Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Last Interlude: August 30, 1926 – September 4, 1926

The London Group’s destruction of the ancient and malignant throne has wrought a powerful change on Easter Island. The moai that once ringed Rano Raraku have all crumbled into dust, and the moai of the ancestors, also called the Watchers by the indigenous people, briefly sent beams of light out from their stony eyes to blaze across the southwestern Pacific. 

In the wake of these signs and portents, the villagers of Huanga-Roa begin a celebration that lasts three days, much to the consternation and confusion of the inhabitants of the Chilean naval base. The group could, if they wished, explain the true reasons behind this celebration to the Chileans, but would they be believed? 

For their part, the Chilean sailors at the base, led by Captain Pereira , are also happy at the London Group’s return, for they have also brought eight of the nine missing people out of the island’s depths to safety. Of the ninth person, there is no sign (and alas, there never will be), and of the remaining eight, they are so deeply scarred and traumatized by their capture and imprisonment that they will likely never recover. Despite this, their friends, colleagues, and families are grateful that they have been returned alive, if not whole. The native islanders and Professor Methridge are quite effusively grateful, offering up humble gifts of food or promises to co-author various papers, as appropriate.

The members of the London Group have not escaped their adventures unscathed. Johnny’s eyes will take some time to recover and may never fully heal. Dr. Black, critically injured by the explosion that destroyed the throne, lays unconscious for two days before finally beginning to recover. Though the doctor is relieved to be alive, he privately fears that his continued dabbling in the mystic arts—as well as his failing constitution—may make him increasingly vulnerable to possession by the long-dead Khaad Vishtu, the ancient priest-aspirant of the Nameless City.

Across the world, in a guest house in New York City, Ron Deluca also recovers from his exertions. As he convalesces and curses the Ouroboros Ring for being such a cruel master, he finds that his relationships with his family members have deteriorated still further. No one answers his calls at the Brooklyn brownstone that was once his home, and, by all accounts, his son and wife are too terrified by recent, strange events to want to be in his company.

While their companions recover, the other members of the London Group work late into the night, poring over Vivian’s notes, the fragments of arcane lore that they have collected in their travels, and the Tome of Great R’lyeh that they brought up from the tunnels beneath Easter Island. Between them, they manage to work out an altered version of the spell Raise R’lyeh, which will cause the Island of the Herald to swiftly sink beneath the sea. But will it be enough?

September 4, 1926

A tidal wave of immense power smashes into the southern shores of Easter Island, toppling moai statues and destroying part of the coastline. Thankfully, there are no casualties—whether human or sheep—but everyone on the island is terrified despite this.

Captain Pereira radios his superiors. Meanwhile, anchored at sea, Captain Keane of the Golden Bear also contacts anyone who can explain the terrifying tsunami. Both receive reports of incredible seismic activity centered on a region of the Pacific about a thousand miles to the southwest of Easter Island—the same direction indicated by the Watcher moai. This coincidence is not lost on the members of the London Group.

For the Chilean government, however, the seismic activity indicates a potential opportunity. Believing that it is the result of a new, volcanic island rising from the depths of the Pacific, they task Captain Pereira with sending out a research team to survey the island—if one can be found—and officially claim it in the name of Chile.

As the London Group and the remnants of Dr. Methridge’s team are the only things approaching scientists in the area—at least, as far as Captain Pereira and his superiors are aware—they are asked to travel to the center of the seismic activity on behalf of the Chilean government.

The London Group makes grim determination, realizing that they will not have enough time to recover from the incidents on Easter Island before setting sail to face their greatest challenge yet… 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Easter Island, Part Five: August 29, 1926

Rescuing the Captives

Having found eight of the deep ones’ captives, the question now becomes what to do with them. They seem utterly mad and barely responsive, but it also sees that they will not leave the cavern that they are in without someone to guide them. A potential plan of leaving them with a flashlight and coming to collect the captives once the London Group is finished down in the volcano is floated and then rejected. Several members of the group are not at all convinced that they will return from their mission.

There is some talk of splitting the group, sending some to guide the captives out of the volcano while the rest of the London Group press on. This is ultimately facilitated by Liam, who manages, through empathy and a lot of natural charm, to get the captives to listen to him. Kane attempts to help Liam by first firing a gun to get the captives’ attention, ordering them to line up, and then trying to get one captive—a sailor—to remember his military duty and return to his senses. These actions by Kane have very, very limited results.

Liam leads the captives out of the volcano, singing a jaunty sea shanty to keep their spirits up. The rest of the London Group spends time investigating the tunnels beneath the volcano. Thanks to Vivian’s careful planning, and a large piece of chalk that happens to be in the multidimensional pocket of Smith’s (Johnny’s) coat, they are able to successfully navigate the southern half of the cavern complex and not get lost.

Liam Returns?

The London Group returns to the base of the volcano to begin searching the northern section of tunnels. As they approach, they see a flashlight beam and hear someone descending from the caldera. Everyone hides and watches as Liam comes into view, looking a little bit lost.

The group reveals themselves, startling Liam badly. When he recovers, Liam explains that he had just about gotten the captives down to the base of the volcano when he happened to encounter one of the island’s Chilean shepherds. Liam sent the captives back to the naval base with the shepherd and returned to see if he could offer the group any additional aid.

Johnny, immediately suspicious, hurls a pinch of the powder of Ibn Ghazi into Liam’s face. This causes Liam to have a coughing fit but does nothing else of note.

The group is wary of Liam, but decide to press on anyway and finish their exploration of the volcanic tunnels. They are soon reach a Y junction and have to decide whether to go right or left. The London Group argues the merits of both directions, and eventually decides to go left. They soon come to another Y junction, where much the same argument occurs.

It is at this point that Mikhail remembers that Liam had actually wandered off alone into this portion of the tunnels no more than an hour or so previously. He turns to ask Liam why, if he’s been here before, he hasn’t been offering any guidance to the group.

Liam apologizes and immediately says that they should go right. Mikhail studies Liam as he says this and realizes that a) Mikhail is lying and b) there is an alien intelligence behind Liam’s eyes. Mikhail silently communicates this to the rest of the group.

Vivian steps forward and asks Liam if he can remember the name of the lady that he had sex with on the Orient Express. Liam smiles and responds with, “Mrs. Davenport.”  

“Fucking shoot him, Johnny,” says Viv.

A Trustworthy Face? Not Especially!

Johnny does so, firing his shotgun into Liam at point-blank range. The pellets tear through Liam’s clothing and flesh, revealing what at first seems to be the ropy coils of Liam’s small intestine. As these fibrous cords begin to move of their own accord and drip out of Liam’s abdominal cavity, the group quickly realizes that they are not intestines, but ferocious red worms whose squeals sound like a tea kettle that has just come to a boil.

Mikhail and Dr. Black lunge at not-Liam, attempting to stab him with the blessed Masonic blade and the Sword of Marcus respectively. Liam catches both of their sword arms—one in each hand—and squeezes down painfully on their wrists. He also vomits a deluge of red worms all over Mikhail.

Judge Putnam fires his shotgun cane at not-Liam, ripping away more flesh and also, unfortunately, wounding Mikhail in the process. The rest of the London Group closes in, taking much more careful aim with their weapons, and soon not-Liam loses cohesion and splashes to the ground as a writhing tangle of red worms. The group falls upon the pile of worms, stomping, stabbing, and shooting about a score of them as the rest flee through cracks in the walls.

