The team debates what to do while waiting to hear back from Oddmuth regarding meeting with her. They decide to head to the library where E.J. Hasting once worked, and Letia Marsh was a volunteer. Once they arrive, the head to the rare books collection where Marsh worked, only to be told by the desk clerk that it is closed to the public.
Darrek asks the clerk about meeting with Varage. She gives him a call and is told to send the group up to his office. Varage is a middle-aged man in a rumpled suit. He gestures the group in, and closes the door behind them. With the door closed, he immediately begins to accuse the group of being sent by “him” as a scare tactic.
The group manages to calm Varage down, and learn that a number of people have been stopping by trying to find a particular grimoire that was in the collection. He says that he loaned the book to Professor Atterman, and he thinks that Hastings killed Atterman to get the book. Varage also mentions the missing half page, but insists that he doesn’t know where it is or what is on it. Henry asks Varage for the name of the grimoire, and is told that it is called The Grimoire of the Green Goddess.
Darrek brings up Letia Marsh, and Varage says that she stopped coming in recently. This doesn’t concern him, as library volunteers do that frequently. Darrek also asks who else has been coming in asking about the book. Varage says that the police, Oddmuth, and a number of others have come in. He also mentions that he thinks Oddmuth has the missing half page.
Varage then asks the group for protection. He says that there is something in the stacks of the rare books room that hunts him when he goes in, He says that he hasn’s seen it clearly, but it is short and hunched, and it makes some kind of terrible flapping noise. Darrek offers to send Varage to the Hive Arcana to lay low, but Varage refuses. Darrek says thatthe group will take care of the creature if Varage allows the group into the stacks. Varage readily agrees.
In the stacks, Matthew notices the creature almost immediately. He doesn’t get a clear look at it but sees that it looks exactly as Varage described. It scurries into a ventilation shaft and the entire group can hear a sickening flapping sound.
With the creature gone, Henry suggests to Varage that Matthew, Yun-Xun, Hilda, and Danny return to hunt the creature after closing time when there will be no patrons in the line of fire. Varage says that they can’t do that on such short notice, but he will speak with the library director and try to get permission for them to be in the library after close another day.
With that taken care of, Darrek’s phone rings. Answering it, he is greeted by Professor Oddmuth’s assistance, who informs him that she would like to meet with him at her penthouse downtown this evening at Darrek’s convenience. The assistant also mentions that he can bring Henry if he so desires.
Leaving the library, the group catches a whiff of acrid body odor as a homeless man grabs Hilda and tells her that the King wants to see her. The group splits, with Henry and Darrek going to meet with Oddmuth, and Hilda, Matthew, Yun-Xun, and Danny reluctantly following the homeless man.
The homeless man, who introduces himself as Barge, leads them deep into the sewers and to an abandoned subway platform. From there he jumps onto the tracks and motions them to follow. Eventually, he leads them through a crack in the tunnel wall, and the group realizes that they are hopelessly lost. Barge suddenly spins around to face them and smiles into the beam of his flashlight before turning it off, leaving them in pitch black darkness.
Light slowly begins to fill the area, revealing that they are in a junction of five tunnels. Numerous homeless people stand at the periphery. The is a chandelier here. A heavyset man wearing rags and bearing a striking resemblance to Elvis approaches them and throws a bundle of filthy newspapers at their feet.
The King tells them that he needs their help. He says that some of his people refuse to come underground where it is safe and that he will share information with the group if they bring his people home. He claims to know something about the investigation, and that the people who are after his followers are involved with the chicken massacre.
Matthew agrees to lend his assistance. The King informs them that there are two people at the heart of the issue – a librarian and a con-man. He says that have a base of operations on Smithfield Street. He claims that Oddmuth is already dead and that the men have the missing half page. He also claims that something “from beneath the waves” is here. He then tells the group that the people who need their help are under the Fort Duquesne Bridge and mentions that they will find friends of theirs there as well.
Suddenly, there is a blood-curdling scream as a homeless person is yanked violently into the darkness of a tunnel. Odd looking humanoid frog and snake hybrid monsters emerge from the darkness and start attacking the homeless people. The King suddenly vanishes, taking the light with him.
