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Let's Play: Lovecraft - 'The Terror in the Crags' (Complete)

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by grotsnik, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Jesus. Well, that could have gone better, couldn't it? Let's see what happens next...

    *

    You dream of shrieking. And blood. And a burning crimson light from out of the ground and the heavens. The Watchers turning their heads away, as if in fear.

    In your dream, you fall, tumbling through the blazing passages that exist past time and space, the Old Gods' realms, their great alien fingers stretching out to find you. The Stone Man twists and shifts, never the same, ever horrid, his hundred eyes laughing in a hundred tongues.

    And a high voice, not unlike Edward's, the last in your mind, tumbling with you through the air, wailing in pitiable horror,

    'His carriage comes...Mother Mary...the outer darkness...the formless halls...his carriage comes...Mother Mary watch over me...his carriage comes...'

    And the mask is lifted from the Stone Man's face.

    *

    Your right eye opens a little wider than the left.

    Funny, you think. I'm certain I was supposed to wake up dead.

    You count to a hundred, waiting patiently for the burning brightness of the midday sky to fade, and then try to lift your head again. Your right arm, you think, is broken; in the inside of your mouth, a molar rattles loose on a hanging strand of gum. Your legs sear.

    You try to shift your left arm across, slowly, to your jacket. Catching hold of the nearest tail, you pull - carefully.

    It takes three attempts before the cheap material begins to tear, but once it's loose, it rips easily. The first strip of cloth trails out, too thin to be of use, and you toss it to one side in disgust. The second strip is more serviceable.

    Your battered fingers are slow, and clumsy, but at last you're able to knot the two ends of the strip together, making a crude sling out of the whole thing. You lean it over your right shoulder.

    After all, you tell yourself, I've seen Herbert West do this a thousand times. How hard could it be?

    You don't know how long it takes you to sit upright. Your broken arm screams at you with every movement. You try not to look at it. It's entirely possible that the bone is jutting out through the skin of your forearm.

    'Ready,' you breathe, and instantly regret it. Your parched throat wells up and for several seconds you curl forward in a coughing fit.

    Ready, you think; one, two, three.

    A moment of utter agony that makes you cry out to the sky; but then your right arm is resting in its sling. The stone pendant thuds, quietly, against your chest.

    You gaze all around you. The empty plains are entirely new and unfamiliar to you. The camp is nowhere to be seen. Above you, curving out amongst the grass and the mossy rocks, is a hill. Crows are circling overhead.

    *

    Above all, you are a scientist. And so, when you stoop to examine the five workers at the top of the hill, you hold back the disgust, the underground tremors of superstitious fear running through you, and attempt to discover the exact cause of death.

    The damage done to the torsos - and the exposing of what lies within - appears to have been conducted postmortem. The positioning of the bodies is apparently random, with Andre a little further away from the rest of the group, as if he'd tried to flee at the last possible moment; Edward's placing, however, in the lower branches of the small, dead ash, suggests a sort of mockery or ritualistic practice. Two of the workers' palms show multiple incisions, in irregular patterns; one of them is unmarked other than the grievous harm done to his ribcage.

    In fact, you conclude, the only pattern common to all of the corpses is the look of unmistakable terror on every man's face.

    Perhaps it's your exhaustion, or a result of the injury to your head, but you find your mind drifting back to that cryptic passage from Abdul Alhazred's Necromonicon;

    The good host knows when his guests come to dine.
    He will come out in his carriage to meet them.
    Most marvellous halls! O, sweetest of wine!
    But his golden house is dark, and poisons are sweet.


    Trying to shake off the stupor which will undoubtedly lead to your unconsciousness, and probably your death, you gaze about in every direction. There are no houses in sight; to the north and north-west, tall pine trees shroud the landscape. To the north-east, the hills seem to slope downwards, as if towards a river or the ocean. You know, of course, that Dynhill was north of Arkham...but are you still due north of Arkham?

    First choice: the bodies.

    A: Bury them as best as I can manage in my current condition. No man, no matter what his crimes, deserves to be left out to rot like this.

    B: Leave them to rot. These bastards killed my dog! And, besides, I shouldn't exert myself unnecessarily.

