Campaign of the Month: March 2017

Nocturnum: Rebirth

Episode Eight

Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign? Part One

Chronicler: Julie
Based on the adventure scenario in Chaosium’s The Great Old Ones collection.

Cut Scene

The boy who was no longer a boy leaned over a table, writing feverishly, the red ink pouring from the pen freely. It had been years since he’d been a boy; rationally, he knew that. But the memories weren’t there. In his mind, he was still a boy.

Sweat poured from his face; he couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept. He couldn’t remember the last time…anything. Everything in the past was gone. Sometimes there would be flashes of faces, events, but only one constant.

Her.

Her perfect beauty. Her power. Her raw seductiveness. His mind melted whenever she was near.

His mind melted now.

Her poetic, musical voice floated through the foul air in the dark room, lit only by the yellow flicker of the candles placed strategically throughout.

He shuddered, drew in a sharp breath as the gentle brush of her fingertips fell upon his shoulder, and her hot breath washed across his ear.

“How’s it coming?” she whispered.

“Starting Act Two,” he said. “so tired. So very tired.”

The lush, four-poster canopy bed in the corner called out to him with its crimson satin sheets and its promise of warmth and oblivion.

“Not yet,” she chided. “You must finish.”

“Yes,” he said. “must…finish.”

“That’s right, my dear. And who must you finish for?”

“You, my Mistress. Must finish for you.”

Her arms wrapped around him and suddenly, he was full once more. Content. Happy. Energized. But then the other voice came. The negative influence. The invader.

“Tell me, my love,” she said. “Who are you? Who are you for me?”

When he replied, his voice was husky, a growl.

“I am Aldones,” he said.

“No!” she hissed, and lifted him like a rag doll from the chair, hurled him across the room to the bed. He hit the wall, hard, and slid down. His head lolled to the side, nearly senseless. His eyes glazed over and his gaze clouded. She approached him, her hips swaying in a seductive dance. She straddled him and leaned down.

“Who are you?” she said.

“Your lover,” he mumbled, half-senseless. “Aldones.”

She growled, leaned over him, took his face in her hands. “No longer!” she said. “Tell me who you are!”

Her power washed over him. Every muscle and tendon in his body tensed. His back arced. He let out a gurbled, inhuman animal cry and convulsed once, twice, a third time as she poured the lyssicus in. The psychic battle seemed to last forever before, at last, the voices quieted, and he found peace once more.

Then, somehow, he was inside of her. She moved on top of him and he knew true glory, true surrender to his queen. He knew absolute surrender. Both of them screamed their desire as their souls joined, became one, and she collapsed on top of him.

“Who are you?” she whispered.

“Yours, my Queen,” he said. “I am yours.”

“Good boy,” she said, and swung off of him, backing into the corner. Her gaze fell to the writing desk.

“I have work to do,” he said.

“Yes,” she smiled. “You do. Great work. Now back to it, my slave.”

He arose and attacked the project with renewed fury, the words pouring free from his pen once more.

Episode Synopsis

The group adjourns to Matthew’s loft to meet with Timothy Ekloff. Darrek asks Matthew if Emily can come in with them and lay down somewhere while they talk. Yun Xun offers her bed, which appears brand new and never slept in. Looking down, there is a sleeping mat on the floor at the foot of the bed.

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Ekloff hands them a dossier in a battered manilla envelope and says, “I found this in an abandoned safehouse in Virginia labeled ‘The Carcosa Files.’ I have no idea what’s in it, and I don’t want to know.” He tells them he’s doing whatever he can to keep Delta Green from deciding to outright eliminate Pittsburgh in stopping the threat of Hastur’s infection. When someone asks him why he is helping them, he comments that he owes Anita more than he’ll ever be able to repay her. He then takes his leave, saying that Matthew knows how to get in touch with him.

The group then reviews the dossier, which contains extensive information about The King in Yellow, Cassilda, Camilla, and the previous documented incursions/infections of Hastur throughout the years, including attempts that were made to produce the play itself. The dossier references Cassilda eventually being trapped in a Hellmouth on an island by a group of sorcerers and occultists-Darrek recognizes this reference as the very place where Sam discovered and released her. The document also references destroying her four Heralds. Darrek brings up the option of potentially opening and using the Hellmouth in Pittsburgh to entrap Cassilda once more. Everyone is shocked by this suggestion and stares open-mouthed at him. As the group’s discussion continues, Henry makes it abundantly clear that if they fail to contain Hastur, he will contact Delta Green himself to destroy the city, stating, “If our lives will save the rest of the world, that’s a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make.” The group discusses the three Heralds they know of so far-The Joker,the Borgias, and Alan-and ponder who the fourth might be. Darrek shares his theory that Sam is the fourth Herald, and that it is only a matter of time before he reveals himself as the others have.

