Upon seeing Megan, Henry hugs her fiercely, relief written all over his face. Darrek steps aside to talk with Klaus, who tells him they have been trying for days to convince them to leave, without success. The leader of the homeless, a blind veteran known as ‘Sarge’ asks Darrek what business they have with his community. Darrek explains that their community is in danger and they have been sent by the King to assist with getting them all somewhere safe. Sarge is insistent that they are not leaving, becoming more belligerent as Darrek attempts to reason with him, and eventually shutting down altogether.
A young redheaded girl joins Klaus and Megan as they talk with the group. Her name is Tammy Jenkins, and the group learns that she is Sarge’s daughter, who visits him sometimes on the weekends-her mother is unaware that he is homeless and mentally ill, and Tammy often lies to her about her visits with her father and what they do together. She is very excited to see another teenager, and is clearly attracted to Henry.
Darrek goes outside and begins casting protective wards. Henry and Tammy watch him. Tammy then begins casting a spell of her own which Darrek immediately senses is fueled by Taint. He attempts to stop her, and she defiantly counters that she found the spell in a book and knows it works. They argue, and Henry intervenes. Darrek walks away and continues working on his wards.
Tammy thanks Henry and the two talk and get to know one another better. Henry asks Tammy if she has tried getting through to her father about the imminent danger coming for them. She confides in him that the doctors say that there’s nothing wrong with her father and he’s not actually blind-it seems to be a psychological issue related to his trauma.
After talking with Tammy, Henry begins making inscriptions of magical circles in the ground with a stick. Watching as he does it, Darrek realizes that he is casting a magical circle for storing additional power that can be accessed later to boost his spells.
Inside, Danny talks with Sarge, attempting to get through to him. Darrek comes in after finishing his wards and joins them. When he specifically mentions Tammy and keeping her safe, Sarge appears to have a moment of clarity; however, as soon as Darrek suggests a safe location where the community can temporarily relocate, he immediately shuts down again and continues to refuse to leave. The group decides to focus their energy on making preparations for the impending fight. As they work, out of the blue, Darrek asks Henry for his thoughts about which gaming system is the best, explaining that his best friend, Daniel, wants to purchase one.
As midnight approaches, Matthew leaves and steals a car. The group watches as a limousine and several SUVs pull up, and a large group of men with firearms get out and begin approaching them, carrying the same energy signature resembling Lyssicus the group has encountered before. As they do, Matthew drives directly into them, a flaming rag tucked into the gas tank of the car. He jumps out and rolls. It hits them and explodes, and much chaos ensues as the battle begins.
BIG EPIC FIGHT ENSUES. Highlights:
Darrek casts a shield on himself and Henry, protecting them from physical attacks.
Hilda is shot knocking a homeless hobo down as a cultist takes aim.
Yun-Xun attempts to catch a bullet being aimed at a homeless veteran and fails. Matthew jumps in to knock them both out of the way.
The homeless community are very inspired by the group’s heroism and begin tearing into cultists. Julie rolls up x4 for Sarge. He picks up one of the cultist’s AR-15s and begins sweeping cultists.
Danny gets shot.
Megan gets shot.
Darrek casts a spell (Cathbad’s Guidance) on Danny, boosting his attack and strength. He tears into the cultist who shot him, ending his career.
Everyone senses a massive swell of Lyssicus and watch as another limousine stops above on the bridge itself. The door opens and an enormous serpent with a hood slithers out and comes down over the side of the bridge towards the group. Screams echo as bystanders see the creature, whom the group assumes is the Green Goddess.
Matthew, Darrek, Henry, and Yun-Xun are shot at. Yun-Xun successfully catches one of the bullets!
Sarge corrals his remaining community and directs them back into the tunnels under the bridge. Tammy again casts her Mythos wards as the homeless run into the tunnels, and bullets appear to slow down as they pass through the enchantments.
The group faces down with the giant snake. Darreks throws a massive wave of Soulfire at it. Henry also casts a spell, causing the snake to burn with a mystical fire, which injures it severely. It screams. Hilda then closes in on it, finishing it off.
