The mysterious paintings of Miles Shipley had certainly aroused the investigators' suspicions last time, and they were determined to immediately follow up on things. They decided that Harry and Tso would explore the back garden of the Shipley house and see if they could get inside that way, whilst Mr Yoo tried to distract Miles and Bertha.
|How not to sneak into someone's back garden...|
Mr Yoo used the excuse that he had lost his wallet and must have dropped it in the house whilst purchasing the painting, and Bertha Shipley duly took him back up to the garret to look for it. Meanwhile Tso scaled the wall to the back garden and let Harry in through the gate. The pair duly began to explore the small garden, failing their spot hiddens and missing the few lizard scales that were present on the deck chair. Tso also failed his sneak roll very badly, and ended up tripping over a metal stool, which fell onto the path with a loud clang. The bad die rolls were a sign of things to come...
In the house Miles made his listen rolls and began shouting to his mother that there was someone sneaking round in the back garden. Bertha ushered Mr Yoo out of the house, having failed to find his wallet (no surprise as it was actually safe in his pocket). By the time she flung the back door open Tso and Harry had fled the premises.
Deciding the give the Shipley's a break from their inept investigation attempts the group decided to make the Penhew Foundation the focus of their next efforts. As they arrived at the Foundation's impressive Tottenham Court Road building Mr Yoo thought he noticed a familiar old lady following them.
By the time he notified the others she had disappeared (perhaps she had never been there at all...). The investigators however decided to send Harry and Tso back to the house with the aim of breaking in and questioning the insane Miles whilst his mother was away. Harry was nervous at the thought of returning, stating prophetically, "I don't want to go back to that next of vipers". If he only knew...
Sebastian and Willard proceeded into the Penhew Foundation, and after a short interview with the secretary came away with an appointment to meet the Foundation's director, Edward Gavigan, the next morning.
Mr Yoo took the opportunity to explore the wondrous treasures of the British Library near St Pancras Station, looking for more information on the Cult of the Bloody Tongue. His research turned up nothing new however.
Scaling the back wall of the Shipley residence once more, Tso let Harry in. Harry made his way to the back door and tried to pick the lock. Unpleasant memories of the now infamous "The Scary Door session" arose as his attempts to open the door failed. Deciding to move matters along more quickly this time Harry decided to break the window to gain entry, which he promptly did, in the process alerting Bertha and Miles to his presence!
The door was flung open by Bertha, who stood there in shock. As she saw Tso she recognised him as the chinese man who had purchased the painting of the greek urn earlier. As she started to scream Harry did the first thing that came to mind. He tried to punch a frail old lady in the face as hard as he could...
He missed. In fact, he rolled a 100 on his attack roll - a bad fumble. Swinging round he nearly knocked Tso flat out, but Tso made a dodge roll and ducked under the wayward blow. Bertha began to run down the corridor to the front room shouting for Miles.
Miles, panicked into action for once, was at the phone trying to get the operator to call the police, as Harry raced past Bertha and into the room. On seeing Miles at the phone he decided to do what came naturally. Having missed punching a frail old lady in the face he decided to punch her insane, gibbering son in the chin instead! Harry's motto seems to be "If in doubt, hit it. Unless you have a gun. Then just shoot it instead"!
Tso had decided to take a more appropriate approach, and simply grapple the old lady to stop her doing anything silly. He managed to grab hold of her, but the frail old dear managed to slip away! He grabbed her again... she slipped away again! And again! This was one greased-up granny!
Harry was having no more luck. He tried to punch Miles out a total of three times. He missed. Three times. It was like National Lampoon's Call of Cthulhu: The Griswold's London Vacation.
|Would they do a better job?|
Eventually, despite Bertha's pleas not to hurt them, Tso and Harry managed to subdue the pair, but not before Miles and shouted a hurried and stuttering call down the phone asking for help. Bertha screamed out, "you can have it... I'll show it to you... the special painting...". Harry, already in a state of panic thought this was an obvious trap (correctly as it later turned out), and with a shout of "stick your painting up your ass" decided to make a swift exit and ran off! Tso hastily followed.
Sometimes as a keeper it becomes impossible to guess what your players will do. It surprised me after all the effort and problems getting inside the Shipley house that they should turn and run at the merest hint of danger. Perhaps they are learning after all! Anyway, the players would later return to the house, which by now was becoming known as JuJu House 2.
