Starry Wisdom Cult

Session 1, 24-7-2004
Wail of the Witch

Saturday September 10th, 1927

On a cold clear Saturday in early September the invitees to one of author William Keen’s literary luncheons gathered at his house in Boston. The year was 1927. Present were William Keen, Narandera Bose, Kang Leong and Father Xavier. Bose spotted a newspaper article describing the death of an author known to Keen in a Salem cemetery. The four decided to investigate.

Keen recalled reading articles by the dead woman in Occult Review magazine and sure enough a trip to the Boston Library revealed the following snippet:

The thirteen witches were reputed to be so evil that all transcripts of the trial are thought to have been destroyed. The leader of the coven was named Mercy Booth, who was said by more than one witness to have been visited by the devil in the guise of a tall black man, Other information indicates that she may have been related to Ludvig Prinn, executed by the Roman Inquisition in the 16th century for heresy and devil worship. The next article will contain more information on this interesting coven.

Keen and his friends decided that a trip to Salem was in order.

They boarded the afternoon train, arrived in Salem and checked into a comfortable hotel. First they inspected the quiet Fairfax cemetery, where they located the grave of Mercy Booth, apparently maintained by the ‘Daughters of Salem Historical Society’. Keen and his Chinese associate Kang Leong visited the Historical Society, while Bose and Father Xavier tried unsuccessfully to locate the milkman who had discovered Amy Hanover’s body in Fairfax Cemetery.

At the Daughters of Salem Historical Society, Willam Keen talked with the proprietresses, who told him that Mercy Booth had once lived on Lyle Street. Meanwhile Kang found a picture apparently of the execution of the witch. Kang took some old newspapers from the museum.

Examining the papers later, Narendera Bose found an article of interest, which mentioned an underground room found on a construction site on Lyle Street in 1893. Professor Hagerty of Boston University had declared the site ‘of no significant historical value’.

After supper, Bose and Father Xavier persuaded the hotelier to drive to Lyle Street, but they did not have a street number and it was too dark to be useful. The pair went back to Fairfax cemetery where they spotted strange humanoid forms moving among the gravestones. They beat a hasty retreat to the hotel.

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Session 2, 12-9-2004
1412 Lyle Street

September 11th — 12th, 1927

After a sleepless night, the four rose on Sunday and headed to morning church. After mass, Narendera Bose and Kang Leong headed back to Lyle Street while Father Xavier and William Keen investigated the police station for leads about Amy Cooper’s mysterious death.

On Lyle Street, Bose and Leong talked to some sewer-workers who were pumping from a basement at number 1412. Upon investigation of the basement they discovered (thanks to Leong’s powerful head) beneath the cracked wet flooring a hidden room.

William Keen and Father Xavier did not gain much information from the police, but they had more luck elsewhere. William Keen discovered that Miss Cooper had stayed at the Baronial Arms in Salem. In the room, Keen discovered a crumpled piece of paper which read Mercy Booth, 1412L. Xavier and Keen hurried to Lyle Street.

The four were re-united at 1412 Lyle Street, but they realised that they would need more equipment to investigate the room below (it being Sunday, all of the shops were closed). Instead, they returned to Fairfax Cemetery. There they found a large burrow or hole near the Crawford Mausoleum. Kwang and Father investigated. The hole led to a tunnel which extended beneath the cemetery but lack of light and the tunnel’s queer stench caused the pair to retreat. All four returned to the hotel for the night.

On Monday, after properly equipping themselves, the investigators returned to Lyle Street. Narendera Bose was lowered into the chamber. Strange mosaics covered the walls. The floor was awash with raw sewerage. Father Xavier, his interest piqued by Bose’s description, was eager investigate. The pair found a large iron disk beneath the water. While Bose examined the disk, Xavier spotted a concealed door and pushed it open. Beyond the door was a small stone room. Seated at a table was an unmoving figure in a brown robe. Closer investigation revealed the figure to be a hideous mummified corpse. The corpse clutched a black book which Father Xavier did so. As he did so, the corpse shot bolt upright and reached for him with its claws.

Father Xavier fled for the door as an awful gurgling chant came from the corpse’s deformed lips. Narendera Bose cool-headedly opened fire with a shotgun, but as he did so his skin shrivelled and blackened and he fell to the ground senseless. Father Xavier fearfully groped for his pistol and fired off a couple of shots at the thing, even as he felt his own skin begin to burn with pain.

