Main Locale: Castronegro, New Mexico
Places: The Changeling, The Herrera Hotel, Vilheila-Pereira Tobacconist Shop
People: Juan Herrera, Constable Fred Garcia, Philip Vilheila Pereira
After letting the evening wind down at The Changeling, Our Heroes decide to retire for the evening. Constable Garcia has not returned, so plans are made to see him in the morning.
Douglas Ryder has another nightmare: this one involves a trial (his, although Marian Elliot is the one convicted) and a shadowy jury. Upon awakening he discovers cobwebs over his eyes and in his mouth, and finds more along his pillow and over his window.
As everyone wakes Marian doesn’t appear. Juan opens her door at Our Heroes’ behest and she’s not there. Nothing is missing from the room except Marian and the spider-creature statuette she took from Content Not Found: dr-william-godfrey‘s room. Cobwebs adorn her bedding and her window, which was shut but unlocked. The webbing around the window looked disturbed as if it had been opened. The sickles beneath her mattress were untouched, but the blades had scorched the bottom of the mattress as if they’d grown white-hot overnight.
A search outside revealed that markings — probably writing of some kind — had been made in white, powdery lines around the Herrera Hotel windows and the car. The lines had been smudged out by someone rubbing their foot along the ground, however, and they weren’t distinguishable.
Constable Garcia finally showed up and seemed interested but unsympathetic about Marian’s plight. Instead he seemed more inclined to blame Our Heroes for the recent unrest and suggested that, once Marian returned, the strangers moved along.
Without much to go on, Our Heroes visit the tobacconist’s shop. Perhaps Marian had went out for cigarettes? The conversation with Philip doesn’t reveal much. He doesn’t know what happened to his nephew, Content Not Found: joaquin-pereira. He hasn’t seen Marian. He offered Clara Taylor a free sample of a cherry-sage shag and sends the group on their way… except he’s clearly being evasive about something.
Troy Valjean takes to the rooftops, following up on the trail of the shooter from the previous night, and discovers that someone is inhabiting the upper, residential level of the tobacconist’s shop, someone with the distinctive lank hair and brilliant green eyes of the Diaz family. In addition he discovers a trap door on top of the shop, obscured but recently used. Perhaps the shooter went down that way…?
Clara and Douglas investigate the back of the shop and discover that it’s a frequently-used and well-kept entrance. Medical supplies have been delivered to the back door, and Philip opens one of the shutters, exposing the brilliant white side as some sort of signal. Fairly soon a local ranchero and a young girl arrived, walking hand in hand, and made their way inside, the man attempted to gently comfort the girl as they entered.
Suspicions running high, Clara and Douglas entered as well, to find that the back of the shop is set up as an operating theater festooned with Catholic crucifixes. The girl was sat upon a makeshift operating table, her feet in stirrups. Unfortunately they saw this because Philip heard them enter, drawing back the curtain between the room and the foyer, staring in shock as Our Heroes stare back….