Down into the tunnel
End of Paper Chase and the Start of Edge of Darkness

We left off last time with Violet seeing some strange cloven hoof tracks leading to a mausoleum. She does so just as the other two investigators, Millicent and Sage, wander over to the cemetery. They all discuss their respective discoveries and decide to look into the mausoleum.

The door to the mausoleum is very much stuck so Sage uses her farmer’s strength to wrench it open with a shovel, while Violet serves as a lookout. The door pops open and a horrible stench is released. Sage and Millicent pass out from the smell for about 5 minutes. Violet shrieks! Thankfully, Sage and Milly wake up and the stench dissipates enough to make it safe enough to explore the structure.

Inside the tomb, all appears normal except a hand dug tunnel in the corner of the room that leads down into the earth. As talk of descending into the tunnel, Violet thinks about her own phobia of small areas. They descend into a maze below the cemetery where they quickly find themselves overwhelmed at the size of these tunnels. Sage is able to navigate the party successfully back to the entrance where they meet a strange figure.

The strange figure says “hello” and they learn that the amicable figure is a halfway transformed into a ghoul Douglas Kimball. Douglas has tusks and cloven hoofs but also appears to be very much human still. He warns them against being underground in the Ghoul World. He admits that he has broken into the house to fetch books because the ghouls are closing this entry. He says he is writing a book about his experiences among the ghouls. He told them about meeting Merf, the ghoul, and coming to live with them. Douglas makes a deal with the investigators in exchange for their silence about his whereabouts. He exchanges the books he has – 6 or so overdue library books (Violet the librarian gasps in horror to hear they are about 5 years overdue). The investigators agree to provide some books he particularly wants, including the journal. He warns the party to stay away from ghouls since they can be dangerous when you intrude on their homes.

Learning of the existence of ghouls causes a bit of sanity loss for the party but they regain some because they learn that at least one ghoul, Douglas, is not a mindless monster waiting to kill them. They also increase their understanding of the Cthulhu Mythos a bit.

The scenario concludes when the party takes the books back to Thomas and they explain that the books were found in the cemetery. Milly proposes to buy some books from Douglas’s library. Violet finds some physics books to buy as well.

The party takes a week or so doing things that they do as WISH. One day they receive a letter from an old acquaintance named Rupert Merriweather, who has asked them to meet him at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady at 1 Oclock on Thursday.

The party goes to the hospital where they find Rupert surrounded by his family, including his wife, Agnes, his son, Bertrand. After pleasantries are exchanged, Rupert asks his family to leave him with WISH.

He tells them that in his youth, he and his pals became involved in some occult exploration. They call their group the “Dark Brotherhood”. For privacy he bought a farmhouse in Esperance. The group, at the behest of their leader, Marion Allen, conducted seances and their last experiment summoned an evil force into the world. They abandoned the house after the thing killed one of them who was trying to embrace it. Another man went crazy when the dead man was flung onto him. Fortunately, the spell that summoned the thing also bound it to the farmhouse. He also learned that the spell only works while the ones who cast it are still alive. He is the last person of the group alive and he is close to death. He asks WISH to finish the job and banish the thing. He gives the group a metal box and says all the aid I can offer lies within.

Before the party can ask any questions, he goes into a coughing fit, spewing blood all over the place, some on Sage, and lapses into a coma. Sage and Violet suffer some sanity loss from watching this man spew forth blood and go unconscious. The room is quickly filled with nurses and doctors, and the family. The party leaves and learns that Merriweather dies within the hour.

The party goes back to WISH and investigate the box. Sage showers the blood sputum off of her. They find there is a recently written letter, a yellowed envelope containing the deed to a house and the key to its lock, a small, sacrophagus-shaped gold box of ancient design, and a slim journal bound in leather. The deed concerns a farm on Robinson Rd in Esperance, 5 or so miles away. The letter reiterates Merriweather’s request and mentions a strange book called De Vermiis Mysteriis which Marion found and contains the way to banish the evil he unleashed. Sage and Millicent take a look at the sarcophagus and Violet takes a look at the journal.