As the group recovers, Johnny explains that this creature is something known as “A Worm that Walks,” and is, essentially, the spirit of a dead sorcerer that has possessed a colony of formerly ordinary worms. Judge Putnam wonders aloud if not-Liam/The Worm was one of the Twins. Vivian opines that, if this is the case, it means that there may be another one of the creatures down in the tunnels with them.

The Throne of the Herald

The Throne of the Herald

The group continues their search and, eventually, finds a steeply sloping tunnel that leads down even deeper into the earth beneath the volcano. They eventually come to the mouth of a large cavern that is lit by thousands of candles and that echoes with the words of a droning, ritual chant. Several members of the group realize that the chant is in Valusian, and, after listening for a moment, understand that the chant is meant to empower, connect, and prepare the way to a place across the sea, which the chant names “R’lyeh.”

Peering into the cavern, the London Group sees a great occult tome laying open upon a basalt altar. Behind the altar, on a basalt dais, stands a tall, narrow throne made from strange metal, accented with a squid-like face and several carved tentacles. Seated in this throne is a figure in a tattered red robe and a porcelain mask, though it is clear that the figure’s body is made up of hundreds of writhing, red worms. This figure holds its arms up and drones the ritual chant, seemingly accompanied by the throne itself, which is chanting in the voice of the multitude.

As the London Group enters the cave, the Worm that Walks speaks, mocking them and telling them that they cannot defeat it or its plans, and other promises of doom and suffering. Vivian lets fly with the Spear of Noa, piercing the Worm through its torso and pinning it to the back of the chair. The Worm shrieks pitifully and tries—but fails—to pull the spear free from its chest.

Judge Putnam rushes the dais, seizing the Worm by its tattered robe and thrashing it against the chair. He is soon joined by Johnny and Kane, who pummel the pinned abomination with all of their strength, hoping to kill it before it escapes again.

Meanwhile, ropy coils of smoke pour out of the back of the throne and solidify into insubstantial tentacles. As the Worm screams in agony, they begin to reach for the London Group.

Dr. Black remains at the entrance of the cavern, where he holds aloft the Crystal of Noa and concentrates its power against the throne. The crystal emits a dazzling, pencil-thin beam of light that Dr. Black hopes will be enough to eventually destroy it.

Vivian races forward to grab and destroy the ritual tome on the altar. As she reaches it, she realizes several things all at once:

  • This book is written in Valusian.
  • The section it is opened to contains a spell that facilitates the raising of R’lyeh.
  • The spell could easily be reverse engineered into another spell that would sink R’lyeh. 

Realizing this, Vivian instead seizes the book and flees to the cavern entrance with it.

Mikhail runs up to the dais to help the others, stabbing at the throne with his blessed Masonic blade. Mikhail realizes that his strike does only incidental damage to the throne, and also notices that the beam fired from the Crystal of Noa also seems to be having little effect. He screams this information at Dr. Black as a tentacle seizes him and lifts him into the air. At the same time, two other tentacles grapple Judge Putnam and Vivian, hoisting them both bodily off the ground.

Kane seizes the Spear of Noa and twists it, causing the Worm to catch fire from within and begin to break apart. Desperate to save the Judge, Kane hacks at the tentacle with the spear, only to have the tentacle grab it and hurl it dramatically across the cavern. Kane also watches in horror as another tentacle engulfs Johnny and lifts him into the air.

The Cavern

From his lofty perch, Mikhail suddenly realizes that the Crystal of Noa seems to contain a great deal of power within it. He screams to Dr. Black that maybe the crystal will be able to destroy the throne if it is made to expel all of its energy at once. Dr. Black looks at the fragile crystal in his hands and, realizing what he must do, races across the chamber to the dais.

At roughly the same time, Vivian, Mikhail, and Judge Putnam all attack the tentacles that are holding them fast (Judge Putnam with his shotgun cane, Vivian with her enchanted knife, Mikhail with his blessed sword). The tentacles vanish as soon as they are struck, and the three investigators fall to the cavern floor. Judge Putnam manages to land on his feet. Vivian twists her ankle, falls, and smashes her head on the ground, dazing herself. Mikhail lands badly on the corner of the altar, knocking the wind out of himself and breaking a few ribs.

While Johnny screams in agony, the tentacle coils, preparing to hurl him with great force at the cavern floor. Vivian recovers just enough to crawl over to where the Spear of Noa is lying. She picks it up and throws it at the tentacle imprisoning Johnny, striking and dispelling it. Johnny plummets to the cavern floor, but is successfully caught by Judge Putnam, and is returned to terra firma without further harm.

"Liam's" True Form

At that moment, Dr. Black, with all his strength, smashes the Crystal of Noa into the throne.

A terrible explosion of light, heat, and sound fills the cavern. The concussive force throws Dr. Black into the cavern wall, knocking him unconscious and nearly killing him. Most of the rest suffer only disorientation until the smoke clears, but the fearsome light released by the Crystal of Noa has blinded Johnny.

Despite this, the group is relieved to learn that the destruction of the Crystal of Noa has reduced the terrible throne to slag.

Escaping Rano Rakaru

The group tends to Dr. Black’s wounds as best as they can and slowly make their way up out of the volcano and into the daylight. When they reach the caldera, they see that the moai encircling Rano Raraku have all crumbled into dust, and that a large detachment from the naval base has come out to see what has happened. They take the London Group back to base, where they meet up with the real Liam and the captives, who are all resting in the infirmary.

The group is checked out by the base’s medical staff, treated, and sent to bed. Johnny is informed that his eyesight should return in about a week. Dr. Black is in critical but stable condition and should also recover.

A short time later, Aneru visits the group and tells them that, when the moai on Rano Raraku crumbled, those that stood around the cave of the Birdmen fired golden beams from their eyes to the southwest, across the Pacific Ocean.

When the group later visits the Birdman to return the Spear and the Mask of Noa, the Birdman confirms this story, and says that the watchers of Rapa Nui likely used their power to direct the group to the dreadful island of R’lyeh.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Easter Island, Part Four: August 29, 1926

But What About Ron?

Ron Deluca wakes up on the couch in the Bernouse guest house, aching and feeling as week as a kitten. As he opens his eyes, he perceives a vaguely humanoid figure standing in front of the living room window. Ron blinks the exhaustion from his eyes and the figure eventually resolves into the more familiar shape of Nathan Torpley.

Hi! Me, Again!

Nathan apologizes for responding to Ron’s summons a little late and asks him if there’s anything he can still do to help Ron out. Ron struggles upright, goes to the phone, and calls his son, Ron Junior.

His son is both perplexed and annoyed to receive a call from his father. After asking Ron about how he feels, Ron Junior wants to know if he can speak to Liam. Apparently, while Ron was out, Ron Junior asked Liam to come to the guest house and watch over Ron until he recovered. Ron confesses that he hasn’t seen hide nor hair of Liam, and then asks his son to come over. When Ron Junior asks why, Ron insists that he has something to show his son and hangs up the phone.

