Scene 5: Arrival at Drake Manor
13 March 1892, 1:45am
Gravesend West, England
Bound by wetlands to the north, a forest to the south, and an inland waterway to the east, Drake Manor is a sprawling estate. The road leading to the house is a mixture of gravel and dirt. The gates are rusting and pitted through years of exposure to the elements. The house itself is a sprawling two-story Mediterranean style mansion with striking architectural lines that has suffered from years of neglect. Still impressive, the Manor’s fading yellow paint and dirt-stained windows suggest that its best years are behind it. I notice that most of the plant life immediately adjacent to the manor is stunted and twisted.
Our arrival at Drake Manor is heralded by the barking of a dog. As we are walking from the front gate towards the manor house, we are greeted the groundskeeper, Samson, who is brooding and unfriendly. He waves us off – telling us that Claudette is waiting up for Master Jonathan in the main house. Slung over his shoulder is his shotgun. He calls off his dog, Dodger, and moves off around the house.
Ringing the bell, we are greeted by a pretty young maid, Claudette. Confused by our arrival, she seems genuinely shocked by the news of Jonathan’s death. She breaks down in tears – it is clear that she had some sort of a relationship with “Johnny” as she calls him.
In glancing about the foyer – which is richly appointed – I notice that prominently on the great entry doors is the crest of the Drake Family which appears to be a highly decorative dragon clutching an orb. Innocuous at first, I remember later from a Mythos book I was researching that this symbol isn’t a dragon – it’s a great Worm devouring the world.
Gentle questioning gives us two clues. First, Claudette suspects foul play from a band of gypsies camped in the woods. When pressed, her reasoning is, “they’re gypsies – that’s enough.” Second, when I ask about Jonathan’s habits, she tells me that he spent little time in the house usually preferring London, but when he did, he would either be in his room or the game room.
Regaining her composure, she invites us into the game room and offers refreshments, saying Sir Emory is upstairs and left orders not to be disturbed. We are free to have a look around the house with only one standing order. Any door we find locked is to be left locked.
Claudette disappears to notify Sir Emory of our arrival.
Wyatt and Spider disappear to investigate the house. Spider moves upstairs while Wyatt takes the downstairs.
Thirty minutes later, both return. Their observations are noted below.
Wyatt has found a secret passage in the Study. The lever is a “grotesque statuette that is exceedingly cold to the touch” on a bookshelf with astronomical texts dating back to 1820. On a side note, the study seems mostly filled with treatises on Mars and mathematical equations.
He also found a diary tucked under Claudette’s pillow next to a small gun. The diary details her numerous flings with Jonathan, but more recently, goes on to relate how he has taken up with a new girl Esmerelda - a gypsy by the look of her. Esmerelda has taken an upstairs bedroom, and Jonathan has been very cool with Claudette of late.
Spider’s findings start to fill in the picture. Jonathan’s room is “a den of dissipation, smelling of tobacco and hashish. Several strange paintings are on the walls, depicting images of unnatural vistas and unearthly creatures. A bottle of absinthe sits on a writing table, still open, and it looks like Jonathan had begun a letter; the words read: Dear Diamante. The desk drawer contains several love letters to Jonathan from DD. The notes are all in Italian and smell faintly of lilac. There is no return address or postage mark. Jonathan’s desk calendar has the date he was murdered circled.
Two of the guest bedrooms appear to have been used recently, although both now appear to be empty. Since one still has unwashed linens and towels, Spider concludes that one of the guests left sometime today.
Scene 6: A Dire Warning
13 March 1892, 2:15am
Drake Manor, West Gravesend, England
The events which follow are fantastical – one might think the product of an overactive imagination. I assure you that my mind was clear – at least when our meeting with Sir Emory began – and that what follows are the only the facts. Let me begin by describing the room.
A large billiard table is in front of a roaring fireplace. Pictures of Jonathan Drake with his various female conquests are upon the mantel. I note several celebrities and daughters of politicians and, interestingly enough, even a picture of Claudette dressed as a waitress. The room is otherwise richly appointed with a table and chairs. A bookcase in the south is half-filled with leather bound books of literary classics of the 17th and 18th century. Dust on the shelves shows that the volumes have been recently rearranged – perhaps these are the ones that Jonathan was selling at J Angst’s bookshop? Very shortly after Wyatt and Spider return, Sir Emery Wallace Drake enters, grabs a pool cue and inquires if anyone would care to play a game of billiards.