The dossier also references a group of demon hunters in Los Angeles that were able to create a device that significantly diminished the power of an Old One and allowed them to “talk her down.” Matthew contacts the Watcher’s Council to see about gaining access to their online archives to research this. Darrek assists him in tracking down the information he is looking for, and then goes to check on his wife while Matthew reads and learns that indeed, apparently in 2004 a group of demon hunters led by an ensouled Strigoi vampire named Angel were able to reduce the power of an Old One named Illyria using a device created by a former watcher named Wesley Wyndam Price. Illyria had manifested by infecting one of the members of their group named Winnifred Burkle. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the members of that group, including Mr. Wyndam Price, are now dead; however, Angel and Illyria still appear to be active, with Illyria fighting on the side of good, now. They are operating an agency very similar to Anita’s out of a hotel in Los Angeles. Matthew texts Anita to see if she’s ever heard of him, but receives no response.

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Darrek goes to Yun Xun’s room to check on Emily. She is sleeping very fitfully and is clearly having nightmares. Yun Xun enters holding a special mirror, which she sets up carefully by where Emily is sleeping, and explains that it works very similarly to a Native American dreamcatcher and is supposed to help with nightmares. Darrek thanks her. Yun-Xun can tell that he is very distraught over whatever is happening to his wife.

Matthews suggests that the group spend the night at his place; Darrek thanks him but politely declines his offer and explains that Emily will be more comfortable at home. He enters Yun Xun’s room and gently picks her up to carry her to the car. She wakes up and appears to dissociate, begins panicking, and starts to thrash and swing wildly at Darrek. He and Henry are able to calm her down and get her to the car safely. Yun Xun tells him to take the mirror home and gives instructions about how it should be set up to release any negative energies it collects.

Arriving home, Henry asks Darrek if he can use his library before he goes to bed, as there’s something he wants to look up. Darrek gives his permission, and then carries Emily up to their bedroom. He gets into bed with her and, not knowing what else to do, tries to help her physically relax. When he begins to touch her, she abruptly pushes him away, and says, “No. Not tonight.” In Darrek’s library, Henry attempts to research spells to alleviate nightmares, but does not find anything that appears helpful.

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The next day, arriving at the Hive Arcana, Anita is in her office, with Klaus. She looks mentally distraught and comments, “It’s done. We did what we set out to do. Alan’s gone, forever. I unraveled his soul.” She wipes her face with her hands, and then hands two letters to Darrek and says, “These are from Sandra. She’s okay, she’s just…not here. There’s one for you, and one for Bob. Can you give it to him when he comes in later?” Darrek nods, tucking them into his jacket pocket. The group briefs her. She comments that she only knew Wesley Wyndam Price by reputation, but she is familiar with Angel, and suggests that Matthew contact Faith, as the two of them are still very close, and she may know how to get in touch with him. When she mentions that Angel and Buffy were involved in a romantic relationship, Hilda’s ears perk up.

Dana comes upstairs and says, “Uh, guys? I’m sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but there’s two FBI agents downstairs, and they want to talk to Danny. Something about a murder case?” Danny’s face goes pale, and he declares that he can’t explain right now, but he can’t talk to the agents. While the group works to find him somewhere to hide, Darrek goes downstairs to talk to the agents. Henry follows him. When the agents begin to grill Darrek for information and he begins to fluster, Henry jumps in and smoothly gives them a false address for Danny, saying that they’re happy to help in any way they can. The agents leave. Darrek stares at Henry, who curtsies and says, “You’re welcome.” Anita suggests contacting Harlan to hide Danny out indefinitely until things blow over. She thanks Matthew for handling things in her absence, and then announces that she’s taking the rest of the day off and tells Klaus, “C’mon. I’m probably going to need you to pick me up off of the floor later.” He follows her downstairs. Father Bob comes in a little while later, and Darrek gives him Sandra’s letter. He reads it with a stoic face, then folds it up and puts it in his pocket and says, “I just hope she’s alright.”

Darrek suggests that he could try following up with Daniel to see if he remembers anything that might help the group. Henry asks if he can go with him, saying, “Dr. Armedt’s been asking to talk to me, and I’ve kind of been blowing him off.” They walk up to the Masonic temple to meet with Dr. Armedt, who is visibly stressed. He tells Darrek that things within the Rosicrucians are not going well and that he needs to continue to lay low. There is immense pressure coming down from New York for Armedt to step down, and they are coming hard at anyone who is perceived to be loyal to him. Darrek pleads with him not to give in. Armedt assures him he has no intentions of yielding, comments that there’s a fight coming, and tells Darrek that he suspects that Hastur is beginning to infect the Covenants, including the Rosicrucians. Darrek confirms that it is most definitely affecting psychics in the Cabal. Dr. Armedt tells him to meet him at the Hive later that evening, and he will take him to see Daniel. Darrek then leaves Henry to meet with Dr. Armedt in private, and goes to wait outside. While he waits, he reads Sandra’s letter.

