Persistent Memory

You Are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue
Once more unto Portland's infrastructure, dear friends
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If This is 1925 This Must be Portland
Wherein our Investigators Decide to Slaughter Livestock
  • Marian reads Martensen’s Journal and learns the following facts, although most of the book has crumbled or is severely water-damaged:

While visiting with the Gilbert islanders in the south Pacific, Martensen had learned of the spirits that live “within our World and Nature but are strangers to it, like shadows cast through a window into our rooms." The islanders say that in the ocean to the north there is “well” at the bottom of the ocean in the midst of a submerged city, but the well has been cut off and the spirits are “dead for now.” Despite the mockery and protests of his shipmates he participates in a celebration of these spirits.

Later in more legible pages you learn that Martensen is in France to discover the wheerabouts aof a “Demon” called Eyehort. From the “Silver Priests” in Bristol. You gather that he had met them as part of his whaling life but it’s unclear how. Eyehort also resides in “well”.

Finally, much later, there are notes indicating Martensen was aware time was short for him here. He was leaving because he may have better luck “at the other end of the well in the United states.”

In addition there are occult notes, wherein Mariam finds a translation of the Emerald Tablet that Martensen attributes to Sir Issac Newton (a well-known fact and translation). Apart from that though, Martensen claims that there was more from that tablet within Newton’s notes. How he acquired these alleged notes is not stated. Those notes continue on in a much rougher form than the other part of the Emerald Tablet but, after some interpretation, show how to open the gate using the components mentioned in The Azure Crown but it is unclear if Martensen ever understood what the translation signified or if he was aware of The Azure Crown.

  • Douglas and Marian quickly deduce that the gate back will probably not be in the caverns near the Grant house but rather at the dolmen at the ruined church, in part because thus far dolmens have been doors in but not out and in part because of the reports of sounds of battles from other times that were heard at the church.
  • Marian realizes that the gold and copper are not literal components, but rather ‘life’ and ‘blood’ respectively. A sacrifice will need to happen and blood will need to flow.
  • After stealing a sheep and a smelly car ride, our heroes make it to the ruined church and pull up the flagstones, revealing the abandoned Mithraeum beneath.

statuestone.jpg

  • Miram performs the ritual, but not without challenges — thinning the boundary between worlds seems to provoke a psychic assault from someone or something: Troy and Douglas have flashbacks to the war, Clara thinks she is a new nurse at Morningside, and Marian is a youth learning about… the occult? So it would seem; she’s learning about the tools of the trade which includes that squat statue from the auction. It seems to flicker wildly, sometimes gray, sometimes green. Here is the stone color, albeit the statue is highly polished comparatively speaking.
  • The floor finally collapses, carrying Our Investigators (and a dead, flaming sheep) into the cold, cold darkness. They awaken in a damp, cold stone room, which Douglas’ lighter reveals to be the sewers under Portland… somewhere on or close after February 13th, 1925. In one of the corridors thick shadows gather, responding sluggishly to the lighter’s flame…

Notes and Observations

- Issac Newton is one of the three patron “mock-saints” of the Argent Group/Silver Twilight. along with Charles Darwin and (the very recent) Albert Einstein.

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A Little Body Work

(Next log post goes here.)

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Memento Mortis
Being a Delightful Tour of the French Countryside

(This is where the writeup will go. There are GM secrets, but you don’t see them. HA!)

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Respite
Putting those language skills to good use

Moina Mathers:

Moina assists you wherever she can: paying for a meal when you come up short, referring you to this-or-that individual when you need a referral. After about a week her blatant curiosity diminishes but it’s clear she thinks you’re more than just strange Americans who’ve had a terrible time on the road, especially given the Sieben Tage connection. Still (unless you decide to come clean or leave hints), she lets the matter dwindle, although she does occasionally ask what you think about ‘current’ American politics such as Teddy Roosevelt’s re-election.