    C: I'm weak, unarmed, and wounded. I don't know how far I'll have to go before I reach civilisation or my friends find me, and I'm in no state to catch any animals. Though it disgusts me to do so, perhaps it might be...prudent to take a little of their flesh with me. Just in case I have no other choice. Survival is what matters now.

    Second choice: which way to head.

    A: North is what James said. We can't have strayed that far out of our planned route. North it is.

    B: Those forests don't look amenable to human life. I'm more likely to find other people if I make for the hills to the north-east.

    C: James and the others will be out looking for me. I have to try and retrace my steps to the camp.

    Does our hero have the strength to get himself back to civilisation? What killed these men? Is the consideration of cannibalism the Kingcomrade option? You decide.
     
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  2. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    B: Leave them to rot. These bastards killed my dog! And, besides, I shouldn't exert myself unnecessarily.

    B: Those forests don't look amenable to human life. I'm more likely to find other people if I make for the hills to the north-east.
     
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  3. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    Neverwhere
  4. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    B: why the fuck should we bury them?

    C: sounds like the most feasible option to me.
     
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  5. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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  6. praetor Arcane

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    B
    C
     
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  7. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Right! If we recall where we were before the Great Codex Crash, our heroic nerdy professor had set off with his adventuring party to explore some ruins in the Massachusetts town of Dynhill that had apparently been devoted to the worship of this fine gentleman:


    [​IMG]

    However, having been beaten shitless by the black workers who feared the powers of the suspicious-looking amulet he'd picked up for the lulz, our hero finds himself alone, unarmed and wounded, in the lonely wilderness. The workers have been horribly killed by...something, and he now wants to try and retrace his steps to the camp.

    Up curtain!


    *

    Turning from the corpses of the workers – trying not to think too hard about what kind of creature could have done this to them – you gaze back across the endless hills to the south. A thin, apparently indefatigable layer of mist coats the valleys.

    They dropped you, you think, when they felt it coming, and you fell down the slope. That’s the only reason you’re alive now.

    Something is in these hills; and you have to find the others as quickly as you possibly can. They can’t have carried you that far in the night. You just have to find the brook, and follow it back to the camp. That’s the sensible thing to do, after all.

    *

    This eerie landscape is treacherous. You’re certain of that now. Every time you think you’ve stumbled in through a clump of grey dead boulders that you’d passed before, or come across the familiar roots of a rotted oak, you find yourself somewhere completely new. The tall grass prickles at your torn trouser-legs. The geese fly overhead, laughing at you.

    You’re tired. Your broken arm hangs, limp and useless, in its sling. Midges swarm about your face, fluttering up into your nostrils and your eyes.

    “James!” you shout. Your voice cracks, and breaks. “James Hurley! Miss Kline! Mr Phillips! I’m over here! Goddammit, I’m over here!”

    Silence.

    You try to keep breathing. You trudge on, stepping over a fallen sycamore trunk, your sullen feet tripping through the dirt.

    And then you cross the spur of the hill, and you see it. A white, babbling brook, passing over smooth stones. Slipping through the muddy earth.

    “Thank Christ,” you murmur. “Thank Christ.”

    *

    Your pace quickens. You stoop, once, to drink from the clear water. It tastes of life. Then you’re moving onwards, almost running, daring to hope, not letting yourself consider the alternative-

    -The camp is empty.

    The horses and the tents have gone. A couple of pots lie abandoned on the earth, and a black charcoal scar where the fire stood. On the edge of the worker’s camp, in a patch of dirt that’s churned up as if by dancing bodies, you find a speckling of dried blood, and a clump of bloodied fur. The fire is cold.

    You stand, and gaze about the dreadful hills. You’re quite alone.

    “Horseshit!” you scream. “Goddamn…goddamn cunts! Goddamn! Damn it! Damn…damn it! Fuck!”

    You let yourself, very gently, slip downwards onto the ground.

    It will come for me, you think. It will find me here, and I won’t be able to run. The great fiery carriage. The creeping chaos. The fiend that haunts my witching-hours.

    No. No, you have to shake this off. Dreams are dreams, and reality is now. You have nothing to fear from this place; nothing at all. You have to get to your feet and follow their tracks. They’ll be out looking for you. Everything is going to be fine.

    You have to get up. Your eyelids are drooping.

