So! Yesterday was Monsterhearts. Shall we?
Last time, the characters made some progress in their quest to shut down the cannibal cult. This time, they made more progress...but they also suffered some gruesome setbacks.
We open at Briar's house. Last night, Skylar, Cassi, and Rook spent the night together again, and Skylar's sex move came into play - he asked Cassi her greatest fear, which was "being forgotten." Cassi also asked Skylar something about Briar, and Skylar wound up using unresolved trauma and giving Rook and Briar the blamed condition.
Omar, Dora, and Genesis also spent the night together (which turned out to be really unpleasant news, later), and Briar hooked up with Austin.
Next morning, most of them headed to school, except that Briar and Omar went out to the winery to collect some grapevines. They parked near the fork, and Omar pointed Briar to a patch of wild grapevines, away from the woods. He said it would be safer there, across the road, away from the pits, and besides, who knows where the monster was?
Meanwhile, at school, Cassi noted the secretary, assistant principal, and several cops have a meeting. She called Skylar and told her to check in, and she used dissipate to go through the wall and listen.
Skylar learned that Principal Miles was missing. His car was found at the winery, but he was gone. Also, Omar, the son of the folks who own the winery, was absent. Where was he? Of course, the characters knew the truth - the monster had killed him. Cassi called Omar and let him know that people were looking for him, then went into the office (she had a meeting today with Principal Miles), but the secretary, now out of the meeting, didn't want to tell her anything. She manipulated an NPC to find out more, and learned that no one knew where Miles was, but everyone was very concerned, and would Cassi please keep an ear out amongst the students? She agreed, and went to class.
Omar, meanwhile, left Briar to cut grapevines and went up the hill to check in with his family. He called her later, saying that he wouldn't be able to come back, but he'd see her later.
That morning, Dora went to her sanctum in the nurse's office and used the watching hex with the notebook page she'd taken from the basement. She saw through the monster's eyes...and it was watching Briar cutting grape vines. Dora quickly texted Briar, but got no response.
But Briar was fine. She came in about lunchtime and met the other students. Dora was sitting with them, rather than her Mexican friends, and there were some whispers from her usual table. She turned around and told them off in Spanish (shutting them down), but picked up the gringa condition for her trouble.
The characters talked over what they knew so far, and decided to go to the library so that Briar could hit the books. They decided, after doing so, that they should wait until school was out, and then head out to the winery and search for the monster. That way there would still be daylight, and maybe they could put this to bed before the party tonight (which they'd already sabotaged, but better safe than sorry).
They got out to the winery and into the trees, and found Omar waiting for them. They searched a bit, and then realized that Principal Miles' car was still up the parking lot, which might give Dora a way to spy on it. They found a water bottle, and Dora used watching hex after they got back into the trees.
She saw the group of them.
They charged in the direction she indicated, but wound up at the road, and nothing. And then Skylar tossed his lash of grape vines around Omar, thinking maybe he was the monster. But nothing happened. Rook tried to gaze into the abyss to see what was going on, but failed, and wondered if Austin might be the one. Cassi also gazed into the abyss to see Austin's thoughts...and couldn't.
They were getting ready to tackle Austin, but Briar used manipulate an NPC to trick the monster into revealing itself. The price to do so, though, would have been someone dying, and the player wasn't willing to accept that. Finally, Skylar gazed into the abyss and saw a vision of grapevines erupting up from the ground and encircling everyone except Omar...but the vines looked very different than the ones the characters were carrying.
Skylar and Briar tackled Omar (lashing out physically), and it exploded into its monster form, pushing them back. Rook also lashed out physically, stabbing it with his sword, and it clawed up his leg. Dora, having trusted (and slept with) Omar, held steady, and Genesis, panicking, used ocean's breath to get something useful. I, however, spent a String on her and offered her an experience to use the other form of the Move, where the ocean takes something away. She agreed.
Genesis' hair floated up as if she was underwater. Her eyes went black like a shark's, and the heavens opened. The sudden downpour of rain blinded everyone, and when their vision cleared, the monster was gone.
