The Horror At Park Slope

Part I

Dateline: September 23-24, 1923

The Plot So Far…

A group of loose acquaintances (all members of the Society For Metaphysical Research) have come into possession of a package containing a mysterious gold artifact. The package is from Charles Danvers, an old school chum of Schwarze’s, now a freelance reporter specializing in organized crime. His note asks the investigators to protect the object and meet him the following day. Danvers never shows. Through further research, the investigators determine that the artifact is likely of Incan (or Innuit?) origin and bears imagery relating to the new moon.

A visit to Danvers’s apartment shows signs of a break-in and a violent struggle. A strange stone object is found under his sofa. Within one of his notebooks, Wells discovers that he traveled to South America on the trail of a smuggler named LeCloche, to investigate a series of thefts from an archaeological dig commissioned by the New York Institute of Archaeology and Ancient History.

Later, at Harrington’s Greenwich Village townhouse, the investigators see that they are being watched by a couple of tough-looking francophones who leave in a black sedan. Upon returning to the Waldorf, Schwarze and Harrington find a terrified Charles Danvers waiting in the cafe. He confirms that Simon LeCloche, a French-Canadian crime boss and his associate, a Peruvian woman named Canditta Domingues, are searching for the tablet and will stop at nothing to get it. However, he says that those who broke into his apartment and made an attempt on his life were Indians.

Harrington, attempting to smuggle the tablet to safety in the Bronx, notices the same black sedan idling outside…

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Part II

Dateline: September 24-25, 1923

Upon the startling discovery that the same wiseguys from earlier were staking out the Waldorf, Everett W. Harrington rented another room under the moniker “Bruce Willis” and returned to Franz Schwarze’s suite on the 11th floor. Schwarze and Harrington summoned the rest of the gang to help protect Charles Danvers (and the tablet). Kenneth Wells and Horace Mars arrived separately, both having brief run-ins with two different goons around the hotel. A plan was hatched to move to the 19th floor for safety’s sake. After avoiding someone in the stairwell a gunshot was heard.

After receiving his wife’s blessing, Moishe Abelman arrived at the hotel just in time to see wounded gangster flee through the lobby. Right behind him came the Latin man brandishing a gun. Though Abelman attempted a citizen’s arrest of the gunman, both fled into the night before the police could stop them. Reunited (and a little spooked), the group spent the rest of the night uneventfully.

The group ultimately decided they needed to contact The New York Institute For Archaeology And Ancient History for more information about the tablet. Harrington, Schwarze and Danvers headed uptown to the institute. Wells, Mars and Abelman went downtown to obtain a gun.

While meeting with the Institute’s director Allistair McLaughlin, Harrington attempted to broach the topic of the tablet by way of a fictional client’s “dream states.” However, he accidentally touched a nerve with McLaughlin who misinterpreted this as some form of extortion. McLaughlin confirmed that the object was stolen from a dig site in Peru (troubled by more than just thefts, the site has experienced disappearances and bizarre unexplained phenomena.) McLaughlin seems to want the object returned to the Institute but wishes to keep its theft (and subsequent smuggling into the United States) a secret as both of those facts could have troubling implications for the Institute’s continued ability to work in Peru. Somewhat desperate, he promised a generous reward if Harrington could help with his situation. The two made plans to meet again the following day.

In the meantime, however, Wells plans to stake out the the Institute and follow McLaughlin home to learn more. Harrington is eager to check on his townhouse, the location of which is at least known to the French-Canadian thugs. Danvers wants nothing more than to take a bus home to Indiana where he can lay low at his parents’ home and hopefully not get murdered…

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Part III

Dateline: Sept. 25th – Oct. 2nd, 1923

After Harrington’s meeting with Allistair McLaughlin at the NYIAAH, the group assembled to discuss their next steps. Soon they noticed they were being watched by an urchin across the way. Unimpressed by magic tricks or threats, the group bribed the kid to the tune of $6 ($76 in 2012 money!) and he revealed that he’d been pay to keep an eye on the institute by a man sleeping in a car two blocks away.

Mars and Schwarze made a quick reconnaissance tour and indeed spotted a portly gentleman asleep in his vehicle. Harrington distracted a couple of nearby police, and Wells and Abelman kidnapped the fellow.

