The group takes some time to get their story straight about what happened on Creag Dhubh, and manage to put something coherent together without mentioning anything about cultists, earthquakes, magic, or similar. Tommy Hayes, a touch shell-shocked about what he has seen, also promises to blow his cover to the local police in order to lend credence to the group’s story.
Once this has all been decided, the group goes to the constabulary and awakens both Constable MacNeil and DI MacDougall. The two men are very glad that Seamus is alive and unharmed, and they agree with the group that it was wiser to bring the baby here than directly to his parents.
The group tells their story, and also shows the constable and inspector the list of coven names that they found in Duncan MacBain’s cottage. Constable MacNeil says that this list makes a lot of things that he was baffled and concerned about make a lot more sense. It takes little urging from the group to get him and DI MacDougall to stage a midnight raid, rounding up as many people from the list as they can.
DI MacDougall calls down additional men from Inverness. Upon their arrival they, along with the inspector and Constable MacNeil, go out in the police wagon to arrest the cultists. Tommy Hayes stays behind at the constabulary with two constables who are taking care of Seamus MacRae. Kane offers to help them with the baby and turns out to be a naturally gifted parental figure.
An Unwelcome Guest
While this is happening, Johnny steps through the gate box to Staten Island to return the group’s more dangerous and conspicuous hardware. Upon arriving in the carriage house garage, he notices a strange, gel-like liquid has been smeared on the lid of the Staten Island box. He also notices that the lock on the second set of gate boxes (which leads to his Atlantic City bolt hole and the hiding place for the group’s piece of the Disc) has been unlocked.
Johnny, assuming that whoever has gone through the gate box will soon be coming back, sets up an ambush, shotgun in hand.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group, concerned that Johnny has not get come back, decide to send volunteers through the gate box to check on him. Ron Deluca steps through first and almost gets shot by a hypervigilant Johnny. Then Judge Putnam steps through.
The three men decide to set up a larger ambush behind the gate box leading to Atlantic City. That way, they will be able to see who comes through the gate box before that person can see them.
A few minutes later, they are rewarded when the Atlantic City gate box opens and a battered, bloodied, and terrified Annie Chantraine crawls out of the gate box and onto the concrete floor of the garage, muttering apologies to someone and saying that, “she tried, but couldn’t find it.”
|Look What Crawled Out of the Gate Box|
The three men surprise Annie. She screams. During an initial round of questioning, Annie reveals that she was forced to go through the gate by a man who is staying at her cousin, Ian MacLennan’s place. She said that the man told her if she didn’t go through and bring the Disc piece back, that he would kill her cousin and burn Mullardoch House down.
Judge Putnam, with his grasp of psychology, realizes that there is something about Annie’s story that doesn’t add up. Johnny recalls that the Disc piece weighs in at 150 pounds, and it seems unlikely that Annie would be able to move it on her own. Ron decides that Annie is lying and threatens her with physical harm. Faced with Ron’s implacable anger and implicit threat, Annie adds that her cousin is secretly a sorcerer “or something,” and that the man who is staying with them, Peter Dubner, is a self-styled wizard who was teaching Ian magic.
Panicked and weeping, Annie tries to get the three men to believe her, with decidedly mixed results. Ron attempts to kill her with a knife, only to be stopped by Johnny and the judge. Johnny steps briefly into Atlantic City, confirms that the Disc piece remains undiscovered, and sets up a Warding around it so he will be warned if anyone else tries to disturb it.
He comes back to Atlantic City to find that Ron has gone back to Cannich and returned with Dr. Black. Dr. Black tends to Annie’s wounds and then thinks to ask about the goop smeared on the lid of the Staten Island gate box. Annie says that the man, Peter, told her to put it there and shows off the small glass bottle that it came in. Dr. Black reads the bottle’s label and discovers that the goop is batrachotoxin, a lethal poison. Counting their blessings that none of them ever touched the poison with their bare hands, the group convinces Annie to wipe it up and dispose of it.
The group decides to allow Annie to live. Dr. Black gives her twenty dollars and Johnny takes her through the Atlantic City gate to leave her in a random place on the boardwalk. He tells her that he doesn’t want to see her again. She is happy to oblige.
The four men return to Cannich, where law enforcement has returned with their first load of suspected cultists. DI MacDougall mentions that they were prevented from arresting Ian MacLellan or entering Mullardoch House because MacLellan pulled his noble rank on them and slammed the door in their faces. Several members of the cult, such as Duncan MacBain, are still missing. However, the police have arrested the oft-mentioned, but so far never-seen MacQuarrie brothers.
It is very late, and Mikhail, Ron, and Vivian have an important meeting in the early morning tomorrow. Everyone says goodnight and goes off to bed. Tommy Hayes bids them a good evening, and tells them he will be working with the Inverness police for just a bit longer before going to bed himself.
Monday, March 22, 1926
The police have picked up Fergus MacInnis, as his name was on the list of suspected coven members. This leaves Fergus’ disaffected teenage son Hamish in charge of the Slaters Arms. Lacking the owner/bartender and lead server, breakfast at the Arms is a slow and chaotic affair. Everyone eats, compares notes, and prepares for the day ahead.
