After returning home and heading to bed, strange dreams afflict our protagonists. For Tobi she appears in a snow swept field, among huge mountains. When she hears her name being called in the distance, she follows it and discovers a green area, where a young man is calling her name from inside a cage of ice. He is tall and slender, with long blonde hair and green eyes, and has a definite elven/bishonnen look to him, clad in silver and green breastplate and chainmail. He immediately begins berating Tobi for taking her time to rescue him. When she says she doesn’t know him, he tells her he’s Justin Greenleaf, the Spring Knight and her champion and protector, and she’s the Summer Enchantress. They’re supposed to be working for Talleryn the Gray, former High Mage of Galador, to help defeat Belgarath the Mad, current High Mage of Galador. Tobi informs him that this is the first she’s heard of any of this. Justin tries to bring her up to speed, telling her Galador is the realm of the Changelings, fae creatures of fantasy, and that the realm is under siege by its own High Mage, a madman named Belgarath Black who is drowning the world in winter’s grasp, and has allied with another evil mage called Grymme, to overthrow Eryn Winterstorm, the Winter Queen of Galador. They bicker a bit more, in classic Moonlighting style, before the sounds of horns interrupt them. Justin says Tobi must recover her magic to rescue him so they can defeat Belgarath and Grymme, by recovering certain magical items, because it’s just them. Tobi counters that they have Rufus as well, and Justin says he doesn’t trust Rufus and neither should she; after all, she’s cat friendly and he’s a dog. He points out that her teen sass and sarcasm is no help in the situation, and she replies that he’s insulted her dog. Justin then notes that Black Donal, the Erl King, ruler of the Dark Fae, has sent Branded Men, his enchanted war-slaves, after her, as well as Barghests, Worgs, and goblin riders, and that she doesn’t have much time. They have to advance the seasons, which rule Galador. By advancing from Winter to Spring, it will force new monarchs and a reset of the balance in Galador, giving the Light Fae breathing room to win. He promises to try to bring her back to the glen from time to time, in her dreams, to help her regain her powers. Tobi then wakes up in her room, but her blanket is covered in fine, soft, silvery-white snowflakes which melt away quickly. Rufus is snoring soundly, having had no dreams at all. He wakes up from the melting snow, drags the blanket to the washing machine, then goes back to sleep.
Victoria dreams of walking down a vaguely familiar hallway in a massive Georgian-style house. As she wanders through the maddeningly familiar halls, crowded with accumulated art and bric-a-brac, she can hear in the distance a low clinking of glasses, chamber music, and a low susurrus of voices indicating a party. Victoria’s natural paranoia takes her in the opposite direction, towards the sounds of weeping. She finds herself in a crowded cul-de-sac, with a massive portrait of a young, auburn haired woman who resembles an older version of herself. Victoria again tries to extricate herself, but instead ends up in a puffy white dress with a silver tiara on her head. She removes the tiara, which has spikes on it, and she starts to bleed, along with the painting which moans and cries even more, bleeding itself.
She tries to find another way out, when she wanders into a what looks like a crypt. A man is tied to a sarcophagus, and he’s being beaten savagely by a woman in a floaty white dress, which is stained with blood around the edges. Her skin is very pale, and her eyes dark and featureless. She banters about a bit with Victoria, who wants her to stop flogging the man, while the woman offers Victoria critiques on the proper techniques of torture. When Victoria snatches the length of bloody, knotted rope away, the woman tells Victoria to keep it, she’ll need it someday. Victoria escapes the room, and wanders into another chamber. Before she leaves, she looks up and sees several large, red-eyed spiders in the rafters, chittering and clacking at each other, watching Victoria with interest. Victoria passes through a classic revolving door, ending up in a very posh Victorian era study. Two men are playing chess in the room, with red and white chess pieces. One is dressed in posh Victorian tweeds, the other is a dried out corpse in a black, Victorian suit covered in dust and cobwebs. They resemble each other, and have a family resemblance to Victoria. The fancy man tells Victoria “Ah, Victoria, be a dear and fetch some sherry. Have a glass yourself as well.” The dead one groans out “Sherry” as well. The fancy one apologizes for Belial’s voice, as he doesn’t talk much. Again, Victoria banters a bit while looking for an exit, backing up along to the window to try to escape.
