Train ride uneventful. Cassandra is with us. Will meets us. We bring Old California with us.
Outlaws meet us at Hollywoodland.
We see City of Lost Angels, and the maze. Much of city sank during great quake. Looks much like monument valley but water instead of desert. And a maze of rocktops where chinese pirates hide.
Messenger waits for us also. Names “Dr. Atwater, Mr. Westinghouse, and you are?” (to Will).
Westinghouse “May we help you lad?”
“Yes, please come with me> Im from Mr. Wynwood I am to take you directly to his home.”
West “I didn’t realize anyone knew we were coming.”
“He received a wire from a Mr. Brown saying that you were coming to help him with the mystery of his movie.”
He tells us to watch out for those ruffians about (outlaws. We say they are with us. The steam car can only ride 4 or 5.
Jake “We’ve got our own horses.”
Messenger “Of course you do.”
Westinghouse asks Jake to join him in the car, who insists on Billy as well in the rumble seat, so that he can bring the gang up to speed on the details of why we’re here.
House is large spanish style mansion. Butler looks a little like lurch.
Director did go crazy and kill self, main actor is the gibbering fool.
We are left to wait in great library. Westinghouse and Will peruse them. He does have a section on the occult. Half is significant works, other half pure trash. Madame Blovestky’s Worlds in Collision (basis of much of Theosophy); Frazier’s The Golden Bow; Heronious Bosh’s the Adamites Revealed (its a fake); a couple Jackson Elias books.
Mad Dog sits in a corner talking to Jack.
“Oh, I didn’t know there was so much company here.”
West “Mr. Brown didn;t warn you about the assistants we’ve called upon.”
Says its just a spirit. Papers said Von Varnstein died in hunting accident, but he really comited suicide. Thougth unseen entities plagued his set. So he became obsessed with creating a lens to see them, which he did. A weird clunky thing. He sat one night with a gun, but was found shot in the head by his own hand.
Will “Do you have the lens?” Its at his office.
He has 6 guest bedrooms to divide as you wish.
Cassandra and Will
Billy and Jesse
Westinghouse and Jake hang out in the library late talking about exploits of late and crash there. As does Ron. Share info on New Mexico Yig natives especially.
Wake to 3 course breakfast: fruit and puddings (some of them pour it from spoons staring like its gross); thick steaks with fried eggs; slab bacon and coffee.
Then, off to studio office of director, in limo: 2 open front seats; main part like a coach with 2 large wide seats facing each other and cabinet of liquor in between. Seats 6 well. All 3 investigators inside with Wynwood and Jake and Billy. Dog rides shotgun next to chauffeur.
Pass guarded gate.
See Romans soldiers marching.
A man tries to usher the riders to him “Quick, come on, we’ve been waiting for you.”
Ron “This is our chance to be in the movies.” Beverlys follow, as does Anne, Luke, and Jesse. So all the riders follow the guy into an open field with about 200 guys in civil war uniforms, cameras running. Down further it turns into a dusty western street.
Director yelling “NO, no, no! You’re supposed to look like outlaws!” They are whisked to wardrobe and given fancy double breast clothes with big eagle emblems and such, huge hats, bandanas over faces.
Luke “This is awesome.”
Nick “I look fucking ridiculous.”
“No female outlaws! Get her dressed as a school marm”, they do.
First spend half an hour getting different shots of us riding in and dismounting, then casing bank. Then robbery.
“Say ‘nobody move, this is a holdup’.”
Ron does from couple directions. Getting frustrated at multiple takes.
Hoot Gibson is the star, who walks past Anne for a scene and Anne has to swoon at his “morning ma’am”.
It continues to the gang’s death scene.
With a guide, we get a quick tour of studio. One movie on Mars (which if we knew different looks nothing like Mars or Martians); several acre built lake with Roman age warships. Filming Actium for “Antony and Cleopatra”.
Some weird limping guy walks up behind Westinghouse, suddenly whips out a foil from his dirty clothes “You’re trying to hurt my friends! They told me so!”
West “I’m not here to hurt you or any of your friends.”
“Yes you are. You come to me in the night and whisper in my ear.”
Guide “Mr. Raven, no, he’s not trying to hurt your friends.”
“He’s not? Then who? My friends are all dead. The evil ones came and killed them all.”
That was James Raven, the actor who starred in Prince of Babylon.
We’ll need to talk to him and get as much as we can from him.
Studio heads is a great, down to earth man. Hangs a lot with stunt men and the like that’s why Raven is allowed to live for free on studio grounds.
Will, Will and Westinghouse look the paperwork for movie over. Find the order for the expensive camera. Discover the film was expensive but shrewdly financed wisely.
Rest of gang arrives.
Will Beverly finds loose papers in the desk in German, difficult to read. Westinghouse reads it. Its the directors personal and professional notes. Get more inconherent as they go. Talks of entity effecting film. Putting everyone on edge. That’s when he experiments with film, chem an optical techniques to prove it. NIght before, Wynfield tells of no film had been made. But the notes talk of existing film stocks.
Will Bev searches waste basket, finds melted reel ‘outtakes Prince of Babylon reel 2’. Nonsalvagable.
Billy demands answers at gunpoint. He is shocked and not happy. The 3 investigators are quite surprised.
Jake “I think you got our point across.”
Admits to burning all of the film,most of it."
Jake “Where’s the rest?”
Reluctantly “Back at my mansion.” Says cinematographer Pierre Baptiste still alive, should talk to him.
Westinghouse suggests WIll and Cassandra start researching the Arc, Weatley, the Canyon etc. Will requests back up in case of trouble. Billy tells Jesse to join them in case of trouble, and Jake sends the Beverlys along too.
Westinghouse will talk with Baptiste with the rest of the gang and Atwater.
We will meet at the house tonight to watch the movie footage.
At some point, Cassandra excuses herself to restroom. There was another woman nearby, busty and wearing a fur stole. Make up is kind of heavy. Soon as Cassandra leaves she approaches, saying she recognizes Will McNamara. Will realizes she’s gossip columnist Rosanna Bartlett. Keeping close watch on Wynwood since failed movie. Heard hired group of ‘psychic investigators and cowboys’ and wants to know what’s going on as a professional courtesy. Worth quite a bit of money to her. Could cut Will in.
Will declines, saying all investigations are private. Offers to spend night with a fellow reporter.
“As long as you don’t mind my girlfriend joining too.”
Will “Sorry, I don’t like the idea of being killed by my girlfriend.”
“Maybe we could trade info then.”
Will “What do you know?” That the area has a evil rep, Hotec’s hated even by their fellow heathens. 4 men killed by mountain lion a few years ago. Hunt stopped after more death. Closer they got to old village worse the hunt went.
Will Bev “She didn’t really give you anything, you could have found that out tonight anyway I’m sure.”
Will tells her the star actress is dead in NYC.
She says if we go to the canyon she wants to go along. He declines.
Nick “She’s going to be trouble.”
- area of canyon owned by Dennis Smith, who rents land to anyone who wants it. Currently on vaca in Rio. Never even been there, just owns it.
- Report written for Univ of Cal., very technical. He pieces it together; Hotec outcast Hope disliked by others cause of worship of Yig and corn fertility god The Black Beast; lots of contact with Weatley as we know; Hotec vanished 1843 probably of small pocks though legend says they exist maybe as spirits. Can defeat by ‘burning souls’. Mentions chant to be used but not what ‘burning of their souls’ means. Author of this paper took trip to Central America where he disappeared.
Nothing on the Arc.
Hotec’s would go out on kill raids, with red paint on fingers!
Wife answers. West insists Wynwood join us to get in the front door.
At first she does nto let us in as he has suffered enough. HE will never work on another fild, she says, that place (canyon) cursed. Voice of Baptiste from other room “Let them come in.”
She brings us lemonade.
West “Thanks for seeing us Pierre.”
Says director a brilliant drivenman. Certain fo evil troubling production, convinced it manifesting itself in the completed takes. In last couple days of his life, he modified the new lenses and hit upon the right system Roamed desert at night with the equipment.
One night he watched outtakes from film, not the desert but movie, then took a pair of forks and gouged own eyes out then shot himself. Estimated poked eyes out about hour prior to death. Pierre does not know if he caught anything in the desert on film.
Feel of presence since first day of filming, even touching you. No one ever saw anything live.
He stops there, but West convinces him to continue further. His hand shake always, face gaunt. “You think this is from fear but your wrong, its from lack of sleep. I don’t fear what I saw out there I fear going to sleep.”
Dreams of nothing but walls and rooms of Babylon set. Fills him with fear, that some day he will not wake up from that dream. Feels that when he sleeps they start coming for me.
That’s all he has to say. Does not know where the special filming equipment is.
Back to Wynwood"
Brings out large wooden chest with director’s effects. Half hour reel of Prince of Babylon shots, set of 2 unusual lenses with blueish filter, and the weird device mentioned by Pierre.
