Full Circle

Part 1: Returning to North Ashfield

April 7, 1939
Everyone (except for Gerti, who is already there) heads for North Ashfield. Junior and Timmy, and the German Shepherd named Rex, all come along; Andy does not. The funeral will be on Sunday the 9th. Roderick briefs everyone on the the contents of the lockbox containing the picture of the Hound of Tindalos.

Before people get there, Gerti checks around a little - she finds some tool scratches on the window, and some ladder marks outside the side of the house. This mostly seems to rule out completely incorporeal supernatural creatures, which is something of a relief. Next, she goes to talk to Roger Hart, the undertaker, as someone who's helping the Apcotts. Julian's body has been embalmed already, and Gerti refrains from trying to come up with an excuse to see the body.

People arrive, and ponder the evidence. This doesn't look so much like weird shit. On the other hand, it wasn't a burglary, due to the lack of actual burglary. Could Julian have been climbing in and out of the window by ladder? That seems a little implausible.

(Esme and Gerti are staying with the Apcotts, the boys are staying at Peter's.) A gentleman named Jason Millbrook shows up and also arranges to stay with the Apcotts. The party isn't sure who he is, though Amelia seems willing to let him.

More wild speculation ensues. Maybe the housebreaker was some sort of pen pal of Julian's, reclaiming something? But a pen pal wouldn't show up the night you die...

The ladder is discovered in the tool shed, with mud on its feet. Roderick uses psychometry on it, and gets "pleased and anticipatory". A trowel which may have been used to jimmy the window is also turned up. Eddie looks for tracks, and doesn't find much more than the initial ladder impressions.

"Just because it wasn't an obvious spell or supernatural creature *doesn't* mean it wasn't Ezekial Apcott" -Roderick
Roderick needs an excuse to go into the house and talk to the ghosts. Gerti distracts Amelia while the rest of the mob troops upstairs to search Julian's room. (Jason looks suspicious). Roderick psychometries the room, and receives an impression of general Julianness(cheerful/resigned), then worry/paranoia, then drowning, losing energy, everything going dark... Roderick collapses, but recovers after a bit.

Hmm. It was a full moon the night he died. That could be significant, though Gerti is sure that the dark of the moon is worse. Roderick finds an unfinished letter, from Julian to the party, indicating more about how worried he was.

Jason comes to help Gerti make tea, and she draws him out - he's the editor of Facts and Fancies, a literary/historical magazine, and has published several of Julian's essays. He says he's been in publishing for about ten years (there's that number again! More signs of Ezekial!). Before that, he was a writer. When asked about things they've published, he quotes some titles about things like literary analysis of Henry James, which Gerti (not surprisingly) hasn't read.

While the clues are mounting, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense still. What sort of something both saps Julian's strength and needs a ladder to get in? Roderick talks to the closet ghost; he knows Julian died, but doesn't provide much more information.

Tommy goes through Julian's desk, and finds some correspondence - there's some professors from Harvard, Amherst, and Miskatonic. There's also a set of correspondence with publishers, including Jason - a bunch of rejection letters, and Facts and Fancies is the first acceptance.

Roderick rules Jason out as a bad guy: the forces of evil like to pose as people with better lifestyles.

Roderick tries to read Jason's aura, but is horrified to realize that he has no aura at all. There's more small talk, and then the group retreats to Peter's house to discuss nefarious plans.

"I'm going to invite Mr. Hart over for a nice home-cooked dinner and you all are going to break into the funeral home while Charlie and I entertain him." - Gerti
Dr. Schreber is a little dubious as to what can be determined after embalming, but willing to go along anyway. Eddie manages to get the lock open. Dr. Schreber doesn't spot any major trauma (other than embalming). Eddie gets creeped out, and flees the room. An autopsy might turn up something, but there's nothing visible.

Gerti talks to Roger Hart, who is sadly behind on town gossip, though he's lured into talking about embalming practices (and then mummification and so on, which the kids are psyched to hear about).

Later, the breaking-and-entering crew heads to the diner for dinner, and hear about the existence of some historian guy staying with Clarence Montaugh. This is deemed Suspicious. Perhaps the group should take shifts at the diner for breakfast, in case he comes in.

That night, Esme notices a noise, and wakes Gerti. They look in Matty's room (she's there) and then Julian's room (Jason is there, with a flashlight!). The front door shuts. They investigate; the family tree (at least) from the front hallway is missing. There are some footprints on the front walk. They call Peter's house; Charlie hears a car leaving.

Gerti tells the others that the The family tree is missing. The family tree?

The mob, with kids, goes over to the Apcott house. Roderick is aghast by the bringing-the-kids part.

"Do you remember the *last* time we were here?" - Roderick
"Take your heart pills, Roderick. It's better than leaving them alone at Peter's" - Tommy
"It will either be fine, or it will be so completely horrific that you will regret it until you gratefully pass from this earth." - Roderick
The family bible and some family letters are also missing. Roderick senses "a-ha!" and also that it's Ezekial, and panics.
"He's come to get the family stuff because he's a big family man in a psychotic sort of way." - Roderick
Roderick suggests that they go back in time and plant the picture of the Hound in the family bible as a trap, beating Gerti out for the Mad Plan of the Run prize.

Gerti finally gets around to mentioning that Jason was in Julian's room. Roderick and Eddie manage to pry him away from Amelia and Mattie, while the others run interference. They browbeat him into confessing to looking for manuscripts, but he says he wasn't going to actually steal anything. (Eddie is sure he's being partially truthful, but not necessarily more than that).

Tommy tries to tell if the search got interrupted, but isn't sure, so it's unclear if Ezekiel got everything he came for. Knowing who all the Apcotts are, is something that's useful for any number of hypothetical circumstances, but it's hard to know which one.

They call the sheriff, and he sends a deputy over. The deputy doesn't appear to be taking the theft of a framed family tree and a Bible as seriously as the party is, but he does dutifully write everything down and will talk to Clarence Montaugh.

"The last thing we should do is go check around the funeral home to make sure it's not Julian." - Gerti
It isn't.