Hearing the screams from below, Kwang Leong shimmied down the rope and ran towards the concealed room. A gruesome sight greeted him. Bose had collapsed and Father Xavier gazed sightlessly forward, babbling insanely and clutching his black book and gun. The corpse had been destroyed, and lay still, but Leong shuddered as he saw a shimmering blue irridescence rise from the body and float towards the far wall, where it slowly faded.

Keen and Leong bandaged up their wounded comrades as best they could. Xavier had ceased his babbling and now stared vacantly forward, though he still refused to relinquish his gun or book. Keen found a scroll which described Mercy Booth’s infernal deal with the ghouls. The four left the dark chamber and returned to Boston, somewhat the worse for their strange experience. In the weeks that followed, Narendera slowly regained his strength and Father Xavier regained his senses.

Suspecting that something of Mercy Booth remained, William Keen studied her journal (the black book which Father Xavier had recovered) intently. It contained many disturbing hints about the worship of dark Nygotha, including instructions on how to construct a mystic gate to another world. He realised that the wall of her chamber was one of these gates. He returned to Salem with Bose and Leong in order to destroy it. When they arrived at the hidden chamber they found that the gate had already been closed – from the other side. The witch Mercy Booth was gone, but Mr Keen and his friends would never be the same again.

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Session 3, 26-9-2004
The Dreamer

8th — 14th October, 1927

It was Father Xavier who spotted the advertisement in the Boston Globe. Paul LeMond, a talented young New York psychic had vanished, and his mother was oferring a reward to whoever could find him. So Xavier, William Keen, Narendera Bose and Kang Leong boarded the train to Buffalo, N.Y.

Irene LeMond told the investigators of Paul’s troubled history and begged them to help her. The four travelled to New York City and attempted to speak to Paul’s agent, Herbert Whitefield.

Whitefield was rude and hostile, and ordered the intrepid four to leave his office. Father Xavier felt sure he had something to hide. He and Kang Leong loitered until Whitefield left work and followed him to his apartment. But before they entered, Leong heard crashing sounds, and five mobsters emerged into the street. The mobsters departed in a car. Father Xavier and Leong investigated Whitefield’s apartment and found the man bashed and bleeding. They called the ambulance. In the apartment they discovered a sheaf of bills from the elite Woods Estate Rest Home, for the treatment of one ‘Paulie Meldon’.

Meanwhile, Bose and Keen encountered an insurance salesman who called himself John Dervin. Dervin expressed an interest in the LeMond case and asked Keen to contact him if he found any leads. Later, researching in the library, Bose discovered that Paul’s girlfriend Velma Peters was an aspiring actor. That night the four attended a show starring Miss Peters at the Lower East Side Theatre. They learned little from Miss Peters except that she seemed upset at Paul’s disappearance.

The next day, Father Xavier and Kang Leong drove to the Woods Estate Rest Home, but lacking official documentation, they were denied entry. They were forced to walk to a nearby town to find a telephone. In New York, Keen and Bose made enquiries. Keen talked to Whitefield’s secretary and persuaded her to lend him Paul’s apartment key. She also told him about a certain Mr Rodgers who had been enquiring after Whitefield. Keen realised that this Mr Rodgers was the same man who had posed as John Dervin.

Bose and Keen travelled to Paul’s apartment. Inside the apartment, he found a letter addressed to Paul’s mother which proved that Paul had made it back to his apartment on the night of his abduction. The pair then visited the seedy part of town where the apartment of ‘Mr Rodgers’ was located. That gentleman being absent, they broke in and discovered a mysterious tome and a locked iron box. The box contained a weird device and Mr Rodgers’ journal. Reading the tome and the journal gave Keen and Bose a sleepless night.

The next day, Bose and Keen joined Father Xavier and Kang Leong in upstate New York, where the pair had spent the night in a shabby hotel. They travelled to the Woods Estate Rest House. There, Mr Bose persuaded the Head that they had wrongfully committed Paul LeMond. The Head released LeMond to the four, who returned him to his mother in Buffalo, stopping only to destroy the odd device which they had found Mr Rodgers’ apartment.

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Session 4, 03-10-2014
The Thing in the Well

September 30th — October 2nd, 1927

The Children Will Die

Boston Doctor McGurk and policeman Derrick O’Leary shared an interest in solving those cases which the law shuns, cases with a touch of the sinister or the occult about them.

Doctor McGurk had been in contact with a psychic called Paul LeMond. Paul’s mother sent him recordings of his dreams. One such recording contained this snippet:

The children will die…the children will die…it’s the trail of the beast…Boston

The following week, the Doctor read in the Boston Globe about three slum children murdered horribly in the streets of Boston. He called O’Leary immediately.

