A Shadow Over Arkham

Episode 4

GM: As the intrepid trio picks themselves (some figuratively) off the ground, they come to the conclusion that it’s a good time as ever to leave, and to regroup the following evening, with the mysterious journal.

Making their way out from the house, the first thing that Emily notices is tha absence of her driver from the relatively simple task of gassing up the tank.

The sun is beginning to dip below the horizon, casting ethereal shadows over the landscape.

Emily: Emily glances down the road towards the small village, then up the other direction. “Where did James go off to? He can’t be taking this long.”

Margaret: “We might be stuck here for a bit then. We certainly can’t leave anyone alone. Its…dangerous.”

Jeremiah: We’ll stay with you until he returns of course

Emily: “Thank you.” Emily says, rather more concerned than she would normally be about such an absence. “I hope everything’s alright.”

Margaret: “If you’d like, we can return to town in Jeremiah’s car. Perhaps we’ll find your driver there?”\

GM: A few moments pass, the shadows gradually lengthening across the high grasses surrounding the farmhouse.

Jeremiah: “I wouldn’t mind taking you. Perhaps the car has a flat and we’ll find him up the road.”

Margaret: “Let’s return to town, then. It might not be wise to stay here while its dark.”

Emily: “Yes, that must be it.” Emily says, swallowing quietly and stepping into the back of Jermiah’s motorcar.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah drives the car back towards the town, keeping an eye out for any cars on the side of the road.

GM: As you move toward the car, none of the three hear the soft thudding sound in from the attic, nor the soft sound of splintering wood. But as the last door shuts with a slam, and the engine turns over, they all hear one thing:

A loud scream of terror coming from the woods behind the house. A man’s scream. A sharp sound in the relative silence of the night, cut off all too abruptly.

Emily: “What-” Emily’s head snaps up.

Margaret: Margaret gasps. “Did you hear that? What was that?”

Emily: Emily glances back towards the woods, images of the mad vagrant and many wild, terrible ends flashing across her mind. “Do you… do you think that was the man from the cellar?”

Jeremiah: “Well it came from the woods where that crazy man ran.”

Margaret: “I think it is very likely… And I think we’d better not investigate in the dark.”

Emily: “I…” Emily pauses, altruisim, fear and curiosity all combating. “…I agree. I think we had best be… moving along.”

Jeremiah: “You’re probably right. Do you think maybe we should report it though?”

Margaret: “To the police? We might. But then we might not be able to return to the house.”

Emily: “I think we should report this whole ordeal.” Emily says. “We can have the police investigate the screams while they deal with that animal in the attic.”

GM: The ride back to the town is quiet, the night sky darkening into the bleakness of twilight. It is a few-hour drive back to civilization. ((Brief continuation of conversation before cutting to the next day. ))

Emily: “We should pull into the petrol station.” Emily says as they come into the town. “Perhaps James is there with the car being worked on for some… bother or problem.”

Margaret: “Agreed. Do we want to report this incident to the police?”

Emily: “If he isn’t at the station… and he isn’t home… I suppose I’d certainly better.” Emily says.

Jeremiah: “I’m not sure if reporting it is such a good idea… I mean, if what’s in that house is really some sort of demon or spirit, what could they do? Besides, we made a promise…”

Margaret: “I agree with Jeremiah. I don’t believe the police are anymore equipped to handle this than we are, and we have additional information. And, of course, the promise.”

Emily: “There’s more going on here than some silly spirit.” Emily says, flustered. “There are men prowling about ready to murder over something Mr. Merriweather gave to us and some kind of bear or mountain lion in that attic, we need the authorities here.”

Margaret: “You may be right, but we made a promise. And I don’t think what we saw was a bear or mountain lion. It very closely resembled what was described in that journal, and we cannot ignore that. I think we have to face that something strange is going on here. The police are just not equipped to handle it.”

Jeremiah: “Ok, how about this then, if we can’t figure out how to take care of the problem in 3 days, or one of us is seriously injured, we can take it to the police, otherwise, we deal with it like we promised.”

Margaret: “That seems reasonable.”