After a little bit of physical coercion, the fat man proved to be a bit of a pushover. He revealed that his name was Etienne Doussau and that he was sent by LeCloche to retrieve the golden tablet and that he was not sent alone. Doussau made a play for Wells’ gun and took another (ultimately mortal) pistol butt to the face.

Harrington, Schwarze and Abelman went back to check on Harrington’s townhouse which had indeed been broken into. Meanwhile, in a chilling scene, Wells and Mars dumped Doussau’s body into the murky waters of the Gowanus Canal.

The group met up again, and after a brief detour to the Bronx to get the Abelman family to a safer place upstate, all took rooms at the Algonquin Hotel. The following morning a front page article in the Times described a break-in at the institute, in which nothing was apparently stolen but a night watchman was murdered.

Schwarze and Harrington met with McLaughlin later that day. On behalf of the group, he accepted McLaughlin’s request to secretly transport the tablet back to Peru and return it to Dr. Wilmott Dermott, the supervising archaeologist at the Andean dig site. The Institute agreed to pay the group $2000 total, with $200 per person in advance.

Travel arrangements were made for passage to Callao aboard the S.S. Trinity, which departs October 2nd…

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Part IV

Dateline: Oct. 2nd, 1923

The group made final arrangements and boarded the S.S. Trinity bound for the port of Callao, Peru.

After presenting their papers, the ship debarked. Schwarze and Abelman took the first part of the voyage to thoroughly irritate the casino bartender by reminding him of his relative poverty and wartime experiences. Wells later plied the same bartender with a dollar to keep his eyes peeled for Canadians.

Strolling the promenade, Harrington spotted a familiar white linen suit, which vanished in the crowd. Mars poked around the cargo hold a bit, but found nothing amiss.

Later, at dinner in first class, Abelman and Schwarze chose to share a table with Cornelius Becker, a truculent Texas oilman, and his wife Ora. Mars (under the false identity of David Copperfield, stage actor) dined with an ebullient Argentinian, Marcos Ratner, and his wife Angelina. Harrington sat with three young sisters Maryanne, Maxine and Josephine (absent their seasick chaperone Mrs. Dorsett) who eventually got wasted on Manhattans (creepily?) proffered by Harrington/Scwharze. Harrington asked the girls to keep an eye out for any white linen suits they might see. Wells stayed aloof but overheard a couple of francophones skulking on A-Deck near Harrington’s room, investigated and reported back.

After dinner, the Trito Room hosted a performance by the beautiful and reasonably talented Consuela Amor. After learning from the bartender that there were, indeed, some French-Canadians staying on B-Deck (and convincing him he was a plainclothes g-man on their trail), Wells holed up in his room to wait for trouble. Harrington played a round of blackjack, won $5, and retired to his suite, the door of which he found to be curiously unlocked.

Schwarze and Abelman decided to investigate the second-class bar. The bartender attempted to slip Schwarze a mickey and then huddled with three of LeCloche’s men. After recognizing the gangsters, Schwarze and Abelman beat a hasty retreat.

The Canadians followed and opened fire. In the resulting gunfight, Abelman, Scwharze and two of the gangsters were wounded. One was apparently killed. Abelman followed the final Quebecois back to suite B-16. He kicked the door in, disarmed two men inside and held them at gunpoint.

Ship’s security arrived shortly thereafter and demanded that Abelman drop his weapon and lie down on the floor…

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Part VI

Dateline: Oct. 4th, 1923

As the sun rose over the S.S. Trinity, poor Moishe Abelman was forced to perform his religious ablutions from inside a metal cell. Back in A-66, his companions racked their brains for a way to free him from the brig.

Meanwhile, another passenger on the ship—Lawrence Nightengale, mechanic and ex-pilot—was approached on the promenade by a cologne-soaked man in a white suit. The man said his name was Felipe. Eventually, he asked Nightengale to keep an eye on the comings and goings of a motley group of New Yorkers aboard the ship. Nightengale might be able to follow them into places where he would be conspicuous, reasoned Felipe. Nightengale agreed… for a fee, of course.

