Thursday, July 22, 2021

The House of Edwin, Part Four: June 18. 1926


With midafternoon—and the Solstice festival—drawing ever nearer, the group makes plans for what to do next. The group decides that recovering their Gate box is their first priority, since having it will give them access to their additional equipment and an escape route while preventing the Silver Twilight from having a back door into their inner sanctum. Dr. Black strongly suspects that the Gate box is in the mysterious tower, and the rest of the group agrees with him.

The group goes over their personal stores of weapons and Tommy Hayes, the British policeman, is quite taken aback to learn how heavily armed the London Group is even without the ordinance stowed in the judge’s garage.

After a long discussion, it is decided that the lion’s share of the group will remain on the island, with only the Clarks taking Jonas’ boat to the mainland. Judge Putnam, Johnny, and Brother Theodore do research in the Edwin library, with Christopher Edwin carried along and explaining his indexing system as best as he can. Ron and Vivian make a thorough search of the house for useful supplies. Mikhail, Pushok, Dr. Black, Kane, Tommy Hayes, and Horus first accompany the Clarks to the boat before setting out to explore the top of Sentinel Hill.

Departure and Ascent

Mikhail, Pushok, Dr. Black, Kane, Tommy, and Horus send the Clarks off. Stephen promises to take care of everything and asks if the group would like him to do anything once they reach Portland. Kane asks them to stay safe. Horus asks them to contact the Coast Guard.

Dr. Black gives Jonas an Elder Sign, which Jonas—a faithful Protestant—balks at. Dr. Black gives him an extra dollar and asks Jonas to hang the Sign on his boat. Jonas is very reluctant, at first, but the doctor is so persuasive that he ultimately accepts.

After the boat gets underway, the remaining group hikes up to Sentinel Hill. They find the amphitheater well-prepared for the evening’s activities and accidentally disturb at least one couple who had gone up to the hilltop to pitch a little woo. Finding very little of note in the amphitheater, the group decides to set out for the tower.

A Disturbing Find

Vivian and Ron gather bottles of lamp oil, hurricane lamps, rope, tools, and similar supplies that they think might be of use in surviving their next night on the island. They also wind up thoroughly searching the house, including the disused servants’ quarters on the third floor. Ron is concerned when he notices that the door to the quarters has rags stuffed under the gap in the jam and in the keyhole. His concerns only increase when he opens the door and notes the familiar smell of decay in the air.

He and Viv investigate and find the body of Ms. Bridger lying dead on a painter’s dropcloth in one of the unused bedrooms in the quarters. Ron inspects the badly decayed body and notes that Ms. Bridger was killed instantly and expertly by a single knife thrust to her back. The knife went up between her ribs and into her heart. Ron is no Dr. Black, but he thinks that the body might have been in the servants’ quarters for at least a couple of weeks, meaning that the Ms. Bridger that the London Group met wasn’t the real Ms. Bridger.

Vivian fetches Johnny from downstairs and asks him to study Ms. Bridger with his keen mind and knowledge of the occult. Vivian is particularly concerned that, unlike Christopher Edwin, Ms. Bridger’s body was kept on the premises instead of being hastily buried, and wonders what this means. Johnny remarks that none of Ms. Bridger is missing, suggesting that her remains were not used to fuel certain loathsome spells. In the end, he and Vivian guess that either the murderer was surprised and could not properly dispose of the body, or that the murderer needed to keep the body close at hand for unknown, likely Mythos-related, reasons.

In The Library

Judge Putnam remains in the library with the disembodied brain of Christopher Edwin. Johnny, Ron, and Vivian duck in and out of the library repeatedly, busy with other things, but also do sit down to help with additional research on the island, its people, and what the imminent Solstice festival might hold for them.

They find numerous references of the island’s bizarre, pagan-influenced past. The islanders apparently hold the Solstice and both Equinoxes in quite high regard. On these holidays, they hold festivals and pay obeisance to various spirits of the air and the water. The Mythos connections to these spirits are obvious enough alarm the researchers.

