- Keith Craig(kbclac)United States
Keepers note: One of the players, Bartholomew had to miss the session due to a death in the family.
We welcomed the 2 players who were forced to join late.
First new character Oded, a mysterious Persian who lurks in the shadow with his whip.
Also Jenny a Femme Fatale with an appearance of 90 but is quite deadly with he machete
Wednesday, 31 October, 1928: Nothing else to see or learn in Lucius’ cell, they back out of the room. [Group Luck roll: 00] Coming face-to-face with nurse Price!
Oliver rambles before coming up with an excuse, “I…I found the cell unlocked and felt it prudent to check it out.” Nurse Price not believing, “How dare you! I must tell Dr. Highsmith.” John stepping in to save face [Persuade/Intimidate success], “Yes. Do call the doctor and explain how this patient gains access to pencils to pass along to Alex. How he possibly stole your keys to unlock his cell. How a man in a straight-jacket could perform these feats. Or was it oversight by a nurse leaving the cell unlocked?” Now Price rambling, “No. No…no need to get the doctor involved. I’ll speak with nurse Evans who performed the last rounds. No need to mention this incident.” Oliver adding conclusion, “I think it best for us to search Lucius…just in case.” So, they entered the cell, guarded the patient after removing the jacket, and failed to find anything.
Nurse Price looking quite embarrassed and tense as the group meets with Dr. Highsmith. Oliver giving his assessment, “I haven’t made a final conclusion but my initial impression is Mr. Roby is not ready to leave. I’d suggest you wean him off meds before I return for another evaluation. In the meantime, I’d like to speak with Dr. Trollope. You’ve already arranged a meeting with him on the 2nd? At his own office in London’s Whitechapel district? Thank you.”
It’s been a long day and thus another night in Weobley at the Red Lion Pub. After midnight when a scream down the hall erupts; all rushing to Evie’s room where she sits on the edge of her bed sweating profusely and quite disturbed. John knocking and entering to the smell of rancid fruit yet none visible. “I was walking down a busy street, fumbling with my house key, when it suddenly changed to a small, grotesque, human-like figure. A fetish. Suddenly the streets are gone, the city gone. It’s a flat land with the smell of water in the air, mixed with the sweet smell of rancid fruit. 9 pagan-like stones surround me. Then the people around me blink out of existence; I’m alone. Then suddenly being lifted up for inspection like a child eyeing an insect. An insignificant speck.” Oliver was the last to enter the room and could not smell anything, “I told you not to eat those pickled eggs at the bar. No wonder you dream of that smell. Your belching the source of what John smelled upon entering.”
Thursday, 1 November, 1928: Once back in London, Evie visited the hospital to checkup on madame Le Branche (who had scratched her own eyes out at the séance vision). Cordial concern for her health while also wanting help interpreting her dream.
The chance encounter finding Jenny at her bedside. Jenny taking interest in the dream and thus elbowing her way into the group. Meanwhile, Bartholomew returned to his office and workbench to continue fabrication of his latest design. John and Oliver divided tasks, “John, you research Dr. Trollope while I look up this Monty Edwards from my visit to Melford and those deaths of years ago.”
Instead, because of Alexander Roby’s ramblings and Evie’s dream, John researches mysticism. As for Oliver, a dead-end: No Monty Edwards in London per the directory. Maybe a different 1st name? A search of the financial sector for Edwards draws blanks. It’s dinnertime when they all rejoin and Oliver learns, “What do you mean you didn’t check out Dr. Trollope?!” But John distracted by the newest member of group as he tries his charm. Jenny replies with an “Ewe!” Hours later they stroll into the chilly night under the gas lamps when Evie spots someone vandalizing the posted announcement ‘Celebrate the King’s
Evie approaching to ask, “Excuse me sir but just what do you mean…” Her words cut short as the man wheels about throwing a round-house punch… complete with brass knuckles…that just misses her chin. John rushes forward to intervene without success. Nor Jenny’s pleas to “Stop” have any effect. As for Oliver, his bulrush to tackle the man (Insane DEX…failure) is simply sidestepped, allowing Oliver to crumble into the wall. If asked, Oliver would explain his stumbled failure a result of a whip strike appearing out of the shadows. [No one spots the dark-skinned man hiding in the shadows]. Evie stabbing her assailant with her knife only to receive a staggering hit to her stomach. Jenny upping-the-anti displaying a machete. Swing, blocked, uppercut reply…Jenny staggers backwards from the crushing blow to her nose that gushes blood. “Not the face! Not my livelihood. You Bastard!” All screamed in a nasally tone as she turns to run away. And that’s when Oliver draws his pistol to shoot skyward, “Backoff!”
