Persistent Memory

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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Professor Morrow

October 24th, 1924 (Friday)

After the police had left with the remains of Stuart David Cabot Jenkins, we sat back down and tried to finish our long-cold dinner. We stayed up for a while, checking for signs of the parasites inside the house, and talking about the situation.

We finally retired late. Troy and Douglas slept well, but Marion and Clara had a restless night, and awakened early, unrefreshed.

We got an early start, deciding to check Stuart’s room at the Hotel Gibson for more clues about why he was trying to reach Douglas. It’s raining…Marion stashed her scythes under her raincoat, confident that they would go unnoticed.

We arrived at the Hotel without incident. The attendant acknowledged us but didn’t attempt to speak with us, so we headed to room 206.

We knocked first, and when there was no answer, we tried the door. It was locked. We used the key that we had found in Stuart’s pocket and let ourselves in. Troy placed the Do Not Disturb sign on the outside of the door, closed it, and locked it so that we could look around without any surprise interruptions.

The room was fairly tidy. The bed had been slept on, but not in…the comforter and sheets were still pulled up, but rumpled. There were some articles of clothing scattered about.

Clara looked closer at the bed. She noticed some trails of dried mucus on the pillow, which made her think of the horrible way in which Stuart had died. Apparently in his sleep, some of the viscous matter from the parasites had trickled from his nose and mouth.

Troy saw a scuffed and battered suitcase on the floor. Inside was a thick journal/notebook. There was also a .38 Smith & Wesson along with an unopened box of shells. Troy checked the chamber, confirming that the gun didn’t appear to have ever been fired. Troy took the gun and shells to add to our arsenal.

Douglas read the journal. It contained notes from interviews, some in shorthand (which Douglas was able to read). The journal was about 3/4 full.

Douglas passed the journal around to the rest of us:

Clara noticed that the handwriting became noticeably worse…a quick perusal showed that the notes became less coherent towards the end as well. (Pertinent information on handout—please refer to that for detail)

Marion caught the name Hiram Crewe and recognized him as having been a psychic investigator who had basically dropped from public view about a decade before…the name popped up in the journal shortly before Stuart’s notes started to become jumbled and disjointed.

We kept the journal.

One of the pieces of clothing in the room was a coat that had been draped over the back of a couch. In the pocket was a receipt for a Western Union Wire Transfer from Forest Grove, OR to Marquette, MI in the amount of $250.00. Douglas recognized Marquette as being located on the Upper Peninsula. We deduced that the wire probably accounted for the sequential bank notes that Troy and Douglas had found in Stuart’s wallet (20 $10.00 bills).

We decided we needed to find out who L Morrow was, and also find out more about Stuart Cabot Jenkins and Hiram Crewe.

Douglas headed to the newspaper office while the rest of us tracked down the cabbie who had dropped Stuart off at our house.

We were able to locate and speak to the cabbie, but he didn’t have anything enlightening to share: he stated that he had been unnerved by Stuart’s appearance and behavior, that he had offered to take Stuart to a hospital, but that Stuart had insisted on going to our residence.
Stuart hadn’t left anything in the cab, either.

We then decided to go to the library.

In the meantime, Douglas was at the newspaper office, following a different tack. He contacted a paper in Green Bay. They knew Stuart as a free-lance journalist who had worked for their publication from time to time and had also contributed articles about supernatural and paranormal subjects to tabloids that dealt in that kind of thing; they also stated that Stuart usually played it as a skeptic, being the type to debunk hoaxes or find natural explanations for eerie occurrences.

He also asked about Crewe…the person at the paper recognized him, and said that Stuart had not been a fan of Crewe.

While at the library, Marion decided to call Margaret in Seattle and see if she had any information to share regarding Crewe, Stuart, or the publications to which Stuart contributed.

Margaret was delighted to hear from Marion. She remembered Crewe’s reputation. She also recognized Stuart and stated that he was a regular contributor to the Journal of Scientific Exploration and The Anomalist, among others. She mentioned that she had some copies of those magazines if Marion would like to borrow them.