After a solitary breakfast, Harrington made a quick tour of the upper-decks. He soon noticed he was being tailed by a slightly scruffy young man in a bomber jacket. Eventually the man approached to ask Harrington if he’d dropped a handkerchief. Harrington most certainly had not, and he asked a porter to keep an eye out for such riffraff in the future.

A plan was hatched to save Moishe. Harrington, who had befriended Inspector Nixon, the ship’s chief of security, made an appointment with the lawman for 4:30 PM.

At the appointed time, Harrington, Schwarze and Wells met with Inspector Nixon. The group ultimately managed to convince him that Abelman and Schwarze were the victims, not the aggressors, in the shootout (perhaps confirming Nixon’s underlying hunch all along).

Nixon informed them that Martin Molyneux, the Quebecois thug who was seriously wounded in the gunfight, had awakened from his coma. He was unwilling to answer any questions; much less press charges. Likewise, none of the other gangsters in custody were talking.

Abelman was free to go, but, Nixon was adamant about not having any more violence aboard the ship. He ordered Abelman to spend the rest of the voyage in his room, and demanded the group turn over their firearms. Specifically, he wanted two guns on his desk by 6 PM that same day.

Nightengale skulked in the hallway as the group returned to A-66. He noticed the door to A-44 was ajar and he entered to find a South American Indian tossing the room. There was a brief fight in which Nightengale pistol-whipped the Indian into unconsciousness. As he searched the man, he found that he had a strange stone amulet around his neck. Nightengale took the amulet (and a single dress shirt) and ran.

The crew turned in the guns and Wells and Abelman returned to find the unconscious Indian in their cabin. Wells raised holy hell with the staff over the incident. Eventually he browbeat the Purser into to allowing them to stay in his own, personal cabin (right next to Captain Ellerby’s) for the remainder of the voyage.

After dinner, Schwarze and Mars made a beeline for the Trito Room. There, in the casino, they found an ebullient Marcos Ratner losing wads of money at the roulette tables. Nightengale approached and bought a round of drinks and began to talk loudly about how much he enjoyed “David Copperfield’s” famous magic shows in New York City. Nightengale’s presence alarmed Mars and Schwarze (who knew “David Copperfield” was but a hastily-conceived pseudonym).

Nonetheless Ratner invited everyone above decks to partake in that rarefied pastime of the one percent: night skeet-shooting. Despite an almost complete lack of visibility over the dark ocean, Mars hit the first clay pigeon he fired at—thoroughly astounding and delighting Ratner. No one else, including Wells who joined later, was able to replicate the amazing shot.

The group split up. Wells took Nightengale to the ship’s bar to question his intentions. By offering him more money, Wells got Nightengale to reveal that he’d been hired to spy on the group. Thus, Wells (perhaps?) purchased Nightengale’s loyalty for $30, and sent him back to spy the Felipe…

After the shoot, Mars took Ratner to A-66 for an important “private” discussion. When they opened the door, they found that the room reeked of cheap cologne. A-66 had been searched.

Mars indicated to Ratner that he and his friends were in a vague sort of art-collecting trouble and that they needed help once they made it to Peru. Ratner promised that as soon as they docked, he would send a telegram to his good friend Umberto Vasquez, owner of Lima hotel called El Centro. Mars and his friends would find El Centro a safe haven once they arrived.

Nightengale returned to his berth in the lower decks. There, waiting for him in the shadows, were Felipe and two goons. Felipe pumped Nightengale for information (including any mention of an “artifact”) but ultimately got nothing. Grudgingly, Felipe peeled a $20 off of his roll. He gave it to Nightengale to continue his work, along with a promise of “very bad things” in the event of a double-cross…

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Part VII

Dateline Oct. 6th-8th, 1923

After suffering their fair share of trouble aboard the Trinity, the group mostly decided to lay low and wait for trouble to come to them. Abelman requested needle and thread and began to sew a false pocket into his coat, where the tablet could be hidden.

Over breakfast Wells met with Nightengale and got a update on the strange man known as “Felipe.” Together the group decided they would try to lure Felipe out of his room. The plan: to stage a public fight between Harrington and Mars and suggest a falling out within the group. Later, Nightengale would approach Felipe and suggest a meeting with the seemingly disaffected Harrington. While Felipe was gone the others would ransack his room.

