Based on the Call of Cthulhu _scenario entitled, “The Snows of an Early Winter,” by Louis Agresta and published by Super Genius Games.
The two men stood face-to-face, one fuming, the other trying very hard to keep his calm.
“Where is it?” The first man demanded. “I know you have it, or at least, you know where it is.”
“I think you should calm down,” the second one said. “I’ve already done you a huge favor loaning the book to you in the first place. You’ll need to bring it back, or else…”
“Or else, what?” The first man demanded. “You’ll fire me? I’ll tell them. You know I’ll tell them what you do.” His eyes narrowed. “They’re already onto you, aren’t they? You know I could end you.”
“Walk away,” the second man said. “Just walk away. Give me the book back, and I don’t tell anyone. In fact, keep the book. I don’t care. Just walk away, and leave me alone.”
""I’ve got a counter proposal," the first man said. “Turn over to me what you took, or tell me where to find it, and I’ll leave you alone.”
The second man’s face drew thin, his lips a straight line. “You know I won’t do that.”
“Fine.” The first man said. “I’ll have to find it myself.”
The knife blade glinted brightly in the yellow glow of the lamp. There was a gurgle, a spray of blood, and the second man collapsed, twitching, across his desk.
Two weeks have passed since the group’s failed attempt to stop Papa Screech and his blasphemous ritual. Things have mostly returned to business as usual.
When he’s not working, Darrek spends as much time as he can with Henry and attempts to further bond with him via various activities including going to the movies, Dave and Buster’s, and go-kart racing. One morning over breakfast, he gives Henry a lanyard with several small keys on it and informs him that he no longer needs to ask permission to access the library. Henry gets Darrek a belated birthday gift as promised: an adorable teddy bear dressed like a bobby (British police officer), which Darrek is careful to keep out of Omar’s reach. Yun-Xun spends a day over at the Tinsleys’ house with them teaching Henry to make dumplings.
Henry goes to check on the girl he took to the hospital, but discovers that she has vanished. This doesn’t concern him too much, as that is pretty much par for the course when street kids end up in the hospital.
Matthew spends a lot of time with his new fling, Rebecca. Her resemblance to the mysterious Camilla is unsettling for the rest of the group, but for her part, Rebecca seems to be a pleasant and kind person. He finds himself constantly thinking about her, even when he isn’t trying to.
After gaining what he can from Anita’s library, Darrek goes to the Masonic Temple to research how to deal with the problem of Cassilda and attempts to reconnect with his Rosicrucian brothers. He discovers that they have split into different factions and some of them attempt to speak with him in some sort of code that he cannot comprehend. There is a miasma of distrust hanging over the chapter house. Darrek is deeply unsettled when Aimee Harris is particularly nice to him, despite his efforts to avoid her.
Klaus is still off the radar. No one has heard from or seen him since he went to investigate Megan’s disappearance. Anita is very worried about him, as it is not like him to maintain radio silence for so long. Even when he was in the monastery in Tibet, he still maintained regular contact with her.
Darrek receives a phone call from WPIC to inform him that his wife, Emily, is being released from the hospital. He suspects that this is more due of a shortage of beds than her being legitimately ready for discharge, but decides not to look a gift horse in the mouth. He goes the next morning to pick her up, and she tells him that she has been having a very strange dream, over and over. She knows her powers well enough to understand that it is a vision. She says that there is a woman in pain, somewhere in the East End of Pittsburgh. She can see snakes and bloody chicken heads in the vision as well. Darrek urges her to focus, and when she does she is able to remember some more details. She can recall a partial address, which Darrek googles and discover is a dilapidated tenement in Larimer. She begs him to help the woman, and he promises her that he will look into it.
Convening back at the Hive Arcana, Anita informs the group that she has a new case for them. The woman who contacted her would not identify herself, but insisted that she needed outside help and said that the police are being unhelpful. Professor Atterman, the curator of the South American Indigenous Peoples Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum, has been murdered. She wants the group to look into the murder.
