Monday, August 15, 2011

Cthulhu Gaslight: In the Service of the Crown, Part 2

Dramatis personae:
Daffyd (Dai) Iffans, retired soldier of the British Indian Army (Rifle Brigade), now part-time writer for a Socialist newspaper, with an interest in the East End
Catherine (Cat) Kincaid, journalist and daughter of a well-known scientist

The place: London
The time: April 1890

read Part One

So the man turns and runs and Dai and Cat give chase...ish. Victorian fashion slows the pursuit down to a jog at best, but the corridors are winding and narrow enough that they don't get too far behind. They lose sight of the man, but can hear footsteps and the sound of the jar smashing into the wall. When they get to the spot, they find a puddle of foul-smelling liquid on the floor. Despite the warning of the Colonel about the contents of the jar, they investigate further and get shot at. They can take cover behind some crates, but now they have lost the man for good and turn back.

Cat finds a business cards with the address of an opium den and a small metallic disc with some kind of sign (a pentagram and a flame, with a capital L on the other side). On the way back, they pass the weird Ganesha statue again or would have, if the statue hadn't disappeared in the meantime. Dai has to take a minute to stomach this, while Cat asks the museum guard they bribed if he has noticed anything strange, but he hasn't.

Dai visits his club to ask some of his army buddies about Colonel Stack and is told that the man probably is a sandwich or two short of a picnic. This confirms Dai's suspicion that they are being used, but by now it's too late to just walk away.

He meets with Cat at the British Library and they do some research, Cat on the medallion they found and Dai on the Ganesha statue and any cults that may be associated with this skewed version of it. Cat finds out that the sign on the medallion is used as protection and that it's often found in connection with the Leopold Society.

Dai is at first unsuccessful in his search, but then he digs deeper and comes across a book called "Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" and learns more than he ever wanted to know. He can't pull himself away until he finds an illustration showing a god called Eihort that looks very much like the statue and that moves when he looks at it. That is finally enough to break the spell and Dai throws the book across the room. He's very close to simply running, but Cat manages to calm him down. He makes her promise that no matter how curious she is, she will never open that book.

Once Dai feels a bit better and Cat has changed into some more suitable clothes (which means dressing up as a man), they make their way to the opium den. A friend of Cat's explains to them how they can get inside, but warns them that it's a dangerous place. When Cat asks him about Adil (the man they are looking for), he says that he never heard the name, but Cat strongly suspects that he's lying.

He told them the truth about how to get into the opium den at least and they do find Adil there, who threatens them with a gun when they come close. Adil assures them that he is perfectly willing to kill them, but he would prefer to talk, which suits Cat and Dai just fine. He asks them to touch a second medallion, the counterpart to the one they already found. Nothing happens, although it feels slightly warm to them both, but Adil at least points the gun to the floor after that.

When they tell him that they were send by Colonel Stack, he confirms what Dai already suspects: the Colonel has been dishonourably discharged quite a while ago. Cat asks Adil if he works for the Leopold Society, but although he does react to the name, he neither confirms nor denies it.

Before they can find out any more, there's an explosion and Adil collapses, shot in the head. In the following confusion and panic, a man in a black robe (but with a well-tailored suit underneath) grabs the jar Adil had hidden on his person and runs for the exit. Dai recognises Marone, manages to get to his feet quickly enough to take a shot at the man and hits him right in the head. The jar shatters and they see that it contains a creature that looks like a cross between an embryo and a leech, moving feebly before it finally dies.

By the time Cat and Dai make it out of the burning building, a carriage with Stack inside is just pulling away. He's holding the statue of Einhort in his arms and Dai is sure that it moves. Dai takes aim at the Colonel, but he's already too far away.
When they visit the Colonel's house on the next morning, it's burned down, but no body was discovered.


This part of the adventure has taken quite a toll on Dai's sanity. Luckily he's a very stable character, so he isn't bound for Bedlam yet, but I doubt that he will sleep well after all this. The GM told me the name of the book Dai had pulled from the shelve with a decidedly evil grin. He did ask if I really wanted to read it, I give him that, but unlike me, Dai had no idea what he had stumbled upon, so of course he read the book. Luckily, I managed to make a successful Mana roll or Dai would not have been able to stop reading.

We had a week to come up with a plan after the cliffhanger of the last session and when the GM asked after the recap what we were going to do, it went like this:
"Well, we're going back. There's no point in following that guy, it's just too dangerous."
There's not much that's more satisfying that the look of total bafflement on the face of the GM. We couldn't keep a straight face any longer than that, though.

After three sessions, Dai has begun to really come alive for me. He starts doing thing I did not plan and I always enjoy it when characters do that, it means that I managed to make them more than just a couple of stats on a piece of paper. The shot that killed Marone also killed the showdown the GM had planned, but at the same time the fact that the colonel is still around will make for another good story, I'm sure.

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