Emily: Emily rubs her temples, trying to think. “Alright, look… If we can’t find James, I’ll tell the police he’s missing. I won’t mention anything about the house or the man from the cellar, is that alright?”

Margaret: “Have you considered that perhaps he just returned to Arkham without you? Has he ever done anything like that before?”

Jeremiah: “That sounds reasonable. We should ask at the store if they’ve seen him. Isn’t that where he seid he’d be?”

GM: The car pulls up to the gas-station, barely illuminated by flickering yellow lights over the pumps. Inside the structure, a faint illumination shows (presumably) the attendant sitting inside.

Emily: “He has not, no. Father would skin him alive if he did.”

Jeremiah: Jeremiah turns to the other two. “Ok, do we want to ask if he was here?”

Margaret: “That seems wise.” Margaret moves to leave the car and walk into the station to speak with the attendant.

GM: The older man barely looks up from the paper as the bell over the door announces your entrance.

Margaret: Margaret looks back over her shoulder to see if either of her companions had followed her in. “Excuse me, Sir, have you seen a man named James come through here?” She realized the question was dumb, as the man most likely would not have known the driver’s name, but she asked anyways.

GM: “Not that I know,” he replies flatly, turning the page of the paper, before glancing pointedly toward the car. “Strange time of night to be drivin’.”

Jeremiah: Jeremiah, who had followed Margaret into the store asks the old man why he’d say something like that.

Emily: Emily has followed Margaret inside, feeling at least some measure of responsibility for her driver. “Did you see a dull white royce by any chance?”

GM: “Don’ get many visitors after dark,” he says, folding up the paper to look flatly at Jeremiah. Emily, he doesn’t even look at. “Yep.”

Emily: “Did it stop? Where was it going? Sir?” Emily leans over the counter towards the man.

Margaret: “So…you haven’t seen a car like that come through here.” Margaret is slightly annoyed that the man ignored Emily’s question. In fact, he hadn’t even looked at her.

GM: “Asked for gas,” he says, scowling to Emily. “Why?”

Emily: “He has not been seen since.” Emily says, the voice of someone wishing to be an ace detective slipping through. “These were in fact his last known wereabouts and you are the last known man to witness him alive!”

GM: “You accusin’ me, girl?”

Margaret: “As far as we know, Emily. Sir, did he mention where he was going?”

Emily: “I am not accusing anyone, I am stating! I am stating you were currently the last person to see him! Where was he going?”

Gm: “Told him we were out of gas, gas station a while down the road has some,” he says simply, picking the paper up again.

Emily: “Down the road…” Emily rubs her chin, looking away. “Hmm.”

Jeremiah: Jeremiah thanks the man for the information and turns to the two women. “Maybe we should look there, if he needed gas, he couldn’t just wait.”

Emily: “To the gas station down the road!” Emily says, dashing out of the service station and towards Jermiah’s car.

Margaret: “Agreed. Let’s head there.”

Jeremiah: Jeremiah gets in the car after them and they start down the road.

GM: The road only gets worst as you continue to drive, the ride slowly getting rougher before you come to a ramshackle gas station at the side of the road, single pump leaning to one side slightly.

Margaret: “This place…leaves much to be desired. Especially this time of night.” Margaret cannot tell if anyone is attending the gas station.

GM: The shutters on the windows are drawn.

Emily: “Disreputable!” Emily exclaims, crouching down and carefully peeking out over the door window.

Jeremiah: “Well if he was here, he certainly isn’t now. What do you want to do Emily. I can take you home if you wish, or to a telephone to call home.”

Margaret: “James’ car does not seem to be here, Emily. Do you want to go inside and ask?”

Emily: “I am conflicted.” Emily says, staring at the leering, battered old relic and the pale shadows cast by its interior.

Jeremiah: “we can go in with you of course.”

Emily: Emily takes a deep breath, mustering her courage and clutching her handbag close ot her. “It is only right. The safety of the help may be at stake.”

Margaret: Margaret opens the car door and gets out. She waits for her companions to do the same.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah follows Emily towards the station.

Emily: Emily coughs, waiting for Jeremiah to move ahead of her.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah moves up to the door and tries the handle.

