Sunday, February 28, 2021

Denouement - Ghastly Goings-on in Galena

     We resumed the narrative at the mine where close questioning by Mr Hayes, who seemed more appropriately dressed for State Street in Chicago than a lead mine, questioned them with drawn gun about the deceased prohibition agent, his knowledge of their bootlegging and their involvement. After satisfying him that they weren't involved and wouldn't say anything, they discussed what they suspected of the church nearby and it's involvement with Lucy Allen's kidnapping. Hayes insisted that they needed to help find the girl as the family was his neighbor and they were all good Christians, if not Catholics. The investigators were shown the mine where there was a still being constructed and one storage chamber where they noticed a case of dynamite.

     Mr Hayes promised the bootleggers would support them.if they could confirm where Lucy Allen was, he had Melnik drive them back up to French's car. They pushed it out of the woods and the graduate student and bartender drove down to the Allen's to find out who was the boy they had encountered asking about her whereabouts before she disappeared. Sir Isaac, the hunter, and Herbert, the farmer, went back with Melnik to the mine. They're intention was to sneak up on the church, as they had used the doll to confirm that Mrs Igman was in or near the church.

     Peter, the post graduate, and the bartender, who's name I forget, drove French's car down to the Allen's farm, where they were informed 'half the county' was out looking for Lucy and that the boy was most likely Nick Lindsey (I gave a different name until they checked that the had written down the original). She gave them directions across the footbridge over Fever Creek and up the road to the Lindsey farm. Leaving the car, they proceeded to follow the path until they heard noises coming from the dig site.

     Meanwhile, the big game hunter (whose player had made a point of taking the Navigation skill) got lost and wandered straight to the dig site. Observing the 32 odd antler tips sticking out of the ground, they decided to take a side quest and excavate the rest of the rack. Seizing the tools the diggers had left behind, they shoveled with gusto unearthing a impressively large deer skull - with five eye holes. Herbert the farmer was so enchanted by it that he put it on his head. At this point the rest of the party showed up, and being somewhat upset about the damage done to an archaeological site by clumsy farmers, read them the riot act. Especially as Peter the post-grad, drawing upon his family stories from the Ojibwe people, determined that the mutant buck was a manifestation of an evil spirit that had been buried under the petroglyphs to contain it. Regrouping, Peter and the bartender resumed their journey to the Lindsey farm. Sir Isaac and Herbert determined that following the ravine upstream along Fever Creek would most likely take them to the church.

     Arriving at the Lindsey farm, they found Mr Lindsey outside. Peter approached him aggressively demanding to see his son Nick as Nick knew what happened to Lucy Allen. (A bit of a stretch of imagination as all Nick had done was ask if they knew where she was. He'd also decided that the family was in possession of a book related to the cult.). Mr Lindsey, asked them to wait while he fetched Nick and returned from the house with a shotgun, shouting for Nick to come with the rope. Peter did a quick draw and they exchanged shots. The investigators getting peppered with the first blast, but Lindsey going down in a pool of blood from Peter's return fire. Checking that Lindsey was still alive. They called into the house for Mrs Lindsey to send Nick out to be questioned. She replied that she had a gun and would shoot them if they came, they should go away right now. The bartender went around to the back of the house, where he found the kitchen door unlocked. Entering noisily, Mrs Lindsey heard the entry and stepped to the door from the front room firing at him, while his return fire missed. Hearing the gunfire, Peter broke in the front door and blew Mrs Lindsey's head off with one well placed shot. Providing first aid to the bartender, they then heard the sobbing of multiple children upstairs. They found Nick and his two younger sisters hiding under a bed. Questioning Nick they determined his Pa had taken Lucy tonteh church and the book in question was in the church. After the smallest girl asked where Mommy was and the bartender replied she was 'around', as in her blood and brains were painted all around the downstairs walls, I drew a merciful curtain over the sad scene and went back to the pair sneaking up on the church.