Will McNamara looking through one way, everything becomes invisible or blue. Other direction, swirl of incomprehensible shapes and colors and brings on an almost violent eye and headache immediately.
Hooking onto contraption shoots a beam of light which you can narrow and broaden.
Wynwood insists we will watch the film one time only. He is not watching it a second time.
He makes projectionist leave as well.
Lasts 30 minutes. Nothing horrible, just feel like a subliminal nature of unease. Scenes go on, lots of extras.
Then, as scene of dervishes charging across sands. While eyes assure us nothing unusual, depths of our psyche detects unseen terrible forms and auras. Beverly’s each lose a point of sanity.
Then a scene of Raven mouthing orders to offstage and feel same presence now as before. Now Will McNamara loses 1, Ron 2.
Finally, at the end a scene of female lead Monica in opulent interior Roman set awaiting her lover. Her face, in the close up, look trapped, horrified, scared. She does great job concealing them for the job but jerks here and there.
Westinghouse “Look closely.”: then we see (but for Will, Ron, Atwater) her dress moves like something running its hand along it. Then her dress flutters as if from underneath. Westinghouse finally sees her chest move and can see the outline of her nipple, and it being sqeezed a the point that she jerks most obviously.
Will loses 1, Jake 4, West 5, Nick 3, Dog 2
Will asks Cassandra, what do you think?
She saw and felt nothing worse than we did. But for sure there is a malign presence there, revolting that even made her queezy. Not necessarily powerful, but disgusting.
We think about watching through the lenses, so we can see what’s there.
Will McNamara, being most sane, will watch it through the blue lens. Cassandra watches it again normally. Nothing at first, so shines the light on the projection but nothing else shows up.
Calls everyone in.
West “Maybe it does have to be rigged onto the projector” He does so.
We put it on so that one would see blue. At scary parts, normal feelings again. Reverse film, flip lense and start again. Now, scenes look just like before.
At first terrible part, after half a minute, see shapes shambling across desert behind the riders, bit ugly things, naked male humanoids, crab like claws for hands, leering at camera and almost…gyrating.
Cassandra gasps “Spectral Haunters. Once human but a terrible spell is cast upon them.”
Jake “That’s what happened to the Hotec, why they disappeared. They were turned into these.”
Cassandra “You have to choose to do this. You give up your humanity to live forever unless they are destroyed.”
Jake “How do you destroy them.”
Cassandra “Soul transferred into a spirit item. Could be anything. Placed in safe keeping. Tied to item and it dies if ever leave 1 mile area around the item, or if item is destroyed. They exist to guard a site or item.”
West “The arc maybe.”
Luke “Are they invisible or on another…”
Cassandra “Normal creatures, but can become incorporeal or ethereal at will.”
Billy “We need holy bullets.”
Seeing them, Will loses 2 sanity, Jake 4, Anne 1, Jesse 1.
2nd scene, with Raven, Spectral Haunter comes up behind him and just barely touches him in places. We can now tell he is slightly distracted by it, even a shudder at one point as it holds a claw above his head. WE can see sanity being drawn from him with a huge grin leering at the camera.
Cassandra “Love to play with their food, vicious but cowardly.”
Last scene with Monica, 2 climb through window onto set and she senses it, they rub claws over clothes, reaches claw under dress and it moves, the other pinches the nipple.
Finally, after she startles for a moment keeping her cool, they each take their big man parts and just barely touch her lips with them.
Jake “Nasty little bastards.”
Wynwood from back of room, walks in “Those things have to die. We’re going to devil’s canyon.”
We question whether he should go.
One advantage, they like to play with us. Might let us see glances of them, signs of them. When they do attack they pounce from hiding. Avoid fair fights. Like to attack from fully solid, but can stay invisible. They can not attack from incorporeal. If one of them can grab and hold,they can take you to their incorporeal realm with them. That person can hurt them as if solid but could be lost. Effect wears off on its own in a few rounds and you phase back.
Westinghouse wonders if Baptiste could rig this projector to emit a beam of, essentially, dispelling invisibility and ethereal. We must ask him first thing tomorrow.
Baptiste says that is not possible, but he could rig up 2 headsets today that we could look through like goggles. It will take him all day but he’s happy to do it.
It will be -4 to attack with ranged weapons though.
Westinghouse make a note to remember to give this projector and lenses to Covington, maybe he could do what we originally wanted and make one for each group.
Wynnfield is coming with us, along with 2 Toughs good with fists and clubs. They 3 ride steamcar, Roll’s Royce like thing. Will McNamara is in the car too, with Cassandra, Westinghouse and Atwater. Devil’s Canyon is about 25 miles from nearest highway.
Takes a good half a day off the highway to get there.
We arrive at the set, 4 months since shut down.
The tower is one of the few full buildings left, as well as a large Babylon age banquet hall of adobe and wood outside. A couple barracks for the crew, sand all around the insides from wind; a crate in a storage shed, unmarked.
Jake “Open it up Mad Dog.”
Inside are 3 more of the special lenses!
Banquet hall looks to be the best place to base so we set it up.
An uneasy feeling pervades us all, the gunfighters point their arms at every slight noise they hear.
The Toughs are particularly nervous. One keeps mumbling to the other. Further into the valley, worse it gets. Jesse keeps an eye out with a goggle as we set up camp.
We place lamps and such around the complex.
Guards: north door, south door, inside respectively are:
First watch: Jake, Ron and Dog inside
Second: Jesse, NY Will, Nick inside
Third: Westinghouse, Billy, Atwater
Jesse sees dust disturbed outside in the light. Through goggles, sees nothing.
Jesse wakes Jake up asap. He gets some others up, starting with Billy then Dog then Cassandra, sending Jesse back to his door; sends NY WIll to spot with Nick so there are 2 sets of eyes there.
Nick and Will hear noise around corner. NIck puts goggles down and one of the Spectral Hunters round the building’s corner. HE fires but the bullet passes through, he can just barely see through it. It’s ethereal!
NIck blocks the door, and waits for it to be hopefully solid.
It turns solid but invisible. Nick fires and hits 13. It becomes totally visible, back of its head blown own and blood gushed all over Nick as if falls back dead. NY Will calls Cassandra over.
The body crumbles into dust, blood drying into sandlike blood and falls as dust. A cloud whisps up from it into the air.
WIll “Is it dead?”
Cassandra “No, within a day it will be back as new. 1 way to stop it, a secret vessel with its soul. There is probably only a few for the entire tribe, hidden in center of a circle of a disruption in reality. That discomfort we felt, that was us entering the circle.”
NY Will “Did we bring a map?”
Wynnfield “I have that.”
We keep well and alert. Cassandra knows of nothing she can do to help, arcane wise.
Dog volunteers Jack to make the patrols outside for the night. Jake says “Great idea. Tell him to do it.”
Cassandra “No, you must spend your spirit friend away or he will be destroyed.” Dog does so.
So we need to find the perimeter of the uneasiness. Cassandra says those with particular arcane sensitivity are the best to do so. Jake wonders if you’ve been dead if that would help, she says it might but its a gamble. She tests the sensitivity and only Billy is feeling it more so. The mumbling tough is very sensitive as well.
Luke “What about Jack, can Dog us him as a sensing device?”
Cassandra “Very likely.”
Those 4 will triangulate the perimeter.
- Dog w/ Wynnfield, Luke, NIck on horseback, Wynnfield riding with Nick.
- Tough 2 w/ Ron, Atwater, Westinghouse (w/ goggles) via the car, Tough driving.
- Entrance Trail: Cassandra w/ NY Will, Jake (w/ goggles), Anne. Jake/Cassandra and Anne/Will in pairs on horseback. Its almost a mile back to the pass.
- Billy w/ Will B., Tough 1, Jesse on horseback; to the
At the pass, Cassandra easily feels the edge. Suddenly, a shot rings out! Cassandra is hit 11. Jake draws and looks toward the shot sound. Anne dismounts, looks and pulls knives. Cassandra. Jake spots the glint of a sight about 300 feet away atop a cliff face and another shot rings out. Anne is hit 10. Jake fires and hits fairly close even at such long range. He fires again, 2 shots but both miss. Anne rushes into the hills. Jake misses by a few feet and moves to the hills telling Cassandra and Will to take cover. Anne starts to climb. The rifle fires again at Jake for miss/jam! Anne has climbed to his height and starts to move for him.
We hear the sound of horses. Anne reaches his position but he’s gone. Sees dust of him fleeing then a horrific scream. A wildman appears in front of her, axe in hand, swinging for her head. Anne kills him in a few rounds.
Will sees the set on fire, horses and riders around. He points it out to Jake who sees it.
Luke sees it as well in his group.
There’s nothing we can do. They retreat to a ravine tween groups 1 and 2.
NIck orders his group to ride to intercept, telling Wynfield to share with Luke.
