Marleybones Journal No. 5 - Under the Madhouse
Scene 7: Under the Madhouse
Shortly after midnight, we return through the window in the common room. The Madhouse is dark at this end of the hall – although the lights at the far end show that Dr. Hellmeister is here along with several orderlies who can be heard talking in the Staff Lounge.
The first two doors outside of the common room are a janitorial closet and a maintenance closet.
The maintenance closet is a shaft that has a rung ladder leading down to a maintenance crawlway.
This hallway is very narrow, less the three feet in width and just over five in height. It parallels the South Wing hallway above. The extension to the south is very short, maybe 10 feet, with a steep downward slope. Even in the dim light, I can see a large grated drain here. To the north, the hallway slopes upward into the darkness.
Just to the north of the ladder, Spider finds twenty-four red robes piled neatly on top of several large crates. They appear to be clean and new. The crates are closed but not sealed. They contain several rifles and a dozen handguns, knives and even an old short sword. There is also a half box of dynamite. The drain in the south has recently been pried up. Another iron rung ladder descends as far as I can see.
Covering our tracks in the Madhouse, we descend into the labyrinth to investigate. As I look down the hallway, the walls appear to be covered in a black slime. A moment’s study and I realize that the walls are moving – toad-like lumps become wormy, slime-crusted centipedes. Suddenly the creature is moving towards me, the black ooze coalescing into larger and larger forms, tentacles and teeth become evident.
I scream – at least in my mind I scream. Shots are fired. Finally, a lantern is thrown against the ooze. It slows but seems unharmed. In the shuffle, we have moved past the creature. My skin crawls. There is no retreat now, and the thing is following us.
This tunnel appears to be very old – the stones are massive and well-fitted. It is surprisingly warm here – the air damp and fetid. The passageway is 3 feet wind and about 6 feet tall – fairly regular in size. The floor is mostly stone steps, although several places are just sloped stone. Periodically, there are small niches built into the wall. Several are clearly meant to hold statues which are missing. However, a few have unsettling images within.
The tunnel extends for almost 600 feet before breaking into a large cavernous area.
The tunnel ends abruptly opening into a massive rectangular room. Cavernous in size, I immediately see that we are on a five foot wide ledge that rings a room that is several hundred feet across. Along the walls, torches burn in sconces, creating a smoky and shadow-filled interior. I cannot see the ceiling above, but the floor of this room is about 30 feet beneath the ledge.
The center of the room is filled with a huge pool of what appears to be black water. The pool extends to within 10 feet of the walls – filling almost the entire room. The pool has been divided into “five” smaller sections by low walls equal in height to the floor and about 3 feet wide. The design is a simple cross which divides the pool into four sections with a round pool in the center. However, the most dominant feature of the room are five large toad statues perhaps 15 feet in circumference that are sitting in the middle of each of the pools. They are dark green in color, but it is clear to their form.
The Lair of the Cult of St. Toad – this is where the cultists are meeting on Monday night! Behind us, the inky ooze approaches.
Tying the red robes from the cultist’s stash together, we hurriedly lower ourselves – somewhat ungracefully to the pool level of the room. Directly below the tunnel we entered is another tunnel – an escape perhaps?
While Spider dashes up the newly discovered tunnel, Deasy and the rest of us begin laying dynamite near the support pillars in the pool room. At first I chalk it up to my jumpy nerves, the water is moving. No details can be seen in the inky darkness, but I get the distinct impression that the water is alive. In fact, four protean black oozes are moving out of the pool and along the low walls towards the edge of the room.
Lighting the fuses in a jumble of shouts and cussing, I sprint towards Spider’s tunnel – no time now to find out if it actually provides a means of escape.
Deafening creaks and groans follow the first blasts – the ceiling is giving way. As we retreat up the hallway, the black ooze appears near the doorway. Deasy, having a few sticks of dynamite left, lays one last charge. Backing away he aims his pistol at the explosives, timing an expert shot that catches the ooze fully under the falling masonry.
A few minutes later, we reach the end of the hallway. Spider is there frantically searching what appears to be stone wall. Nearby a pile of red robes sits along with a crate containing two oil lamps, twelve quarts of oil and some matches. From our angle of ascent, we must be near the surface.
The good news – we have destroyed the ceremony room for the Followers of St. Toad. And, the black ooze is no longer able to follow us.
The bad news – we are trapped until Monday night when the cultists come for the ceremony. Twenty-fours to wait.
Scene 8: Escape and the Cult’s End
At 7:00pm on Monday evening, after a long wait in the dark, we hear the click of four stone keys being inserted into the keyhole – we are at the Albert Embankment. An Arab man – who we would later learn is Ali Hadad – is looking back over his shoulder when Deasy opened fire. The bullets caught him in the chest pushing him back out of the tunnel.
In a flash, we are out onto the Albert Embankment. The only other man with Hadad is the bushy-bearded man from the Recruiting House. He begins an incantation of some sort – or maybe a prayer to his Old One gods, but he is quickly silenced in a hail of bullets. I can swear that the small copper frog with emerald eyes mounted on his ring moved while he spoke.
We quickly gather the four stone keys, closing the door behind us.
The only other interesting item of note is an ancient vellum page in Hadad’s pocket - clearly torn from a much larger book; this page shows an image of an amphibian and alien being. Below it, five incantations appear to be in blood. At the bottom of the page are 12 bloody fingerprints.
Sickened, I stuff the page into my pocket.
As I turn, my comrades are looking out at the Thames, where an inky black fog hangs unnaturally off shore. The hum of what sounds like a large bee can be heard faintly in the distance. As we make our way quickly to the road to summon a cab and Scotland Yard, I suddenly find myself lagging the others – as if I am moving through mud.
The tall, thin, pale man is beside me. He takes the page from my pocket, as I stand transfixed and unable to move. He speaks to me quietly, telling me his secret, and bidding me to keep it safe.
Suddenly, he is gone. I look around and notice the black fog moving slowly down river away from the Albert Embankment.
A cab has been hailed, and my comrades are beckoning me to join them. I glance nervously at the mud and start the climb towards the road. This will be a night not soon forgotten.