A Cold Spot

Part 1: You will be a party!

Thursday, April 11, 1929:
The letter inviting the Valiants to North Ashfield to investigate Amelia Apcott's haunted house arrives - Gerti gets to open it, as the Official Secretary, and then passes it to Tommy, who's the only one in the office yet (Eddie is at home not feeling well for the morning). Gerti and Tommy consider taking the case by themselves, but decide it's probably best to wait for Eddie to arrive. Esme notes that today would be about a month after the last group dinner, and has her social secretary, Yvette, call everyone to suggest dinner at the Park Plaza Hotel. Peter decides that it's about time for his every-couple-of-months trip to his country house to work on his novel.

Eddie arrives at the office, amidst much teasing about hangovers. Tommy calls Mrs. Apcott, and speaks to her briefly about accepting the case before the line is overwhelmed by static and goes dead. A second call is even briefer, and subsequent attempts just ring (including a call that goes through the operator, and a call from the dentist's office next door). Some discussion ensues about whether to call the police, to fly to the rescue in Tommy's airplane, or to just arrive, with the final decision being made to kill some time and then try and call back.

Gerti heads to the Lowell Public Library to look up North Ashfield; she finds no concrete evidence of its existence (those society magazines are so distracting!). Eddie's researches, into "Who normally handles paranormal cases that get written up in the newspaper" turns up Miss Saravelda, Mr. Bellesby, and the Valiant Detective Agency. Lacking anyone else to refer the case to, the Valiants decide to take it. A later phone call gets a few more words in, and the Valiants agree to arrive the next morning, bringing a few other people who may be useful. A message is left at Mr. Bellesby's house asking him if he would be willing to come on the investigation.

The dinner convenes. Bellesby tries to get more details out of the Valiants.

"Your message was a little garbled. My manservant is Scottish."
They try and give minimal details, to keep Peter from learning about it and writing an article on the hapless Apcotts, and the trouble is described as "possibly some troubled children." After being shown the letter, Bellesby declares that the group should bring Charlie, "for extra muscle," and Peter begins to find it suspicious that extra Charlie-sized muscle would be needed for dealing with errant children. Finally the letter is shown to Peter and Esme (Dr. Schreber was unable to make it to dinner), and Peter declares that he was going to North Ashfield anyway regardless of whether the party is inviting him or not, since that's where his property is.

Eventually a decision is made that Peter will take the train, Tommy and Esme will fly ("You're not trying to leave me behind, are you?" in Tommy's plane, and the other four will take Tommy's car.

Friday, April 12, 1929:
Esme talks to her aunt, and is given tea shop cookies for Amelia. Miss Saravelda hasn't heard about any problems, but sends her love to the Apcotts.

Tommy's Plane Tommy and Esme arrive in North Ashfield, landing on a side road and parking the plane in a nearby farmer's field. The farmer (upon much pleading from his kids) is willing to not charge for the use of the field, if Tommy will give the kids rides. The airplane soon gathers a mob of excited kids, and Tommy and Esme adjourn to the one restaurant in town, the Benevolent Cafe. Next, Peter arrives on the train and after a brief hitch-hike, appears in North Ashfield to hear all about the barnstormer who's come to town. Finally, the car full of everyone else arrives.

"We should be there by noon, we're leaving at five AM!" - Eddie
"We're doing no such thing!" -Roderick
Various bits of the party run into each other between Peter's house and the airplane, and much argument ensues over the dispersement of luggage (to Peter's house? in the trunk of the car? Back with the airplane?). Next, even more argument ensues as to what portion of the group is going to visit the Apcotts, and whether the remainder will show up later, show up first, or hide elsewhere. A concerted effort is made to convince Peter that he doesn't know the rest of the group, but he doesn't believe it (and, more importantly, thinks that it will go over poorly with Mrs. Apcott should she discover she's been misled). However, both Peter and Esme should make it clear that they are social callers rather than hired investigators (or, worse, reporters likely to publish all the Apcotts' misfortunes). Should they show up first, then? Or afterwards? Will this cause conversational difficulties?

Mattie Harper Eventually the luggage is dropped at Peter's; Gerti and Charlie go for a picnic in the town square, while everyone else shows up en masse at the Apcotts'. The house looks large and imposing, and there's a young girl zooming around on the lawn with her arms out, making airplane noises. She is thrilled to discover that the group has actually brought the airplane, and drags them all to the front door to introduce them to Grandma.

Amelia ApcottGrandma, otherwise known as Mrs. Amelia Apcott, is pleased to meet the investigators, though a bit puzzled by talk of an airplane. After some reassurance that Peter isn't planning on making her the feature story for the Globe she's happy to see him too. Esme's arrival at the same time appears to be less of a surprise, since Miss Saravelda has apparently already filled Mrs. Apcott in on the arrangement. She invites the group in, and says that there's been noises up until very recently. The group immediately descends on a large framed family tree in the front hallway, and spots a number of deaths on the same day several years ago. As they start tallying up the body count, Mrs. Apcott says carefully that it was a boat accident.

