18: BRING IT ALL DOWN
Dr. Barrow steps into the office used at night by Professor Rothman. The older vampire looks up over his glasses, which Barrow suspects are an affectation.
“I did not take your... head.”
“Right. Well. Could you access the CCTV cameras nearby?”
“For a colleague, certainly.”
They show an image of someone approaching the room the head was kept in, then grey out at just the wrong moment. More than a vampire’s ability to avoid being caught on camera, the visitor seems to unfocus the cameras themselves in passing.
“I’d love to learn to do that...” Rothman notes.
Barrow glares at the image as it returns to focus as the figure leaves, then looks back at the professor.
“It relates to pre-colonisation archaeology.”
“I’m not that old.”
“Er, well, I wasn’t implying... anyway, the head was possibly possessed by some kind of... non-corporeal consciousness.”
“I see. Perhaps talk to someone in the department of Native American studies.”
Rothman hands Barrow a card with a name and room number scribbled on it.
Professor Laura Mendes is, unlike Professor Rothman, an actual accredited professor at the university.
“We have some isolated reports of ritual bloodletting to keep evil spirits at bay in some places. Nothing on the level of the Aztec mass sacrificial culture, of course. And yes, owls appear in a number of tribal myths as marks of good or ill omen, sometimes as guides to the lands of the dead.”
“You were in there a while,” Pavel notes as he and Arthur pick Dr. Barrow up.
“I got engrossed in my cover story.”
“Well, I found someone interesting as well.” Arthur smiles. “Dr. Leon Garcia, wrote a book on shamanic practices based on testimonies from the Mission era.”
“I shall listen to his heathen blandishments if you so desire...” Pavel tuts.
Arthur gives him a look.
“Anyway, he mentions the same place your professor did. A sea cave, collapsed during the earthquake in 1906. Photographs from before the quake show cave paintings, and some evidence of cremation.”
“No body to animate...” Pavel notes.
“And sources have mentioned smoke. Seeing spirits through the smoke... smoke and fire warding them off?”
Dr. Barrow considers this.
“I wonder if cremation ash would repel them as well. We could infuse our clothes with it...”
They head to the coast to look over the sea caves that are still there, meeting Henry there.
“This wasn’t the quake... this cave was dynamited.”
(“I wonder if cremation ash would repel them as well.”)
This isn’t listed as a Bane for Strix in the rules, but it makes a lot of sense, so I’d have considered making it work. It would also explain why the Strix haven’t invaded Colma.