    I have to get up, you tell yourself, but it’s as if at a great distance; the world is a dream, indeed. A dark dream. A lurking dream that sits on your chest and weighs you down.

    You have to get up. But, somehow, it just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

    *

    And, once again, you open your eyes and find yourself somewhere unfamiliar. Dingy wood-panelled walls. A glowing orange stove. A shattered, mucky window. And a young man in the outfit of a priest, grinning at you with mischief in his eyes.

    “Good morning,” he says. “No – no, don’t you try to move that arm. Chicken broth is on its way. Just you lie there.”
    He rises, and moves across to the stove.
    “You’re lucky I found you,” he calls. “The nights are getting colder, and in your condition…”
    He returns, clasping a bowlful of steaming liquid and a spoon.
    “My name is Father Harry,” he tells you, “and you, Professor Buch, are a long way from Dynhill.”

    You sit bolt upright. He watches your discomfort, with apparent delight.
    “How do you know how I am?” you ask him. “And how the hell do you know where I’m going?”
    He blows on the spoonful of broth, to cool it.
    “I know who you are,” he says, “because I am a great reader of your articles in the Esoteric Inquiry, and I guessed where you were going, because Dynhill’s the only scrap of civilisation past this place worthy of an academic like yourself spending any time. And even then,” he adds, “that damned place hardly qualifies.”
    You bat back his prodding spoon.
    “Is this your cabin?” you ask.
    “Goodness, no,” he says. “I was heading north meself – I’m a Quaker, you know, and people in these parts don’t seem to have heard the word of George Fox. So I preach, I hand out pamphlets…” He winks at you. “True missionary of progress, that’s Father Harry. No – I found you, not far from the roadside, and slung you on the back of me horse till I could find somewhere with a roof. This dingy hut’s been abandoned for a while.”
    He tactfully places the soup on the table beside your bed.
    “You…didn’t see anyone else, did you?” you ask. “A party of four – a young lady, two white men, and a Turkish servant?”
    Father Harry just shakes his head.
    “I’ll take you to Dynhill meself,” he says, “once you’re well and fit. It’s on the road. Drink your broth, and see if you’re well enough to stand. There’s something I want to show you.”

    *

    At the back of the cabin, surrounded by gloomy pines, the Devil has reached down and razed the earth. A great crater, as deep as a man, almost round. Nothing but dead, ash-white soil within; the grass has not grown back over it.
    “We’re in shooting-star country,” Father Harry says. “You’ll see more and more of these, the closer we get to Dynhill. Folk used to say they were good luck.”

    You turn away. The sight of the tormented ground, good clean Massachusetts earth raped by an alien hand, makes you want to shiver.

    *

    The next morning, Father Harry gives in to your repeated insistence that you’re well enough to travel. The two of you set off, through the lonely woods; you riding on his horse, stacked with heavy-looking, him walking alongside.
    A few hours into the journey, he clears his throat, and says,
    “By the way…ahm…I think you should know. It wasn’t by good fortune, Professor Buch, that I found you.”
    You glance down questioningly at him. He gives a slightly nervous smile.

    “You were screaming,” he says. “I heard you all the way across the hills. Screaming, where you lay, out of all consciousness. ‘It has taken the five’, you yelled. ‘It has taken the five’. I thought maybe you…well, sometimes there are horrors in mens’ mind that they don’t even recognise while they’re awake.”

    You move on, a little while, in silence.

    A) I should tell Father Harry what happened to the workers. He saved my life; and if something were to happen to me…well, my suspicions, mad as they may be, could be told to James and the others.
    B) Brush off his curiosity. I could lose Father Harry’s trust in me, but it’s better than him thinking I am insane, or worse.
    C) Something is very off about Father Harry. I should wait until he has his back turned, and then take the horse and make my own way to Dynhill without him.
    D) I don’t trust Father Harry, but I won’t steal from him. I’ll wait until he’s sleeping, then make my way alone to Dynhill on foot.

    *

    If there are any other options you'd like to put forward but haven't seen here, i.e., 'check Father Harry's bags', or 'brain Father Harry with a log', don't hesitate to ask.
     
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  8. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    D) I don’t trust Father Harry, but I won’t steal from him. I’ll wait until he’s sleeping, then make my way alone to Dynhill on foot.

