Campaign of the Month: March 2017

Nocturnum: Rebirth

Episode 15

The Book of the Black

Chronicler: Julie

This Episode is based on “Bedlam,” an adventure in the “Liber Vorago” section of The Savage Foes of Solomon Kane by Rucht Lilavivat and John Goff.

Pre-Credits Cut Scene

The bespectacled man screamed as the gurney upon which he was strapped was wheeled down harshly-lit hallways. Echoes and wordless answers to his cries met his ears from countless nameless voices in countless nameless hallways and oubliettes. The place smelled like piss and death, and a sickly, miasmic pall seemed to cover everything like so much pollen from too many flowers in spring.

The orderlies who wheeled him down the endless halls were silent. In his mind they were faceless, emotionless, just automatons fulfilling a function. He stopped screaming abruptly and laughed. Then he tried a different tactic,

“Please,” he said. “I’m not mad. This is all a misunderstanding. Call the doctor. Just call him! He knows me!” The man started weeping. “I’m not mad,” he squeaked. “I swear. I don’t even know where I am. They don’t have places like this anymore. Please, where am I?”

Realization dawned and his eyes widened. “Oh, my God,” he said. “It’s the Libram, isn’t it? Don’t you understand, it cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands?”

A sharp pain erupted from the side of the man’s head, and everything went dark, punctuated by bright flashes of white. When he came to his senses again, he was strapped to a different sort of contraption, a half-table, half-chair, at a 45-degree angle from the floor. The orderlies were there, across the room, one on each side of the door. One of them held a long, thin rod—the device used to knock the man senseless.

There was, now, a third man with them, this one wearing a lab coat and stethoscope and an old-fashioned reflector on his forehead. A doctor, then. He was too close for the man to see his face, the Doctor was, but was leaning to examine the bruise on the side of the man’s face where he’d been struck.

“Ah, well,” the doctor said. “You’ll be fine. Thale should not have done that.”

The Doctor stepped back, and the man recognized him.

“It’s you!” he said. “I know you! Please, you know I’m not mad. You have to get me out of here!

“Now, now,” the Doctor said. “I understand you’re frightened. We’ll have this all squared away soon. Just try and relax.” He produced a syringe, half-filled with a sickly, pus-colored fluid, and moved towards the man. “This may pinch just a little.”

The man screamed once more as the needle pierced his neck, just under his right ear, the burning fluid setting his brain on fire…and then all went black again.

Episode Synopsis

In the interim three weeks of downtime the group has, Darrek works with Henry, teaching him two spells (Shielding and Soulfire Bolt). Henry passes his permit test and Darrek starts taking him out a couple of evenings a week for driving practice. Henry notices Darrek making an effort at romantic and sweet gestures towards Emily on a regular basis. The two of them spend an inordinate amount of time in their bedroom, with the door closed. When this happens, Omar frequently comes to find Henry. She plops down next to him, puts her head onto her paws, and makes sounds of clear exasperation.

Things are actually calm for once in the Tinsley household, with the exception of Darrek’s growing preoccupation with ‘Grimoire of the Green Goddess.’ He is definitely displaying obsessive behavior towards the book, and is very defensive and quite short when anyone dares to point this out to him. Otherwise, Christmas decorations have started going up, and there’s a sense of warmth and cheer throughout the house. Emily purchases stockings for Henry and Omar, and hangs them on the mantle next to her and Darrek’s. Darrek spends one of his rare afternoons off putting up lights and hanging greenery inside and outside. Multiple packages start arriving at the house and are quickly and quietly squirreled away for the approaching holidays.

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The date is December 10, 2016, and it is an unseasonably warm and rainy night in Pittsburgh. At Matthew’s loft, around 3am everyone is awakened by the sound of fervent pounding on his front door. He goes to answer it to find Rebecca, soaked to the bone, wearing nothing but her underwear and a nightgown. She asks him if she can stay the night and is clearly terrified. He has a hard time getting very much information out of her. She does say that she woke up around midnight and had the definite sense of someone standing over her, shivering as she recalls the feeling of their hot breath on her face. She ran out of her apartment and walked in the rain from Lawrenceville to the South Side, barefoot.

The next day, after a shower and some coffee, she is willing to share more details with him. She tells him about the dream she was having before she woke up. She says in the dream she saw an old, Victorian-style hearse slowly coming down her street, and she recognized the driver of the hearse, saying he is an old, creepy guy she’s seen hanging around the neighborhood, with a pale, white face that looks dead. She is visibly shaken when she tells Matthew that she then saw him laying in the coffin in the hearse, but he wasn’t dead. Matthew suggests that he accompany her to her apartment to have a look around and offers to let her stay with him until they can determine what is going on.

