Jackson declined Tip’s next round of Pisco Sours, and escorted Trinidad back to her dormitory before retiring to Hotel Maury to update his notes and work on his manuscript. As the bar crowd thinned, the Investigators took the opportunity to speak freely amongst themselves and weigh their situation.
John remained distrustful of both Jackson and Larkin, “I’m not sure I can trust either of these stories. Death-cults! Fat-sucking vampires! Perhaps this Jackson fellow is trying to scare us off the gold. I’m damn well not backing out of this excitement.”
Irina, a solid judge of character with a keen interest in the occult, implored the group to believe Jackson, “He seems completely honest, and, I will admit, I have read a couple of his books. He’s quite an expert in his field. Death-cults do exist, all over.”
Over the remains of their drinks, the group decides perhaps they could investigate Larkin and de Mendoza further without Mr. Elias. Feeling a bit spontaneous, they trek over to the Hotel España and pile into the foyer to the surprise of Señora Petronila Cupitina, the proprietor. Girded in her woolen shawl, the elderly, white-haired woman poses a formidable barrier to the Investigators, who refuses to grant them access to her two guests since de Mendoza is out and Mr. Larkin is recuperating.
John employs his sizable bankroll and atrocious Spanish to request a tour of the entire premises, explaining to her that he would like to book the entire ground floor as soon as it becomes available. Once he lures her away from her post, the remaining team ascends the stairs to infiltrate the rooms. Sadly, they had forgotten to ask Petronila where the men were staying, so they quietly tiptoe around the four rooms at the end of the hall. After much listening, they detect some faint noises from one of the rooms and attempt the lock on the door, which pushes open effortlessly to reveal the disturbing site of Larkin’s room, which is not only littered with his personal effects and sweat-stained clothing but also smells distinctly of rotting meat. Dibden overlooks Larkin on the bed and immediately notices a bottle of heroína on the nightstand with an adjacent syringe. His suspicions are confirmed.
Meanwhile, his colleagues have spotted the ghastly sight of Larkin passed out on his sweat-soaked sheets with his shirt wide open revealing a hideous black tattoo on his chest, which features a large, ragged spiral centered on his sternum and terminates at his upper abdomen. The ghastly design connects to a grotesque humanoid caricature with arms spread wide, long fingers terminating in claws. From the margins of the tattoo, sickly purple-black veins emanate.
The site proves quite disturbing for Irina and Tip, who flee the room and return to the hallway to listen for John. Arthur and Lucia hastily search the disastrous room but overlook the adjoining door to de Mendoza’s lodging. From downstairs, John begins shouting in broken Spanish that he is quite pleased with the premises and will happily put down a sizable deposit for all the rooms. Hearing his warning, the Investigators close Larkin’s door and rush back downstairs to assume a casual pose while Señora Petronila wanders back in, eyeing them suspiciously.
As they walk out of the hotel, Lucia, Arthur, and Tip spot a shadowy figure lurking across the street in a dark alleyway. Upon further inspection, John the outline may very well be that of de Mendoza.
Overwhelmed by their discoveries this evening, the group returns to the Hotel Maury to regroup. They encounter Jackson and relate their findings. He expresses interest but a lack of knowledge about Larkin’s tattoo and suggests everyone lock their doors and windows if de Mendoza may be out on the streets.