    And I will check Father Harry's bags too if I can do it without awake him
     
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  9. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    I'd check his bags while he's sleeping to see if I can trust him or not.
    If there's nothing suspicious in them, then A -- we could use an ally. (Yeah, I'm that naive.) Otherwise, D.
     
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  10. oscar Tacticular Staff

    oscar
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    The whole 'Quaker missionary' background is a bit suspicious but I can't really see the harm in telling him. A
     
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  11. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
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    your future if you're not careful...
    A

    Because why not? If he was after us, he could have offed us already.
     
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  12. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

    Chef_Hathaway
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  13. praetor Arcane

    praetor
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  14. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Right, my small but highly elite readership…you chose ‘A’. Onwards!

    *

    Omitting nothing, you tell Father Harry about the purpose of your expedition, the discovery of the necklace, and the strange rebellion of the five workers. He walks in silence, not turning his head apart from to examine the stone dangling at your chest.

    “Every town has a dark tale,” he says at last, “and none of them are true, and mine concerns Nyarlathotep. My grandfather told it to me one night, when I’d been drinking. It’s a quiet town, in New Hampshire – and he said the circus came to it when he was seven. All of the wonders of the East, and a ringmaster in Egyptian costume who wore a golden mask and called himself Nyarlathotep. The children told my grandfather that he could produce lightning in the palm of his hand – and this was decades before the advent of Edison, of course. My grandfather begged his parents to let him go to the circus, but they always refused. They’d heard stories about this man Nyarlathotep.”

    He gazes out into the misted pine trees to the right.

    “The children got sick,” he says. “They went…peculiar. Everybody could see there was something wrong with them. And the circus never left. The children kept going. Abandoning their classes, abandoning church…”

    You wait, patiently, for him to continue.

    “They burnt the tent to the ground one winter night,” he says, at last. “And they took the man who said he was Nyarlathotep and nailed him to the old oak tree in the centre of town. Nobody wanted to take his mask off. And he was quiet, my grandfather said, as they hammered him up against the branches. It was only when he’d been up there a while that something seemed to change in him, and he went limp, and began to babble like a madman. Well, he died the next morning, and the children never got better. Most of them wasted away in the first months of the next year.”

    He glances back at you.

    “You may be a scientist,” he tells you, “but I’m afraid it’s my duty to believe in mysteries. Something killed those men in the wilds, my friend. And I find myself hoping that your mission in Dynhill will be a wild goose chase.”

    *

    Near dawn, two days later, Father Harry nudges you awake.

    “Dynhill,” he says, quietly.

    You sit upright in the saddle just as you pass through a heavy-looking wooden gate. The little cobbled street is deserted; the shambling, tiled rooftops lurk beneath the looming weight of a great grey hill. And above, amongst the pointed witch-crags, you catch sight of walls, tiny black cannons-

    “The old Civil War fort,” Father Harry says. “The old manor house is round the other side of town, up past the butcher’s. If your friends made it to Dynhill, they’ll be there. And this is the Black Rider inn, where I’ll be staying. I think-”

    Beneath the hanging tavern-sign of a black mare, a door slams open. And two men step out into the street. Their faces are ashen, and grim. They seem to halt when they catch sight of Father Harry.

    “Harry,” the younger one says. “Who’s that with you?”

    “This is Professor Buch,” Father Harry says. He looks a little pale himself. “Er…he’s supposed to be staying with friends up at the Stenham place…have they arrived?”

    “Oh, aye,” the man replies. “Oh, they’ve arrived.” He glances at you. “So you’re the one they’ve got us hunting all over the countryside for,” he says. “You’ll be wanting to report to the mayor. Any newcomer in town, they got to report to the mayor.”

    “Lads,” Father Harry says, pleadingly, “the Professor’s arm’s broken. He needs to see the Doc.”

    The younger man looks irritated; but his companion, a grey-haired, grizzled fellow, places a calming hand on his shoulder.

    “Man’s injured, Patrick,” he says. “Let ‘em be on their way. We’re hoping your stay in Dynhill will be a short one, sir,” he adds to you, apparently without rancour. “You stay safe, now.”

    They turn, and go back inside.

    What should you do first?

    A: Best to abide by the authorities, even if I don't technically *have* to do so. I’ll go and see the mayor first of all. My friends can wait.