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Later that morning, as Darrek, Emily, and Henry are getting ready to head out, a letter slides underneath their front door. Darrek opens the door but sees no one there, and then picks up the letter. Turning it over, he sees that it is addressed to Henry, and hands it to him. As Henry opens and reads it, Darrek leans over and kisses Emily underneath the mistletoe hanging above their doorway.

Henry gives the letter to Darrek. It is signed from an unknown gentleman named H. Quill, who claims to have possession of an ancient tome which he thinks may prove useful to Henry in his “current endeavors” and requests to meet with him at his apartment, which is located in the Southside on Carson Street below the Acacia Societatis Bibulus. Darrek and Henry agree that it seems suspicious. Darrek texts Matthew to request the rest of the group’s backup in investigating further. Matthew calls him and explains that he’s currently at Rebecca’s dealing with some issue, but will be back soon. Darrek and Henry head over to Matthew’s loft to wait for him.

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A short time later, Matthew returns with Rebecca, who is carrying a suitcase, and informs his flatmates that she will be staying with them indefinitely. After Rebecca is settled, the group heads to check out the address, which is on Carson Street.

They easily find the apartment, which is underneath the bar. Walking down a step of stairs, Darrek knocks, and the door swings open, unlocked. He calls hello. When there is no response the group enters the apartment, which has obviously been tossed. Looking around, Darrek discovers a journal underneath some papers scattered across the floor. Glancing at the writings, he is disturbed to read a very familiar tale of a man becoming increasingly obsessed with an ancient, alien tome. When Henry asks him to look at the journal, since the letter and one of the entries specifically references him, Darrek is reluctant to give it to him. Henry then proceeds to rip the journal out of Darrek’s hands and examines it.

As the group continues to look around, they hear the creak of the door, and an older gentleman holds up his hands and asks what they are doing there. Darrek truthfully explains why they came, and the man mentions that three men came a few nights ago claiming to be from a hospital and took Quill away. One of them appeared to be a doctor, and the other two were “really big guys,” likely orderlies. The man introduces himself as Barney Jenkins, and explains that he lives across the street from the bar and has a good view of the goings-on in the area. He asks the group to let him know if they find out anything about how Quill is doing.

As the group ascends the stairs from the basement apartment and step out into the city street, the scene drastically changes. They see cobblestones lining the road, and the buildings clearly show Victorian and Edwardian architecture. People walk the streets in period dress, but as hard as the group tries, they cannot seem to see any of their faces. They do see a massive building down the street that is clearly marked with a sign which reads, “Hospital for the Insane.” Everyone agrees that this is likely where Quill was brought by the men his neighbor described.

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The group starts working on a plan to get inside and find Quill. Darrek mentions some related weird happenings he’s experienced recently, and the rest of the group all reveal having similar oddities happen to them in recent weeks. Yun-Xun is very quiet and resists sharing any detailed information about her weird happenings. Darrek hears her saying something under her breath in Cantonese which he recognizes, and asks her very directly what (and who) she’s talking about. She ignores him.

Everyone proceeds to sneak into the hospital courtyard, taking care of avoid the attention of the night watchman who is patrolling the grounds with a lantern. Once inside, they discover a dilapidated chapel and several dormitories with bars on the windows and doors which contain patients wandering around inside of them, clearly disturbed. Looking into one where the patients seem to be more acute in their aggression, they see whom they presume to be Quill, wearing modern clothing and chained to a wall.

Henry proceeds to pick the locks, and Darrek attempts to use his magics to calm the other patients. Unfortunately, his spell utterly fails, and appears to have the complete opposite effect. Hilda suggests they just wait it out, as the patients begin attacking one another. Eventually Matthew directs Yun-Xun and Hilda to enter, and the three of them take care of knocking out the remaining patients. Henry and Darrek move to tend to Quill, Henry picking the locks of the manacles chaining him to the wall. They both notice a puncture wound and a large bruise behind his ear, and conclude that he has been drugged. He drools incoherently and is completely unresponsive.

Looking out the window, they can see the night watchman approaching them. Henry quickly locks Quill back up, and they hide as best as they can as the guard inspects the dorm they are in, sees the patients lying on the floor knocked out, shrugs, and continues his rounds.

Sneaking out and locking the door behind them, the group heads towards the largest of the buildings in the compound, Matthew and Henry suggesting that if the men who took Quill also obtained the ancient tome he mentioned in his letter, they should attempt to reacquire it if they can.