The sounds of police sirens fill the air, and after ensuring that the remaining homeless are safe within the tunnels under the bridge, the group quickly disappears, heading to their respective abodes.
Arriving home, an exhausted Henry goes straight to bed. Darrek and Emily proceed to have some much-needed sexy time together, at long last. As they lie in each other’s arms after making love, they discuss Henry’s upcoming seventeenth birthday and plan a surprise party for him at the Hive Arcana.
Danny, Henry, and Darrek are awakened in the middle of the night to giant snakes in their respective beds. Danny manages to dodge out of the way of its attack and rips its head off. Henry and Darrek are both bitten. Darrek shoves Emily out of their bed and throws himself between it and her. Using their magics, the two both manage to eviscerate their assailants. Darrek then pulls on some pants and runs to Henry’s room to check on him, having sensed his use of Essence. Omar, finally finding her voice, begins barking loudly in rapid succession.
Realizing that her husband and foster son have both been poisoned, Emily also quickly throws on clothes and drives them to the nearest emergency room. They are given standard anti-venom, which seems to hold the poison quickly moving through them at bay, but does not destroy it entirely. Both of them, deathly ill and extremely weak, are admitted to the ICU.
Their doctor brings in a biochemist to consult, who is none other than Delia Borgato, whom the group assumed was dead. Danny thinks to bring the head of the snake he killed to the hospital, and she is able to use it to develop another anti-venom to successfully combat the poison, saving Darrek and Henry’s lives. They remain hospitalized for another day before being released. While Henry is napping that afternoon, Darrek informs the rest of the group of the celebration being planned for Henry’s birthday, and invites them all to come.
After Darrek and Henry are discharged from the hospital, that evening the group goes to follow up on their lead at the publishing company Downtown on Smithfield Street. Darrek uses his magics to put the desk guard into a deep mystical sleep, taking his keys and ID, and the group goes to investigate Darkblood Publishing, which is listed as occupying the sixteenth and eighteenth floors. Hilda suggests checking out floor seventeen as well, and they discover that it appears to be under construction. As they explore, they find a “pleasure room” of sorts, with a bound woman being consumed by a massive slug, her screams muffled by swaths of duct tape as two men in tuxedos smoking hookahs watch. One of the men, whom the group can sense is deeply tainted with Lyssicus, looks very familiar to Matthew and Darrek, though they are unable to place him.
The group moves to rescue the woman. As Matthew attacks the slug, it screams, sounding quite human, which deeply disturbs several members of the group. Hilda runs in, grabbing the slug by the mouth and ripping it off of the woman, who manages to get free. It then bites Hilda and begins consuming her, its mouth wrapping around her arm up to the elbow.
One of the men pulls a gun and shoots Danny three times. Amazingly, the damage is not as severe as it initially appears. Darrek runs over and casts a shield around him and Danny, protecting him from further physical attacks.
Yun-Xun blasts the slug with Chi. It lets out another human-sounding scream and shrivels.
Henry makes some subtle gestures with his hands, his spell hitting the Tainted man’s shield.
The other man also pulls a gun and shoots at Matthew. Matthew proceeds to cut him down without breaking a sweat.
Danny shifts and tears into the other man, killing him. Darrek and Matthew recall that he was a fringe Goth who used to hang out at the Hive Arcana who went by the pseudonym Stephanas Darkblood. As they search his body, they find his wallet with an ID that lists his actual name, Stephen Feldman. Darrek also discovers that he is wearing a talisman under his shirt.
Darrek recognizes the slug as being a Fate Spawn of N’Kai, a Mythos entity, and deduces that the talisman is meant to assist in summoning and controlling the creature. He tells the rest of the group that they consume humans and take can then take on their form.
Searching Darkblood Publishing, the group finds three invitations by one Elmore Job Hastings to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Egyptian exhibit for a black tie masquerade event later that evening. They also find a rubber pig mask, a rubber Nixon mask, and a spell written in a notebook.
As Henry attempts to investigate the spell more closely, Darrek intervenes and takes the notebook from him. Glancing at it,he can tell right away that it is a Mythos spell. As the group heads outside, Darrek borrows Danny’s lighter and ignites the notebook, tossing it into a metal garbage can on the street.