Although she’s here mostly for the bucolic surroundings, Moina mentions that this part of northern France has a strange reputation: “The Veil is thin here, and often flutters in the wind.” She claims there are Roman tales of people vanishing or appearing from thin air and of spectral battles fought by hidden armies, perhaps the fairy folk. She presumes the Romans, in turn, learned some tales from the native Celts. She’s quite familiar with Sieben Tage but unfortunately can’t add any more insights to the narrative… and, given the circumstances, you don’t bring the slim book up too much.

Moina’s in the country taking a brief sabbatical, partly to create new artworks but also to unwind after weathering a barrage of problems. While she’s still a member of the Golden Dawn (as far as she’s concerned – more on that later) she’s become disenchanted with the whole thing and hopes her husband simply move the center to Paris and the Ahathoor Temple, “pruning the diseased branches.” She dismisses Crowley (“that arrogant sybarite”), Yeats (“that idiotic traitor”), Florence Farr (“as gullible as she is stubborn”) and Arthur Waite (“the most brilliant idiot on this earth”), and so on. She’s rather more forgiving of her friend Annie Horniman, claiming she’s just listened to unwise counsel.

She doesn’t speak of all the ills, politicking and scandals that have beset the Golden Dawn, but those are known to Marian and Douglas or easily learned:

“Around 1900 a schism arose in The Golden Dawn. William Westcott was accused of forging the founding documents. Samuel Mathers, backed by Aleister Crowley, accused William Westcott of faking the documents on which the order was based. Later evidence indicates that this accusation was probably true, but at the time it was a very unpopular move and Samuel Mathers was expelled from the order. W B Yeats took over the group for a while after Mathers left, but in 1903 A.E. Waite took control, changed the name of the order from ‘The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn’ to ‘The Holy Order of The Golden Dawn’ and took it on a course that leaned far more towards Christian teachings than the Eastern mysteries.

In 1899, two criminals claimed to be Golden Dawn leaders. A couple named Mr. and Mrs. Horos joined Mr. Mather’s Paris order, convincing him that they were genuine in their wish to learn The Golden Dawn mysteries. In fact they were con artists, and when they were discovered they fled to London, bringing with them papers that they had stolen from the order. In London they set up their own group, The Order of Theocratic Unity, and embarked on a career of extortion and fraud. In 1901 Mr. Horos was arrested for rape and the couple claimed to be leaders of The Golden Dawn. In court, most of the secrets of the order were made public, and details of their rituals were published in the London newspapers.”

(Quote from Golden Dawn Trivia – edited for accuracy)

Mr. Mathers, meanwhile, has made far more secular enemies. His position on the rights of women brought him some ridicule among more conservative, male members of Parisian society, but his condemnation of vivisection has earned a public outcry. In 1902 he denounced Louis Pasteur by name, and an Englishman does not do such to an esteemed Frenchman. The physiologist Auguste Chauveau wrote a scathing rebuttal, using Mathers’ Golden Dawn ties and tribulations to denigrate his position. Shortly thereafter an anonymous group named “Crépuscule d’Argent” (The Silver Twilight) began writing letters to newspapers, refuting popular superstitious or pseudo-scientific notions, always with a slant of mocking mysticism. Moina is convinced this “group” is nothing more than a handful of conceited scientists trying to slap Samuel using the press, although she suspects Dr. Felkin of the splinter group Stella Matutina may be orchestrating this slander. Moina Mathers needed this brief holiday in the countryside to unwind.

Moina remains for just eight days after your arrival unless you do something that might change that.

Research:

I’m going to mash together your findings about the history, geography and mystical aspects of the area.

First: Douglas finds a fair amount of material for his research on the Sieben Tage book that would be great for a monograph on the subject but not really relevant to your situation. This is rather frustrating because the only typewriter is a temperamental Daugherty Visible in the library, in high demand and also hard to operate with just one hand.

