December 27, 2009.
INTERPOL apprehended Freezer Burn, a meta scientist who perfected cryogenics. He captured almost thirty of what he considered the finest specimens of humanity, and stored them in a nuclear bunker deep below a vineyard outside Paris. When the end of the world comes, the best and the brightest could emerge to reshape what follows. His list had Genevieve Malone on it—what if he DID capture her and fake her death as he did the others? He was captured on December 26, and Genevieve worked with a few select allies to arrange for her resurrection to be announced on January 1, 2010. Graves was instrumental in tracking down Freezer Burn, and in implementing this plan to “resurrect” his wife.
Gathering in Kingsport
Adrian Pellwitch met up with Emma Pellwitch at a nice restaurant, and she worked her way through forgiving him for going on a tour of Europe instead of staying with her. She agreed to help decorate the Kingsport Historical Society Museum for his New Year’s Eve (eve) party. Curator Hart would be on vacation, but trusted Adrian with the keys to the building while he was gone.
Meanwhile a soft-spoken demon who sounded like he came from the American South called Pellwitch. The demon, Blake, was troubled with apocalyptic images of something hanging against a technicolor background, menacing the world. In the foreground was an impossible fin of rock, a vast cliff. He talked to his associates at Five Stones (who trusted him more or less because he gets visions of threats and tries to stave off the end of the world—he likes it here) and they gave him Adrian’s number as an expert on Kingsport. The cliff in his dreams matched the Kingsport Head exactly. Adrian agreed to meet him.
Meg arrived in town with Daniel, Graves and Echran went on to Edge City to set things up for her coming-out resurrection party. Meg swung by Chief Crane’s house to find he was in the hospital. He was shot during a raid on the Sylvan Night, a cult responsible for six murders in the last few months. Throats slit, human bite marks all over the victims. Crane asked for her to help as a consultant, whether Captain Blair likes it or not (Blair being the acting chief.)
Blair dismissively assigned Meg to the Mercer Art Gallery to look for leads; the missing cult leader was Josephine Garsetti, an artist.
Chief Crane was the only one who knew that the cult was brought down because of an insider turned informant, Andrea Pentargon (now Myra Smith) hidden in an apartment building in Hillside. He trusted that information to Meg, who sent Danial to go collect her and bring her to the yacht.
Once there, the kidnap victim Ms. Pentargon explained she had been friends with Jo for years, mostly roommates. They met at Boston University and shared an interest in the occult and fast living. When they moved to Kingsport for the summer season, Andrea came along so Jo would not have to live with her mother, who has a house nearby.
In August they met Zeke Crater at the Rope and Anchor, a seedy establishment. Crater invited them to crazy parties at his mansion down the coast. Crater liked Jo, they started meeting outside the parties.
Then Jo cut him off and started a cult, with people she met at Crater’s parties. When Andrea saw her do a human sacrifice, she knew it had gone too far, and she turned informant.
Andrea noted that Jo spent a lot of time with a book, Scriptures of the Riven Valley. And that she was a great artist, painted a kind of truth.
Knowing they didn’t have the full story, they left Daniel guarding Andrea. Meg slipped into the police station and worked with Officer White to get a look at the files while Captain Blair was not around, noting the nature of those killed, and the scenes of the killing, and how there seemed to be an initial pattern that fell apart.
They took Blake along to the gallery, and he smooth-talked the attractive docent there, a woman named Alice DuMort. Blake bought a picture of a menacing church in an amateur style, by Pickman. He chatted with DuMort, who told him she would not display Garsetti’s barbaric paintings. That led to discussing a missing person, Gavin Keetling, a local businessman who met Garsetti here. (DuMort did not approve.) DuMort suggested Garsetti was into drugs, and pulled Keetling in as well. She gave Blake contact information for Keetling’s sister Sarah, and noted Keetling purchased some of Garsetti’s work that might be at his home.
The Keetling Residence
They went to see Sarah, a disapproving woman, Gavin’s sister. She had nothing nice to say about her brother getting in with the wrong crowd, but did not know he was involved with Garsetti; she just knew he was writing big checks to people she didn’t know. They had an argument about it, he stormed out, and she had not seen or heard from him. That was several days ago, but the incompetent police figure he’s taking a break, they are not looking for him hard.
Looking at the creepy pictures Gavin hung in his study, and seeing they were Garsetti’s work, and they meshed with Blake’s visions of impending danger, they were alarmed to find a note from Jo to Gavin to meet in the Rope and Anchor because “an important time for both of us draws near.” Was he to be a sacrifice?
The Scene of the Raid
They broke into the abandoned house where the police raid went down a few days ago, where the homeless girl was shot and most of the cult driven off or captured. Only Jo got away, as far as they can tell. (And the two cultists that were captured died of spontaneous combustion in their cells! A trick far beyond little Jo.)
In looking back in time at the raid, Meg saw a strange stone like dirty amber in the bowl, with the knife; the sacrifice was to bathe the stone in blood. It was strong enough to eject her from her reverie, and they knew it was time to talk to Andrea again.
The Informant, Again
Andrea reluctantly explained that Crater had a stone he displayed before the orgies, he killed chickens and bathed the stone in their blood. Then Jo had it when she started her cult, when Crater dropped out of sight. She would bathe the blood of sacrifices in it too.
The expertise of the group leaned towards the stone being a tether and communicator with something beyond Prime, something that wanted in, and its portal was being charged by sacrifices as it made the bearer of the darkstone more powerful.
They released Andrea; she was in danger, but they were no longer going to protect her. They wanted Daniel along on their expeditions instead of protecting the informant. If she chose to run away, she chose her own danger.
The Rope and Anchor
They went to the seedy run-down bar, and dealt with Smith, the bartender. He let Blake back to talk to Crater. Blake and Crater could immediately tell the other was not fully human, if human at all, and they flexed and growled at each other a bit. Crater wanted the stone back, and Jo was using wards to prevent his men from getting to her.Crater offered $250,000 for the stone, and Blake withdrew to consider the offer.
The barkeep said Jo was probably in a familiar place, so the investigators figured they’d check out her mother’s place in Kingsport.
Parking some ways off, they crunched through the snowy woods to get to the beat-up and run-down house. They scouted it, and discovered there was another dimension in a bedroom upstairs, and Keetling was inside, alive, and not doing well. So was Jo, strangely heady with alien power.
Blake tried to sneak up to the back in his demon form, and found bear traps. As Jo checked on his noise, Pellwitch glided up to the house with Meg holding on.
When Jo started shooting at Blake, he fired out a tendril to flatten her; Daniel used a concussion grenade to trigger the bear traps as Meg and Adrian rushed Jo and put her down.
Without further ado, Meg took the darkstone, and transformed her artifact-slaying sword out of its ball, and severed the link as it was her fate to do. Garsetti survived, the Dweller in the Void was banished with a shriek, and the world was safe from the climax the Dweller nearly reached.
They dropped the insane Garsetti and Keetling off with the police, wished Andrea Pentargon well, and visited Crater to tidy up loose ends. His staff was shocked to discover he was, maybe, dead? He was a chitinous shell, and now it was empty; he was likely struck down by the severance of the connection with the darkstone.
They relaxed for a few days in the strange eldritch beauty of Kingsport before having a great celebration in the Historical Society. Graves and Echran also attended.
Afterwards, Adrian and Meg headed to Edge City, where Meg became Genevieve again and they both checked on a number of loose ends to prepare to resume residence in the city after an absence.