The Elias Expedition

1- The Edge of Darkness

Thurs June 8, 1922

Each character received a telegram from Meriwether (see PC pages for exact relationship to him), except for Barry, who received a call. The message was to meet Meriwether at 1pm in his hospital room. After morning routines (of note was Nathaniel’s library research), the group has an interesting encounter with each other in the lobby, as Bonnie demands to see Meriwether to the confused Jane, while Nathaniel and Handsome overhear and join in. Barry quietly observes, and goes past them, already knowing the location of the room. Jane after some discussion, leads the group to Meriwether’s room.

After exchanging pleasantries with Meriwether’s wife Agnes and son Bertrand, he asks for time alone with the group. He tells them of his youthful research into the unknown with a group of college friends, led by a Marion Allen. The students, jokingly calling themselves The Dark Brotherhood, purchased a farmhouse in Ross’s Corners (a terrible name for a town) to conduct private research. They attempted summoning and prayers to many deities. They eventually succeeded in summoning something, which resulted in the death of one student and the insanity of another. They fled the house, but Meriwether knows the thing is still there, as it was bound to the house as long as the men who summoned it live. Meriwether is the last of these men, and he knows he is dying. He hands Handsome a key, saying that it will lead them to their reward for fulfilling his last wish. He then asks for someone to take a metal box from his bedside. As Jane complies, Meriwether coughs up blood onto her and falls into a coma.

The group is ushered out of the room and opens the box, finding the deed to the farmhouse, a key, a gold sarcophagus-shaped box with hieroglyphics on it, and Meriwether’s journal. After toweling off, they discuss what to do. They agree to split up for the afternoon to conduct research into this case and meet back at Jane’s speakeasy, as the next train to Arkham leaves the following morning.

Barry breaks into Meriwether’s Greenwich Village Apt and finds a Miskatonic U annual with a picture of the Dark Brotherhood members together. Barry also consults one of his guys in Arkham by phone, who digs up an article about Miskatonic U students involved in a carriage accident, naming members of the Dark Brotherhood in the picture.

Nathaniel and Bonnie research the sarcophagus in the NYU library. They encounter a friendly journalist, Jackson Elias, who aids them in their library search and gives them a great deal of information. He exchanges contact information with Nathaniel, hoping to hear from him about the outcome of the box and promising to send any jobs that are not his type Nathaniel’s way. He also strikes up a conversation with Bonnie in her native Slavic tongue, explaining that he researches cults and their tactics of brainwash and control, and finds ways to debunk the superstitions surrounding them. While highly superstitious and guarded, Bonnie approves of his sentiments. Elias gives her a copy of one of his books about his time spent in Eastern Europe, but as it is in English, she tosses it to Nathaniel saying “This is of no use to me.”

Jane researches Meriwether’s illness in the hospital library. She doesn’t find much, apart from it being regular mundane cancer (which she already knew from her medicine skill). She checks on Meriwether later, only to find that he had died a mere hour after she left.

Handsome spends the afternoon reading Meriwether’s journal, which recounts the whole Dark Brotherhood saga, and provides insight on how the creature was summoned and how it might be banished. Also of note is an article describing the apparent murder of Marion Allen in New Orleans (unusual as his tongue was removed, and pursuers were apparently after the gold box). Handsome removes the final page, including the article, the obituaries, and a final, recent entry from Meriwether, as he deems it too private for the others.

The party meets back at Jane’s speakeasy, and discusses their findings and plans to leave the next morning for Arkham. The party agrees that all will go, and everyone splits up for the night.

Friday June 9th 1922

The party meets at the station. Handsome attempts to get free tickets for the party, but fails. He does successfully convince his boss to give him a few days off work. Incredibly hung over, Bonnie barely makes the train and is far too sick to attempt to jump it, and must pay for passage. Barry, unlike the others, bribes the conductor with a wad of cash, instead of buying a ticket.

The party spends a day and night on the train, with Barry, Nathaniel, and Jane all reading Meriwether’s journal.

Saturday June 10th, 1922

Upon arrival in Arkham, the gang splits up to conduct research while waiting for a bus for Ross’s Corners, with tickets paid for by Bonnie.

Barry, Nathaniel, and Handsome go to Miskatonic U library. Barry looks for a book mentioned in the diary, De Vermis Mysteriiis, and determines it is kept in a restricted section under lock, and he must gain approval of Dr. Henry Armitage to read it. Handsome checks alumni records, but doesn’t find much; Marion Allen never finished school, while the other students all moved to different areas. Nathaniel, Barry, and Handsome consult the lady at the front desk about Dr. Armitage, and learn that he is in his office upstairs. They find his door and knock. There is no answer, though Barry hears someone inside. Handsome opens the door and barges in, asking for Armitage’s help. Armitage is not pleased to see them, and demands that Barry get out, as he does not like his look. With Handsome’s miraculous persuasion (a roll of 01, you just got Handsomed!), Armitage allows Nathaniel to read and translate relevant parts of De Vermis Mysteriis, though under his supervision in his office. The group agrees this is satisfactory and spend their afternoon there, receiving valuable information on the summoning and banishment rituals, and exactly the kind of spirit they are dealing with.

Bonnie and Jane consult the Arkham hall of records, and befriend the very talented librarian there. The librarian (with a 03) finds exactly the records the girls needed very quickly. They learn that the insane Dark Brotherhood member was committed to an asylum, but died 6 months later, effectively a dead end. They also learn that the tax records for the other members all end, showing that each member moved elsewhere.