Ron finds a children’s picture book, lavishly illustrated, which serves as a very basic primer for the religious history of Chebeague Island and its many festivals. One large illustration depicts the “processional paths” that the islanders take on holy days. This image makes the researchers realize that the paths follow ley lines that crisscross the island. A bit of further research reveals that the ley lines intersect at the very place that the mysterious tower is built.

Johnny’s research leads him to reading numerous strange and apocryphal stories about “the deep ones,” who live beneath the sea. Vivian’s research allows her to find numerous pieces of information about “the mi-go, or the fungi from Yuggoth,” inhuman interstellar scientists whose technology and interests mirrors much of what the group has seen on the island.

The Tower

Mikhail, Pushok, Horus, Tommy, Dr. Black, and Kane approach the tower. Dr. Black is convinced that he hears a buzzing noise—akin to an angry swarm of bees—coming from the top window of the tower. It fades away before anyone else can hear it.

Desperate for further information, Dr. Black attempts to commune with Khaad Vistu. The priest aspirant laughs mercilessly at the doctor’s poor command of magic. He taunts the doctor, but does tell him that the tower is built upon a confluence of ley lines for some unknown, but likely magical, purpose.

The group explores the tower and finds it to be old, abandoned, and covered in climbing ivy. A quick look inside reveals that much of the tower is hollow on the inside, though there is a trap door in a shadowed roof high above. There are no stairs inside the tower, but there are metal rings on the walls that might provide an enterprising climber hand and footholds to reach the trap door.

As they investigate the base of the tower, the group notices, with rising alarm, that the dark shadows near the ceiling seem to be expanding, flowing down the tower walls like honey. Pushok barks in panic at the approaching darkness, but the group collects him and flees. They stand outside the tower and watch as the darkness not only fills it, but also seems to push out of the windows and doors, straining and stretching as if trying to leave the tower’s confines.

After a few moments, the darkness begins to recede, but now the group is assaulted by an awful buzzing noise. Pushok, Horus, and Tommy are overwhelmed by the sound and, glassy-eyed, retreat down the path back to the Sentinel Hill amphitheater. Kane, Dr. Black, and Mikhail choose to go after them, and find their friends quite confused, but otherwise unharmed.

Thoroughly bewildered and frightened by their experience in the tower, the group opts to return to the Edwin mansion and catch their friends up on what has transpired. On their way back, they note that the islanders’ procession has begun, and that a huge group of costumed revelers are marching down North Road, playing bagpipes, fifes, and drums.

A Very Merry Solstice

The London Group reunites and exchanges information. A plan is hatched to use Ron’s remaining sticks of dynamite to destroy the tower. Vivian suggests adding the lamp oil and other things she has found to add fuel to the fire, in case it is necessary.

Tommy Hayes, thoroughly rattled by what he has experienced on the island, asks for a loaner weapon from the London Group. Dr. Black kindly offers him his backup gun.

Brother Theodore offers to pray to Nodens for guidance, and leaves to seclude himself so that he might do so.

It is at about this time that members of the group hear the approaching music of the revelers. It appears that they are traveling up the side of the hill directly to the Edwin mansion. Realizing that the time for action is almost upon them, the London Group readies themselves as best as they can. Papa Doc Horus uses his borrowed bag of salt to create a “final line of defense” inside of the main hallway on the first floor. The rest load guns, sharpen enchanted blades, slip magical gems into their pockets. and post lookouts on the windows.

A few minutes later, the islanders arrive. They stand in the front yard of the Edwin mansion, playing, singing, and dancing for several minutes. Then, in unison, they cry out, “Happy Solstice, Mr. Edwin!”

The group watch pensively as the islanders woop and cheer before turning to march back down the hill. 

They only get a few steps, however, before all of them seem to be overcome by some outside force and collapse, unconscious, on Mr. Edwin’s front lawn.

As the last of the revelers slump to the ground, the London Group can hear the distinctive sounds of conch shells blowing in the distance…

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The House of Edwin Part 3: June 18, 1926

Early Morning Efforts

As the sun rises, several members of the London Group either try to catch up on sleep or freshen up in preparation for the day ahead.