Nick and Luke arrive first, we see them riding up to pass at a fast trot. 6 total. A horse slips and his rider falls. The others leave him as picks himself up and tries to remount.
Nick “Go for the riders.” Luke tells Wynfield to throw stones at the fallen man.
His first rock hits and he falls.
Nick fires 2 from Winchester 17 DEAD/12
Luke hits 14
Nick hits 13/10 DEAD.
Luke’s horse is startled, and his movement almost carries it off the edge which starts a small boulder landlide right into the group of them. All are unhorsed but for leader. 1 man wounded. leader hit in the head by a rock.
Original fallen man pulls his pistol at Nick for a miss.
The unwounded fallen stands and draws, as does the wounded with the broken ribs. He takes cover. The leader draws and fires but it clicks with a dud.
Wynnfield throws another rock at his man
Luke fires at leader “I say sir, drop you weapon. There’s 10 of us up here.”
He retorts “Hail Yogsothoth. The Twilight never surrenders!”
Nick fires at him but misses.
Wynnfields man misses Nick; other cultist fires his revolver at Nick but misses; Leader fires at Nick miss.
Dog fires both scattergun barrels at the unhurt cultist crit 50 DEAD.
Wynfield throws rock and hits again.
Nick hits leader 15.
The rock pelted one yells to surrender. The leader turns “The Silver Twilight never surrenders” and fires at his own man crit DEAD.
Luke hits the leader 7.
Dog leaps from his 25’ height, forearm shivers the leader off of his horse for 18 who hits the rock strewn trail hard DEAD.
Dog takes the last one alive and drags him back up hill. He wants to break his neck.
Luke says we need to interrogate him.
“You’re the money maker ’round here so…”
Some questions from Luke lead to a few backhands then a punch to his broken ribs from Nick.
He says they were looking for an artifact, but he knows not what exactly. Their leader is a sorcerer, in the hills somewhere; he’s from our Scottish lodge, named Fergus Campbell; they had arrived in time to see us here. Fergus took main party to make camp, and our group told to burn buildings, third group led by Cpt Dulles was to draw us away and maybe kill some of us. He’s an ex soldier merc not one of us. Men from the main camp were to meet with us up this canyon to take us to the main camp. Only the leader knew the signal.
He asks for forgiveness and to be let free. Luke denies that request. He begins crying, he damned his soul forever to gain power with Yogsothoth. Now that he has foresaken Yog the cult will hunt him down and kill him. If now he’ll go to hell after gaining no good power. Luke tells Dog to treat his broken rib. Dog insists he sees a few bad teeth “Good oral health is a start to a good healthy body.”
Luke insists he can repent, live in a monastary and serve the lord once we get you out of here. Until then, you’re our prisoner.
All groups meet the burnt out camp. They did not do a great job, all buildings are damaged but none are destroyed. Building burnt most was ours. We lost 2/3 of our food. Luckily we took all the lenses with us.
Westinghouse determines the central point is due north in the hills, about half mile. We decide to wait for the next day.
Now about 4pm.
Jake, Jesse, Ron and Anne ride fast up the canyon to find the meeting place and maybe track it to its source. End of the pass is empty.
Jake “They were on horses so…” We find one path enough for horses.
Partway up, a shot rings out from side, horses couldn’t make it up. Jesse dismounts and draws buffalo rifle. Jake and Ron look for the source. Ron hit twice 10/8/miss/miss. Jake is missed four times/9. All were rifle shots.
Jake misses with a shot and retreats, followed by Ron who also misses. A hail of bullets at Anne’s horse 16/18/12/28 DEAD. She gets on Jesse’s and they flee.
Jesse’s horse is shot up next.
Jake fires and hits 16, Ron hits 9.
Anne’s hat flies off and the leader yells her name!! He knows her personally. This is the Cpt, named Dave McCreary. Use to be bed buddies.
Jake “And you’re alive? Hehe.”
Anne “He’s not the law.”
Jake “What are you doing ambushing me and my men in hills full a cultists?”
“They hired us to take you all out. We didn’t know that they were cultists.”
Jake "What are you going to do now.?
“I’d like to go back and kill’em but my men will never stand for it. We already got paid, they’ll just want to leave. They won’t wanna go back and fight those men.”
Back at the set:
“There are 11 of us and 15 of them. Now there’s nine. They are hiding to the west.
Westinghouse encourages him to stay, maybe a couple trusted men, just for Anne’s sake. 4 will stick around for a while.
We don’t want to get them killed by the creatures, just show us where the cultist camp is. We don’t want to be heading back in the dark, so we camp here for the night.
Same guard duty as previous night but Luke takes NY Will’s place.
We stay in the tower now, 1 door in and out. Jesse gets atop the tower. Jesse hears a noise down the side, and sees a burst of lightning from the storm coming. One of the creatures is right there at the bottom, climbing to him and clearly visible. He fires and hits 22 DEAD chest blown open.
Nick puts goggles down, looks around rifle raised. In a lightning flash, one is one each side of him.
Nick yells for Luke, fires 16 DEAD and 12. It grapples Nick and takes Nick ethereal. 3 more are closing in on Nick. One of which strikes at Nick, and fumbles both claws, bite crits 11. Seeing them on the ethereal is another thing entirely, forcing another sanity check and he loses 1.
Luke starts waking people up loudly, shaking Jake and Billy.
NIck backs through the door of the tower, he fires 2 shots, hitting wounded one 7/17 DEAD. 3 others attack. New ones each bite miss/7, other claws miss/5 and bite miss.
All of us are awake. Anne runs right through Nick, who backs into room more and miss/17 DEAD.
Jake and WIll run outside “Where’s Nick?!” Jesse is scanning the area for him. Jake dons the goggles in the street.
NIck appears in the material world
Westinghouse “There he is, they pulled him ethereal.” They turn visible to follow Nick.
One of the misses 2 claws but bites 20, the other hits 1 claw 6, bite crits 17.
Jake and Will are fast enough to get shots off before they go away. Anne throws 4 knives and hits 47 total. Billy double taps crit 34 DEAD.
First thing, we all make for indian village and find it with no problem. A switchback narrow path on the cliff leads to the cliff dwellings of the tribe. Quite small, actually. Probably only several families.
Large central chamber w/fire pit, pics painted on the wall. The pics show people dancing about a fire, large black spectral hunters w/them. Nothing looks different through the goggles.
Westinghouse looks at painting, 6 humans and about 20 humans “Dig in the fire pit”.
Billy “Mad dog, dig it out.”
Find small, leatherbound box.
Luke “Grab it, in case the smart guy from NY has a better idea.”
Westinghouse “Take it out.”
Dog gives it to Westinghouse who opens it, finding an old crumbling book. Cassandra say sits the spell to turn people into the creatures, the text describes Weatley and turning the shamans into the spectral haunters.
Westinghouse tells Cassandra to check out the pic, to see if there is anything arcane about it but there isn’t, he thought the figures might be the phylacteries.
Westinghouse pulls out the magnifying glass, has everyone else step out, and he goes over the room crack by crack.
He notices slight tracks on the floor in the sand, recently. Tiny trails of snakes, several. Then small holes in the wall like rodent holes that the tracks go to and from; then slight evidence of a struggle and at least 2 bodies having been drug across the floor from areas in the room to the ladder that leads out. Firepit surrounded by snakes, as if they had been coiled up around it.
Next, he more carefully searches the firepit area. As he messes with the bedrock clay inthe pit, he feels something harder like bedrock. We scrape it all away and reveal shale bedrock.
Ron “See, dynamite would have found that.”
Wynnfield “And buried it all forever.”
Dog and Nick break through the shale, but a flat stone of what seems granite at first, but maybe marble. 2.5’ by 3’; Seemless. Like no rock we’ve seen before. Has a mark, several dirty ones. Then rows of markings.
Dog tries to break through with a sledge, but nothing. The sledge shatters, and Dog is thrown back against the wall. Some force smashed him in the face bloodied.
Nothing through the goggles.
We clean the symbols off. It seems to extend further the sides as if there should be more there. We clear the rest of the shale and clay off the entire inside of the pit. It uncovers a 3′×4′ that looks like it may be a plug/hatch. Billy and Dog lift it up, and underneath we find 6 Kachina dolls!!
Jake “What do we do, Cassandra, destroy them?”
She nods yes. Jake tells Mad Dog to hit one with a hammer. He does for 14 and the doll shatters. A ghostly form wails out of it and dissipates. Billy draws 2 guns and shoots them to pieces. 5 other whisping figures float up and away. Westinghouse makes sure there is nothing left in the rubble of the pieces, and there isn’t.
Westinghouse insists on taking it to the men in Arkam. The Beverly’s prepare a sled to drag the slab along.
Suddenly a shot rings out but hits none of us. We see 5 cultists (4 w/ rifles) with a medium age, somewhat portly woman with them. Its the Bartlet, the columnist woman. They say they will skin her alive if we don’t give them the ark of Vlaktos. “That stone, we want it and we want it now.”
