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Drolleries, Table of Contents. Saturday in August of 1930.
Sc 1 — Charing Cross, The Drolleries
Saturday morning, Sadie Pensyl after a brief discussion with the group about the previous two days events, leaves the store in the hands of Scooter Applegate and heads over to the British Museum to do some research on the Caedis Urbi Verae Claves .
Bibliography -The looter of the church was Julien de Castries, later Comte. Copy last seen in Rome 1860 in the hands of the Comte’s son, Julien. The book is allegedly cursed, as it was in the possession of an apocalyptic Anabaptist cult in Munster in 1542 (city carried by storm and sacked) and later in Protestant Magdeburg (sieged, plundered and massacred) in 1631 by the Habsburgs, who turned the book over to the Catholic Church.
Library Use – Julien died in Moscow in 1812 ( 3/4 the city was burned to the ground, then a massacre and mass rape). Raymond, son, inherited but was disenfranchised by the Bourbons in 1814. Died in 1871 during the siege of Paris (shelled and starved into surrender), one illegitimate son, Thibaut.
Thibaut joined the Carbonari radicals and fought in Italy under Garibaldi. Thibaut’s current heir is Louis de Castries, currently living in Lyon. Louis is the great-grandson of Raymond’s younger brother Jerome. Louis is an Esoteric (men and women members) Freemason.
Occult – (previously told by Archie) Thibaut de Castries founded the Society of the Onyx Dusk in San Francisco around 1900. The cult was based on “Pythagorean science.” San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1906.
The truly excellent digging in the stacks takes most of Sadie’s morning and lunch time of her day off. The British Museum yields a 4 point pool once per scenario.
NPC– Scooter Applegate, young go getter bored out of his mind.
Sc 2 — Ten Bells Pub
Michael Jones, Tom Gillan and George Swinton (the Major) head over to Whitechapel, concernedly discussing various ideas, and filling Mike in on events. Mike stops off at the nearest police station for some cop talk.
Cop Talk – Constable Nick Andrews – Hathaway’s & Co. the rival bookseller that employs Aston Drummel has an underworld connection, albeit unproven, to one Compeyson Kane who is a flashy gangster that the Peelers are keeping an eye on. Also, Hathaway’s book scout, “Pockets” Matthews did six months in Wormwood Scrubs for possession of burglar’s tools.
Moving on they take the Underground to Whitechapel, a short 25 minute (two stops) trip. They walk around following Mike who knows where the pub is (The Knowledge). They pass through Bethnal Green, the first council housing established in London.
Shadowing – Mike passes his check and both others fail as they see Drummel walking toward them (difficulty raises by 1 now). Drummel heads into the Ten Bells. Tom goes in behind him while the others loiter outside, taking in the air.
Kids are playing street cricket. A tramp wanders by, saying,” Toads took ‘im, past the stone door. Be at ‘is throat in no time. Snakes for beards.” Tramps, wacky.
Tom sees Drummel with someone else and tries to get closer to her. He needs a six on Shadowing and makes it! Grabbing his Ploughman’s lunch and a pint of bitter he stands unobtrusively nearby, listening.
Drummel, “Listen, Bowers, Your mother stole the book from someone who stole the book who stole it from someone whose father stole it in 1805, right? For all I know you stole it from her. You start getting ideas, and it might get stolen from you.”
Bowers is suffering from some lung ailment. He coughs frequently and wetly. The two leave. Tom grabs Drummel’s untouched pint. Then Tom talks to Terry the Barman (also Irish) who tells him Ambrose Bowers lives over in Wapping with his mum. Bowers is working some deal with a book. He comes in more often though, recently so he may live nearby.
Drummel takes a lingering look at the sewer grate when he leaves the Ten Bells? The Major details an urchin to follow him and looks at the grate. Nothing. Mike catches someone turning away up the street and realizes (Shadowing) that he had seen them earlier. He goes after them, crushing his Shadowing check.
NPCs – Nick Andrews -Constable, Spitalfields Station
Ambrose Bowers, allegedly in possession of the de Castries edition of Caedis Urbi Verae Claves.
