The Situation Escalates

SESSION 3, part 2

(A brief note on the demographics of our gaming group.  At the time we began this scenario, none of the players had ever before played in a Cthulhu RPG and I had never run one.  Two of the players are relatively new to RPGs in general, having only begun playing within the past year.  Keep this in mind as you read the session log.  I completely understand if, at several junctures, you find yourself facepalming.)

The four investigators–Lokar, Barnes, McManor and Malone–parked their cars in front of the quiet manor.  Claudette was inside tending to the ravaged Marianne Silvers and Samuel retreated to his cottage.  Dodger, Sam’s pit-bull, sprinted off to explore the nearby woods and was nowhere to be seen.

Ike Takes Names

McManor approached the cottage and paused to listen at the door.  He immediately detected two distinct voices speaking within, those of Sam and an unknown female.  Ike rapped loudly on the door, identified himself as a police officer and demanded to be let inside.  Sam opened the door after a moment and stepped outside to face the detective, closing the front door behind him.  He could not, however, conceal the sound of a second door opening and closing.  McManor placed Sam under arrest for suspicion in the kidnapping and assault of Marianne Silvers, ordering the groundskeeper to his knees and cuffing his hands behind his back.

Ike Kicks Ass

Meanwhile, the other investigators ran around to the back of the cottage where they spotted a young woman attempting to flee out the rear door.  She appeared to be in her twenties, with long, dark, unkempt hair and an olive complexion.  Her peasant dress was colorful but mud-spattered, and she was adorned with many pieces of clattering jewelry.  Spotting Lokar, Barnes and Malone, the girl paused long enough to utter a curse in Italian, make a rude hand gesture, then sprint for the woods a hundred yards distant.  Malone, wielding a crowbar that no one had seen until now, ran in pursuit.  The ex-soldier was gaining ground on the woman when she suddenly pivoted to face him, drawing forth a wickedly serrated dagger from the folds of her clothing.  Malone lunged wildly with the crowbar as the woman brought the blade in a wide arc to slash him deeply across the thigh.  A gusher of blood spurted from the gaping wound and Malone crumpled to the ground in excruciating agony.  Jenny Barnes drew her battle-tested Derringer but a single shot went wide.  Dr. Lokar, again demonstrating his fondness for improvised weapons, took off one shoe and hurled it at the girl.  All the while, Samuel was yelling from the front of the cottage in alarm and confusion.  The issue was finally settled when Det. McManor ran to the side of the building and got off a medium-range shot with his service revolver.  A .38-bullet slammed home into the woman’s belly and she, too, crumpled to the ground in pain. Lokar quickly retrieved both his shoe and the girl’s dagger, its blade inscribed with runes and enchanted to strike true and hard.

Hearing the gunfire and commotion, Claudette came running out of the manor and added her high-pitched screams to the din.  Seeing two figures bleeding on the green lawn, she ran to Malone and miraculously stopped the loss of blood with some gauze she had stuffed into her apron while treating Marianne.  If she survived this day, Claudette was finally going to ask Dr. Drake–senile or not–for that pay raise.

Ike Takes Yet More Names

The detective fetched another set of cuffs from the car, handcuffed the girl and dragged her in a decidedly unfriendly manner into the foyer of the mansion.  Malone was also carried into the foyer and placed on a spare mattress, so that he wouldn’t bleed all over the fine furnishings.  Regaining consciousness, he gazed up into the concerned face of the very attractive Claudette and asked with a sigh, “Is this heaven?” (benny awarded, lol) Lokar and Jenny searched Sam’s cottage for some clue that would clarify the situation.  Among the big Norwegian’s personal belongings they found letters from a female paramour written in the same script as those found earlier in Jonny Drake’s bedroom, and bearing the same initials:  “D.D.”  Lokar’s keen nose also faintly detected a similar scent as those sent to Jonny.  Whoever D.D. was, she was playing a double game and pledging her love to two men at once.   The letters to Jonny went back six months or more, those to Sam only three months.  Samuel, overhearing the discussion of this evidence and knowing in his heart that it was true, bowed his head and wept.  He would subsequently be much more cooperative with the investigation.

McManor directed Claudette to boil more water and bring more clean linens, then call for an ambulance.  He himself then called Arkham P.D. for backup.  No one could predict when help from town would finally arrive, so he began to question Sam and the girl.  Eventually, a story began to take shape.  Sam was an open book now and told McManor everything he knew about the girl, who said her name was Diamante.  She never told him her last name and, lovestruck, he had never asked.  Sam had heard of the girl and her relationship with Drake, and finally met her while in Arkham to buy hardware and supplies.  Diamante worked selling flowers at a street corner newsstand near the police station and said she had emigrated from Italy.  Then it struck McManor that he had probably passed her in the street dozens of times without a second glance.  Sam fell in love and Diamante promised it was over with Jonny, and Sam chose to believe her.  Jonny could never stay with the same girl for very long, everyone knew that.  Sam drove into town on the same day every week and always spent time with Diamante.  Their trysts were romantic yet always platonic but she promised Sam that they would run away together when they had enough money to leave Drake Manor far behind.  Little did the naive Norseman know that Diamante had made the same promises to Jonny.  Finally, the morning after Jonny was murdered, Diamante had showed up bedraggled and confused at the door of Sam’s cottage.  She refused to answer Sam’s many questions but instead begged him to shelter her there for a while.

