Friday, November 20, 2020

Cannich Part Five: March 21, 1926 (Afternoon)

Taking Stock

Mullardoch House Today

Kane and the judge are at Mullardoch House. Johnny has left Mullardoch House to get the car (and the Gate Box) to take back to Kane and the judge so that the three of them can arm up and go after Duncan MacBain.

In Cannich, Mikhail, Vivian, and Dr. Black all learn about what happened to Ron while he was separated from the group. Vivian and Dr. Black call Inverness to speak to Dr. Kennedy. They explain what has happened and ask Dr. Kennedy to send a statement that will prove Ron’s innocence. Dr. Kennedy agrees to send it to Cannich tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Mikhail uses his brash, American attitude and his legal skills to get DI MacDougall and the constables to release Ron into his custody. MacDougall allows it, provided that 1) the items confiscated from Ron remain in police custody for now. 2) Ron surrenders his passport and other travel papers and stays in Cannich. 3) Ron does not leave the village without an escort.

Ron, after being sprung from jail, immediately ditches Mikhail, climbs into the Gate Box, and goes back to New York City. While there, he sends his ex-wife a lot of flowers, buys a new suit, re-arms himself, and notices that the judge’s secretary, Terrance (who is house sitting for the judge), is wandering around the property while packing heat.

Suspicious Activity

While wandering the grounds at Mullardoch House, Judge Putnam encounters a disheveled, wild-haired madman who raves at him for a moment before leaving. The judge is concerned, but not overly so. Meanwhile, Kane, who is in the conservatory, catches sight of a red-haired man. The man appeared to have been intending to enter the conservatory, saw Kane, and left. Kane attempted to track the man down, with no success.

Meanwhile, the group in Cannich noticed that Wully MacMurdo was not at his usual place by the bar, and also noticed that their rooms had been thoroughly, but carefully, searched. They soon met up with Johnny, who had finally arrived to fetch the car. They inform him that their rooms have been searched and Johnny checks his own, only to find that he, too, has had his privacy violated.

Vivian, Mikhail, and Dr. Black decide to stay in Cannich, for now, with Vivian and Mikhail using their time to pore over the documents for the Dunne Distillery deal. Johnny drives back to Mullardoch House, but not before receiving a telegram—addressed to the judge—from Tammas MacIvar.

Mullardoch House

Johnny arrives, parks the car, and goes off to find Kane and the judge. He is intercepted by Annie Chantraine, who graciously welcomes him to the house and invites him into the kitchen for lemonade and baked goods.

While the two share pleasantries, a frenetic knocking at the back door throws the kitchen staff into a bit of a tizzy. They beg Annie to answer the door because, “we know it’s him, and you’re the only one who can calm him down.”

Annie answers the door, and Johnny encounters Willie Wassle, the wild-haired man that the judge encountered earlier. Willie seems concerned that Annie is going to be harmed, and proclaims that “Azzadod the Great” has shown signs and portents that evil is going to befall her. While Willie vows to protect Annie, and while Annie tries to calm Willie down, Johnny recalls certain things he read in the Necronomicon and shudders.

Once Willie has been calmed and sent off, Annie explains that he is a homeless hill vagrant, mad, but quite harmless, who now lives in her cousin’s barn on the Mullardoch House property. Johnny, unnerved, politely extricates himself from the conversation and goes to find Kane and the judge.

In the meantime, Judge Putnam and Kane have found the car and decide to wait around for Johnny to get back. While doing so, they spot Wully MacMurdo on the Mullardoch House grounds. Kane tries to say hello to him, but the man studiously avoids him.

Willie Wassel, One of CoC's Ubiquitous "Madmen"

Ron’s Trip

While in the carriage house, Ron thinks he hears someone else in the house with him. He searches carefully, but finds no one in the house. The only two things he notes that are unusual are 1) a slightly ajar closet door in Johnny’s room, which he searches and then closes and b) that the Gate Box (of the Scotland pair, not the Atlantic City pair) has had its lid open even though Ron is sure that he closed it.