Items relevant to your interests: Chateau-Thierry was founded on an old Roman town called Otmus, a small fortified camp guarding the Marne River crossing for the Soissons-Troyes north-south road. There’s not much about the early history of the place, but you manage to pick up two tidbits. The first is a quote attributed to Publius Crassus made about the Belgica campaign in the Gallic Wars. It states that the Otmus was in the Celtic Suessiones territory held by “the shunned and the outcast[s]” and that when the Romans attacked the territory “the Belgae did not rouse a force to counter us.” Another reference comes about one hundred and twenty years later, when Livius Papus, Roman governor of Noviodunum (now modern Soissons), recorded that the town had “at last” mustered a force that would “cleanse the wilds of the white weepers {_deflens albus_} and would "close the home of the treasure of the eggs of the worms {_ovorum vermum thensauri_}.” The construction leads you to believe this may be a proper noun: Ovorum Vermum Thensauri.

The translator you’re reading faffs about trying to guess what thensauri ovorum vermum means, speculating it was a cave or burial chamber that modern people would call “the Dragon’s Nest” or “the Dragon’s Hoard”. This gives Troy and Douglas a bit of a chill because there was an infamous underground fortress during the War called The Caverne du Dragon, or Drachenhöhle. It was a converted quarry… but was only given the name well after the war was underway many years from now, and it was also many kilometers to the northeast, far away from Otmus. It seems far more likely that Livius was talking about the caverns you’ve recently been through.

Douglas recalls and finds a passage in The Azure Crown from the titular poem, reading thus:

They dangle below the feet of man
On paths long forgotten
The proud beasts have not walked among it
The fierce lion has not passed over it
The hoard of eggs that dwells unseen

Out of it food goes forth
Through the gate
It has been twisted open as if by fire
The stones of it are the place of sapphires
Like the sky
And it has dust of gold
Like the stars
And the veins of it are copper
Like the chains of Legion

The entire passage is a heavy rework of Job with smatterings of New Testament references and other, obscurer sources. The biblical allusion to Legion is clear and reminiscent of the chained figure in the tunnels. "The horde of eggs” may have been mistranslated from the original German, though. Much like “The Treasure of the Eggs of the Worms”, the original German (helpfully provided in the book) may be both a ‘kenning’ (“Egg Shelter” or “Egg Hoard”, perhaps meaning “nest”) and a proper name: Ei Hort.

Marian believes the verse holds an alchemical formula within it: fire, sapphire, gold, copper. They all descend from the concept of “gate” so presumably the formula has something to do with passages, but without a key to decipher the formula it’s like having an ingredient list without a recipe.

Meandering back to primary sources, you find an indirect reference that comes about approximately 130 later still. (Publius Crassus’ account was from approximately 54 BC, Livus’s came from around 66 AD, and this was from 205 AD.) It is from some unnamed Roman official serving in Noviodunum: “It is good to hear no more the tales of Suessiones and scouts who take pledges then return in the night, murderous and corrupted. The soldiers’ gossip worse than women and the lies they believe are far greater.”

Rome switches from polytheism to Christianity and so too does Gaul. Time passed, carrying with it many noteworthy but irrelevant events. Charles Martel dragged France out of the Dark Ages and around 730 AD more-or-less imprisoned his rightful king, Theuderic IV, at the aptly-named Castrum Theodorici: Château-Thierry. Theuderic IV was a cypher, the penultimate ruler of the Merovingians, living a brief life in isolation with only a town left to his name.

Of interest: Prior to his transfer to Château-Thierry, Theuderic IV was kept at Chelles Abbey and when he moved he was accompanied by his “scholars of the Christian soul”, a cadre of monks known as the “Conca Argent”. Given the context Matthew 13:45-46, it’s likely that “conca” should translate to “pearl”. It is yet another word that is vague: it has alternate meanings of “mollusk”, “horn” (conch), and even “vulva”. Given some of the intimations regarding the life of the monks at the Abbey the last definition is not too farfetched…

The Monks of the Silver Pearl do not appear in any records prior to 1142, although those records are probably copies of earlier records dating to perhaps the late 890s. Regardless, they are not firsthand accounts and thus are unreliable. According to the records they came from Brittany and before that “beyond the waters”, possibly meaning from Great Britain. They apparently settled down at the double monastery for several years and “attended to the young king (Theuderic IV) as the abbess decreed.” However: “The monks of the Conca Argent were secretive, studying and praying only amongst themselves unless the nuns were about. Then they were convivial and full of praise.” The sisters began to speak against the Conca Argent, however, suspicious of the “gatherings occurring beneath the hills and the long visitations with the youngest of God’s house.” Finally, “there was much relief when the young king went east and his monks departed with, taking with them their writings and their shared murmurs.”