Meanwhile, at the Hive Arcana, the Dullahan shows up again, loudly demanding the Protector. Matthew, Hilda, and Yun Xun chase it down the street. Hilda calls Henry to let him know to watch his back.

Dr. Armedt tells Henry that he has his parents’ estate and property held in trust for him, and that whenever he is ready or wants to go home, to let him know. Henry asks if he can have copies of the trust paperwork to review, and Armedt promises to obtain this for him as soon as possible. Going outside after their meeting, he sees Darrek waiting for him, who has clearly been crying, but says nothing. The two walk back to the Hive Arcana. Darrek takes a detour to the state store on Atwood, and asks Henry to wait outside for him while he goes in and purchases a bottle of Old Crow. When Henry makes a comment about the letter Anita gave him from Sandra, Darrek snaps at him that it’s none of his business. Upon arriving back the Hive, Darrek orders a large coffee, having Dana only fill it up half way, and fills it up the rest of the way with the bourbon.

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Charles Sunstram, an editor at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, calls Blake Investigations and says that he’d like to hire them. Matthew asks if he can come to the Hive Arcana so that they can discuss the matter. A short time later, he arrives, and tells the group that he wants to hire them to investigate the death of one of his reporters, Peter Gavin. His death has been ruled a suicide, but Sunstram is adamant that Gavin would never have taken his own life. He was found clutching a piece of paper with a symbol sketched on it, and suggests that the cast can follow up with the Lieutenant in charge of the case, Joe Knonaem. Darrek texts Joe and asks him if he can stop down to the Hive when he has a free moment. He responds that he will be there as soon as he can. When Sunstram asks about taking care of their fee, Matthew suggests that they forgo the fee in exchange for Sunstram owing them a favor in the future. He is agreeable to this arrangement.

Sunstram gives the group Gavin’s notes on a USB drive and explains that he said he had uncovered something shady with the Krewe preparing the upcoming big Halloween parade in Oakland on October 28th. There are several student groups working to put the parade together and being funded by two wealthy businessmen, Dennis Bouchard and Randall Fowler. Gavin’s notes include home and office addresses for The Honorable Krewe of Swords and information about both Bouchard and Fowler. Bouchard is old money, noted to be the chairman of the Krewe, a playboy, compulsive gambler, and collector of antiques. Fowler comes from a family previously called Franklin, who changed their name due to possible connections with organized crime. There is also an unsolved case involving the hit and run deaths of his wife and child about a year ago. He is noted to be interested in the occult, and there are additional notes from Gavin about his association with a man called Papa Screech who puts him in communication with his dead wife and daughter, and who appears to be bilking money from Fowler. Henry suggests that he and Darrek can make an appointment to speak with Fowler, who is a broker and has an office downtown, regarding his inheritance.

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Looking out the window, Henry sees multiple bright yellow flyers stapled to the utility poles outside on the street, and goes out to investigate. The flyers are advertising the upcoming parade, and the Yellow Sign is prominently displayed.

Joe stops down to the Hive as promised. Darrek explains why they contacted him. He pulls out the piece of paper Gavin was clutching, which has the Yellow Sign scrawled on it. He explains that he has a lot of pressure coming down on him from various people to wrap this case up, and encourages the cast to use their resources to look into this further, and says that, as always, he’ll give them as much assistance as he can. He does tell them that there was one piece of suspicious testimony concerning Gavin’s death: a professor at Pitt, Dr. Luke Turner, and his wife, Dr. Maggie Turner, a medical doctor and also a professor in the medical school, were adamant that Gavin’s body should not have sustained as much damage as it did from the height that he fell from.

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The group goes to Posvar Hall on Pitt’s campus to investigate. They discover nothing unusual at first glance; however, standing on the roof looking down to the place where Gavin’s body fell, Henry realizes that there is no way that the man could have jumped and hit the ground where he did. Darrek gets on his phone and accesses the University’s website to track down office information for Dr. Turner. The group agrees to go and see him during office hours the next day. Darrek remembers that he needs to meet Dr. Armedt to go and see Daniel and takes his leave, heading back to the Hive, as do Matthew and Yun Xun. Henry and Hilda go to the soup kitchen to see Megan, and is disturbed to see that it is closed and all of the lights are out. He tries to call her and there is no answer. He starts freaking out. Hilda finds a young girl in the alley behind the soup kitchen who has been brutally mauled. She tells them she was attacked by a boy who turned into a monster. Henry calls Uber, and a few minutes later a car pulls up, driven by a man in a leather trenchcoat and dark sunglasses named Bob Russell. He gets them to the hospital in record time. Henry gives him a generous tip, and he winks at him and says, “Thanks, kiddo.”

