The group, reeling from their encounter with the corrupted angelic Ethereal, continue to explore the ghostly asylum.
As they progress, the feeling that they have come to recognize as Lyssicus grows stronger. they follow the doorway right out of the room where they fought the Ethereal, and find themselves in a hallway with doors at staggered intervals on either side. It appears to be a patient ward. The hallway and the rooms are in disrepair, with doors hanging off of their hinges and paint and plaster chipping. There is a single window at the far end of the hallway, and what appears to be an old elevator bank and stairwell door about halfway down.
Everyone can hear strange noises coming from one or more of the rooms.
Henry attempts to cast out his magical senses on the floor, to attempt to ascertain what might be lurking in the rooms. He is quickly overcome by the Lyssicus in this place, and his mind is bombarded with scenes of depravity. City streets flood his senses, the architecture an almost schizophrenic combination of styles and time periods. He sees a theater performance, full of decadence and violence. Acts of murder and sexual perversity are played out on stage, and he knows that none of it is fake; it’s all real. He sees a lone figure, in tattered yellow robes, a featureless mask, and a broken crown sitting on a throne on the stage. Henry breaks down into hysterics, laughing and crying uncontrollably.
As Henry recovers, eight humanoid creatures come out of the rooms and move towards the group. They have grey skin, horrific distended jaws, jagged yellow teeth, and bones protruding from their fingers like claws. They smell of rot and death. Darrek identifies them as ghouls, unnatural creatures that feast on the dead.
Yun-Xun and Hilda waste no time closing with the creatures, seeking to protect the rest of the group. Hilda tries to hold the beasts back with a whirling flourish of her blade, but ends up cutting Yun-Xun as well. Danny transforms into his Feral form and charges the group of monsters, running up the wall without effort and flanking the things. Henry uses his magic to bind some of the ghouls while the melee combatants go to work. Danny, Hilda, and Yun-Xun trade blows. Darrek uses his magic to heal the wounded, and manages to put one of the ghouls into a deep magical sleep. With their combined efforts, they kill the beasts.
After the melee, Henry and Hilda collapse into fits of laughter and crying. It takes some doing to get them moving again. the group confers as to what their next move should be, and opts not to take the elevator. With this decided, Darrek decides to take a look out the lone window, while Danny and Hilda check the patient rooms to make sure that none of the creatures were left to attack them from behind. They do not go inside, but they see nothing from the hallway. Outside the window, Darrek sees just indistinct grey nothingness.
Suddenly, the elevator starts opening and closing all on its own, which startles Darrek and Danny. As he is staggering backwards from the elevator, Danny notices that the strange sign they have been seeing while researching this mission is scratched into the wall in one of the rooms. He doesn’t know how he missed it before, but he goes in to investigate it, and vanishes into thin air.
The rest of the group abandons their previous plan to take the stairs. They theorize that traveling through any door takes explorers to random points, but hope that they will find Danny by following through the same passage. Just in case, to prevent them from becoming even more scattered, the rest of the group joins hands before passing through.
Danny finds himself on the shore of a strange lake, filled with thick mist rather than actual water. The sky above him is a sickly yellow-green, and he can see two suns. He spots two cities in the distance, and woods behind him. At his feet is a silver amulet with that same symbol on it. The entire place reeks of Lyssicus. He pokes the amulet at his feet with a stick to make sure it is sage, and then pockets it, and begins walking towards the city on his left. As he walks toward the shore, mist envelops him. He senses, as much as sees, something massive slowly moving through the mist, which now feels more like moving through water.
Eventually, Danny hears a man screaming, and makes his way towards that direction. He finds a very crazed looking blonde man in a ratty suit. He recognizes the man as Daniel Morgan, one of the men they came here to find. He quickly goes to his defense, as he is being accosted by some sort of monstrosity that appears to be an abominable cross between a man, a bird of prey, and an insect, all composed of rotting flesh and horrible appendages.
A scuffle ensures, and though Danny takes quite a beating, he manages to eventually rip the creature’s throat out. He approaches the nearly catatonic Daniel, and it takes him some time to get him into a state where he can be moved. They move forward, and emerge from the mist somewhere new.