Dr. Black, Judge Putnam, and Vivian avail themselves of the numerous tomes in Christopher Edwin’s library. Dr. Black learns a spell called The Keenness of Two Alike, which he hopes will allow him to commune with the memories of the dead priest aspirant that seems to have taken up residence inside of his head. Judge Putnam confirms that there was a real Christopher Edwin, that he did communicate with various members of the group, and that he did invite them to Chebeague Island to discuss plans for thwarting the Order of the Silver Twilight. Vivian, meanwhile, learns quite a bit more about the rise and fall of the—apparently—globe-spanning empire of the serpent people, and also finds a description of the Arc of Vlactos.

Meanwhile, Ron hikes into town to get the lay of the land. He sees several becostumed villagers preparing for the day’s Solstice ceremony. They excitedly invite him to the festivities later, which begins with a potluck lunch in the village square at noon. Ron learns that the island’s sole telegraph has broken down. He also visits the north ferry dock and overhears a crusty old sailor in a yellow rain slicker telling the dockmaster that the ferry has broken down and will not be able to come out until tomorrow. The dockmaster says that this bodes ill for getting money from tourists who wanted to visit the Solstice festival. Ron feels as though it bodes ill for other, more personal reasons.

Some Costumed Islanders

Ron also notices that the islanders have hung witches’ balls up on their front doors and mailboxes. Also, it seems that the fishermen of the island have spread their nets out on the shoreline, with their attached witches’ balls gleaming in the sun. Ron, who is not a fisherman, is still wise enough in the way of fishing to know that the nets are not arranged to catch fish. He wonders if they are displayed in this manner for a different purpose.

A short time later, Ron returns to the Edwin household to find Johnny and Papa Doc Horus preparing a simple breakfast for everyone.  Horus also borrows a large quantity of salt “just in case.”

As the group and their allies discuss their findings, Tommy Hayes, insists that they tell someone about the dead body they discovered in the back yard. The London Group try to dissuade him from this, partially because there’s no one to tell, partially because it seems as though all communication with mainland authorities has been cut, and partially because they fear that they will tip their hands to the islanders.

The Clarks, meanwhile, have decided that they are going to try and leave as soon as possible. Their attempts are thwarted when James and Stephen tell Angie that their car won’t start. Angie goes out to investigate, with the rest of the group in tow, and she and Johnny soon discover that someone has put sugar in the gas tanks of all the vehicles—including Ms. Bridger’s sporty motorcycle.

Johnny thinks that he can salvage the judge’s car by draining and cleaning the gas tank, though he will need to replace the fuel if he’s going to be able to drive the car anywhere. While he and Angie work to disconnect the gas tank, Ron points out that they need to make sure that the south ferry is up and running. Otherwise, they’re going nowhere.

The group takes another quick search of the house and its environs. Dr. Black takes this opportunity to cast The Keenness of Two Alike, which allows him to join his intellect with that of Khaad Vistu, the long-dead priest aspirant of the Nameless City.

Meanwhile, Ron wanders around back to give the property a closer look. There is a great deal of standing water where the back garden should be—likely due to some drainage issues. Ron also sees a thin film of brownish-black fluid floating on the surface of the water. This reminds him both of the stain Vivian saw on Miss Bridger’s bathroom door, as well as the creepy fluid prominent in some of Stephen Clark’s older paintings. Believing that there is something in the water, but not wanting to touch the brownish-black fluid, Ron pulls a stick of dynamite from his pocket, ignites it, and throws it in the water.

The resulting explosion terrifies everyone, rattles the Edwin mansion, and cracks a few windows in their frames. One by one, the members of the London Group come around back to investigate the source of the explosion and/or to castigate Ron.

It becomes evident that the explosion has blown a fracture in the bedrock of the large hill/small mountain upon which the Edwin mansion sits. This allows the remnants of the standing water that weren’t catapulted skyward to drain down into the fracture, leaving a patch of saturated mud behind. The group discovers nothing of note left behind. Ron insists that he was helping.