Ron Junior arrives, simmering with anger and demanding answers. He is only momentarily taken aback when he encounters Nathan Torpley, and assumes from Nathan’s words that he is a criminal who is paying his father to do a little favor for him. Ron insists that this is not the case, and that Nathan is a powerful…thing…and that everything he’s told Ron Junior and Connie is the god’s honest truth.

Seeing that is words are not convincing his son, Ron asks Nathan Torpley to “show Butchie” something that will convince him. Nathan Torpley grins, grabs both Delucas by the shoulders, and teleports them to Easter Island.

Bedtime

Mikhail is brushing his teeth in the barracks’ lavatory when Nathan Torpley, Ron Deluca, Sr., and Ron Deluca, Jr. teleport in just behind him. Mikhail, fortunately, does not choke on his toothpaste.

Ron Junior is completely overwhelmed by being instantly transported to an island in the Pacific and proceeds to vomit in the bathroom toilet. In the meantime, an exhausted and physically weakened Ron tries to explain what he’s doing and where he’s been to the members of the London Group who get out of bed to confront him in the bathroom. This is technically everyone but Viv (though she does yell at him through the bathroom door) and Johnny (who remains in bed, covers his head with his pillow, and wishes that Ron Deluca would leave as quickly as he arrived).

Ron Junior - Not a Fan of Easter Island

Nathan Torpley, amused at the chaos that he has wrought, vanishes, leaving the London Group to their own devices.

After a few moments, the group manages to calm Ron Junior, who is horrified that he’s really in Easter Island and that somehow Liam is also there, too.

Ron suddenly exclaims that he is too weak from summoning Nathan Torpley to help the group any further. He offers to take his son back to New York through the gate box. The group (especially Johnny) lets Ron take his son home. Ron Junior humors his father by getting into the gate box, closing the lid, and instantly returning to New York. The state of his sanity after this jaunt is currently unknown. Ron bids farewell to the rest of the London Group and follows his son.

August 30, 1926: The Birdman

The next morning the group meet up with Aneru and travel to the southwestern-most tip of the island, to the slopes of Rano Kao, another of Easter Islands many volcanos. Aneru explains that the top of the volcano is also the home of Tangata-Manu, the Birdman. She attempts to communicate to the group that they need to speak to the Birdman with proper reverence, and that they will face a hard climb up the side of the volcano to reach the Birdman’s cave.

The climb is slow and very difficult, but the London Group work together and eventually reach the summit. There amidst a colony of roosting sooty terns, they meet a man clad in a thong, feathers, and fantastical body paint. Speaking perfect English, the man welcomes the group and invites them into his cave. As he does so, the terns all take flight, forming a perfect spiral above the volcano as they ascend.

The Tangata-Manu, the Birdman

Within the cave, the Birdman asks the group their purpose on the island. Sensing that the priest could be a very powerful ally, the London Group decides to hold nothing back. Johnny, notably, tells the Birdman that he wants to “kill that fucker, Carl Stanford,” without elaborating, which is something that both stuns and amuses the priest.

The Tangata-Manu tells the group a bit of the island’s history. Briefly: The long-eared people were the first inhabitants of the island, with the ancestors of the modern-day inhabitants arriving several generations later. The long-eared people made terrible pacts and mated with evil creatures of the sea, and began to make war on and sacrifice the ancestors in order to gain even greater power. This let the ancestors to rise up against their aggressors and drive them into the sea. The Birdman knows that the long-eared people have returned, and are working their evil magics within Rano Raraku. Unfortunately, he is unable to leave the peak of Rano Kau, and can do little more than observe.

After hearing the London Group’s story, the Birdman decides to trust them and give them magical aid against their common enemies. He tells them that the ancestors prayed to Noa, one of their gods, and received three great treasures to help them in their battle with the long-eared people. The first of these is the Crystal of Noa, which is kept hidden in an underwater cavern some distance from shore. The second of these is the Mask of Noa, which allows the wearer to breathe underwater, and which will allow them to acquire the crystal. The last is the mighty Spear of Noa, which the Birdman only allows them to take after he gets them to promise that they will clothe and shoe every native on the island (1,100 inhabitants all told). Judge Putnam agrees to this demand on behalf of the group, and both he and the Birdman seal their oath in blood.

With the Mask and Spear of Noa in their possession, the London Group bids farewell to the Birdman, leaves the cave, and descends down the volcano to meet up with Aneru.

Vivian’s Swim

Aneru guides the group down to the nearby shore, where they can all see a much smaller island a short distance across the sea. Aneru explains that the cavern with the Crystal of Noa is likely under that island somewhere, as this is the place where those who seek to prove themselves worthy to be the Birdman must swim to the small island and back again. Aneru uses hand gestures and her limited vocabulary to describe the dangerous surf, the deadly reefs, and the hungry sharks that a swimmer might encounter.

Overlooking the Island Home of the Crystal of Noa

Vivian, who is the strongest swimmer, dons the mask, takes the spear, and swims into the Pacific to search for the Crystal of Noa. Putting on the mask, Vivian feels an unpleasant sensation as the ancient wood seems to adhere to her face. More worryingly, she feels sharp pain on either side of her neck and soon realizes that she has spontaneously sprouted gills.

Leaving her friends to wait for her on the shore, Vivian swims out to the smaller island and begins her search. She soon finds the cave entrance, but she also sees that a group of deep ones are swimming just in front of it, apparently on guard. Using her strong swimming skills, her stealth, and a little bit of luck, Vivian slips past the deep ones and enters the cave. There, she finds an air-filled grotto with a sandy floor. Resting on the sand is an Elder Sign, carefully carved out of slimy, greenish stone. Resting on the Elder Sign, glowing softly with its own inner light, is the Crystal of Noa.

Vivian reaches out to take the crystal, only to be electrocuted by some kind of a defensive spell. Cursing and massaging her now numbed right arm, Vivian approaches the crystal much more tentatively and, this time, manages to pick it up without causing any harm to herself.

A quick dive back into the ocean and a deft avoidance of the deep ones later, and Vivian returns to shore with the Crystal of Noa. She is relieved to discover that she can pull the Mask of Noa from her face, dispelling her gills and returning, physiologically at least, to normal.

Rano Raraku

The group bids farewell to Aneru and crosses Easter Island to the foothills of Rano Raraku. Thanks to Judge Putnam’s previous drone surveillance, the group is easily able to find the secret pathway that leads up to the summit of the volcano, as well as the hidden entrance that allows climbers access to the interior of the caldera.

The group swiftly reaches the entrance, which is decorated with bas-relief carvings of squid-like heads, skulls, and the awful glyphs of a long-dead language. Bones and debris littler the entrance to the cavern, and an awful smell of rotting meat and sulfurous air rises up from below.

The Upper Levels of Rano Raraku

The London Group ready their weapons and pass through the entrance. Moments later, they enter a large cavern, and see something that looks like part insect and part ape begin to materialize out of the air before them. The creature clacks its vicious claws, but before it can even fully manifest, Judge Putnam presses the muzzle of his shotgun cane against its carapace and fires, blowing it to smithereens.

Kane ruefully remarks that they have likely announced their presence to any of the denizens of the volcano. Now even more on their guard, the London Group follows the pathway around the caldera and into the depths of the volcano.

