Chapter Four: The Magician
When last we left our unlikely investigators, they had traveled through the planes in order to access Sam Hill Investigations, an former private detective’s office located in Wabash. Once there, the group saw blood staining the floor, and they could feel dark magic in the air. The building’s current occupant, a Native American named John Whitefeather, explained that someone had violated the place and pored over the esoteric tomes located there while he was away.
Whitefeather made a few calls on the group’s behalf, arranging for one of the Outriders — a loose knit band of monster hunters and ghost breakers — to come and take a look at the scene. Additionally, Whitefeather identified another suspect in the investigation, an old man named Brother Presson, who happened to be yet another guest at the art show.
After a short time, the Outrider arrived, introducing himself as Sheriff Andy Taylor of Somerset (he had no official jurisdiction in Wabash, but we’re not going to talk about that, now are we?). Using what equipment he had, he took a number of blood samples, and suggested that they take samples from some of the guests in question.
The group agreed and was thankful that Liam had figured out how to control the wards of Caliburn House via Ashton Connor’s journal, enabling them to avoid another plane-hopping excursion.
Returning to Caliburn House, the group explained their current situation to Brooks Autry, who knew John Whitefeather to be a man of sound judgment, and offered to aid the group in whatever needed done. But before they could further ruin the other guest’s evenings, they needed to find their missing allies…
On the second floor, John Winslow and Dan Remington had been investigating Landon Connor’s office after having been deposited there by the secret elevator. In the office, they found a map of the Indiana territory circa 1814, which listed (as a fairly new location for the time) Cairnwood Manor, as well as a nearby standing stone circle said to be “the place where Carver fell.” The group recalled one Sebastian Carver, a frontiersman, said to have died in that region. A curiosity, and one that would make more sense in time.
Even more illuminating was an uncovered photo album which depicted a young Landon Connors, his ailing mother, and his healthy, almost invigorated father. The darkness that pervaded the family was slowly becoming apparent, as was the evil nature of Ashton Connors.
Reunited, the group returned to the dining room, where the guests had been confined after the murder. There, they noticed that Brother Presson was nowhere to be found, and inquired after his location. Alethea Hill was surprised by this, and remembered that Presson had been seen speaking to Scarlett Sabet before they had lost track of him. Ms. Sabet remembered speaking briefly with the man, but became lost in ruminations over a new poem based on their peculiar situation. She couldn’t recall what had become of him.
While the others investigated Brother Presson’s disappearance, Dr. Neil Gruber began to take blood samples from the guests, which he passed on to Sheriff Taylor in order to study. Though many of the guests were annoyed by this, Gruber made a compelling argument for its necessity.
Liam chose to question Clark Ashton Smith for a second time, asking the man about his travels. Upon seeing the man again, Liam noticed that Smith bore a striking resemblance to depictions of Sebastian Carver, the long-dead frontiersman. Interesting still, Smith was a historian, and had just recently arrived from Somerset where he had been exploring the ruins of Cairnwood Manor and its adjoining cemetery.
While the others kept a close eye on the guests, Dan approached the chair Brother Presson had been sitting in. He noticed signs that teleportation had taken place, something Arthur confirmed to be a major feat, especially in a warded building like Caliburn House.
Bastien, making use of his true-vision, sensed that Brother Presson had teleported to the second floor, and ran out of the room and up the stairs, where he sprouted wings and soared after the fleeing magician.
After Bastien’s departure, things began to grow heated at the dining table, where Liam implied that Clark Ashton Smith was under suspicion. Smith said that he found Liam and his friends suspicious in turn, and claimed that he wouldn’t let his blood be drawn until he had his lawyer.
Arthur stepped in, explaining that it would be in Smith’s best interest to give up a blood sample, allowing them to solve the murder and let the guests return home. Smith saw the logic in this and allowed Dr. Gruber to take a blood sample. Gruber noted that Smith’s skin was unusually hard, and that his blood was nearly pitch-black.
With the blood samples finished, the group joined Bastien upstairs, finding Brother Presson on his way to the third floor. Presson revealed himself to be a magician when he created a flash of light that blinded both Liam and John, although it failed to slow down the others.
Bastien reached the top of the stairs and followed Presson even higher, into the tower. There, Bastein passed an opened doorway with a magic circle beyond. The angel recognized the binding circle too late, and was drawn into the Enochian trap. Thankfully, Liam still possessed Ashton Connor’s journal, which allowed the group to free their angelic friend.
Searching the hallway, John Winslow discovered the ladder leading to the top of the tower. There, John saw Brother Presson in some kind of magic circle, with waves of energy coursing all around him.
Arriving next, Bastein conjured his flaming sword and approached the magician, only to be rebuffed by the magic circle Presson stood within. The others faced similar problems. It seemed that the circle couldn’t be crossed.
Neil, thinking quickly, conjured an illusion that portrayed Landon Connors descending from the sky, demanding that Presson leave.
“Be gone, boy!” Presson hissed, unafraid of the illusion.
But the magician was distracted long enough for Dan to withdraw a ritual knife he had found in the basement. Lifting the blade high, Dan drew it across the stone, breaking the circle.
Presson turned, the hair and skin on his face falling away, revealing another face underneath. It was the face of a much younger man, though still far from his youth, with jet black hair and a wild goatee. It was Ashton Connors, back from the dead.
to be concluded