Anyhow, they picked him up and headed for Oregon. En route, Whim dreamed of Anna Frane. She stood in front of her, and asked what she wanted. Whim, a little taken aback, since her dreams weren't usually so direct, asked about the pictures; Anna told her pretty much what the book had said. She'd taken the pictures, but felt a menacing presence there, and then dreamed of being tortured on a wheel while voices asked her where the "belt" was. Whim asked where Anna was now and what had happened to her, and Anna responded that learning that would require finding her. Whim asked if she wanted to be found; she responded "Not by you." Whim noticed, too, that she was made up of millions of fate-threads, rather than flesh. Anna directed her to look on Youtube for videos labeled "Network Zero", and then collapsed into threads.
Whim woke up and Bolg boosted reception on Falstaff's laptop. They watched the videos (events here and here), and saw others with werewolves and even vampires, but couldn't track them back to anything. Fin called the Empty Suits and let them know about the videos, and the cabal continued on.
They arrived at the park and booked a room at the lodge. Asmodeus went the bar and found some guys playing cards, and foisted his Vice of Envy on the guy losing. The guy stomped out, and Whim found and propositioned him (Lust, you see). They went up to his room for a bit of fun. This actually becomes relevant later, I promise.
The next morning, the characters put up their spells and Whim attached a thread of fate to herself leading to the book, and they tromped off into the woods. They found a group of children being told a story about "nature boy," and how he'd run off into the woods after being teased and stayed there. Falstaff took the opportunity to make a scary noise and give the kids a jump.
A ways later, they struck off into the woods (Whim's guidance) and found a man hiding behind a tree. They talked with him, and Whim realized that he was instrumental to finding the book (and, based on her Augury spell, would try to stop them finding it). They started talking, and the man (Joe Cobb) claimed to be a "sorcerer." Prime spells indicated he wasn't a mage, but Asmodeus realized that the might be an un-Awakened user of magic, or he might be lying and using a Prime spell to alter his aura. In any case, he claimed to be the book's caretaker, but couldn't stay near it since it drove people mad. The mages asserted that maybe the book would be better left with them (or with the Lodge of Scrolls, per Fletcher), but Joe wasn't convinced, since he didn't know these people. He did block Fin from breaking into his memories, and asked him to refrain from doing that.
He agreed to show them why the book was dangerous. He led them to a campground where four frat-boys were sitting at a picnic table, drooling, catatonic...without souls. The book attracted spirits, said Joe, that ripped out their souls. Normally, he'd have warned these guys away, but last night he'd gone to the lodge to meet a friend of his, who'd wound up going to bed with some woman he'd just met. (See? Told you it was relevant.)
The mages decided that they could retrieve and re-attached the souls, and Joe agreed to take them to a place where they could step across into the Shadow easily. En route, he questioned all of them (except Fletcher, for some reason) about who they were and what they were doing with their lives, apparently to get a sense of who might be guarding the Via Lunari. He questioned Whim and Asmodeus closely, since they didn't give decisive answers. And then they arrived at the locus, and Fletcher took them all across, one by one.
Standing in the muck of the locus (resonance of decomposition) destroyed their shoes in moments, but Whim got a sense of where the souls were and they started climbing up the mountain...all except Asmodeus, who, shoeless, couldn't get purchase on the slick ground and didn't want to teleport. And then, a muscular man (a werewolf, actually) appeared behind him and jerked him into the physical world, whereupon he was immediately shot. Asmodeus had no desire to see this ambush through and, now a Master of Space, teleported to the cemetery Hallow. The murder-spirit greeted him there, and asked if he needed help. Asmodeus asked what it would cost, and the spirit said, "Actually, I think I just asked out of habit. I don't need anything from you people anymore." Asmodeus, sensing violence was imminent, teleported to the Guardian Angels to seek aid from Bailiff.
Bailiff dressed his wounds, and Asmodeus teleported to the werewolves' home. Emory answered the door, and when he heard Whim was in trouble, demanded that Asmodeus teleport him to help. He did, and we'll catch up with them.
Meanwhile, the others figured that he'd teleported home and kept on walking through the Shadow. Presently, things started getting spookier, and they came to a clearing wherein the trees resembled a wheel (remember how Stumph died?). They stepped into the clearing, and Whim saw a woman resembling Katharina Trump strapped to it, engaged in sex with a large man wearing a wolf-skin belt. As she watched, the man began to change into a wolf. She cast Great Curse on it, but couldn't tell if it had worked. It snarled at her, and she wound up with a derangement (narcissism, hasn't really come into play yet). The woman told her that she was a waste, that she was frittering away her time and energy following whims, and that she was useless. Whim decided that this was a waste of their time, and pressed on to find the souls.
On the other side of the crater, they found Asmodeus and a very concerned Emory. Emory told Fletcher to watch the other flank, and the cabal and the two werewolves climbed to the edge of the spirit-crater.
Down in the water were the missing souls, floundering for life. Fin prepared to call up the souls into containers (water bottles) for transport back to their bodies...and then we rolled for some initiative. Next session, we'll see why.