The group receives three telegrams from Tammas MacIvar, who runs the post office. They are as follows:
One from Liam to Vivian, describing how he is has gotten a part in a major Hollywood movie that is being filmed in Syria.
|Liam's Telegram to Vivian|
One from Vito to Ron, informing him that Mikey Angelo has been found murdered in an unmarked grave. Vito also mentions that Mikey was found with a knife, whose handle was engraved RAD (Ron Anthony Deluca). Vito says that if Ron swears to him that he didn’t kill Mikey, he’ll believe him. He also asks Ron to tell Johnny that he said hi.
|Vito's Telegram to Ron|
One from Christopher Edwin to Judge Putnam. Mr. Edwin seems to be aware of the group’s recent fight with Bryan Slim/Carl Stanford, and explains that he saw a strange bird flying away south and east. He also mentions that he has sent information on the next leg of their journey to the judge’s next port of call.
|Mr. Edwin's Telegram to Judge Putnam|
Shortly thereafter, a courier arrives from Inverness, who delivers Dr. Kennedy’s sworn affidavit about the group’s adventure in the Hancock house to Dr. Black. Ron has already been cleared of all charges and had his personal property returned, but the group is glad to have the information, regardless.
At the end of breakfast, Constable MacNeil comes and informs the group that Seamus MacRae is back with his parents and that they are extremely relieved and thankful to the group for rescuing him. Constable MacNeil also says that he hasn’t run across Tommy Hayes yet, and asks the group to pass the MacRae’s well-wishes onto him should they see him.
The Search for Tommy Hayes
The group is immediately fearful for Tommy’s safety. Vivian recalls that Tommy is also staying at the Slaters Arms, and suggests checking to see if Tommy is in his room. Constable MacNeil and Ron both go to the room and the constable knocks on the door. When there is no answer, the constable suggests going downstairs to ask Hamish for the room key. Ron, not wanting to wait, shoulders the door in.
The room is completely clean and spartan, just like when Vivian entered it yesterday. The bed has not been slept in, and there is no sign that Tommy has been here recently.
At this point, Vivian, Mikhail, Ron, and Luca all prepare for their big meeting at Dunne’s Distillery. Before they head over there, however, they join the rest of the group and pay a visit to the constabulary.
The Ravings of Willie Wassle
None of the constables at the constabulary have seen Tommy Hayes, either. One constable remarks that he stayed at the constabulary last night for “about a half-hour after you all left. Then he said he was going to bed.” Everyone is concerned at what this might mean for Tommy.
At this point, someone starts shouting at the group from the very crowded constabulary cell block. It is Willie Wassle, who, among other things, shouts, “I wanna talk to ‘em. Let me talk with ‘em.”
The constables reassure the group that they do not have to speak with Willie if they don’t want to, but Johnny, undeterred, approaches the constabulary cells anyway. He finds most of the cultists sharing a very small space behind bars. Willie, who is at the front of the cell, raises his head and starts raving at the group.
Willie demands to know where Annie is, and whether or not she’s all right. Johnny explains, vaguely but patiently, that Annie is safe from harm and far, far away from Cannich.
To this, Willie responds, “she’d better be. You’d better not harm a hair on her. For if’n you do! If’n anyone does! I’ll call down Azzadod! I’ll call him and he’ll come and you’ll pay! YOU’LL PAY!”
Terrified at the implications of this, the group leaves.
|The Exceptionally Scottish Silas Dunne|
While the rest of the group remains in town, performing various activities, Vivian, Ron, Mikhail, and Luca take the trip to Dunne’s Distillery. It is a humble, but seemingly prosperous, business, owned and operated by Silas Dunne. Mr. Dunne is quite the jovial, upbeat fellow. He invites the group, as well as Mr. Yacovangelo, Mr. Russo, and Mr. Rizzo into the distillery’s break room to conduct their meeting.
Dunne opens by apologizing. He explains that all manner of unpleasantness has happened lately, both in the village in general and in the distillery in specific. He mentions that two of his workers, the MacQuarrie brothers, have been apprehended in some kind of police operation. He further mentions that he is not surprised by this, as the brothers have often shirked work to get up to mischief, “including working for that Hancock fellow. You know, the one they found murdered in his house?”
Despite his outward appearance as a small-town bumpkin, Dunne shows some evidence that he is as ruthless as either of the two mafia dons represented at the meeting. He is eager to work with either of the dons to create new markets in America, the better to “stick it to the folks over at Macallan.” He explains that, while he likes Mr. Bernouse, the deal he was offered is not very profitable for him. Mr. Bianco’s deal, however, leaves him flush with cash.
Vivian and Mikhail explain that, based on their notes, that Mr. Bernouse is offering a lower-risk deal with a promise of payout to Dunne in the future, while Mr. Bianco is offering a high-risk deal with a large payout up front. They go on to insinuate, with some success, that the Bianco family deals more in gambling than in liquor and has less experience in the area. Mr. Yacovangelo counters with some snide remarks about the Bernouse family, as well as with the assertion that Bianco is looking to diversify and stabilize the city.
The meeting is interrupted by Dunne’s secretary, who is immediately yelled at in Scots Gaelic by Dunne. The pair of them go out into the lobby and get into a shouting match that the two groups of investors do not understand. A few minutes later, a rattled, but still-trying-to-be-pleasant Dunne comes back into the break room and explains that his presence is needed at the constabulary. He hastily arranges for the two groups to meet with him later on that afternoon before politely, but quickly, sending them all away.
Back in Cannich, Mikhail and Vivian decide that they need to work on stronger arguments to assault Bianco’s proposal. Ron and Luca crack their knuckles and prepare for the worst.