There they vanish into history until 1491, where you find ecclesiastical records referencing “rebuilding the church crafted by the Silver Brethren, which had consecrated the site of the pagan stones.” Although, “The recrafting was met with outbursts and refutation from the attendant priest, although his obdurateness dwindled when we found a subterranean chamber replete with graven images: the head of a calf in gold leaf, reprising the sin of Aaron, and a bound demon in copper chain: a man with the head of a beast, keys clutched in his hand and a serpent’s head as a crown.” The fate of the priest is not recorded, but “the church, humble as it was, was sanctified in the eyes of the Lord and wrested from the false gods that bedeviled it.”

Marian recognizes the image of the demon; it is a Mithraic image, a mystery cult popular with Roman soldiers, although copper is not a usual attribution. The “golden calf” also harkens back to Mithras. The mention of keys, gold and copper echoes the alchemical intimations from Azure Crown and the church itself seems to be the one mentioned in Seiben Tage.

The unsourced records continue: “As the new shepherd, free from influence, gave his blessing to the new stones, there was the sharp sound of thunder and men screaming: the sound of Hell’s condemnation of sanctity. The protestations continued well after the ground was consecrated but did diminish and, eventually, were heard no more.”

The intervening centuries don’t give much more detail except to confirm the hearsay you get from the townsfolk: weird things happen around here. Most of the time it’s phantom sounds, with people hearing things that aren’t there. There are a couple of instances of highborn folk leaving for a leisurely morning ride and returning several days later, unaware of how long they’ve been gone. There are a handful of disappearances recorded, but if that’s unusual or not it’s hard to say: when you’re meandering around rural France in the 16th – 18th centuries, sometimes the wolves win.

In 1802 the events of Sieben Tage take place in the early days of the Napoleonic era.

In 1814, Chateau-Thierry hosted a battle between Napoleon I and a combined force of Russian and Prussian forces, pushing their advantage after Napoleon’s utter failure to invade Russia. The smaller French force was able to inflict heavy losses on the invader. However, Prussian cannons were able to stave off the worst of Napoleon’s forces and it was one of the final victories for the French before Elba.

In 1833 you find a record of John Martensen, who “having settled in a home in Bouresches some months back, has donated several items from his times as a whaler for the Southern Fishery to the public meeting hall for the information and entertainment of all the town.” The intervening years sour rather quickly for Mr. Martensen, though. First, seemingly unrelated to his arrival, there are reports of attacks on animals and (less frequently) people. Corpses are found in remote locations west of Chateau-Thierry, with one of two points of commonality: either (to quote one source) “little to no signs of quarrel, bearing only the slightest amount of wounding about the face where the eyes were plucked out”, or to quote another account from a few years prior: “with the body rent apart, the insides termite-riddled and denuded of viscera.”

Eventually the people decide to equate the stranger with the events and so “somehow forewarned of our [the town police and associated irregulars] arrival, Mr. Martensen was not on the premises when we arrove. Items deemed of value were taken back to the town halls of Bouresches or Chateau-Thierry for investigation or storage. Items deemed of no value, such as the jars of earth, were destroyed on site.” The library has no list of specific items taken from the house.

Records of note end here, but Troy gets another piece of gossip from the motorists and mechanics he assists: about three months ago, there were strangers in the town who were gracious but unnerving. Finely dressed, they invariably wore sunglasses regardless of the weather or time-of-day. They haven’t been seen for many weeks. Where they came from, where they went, and why they were here no one can recall.

