Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The House of Edwin Part 1.5: June 17, 1926

Chebeague Island, Maine

Before We Sit Down to Dinner

The London Group is show to their rooms on the third floor of Christopher Edwin’s mansion and are told that they have some time to rest up before dinner. Kane, Judge Putnam, and Vivian take the opportunity to wash up and change. Dr. Black spends the time thoroughly searching his own room and the surrounding rooms for anything that looks even remotely like a secret passage. Mikhail, Ron and Pushok take a stroll around the ground and Pushok, for whatever reason, is skittish. Johnny volunteers his services to assist Ms. Bridger with the preparations for the evening meal. This gives him quite a bit of gratitude from Christopher Edwin’s sole servant, as well as an opportunity to poke around in the downstairs part of the house.

At some point during this, Kane calmly walks the upper hallways of the house and has a meditative smoke. He also looks to see if any of the smoke from his cigarette is blow about by unusual drafts—thereby suggesting secret passageways. Despite his cleverness, he doesn’t find any.

Dr. Black persuades Ron to grab him some small, white stones from around the Edwin estate so that he can cast his warding spell on the group’s magic luggage. This goes perfectly smoothly.

Eventually, Johnny is sent up stairs to fetch the others for dinner.

The London Group's Rooms at the Edwin Estate

Old Friends

The London Group joins Mr. Edwin and his other guests for dinner, and is somewhat surprised to discover that they all know one another. His other guests include: James and Stephen Clark, Angie Clark (nee Hutchinson), Papa Doc Horus, Brother Theodore, and Tommy Hayes.

Everyone dines on a fantastic meal prepared by Ms. Bridger (with some help from Johnny). Once the dishes from the meal are cleared and everyone has gotten coffee, tea, and cake, Christopher Edwin invites his guests to talk about their experiences with their shared enemy, the Order of the Silver Twilight. The group swap stories and catch one another up.

Christopher Edwin explains that the London Group and their allies have dealt several critical blows to the Order, depriving them of critical assets, killing their important agents, and throwing their timetable into disarray. Despite this, the group’s job is not done. Edwin believes that the Order’s ultimate goal is to raise the dead island of R’lyeh and awaken the Herald who sleeps there. Even though the London Group has destroyed two thirds of the disc, the magical potency that remains in the third piece is enough for the cult to do their work, “with sufficient sacrifices.” Their success is made even more likely by the fact that they have, according to Edwin, recovered the shards of the Arc of Vlactos.

Edwin then explains that he knows where the Silver Twilight plan to strike next. He reveals a telegram that he says he just received from another one of his agents, David Lee, who is currently residing in Chile. According to the telegram, Lee has spotted two heavily laden ships—which he believes belong to the Order—getting ready to set sail for Easter Island. Lee also mentions that he has also spotted someone he believes is one of “the twins.”

The Telegram from David Lee

Edwin explains that he is happy to spend a portion of his family fortune to get the London Group (along with any of his other guests) booked on a ship out to Easter Island without delay, in the hopes that they can arrive in time to thwart the Order of the Silver Twilight’s plans. The group agrees to this, and much of the rest of the discussion is spent learning about the so called “twins” working for the Order.

Edwin explains that the twins are inhuman monsters who can shapeshift into various different human forms. Edwin has never encountered them himself, but explains that the twins are very old, very powerful, and are considered “Wizards” of the Silver Twilight, a rank shared only by the departed Carl Stanford. That the twins have taken the field means that whatever the Order plans to do in Easter Island is critically important and must not succeed. He also explains his believe that, while the twins often work together, they likely have means of communicating with one another across vast distances, so it is likely that whatever one knows, the other knows.

At this point, Christopher Edwin announces that he is growing fatigued. He thanks his guests and excuses himself, but not before suggesting that they can use the rest of the evening to relax, read, walk the grounds, or take in the sights that both the island and its small village have to offer. He also mentions that there are likely activities going on down in town, as the islanders are celebrating their yearly Solstice festival.

The London Group all decide to travel down to town. The rest of their friends, tired from their long trips, decide to relax in their rooms. Everyone parts ways, for now.

Is This a Cult?

The London Group drive down into town. Despite it being around 9:00 in the evening, in Maine, the islanders are still awake, outside, and enjoying their summertime festivities. A small carnival-type area, with a stage, food vendors, and the like, has been set up in the center of town. While singers, musicians, and magicians take turns on the stage, the islanders wander around dressed in bizarre finery. The group notes that the strange shrines, which they noticed on their initial arrival to the island, are much more numerous here. All of these different elements come together to provide a strong pagan vibe.

Johnny is so alarmed by this vibe that he immediately turns the car around and drives back toward the Edwin Estate, with Judge Putnam still inside.

