The Dig, Part 2
by, 24th July 2012 at 05:28 PM (150 Views)
We resume on the night of June 27th, 1925
Our group of investigators has just finished a brief conversation with Joseph Burlington, professor of anthropology, and he has advised them to leave their professor, archaeologist Adam Carris, where he is--barricaded in the artifact tent. Joey Nataleone, Betty Harris, and Patrick Henderson decide that the Campbell barn, while secure, is not safe enough. They expect the Dunlow Creature(s) to strike at any moment and they want to see if Morris Campbell has weapons in his house. Since the Campbell family likely won't be back from the undertaker until morning, Joey breaks the lock on the back door and gains entry. They locate the only other gun in the house (Morris took his shotgun with him), an 1870s revolver with twelve rounds of ammunition in the bedside table. The group elects to hide in the attic, assuming that the worst to come before sunrise. They are surprised to get a few hours of sleep before they hear the Campbell clan coming through the outer gate and are forced to sneak out of the house and back to the barn.
While hiding the tools and weapons they took from the Campbells' in the woods, the group makes a shocking discovery: the body of Bill Balin* lying against a tree, the young man's so thoroughly broken his head is backwards. Next to Balin's corpse lies the 30-06 rifle, broken in half^. Regrouping at the barn, the investigators find the anthropology students and Dr. Burlington are missing. Over the remainder of the morning hours its determined that the trucks and cars associated with the summer dig have been sabotaged.
Carris finally snaps in the afternoon when he notices to the three nosy students poking around the dig site looking for anything that might help them. The paranoid insomniac professor attacks Joey with a shovel. Startled and untrained, Betty draws the pistol and shoots it. The old peacemaker kicks hard and the shot hits the ground, but this is just enough time for Joey to subdue Carris. As the only faculty member left standing approaches with some students, Betty creates an elaborate fiction involving Carris threatening her with the gun and planning to violate her. Joey and Patrick become heroes to their classmates. What's more, the investigators are finally able to get into the artifact tent, where they are able to recover Carris' journal, the book <i>Legends of Hyperborea</i>, and the various artifacts from the dig. They elect to leave the nasty looking statue behind, and it is bulky and makes them uneasy.
The group spends some time in the barn going over what they've discovered. Disturbing revelations result, and both Betty and Patrick manage to learn how to "Inscribe the Blazing Eye" and its associated five pointed star. The time for study and passivity is soon over however, as anthropology student Philip Shirley comes bursting outs of the woods, followed by a number of fur-covered evolutionary throwbacks who quickly begin to subdue and tie up as many students as they can find. Rather than attack, the investigators try to block the entrances to the barn and hide in the hay loft. Four of the simian creatures eventually make their way in and are greeted by surprise attacks. Joey shoots one of the creatures, Patrick kills another by stabbing it, but the most shocking display of carnage comes from Betty, who skewers a pair of the creatures with pitchfork.
By dark, the creatures have rounded up half a dozen victims and made off with them. The rest of students seem to have fled or possibly died in the attack. The lights are on in the Campbell home, so the group makes for the farmhouse. While sneaking away from the barn though, they encounter a disheveled and confused Thomas McCoy. The young football star appears to have amnesia, though some of his mannerisms are suspect. Out of curiosity, Patrick tries to show Thomas the strange five-pointed star symbol the archaeologists discovered just to see if it would jog his memory--perhaps he'd seen something similar wherever he'd been hidden/kept. The recoiling reaction coupled with the formation of black ichor psuedopods lead the group to realize McCoy is not himself. Patrick quickly strikes the emergent creature with the copper symbol, causing it to move some distance towards the woods in either fear or revulsion. Despite his fear, Joey shoots the peacemaker with remarkable accuracy blowing McCoy's head do pieces. This, unfortunately, does not stop these strange oozing growths that emerge now from the neck of what was once MU's star quarterback. Betty takes the opportunity to try the spell she has learned from the translated Hyperborean tablet. Casting it in the air, the symbol does not hold, but emits a powerful wave of psychic force (sustains by Betty's own soul) that drives the creature back into the shadows of the treeline. There, the ichor-beast dislodges itself from McCoy and begins to run along the ground toward the camp. The investigators see this as an opportunity to make for the Campbell house.
At the farmhouse the situation is grim, Morris has held off the voormis with his shotgun, but the battle has driven him to drink heavily. After hearing Lydia Snyder relate what Philip was babbling about a temple in the woods and Burlington sacrificing his students, the group decides they must attempt to put an end to whatever is happening. Stephen Campbell tells Joey about a shed near the treeline where his father keeps some dynamite. The three remaining investigators, along with Stephen and Lydia, recover the explosives and make for the temple by dark after Patrick learns from reading a portion of <i>Legends of Hyperborea</i> that the voormis are active at sunrise and sunset, having eyes that are little better adjusted to the darkness than their human cousins. While climbing the hills the temple the cadre is set upon by four voormis wielding stone axes and blocking their escape. Stephen is killed with a single blow, and Lydia soon follows. Patrick is injured, but with the aid of his pitchfork and pistol-wielding companions he lives to fight on.
Arriving at the temple the group hears Burlington chanting strange words. Joey, seeing no other alternative, decided to light the dynamite on a moderately long fuse and face down Burlington to keep him in the cave. However, Betty is not willing to let her friend endure the experience alone and as Joey calls out to Burlington and shoots him in the midst of a sacrifice, the socialite charges forward with her pitchfork and attacks. Burlington attempts to damage Joey with magic, but the words fail him (punctured lung, perhaps?). He flees to one of the temple's antechambers and disappears into the wall. Joey follows, pushing through the strange portal-door himself. Betty decides to extinguish the dynamite. Joey, after hearing slurping and squirming in the darkness of N'Kai that he decides is better fought another day, returns to find Betty and Patrick untying their classmates. The street thug-turned-monster-hunter is worried the students might already be tainted, but the revelation of just how Burlington was making the voormis come to life gives the group reason to continue freeing the students. In the end, the wall containing the gate is blown to bits, and the arch of the temple is collapsed and sealed with the Elder Sign cast by Betty and Patrick. Nine students are rescued. Many others are dead and/or missing.
While Joey is considered paranoid for thinking there might be something malign among the students, no one notices the traces of black ooze in Erik Ashford's eyes or his strange mannerisms. After all he's as thick as they come...
*Bill Balin's player couldn't attend due to a back injury, so I felt that the "next body" should have some personal meaning to the group. Clayton Skipp's player was also out at a party, but given there was a chance he might turn up late, he was spared a similar fate.
^I was able to correct my mistake and get rid of the damned thing.