November 19th, 1878
I don’t think we expected to get anything out of Madame Chen, and we were right. She was a cool customer, guilty as sin, but we weren’t going to get anywhere with her by talkin’. We were definitely ruffling feathers though – you generally don’t send a ninja hit squad to be neighborly.
The grieving widow, introduced as Margaret Barnes, relayed the story that her husband Leroy often visited The Duchess on Tuesdays and recently his health has been degrading little by little every week. She found his mummified body that afternoon in front of their house.
Beth Farley takes Margaret to the rectory to calm her down while the party examines the body. Holden identifies that the body’s life-force has been extracted, and Onesimus identifies the corpse as having been drained by a succubus. He also notes that a single succubus could conceivably go unnoticed in a town the size of Abilene, but more than one would likely produce bodies.
Olivia covers and moves the body to the dais and touches holy water to it and the body immediately catches fire and burns to ash.
Holden opens the doors to the sanctuary to let the smoke out, and gets a glimpse of a man under a tree in the church yard, roughly the same silhouette of the demon who has been answering his calls for power consistently since he woke, but at second glance he’s gone.
Olivia entreats the party to help her find Father Patrick O’Connor, who has not returned from a hurried trip to Detroit, KS. The party debates the merits of searching for the priest, versus The Duchess, versus heading to Salina in their pursuit to find Johnny Wu.
Holden leaves the building and attempts to draw power to cast his Hunch, once again he is met after a disconcerting wait in a parlor that seemed more…real…than usual by Mr. Perkins, who deals the cards. Holden notices a plain ring with a black onyx stone on Perkins’ finger that looked exactly like one that Holden had won in a card game in Atlanta some five years before. He realized that he had lost the ring, but couldn’t put his finger on exactly when. He asked Mr. Perkins about the ring, to which he replied, “I won it in a card game…”.
Holden returns to the present and attempts to get a Hunch about The Duchess – he gets the distinct impression that the Duchess isn’t a human place, but more of a den, or perhaps a hive. He turns around immediately and tries to get a Hunch about Father O’Connor – he’s met with the stench of decay and rot, and a stylized image of a coyote, in the Anasazi style.
Re-entering the sanctuary, he relays his experience, and Ahiga immediately becomes agitated upon seeing the drawing of the coyote – she informs the party that it is the symbol of the Drowned Coyotes, a gang from out West, who she is hunting.
As the party discusses their next move, several of them hear the clatter of metal from the church’s cellar. There, they find an indian man, chained by the wrists in an earthen back room. The man is revealed to be a zombie, a gaping wound across his neck, eyes cloudy. The man is muttering “Je’ she’a”, a native word for “whisper”, though used as a proper name. He is whispering it very rapidly, and it sounds very much like “Joshua”.
On the floor is the symbol of the Drowned Coyotes, drawn in the dirt in dried blood.