The first part of the plan went off without a hitch: the public fight between Harrington and Mars was convincing indeed (especially to Mar’s poor face.)

The second part, not as much. When Nightengale returned to Felipe’s room, he was startled to find the man hacked to death—his entrails pulled out of the gaping wound in his stomach. In the room he also found a passport (under the name Arturo Delrio), two suits, a bottle of cologne and three telegrams written in Spanish.

Later, Schwarze found a slightly addled Nightengale wandering the halls of the ship. Nightengale passed the telegrams along to Schwarze. Using his knowledge of Latin, Harrington was able to decipher one of the messages. Apparently orders to Felipe from “Canditta.” A beleaguered porter named Jorge was summoned to translate the other two. They indicated that the Canadian gangsters were lead by a man named Jean Murphy and that Canditta’s men were working against them in their search for a particular item.

The next day, Schwarze took shooting practice above decks. Nightengale had a run-in with a truculent Latin goon (one of Felipe’s men). And Mars petitioned Marcos Ratner to use his connection to Captain Ellerby to find out if anyone named “Jean Murphy” was aboard the ship.

Later on, at the gaming tables Ratner did confirm that Jean Murphy was aboard and staying in room B-16. And Nightengale was questioned by the Latin goons over Felipe’s death. Ultimately it seemed that they believed the Canadians were responsible.

The group sent Nightengale to stake out Jean Murphy’s cabin and get a description of the man. Nightengale saw him enter the cabin: short, curly gray hair, a mean mug. Immediately thereafter he saw three Indians attempt to open Murphy’s door and then sneak away. He followed them back to the cargo hold to a makeshift hideout amongst the crates.

On the morning of the 8th the S.S. Trinity made port at Callao. On the dock, the group was greeted by the NYIAAH’s man in Peru: Enrique Garcia (and his Belgian shepherd). The group boarded the train to Lima, from whence they would depart to the dig site.

On the train ride, Garcia mentioned several strange occurrences at the Temple of the Moon, including a man named Fernando, who had gone completely insane…

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Part VIII

Dateline: Oct. 8th – 11th, 1923

After arriving in Lima, the investigators split up. Kenneth Wells, Everett Harrington and Moishe Abelman went on a mission purchase firearms. Afterward, they visited Fernando Vasquez—a former laborer at the Institute dig site—in a run-down sanitarium on the edge of town. Vasquez huddled in the corner of his cell and muttered gibberish, frequently mentioning “the cathedrals of the devil.” They left him repeating the strange and sinister phrase, “A thousand mouths to feed. A thousand mouths to feed. A thousand mouths to feed…”

Meanwhile Horace Mars took the liberty of booking the most expensive room in the most expensive hotel in all of Lima—the penthouse suite of El Central. After a ($12) night’s sleep that was refreshingly free of French-Canadians, the group awoke ready to travel to the Temple of the Moon.

They met Enrique in the lobby and piled into his rusty old truck for their long drive into the Andes. That night, they slept under the stars. During Kenneth Wells’s watch, Soldado became alarmed at something he heard in the darkness.

There followed another unremarkable day on the mountain road, during which Enrique made awkward agricultural smalltalk and failed to ask the investigators about themselves. That evening, though, Soldado again became alarmed by some sound or smell that only he could perceive. He raced off into the night. There was a gunshot and the poor dog returned, lightly wounded. The investigators piled into the truck, weapons drawn, ready to defend themselves.

A figure approached along the dark road. Wells called out—and was answered with a gunshot! The investigators returned fire, apparently missing their unseen enemy who retreated back the way they had come. The group decided to start the truck and continue driving. Behind them they occasionally saw the headlights of their pursuers.

Just after dawn, they arrived at the dig site: a canyon containing the temple complex and a number of tents for the workers.

A cursory investigation revealed that Professor Dermott, the leader of the dig, was missing. The Quechua-speaking Indians believed that he disappeared. Ticocha, their overseer, repeatedly told the investigators that they had come to a “bad place” that they should leave. Kenneth Wells showed Ticocha a drawing of the tablet and he became agitated.

