Fostering Madness

2. The Edge of Darkness

A Mission in Ross's Corner

Since their adventures in Kingsport in November 1923, Teddy Chiselbottom and Eugene Brannigan had been meeting every month for dinner, usually joined by Veronica Masters. At one such dinner in May 1924, Eugene and Teddy discussed Eugene’s recent traumatic experience reading the Glaaki. As he read the tome over the course of half a year, Eugene’s hair went totally white, and he temporarily lost his grip on reality. During this period, Eugene lost credibility with the Miskatonic faculty, especially with librarian Richard Armitage. Eugene also gained knowledge of a mysterious spell named Summon Vegetal Ally.

After dinner, Teddy and Eugene received a request to attend the sickbed of their dear friend Rupert Merriweather the following afternoon. They retired for the evening at Teddy’s estate. The next morning, they discovered horrific sights. They found eggs containing mutated chicken fetuses, mystical symbols drawn on the windows, and a mutilated squirrel, each causing more disquiet than the last. Small footprints and a mysterious stub of red candle were the only clues to the vandals’ identity.

Teddy and Eugene departed for St. Mary’s hospital. Also at Mr. Merriweather’s sickbed were his volatile son Bertrand, his inconsolable wife Agnes, and the handsome retired doctor and recalcitrant skeptic Timothy Aegis.

With agitation, Mr. Merriweather confessed boyhood exploits in a club that had dabbled in the occult. The boys had used a farmhouse in Ross’s corners as a clubhouse. In this clubhouse they summoned an evil being. The boys couldn’t dispel the creature, but they managed to bind it to the house’s attic using wards. However, Mr. Merriweather explained, upon the last club member’s death, the wards would dissolve, leaving the monster free to wreak violence on local communities. Mr Merriwether cautioned the investigators that he did not have much time left and importuned them to help. He gave Timothy, Eugene, and Teddy a box containing an arthropod encased in amber, a tiny gold sarcophagus, an unnotarized deed to the farmhouse, and the club’s journal. Teddy and Eugene resolved to help, and the skeptical Dr. Aegis agreed to put his friend’s mind at rest by satisfying his apparently delusional final wish.

The next morning the three men were joined by fellow adventurer Veronica masters. Teddy’s butler Peterson informed them that Mr. Merriweather had passed away in the night. From the journal, they learned that Mr. Merriweather had been the last living member of the occult club. The four set out for Ross’s corners to complete their mission. After chatting with the town’s general store owner while stocking up on supplies, they made it to the house, where they found a large raccoon with wounds that seemed both neatly surgical and savagely voracious. Exploring the inside of the house, they found an itinerant madman, the powder of ibn-ghazi, and a diagram for a magical spell to banish the creature whence it came. After attempting to interview the homeless man, they released him, sensing that his mental anguish was caused by the evil presence in the house. They discovered the horrific being in the attic, from which discovery Eugene narrowly escaped with his life and sanity, but at the cost of horrific facial scars. After a long night of spellcasting, they were able to banish the creature.

During the night, the homeless man and a local farmer’s wife who had gone missing, both dead yet animated, lured Teddy out of the house and attacked him, forcing the friends to destroy them. Both animated corpses had had wounds similar to the raccoon’s. Resigned that their reporting the bodies would be too suspicious, Timothy used his medical expertise to remove identifying characteristics, and the group disposed of the corpses in the Miskatonic River on the way home.

After this harrowing and macabre drive, Peterson welcomed the group to Teddy’s home but informed them there had been more vandalism in their absence. This time, a mutilated cat had been left on the doorstep with the message “Die, blasphemers.” Despite this threat, Veronica, Teddy, and Eugene passed the night in the mansion.

The next morning, a police officer alerted Teddy that the farmhouse property to which he had a tenuous claim had burned to the ground. The officer reported that Rupert’s son wanted to claim the property and would be making himself a legal nuisance, especially since the investigators were known to be in the house on the night of the fire.

Veronica, Teddy, and Eugene continue to nurse wounds that will never heal. Teddy begins to court madness by delving into the Glaaki. Timothy begins to cede the reality of paranormal forces. The vandal on the Chiselbottom estate remains at large. All in all, this was a successful conclusion, but not without its many anxieties.

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