Friday 30th September

Investigation

Dr McGurk headed for the library while Officer O’Leary drove his automobile to the 15th precinct station. There he found Sergeant Murphy, the officer in charge of the case. Murphy informed him that the bodies had been found in a terrible condition and coated with mucus which quickly dried in the morning sunlight.

At the library, Dr McGurk’s research uncovered several clues.

  • similar child murders had taken place in September 1891, around the Cornwallis mansion
  • Dr Ambrose Cornwallis and his wife had a still-born son, Jeremy, born in July 1891 and buried in the family crypt in All Heart’s Cemetery
  • Dr Ambrose Cornwallis and his wife were killed in a tragic murder suicide in September 1891
  • There was an unpleasant break-in to the Cornwallis family crypt in November 1891. The grave robber claimed that Cornwallis was a warlock and tried to turn his corpse face-down.

McGurk figured it was time for a visit to All Heart’s Cemetery.

All Heart’s Cemetery

At the cemetery, O’Leary and McGurk inspected the Cornwallis vault, with the help of the local grave digger. They found Jeremy Cornwallis’ coffin was filled with rocks, and his father’s corpse had been turned face down.

Saturday 1st October, 1927

The Cornwallis Mansion

The Cornwallis mansion was located at the end of a cul-de-sac in once-rich neighbourhood. It had high walls and old iron gates. At the gates the two met a young delivery boy with red hair, who told them that Miss Cornwallis was a nice old thing who always tipped well and always ordered seven chickens per week.

In the grounds was a well, covered up with rocks. O’Leary spotted a chicken bone wedged between the rocks. They went to the door and were greeted by old Miss Cornwallis.

A Strange Cup of Tea

Miss Cornwallis was pleasant enough, if a bit absent-minded. Dr McGurk realised pretty soon that she was on the edge of sanity, and he steered the conversation along a pleasant course. While she prepared a chicken sandwich, O’Leary investigated upstairs.

O’Leary found the locked study of Ambrose Cornwallis, and he had time to grab a journal and an odd set of spectacles and return downstairs. The pair bid Miss Cornwallis farewell.

Stakeout

That night, Officer O’Leary returned to watch the mansion. He climbed into the grounds. At about eight O’clock, Miss Cornwallis emerged from the mansion, tottered to the well and returned to the house. O’Leary waited then investigated. Near the well he saw a half-dissolved chicken carcass, covered with strange mucus. The house remained dark and he eventually left.

The Journal of Ambrose Cornwallis

Meanwhile, Doctor McGurk read the journal of Ambrose Cornwallis, which was written in Latin and referenced a mysterious ‘Brotherhood’. It mentioned the odd prismatic spectacles which O’Leary had found and which now glinted strangely on the mantleshelf. The doctor tried on the spectacles and saw..a bizaare landscape of twisted forms..and some THING which looked back at him with evil eyes, and began to lope forward. Dr McGurk hurriedly removed the spectacles, breathing heavily.

Sunday 2nd October 1927

O’Leary and McGurk were now convinced that the source of the child murders was the Cornwallis mansion. They spent the day gathering equipment for a night raid on the mansion.

The cellar

That night the pair returned in darkness to the mansion. They first broke into the cellar and found a dry tub behind a locked door. They realised their objective was the well.

The Thing in the Well

monday_oct3_1927.jpg When they removed the rocks from the well they heard a child’s whimper. They redoubled their efforts, fearing another victim was trapped inside. O’Leary lowered himself down the dark well, shining his flashlight. At the bottom was a blob-like thing, surrounded by tentacles and topped by a childlike head — from which emanated the mewling cry. O’Leary beat a hasty retreat. Grimly, he lit several sticks of dynamite and dropped them into the well. Doctor McGurk and Officer O’Leary ran from the grounds as the explosion lit up the night.

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Session 5, 31-10-2014
Castle Dark

October 21st — November 6th, 1927

A meeting of minds

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Traveling Transylvania RMS Carmania research new book stop Delightful company Doctor McGurk Miss Savanna Dixon meeting of minds indeed

Bill

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Drovosna, Transylvania

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To: Serjeant Derrick O’Leary, Boston Police

Drovosna Romania Hauptman castle here inkeeper trustworthy stop Lazlo unpleasant baron henchman stop young master Edward stayed baron eighteen ninety stop helpful priest useful records catacombs stop investigating suspicious Jan Kopeche gypsy boy exsanguinated unnaturally stop must investigate castle

McGurk

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