It didn’t completely add up.  Jonny was insanely wealthy and could run off whenever he pleased.  Perhaps he didn’t really love Diamante, or perhaps she was after something else entirely, taking up with two men who shared one inescapable connection–Drake Manor.  On top of it all, Sam admitted that he found it strange that Diamante appeared right around the time a band of gypsies took up residence in the woods south of the manor.  These transients were known to move from town to town, avoiding both the law and angry locals.  Sam and Dodger had so far succeeded in keeping potential troublemakers far from the house.  McManor was far from satisfied.

Predictably, Ike Kicks Yet More Ass

Now Ike turned his questions on Diamante.  It didn’t go as he had expected or hoped.  Evasive at first and supplying absurd rationales for her actions, she suddenly turned deadly serious and glared at the detective with dark, piercing eyes.  Muttering something under her breath that McManor couldn’t quite understand (but that Lokar was certain contained the word “Azathoth”), it felt as though a hand had gripped his innards and twisted them as a series of chills shot up his spine.  Fear gripped the hardened cop and his body began to tremble uncontrollably.   He only regained his senses with a considerable effort but, when he did, he grabbed Diamante’s right hand in a rage and put a bullet straight through it.  Echoes of the shot reverberated in the open foyer and Diamante fell unconscious from the pain.  Marianne made a sign of the cross, then wobbled to the kitchen to brew herself a pot of chamomile tea.  Forget the raise, she muttered to no one in particular, I’m going back to vaudeville.

Lokar and Barnes pulled McManor away from the freshly bleeding Diamante to prevent him from doing further damage.  They suggested he go up into the observatory tower to attempt to question Dr. Drake.  Meanwhile. at Lokar’s prompting, Jenny was convinced to accompany him to the family graveyard that had so obsessively captured the professor’s attention.  First, however, he chanced taunting Diamante by telling her about the trunk they had retrieved from the attic.  Her dark eyes lit up when it was mentioned but she quickly changed her tune and feigned indifference.  Lokar was sure she was lying.

Ike Gets Bugged

McManor mounted the spiral staircase to the observatory and heard the strange buzzing that Lokar had described.  The detective concluded that the cause must be–insects.  When Claudette reappeared with her tea cup, Ike immediately ordered her to ring up the exterminator.  She protested that it was a Sunday but he insisted.  On her way to the telephone she lingered for a long while at the bar.

The Empty Sarcophagus

Lokar drove Jenny down the drive to the ancient Drake family burial plot.  A large, stone mausoleum stood at the center of the plot, surrounded by many and varied smaller headstones.  One could walk directly into the mausoleum to be confronted by the marble slabs fronting each compartment, the occupants identified by bronze plaques.  Here were interred the Drake patriarchs and matriarchs going back to the early days of Massachusetts.   A rather large sarcophagus soon attracted their attention, as the lid had been pushed aside.  Jenny peered into the open sarcophagus and saw that it had no bottom, instead descending straight down into a dark pit.  She dropped a stone to gauge the depth and soon heard several clicks as it bounced off stone surfaces below.  The two debated on whether to investigate further but thought better of it and returned to the manor.  It could wait.

I Brought The Law, And The Law Won

Late afternoon approached, and the front drive of Drake Manor turned into a parking lot.  First, the Arkham P.D. paddy wagon appeared.  A genial old man in an old-fashioned suit of European cut hopped out the back and thanked the policemen for the ride.  A penny-farthing bicycle was strapped to the roof of the paddy wagon.  The man introduced himself as Dr. Klaiber and set to work tending the wounded amidst an appalling puddle of blood in the foyer.  Claudette had almost forgotten about poor Marianne in the confusion and also directed the doctor to her quarters.  An ambulance from St. Mary’s in Arkham appeared shortly thereafter and, with the help of Dr. Klaiber, loaded Malone and Marianne into the back.  The policeman took custody of Diamante and gently placed her into the back of the paddy wagon, where one of the cops stood guard.  Sgt. “Hound” Bassett and Patrolman Jones began to move everyone out of the foyer where they began to take statements.  Drake Manor was now an official crime scene.

Basset and Jones politely persuaded Dr. Drake to come downstairs and offered him a ride in a real police vehicle.  The APD needed to take some sort of statement from the deluded old fool; besides, they had to give him the unpleasant task of positively identifying his son’s body.  Dr. Drake finally agreed to go with them, as long as they let him ride in the front seat.

Finally, the exterminator arrived in his van, wearing white coveralls and armed with a pump sprayer.  He gave Drake Manor a clean bill of insectoid health.  All that buzzing was just the gosh darned HAM radio in the tower, he muttered.  It was quite odd, he thought, that the only insects in the entire place were in the form of strange doodles made by Dr. Drake, scattered amongst his notes concerning the perturbations of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune…

The investigators watched the procession of vehicles drive off and pondered their next move.  What about those European vagrants in the woods?

(Thus ends Session 3, mercifully.  I immediately drove home and took two ibuprofen.   Next session will be on a day TBD.)

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