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Walking into one of the “treatment rooms” inside, they see manacles hanging from chains attached to the wall, multiple tables at various angles with different implements attached to them, most of which appear torturous. The scene is truly disturbing. Darrek looks absolutely horrified as his eyes take everything in, his mouth agape in stunned silence. Henry senses that this place is especially triggering to him due to Emily having been recently committed to Western Psychiatric. They wait until the guard enters, and Hilda and Matthew proceed to knock him out and take his lantern.

Making their way deeper into the building, they discover a larger room surrounded by a balcony with several massive orderlies. Matthew attacks and decapitates three of them, outright. Henry grapples one of them and is hit with an axe and almost goes down. Darrek immediately runs over and heals him. Delia Borgato enters the room, wearing a Victorian-era dress and a featureless mask. She is accompanied by a man in a labcoat and scrubs, and the group can all spot that he has a large book tucked underneath of his arm.

Looking up, everyone also sees Cassilda, standing against the railing of the balcony, watching. Her silent presence rocks the sanity of each and every member of the group.

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Delia immediately moves to engage with Matthew. The man in the labcoat takes off towards the door. Hilda hits him three times, and Yun-Xun also hits the man, knocking him out. The book goes flying.

Henry casts a spell, and green flames erupt around Delia. She quickly recovers and hits Matthew with long claws, which drip with pus-colored ichor. He staggers from the poison and is visibly weakened.

Darrek then unleashes a massive wave of Soulfire at Delia, which hits her hard. Henry then follows up by hitting her with a Soulfire dart directly to her mask. She screams and is knocked back.

Yun-Xun attacks Delia and goes down after suffering multiple hits. Darrek scrambles and grabs the book off of the floor. Matthew hits Delia solidly and sweeps her legs out from beneath her. Hilda then moves in and attacks, hitting her repeatedly. Cassilda laces her fingers together and puts her chin in her hands, still watching and seemingly enraptured.

Henry casts another dart of Soulfire at Delia, but manipulates his spell so that it manifests as a white unicorn pooping rainbows and farts directly in her face. Darrek moves over to Yun-Xun and heals her. She regains consciousness and opens her eyes to see him kneeling next to her.

Finally, Matthew decapitates Delia. When her head hits the floor, her mask shatters, and all are disturbed to discover that there is nothing underneath of it.

The sound of slow clapping echoes from the balcony throughout the room.

“You’ve all done so well, you’re almost halfway there,” Cassilda says. Looking directly at Matthew, she continues.

“Aldones, you will always have my love…but don’t come between me and my sister ever again,” she warns.

Her gaze then shifts to Darrek, and she smiles. “And my play is almost complete, thanks to a very talented young playwright I have working on it.” Her smile then turns to a sneer. “You can take your prize. Good luck finding your way home.” She then turns, slowly walks away, and disappears.

The group moves to free Quill and heads back to where they started to begin the process of figuring out how to get home. As they leave the hospital grounds, they are shocked to see a very familiar warehouse a few blocks down the street: Club Apocalypse.

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Entering the club, they see Robert Hubert, holding court as he always is. He spots them immediately and gestures for them to come to him. Hubert comments that they seem to be in need of some help, and offers his assistance, with the understanding that once they’re back home, his debt to them is paid. They all agree. The group enjoys a drink on the house, and when they exit the club they find themselves back in Pittsburgh.

Quotes and Great Moments:

(After reading a note from Jason) “Well, then…time to call Delta Green.”-Robert

Re: More notes
“Pass this to Hilda.”-Jason
“I’m gunna read it! It says, ‘Carcosa!’”-Mike D.
“Probably…”-Tom

During the opening credits, Julie renames each character ‘Crazy Person’: Number 1 (Danny), Number 2 (Darrek), 3 (Henry), 4 (Hilda), 5 (Yun-Xun), ‘The Craziest Crazy that Ever Was,’ (Anita) and… Matthew.

Re: Christmas
“So, did I happen to mention that I’m Jewish?”-Henry
After a long, stunned pause “EM!”-Darrek
“Darrek, relax! I’m just kidding!”-Henry
Glaring “That was so not funny, young man.”-Darrek
“Really? Because I thought it was hilarious.”-Henry

Re: Rebecca’s dream
“So, she’s afraid that you’re going to die, and she also hates white people.”-Henry

“I hate to ask, but do either of you have anything that I could borrow to wear?”-Rebecca
“Oh, yes! Come!”-Hilda

“I don’t always wear black suits. Sometimes they are dark and smoky grey.”-Matthew

To Darrek and Henry “Can I get you anything? Green tea?”-Yun-Xun
“Or perhaps…OVALTINE?!”-Robert

