Surreal Visions (Session 2)
by, 1st November 2012 at 05:05 PM (230 Views)
Clayton Brady: 30-year-old Private Investigator (ex-Beat Cop) (Drive: Duty)
Lilliane Keane: 26-year-old Dilettante & Field Researcher at Miskatonic University (Drive: Thirst for Knowledge)
Dr. Phinias Chilton: 55-year-old Medical Professor at Miskatonic University (Drive: Antiquarianism)
Nikolas Hathorne: 32-year-old Rare Book Dealer (Drive: Thirst for Knowledge)
December 9th, 1934 (Sunday)
After numerous delays, the Chicago train bearing Nikolas Hathorne among its passengers pulls into New York City late Saturday night, allowing the book dealer to check his messages at his shop in Queens before retiring for a few hours of sleep. Nikolas is surprised to see a number of messages from Lilliane, hinting at the interesting events that started earlier in the week and pressing Nikolas to join the group as soon as he’s available. A reunion takes place over breakfast at the Ledonia Hotel and it is decided that the investigators will attend the meeting of the American Decency League that evening to learn more about Tobias Pfaff’s detractors.
The ADL meeting takes place at the John’s Street Methodist Church in downtown Manhattan, a stout building with a red façade that seems to stand in opposition to the art-deco high-rises that are closing in around it. The last service of the day is letting out and a quick word with the reverend results in an introduction to Roberta Witherspoon, church busybody and head of the ADL. Roberta is all too happy to have new attendees at her meeting, which is setting up in the hall behind the church nave. In the minutes leading up to the meeting itself, the investigators attempt to become acquainted with some of the attendees and try to determine significant figures or potential troublemakers. Dr. Chilton is directed to one Byron Wheeler, a newer member responsible for arranging the protest against Pfaff’s paintings at the Hyde and Masterson Fine Art Gallery. Wheeler appears to be a rather well groomed, but meek and standoffish, but takes a nasty turn when Chilton mentions his employer is Miskatonic University. The man stands and attempts to throw his hot coffee in the doctor’s face!
Chilton avoids the liquid bombardment, but the splash strikes at elderly woman behind him. Wheeler flees out the back door, into the church’s small parking lot, and over a fence into the an alley. Chilton is confused, while Hathorne and Lilliane attempt to give chase. Clayton remains behind to render first aid to the elderly woman. Nikolas becomes hung up on the fence, allowing the doctor and Lilliane to pass him up and continue across the next street. Lilliane eventually falls behind in the next alleyway as she hears tires screech and a horn blare behind her. She turns to see Nikolas, in his effort to catch up after being caught on the fence, being struck by an oncoming cab while running across the street! (00 on his chase-related Dex roll: 2d4 damage; a Luck roll saved him from being struck by the car directly)
Chilton, pursuing Wheeler alone, eventually catches up to the man and tires to stop him, but the younger, stronger fellow easily wriggles out of his grasp, leaving the doctor holding his quarry’s suit jacket. Wheeler makes for the Broad Street Subway station, which is currently undergoing maintenance and surrounded by a wooden fence. Faced with the dark passage of the empty station leading underground, Chilton decides to allow Wheeler to escape—perhaps fearing some of the strange things he knows are lurking in the dark of New York City’s underground. The doctor answers Lilliane’s cries for help instead and endeavors to sort out the bruising and cracked ribs Nikolas endured while tumbling head first over the hood of the cab.
Once satisfied that his companion is safe, Chilton riffles through the pockets of Wheeler’s jacket, pulling forth a single scrap of paper: a brochure entitled “Jamaica Bay Bungalows at Broad Channel”. The tourist attraction states that it has rooms to rent from Spring until early Autumn. Chilton gives the pamphlet to Clayton Brady, hoping the detective cane make something of it.
