Roderick calls the Valiants first, to say that Woodson will be calling. They're sort of nonplussed that he called Roderick first, but whatever. Woodson calls the Valiants, and explains again the disappearance of Nan, and hires them to investigate. He gives more details, such as her thesis work (witch-burnings in 18th century New England) and her advisor (Professor Driscoll, at Miskatonic University).
(Tommy asks Esme out to a nice dinner for Valentine's day.)
Eddie talks to Roderick again, and then calls Dr. Schreber to ask about Professor Driscoll.
"I wasn't sure how approachable he might be." - EddieDr. Schreber describes Professor Driscoll as not necessarily the warmest of people towards non-academics. Eddie somehow interprets this to mean that an introduction would not be helpful (though perhaps it's just that an intrdoduction by Dr. Scheber would not be helpful). When Eddie calls Professor Driscoll, however, the latter proves to not overly helpful; he's unwilling to divulge personal information about a student to "a complete stranger off the street." The possibility of speaking in person comes up, and it is advised that Eddie bring Woodson Barlow, or at the very least, a letter from him.
"He's not insane, if that's what you mean." - Dr. Schreber
Eddie talks to Carol Barlow, Nan's mother, and doesn't pick up any huge clues. He does wonder why it's Woodson arranging for the private investigator; Carol says that Woodson said he new some possibilities to investigate and offered to handle it. (Left unsaid is whether Carol and Joseph can afford the sort of reward Woodson is offering)
Tommy inadvertently reminds Charlie that it's Valentine's Day. Charlie dashes around like a madman, with help from Tommy and Esme, to arrange for dinner and flowers. Esme's name is dropped at a restaurant, and a reservation obtained.
Eddie arranges with Woodson to come out from Greenfield, meet Eddie, and head up to Miskatonic to talk with Professor Driscoll, and calls Peter (who is in LA, investigating the Photoplay of Dorian Grey) about using Peter's house. Peter wants to make sure it's not trashed, or at least gets fixed if it does get trashed.
Friday, February 15
Eddie, Roderick, and Woodson go to talk to Professor Driscoll. His first suggestion is that she may be taking an unsupervised vacation; this is not uncommon among Miskatonic seniors. No, he doesn't know anything about her personal life that might have caused her to hare off on some other research pursuit. He suggested Whitewood to her as a local and somewhat obscure site of a witch-burning, which had not had a lot of research done on it, so he can't really guess what she might have turned up that would have diverted her. He seems somewhat annoyed by Eddie's continued disbelief that Prof. Driscoll can't suggest what specific kind of thing Nan might have turned up or be particularly interested in; about the only thing along those lines he has to offer is that she was interested in what motivated people to turn from normally peacable God-fearing citizens into people who burnt "witches." Roderick copies down the list of references Nan has given Professor Driscoll for later lookup in the library.
The group proceeds to Dr. Schreber's office. His new assistant, Sheila, is there, and wearing sunglasses (unusual for her). She's brought more coffee than usual. Dr. Schreber tries to communicate "Look at her aura!" to Roderick using raised eyebrows and Significant Looks, but he doesn't pick up on it. She leaves to let them talk. Dr. Schreber explains why she's spooky.
Sheila returns as the half-a-party is heading to the library; she has extra notebooks and asks if they need help. Team Occult heads for the closed stacks, while Eddie and Sheila look through the open stacks. Some very small footnotes on Whitewood are found, but that's about it.
Gerti calls and talks to Deputy Samuel Bloch, who is apparently the only person in the sheriff's department who knows how to find Whitewood. ("From North Ashfield, head north. The new county road splits off from the unimproved county road - take the unimproved one. Then, well, then go for about two miles until you get to the gas station. Then turn around and go a quarter mile back, because you missed it..."
Saturday, February 16
Roderick tells the Scottish Manservant that they're heading to Whitewood to investigate witches. ("Witches? They're harmless, they just tell ye yur goin' to be king!"). He's instructed to bring the bagpipes, just in case. While most of the party drives there in various cars, Tommy flies, and thinks maybe he sees Whitewood on a reconnaissance flight (though he doesn't see any sort of road going in). As Dr. Schreber is getting ready to leave Arkham in the morning, Sheila shows up, packed and ready for field work. Dr. Schreber warns her there might not be a lot for her to do, but doesn't actually chase her away.
In Greenfield, Roderick manages to verify the existence and location of Whitewood on an antique map in the historical society.
Sunday, February 17
After church in the morning, Junior is left with Mattie to babysit, and the group braves the back woods roads of Greenfield County to try and find Whitewood. They reach the alleged turnoff (after missing it once) in the early afternoon. Eddie ties a red marker around the tree nearest to the turnoff.
As the caravan of three cars trundles down the narrow, rutty track towards Whitewood, a man is suddenly standing in the road just ahead of Eddie's car. Trying to avoid him, Eddie crashes into a tree, banging up Eddie, Charlie, Esme, and Tommy (the car's occupants). The other cars fail to hit Eddie, but the man in the road has vanished as suddenly as he appeared.
While Charlie begins to fix the car, Eddie and others poke around, looking for tracks in the snow of the mysterious stranger. None are found, and the people in the rear cars express some dubiousness at his existence. Charlie is sure he can get the car up and running again, if he only had a wrench. Providentially, Sheila does.
There's much dithering about whether to continue on or turn back; the Walkers did tell Mattie they would be back to take Junior off her hands again, and at this rate they won't be to Whitewood and back again by nightfall, even if they don't really stop in Whitewood. The group turns back - the red ribbon has vanished. Eddie ties several more ribbons on various nearby trees.