Meanwhile, Yun-Xun, Darrek, Hilda, and Henry find themselves in some kind of strange city. Henry recognizes it from his vision earlier. Yun-Xun loses the contents of her stomach from the overwhelming wrongness of the place. For a split second, overwhelming hatred nearly overcomes them, but it’s quickly replaced by hysterical laughter. Everyone is very uncomfortable.
They begin to walk through the city, which appears to be very sparsely populated. Everything seems wrong, but Darrek is the first to notice what it is: the buildings, streets, and alleyways shift. the city is constantly changing around them. Henry spots a castle-like building in the distance, but by the time anyone else looks, it has been obscured by the changing landscape. Having no other leads, the group heads in that direction. As they are walking, they hear a horrible sound, like nothing they have heard before. Suddenly, a hulking mass of flesh and tentacles slithers out of an alley and heads towards the group.
Yun-Xun and Hilda rush the creature, kicking and slashing respectively. Tentacles whip at the group, but don’t find their target. Darrek uses his magic to protect himself, and Henry makes the ground around the beast explode into shrapnel. Yun-Xun and Hilda continue to fight, but Yun-Xun and Henry take tentacle swipes to the chest, and are severely injured. Darrek’s magic seems to be particularly effective against the creature, but Henry and Yun-Xun are less effective, so they take cover behind some nearby debris. Eventually, the creature crumbles to dust after being blasted by Darrek’s magics.
In the alleyway behind the now dead creature, they can hear laughter and applause. Darrek uses his magic to heal Henry before they move on to investigate. Moving through the alley, they find themselves in a lavish theater, very traditionally decorated. The seats are all packed, and a strange play is being acted out on stage. Simultaneously, they also see the theater as abandoned and in extreme disrepair. The conflicting sensory information is confusing.
The scene being acted out on stage seems to revolve around a woman, lamenting the loss of her sister. She is begging the king to show her the truth. Even though it does not come across as a comedy, the audience is laughing uproariously.
Meanwhile, Danny and Daniel find themselves backstage in the same theater. Daniel seems very agitated, and is trying to back away from the stage, away from the light and sound. Danny hears a maniacal laugh coming from somewhere, and moves into position to defend Daniel.
An usher is approaching the rest of the group. Darrek suggests that they pretend like they are looking for seats, and try to avoid him. The usher follows them, but does not confront them.
Backstage, Danny hears the maniacal laughter again, and it sounds like Daniel’s voice. Daniel, for his part, seems terrified by this, and lets out a scream. Darrek immediately recognizes his best friend’s voice and takes off running in the direction of the sound; the rest of the group follow and head backstage themselves via a side door in the wings of the theater. They find themselves in a brightly lit yellow room, with a man who looks suspiciously like Daniel dressed as the Joker, an altar with a book bearing the strange symbol, and Dr. Armedt tied to a wall. The “Joker” moves to attack them.
The creature masquerading as Daniel and the Joker is a formidable foe, possessed of great strength. He uses some device or magic on Hilda, which hurts her both physically and spiritually. He seems to delight in his own pain when she strikes him back.
Meanwhile, the woman from the play is approaching Danny, who by now has heard the sounds of conflict in a nearby room. She kisses him, and he feels both his life and his sanity draining away.
Two battles rage on, Darrek, Henry, Yun-Xun and Hilda battling the creature disguised as the Joker, and Danny battling the woman from the play. Darrek briefly glances at the book on the altar and is surprised that he can read the language it is written in, despite never having seen it before. The book is titled the Book of the Shade. Darrek goes to heal Dr. Armedt, and then returns to take the book from the altar, thinking that it could provide answers. Henry, with a flash of intuition, realizes that the altar might be what is keeping them here, and tries to overload it by pumping raw magic into it. It seems to have some effect, but he can’t tell quite what, and it is slow going.
Eventually, in a flurry of kicks and drained Chi, Yun-Xun deals the final blow to the “Joker.” Danny sees that his battle with the woman is not going well, so he throws Daniel over his shoulder and runs into the room with the rest of the group. The woman, of course, follows him, and the battle continues.
