The Dullahan loudly demands the Protector. Hilda, Yun-Xun, Henry, and Darrek go outside to deal with it. The Dullahan sees Henry, looks confused, and proceeds to unleash its horrific chains which wrap around Henry and weaken him even further. He screams. Yun-Xun attempts to divert the attack, but fails. Hilda then attacks, slashing the creature several times. Darrek unleashes a blast of pure essence to break the chains holding Henry, which appears to travel up the chains and into the Dullahan, and then watches as the wounds Hilda just caused it suddenly close. Henry looks at Darrek, defeated, and says, “It eats magic.”
Henry manages to escape from the chains and gets a spell off successfully, which causes the earth underneath their feet to violently erupt. Yun-Xun is thrown into the side of the Hive Arcana and knocked unconscious. Darrek runs over and heals her. She sits up, and after Darrek helps her to her feet, brutally attacks the Dullahan, kicking it repeatedly. The group can all hear that the Dullahan seems to be saying the same thing repeatedly in some ancient demonic language. Darrek is able to recognize that it is saying, “Drain the Protector for the Mistress,” and, “The Mistress wants the power,” over and over again.
Henry suddenly has an overwhelming urge to kill everyone. The Yellow Signs on the parade fliers stapled to the telephone poles outside appear to glow.
After gauging the situation and determining that they are seriously outmatched by this creature, Darrek gets fed up and banishes the Dullahan back to its home dimension. Tracing several intricate mystical symbols in the air with his hand, the group hears him intone a prayer of some kind to Sophia, and a massive swell of Essence follows. The Dullahan suddenly disappears in an explosion of ash and dust.
Going back into the Hive Arcana, Darrek heals Yun-Xun and Henry, who are both grateful. Darrek and Henry then head to Anita’s library to research the gateway and see if they can determine where it leads. Darrek calls Daniel and puts him on speakerphone. He explains that the only way to determine where the gateway leads would be to go through it. Henry suggests that they purchase a burner cell phone, put a tracking app on it, go back to Fowler’s house, sneak in, and throw it through the gateway so they can track where it goes.
After Darrek purchases the phone and Henry puts the app on it, Darrek drives the group back to Fowler’s mansion in Peters Township. Yun-Xun and Henry wait in the car while Hilda and Darrek sneak in. They find that the window to the kitchen has been left open, and get inside without triggering the alarm, which Darrek can tell is armed. Hilda heads to the room where Henry saw the gateway, picks the lock, and slides the phone on the floor. It passes across the symbols painted on the floor and hits the opposite wall. Confused, Hilda turns around to ask Darrek what went wrong, and discovers he is not behind her. Hilda then pulls out her own cell phone and texts the rest of the group, asking why it isn’t working. Darrek responds that the gateway must be activated, and tells Hilda to come upstairs.
She finds him standing outside of a bedroom. There is a strong sense of Lyssicus coming from the room. He indicates the door, and she picks the lock. Entering, they discover a massive shrine to Fowler’s dead wife and daughter. On the edge of a dresser which appears to be doubling as an altar of sorts, there are two books. One of is a copy of the play, ‘The King in Yellow,’ and the other appears to be a journal. Glancing at them both, Darrek sees that the journal has the current date and the time 11pm inscribed in handwriting at the bottom of the last page. Darrek glances at his watch to check the time, and sees it is about 10:30pm. Quickly skimming the journal, he realizes that there are outlines for a summoning ritual of some kind, and deduces that Fowler (and Papa Screech, presumably) must be planning to perform the ritual at that time. He tucks the play and the journal in a large pocket inside his trench coat, and follow Hilda downstairs.
Entering the room and looking at the symbols, Darrek realizes that he must open himself up to its energy in order to power up the gateway. When he does, the gateway surges with power, and Hilda throws the phone, which disappears. Darrek suddenly starts laughing hysterically, sits down in the middle of the symbols, and starts rocking back and forth. He pulls the play out from inside of his coat and begins reading it. Sensing that something is not right, Hilda attempts to grab the play from Darrek, who starts attacking her. He punches and kicks her repeatedly and pulls her by the hair. Hilda knocks him out cold, grabs the play, and throwing Darrek over her shoulder, runs out of the house and back to the car. Opening the back of his Rav, she lays him out in the back, slams the door, gets into the driver’s seat, and starts driving. Henry pulls out his cell phone and uses the app to track where the phone is. He determines it is in Panther Hollow in Schenley Park, and Hilda starts to head towards Oakland.
Discussing what happened in the house, the group realizes that there is no way that they can get to Panther Hollow in time to stop the ritual, and head back to Fowler’s to save time by going through the gateway. Darrek wakes up, and is visibly embarrassed as he remembers what happened, offering a sheepish but heartfelt apology to Hilda. The group get back into Fowler’s house and proceed through the gateway, which brings them out into a dilapidated shack. There is a human skull hanging from the ceiling with the Yellow Sign painted on it, and the feeling of Lyssicus is overwhelming.