The Tunnels

At the bottom of the volcano’s shaft, the group finds a tunnel which leads into a complex network of winding tunnels. The reek of death and decay is very strong here, and it is all that the group can do not to gag or pass out.

They valiantly press on ahead into the tunnels, and shortly thereafter hear what sound like human crying and screaming from some point in the far distance. Liam, desperate to be helpful, decides to separate from the group and see if he can find the source of the sounds. He travels for perhaps twenty minutes before reaching a dead end, but does not encounter anyone or anything else.

Liam returns to the group, and it is only thanks to his excellent direction sense that he makes it back to the bottom of Rano Raraku and the rest of his party. He explains his findings to the others and turns around to go off and explore another, different section of tunnels…

Only to physically run into a deep one.

A brief fight ensues, but the deep one is no match for the London Group. The sounds of the battle apparently reach whoever is crying and screaming, causing them to cry and scream much more loudly. The group traverses the tunnel complex, attempting to home in on the sounds. Just as it seems as they are about to reach their targets, they find their way blocked by six more deep ones.

Another brief and decisive skirmish ensues. Vivian stuns her companions by killing one of the deep ones with the Spear of Noa, which unerringly hits anything it is thrown at. Judge Putnam, Kane, Dr. Black, and Johnny open fire (Johnny with the shotgun he “borrowed” from Liam) and kill three more of the deep ones.

The two survivors throw down their spears and flee, gurgling, into the darkness.

The Captives

The Caverns Beneath Rano Raraku

The group presses on into another cavern, where they find almost all of the people who have recently gone missing from Easter Island. The captives are weeping, screaming, and gibbering uncontrollably, and the group has a very difficult time getting them to stop. Mikhail fears that whatever the captives have experienced in the last few days has so totally ruined their minds that they may never return to their senses again.

At this point, one of the captives grabs onto Mikhail and begins screaming. “The worms. THE WORMS!”

Monday, November 8, 2021

Easter Island, Part Three: August 29, 1926

The group decided to bed down in the barracks for the night and continue their investigation once they are refreshed.

Ron has a restless night. It has become obvious to him that his wife did not believe him when he told her the truth about what he and his friends had been doing the past year. Now that Connie is beginning to see the strange secrets of the world with her own eyes, she is becoming increasingly afraid and off balanced. Ron, worried that Connie will either be harmed by the Silver Twilight or driven mad by stunning revelations, decides that he needs to send her back home as soon as is humanly possible.

The next morning, Ron conspires with Dr. Black to drug Connie so that he can safely carry her through the gate box and leave her in the Bernouse guest house in New York City. Dr. Black, having previously displayed questionable medical ethics, is only too willing to go along with this.

On their way to breakfast, the group encounters the Catholic priest for the second time in as many days. He introduces himself as Father Jorge and invites the group to a dinner at his home later that evening. The group, already sick of the food available at the mess hall, accepts.

Father Jorge

After breakfast, Ron invites the group to the base’s impromptu bar and orders a round of the local engine degreaser for his wife and his companions. Dr. Black spikes Connie’s drink with a hefty dollop of laudanum.

The cocktail works well, but not particularly quickly. Connie, drunk and drugged in equal measure, starts an argument with Ron that causes him to flee the bar. Connie then begins commiserating with Viv and the others about what a horrible bastard Ron Deluca is, which proves to be an agreeable and therapeutic diversion for all. It is only when Connie turns to insulting Ron’s boss (i.e. Vivian’s father), that the mood in the bar sours. Johnny and Dr. Black flee to take a smoke break, while the bar’s single employee finds something else to do “in the back.” Vivian and Connie exchange increasingly harsh words until Connie is finally overwhelmed by her mixed drink and keels over.

Judge Putnam, Vivian, Kane, and Mikhail, who are unaware of Ron’s plan, can only look on in rapt horror as Ron swoops in through the bar door to catch his wife as she falls.

While cradling Connie, Ron explains his plan to the others. Vivian is extremely critical of it, and Ron, but does allow Ron to bring his wife back to New York via gate box.

The group expects that this interdimensional jaunt will be the work of mere minutes, but Ron does not return in a timely manner. The rest of the group, realizing that they need to get some actual work done, decide to leave the military compound and examine Dr. Methridge’s archaeological site.

What Happened to Ron?

Ron travels to the Bernouse guest house via gate box and leaves his drugged and semi-conscious wife on the bed in the master bedroom. He is about to return to Easter Island, but then becomes concerned with Connie’s safety and is worried about what will happen when she wakes up in New York all by herself.

Ron calls Ron Junior and asks him to come to the guest house to watch over his mother until he recovers. Ron Junior is baffled by his father’s call and demands to know what his parents are doing in New York and how they got back from Chile so fast. Ron abruptly hangs up on his son but remains at the guest house.

Ron Junior arrives and demands some answers from Ron Senior. The conversation does not go well, and Ron Junior calls bullshit on his father’s fanciful tales of evil cults, sleeping gods, and other eldritch happenings. Ron Senior, frustrated at being unable to get through to his son, uses the Ouroboros Ring to summon Nathan Torpley. As usual, activating the ring saps almost all of Ron’s vitality, causing him to collapse unconscious in front of his son.

The Archaeological Site

The remainder of the London Group arrive at Dr. Methridge’s site. The site consists of a sloping ramp, with three moai statues standing atop the ramp’s highest point. The group also notes a crack in the ramp beneath the statues, which seems to have been recently widened into a hole that leads below ground. They also notice that a Chilean shepherd tends to a flock of sheep a short distance away.

The Site

Thanks to their pre-travel crash course in Easter Island culture and history, the group realizes that there are several things odd about this site. In the first place, these moai, unlike those erected throughout the rest of the island, face inland rather than out to sea. These three statues seem to be gazing at a point due eastward, a fair distance across Easter Island.

The group also notes that these three moai, though badly eroded by time, feature the neck lesions they now recognize as being signifiers of the “long-eared people.”

It is at this point that Liam shows up from seemingly out of nowhere, startling Viv and surprising the rest of the group. When asked what the hell he’s doing there, Liam explains:

  • Ron Junior called to tell him that Mr. and Mrs. Deluca were both unconscious in the Bernouse guest house.
  • Ron Junior asked if Liam could come over and help tend to his unconscious parents until they recovered.
  • Liam got a little bored and was worried what the London Group was getting up to, so he hopped in the gate box and went to Easter Island.
  • He happened to see the group departing for the site, and so decided to follow them and say hello.

Liam accompanies the group as they squeeze through the hole at the base of the ramp, emerging into a narrow crawlspace beneath. This crawlspace contains sixteen mummified corpses, who have been leaned up against one of the area’s long walls.

Everyone's Favorite, Bisexual Actor, Liam Grant!

The group investigates the corpses. Unfortunately, Judge Putnam trips over his own cane and puts his foot straight through one of the mummies. His attempts to extricate himself only serve to tear the mummy completely to pieces. The judge does notice that his struggles have freed a piece of slimy, greenish stone that had been placed into the mummy’s chest cavity. Realizing that he has already done significant irreparable damage, Judge Putnam pockets the stone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Black conducts an examination of the remaining mummies and confirms that they appear to be hybrids of deep ones and human beings.