He tears the side of her dress down and he carves a piece off her back. They are about a hundred feet down and 50’ out down the trail.
Jake whispers for Jesse to kill that guy. He fires unexpected by them, but misses. Their 4 riflemen fire, hitting Jake once 15.
The cutter goes to cut Bartlet some more. Ron fires the knife out of his hand with a miracle shot (card). He starts to strangle Bartlet. Jake draws his Frontier and hits him 10, Jesse hits 22. Their riflemen miss Jake.
Billy draws both guns, hitting 2 of the riflemen hitting 8 to one and 10 to another. Nick misses w/ Winchester, Will hits 9. Atwater fires revolver and hits a rifleman 6.
Billy fires twice again but at the leader, now directly tween us and her and making to gnaw at her face, miss/9; Jesse hits him crit 32 DEAD; Ron hits with rifle to a rifleman 12.
They all fire at and miss Jake. Luke hits 15 w/rifle; Atwater hits 12 DEAD, Jake hits 20 DEAD; Nick hits 15l; Will hits 4 DEAD; Will McNamara fires his .32 miss. Westinghouse fires 11 DEAD.
Back to the set, pack up and leave today. We check their camp but find nothing of use or value.
It seems snakes killed 2 at the firepit. So there are 2 unaccounted for.
Bartlet is hysterical from her ordeal.
We discuss securing the Slab and whether or not to search for more cultists here.
We decide to stay here for a couple day or so but not go too in depth into the underworld. We will look for Look to the Future like clubs that could be a front. If we find nothing soon, we all head east taking the Slab to NY, the gang accompanying us as far as they can.
A few of us will always stahy at the house keep the Slab safe. This will be Jake, Jesse and Ron.
Westinghouse will read through newspapers from the last 6 months or so, looking suspicious clubs. Will will be doing legwork info gathering.
There is Hollywoodland, Los Angelas, and on the other side Devil’s Bay the City of Lost Angels. The city is run by a Prophet. Beyond that is The Maze, a network of islands and inlets and channels where the mines of ghost rock originates. All this was caused by the quake of ‘68. Chinese pirates and smugglers frequent it. California passed a law against Chinese entering. So they are smuggled in, ending up on railroads, the Chinatowns of LA and Lost Angels; also an underground railroad type of thing to move them to San Francisco.
Political reasoning was they were afraid they would take jobs from the citizens. Weird twist is it is against the law for them to enter CA, but once they are here they can’t be sent back. You must then prove absolutely they sneaked in, which is difficult. There are anti Chinese sentiments of course, even gang activity.
We are going to take the camera and lenses back with us to NY.
Los Angelas: Luke/Will Beverly/Nick/Anne to Los Angeles
Hollywoodland: NY Will/Cassandra/Westinghouse/Atwater/Dog/Billy.
5 toughs will also be at the house courtesy of Wynwood.
Bartlet will stay with us at the house the first night. We arrive late.
LA is primarily a horse and buggy town, so they fit right in. They start with the saloons, bringing up and listening Look to the Future, Silver Twilight. Will claims he was in NY, Boston, New Orleans and all their trouble with clubs/lodges et al and going from there.
They all say Lost Angels is where you wanna go for that. Nothing like that here.
We ask about Lost Angels: run by Reverend Grim. LA has small docks on the river, but an entire bay by Lost Angels so they get a lot of the sea trade not here.It is true the dead walk there? Ain’t never seen anything like that, but don’t get on the wrong side of the Enforcers. Grim’s men aside from police/mayor. Enforcers are who to fear. Cross the church and you’re a dead man; it’s folktale that no one leaves there. Anyone can just walk in like anywhere else, though its true a certain % don’t come out. But, you fall under the sway of the religion you never leave. You join the congregation The Chosen Ones. Chosen for what, who knows; they act Christian, have crosses and such, but “are about as close to being so as those damn Mormons”. Grim set up shot right after quake, opened a kitchen, fed the people et al. Biggest city in the maze is Gomorrah, on a plateau, biggest boomtown ever. Best gun makes the law; sheriff is the best, plus his lawdogs. Texas Rangers are there, federal secret agents, straight confederates (all making sure the rock makes it to their homeland), miners guild, inventors club (everone knows they are insane from working with ghostrock, its cheapest right where it’s mined). It’s sort of part of CA but also part it’s own entity. One of first families out here lives in a huge mansion, The Waitleys, from some place back east called Dunwich. Bunch of them came west post earthquake. Lost Angels is basically a great seaport. Grim’s church still provide free meals.
NY Will, w/ Cassandra and Billy, does the leg and mouthwork here, like Will B. and Luke in LA, but goes to main city police HQ. Big hispanic desk Sgt greets him, sent to meet officer Mack Bird on public relations today, flaming red hair and handlebar moustache; derby hat on the desk.
‘everyone out here is a cultist, even Mack is of the Fraternal Loyal Organization of Moose; they have Elks, Water Buffalo; doesn’t trust the church and Grim, they do whatever they want its a hellhole over there, dead coming back to life; Mack is from the east, was on the other side of the law for a while as a member of the Dead Rabbits, he and best friend were arrested by a good cop, gave us another chance, looked out for us, got us out of the gang, saw that we went to the academy, name was Joe Friday!; Mack had the wanderlust or he’d still be there; Will convinces him we are great friends of him so Will gets much clearer about things; after throwing some names around, he knows of KOTST, there is a club called the KOTST on Sunset Strip; came to law’s attention cause of disappearances, name of Stanford came up concerning a large money draft from an account of that name in Boston; they are bad news, went quiet in last week or so, place like a tomb now, empty, reports some went off into the desert; give us names of higher ups: Mortimer Smythe (accent odd, English to German), his right hand Raif Jenkins; this was not the first KOTST lodge to open here, first was in city of Lost Angels, one night Avenging Angels (Grim’s squad) killed them all and burnt the place to the ground, this was last year, couple months later the ones with the $ from Stanford arrived and disappearances started, girls rates rose especially; its every man for himself the further you get from Hollywoodland; also mentions evidence of Tongs, cause of hatchets left at scenes, maybe linked to the vanishings but we found no evidence; hatchets left behind seemed too convenient, we did find one of the girls in Chinatown in a cellar, though every person there swore they know nothing about it and no interrogation broke them; says will look for Dark Mistress having docked here, he has a few possible connections in Lost Angels he could check with; warns us NOT to go there; gives us the lodge address; Will tells him where we are staying so he can send any other info. They part ways, but Lt. Mack leaves the building immediately heading up the street.
Billy follows him, goes to telegraph office. Writes message and gives it to operator, torn up after sent, then he leaves.
Billy informs Will/Cassandra what he saw, offers to hold up the office to get the paper.
Will goes back, gets the next sheet, takes it with him and pulls off the indentations by the classic graphite rubbing method. It was to Friday, asking if he can trust the man he just met.
Westinghouse gets to work on the newspapers by himself at the library. He finds what Will finds about the KOTST in Lost Angles to help hungry and drive out demons, and Mortimer Smythe, self proclaimed ‘citizen of the world’ starts another chapter house; sent small group of their people to help where the need is greatest: Gomorrah; finds out about the the kidnappings of females; investigative piece on Haelstrom allying the the Collegeum (scientific guild in Gomorrah).
Gomorrah/Lost Angels seem to be a landmine of trouble. Gomorrah is no place for a civilized man, the outlaws will have to go there at the right time w/o the easterners.
Atwater, accompanied by Dog, asks around at doctors/hospitals/morgues for anything out of the ordinary, as far as bodies/illneses, etc… Later in the day, a Borax wagon train found the bodies of cultists we killed, they are identified and all members of the KOTST; several days ago a ship arrived ‘The American Dream’ wrecked on the shoals just outisde Lost Angels harbor, all hands lost; bodies brought to morgue here cause they washed up on this side.
Atwater reputation precedes him with the man at the morgue to do the autopsies. He is to assist, TODAY!
In the observation room, an agitated man in tattered suit paces back and forth.
Atwater “Who is that?”
“Jonothan Meaker, an insurance man. His company covered the ship, just waiting to find out what happened.”
Most of bodies are completely lacking on blood, mostly no water in lungs, like they were killed pre shipwreck. Several of them look like they had their throats ripped out! Another 2 obvious puncture wounds into the jugular
As they leave, Meeker “So you’re the famous Dr. Atwater?” Give Atwater a business card and invites him to their office tomorrow to discuss an issue, having to the with the deaths and the american dream; he feels there is more than meets the eye, and Atwater can bring some associates. “Come by in the morning.”
Back at house we share info, and all are dumbfounded. Luke says Billy should go to meeting tomorrow, since he spent a lot of time w/ a vampire.
Westinghouse and NY Will feel this may require Warrington’s boys to team up with the Gang, we wire Archie immediately!!
(Archie sends Wang Long himself to Scotland, to tell us to get back when you are done ASAP).