    B: My first priority is to find the others and let them know I’m safe. To the manor house.

    C: I doubt there’s much he can do, but I may as well go and see the local doctor about my arm. He might even be friendlier than these ruffians.

    D: It’s been a long journey, and I’m parched. I might stop in with Harry at this tavern, have a drink, and try and win these locals over – or, at the very least, get some information out of them.
     
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  15. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    C is what I'd choose to do. If not treated, the arm may become a problem later.
    And maybe, just maybe we'll be able to get some info from the doc -- in case he's a friendly type, of course.

    Oh, and I certainly wouldn't trust the local populace. Including the doc. So we should be careful when talking to him.
     
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  16. Chef_Hathaway King of the Juice Patron White Knight

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  17. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    C: I doubt there’s much he can do, but I may as well go and see the local doctor about my arm. He might even be friendlier than these ruffians.

    Seriously, do you want to lose your arm?
     
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  18. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
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    Father Harry drops you off by the doctor’s place, a lanky, dilapidated building on the rising corner of the main street.
    “I’ll head up to the manor meself,” he tells you, helping you down from the mare, “and let your friends know you’ve got here safely.”
    He seems to have another thought.
    “What you told me, Professor…” he says, turning back. “I consulted my Bible about it last night, and…well, I found a passage in Leviticus that might provide you with some succour. Just a reminder that…we don’t have to be afraid of the things in the dark.”
    He presses a folded scrap of paper into your hand.
    “Ah!” he adds, glancing past you. “Doctor Smith! We’ve got a patient for you. Nasty break on his arm and a couple of lumps and bumps. Professor Buch, this is Cassandra Smith…the Dynhill physician.”
    You turn.
    A woman in her thirties is standing in the doorway, her mouse-blonde hair pinned back in a neat bun. She gazes at you with apparent unconcern.
    “Good day to you, Harry,” she says. “What happened to him?”
    “Took a tumble off the road,” Father Harry lies. “Take him in, please, Doc. I’ve got to go and tell his friends he’s all right.”
    She snorts.
    “Come on, then,” she tells you. “Let’s get that arm into a proper splint.”

    *

    You sit, rather nervously, on the wooden counter, and only take your shirt off when she tells you to, wincing with pain as you force it over your arm.
    “So, er…” you begin. “You’re a doctor, madam? One of Elizabeth Blackwell’s students, perhaps?”
    She ignores the quip and leans down to examine the sling.
    “Harry’s done a good job with this,” she says. “Fall on the road, was it?”
    She gives you a curious look.
    “Down a slope,” you tell her, quickly, “in the dark. A ravine, almost. My companions…didn’t notice I’d gone until it was too late.”
    Doctor Smith clucks disapprovingly.
    “By yourself,” she says, “in the wilderness with a broken arm, at this time of year? You’re damned lucky Harry found you. Meg’s hand on your shoulder. Once I’ve got your arm sorted, I’m going to give you a recipe for some pills to soothe the pain. That knock on your head looks nasty. And…frankly…once you’re back in Arkham, you might want to see about getting some false teeth.”
    You sit in silence for a moment.
    “Meg?” you ask.
    She begins to gently unwind the sling.
    “Oh,” she says, “just one of our country expressions. Meg was an old Dynhill legend. Strange old dear who lurked about the village and did oddjobs for people. Nobody could pronounce her real name, so we called her Meg Polack. So if someone has good luck, we say that Meg’s hand was on your shoulder. And if someone has bad luck, we say that her knife’s in your back.”
    “Polish, then?” you murmur.
    “Mmhmm. Now, this is going to hurt-”
    “How long ago, exactly?” you ask. “I mean…she's dead, of course.”
    “Must have been...thirteen years since she left us,” Doctor Smith says. “Now pay attention, Professor. This is going to hurt…”

    *

    You’re feeling a little better, your arm securely fastened to your chest, when the door to the clinic bursts open and Jezebel Kline dashes in.
    “Professor Buch!” she cries. “Oh, Professor Buch, thank God - we thought we’d lost you!”
    She clasps your free hand in hers, gazing up at you with apparent delight. Doctor Smith coughs, sarcastically, and mutters under her breath,
    Be careful with my patient, please…”
    “The others are waiting outside,” Jezebel tells you. “They’ve got together a sort of stretcher so that we can get you up to Jermyn House – up to the manor. Oh, my dear Professor, what have those brutes done to you?”
    Her hand caresses your bruised cheek.
    “You can take him now,” Doctor Smith says, fussing around the counter. “And Professor, if you’re going to be digging around in the old fort, I suggest you do so with great care. That arm needs time to heal – yes? Oh...and perhaps you should try to make the rest of your stay in Dynhill a little less dramatic than your entrance. We’re quiet folk here, sir, and we don’t much care for melodrama. Good day.”