     Meanwhile, Sir Isaac and Herbert followed Fever Creek upstream, hearing the occasional rumble of thunder in the distance. Eventually they reached the head of the ravine, to find it mostly blocked by a stone wall that turned out to be the foundation of the church built over the very end of the ravine. Unable to see inside due to the church on top and trees blocking sunlight, but hearing a faint sobbing coming from the building above, they decided to climb up the wall of the ravine to look in the windows of the church. Eventually, they made it, but the sounds of their sliding back down had come to the ears of someone at the top. They were greeted by a rough looking man holding a shotgun, saying, “I oughter shoot you right now”, then calling out to Mrs Igman that he had caught them. The hunter immediately drew his pistol and fired, rolling a critical and doing so much damage I ruled he’d shot the man’s neck off and the head had tumbled into the ravine. Unfortunately, they’d caught a short range shotgun blast in return and were bleeding profusely. Deciding running away was appropriate, Herbert the farmer used is Nature’s Wisdom ? skill to find some plants to staunch the bleeding. He then applied the skill to figuring out that Old Tom might well refer to a tom or male rattlesnake. They stumbled into the bootleggers mine about the same time the murderous pair returned from the Lindsey farm.

     Gathering in the mine, they brought Mr Hayes and his gangsters up to speed and were discussing how to mount a rescue when the hunter noticed a spark the size of his hand floating into the mine. As soon as he brought it to their attention, the barkeeper who was holding the doll of Mrs Igman pulled it out to burn it (ironically that’s what the fire vampire had been sent to do). After torching the doll and the barkeeper, it began floating out as the other investigators shot futilely through it. Peter tried a knife attack and was badly burned for his efforts. The plan of attack was determined to try entering from the ravine, grabbing flashlights and stuffing their pockets with dynamite in case there was something too big for bullets. Sir Isaac gave Peter his shotgun, while he pulled out his elephant gun. The barkeeper decided he was so wounded that it was a do or die effort and grabbed the whole box of dynamite.

     Once under the church they discovered that the basement contained a stairway up, an entrance to some old mine or cavern that forked a couple of dozen feet in. They also discovered some sort of ceremony involving chanting and ecstatic dancing (the players were insistent that the dancing be ecstatic) was going on in the church making the floor above them resound like a drum. They decided the best plan was for the gangsters Joey and Melnik to climb back up and make a diversion by shooting through the windows, while Herbert, Sir Isaac and Peter ascended the stairs. Mr Hayes and the bartender were to stay below the church with the dynamite on the lookout for Swithin’s monster, expecting it to be a giant snake. (At this point I decided that it had taken a bit longer and was later a night, for a more dramatic final scene)

     The thunderstorm broke and a cold spring deluge started falling as they heard the gangsters open fire. Simultaneously, the door at the top of the stairs opened and Aggie the cook from Igman’s appeared leading Lucy! Herbert fired at her and missed, Sir Isaac blew Aggie apart with his elephant gun, while Peter raced up the stairs with a drawn pistol in one hand. Grabbing Lucy, who was being tugged back into the church by the ophidian Mrs Igman, he managed to pull the fainting girl to freedom while putting three bullets into the evil old boardinghouse mistress and cult leader. Sir Isaac pointed was reloading the elephant gun.

     Now the bartender and Herbert saw Old Tom coming out of the mine, a rattlesnake the size of a hippopotamus! Herbert broke and ran screaming down the ravine into the rapidly rising waters of Fever Creek. Sir Isaac put both barrels of the elephant gun into the giant rattler without stopping it, while the bartender and Mr Hayes lit the fuse on the dynamite yelling for Peter to go back up stairs (even after I pointed out he’d be directly above the explosion). Peter emptied the last three shots of his .45 into Old Tom while the snake lunged forward and sank it’s huge fangs into Mr Hayes. The three bullets struck home killing the monster. Not staying to find out, the survivors charged up the stairs where they found a dozen bodies, apparently not including the gangsters and more than that number of live cultists. With great presence of mind, Sir Isaac who had drawn his revolver shot a cultist to create confusion before shooting out a stained glass window depicting Moses and the Nehushtan. The dynamite going off as the bartenders heels cleared the window sill, dropping the church and cultists into the ravine.

Grabbing the Liberty truck from the bootleggers mine, they drove Lucy to her happy parents - who were puzzled about why they suggested they leave with them. Leaving the by then drowning Herbert (he'd lost over one third of his sanity and was running randomly down the ravine.  He wasn't lucky enough to run up out of the ravine and failed three swim checks in a row), they drove out Galena and the adventure, happy to be alive and reasonably sane.

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