scary and powerful, but disappeared as soon as the murders stopped without a trace… until now.

Then there was a “pinging” at the wards Edwin had placed around his studio. It felt like someone or something systematically testing those wards. Worried and disturbed, Edwin decided to check it out right away and Violet came with him. His studio was nearby and it didn’t take long to reach it. Edwin peaked around a corner to get a glimpse without being seen.

Morgan Fredericks, a CSI tech from New Hope Police Department was causally standing on the street, looking bored, and throwing small stones at the foundation of the studio (not hard enough to cause any damage).

He appeared completely mundane to both Edwin and Violet, so Edwin approached. Morgan looked up, not seeming worried or furtive and smiled at Edwin. Edwin put on his most winning smile and turned the charm up to 11. Morgan didn’t stand a chance and a few minutes later was sitting in the studio sipping tea and telling Edwin his life story.

Morgan was excited about the murders, but as a cool technical challenge, not maliciously. Violet watched him closely; like all ghosts she could see the surge of Essence that unshielded humans released when lying. Morgan was guileless, with no flairs, except for one topic: When Edwin asked him about his boss, Morgan talked about his supervisor at the New Hope Police Department and Edwin picked up no change in his voice or face, but Violet saw a flair. He was lying about something. Violet told Edwin and Edwin asked more questions. Morgan’s answers were all fine on the surface and Edwin wasn’t able to find any clue what he was lying about.

Edwin was paranoid at the best of times, due to his secret identity and secret mission as a ranking member of the Knights Templar and his paranoia was now in full gear, but he let Morgan leave with a cheerful wave.

Approaching the bridge over the rivers into Harpers Crossing, Lina didn’t slow her moped when she saw dozens of ghosts gathered. They saw her and several moved in her direction, begging her to take them across. Lina ignored them uncomfortably and they fell behind her as the sound of the road under her changed as she pulled onto the metal bridge.

On the other side of the bridge Lina was officially in Harpers Crossing. Matthew Schul, the deputy of Harpers Crossing and one of the only two law enforcement in Harper’s Crossing Sheriff’s Department, greeted her. He knew her from her visits when she was younger. He says he hopes she already has arrangements because there are no empty rooms anywhere with all the media squatting in town. She assures him she does, hoping that’s true with her few friends in town. It’s almost dark now and people are gathering for the vigil.

The Vigil Begins

Night was greeted by all the locals as she walked into the park where the vigil was being held. She saw Kristin, one of the girls she’d overheard in the library, with her mom, Abby Sparkman. Abby approached her and started talking, trapping Night unless she wanted to be rude. Abby was worried and scared and talked a lot about how Kristin was the same age as Minnie Turner and wasn’t that terrible. Kristin looks embarrassed and avoids eye contact, scanning the crowd instead.

Then Night saw Kylee Betz, the reporter from the library. Kylee hadn’t spotted her yet, but would momentarily and Night was sure she’d approach for an interview with cameraman in tow. Night excused herself, saying she saw a friend, and ducked away.

It was true, too. Eli Turnbow was in town and had spotted her. Eli was a Rosicrusian and old family friend. Night’s father, Adam Hoffman, had been his mentor and had never hidden that he thought Eli was a proper match for Night. Night didn’t mind Eli, though she wasn’t romantically interested. He was so… white bread.

Eli greeted Night brightly. After initial small talk, during which Night positioned them to be out of the reporter’s line of sight, Eli confessed that her father had given him a message for her. Her father wanted her to leave town and lay low. Things might get dangerous in the area. Night was dismissive saying he could tell her himself if he wished. Eli smiled, unfazed, and said that he’d also invited her to dinner on Sunday at 6:00 PM and he could tell her then. Night said she’d consider.

Kylie the reporter has moved on, and Night ventured back over to Abby and Kristin. Abby excitedly asked if that was her boyfriend and opined that he was cute. Night said no, jsut an old friend.

After Night left, Eli made his way towards Edwin. They were both Rosicrucians and knew each other fairly well. Eli greeted Edwin, then talked business. Most of the Rosicrucians were dealing with issues in Philadelphia and would be less help than usual. Nathan Lacroix, the highest ranking Rosicrucian in the region (and also a fellow Knights Templar, though only Edwin knew that piece) had expressed that he was confident Edwin could handle this, but he should reach out if things went pear shaped. Edwin had another surge of paranoia.

Then, clearly as a separate topic, Eli said that Adam Hoffman had something important to talk to him about and asked if he could come to dinner at Adam’s house on Sunday at 5:00 PM (an hour before Night was invited, though he didn’t know that yet). Edwin agreed.

Violet was by Edwin throughout this conversation, though Eli didn’t detect her. There was nothing suspicious about Eli. Violet did detect the flare of paranoia from Edwin, but she’s used to that. Edwin hides it well, but he’s paranoid and intense underneath.

On the other side of the park, Lina hovered at the edge of crowd, looking around. She saw Gabriel Silva, her old mentor who had introduced her to and inducted her into the Twilight Order. She smiled and cut through the crowd to his side. He nodded and they caught up briefly. He’d also seen the ghosts driving in, of course, which was why he was there. He asked if she’d seen “Blue” out and about. He seemed worried.

Meanwhile, Edwin saw a Wicce coven standing in a tight knot. At their front was Maya Ramsey, the infamous “queen of the Wicce” who headed the Drover’s Park Coven (the oldest and most influential Wicce coven), though if rumors were to be believed she was a controversial and unpopular figure among her fellow witches, only liked by her own coven, though all feared and respected her power.