Westinghouse, with NY Will, Dog, Luke, Jake and Jesse to go to the KOTST HQ, accompanied by
Atwater, Billy, Will B. to meet Meeker.
Guarding the Slab is Anne, Nick, Ron.
At Meeker: we are taken aback by a site, lovely young raven haired women sits there, wry smile. She can tell we are checking her out. Her eye glistens at the site of Billy.
Name is Mirabella, Atwater says we are here to talk to Meeker. Shows her the business card, its her brother. We watch intently from behind as she leads us to the office. Billy hangs with her in the lobby.
Meeker smells like he’s been wearing the same suit for days; 2 days growth of beard.
Will B “You look kind of haggard there Meeker, and scared.” His hands shake badly, breath is horrible.
He is not even sure what time of day it is.
Says things have been very trying lately, offers coffee which Atwater accepts. Sister arrives with the drink.
Will notices there are dark streaks on the carpet, the desk recently swung around so that his back is not to the window anymore. He wipes the sweat off of his face.
Clipper American Dream wrecked a few days ago. Tell us of their deaths, which we already know, thinks the ship may have been carrying live cargo.
If we can prove it was an animal loosed illegally, they won’t have to pay the insurance.
Say of course he has heard of vampires “everyone has, this is more savage than that. I’m pretty sure vampires don’t exist” figures the cpt acquired a lion or tiger as the ship came from Hong Kong.
Atwater “It would also have eaten them.”
They sent a message to Hong Kong to have the manifest sent, which will take a couple months. They don’t have that long “and the only survivor won’t talk. Mr. Bradly Tepes. He’s in the sanitarium section of the hospital.”
In a lucid moment, he claimed another surviver had jumped off the ship to make for sure. One crewman’s body has not been accounted for. He figures we could get to the bottom of this. “I know the rep of you’re friend Westinghouse.”
He offers their normal fee of $25/person, he can hire up to 4 people, and a bonus of $200. Shows us the wreck site on a map.
He’s afraid to tell us why he moved the desk
Will gently coaxes out of him what has him so utterly scared:
salvage team sent to ship, deck is sticking out of water, hull under, full of rats and the whole salvage team in hospital from disease from rat bites.
He admits he really does not believe it could have been animals, based on the horror on some of the dead men’s faces. Some entrails ripped out.
He drinks his coffee, and grimaces as it has been sitting there since last night. Will gives him Atwater’s fresh coffle.
He says he is afraid he has been followed, something may have even came through his closed bedroom window 2nd night after boat sank.
Outside, Billy flirts with Mirabella. She’s too scared to talk event to Billy. He offers to have them at Wynwood’s house, but she refuses. Billy offers to stay at the house with her, and she is enamored at the idea that he would stay in the guest room to protect them.
In another office off the lobby, we see another guy dressed better than his look would think he should. Likely the dad Benjamin Meeker, talking to a large gaunt man in black silk coat and gray turban, oriental coat.
Dad “This isn’t realy a good time, Mr. Tooms, Perhaps we could discuss this later.”
Will whispers to Mirabella who that his, but she has no idea. The figure turns, sees us, gives us a malevolent glare (long square features, coffee colored skin, taut flesh).
Then the dad relents and he shuts the door.
Will (card) gets her to tell us what she saw.
‘nothing but terrified me anyway. Every night for last 5 nights had terrible dreams. A shadow enters my room then I fall into darkness. First night I locked my window, but it was open the next morning. Since then, she has felt compelled to leave her door open."
Her brother calls her into his office, and Atwater immediately goes to listen at the door with his stethoscope!
Benjamin explains to him they are about to lose thousands, has no time for this sort of thing. Tooms says he would enjoy our club, bring your son as well. Benjamin says he thought Tooms wanted to speak of the Amer Dream. True, there is cargo they wanted delivered to the club, but took opportunity to offer membership “You see, only the best of the best are invited.” The Keepers Club is a haven where men of value can escape pressures of business and wives; all men invited are kept from harm and toils.
Benjamin, halfway through declining, says "of course I’ll join your club. And I’ll bring my son." He comes for the door, and we look casual. He enters and looks at Atwater for a moment like he knows something was up.
Billy “I know what you are, tall man.”
“You think you do.”
He opens the door, the sun shines on him “Not what you think.”
At KOTST HQ:
Westinghouse stops at the cops, and intros self to Mack. He say he will personally accompany us, brings 2 other officers. Westinghouse, Will and Cassandra ride in their growler. The others on horseback.
Door locked. Mack tries to open it. We’re about to pick it but Dog kicks it in.
West “Effective. Primitive, but effective.”
Cops scope the perimeter, say there is a side door bashed in.
Cops insist they enter first.
We find a guard sitting on a chair. Touching his shoulder, the head falls off.
Westinghouse “Don’t touch it.”
Everybody looks at him, “wondering what makes you think we’d want to.”
Deep growling voice from next room speaking in Latin, it comes from through the kitchen where we find another dead, and steps going down to the voice.
Keeps invoking Morning Star, says Westinghouse, then no, invoking the bride of the Morningstar…Lilith.
NY Will stays up here to watch our rear.
Mack wants us to stay here and let the ‘professionals handle this’. We invoke Friday and our experiences with him to let us to.
Jake says “Mad Dog, let’s go.”
Dog “Jake, I’ll send Jack first.”
Jake “Ok, Jack will lead the way, we’ll follow.”
Latin “come here sweet mortals, come here.”
Mack grips his shotgun tighter. One cop backs up a bit, scared. The other, Cassandra, Westinghouse suddenly leap forward and run down the steps.
At the bottom, a hellish green light, pentagram in a circle on the floor. In the middle of it stands a being like a strong man w/ huge curved horns and legs that begin as human at the hips but become goat legs below.
Westinghouse and Cassandra both stop at the bottom, but the cop steps into it scratching out the circle, unbinding the demon! Probably been stuck here for a while. It’s really angry.
In return for freeing him, the demon draws 2 daggers glowing w/ purplish flames, in latin “thank you” and hits the cop with both daggers as the rest of us reach the bottom wounding him. It move so fast, it seems otherwordly and jerky.
As we are reaching the bottom, blood is gushing out of the wounds worse then it even should and it hits the cop twice again 19 DEAD as more blood fountains out.
Sanity all around, Westinghouse and Will failing. Mack’s deputy fails the new horror check paralyzed with fear for 6 rounds.
Jake fires, and should have hit him square in the head but he dodges it!! Dog fires both barrels and misses. Will grabs Cassandra to stop her from advancing on the demon but she snaps out of it.
Luke misfires! And is mighty scared of this demon (failing horror check), paralyzing him w/ fear for 2 rounds.
Westinghouse snaps out of it, moves aside, calling Jake to stand right next to him and wait for my signal, and aims his revolver at the demon.
Jesse arrives last, and fires his rifle but it dodge.
It moves and stabs Mad Dog once 6 and Jake once 6. It feels like a freezing cut and bleeds a point per round.
Dog drops the scattergun, goes for a grapple, AoO misses, and succeeds 12. Jake takes aim and blows its brains out crit 34 DEAD.
It starts to dissolve, covering Dog in demon puss.
Now we see 6 bodies in red robes stacked to one side of the cellar, throats ripped out by vampires. They killed the sorcerers.
Back upstairs, we find some dead servants, same MO. Someone, thing, cleaned out the cultists.
There is a letter from Baron Hauptman, telling them to recover the Arc of Vlaktos at all costs, do not under any circumstances let it fall into the hands of the non believers from NYC.
Mack has no idea what to do about explaining a dead cop at the hands of the demon. Luke suggests burning the place down. Westinghouse says you can say he responded to suspicious sounds and got caught in the flaming aftermath.
We all meet for lunch at Bookbinders, famous for its seafood, in Hollywoodland.
We share information. Mack says he met with Friday in Chicago a couple months ago for a few days. “He told me stories, but I was positive he was just pulling my leg. Now I’m not so sure.” He will stand for none of this magic BS in his town!
Atwater needs to talk to the crazy man from the American Dream. Mack says Tepes was in the hold, looking up grinning maniacally. Billy, Atwater, Westinghouse will go.
Dr. is Chester Ambrose. He’s heard the name of Atwater before.
The sanitarium is part of the hospital, across street from it.
Tepes has long thin face, singed reddish hair from fire on the Dream; burns on face untreated; complexion vary pale; undernourished for more than just the time he’s been here. He sits on the floor in a straight jacket.
Looks up at us and rocks “Roaches are the best, they crack like candy…” and goes on about spiders and flies.
The Doc beats him with a sap, Tepes wines.
Atwater stops that, Tepes is horrified. The Dr. is old school, beatings for the crazy. He is about to scratch at the burns on Tepes’ face before we stop him. Westinghouse asks Billy to show him the door.
Ambrose agrees to let us talk to him privately, finally.
Atwater says to Tepes “I myself have developed a taste for locust.”