In journal they find that the sarcophagus once contained a piece of amber with a strange insect like creature that Merriweather and his friends ascertained to be a djinn. They set up a seance with a pentagram and some candles on the floor in the farmhouse to summon the djinn. The djinn turned out to be a monster hardly invisible but of writhing mouths and eyes. They appeared to trap it in the attic but the thing will be released when the spell casters die. All but Merriweather have died so far. Reading the journal causes some sanity loss but an increase in understanding of the Cthulhu Mythos

The sarcophagus turns out to have Egyptian glyphs (Middle Kingdom) on the inside and the interior glyphs are associated with the lost Pacific continent of Mu.

The party then goes to the Library to research the box and learned that it was stolen. It was apparently given to a would-be usurper of the Egyptian throne named Nophru-Ka, who lived during the 3rd dynasty, by the Gods. It was supposed to contain the aforementioned djinn. It was owned by the Parkinby-Anderson family, British nobles, but was stolen in 1871 and not been seen since. There is also a copy of De Vermiis Mysteriis but this is restricted. Violet uses her library access to get access to it.

In the library, the group also found the translation of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which read:

Seeker of Wisdom,
Servant (son) of Yugr (Yoag) Setheth,
Deliverer of the people (slaves) of the water,
Bearer of the spirits of Nar-Loth-Hotep,
Child of Thoth,
Seeker of Wisdom.

Leaving the library, the party gathers supplies, including chalk and a flashlight or two. They all pile into Millicent’s elegant sedan and head off to Esperance. They stop at the milk depot of the small village and ask for directions. The dour inhabitants, especially Ma Peters, gives directions to the farmhouse and warns that it is strange. She lets them know that a middle aged farmer’s wife named Maggie McPhirter has gone missing up that way last night. She says folks are shy about visitors lately but not to think much about it.

From there the party heads up towards the farmhouse. The road becomes pretty bumpy. The 18th century single story farmhouse of Saltbox design is pretty rundown. There’s several other structures, including a derelict barn, a collapsed lean-to, an outhouse, and a water well. There’s no birdsong, which is strange out in the countryside. The party finds a dead raccoon with its heart removed in a nearby patch of high grass.

The barn is looked into next. Millicent and Sage explore the interior. Millicent falls and cuts her leg on some broken glass. Sage patches her up and they continue looking around, finding nothing interesting. There is no sign of any animals here, including no scurrying rats or birds.

Outside the barn, Violet hears the sounds of flies buzzing nearby. The party investigates the source, which is just inside the woods. After investigating the privy very quickly, they come upon the body of who they presume is Maggie McPhirter. Just like the raccoon, the body’s heart has been removed.

Now rattled by finding a dead body, the party continues back to the house to finish the job. They realize that the sound of flies buzzing is following them. They turn around and see the shambling body of the dead woman walking slowly towards them. This event causes a bit of distress in the form of a bit of sanity loss for Millicent but before anyone can act, she pulls out her .32 caliber and takes the zombie down with a single headshot from around 30 yards away.

Finally reaching the house proper, the investigators unlock the door and they find a derelict room. They also hear a scuffing or scurrying noise coming from beneath the floor. Inside is a bunch of rotted furniture in the initial room and then another room beyond that contains a set of stairs down into the cellar. Also within the 2nd door is a trapdoor on the ceiling. Muddy bootprints are found and the embers of a recent fire. A hobos bindle is lying open on the floor.

The party realizes someone is in the cellar. They call down and discover a hobo named Red Jake is hiding. He explains that he is hiding from a monster. He says it chased him in the woods but let him go when it went after something else. He is paranoid and fearful but has a nice conversation with the party. They offer him $5 to parlay. He collects his stuff as he explains that he came back from the Great War and has been wandering the eastern seaboard trying to gather enough resources to make it to his family out in California. He takes off leaving the party to investigate the cellar.

We end when the party enters the cellar to take a look around.