The window shows a moonlit moor, and when she tries to open it, a huge, ten foot, half ton werewolf shows up and starts talking amiably to her, asking her by name to walk on the moors with him, and maybe kill someone. He asks when was the last time she killed someone, and when she says never, he tells her that one only feels alive when killing someone. After an amusing bit of japery about where the exit is, with the humans pointing to opposite doors, and the werewolf pointing back the way she came, Victoria slips out again into a new room. This is an old style medieval chapel, with a full organ playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. The player is a woman, again resembling Victoria, in a full old style priest’s cassock, with a red collar. They talk, with the nervous Victoria trying to leave, but not finding any doors. She spots a statue of a Spanish man, with fangs, dressed in conquistador style armor, and spots the crucifix of the chapel has the same man as Christ on the Cross. When Victoria protests she doesn’t like the dream, the woman tells Victoria that dreams are a reflection of the soul, so what does her dream tell her about herself? When Victoria finally spots a door to leave, the woman goes back to playing the organ, but tells Victoria that the Spanish man is their master, and they must awaken him, She’s free to leave, but if she does, is she prepared for the consequences?
Victoria escapes, and ends up in a Victorian parlor, where a man and a woman, twins obviously but again resembling Victoria herself, are playing darts. Both have four eyes, one pair above the other, that glow red. When they offer Victoria something to drink or snack on, she says she wants somewhere to change. The woman cattily says she understands why, Victoria’s dress does her no favors. At one end of the room is a nude man, painted like a dart board, with knives sticking in him. The twins say they’re playing darts. Would Victoria like to join them? When Victoria takes the knife and tries to cut the woman with it, she slaps Victoria’s hand away contemptuously, and tell her to respect her elders. At this point, the door opens, and a properly dressed butler, who seems to be a stitched together corpse, tells Victoria he’s glad she could make it, and her family is waiting for her. The butler, who tells her his name is Rotterby, leads her into a vast dining room, where there is a grisly feast laid out. Nude, bound humans slowly bleed out into vessels to drink. Around the vast table are all the creatures she’s met in her dream, as well as others she doesn’t recognize. At the head of the table is a young looking man, with one half of his body pristine, the other rotting, dressed in a fancy suit. He asks Victoria if she’s staying, to which she replies with an emphatic no. The young man smiles condescendingly, and offers a toast of his blood, “To Victoria, to welcome her back to her loving family!”
Victoria wakes up at this point, with the bloody rope and blood on her sheets. She gathers up all the bedding and the rope and puts it in the trash then bleaches her bed.
Meanwhile, JT dreams he’s in deep, primeval woods, chased by large wolves. He tries to use his powers, but to no avail. Then the scene changes to a swamp, with shambling zombies after him. He passes a bear by a campfire, who points to the left, which JT follows. Then the scene changes to a Blade-Runner-esque city, where he’s pursued by sexy men and woman in club clothes with fangs and red eyes. When he’s trapped between all three groups, in a huge, Gothic cathedral surrounded by water. Inside are huge, neon-lit television screens and signs. They all flash the same message: “Burn it all to the ground!” As JT wakes up, he can hear a voice in his head asking him which side is he on.
Again, Rufus sleeps soundly.
The next day, at school, they all get texts from Alvin, telling them the rave of the Crypt and Chalice Society is tonight. JT sneaks out of school to shop at the Mall. He tries Ward 13, a Hot Topic-like store, but the girl behind the counter, dressed in a leather corset, with white and pink hair, is eying him like meat. He goes to an actual Hot Topic, and buys over-priced raver clothes. Victoria leaves during lunch to get her hair bleached and spike, and returns. She dismisses JT clothing choices out of hand. Leaving school, they run into Alvin, who goes on about his costume. When Tobi asks Victoria about a corset all four head downtown to a shop Victoria knows, Asylum Fashions, in the old Blackwell building. The building gives JT a very bad feeling, as if its watching him. Its old classical style, early 20th century, with most of the top floors boarded up. The bottom floor has a diner, the clothing store, a video store, and a bar called “Gayfellows.” They enter Asylum Fashions, and meet the proprietor, a buxom, blonde, pale skinned Southern belle Goth in white named Bethany Blackledge. She seems very young to be the proprietor. Rufus doesn’t like her or the store. JT uses his power and sees that she’s a walking corpse. Rufus uses his Scent of the True Form and determines she’s a skin walker, a very rare undead type. She’s a soul escaped from Hell inhabiting her old body. She eyes up JT like meat. When the think about leaving, Victoria and Tobi are piling up the clothes they want. Rufus gets a top hat and monocle, JT gets some steam punk clothing, and the two girls get a full classic Goth makeover. Victoria pays for it all out of her petty cash allowance, and when the check the receipt, they find Bethany gave JT her card and phone number. Victoria then remembers something she learned in her childhood about the founding families of the City: Stillwell, Wincott, Blackledge, and Loveland were English, Des Santos and Montalbano were Spanish, and de Marais, de Meraux, and D’spayre were French. She thinks there were others, but her memory is a little hazy.