Skylar was furious with Genesis for ruining their chance to beat the creature. Briar tried to shut him down, but failed. Genesis gazed into the abyss and saw the rains sweeping away Omar's body, but a black mist being expelled from his mouth and being carried up the hill. Cassi gazed into the abyss to read Austin's thoughts again, and found that he was hurt that she'd suspected him, but relieved she was OK.
The characters talked a bit about what to do, and Dora got a phone call. The woman calling said it was the monster, now a waitress at the winery with a particular tattoo on her wrist. She said she would leave the school alone if the characters left her alone, and then said that the police would be there soon. Dora, however, didn't mention this last fact to everyone. This becomes important momentarily.
The characters walked back to the cars, and found Omar's body sticking out from under Cassi's car. They all held steady, and Briar and Dora succeeded (everyone else failed). They argued for a bit more, freaked out a little, and then three cop cars started coming down the road. They quickly stuffed the body the rest of the way under the car, but the cops turned toward them, and all got out. They asked what the kids were doing here, informed them they were trespassing, and one of them reached for Briar's injured arm, but she shut down the cop and picked up the suspicious condition. The cops told the characters to get gone, and Cassi held steady and kept herself together (for the moment). The cops asked if the kids had been drinking, and they all took breathalyzer tests (Skylar's didn't work, but since she wasn't driving they didn't care). Genesis tried to manipulate an NPC and make the cops believe all was well, but they weren't buying it.
They told the characters to get gone, and then they told the cops about the body in the pit, figuring maybe they could use that get the party shut down. The cops didn't immediately believe them, but Rook was insistent, and so the cops told everyone else to get gone (which they did, take Briar's huge car) and Briar and Rook showed the cops the pit.
Those two and three cops went to the pit, which of course was now full of muddy water. The cops took their names down, and sent them back, and stood there trying to work out how they were going to drain this well. Walking back, Rook gazed into the abyss to talk with the Faery King, and asked for help. The Faery King agreed to get rid of the body, but under no circumstances could Rook look at the faeries doing their work. Rook started yelling and got the last cop away, and carried on (manipulating NPCs) long enough for the body to disappear. Unfortunately, he wound up cuff in the cop car.
Briar managed to manipulate an NPC and get the cops to let Rook go, provided he was calm. They got in the car and drove off, no corpses to be seen. And then they all met back at Briar's house.
The others were already there (Austin knew the code to get in), and they'd waited quietly, Austin holding Cassi, until the others got back. They talked about the events of the day, and once Rook got back (refusing to answer any questions about how the body had vanished), they ordered pizza (no meat). Dora called her parents, who were at the party - apparently there was a delay in dinner. The characters accepted that they had done all they could about the party. If they could destroy the monster, they could cure the infected people.
They went to the books again, and learned that this creature was a monster out of Native American legend called the "Black Tamanous." It didn't eat people, it ate cannibals, which explained the cult. The fact that it had been summoned at the Diaz winery indicated that only grapevines from that winery could hurt it, but it was also vulnerable to starvation, if they could bind it. The stuff that they'd used as "grapevine," Austin discovered, was actually manroot. The monster had tricked them.
Austin brought up a question: When had the monster taken Omar? The assumption was that the thing that had contacted the others from the ambulance with Briar had been the Black Tamanous, not Omar, but then why didn't it just kill her? Skylar gazed into the abyss and saw the answer: The monster smearing blood on Briar's lips. She woke, and licked them. Skylar, seeing this, took a bit of grapevine that they'd collected from the vineyard that day and touched it to Briar's hand. Briar tried to hold steady and failed, and an angry red welt sprang up. Briar had been infected.
Since Genesis and Dora had slept with "Omar" the night before, they touched the vine, too, and held steady. But they did it successfully, so no welts, no infection, apparently.
Genesis took a bath and gazed into the abyss to learn about its current form, and saw it in the body of Omar's mother. She picked a grape from the vine, and crushed it into a bottle, mixing in some blood. Then Genesis saw herself at a dinner party. Around the table were the mayor, some local cops, and other powerful Perdido figures. They took a drink of Mrs. Diaz' wine, and remarked on its body. "The governor would like this," one mused.
The characters decided that killing the Black Tamanous was truly their only choice. It's plans were clear - it wanted to spread. "We'll figure it out,"said Cassi. "We still have a few days until Homecoming."