Some of the More Outlandish Islanders

The rest of the group are also leery about the islanders, but they decide to remain in the vicinity of the town square to gather additional information. Among the more notable encounters are the following:

  • They noticed that the telegram from David Lee had no date on it, and so they decided to stop by the telegraph office to acquire further information or see if Mr. Lee had sent another telegram. They discovered that the telegraph office was closed until further notice for repairs.
  • Ron caught sight of one of those “ring the bell and test your strength” games and decides to pit himself against it while Kane looks on. Ron, who has a lot of past experience swinging heavy hammers, does very well for himself. So well, in fact, that he unwittingly wins the immediate adoration of one of the village girls. He doesn’t find out about this until shortly thereafter.
  • Dr. Black takes in one of the magic shows at the stage and realizes, to his dismay, that this is 20 minutes of his life he will never, ever get back.
  • A bunch of excitable village children overwhelm and overstimulate Pushok, and so Mikhail decides to take him for a walk. He brings Pushok down past the ferry docks, and notices that the ferry is no longer there. A helpful sign informs him that the ferry will return to the island for regular trips sometime tomorrow morning.
  • Vivian tucks herself into a shadowy spot between two buildings and listens to the gossip of the passersby. She learns that something has been breaking the islanders’ lobster traps, although some of the lobstermen have discovered bits of gold and jewelry left behind in the wreckage, “as if someone were apologizing for breaking it.”
  • Vivian also learns that one of the local boys is very angry at a certain “flatlander,” who his girl is making eyes at. Vivian doesn’t even need to make an IDEA roll to guess that the boy is talking about Ron.
  • The local boy finds Ron and challenges him to a fight. Fortunately, Kane is there to help smooth the situation over. It also helps that Ron is so intimidating—even when he’s doing nothing at all—that the boy decides he has bitten off more than he can chew. He leaves, with his friends razzing him for his cowardice.

Oh, Yeah, It’s a Cult

While on their way back to the Edwin household, Johnny and Judge Putnam spot a small group of people singing and chanting by one of the numerous shrines that dot the island. Realizing that he should probably learn more about what’s going on before he retreats to the safety of the Edwin house, Johnny pulls the car over and he and the judge get out. Both men find the group of islanders very friendly and only too happy to explain their local customs.

One woman, the most talkative of the bunch, tells Johnny and Judge Putnam that they haven’t seen the best part of their festival yet. This is apparently going to occur tomorrow evening, on the official longest day of the year “up over there on Sentinel Hill.” Johnny presses for details about this part of the festival and learns that a group of costumed mummers will process to the top of the hill with the rest of the islanders in tow. Once they reach the summit, they will engage in a sun ceremony filled with songs, prayers, chants, and fun.

It is about this moment that Mikhail and Pushok, who have continued walking away from the town area, spot Johnny and the judge and move to join them. The now larger group continues to converse with the islanders, and learns that they conduct their prayers and sun-worshipping songs in Portuguese, and that their various costumes are handed down from generation to generation.

Judge Putnam mentions that he wouldn’t mind taking a look up at the top of Sentinel Hill. The islanders, pleased at his interest in their customs, are only too happy to bring him up there. After a bracing walk, the three men (and Pushok), emerge from the trees surrounding the hill to find that the summit is well maintained, mowed, and features a large amphitheater for the ceremony.

The three men get their bearings and notice that, not only is the hilltop where the Edwin estate stands visible from here, but that there is also an old, stone tower standing just above the treeline on another nearby summit.

After some more polite conversation, the islanders escort the three men (and Pushok) back to the judge’s car, before going back to the town proper to retire for the night.

The Distant Tower Up Close

A Not Terribly Quiet Evening

As the members of the London Group reconvene, it seems as though the town festival is gradually running out of steam. The group watches as the food carts get put away and the islanders return sleepily to their homes. Realizing that they, too, ought to get some rest, they get into their cars and drive back up to the Edwin estate.

Sleep comes quickly, but the group’s rest is soon spoiled by a sudden banging and crashing from somewhere downstairs. Worried at what this could mean, the group gathers themselves together and heads to the first floor to confront the source of the noise. They swiftly discover that it is coming from the dining room.

As the London Group enter the dining room, they see a very worried Angie Clark and a very frightened James Clark begging and pleading with a manic Stephen Clark, who has pushed a chair against one of the dining room walls and is standing on top of it. Ignoring the pleas of his brother and his sister-in-law, Stephen frantically marks up the blank wall with bits of soot and charcoal he has pulled from the dining room’s fireplace.

The group watches in horror as a terrifying picture begins to emerge from Stephen Clark’s crazed artistry...

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