Evie holding up her hands to plead, “I just want to know about the city and king.” John follows suit, “Yes, what do you know about the ‘King in Yellow’?” The man relaxing his arms as he exclaims, “The stars are right.” And then starts running…only to be cloth-lined by an arm outstretched from the shadows. And that’s when the bobbies arrive, “We heard a shot. What is going on?” Ignorance to any gunshot but explanations about the assailant and vandalism. Oliver kneeling over Jenny to fix her broken nose (failure). Jenny disbelieving his medical background and thus refusing further help, “Just get me to a real doctor.” [What? She doesn’t want an insane psycho….psychotherapist to push his first aid skills?! Have some faith; what could possibly go wrong?]
As Oliver drives all to the hospital, he directs, “Keep pressure on her nose. To stop the bleeding and keep the blood off my upholstery.” Hours waiting before treatment and then the group stopping at the King’s Head Pub to collect their calm after the encounter. Despite the bruising turning to black eyes, Jenny the center-of-attention. Oliver whispering to Evie, “Are you sure Jenny wasn’t just released from a psycho ward? I mean, a machete?! Did you SEE the bloodlust in her eyes?!” But Evie takes her side, “Didn’t you see us getting our asses kicked?! You’re damn lucky she was there.” Thus, Oliver retreats to the bar to get refills. And is bumped by a TALL man who exclaims, “Watch where you are going fool.” Oliver taken back by the accusation of the greasy back-haired man, “You’re right. I’m sorry.” To which the man leans in to whisper, “Keep your nose outa things that don’t concern ya else your guts’ll be spilling on the floor.” Oliver’s jaw drops at the threat as he can only watch the man turn to exit; his long coat opening to reveal a long blade at his waist.
Friday, 2 November, 1928: His breath hangs thick in the air as Oliver steps from his porch into the freezing morning fog. His older neighbor Elaine, with pea-shooter in hand, plunking peas at the higher windows to wake the dock workers for their morning shift.
She pauses to ask, “Did the cabbie find you last night? The tall man with black hair. Was asking if this your house. Made it a point to pick up his cigarette butts before he drove away.” A few hours of work till he needed to pick up the others before their noon appointment with Dr. Trollope. During the drive to the Whitechapel district, Evie excitedly describing her discovery, “John Cuthbert’s comment about the bull. The constellation Taurus prominent from mid-October thru mid-March. Check it out tonight if the clouds ever part.”
Oliver drives all to the Whitechapel address. A housekeeper greets them at the door, “Please, hang your coats here. The doctor will be down shortly; you can wait for him in the study.” Definitely upper-middleclass neighborhood and furnishing. Oliver already suspicious him living beyond the means of a family doctor; surely being paid off by Grahame Roby to keep Alex locked up. Evie stopping before a picture, “Is this an original?”
John stepping forward, “Oh my! An original Stubbs. THAT must have cost a pretty pence.” And that’s when an elderly voice chimes in, “I see you have the eye for art. Yes, one of Stubbs’ Springer Spaniel paintings.” Evie reaches for Dr. Trollope’s hand as she ‘reads’ the 60-year-old… a disturbance in his recent past. “Tea? Enid, please get my guest refreshments.”