Almost as soon as Anita finishes her briefing, there is a knock on her office door. A young woman comes in and introduces herself as Margot. She says that her cat, who was being boarded at the East Side Shelter in East Liberty, has been killed. In fact, all of the animals in the kennel were slaughtered. She is very upset, and wants the group to find out who killed her beloved cat and why.
Hesitant to leave her alone so soon after being released from the hospital, Darrek brings Emily to the Hive for some socialization and relaxation. After their arrival, Anita receives a phone call from her old friend, John. He tells her that one of his old army buddies was found dead in Frick Park, decapitated. He asks Anita if she can look into it, but asks that she remain discrete.
Now having several cases to work on simultaneously, the group confers and decides to start with the Carnegie Museum first, as it is just down the road from the Hive. Darrek attempts to charm his way into the back offices, telling the receptionist that he needs to speak with the curator regarding a class he is teaching. The receptionist informs him that Atterman is dead, and the new curator is named Professor Surro. She calls Surro, but receives no answer. She tells Darrek to call and make an appointment with Surro at a later date.
While the receptionist is distracted, Matthew decides to sneak past the guards and find Atterman’s office on his own. After picking the lock, he searches the office. He finds a number of items and books relating to voodoo and Santeria. Some of the books on Santeria were written by Atterman himself. He also sees a photograph of a pug dog, and a picture of Atterman with an old man that one of his books’ dust jacket identifies as “Old Man Cuba.”
During his search of the office, Matthew is interrupted by a young woman. After some conversation, he learns that her name is Cheryl Cody, and she was Atterman’s secretary. She is also the person that hired Blake Investigations to look into his death. She rambles on a bit, talking about how Pogo the pug was in the office but the police took him to a shelter, and how there was mud and “weird stuff” on Atterman’s body. She also indicates that she does not like Professor Surro. Matthew gives her business card and tells her to call him should she think of anything that might be relevant to the investigation.
At this moment, an Asian man comes into the room and begins yelling at Cheryl and Matthew in broken English. He is Professor Surro. He tells Matthew to leave, or he will call security. Matthew complies, but blatantly snaps a picture of him with his phone on his way out.
Having done all they can at the museum, the group heads to the East End Shelter. The kennel is currently closed, and there is an alarm system active. Henry tries his best to disable the alarm before picking the lock on the door. He’s fairly confident that he is successful, and they enter the shelter. The lights come on as they enter into the office area. They see a sign indicating that the kennel is downstairs, so they head that way. There is a large man in scrubs hacking dogs and cats into pieces with a fire ax. He charges the group when he notices them, eyes wild. A fight ensues, and the man is eventually knocked unconscious.
With the man disabled, the group quickly searches the kennel. They find a stack of library books and a library card with the name Leisha Marsh on it, and a drawer filled with thick gray snake skins. The skins are unsettling. Darrek discovers a hospital coat and an address for Marsh. Matthew spots a security camera, and quickly takes the hard drive from the security terminal.
Realizing that the man might have set off the alarm before Henry disabled it, they take his unconscious body to a nearby storage facility to interrogate him. He rants and raves about blood, saying that his gods will be the death of the group. Darrek attempts to use his magic to influence the man’s cooperation. He refuses to say anything else, and then chews off his own tongue. The group search his pockets, and find an ID. The man’s name is Reilly Jackson. They decide to take him to the hospital, as he’s losing a lot of blood.
After dropping him off at West Penn, they decide to head to Larimer to investigate Emily’s vision. Arriving at the address Emily provided, it seems to be an abandoned apartment building. However, the intercom is on and one of the buttons has the name “Shelly Atterman” on it.
Darrek presses it, and a woman’s voice comes on. The woman seems crazed, ranting about helicopters and people following her. When Matthew mentions that they are investigating Professor Atterman’s death, she buzzes the group in, but insists that everyone removes all of their jewelry and put it in the mailbox so that “they” can’t use it to spy on her. The only one of the group who is wearing any jewelry is Darrek, who refuses to remove his wedding band, and opts to stay downstairs in the lobby while the others go up to talk to Shelly. Hilda decides to wait with him.
When they arrive, there are newspapers and rotting food everywhere. An older woman paws at a stationary television. There is a younger African American woman with a pair of fabric shears. She begins to cry about her brother.
