Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NEPA CoC #4: The Preacher and the Cross (part one)

March 10, 1922:
Professor Eric Bowsfield was going through undue torture. He dreamt of going through the worst gale in Nova Scotia history rather than hear about his neighbor’s dreams. Mrs. Henrietta McCormack was a nice old lady, and it was good for a bachelor to get a home-cooked meal for helping his older neighbor with the groceries and the weekly conversation, but over the last two weeks she would keep talking about these consistent dreams she had been having every night. Eric was a practical man, and practical men know nothing about bad dreams except that a warm glass of milk and a pill might help. But practical men are smart enough to associate themselves with the odd and unusual, so a quick phone call to his friend Nathaniel Millheim was in order.

Dr. Millheim, Steven O’Hara, Brian Nichols and Smitty arrived at the station in Boston a day or so later.

They interviewed Mrs.McCormack, but even with Dr. Millheim putting her under hypnosis, little was gleaned that Dr. Bowsfield hadn't already informed him of. In the snowy moonlight, a man was brutally gunned down inside, of all things, a pagoda! Dr. Millheim ascertained that the dreams were a premonition to an event in the future, and a search for pagodas in Boston commenced. Nichols discovered Dr Bowsfield’s boyish collection of fighter planes from the Great War and discovered the gentile professor had a violent streak when his secret passion was discovered.

The closest thing the investigators could find was a pagoda-inspired Gazebo at St. Patrick College. Each person tried to get an audience with Dean Father Brennan, with mixed results. Acting as a wealthy parent of a perspective student worked, with no information gained. Acting as a swarmy individual couldn't get you in the door to the secretary.

Discouraged, the investigators decided to elude a unenthused security detail to hide out on campus and see if Mrs. McCormack's dreams came true.

With no body in the morning, it seemed like a dead end.

That day, in the evening paper, they saw the murder of the priest Fr. Anthony Aurelio at Franklin Park. Father Aurelio was a professor of classical studies at St. Patrick. And oddly enough Franklin Park has no gazebo, much less a pagoda.

With very little luck or assistance coming from the local police department/city records, the investigators took matters into their own hands. The next evening, they made a foray into Fr Aurelio’s chambers in the faculty housing on campus. After breaking in, Smitty used a fake tin badge, a wallet, and an imposing demeanor to convince nosy priests that “Treasury Agents” were investigating the premises and that, "we have a warrant”. They broke into Fr. Aurelio’s room to find it trashed and ransacked. They managed to find some hidden notes and a recent journal, detailing the priest's interest in the secret society of the Wideawakes and their leader Mayhew Cooper.

Mr. Cooper was a businessman from Atlanta who set up the society to promote patriotism and American purity of spirit and body, that is, if you were an affluent White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Cooper had a residence in Jamaica Plain that the Wideawakes used as a meeting place, so the group grabbed a taxi and sped off for some late night reconnaissance.

Cooper’s residence was a large home with a brick wall surrounding the property under the lacking cover of the full moon. The investigators hid within the pine trees just within sight of a small pagoda-style gazebo in the backyard until late in the evening, then proceeded to break in through the back door. They stumbled around the ground floor, finding a tasteful décor and locked doors.

They went downstairs to the basement to discover a meeting room for the Wideawakes, as well as a makeshift altar atop a bunch of pallets. The altar room even had a cage large enough to hold a human being!

The investigators came back up and found a wrought iron circular stairwell to the 2nd floor. Except for the moonlight peering through the turret they were climbing, the stairs brought them to utter darkness… and a single gun shot. The surprised members hit the floor and fired randomly into the darkness. The shots from the darkness stopped, a mumbling and horrible shriek were emitted and a huge bird-like creature carrying a man came rumbling out and burst out the windows of the turret. The investigators had little time for recovery, as another person came through a door and opened fire on them with a pistol. Steven tried to maneuver closer to him to attack hand-to-hand, but a well placed shot pierced his heart, dropping him to the ground….


Steve barely made his dodge roll and deftly dove towards the wall to avoid the stranger’s shot. (The problem with running the game with 95% of the mechanics the Keeper’s responsibility is that if I forget a rule (such as Dodge) the players don’t know what they’re missing. Two rounds of combat later, I realized I should have allowed the roll, he made it, and his amazing recovery turned the tide. The stranger was killed and the serving staff subdued and tied up in the servant quarters. They made a pitiful attempt at interrogating them, but it allowed them time to break into the locked rooms downstairs. They discovered in an office a Klu Klux Klan robe, another similar robe but with red fiery embellishments, a box of purses and wallets, money missing, but IDs still inside, $5,000 in cash, and a number of confusing letters and notes, mostly in a weird code/slang, referring to a big event occurring in Corina, Georgia on the night of the 30th of April. Other correspondence referred to a H. Steven Lambert residing in Corina. They then stole the Plymouth in the driveway, drove into Boston proper and ditched it about ten blocks from their hotel.

As they travelled to Arkham by train to visit Dr. Bowsfield, the evening papers were publishing odd stories of a reported break-in at the home of Wideawakes Boston founder Mayhew Cooper. The home was ransacked, one man was dead, and the staff tied up. Police could claim the box of wallets and purses with IDs of numerous reported missing persons on the desk in office was planted evidence. They couldn’t refute a blood-soaked altar in the basement. Mr. Cooper’s whereabouts were unknown.

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