Terry Fleyt, Irish barman at the Ten Bells Pub, Commercial Street and Fournier Street in Spitalfields
Sc 3 — The Central Line and Belgravia
The person of interest, a smartly dressed woman, walks to the tube and boards it, Mike follows her all the way west to Hyde Park, she notices him at the station, then walks with him to Belgravia. She is quite curious about his activities.
She is Birgit Von Kant (interrogation spend) a tall, horsey German woman. Her husband is Baron Hermann Kant. She asks Mike a few questions and reveals she is working for the Anenherbe and the Archbishop of Mainz, trying to recover some artifacts stolen from the Branau library in 1805. She leaves Mike’s company at the German Embassy and goes in. Mike takes in the sights a bit and heads back to Drolleries.
Sc 4 — Wapping
The Major and Tom, after realizing Drummel took a cab, decide to tail Bowers. They fail to, and in fact run into some weirdness, a chalked eye and Tom walks into a bricked over doorway that isn’t there again when he shows it to the Major. They decide to go to Wapping instead.
Once in Wapping the two of them go to Bower’s two-room council flat (Credit Rating 1 to the rescue) .
The door is slightly ajar, so naturally they enter. There is a crushed body on a horsehair settee, some bloody bones and crockery scattered about. Also an open escritoire with a book in it. As they gaze upon the mess, a strong odor of sulfur and ozone grows. They both pass a Sense Trouble test and manage to hold their breath. A humanoid entity manifests from the debris and swarms them with poisonous vapors. The Major breaks a window with his cane and choking heavily leaps through the window. Tom grabs the book and a silver bread knife, flailing at the entity. On his way out the door he notices an envelope under the corpse, he grabs it but also stumbles away choking and gasping.
The Major recovers outside and decides to wait for the police to arrive, which they do. Someone heard the commotion and called the Bill. They take their time arriving which allows Tom to remember an urgent appointment elsewhere (Drolleries?). He is bruised, coughing and has bloody flecks on his clothes. I guess he streetwises himself home? Wapping is just south of Whitechapel, near the river.
Major Swinton talks to a Bobby, then a Detective Douglas Blackwall for a bit. The police take him home after getting his particulars. They may have talked to other people on the scene.
NPCs –Douglas Blackwall – Inspector, City of London, Captain, Royal Scots Fusiliers, ret. Calm, methodical and unhurried.
Sc 5— The City
Archie heads over to examine the further adventures of his would be patron, Dives. Near the Pimander Club (28 St James St).
There he sees some bootblacks nearby on a corner and uses a few well placed tips and some Flattery to get the location of a certain place where Dives goes occasionally, Mitre Street (which is vaguely familiar). He takes a cab there, the cabbie has taken Mr. Dives there (more tips) to #84, a non descript Victorian office building.
There are two entrances, a main door which leads upstairs to several offices on a short hallway, and a side entrance reached by a stair. The door reads “Horace & Moore, Arch.” He schmoozes a char woman, Missus Snevellichi , “Lads round here got up to mischief wif some rats I dunno, trying to scare an old woman, no respect,” the rats had been in a “circle wif one dottin’ the middle, like.”
He coaxes her for some tea and into unlocking the front door of A&M. She unlocks the door and heads down to her little char lady room to make some tea.
Archie opens the door and finds a barren, unused outer office – disconnected phone, blank desk, lamp with no bulb. The only item of not is a ledger he finds in a file cabinet showing the rent paid up through the year by a City law firm (the office is just barely inside the City). The door behind the desk is locked and Archie doesn’t want to bust this door in, so he nips round to the side door (crows gyre overhead) and lightly rends his trousers (-1 health) trying to wiggle through the open casement window. A retry succeeds in him getting through ther heavy curtains to the inner… room? The expected maze of smaller offices are instead one large room with a carefully whitewashed floor with a large “vesica piscis” (bladder of a fish) scribed upon it.
Occult knowlege indicates this has many meanings – the meeting of two realms, Heaven/Earth, Heaven/Hell, doorways, the square root of 3 (1.732), a vagina, or divine power. The west wall has a large bulletin board covered with scrawled notes, calculations and pins. A closer examination (Law) shows it to be the sites of all the Ripper’s victims. The symbol on the floor matches the four Whitechapel sites – Hanbury, Berner and Dorset Streets, Buck’s Row and Mitre Square (which is just behind the building he is in).
