Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926, Dr Northeast’s house, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Having spent two hours searching for clues at the murdered doctor’s house, we decided that it was time to move on. Not even Henry, who had successfully deduced the nature of the tracks on the front porch, was able to follow them into the jungle, meaning that going after the mysterious band of murderers was not an option.
We decided to repair to the library for further research, after getting some lunch. On getting into the car we noticed that a little aways down the road were our familiar tails. They had probably been far enough away not to have heard Jonah’s gunshot earlier, which is fortunate else we may not have been able to discover the journal nor the other books. Jonah decides that the authorities should be made aware of the murder and approaches their car.
It must be a British peculiarity to refer to a terrible murder as ’he’s not well’ though Jonah did then further explain that Dr Northeast had been ‘sliced to death’. He quickly explained to the astonished soldier what we believe took place and agreed to remain at the scene whilst the other one contacted Major Medwin. The rest of us were allowed to leave, informing the soldiers that we were going to lunch.
Tobias drove us back to the centre of Port-au-Prince, however after five minutes we all began to feel unwell (not, I hasten to add, as a result of his driving). There was a brief argument concerning what would happen next. While we would ‘fall unconscious’ (due to our increasing distance from one of the five of us, Jonah) my guess was that our bodies would continue to operate as if we were conscious and we would revive later, perhaps at the Hotel Olafsson or at a cafe, unharmed. Henry was not convinced and resolved to exit the vehicle whilst it was moving, though Tobias did slow down a little. Then we passed out.
We came round sitting in chairs in an unfamiliar office. Someone was talking about us and the fact that we should be monitored more closely. Major Medwin and Dr Kelly were in an office. It turned out to be 2 and a half hours later, time we could not afford to lose. We had apparently all been found unconscious in a car parked on the street (our bodies must have stopped the car for us). Interestingly, we appeared to actually have become unconscious at this time, not just forgotten what had happened.
Jonah stated that he had not been in the car, so where was he found? Major Medwin refused to provide a clear answer. Jonah’s reaction was to pull out his gun and aim at major Medwin. This was perhaps an incautious move.
Major Medwin, understandably, called the guards when Jonah refused to back down. Aside to Dr Kelly he said that it was not going to work, that we were too unstable. What did that mean? Have they been experimenting on us? Dr Kelly was quick to refute that suggestion. Guards arrived. We tried to reason with Jonah, to explain that being detained would e detrimental to our rescue efforts. Jonah backed away and lowered his weapon, but did not surrender or holster it.
Major Medwin was angry. He had every right and reason to detain us all now. We had to appease him by providing some sort of explanation for our behaviour. Jonah said that he had been standing with one of the guards outside a friend’s house when he fell unconscious; the guard could verify that he was there. We admitted that it was Dr Northeast’s house. On relaying this piece of information, Major Medwin said that yes, that was where Jonah had been found. We said that we were friends with Dr Northeast, but could not remember what had happened on our previous visit.
Major Medwin still wanted to arrest us over the murder of Dr Northeast. We explained that he had been dead for some days when we had turned up at his house. He did seem dubious at our innocence seeing as we could not remember the last few days. However, on our explanation of what we found he provided a clue that Dr Northeast could have been murdered by rebels. We should seek out Sebastian Senegal, the leader of the rebels. If we do this he is prepared to let us go, provided we report back to him as soon as we are aware of Senegal’s location.
Tobias accused Major Medwin of using us to get to Senegal. Senegal may be involved in the disappearance of Jack Sterling. Major Medwin claims to have no real interest in Jack Sterling.
Once we are released, we discover that we have been in the American Embassy. Our car is outside and so is another with different guards in it. Jonah wanders over to inform them that we are repairing to the library. He says they are grumpy. With time running out we cannot stop for lunch, therefore grab something simple and set out for the library. We cannot afford to risk losing consciousness again, therefore as a group we must stay together, though this negatively impacts on the amount of ground we can cover.
Day 2 Friday 31st October 1926, the library, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
We decided to divide up the areas of research. Over the next few hours (even past closing time – Jonah convinced the librarian to remain behind for an hour) Tobias reads the rest of Dr Northeast’s journal, Otto researches the Star Pools, Henry researches local mythos, Jonah the Cult of the Floating Horror and I examine the other books from Dr Northeast’s house.
Henry finds nothing of specific relevance and I discover only that they are reference books on psychology. Otto finds no mention of the Star Pools at all and begins researching the Cult of the Floating Horror too. I looked for old maps, geographical in nature, depicting the Star Pools, but find nothing. Otto trawled through the old newspapers, searching for information on the Cacos rebels and Senegal (their leader). Senegal is not mentioned, but there are reports of periodic uprisings by those rebels. Whether or not he is connected to the Cult of the Floating Horror, Senegal could well use any chaos around the ritual and Fete Gede to stage another uprising. They will be well armed, considering the guns we have in our possession most likely come from a recent shipment.
Jonah discovers a book from 1924 by Nigel Blackwell called Africa’s Dark Secrets. This book covers three main cults – the Bloody Tongue, The Screaming Crawler and the Cult of the floating Horror in Nigeria. There is one particular passage, which resonated strongly with us, referring to a ritual, which I am convinced is what the Haitian cult is about to attempt during the Fete Gede. The second unusual tarot card also sprang to mind – the illustration being of a person with gouged flesh as mentioned in this passage.
In the margin next to the passage, someone had written notes. Jonah guessed that it was my writing and sure enough on examination it appears that he is correct, though I cannot remember coming here before or writing those words. My words indicate that this ritual is as described by Dr Northeast to us and also mentions Sebastian Senegal.