Henry spots something writhing under the newspapers, and hears the clucking of chickens in another room. The woman raves about slithering, and starts gyrating. When Henry approaches the door with the clucking, the woman becomes aggressive, and starts yelling at him to leave the door alone.
The woman rants about how her brother was murdered over a book and a missing page. She mentions a Professor Oddmuth, and claims they chased Pogo away. She says that “it” is in the shelter with Pogo, and “it” will be safe there. She rants about how she needed to protect Frick Park, and that “they” were killing animals there. Matthew notices some newspaper clippings, and offers to get her a glass of water. He palms the clippings in the process, and sees that they are articles about her community organization work, and that when she retired she was replaced by a librarian named E.J. Hastings.
Reconvening in the lobby, Darrek, Henry, and Yun-Xun remember that they read something about a series of animal killings in Frick Park a while back. Darrek call the article up on his phone, and reads the story aloud to the group about a Santeria cult slaughtering a lot of chickens. Shelly Atterman pushed for the practice to be outlawed, stating health code violations and public safety. A fiesty debate about freedom of religion ensued, and Professor Atterman and Old Man Cuba were tapped for their expertise in the matter. Cuba insisted that when done properly, Santeria animal sacrifices were performed as humanely as possible and adhered to health code regulations. He also said that the event in the park was performed incorrectly, and did not reflect true Santeria practices. A man named Sam Guerva was arrested for the slaughter.
The group decides to break for dinner, and then head into Frick Park to investigate the site of the murder of John’s friend, as well as the site of the chicken massacre.
To Be Continued
Memorable Quotes and Great Moments
(Bitterly, to Matthew) “Say hi to your girlfriend for me.” – Anita
“So, we go to the museum first, since that’s closest, and then the scene of the horrible kitten murders. Because that guy needs to be brought to justice!” – Henry
“Can we not with the kitten murders?” – Darrek
(To the security guard at the museum) “Ain’t my fault you ain’t no good.” – Matthew
“Darrek, do you think we were like, all Hitlers in a past life, and that’s why this stuff happens to us every day?” – Henry
“No!! What?! No!!” – Darrek
Re: a long talk about Buddhism and reincarnation
“And that is why demons are not Buddhist.” – Yun-Xun
Darrek sheepishly apologizes to Yun-Xun after assuming expertise about the beliefs and philosophy of Buddhism…in front of a practicing Buddhist.
(To Darrek) “Check yo’ privilege.” – Henry
“You’re being remarkably snarky today.” – Darrek
“I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!” – Henry, with big old crocodile tears
“I will let him live because we might need information, but he will not live comfortably.” – Hilda
“He doesn’t look normal, he’s chopping up puppies.” – Mike V. (Matthew’s player)
Re: The man chopping up shelter animals
“Darrek, this is a mean person.” – Henry
Re: The puppy killer
“We could just let him loose, phone 911, and call it a day.” – Darrek
“DARREK!” – Yun-Xun
Re: Hilda groin punching the puppy killer repeatedly
“She slayed those nuts!” – Mike D. (Yun-Xun’s player)
“Why is she even living here? This place is abandoned.” – Henry
(Sarcastically) “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because of the helicopters.” – Darrek
The group is directed to remove all of their jewelry and leave it in a mailbox. They all stare at Darrek, who is the only one of them who is wearing jewelry.
(Looking down at his wedding ring and then up at the group, he shakes his head) “Nope, sorry. This is a test.” – Darrek
Re: Shelly starting to gyrate
“…I need an adult.” – Henry
“Are your pretties the snakes under the newspapers, or the chickens in the bedroom?” – Henry
“What? I don’t hear anything.” – Shelly Atterman
“Really? Because you’ve got chickens in your bedroom and snakes under your newspapers. I just want to impress upon you how surreal your living situation is.” – Henry
After reading the news article about the chicken massacre, Darrek is completely disgusted by Henry’s suggestion of getting a barbecue chicken pizza.
“That is just not right.” – Darrek
“Darrek, this is America. If it is a thing you can eat, we will put it on a pizza.” – Henry