Journal of Dr. Clive James No. 6 - Sinking of the Christabel - 30 January 1892
Scene 33. The Lower Shadwell Docks
We try to experiment with mind control of Miles, as Robert has two keys that can intertwine and link. While linked, he attempts to mentally command Miles to "sit," but nothing happens.
Robert separates the keys before we return to the large stone warehouse. The place smells of leather, rotting wood and seaweed. The crate is about 20 feet square and 25 feet high. Upon listening first, we hear the rustling and scuttling of dog-sized creatures. These will turn out to be rats, enlarged by their nearness to Old Ones' forces. This scene causes a sanity loss in the Vicar. We turn to the office instead, where the mermaid statue is and Miles can supposedly get us entrance. We also hear a more mechanical whining noise… that we guess to be the creepy flying things… one with a weird ray gun.
Vicar asks Miles for specifics of how he works with the mermaid statue… Miles says he… touches her… inappropriately. In the office we read through the ship's manifest, which includes the names of six passengers: Solomon Green, Palmer Keith, John Leary, Effron Bean, Howard Broad, and William Linden.
Miles grabs the mermaid, inappropriately, but nothing happens. Well her eyes glow red, but no portal opens. It turns out this means that others can see us and will lead an attack soon. Miles is scared. Georgina and Dr. James take Miles aside. Suddenly the portal opens and Julia Herringford steps out with several attackers, guns drawn.
Robert Ashton Clark is ready with his shotgun, and he blasts away. Dr. Ruhks rolls a critical and severely damages Julia also. From the bodies of the other thugs, the Vicar finds a cloth to cover the eyes of the mermaid. Tinker Bell inserts his head through the portal to see the passageway behind it. He learns that others are coming up a hall.
Robert picks up Julia's revolver, which, falling open, reveals some interesting bullets with special stone tips (petrification). Out in the warehouse, Miles is bitten by rats, and Dr. James gallantly misses with most of his pistol shots at them. In the office, Robert cures light wounds on Julia to stabilize her. Dr. James gives up on shooting and goes to the Vicar to do a psychoanalysis cure on the Vicar, who just doesn't like the huge rats.
Looking back through the portal, Robert and the Colonel see a group of eight people coming up the hall. The Vicar blesses the dynamite they are about to use, they light it and throw it into the hallway, killing three. The three of them enter the hallway with shotguns and begin to lay waste. The Vicar takes some damage but not as much as he gives. One of the dead is Sgt. Garside.
Through Tinker Bell's communication spell, a young lookout boy tells us that others are approaching the warehouse. The Colonel sets up six sticks of dynamite on a timed fuse at the entrance door. This brings the Mi-Go flying over, and one fires the shiny obloid shaped weapon at the Colonel, which cause him some paralysis. Tinker Bell tries to fires his shotgun at the creature, but his own mysteriously jams. Finally, Robert fires the strange stone bullet at the creature, and it turns to stone and falls to the ground. Now that's useful! Tinker Bell grabs its strange, warty, obloid-shaped weapon of paralyzation.
The Colonel's dynamite goes off, destroying the doorway entry, but the bad guys were not hurt… just waiting outside, listening to a man chanting. The second Mi-Go tries to lift and fly away with the Vicar, but he manages to thwart it successfully, falling back to the floor before too high up. Luckily Tinker Bell got a good shot at it too, for a critical hit.
The thugs enter the exploded doorway, and they set up to have a fire fight. The chanting man seems to be controlling a dangerous sword that dances in the air. We go back into the office and close the door most of the way, keeping an eye through the crack. Dr. James grabs a coat off a dead man to toss over the sword… and misses… entirely. By now, Julia Herringford and Miles are dead. The Chanting Man and four men are prying open the large crate.
In the office, Georgina casts a find the gate spell, but nothing revels itself to her. She does suffer 2 points of Wisdom loss and 1 of Sanity. The sword has disappeared, so the Colonel throws dynamite at the men waiting for a gunfight. Dr. James cures the Vicar for 1 point. Meanwhile Robert Ashton Clark and his pickaxe begin putting a hole into the ceiling of the office, to be able to reach the upper ceiling and climb out of the top of the warehouse. The Colonel moves over to the blown-up entrance and waits with more dynamite. As Dr. James, Dr. Ruhks, and Robert Clark climb down the building to take the Vicar to a medic, the colonel's dynamite makes quick work of the Chanting Man and his four remaining henchmen. The young informer tells him the police will be there soon.
The Colonel quickly goes back into the warehouse and looks into the crate. He sees a large cage, with a tree-like being in it, with thick, writhing, leafless vines. Most unnatural and hideous! And the tree appears to have three legs! Later, Dr. James will remove some of the Colonel's shock with psychoanalysis.
Scene 34. The Pub
Now safe, we look through the newspapers and gazetteer, but no names match those we found of the ship's log. The newspaper does talk about some Stone Circle Hooliganism occurring over at Tutbury, but no mention of any weirdness like we're experiencing..! It seems the cult has disseminated in Tutbury and Monkshead.
The Vicar suggests, with his Christian sensibility… that we hang out in a pub near the docks and kidnap someone form information. Given how the The Mermaid and the Merchant is full of folks, we listen.
Meanwhile the Colonel gets the informant boy to take a message to Constable Smythe of Scotland Yard. Meeting at a pub, Smythe is all a bit agog about his Constables, Wickham and Henry. The Colonel is surprised by these events and others of the day… involving dynamite. And then the Inspector mentions seeing a strange creature in the crate. Sad, really. Inspector Smythe also notes that The Mermaid and the Merchant is now full of seafaring ruffians and members of Haunting Hand.
