H.P Rennfarth | Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats
Justin Case | NYPD Detective | 32 yrs | Djuro
Ulla Bengtsson | Professor (Chemistry) Columbia Uni | 48 yrs | Berndt
Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondant | 31 yrs | Martin
Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan
Fire Walk With Me…
New York, Friday January 16th, 1925
The session started with the PCs meeting up in the Rennfarth & Rennfarth Antiques store, discussing what to do next.
It was decided that H.P and Justin go to meet with Lt. Poole at the police precinct. Ulla, Carl and Edward would follow up on the Harvard University Library and Prospero Press leads.
At the police precinct
The police PCs met Lt. Martin Poole in his office at NYPD Police headquarters at 240 Center Street (Downtown) at 10 p.m to talk. Furthermore, Detective Case should also turn in his written report about the events at the Chelsea Hotel the previous evening. The talk went well, even if Lt. Poole asked a lot of questions. After the meeting, Justin and H.P felt reasonably assured that they had left answers good enough… The also learnt that the black Hudson sedan escape car had been reported stolen from Lenox Avenue earlier the same evening by the owner (a dentist by the name of Thomas Witherspoon). Poole also told the PCs that the third cultist – now identified as Damir Kharzov, russian drug fiend and petty criminal – had failed his cut-his-own-throat suicide and that he now was held under surveillance at the Harlem Hospital Center at the 136th and 137th Streets. H.P and Justin decided to pay Gospodin Kharzov a visit later the same day…
After the meeting Detectives Case and Rennfarth went to the Police Armoury and aquired two police issue shotguns w/ ammo under pretense that they were needed for “a raid”.
Harvard University Library
(Cambridge, about 5.5 miles NNE from Boston)
The civilian PCs went on with contacting Ms. Atwright via phone. Jackson Elias had inquired about a book – Africa’s Dark Sects – but according to Ms. Atwright the book had been stolen from the Widener Collection at the library a short time before that. No one had noticed the theft, but the strange thing was the vile odor that lingered in the library for some time afterwards. Ms. Atwright offers to help the PCs with their research and it was decided that they meet up with her in Harvard University the next week (about a 3 hour trainride).
The Russian Connection
After meeting Lt. Poole and shotgunning up, Justin and H.P went to Harlem Hospital Center to see the surviving killer. Justin asked directions from the cute nurse at the ward reception area, Ms. Miller, and almost landed a date, planning to take a new chance on the way out. Apparently, Mr. Kharzov was placed in a large ward at first, but the other patients were so freaked out by the unpleasant killer that the head physician, Dr. Lucien Brown decided to move him to a single room down the hall.
A uniformed street cop stand guard outside the door. Inside, the crazy killer now known as Damir Kharzov is chained to the hospital bed, one leg in a cast, mounted high with a pull apparatus. When the PCs enter the room, he turns his bandaged neck towards the door, instantly recognizing the men that obliterated his little outfit. He reels back in fear, but cannot get anywhere. Justin and H.P starts rummaging through his trashy belongings in the metal locker, but all evidence is already gone. Next, they try to question him, but quickly realize that the man can’t speak, due to damaged vocal cords. They do however notice that he seems terrified for something. After some threats, Kharzov agrees to answer questions in writing. Justin hands over his flipbook and a pen. The policemen ask where Kharzov and his accomplices met before the hit on the Chelsea. Kharzov writes “Fat Maybelle’s”. H.P knows the place, a seedy bar selling illegal alcohol in Harlem. Questions about “who sent them” and similar is met with silence despite Justin poking the wounded leg. While the “interview” is going on, sounds are heard from ward reception area. First shouts, then terrible screams of fear and pain. H.P walks over and opens the door, peeking out in the corridor. The uniformed officer is running down the hall towards the reception, where a fire has started. Suddenly Ms. Miller, her upper body aflame, runs into the corridor, collapsing on the floor after only a few meters. After her, a strange ball of liquid fire is moving through the hallway, towards the room where Justin and H.P are…
Quickly, H.P closes the door yelling to Justin about what he just saw. Kharzov looks terrified, his eyes almost bursting from their sockets, and frantically scribbles “Conway – Bellevue Asylum”. As the door to the room starts to ooze smoke and a round pattern of burnt wood emerges on the wood, Justin snatches back his flip-book. Something is trying to get into the room!