“Ah, then you’ve seen him too.”
Billy “Tall, thin, goes by the name Tooms?”
“I am Kasper, not Tepes. Tepes escaped. I stole his suitcase,he didn’t know, and I hid it on the ship.”
Westinghouse “Is he the one who swam to shore?”
“Yes, he kissed the captain, on the throat. And blood, blood was everywhere.”
Westinghouse “Was Tepes a passenger the entire time, or did he appear during the voyage?”
Billy “Where did you come from?”
He says was thrown off the ship by the cpt. They sailed away, left him in Hong Kong. Then he stowed away on the Dream. He was originally on Nasho Maroo cargo ship. Sails the orient. Came across Tepes in the cargo hold, shows us his bite mark “He just took a little bit, just a touch.”
Billy “He had to keep his strength.”
Recites letters, showing Tooms to be the one who brought him here, Tepes family eagerly awaiting his arrival; Tepes came all the way from Europe helped by minions “So much he told me”; his family here to ‘start the crimson tide of blood’ across the continent; Tepes luggage still on the boat; he does not know where the Tepes live. Says he can’t find him, and wouldn’t if he could. Calls the Dr. a bad man. The Dr. steps back in and clubs him. Calls back to orderlies “Bring in the electrodes”.
The man starts screaming “Tepes said, said damn you Van Helsing. This time I destroy you” and repeats it with “This time Mina will be mine!”
This is too much for us to handle. Our skin shivers at the truth of Dracula being here!!
Ambrose asks Atwater, wants to show him an interesting case. Just to him.
At end of corridor, a door is guarded by orderlies. He takes Atwater to the ‘game room’. He opens the door to a large cell, several young female patients housed there. He says female patients respond to &#^$^$&$&$. Offers to let Atwater have a go.
One girl yells ‘Help me, help me. I’m not crazy, they took me off the streets!"
Atwater agrees to operate a handcrank to an electrode attached to the man’s, ahem and ahem. He slaps around the women to get excited and yells for Atwater to turn the crank!
He’s the one kidnapping all the women!!
He starts, then takes his cane and clubs the Dr. in the back of the head 7 KO’d. Atwater, using the handcuffs he keeps given by Friday, cuffs his hands behind his back. He tells the girls to remain here while he gets help after setting a couple free. He gives his derringer to one of the girls for defense. They are in bad shape, beaten/shocked/violated. 3 have the energy to be very angry. Atwater gags him and goes for help. They electrode the doc. Atwater tries to talk his way out, but the orderlies are wondering who’s cranking for him as they can hear the electric go. Atwater talks it down and comes to get us.
Westinghouse tells Atwater to get to the phone and call the cops. Billy gives Westinghouse his derringer .45.
Westinghouse “Orderlies, stand down, the police are on their way.”
One reaches over and presses a button. Billy levels his gun on them. Billy goes for an intimidate check on them to get them to do as Westinghouse orders. One stops and stands there, the other drops to his knees wining about having a family and begging us to not get him involved “They make me do it”.
Inside Westinghouse finds the doctor is alive but charred in the privates they ran so much electricity through him. Billy watches the orderlies while he takes care of the girls until Atwater returns.
Mack shows up. Recognizes one of the girls and he’s sickened. They march the doc out of here with his pants still around his ankles.
We gain sanity for this!
We are busy with paperwork and such today with the cops.
Evening comes, and we go to the house of Meeker.
Meaker invited us to study for brandy and discuss the issue.
Dr. Buchenveldt, her physician, does not like us being here.
Mirabella has been weak in the mornings lately, weaker the last couple. He has even given her a blood transfusion. Thinks its anemia.
We say Billy and Anne will take turns in her room and he does not like that at all.
Benjamin enters, insists Jonathan go to the meeting.
“But father, things seem to be coming to a head here. Your daughter’s life may be in danger.”
Westinghouse “We really need Jonathan to be here tonight. It would not be proper for us to be here w/o him.”
Jake makes a nod to Dog, who gets up and slaps a full Nelson on Benjamin. Once again the Investigators are taken aback by the immediacy and bluntness of the Gang.
The Beverly’s start tying him up. Both are almost bit as he snaps at them, though fangless thankfully.
Jonathan is beside himself “What are you doing!” etc.. Luke and NY Will tell him why we are doing this. The Dr. is taken aback.
Westinghouse “How long has he been the Dr.?”
Jonathan “A few weeks. SInce his dad died, her previous Dr. He is in love with her.”
Jake tells Billy to get upstairs.
Westinghouse tells Atwater to go as well.
They find the door locked, movement inside.
Billy kicks it open to find the servant maid having open all the windows. Mirabella is in bed asleep.
Billy “Ellen, go downstairs.” She ignores Billy as if in another world.
Billy “Atwater, stay here by the door and watch. I’ll get her away from there.”
Soon as Billy touches her she snaps out of it, surprised they are there. He sends her downstairs then locks the windows.
Westinghouse “How did the Dr’s dad die?”
Dr “Passed away in his sleep.”
Dr “About 2 weeks ago, maybe a few more. Heart attack.”
Westinhouse and Jake go upstairs.
Billy says a vampire must be quite old to go out in daytime, generally. Bring garlic, wooden stakes, and silver bullets.
Westinghouse “What about why he would have to be brought here in secret, as if cargo?”
Billy “Many can’t cross bodies of water.”:
West “So who swam to shore?”
“That may not count as running water, per se. And the weak minded servants are a liability.”
Atwater is checking on Mirabella as a thunderstorm has rolled in.
Jake sends Jesse and Ron onto the roof.
The night passes quietly accept Benjamin seems to have come to his senses and wants to know why we have tied him up in his own home.
We try to explain Tooms, but Benjamin does not believe us and gets quite beligerent. Westinghouse calls for Jonathan to explain what happened last night, as he recalls only declining Tooms’ invitation. Before he gets there, we tire of his anger so Atwater gives him a whif of a new chloroform concoction which knocks him out “He should forget some things after this dose, like us tying him up.”
Westinghouse “Put him in his bed and let him wake up there.”
Mirabellas and Jonothan and the Dr. arrive. Atwater checks out MIrabella in private.
He calls for Anne and Ellen the maid to check her more sensitive areas for us.
They find nothing.
Westinghouse “Did you check her inner thighs?” Yes. “Under her arms?” They did not. They check, and there under one is the bite mark!!!!
Atwater “Good job, Westinghouse!”
Meaker has never heard of this Tepes family. Nor do the servants nor Mirabella.
Morning newspaper comes, Westinghouse reads it. Hollywoodland police baffled, 5 disappearances from a party in an abandoned manner put up for sale months ago. ALl had acted strangely for at least a day before. The owner who is purchasing it is believed to be a Marcos Tepes. We assume all 5 were guests at this keeper party. Neighbors say for sure several carriages and a steam car arrived during the evening. One thought they heard a woman’s scream; others a bell tolling.
Also, labor shortage blamed on disappearances at the waterfront. Captains hardpressed to fill their crews.
Disease from the rats of the wreck is spreading. They are calling it Red Lung, causes vomiting of blood. Highly contagious as hospitals staffs is catching it.
Atwater, Luke and the Beverly’s will check out the docks. Will will research the Tepes family and such and speak to the article reporter.
The rest to the party house.
We will leave the Ark at the producers house.
Meets the reporter first, Alan Ladd, showing his press pass from NYC. He is mighty impressed by Will, and his eye candy.
Will says he’s investigating the disappearances in NY, the trail leading here.
Each of the missing are heirs to a fortune. A huge percent of the trust funds of the city is tied up in those now missing. They are also rich now.
Westinghouse will say they could be undergoing a more long term conversion, and will just show up again.
About Tooms: he has been buying property for months, preparing for the Tepes to arrive. There is a house the family supposedly moved into, a different one from the party house. No one ever comes or goes. It appears empty yet that is the family address. He gives Will the house, in one of the swankier neighborhood. The reporter says one of their family is in the luny bin (Kasper actually, but he does not know that).
This is the only occurance like this at one of the properties. He shows Will a Keepers Club business card, no address.
“There have been rumors of this club, a lot of….f&^#*@(g going on. LOts of debauchery. Attracting the young wealth of the city, even reaching the opium dens of the docks. I was looking into it.”
He found nothing. An informant doing digging for him, a fisherman, went into one of the dens and never came back. He does not know which one. This card was found in his room. Will keeps the card. “I’m not going to rest until I find out what happened to my friend.” Bobby Weston was his name. Was under the guise of a sailor. He was staying at a boarding house, he gives Will the address.
He is working on an article for the paper, knows there is a link tween the Tepes family, the disappearances in the harbor, and this hedonistic club. Now he thinks the ones last night are related as well. Will agrees, warns him to be careful, these people are surely very dangerous.
Tells him we are staying at the Meaker house, to look us up if he should need assistance.
