December 10, 10pm (Saturday)
Douglas arrives at the new Brothel location. The girls are excited to see the puppy and assume he has brought it for them. Annie arrives with the two crates containing three more puppies, blood splattered and muddy. The girls get her a change of clothes: a beautiful low-cut dress with stockings, fur-topped socks, and heart-pattern-adorned white gloves. Annie sports the outfit extremely well!
The two head back to the hotel with three of the puppies, acclimate them to each other, and then go to sleep.
Nikoli is the first to recover from the shock of the horrific tongue scene. He stirs Elmer and Gretel, and then heads down to get extra cots so Gretel can stay the night and recover. On his way back up he hears light pounding sounds coming from down the third floor hallway, but ignores them to head back to their room.
Gretel begins asking Elmer odd questions; if he knows where Simon is, if he knows where Clarkson is, if he knows about Prof Abarbanell, and if he has spoken to Prof Kilgaarden. Elmer is slightly evasive, but answers in a leading fashion. Gretel eventually discloses that Simon and Randall had approached her earlier this morning, and were acting suspicious. They asked if she knew anything about 17th century Austrian and German folklore. When she told them they should speak with Prof Kilgaarden, they said that they already had. Then they asked if she knew of an author by the name of Phebius Smith. She did not remember the name at the time. They asked a couple more questions, and then looked at each other slyly – Simon said: “that’s all we needed to know, we should get the others now,” and the two left abruptly.
It was only later that she remembered Phebius Smith. He was a student of Prof Kilgaarden predecessor, Prof Hoffman. Phebius had more money than wits, and had written a terrible translation of a book in the library on a Secret Society of Austria/Germany. Prof Hoffman gave Phebius a passing grade regardless, mostly to get him out of his class which Phebius had already taken three or four times. But then, Phebius’ parents had the book published and distributed to almost all of the North Eastern Universities. The book printing stated it was “Endorsed by Prof Hoffman”; this enraged Hoffman who took a long trip to visit the University in order to find the book and remove the endorsement.
Gretel fears that the students are in great danger. They seem like they think they know something, and if they are using this terrible translation, they could be getting into a situation that they are not prepared to handle. “They could be in great danger. There is something terrible out there!” Gretel tells Elmer. “And it’s not raccoons!”
December 11, 2am (Sunday)
The investigators are awakened on several occasions by pounding and scraping sounds from the floor below. Then, they are awakened by creaking and squeaking sounds coming from outside the window. Edison begins howling, and Mythos bites Nikoli and mews at him while pawing at her ears. Annie and Elmer look out of the window. Annie sees two children swinging on the rusted swing set and one child on the dilapidated roundabout. Elmer sees the swings and the roundabout moving, but no children. Annie shouts out the window to “keep it down”, and the children move to the spring riders. Nikoli and Elmer head to Angus’ trapped room to get lumber to secure the toys against the wind.
Angus’ room door has been repaired. Inside, the wood has been neatly stacked against a wall. The rug has been pulled over, the floorboard properly repaired with fresh varnish drying.
When they reach the playground, both Nikoli and Elmer see two young boys and one young girl playing on the spring riders. As they attempt to discover where the children’s parents are and reason with them to not be playing this late at night, another hotel patron begins shouting roughly out of the window.
Elmer threatens the children with schooling, and Nikoli surmises that these are ghost children, and tells them that he has lots of experience with teaching children like them. One of them runs off. He tells the other two he will speak to the hotel owner about fixing the playground toys so they don’t make noise, and he will meet them tomorrow night – but he will expect them to do some studies before playing. The children say that Nikoli and Elmer seem Nice, but they don’t need schooling. They say that the hotel patron that was yelling seems Not Nice, but Elmer explains that he is just tired and upset.
Elmer wakes up early to head to the library to find the original German version of the text the Phebius had so poorly translated. The young male librarian seems genuinely happy to see him, and helps him find not only the original Orden des die Krallen der Heiligen, but also the terrible translation Order of the Hallowed Claw, and another book on German folklore, Folklore von Deutschland. He brings them back to the hotel, where Douglas is able to easily translate them.
Nikoli speaks with the hotel clerk (Harrison Kirby) about repairing the playground. Kirby says he has never heard complaints from guests about children playing in the dilapidated playground, until last night. And, the complaint was that two men were out there making a lot of noise. After much discussion, Nikoli convinces him to grease down the equipment, and then either replace or remove it when Spring comes.
Nikoli then takes a taxi to the Central Park Rambles so he can take a look at The Castle. While chatting with the cabby about an easier path to the castle, the cabby tells him that Central Park has not been taken care of in years. Of course there are other paths to the castle, but they are overgrown and dangerous. And, the castle itself is probably home to wild creatures, perhaps the same raccoons that have been terrorizing the city. When Nikoli says he is not afraid of any raccoons, the cabby tells him about the five businessmen that were attacked by raccoons Saturday night and admitted to the hospital: “two men were together when attacked, and three were attacked separately i different areas. The Police Commissioner is supposed to give a statement this afternoon. They’re saying the raccoons have been driven off to the West Bronx, but that doesn’t explain the deaths in the homeless quarter on the other side of Central Park. Word is that a Preacher man was killed in his home, and two homeless men and one woman were killed in the streets. The folks are saying they saw a terrible beast, but it was probably just large raccoons – you know how shadows and the dark can play tricks on the eyes. They’ve all headed to The Mission for safety, and Miss Keller is doing her best to accommodate them all. But I hear she’s really torn up, too. She was real good friends with the Preacher man.”
Nikoli thanks the cabby and heads into the Rambles. After some ways he sees the castle up on the hill, and climbs the path to it. After circling the building which sits on the side of a rocky cliff, he checks the large padlock on the only exterior door of the castle. It is open, but wedged with a small piece of wood to make it appear locked. He removes the lock and opens the door to discover an entryway that has is covered with dust and dirt – most especially near the door. He carefully inspect the long stained and dirty carpet that runs from the door and further into the castle. He discovers obvious signs that a wide center path of the rug is missing the same layer of debris that the edge of the carpet holds from a lengthy time of disuse, and also holds several streak-like brownish stains. Satisfied that this proves someone has been in here recently and might have been trying to cover up evidence, he heads back to the hotel to inform the others.
Elmer and NIkoli have awakened Annie and Douglas and shared their findings. Douglas begins reading the poor translation of Order of the Hallowed Claw and is shocked by how terrible the translation is … “And why would the author include the original text with his translation to the right of it? Was he some kind of idiot?”
Both Nikoli and Elmer knew that Gretel had already answered that question, and the answer was: “Yes.”