- Confronted with the bizarre array covering the walls, the team gets to work. Dee begins taking notes. Sean prods an answering machine with one paw and manages NOT to erase the messages on it.
- The first few messages are a woman, apparently Mr. Liebaum’s ex-wife, stretching from at least a couple weeks ago to at least close to the present, expressing concern over his missing his daughter’s recital-after-some-fashion, and then proceeding to growing concern at a lack of response.
- The last message is from a Mr. Weishaupt, agreeing to trade “reading materials” for an unspecified payment. The deal is set to happen late that evening—except, of course, that at least one of the parties is dead now.
- With her knowledge of deals within New Town, Joss is able to clarify: Weishaupt is a fixer, who can get What You Need for a price; his “shop” is a tavern in New Town—“neutral territory in neutral territory”—and he generally goes about his business unimpeded, since he might be useful to anyone someday.
- Following Sean’s nose, the wizards and company go to the kitchen, and down into the cellar—though not before Dee pockets a locker key from the living room.
- Deep in the basement is a lab, with maps and diagrams. In the center of a multi-layered binding circle is a tiny figure of a winged man, making muffled cries for help through an upside-down fishbowl.
- After a totally-joking-not-serious-at-all-claim to be ready to rain hell and destruction upon the world, the little spirit introduces himself as a messenger called Marathon.
- Upon learning that Liebaum is dead—which makes him sad, he liked his shiny head, even if he was stinky and kept him locked away—Marathon agrees to pass along the last message he delivered, and draw what he gave it to, in exchange for his freedom.
- Our heroes must think fast: Preston warns them that they have little time before detectives arrive.
- Sean opens the circle, and Marathon agrees to pass them the information wherever they go to from here.
- Time to go! They dash out, but not before Sean grabs a notebook from the living room.
- Unfortunately, they’re already being followed: a trio of figures begin to approach them from the far end of the block, and while they quickly pack into their vehicles, their pursuers tear through the Veil Dee erects to hide them.
- They might be trouble, except… something happens. A sound—maybe a whistle, maybe a scream, erupts, and the three figures disappear, moments before something craters the sidewalk, spattering it with something dark.
- Apparently free of their pursuers, our heroes make their way to a cafe with just a little privacy, and go over their findings.
- The notebook is a paranoid rambling stream of consciousness, referring to an “Author,” as well as “contamination” and “symptoms.”
- One line stands out for being underlined: “Find out banish condition for Beast, too risky to petition without.”
- “Petition? Awaken? Beg? Invoke?”
- Finally, Jos reviews her message and image from Marathon.
“This is a Message. Awaken, O Divine Beast, and Hunt. Eden is defiled, the Intruder has arrived.”
“[S]omething impossible, alien, without rhyme or reason. The drawing has been created within the phone itself, pixels commanded and arrayed by a master artist’s hand.. or a messenger. The shape it depicts is dizzying, as if a thousand images are layered over eachother, dark with overlapping possibility. Sometimes the shape is a cloud of maws, sometimes it is a black dog, sometimes it is an eagle with talons of serpents and the head of a lizard.”
And a little extra!
The same high-pitched screech/scream/is there even a word, that our heroes had heard as they drove away from Geoffrey’s home.