Re: Small talk while waiting for Matthew
“So, what did you usually have for Christmas dinner?”-Darrek
“Normal stuff…ham, turkey, potatoes, stuffing…and that sweet potato thing.”-Henry
“What sweet potato thing?”-Darrek
“It’s like a casserole.”-Henry
“Do you know how it’s made?”-Darrek
“Yeah, it has canned sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, and those little marshmallows on top.”-Henry
“That sounds like diabetes.”-Darrek

“When me and Darrek go to talk to people ourselves, it always ends in me jumping out of a window. 100% of the time, that’s what happens when we do that.”-Henry

Re: Mocking
“Matthew! Please protect me with your big, strong, man arms!”-Henry
“That’s my line.”-Rebecca.
“Every day I think he can’t get any snarkier…and then he opens his mouth.”-Darrek
Yun-Xun nods
Looking at her “This is all my fault, isn’t it?”-Darrek
Yun-Xun nods again

Re: Quill’s Journal
“I want to read it, too. Let me see it.”-Henry
“Ehm…I think best not.”-Darrek
“And Darrek officially becomes Anita.”-Jason

Henry snatches Quill’s journal out of Darrek’s hands and begins reading it. Darrek is visibly angered and walks away from Henry to investigate the rest of Quill’s apartment.

Re: The hospital for the insane
To Darrek “Our long search is over!”-Henry
“In some strange way, it makes sense that we would come here.”-Hilda
“I quit life.”-Henry

Re: After discovering everyone in the group has been experiencing weirdness recently.
“Oh, thank God. I thought I was going mad!”-Darrek
“Oh, you are…we just all are, too.”-Henry

Re: Danny sharing his weird stuff
Joking “He got dissed by cabbage and noodles.”-Matthew
“I’m sorry, what?”-Darrek
“Haluska…you know, butter, noodles, and cabbage. It’s a Polish dish.”-Matthew
“Right, sorry. We have something sort of like that in England called, ‘Bubble and Squeak.’”-Darrek
“The local homeless calls smoking meth while high on nitrous, ‘Bubble and Squeak,’”-Henry
Gives Henry a sideways look “You’re just full of fun factoids, aren’t you?”-Darrek

Re: The hospital for the insane
“That’s probably where they took him.”-Henry
“That’s a reach.”-Matthew

Re: Darrek asking if anyone sees snakes
“What if there are snakes everywhere, and they’re just invisible?”-Henry

Re: Being teased by Henry
“It is two weeks until Christmas. I’m just saying.”-Darrek
“You’re saying I should go to the pet store and ask for my deposit back on the gigantic Burmese python I had them put aside for you?”-Henry
“Don’t be surprised if you find a lump of coal in your stocking this year.”-Darrek
“Aw, man! I wish I had gotten some coal last year, I could have used it to keep warm!”-Henry

As the group moves into the courtyard of the hospital, ‘Sanitarium,’ by Metallica came onto the stereo. It was granted a drama point.

“You can easily pick the locks. Are you going in with the lunatics?”-Jason
“Hell, no!”-Henry

Re: Darrek’s spell fails and the patients go crazier
Turning beet red “Sorry…”-Darrek
“Maybe if you try, like, an agitation spell?”-Henry
Embarrassed “Ehm, I don’t really know an agitation spell.”-Darrek
“He does that naturally.”-Hilda

“If we wait a few minutes, there may be less of them to deal with.”-Hilda
“Hilda…get your German ass in there and subdue them like Merkel subdued Greece!”-Henry
“You’ve been doing your reading for History! Good man!”-Darrek

Re: Voices
“Have you seen the Yellow Sign? Why yes, Mildred, it’s so lovely this time of year!”-Henry

“See, I’m setting up a plan…”-Matthew
“Like an actual Watcher, for once.”-Yun-Xun

“My Slayer is still alive. I’m the best Watcher that’s ever been.”-Matthew
“You know, if you don’t want me to tell Anita you said that, it’s going to cost you.”-Darrek

“Matthew would not decapitate puppies.”-Mike V
“Omar is safe!”-Jason

Re: After sweeping Delia’s legs
“And that is what a good Watcher does to help his Slayer!”-Matthew

Re: Henry’s unicorn
“What the bloody hell was THAT?”-Darrek

Darrek flicks the Vs at Cassilda when she turns and walks away.

Re: The unicorn
“You have to make your own entertainment in this line of work.”-Henry
“I’ve seen some interesting magic in my time, but that takes the cake.”-Darrek

Re: Club Apocalypse
“Seems like you all could use some help.”-Hubert
“And you owe us a favor, if my memory serves.”-Darrek
“That’s why I came.”-Hubert

Hubert tells the group to have a drink before they go, on the house. Matthew orders a very fine, extra peaty scotch. Darrek orders a Shirley Temple (with extra cherries) and sits as far away from him as possible.

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