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Dr. Armedt drives Darrek to a hotel just outside the city limits to see Daniel. Daniel has no memory of anything that happened since the events at the former Mayview Hospital. With Daniel’s permission, Darrek attempts to use his magic to push past his mental block and help him to remember, but is unsuccessful. He promises to contact Darrek if anything comes to him. Dr. Armedt takes Darrek back to the Hive. He orders another large, half-full coffee, fills it the rest of the way up with bourbon, and resumes drowning his stresses and sorrows.

Yun Xun goes downstairs to order another tea and sees a woman who looks exactly like Camilla. She texts Darrek and Matthew to come downstairs, which they do. She is sitting at a table reading. Yun Xun looks at Darrek, who looks at Matthew, who goes over to talk to her. She introduces herself as Rebecca Walton, an actress who is in town with her company performing a new show that is premiering at the Benedum in about a month. When Matthew asks her more about the show, she admits that she doesn’t know much about it, and even if she did she wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it, as she and the rest of her company were made to sign a NDA. Matthew is intrigued and asks her out, and gets her phone number.

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Meanwhile, Darrek’s cell phone rings. It’s Henry, calling from the hospital and asking Darrek to come, as the police want to question him and need they need his guardian to be present to proceed. He tell Yun Xun he has to go and walks up to Presby, using his magic to sober himself up on the way before arriving at the hospital. Once he arrives, the police question Henry, and Darrek asks if it is alright if they come by the next day to check on the girl, as Henry is very upset about what happened. They assure Darrek that Henry is not a suspect, and that he is welcome to visit the girl once she’s received the care she needs.

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Darrek and Henry return to the Hive. Henry expresses his concerns about Megan and the closed soup kitchen, and the likelihood that it was an infected Pariah that attacked the girl. Darrek calls Klaus, who comes to the Hive, and the group informs him of what happened and ask if he can use his resources to track down Megan. He acknowledges that there are several old safehouses he can check, and promises to call Darrek when he finds her. The group agrees to meet up the next morning to follow up regarding their case, as well as check on the girl’s status, and go their separate ways for the evening.

Darrek takes Henry home. On the drive back to Bethel Park, he apologizes to Henry for snapping at him earlier. He explains that he’s just very stressed and upset about several different things, but acknowledges that he shouldn’t be taking it out on him. Henry tells him that it is okay and that he understands, and the two have another brief heart to heart, with Henry expressing that he feels useless. Darrek informs him that the role of self-deprecator in the family has already been filled, reminds Henry that he saved the girl’s life (and rescued Darrek himself from the FBI agents earlier) and assures him that if anyone can find Megan, it’s Klaus. He suggests stopping for milkshakes on the way home, which appears to lift Henry’s spirits (and his own). Darrek also purchases a third, winking at Henry and commenting, “If we don’t get one for Em, too, she’s liable to kill me.”

Arriving home, as Darrek opens the door and steps into the house, Emily comes charging at him, screaming and brandishing a butcher knife.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Memorable Quotes:

Re: Anita
“She helped me stop an asteroid.”-Ekloff
“I’ve seen that movie!”-Matthew

“When am I going to get my e-invitation to the Watcher Archives?”-Matthew

“If we go to LA, we infect LA.”-Hilda
“LA is already infected.”-Matthew

“Buffy? Did she say, ‘Buffy’?”-Hilda
“Down, girl.”-Henry

“I have a lot of experience lying to government officials.”-Henry
“Clearly.”-Darrek

“Hilda called. Apparently the Dullahan’s still hunting me.”-Henry
“Whatever.”-Darrek

Re: Seeing the bottle of Old Crow
“So I take it that letter you got was not welcome?”-Henry
“It’s none of your bloody business.”-Darrek

“Just as long as it doesn’t compromise my journalistic integrity.”-Charles Sunstram
snorts -Darrek

“I’m Number Two around here for a reason.”-Matthew

“So, how the Hell are you, mate?”-Daniel
Long pause “I’ve been better.”-Darrek
“Yeah, that seems to be the general consensus around here. You want to talk about it?”-Daniel
“No, I really don’t.”-Darrek
“Right, fine. Just thought I’d be polite and ask.”-Daniel

“We should probably check on Darrek. I’m really worried about him.”-Henry
“Yeah. There’s being a little high, and then there’s the point at which you’re less than useful.”-Matthew

The group concurs that the book ‘Rebecca’ is reading is entitled ‘Fifty Shades of Yellow’

Re: Yun Xun
“Why is she giving me Bambi eyes?”-Darrek

Re: Rebecca
“You really think that I’m the best one to handle this situation?”-Darrek (with slightly slurred speech)

Re: Rebecca
(To Matthew) “I’m going to let you do this one, mate. Go have at it!”-Darrek

“It all fits together like some crazy, fucking puzzle!”-Matthew
“You’ve arrived! Welcome!”-Darrek

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