Danny shifts into his lycanthropic form, and sees that the monsters are everywhere. He shouts that they need to get out. Matthew and Yun-Xun quickly go to work trying to evacuate and defend the innocent homeless people from the monsters. Yun-Xun realizes that graffiti they saw on there way in is actually directions to return to the surface, and tries to lead the group out. As they reach a trolly station, the creatures retreat.
Commuters in the trolly station take notice of the battered and bloody people emerging from a tunnel. As Matthew changes into a clean suit, Yun-Xun, Danny, and Hilda are noticed by the police. Matthew pulls a fire alarm, and they slip away in the confusion before the police can stop them.
Meanwhile, Darrek and Henry arrive at Professor Oddmuth’s building. The porter and the doorman seem to be a bit too interested in them. Darrek asks them if they have a problem, and things get awkward. Oddmuth’s 20th story penthouse is elegantly appointed with antiques and fine artwork and finer furniture. She greets Darrek and Henry, and offers Darrek a tumbler of whiskey. Darrek declines the offer and suggests that they get down to business.
Oddmuth mentions that she has been meaning to contact Blake Investigations for some time now. She says that some “ridiculous types” are in way over their head and have drawn some attention, but she has managed to keep them off of her case for the moment. She admits that she possesses the missing half page from the grimoire and shows it to the two. Henry recognizes it as some obscure Coptic dialect, but cannot read it. Darrek recognizes it as an alchemical formula.
Oddmuth says that it is the means to activate a substance known as “Yothic resin.” The resin, when activated, can focus the light of the shadow world, granting power and charisma beyond measure. Legends claim that Hitler was the last to successfully use the resin. She also informs them that the resin will kill whoever has consumed it if it is not activated within a certain time frame. She wants to give the page to the group for safe-keeping and as a show of good faith. Henry stows the page in the hidden compartment of his messenger bag where he keeps his mother’s journal.
At this moment, three large men barge in through the door and two swing in through the window, leveling guns at Oddmuth, Darrek, and Henry. Darrek quickly casts a shielding spell on Henry. Henry grabs Oddmuth by the arm, and tells her to trust him. He rushes to the window and leaps out. Using a combination of his magic, physical prowess, and sheer luck, he and Oddmuth manage to survive the fall with no serious injury, though Oddmuth is unconscious. Henry immediately calls 911.
Darrek is searched and questioned by the men about the missing page. Unsatisfied with his answers they escort him out of the building at gun point. In the street, Darrek uses his magic to “convince” the men to leave him be and go home. Henry flags down Darrek, who uses magic to heal Oddmuth. She’s battered, but thankful for the assistance. The first responders to the 911 call arrive and are given a story about a home invasion and informed that Oddmuth needs protection.
The team reassembles and exchanges what they have learned. They decide to head to the Fort Duquesne Bridge to assist the King’s people.
To be continued…
“Oh my god! You are so rude! Let me finish, you terrible, terrible man!” – Henry
“Using an innocent mundane as bait kind of goes against that whole Protector thing I’m supposed to be.” – Henry
“Right. I was just testing you.” – Darrek
“Great, we found Elvis.” – Hilda
“Sorry, that seemed like a better idea at the time than it does in retrospect.” – Henry, re: jumping out of a 20th story window
“No, it’s okay. It was ballsy, I owe you.” – Oddmuth
“I guess I have to. I don’t want to beat up a cop.” – Danny
“Don’t go in the subway. There are vicious monsters.” – Matthew
“I wasn’t planning on it.” – Darrek
“You can’t now, anyway. There’s a fire alarm.” – Matthew
“But the King was wrong. Oddmuth is alive, and we have the page.” – Henry
“Yeah, she’s in the hospital, but alive.” – Darrek
“How’d that happen?” – Danny
“I jumped out of a 20th story window.” – Henry
“How did that affect her?” – Matthew
“She was with me at the time.” – Henry
Grinning “Brilliant, right?” – Darrek