The group forces their way out of the hole and back into the open air. They call over the shepherd and ask him if he has seen anything strange at the site.  The shepherd replies that he hasn’t seen anything unusual in the area, but does mention seeing odd lights and an unidentified flying object in the sky above Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano that just so happens to be located due east of the site. When prodded for more details, the shepherd sketches a crude, jellyfish-like creature in the dirt with the base of his staff and says that this is what the object looked like.

Dinner with Father Jorge

The London Group returns to the base and freshens up for dinner at Father Jorge’s. They find him to be an affable man who is interested in the culture, language, and people of Easter Island. As a practicing Catholic, Father Jorge reacts with visible disgust when he sees Mikhail’s masonic ring, which makes Mikhail instantly wary of him. Father Jorge’s friendly treatment of Pushok does little to allay Mikhail’s suspicions.

Father Jorge asks the group about their academic credentials and interests. The London Group is able to answer all of his questions more than satisfactorily, thereby maintaining their cover story. They quickly steer the conversation to the disappearances and the other strange things that are happening on the island. Father Jorge, despite being a priest, proves to be a practical and non-superstitious man. He credits the disappearances to the dangerous waters around the Easter Island, and the lights and shapes in the night sky to the ramblings of drunken sailors and superstitious primitives.

Father Jorge encourages the group to listen to the Singsong—the multi-hour islander singing circle that starts promptly at sundown. He also discusses the pagan faith of the islanders which, he is glad to say, they no longer practice. He mentions the moai statues and the long-eared people, but also touches on something called the Tangata-Manu, or “Birdman.” He also shows them a petroglyphic carving of the Tangata-Manu, which he acquired for his personal collection.

The Carving at Father Jorge's

The Singsong

The group travels out to the village to listen to the Singsong. There, they find the entirety of the native population of the island gathered out under the open sky. Among them is Aneru, who greets the London Group warmly. The group finds comfortable places to sit and, moments later, the Singsong begins.

Johnny and others versed in the Mythos lore recognize the opening notes of the Singsong as the beginning of an ancient chant of invocation. There is power in these words, even if the London Group cannot discern their meaning.

The Singsong is lovely, and the group feels oddly refreshed when it ends several hours later.

As the rest of the islanders return to their huts, the group approaches Aneru and tries to communicate with them about what they’ve discovered. Through halting English and a lot of gesturing, Aneru confirms that there is much evil in and around Rano Raraku and says that the lights seen around it are evidence that the long-eared people have come back to cause chaos.

At this point, Aneru asks the London Group to explain what they’re really doing on the island. Though it takes a great deal of pantomiming, the members of the group are honest with her and tell her that they want to find the missing people and stop the evil inside the volcano. Aneru is pleased with this, and tells them that she knows the location of the last Tangata-Manu, who still lives in isolation somewhere on Rapa Nui. Aneru says that she will take the London Group to meet him tomorrow.

Reconnaissance Flight

Just before bed, when all of Easter Island is quiet, Judge Putnam unpacks his drone and uses it to survey as much of the island as he can. His drone is able to navigate the ocean breezes quite easily, and soon its onboard camera is relaying visual information to the judge through the viewscreen on the remote.

The Judge's Favorite Toy (Other Than Both Travel Typewriters)

Judge Putnam brings the drone in low over Rano Raraku. While he sees no sign of any other flying objects, he does notice pools of sickly luminescence on the slopes of the volcano. Taking the drone in closer, he sees that the light comes from the numerous moai statue ringing the volcano, whose eyes appear to be glowing.

Judge Putnam does one final circuit of the volcano, and discovers that a narrow trail runs down from the lip of the caldera into the depths beneath the island. He tells the others that he suspects the long-eared people are likely operating out of this subterranean space beneath Rano Raraku, and that the people who have disappeared are likely to be found there.

 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Easter Island, Part Two: August 28, 1926

In the Brig

The London Group  has been imprisoned in the brig in the Chilean military compound on Easter Island. Dr. Black tries his YOLE key in the lock of his cell and discovers that it will likely unlock it if turned. The rest of the group asks him to put the key back in his pocket and decide to bide their time for a bit, hoping that Captain Pereira’s background checks will exonerate them.

Meanwhile, Connie, who is sharing a cell with Vivian, is finally able to corner the young woman and ask her what went wrong with their relationship. This prompts Vivian, who has changed quite a lot in the last year, to bold facedly tell Vivian that she knows that Connie had slept with her father many years ago, and also that she wasn’t terribly pleased with “the Slap Heard Round the Five Boroughs” at her father’s last Christmas party.

Connie, utterly cowed by this, sits quietly on her bunk, and doesn’t talk to anyone for the rest of the night. The other members of the London Group, who have heard the whole altercation between Connie and Viv, react as one might expect.

The Naval Base and the Village

August 29, 1926

In the morning, Lieutenant Alvarez arrives in the brig, releases the London Group, and escorts them back to Captain Pereira’s office. This time, the group receives a much warmer welcome, as the office now has enough seating for everyone, and the captain provides coffee.

Captain Pereira returns the group’s travel documents and apologizes for his previous treatment of them. He says that he was able to get in touch with Raleigh Rothschild, the judge’s former lawyer. Rothschild, in turn, not only replied with his own sworn testimony about the moral character of the London Group, but also contacted several associates to send additional testimony on the group’s behalf.

The group mentions that they would like to interview Professor Methridge. Captain Pereira allows it, asking a very displeased Lt. Alvarez to give the group a brief tour of the island and then take them to Professor Methridge. The captain also reiterates the rules of the island, including the 9:00 pm curfew. Mikhail, realizing that the group will need to be able to come and go more freely, begins penning a letter asking for the captain’s permission to be out past 9:00 pm.

The Military Camp and the Village of Hanga-Roa

Lieutenant Alvarez takes the group over to the mess hall to get them some breakfast. There, they see several rustic Chilean types who are eating with some of the Chilean soldiers. The rustics, who are apparently shepherds brought to Easter Island, eat quickly and leave to go tend to their flocks.

The group also spies a rather rotund older man in the habiliments of a Catholic priest. The priest helps himself to some coffee, but, after looking over the trays of food on offer in the mess hall, makes a face and quickly departs.

Once they are fed, Alvarez takes the London Group out into the village of Huanga-Roa, which contains all of Easter Island’s native population (1,100 people in total). The islanders live in closely built huts and seem to be living in grinding poverty. Most are very sparsely dressed, and the few that do have clothes all wear cast-offs from the military base.

One of the Islanders

The islanders are very friendly, however. When Ron attempts to address them in English, Italian, and French, a group clusters around him to listen. No one in the group of islanders appears to speak any of the three languages that Ron sort of knows, but they do have a great deal of fun parroting some of the more interesting words back to him, laughing all the while. “Arrivederci” and “Bonjour” seem to be the islanders’ favorites.

The rest of the group tests out the other languages they know (apart from Valusian), with little success. However, once it seems that the group will be unable to communicate with the islanders at all, an elderly woman, who introduces herself as Aneru, welcomes them to Rapa-Nui in halting English.

After conversing briefly with Aneru, the group decides to split up. Half of them forcing Alvarez to take them on a tour of the rest of the village. The others will remain behind and question Aneru about the disappearances and anything else of interest.