The doctor greets Oliver, “So, you are the specialist Charles called in. I am the family doctor. I was there. Herbert was completely drained of all blood. A hole in his chest. Little if any blood on the floor. Georgina…blood splatters up the walls. Hacked. Down and across as the splatters testify. Why yes; forced entry. The balcony door smashed in. Alex blamed himself; admitted guilt. I doubt HE actually committed the crime but he feels responsible. Surely, you’ve talked to him. Mad, isn’t he. My 6-month visits? Tell me, if you say I have blue eyes, do you need to check me every day or month? Nothing changed in those 6-months. Yet I believe Charles wishes to release Alex not because him truly cured, but to claim himself THE healer of all levels of insanity. An opportunity to publish his newest term of ‘sympathetic mania’. Ah, you heard his term too. No, I wasn’t aware of Herbert’s will and how Grahame holds all the cards. Not by his design I’m sure. You say Alex became quite vocal in his description of the city. Loaded with laudanum yet able to be so vocal?! Come now doctor; is THAT normal?”
Evie interrupts, “What about this Delia he mentioned?” The doctor adding, “Delia Hartston. Was Alex’s girlfriend till months before the murder. Grahame seemed obsessed with her. Whether he was attracted to her or questioned her dealings with Alex…you’ll have to ask Mr. Roby himself.” As the chatter continues, one by one, the guests excuse themselves to the bathroom or outside for a smoke. Really to search the house or confront Enid alone for questions. Thus, it’s Jenny and Oliver alone with the doctor. Till Jenny asks with a wink, “Oliver, will you find me some paper and pencil so I can take notes.” Oliver missing the hint, “I’ve got some paper in my medical bag.” Thankfully the doctor offering paper at the desk in the next room. Which allows Jenny time alone. Soon, all returning to find the doctor kissing Jenny’s hand, “Then it’s a date for the 4th at 7pm at the Queen’s Pub. And for the rest of you, say we meet again on the 6th?”
As they settle in the car, Evie asks, “What was that all about?” Jenny smiling, “A chance to question him in a more relaxed setting. He was telling me about one of his patients reading from a German book. How the doctor became transfixed, transported to St. James Park. Crossing a bridge…white…buildings, a man with blond hair and hazel eyes dangerously attractive. Then the doctor feeling as if he was falling. He actually had the book he’s loaned to me till our date.” She shows off the book, Der Wanderer Durch Den See with the author’s initials A.R. “He’s translated some, adding notes in the margins.”
Intrigued, all follow Jen up to her flat on the 3rd floor where she opens the book and scans the English notes. “Only 97 pages. The German text seems written in poetic stanza; the English poorly organized. Trollope’s notes mention the Red Aldebaran and black Hali. Walk the path of Carcosa; make the yellow sign. Mentions Act I and Act II with an Act III yet to come.” All shutter [failed Sanity] at the thought of an Act 3. Oliver remembers the actor George Keith (who played the younger son Uoht in the play) lives in London, “Maybe I should check in on him tomorrow to hear what he remembers. Was there a 3rd act we missed?”
Jenny goes to the kitchen for a drink of water. Motion outside the window, across the alley, catches her eye. A windless night yet the distant window curtains flutter. Curtain or cloak? Suddenly, a white-masked man stands at the window and begins to remove his mask. Jenny drawn to the window and actually starting to climb upon the sill till she comes to her senses. Fighting off the urge to jump! Evie notices her drained face when Jen returns to the living-room to describe her vision. Evie analyzing, “Bats in the belfry? Demons in the basement?” John asks to borrow the book, “Just for the night. I’ll return it tomorrow night.” Finally, all return to their own homes. That night Evie has her own obsession as she settles at her easel, painting. Another disturbing creation, this with wings and tentacles. As for John, he stays up all night reading. Come morning, he awakes in his reading chair. The book…gone! Keeper note: Oded stole the book due to concern the other characters are getting in over their head.
