One week before Drag Light Chapel and Some Pyromania and two weeks after the events of The Sacrificial Manse, Conrad is contacted by Cesar Contadino and told that two hunters have gone missing in the mountains outside of Chautauqua Park, presumably near Gregory Canyon. Cesar asks Conrad to investigate, recommending he bring the Ascending One girl he worked with last time. When Conrad grumpily wonders out loud that apparently two people is just enough of a army to get killed, Cesar acquiesces and tells him that he’ll provide a formidable back-up to Conrad’s task. “Gather up the girl” he says “and I’ll have someone meet you at the bottom of the nearest trail into the canyon.” “Just someone?” Conrad asks. “Just shut up and be there by noon, Conrad” Cesar snaps before hanging up the phone. Conrad chuckles and puts on some pants.
Conrad shows up at Michaelis Rare Books looking for Fae. She happily agrees to join him. She takes Conrad on her motorcyle to the nearest hiking path into the canyon. As they arrive, they notice the canyon still has a decent spread of snow on it and at the base of the path, a single figure waiting for them. There, standing outside his car, is Mr. Allison, who Fae recognizes as helpful during the vampire raid on Annie Singleton’s house. Dismounting from the bike, Conrad smirks at the idea of one guy for backup. Shaking hands with Conrad and reading the skepticism on his face, Mr. Allison informs them that he’s been hired purely in a support capacity and promises he won’t interfere with the task at hand. Conrad shrugs, slightly dubious, and begins trekking up the path.
They make their way, slowly but surely, through the path and eventually reach a point at which the worn gravel veers off from Gregory Canyon, heading further south. As they leave the trail and hike through the unmarked mountain terrain, they soon notice the tattered and cut police tape marking off the area where the two hunter bodies were found. Conrad decides this is a good time to put his rifle together and after a few deft movements, has it fully assembled and ready. Through his scope, he manages to see what looks to be a very small cave entrance several meters up the side of the mountain. Getting there looks damn difficult… that is until he thinks he makes out a few outcroppings that, in the wrong light or looking up from below, would almost seem to melt into the mountain’s wall. He shoulders his rifle and tells the other to follow him.
After a few cautious hops and even more careful steps, the three of them manage to make it up the side of the mountain and finally stop right at the mouth of the small cave. Flashlights on, they trudge in.
The cave is very small and narrow at first, most of it navigated through low ceilings and tight walls… until, suddenly and without any natural evolution, the ceiling slopes up to normal human height. The walls gape wider, almost allowing two people to move through them side-to-side. The darkness, though, grows thicker the deeper they venture, almost threatening to swallow their lights whole.
Apprehension mounts. Immediately, as if answer to their paranoia, the three of them hears very fast footfalls, growing louder and louder.