Links for more information, just in case you want more context:

Robert Felkin

The Horos Scandal

Auguste Chaveau

Daugherty Visible (the only typewriter available)

Kenning

The Book of Job, Wisdom Interlude

The Book of Mark, Legion

Mithras and Mithraic Mysteries

Caverne du Dragon

Chelles Abbey

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April 20th 2014
And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time
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Let's give Douglas a hand
insert pun here

We stumble through the last portal, blind….there’s the sound of a man retching, followed by two men screaming, one right after the other; Douglas is nauseated and dizzy, falling to the ground, heaving, then screams in agony from a sudden pain in his wrist.

Our flashlights beam into the darkness as we try to locate each other.

Troy and Clara manage to orient themselves…they find Douglas doubled over on the ground. He clutches his right arm to his chest. Behind him a ragged man in a strangely-tailored suit prepares to take a swing at Douglas with an axe.

He is distracted by T and C, and lunges for Troy instead of hacking into Douglas again.

Troy blows the maniac away with his shotgun….at that moment, Douglas’ hand is flopping around on the ground, separated from his body.

There’s a Silver Twilight symbol on the floor next to the corpse of the axe maniac. It starts to open.

Tentacles pop up through the opening.

Clara runs to Douglas to try to staunch the blood flow. Marion tries to cut the tentacles with her sickles and fails.

Troy shoots at it.

Clara continues to try to assist Douglas.

Marion tries to cut the tentacles again and succeeds.

Douglas manages to dodge the aftermath of Marion’s attack (gore back-splash) and he and Clara both move out of the way.

Clara shoots it with her .45. Somehow we manage to kill it.

Marion goes wackadoo, stomping and slicking at the remains of the tentacled creature, shrieking and ranting.

Clara attends to Douglas and Troy’s wounds.

The symbol in the floor closed.

We look around the chamber…there’s a symbol like the Silver Twilight but altered, on the wall. Suggestions of mathematical equations beyond our capabilities come to mind.

We collect Douglas’ hand, bind the wrist, and secrete it in Clara’s purse, in the hopes that Marion can find a spell to help somehow reattach it.

We find the openings for two tunnels…Clara hears men singing and chanting from the left-hand tunnel…she bids the rest to listen. They all hear singing or talking, but the others in the group hear children or women’s voices.

We choose that tunnel and start walking….after following it for a while, we find a bedroll and lamp. There’s also a photo of a farmhouse, apparently seen from a hilltop…mundane, bucolic, possibly European….the odd thing is the color…the shades of the picture are off, as if the developing solution or process was different than we’re used to seeing. There’s something else, too…at the edge of the picture is a car…it looks like a test vehicle, the edges are too rounded.

We continue past the little campsite…the noises in the tunnel change, resolving into the sound of a child crying.

We move forward a little and in a dip, we see a little girl dressed in an old-fashioned outfit (circa 1880s)…she’s crying over the bodies of seven dead British soldiers in uniforms from the Great War. The way the men’s bodies are arranged on the floor indicates they killed each other. What’s even more strange is that they appear to have been dead 20 to 30 years…longer than the 10 years they would have been.

The girl looks at us…she’s pale, ashen…with dark eyes and hair. She clutches a biscuit tin at her side, and grabs a bayonet to protect herself from us. The biscuit tin is strange, oddly colored and of a strange construction.

On the other side of the dip, there is light…and sound…hopefully the opening of the tunnel.

Clara tries to calm her, to form a bond with the help of Marion and Douglas’ translations (the little girl speaks French)….after a couple of false starts, she takes Clara’s hand and goes with us towards the light at what is hopefully the opening of the tunnel.

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the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out...
the worms play pinochle on your snout

The four of us descend into the tunnels below…the walls are red, packed clay, interspersed with large stones.

It smells terrible in here, like mildewed cloth, wet and dank. Five tunnels radiate from where we stand. We choose one and start exploring.

We come across a skeleton, bones tumbled on the floor. Unsurprisingly, it is wet and mildewy, but we see a shine of something else…a closer inspection reveals that the bones were most likely those of an adult male, and that the person died in a similar manner to Stuart Cabot Jenkins…there are the same cracked ribs, the same tell-tale fissures in bone. The shine turns out to have been from some coins, which Marion identifies as being from the 1860s.