Darrek hears the sounds of chanting, and the group takes off running in its direction. Coming down a hillside towards the lake in Panther Hollow, they can see an image of Carcosa reflected off of the water…and a group of 20 robed cultists in circle of standing stones. There are two dead bodies laid over one of the menhir in a V-shape, and a large black man with long dreadlocks standing in front of them, arms raised, whom the group assumes must be Papa Screech. Fowler then steps out from the cultists and joins him, wearing a white ceremonial robe with the Yellow Sign embroidered on it. The group sees 4 winged horrors above them, and can hear something very large lumbering behind them in the woods.
When Henry begins to channel Essence to disrupt the ritual, Papa Screech’s head snaps around. He again raises his hands to the sky, and the 4 winged horrors swoop down to attack the group. Darrek manages to banish two of them, and Hilda and Yun-Xun magnificently defeat the other two. Hilda recognizes that the creatures are attempting to pick them up to drop them from a height, and realizes that this is likely what killed Gavin.
Henry unleashes a spell and the earth underneath the stones and the cultists erupts spectacularly. As the stones begin to crack, he can sense a disruption in the Lyssicus energy, and calls to Darrek to focus his attacks on the stones if he can. Suddenly, a massive white amorphous blob of Lyssicus energy comes crashing out of the woods behind them and descends, bowling over everyone. Several of the cultists appear to be absorbed into the energy when it strikes them. Henry is hit by it and goes down, to Darrek’s abject horror. He runs over and uses his healing magics on the boy, saving Henry’s life. As he does, the blob hits Fowler, who glows brightly. The energy then appears to disappear into him, and he collapses.
Papa Screech then throws Fowler over his shoulder and takes off into the woods. Darrek runs full tilt after him, and the group follows. They find Screech some distance later, dead, his face a desiccated, shrunken husk. Fowler is gone, but the group tracks him back to the portal, theorizing he has returned to his home.
Walking back to the ritual site, Darrek pulls out his cell phone and calls Dr. Armedt, Daniel, and Silas to assist him and Henry in shutting down the gateway in the Hollow. Darrek introduces Henry to Daniel, telling him that if anything ever happens to him to contact Daniel, and he will ensure that Henry is taken care of.
Dr. Armedt then tells Darrek that the Rosicrucians are in full blown crisis, explaining that there is a faction, led by Aimee, who is calling for retribution for the attacks leveled on the Order by the Cabal of Psyche, and has effectively managed to split the Pittsburgh chapter house in two. She wants to use the diviners within the Rosicrucians to hunt down and wipe out the rest of the psychics in the city. Dr. Armedt remarks that he has discovered that she has very powerful supporters within the ranks of the New York chapter who fully support her efforts to “clean house.” Darrek fears that Aimee will attempt to hurt his wife, Emily. Armedt nods grimly, and tells Darrek that he’s attempting to gather a group of mages together that he knows he can trust to plan a response.
Darrek thanks Silas for his assistance, and tells him to consider himself owed a favor. Silas nods and remarks, “This danger threatens all of us. I like this world.”
Arriving back at the Hive Arcana, Dana is working furiously to prepare everything for the Halloween party planned for Saturday and tells the group that she has booked Voltaire to play a concert that night in the theater.
The next day is the Honorable Krewe of Swords’ Halloween parade. The event is truly spectacular, just like a classic New Orleans celebration but in Pittsburgh. The group does not see Fowler anywhere. The group hears a lot of buzz in the crowd about the masquerade ball during the parade.
After the parade, the group attends the ball at Fowler’s mansion. They can all sense Lyssicus energy upstairs. Darrek begins to climb the stairs to investigate, and Henry grabs him by the wrist and cautions him against acting brashly. Darrek comes back downstairs and turns on an extremely charming and charismatic persona, mingling with the other attendees. He sees several other Rosicrucians, who comment that something is seriously not right. Darrek nods, but says little to them, remembering his conversation with Armedt and uncertain of whom he can trust within the Order.
A little after 11pm, Fowler appears standing on the balcony at the top of the stairs, looking down onto everyone. He is still wearing the ceremonial robes from the previous night and stinks of Lyssicus. With a knowing smirk, he asks the crowd, “Tell me, have you seen the Yellow Sign?” All of those present, including the entire group, respond in unison, “Yes, we have seen the Yellow Sign.” He then disappears again, then later joins the party downstairs, wearing a tuxedo and a white, featureless mask. He grins at the group and says simply, “Thank you.”
Darrek finds that he cannot stop thinking about the play, and does his best to entice Hilda into telling him what she did with it. She firmly refuses to tell him.
The next day, the Hive Arcana’s Halloween party goes on without a single hitch. Voltaire knocks one out of the park with his performance, and everyone absolutely loves seeing him play. At the merchandise table, Darrek purchases a code to download a live recording of the concert the next day. He then proceeds to seriously tie one on and gets, to use his own words, utterly pissed. Henry calls Uber and schedules a driver to pick them up after the party is over, as Darrek is clearly too intoxicated to drive them home safely. He exchanges concerned glances with everyone else present.
