Aeons ago the Serpent People inhabited a colony on the moon as well as a colony in what has become Europe, in the area where Venice is now situated. To be able to communicate, the two colonies used light beams that flickered on and off and varied in both colour and intensity. The communication beams contained all things related to the two colonies, but of course much contained information about their wars and intrigues with a large group of Chthonians that inhabited the Earth. To be able to store the message, these light messages where solidified into what now is known as Moonstones.
It is impossible for a modern, human mind to fully comprehend all the implications these intrigues have for present day Earth but the planet would not look like it does now without the tremors the Chthonians inflicted on Earth’s crust.
One such stone, which contained a especially important message, has been retained for millenniums among servant races to the Serpent People, which in late 9th century transported the crystal to North America for unknown purposes. During the 19thcentury it was entrusted to human cultists for safekeeping, but as humans aren’t very trustworthy—and insane cultists even less so—they lost the artefact some years before the Civil War. A oblong ellipsoid stone about 1 dm long, 7-8 cm in diameter, and weighting 3.5 kg isn’t that hard to loose, but the human cultists succeeded in doing so. The cultists where punished but no punishment could bring back the crystal.
On the 9th of May 1877, a small group of Chthonians succeeded in locating the moonstone using a major arcane magic ritual. They did not know where it was but through the vibrations in the Earth’s crust it started to resonate and their magic then moved it to the surface. They then knew the relative whereabouts of the stone and started to plot the capture of the stone. As human time scales means little to them, the plotting took decades but they have now positioned a number of human cultists in the vicinity of the city with the mission to recover the moonstone.
The stone ended up in the soil of Christin Barnett’s family farm and it was one of the things she brought with her to the city.
She showed it to some people, but only close friends or allies as she realised it was worth a lot of money, and one day she showed it to Maurice Arteaga, who later told Corien Cogh.
When Corien heard from Maurice Arteaga, during one of their occasional small talks at a social occasion, about a beautiful stone his latest girlfriend had, she very quickly understood that this was something very interesting. She spent some weeks studying her tomes and the notes of the cult, and she became quite convinced that this was of the kind of Moonstones her cult was looking for — it could even be the one!
Corien understood what kind of stone it was after some research in her tomes and decided that she needed to see it for herself to determine if it was the stone her cult has sought after for decades, she quite convinced it is the stone sought after by her masters among the Serpent People.
She then stalked Christin Barnett for about a week, and even broke in to her apartment (without Christin noticing), and was convinced that Christin had hidden it somewhere.
On the Friday evening the 12th October, Corien approaches Christin and persuades Christin to follow her. They take Maurice’s car and starts to drive out of the city. Corien’s plan is to take her to the Serpent City and there use the alien machines, which Corien has some knowledge about how to operate, to make Christin to reveal the location to the stone.
Corien’s plan works quite well, up until the alcohol in Christin blood stops to have much effect and she starts to get suspicious. She stops the car and soon a fight breaks out, a fight that gives Corien several bruised in her face and Christin unconscious. Corien takes over and drives the car, with the unconscious Christin in the back seat, to Serpent City. There she interrogates Christin thoroughly and learns all what Christin knows, but as Christin now knows more than she should and she doesn’t hold anything of value, Corien then uses all her intimidation skills, together with some of he machinery, into forcing Christin to swallow a fistfull of pills of various drugs. She then dumps the unconscious Christin in the car and drives to a place close to the river and arranges so the car drives off the road into the river with Christin at the wheel. The idea is that it should look like drunk driving, hoping that any wounds should be assumed to have come from the crash (the interrogation did not leave much visible marks, albeit some will look very strange to a esoteric trained eye). See Miscellaneous Places for a description of the site.
The car is discovered a few hours later at dawn by a barge, transporting cattle to a cattle market, as the tail lights reflected the raising sun. The police, when they arrive at the scene, first assumes it is an accident, but when the coroner find a large dose of drugs in the blood they presumes it is a suicide. This is the theory they will work with until there is evidence that Christin is murdered.
When they later that day finds Maurice dead, when they try to question him about happened during the night, they open a murder investigation about his death and tags Christin’s suicide as suspicious, but continue to work according to the suicide theory.
Christin claimed she gave the stone to Maurice to put it into one of his safes, as Corien is familiar with Maurice’s home she immediately goes there and tries to make him reveal which safe at gunpoint. Maurice, who had recently come back from the party at Mountain King, understands from the bruises in Corien’s face that something has happened to Christin and tries to disarm the obviously mad Corien, who then shoots him at close distance and kills him instantly. She realises that she needs to leg it, but knows sufficiently to be able to locate the stone with the help of some of her accomplishes, but she needs to keep a low profile for a few days. She tries to arrange the scene so that it looks like Maurice killed himself, or failing to fool the police she hopes they will think Christin did it (see Police investigation for details). Unlucky for her, the police cordons off Maurice’s home and puts several of the estates under surveillance. Cursing her bad luck she bides her time and plots with her fellow cultist, unknowing that the cultist of the Chthonians are closing in.
After the death of Maurice, Corien realises she needs to leave the house and lay low for some days before she can come back and try to crack his safe (see A Burglary in the Night).
Enter the investigators, stage right…
The message in the moonstone contains much information about the intrigues between the Serpent People and the Chthonians, the most important part for the campaign is the existence of the Chthonians as well as the Serpent People.
It is possible to decode the message in the Moonstone using alien technology, but it will be in an unknown language, dead since millions of years ago. With the help of the Mythos skill and some Mythos tomes the Serpent cultists have, the language can be translated into modern human tounges.
