So we took a couple of days off from the last session, meaning it's now 7/23/05. Echo was out in Chicago on Guardian business (player couldn't make it). Emory had contacted Fletcher and told him that his friend Gwinn (Whim's real name, remember) wanted to find this book. Fletcher did a little digging and came up with the same reference that Whim had, and was intrigued enough to meet with her. Em did not tell Fletcher, however, that Whim was a mage.
So they all had dinner, and Fletcher felt her out for why she might like the book and whether she could afford his rates. At the end of the night, her reasoning - curiosity - was probably what won him over. He went back to his hotel, did some digging on her (and discovered that she was pretty much what she appeared to be, because "MAGE" doesn't appear on her credit record), and then started researching.
Whim went for a walk and had a dream. In the dream, she saw the bloody roots poking through the sidewalk, but they had spider-webs on them. As she watched, a spider with human eyes pounced on her and bit her. She woke up on a bus stop bench near the mansion.
Bolg, Falstaff, Fin and Asmodeus had moved their stuff back into the mansion, and then were hanging out drinking beer. Fin got a call from the Empty Suits, saying that there was a dead body on campus near the library. It hadn't been called in yet. Fin headed out there on his bike (a moving-in present from Asmodeus, who, BTW, had recently sold his club), and found the body.
The girl had been attacked and her throat torn out (sound familiar?). Fin searched her memories and discovered that she'd been walking back to her car from her boyfriend's dorm and had barely seen the man who'd attacked her. But here's the weird bit - he'd stuffed her into a nook under a ramp, as though planning on saving her. And the killer was nowhere to be found. Fin changed the cause of death from "bitten throat" to "slit throat."
Fin called the others, and they showed up. Whim looked back in time and discovered that the attacker had seemingly appeared from nowhere under the ramp, and had wrapped himself around her victim, much like a jumping spider. She noted that something magical had happened, but couldn't identify what.
About then, the cops arrived (which raises the question of who called them, though the characters never quite got around to figuring that out). Fin cast Incognito Presence on the group, but the cops still noticed Falstaff hanging around. As they found the body, he approached, and claimed that he'd received a tip, too. The cops were initially uninterested (sadly, they wouldn't remain this way).
Fin astrally projected and went to watch the cops at work. Falstaff peeked across the Gauntlet and saw - you guessed it - the murder-spirit. He motioned at Fin and made a slicing motion across his throat, and started walking toward him. Falstaff tried to yell a warning, and Whim tried to distract the murder-spirit, but it spat a pine needle at Fin's face.
Fin has a decent ability to resist mind-control powers. He should, he's an Uncrowned King. This went right through his defenses and made him bloodthirsty as all heck. He started by trying to mind-control the murder-spirit.
Falstaff's "warning," meanwhile, hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped. He'd said something about being able to see the dead girl's ghost, and the cops, not much in the mood for shenanigans, arrested him for being drunk and disorderly. Then they found a gun on him (yes, he has a permit, but still) and so he got stuck in the back of a squad car).
But meanwhile, in Twilight, the murder-spirit was sick of being attacked by Fin. He glanced at Whim and told her she might want to run, and then burst upwards, his legs merging into a tree trunk, the arms growing into branches, and pine needles erupting from his mouth and falling to the ground like arrows. Huge wolf-spider looking spirits with pine needles instead of bristles appeared, and started leaping after the characters. They ran. Falstaff, in the car, heard the murder-spirit say "Rise up, children of murder, and hunt. Take the blood of 6s and 7s."
Meanwhile, in his hotel, Fletcher had discovered a few interesting things. He read up on Peter Stumpp, and then found a later article from a werewolf trial in France that referenced Stumpp. It said that Katharina Trump was already dead when she was executed, and that her familiar or her Black Book might still exist. He also found an odd blurb online from a book of photographs taken by a (now presumed dead) woman named Anna Frane. This blurb, written about a photo of some cairn-like structures in the Pacific Northwest, mentioned nightmares about being lashed to a wheel and hearing voices ask "where is the belt?"
But about then, Fletcher felt something shift in the spirit world. He checked, and saw spirits hiding in his room. He looked out the window and saw the spider-spirits hunting. He asked what had happened, and the spirits told him the name of the murder-spirit (the big one): "Murder in the Pines." Fletcher, being Fletcher, set off to check this out.
Meanwhile, the mages weren't doing so well. Falstaff slipped his bonds and escaped the police car, and ran out to meet the other characters. He climbed into their car (Fin still unconscious, and still attacking the murder-spirit - astrally projected, he has no body and can't be harmed), but then the spider-spirits materialized and attacked. All four were bitten, and about then, Fletcher arrived. Both cars had stopped, Falstaff commanded two of the spiders to kill each other, but the third was still attacking (Bolg had already shot it once, while driving, which was pretty cool). Fletcher ran over and stabbed it.
Just then, Fin snapped back to his body (the murder-spirit had discorporated). Still bloodthirsty, he used Psychic Assault on Fletcher (the big scary guy with the knife). Fletcher flew into Death Rage, changed to Gauru, and if he had a better Initiative, this fight would have gone much worse. As it was, Asmodeus (who had teleported to Bailiff, but was watching through a scrying window) used the Suspension spell, and the mages sped off. Fin tried to fire a parting shot, but Whim altered fate enough that he paused, and Falstaff erased the spirit's influence on him. Fin lost a dot of Wisdom for his loss of control, and picked up the Irrationality derangement for his trouble.
Fletcher's rage abated, and he limped back to his hotel.
Falstaff healed up his compatriots, and asked to be dropped off at the police station to turn himself in. He made some claims about alcohol and so on, which can, of course, be corroborated (he's an Adept of Life, he can have whatever he wants in his bloodstream). The murder-spirit came to see him while he was in the lockup, however, and told him that the spider-killings were over; he was bored with them. He warned Falstaff that if he thought that the cabal was focusing on harming him, he'd kill them all - and he could.
Meanwhile, the others got together and discussed what had happened. Bolg and Whim had their usual disagreement about werewolves, with Whim finally saying that she'd work to patch things up but she didn't want a time limit or constant interference. The mages met with Fletcher, and laid their cards on the table. They agreed to have Fletcher keep looking for the book, but the consensus now is that the murder-spirit is a real problem. While Fletcher hasn't mentioned it yet, it's one of the more powerful spirits he's seen - and he's seen some real doozies in his day.
About 2 weeks of downtime to let the legal troubles with Falstaff sort themselves out, and then...maybe a road trip to find the Via Lunari?