Justin rushes to the window, bashing out the glass with the butt of his pistol, sending glass shards falling the height of five floors to the snow covered ground. Outside, there’s a narrow and icy ledge. At the same time, H.P drags the metal locker in front of the door to buy some extra time and joins Justin as he climbs out on the ledge, using the window drapes as an extra hand-hold. The icy ledge and cold wind makes the climb a hazardous enterprise, but Justin manages to reach the next window and enters the room of an old lady unscathed, soon followed by H.P. As they brush of snow and pieces of glass, they hear the roar of a great fire in Kharzov’s room, interspersed with occasional muffled sounds of terrible pain and death anguish, the flames bursting out from the broken window into the cold air… The old lady on the other hand looks very pleased with having a visit by two handsome men in their prime…
Below on 137th Street, a tall hooded figure watches, stepping into a familiar black sedan, vanishing around the corner… Justin spots him and draws his gun, only to realize that the range is too great for any accurate shooting…
Moving into the corridor, the shocked investigators see the charred remains of Ms. Miller on the floor. The street cop sitting on the floor with his face in his hands, weeping and shaking his head. People are in panic, but the fires have been put out. The PCs decide to leave. It seems death follow their tracks. And no dates…
While H.P and Justin fight fire at the hospital, Ulla, Edward and Carl travel to Jackson Elias’s publishing house – Prospero Press – situated at Lexington Avenue, near 35th Street, where they have their offices at the 3rd floor of a large office building.
After a walk up the steep stairs they are met by the secretary Mrs. Theresa Mables, a solemn woman in her fifties, who shows the investigators into the office of the owner and chief editor – Jonah Kensington.
The spirit at Prospero Press is most informal and Kensington invites the investigators to sit down and offers coffee. Carl knows that Elias and Kensington were both business associates as well as good friends, and he has met Kensington on several occasions (press functions, parties etc.) as has Ulla. After exchanging some pleasantries, the discussion soon centers on Elias’s murder. Kensington believes that the police angle of cult murder is correct. Elias had investigated and written about many blood cults around the world and made many enemies in the process. Maybe Elias came too close to the truth or maybe some old enemies caught up with him. Or maybe his latest project held more import than he thought himself, and that got him killed. Kensington says that Elias was convinced that a blood cult had massacred the Carlyle Expedition and that not all of the American and European members were dead. When asked for more information, Kensington asks Mrs. Mables to get the Elias correspondence file. The investigators are allowed to read Jackson Elias correspondence from many parts of the world. At first, the letters are lucid and to the point, but as time goes the letters become more the ramblings of a madman. Together with Kensington’s aid and the letters they are able to piece together the following timeline regarding Elias’s travels:
- 1924-06-25 Elias departs New York bound for Nairobi
- 1924-08-08 Elias writes to Kensington from Nairobi (see Handout #21). Notes are correct and lucid.
- 1924-09-19 Elias wires Kensington for money from Hong Kong
- 1924-12-16 Elias wires Kensington from London. The telegram is very excited and a bit crazy-sounding, saying that he’s been to China, Africa and even to London a few days, where he’d dug up a lot of stuff. Elias said he’d seen unbelievable things and mentioned a monstrous conspiracy of world-wide impact. He also said that there were a time-table and that he needed to find the missing pieces, but nothing more to explain exactly what. The wire ended with that he would soon be back in New York.
- 1924-12-17 Elias takes passage on a freight ship bound for New York
- 1925-01-13 Elias arrives in New York. He now left more notes with Kensington. A small quarto volume of 40 pages or so with weird, fragmentary and barely readable notes (see Handouts #22 & #22a [which is a translation of what can be gleaned from the deranged text]).
Kensington also invite all of Jackson’s friends to his funeral, which is to be held at noon the following tuesday (20th of January) at the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn. When he understands that the investigators are intent on, well, investigating Elias murder, he also offers to pay them for their time, information and expenses as he wants his friend’s killers brought to justice. He will pay up to, but no more than 1000 $ for the investigation. Kensingon and the investigators shake hands, sealing the deal.