So, after a quick rest and a chance to wash their underwear the investigators were back at the Shipley house later that night. This time they decided to stake out the place, rather than making another bumbling entrance, and sure enough after a couple of hours they saw Miles Shipley leave the property and head off in the direction of Soho.
Mr Yoo decided to tail Miles, and followed him to a pub in Soho called the Horned God. Whilst there he saw Miles sit down and start talking to a young lady. Mr Yoo, worried about Miles' intentions ran back to the house to tell the others what he had seen.
Whilst Mr Yoo followed Miles, Sebastian had knocked on the front door of the house. A rather wary Bertha answered the door, and Sebastian told her that he was an agent acting for a Mr N'Kwane of New York City, and that he was interested in looking at her son's paintings with a view to purchasing them. Still concerned after the break-in earlier Bertha told him to come back the following afternoon.
When Mr Yoo got back to the rest of the group they all decided to head to the Horned God, but when they arrived both Miles Shipley and the young woman had disappeared. The barman remembered that they had left together, but offered no more useful information. A quick search failed to locate Miles, and the investigators headed back to their hotel.
The next day proved much more productive. It began with them all making a visit to the Penhew Foundation, with the exception of Mr Yoo who decided to hit the books at the library again. This time he had a little more success and managed to confirm that the painting of the mountain he had seen in the Shipley house was of a real mountain in Kenya, though he was unable to identify exactly where.
Back at the Foundation the group was met by the director, the suave and wealthy Edward Gavigan. He welcomed them warmly and answered all their questions. He expressed sadness on news of Jackson Elias' death, and told them what he knew of the Carlyle Expedition and it's fate.
Gavigan told the investigators that a mysterious negro woman, Roger Carlyle's lover, had betrayed the expedition and made off with their funds. By way of recuperation they had travelled to Kenya for a safari, and it was there that they were murdered by Nandi tribespeople. He could offer little more information, though he did show the investigators some of the finds that the early expedition digs had made, that had been returned to the Foundation.
The group seemed interested in finding out more about the finds, so at this point Wikipedia came to the rescue as Gavigan held forth of various mummies, scarab iconography, and twin crowns. After what seemed like an age the group finally twigged that they weren't going to get anything else useful and made their excuses.
Before they left Harry decided to show Gavigan the symbol of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue that they had found in Jackson Elias' room, but Gavigan told them he did not recognise it. Successful psychology rolls determined that he was holding something back, so Harry gave Gavigan his name and hotel details should he remember anything else.
After a brief lunch it was back to JuJu.... sorry back to the Shipley house. This time they were determined to make progress and get to the bottom of Miles' odd paintings and his inspiration. This time they would be successful in that aim.... kind of.
Sebastian went to the house for his agreed appointment, but once inside quickly pulled a gun on the dear old lady and her son and let Harry and Willard into the house. Tso stayed outside to keep watch. Bertha immediately began pleading with them not to hurt her, and offered to give them anything they wanted. What they wanted was to see the "special painting" she had mentioned during Tso and Harry's earlier visit.
Bertha lead them upstairs to the garret and to the locked closet on the north wall. Willard sat Miles down on a chair and kept a close eye on him, whilst Bertha lead Sebastian into the closet. Harry stood at the door, able to keep an eye on both Bertha and Miles. "Here it is," Bertha said before pulling off the dust-sheet that was protecting the painting.
Sebastian was the only person able to see the painting from where he was standing, but he kept his eyes averted. He ordered Bertha to take the painting down from it's easel, but she refused. So he shot her! The mild mannered architect shot a frail old lady in the knee!
Except... she wasn't a frail old lady. The damage from his shot had triggered an awful transformation. He back bent and cracked in a nauseating manner, her skin flaked to reveal scales, and a long reptilian tail emerged from beneath her skirts. Within a few seconds the frail old lady had been replaced with a slavering eight-foot tall reptilian monster!
Harry failed his SAN check and lost enough sanity points to go temporarily insane. He sank to his knees muttering "she's going to eat us.... we're all just insects...." before scrabbling around the garret looking for spiders and flies to eat. Willard could see nothing of what was happening except for Harry's reaction.
|Not a frail old lady...|
And then both my kids woke up being ill at the same time.
Perhaps they had failed their SAN checks too. It did mean however that we had to cut the session short and leave things standing on a cliff-hanger. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will Bertha eat the investigators? Will Harry recover from his madness in time to help? Will Mr Yoo ever stop visiting the library? What the hell is going on?!