To records now, to search for info on the property sales. The records are split up by district then by street etc… not by any names. This looks like an all nighter. Will convinces him to assist. Turns out there is a cross reference book of ownership changes chronologically. He starts at about 6 months ago.
They find that 4 places bought by the Tepes, then a number that is missing. Then a few more. By the writing indentations below the pages, it looks like signed TOOMS. He has somehow altered the record. This has ruined the continuing search for the actual property sights.
Back to Meaker’s.
Hundreds of dockworkers live in this area. We begin across from where the ship crashed, a penninsula with a Heathmore fish processing factory. It reeks but we handle it. Various ethnicities working there. Lots of fish cutting and gutting. Flies everywhere, rats unafraid of the humans dragging fish entrails and heads into the dark holes in the walls.
We meet the foreman. “Ah, a toff. What can I do for you” after punching the chinaman who came to get him “get back to work dog.”
We approach it as if interested in business. He’s gruff at first, so Will says we are interested not in buying out from under, but in investing and enhancing. To that he gets nicer. Will “You could even get in on the ground floor”. We say we are troubled by the recent disease and disappearances.
Calls Luigi over to tell us what he told him, the weird rumors.
Luigi says that the men gone go into bars, opium dens, they don’t come out. No specific ones. No place is safe. Most nights used to be 1 or 2 disappear. Now 3 or 4 a night for weeks now. His friend Mario disappeared, then “I see him last week, walkin;’ down the street!” He approached adn was told “Keep away, I’m working. Part of a club”, Keepers Club. Then brushed Luigi off. He met 2 others and they went off into the mist.
Luigi says Mario would never act like that, was working hard to bring his fiance from Italy.
That’s all there.
As we leave, a small Chinese woman lurks in and alley, beckoning us over Luke notices. She says she say something. Very early, about an hour before work. Was fishing, heard a terrible crash then fire and screams. Watched for a long time then heard something, splashing in the water. Something swam under the pier. Looked through the cracks and was a big animal, eyes glowing red an growled. It shook its coat of wet. She stood petrified until others came to start work. Bigger than a dog, fierce. Glowing eyes look right through you.
Sounds like a big giant wolf to Will. Luke hands her a dollar bill. We continue on, asking around. An old salt Hasberth says he saw the wreck. Swears it steered right for the rocks, then went up smoky “like a greasy rag”. Then the terrible screams. Burned quick, the men burned up bad but was not fire that killed them. Every last one has his throat torn out. Luke gives him a dollar. By evening we are about to head back to Meaker’s when a dock worker asks to see us in private in an alley to tell us something best kept in private.
We are on alert. Atwater is against this but we follow anyway. Bev’s have their hands on their pistol grips.
We tries to lead us around a dog leg but Luke “This is far enough.”
“I have something to tell you” leaning in and beckoning Luke closer. Luke says he’s fine where he is. He leans in “I have a message from the master”.
Luke “Who are you talking about?”
“The master, our master. He says that you need to go back and tell your master to stop meddling in other people’s affairs. Because those that do wind up dead. Stay away from the Meaker house. Stay away from the docks. Stay away from the American Dream. Stay away from the Keepers Club. One last thing” tries to get up close. A knife is drawn fast, but he’s too confident and pauses for effect on the poof he sees as Luke. Atwater is ready with his sword cane 7. He runs back to the dog leg “ALl right, you asked for it.” 3 more men step around. Another 5 are blocking the alley.
Now that it’s life threatening and self defense for our lives, Nick “Shouldn’t bring fists and clubs to a gunfight.”
Luke tries to intimidate them, explaining they really don’t want this fight. It’s not going to go pretty for them either, using Nick as our tough example. They insist on one of theirs fighting one of ours to prove our tough guy is tough.
Nick gets the best of him quickly so he goes for a haymaker and hits 12. After another hit he goes for a grapple but fails. Nick responds with a hefty jab leading to him missing wildly. Few more rounds go to Nick before he misses barely, and Nick kidney’s him 8. He follows with a crit to the chest 10. Nick retaliates 5 and 6 and he’s wavering. Nick then staggers him before Nick KO’s him.
Then pick up their friend and take off.
Luke “It’s a good I’m a scary guy.”
Nick, adjusting his jaw, looks sideways at him.
Will “It’s a good thing Nick’s so damn tough.”
They go back to Meaker’s.
Westinghouse we have spoken to Lt. Mack, shows him our card.
Furniture still very dusty, but the table in the dining room has been used. At one end is a lot of drops of blood. Not enough for death though.
Westinghouse examines the room.
shoes of 3 men and 2 women, and one other wearing a shoe with a parculiar checkerboard pattern. Seems to have been a scuffle. Bare foot tracks do not look fully human, somewhat deformed, 4 toes, probably clawed, plus a 5th digit to the inside. Hair fibers not human, unlike anything we have ever seen before. Very course hair, gray. At least 8 of them, human sized. All came from an adjoining room, rushing out. At least one dropped to its 4 limbs for a moment before leaping. It’s hands loooked the same as the feet but w/o the 5th side digit.
Jake asks if it’s a werewolf, as the Gang has experience with that before. Westinghouse says it can’t be, but instead ‘if they weren’t so large it would be animalia cordata mammilia rhodentia …."
Jake “What is it!?”
West “A rat, a really big rat.”
Jake “Great, so there are wererats?”
We do not know.
They charged in, grabbed and held them. Lots of blood drops in a few places, figuring each in turn was held down on the table while they did something to damage their necks dropping blood.
Making them into were creatures? Marking them for the vampire?
Also find a pair of very smooth shoes, maybe riding boots, standing right at the head of the table. There is no sign of its entrance or exit. He was making minions.
Nothing else at all on the table. They were just waiting for their host and bam, ambush.
Now, into the adjoining room. The 5 are being dragged across the room, or partly dragged. Outside are tracks, Pneumatic steam car tires. Marks left by the rat creatures disappearing into the sewer. Westinghouse is only able to follow for a few blocks into a somewhat seedy neighborhood.
Back to Meaker’s.
Late dinner. We all share information.
Tomorrow, into the seedy area to ask about property newly sold in last 6 months.
We hang garlic at her windows and door, and keep a guard.
Roof guards up before dark. If she goes to her room at all, Billy and Anne follow.
About dusk, there is a knock at the door. The maids lets someone in. Doh!!!
A tall, large beard, hair slicked back, long, huge widows peak. “Good evening.” Sounds swedish. “I’m your neighbor Conrad Wallender” of Sweden paying a visit.
Miranda enters, and stops dead staring. He “Ah, and who is this charming lady.”
Billy “None of your business sir.”
Westinghouse “The lady has been ill recently. But she’s getting better. I have no doubt she’ll recover.”
He invites us to his house and gives us his card, which Luke NY Will takes. One street over.
Jake “What made you stop by to visit this house.”
Just getting to know my neighbors, and I hear that Benjamin Meaker owns a large insurance firm, will be shipping lots of merchandise in and would like to get it insured; he’s an importer.\
Luke offers his friend Will’s help in bringing imports into San Fran instead. Much bigger port. He says that’s true, but he’ll start here now. Perhaps in a month San Fran, then in a few months New Orleans. Then NYC. Says he had failed plans in London in the past “I’m doing much better here though.”
Westinghouse “This is a rough business town. No doubt you’ll have some troubles.”
Westinghouse does not see his reflection in his mirrored cigarello case he bought just for this test.
Luke, after he leaves, says he let something wryly slip. He is very confident. Figured we wouldn’t pick up on it the way he said it. He has followers who w/in the next few days are ready to spread all across the country. Each one is going to start a Keepers Club. Once they get free, there will be no stopping it. There is not enough of us!!
He says worse times than the Black Death are coming. He makes it sound like that was caused by the Red Death.
To Mirabella “I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other soon” and he holds his hand out. SHe begins to pant and lean for him. To show his power, he puts his hand back up and she stops. He takes his leave, as “I have important matters to attend to tonight.”
“I will give my regards to Wilhelm von Brown. He’s an old acquaintance of mine. He will not be as happy to see me as I will be to see him.”
Wilheml von Brown is the vampire the Gang knows in Texas. How does he know!!!
Billy thinks we should put Anne in the bed. One window open to try to bait him tonight. He’s likely too smart to try something now on her so direct. But we do so just in case.
Miranda sleeps downstairs. While Dog is on his shift awake, she tells Dog who is awake on guard she has to go to the bathroom. Dog follows her up and he waits outside the door. Dog listens closely and hears the creak of a window in moments. He kicks the door in and she is going out the window. Dog gets her and pulls her in. She begins to pummel him saying the master has called me, she must go.
“Jack, you let me down. You were supposed to be watching her in there.”
Atwater gives her a slap and she comes out of it.
The rest of the night is uneventful.
We start bright and early.
Westinghouse sees Lt Mack who says he is welcome to go to the wreck site, with Atwater, Jesse, Jake, Ron, Nick, Billy. He gets a letter of intro from Mack and gets a beat cop to watch us from shore in case of trouble so that he can get help fast.