GM: The gravel crunches underfoot as you make your way toward the building, a heavy wooden door sitting ajar in the frame. The handle doesn’t turn.

It’s locked.

Emily: “Unanticipated.” Emily says softly from behind Jermiah.

Margaret: “I wonder…the attendant said it was open. How long has it been closed?” Margaret thought out loud.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah looks for some sort of sign for business hours in the windows.

GM: Glancing to the windows, you notice that one of them has a hole through it, likely by something thrown.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah tries to look through the hole into the store.

GM: The shutters are, as previously mentioned, closed.

Likely, you suspect, in having something thrown through the window

Margaret: Margaret knocks loudly on the door.

GM: Shortly after the knock you hear a thudding sound, before footsteps coming to the door. “Who is it?” a reedy voice asks through the wood. “I’ve got a weapon!”

Margaret: “No need for that! We have a question, that’s all. Forgive our instrusion, but its rather urgent.”

GM: “A question? We’re closed for the night.” The voice says, unsure.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah steps up to the door. “We’re not here to cause trouble.” He looks pointedly at the other two. “We’re just looking for a friend.”

Margaret: “he may have come by here.”

GM: There’s a brief pause before, “Who was it?”

Emily: “A man by the name of James.” Emily says. “He was driving an off white royce.”

GM: “Oh,” the voice says after a moment. “Yeah, he was here. That enough for you?”

Margaret: “Did he say where he was going?”

GM: “No, he just bought gas and left,” the voice says.

Emily: “Which way did he leave?” Emily asks.

GM: There’s a pause, and you see one of the shutters move. “The way you came in, I think. I wasn’t paying too much attention at the time.”

Emily: “Thank you kindly, sir! Sorry to wake you!” Emily says, moving back to the car.

Margaret: “Thank you, sir.” Margaret headed back to the car.

GM: As you move back to the car, you see the shutters move again, the man inside watching you as you walk away.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah turns to Emily once they all got back into the car. “There is no way we could have missed him coming here. Either that man is lying or James drove through the woods. What do you want to do now?”

Emily: “I don’t know.” Emily admits, eyeing the man through the shutters. “It may be best to simply return home and see if he’s somehow found his way back there, and report to the police if he hasn’t. However… if he’s really in some danger…”

Margaret: “If he’s in danger, are we likely to find him in the dark and provide aid? It is far more reasonable to return home.”

Emily: “Yes…” Emily says, looking away from the station. “You’re right of course.”

Jeremiah: “Alright. I will take you home and we’ll hope he returned there for some reason.” Jeremiah begins driving back towards Arkham.

Margaret: “I assume we will return to the house in the morning, with the journal in tow.”

GM: Arkham is but a few miles away, and soon the trio is back on smoother roads driving toward actual civilization.

The drive home is unadventurous, although Emily notes a distinct lack of a Rolls Royce when she pulls up to her home. And, indeed, when she inquires, he hadn’t returned.

Her brother is most upset that her driver – a fine employee by all accounts – seems to have abandoned her so frivolously.

The other two return to their abode with no major discoveries or issues.

As for the police, they promise they will look into the disappearance and call back if they find anything.

The following noon, the three meet, by happenstance, at nearly the precise time. Both cars come to a stop in front of the building, noticing at near the same time a car parked in the driveway.

An off-white Rolls Royce.

Margaret: “…that’s James’ car, isn’t it. Emily?”

Jeremiah: “There is no way he passed us on the road…”

Margaret: “And we would have known if he was here when we left. Where was he?”

GM: The paint is noticably more dusty than when you last saw the car, no doubt the hallmark of the high quality roads in this backwoods wasteland,.

Jeremiah: “This is very strange. Why would he have waited here all night. Something is wrong.”

Emily: “James!” Emily exclaims, hopping from her cadillac (which was an awful shade of red) “James what on EARTH have you been doing all night?” She shouts into the still house. “CHICANERY?”

GM: There is no responce. Through the rear window, you can dimly make out a figure sitting in the driver’s seat, as if at rest.

Emily: “James?” Emily calls out again, somewhat quieter. “Are you awake?”