Eli also saw her and looked eager to avoid her attention. Seeing that, Edwin smiled and dragged Eli over towards the coven. Eli looked pale. Violet trailed along. None of the Wicce seemed to notice her.

Edwin greeted Maya and the rest of the coven respectfully. He was friendly and complimentary, playing Maya and the coven up. He introduced Eli, enjoying the discomfort on both sides. Then Edwin let Eli flee. Edwin told Maya that he respected their expertise and authority and wanted to help them. They were surprised and flattered. Maya said that if he discovered where Minnie had been found or, better yet, where ritual had taken place, to pelase pass that along to them. Edwin agreed.

Minnie Turner’s Ghost

Then Minnie Turner appeared. The number “9” was glowing a disturbing red on the same spot where it was on her phsyical body. Like Violet’s number, it shone through clothing and couldn’t be hidden. She was a ghost, but she also wasn’t. She seemed to only be half there and she reeked with an overwhelming smell of death and rot and damp, like buried leaves turned to black slime. There was something deeply subterranean about the smell. It was a smell of ancient buried death. She looked around the crowd and her eyes locked on the dais at the center of the park, where a large photograph of her was wreathed in flowers, forming an altar of sorts. Minnie began floating towards the altar. People instinctively moved out of her path. When someone couldn’t move and she passed through them, they shuddered. One boy gasped out loud.

Lina saw her first and pushed through crowd towards her. Gabriel followed her gaze, then followed. He was several feet behind.

Violet noticed next and told Edwin what she saw. Edwin told the Maya and the coven an abbreviated version and asked them to watch his body. Before they had a chance to do more than nod, Edwin found a corner and sat down. He projected his spirit and his body’s head slumped onto his chest. The Wicce began looking around and casting sublte spells of their own, but they stayed in a circle around Edwin.

Minnie turned to look at Lina, Edwin, and Violet in turn. Her eyes were black and bottomless voids. They pulled at their souls, threatening to pull them in and endlessly down. Each of them choked down the supernatural pall of fear and kept approaching.

Lina reached Minnie first, jsut as Minnie reached the dais. The difference between the smiling blonde picture in the frame and the too thin figure with crudely cut and black dyed hair was striking. Lina was now standing out in front of the crowd by the picture. Several people turned to look at her. Minnie reached out a hand and pressed it onto her shoulder in her picture (where the number was on her body and on her ghostly form). A blackened hand print appeared, followed by the hand-written words “Help Me”. These appeared in the physcial world and people started screaming when they noticed.

Then Violet arrived, followed shortly by Edwin (in spirit form) and Gabriel (in physical form). Minnie grabbed Violet’s and Edwin’s hands. Her touch burned. When she let go, both of them had red finger marks on their hands. They were the same red as the numbers, though not quite as vivid. The same mark appeared faintly on Edwin’s phsyical body.

Minnie opened her mouth as if screaming, but no sound came out. Then she was gone, but the air was filled with rotten leaves and the smell of decay.

That’s where the session ended.

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Prologue
Minnie Harper is Discovered

Prologue: Minnie Harper is Discovered

Friday, September 1, 2017 – 12:00 PM EST:

Right at midnight, a massive burst of Essence was released somewhere between Harpers Crossing and New Hope. Every Gifted individual within over 50 miles felt it. The Essence tasted of the grave and death and something else. Something tainted. As suddenly as it began, the Essence burst ended. Something had happened. Something bad.

Saturday, September 2, 2017 – 10:30 AM EST:

A Harpers Crossing local, Trevon Caraballo, was hiking in the woods just north of the Potomac River outside Harpers Crossing when stumbled across a young woman stumbling through the woods. She had short hair dyed black, a torn and bloodied thin white dress, and no shoes. The woman was Minnie Turner, another Harpers Crossing native who disappeared a year ago.

She was clearly injured and traumatized, so Mr. Caraballo called the Harper’s Crossing Sheriff’s Department and an ambulance.

While helping her, Trevon noticed the red numeral “9” on her right shoulder blade. The police and the paramedics noticed it as well.

Saturday, September 2, 2017 – 01:00 PM EST:

The first of the reporters began pulling into Harpers Crossing in their vans and trucks. The calls to Mayor Edwin Danforth Stowell, Sheriff John Brown, and other officials had begun almost immediately after Minnie was found.

How was this possible? Kevin Meadows had been arrested as the “New Hope Devil” twenty years ago and was still sitting on Death Row. Was it a copycat? Was it possible they caught the wrong man and Kevin Meadows wasn’t the New Hope Devil after all?

The exact location of Minnie was kept secret and she was under police protection, but a press release said she was in stable condition, but had suffered significant physical and psychological trauma. She had slipped into a coma in the ambulance and had not yet awakened.

The town officials announced a vigil would be held the next night for Minnie in the Harpers Crossing town park.

Saturday, September 2, 2017 – 07:00 PM EST:

An FBI team, lead by Special Agents Giselle Elder and Tom Garland landed in the Pat Gleason Memorial Airport in New Hope. Arrangements had begun hours before and they were met by representatives from the New Hope Police Department. The newly formed combined task force arrived in Harpers Crossing about an hour later.

Meanwhile, as far away as New Hope, ghosts are drawn towards Harpers Crossing. It doesn’t matter whether they’re mindless echoes or powerful wraiths, and whether they are normally tied to anchors or free to travel as they wish, they all come. An exodus of ghosts begins to converge. They can’t cross the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers and are gathering like bystanders around an accident.

Sunday, September 3, 2017:

Our story begins…

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