Gabriel and Vaughn were contacted by Adrian Verne, who told them that he had information he thought they’d be interested in, and a job that he could use their help with. The two of them were jumped in a parking lot by a pair of thugs, but quickly turned the tables on their attackers. During the fight, Vaughn noticed a strange tattoo on one of the thugs – once the pair was dealt with, Gabriel examined it in more detail, and realized that he’d seen it before, on the mage that killed his sister. Gabriel carved the tattoo off of the thug so that he could show it to Adrian the following day.
GM's note: Why Gabriel didn't just take a picture of the tattoo, I'll never know.
The following morning, Nick arrived at Samuel Crowe House to find the place cordoned off with police tape, and a crowd outside peppered with Boston Police and Harvard campus security. He noticed Adrian standing near the front entrance talking with Bill Davis, a campus security guard and a friend of Adrian’s. Nick approached the pair, and they explained to him that there had been a break-in the night before.
Someone came in through a first-floor window, smashed a glass case where Adrian kept several “sensitive” books locked up, took a single book, and left. The perp was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and seemed to know where to expect cameras, so the security footage didn’t get much to use to identify him. He also seemed to know exactly what he was looking for, and where to find it. When campus security responded to the break-in, the perp almost put one of them through a cinderblock wall – he was unbelievably strong and fast. The campus security cameras caught him heading into Harvard Square Station after fleeing the campus.
Vaughn and Gabriel arrived at the scene a short time later. Gabriel hung back away from the crowd, since he was carrying a small arsenal (and a chunk out of someone’s neck), while Vaughn approached and greeted Adrian. Adrian made the introductions between Vaughn and Nick, and filled Vaughn in on the situation. Once forensics had finished with the scene, Adrian, Nick and Vaughn went inside, where Vaughn told Adrian about the ambush the night before. Adrian immediately recognized which book was missing: a copy of a centuries-old German text titled Auf Hexen und Ihre Verschiedenen Ritualen (On Witches and Their Various Rituals). He told the PCs that the knowledge contained in that book had the potential to do a lot of damage in the wrong hands.
Gabriel and Vaughn managed to sneak the “package” with the tattoo into Crowe House so that Adrian could examine it. After looking it over, he said that he thought he had, in fact, seen the strange symbol before, but that if he had, it was in the stolen book.
Bill came back to tell Adrian about a missing student, Sam Watson. Adrian and Nick recognized the name – one of Adrian’s students who’d shown an interest in the Crowe House library, and, as it turned out, in the stolen book. Based on the height and build of the thief, they determined that Sam was a likely suspect responsible for the break-in.
The PCs determined that their best shot at finding Sam (and thus hopefully Auf Hexen) was to have Adrian use a tracking spell, but in order for that to work, they’d need a piece of Sam – hair, nail trimmings, or blood, preferably. Adrian pulled some strings at the university and managed to get Sam’s home address, an apartment in a complex near the campus. Nick, Vaughn and Gabriel headed off to see if they could find Sam (or at least part of him).
They found the apartment easily enough, and Gabriel set to work picking the lock – unfortunately just as he was springing it, one of Sam’s neighbors (a college-age girl named Mary) walked out of the apartment across the hall. She accosted them and threatened to call the police, not believing their weak excuses as to what they were doing there. Gabriel sprung into action, threatening her and scaring her so much that she retreated back into her apartment, promising not to call the cops as long as he wouldn’t hurt her.
Turning back to Sam’s apartment, they opened the door to find that the place had already been thoroughly ransacked, with the window by the fire escape standing open (and a hole cut through it near the lock). While Nick searched the bathroom and eventually found some hairs stuck to a comb, Gabriel examined Sam’s computer. He had an easy time of it, and was able to quickly access Sam’s email. He didn’t find anything directly incriminating, but did come across a series of emails with a man named Albert Johnson, the last of which was a request for Sam to meet him immediately, sent several hours before the theft. None of the emails included any information about locations, or any other information that could be used to easily locate the meeting or Albert. Some quick internet searches returned quite a few Albert Johnsons in the Boston area, one of which was a Harvard alumni, from the class of 1960.
Returning to Crowe House, Nick gave the hairs he had collected to Adrian, and Adrian went to his basement lab to prepare his tracking spell. Meanwhile Gabriel followed up on trying to locate Albert Johnson by calling the numbers of each person by that name in the Boston area. On his third try, he found one who sounded roughly the right age – the address listed was in the north end, near Old North Cathedral. Once Adrian had prepared the spell, he returned with a small crystal on a short leather thong, which he gave to Nick. Instead of hanging normally, the crystal was angling to the southeast. Adrian told them that they’d have forty minutes to an hour before the spell wore off, and that the crystal would point the straight-line direction to Sam.
The three of them piled into Nick’s car and headed off towards the north end, following the crystal. Once over the river, however, it became clear that Sam was somewhere more to the west, and they eventually tracked him to a neighborhood just southeast of the Pru. This close, it became clear that Sam was somewhere underground. Vaughn realized that they were near the old Orange Line tunnel, which the Church never brought back into service. The closed-down Boston Back Bay station was a short walk away, and they decided that would be the quickest route to Sam.