Briar, Cassi, Rook, and Skylar went to the school. Since it's Spirit Week, lots of folks are there hanging up decorations, which is kind of Cassie's way in - she's head of the spirit committee. Briar is doing gymnastics, but she feigns a leg injury a few minutes in and leaves to join the others. The sneak down the hall to the basement door, and find it locked. They look to Skyler, who uses dissipate to go through the door, much to Briar's surprise.
Skylar opens the door, and the head downstairs. They note that the horrible stench of meat has gone, replaced by the smell of bleach. And there's a wall there where there wasn't before. Skylar peeks through it, and sees that it's just canvas and wood frame, like a stage set. They pry it out of the way, and see the butcher block, this time with a body on it - Principal Miles'.
Skylar heads upstairs to keep lookout. Cassi finds a notebook on the desk, with a few series of numbers followed by some of that weird writing. She recognizes the first series of numbers as her address, and another as Rook's. She has Briar look at the writing and, sure enough, it's their addresses.
They decide, after some deliberation, to take the body with them. Briar knows, after all, that the monster needs to eat and it's hunger grows quickly. They discuss this insane plan some, but they agree to wrap the principal's body up in some extra canvas they find and cart it upstairs. Everyone but Briar does so, while Briar hangs behind, douses the butcher block in paint thinner, and torches it.
They run into Joyce Chen, the likely valedictorian, and she holds the door for them while they take their "trash" outside. They throw the body into the dumpster, and then the fire alarm goes off. In the chaos, they sneak the body out, put it in Cassie's trunk, drive it down the beach, and dump it into the ocean. Cassi gets a text from Dora: "Mike is here."
Let's back up.
Dora, Genesis, and Austin head out to the vineyard. Dora gazes into the abyss to see what they should be looking for. She sees a fork in the road, the left leading to the shining, happy vineyard, with Omar waving to them, and the right leading to the dark, foreboding forest. And that, Dora realizes, is where they have to go. She calls Omar on his cell and tells him to meet them out that way. He balks, saying it's dangerous, and asks them to meet up at the main building. Dora tries to manipulate an NPC to get him to come meet them, but she fails, and balks. They go up to the winery, and see a police car out from - probably Officer Feldner, whom they suspect is part of the cult. Dora texts Cassi: "Mike is here."
They don't go in, but text Omar to come out. When they do, they see Mike, but wearing the principal's clothes and jacket, sitting with the cop. He sees them and smiles. They flee back down to the woods, and Omar tells them that this area isn't safe - years ago, there were a lot of unsuccessful attempts to dig wells, here, and a lot of the pits are still around. They need to proceed carefully. The characters get their weapons out of the car, and try to inform Omar of what's going on. He's not really buying it, but agrees to go with them.
(Meanwhile, the others get into Cassi's car and start heading to the vineyard.)
They search around for a while, and then find a pit with a terrible stench coming out of it. Omar says that stray dogs sometimes fall into the holes, but they shine flashlights down and see something glinting back...and then a human hand. Omar panics, wanting to call the police, but Genesis shuts him down and gives him the skeptical condition. Austin says he'll run back to the car for some rope and they can get a better look.
In the car, Skylar, Briar, and Rook all gaze into the abyss for more information about this. Cassi feels a sudden burst of pain, and gazes into the abyss to see Austin's thoughts.
Skylar meditates on how they can stop the dinner party tomorrow, and sees a kitchen, with a big, prominent freezer, and focuses in on the plug. She understands.
Rook focuses on the vineyard and what's happening there. He sees himself tied to a tree and white, corpse-flesh hand slicing his shirt off, then stabbing him.
Briar fails, and she simply feels a sensation of growing dread and being unprepared.
Cassi sees much what Rook had seen, but knows it is from Austin's perspective. Also, Austin was thinking, "No, Cassi, stay away." Cassi pulls the car to a halt and tells Rook to drive. She gets in back with Skylar, who comforts her (and uses his new hungry ghost move to talk her conditions away, which was good).
Meanwhile, Austin hadn't returned. The characters go back to the car, but no Austin, and the car was locked. Genesis takes a branch and lashes out physically to break the car window, and pops the trunk - Austin's rope is gone.
Cassi sleeps, and awakens as they pull into the winery. They take the right fork, and find Austin's car and the others. They all get out and do a quick update, and then hear Austin scream.
Cassi goes charging off into the underbrush. Genesis (I think) tries to shut her down and fails. Briar is close after, and Briar tackles Cassi as she runs into a clearing (lashing out physically). Austin is there, hanging from the tree, covered in blood, barely conscious. They get up and start approaching him, and the monster stands up from the brush and slashes at Briar's shoulder.
Genesis tries to lash out physically with the lighter/hairspray combo that she had, but fails and burns herself. Briar slashes at it with her sword, as does Rook (both lashing out physically), and Dora zips in, locks eyes with it, and uses the binding hex to keep it from hurting anyone. It slashes at Briar, but its hand stops before it connects.