Session 0 and Introductory Scenario
Paper Chase

After greetings and light conversation, the players rolled up characters and settled into a party of three distinguished women: Violet, the shy and bookish librarian; Sage, the tough and reliable gardener; and Millicent, the wealthy and seemingly dangerous dilettante. These three ladies are members of W.I.S.H. (Woman Investigation Society House), a society for the investigation of the extra-normal – men are welcome but women are at the forefront.

Having earned a reputation for exploring the strange and unusual, WISH was contacted by Thomas Kimball, a 30-something year old bachelor who resides by himself in a home he inherited from his uncle. This uncle, Douglas Kimball, disappeared mysteriously a year ago. The nephew Kimball has experience a burglary – and a strange one, at that. No door or window was forced open during the burglary and only a half dozen or so of Douglas’s books were stolen. Thomas would like WISH to investigate the burglary and perhaps discover the whereabouts of his uncle. He has offered $10 (roughly $200 in today’s cash) as payment for the job. The investigators heartily accepted the job so the campaign started in earnest.

Mr. Kimball provided the party with a photograph of his uncle, which showed a man balding with white hair, average height and wearing round spectacles. He also offered to let the investigators take a look around his house for clues, which they accepted eventually. But first, they conducted research at the local library.

At the library, the investigators spent a few hours researching old newspaper articles. They found a Daily Gazette article dated over ten years ago concerning the alleged sighting of a band of people, apparently unclothed, cavorting in the cemetery near the Kimball house. The constable was summoned and the cemetery searched, but no sign of the strangers was ever found, though misshapen footprints gave mute evidence of their presence.

The party then decided to investigate the Daily Gazette, where they were able to persuade the editor, Artie Maloy, to look through the newspaper’s morgue. In the morgue they discover a journalist’s notes that contain a never-published statement concerning the cemetery. The statement, from Mrs. Hilda Ward, an insomniac neighbor (now aged 64), claimed that for over 20 years she had seen “Devil Spawn” stalking about the burial ground. Though human in outline, she claimed they had canine features, hooved feet, and were covered with mold. The journalist who interviewed Ms. Ward noted that, “Mrs. Ward has since moved to Detroit, and none of the other neighbors have ever seen, or will admit to having seen Devil Spawn.”

The investigators next checked in with the local police. There Millicent turned on the charm and convinced the dopey desk sergeant named Arnie to answer some questions about the case. Arnie remembers that a missing person report was filed for Douglas Kimball and his photograph was circulated far and wide, but the man was never found. He also mentioned that the cemetery is in a quiet neighborhood and nothing out of the ordinary has recently been reported. Sometime back, though, perhaps six or seven years ago, there were reports of some strange noises coming out of the cemetery at night. Patrols made a point of passing by for a few weeks but nothing was seen or heard. “It was quiet as a grave!”

After the visit to the local precinct, WISH called it a night. In the morning, they returned to the Kimball House where Millicent and Sage carried out a search of the place and Violet went to the cemetery – which happened to be the place where her parents are buried.

In the Kimball House, Sage and Millicent focused on the study, as the rest of the house has been “moved into” by Thomas Kimball. They found the location where the books were stolen. Additionally, they found no method of entry but Sage did notice that the study’s windows are loose with age and a determined effort could easily open them from outside. Sage took a peek outside and noted some interested herbs growing below. Finally, the two sleuths found Douglas’s journal in which the last entry cryptically mentions “reaching a decision” and “joining with my friends below”. Earlier entries seem to hint at a network of tunnels beneath the cemetery, inhabited by mysterious “creatures” that Douglas saw moving about at night.

In the cemetery Violet strikes up a conversation with the groundskeeper, one Melodius Jefferson, a rather bedraggled looking middle aged fellow. The topic of Douglas Kimball is breached and Melodius points out Douglas’s favorite tombstone – where he spent reading books days on end. Mr. Jefferson bids Violet a good day and moves on to the other side of the cemetery, leaving her to take a seat on the tomb contemplating the mystery. It’s while she is doing this that she notices strange tracks around the tombstone, which look to have been made by man-sized feet that end in cloven hooves that lead up to the door of a nearby stone mausoleum.

It is here that we leave for the session.