The tunnel starts to show signs of being man-made rather than natural, the walls being too smooth and regular. We theorize this may be one of the “copper mines” Marion had read about in her research of the area.

To our left, we see another shaft; this one is almost vertical…little white grubs drop down one by one into a small pile. Some of them go off towards tunnel entrances and others mill around. We all look closer…we see the tunnel from which they drop is also quite regular in shape…more like a pipe than a tunnel, really.

Further along, we find more shafts and yet more grubs. We hear a loud, scraping, hollow sound, and have no idea from what direction it’s coming.

We then hear another loud noise, as of a beast bellowing in pain or rage.

Marion and Clara see a portion of an immense, segmented, greenish organism as it moves along one shaft that intersects the one in which we stand and enters a shaft on the other side. Marion drops her flashlight and starts gesticulating wildly with the sickles. Clara manages to calm her, but she remains far from lucid.

She pushes ahead of Troy and Douglas, so we follow her. We end up in a roughly ovoid cavern…this has also been artificially shaped, and a tracery of copper runs along the surface, too regular and even to be natural, just like everything else in this very unnatural place.

A large statue in a blocky, angular, style is in the chamber. This type of sculpture is not fitting for this area, being more readily identifiable as Mezzo-American in character. It appears to be bound, spread-eagle against a doorway. Its shackles are copper.

Marion performs a spell to open the gateway. It’s very similar to the ritual that had been performed by the other Marion at the dolmen near Skookum Lake. The portal opens and we walk forward. Marion and Clara are unscathed, but Troy and Douglas don’t fare so well; their tenuous grasp on reality becomes that much more fragile.

At one point, we come out on a mountain overlooking a placid lake. It’s springtime, and the sun is setting. There’s a dolmen here, too. A girl in her mid-teens, and a boy of about 12 stand together…the boy reaches over to take the girl’s hand, but she twitches it aside, laughing. As the sun drops below the horizon, the boy’s face takes on a predatory look, belying the innocent sweetness that had been on the surface just moments earlier. He looks right at us. It’s Edmund Cage.

Then we’re through the gate.

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Halloween
10/29/24--Wisconsin

After the incident with the talking board, we have a quiet night. The following morning the train pulls into the station in Cedar Rapids, Iowas.

There are no telegrams awaiting us.

Clara contacts her answering service. A few mundane messages from Morningside. Then there’s a message from Eugene about Butler…they’ve checked him out of the insane asylum…everything’s fine. Will catch up soon. All attempts to contact Eugene are fruitless.

We get back on the train…three hours later, we’re in Madison, Wisconsin. Clara checks for messages again… there’s one from the insane asylum requesting clearance to transfer a patient. There’s another message from Morningside asking about transport of Butler.

Clara calls Morningside…her coworker answers…Clara promises to get the Butler thing resolved. She then calls the Oregon Insane Asylum and spends a frustrating 20 minutes being bounced around before giving up and hanging up.

We leave the train in Wassau. We have another quiet evening in a hotel.

October 30th—-
We drive to Cambridge Grove Comvalescence Institution.

The place is a mess. Roof is collapsing in spots, shutters are missing; clearly this is less of a place of treatment than a dumping spot for unwanted people.

Clara talks to the nurse, who IDs her and then tells us that Marian Ramsay has never had a visitor in the 25 years she’s been a patient. An orderly takes us to see Marian, who is housed in the Hopeless Ward.

Marian is catatonic. She is well cared for from the look of things, although she looks much older than her years. She’s in her late 50s, but her hair is stark white, she is frail, withered, and stooped over. She sits by the window with a faded afghan across her lap.

Clara requests his file. While the orderly is fetching it, our Marion starts talking to Marian, explaining what has happened to us. She feels the other Marian’s hand tighten on her own, as if in reaction to her words.

Eight doctors have attended her with no success. The file states that when she was first brought in she was shrieking about the murder, screaming for her sons and ranting about the worm and the cellar.