Saturday, 3 November, 1928: John is already banging on Evie’s door, “It’s gone! Someone snuck in and stole it. What’ll I tell Jen?” Evie tells of her own long night, showing off her painting which John buys. Together, they head out to browse bookstores in hopes of finding another copy of the book. A long day and many miles across London before they stumble upon a copy (without Trollope’s margin notes of course). Meanwhile Oliver picks up Jen to help track down Mr. Keith. They find him near campus in the dorms. Oliver making introductions referencing the play and Jen’s own acting desires. “For Gods’ sake, avoid that man Estes! Strange he was; before every rehearsal, Talbot had us circle to recite a chant. An angry language. Definitely not English or any other classic language. After rehearsals, we’d all have bad dreams. Similar. A still form whose robes would move without wind. His face a pallid mask. Estes? He was upset when the play was cancelled. I hear he’s now withdrawn and a shut-in. Good riddance I say.”
With an address in hand, Oliver and Jen arrive at Estes’ house. Sore knuckles from knocking has Oliver turning to leave when the door finally opens. A frazzled man before them, “Mr. Estes? Are you the man who directed that play Carcosa?”
At first the man dazed and lifeless till the mention of the play; then alive with renewed energy. “The play! Yes, come in. I’m now writing my own book, The Yellow Sign. Glorious; it will be my Magnus Opus. It came to me one night in a vivid dream. Would you like to read it?” Jen steps forward trying to charm the man as she shares excitement about the book. Only to shutter and gasp when she sees the sign sketched on the cover [Sanity failure 95]. Oliver in the background, easily recognizing another psycho. Thus, his hand within his medical bag grasping the pistol. Just in case
And that’s when Jen spots another book upon the shelf; this in all white binding. Hoping to distract Estes, she pops a few buttons exposing more breast. But the crazed man well beyond any carnal desires remains fixated on his book, looking for Jen’s acceptance of his work. She tries another tact; ‘accidently’ dropping the book, “Oh my. Oops.” Talbot’s focus on the floor and his masterpiece and beginning to kneel to retrieve it. Jen using the opportunity to reach for the white book [Slight-of-Hand: failure 91]. She ‘accidently’ kicks the book out of Talbot’s reach [pushed Slight-of-Hand: failure 97].
Instead of distracting him more, Estes glares upward at the bitch that kicked his baby…and sees her reaching for the other book. He grabs a letter-opener from the table at his side and slashes Jen’s ankle! [Dodge failure 88] Almost severing her Achilles tendon. All a blur to Oliver caught off-guard; thus, he can only stare in shock as Jen whips out her machete and hacks downward [Extreme: max damage]. Slicing open Talbot’s face from ear to opposite jawline…thru bone! Blood pooling at her feet. Oliver finally reacting, “Oh my God! Oh my God! What have you done?! I said charm him to get him to open up. Not physically flay him open. You’ve murdered him. What’ll we do?”
And that’s when the shadow at the back door makes itself known. A black-clad figure silhouetted in the door commanding, “Leave.” Nothing more; nothing less. But enough conviction to cause action. Jenny already running out the front door. Oliver slowly backing out, wondering if this the same tall man with greasy black hair who threatened him the other night. With a long blade at his side. That thought has him quickly turning to leave. In his car, driving down the street where he finds Jenny still running. Thus, both of them long gone. Unaware that hours later Mr. Estes’ house is reported ablaze.
Sunday, 4 November, 1928: All gather for breakfast. Oliver stunned how Jenny plows into her food per normal; not a care in the world. As if there was no murder scene. Oliver distractedly flipping thru the newspaper fearfully looking for the police report of said murder. But only finding a page 5 article about a fire and fatality on Estes’ block. John however, finds another article, “Jen, I don’t think your date is going to show.”
The article describing the stabbing death of one Dr. Trollope in St. James Park. As John reads, Oliver gasps at the description of the attacker, reported by a newspaper boy who witnessed it all, “A tall man, in a long dark coat.” Oliver turns to Jen to remind her, “That sounds like the same man who told us to leave after the murder.” The others at the table stunned, “What murder?!”
- [+] Dice rolls