(Spoilers for bits of “The Deadly Seven” by Panik).
The food bus is back in the Duxton Castle food court, pending some catering gigs Patty has set up.
Tonight, though, Patty and Elli are away, and Katrina is running Stake Out at Duxton Castle food yard.
She hears some shouting at the tables outside, and sees one young woman running away, closely followed by a …
- face twisted into a reddish leathery grimace, unnatural strength and speed -
… demon, in jeans and jacket.
So Katrina gives chase through alleyways, across rooftops. The woman manages to get away as the “demon” concentrates on escaping Katrina. In snatches of shouted conversation, Elli recognises the demon as as a mild-mannered middle-aged customer, Miles Dersby, a folklorist who she’s seen talking with Elli now and again.
Except he’s not human any more.
She breathlessly tries calling Patty, but the call is instantly declined – her phone is off. So is Elli’s. And before she catches up, Dersby manages to lose her by smashing a fire escape behind him. Cue opening credits …
Garden of Elli’s parents’ home
Patty and Elli are in are in a suburban garden set amidst rolling hills – Elli’s parents, in fact, talking with the robed Mathematikoi around a brazier.
The Mathematikoi is initiating Patty into the outer mysteries of Pythagoreanism, the realm of forms, full of the ideal forms of which the objects in our own world are (so say the Pythagoreans) pale reflections.
Patty is trying to discover some control over her lycanthropy, and because Pythagoreans are in awe of “masters of forms” like her, she’s getting fast-tracked.
The trio recite a prayer to Apollo, throw herbs and wooden polyhedra into the fire (that look a lot like the dice from certain roleplaying games), and begin to hallucinate (or experience a glimpse of the realm of forms, depending on your world-view).
Patty sees a perfect Badger – with fur glossy and clean – but the vision ends as an awful discordant note strikes out, clashing with the music of the spheres, throwing them out of the vision and into the garden, gasping for breath.
Elli is worried, and more so when the Mathematikoi explains that this isn’t the first time – he’s heard this disturbance to the music of the spheres several times in the last month.
At a not-as-trendy-as-they-wish digital market agency, Jenny Hyde is a junior marketer watching some of her colleagues grow pale, weak, and ill. Are they turning into vampires? She has no idea, but fortunately, she’s a vegan blogger who knows Patty and that her food bus, “Stake Out”, can deal with some really weird stuff.
So she convinces the officer manager (Alyssa Thorn) to give them a catering gig. And also share the sick leave records.
Beneath the British Library
After the events of “The Summit”, Elli now has a card for the Watcher’s Library, and she uses it to match Katrina’s description of Miles Dersby. She finds a matching woodcut with an account by a 1782 Jesuit missionary to the Philippines, of locals infected and possessed by a kind of seed they called “the spawn of the goat of the dark wood”, itself a powerful chaotic true demon.
And these Gur’ath demons can be exorcised with holy water and cold iron. But Elli’s magic requires Pythagorean holy water, which is considerably to create than Christian holy water – an eternal flame must be doused in it – so Elli has to get it imported via her cult.
Following a lead from Fergus, Elli bluffs her way into this datacentre in London’s docklands. Fergus had tracked down an anomaly in cryptocurrency production – someone monopolising new coins across several cryptocurrencies for hours at a time – to an IP address in that datacentre. After avoiding someone else in the corridors, she sees a dark humanoid shape in the shadows – possibly Tsoudin’a – tapping away.
At which point she beat a hasty retreat.
A week later.
TekFarm is based on the middle floor of an office block, next to an accounting firm. They’re really nothing like as trendy as they wished.
So our heroes sets up a table of platters, and meanwhile make small talk with the staff, in the hope of finding the common factor. They’re a mix of marketing and design staff, effectively divided into three teams. Patty’s suspicions about coffee are quickly confirmed when she gives it a lycanthropic sniff – it’s not just awful, but smells of something sweet and metallic.
Sniffing around under the sink, she discovers that someone’s been poisoning the water filter.
Of the three managers, there’s only one who hasn’t come out of their office. She’s also oddly not ill, and her team seems to be the most sickly. The high-flying Nicolette de La Fleur.
So they barge into her office with a tray of food. And she turns into a Gur’ath demon.
They’re beaten back into the open-plan office, and Nicollette lands blow after blow on Patty – even after she transforms into a werebadger and throws a table. Elli hides under the remaining food table. Meanwhile, the staff scatter.
But they do manage to grab Nicolette, smuggle her out the back, and perform an exorcism. But even with her humanity restored, she’s not every co-operative or enlightening.
Elli’s Hippy Commune
Elli has Dursby’s number, and he’s quite happy to receive her call, but claims not to remember anything out of the ordinary about the night of the chase. Elli invites him around for a chat – and he very quickly says yes.
Of course, the trio are there with the holy water and spell components ready for an excorcicsm. But the struggle is a noisy affair, and a flatmates stops by the door wondering if everything is okay. So Elli does the only thing she can.
She starts shouting “yes, yes” in the hope it sounds more like sex. Katrina and Patty hilariously join in to cover up the sounds of excorcism.
Miles Dersby is much more happy about being exorcised – he feels different – and mentions it began after he starting seeing the Wilson Welness Clinic for some of his mental health issues.
How did he hear about this clinic? It was recommended by one of his scholarly contacts, a folklorist called Jerome Willoughby.