    *

    Jermyn House, perched on the rise of the cliffs at the far end of the town, is built in the old Georgian tradition, whitewashed, angular, and clean. Somehow, at the head of the little dark houses beneath it, overshadowed by the great grey crags, it seems lonely and out-of-place.
    “Think our landowner Mr Jermyn had some delusions of grandeur,” Whipple tells you. He greeted your safe return with apparent amusement, saying simply that he ‘hadn’t sussed you as the sort to die quietly’. James, on his part, apologised ‘from the heart for ever hiring such rascals’; but he seems to be irritated about something. There are heavy bags beneath his eyes.

    Once inside, your companions show you to your quarters, a gloomy room on the first floor with an old-fashioned four-poster-bed. There they leave you, insisting that you ought to get some rest before dinner. Gazing out of your window, you notice a low, slanting roof, flecked with dangling strands of Virginia creeper, below. The lights of Dynhill are beginning to glow in the gathering dusk.

    Remembering yourself, you take Father Harry’s scrap of paper out of your pocket and unfold it. It’s handwritten...and it certainly doesn’t come from anywhere in Leviticus.

    Get out of here while you still can.

    What’s your next course of action?

    A: Sleep. I can’t keep running around in my condition. I’ll be able to face whatever’s coming much better after a good rest.

    B: It shouldn’t be too hard to get out of this window without anyone realising I’ve gone. I might stroll up to the old fort and have a look around there by myself.

    C: It shouldn’t be too hard to get out of this window without anyone realising I’ve gone. Father Harry’s trying to warn me about something; I should try to find him in the town and press him for information.

    D: Miss Kline seemed very pleased to see me again. Hmm…perhaps I should visit her in her room?

    E: It shouldn’t be too hard to get out of this window without anyone realising I’ve gone. And then I get the hell out of town. Something’s very wrong here.

    F: There’s something about Dynhill and the landowner who used to own this manor…the fact that he left the house to the town. Hmm…perhaps I should explore this old place and see if I can dig anything up.

    G: Other. (Please speshify).
     
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  19. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    22,251
    F: There’s something about Dynhill and the landowner who used to own this manor…the fact that he left the house to the town. Hmm…perhaps I should explore this old place and see if I can dig anything up.

    Very cautiosly of course.
     
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  20. Yeesh Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    2,876
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    D
    Professors have needs. And more (or less) importantly, she'll help us put our finger on what's wrong here. Feminine intuition is more powerful than a dozen magnifying glasses.
     
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  21. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    15,021
    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    F

    A bit extreme, I guess, yet mysterious and tempting.
     
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  22. TheLostOne Savant

    TheLostOne
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    Messages:
    770
    Location:
    Limbo
    G) The fuck is up with James? Some eavesdropping/snooping around his room is in order.

    If not that then D because fuck F.
     
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  23. grotsnik Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    grotsnik
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,664
    Man, I agree with TheLostOne. Passing up on Victorian pussy to go and explore the old mansion by yourself? Is this the Codex or not, goddamnit? I was going to write a sex scene in honour of Yeesh. Anyway...

    *

    You creep along the candle-lit corridor. The walls are whitewashed here, too, plain and Puritan, giving the house the lifeless atmosphere of a chapel or an asylum. From downstairs, you can hear the chatter of your companions. James’ low, nervous laughter, followed by an enthusiastic giggle from Jezebel. Perhaps you’ve missed your chance with her.

    This house is full of noises; odd, guttural creaking from the walls, shrieks of air being expressed from pipe-works, the thuds of footsteps from above and below. Half of the doors are not doors at all but facades set into the wooden panelling.