All but the upper deck is sunk beneath the waves. Fire burnt a large hole on one side. Darkness is visible within. Rigging hangs in tatters. Only cabin looks ready to collapse.
Our crew is good, and lash us on. It is lurching a little still. Still smells of burnt wood and rot, dark stains of old blood and carnage.
Peope were trying to get away in the lifeboat during the massacre. The cpt was holding onto the wheel and was torn off of it, huge blood stain there.
Seagulls feed on something in the crow’s nest. Billy climbs up to check it out, finds remains of a crewman with throat torn out. This is a crew member who was not counted. Kasper was a stowaway, so he was telling the truth.
The cabin has charts to orient and a map of the Hollywood land docks/harbor area.
Down into the hold goes Westinghouse, Jake, and Billy. A fair number of rats swimming around in the flooded deck and along the walls.
2 bunks in the captains cabin, probably shared with the first mate.
A small, unfinished statue whittled from driftwood. Obese body, small wings, and a score of tentacles hanging from its head!! This was in the cpt. ownership. He has obviously traveled well in his life.
3 passenger cabins. One has a washbowl stained in blood.
Probably the first victim, washing up and then hit.
In crew area, most everything removed like elsewhere. We grabe a page from a journal barely legible. Talks of cpt needing a rest after this trip, a crewman bitten by some 20 rats and dying, the author scared of sleeping at night and being attacked by the rats.
Also, Mr. Tepes caught coming out of cargo hold and warned more than once without an escort. Seemed tense and angry about it the last time, and angry about us stealing his bag’ (that was actually Kasper).
Another entry, author can’t wait to see Caroline and propose. Mentions it being ‘his turn’ to invite the passenger to dinner. They should arrive the next day.
Lots of squeaking coming from hold, shoulder height water, cargo floating.
Find a manifest page: includes 25 caskets for a Mr. Bradley Tepes. So maybe 5 properties?
We light torches and move in looking closer.
Find a canvas carpet bag floating marked property of Bradley Tepes and a letter to him in China from M. Tooms 1102 Heller’s alley Hollywoodland. Signed ‘Yours eternally’, MT.
Westinghouse "Now we know where Tooms is, and there we will find the properties.
Now to the aft hold, the closer we get the more agitated the rats become. It is completely under water.
Westinghouse volunteers, he can hold his breath. He tells Jake and Billy to keep the entry clear of rats with torches. He’ll come submerge there and go under there. He figures should not require skilled swimming per se.
Billy “Unless something grabs you under there.”
Westing house after a pause “Perhaps a second person should come with me.”
Ron volunteers. Billy and Jake will keep the rats away from the opening, revolvers out. Jesse is watcing down from above, rifle ready. Nick and Atwater keep watch above behind Jesse.
We find the caskets, all 25 are here. We cut the securing ropes and take one up to the top. It seems very heavy. We open it, revealing a woman lying there, peacefully. Dead, or asleep. But only for a brief second until the eyes open, gives a scream and incredibly fast leaps up. Smoke rises from her as she wails, dressed like a Hollywoodland strumpet. It leaps for Billy violently! Billy draws and hits 12. She slams Billy 7.
Jake “Gang tackle her!!”
Nick flips Atwater the stake. We rush her, Billy, Jake and Westinghouse get a hold of her.
Atwater goes for a swipe but misses wildly.
She does 9 to Billy. Its a struggle as Nick and Ron fail to join, but we fail to pin her. She fails to bite Billy. Nick and Jesse join in, but we pin her down!!
Billy “Stick her, stick her!”
Atwater strikes true, through the heart. She bursts into flame.
A voice behind us “The master would not be happy to hear that you are messing with his plans. Even as we watch they are transforming into the hybrid Man Rats!”
Jesse “Nope, I don’t reckon.”
The outlaws unleash Firestorm, emptying their rifles. Westinghouse and Atwater each hit also. 2 drop dead, the rest are in critical damage but for 1. The survivors draw and only Atwater is winged.
We draw our second weapons but for Atwater and Westinghouse. All are taken down leaving the Cpt last but Jake and Billy finish him off.
Westinghouse and Atwater are slack jawed in amazement at the Washington Gang’s death dealing.
We reload. There are 4 more that are heavy enough to have bodies. We bring them up. Ron keeps wanting to blow them up with dynamite, but we don’t want to risk them surviving and being free then. So we use rope to lash them securely shut. With hand axes on board, we chop holes in the faces and let the sunlight burn their faces until death. They are all from Hollywoodland, judging by their clothes.
Once again, the Investigators that are present are shocked at the violence of the Gang.
Now to Will in the seedy district to find the house the rats may have went to, with Will B., Cassandra, Luke, Anne, Dog. Will Beverly leaves to find some silver to procure and get bullets made. We all pitch in for a handsome but affordable sum.
The newsboys know the street that seems like it may be what we are looking for.
A prostitute there tells us that for $5 she will show us where all the toffs go. We easily can get that together. 1205 Lawrence Ave.
Looks deserted. There is a bar across the street, we will keep an eye on it from there. The back of the building is down an alley. The places on either side are also occupied. We pay one of the paper boys to go to Meaker’s house with a message about where we are.
By late afternoon, toward dusk, the others show up at the bar.
7 enter through the front: Jake, Ron, Jesse, Atwater, Luke, Will B., Westinghouse.
Rear: Billy, Nick, Dog, Anne Will NY, Cassandra.
Almost dusk, Will B. arrives w/ 26 rounds. 5 Outlaws minus Dog each get 3, with Jake and Billy splitting the extra 2. We pass out the juju rounds as well.
Mad dog, in 2 hits, beats his door in. Westinghouse picks the front.
The halls are thin and maze like leading to dead ends and such. The hall behind the front group is found closed behind them as they turn back.
The rear group leads to more intersections, so they start to mark their turns. But they come back to them when they know they shouldn’t have. Cassandra says its an extradimensional area of some kind. Finally they come to an empty room. They search around.
The front starts breaking in the right plaster wall into a big dead space between the corridors, with a carpet that went under the wall. It was not finished on the inside so just put up recently. We break through that and continue finally coming to front door. We take the right at the T and continue, finally coming to the room with the other group.
Luke “This is worse than a funhouse carnival.”
Ron gets on Mad Dog’s shoulders and punches a hole in the ceiling, and cuts through the carpet above.
Ron is heisted through into a beautifully appointed room, Victorian style. No one in there. Electric lights are lit in the corners.
Dog starts boosting others through. We drop a rope and get everyone up.
The door opens and Count Wallender enters without a word.
Gang draws, he puts up his hand and says to put the weapons away to talk. “You think I’m some sort of monster……….” Tries to say there are many kinds of monsters in the world. Admits to being from Transylvania, Vlad Tepes, the Count Dracul.
He says we are beginning to annoy him, “fortunately a minor annoyance.” and mentions Van Helsing, who the Investigators have heard of. He says he wishes not to kill us, his plans are incapable of being stopped at this point.
Tooms joins us. After offering us partnership, and us refusing, he bids us adieu and leaves the room. Tooms remains.
Bells start ringing, and Tooms says when the bells cease, the entire place will go up in a gas explosion.
So, we need to get out fast. Tooms stands calmly waiting. The ringing stops. There is no explosion. He looks perplexed, then doubtful. “I guess I must kill you myself” and picks up an axe. We draw and he leaps through the hole in the floor, running away.
We go into the hallway, and its a normal house. We go for the front to a window and go it. About a minute after we hit the ground, a woman approaches us, wearing a shawl, whispers “Come with me, hurry” to Ron and grasps his arm. Her skin is cold as ice and she has fangs. She leads us to the back into the alley “In here, follow me” back into the maze.
Ron “Why are we going here?” I will show you.
She opens a trap door we missed, leading to steps into the basement. Huge pile of coal, oil, other flammables and explosives with a detonator. It was rigged to the clock.
She says “Quickly, you must disarm this.”
Ron gets to work, and does so easily.
Woman “It would have leveled the entire block.”
Ron “Who are you?”
Valeria Armstrong. One of the women who disappeared. They are just 5 among many, money used to finance operation. Her fiance Hubert is going to Vienna, Samantha to Paris, Fredrick to London and Samuel to Cairo. One also to NYC. They were to leave by ship but not any more. She thinks they are leaving tonight, all on the same train.
She does not know if God wills it, or her will is stronger, but she was able to leave her coffin and come here to stop this explosion to save our lives. She can feel her control getting stronger every second. She wants us to kill her. She wants to be buried in consecrated ground, a mass said for her, she wants to go to heaven.
Suddenly “He knows, he’s in my mind, he knows you’re not dead!”
We stake her and take her body with us.
Stop at Meaker’s to grab more TNT and drop body off. Jonathan says his sister was taken by Tooms. They could not stop him.
Off to the train station.