The alien technology needed to extract the message from the stone is stored in Serpent City, a cave system to the north of the city, the cave is a built structure/house that millennia of topsoil has buried. Both cultist groups has the knowledge how to operate the machinery, but only The Serpents knows where the city is located. There are three Serpent cultist that can be talked into revealing the machinery and operate it. It can be operated by someone with succeeds with FoC: Great (+4) Mythos, CoC: Mythos (Hard), and FoC: Great (+4) Education/Engineering, CoC: Operate Heavy Machinery (Hard).
Even Mathilda knows where the cave is as she once went there with some adults some years ago, and children have an uncanny memory for some things. She don’t remember who it was or why though, just that she can point out the way if someone drives her there. If the investigators go there it might be that she has gone on an expedition, maybe talked Chere Lianos into taking her there, and unexpectedly shows up, curiously studying the investigators from behind a curved corner.
Fully comprehending the message in the moonstone is devastating for the sanity of anyone reading, san 5/1t20+5 (CoC)/Epic (+7) (FoC). Understanding and using the equipment in the City is san 1t10 (CoC)/Great (+4) (FoC), while discovering the very existence of the City is san 1t6 (CoC)/Fair (+2) (FoC).
Her father was borned into a wealthy family, one that had been meddling in the mythos for generations. From early adolescence he took up the habit of his forefathers to study what most humans do not know, but contrary to his father he did not start to worship the deities from outer space, in one of the many books available in the library he discovered the Dreamlands and his imagination was set on fire. He then became a vivid explorer of those strange lands, and when he had spent 20-odd years on Earth (and ages in the Dreams) he started to chronicle his adventures. Some of these he published under pseudonym, but very few of these were ever sold and most was thrown away by a the publisher, a very small, esoteric ”fantasy” publishing house located in San Francisco and now long gone. He was more of a dreamer than an author, his writing became dull and unentertaining even with heavy editing. Most of his chronicles are still in the library in Villa Tranquillitatis.
On one such Dream he met a princess from Baharna on the island of Oriab, with a strange but wonderful tale to tell about her families traditions. They fell in love and through strange magic of the warlock that inhabited Theelys, whom the couple later served, his beloved Iraa was given a corporeal body and could enter onto Earth. Danain Mirabeau brought his beloved home as a wife and some years later she gave him a daughter, Mathilda.
The tranquillity descended on the villa, except for late night change of diapers and all other joys of new parents, but it was not long to last. Danain Mirabeau continued to visit the Dreamlands and it was during those adventures he learned more about his wife’s past and family. Mortified about what he had brought into the world of Earth he only saw one way out, on a full moon’s night he invited his wife into having a ”romantic glass of wine in the gardens”, but when she was sedated from the poision in the wine he strangled her and carried her to where the Hanging Tree once stood and buried her there. This was in the summer of 1924. He then travelled to the Dreamlands, to try to stop his father in law’s intrigues and campaign against Earth, and has not returned for several years.
He could not bring himself to murder his own daughter, but assumed that she would be taken care of by the authorities. In part, he was right.
Elmer Caton and Brandon Booker does not know the full truth but has sufficient knowledge to decide that Mathilda needs watching. Her father is a sufficient influential citizen for his disappearance to not go unnoticed.
Elmer has pilfered a few of the books from the library, those that he understood. The major tomes are still on their shelves. He has also made sure that all looks well in the City Hall’s papers, and if anyone inquires too much about Mathilda or the villa he will be notified, and the inquirer turned away after his or her identity has been sufficiently established.
The mayor Elmer Caton has found a passage in an ancient text he has found, that he can influence over someone if he performs a specific ritual. The text is an old occult text, handed down from gypsy to gypsy, he was told by the old gypsy crone that sold it to him for 1,200 dollars three years ago. He have studied the text and now knows sufficient to dare make an first attempt at influencing one of his political opponents.
Elemer has through discreet inquiries found that one of the ingredients, a mandrake root, grows in the garden of Villa Tranquillitatis, under a tree that once was used for the lynching of three black slaves before the villa was built.
To get at the potent mandrake he succeeded to on a full moon night lure Maurice’s dog Bruce to follow him into the back of a delivery van he loaned for the purpose from a friend of a friend. He then drove to the Villa and went into the garden via a garden door not much used.
Bruce has been roaming around alone in Maurice’s house after the death of his master, a caretaker has giving him food, and is quite eager to find his master and some company. Elmer used a piece of meat and a simple spell used to calm and control animals to get Bruce to come to the gate of the fence around the house. It was then easy to open the gate and get Bruce to jump into the back of the van.
Elmer and Maurice are good friends and Elmer has become good friend with Bruce as well. When he needed a dog for his mandrake harvest, he thought of Bruce.
He there located the mandrake and tied a rope to the mandrake and to the dog and then ran for it with his fingers in his ears. Elmer does not know exactly what happened next but he assumes Bruce was a little bewildered at first but very soon ran after the running man and pulled up the root. Elmer did not hear the scream of the root, otherwise he would not be among the living, but the dog did and died from it, all according to myth. After about ten minutes Elmer dared to go back and found the dog dead, he untied to potent root using thick gloves—just in case—and left for home in triumph.
Elmer Caton has long been a friend of Maurice Arteaga and of Bruce, when he needed a dog when he was about to harvest the mandrake. The photograph of Elmer, Bruce, and Maurice in Maurice’s bookshelf should connect the three. Later when Bruce is found dead and the investigators searches the place the dog was found, they will find the hole of the mandrake. After some investigation they should be able to determine that someone has harvested mandrake, i.e. someone interested in the occult. The fact that Bruce is so far from home, they should also draw the conclusion that Bruce knew whoever wanted the mandrake. Otherwise the dog wouldn’t followed that quietly, and he would probably have woken up Mama Li in the Villa.
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