Everyone quickly changes into more appropriate attire. Hilda and Yun-Xun wear their dresses from the Conclave, and Danny, Darrek, Henry, and Matthew put on tuxes. Invitations in hand, they then head to the museum. Guests crowd the Egyptian exhibit, and the group attempts to get their bearings.
About ten minutes before midnight, a hooded woman limps up to Danny. Her eyes are yellow slits in the dark beneath her hood, and she hisses, “Leave while you still can.” Servers carrying trays of flutes begin passing out champagne to all of the guests. The group collectively decline the offered drinks.
A short, stout man dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder comes out and stands at the podium. Removing his mask, he is revealed to be EJ Hastings. He taps the microphone and says, “Is this thing on?” There is a wave of feedback, and as he begins his speech, he is rushed by several snake-headed creatures identical to the ones Danny, Matthew, Hilda, and Yun-Xun fought in the sewers. The monsters also begin attacking some of the guests.
The lights suddenly go out. Guests start screaming and gunfire erupts, blinding the group as they attempt to orient themselves. Outside, a yellow moon rises in the sky, casting its light through the windows of the hall.
Matthew wades in and swings his sword, killing one of the snake monsters. He notices that several of the guests being attacked pull out guns. Several more guests drop over dead, with broken champagne glasses in their hands. Darrek and Henry recall that the ritual Hastings was planning required a massive sacrifice, and deduce that the champagne drinks are poisoned. Darrek notices that the creatures appear to be attacking specific guests. He throws Soulfire at one of them. Henry also casts a spell, causing columns of green fire to engulf one of the monsters. Yun-Xun positions herself between the snake creatures and the guests, and Henry begins to coordinate an evacuation of the remaining guests.
The group all sense a large swell of Tainted energy, and the woman Danny spoke to earlier is blown across the room. She picks herself up and stalks through the crowd towards the source of the attack. Several of the other snake creatures join her and also move in that direction.
Darrek throws another wave of Soulfire at the creature he previously attacked. Danny runs up the wall and over the chaotic crowds and can see EJ Hastings crouched in a corner, bristling with Taint. The snake woman and her entourage are clearly approaching him. Danny strikes Hastings across the face as he comes down from the wall. Henry again manifests a massive column of magical green fire, and several of the snake creatures catch fire and drop to the floor.
Hastings stands up and casts a spell fueled by Taint at the woman. She goes down to one knee, shakes her head, and then rises and resumes her pursuit. Talons dripping with venom erupt from her hands as she viciously descends upon him. The other snake creatures with her also attack Hastings.
Darrek sees Matthew and Danny across the room and runs through the crowd towards them, casting a physical shield on himself as the guests with guns begin opening fire on the group. Danny and Matthew focus their attacks on Hastings, managing to disable him. The snake woman hisses, “He is ours,” and proceeds to end his career. The group sees a large puddle of blood spreading out across the marble floor underneath Hastings’ body. Seeing that Hastings is dead, the guests with guns put their weapons back into their coats and quietly meld into the crowds. Hearing the sound of approaching sirens as they exit the museum, the group also disappears.
The next day as they are wrapping the case up, Henry suggests to Darrek that they go check out Hastings’ address. During their search of his abode, Henry finds the Grimoire of the Green Goddess. Darrek then drives them to the Hive Arcana to put it and the missing half page from Oddmuth into Anita’s vault.
Going upstairs after dropping the items off in the vault, Henry is stunned to discover a large gathering of people waiting for him including the rest of the group, Emily, Anita, Klaus, Dana, Jamie, and Daniel. They shout, “Surprise! Happy birthday, Henry!” in unison when he walks into the room. Megan hugs him and ruffles his hair, grinning. Streamers and balloons decorate the upstairs of the Hive Arcana, and there is a massive candy buffet with every variety of Swedish fish known to mankind and a chocolate cake with mocha filling and French buttercream frosting decorated to look like a rainbow flag from Bethel Bakery, complete with seventeen candles. Henry receives several gifts, including a Playstation 4 from Darrek and Emily, a multitude of cards and gift cards, and a red envelope full of cash from Yun-Xun.