The explosion is loud enough that it reaches the nearby village, and soon a handful of villagers has come up the old, worn out staircase to the Edwin house to investigate the noise. The London Group insists, repeatedly, that what the villagers heard was simply a car backfiring. Dr. Black then attempts to distract the curious villagers by asking them if he could purchase a can of gasoline in town.

The amiable villagers offer to escort Dr. Black into town so that he can get some gasoline. Fearful that he might be ritually sacrificed by the villagers, much of the rest of the group goes with Dr. Black. At the same time, Ron decides to lead a party to the southern ferry dock to see if egress from the island can be affected from there.  Mikhail, meanwhile, puts Pushok on a leash and walks down the old, moss-covered staircase to the northern shore of the island.

Errands in Chebeague

Ron and his group learn that the southern ferry is also broken, and is floating dead in its mainland port until the proper parts can be delivered. Ron’s group is concerned about this, fearing that both ferries being out of order on the same day is no accident. They talk among themselves about other ways to leave Chebeague Island, bandying about such ideas as using the Gate box luggage, hiring a boat, stealing a boat, or building a raft with supplies at the house.

Another Costumed Local

Dr. Black and his party venture into town and acquire a can of gasoline without any fuss. Dr. Black’s group notices that the islanders are setting up the potluck luncheon on the village square. They also notice that several of the islanders are preparing or donning costumes that consist of great quantities of fur, straw, and cowbells. Ornate masks are also a feature of these costumes. These costumes are strange and off-putting enough that Dr. Black’s party grows even more wary.

Mikhail, having heard Ron’s reports of the witches’ balls, and having heard that the handblown glass spheres seem to be a facet of the strange religion of the island, takes his witch ball down to the shore and places it in the water. Mikhail prays to the “spirits of the water,” asking them to protect him and his friends and to defeat his enemies.

He watches, with a mixture of fascination and terror, as the witch’s ball floats out into the Atlantic of its own volition. When it is several dozen yards from shore, a dark shape swims up from the depths, grabs the ball, and vanishes back into the deeps. Mikhail has an unshakeable conviction that his prayer has been heard. For better or for worse.

The Group Reunites/The Luncheon

The London Group reunites, shares information, and decides to visit the potluck luncheon in the town square. The members of the group share their misgivings about what has occurred, what is about to occur, and how they might be able to get the hell off of the island before anything bad happens. There is some discussion of, at the very least, sending the Clarks, Brother Theodore, Tommy Hayes, and Horus to safety by means of the Gate box.

During the luncheon (which the group does not partake in), several members of the group notice the sailor in the yellow rainslicker standing off to one side under a tree, smoking a pipe and watching the proceedings with a baleful gaze. One by one, the group drift over to introduce themselves to the man, who introduces himself as Jonas, a lobsterman, who is the captain of a thirty-foot vessel currently moored at the north ferry dock.

Jonas tells the London Group that he was given a small stipend to travel to Chebeague Island and let them know that the north ferry is out of service until tomorrow. He mentions that he, a God-fearing Protestant, dislikes the island, its people, and their pagan ways, and pans to be well-shut of Chebeague long before the Solstice festival gets underway. When the group presses him on details of the festival, Jonas says that he has never attended, but that he is still strongly against it anyway, as it’s definitely heathen and unrighteous.

Seeing an avenue of escape, the group asks Jonas if he will take them, their companions, and their luggage back to Portland. Jonas agrees, for the frankly ridiculous sum of $1 per person. Realizing that he has them over a barrel, the London Group takes Jonas up on his offer. They tell him that they will be returning to the Edwin manor to pack, but that they will meet him at his boat shortly.

Jonas the Fisherman, Looking Quite Old-Timey

Lost Luggage/The Cylinder

The London Group return to the house and begin to pack, only to discover, to their great alarm, that the Gate box has gone missing. Even more disconcerting is the fact that Dr. Black’s warding spell, which he had placed around the Gate box, remains intact and somehow undisturbed despite the theft.

With their easiest means of escape and resupply taken from them, the London Group hastily changes their plans. They decide to leave their cars behind, pack quickly, and pay Jonas to take themselves and their allies back to Portland. They realize that whatever forces are conspiring to keep them on the island will be at a disadvantage once the reach the mainland and, once they have escaped to Portland, they can formulate a plan and strike back.