On the north wall is a bookshelf! A quick look revelas bound copies of all the London news papers from 1888-1891 and about two hundred more other hardbound books – Architecture by Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sociology of the East End, Welsh legends, Geometry and Topology, and many books on the crimes of Jack the Ripper. There is a heavily marked up 1510 Euclid stuffed with calculations and nearby a 1570 English edition of the same with a forward by John Dee. Archie skims the notes very quickly and realizes that Dives thinks the symbol is an eye, not a doorway. One carefully written clean copy presents London as Kaer Lud or Lud Dun, the City of the Welsh God Lludd, alias Nudd or in Irish, Nuada. Nudd is identified with the Abyss, Pan and the God Nodens.
Furthermore along the south wall there is a whole chemistry setup on a long table. Alembics, retorts, gas burners and a box of minutely labled flasks. They appear to be air, water and gas samples from all over Whitechapel labeled in Dives crabbed and minute writing. Another box holds athames, candles, chalk, cords and similar sorcerous impedimentia.
Feeling that time is short, he lets himself out by the previously locked door and has a cuppa with Mrs. Snevellichi. A streetsweeper stares at him when he leaves, the manhas a huge wen under one eye.
Archie walks quickly to an intersection and summons a cab at the same time as another person does. The cabbie wears an eyepatch. The other person and he agree to share the cab. She is Von Kant. Introductions and soon they are chatting in German, as Archie is fluent.
Occult spend– about Kant reveals that her father-in-law was THE Mad Witch Hunter of Westphalia around the turn of the century (passe, even for Westphalia). The Baron went mad claiming a black deity was moving his limbs for him. Her illegitimate brother-in-law is Joachim Feery who defends his notoriously loose translations and excerpts (notes on the Necronomicon, 1901, abridged ed. 1907), Notes on Prinn’s Mysteries (1914), Notes on the Cthaatr Aquadingen (1923), and Notes on the Book of Dsyzan (recently published) which he claimed in Occult circles to have “dreamed the correct version.”
This time, after Kant is revealed to be less than honest about some of her intentions (she is Anenherbe but she is not working for the Archbishop) she tells him that she is looking for the same thing Dives is. Perhaps sensing that Archie might be an opponent, she tells him that “She will get what she is looking for, one way. Or the other, mein herr. Guten abend.” Archie notices that one of her eyes is glass. She exits the cab, and Archie does some thinking on the ride back to Drolleries.
NPCs – Mrs. Snevellichi , char lady, the City
Birgit Von Kant, Anenherbe and occultist collector of books. Belgravia Square.
Bookhounds of London (Dave Choat, Trail of Cthulhu)
Drolleries, initial run. August of 1930.
Archie Witherington (BA, Jurisprudence, Oxford) receives a fancy invitition from an aquaintance, a Mr. Johnstone Dives who attended Oxford (BA Mathematics, Oxford) to dinner at a fancy club he (Dives) is a member of, the Pimander Club.
Archie (without sending his acceptance) decides to attend for the free eats while Sadie, the Major and he discuss Dives and the Who’s Who in London.
Born in Capetown, father made his pile in mining there. First in Mathematics at Oxford (1908). Address in Pimlico, shooting house in Ayleshire. Some publications in various Mathematics journals on Non-Euclidean Topology. An Occult spend reveals he is an arrogant prick who hangs out at v. magical societies and calls the members “merely religious.”
Bookshop Point Spend – Book selection headed up by Non-Euclidean Topology by Johann Wurms which gives a 2-point Physics pool to the investigators. It is specific so it takes one point out of the store’s six point pool.
NPCs so far – Charles Knightly, dustman, large, 18, somewhat quiet. Lives down the block with mum, Veronica Knightly. He looks in on Sadie after he spends the day slinging trash bins to see if she needs “anyfing done round shop”. Something links Ronnie and Sadie in the past or they’re just neighbors. My crabgrass.
Hercule, attentive, friendly waiter at Pimander Club. Belgian, fussy, precise. Wears glasses.