They head back to Victoria’s place to get ready where they meet Victoria’s maid, Mrs. Marrywell. They then get dressed, and Tobi uses her skills to give them the final touches. They then head out to the rave, at the Spiral Mausoleum, an epically huge marble mausoleum located in the vast City of the Dead Cemetery. The party is in full swing when they get there, both inside and out, with several bands playing. Rufus hates the smell of the place, and JT sees a weird glow from the large tower attached to the side. They mix and mingle a while, and run into Debrelle, who seems a little older and is flirting with all the ladies. JT observes with his second sight that Debrelle has a glowing, neon purple aura. Rufus notes he smells sharp, like electricity and ozone. He talks up the women, to no avail, and talks a bit about the Society. They spot Alvin arguing with a thin woman dressed like a Victorian librarian, and a slender man in steam punk clothes. Alvin argues about paperwork, and how exploring the haunted house should count, and they tell him he needs something more than a newbie zone to qualify. When the see Rufus, they squee, especially when he offers them his paw. Introductions are offered. The lady is Eleanor Grimsby, the Society’s librarian, and the man is Jordan Redmond, the Society’s archivist. Debrelle then saunters up, where Grimsby greets him with a drawn out, wary, “Hello Debrelle.” Debrelle tells her the foursome are his friends, and he’ll nominate them for the Society. The two Society officers withdraw to talk it over, while Debrelle tells the group about how awesome the Society is.
He tells them how the Society is organized into Covens, based out subject, and that they have an extensive library and information network. While talking, Rufus notices the petite, darks-skinned girl from school, holding court among admiring boys and girls. He smells her as a vampire. Then, a hand falls on Debrelle’s shoulder. A young, muscular, handsome man in leather, Victorian garb, tells him “Hello Debrelle, Long time no see.” In a French/Cajun accent. He then tells Debrelle in a whisper that he heard Debrelle was talking to his sister. He also tells Debrelle “Wylde’s here.” At that, Debrelle mutters about seeing someone and takes off. Rufus and JT read the new guy, Leonidas Lazar de Meraux, as a dhamphyr. Rufus can tell he has silver on him. He kisses Tobi’s hand European style, and asks if she has a sister. When she says no, he says he met a young lady named Sarah, who looked just like her. He then chats with Victoria, saying he knows the Stillwells. He then warns Victoria her cousin Bradford is at the party as well. Victoria spots him, and ducks out to avoid him. Leonidas then makes small talk with Tobi, but keeps his eyes on Rufus the whole time. He then takes over talking about the Society. He notes that it is fun, but also like MENSA, in that those who would be considered cool enough for the Society would be too cool to actually join. He then points out the Society is also pretentious as hell, but he stays for the social life. He then asks if they see the Society as a means to an end, looking at Rufus intently and implying monster hunting. He asks if they look around the school yet, and tells them the Occult club tried to clean up the mess, but ran short of members. He then lets drop that the ledger secret, that the red X’s are deceased members, and the red circles missing members.
He then tells them getting in they have to do a run at a site chosen by the Society, and bring back proof they encountered the supernatural. He tells them that the school is a bad place, but it also has those who want to keep it that way, and that they have powers and people to enforce that. Victoria complains about the suburbs ghost, and Leonidas sheepishly says she is a special case, as she is grumpy. He then says, as a professional monster hunter, it is a bad profession to get into. Rufus then spots Bradford heading over again, and can tell he’s a ghoul. Victoria sneaks out again, to the ladies’ room, to avoid Bradford. In the ladies’ room, she overhears fragments of conversation:
“We got to the second floor of the Brentwell Mausoleum, before the walls started bleeding real blood and we left.”
“We got to the abandoned area of the Broadmoor Slums, before Bob was pushed out of the third floor window by something we couldn’t see.”
“We snuck into Casa Rojas, and saw a woman in a red dress drifting about the bottom floor, but couldn’t catch up with her. One of the windows shattered, and Steve and Rick went to the hospital with bad cuts.”
“We went to Old Spanish Creek Cemetery, and saw a thin man get out of a grave, with an axe! He chased us out the Cemetery.”
After hearing these stories, Victoria decides to head back out to find the rest of the group