From Prospero Press, Carl, Ulla and Edward drive down to the docks to check the Emerson Imports lead.
Emerson Imports lies just beside the sea and consist of a long warehouse with loading docks on either end of the building. When the investigators arrive, a group of men are working in the front. The PCs suspect that Silas N’Kwane (the name written on the backside of the invitation card found in room 410) is the same man that they observed jumping into the fleeing car at the Chelsea Hotel (they don’t know about the events at Harlem Hospital yet) and they also suspect that he works here at Emerson Imports. Therefore, they approach the building with utmost suspicion and with one hand ready to quick-draw whatever weapons they have. Asking a warehouse worker for Mr. N’Kwane returns a dumbfounded “What? Who? Haven’t heard that name before“. After asking a few workers they are directed inside the building and up a stairway to the “bossman’s office“. Inside, a better dressed man greets them: “Arthur Emerson. How can I help?”
The investigators pretend to be potential customers, beating around the bush a long time before asking the right questions. They manage to find out that Emerson Imports is the U.S agent for Ahja Singh, an exporter based in Mombasa, Kenya. Singh’s only U.S account is a business called Ju-Ju House, working out of Harlem (1 Ransom Court, New York). They mention both Jackson Elias and Silas N’Kwane and finds out that Elias indeed was here, asking about exporters with connections to Mombasa. Silas N’Kwane is the manager of Ju-Ju House, a store specialising in African works of art. Emerson warns the investigators, saying that N’Kwane and his crew are “bad to boot foreigners up to god knows what” and that he told Elias to stay away as well. “Advice he apparently did not listen to“, he adds.
The PCs leave, fairly content that Emerson is legit, but not 100% convinced…
Bellevue Psychiatric Ward
From the docks, they drive directly to Bellevue at E 26th Street, intent on paying a visit to the mysterious Conway that Kharzov mentioned before, well, going up in flames.
After some asking around, they find the Bellevue Psychiatric Pavillion, known for housing violent criminals and addicts. Ulla tries to bluff her way into seeing Conway, posing as a relative, but the annoying orderly working the front desk is suspicious and doesn’t let them in to talk to the patient or the doctor on call.
The PCs regroup at the Antiques store, trading stories about today, deciding to go back to Bellevue and use some police “charm” to get in. But first the detectives call the district attorney and manages to get a warrant (by fast talking him) which he agrees to due to the high profile of Elias murder. The second assault on the Bellevue Psych ward is headed by Detective Case, armed with a bona fide warrant (and a hidden shotgun under his trenchcoat) who manages to intimidate the orderly into getting them the doctor as it’s important police business. The doctor is also intimidated enough by the not so passive aggressive police detective and finally the detectives are allowed into the psych ward to see Mr. Bennington J. Conway – former gangster and drug addict. He’s obviously raving mad now, murmuring about “The faces, the mouths – they ate them – chew chew chew. Watch out for the eaters!“. The investigators also observe that Conway’s left side and chest bear the healed marks of multiple bite wounds, missing large chunks of flesh, now badly healed by scar tissue. Obviously the mark of a large predator, but if they hadn’t known better, the shape of the bites are pretty similar to those of a human. Nothing more can be gained from Conway’s gibberish.
The doctor (Dr. Howard Tate) reluctantly says that Conway used to be a small time gangster and that he was found naked on a Harlem street at night, his body covered by what seemed to be human bitemarks and raving as described above and that he has continued the repetitive raving since then.
Due to the snobbish reluctance of the doctor, Detective Case gets suspicious, pulling out his hidden shotgun and accusing him of working with evil forces and gangsters, abusing him both psychically and physically before Detective Rennfarth manages to pull him away and calm him down. Case also threaten the annoying orderly (Mr. Oscar Rye) and swear that “he’ll come back and finish this” before leaving, being dragged out by Rennfarth.
The shocked doctor returns to his office to change his underwear…
And here we had to end the second session.
In game time: Friday 16th of January, afternoon (circa 5.30 am)
Next session, the investigators plan to pay a visit to Mr. N’Kwane at Ju-Ju House. Stay tuned for more Call of Cthulhu goodness.