As the group hastily packs, Dr. Black notices the strange cylinder that Ron had found the previous night. This cylinder has been placed on an end table in the dining room, next to the pile of strange equipment that Vivian had found hidden in the wall space the previous night. His mind still enhanced by the Keenness of Two Alike, Dr. Black suddenly realizes that the connector on the strange equipment fits into the various ports up and down the sides of the cylinder. Curious as to the nature of the cylinder and the devices, he begins plugging various parts into various other receptacles.

A high pitched, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” emanating from one of the devices makes Dr. Black reconsider and hastily remove the devices from the cylinder.

Eventually, however, curiosity from the rest of the group overrides Dr. Black’s caution. Once again, the devices are hooked up. Once again, there is a high pitched “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE,” which, blessedly, fades after a few seconds.

Then, from the device, the group hears a flat, metallic voice. “Hello? Is anyone there? Why can’t I see you?”

The voice eventually identifies itself as Christopher Edwin, though Judge Putnam takes some pains to question the voice in order to determine its identity. Once the voice has answered several pointed questions, the judge is more or less reassured that the group is truly speaking to Christopher Edwin, though they don’t quite know how.

Johnny, who has read far too many Mythos tomes in the past year, explains that this device is likely a mi-go brain cylinder. If that is, in fact, the case, it means that someone has removed Christopher Edwin’s brain from his body and placed it inside of the cylinder for safekeeping, storage, and transport to the distant world of Yuggoth.

Unsurprisingly, Christopher Edwin does not take this news very well.

Once the group manages to get Mr. Edwin calmed down, he explains that he was very much looking forward to meeting them all, that he did have plans to stop whatever the Order of Silver Twilight is doing on Easter Island, and that he will happily contribute his knowledge, his skills, his finances, and his library to the London Group’s cause.

Stunned at finally meeting their mysterious host and benefactor, the London Group attempts to gather their wits about them so that they can most easily effect their escape.

Nellie Thompson

She's Baaa-aaaack!

Ron realizes that the situation has become quite dire, and feels that he needs to summon Nathan Torpley/the Many-Faced Stranger to get advice, help, or both. He knows that Vivian took the Ouroboros Ring away from him, but also knows that Vivian is too smart to leave such a potent magical artifact on the nightstand at home. While the others are discussing plans, Ron slips into his goddaughter’s room, roots through her belongings, and finds the Ouroboros Ring hidden in Vivian’s compact.

Ron proudly announces to the group that he has found the ring and plans to use it to summon Nathan Torpley. The group attempts to dissuade him. When their arguments do not change Ron’s mind, Vivian suggests that Ron team up with someone to share the cost of summoning Mr. Torpley, so that he is not rendered as weak as a kitten by expending almost all of his vitality. A bemused Tommy Hayes agrees to help, and is frankly shocked when the spell takes effect and he nearly passes out from the effort.

Moments later, the group hears a rolling, thudding noise from upstairs, accompanied periodically by the sound of a jauntily tinkling bell. The group goes to investigate to find Nellie Thompson riding a tricycle around and around the second-floor balcony. Nellie is, of course, very amused to see everyone.

Ron petitions Nellie for aid, only for her to tell him that, “other people have gone to great effort to keep me from intervening on your behalf directly.” Nelly tells Ron not to worry though—she’s left something special somewhere in the house that might help him, if he can find it.

With that, she drives her tricycle into the closet and disappears. Shortly thereafter, the group hears the tricycle bell ringing again, this time from downstairs.

Following the sound of the bell, the group enters a hitherto unexplored room, which turns out to be the mansion’s music room. Amidst the dusty instruments and stacks of sheet music, Vivian locates the Jade Sphinx, which has been placed on the fireplace mantel. Vivian inspects the sphinx and discovers that the black gemstone—which will allow them to summon the Hound of Nephrem-Ka—is still safely ensconced within its base.