December 10th, 1934 (Monday)
The next morning Clayton takes the opportunity to contact James Murphy the prison detective at Welfare Island. He hopes to call in a favor and have murphy help him search for Byron Wheeler. Murphy, who admires Clayton’s character in spite of the fact he’s no longer a “real cop”, agrees to get back to the P.I. by 4pm. Not wanting to bog down his ally, Clayton tries to look up Jacob Lecroix on his own by charming the local operator. The effort pays off and Clayton learns that Lecroix’s studio is in the Bowery. About this time Lilliane and Chilton return from the library with information on Lecroix and his connection to Pfaff, both are listed in an old class catalogue for the Salmagundi Club, an art school of poor repute where it is said “students” do more leering at the models than sketching them. It is indeed an odd thing that Pfaff would rise from the depravity of the Salmagundi to become an artist in residence at NYU.
Lecroix’s Bowery neighborhood is a rough place. The building where he maintains his studio is largely abandoned and looks to have been in the midst of renovations when the market collapsed. Deciding the take a subtle approach rather than overwhelming Lecroix, Clayton and Lilliane play the part of art buffs seeking a commission. The pair knock on the third floor address noted on a barley legible sign below while Nikolas and Dr. Chilton wait just down the stairs. A nervous little man in a stained smock invites Clayton and Lilliane inside and offers them some tea. The two attempt a short conversation with Lecroix before mentioning Tobias Pfaff, a reference that causes Lecroix’s tone to change considerably. The small man is all too eager to declare Pfaff a hack and betrayer, someone who used politics to garner his position at NYU. Not only that, but he’s certainly a killer and that’s why he sent Lilliane the letter at the Ledonia!
The researcher/dilettante suddenly realizes she’s seen this man before. He was shelving books at the library while she was studying “Cultes des Goules”. Lecroix says that he didn’t know her name, but he followed her to her hotel because of the books she was reading, because she would understand. Lecroix explains that a man named Brian Whateley asked him to produce a commission based on a text, but when he didn’t like the result he withdrew his offer and gave the commission to Pfaff. However, Lecroix couldn’t let the matter go, what he’d learned had changed him. With a flourish, he reveals his work, which sits beneath a paint-stained tarp in the studio space where the three are having their rapidly degenerating discussion. It is a monstrous thing: a four-foot-tall wooden pillar decorated with the empty, stretched faces of men and women. Clayton repulsed by the obvious wood and leather construction, but Lilliane sees the awful truth: the faces, with their hollow eyes and mouths, are not designs carved from cow hide but actual human faces! It is then that, just out of Clayton’s earshot, Lilliane begins to hear something thumping against the door of Lecroix’s washroom.
Lilliane, not wanting to face what she’s hearing, alerts Clayton to the noise. The P.I. investigates while Lecroix backs off toward the kitchen. On the other side of the washroom door is a hideous site: a ragged, delirious, and emaciated woman with her face wrapped in filthy bandages. Wild eyes that cannot close stare from between the wrappings and rasping breath heaves from within a formless nasal pit. Clayton turns on Lecroix, who stands holding a syringe and a butcher knife. The little man smiles hideously and remarks that it is important for those who sacrifice to live long enough to see their place in his creation. Moreover, if Clayton and Lilliane will not assist him in bringing down Pfaff, he’ll be satisfied with making them part of his work as well.
Lilliane tries to run, but Lecroix grabs her in drives the syringe into her arm, while Clayton tries desperately to shoot the maniac without hitting his companion. From the stairwell, Nikolas and Dr. Chilton hear Lilliane shout before her voice fades and then witness bullets ripping through the cracked wooden door. The two enter just in time to see Clayton shoot Lecroix in the leg, causing him to drop Lilliane. The P.I. then falls upon the artist, pummeling him into unconsciousness. Chilton determines that Lilliane was dosed with morphine and will likely regain consciousness soon. In one of the studio’s side rooms there is a cobbled-together surgery kit and table as well as some dog-eared and blood-spattered medical texts. Knowing this, Dr. Chilton and Nikolas cannot but see the hideous creation in the main room as art made from human flesh. Dr. Chilton, in an effort to pull himself together, begins to emulate the speech and actions of the one man in the room who is calm even as reality unravels around him: Clayton Brady.