Chapter Twenty has Shadow returning to Lakeside to uncover Hinzelmann's centuries old secret, leading to Chad Mulligan shooting and killing Hinzelmann. Shadow checks up on Sam and leaves her flowers before proceeding to Chicago where he visits the Zoryas and Czernobog to fulfill his end of the checkers game and allow Czernobog to hit him over the head with his hammer.
Shadow arrives in Lakeside and drives directly to the Lake where he goes out on the ice to the klunker parked there. He uses the antenna to pick the lock on the car and pries the frozen door open to release the trunk. He sees Alison McGovern's body in the trunk and tries to get her out, causing the ice to break and sending Shadow and the car into the water at 9:10 am on March 23rd (the same time frame on his raffle ticket).
Shadow finds himself trapped under the ice and realizes the bodies of all the missing kids over the last hundred or so years are down at the bottom of the lake. He tries to find his way out from under the still frozen ice and is soon pulled free. He sees Whiskey Jack and the Buffalo Man walking away before he loses consciousness.
He awakens in a bathtub in Richie Hinzelmann's house as Hinzelmann helps Shadow warm up from his hypothermia. Shadow soon realizes it was Hinzelmann who has been killing the kids all those years and asks him why he saved Shadow's life. Hinzelmann tells him it's because he owed Wednesday. Hinzelmann's defense of the annual child sacrifices is that he kept Lakeside safe and kept Shadow safe for Wednesday. Shadow accuses him of betraying Wednesday by earlier beckoning Laura, Sam, and Audrey to the town.
Hinzelmann rails at Shadow that he was once a god before he became a kobold with hundreds of children sacrificed to him before revealing himself to be a five-year-old child that had been stabbed with swords, a feral child that had once been sacrificed, preserved, and worshiped in the Black Forest.
Chad Mulligan reveals he's been listening to the entire conversation for the last ten minutes. Hinzelmann panics and throws a red hot poker at Mulligan as he tries to flee with Mulligan shooting him dead in one shot. Shadow helps Mulligan start a fire to cover Hinzelmann's death before Mulligan drives Shadow back to his car at the lake. Shadow removes Mulligan's memories of the day and nudges him toward Marguerite Olsen.
In Madison, Sam is closing up shop where she works at a coffee house when her girlfriend, Natalie, arrives. They talk about weird dreams as they head to the movies with Sam revealing she sometimes dreams of the Buffalo Woman and Shadow. Natalie asks Sam who gave her the flowers and Sam is surprised to find she is holding a half-dozen white roses and never knowing where they came from. Shadow had stopped off in Madison and looked Sam up but didn't intrude when he saw her with Natalie.
After spending the night in a Motel 6, Shadow arrives in Chicago the next morning and is greeted at the brownstone by Zorya Utrennyaya who promptly tries to get him to leave again, telling him that he doesn't want to see Czernobog. They are in the middle of spring cleaning and Shadow helps Zorya Vechernyaya turn a mattress in Bielebog's room. They keep trying to get Shadow to leave but he sits and waits for Czernobog to come back.
Czernobog returns and also tries to get Shadow to come back tomorrow when Bielebog will return but eventually agrees to swing his hammer at Shadow's head as promised. He lightly taps Shadow's forehead with the hammer, saying there is blood but also gratitude and that it's been a long, long winter.
- Hinzelmann's den
- Madison, IL
- Chicago, IL
- Whiskey Jack
- Buffalo Man
- Chad Mulligan
- Zorya Vechernyaya
- Zorya Utrennyaya