Campaign of the Month: March 2017

Nocturnum: Rebirth

Episode Seven

The Art of Madness, Part 2

Chronicler: Robert

Episode Synopsis

After the realization that all is not as it seems with the Borgatto twins, the group convenes to figure out how they want to proceed. Darrek finds some references to them owning properties all around the world, having used them as safehouses to avoid capture during their crimes. He decides that this is as good of a lead as any to chase, and uses Blake Investigations’ subscription to the Allegheny County property records database to do some research. Recalling that the locator spell he cast to try to find Allison indicated that she was somewhere in McKeesport, he decides to focus the search there. Darrek calls Joe Knonaem to let him know about the Borgattos, and Joe decides it’s a great time to chastise Darrek about trusting Daniel Morgan.

As Henry has the best computer skills in the group, he does most of the online work, with Darrek giving him ideas and suggestions for things to look into. Together, they discover that there is an old abandoned mansion at the corner of Colfax and Park that can be traced back to the Borgia family. It is called Grisson Manor. In the 1700’s, it was owned by a man named Nicodemus Grisson, who poisoned his family and then hung himself.

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Feeling accomplished, the group heads to lunch before going to investigate the manor. Henry suggests Everyday Noodles, and confuses a few of the other members of the group with his “noodle dance.”

After a hearty lunch of noodles, the group heads to the manor. They decide to do a drive around first, to try to get some sense of what the place is like. It’s creepy and clearly abandoned, with a brick wall and iron gate that have seen better days. They are shocked to see a corpse strung up to the gate. Matthew and Henry, though disturbed, manage to shake it off, but Darrek doesn’t take it so well, and slams on the brakes. At this point, Henry notices that there is an abandoned building about half a block down with some people milling about. It doesn’t take him much longer to notice that they all have the rictus grins of the victims of The Joker’s strange chemical concoction. The place is thick with the stench of Lyssicus. In an attempt to calm Darrek down, Henry searches YouTube for a zen meditation playlist, which draws a displeased look from Yun-Xun.

Yun-Xun suggests that the twitchy people with Joker juice faces might be some of the missing parents. The group checks them against the photographs they have, but none match. The rest of the group notice that Henry’s illness seems to be worse, as he is pallid and sweating profusely. Darrek takes a drink from Matthew’s flask and casts a spell on himself to extend and heighten his senses. He notices that the people milling about are under the effects of some kind of magical toxin. Henry attempts, unsuccessfully, to dispel it.

After some debate, the group decides to check out the manor and let the people be for the time being. They scale the crumbling brick wall in the back of the house with relative ease, though Yun-Xun happens to grab onto a loose brick and nearly falls. They decide to try to remain unnoticed as they traverse the lawn, but Henry and Yun-Xun aren’t having a very sneaky day.

As they get closer to the house, they all notice a man lying on the porch, face up. He is muttering something while carving into his own flesh with a knife. Thanks to his magically enhanced senses, Darrek can tell that he is repeating “Get them out!” over and over as he carves into his body. At first, it looks like he is carving the Yellow Sign into himself, but when the group blinks, it is replaced by intricate spiral patterns.

While Darrek checks the man’s pockets, looking for some form of identification, the rest of the group notices that through the door is a grand ballroom with people dressed as clowns, weeping. They are all intricately posed, and they a trembling with the strain of maintaining the same position. In the room, they can also see a partially complete painting of this exact scene. There are doors to either side of the room, and a door opposite. Matthew decides to check out the side doors from the outside. On one side, he sees a man sitting on the floor, carving symbols into the hardwood. On the other, he sees a kitchen, and senses some kind of presence inside. He goes to get Darrek, who sees a spectral form with his head lolling at an unnatural angle. He is instantly assaulted by visions of being stabbed by dozens of knives. It fades, leaving him unharmed but displeased.

Matthew checks the door, and finds it unlocked. The group enters the ballroom, and realizes that there are fifteen couples in this room. The air is thick with incense and rot, and three corpses, brutally murdered, lie on the floor. Eyes flick towards the group, and they realize that two of the people posed here match the missing parents. Henry attempts to dismiss the energies here, and summons up his magic in an epic wave of power. For a split second, all of the Lyssicus in the room dissipates, replaced by normal Essence. However, it does not last, and the dark energy comes rushing back in.

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Yun-Xun goes to listen at the doors leading out of the room, and hears nothing from the kitchen. She can hear the man muttering on the other side of the other door, but nothing else. Hilda goes to examine the painting, and briefly debates taking it to use as discouragement if the artist attempts to harm her before realizing how impractical that would be, as it is huge. After securing the side rooms, Yun-Xun check the door opposite of the one they entered, assuming it must lead into the main house. She opens the door a crack, and inside sees a double grand staircase leading up, and a crazed man dancing with the charred corpse of a child. She calls Darrek over, as she does not trust her senses, but he sees it as well.

The group decides to check for a basement. Matthew suggests that in a house of this age, the basement access would be in the kitchen. Darrek prepares to cast a spell to punish the ghost should he reappear, but he does not. With his spell improving his hearing, Darrek can hear a male voice from the basement, telling terrible jokes. He is being cajoled by a female voice, demanding that he tell more.

Henry, Matthew, and Hilda sneak downstairs, leaving Darrek and Yun-Xun to charge in at an opportune moment. They arrive just in time to see a woman wearing a hideous mask with a large nose crush the head of a man with an oversized mallet. There is an audience of about two dozen people sitting in front of a stage, with two bodies, heads crushed, on the stage. Above them stands the woman and her mallet, and a seated man in a pallid mask that is unsettling on a deep, spiritual level. There is a man on his knees on the stage, begging for his life.