As Henry’s party winds down, Anita calls the group into her office and congratulates them on a job well done with their most recent case. She proceeds to tell them that she’s learned a bit more about the Heralds of Cassilda, explaining that they are a possessing force of sorts and not human, so they cannot truly be killed, but they can be sent back to wherever it is that they come from. She also tells them that the Heralds are apparently able to assume the forms of people who have died. She avoids very specific questions from the group, particularly regarding how she obtained this information, and promptly changes the subject by asking Darrek where he purchased Henry’s insanely delicious cake.
As the group files out of her office, she stops Darrek before he leaves and says, “I, uh…I have something I want to share with you about this…but not yet…not today, anyway. Come by some afternoon when Henry’s working on school stuff and you don’t have class, okay?” He nods, asking her if everything is alright.
He is surprised to see her genuinely smile at him for the first time in a very long time. “Yeah, actually, all things considered, I’m doing pretty good,” she says. “We’ll talk soon.”
Memorable Quotes and Great Moments:
Re: Henry’s birthday gift from Yun-Xun
“So Henry would probably get a red envelope with money in it from Yun-Xun, I think…”-Mike D.
“Are you seriously Googling how to be Chinese? Like, on your phone?”-Julie
Re: Upon seeing Darrek and Henry
“You’ve had day, too.”-Hilda
“He’s fine. He did this to himself.”-Darrek
“The King said his people are under a bridge Downtown, and our friends may be with them.”-Yun-Xun
“Yun-Xun…there’s, like, many bridges…which one?”-Darrek
Re: Fort Duquesne
“I spent a lot of time under this bridge.”-Henry
“Oh, yeah? Seems like a really great bridge.”-Darrek
To Robert “She’s definitely attracted to Henry, and very happy to see another teenager.”-Jason
Grinning “Well, he is a heartbreaker. How sad for her that he’s also very gay.”-Darrek
Re: Darrek and Tammy
“And who the fuck are you, old man?”-Tammy
Re: Darrek’s arrogance towards Tammy
“Darrek…you’re doing that thing again.”-Henry
“That thing where you think you know better than everyone else.”-Henry
“When it comes to teenagers using Tainted magic, it just so happens that I DO know better than everyone else!”-Darrek
Re: Henry’s magic circle
“That’s so bloody smart. Why didn’t I think of that?”-Darrek
Henry waves his mother’s journal above his head
“Remember, at midnight we get a +1 to our spellcasting rolls.”-Robert
“That’s what happens when I stay up past my bedtime!”-Julie
“You remember his name…”-Darrek
Grinning sheepishly “Well, obviously. Everyone likes a bad boy.”-Henry
“Now we know it’s a Nocturnum game! Someone blew up Point State Park!”-Jason
Re: Team Ultraviolence
“This was supposed to be a milk run…just murder a bunch of hobos!”-Robert
Re: The Green Goddess
“Like, large and/or fantastic?”-Mike D.
Re: Flames of purification spell
“It only works on supernatural creatures, which I’m assuming a gigantic snake monster is.”-Robert
“No, it’s a completely normal gigantic snake monster.”-Jason
Re: After Henry attacks the Green Goddess
“So, there’s a big, flaming snake.”-Tom
In a bad German accent “The last time a giant, flaming snake came at me, he didn’t walk for three weeks!:”-Mike D
Re: The players rally
“I just want you to know that the snake is still attacking you even though it’s on fire.”-Jason
“But you said it’s blind…”-Julie
“SON OF A BITCH!”-Jason
“I don’t get to Kiefer the GM very often!”-Julie
Re: Kiefering the GM
“…I love you…”-Julie
“Hilda, make a dodge roll.”-Jason
“SON OF A BITCH!”-Jason
Re: Darrek and Henry arriving home
“What the Hell happened to you two? Nevermind, I don’t want to know.”-Emily
To Henry “Off to bed, you.”-Darrek
“Goodnight, Henry." Grabs Darrek by his tie and pulls him towards their bedroom "It’s definitely bedtime for you, too, professor.”-Emily