But the Inspector mentions how a Robert Anderson suddenly came into the building and sealed up the crate and ordered the ship to sail with it. So our party realizes that the Dockmaster must be put out by this "badly done deed." We return to talk to him. The Dockmaster, Theo Tupper is indeed up in arms about losing his docking fee. From him, though, we learn that the ship went upstream, not oceanward. It's gone to Tower Bridge. The party realizes this is good for us.
Meanwhile the Vicar speaks with others and realizes there is some unusual activity occurring. Two blocks away a building is burning. A person tells the Vicar he saw ten people moving crates from the building prior to the burning. He also tells the Vicar to what building/office the crates were carried. Going to the dock to see which building is burning, we note that it's a flophouse for sailors.
Unobserved, we pickaxe a hole through the roof of the office. From a different corner, someone shoots up at us. Pickaxing another hole in the roof, the Colonel, trains the site of his rifle… and the matter is over.
Inside, we find crates filled with books, paintings, sculptures, and tools. The crates are labeled The Christabel, but the paint is still wet. There are books of classical literature, some kind of medical or medieval prescriptions and potion craft, and a treatise atrributed to Socrates. We take a box of books each.
Scene 35. The Christabel
So we rent a small boat to sail locate and sneak up on The Christabel, an 1853 wooden 3-masted ship. We only see one person on the deck, apparently the captain. Dan Holly and Gladstone are in a heated argument. Using a spyglass, Dr. James read lips enough to catch the captain say to a tall, dark, elegant and aloof man, ...pay crew ...must go back to port ...Rufus, this is bullshit ...we're going back. Eventually, the ship returns to the dock and Gladstone and his six jumps off, and the crew of twelve goes ashore for a bit.
While only the captain is aboard, some of our party moves up the gangplank. The Colonel poses as a Thames navigational authority, which works for a bit. We learn he was hired by Rufus Gladstone to travel to America, with his cargo and more than six men. The ruse fails when the Colonel asks to see the cargo but produces no papers. A fight ensues, and the Colonel overpowers the captain. He acquiesces to his demands.
He tells us the ship was originally supposed to port in Boston, but now they'll be taking port outside of Boston, in Arkham, Massachusetts. Robert Ashton Clark asks of Rufus, his men, and the crew. He and the Colonel will find out a way to save the Captain and his crew, but we must see the cargo and destroy the ship.
The cargo holds are now stinky and boggy-smelling. Among the cargo, we see one large section roped off for large crate (that won't be showing up) and smaller crates. Some have V inscribed upon them. Dr. Rukhs casts her Weal or Woe spell so we can make a decision about how to handle V's crates: Boxes filled with woe, but cannot be destroyed.
So a plan is devised: We leave the cargo in the holds. We load up the bow of the ship with dynamite. Robert and the Colonel, the Vicar and Tinker Bell will hide in lifeboats and attack Rufus's minions in surprise. The rest of us will sail behind them in our rented boat.
Scene 36. The Christabel
The crew returns and is told of the plan. They trust the Captain. Rufus and his eight members of the Haunting Hand return and board the ship. From our boat, with spyglasses, the rest of us learn that Rufus Gladstone is among them. He worked with Crabtree, of the auction house. We also recognize Robert Halberd, who was shot at Monkshood. As they board the ship, one of his men begins making grotesque sniffing noises, and tells Gladstone "the treasure is here." The man smells the treasure and is moving toward the lifeboat in which Robert, the Colonel, the Vicar and Bell are hiding. They hear him sniffing and calling others over.
Quickly they make a plan to use surprise to their short advantage, rather than be found and outnumbered: The Colonel (rolling demolitions and surprise checks) will light dynamite with a short fuse and give his signal. Robert will light a short fused stick of dynamite also. Bell will use his shotgun. Vicar Moore will turn his trust to his shotgun also.
They throw of the lifeboat cover, revealing themselves… far-better armed than their pursuers! But the Colonel's short fuse sputters and sparks, burning his hand, and he drops the dynamite. It rolls against the lifeboat house. Robert tosses his toward the Sniffer and he and the other two jump out of the boat, onto the deck behind the boat house. The two lifeboats are scuttled, but the Sniffer is dead! Bell and Vicar Moore blast into the remaining group, and now Bean, Brand, Brenda, and Linden are… dead.
Rufus Gladstone begins casting a spell, which Robert successfully prevents with a blast of his shotgun, causing Rufus 14 hit points of damage. Mr. Bell pulls out his ray gun to shoot at the still-standing Gladstone… but misses, putting a hole into the deck of The Christabel.
Gladstone looks at Bell, casts a spell… and vanishes from sight. Bell shoots where he last stood but does not learn whether it shot was effective. The crew overpowers the remaining members of the Haunting Hand, and ship and its evil cargo set sail. When they pass the last lighthouse, the Captain and crew abandon ship to our following boat. The Colonel or Mr. Clark light the fuse of the charges in the bow and join us, and The Christabel is blown!
From our boat, we identify the other members of the Haunting Hand: Crabtree (dead), Wilkinson (dead), Ben Hopkins (alive for now), Westin (alive for now), George Ginger (alive for now), Daniel Hickey (dead), William Hyde (alive for now).
The Christabel goes down, and we turn back up the Thames, not picking up those in the water. We have stopped the Haunting Hand!