Mumbaki and Pastilan investigate the mysterious machine at the basement of the mansion. Focused Prime Sight reveals a broken lattice of sigils surrounding the machine – a phenomenon Alunsina recalls is sometimes used as a ‘mage password’. Happenstance leads to its solution, and Mumbaki and Pastilan become trapped as the machine reconfigures to swallow up the entire room and them with it.
Meanwhile, Tasyo chases after a mischievous gremlin spirit, which has been sabotaging efforts to build the El Cielo Terraces. Cham assists him, and using Spirit magic, they successfully commune and broker with the gremlin.
Mumbaki and Pastilan wake up to find themselves in an antiquated study room. With considerable effort, Alunsina re-establishes communication with them through a scrying window. The room is filled with old maps, books, and navigation tools. Leylines provide electricity. One of the maps, a colonial-era city plan of Manila, has several sites marked with pushpins. Alunsina theorizes the mages are in a co-located room – an area of space that can exist in multiple locations.
What’s more, Mumbaki and Pastilan find the body a murdered man. A badge identifies him as an Ilustrado, a member of the prominent La Solidaridad confradia. Seeking to understand the nature of the man’s death, Alunsina calls on Cailleach. The Moros arrives, and boldly conceives of a plan to enter the in-between room by creating a shortcut through the underworld. Led by a spectral guide, Cailleach crosses the Lower Depths, but eventually emerges through a cabinet into the room.
A death spell reveals the last moments of the murdered man’s life. As part of a grisly act, his tongue was cut out, and he was allowed to bleed to death. Shocked, the mages as well encounter Punyal who has entered the room through a portal in an old movie house in Avenida. Punyal explains that he was searching for the murdered, a person of some importance within the Camara’s bureaucracy.
With Punyal’s corroboration and Alunsina’s keen memory, a disturbing story begins to emerge: During La Solidaridad’s early beginnings, it received into its ranks defectors from the Seers of Throne. Rumor has it that the defectors or their disciples still practiced forbidden blood magic with the murdered man being their latest victim. Alunsina invreasingly suspects Idiyanale, a prominent Ilustrado, and the mages’ mysterious benefactor.
The possibilities bring up more questions than answers, but the mages decide on a course of action. Alunsina contacts Idiyanale requesting a meeting in Binondo – another marked location in the room’s map of Manila. Secretly she asks Cham and Tasyo to meet her in Chinatown as well. Activating a hidden door, Pastilan, Mumbaki, Cailleach, and Punyal emerge in a third location – the basement of Mary Chiles Hospital.