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…