Blood Ties

Part 5: Spontaneous Human Combutions

April 29, 1937
Having been hired by Dr. Anderson (the night shift surgeon on call at Mass General) to look into the guy (Arnold Peterson) who burnt up, the party proceeds to the police station, where they talk to Officer Friedman and Sergeant O'Malley about the case. Sgt. O'Malley takes them to Peterson's house, which is still a crime scene, but not really being actively investigated any longer.

There's blood in the living room, from Mrs. Peterson's death and Mr. Peterson's shooting. In the bedroom, there are a whole lot of Bibles, all heavily marked up - some begats, some smitings and suffering not a witch to live, and a lot of Revelations. Mrs. Anderson's diary is found; Roderick takes a look at it and concludes that she wasn't actually an evil witch, just worried about her husband, and that he was a loon.

Searching the apartment further turns up some tranquilizers, prescribed for Mr. Peterson by a Dr. Snyder, but the prescription is fairly old and mostly empty now. There are also a bunch of Mass cards for masses for Arnold, from St. Joseph's church, scattered around.

Swinging by the police station, Roderick asks to see the murder weapon, a golf club handle. He is briefly entranced by it, but snaps out of it eventually; Arnold appears to have been pretty paranoid, what with all the things looking out of other people's eyes and bars and things hiding in corners that Roderick picks up. Next, the Valiants go to St. Joseph's, and talk to Father Toby. There's a brief misunderstanding before it becomes clear that Arnold asked for the masses for himself; his wife didn't ask for them for him. Father Toby isn't able to say a lot, as much of what he knows is under the seal of the confessional, but he does think Mr. Peterson was deeply troubled (he knew Mrs. Peterson less well).

Everyone heads to Arkham. Dr. Schreber goes to the asylum, to look into the three deaths there. One schizophrenic, one sociopath, and one catatonic. Additionally, some other people in the asylum seem to have seen a flaming angel or skeleton or something; it seems to have come in from the south, visited the three people, passing through intervening rooms, and then headed back south.

Next stop - the Miskatonic closed stacks. Eddie promptly starts researching corners, and finds a fascinating book with a diagram of a Thing in a Corner. There's something there, if he can just make it out. He puts the book on the shelf at various angles, trying to understand, when Roderick finally finds him and interrupts him. The caption for the picture describes it as a Hound of Tindalos. This is deemed to be No Good.

In the meantime, though, Roderick has found some information about servitors of Cthaugua (an elder god of fire and madness, apparently). They do appear to be both summonable and bindable, but details on how to do this are still a little sketchy.

Eddie is ordered to sleep outside tonight, away from any corners. Tommy sneaks out in the night to tend his fire so he doesn't freeze.

April 30, 1937
In the morning, there are several messages with the dentist neighbor to the Valiants, from a Mrs. Fortinbridge, a rather hysterical woman who thinks she saw the Angel of Death in her front yard. Eddie calls and tells Dr. Schreber about this, and is promptly scolded for being inside.

Back to the Miskatonic library. A diagram of a binding circle is located; it's pretty complicated, and probably can't be drawn around a moving creature. There are some mentions of Hounds of Tindalos; they might be killable. They're definitely poisonous in addition to very strong and fast and dangerous. And the amount of time it takes to get to someone is based on how far away in time they were. There is one mention of a guy who saved himself by tricking someone else into calling a Hound that was tracking him. Roderick steals the page Eddie looked at, leaving behind a copy of the text and a description of the picture.

Eddie, defying advice to stay away from corners, talks to Mrs. Fortinbridge; the heart of her story seems to involve seeing a flaming winged thing going by outside, heading west. Dr. Anderson calls Tommy and mentions that another combustion has occurred at North Waltham Memorial Hospital, which is out west. Mrs. Fortinbridge's does appear to be on the way. Eddie goes to check out the hospital - the death also appears to be a spontaneous combustion.

Tommy attempts to draw some lines on maps, connecting North Waltham Memorial and Mrs. Fortinbridge's, and Mass General and Arkham. They connect approximately around Cambridge. More library research on servitors of Cthaugua indicate that the thing is probably going to continue to burn up people until ... well, until something terrible happens, or it gets everyone, or something. In an attempt to find something to catch it with, Roderick finds a binding chant, and succeeds in binding himself with it. Dr. Schreber has to electroshock him in order to get him out of it.

Roderick and the Scottish Manservant stake out a hospital that hasn't been hit yet, and Roderick makes his second sight roll to see the servitor traveling back Boston-wards. The Scottish Manservant does his best to try and follow the invisible thing Roderick is pointing at as it goes through buildings and generally fails to follow useful streets, and Roderick eventually loses it in a downtown shopping area.

May 1, 1937
Roderick reports having tracked the servitor, and wonders whether Tommy has anyone he really wants to sick a Hound of Tindalos on.

The group proceeds to the area Roderick lost it in, and notes that there's an antique bookstore with a "CLOSED" sign on it, despite it being business hours. Sneaking into the back alley, they break in. A charred smell leads them to the basement, where they find a charred body (not completely combusted), and a bunch of ritual symbols painted on the floor. And the occult section has been looted, Eddie thinks, some time after the ritual in the basement. The body has a wallet still on it - Maxwell Tandy, a book acquirer for the Boston Public Library. There's also a crate of books, apparently from the estate sale of Walter Grommige of Dunwich; the inventory indicates that a sealed book bound in black leather is missing.

Roderick draws a binding circle on the basement floor, after the old symbols get removed.

<-Part 4    Index     Part 6 ->