Archie dresses up and cabs over to the Club, where he is expected (they recognized him?) The dinner proves to be fine and Mr. Dives is there (of course Archie would show up, oh the arrogance) and after some wine, food and more wine, Dives reveals he is looking for a copy of Johannes Turis’ Caredis Urbi Verae Claves that has surfaced recently and may be for sale. Dives will pay handsomely for it and also a finder’s fee if Archie gets it, a flattery spend gets Dives talking about a rival collector, an Astronomer named Paul Fletcher who had cabled (a rival book agent) Ashton Drummell to meet him with the “Keys to the City” in five days at the Broadgate Hotel . Dives does not say how he got the info about the cable, Archie does not ask – hey we are gentlemen here.
An Assess Honesty spend reveals that Dives is being mostly honest, although he is pretty keyed up about something.
Book – Johannes Turis’ Caredis Urbi Verae Claves or True Keys of the City of Death (or murder, slaughter, violent death). Printed 1530, immediately condemned by Mainz Elders as demonic and burned. A very few copies survived in episcipal libraries in Northern Italy and Germany. The most recent copy was looted in 1805 from St. Stephen’s Church in Braun, Austria during the Napoleonic Wars. No spends made on this book.
Dives leaves for another meeting at 11 pm (at night ?), Archie polishes of the second bottle of ’08 Montrachet and heads for the club library. The Pimander Club caters to upper crust occultists, not those middle class Golden Dawn types. He reads a bit, then leaves and goes all the way back to Drolleries and wakes Sadie with the news. She listens a bit and chucks him out. For heavens sake its 2 AM.
The next morning Thomas “Thomas” Gillin shows up with a book “he found” that is actually worth something and he was wondering if.. . Sadie is out bargained by him and buys “The Book of the Smoke – The Occult Miscellany of Augustus Darcy” for the price of 25 pounds, cheque. It is an uncommon book. Sadie doesn’t ask where he got it, and Thomas lingers to listen in on the convo when Archie shows up. Archie mentions Hathaway Books and is reminded to not mention that place in Drolleries, period.
Info is exchanged about the book hunt (hey we are bookhounds, OK?) and some investigative leads are pursued on this fine warm Thursday.
Who’s Who on Fletcher with an Astronomy 2pt spend gets the Major and Archie over to the Royal Astronomical Society (Burlington House) and its excellent library. Merely reading Fletchers six year old article on NGC 5189 said little, but some chatting and harrumphing gets a more senior librarian involved and he pulls out the unedited pre-release journal which contains a final chapter in Discovery of a New Nebula in Musca including photographs of said nebula containing a rant about scale and relativity, implying a connection between the nebula (3,300 light years away) and 3,300 year old destruction of Troy. Not a coincidence to Astronomer Fletcher.
NPC – Cowles, Senior Librarian at Burlington House, Historian, Cambridge man.
Some more friendly chatting with Cowles finds that Drummel was here just yesterday with some similar questions and also he had a list of books he was looking for, one of which was “Megapolisomancy” by Thibaut De Castries. He didn’t ask Cowles for it, Cowles saw the list and remembered that one.
Meanwhile Thomas goes out on his ownself and hits a few of his clients (other book sellers and middlemen) and makes a streetwise spend to find out that Drummell has been selling books too, and in fact one such recent pile has a beer coaster with Ten Bells drawn crudely on it. Wait, that is a pub in the East End, Whitechapel, mate.
Sadie makes a few calls to people similarly disposed towards Mr. Drummel and Hathaway Books (assHOLE!) and finds he picked up a pretty common book over at John & Edward Rumpus, Ltd. titled “Balor and the Evil Eye“, which she has a copy of. Somewhere. She locates it, pays some bills, packs up some mail order stuff and shelves some stock. Then she skims the book.
Books – Balor and the Evil Eye , Alexander Haggerty Krappe. (Not worth anything) Lugh and Balor is one reflection of a more ancient mythical struggle (Lugh, Krishna, Cuhweh, Apollo, Zeus) vs. the devourer/destroyer (Balor, Rahu, Ysbadden, Typhon, Saturn) who the hero beheads/kills while often seducing/debauching the daughter or priestess of said god. Sometimes the duel is between brothers, one version has Vy (Serbia) or Vyatis (Thrace) whose mouth or eye must be propped open by his servants.
The Book of the Smoke – (Uncommon) The Occult Miscellany of Augustus Darcy
NPC –Violet Ramsey, clerk at at John & Edward Rumpus, Ltd.
Some potential leads are discussed, a trip to the Ten Bells maybe, or…