Four of the group began to investigate the temple itself. On the north side of the complex, they slid aside a suspicious stone slab to reveal a tunnel filled with dirt.

Atop the pyramid they explored a stone building with two chambers. The north chamber contained a wall covered with the familiar black stone amulets. In the center of the wall was a larger copy of the same radial symbol. Moishe Abelman attempted to discretely pull out the tablet here, but Enrique saw him.

The south chamber contained a staircase down to a hidden door, leading into a worship chamber. In it was an empty circular pool with a carved map of the region. A shaft of light shined down from a circular hole in the ceiling. Leading off to the north of this chamber was another collapsed tunnel.

Meanwhile, Mars poured through Dermott’s personal journals. They revealed that good professor was concerned about the valley’s strange nighttime seismic activity and that workers seemed to be disappearing into the temple complex with alarming frequency. Also that he feared the dig site was being watched from above…

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Part IX

Dateline: Oct 11th-12th, 1923

As night fell on the dig site, a waxing gibbous moon climbed high into the sky. Horace Mars, Kenneth Wells, Franz Schwarze and Moishe Abelman poured through Dr. Wilmott Dermott’s personal journals. In them, Dermott recounted a strange incident of mass hallucination at the dig site. He and others saw mysterious lights and “blobs of color” shooting from the temple roof toward the sky. Dermott also confirmed seeing a “well-groomed Latin woman” spying on the dig from atop the cliffs.

Just then, the investigators heard the sounds of Soldado barking. In the darkness, none could discern what had agitated the dog. After fruitlessly asking three Indian dig site workers for help, Abelman grabbed a torch and returned to shine a light into the underbrush. A rat-sized creature darted among the rocks and disappeared.

The investigators searched the deserted Indian barracks and found, hidden among one of the trunks, another black stone amulet. Wells again questioned the three Indian workers, asking them where Dermott went and demanding to see Ticocha. They provided no answers but Ticocha, himself, soon emerged from the darkness.

After repeatedly warning the investigators that they had come to a “very bad place” the Indian overseer eventually promised to search for Dermott in the morning. The investigators agreed.

Schwarze took the first watch, patrolling the western side of the dig site, while the others slept. Meanwhile, Harrington kept an eye on Ticocha’s tent.

Wells awakened to see a small rat-sized creature perched on Dermott’s trunk, gnawing its way through the hardened canvas. Wells silently drew his gun as the creature squeezed through the hole it had just made. He capped a pillow over the hole, trapping the beast inside. After Wells rattled the objects in the trunk—and got bitten on the finger for his trouble—Horace Mars boldly declared that he would stomp the rat. Wells threw the lid open.

Inside was no rat, but a repulsive rodent-thing with the face of Ticocha. The beast squealed and leaped from the trunk. Franz Schwarze managed to shoot and kill it with his pearl-handled .38 auto.

Harrington came running at the sound of gunshots. The investigators returned to Ticocha’s tent to find it empty. Mars ransacked it and found an ancient book among the old Indian’s personal belongings. This crumbling tome was identified by Harrington as De Vermis Mysteriis, a sixteenth century esoteric text written entirely in Latin.

Meanwhile, Schwarze discovered a partially gnawed journal entry from October 9th, Dermott’s last, indicating that the archaeologist planned to investigate the nocturnal phenomena in the lower temple.

Wells was shocked to discover that Enrique (and poor Soldado) had been brutally murdered in their sleep. The same radial symbol from the amulets was crudely carved into Enrique’s forehead.

Perhaps even worse, Enrique’s truck had been sabotaged, effectively trapping the investigators at the dig site. Lawrence Nightengale was tasked with repairing the vehicle, a job that, by his reckoning, could take days.

As if the situation couldn’t get any more ominous, Harrington felt a tremor coming from the direction of temple. Mars, Wells, Schwarze and Abelman ascended the pyramid to hear the sounds of strange chanting coming from inside. They descended the staircase to the lower chamber. Wells doused the floor with gasoline, just in case. Mars silently spun the secret door…

Inside, Ticocha was leading the Indian workers through some dark and blasphemous ritual. The worshippers were arrayed around the map pool—now a bottomless pit descending into into the bowels of the earth—and paying homage (or communing with?) three impossible monstrosities: man-sized scuttling things on spider legs, with gelatinous brain-like heads and stunted leathery wings.