With their afternoon spent, the party takes an uneventful bus ride to Ross’s Corners. Upon arrival, Handsome investigates the General Store and befriends (or ‘Handsomes’) the matriarch Ma Peters. In multiple trips in and out, he buys shotgun shells, flashlights, a gallon of gasoline, and learns some information about the town. Apparently one of the farmers’ wives is missing from milking cows the previous night, and the townsfolk are now a bit untrusting of strangers. The farmer’s house was next door (the plot the next mile over) from Meriwether’s house (the creepy house the kids stay away from). Handsome manages to get Ma Peters’ nephew Jimmy (who also calls her ‘Ma’) to give the party a lift to the next door farmer’s house, as they hope to question him about the wife’s disappearance. Upon arrival, the house appears dark and vacant. Bonnie attempts to lock pick the door but jams the lock. Handsome manages to fix the jam, while Jane tries to pick it again, succeeding just as Barry prepares to break it down. With the door open, the investigators realize no one his home, and find a letter explaining the current whereabouts of the farmer (he is having dinner with the sheriff, Pa Peters, to discuss the case and if they should declare his wife dead). With their ride Jimmy already gone, the group walks the mile over to Meriwether’s farm house.

At the farm house, Handsome patrols the perimeter of the house, peeking in windows and getting a general idea of the layout. He notes to the others that the house is covered in protective wards, carved by Marion Allen. Barry notices a dead raccoon in the bushes. He flips it over and notices a large gash in its chest. He keeps this to himself. Jade unlocks the front door with the key from the box, and it opens. The front room is unimportant with nothing of interest besides some rotting furniture and water damage. Bonnie and Barry hear some kind of movement under the house, in what could be a cellar.

In the next room, the dust is kicked up, there are footprints, and evidence of someone squatting there: pork n’ beans, embers of a recent fire, can opener, blanket, and the back door slightly ajar, the lock broken. More movement is heard in the basement. Barry and Bonnie decide to check it out, proceeding down the nearby stairs while Handsome, Jane, and Nathaniel study a sheaf of papers and cigar box found on a high shelf.

The papers on the shelf match Nathaniel’s translated documents. The cigar box contains a silvery talc-like powder, which the investigators conclude could be the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi, as described in the journal and translated notes. There is also a brownish powder that is determined by the journal to be a mixture of sulfur and copper, everything needed for the ritual.

Bonnie going first, she spots a surprise attack from someone swinging a broken table leg in the crowded basement. The attacker attempts to flee, but gets punched by Barry. Bonnie then grapples him onto the floor, and attempts to punch him out, but fails. The attacker, now clearly a hobo, gets free and tries to run up the stairs. Handsome, hearing the commotion, heads down the stairs with his shotgun. The hobo freezes, and babbles incoherently about things in the house and how he needs to get out. Handsome calls Jane to calm him down, which she does successfully.

With the shotgun, Handsome and Barry intimidate (Handsomed?) the hobo, who calls himself Red Jake, to investigate the trap door in the ceiling, in exchange for his freedom. Red Jake agrees, and is hoisted up by Barry. Red Jake screams as something grabs him and a guttural sound comes from the attic above. Barry lets go, but Jake is suspended in the air momentarily, then his corpse thrown violently to the floor, with huge gaping holes on either side of his head. Everyone is shocked. Barry notices an unusual and direct gust of wind outside, probably the creature going out to hunt.

The group prepares for the two hour banishment ritual, and Jane tries to calm everyone down. Nathaniel, Jane, and Handsome will chant while Bonnie and Barry act as watchers. The first twenty minutes are relatively easy, until the creature returns to the attic with a thud. It begins making unsettling monstrous noises and curses in strange and vulgar tongues, and shakes the house to its foundation. Shelves fall and walls vibrate. Acidic ooze then drips from the ceiling, with everyone luckily missing it except Nathaniel, who takes a large amount on his face, leaving burns. Luckily, the effects were not bad enough to scar him.

A feminine cry of help is heard by Barry from outside the house. He looks out the window to see a wounded woman crawling through the grass toward the house. While his first instinct is to help the woman, he remembers something Nathaniel said in his translation of De Vermis Mysteriis, that the spirit will use any kind of trickery to interrupt the ritual. He ignores the cries. Bonnie, in the other corner, is then attacked by the reanimated corpse of Red Jake, who misses. Bonnie shoots him dead with a single shot from her pistol (wow, great damage roll). By this time Handsome is becoming unfocused and needs a break, while Barry is preparing to fight the woman, who is stuck screaming and cursing at the open door and unable to enter due to the protective wards. Handsome fires a single shotgun burst and puts her down, while Bonnie takes over his chanting.

The creature manifests itself in the center of Nathaniel’s carefully drawn pentagram, just barely visible. Nathaniel begins to freak out and starts walking forward to embrace it. Barry reaches him just in time and pulls him away from the twisting mass with a thousand maws. The party completes the ritual and the creatures is banished with a flash of light. In the center of the pentagram is a small sphere of what appears to be raw energy. Nathaniel decides to put this in the sarcophagus, but as he picks it up, it is absorbed into his body, and he feels more powerful (POW increase by 1!).

Sunday June 11/Monday June 12, 1922

The group decides that burning the house down, as originally planned, is not a good idea, as arson is a crime. They bury the bodies in the basement, and make the long return the New York. At the train station, Handsome attempts to persuade the party to come back later for the money, but they are adamant about being paid right now. He agrees, and they follow him to a train station locker, which he unlocks with Meriwether’s key. Inside the locker is $500 for each person. The party splits.

The group continues to meet up every so often to discuss the strange events they witnessed, and for free counseling by Jane. Nothing like a little group therapy. Nathaniel also strikes up a friendship with Jackson Elias, who sends him a new book from time to time. Elias will be in touch soon with a job that is Nathaniel’s kind of thing.

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