Subsection: Night of Masks Up Subsection: Night of Masks Subsubsection: 16 March 2016 (in Acapulco, dealing with the murders) 

2 March 2016 (to Acapulco, investigating murders)

Everyone’s a hero; they’ll probably never have to carry Mexican pesos again.
There are still two stelae out there. One of them’s deep underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, and the government will be asking the USA for help with that. The other is in Acapulco, and the team heads there at once. The stela is easy to find, in Papagayo Park between the life-sized replica of a space shuttle orbiter and the Spanish galleon; Diamond hits it with Reality while Thorfin gives it a good blow with his pick, and it shatters.
On the other hand, the newspaper headlines read “Phantom Killer Strikes Again”, and there’s clearly more to do. Stephen talks to the concierge, first about dive shops, then about this killer: it seems that for the last month or so people have been turning up dead roughly every two days, mostly but not exclusively young men, generally beaten to death or knifed, often near nightclubs or bars. But the few eye witnesses have reported different people fleeing (“a huge bulky guy”, “a small woman who moved like a dancer”), and the police are baffled. There’s not much tourism given the situation in the USA, but this is wrecking it further, although no tourists have been attacked.
Stephen takes advantage of his infinite credit to visit the best brothel in town; the others, after resting and bathing in the afternoon, are woken around two in the morning. Another murder’s taken place, and the police thought they’d be interested.
The victim is lying in an alley behind a nightclub, having been stabbed repeatedly with a small knife (flick-knife or similar). His wallet’s still present. The staff in the club don’t particularly remember him. Thorfin detects a very faint magical trace on him: he’s been subject to a spell, or near very powerful magic. The team gets the morgue opened up, and the same trace is just barely detectable on the previous victim.
The team returns to rest, and Stephen rejoins them in the morning; they consider possibilities and options. Looking at incident reports suggests that there are multiple attackers, most of them relatively unskilled, though some knew what they were doing; most victims have defensive wounds. The leading theory is that something is driving people into rage. Clearly some of the attackers will have been injured, so the team talks to the main hospital to find people who’ve turned up with unexpected knife wounds; they have no success.
They also work their way up through the local Catholic hierarchy to talk to the Archbishop’s secretary; while there’s no formal reporting, they think there might be more than the usual number of confessions of enraged violence. No, he says; if anything that’s dropped slightly.
That evening, Diamond pairs off with Stephen, and David with Thorfin, to check out the local nightlife and talk to people. Stephen chats with one of the bouncers; when they throw people out for fighting, they make sure they leave in different directions. There’s a general sense of being a bit on edge, but what are you going to do, stay at home? Diamond chats with a barman: there aren’t as many people coming out, but they’re drinking more. A casual comment has Diamond looking around: maybe one in ten of the clubgoers is wearing a mask of some kind, from basic dominos to full-head wrestling masks.
The next day, Stephen and Thorfin check the library for stories that got forgotten when the murders started. There’s some talk of Aztec-type monsters, consistent with what the team saw crossing Guatemala, but that’s not especially local. The reopening of the Casa de la Máscara, the Mask Museum, seems potentially more interesting, and the team goes to visit.
There’s definitely faint magical trace here, and one Blue Demon mask in the gift shop is strongly magical. Thorfin resists the strong urge to put it on, and buys it, as well as several normal Blue Demon masks from the same pile. The team looks in the stock-room, but there’s no magical trace there.
Back at the hotel, they examine the masks (Stephen also resisting an urge to put it on; Thorfin gets the concierge to bring some bicycle locks, so that they can make it more physically difficult to don the thing should anyone else get the urge). The magical one doesn’t seem any different in construction from the others.
 Subsection: Night of Masks Up Subsection: Night of Masks Subsubsection: 16 March 2016 (in Acapulco, dealing with the murders)