The Return of this Awful Thing

Friday, July 2, 2021

The House of Edwin Part 2: June 18, 1926

The Eponymous House

Stephen’s New Fresco

As the group watches, Stephen Clark sketches out an eerie and foreboding tower. A hooded figure stands in the foreground, their back to the group, long tendrils of beard curling out from their hood.

James is overwhelmed by the scene and shuts down, while Angie begs the others to “do something” about Stephen. Ron grabs the artist by the scruff of the neck and hauls him down off of his chair, but Stephen continues to pantomime drawing on the wall and seems completely oblivious to Ron’s attempts to corral him.

The group agrees that Ron should release Stephen. Ron does and then promptly goes back upstairs to put on a pair of pants (he was previously in his undershirt and boxers) and to wake Kane Eastman, who has blissfully slept through the early morning commotion. Meanwhile, Dr. Black takes a bit of charcoal from the cold dining room fireplace and writes, “MAINE” on the wall near Stephen’s drawing.

Stephen ignores the word and continues to draw, incorporating Dr. Black’s word into his new artwork. He finishes shortly after Kane and Ron return to the dining room. At this moment, Stephen’s artistic fugue leaves Stephen, and he collapses in the chair and places his head in his hands.

Dr. Black inspects the finished artwork and sees that numerous robed figures are standing in front of the tower. They are exceptionally well-detailed, despite Stephen’s haste and choice of materials. Two notable figures are a woman holding a rifle and a misshapen man who seems to favor his left side.

Judge Putnam peers at the tower and, ultimately, recognizes it from a diagram that he saw in Johnny’s Mythos notes. After the judge mentions this to the group, Johnny confirms that the tower is, indeed, identical to one that needs to be built in order to Call Yog-Sothoth.

Deeply concerned at the night’s events, the London Group decide it is long past time to warn their host of these new developments. Tommy Hayes tells the group that he knows where Mr. Edwin’s rooms are, as they are next to his rooms on the second floor. Johnny and Judge Putnam accompany him.

The First Floor of the Mansion

The Grim Matter at Hand

Repeated knocks on Mr. Edwin’s bedroom door go unanswered, and so Johnny picks the lock. He, Judge Putnam, and Tommy Hayes enter Mr. Edwin’s bed chamber and find it well-secured from within, with all doors locked and all windows closed and latched. The rooms are well-appointed, but also empty, and the bed does not appear to have been slept in. Most ominously, Christopher Edwin’s wheelchair is tipped on its side and lying next to a hope chest at the foot of the bed.

The three men search the room, finding nothing unusual or untoward until Johnny peeks under the bed. There, he is shocked to discover a dismembered hand, perfectly preserved, but fitted to a plate of bright silver metal at the wrist. On this panel are various levers and switches of curious design. Johnny becomes a bit overwhelmed at the sight of the hand, which the three men are convinced belongs to Christopher Edwin.

They return to the dining room and present the hand to the others. Dr. Black confirms that it is a real hand, perfectly preserved and all but devoid of trauma. He does note that it appears that the hand was severed with a very sharp, very hot blade that cauterized the flesh at the wrist.

Mikhail calls a skittish Pushok over and has the dog take a good whiff of the hand. Mikhail then puts a leash on Pushok and asks him to track the scent. Pushok leads Mikhail on a merry chase all across the first floor of the house, with Dr. Black in hot pursuit. Pushok stops for a while in front of a door before darting back toward the loggia and the terrace in the back of the house. Mikhail, fearful of what might await him in the darkness outside, orders Pushok to a halt and brings him back to the dining room.

At this point, Kane Eastman discovers that moving the switches and levers on the silver base allows him to manipulate the hand in a disturbingly lifelike way. Johnny says that he has read something about this in his occult notes, and suggests that the same beings who built the hand mechanism are also responsible for building the artifact/device that Ron stole from the Miskatonic University Library.

The Second Floor of the Mansion

Fervent Searching

The London Group splits up to search various areas of the house.

Tommy Haynes and Judge Putnam thoroughly search the rooms on the second floor. Tommy points out the suites of rooms that are currently being occupied by himself, the Clarks, Papa Doc Horus, and Brother Theodore. They also find and search a dusty and long-in-disuse nursery, which is filled with ancient children’s toys, cribs, a rocking chair, numerous shelves, and a doll house that appears to be a scale model of the Edwin mansion.

