Five Men and a Moron, chapter 2
by, 11th May 2005 at 03:15 PM (375 Views)
My players: Please do NOT read this journal. Read the version over at EN World--it has the secret stuff hidden so you don't accidentally read it. Thanks!
Five Men and a Moron, Chapter 2
Keeper's Note: This title is not an aspersion on any one player. Each had moments where they earned the title "moron" during this adventure. Basically, I believe they all role-played beginning investigators very well. Bravo, team! We are having a contest among the players to come up with a better name, but they all seem to like this title for now.
WARNING: This story hour contains spoilers for "The Haunting" (a.k.a. "The Haunted House") scenario contained in the main Call of Cthulhu BRP rule book.
Wesely suggests the group go to City Hall to track the property transactions and trace its ownership. He also thinks they should check out the landlord's history. Joseph suggests they find out what happened to other tenants (besides the last occupants), and concurs that they should talk to the landlord more extensively.
At City Hall, the group discovers that a James Culver sold the house to Sam Brody less than two years ago. They find no death records for Brody, Culver, or Walter Corbitt. I don't know why they wanted to search for Death Records for the current landlord!
They decide to head to the "Chapel of Contemplation." Everyone begins to feel an irritating tingle in their foreheads and Wesely snaps a photo of a strange symbol which appears to be freshly painted on the ruins. No one recognizes the symbol.
Poking around the ruins, three men fall into a former basement as the grounds gives way. Joseph and Willhelm lie crumpled on the ground. Aidan is also injured, but remains conscious.
In the room, they also see two skeletons wearing robes.
Wesely descends carefully into the hole, providing First Aid to Professor Ostmueller and bringing him to consciousness. He, unfortunately, is not successful at rousing Joseph. Aidan tends to Joseph's wounds, but his ministrations are not enough to wake the salesman.
They find some moldering church records, including a well-hidden journal of cult activities. The journal mentions that Walter Corbitt was buried in his basement, according to his wishes as well as the wishes of "The One That Waits in the Dark." Chained to a rotting desk, is a large volume. With horror, they realize that the book is bound in human skin! It appears to be hand-written in Latin and much of the book is riddled with worm holes. It is apparently called the Liber Ivonis. The group tries to pick the lock holding the chain in place, to no avail. So, they smash the desk until they can work the chain free and take the book. They find nothing else of interest and leave the area, but first Jimmy provides some First Aid to Aidan.
Remembering something the clerk at the Hall of Records had mentioned, Wesely says that they should check out any legal records that may exist at the police station.
They head to the hospital, so Joseph can get proper medical attention, and then the remaining investigators go to see Sam Brody. He tells them that he owns no other rental properties and he's hoping they can "clean out" his house so he can rent it. Telling him that they believe someone is buried in the basement, Mr. Brody is shocked and asks if they can exhume the body and bury it somewhere else. Wesely says that they can do that—they just need a shovel. Mr. Brody is very excited by this turn of events. When asked what he knows of the "Chapel of Contemplation," Mr. Brody responds that he has never heard of it. Returning to the subject of the house, Mr. Brody answers the rest of their questions—no, he has not made any improvements to the house; the Macario children went to live with relatives. Satisfied that he is telling the truth, the group leaves.
Jimmy suggests they return to the basement to move the body, but Wesely would like to check out some more legal records first. Fast-talking his way into the police records room, Wesely learns a lot about the Chapel. It was raided due to complaints that the "church" was involved in the disappearance of several neighborhood children. Three police officers and seventeen cultists died. Additionally, 54 cultists were arrested, yet all but eight were released. The lack of public knowledge about the raid suggests that someone important intervened to cover-up the raid and its aftermath.
Jimmy suggests that Michael Thomas, the pastor of the church who escaped from prison three years ago, may be living in the house. Wesely scoffs at the idea, saying that would not explain the floating dagger. Jimmy hypothesizes that perhaps Thomas is using foul magicks to animate the dagger.
In the hospital, Joseph Baldwin relates the exploits of the group to Robert Brooks. When pressed about his interest in the house, Robert offers no new information. The conversation denigrates into petty bickering, which accomplishes nothing. Robert apologizes, blaming his behavior on his wounds. It has been several hours since their companions left the hospital, and Robert and Joseph begin to worry. They decide to check themselves out, against doctor's orders, and track down their friends.
Wesely develops the pictures he has been taking with Jimmy's camera. Jimmy takes a picture of the symbol from the ruined chapel to his psychic acquaintance, who declares that it is a symbol of great evil. She will say no more about the symbol.
Jimmy, determined to return to the house, acquires some gear which may be appropriate to transporting a body to a new grave. Returning to the house, they decide to tie a rope around someone who will then enter the basement. Aidan volunteers for the job. As he descends into the basement, Wesley asks if his camera is down there. Aidan nearly steps on the camera, but fortune smiles on him and his foot merely brushes the delicate instrument. He returns the camera to Wesely and then returns to the basement.
Aidan checks out the empty storage room, probably used for coal in previous times. Nothing of interest is there, so he moves toward the back wall. He clears a path, tossing junk out of the way noisily. He also notices a faint smell. With some room cleared, Aidan retrieves the pick and begins swinging at the wall. After he's knocked down a few boards, he notices a crawlspace behind the wall. Aidan doesn't have time to react, as a swarm of rats pours out of the hole and attacks him.
