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MoN 23: The Edge of Darkness

Ikil Lit meanwhile came to the conclusion that one of the university’s professors—a Dr Armitage—was clearly up to no good...

Arkham, June 23rd 1923

At Arkham’s St. Mary’s Teaching Hospital, Rupert Merriweather lay dying. An unknown ailment had struck down the aged antiquarian, and in his final days, he greatly desired to right an old wrong. Thus, he sent letters to several trusted friends begging them to visit him in hospital before it was too late.

In the afternoon of Saturday, June 23rd, four men gathered outside Rupert Merriweather’s door. Two—Ikil Lit and Dr Dudley Franklin—were old companions from the Great War late of certain troubling events in Peru, while the others—Maurice O’Brian and Charles Collins Jnr—were unknown to the other three. Maurice was a policeman who had helped Merriweather after a particularly nasty burglary at his townhouse. Charles was a successful antique dealer who had dealt with Merriweather for over ten years.

Introductions were made, and then the four entered Merriweather’s room. With the aged, dying man were his son, Bertrand, and his distraught wife, Agnes. Introductions were again made before Agnes and Bertrand took their leave. In a trembling voice, Merriweather explained his problem: when he was a young man back in 1877, he and five fellows had been students of the occult. One of their experiments, conducted in an isolated farmhouse near the hamlet of Ross’s Corner, had gone horribly wrong. One of the six had been killed and another driven mad by the arrival of some kind of invisible demon at the height of the ceremony. The survivors had managed to trap the demon in the house behind potent arcane wards, but these wards were keyed to the survivors’ life-forces. When the last of the group lay dead, the demon would be free to walk the earth—and Merriweather was the last one left alive.

The aged man begged the four to help him and gave them an iron box which contained all the help he could provide. As he thrust the box into Charles’s hand, Merriweather fell back onto his bed, shuddered and let out a huge gout of blood from his mouth. As his four friends tried to help him, nurses and another doctor rushed into the room to give what aid they could. The doctor, Dr Carter, was known to Dr Dudley, and the physician took his colleague aside to learn more about Merriweather’s condition. The news was not good: the man was dying from something that resembled scarlet fever but which had the troubling additional symptoms of black lesions which continually oozed Merriweather’s thick, discoloured blood. The medical staff were stumped, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before the aged Merriweather was dead.

Galvanised by this news, the four agreed among themselves to take up Merriweather’s dying request. All four had ideas about where to start and hared off around town on a number of errands and hunchs—perhaps forgetting that Merriweather had told them all the help he could offer was in the box.

The balance of Saturday was spent in a number of frustrating dead-ends. As dusk fell, Dr Dudley hosted a dinner at his townhouse where the four new friends could review their progress. Dinner was fabulous—Dr Dudley’s wife Eloise had surpassed herself—and afterwards, the four gathered in Dudley’s study to finally open Merriweather’s box.

Inside the box lay another letter, a journal providing many more troubling details about the experiment that had gone so wrong so many years ago, a key and deed to Washington Farmhouse on Boone Road and a mysterious, sarcophagus-shaped golden box decorated in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. None of the four could translate the symbols, but while he was examining them, Dr Dudley found more symbols on the lid’s underside. They seemed similar to the Egyptian symbols, but Dudley was convinced they were not Egyptian.

At this juncture, Dudley’s telephone rang; it was Dr Carter with the sad news that Rupert had died. This news struck the group like a sledgehammer. With Rupert dead, there seemed to be nothing left to stop the demon from finally breaking free from the farmhouse to terrorise the locality.

The next few days were spent in a whirlwind of activity. Knowing that time was of the essence—and indeed had perhaps already run out—the demon could already be loose—the four hurtled about Arkham in pursuit of any fragment of information that could shed more light on the farmhouse and the events therein. Some, such as having the hieroglyphics translated, raised more (troubling questions) while others led to further enquiries with both the local authorities and the police departments further afield.

Charles got himself into a spot of bother when he was banned from the Orne Library at Miskatonic university. The antique dealer, so worried was he by the situation, that he managed to get drunk and damage several books while doing his (doomed) research.

Ikil Lit meanwhile came to the conclusion that one of the university’s professors—a Dr Armitage—was clearly up to no good as he would not let them access the library’s famed Restricted Collection. The bodyguard was also suspicious of a break-in at the library, which had happened a few weeks previously. In a terse conversation, Dr Armitage had hinted at dire, portentous events unfolding which could herald the end of the world, but he had declined to go into enough detail to satisfy Ikil Lit. That night, at Dudley’s house, the telephone wires virtually hummed as Ikil made and received a series of telephone calls.

At the end of two days of frenetic activity, despite these setbacks, some progress had been made.

  • Dudley found a book providing more detail about the golden sarcophagus.
  • The hieroglyphs on the sarcophagus-shaped box had been deciphered, and the other sigils were identified as coming from the mythical lost continent of Mu! (This revelation and the appearance of a certain name in the translation of the hieroglyphics seemed particularly worrisome to Dudley).
  • Merriweather’s journal had been read and digested by Dr Dudley and Maurice; both seemed subtly changed by what they had learned therein.
  • Charles had discovered an obituary for one of Rupert Merriweather’s comrades, Marion Allen, who had been the victim of foul play in New Orleans
  • Maurice had made contact with the local police department and requested the transfer of any of the New Orleans Police Department’s records pertaining to Allen’s death.

Thus, late on Monday the 25th, the four gathered again at Dr Dudley’s house to share what they had learnt and to plan their next move…

This post is a session summary for my weekly 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign.

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