Marion told her what had happened to Stuart. Margaret was understandably shocked, and believed Stuart’s death to be the result of a curse.

The two women made plans (a date) for the next day and Margaret promised to bring all the publications she had with articles by Stuart, as well as some Scotch.

Meanwhile, Douglas looked into L Morrow. He turned up an article about a Mayoral Election that took place several years ago. One of the speakers at the victory dinner was a Professor Lester Morrow of Pacific University in Forest Grove. Douglas found out that Morrow was a professor of Statistical Mechanics (Physics), and a veteran of the Great War. Douglas located a photograph of Morrow in a periodical from Pacific University. He had a round face, with a forced smile, and a fringe of hair surrounding a bald pate (like Friar Tuck, only less jovial). From the way Professor Morrow’s left shoulder appeared, Douglas deduced that he was missing that arm. Morrow’s age was hard to determine.

One of the things Marion was able to glean from Stuart’s writing was that the King in Yellow was an avatar for a god. Which one was unspecified, and Marion decided to look into it later.

We met back up and shared our findings, then decided to make a day trip to Forest Grove so that we could meet Professor Morrow and hopefully find out why Stuart was trying so hard to get to Douglas.

The trip down was uneventful. We stopped at the Silver Twilight Lodge. There wasn’t anything happening. We saw a sign for a presentation by Professor Graham to be given the next night. There was a 50-something woman in the common room, reading a book. Otherwise the place was empty. We went upstairs to show Marion the mural, but the doors to the room were locked.

We then moved on to the university. We located Professor Morrow, who was wrapping up a lecture to a class of about 40 students. We couldn’t understand anything he was saying.

When the students had all filed out, we spoke to Professor Morrow. He recognized Douglas. He also knew our names through “The Group.” -Silver Twilight.

He told us that he and Stuart had come from the same area, but hadn’t known each other until they were shipped out of Troy, Michigan to serve as marines in Russia during the Great War.

We then broke the news to him about Stuart’s death. He was shocked. Explained he had advised Stuart to meet up with Douglas after he had read Douglas’ articles about New Mexico and Skookum Lake.

He had expected Stuart to come see him first, though, as he had wired the money to Stuart for his travel expenses.

We showed him the journal. He read through it with a somewhat flat affect. We were a little surprised that he didn’t react more to what he read, but felt that this might be because his experiences in the war had perhaps desensitized him.

We discussed it with him for a little while. We had all come to the same hypothesis that Stuart had been infected with the parasite while staying at the Martensen house, most likely when he had been unconscious in the cellar.

After more discussion, we left Professor Morrow and headed back to Portland.

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Stuart
October 23rd,1924 (Thursday)

The following things have happened since our return to Portland a little over a month ago:

While Steve/Roger has healed physically from the wounds he received during his abduction, it has become painfully obvious that he will never be able to live a normal life. The demands of caring for him are more than we can manage, especially when it becomes clear that he can’t be left unsupervised. The decision is made to have him committed to the Oregon State Insane Asylum.

Douglas writes an article about the goings-on at Skookum Lake. Where his article about New Mexico had garnered him some positive professional notoriety, this latest story tarnishes his reputation, branding him as a sensationalist. There are complaints that if he wants to write fiction, he shouldn’t be a journalist.

Marian reads the Mase-Howe Illuminations. She finds that the publication concerns a cairn in Orkney that dates back to 3000 BC, making it one of the oldest of its kind. The author claims that the cairn is older than that, and that it actually was built around an older stone structure. Marion believes this internal structure to be a dolmen similar to the one at Skookum Lake. The author’s theory is that the dolmen (not his words) is a symbolic gateway to the afterlife. Marian is fairly certain that the dolmens serve as a means of traveling between each other (the next logical step being that this was how the other Marian managed to transport us from Skookum Lake to the Portland sewer, with the thought being that there is a dolmen down in the sewer). She also believes that the Orkney dolmen isn’t functioning.