Judge Putnam notices a wedge-shaped disturbance on the floor in front of one of the shelving units, and persuades Tommy Hayes to move it away from the wall. Tommy does so, only to find that the shelves swing back on hidden hinges, revealing a secret crawlspace in the wall. Judge Putnam sends Tommy to fetch a torch.

Meanwhile, Vivian and Ron go to the third floor in a desperate attempt to rouse Ms. Bridger. When she does not answer her knocks, Vivian picks the lock on the door before Ron can smash it open. Inside, they find a very spartan, but extremely tidy, set of rooms. Similar to Mr. Edwin’s room, the bed does not appear to be slept in.

Vivian notes a trickle of black or dark brown liquid on the door that leads into the bathroom. She examines it and discovers that it isn’t blood, but it does have a strong, organic smell.

Ron hears a humming noise from one of the other rooms in the suite, which seems to have been converted to a storeroom and is currently stacked with boxes, old furniture, and the like. Ron enters the room and notices a strange glow coming from the center.

Downstairs, Johnny decides to head upstairs to help Vivian and Ron. Meanwhile, Dr. Black opens the door that Pushok scented on and discovers that it leads into Christopher Edwin’s massive occult library. He sees a cot with several dirty dishes around it, an empty wheelchair, and a writing table in the center of the library. On the table is a cuneiform tablet which Mr. Edwin seemed to have been in the process of studying. A search of the desk’s single drawer holds Mr. Edwin’s incomplete notes on the tablet in exceptionally neat handwriting. It appears that the tablet names the day and the time that the “Isle of the Guardian” last breached the waters, and that Christopher Edwin was attempting to use that date to determine when the stars “would next be right” for the isle to rise.

Ron discovers that the glow and the hum comes from a strange metal cylinder hidden in the storage room. The cylinder appears to have liquid sloshing around inside of it, as well as several attachment ports—as if for hoses or similar—but no obvious way to open it.  Upon seeing the cylinder, Johnny insists that it was made by the same creatures who made the library artifact and the hand attachment.

On a whim, Vivian decides to search the nearby bathroom and, with Ron’s help, removes the mirrored vanity cabinet from its spot over the sink. In the void behind the cabinet, Vivian finds several strange silver devices, some of which look a bit like camera parts, others of which are unidentifiable.

A Curious Cylinder

Secret Passage

Tommy returns with a torch and he and Judge Putnam return to explore the secret passageway. They soon discover that the passage leads into various parts of the house, including Mr. Edwin’s suite and Ms. Bridger’s suite, as well as to an access ladder that leads into the kitchen.

Johnny, who is currently with Ron and Vivian in Ms. Bridger’s room, hears the Judge and Tommy banging around in the walls and abruptly smashes through the plaster, making a hole that connects Ms. Bridger’s room and the secret passageway. They also find a concealed door into the room behind a cabinet, as well as a similar concealed door in Mr. Edwin’s room and the kitchen.

The Third Floor of the Mansion (So Many Bathrooms)

The Dawn of the Longest Day

By this time, the sun is just about to rise on the morning of the Solstice. Emboldened by the coming daylight, the group begins to explore the area immediately around the mansion. Vivian notices that Ms. Bridger’s motorcycle (and side car) is still parked beside the house with all the other vehicles. Mikhail, who is examining the partially flooded backyard through the glass doors leading out to the loggia, sees a hummock of earth that appears to have been freshly turned over.

Expecting the worst, the group acquires shovels, wades out to the hummock, and begins digging. They soon find the withered body of an elderly man, who is missing his face, both his hands, the top of his head, and his brain. Dr. Black suspects that the body belongs to none other than their host, Christopher Edwin, and is baffled by the fact that, based on decomposition, Edwin has been dead for at least two weeks.

Exhausted and bewildered, the London Group decide to bathe, change clothes, eat, and regroup before deciding what to do next. Dr. Black suggests that some of them spend time researching in Christopher Edwin’s library, in the hopes that they might find some answers there.