    Up a narrow, spiral staircase, somewhere on the second floor, you try a handle and find yourself in a cruciform room – almost entirely empty, but for a single oak desk in the centre, over a plain scarlet carpet, similarly cruciform. The sensation of a larger pattern, a room as symbol, the ritual place, is familiar to you.

    The candles are lit. Someone has been in here recently.

    And lying on the very edge of the carpet, as if dropped in a hurry, is a ragged scrap of paper.

    You stoop, and pick it up. The handwriting is scrawled, and barely legible.

    the old woman taught them the secre
    with all damned fools and paga
    be. They want me dead, I can
    Arthur Jermyn will not bow to
    sacrifices will be in va


    You turn it over. On the other side is a single sentence that causes your hands to quiver, in short, uncontrollable spasms, driving cloying fear through the very maw of you, at the sight of that name, that cursed name-

    the dread Yog-Shoggoth

    You turn, and turn back.

    Someone was in here with the candles lit, you think. They’re not even burnt down halfway. And someone dropped this page. Was it my approach that frightened them off?

    And if so, then where did they go?

    You try the desk drawers, but they’re empty save for a gathering of dust.

    You walk to the nearest wall and press your palms up against it, feeling for anything – a switch, a lever, a false crack in the panelling. And then you see it; at the very corner of the room, there’s a thin coating of white plaster scattered over the floorboards.

    You stoop to that edge, and probe. Your fingers find a switch; the panelling caves inwards.

    Before you lies darkness, and two stone steps, heading down into nothing. Something about that depth of darkness – so thick, you think, almost solid, a crawling fog of pitch that seems to penetrate the dim light of the study itself – repels you.

    But, you tell yourself, I vowed to explore this place – and that’s what I must do.

    Lifting a candle from the desk with your one free hand, you step forward into the blackness.

    The glow from your torch barely seems to touch the dark; you have the vaguest sensation, as if glimpsed in a dream, of a wall curving out in front of you, and of the two nearest steps. For a moment you think you can see scratchings of a peculiar, convoluted kind etched into the stone – but you check yourself and when you look again there doesn’t seem to be anything at all.

    I must not succumb to fear, you tell yourself. I am not an impressionable man. The light of science illuminates the darkness of superstition.

    You take two steps forward. And then continue on, a little more bravely, counting as you go, feeling each foot in case of a sudden drop.

    Ten paces. Twenty.

    At around forty paces, you begin to smell something horrid. Not the tainted stench of corpses – you and West know that smell all too well – nor, more simply, the musty mould of an underground chamber. This reek has a dryness to it, a burning tenderness that assails your nostrils and stings your throat, making you cough.

    You glance back. The study door is now a tiny window of the faintest light, far above you.

    You force yourself to keep walking downwards.

    Eighty paces. One hundred paces. The stench is fast becoming overpowering.

    At one hundred and twenty-one paces, the ground evens out suddenly, and, caught unawares, you almost stumble. Gently, you test your footing, but you cannot find another step. You appear to have made it on to a kind of platform or the stone floor of a room down here. You raise your flitting candle, but cannot see any sort of ceiling through the blackness.

    Five steps forward. Ten steps. Twenty.

    A sound, from out of the darkness, to your left, or perhaps from behind you, so faint that you could almost think you’d never heard it at all. Something like a low, anguished moan, and yet…not quite a moan. A throbbing, trembling noise, like the dread howls drowning men are supposed to hear all around them as they sink into the endless depths of the empty sea. A sound that permeates through the stone itself.

    And then, more distinctly, a slithering sound, as if a body was being dragged bloodily across the floor. Bristles - horrid bristles, you think stupidly, an old uncle’s beard rubbing up against your hands. Wet bristles beneath something heavy, another raised moan. And the dreadful slithering sound is getting louder all the time.

    A: Stay very, very still. It hasn’t heard me yet. It can’t have. It’ll pass on by. I just have to wait for it to pass on by.

    B: Back to the steps. Back to the steps, and then run. Run for my life towards the light.

    C: Throw the candle as hard as I can. Distract the thing. Then run, though I’ll be in utter darkness.

    D: “W-who’s there? Is there someone out there?”

    E: Flail wildly about with the candle in every direction, trying to get a glimpse ofwhatever’s out there.

    F: Other. (Specify.)
     
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