Clara ponders the identities of the corpses we found in the sewer. Research into the missing persons reports turns up one person that we feel confident is a match for the older woman. Neighbors interviewed during the investigation didn’t seem to be too broken up at the prospect of Athena Boggs being gone. She was a notoriously cantankerous woman, possibly due to her terrible arthritis. When she disappeared, the police were quick to look to her husband as the prime suspect, as the Boggs’ marriage had been unhappy, with a history of alcoholism and domestic violence. Mr. Boggs was cleared when it came to light that she went missing while he was at work.

Now:
As Halloween draws near, decorations start going up all over town. The scraps of fabric that hang from lampposts, flickering light creating the impression of ghostly eyes…these things hold no charm for us any more. Aunt Eugenia’s house is bare of any such trappings. There are no carved pumpkins on the porch like there are on everyone else’s porches.

Detective Butler’s friend calls one evening, upset about the weird treatments and new medication that Butler’s new physician is prescribing, and telling us that he has been told to leave because he kicked up a stink about it. He tells Clara that the new doctors name is Malachi Blenning. He also says that he snagged some records as well as one of the medication vials that Dr Blenning was administering. It is NA Tetrahydropyramidine, Vol AUBA1923D. Clara is unfamiliar with it, and the chemical compound doesn’t sound complete to her…she believes it must be a barbiturate of some sort. She and the friend discuss getting a POA for Butler since he has no family and clearly needs someone who can intervene in a legal capacity to stop the treatment and possibly get Butler moved to Morningside. The friend feels (as does Clara) that Butler should be more progressed in his recovery and they both feel that the treatments are causing more problems.

After the friend rings off, Clara contacts Dr Harp at Morningside to ask him if he recognizes the medication. He doesn’t either, and comes to a similar conclusion regarding its usage and composition. He recognizes Dr Blenning’s name, though, stating that he is a respected psychoanalyst. Clara hangs up feeling even more perplexed and worried than she had before the conversation.

During dinner, we hear a car pull up out front. Douglas and Clara look out the window..a man can be seen shuffling towards the house from a yellow cab. The cab driver attempts to assist him, but he waves the driver off violently. The cabby shakes his head, gets back in the cab, and drives off.

Clara flips on the porch light and opens the door, with Douglas standing beside her, holding his service pistol. Troy is by the window with his shotgun. Behind them, Marian sits at the table, eating her chicken…she reaches down and uncovers one of the scythes that she always keeps near these days. It’s glowing.

In the glare of the porch-light, the man appears to be in his late 20s, with sandy blonde hair and glasses. Although sturdily built, he is pale as though ill, and he has at least a week’s worth of beard growth. His clothes, which were probably respectable and of decent quality, look disheveled and thrown-together.

He holds up a rain-sodden scrap of paper.

“I have this address. I was sent here. I’m looking for Mr. Ryder.”

“Who are you?”

“Stuart.”

“Who sent you?”

“Murrow—-he sent me.” The name doesn’t ring a bell.

“You have to get to the house and stop it.” He says this…then he says “I’ve come from Green Bay. I’m not gonna make it.” He leans against the porch post.

As he slumps down, Clara steps forward to check his pulse….her fingers sink into his neck as though it were a rotten piece of fruit. She jerks her hand back instinctively…there are small, white, insectile, maggot things on her fingers…she shakes them off in horror.

The front of the man’s body starts to open slowly, like it’s being unzipped from the inside. The white creatures pour out of the empty husk that used to be Stuart.

Douglas and Clara retreat into the house, slamming the door.

A few of the creatures have gotten into the house. Douglas catches a couple in a Mason jar, and Marian stomps on one. They crawl up the windows, leaving trails of slimy footprints in their wake.

Marian gets a fumigator and starts spraying at the creatures with it, and we throw some meat out in the yard to see if it attracts them, but it doesn’t.