Realizing that something might be wrong, Ron hops into the Gate Box and returns almost immediately to Scotland. He pokes his head out of the Gate Box to see a very concerned Johnny pointing a gun at him. He also realizes that he is not in Cannich anymore.

The four men swiftly catch one another up. Johnny hands over the telegram he was given to the judge. It is from Terrance, who has become extra vigilant because he thinks he spotted people wandering the grounds the night before. Johnny, concerned by this and by Ron’s recent report, uses the Gate Box and quickly searches the carriage house. He finds that Carl Stanford’s cane, which he had kept in his bedroom closet, is gone.

Oh, We Totally Forgot About the Telegram!

Johnny returns and tells the others what he has found. The group decides to return to Cannich, get everyone together, and get them up to speed on their future plans. After a quick driving montage, the group is together, parked on the road between Mullardoch House and Cannich, within sight of Creag Dhubh, Duncan MacBain’s mountain fiefdom.

Johnny ferries weapons and other gear back from New York City and arms himself with one of the deadly futuristic rifles. The rest of the group, armed and ready, proceeds along a very poor access road up the side of Creag Dhubh.

The Battle of Creag Dhubh

MacBain's Cottage

The sky is heavily overcast with clouds by the time the players reach their destination. A tall, sheer cliff looms in front of them, a ramshackle cottage built up against its base. Atop the cliff is a rough circle of standing stones, standing askew on the mountain like an ancient crown.

While the rest of the group proceeds to creep forward to complete the snare, Judge Putnam brazenly walks up the muddy walkway to the front door and plans to announce himself with his usual patrician-level indignance. On his way up to the house, he spies a slender wire stretched between two bushes. Realizing that this is likely some kind of booby trap, he steps over the wire, walks up to the front step, and raps his cane on the door.

“Duncan MacBain! Come out here, please!”

At about this time, Vivian notices a robed figure stalking between the standing stones atop the cliff. She pulls a borrowed .38 from her purse and opens fire. It is impossible to tell if she hits or not.  She warns Johnny, who ceases covering the judge with his rifle, and brings it to bear on the figure on the cliff.

It is at this moment that everything goes to hell.

The clouds above swirl into a vortex. The figure starts calling down lighting from the sky, arcing it into the group. One of the bolts strikes Ron, wounding him.

Realizing that the jig is up, Judge Putnam attempts to smash in the cottage door with his shoulder. Twice. To no effect. He then blasts away at the door with his shotgun cane. The door holds.

Vivian rushes to the shelter of the cliff face. Mikhail, Kane, Ron, and Dr. Black all run across the yard to join Judge Putnam at the front door. There is much pounding on the door, but it holds.

Johnny sights on the figure and fires his future rifle. He is surprised to discover that he has accidentally set the gun to full auto. He fires a full magazine into the figure in about ten seconds, causing more than enough damage to tear a normal man to shreds. The figure screams in agony, but somehow shrugs it off.

Mikhail tries the doorknob. The cottage door opens. It has been unlocked this entire time. Mikhail pushes open the door and triggers another trap. This time, a mounted crossbow on the opposite wall fires a bolt at the door, narrowly missing the group.

Ron attempts to rush into the room, only to slip and fall on the damp lawn.  Judge Putnam also forces his way into the room, only to step on—and trigger—a concealed fox trap. Fortunately, the judge’s boots prevent him from taking too much damage.

The rest of the group comes into the room. Ron notices that the only pieces of furniture in the room are a table loaded with books and papers, as well as an accompanying chair. Furious at the lightning and the traps, he grabs the table and flips it. This triggers several more traps, but the weight of the table prevents them from injuring the group when they go off.

The figure, still alive after being riddled with bullets, strikes Johnny with lightning. In agonizing pain, Johnny drops his future rifle, draws his pistol, and returns fire. This earns him another lightning bolt to the chest, which nearly kills him.