Suddenly Marian hisses “Big as a house. I heard the worms. The blood wasn’t my sons’, it was the worms’!!!” She’s extremely agitated.

The orderly sees this and is gobsmacked. He brings back the doctor, who examines Marian.

We discuss what happened with the doctor. She and Clara swap business cards. She also asks if the hospital is privately funded. The doctor makes a jibe about them barely being funded at all, and Marion writes a sizable check to cover Mrs. Ramsey’s care.

We then board a train to Green Bay and then drive to Big Bay. We find Bertram Chambers, the attorney caring for the estate. He’s slimy…at first he thinks we’re trying to collect on the rent that was paid for Stuart from Oregon. We get the key from him.

We stop in Marquette and pick up supplies…surgical masks…flashlight batteries.

We then go to the Martensen house. It is now Halloween!

The house stands alone at least a mile and a half from the nearest neighbor. Paint is peeling off but windows and doors are in good repair. A wooden fence surrounds the property. There’s a window in the foundation.

Marion performs a protection spell on the house while the rest of us stand on the porch. She almost falls in a hole that was boarded over. The wood is pretty weathered. We pull it back to look…there are bones. Lots of them. A femur and a jawbone are clearly visible.

We decide to go down the hole to investigate. Douglas volunteers. He finds even more bones in the hole than we had reckoned when we first looked. Some of the bones are small (toddler-sized). Also there are animal bones.

Sooo….lots of bones.

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Crazy Train
October 25th (Saturday)

Clara goes in to work. Dr Harp has left her a note regarding the chemicals being administered to Butler. The compound seems to be Scopolamine, which is typically a sedative used for childbirth. The note references some research by Robert House out of Dallas, TX, regarding effects…nothing conclusive. Harp promises to keep digging for more information.

Douglas goes to the paper to see if he can sweet-talk his editor into paying for him to go to Wisconsin (to investigate Stuart’s last days).

His editor is less than enthusiastic, but cuts a deal with Douglas, if the article is a flop, Douglas will have to pay all his travel expenses back, and if he writes a winner, they’ll call it even.

Troy gets the house ready for our departure and winterizes it. He also calls the newspaper, milkman, and post office to stop deliveries.

Marion has her date with Margaret. She gets dropped off at the house as the rest of us are sitting down to dinner. She breezes in…looks at us all and tells us it’s none of our business, then proceeds to tell us that they went to the library. Research on the region turned up evidence of prehistoric copper mines in the Upper Peninsula, but that the native tribes didn’t appear to do much copper work.

Besides the alchemical properties of copper, Marion thinks that maybe the tunnels are the point….like the dolmen/gateways with their tunnels.

She mentions that as she and Margaret were headed up Germantown Road, they passed a motorcycle coming in the other direction….she found it suspicious because the road isn’t terribly busy, and she thinks it might be the same one that pulled out after the police and M.E. left the night of Stuart’s death.

The next day, Douglas is the last to rise. It rained during the night…now it’s sunny. We eat a quick breakfast, clean up, and get things tidied up, then head to the train station for the long trip to Wisconsin.

October 28 (Tuesday)

One evening as we’re sitting in the dining car, Troy turns to Doug and asks him if he remembers him. Troy had a dream that he was on a battlefield in France…mortars were going off everywhere. He looked back and saw soldiers frozen in terror; he accidentally stabbed someone in the arm with a bayonet. A mortar went off, knocking Troy back. He looked around and saw Douglas’ face, and lots of blood.

He asks Douglas if he has a scar on his arm from the bayonet.

Douglas replies that he had a dream where Troy pinned his arm to a tree with a bayonet.

As the two men are talking, Clara looks at the table. there’s a glass of ‘water’ that had contained olives on a toothpick…all that’s left is the toothpick, which now rests atop a menu. During the conversation, the toothpick rolls around on the menu in a way that isn’t congruent with the motion of the train.

She thinks of the talking board…the word “before” is discernible. The toothpicks stops suddenly and rolls of the table.

Marion and Clara discuss what happened…they decide to make a paper ouija board and planchette to see if they can contact the spirit.