We inform him of his son’s death, and he nods and tells us that Claudette has already informed of such. He is a bit daft, but the game gives him a bit of heightened clarity and insight, though he continuously speaks about each billiard ball as though it is a universe unto itself waiting to be explored, and that the 8-ball is the dark messenger that sweeps in from the night sky.
Suddenly, a horrendous abomination shatters the glass window. It looks like the strange offspring of a horse and snake with black, crusted fur that looks splotchy and half-frozen, fighting for space with large blackish-green scales. Its cloven hooves paw the air as it lets out a tremendous shriek, revealing a thick row of dagger sharp teeth.
Drake goes slack-jawed and begins slurring out arcane astronomical positions. Claudette collapses soundlessly. Wyatt, Spider, Deasy and I move to attack. Dr. James rushes to help Claudette.
The creature then shakes its brackish mane, hacks a slime-crusted scroll case upon the wooden floor, and flies out the window, the shards of glass skittering harmlessly off of its hide. Deasy rushes to the window and sees the creature fly off into the woods.
Dr. James helps Claudette onto a couch while I try to comfort Drake. The rest of the party examines the scroll case. Drake is inconsolable. Dr. James returns shortly telling us that Claudette will be fine – although he whispers that she is pregnant – a fact that she tried to hide from him. Undoubtedly Jonathan is the father – no wonder the poor girls reaction to the news.
The scroll case is closed with a wax seal bearing the crest of Il Dragone. The scroll reads, “Dear Travelers, Your worries and my worries are not the same. Depart and forget the name of Drake or stay and dig your own grave. I will be at the circle at 3:00am awaiting your decision. Choose well. —Domiano d’Erlette.” It is written in English in an elegant cursive with a classic quill pen on very old parchment.
3:00am. We have only thirty minutes to figure out what is happening here. After a brief discussion, the decision is made to do a quick search behind the secret door and upstairs in the attic – the only places left unexplored in the manor – for clues and then head to the woods.
Scene 7: Secrets Upstairs and Down
13 March 1892, 2:30am
Drake Manor, West Gravesend, England
The secret door in the study leads down into a wine cellar - exceedingly cold with row of neatly stacked bottles and barrels are dusty but orderly. I notice that all the bottles are the same vintage – Il Dragone. They are mainly reds, though there are a handful of whites as well. No vintage is under twenty years old. The bottles are wax sealed and metal stamped with the family crest. At the end of the cellar is a locked iron cell door.
Spider hears a faint whimpering from the room. I quickly pick the lock and we open the cell door. Inside, we see the figures of a man and woman – both dressed only in tatters. The man is chained to the wall near the door. The woman is unbound but slumped at far end of the cell. The floor of room is dirt, although it looks as if the captives have been digging their way out.
As Deasy moves in, the man attacks. Immediately, it is obvious that this is a madman – his fingernails are claws and his strength seems unlimited. A struggle ensues that ends in Spider cutting off the man’s head. And to our surprise, no blood flows. Dr. James examines the body and states – with a noticeably shake in his hands – that the man had been dead for years.
From her description, the mad woman is the missing maid, Marianne. Her tongue has been cut out, and the woman is quite mad. Dr. James gives her a sedative to sleep, and we carry her upstairs to rest as comfortably as possible while our investigation continues.
Filled with boxes, chests, crates, discarded furniture, cold braziers, bric-a-brac, old war time memorabilia and cobwebs and dust, the attic is a complete mess. The roof here slopes down towards the edges with low overhangs and shadowy ledges. A large amount of grey-green fungus seems to be growing here.
The dust has been disturbed recently by three sets of footprints – two from gentleman’s boots and one from a lady’s shoe. The footprints do not seem to be coordinated, although it is clear that all three sets are looking for something. Boxes have been overturned, crates opened, their straw tossed carelessly on the floor.
In the southwestern corner, a small locked trunk is near a broken glass case. The glass is scattered across the floor and the dust on the floor around the chest has been disturbed. Examining the lock reveals that someone or something attempted to break into the chest, but it remains intact. There is a star symbol engraved on the lock.
With a bit of puzzle solving, we open the chest and find within a book – the Cultes des Goules – the tome the robed men were looking for at the booksellers. Inspecting it, I note the book is an Italian edition handwritten by Isabella Draco.
Suddenly, the book is snatched from my hands – hovering in thin air for a few seconds – before disappearing in the flutter of a cloak opening and closing. What madness is this? Immediately, we spring to action – quickly trying to cut off retreats from the attic. Nearby, we hear a crash – a window breaking. Rushing over and looking out, we see the form of a woman running for the woods. How did she move so quickly and jump from such a height as the roof without injury?
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