“Really? Brilliant!” To Henry, as he’s being dragged away “Hen…you, ehm, might want to put some music on. Like, really loud music.”-Darrek
Re: Pillow talk
“So, how much does a Playstation 4 cost, anyway?”-Darrek
“New or used?”-Emily
“Like four hundred dollars, I think. Why?”-Emily
“That’s what we’re getting the boy for his birthday.”-Darrek
“My natural defensive response to a giant snake attacking me in bed is green fire.”-Robert
“Okay, so…Blood and Guts Catering?”-Don
“There was a giant snake, Darrek. In our bed. I don’t care what it takes, you find whoever did this and make them pay.”-Emily
Re: The snake
“Well, at least it didn’t show up when we were in the middle of having sex. Because that’s a thing that would totally happen to me.”-Darrek
Re: Vague talk
“So, Love, about that thing…”-Darrek
“The thing…you know, from the other night…”-Darrek
“Darrek! Do you really think that’s appropriate to be discussing in front of our foster son?”-Emily
“Bloody Christ, woman, not that thing. The other thing. The thing that’s going on my credit card.”-Darrek
“Oh, that thing. No, not yet. I haven’t really had time to get that thing yet, with you and Henry nearly dying and being hospitalized, so…”-Emily
“Can I get a drama point? I’ve been funny as shit all night and haven’t gotten a single one!”-Julie
Re: The woman being consumed by a massive slug-thing
“Oh, Hell no.”-Hilda
Re: Matthew’s criticism of Hilda and Yun-Xun’s approach
“You know what? We’re going in. You feel free to flank around us.”-Mike D.
“When a woman’s not being eaten, we can think about flanking.”-Tom
Re: Hilda and Yun-Xun’s defiance of Matthew
“It’s not very much fun when it’s happening to you, is it?!”-Julie (in Darrek’s British accent)
Re: The two men in tuxedos smoking hookahs
“Oh, I’m knocking them the Hell out. Because who the Hell watches that shit for recreation?”-Julie
“So, I guess he’s not special?”-Mike V.
“I’ve seen you put a whole bunch of Essence into people before.”-Matthew
“That was supposed to be private!”-Darrek
Re: Stephen Feldman
“I should have stabbed that kid way back when.”-Matthew
Re: Henry looking at the Mythos spell
Taking the notebook out of his hands “I’ll have that, thank you very much.”-Darrek
“What’s the big deal? It’s not like I can use magic like that, anyway.”-Henry
“There will no going crazy on the eve of your birthday.”-Darrek
“But it’s perfectly okay for you to read it and go crazy?”-Matthew
“WILL EVERYONE STOP QUESTIONING MY PARENTING DECISIONS?!”-Darrek
Re: The masquerade ball at the Carnegie
“I’m wearing a Buddy Christ mask.”-Matthew
“The next day your mother visits you and says, ‘That was in very poor taste,’”-Jason
Re: Henry’s birthday
“So, how old is he turning?”-Matthew
“I was going to buy him a nice bottle of booze.”-Matthew
“Since CYF drops by my house unexpectedly quite often, and since I very recently got sober myself, I’d really rather that you didn’t. A gift card will be just fine, thanks.”-Darrek
“I guess he wasn’t a very good snake cultist.”-Henry
“Let this be a lesson to you.”-Darrek
Re: Danny running up the wall and over the crowd
“Jaguar man, jaguar man…does whatever a jaguar can…”-Robert
Re: Danny hitting Hastings
“Spirit claws?”-Mike D.
“No, just a regular bitch slap.”-Don
Re: Flames of Purification
“The last time I manifested columns of green fire in public, you yelled at me.”-Henry
“That was in broad daylight at a Starbucks. And I did not yell at you.”-Darrek
Re: The snake lady and Hastings
“She’s mad at him.”-Yun-Xun
“Yeah, get in line.”-Darrek
Re: Henry’s birthday
“I could get him a hooker.” – Matthew
“Do not purchase a hooker for my son.” – Darrek
“Yeah, it’s probably hard to find a good male hooker around here anyway.” – Danny
“We are not getting a hooker for Henry!” – Darrek
“Fine, I’ll just download Grindr on my phone.” – Henry
“What’s Grindr?” – Darrek
“…a gay hookup app…” – Henry
“I will so ground you…” – Darrek