Jonah also discovered a third unusual tarot card within the pages of this book. It was, as I expected, card number XII The Hanged Man. The illustration depicts something not quite human in front of jungle and starry pools. If I remember the tarot reading correctly, this card represents the future. Perhaps this is the Floating Horror?
Tobias is disturbed by what he reads in Dr Northeast’s journal. In one entry, dated Friday 24th October, Dr Northeast says that he is convinced there is more to the Cult of the Floating Horror than he had suspect (it appears he had been researching this cult too). He also appears to know where the Star Pools are. The Floating Horror cult is a fringe branch of voodoo culture who believe in a loa called the Floating Horror. A special individual is prepared in advance to be possessed by the loa. This clearly upset Tobias because Dr Northeast’s last entry had mentioned he had seen something terrible already done to Jack Stirling – we believe Jack is to be that ‘sacrifice’.
Dr Northeast had been consulting with a [[:Madame Josephine]] on voodoo culture and had attempted to get more information on the cult from her, but she had refused his requests. Her address is written in the journal – it is our next port of call.
Day 2: Friday 31st October 1926 – a laundrette, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Mme Josephine’s address appeared to be a laundrette. It was about six-thirty and therefore closed, however we did attract the attention of a woman at the back. She looked hesitant when we asked for Mme Josephine. We said that we had some urgent news about Dr Northeast. Five minutes later she returned with a very large man (perhaps as protection?) and conducts us to the back room.
The back room is filled with parrots, snake vertebrae, serpent motifs and swirl designs. An old woman, quite large in build with a parrot on her shoulder welcomes us with a question. Did we bring what she wanted? It is still strange and disturbing to be welcomed back to places we have no memory of.
The object she asked us to bring was a death’s head moth. If the Reader would care to recall, we found such in a matchbox in Otto’s suitcase only yesterday (though weeks seem to have passed since then). What did she need this for? It appears she had agreed to make a mixture to drink to protect against the Lurker in the Star Pools (not the Floating Horror). It was clear from our bewildered faces that she would have to explain some things (again) and ordered the big man (Jim) to make coffee, though Tobias opted for rum.
It transpires that we had approached her with Bruce Northeast about the Cult of the Floating Horror. We were determined to destroy it, we had said. This was probably why she had agreed to help us. We would destroy the cult and King Kaliko (leader of the Bruquoil otherwise known as the cult of the Floating Horror). The Floating Horror is also known as the Crawling Chaos of 1,000 faces. It is a god. While we were absorbing this strange news Jonah asked what the most recent tarot card we had found depicted – Mme Josephine said it could be one of the many faces.
The Cult has been slowly building in power. She has heard rumours of a ceremony to coincide with the Fete Gede on Saturday or Sunday night. She did not know when this may commence, unfortunately. The rumours are that Haiti will be cleansed by what is to be summoned. I get the strong impression that this would not be a good fate for Haiti.
We had come to her (previously) saying that our friend (Jack Sterling) had been abducted by the Cult and that we wanted to stop the ceremony. She asked us to find the death’s head moth so that she could make a potion to get past the Lurker.
The Lurker is the guardian of the Star Pools. It is very powerful and cannot be destroyed by the hand of man. We would need assistance. She brought out a wooden box carved with a symbol composed of a circle, five-pointed star and flame. Inside was a dark, sharp-looking stone with hints of green. This must be an artefact of some sort.
Otto and Henry surprised Mme Josephine by saying they had seen a similar object before. In their experience, the other stone had been the key to a gate for Nyrathlotep. Mme Josephine said that that name was one of the names for the Crawling Chaos. I am not certain whether Henry and Otto’s earlier experience of this god will be of benefit. Apparently, Henry and Otto are all that remain of their original group who met Nyrathlotep. Our rescue attempt now is fraught with more than just physical danger but also danger to the mind and soul as well, for we will be facing the same god, which slew Henry and Otto’s companions.
The sharp-looking stone is The Sharp Stone, a unique artefact that appears by chance to be in Haiti where it is needed. Mme Josephine explains that someone must cut themselves with the stone to trick The Lurker. The potion must be drunk before using the stone; as I understand it the potion will lessen the effects of the Stone so that it does not have too adverse affect on the wielder. Tobias volunteers immediately.
The Reader may by now be skeptical at these mentions of gods, spirits and possible magical artefacts, though I would re-assure the Reader that my words are not fanciful nor false. Madame Josephine concocted the potion by grinding up the dead moth, a live scorpion and various powders and ungents. The resulting viscous black fluid looked extremely unappetising, but Tobias drank it all (followed by rum). It apparently tasted vile, unsurprisingly.
Carefully picking up The Sharp Stone, he scored a deep cut in his arm. He reported an immediate sense of clarity and strength of mind. Without any other explanation I would conclude this to be an effect of either the potion itself or some beneficial ‘magical’ property of the Stone.
We cannot defeat The Lurker, therefore it must be tricked. Tobias now has the means to trick the Lurker and apparently we will be safe to go with him. He needs to keep the Sharp Stone on him. In fact Tobias said that he was reluctant to part with the Stone.
We need to get to the Star Pools without delay for we do not know when the ritual is due to start. Dr Northeast knew where they were, but he is dead. Mme Josephine does not know where they are, but suggests that Sebastian Senegal does. She directs us to a warehouse on the docks from which he is purported to operate. We must approach him carefully for we do not know his relationship with the Cult of the Floating Horror (nor to the point with Americans and their allies).
We resolve to go first to Labaddie Imports and Exports to determine whether we can leverage any meeting with Senegal by way of a weapons shipment.