Cassi and Skylar run to free Austin. Genesis tries to gaze into the abyss and learn its weakness, but fails, and is only reminded of how very far from the sea she was, here in this hot, dry place. The monster starts to run. Briar tries to manipulate an NPC to keep it focused on her, but the price for that would have been disrupting the hex, and Briar's player didn't want to do that. Instead, she charges after it, and I triggered her Darkest Self. She had to kill this thing. The others couldn't handle it.
Cassi and Skylar free Austin and help him down. They start back to the cars, not knowing where Briar had gone, and note that Omar is missing, too. They get into the cars and start heading out, Dora texting Omar.
Meanwhile, Briar find the monster and stabs it, twice. It splays out its fingers, daring her to do it again. She tries to manipulate an NPC to figure out how to hurt it for real, but it just laughs and evaporates. Briar, confused but still her Darkest Self, examines its discarded clothes looking for a clue. And then everything goes black.
The other characters pass an ambulance on the way in. Worried, but not enough to stop, Cassi takes Austin to the hospital. Dora gets a return text from Omar: "in ambulance w/ Briar." Not sure what had happened to Briar, the others (in Austin's car) stop to wait. Skylar points out that they could stop the dinner if they unplug the fridge, but worries that if they just unplug it, someone would notice. Genesis points out that they could break the mechanism that kept it cold, but leave the motor running. This was acknowledged as a good plan, and Skylar and Dora creep up to the winery.
They find an employee there and tell him that they are looking for Omar. He goes inside, and they sneak into the kitchen. They find the fridge in question, and damage the cooling system and the temperature gauge. They also check the fridge, and find ribs and liver...probably human. The employee catches them on the way out, but assumes they were just there for wine. They rejoin Genesis and Rook and head for the hospital.
At the hospital, Briar wakes up with a nasty headache. Omar is sitting with her. He tells her that he found her in the woods, unconscious, bleeding from the head, and holding a pair of pants. He says he brought her to the road and called and ambulance. They talk for a minute, and then he goes out the lobby to find the others.
Cassi brings Austin in, and they take him back to work on him. Since he's clearly been stabbed, a police officer takes Cassi's statement. She says she found him in the woods, but then gets incoherent (really, just buying herself some time).
The others arrive, and Skylar sneaks back and creeps on Briar, and then moves into the room. Briar tells Skylar to do something so she knows she's not hallucinating, and they kiss. Briar turns her on, and Skylar slips under the covers with her. (Briar's sex move allows her to heal all her harm, which is good.) Skylar's sex move comes into play, and she asks Briar what her greatest fear is, to which Briar replies, "dying alone." Briar asks Skylar how he died, and Skylar he doesn't know, which might be the first time that came up. They talk, and Skylar tells Briar the basic story - she and Austin went out there together, and the others came out and found him, while Omar found her. Briar notes that Austin doesn't know this plan, and Skylar slips out and finds Austin room.
Austin is still getting stapled up, and Skylar, true to form, creeps on him as well. When the doctor leaves, Skylar sneaks in and informs him of the story, and then heads back out.
The group talks with Omar, and bring him up to speed. They tell him about the cult, and about the principal and Mike, and about the damaged fridge. Omar calls his parents and warns them that police are on the way and to tell them where he is. Cassi calls her mother, and manipulates an NPC to get her to stay away from the party, but the price of that is that she comes home. She agrees, and she and Rook head back to the Metz house. They talk to Cassi's parents, and her father isn't thrilled that her mother now doesn't want to go to the party, but he decides they'll drive down to San Diego tomorrow and stay the night. They insist, however, that Cassi stay for dinner.
Back at the hospital, Briar and Austin are released. Briar takes Austin aside and apologizes for how this went. Austin is about to ask a favor of her, but doesn't. They get texts saying that Rook and Cassi are coming back.
They talk about the monster and how it evaporated, and Dora and Rook both gaze into the abyss on the subject (can ya tell everyone had Dark as a "mark experience" stat?). Dora sees the monster evaporating, but pulled back into a container which is then wrapped up in grapevines. Rook sees himself as the monster, walking in the vineyard, falling into a pit and trying to climb out, but hands cut by grapevines.
The characters reconvene, and realize that they need to trap the creature long enough for it to starve to death, and that grapevines seem to be a weakness. Omar questions this - why does it hang out at a vineyard if it's allergic to grapevines? Skylar gazes into the abyss on this subject, and sees a bonfire. A group of people stand around it, tossing grapevines in, and then cutting their hands and bleeding into it. The four-armed monster stands up out of the fire, grabs Mike (who is one of the folks in the circle), and flows into his mouth as vapor. Skylar notes Principal Miles and Officer Feldner in the circle, too, but doesn't recognize other folks.
So that's why grapevines - the monster is made of grapevines. The characters talk about going back to Cassi's, but because they know that the monster knows her address, they go to Briar's instead (her father is out of town). Cassi also invites everyone to a little party at her place tomorrow night, and Omar is enthused to go. Tomorrow, Omar and Briar decide to take the day off and go gather grapevines.
Some notes that players shouldn't read:
- Omar is now the monster. It wants to get its hands on Genesis' skin, but doesn't want to push it. It's thinking it'll lie low until the homecoming dance, since it's told the Diazes to fix the fridge.
- Austin is going to ask Briar to protect Cassi.
- Look into what things look like grapevines, but aren't.