Retreating carefully up the stair to avoid falling, the rats continue to gnaw at Aidan. "Get these rats off me!" he cries out, beseeching his friends for help. Some of the rats have retreated back into the hole, but there are still several swarming over the young man. As he finishes his slow trek up the stairs, the remaining rats desert the young man for the safety of their crawl space. Aidan refuses to go back down until the rats are dealt with.
Debating several ideas, the investigators decide to try smoking out the rats to they can investigate the crawl space. They light a broom, producing a nice smoke which will probably do the trick. Wesely, brandishing the broom in front of him, approaches the wall. Looking through the hole, he notices that the phrase "Chapel of Contemplation" is scratched into the inside wall. Willhelm clears more junk, allowing him to approach the wall. Taking the pick Aidan dropped, Willhelm starts enlarging the hole. The rats, held at bay by the smoke, now overcome their reluctance and swarm out of the hole once again. Jimmy rushes up to help attack the rats. As the investigators kill rats, the rest of the rodents scurry away under the junk piles in the basement.
Jimmy and Wesely enter the crawl space, as Willhelm watches for rats.
Jimmy digs in the earthen floor, looking for a shallow grave. Finding nothing, he decides to try breaking through the back wall, which is also wooden. Wesely calls up to Aidan that the rats are dispersed, and the young man carefully makes his way down the stairs and toward the crawl space.
Finding a secret room, Jimmy enters it, intrigued by the body he sees lying on a pallet. Wesley and Willhelm follow him into the room. As Aidan enters the secret chamber, they all recoil in horror as the body begins to move, rising up menacingly.
The only person with a gun ready is Aidan, who shoots at the foul beast, but misses. Jimmy draws his gun and shoots as well. He, too, misses. Wesely picks up the pick and waits to attack the corpse when it gets closer. Professor Ostmueller draws his Luger and hits the beast with a shot. The bullet seems to just chip off part of his body rather than actually damage it. Enraged, the creature attacks Aidan, raking him with a disgusting claw. The young man crumples to the ground.
Jimmy shoots again, hitting the monster. Willhelm also hits the beast. Both hits seems to do minimal damage to the undead monstrosity. Wesely misses with the pick, and then Jimmy misses with his gun. The good professor shoots again, but also misses. The corpse of Corbitt hits Jimmy with both claws, sending him to the ground unconscious.
Professor Ostmueller misses with his gun on the first shot, but his the second time. The beast is injured, but still up. He attacks Wesley with a claw, sending the journalist to the ground unconscious. Thus concludes the worst set of Shock rolls in the group's brief history—Corbitt has managed to take down three people in just three rounds, even though no one dropped low enough to die outright..
The professor shoots again, doing more damage but still not enough to fell the beast. And with his next shot, his gun jams. 100! Fortunately for him, the corpse stumbles over Wesely's body and misses the professor.
Their macabre dance continues. Willhelm scoops up Aidan's gun and fires a shot. It's another hit and the beast is barely standing—but it still stands. Once again, the beast misses the Professor. Willhelm shoots again and misses, but the corpse also misses him with its claw attack! Just as the professor thinks luck is with him, his next shots fail to hit Corbitt and the beast attacks again. It hits and downs the German professor.
As Corbitt bends down to feast on the professor, Joseph and Robert sneak down the stairs.
As Robert, in a panic, calls out the names of his fallen companions, Joseph keeps his senses and shoots at the undead fiend. His aim is true, and with a single bullet to the thorax Corbitt is no more. Joseph and Robert tend to t heir wounded friends, and then fetch Robert's chauffeur George to help move them to the car for transport to the hospital. A cursory inspection of the room reveals only some papers on the table and a necklace on the corpse of William Corbitt. As Joseph touches the papers, they crumble to dust. Robert has noticed that the papers had common Astronomy symbols on them, but that is all he glimpsed before the papers were ruined. Robert takes the necklace, and feels a warm presence enter his body as it, too, crumbles to dust.
After much discussion, Robert and Joseph decide to put Corbitt's body in a box. Robert's chauffeur, George, lashes the box to the top of Mr. Brooks' car. They then pile their unconscious friends into the Packard and head to the hospital. After dropping off the injured investigators, they return to the house for the body of Willhelm Ostmueller. Robert then contacts an undertaker acquaintance he knows from his Bureau work. For a small sum, the man agrees to cremate both bodies, no questions asked. Robert empties Willhelm's pockets and they bid farewell to the professor. Their sad task finished, they head home for rest.
The next day, Robert and Joseph meet Dan Walker. They report their findings and declare the house safe for human habitation. Dan arranges to meet them later and give them the promised payment. Since it took so long—eleven days—the pay is $340. The landlord is happy to pay it, now that he will be able to rent out his property.
The college is notified of Willhelm's death and Wesely publishes a brief obituary in one of the local papers.
At the hospital, the three injured investigators do not recover quickly. The talons of their undead attacker have, apparently, infected them with a foul disease! Fortunately, all three of them seem to survive the disease, which eventually fades away. During their convalescence, they happen to mention to the hospital staff that they would like to find someone who can read Latin. Later, Dr. Al-Akbar strides into their room to check on his patients. He tells them that he knows Latin, as he has heard the were asking around for such a person. Jimmy tells him that they have a book written in Latin, which they would like translated. He asks the doctor how long that would take. Dr. Al-Akbar replies that it will depend on how long the book is, as well as how well he remembers his Latin.
In the meantime, Robert Brooks has received a letter. It is postmarked "Rowley, Mass.," a town where Robert knows no one. It bears no return address.
This was not the end of the session, but pretty much wrapped up "The Haunting" for this group. I'll post the adventure to Rowley later.