Last time, you might recall, we ended with the throng heading out to the swamp to search for the camp, Barbara the Ulgan, or the gator-sublimatus. And indeed, they found all three.
They were walking into the swamp and noticed a human figure running about in the brush (Grimm, using his Vitreous Humour Alembic, realized it was a woman and a Promethean, and therefore probably Barbara). Feather called out to her, and she emerged and talked with them. This immediately tripped some milestones. For Skip, it was meet another Ulgan. For Enoch, it was much more significant: seek out a Promethean from the camp, which completed his Explorer Role. This, in turn, allowed him unlock a new Alembic (Mutatus Aspiratus), which turned out to be handy.
Barbara told the characters that the Gator was her creation, and she'd been trying to kill it for years but every time she got close, something would happen - people would be in danger, it would escape, whatever. Enoch took her aside and told her that he'd been in a similar position, and not to worry - the generative act was hard. Barbara said that the Gator probably wouldn't attack a big group like this, and they should split off.
Feather found the remains of a structure from the camp, and a Pilgrim Mark reading "knowledge." Underneath some boards, she found books. Skip and Matt walked to the water's edge to look for spirits (using Skip's Bestowment). Avalon kind of hung back; she'd used her Stone Alembic to change Skip and Grimm's shirts to armor, but she wasn't sanguine about her chances in a fight. Of course, that meant the Gator hit her first.
It exploded out of nowhere and landed on Avalon, ripping away a chunk of her shoulder and draining all of her Pyros. Grimm drew his pistol and fired one well-placed shot into the thing's head, nearly dropping it (seriously, he did like 10 damage). The Gator fell back and Avalon backed off, not wanting to get eaten completely. Barbara called down lightning and threw it at Avalon, healing her up.
And then the baby-gator Pandoran burst from the water, grabbed Skip, and pulled him in! Enoch activated his new Alembic and tried to drive them into Dormancy, but they were too angry and powerful. The Gator charged at Feather and bit her up pretty badly. Grimm shot it again, and it charged for the water. Barbara hit it with lightning, Matt shot it, and Feather blasted it with the Externalize Alembic, but its armor was strong enough that it kept going.
It charged into the water and grappled Skip, biting more of the flesh off his leg. He broke free and started to swim for shore, but then he realized that running from this fight would just endanger others, and turned around to punch it. The Gator bit him again, pulling him closer to death (and remember, Skip has seen the River already so if he dies, it's real), but he held on and punched it, cracking its skull.
Feather and Matt waded in to help. The smaller on snapped at Matt, but missed. Barbara yelled to get the Gator's head up, and Feather dove in to do that. They held up the monster and Barbara hit it with lightning, and blew its head right off.
Enoch tried his new Distillation again and dropped the baby gator into Dormancy. Matt grabbed it by the tail and threw it onto the bank, where Grimm and Matt made short work of it.
Skip waded out of the water, wounded, bleeding, but enlightened. This fight wasn't really his, but he'd risked his life to finish it. In doing so, he'd completed a milestone: win a fight while wounded with aggravated damage, and mastered the Soldier Role.
Barbara hit Skip with her healing-lightning and fixed some of the damage, and the throng threw some Pyros at Avalon to help her feel better. The Prometheans talked. Barbara felt that she was finally free of the Gator - the beast she'd been chasing for years. Now she was ready to move along. Matt asked her how she was able to command lightning like that, and she told him (and the others) that it was a matter of embracing Torment rather than pushing it away, and letting the lightning follow. She took the throng to her little hovel in the swamp, and gave Avalon a shirt. Matt found a Pilgrim Mark on the shack that said "BEWARE," which Barbara said was a warning about the Gator.
Matt, figuring that there was more here than he was realizing, used his Plumb the Fathoms Alembic. He realized as they walked back to town that Barbara could help him achieve a milestone, but he wasn't sure which one. He reflected on the nature of the Ascetic Role, and asked if he and Barbara could return to the shack later to talk in more depth. She agreed, but wasn't sure what she had to teach - she was feeling pretty directionless at the moment.
The Prometheans also asked her about Papillon and the Athanor. She remembered Papillon making it, and was horrified that someone had broken it. She said that no Promethean had a reason to do that, but New Orleans had plenty of other supernatural entities in it and she wasn't sure about their proclivities. Enoch mused that repairing the Athanor might be possible...and he was leaning toward completing Mercurius by adopting the Craftsman Role anyway.
The characters wound their way back to the storefront to find Sicky, give Barbara a little company, and plan their next move. Little do they know the horror that awaits them.