Troy decides to search Stuart’s body for clues, and Douglas assists him. They find the piece of paper, but it’s so wet that it’s illegible. Stuart doesn’t wear a wedding band. His wristwatch is of decent quality and as unremarkable as everything else about Stuart (except his death). The wallet contains a Green Bay drivers license for Stuart David Cabot Jenkins. The name means nothing to us. The wallet also contains $200.00 in sequentially numbered $10.00 bills. There is also a room key for the Hotel Gibson. Troy puts the money and license back in the wallet, but we retain the key.

We call the police, who show up with the medical examiner, as is protocol. There are lots of questions. It doesn’t escape the notice of Portland’s finest that we seem to be constantly finding hollowed-out corpses of one kind or another, but the connection with Butler works its usual magic and they leave us alone. Before the examiner leaves, Douglas hands him the jar of parasites as a parting gift.

After they leave, another engine can be heard starting up…

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Steve/Roger

We head down the stairs..into darkness.

It’s wet, smelly, and pitch black; Clara stumbles, tripping over something. Marion produces her lighter so we can see. We are in the midst of seven corpses. They are arranged like the spokes of a wheel, heads inward. There are symbols painted on the concrete-patched stone floor, three per body. There is a spiral painted on the ceiling, the center of which is aligned with the center of the corpse-wheel.

Marion studies the symbols. She identifies them as being associated with Yog Sothoth. She concludes that these people’s bodies are an offering…the circle would allow the summoned creature to leave. She alters the symbols so that nothing can leave the space.

Clara investigates the bodies. There are six men and one woman. All adult. The woman appears to be older than the men; judging by her swollen joints, she appears to be in her late 50s to early 60s. Even though they’re nearly skeletal, they appear to have been dead for less than a month. They’ve been gnawed on—most of the bite marks appear to be from rodents, although some are larger, and the thigh-bones have been fractured…something has tried to suck out the marrow.

A hollow, clanking, whistling sound like bamboo wind chimes can be heard coming from an opening.

Douglas moves towards the opening to find the source of the sound. It peters out and then stops completely.

There’s a 3-foot ledge and then a 5-foot high tunnel that runs about 20 feet…we can hear water now.

We follow the tunnel…bones hang from the ceiling—they’ve been gnawed just like the corpses in the room behind us.

A man screams “CLARA

The terrible, hollow fluting sounds start again.

We follow another tunnel and drop off. The tunnels are now bare stone (older than the section we were previously in)…it appears to be a disused sewer line.

Besides the stench of sewage, we smell kerosene.

We end up in another room. Against one wall is a crate. Above it is an empty frame. Painted on the wall inside the frame is a silhouette of a person, depicted in mud, blood, slime, and fecal matter. This appears to be an altar…there are books and candles laid out on the crate.

There is movement from the tunnel to our right: a bone comes out…filled with chewed out holes.

A tentacled horror follows. Dark, viscous, sprouting human bones from its earthworm-like appendages.

We manage to defeat it, although Douglas gets hurt in the process. Marion takes some of the books from the crate, notably The Mase Howe Illuminations-1811 (a British book), and the Lenge Inscriptions, which are hand-bound and written in a combination of Cyrillic and English.

We hear a voice calling “CLARA…..DOUGLAS” and follow it.

The tunnel slopes up. We crawl up it…Clara, followed by Douglas, then Troy, then Marion.

At the top is a grate. Through it, we can hear two men talking. They are clearly discussing Steve/Roger.

One of the two men leaves the room (goes upstairs). The other man occupies himself by torturing Steve/Roger. We use the opportunity to push the grate out and crawl into the room.

Taking him by surprise, we tie the man up. We attempt to question him. He isn’t very forthcoming…in spite of our threats, he is pretty cocky, but he does give his name as Steve Alberts, and says he works for Chalmers Wright, Accountant, Gambler (and gambling-circle runner). He is connected to Patterson.

Clara runs out of patience with Steve Alberts’ impertinence and pistol-whips him.

The other fellow comes down the stairs, where Troy has been hiding in wait. Troy takes care of him.

Steve/Roger appears to be in better shape than we had expected; although his fingers are broken, he still has all of them. We attend to the worst of his wounds and get him out of there.

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