At this point, Henry realizes that what he is doing is working, but he needs some kind of focus to more effectively channel his power. He calls out to that effect. Yun-Xun asks him what he needs, and he replies that their research said that the symbol they keep seeing is both a boon and a bane to these creatures, so that might help. Danny tosses the amulet he found on the beach to Henry. Henry yells at Darrek to put the book back as well, which Darrek does, although reluctantly.
As Henry channels his power though the amulet, the altar begins to crack. The woman shrieks and rushes him, but Hilda interposes. She attempts to strike the woman, but misses and gets lifted off the ground by her throat for her troubles. Hilda loses consciousness as some of her sanity and lifeforce drains away. The rest of the group chips in to protect Henry and the now unconscious Slayer, and successfully hold back the woman. After watching the woman brutally attack his new ward and compatriots and just barely resisting her sanity-draining kiss himself, Darrek loses it. His eyes go black as he unleashes a powerful blast of tainted energy at the woman. As Henry continues to funnel power into the altar, it breaks clear down the middle.
The world swims around the group. Colors have sounds, sounds have smells, and shapes have a flavor. Eventually, it fades, and they are sitting in a circle in the rubble of Mayview Hospital. Anita and the twin necromancers are there, and they ask if they can stop now. They look exhausted and strained, and inform the group that they have been gone all of fifteen minutes. Darrek tells them they can, and they slump over, panting.
Dr. Armedt is severely wounded, and Daniel is catatonic, but they are alive and back home. Darrek starts making arrangements so that they can get the help that they need. Both men are taken to the emergency room at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon. Dr. Armedt is admitted to the hospital. After assessment it is determined that Daniel requires more long-term care and treatment than the hospital’s acute psychiatric unit can provide and transfer him to Western Psych in Oakland.
The ghostly mansion is gone, and so is the amulet that Henry was holding.
The Hellmouth was active once more, now with a new energy, an energy more menacing than ever before. It pulsed and practically undulated with it. There, at Point State Park, at high midnight, a woman stepped from the gloom to stand before it. She could see the yellow energy that filled the thing, knew and relished what was coming. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, her head tipped back in sheer ecstasy. She spread her arms and began to sway, back and forth. They were coming…she could sense it.
“Soon, my love,” she said, her mad eyes glittering in the dark. “Soon we shall be legion, and you will walk free among us once more.”
She spun to face the city, rose her face to the sky and gasped as a cloud formed over the city, and a web of green lighting struck down, its tendrils touching every last building. The storm lasted for mere seconds, and when it subsided…the woman was gone.
Extended joking about Gary Busey being a Mask of Nyarlathotep
Re: Henry extending his magic to sense what was in the patient ward
Henry: Why didn’t you tell me that was stupid?
Darrek: You didn’t exactly ask!
Darrek: They’re ghouls. They eat dead things.
Henry: We’re not dead.
Darrek: But if they kill us, we will be.
Julie (Darrek’splayer): She’s getting her ass kicked.
Robert (Henry’s player): Well, half of it was friendly fire.
Re: Julie (Darrek’s player) rolling up multiple times on a healing roll.
Jason (Director): Darrek touches you and it feels really good.
Julie (Darrek’s player): grins Yeah, I’m awesome like that.
Re: Danny vanishing
Henry: So… we’re going with the “he can take care of himself and we’ll meet up with him later” theory?
Re: Just before the rest of the cast join hands and step into the room where Danny just vanished.
Darrek: And through the looking glass we go…
Re: the amulet on the beach
Mike D. (Yun-Xun’s player): Put it on…
Don (Danny’s player): NO!
Tom (Hilda’s player): How many tentacles does it have?
Jason (Director): Do you want to stop and take the time to count?
Darrek: Let’s look like we’re trying to find seats.
Henry: So… you want to see how the play ends?
Don (Danny’s player): Aw, sh*t! I can’t hit a woman!
Julie (Darrek’s player): Yes, you can!
Re: Danny getting kissed by the woman
Jason (Director): It’s like kissing god.
Robert (Henry’s player): It made you happy in your pants.
Re: Darrek getting kissed by the woman
Darrek: That is so not fair.
Darrek: We’ll never speak of this again outside of this circle.
Henry: So, what happens on Hastur, stays on Hastur?
Anita: I don’t know what happened in there… but welcome to Pittsburgh!
Hilda: Lovely city. Can we rest now?