First thing: three of the players made new characters. Two of the players had already done this, both to have a more robust selection of characters and to give folks some backups in case something awful happens to one of the existing ones (which happens, y'know, it's Chill). So we wound up with:
- Blake Wheeler, the animal control office from Couer d'Alene. that had his first rather graphic encounter with the Unknown here. He has now joined SAVE because Nothing is scary if you know what it is.
- Annie Crawford: Annie showed up in the last case. She's Dee's lawyer, and has, in her capacity as a lawyer to a SAVE office, wound up seeing some Unknown activity. She joined SAVE because I'm not my father's daughter.
- Luther Bryson is a former cop, current PI, and a friend of Edward's now-deceased son. He joined SAVE to Protect the innocent.
So, on this particular day, Dee gets a call from Rosalita Clemmons, the cardiac nurse at St. Paul Hospital, saying a body was just brought into the morgue that seemed strange. The envoys can check it out, but they're on the clock. Dee calls up Luther (a former cop, remember), Blake, Willa (in case there's ghosts) and Jeanie (since the body was discovered in a rural area) and they head to the hospital.
Blake, Willa, and Luther check the body while Dee stands guard, and discover that the man (Doug Fuller) was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. That's not the interesting bit, though. The interesting bit is that he's got hundreds of tiny wounds to his face and hands - he was pecked by a flock of good-sized birds. Blake notes that this is not normal animal behavior, and also that the man was alive when they started pecking him - crows are scavengers and they'll cheerfully eat a person's eats, but not while they're alive. Dee senses the Unknown and confirms it - this guy wasn't killed in a normal accident.
The envoys head out to where his body was found, passing a logging operation. They find the site and investigate, realizing that Fuller rolled down a hill into a ditch by the side of the road. There's a gravel driveway leading up the hill, and the mailbox has been knocked down. It's got blood on it, but it's not the murder weapon - the wood has softened, indicating that it was knocked down some time ago. Dee and Jeanie, being local, recall that this property belongs to the Loomis family. Mrs. Loomis died of cancer some time back, but neither of them can recall hearing from Mr. Loomis recently.
Doing a bit of mental math, the envoys realize that the Loomis land borders the logging operation on the east side. Figuring that Fuller might have something to offer, Willa has the others lock her in a big dog cage in Blake's truck and uses Voice of the Dead to summon him (she is now Master level at this discipline, meaning she witnesses the conversation).
Fuller speaks through her, initially terrified of the birds. He tells them that he got lost - he was at the logging site getting a job, was walking back to his car, and went left instead of right. The envoys note this, and then ask what he remembers. He doesn't remember much (he's barely a ghost), but Willa notes that he saw a NO TRESPASSING sign, overgrown with weeds. They ask if he has any unfinished business - any pets to feed? "No," says Fuller. "My wife took the cat."
Luther, Willa, and Jeanie head back over to the logging operation, while Dee and Blake stay put with Blake's truck. They find a fellow outside the managerial trailer with his arm in a sling, who directs them to the foreman (who's out on site). The foreman is willing to talk to them about Fuller, but doesn't know much - he hired Fuller the other day, Fuller had some experience doing work kinda like this before, seemed a decent enough guy, that's it. The envoys also ask about Loomis, the guy who lives on the property bordering the site. The foreman says that he knows of the guy - he used to come out to the fence surrounding his property and watch the loggers at work. No one ever really had any problem with that.
The envoys also talk to the guy with his arm in a sling, who is able to recount that some months back, the foreman fired like five guys at once. He's not sure why; he wasn't working that day.
Meanwhile, Dee and Blake start trudging up the hill. They see a house, and a garage, and in the lawn area in front of the house, a big tree with a tire swing and a firepit. They walk over to the garage and peek in - pickup truck, workbench, bookshelf, but it's too dark to really see anything. No lights on in either the garage or the house.
The others drive Jeanie's jeep up the driveway to meet them. Jeanie gets out and goes to talk to them as they cross in front of the jeep to walk to the house...and the jeep springs to life and lurches forward. Jeanie rolls, but gets clipped on the arm. Blake gets splayed across the hood and feels ribs break, and poor Dee gets nailed right on the hip (but twists to protect Sweet Baby Jesus, riding in her purse). Willa, sitting in back, tries to grab for the wheel but misses and face-plants onto the gearshift, knocking her head pretty good.
The envoys get out of the car and pick themselves up. The sun is setting, and a flock of crows is perched on the house, looking down on them.