Alison HarperAs the group is beginning to look around the house, Alison Harper is introduced. She doesn't appear nearly as pleased as the rest of her family to meet the group, states that it's a waste of her mother's money on what are clearly Mattie and Julian's childish pranks. Mattie is then dragged "to keep her from causing any more trouble," much to the party's dismay, as they were hoping to question her. Requests to talk to either Alison or Mattie fall on deaf ears as Alison stomps up the stairs.

The house is thoroughly searched, but nothing in the way of Houdini-style trap doors or automatic tapping machines are found. Not much suspicious turns up at all, though after a number of abortive attempts to find anything interesting in the attic, Tommy and Peter note that several items seem to have been dragged through the thick dust, without any associated footprints. Peter takes a fairly complete photo log of what is where. Additionally, Mattie's bed has been reported to move over to the window, and the combination of the bed being quite heavy and the floorboards being rather warped makes it seem unlikely that Mattie has been dragging it around herself. Trying to converge the directions in which objects are moving doesn't really point anywhere (except, perhaps, the "N"s on the map). Mattie extricates herself from her mother's clutches, and comes to talk to the group about the dark man in her closet.

Valiant and Bellesby interrogate the poor girl, but she seems happy that someone is actually willing to pretend to believe her when she says these things. She tells them all about the Closet man who jsut sits there in the closet all the time. ("Hello?" "He's not there *now* silly.") Then they hear of the Pilgrim Lady, who wanders around the house at night and occasionally gets chased by Mattie, though she never caught her. There's a brief search of all the pictures in the attic for a picture of the pilgrim lady, but it's quickly determined that everyone in colonial times dressed like she does, and Mattie isn't very good at facial details anyways. She does mention that the closet man is always sad, but doesn't know why. Julian throws in that Mattie has talked about the closet man and pilgrim lady for a long time, well before the recent troubles began. He, of course, humored her, but didn't really believe in any of that. Until now?

Julian ApcottPeter spends a while searching the closet for hollow compartments and secret doors, and principally manages to irritate Alison, whose wall he's thumping on. Roderick senses that there's a spirit in the closet, as well as a spirit somewhere else and a REALLY BIG SPIRIT all through the house. This stuns him for a while, and he stands with his arm in the closet in Peter's way. During the tour of the house, the group is introduced to Julian, who is in his room and doesn't appear well. He says he'll speak to them more at dinner.

Dr. Schreber arrives in Greenfield on the train in response to a previous message from Eddie. He's nonplussed to discover that there are no convenient taxis, but he does manage to hire someone's friend's brother's car to take him to North Ashfield. On the road on the way there, he passes Eddie (in Tommy's car), and after some mad honking, transfers over.

North Ashfield Cemetery Meanwhile, Reverend Connolly has discovered Gerti and Charlie on their picnic, and offers them a tour of the town ("We have so few tourists..."). They learn that the Apcotts are pretty much the oldest family around, and poke around the cemetery, where there's a largeish Apcott family plot. Additional tidbits include that the town used to be named Hawthorne, and that Reverend Connolly's church is older than the others.

Peter heads back to his house and calls the Globe, to get some information about the boat accident that killed much of the Apcott family. On his way back to the Apcott house, he recovers Gerti and Charlie from their attempts to peek in the schoolhouse windows, and brings them back to the Apcott house for dinner. Dinner is a bit strained, and midway through the meal, Alison's wine glass disappears from the table and reappears under the table between her chair and Mattie's chair. Peter retrieves it, but this only serves to get Mattie in more trouble. Esme makes bright and cheery conversation, which nearly warms Alison up until Eddie asks about pranks, and Tommy talks about the Great War, which entrances Julian. Mr. Bellesby, on the other hand, doesn't appear to be paying much attention to the conversation and looks a little pale.

After dinner, the investigators wander outside while the women clean up. Mr. Bellesby perks up a bit, and mentions poltergeists. Nobody seems to be convinced that it's Julian and Mattie behind it all. Dr. Schreber points out that Alison is cranky to cover up being quite upset, rather than cranky because she's mad at the children. The group arranges themselves for the night: Peter in the attic, Eddie in the family room, Esme in Mattie's room (after unexpectedly getting permission from Alison), Tommy in the kitchen, Charlie in the basement, Gerti in one guest room, and Dr. Schreber and Mr. Bellesby in the other guest room. Dr. Schreber prevails on Mrs. Harper to get him some tea, and while she's downstairs, Eddie nips into her room to take a look around. The most obvious oddity is a broken mirror, and a matching broken hand mirror.

During the night, nothing happens for the first several hours. At various times thereafter, a mirror in Mattie's room that Esme has propped against the wall falls over, but doesn't break. Something in the attic starts to move - Peter snaps a picture of it without looking. The doors on the second and third floors all slam open - PCs and NPCs alike come to the doors, look around, and shut them.

Part 2 ->