Aneru says that the islanders suspect the Hanau-Epe, or “evil men,” are responsible for the disappearances. Though she is nervous about mentioning the Hanau-Epe, when pressed, she tells the London Group that they are the “long-eared people,” whom the islanders drove from Rapa-Nui many ages ago. Thanks to the group’s previous research, they know enough about the long-eared people to know what Aneru is talking about. Johnny immediately suspects that the Hanau-Epe are connected to the Mythos in some fashion.

They finish up talking to Aneru as the rest of the group returns with Alvarez. The lieutenant, who seems visibly disgusted by being in close proximity to the natives of the island, quickly walks the London Group over to Professor Methridge’s hut before beating a hasty retreat back to the compound. He says that the group can find him there if they have any further questions.

Professor Methridge

The group knock on the frame of the hut and are soon greeted by Professor Methridge, most recently from Oxford University. The London Group mentions their falsified credentials in passing and, with a bit of luck and some extremely well-placed words, manage to convince the professor of their fake academic bona fides. The professor invites them into his humble abode and has them sit down on the hut’s rug, while he seats himself on the pallet bed in the corner.

Professor Methridge

The professor explains that he and his team have been on Easter Island for three months and have conducted various archaeological surveys with full support of the Chilean government. He mentions finding a dense layer of burned material approximately two feet under the surface of an abandoned village east of the Kaitki Volcano. This suggests that a very large fire occurred in the region about 3,000 years ago, though there is little indication that there was sufficient vegetation on the island, even then, to generate that much material.

Methridge goes on to describe a discovery that proves to be of much greater interest to the London Group. About three miles north of Hanga-Roa, his team investigated a funeral structure (an Ahu-moai), consisting of a stone ramp leading to a platform surmounted by three of the island’s famous stone statues. While measuring the site, one of Methridge’s graduate students stumbled upon a hidden crack, which led into a sort of catacombs beneath the Ahu-moai. There, the team found sixteen mummified bodies standing in niches, as well as a vase and three statuettes.

Methridge goes on to say that the disappearances started shortly after the vase and statuettes were unearthed. They include six members of his team, three native islanders, two shepherds, and two sailors from the Chilean military base.

Kane is concerned that Captain Pereira did not mention that Chilean sailors were among those missing and wants to ask the captain for more details. The rest of the group are very interested in the artifacts that Methridge’s team has unearthed. According to Methridge, these items are being securely held at the military base. Realizing that the base is their next stop on their investigation, the London Group bids Methridge a fond farewell and departs.

The Artifacts

The London Group speaks briefly with Captain Periera and obtains his permission to see the Methridge artifacts. He has Corporal Machado bring the artifacts into one of the base’s conference rooms so that the group can examine them more closely. 

The three statuettes are all nearly identical, depicting humanoid figures about a foot high, with webbed fingers and toes. Their eyes and mouths are distinctly froglike, and their ears have extremely long lobes. Johnny inspects the statues only for a moment before realizing two important facts:

  • The creatures’ long earlobes are actually gills.
  • The statuettes are most likely of deep ones, similar to the ones they encountered on Chebeague Island.

The vase is decorated with the picture of a crouching man facing another figure that bears a striking resemblance to the statuettes. Between them is a block surmounted by a two-headed serpent, which the group recognizes as the strange artifact that Dr. Black destroyed with the Sword of Marcus in Syria. Vivian assumes that the artifact is none other than the Arc of Vlactos.

Within the jar is a thin layer of a dry, black, resinous substance, which several members of the group (including Dr. Black and Judge Putnam), identify as the concentrated tar of the Black Lotus flower—a rare hallucinogen.

Disturbed by their discoveries, the group ponders what to do next.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Easter Island, Part One: July 1926

The London Group spends the month of July taking care of personal affairs and preparing for their eventual trip to South America and Easter Island. A brief overview follows.

The Edwin Library: Key volumes in Christopher Edwin’s library are moved to New York City so that the group can more easily access them. Vivian and Mikhail conduct extensive research on Easter Island. Mikhail also reads the library’s more esoteric tomes to see if he can find a magical way to create a new body for Christopher Edwin. His initial efforts are not terribly promising, but he continues undaunted.

The Birdman: In their research, Vivian and Mikhail find some information on Easter Island’s local religions. The native islanders once worshipped Make-Make and a pantheon of other gods (though this faith is now suppressed by Chile, who is in control of the island). They also read some stories about the cult of the Birdman, who seems to be a servant of Make-Make and the focus of several island rituals, including a great race to bring the first egg of the sooty tern laid each season from a smaller island offshore to the main island. This involves a harrowing swim through oceanic waters teeming with sharks.

David Lee: Judge Putnam speaks to the retired banker on Christopher Edwin’s behalf and attempts to get additional information about the Silver Twilight’s activities. David Lee says that things have been quiet in that regard, but that he will forward whatever additional information he can find. He also suggests that the judge and his companions meet with him in Valparaiso, Chile before setting off to Easter Island.

Connie: At Ron’s urging, Connie (and Ron, Jr., and Liam) return to New York City. Ron decides to tell Connie the truth about what he’s really been up to over the past year. Connie does not take it particularly well. Ron suspects that the relationship—such as it is—is dead in the water at this point.

Gate Boxes: With one of their pairs of gate boxes destroyed, the group tries to determine how they should best allocate their remaining resources. They decide to move the far end of the Atlantic City gate box to Dr. Black’s new property in Ossining. They also decide to pool their efforts into making a new set of gate boxes. This succeeds with only minor deleterious effects to the group. As is the custom, one of the new gate boxes is left in the judge’s garage, while the other is brought with them on their journey.

A Ship: Through his connections with various retired military men, Johnny is able to meet with a Captain Charles Keane, who is in charge of the tramp steamer known as the SS Golden Bear. Both the captain and his ship served in the Great War, and Johnny is able to leverage his position as a former soldier to hire the Golden Bear for a good price. Captain Keane arranges for his ship to meet the London Group at the port in San Francisco, setting sail for Chile from there.

August 1, 1926

As prepared as they possibly can be, the London Group prepares to depart for San Francisco by train.

The first snag in their journey happens when they arrive at Grand Central Terminal and find Connie, Ron’s wife, standing on the platform next to all of her luggage. Johnny and Dr. Black try to escape the scene before Connie notices them. Vivian digs her nails into the palms of her hands and tries to be civil. Kane and Judge Putnam regard the scene with detached bemusement. Mikhail does the 1920s equivalent of eating popcorn. Ron and Connie have a protracted argument, in which the rest of the group learns that:

  • Ron has told Connie everything.
  • Connie doesn’t fully believe Ron’s stories.
  • Connie is tired of Ron traveling all around the world without her.
  • Connie is going with them this time and is not taking no for an answer.

The group agrees, very reluctantly, to take Connie along. They bring her luggage on board the train and set out for San Francisco.

A Surprise Traveling Companion

San Francisco to Valparaiso

Though the group has private concerns that the cross-country train ride will be as fraught as their recent trip on the Orient Express, they soon discover that, other than Connie, they have very little to worry about. They soon arrive at the port in San Francisco and prepare to disembark on the Golden Bear.