The very sight of these alien horrors shook the foundations of Mars’s sanity, leading him to a fit of babbling incoherence and alerting the Indian cultists to their presence. Several rushed the door and two were shot dead by Wells and Schwarze.

The chamber had fallen silent. When the investigators looked inside again, the lower temple was empty. But the black pit remained…

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Part X

Dateline: October 12th, 1923

After the blasphemous ritual and the fight in the lower temple, the group was dumbstruck. A cry for help from above shook the investigators from their fugue.

Moishe Abelman dashed up the stairs to see a pair of headlights shining from the dark road below. He entered the motor pool tent to find Lawrence Nightengale, held prisoner by three Quebecois gangsters. One of the men ordered Moishe to surrender his weapon and Abelman complied. A few minutes later, Everett W. Harrington and Franz Schwarze were caught and ushered into the tent as well. Their weapons—save Harrington’s small knife—were confiscated as well.

The investigators were soon greeted by none other than Simon LeCloche, himself, accompanied by a handsome Latin woman (presumably Canditta Domingues.) LeCloche lit a cigarello and interrogated the group. After taking extreme umbrage to being called “LeRoche” and threatening their lives, the crime lord had them all thoroughly searched. Thanks to Abelman’s expert tailoring skills, the golden tablet remained hidden in his secret pocket.

Meanwhile, back in the temple, Kenneth Wells planned an ambush and Horace Mars discovered a smooth touchstone on the wall. He depressed it, causing the slab of stone blocking the pit to slide back into place.

The rumbling noises of the slab caught LeCloche’s attention. He and his gangsters led the investigators at gunpoint down into the temple complex.

After a quick “light ‘em up” gesture from Harrington, Wells set the pool of gasoline at the foot of the stairs ablaze (potentially immolating poor Nightengale). While the French Canadians were blocked entry by the burning gas, the investigators descended into the pit and closed the entrance behind them.

The pit itself was tubular with a ramp winding it’s way around the perimeter. At the bottom was a stinking pile of human remains several feet deep. Among the charnel debris, Mars found a scrawled note reading “ALIVE BUT HURT. FORCED TO FLEE DEEPER. HELP ME. WD”.

The pit opened onto a much larger cavern complex that seemed to throb with an eerie insectoid buzz. At a fork in the tunnels, the investigators headed northward. They soon encountered a strange subterranean biome of unearthly phosphorescent fungi—molds, slimes and giant mushrooms that towered over their heads. As they followed the massive tunnel, which soon widened to over 1000 feet, the bioluminescent brightness of the fungus became oppressive, causing their heads to ache. Behind them, they heard the telltale rumble of the temple slab sliding aside once more.

The investigators walked over a mile down the glowing tunnel when they came upon a side tunnel, perfectly circular and 8 feet in diameter, thickly overgrown with fungus. They worked for nearly an hour to clear the fungus but only succeeded in getting about 12 feet further in.

Just then they saw one of the alien horrors pass by outside. The horrid sight of the creature was too much for Schwarze’s fragile psyche and he suffered a panic attack, clawing and squirming his way deeper into abandoned tunnel, before regaining his wits.

The investigators followed the creature back the way they had come, only to see two more of the awful things ahead, milking the giant fungus. In a failed attempt to sneak closer, Franz Schwarze alerted them to the investigators’ presence.

In the ensuing battle, Kenneth Wells managed to shoot two of them dead, but not before being electrocuted with a strange “lightning gun” one of them carried in its pincer, and nearly killed himself. Harrington buried his knife in the carapace of the third, and Wells finished it off with a bullet to the brain-face.

Abelman recovered the lightning gun and inspected the creature, which, disturbingly almost seemed to be made of fungus itself. A still addled Schwarz smeared its vile remains on his face under the somewhat dubious theory that any others might accept him as one of their own.

Just then, the investigators heard the distant sound of the temple slab sliding closed once more…

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