GM: There’s still no responce.

Margaret: Margaret moves to wrap on the glass of the window.

GM: As you move closer toward the car, you notice that it seems to be settling oddly. And, look, there’s a dent in the hood! And a hole in the window! What has he been doing?!

You can’t make out his face through the smoked glass, but he must be a deep sleeper.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah goes to see if the front door is open.

Emily: “James, father will have you KILLED, what have you done the Royce?” Emily exclaims, jerking open the driver’s door to shake the impossible man awake.

GM: As the door opens, the man inside – the body – shifts, sliding across the leather seat to spill out on the ground. His face is struck with the apathy of the grave and his normally-immaculate suit is covered in blood.

In fact, it tooks to have splattered across the instrument panel and the leather seats. Red specks on white everywhere you look. It’s the small details that seem the most striking.

The keys in the ignition, the burned out cigarette in his hand, the newspaper sitting on the passenger’s seat, almost immaculate.

Margaret: Margaret jumps back and gasps. “Oh my.”

Emily: Emily attempts to scream, the sound getting lodged somewhere in her throat and coming out as little more than gasping queal as she stumbles backwards.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah moves in front of both women blocking their view. “Step back. Go back to my car.”

He then proceeds to inspect the car and see if he can determine what happened.

Margaret: “I will not be told what to do. Let me examine the car as well. Perhaps I’ll see something you won’t.”

Emily: Emily turns quickly away, leaning against her car and attempting to keep her insides from erupting onto the ground.

GM: Red on white. Father will never be able to get the stains out. He will probably have to apholster the whole car.

Looking at the body, the Author manages to discover little of import, but the Professor as luck would have it has a keener eye toward the analytical. On the man’s chest is a hole, and the ribs look to have been gnawed apart.

More disturbingly, however, is the heart.

Or the lack of one, more precisely.

Margaret: “His heart is gone. Its been…removed. Oh my…I feel a bit sick.” Margaret steps back from the car and tries to keep her stomach down.

Emily: “I’m going for the police.” Emily manages, struggling into her car. “You should wait here, make sure… nothing happens to the… to James.”

Margaret: “Not so fast, Emily. Are you sure you want to involve the police at this moment? This is clearly related to whatever is going on in this house. Take a minute if you need to, but let’s not be hasty.”

GM: The edges of the wound are smooth; you know of no tools that could do the job so cleanly, while also so messily.

Emily: “THERE IS ALL OVER MY FATHER’S ROYCE YES I WISH TO INVOLVE THE POLICE!” Emily screams from her car, voice shaking.

Margaret: “Emily, please calm down. You cannot drive into town in this condition anyways.”

Jeremiah: “Let’s all take a moment and think things through. FIrst of all, how could he have gotten here without passing us?”

Emily: Emily pauses, attempting to ease her hyperventilating with deep, ragged breaths.

Margaret: “he must not have passed us while we were still in this village. He must’ve been elsewhere.”

Emily: “Alright…” She swallows, refusing to look at the off white car. “Alright… he… he was clearly driving a good distance, likely out to that old gas station… at least… there’s enough dust on the car for at least that road…”

Jeremiah: “Ok, good. That makes sense. Then he must have pulled off somewhere for a moment. Maybe for a smoke? Or to relieve himself. That’s the only way we could have passed him.”

Margaret: “I think you’re right, Jeremiah. then he came back here. And we can only assume that…this…happened shortly after.”\

Emily: “It couldn’t have been that…” Emily stares at her dashboard, fingers gripping the wheel. “He was gone much too long to have still come back expecting to find us.”

Margaret: “Its very possible he returned shortly after we left. We just missed him.”

Jeremiah: “Unless he knew you would go looking for him. In which case he probably thought the best place to be was where he was supposed to meet you.”

Emily: “Maybe…” Emily pauses, swallowing. She steps out of her car, leaving the door open and moves towards the royce, careful to avoid looking at the body as much as she can, and tries to search the dirt driveway for tracks or prints. “If it did happen while he was parked here…”

GM: Looking around, you can see the tracks from when he pulled into the driveway casually, but you can’t tell if he got out of the car.

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