Prior to departure, Captain Keane informs the London Group that he runs a very tight ship, and that he is the sole and final authority on board the Golden Bear. Although the group agrees with this, Captain Keane’s authority is immediately undercut by Pushok, who appears wearing a carefully tailored captain’s outfit, thus endearing him to the crew of the Golden Bear. Pushok has also been fitted with a sling bag so that he can easily carry Christopher Edwin’s mi-go cylinder wherever he goes.

Despite the occasional sniping from Connie, the sea voyage down the western coast of the Americas progresses without incident.

Captain Keane, of the Golden Bear

August 15, 1926

The Golden Bear puts into port in Valparaiso. The London Group take a day to rest, stretch their legs, and see the sights before meeting with retired banker David Lee for dinner. Connie insists on going to the dinner as well, though she immediately becomes lost when the conversation turns to the Mythos.

David Lee informs the group that he has no new information on Carl Stanford, the twins, or the rest of the Order of Silver Twilight. They apparently went to ground a short time after their departure for Easter Island, and no amount of digging by Lee has revealed their current whereabouts or objectives.

Lee does mention that security on Easter Island has increased dramatically recently, as several people have gone missing. He doesn’t know the particulars of these disappearances, thanks to the increased security, though he suspects that, based on their reaction, the Chilean government is taking the matter very seriously.

Lee also mentions his contact on the island, “Sooty Tern,” who has been providing Lee with any information that he discovers on the Silver Twilight. Lee says that he will attempt to contact Sooty Tern, and plans to pass on any information to the London Group before they set sail. He also, at the group’s urging, promises to tell Sooty Tern to be on the lookout for the group and to help them however he can.

Lee then inquires about Christopher Edwin, his and the group’s mutual benefactor. The mood turns somber as the London Group tries to figure out how best to break the news to Lee. Ultimately, Johnny draws a cryptic sketch on a cocktail napkin that alludes to Edwin’s current state. Lee is shocked but maintains his composure and asks to speak to Edwin.

David Lee

Mikhail produces the mi-go cylinder, which is placed on the table so that Edwin and Lee can converse more easily. This baffles the waitstaff of the restaurant and confuses Connie. 

“A radio with no wires! What?!”

The conversation goes very well, with Edwin congratulating and praising Lee for his vigilance and loyal service. Lee is deeply moved.

Conversation turns to how the group plans to arrive on Easter Island. Lee quickly disabuses them of “just coming ashore” anywhere, as this will attract the attention of the island’s military governor. He advises them to anchor the Golden Bear offshore, thereby avoiding the island’s dangerous reefs, and take a small pilot boat to the docks at the military base.

Realizing that they will have to officially present themselves, the London Group decide to play the parts of archaeologists working for an American university, interested in exploring the statues and other monuments scattered around the island. It turns out that those in the group with a more larcenous intent have already procured falsified documents that will support the group’s story.

Lee, relieved that his new compatriots have the situation well in hand, says his goodbyes, pays for lunch, and departs.

Before We Get Underway

David Lee comes aboard the Golden Bear just as it is about to set out for Easter Island. He informs the group that he has contacted Sooty Tern and has told him to be on the lookout for the group. Sooty Tern, in turn, has informed Lee that most of the missing people belonged to an archaeological team headed by a Dr. Methridge. Though tragic, these disappearances nicely dovetail with the group’s crafted backstory, and should allow them a few natural avenues of investigation once they reach Easter Island.

August 27, 1926

The Golden Bear Underway

The Golden Bear anchors off the coast of Easter Island. The weather is cool and rainy. The London Group, not wanting to take any risks at this early stage, have Captain Keane radio the military base on the island for landing instructions. They are told to arrive by pilot boat at the dock, and to have all of their paperwork in order and ready for inspection. They are also sent a list of the rules and regulations regarding visitors on the island, including the mandatory curfew that is currently in effect.

While reading the rules, Ron notes that all the group’s firearms must be either left on the Golden Bear or checked in at the military base. He wonders, loudly, if the Chilean military will want to seize either his knife or his coil of piano wire, which, while not firearms, are definitely weapons.

Captain Keane, hearing this, strongly advises against the group bringing weapons of any kind, so as not to rile up the Chilean military brass. He also warns them that, while the Golden Bear will remain at its present location, both it and he will not be able to intervene quickly should the group run into any issues.

Slightly sobered by this speech, the London Group take a small pilot boat to Easter Island and are deposited at the docks. No sooner have they alighted than they are intercepted by a squad of armed soldiers led by a rather high-strung lieutenant. The lieutenant immediately identifies Dr. Black as none other than the dangerous criminal Carl Stanford, and further states that the rest of the London Group are undoubtedly his criminal associates.

The London Group politely, but vehemently, denies these and all other allegations laid against them by this lieutenant, who is named Alvarez. They soon realize that they have very little recourse other than to allow themselves to be taken into custody and brought before the base commander, Captain Pereira.

Captain Pereira and Lieutenant Alvarez

The captain, fortunately, seems a bit less sure of Dr. Black’s identity than Lieutenant Alvarez does. He interrogates each member of the group, asking if they know two Chilean women or have ever been to a certain Chilean town. Baffled, the group denies everything.

Dr. Black demands to know why Captain Pereria thinks that he is Carl Stanford. The captain then produces a photograph from several weeks before, which shows a man looking very much like Dr. Black boarding a ship in Valparaiso for Easter Island. Dr. Black, unsure of how to argue with such strong photographic evidence, falls silent.

Captain Pereira seizes the group’s paperwork and asks Lt. Alvarez to perform a thorough background check on each member of the group. He also asks if the group can give him the name of any person or persons who will vouch for them. Judge Putnam gives the captain Raleigh Rothschild’s contact information.

The group is then split up and incarcerated in several nearby cells in the base’s brig. To the great consternation of many in the group, Connie and Vivian—the only two women—are put into a cell together. The group takes bets on which woman will emerge from their confinement alive.

Kane, who rarely misses a trick, points out to the group that they have been set up. He wonders if David Lee was ever really on their side, and if he—or his contact Sooty Tern—can be trusted. Everyone else agrees with Kane, but feel that they have very little evidence or means to act on his suspicions at the moment.

A short time later, a Corporal Machado comes into the brig to check on the London Group’s welfare. He talks to them politely about the island and mentions its most famous bird—the Sooty Tern. He then winks at them, establishing his identity as Lee’s contact. The group, unsure as to whether or not Machado is truly a friendly face, ask for food and magazines while they wait on the results of their background checks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The House of Edwin, Part Seven: June 18, 1926

Ron’s Vision

Ron, still unconscious following his explosive stunt in the tower, finds himself in a strange dream or hallucination. He is backstage at a theater, where he is accosted by an elderly violinist. The violinist takes Ron to the stage, where several dozen musicians caper and prance around a wheelchair thickly stacked with blankets. Underneath the blankets, something snores fitfully. The violinist escorts Ron to the piano and demands that he start playing, “or else He might wake up.”

Ron, who is not a pianist, bangs on the keys for a bit until Brother Theodore appears and directs him backstage. Ron follows Brother Theodore through a dark expanse toward a growing light in the distance, then watches in horror as Brother Theodore is torn apart for seemingly no reason. Ron continues running toward the light and, as he reaches it, awakens.