That night, after Henry goes to bed, Darrek stays up into the early hours of the morning writing a response to Sandra’s letter. He comes into the Hive the next day, extremely hung over, and hands a cd and a sealed envelope to Anita and asks her to make sure they get delivered to Sandra. He then proceeds to apologize to everyone for his embarrassing behavior the previous evening. Henry accepts his apology, but tells Darrek in private that he is concerned about how much he has been drinking lately.
While the group is checking in with Anita, she remarks that she has not seen or heard from Klaus in several days and is becoming concerned. She also insists that, while she knows it is impossible, that there are books missing from her library. Darrek offers to assist her in doing an inventory…and is horrified to discover that she is correct, and indeed, there are several books missing. Silas is contacted and comes in to check things out. He assures Darrek that from what he can tell, his spells that protect the library and the Hive itself are still very much active and appear to be working as they always have.
A few days later, while doing some personal research, Darrek realizes that he needs one of the missing books and curses under his breath…and then he sees it sitting on the shelf, exactly where it should be…
“BRING ME THE PROTECTOR!”-Dullahan
Looks over at Hilda “You got this?”-Matthew
Cracks her knuckles “Oh, I most definitely have this.”-Hilda
Re: Darrek banishing the Dullahan
“When he decides that he’s had enough…he’s really had enough.”-Henry
Re: Conversation about the Dullahan disappearing back from whence it came
“Speaking of things disappearing, Henry, there’s the not-insignificant matter of my missing scotch.”-Darrek
Eyes widen “Look, Darrek, sometimes liquor goes missing and it’s not anyone’s fault.”-Henry
“Henry…I’d like to think I am a reasonably tolerant man…but I will not tolerate being lied to by you, especially where my favorite $250 bottle of scotch is involved.”-Darrek
Re: The Dullahan
“Let’s see…I could just start kicking.”-Mike D. (Yun-Xun’s player)
Re: Darrek and Henry
“Sorcerers…you do not make it easy.”-Hilda
Quietly, to Henry “They certainly can be fickle.”-Darrek
“So what you’re saying is, ‘bitches be cray-cray’?”-Henry
“No…that is absolutely not what I said.”-Darrek
Re: Henry’s idea about buying the burner phone and sending it through the gateway
“…so that’s Henry…”-Darrek
smiles “Looks like you got a good one this time.”-Daniel
Re: Discovering ‘The King in Yellow’ play has the Yellow Sign on both the front and back covers
Re: Waiting in the car at Fowler’s
“Yun-Xun…do you know how to make dumplings?”-Henry
Re: Running to the car with an unconscious Darrek slung over her shoulder
“Henry, quick, open the glove box!”-Hilda
“That’s not nearly big enough!”-Henry
exasperated “Not for him, for this!” holds up the copy of the ‘King in Yellow’ play-Hilda
Re: Alternate nicknames for Panther Hollow
“The exhaust vent for the Hellmouth”
“The excess evil overflow gate”
“The back door”
Re: The gateway
“Yun-Xun…will you hold my hand?”-Henry
“Your father’s hand would be better.”-Yun-Xun
“He’s not my real father…my real father is dead.”-Henry
Re: Seeing Papa Screech leading the eldritch ritual in the woods
“It’s about to get real racist up in here.”-Robert (Henry’s player)
“Darrek…should I interrupt the ritual spectacularly?”-Henry
“I’d really prefer not to have to kill her, so…”-Darrek
Re: Henry with a copy of ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook’
“What the bloody hell are you reading?”-Darrek
“The Anarchist’s Cookbook." off Darrek’s look "What? Don’t tell me that when you were my age that you weren’t into building homemade explosives…”-Henry
“Not so much, no!”-Darrek
“AND WHO IS LYING, NOW?!”-Henry
Re: The masquerade ball at Fowler’s
“So, how’s that whole electrical fire that looks like an accident plan faring?”-Henry
“…I need a drink…”-Darrek
“So, like, if we’re not doing arson…I’m at a loss.”-Henry
Re: Darrek asking Hilda what she did with the play
“So, if I can parse this all together…”-Henry
“Quiet. I’m not speaking to you, I’m speaking to her.” indicates Hilda-Darrek
“Okay…so apparently we’re in full blown sass mouth mode.”-Henry
Re: Hilda refusing to reveal to Darrek what she did with the play
“That’s alright. I have ways of finding out where you put it…and I will remember that you refused to help me. I need that play for…my research. ”-Darrek
Re: Darrek’s walk of shame the day after the Halloween Party at the Hive Arcana
“Look, Anita, I’m really sorry-”-Darrek
“Don’t apologize. I never do.”-Anita
Re: Discovering Anita’s library is missing several books, Darrek calls Silas
“Houston…we have a big problem.”-Darrek