I am pleased to report that I’ve been given a clean bill of health. I was released from the hospital earlier today, and am currently celebrating with dinner at a local establishment called The Fat Beaver Inn. Sheriff Patton recommended the place, both for a good meal and new lodgings. I haven’t checked out of the Opa Lodge, but after the events of the last few days, I don’t want to sleep there tonight. Luckily, the Fat Beaver has a room they rent out to travelers, so I’m taking it. The rates are more than reasonable, and the food is divine.
I’ll admit that I was a bit dubious when the Sheriff told me to get the meatloaf, but I now stand happily corrected. I don’t know where you come down on meatloaf, sir, whether you’re a tomato glaze man, or if you prefer your loaf unadorned. I generally prefer unadorned myself, but this glaze that Tom and Gladys cook up might just convert me.
That’s Tom and Gladys Rockwell, the proprietors of the Fat Beaver. Old married couple, and they bicker like one. Nice folks, though. They opened the Fat Beaver in 1973, and the food was terrible. So terrible that a year later, to save themselves from bankruptcy, they had to turn the place into, in Tom’s words, “a titty bar.” Gladys slapped his arm when he said it, but only because it’s true. That’s where the name came from, apparently, though I’m sure it conjured up quite a different mascot than the hand-carved rodent that sits outside now. The strip club business boomed, and in the meantime Tom and Gladys became better cooks. Then Gladys got religion sometime in the 80s, and they dropped the strippers in favor of their original dream of running a diner.
And that is how I came to be eating this magnificent plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes as I write to you tonight, and continue the story of my day on the Mountain.
If you’ll recall, sir, I had accompanied John Cheveyo onto Mount Pannawau because two more murder victims had been found, this time a pair of Alo teenagers injured beyond recognition. In the interim, I’m told that they’ve been identified as Ruth Omusa (age 16) and Daniel Tahki (age 17), both the children of prominent Alo families, and a well-known couple at the local high school. Two of Cheveyo’s men, Mark Hototo and Luke Pallaton, stood watch over the bodies while they awaited the arrival of county coroner Phil Phillips.
Once the introductions were over, we got down to business. The bodies were mangled as badly as I’d been told. The boy’s face was particularly messy, with a mass of wounds across his eyes, and his entire lower jaw having been ripped off. Pallaton said they’d found it about 20 feet away, like it had been tossed aside. I asked if they’d found a finger, but no. There were also some shallow wounds on either side of the torso, and another set on one shoulder that looked like claw marks. Otherwise, Tahki was in similar condition to the first victim: shirtless, with the same shallow stab wounds on the chest in the same summoning circle pattern. He had not, however, been stabbed in the back. In fact, Phillips found no evidence of violence on him other than the ones I’ve already outlined. Official cause of death is listed as exposure, and blood loss from the violent removal of the jaw.
The girl was another matter. She was found nude, and her condition was far more gruesome. She was missing the ring finger of her right hand, just as Alexandra Melmoth had been, and it had been severed in a similar clean manner, and bandaged. Her body had been savaged from head to toe, the face shredded with what, again, looked like claws. Her lips were also missing, and the coroner’s report indicates that they had been bitten off. Cause of death was identified as a broken neck, and Phillips believes that her head had actually been twisted around backwards and returned to its proper alignment postmortem. Her torso showed heavy lacerations, with an absolute frenzy of claw and bite marks across the buttocks, lower abdomen, and inner thighs. But the vaginal area was untouched, and the coroner’s report indicates no sign of rape. She was, in fact, a virgin, and remained so in death.
The report also confirmed that unlike Tahki, Omusa had almost certainly been killed elsewhere. I had guessed as much from the relative lack of blood around her body, and from the positioning of it. At the end of whatever horrible thing had happened to her, she would have been a splay-legged mess. But when found, she was laid out in peaceful repose, arms at her sides and legs placed chastely back together. So someone put her there on the Wambli Waste in as respectful a manner as possible, next to her boyfriend in death.
The relative lack of violence against the boy is also surprising. Unlike Chris Phillips, he wasn’t injured prior to being laid out for the summoning. In fact, he most likely died right where he was found. That would indicate that he was a willing victim. A willing victim, or subject to some form of coercion that lead him to the mountainside without a fight. More evidence of some kind of cult? Or of the power and influence of the Alo Council?
Cheveyo and his men, despite their gallows humor, are deeply disturbed at the latter prospect. If the Council is behind the deaths, that means their bosses have broken a sacred trust in exposing members of the tribe to such brutality. “We’d still have to stop them if they were doing this to outsiders,” Cheveyo said on the subject. “But doing it to our own people…” He shook his head. “I don’t think I can explain to you how great a violation that would be.”
Then, of course, there is the violence itself to consider. Claw and bite marks. The official coroner’s report is ruling it as an attack from an unidentified animal, and I suppose that’s as good an explanation as any. The evidence suggests that the people behind this used the boy to summon something through the Mountain Door, something from the Black Mirror World given Earthly flesh. Once it was here, the girl’s finger was left to lead it to her. And once it found her…
Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? What purpose does all this serve? Was she a sacrifice? The concentration of the wounds suggests some kind of sexual frenzy, so why wasn’t she violated? Was it because of her virginity? It seems unlikely. An intact hymen generally makes for a poor shield, except in fairy stories. But, in the absence of any other evidence, that’s the theory I have to work from.
Once things have settled down enough at HQ, sir, I’d appreciate it if you could have the Black Library find me any reference to Outside Entities who adhere to patriarchal morality. Sometimes these things operate under strange rules, and I’m hoping we can narrow down the list of possibilities. I’d like to know what we’re dealing with.
I also have a physical description of the beast, or at least my impression of it from when I dowsed the area. Governed as such impressions are by subconscious iconography from both the dowser and the victim, that description may not be accurate. But if it helps, it’s
My apologies, sir. The rest of this report will have to wait. I’ve just received a visitor here at the Fat Beaver Inn. Denise sends her best.
– Agent X-23, signing off.