Annie Chantraine and Her Forces Press the Attack!

The Battle Continues

Ron wakes up on the floor of the entrance hall of the Edwin mansion, with Dr. Black sitting on top of him. For a moment, Ron thinks that the doctor is attempting to administer first aid, however it soon becomes evident that Dr. Black, still possessed, by Khad Vishtu, has been frantically searching Ron’s pockets for the Ouroboros Ring. Khad demands the ring from Ron, screaming that he is the true high priest of the Crawling Chaos. Ron punches him.

While Ron and Dr. Black wrestle on the floor, Annie Chantraine, who has phased into the room on the wings of dark sorcery, directs a devastating magical attack against Papa Doc Horus. Horus responds with his own sorcerous power, and the battle between them is so intense that the edges of Horus’ protective salt circle begin to melt.

Johnny, fearing that the cultists will overrun the back of the house, lights one of the remaining sticks of dynamite and throws it. His aim is badly off, unfortunately. While he does kill most of the cultists and the deep ones in the ensuing blast, he also destroys the back of the house and critically injures himself, Dr. Black, and Ron. Judge Putnam manages to escape the explosion with minor injuries.

Mikhail, hearing the explosion, continues to rush downstairs to the first floor to aid his companions. He reaches the entrance hall, where he sees Anne Chantraine and Papa Doc Horus locked in their magical duel. Mikhail, desperate to turn the tide of battle, draws his blessed Masonic sword and stabs Anne in the side, weakening her attack and saving Papa Doc’s life.

Vivian and Kane also hear the explosion but are unable to disengage from the cultists and deep ones to go and help their friends. Vivian makes several savage attacks with Ron’s blessed knife, mortally wounding a deep one, while Kane, kept conscious by a desperate bump of cocaine, empties his gun into the others. The cultists in the rear continue to lash at them with magic and mock them for their defiance as the deep ones with the red glass sphere move to join them.

But then!

Johnny on the Brink

In his dying dream, Johnny travels to a desert land, where he meets a figure, whose obscuring cloak is coated with dust, sitting on the edge of a dry well. Though the two do not exchange words, Johnny somehow knows that the figure, whatever they are, is making an offer to aid Johnny and his friends in their hour of need.

Johnny, knowing that the battle at the Edwin house is going very badly, agrees to accept the figure’s offer, and says that he will pay any price.

Rain pours down from the heavens, soaking the ground, but doing nothing to disturb the dust on the figure’s robe. The figure laughs, tips themselves back into the well, and vanishes.

The Tide Turns!

The group of deep ones with the glass sphere fall on the cultists in the front yard and begin tearing them to pieces. Kane and Vivian watch, in stunned horror, as the leader of the deep ones holds aloft the sphere and says, in halting English, “promise…returned…pact…came…protect…egg…Dagon…EGG!

Vivian realizes that the red glass sphere is Mikhail’s witch ball and guesses that Mikhail’s prayer to the local “spirits of the water” have been answered. 

With all their enemies dead, Kane and Viviane back into the house to help their companions.

As this happens, Ron and Dr. Black awaken, dazed but somehow miraculously healed from the explosion damage. Dr. Black is also extremely grateful to discover that he is no longer possessed, though he does definitely feel Khad Vishtu’s presence lingering in the back of his mind.

There is, disturbingly, no sign of Johnny, but the group soldiers on despite his absence, turning all of their remaining strength to defeating Anne Chantraine. She screams in fury as Ron and Mikhail stab her with their blessed weapons and responds with devastating magical attacks.

At this moment, everyone fighting in the entrance hall sees a sparkling cloud of dense smoke pouring out of one of the corners of the room. Anne Chantraine shrieks as a large beast that looks like a hairless tiger on too-slender legs leaps from the cloud and effortlessly tears out her abdomen. The Lady of the Silver Twilight crashes to the floor in two cauterized pieces as the creature jumps toward another corner of the room and vanishes from sight.

Vivian, watching this, smiles a very hard, very terrifying smile.

The Hound

Aftermath

The deep ones with the sphere enter the house and, with broken English, attempt to convince Mikhail that they have answered his prayer. Mikhail understands enough of their meaning to thank them profusely and asks them to return to the ocean in peace, which they do.

Off in a corner of the entrance hall, Kane Eastman’s cocaine high and adrenaline rush ends abruptly, and he collapses.

Dr. Black, now fully in control of his faculties, tends to everyone’s injuries and manages to stabilize Brother Theodore and Tommy Hayes, who were critically wounded in the fighting.

The rest of the group pulls Johnny out of the wreckage of the back of the house. They are disturbed to find that, while he is alive and only slightly injured, his body seems to have been horribly wasted by some otherworldly force. He now looks as old as Judge Putnam, and his once blond hair has turned a stark white.

Vivian recovers the mi-go brain cylinder containing Christopher Edwin from the library fireplace. She quickly fills him in on the battle that has just occurred. Edwin congratulates them on a job very well done.

Giddy and exhausted, the group attempts to get some sleep. Their rest is undisturbed until morning.

Returning to Portland

The London Group is jolted awake by a knock at the front door. They answer it and find that their visitor is one of the men from the ferry company. He tells them that the ferry is fixed and has just come over from Portland, and that it can take them back over to the mainland whenever they’re ready.

Just before he departs, the man from the ferry company says, “I hear you had quite a wild solstice night up here with Mr. Edwin, what with all the fireworks and shouting! Didn’t think Mr. Edwin would be keen on inviting over such a rowdy bunch. Never can tell with people, I suppose!”

The London Group packs up their belongings and, with the mi-go brain cylinder nestled safely in Vivian’s lap, drives down to the dock and onto the ferry. There, they meet the Clarks, who have returned to Chebeague Island to help them. They are relieved to see that everyone survived the night on the island.

Thus reunited, the London Group and their allies return to civilization.

FERRYMAN: Johnny, do you have anything to declare?
JOHNNY: Yeah. Don’t go to Maine.

Several Weeks Later

The group has returned to New York to rest and recover from their island excursion, as well as to make plans to travel to Easter Island to stop the Order of the Silver Twilight.

Upon his return home, Judge Putnam learned that his hired security thwarted a robbery. Several men had been able to enter the judge’s property undetected and were in the process of loading up numerous crates in the judge’s garage into the Army surplus truck that Johnny had purchased some time ago. A brief gun battle ensued, in which one of the thieves was killed and one of the security men was injured. The surviving thieves were arrested, and nothing was taken.

The London Group suspect that the robbers were members of the order, who had jaunted into the judge’s garage via the stolen gate box to steal their magical and mundane arsenal. They keep this information from the police.

Sometime later, Christopher Edwin, through various proxies, signs over the remainder of his fortune to the London Group, who promise to use it to hire a ship to take them to the South Seas.

The group meets again at the judge’s house to finalize their plans. During this meeting, Christopher Edwin tells the group that the nutrient fluid that keeps his brain alive is slowly degrading, and he doesn’t know how much time he has left. He says that he wants to devote any time he has left to aiding the group in vanquishing the Silver Twilight and Carl Stanford once and for all.

The group graciously accepts his help. Privately, a few of them try to think of ways to either rejuvenate the nutrient fluid in the mi-go cylinder or find a way to get Christopher Edwin a new body…