Thomas jerks awake at 2am from a nightmare about spiders, paralysis and being hunted by Herne. He comes downstairs to find a bruised Vic drinking neat vodka, his ‘hand of glory’ expedition a bust. They have a drink and talk about their fears and failures until dawn, which lets Thomas put yesterday’s encounter with Marrow behind him.
Eventually the rest of the family rouses, and they talk about what to do about their Rosicrucian problems. Everyone pokes at the brass-and-crystal head, and they realise that some of it is actual bone – it’s as if a real human skull had been partially transformed into metal. Thomas recalls that the 17th century astrologer Robert Fludd, a Rosicrucian, had his skull stolen after his death – could this be related?
Concerned about retaliation against Oliver, Arthur checks in with his hospital contact, while Charlotte touches base with Ned Chan. Both confirm that Oliver is fine for now, hidden in the basement of St Jude’s – although Ned thinks he may have seen one of the Rosicrucian thugs in the hospital. (He also asks Charlotte to come exploring with the Cave Clan on the weekend.) Making his phone call on the street, Arthur sees that a nearby electronics shop has been ram-raided; the thieves apparently took a box of digital video cameras.
Discussion in the shop is interrupted by the arrival of Coleridge, an occult book dealer and sometime rival of the Shadows. He tells Arthur that he knows they have the Book of Dead Names, and he offers to buy it for $3000. When Arthur rebuffs him, he goes to $6000, saying he has buyers that the Shadows can’t find themselves – and intimating that he too has issues with Valentine and the Rosicrucians, and might be an ally to the Shadows if the sale goes through. Arthur still knocks him back, suspicious of his real intentions, and Coleridge leaves in an angry huff.
The Shadows leave the head in their safe and go to St Jude’s to check on Oliver, and Charlotte uses witchcraft to accelerate his healing now that the curse has been lifted. Ned is still concerned about his friend, but tells the Shadows that he’ll do whatever he can to help them with their problems, if they ever need him.
As they leave the hospital, Gwen spots a Rosicrucian thug in the waiting room, nursing a broken arm and talking on his mobile phone. The Shadows move to leave, but the thug calls to Gwen – his boss wants to talk. It’s Eamon Burnbridge, and he says his employer wants to sit down in two hours and work things out – no violence, just negotiation, in a place of the Shadows’ choosing. Deciding it’s worth a try, the Shadows agree to meet – in the abandoned train station and reality nexus beneath their shop, where they hold their monthly Shadow Market.
The Shadows return to their shop and race to prepare for the meeting.
- Hoping for backup, Arthur calls Dead Ringer to tell him that they have the Book, and can he come now to collect? The undead middleman is thrilled, but won’t be able to cross from the Underworld until after sunset – no joy there.
- Gwen makes sure that the escape hatches and secret passages in the Market are clear, and gets a call from Edward Hampton while she works. The family that saw her fight the Blighted Ones are fine, and have written the experience off as a scuffle between street urchins and a homeless woman. He also tells her that five young children are definitely still missing, and that police aren’t getting any closer to finding out what happened to them.
- Thomas prepares one of the planar passageways in the station, a thin space between this world and the Night Lands of the chimera. If things go very wrong, they have a way out – but it’s dangerous.
- The market is haunted by a few ragged ghosts, undead spirits whose identities have worn away after being trapped in this world too long. Charlotte shows them the head and asks them for information; they cluster and fuss around her, but all she can make out are the words DESTINY and GRAVITY.
As best prepared as they can manage, the Shadows open the doors to the market as the Rosicrucians approach…