From her vantage point by the cliff, Vivian sees a narrow trail leading up to the top of the mountain. Realizing it may be her only chance to stop the figure and save Johnny, she begins her ascent.

Most of the rest of the group run out of the cottage to support Johnny and stop the lightning caller atop Creag Dhubh. This includes Judge Putnam, who frees himself from the fox trap. This does not include Dr. Black, who has knelt down, opened up his doctor bag, and was making plans to treat the judge. He is baffled at being left alone.

Lightning arcs down from the sky for a final time, striking Kane and hurling him through the air like a ragdoll. Kane takes no damage apart from losing half of his dress shirt. Through the smoking hole in the fabric, he sees that the gris-gris bag that Papa Doc Horus gave him is crumbling to dust—perhaps fulfilling its unstated purpose.

Ron is alarmed that he cannot see Vivian anywhere. Johnny tells Ron that he thought he saw Vivian climbing up the mountain. Ron tears off after her.

By this time, Vivian has reached the top of the mountain. She sees the figure, her back to her, preparing to call down more destruction onto her friends below. She opens fire with her .38, blasting the figure in the back and dropping him down, out of sight, behind the altar stone. Wanting to make sure that the figure is dead, Vivian walks carefully around the altar and prepares to give the coup de grace.

Just as she rounds the corner, Ron reaches the top of the mountain.


In the moment that Vivian is distracted, the figure levers himself upright using the altar stone as support. The wind tears at the figure’s perforated robes and pulls the cowl from his face. It is none other than Bryan Slim. Before Vivian can react, Slim makes a mystical gesture and proclaims:

“You will kill Ron Deluca.”

Horrified at her actions, Vivian turns and points her gun straight at Ron’s head. Just as her finger involuntarily squeezes the trigger, she is able to turn the gun to the side just enough so that the shot goes wild, missing Ron.

Ron, spurred onward by a rage so volcanic it would shame Vesuvius, sprints across the mountain top, leaps over the ancient altar stone, and tackles Bryan Slim. He proceeds to beat nine kinds of hell out of Slim, using both his fists and the corner of the altar to mortally wound the bloody and bullet-riddled sorcerer.

Just then, a shriek from the clouds above causes everyone in the group to freeze. Ron stands dumbfounded as a huge, corpse-like, bat-winged beast descends from the sky to land on the altar stone. Ron and Vivian can only watch as the creature, with surprising gentleness, scoops up the broken body of Bryan Slim and takes wing. A dozen wing beats carries it up through the clouds again, out of range or sight of the group.

The Aftermath

The group reconvenes inside of Duncan MacBain’s cottage, where Dr. Black treats everyone’s wounds as best as he can. When Dr. Black goes to get the room’s one chair, so that a badly electrocuted Johnny can sit comfortably, he finds that the chair is knocked over and that someone has affixed an envelope to the underside of its seat.

Fearing another trap, the group carefully removes and opens the envelope. In it, they find a letter from Carl Stanford to Duncan MacBain. They also find a typewritten list of everyone in “the Coven.” To Ron’s slight dismay, this includes his new friend, Tommy Hayes, the Englishman.

The Coven of Cannich

Carl Stanford Says, "Hi."

After spending some time catching their breath, the group searches the cottage. This proves to be trivially easy, as the cottage is very small. Mikhail finds a door that leads into a passageway that seems to descend into the belly of Creag Dhubh. Others in the group find a makeshift extra bed in the cottage’s bedroom, which seems to indicate that someone has been bunking with MacBain. The group also finds a gold pocket watch stuffed in a drawer. On its back is the engraved monogram HMH.

The group decides that they will leave the area, go back to Cannich, and prepare their next move. Ron, who has thoroughly bloodied another new suit, wonders how he will get into the village without being noticed or stopped by the police.

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