We all head to the sleeper car. We ask questions…nothing happens until Clara asks if the spirit is her mother…then there’s a twitch. Douglas asks if we’re heading in the right direction and the cup spells out “from before.”

When Douglas asks for clarification, Troy turns to him and says “I died the first time because of you. I came back to make sure that doesn’t happen this time.” He then tips over backwards, landing heavily on his back. We check on him….he regains consciousness with no recollection of his episode.

Douglas thinks of the weird, mummified hand…the one that looks like his own left hand.

All further questions yield no answers, so we give up and go back to the dining car.

Marion thinks that because the talking board at home is dedicated to its specific purpose, it is more accurate and effective that the makeshift paper board we tried to use. She decides to make a proper board.

Clara’s dreams that night are muddled and murky….she awakens at 2:17 AM, just as the train is pulling into Lincoln, Nebraska. She vaguely recalls it as being the same one she had before about the chess game…and also about Gatineau’s bizarre letter to her and Marion…the one about the sleeper beneath the sea and the stars realigning.

At the next stop, we go to a store in town and pick up the supplies to make the new talking board. It’s expensive because Marion wants it to be as good as possible…we even purchase real silver wire for it.

When we board the train again, a porter tells Douglas there’s a telegram for him. Douglas tips him and reads the message, which was sent to Lincoln, Nebraska’s station from Portland:

Fear it may be checkmate in a few moves STOP
Suggest keeping sunset to your back for a while STOP
May have a feint or two left STOP
Steward en passant STOP
Signed, Mad Hatter

We figure that the Mad Hatter is Milner. Troy figures out that Steward is synonymous with Butler. Clara sends a hasty telegram back to ask if Butler is okay, and that we’ll be in Des Moines and then Madison.

Marion constructs the talking board. She asks for blood from them all to use. She is very apologetic about this, given her own experience at the hospital.

We stop in Des Moines. The talking board is ready, but we decide not to use it right away since we need to change trains. No telegram awaits us..it’s only been six hours since we left Lincoln, so this isn’t surprising.

The train to Madison is smaller and less well-appointed, but we settle in quickly and Marion brings out the board.

We gather that we’re speaking to Douglas’ Paternal grandmother (Dorothy). We try to get her to explain what she was trying to tell us before. She finally responds positively when Clara asks if she had anything to do with the dream about the chess game. She also answers in the affirmative that she had something to do with Troy’s episode. After many questions, we glean that she is trying to help us resolve things…that she wants us to join her…when Douglas asks her where, she says outside…what word…out…more…be…us.

Douglas makes the leap to Mobius strip, which calls to mind the piece of paper that had been hanging from the door handle in the alternate Morningside (memory lane).

Mariom’s eyes narrow…she says “I” and the planchette decisively spells out YOU ARE NOT AT HOME.

We try to find out who the new spirit is (since it pretty clearly isn’t Dorothy). It responds by sending the planchette (which is shaped like a wooden triangle) hurtling off the board and straight at Douglas’ throat. Luckily it isn’t sharp enough to cut him, but it still hits him pretty hard.

Douglas brings his left hand up to his throat and the planchette flies at him again, smacking into his wrist.

Clara reaches for it, and it hits the floor. Douglas keels over backwards (much as Troy had done). Marion tells the spirit that we’re done, and releases it.

Troy stamps his foot down on the planchette. The board starts clattering on the table. Marion clamps it down.

Clara checks on Douglas. He comes to. His throat is burning and it hurts to breathe, but he is otherwise unharmed.

Marion opens the window and chucks the board out.

The theory is that the second spirit was Edmund.

“I saw instead of Clara, Edmund…saying he hadn’t gotten my blood but he didn’t need it” Douglas says.

Marion is furious because Edmund means he has her blood. The thought is that Edmund believed magical ability runs in families and he’s trying to create another “family member” from her or Douglas’ blood or (in her case) reproductive organs (the whole thing with the ovary removal).

“If I see him, I’m going to kill him….again.” Marion hisses.

Fin

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