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Seeing this, Matthew and Hilda immediate break out of the shadowy stairwell and rush the stage. The audience stands and interposes, rending at the pair with fingernails and teeth. Yun-Xun is on the scene shortly, following suit and heading for the stage. Darrek rushes into the room and throws bolts of pure Essence at the pair, which they do not seem to appreciate. The masked woman lobs an ampule of green liquid into the floor, which releases a poison cloud. Matthew seems to be the only one affected. The man holds up an eerie sketch of Darrek and inscribes the Yellow Sign over it, which causes Darrek intense pain. A pitched battle of spells and swords ensues. At one point, the man attempts to inflict his maddening pain on Darrek again, and Henry manages to use his own magic to turn it back on the man. It has no visible effect, but the man flees backstage.

The ghost that Darrek saw fully materializes in the middle of the room, throwing the maddened audience members aside around him. Darrek is having none of this ghost’s nonsense, and immediately exorcises him from the house in a fantastic display of power. Matthew, Hilda, and Yun-Xun make it through the throng of people, and engage the woman in combat. Matthew decapitates the woman, but to his chagrin, the wound seals as soon as it is made. The crazed audience begins to turn on Henry and Darrek, and suddenly the Joker appears and stabs Matthew several times. The woman takes this opportunity to try to flee, but unfortunately for her, Yun-Xun levels her with a flurry of kicks, each one bleeding off part of her foul spiritual energy. She collapses to the floor, unmoving.

A pitched battle with the Joker and the audience continues. Finally, the Joker taunts the group that they have now seen three of them, and there is one more coming. He runs off, and the audience collapses. Matthew gives chase, pausing long enough to take the woman’s head off as he passes. Arriving backstage, both the man and the Joker are gone, but Daniel is there.

While Matthew checks Daniel for signs of grease paint, the rest of the group find that he has no idea what has happened. His last memory is the initial investigation into the ghostly asylum at the Mayview site.

The group begins clearing the house, helping what people they can. They find charred corpses of children upstairs. Yun-Xun calls Joe, who advises them to get out of there, and he will be by with a team to take care of the rest. Darrek takes Daniel to the Masonic Temple, leaving him in the care of Dr. Armedt, and calls Jamie to let her know that he is safe. The next day, the papers laud Joe as a hero for saving everyone and exposing the horrors of Grisson Manor.

After going home and cleaning up, and a heartfelt conversation between Darrek and Henry, the group meets back up for the art show at the Warhol Museum. The art on display is graphic, dark, and deeply disturbing. The Yellow Sign is a recurring motif. Many of the works are clearly inspired by the scenes present in Grisson Manor.

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All of the pieces are signed “Alistair Borgia.” As people see the exhibit, there is a growing presence of Lyssicus. People are collapsing in hysterics, fainting, having psychotic breaks, and a host of other unpleasant side effects. Emily grips Darrek’s arm, shaking, points to the paintings with a look of terror in her eyes, and says, “I’ve seen these before.” Darrek pulls the fire alarm to get everyone cleared out of the museum, and once Emily is calm he leaves her with Henry and goes to find the curator. The curator for the exhibit is quite insane, and utterly unhelpful, though she does inform Darrek that the museum only has the exhibit for tonight.

Outside of the museum, the group is greeted by a man that Matthew knows as Timothy Ekloff, an agent of Delta Green. He congratulates Darrek on his quick thinking with the fire alarm, and then tells the group with an ominous tone, “We need to talk.” The group decides to convene at Matthew’s loft in the South Side and head to their respective vehicles.

Memorable Quotes

“Get lunch. Fight evil. Go to art show.” – Hilda

“What was that?” – Darrek
“My noodle dance.” – Henry
“You have a…noodle dance?” – Darrek
“You don’t?” – Henry
“I don’t understand Americans.” – Yun-Xun
“Me, either.” – Darrek

“I guess you don’t dance.” – Henry
“Sure I do. I danced the day my half sister was born, when I got my first car, when I got to go see the World Cup. I danced at the Upstage before it closed. I danced when I earned my doctorate. I danced with Emily on our wedding day—and there’s pictures to prove that—but I don’t dance for noodles!” – Darrek

“Yeah, I don’t know how to cook anything. Except for meth.” – Henry
“What?!?!” – Darrek

Re: Henry learning to cook
“Yun-Xun can teach you how to make proper noodles. We’ll take a trip to the Strip District and get everything you need, and she can come over and show you how it’s done, alright?” – Darrek
Yun-Xun gives Darrek a hard look
WHAT?!?! You do know how to cook proper noodles, right? That’s me stating a fact, not me being racist!” – Darrek

“I’m quite skilled at cooking…breakfast…” – Darrek grins
“Yeah, I bet you are.” – Yun-Xun

Re: The A-Team
“I’m Face, of course. Darrek is Hannibal, and Anita is Howling Mad Murdock” – Matthew
“And Hilda is Mister T.” – Henry

Re: Darrek’s Exorcism
“This house is clear!” – Henry

Re: Darrek’s Exorcism
“And for your reference, that’s what happens when you piss off a Rosicrucian.” – Darrek

Re: Darrek’s Exorcism
choking up a little “They grow up so fast!” – Jason, commenting as Anita off screen

“I’m going to shank a b*tch.” – Tom (Hilda’s Player)

Re: The Joker
“Why does he look like me?” – Daniel
“That’s a question for Christopher Nolan.” – Henry

“Somebody better start talking before I lose my mind!” – Daniel
“You already did.” – Yun-Xun

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