The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Prequel Thread.   Posted by The Keeper of Secrets.Group: 0
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 6 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Sun 24 Sep 2017
at 10:07
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 2):  Clarke Walsh Character Hook

Finally back home, away from the bustle of Arkham, you feel as if you can finally relax. While by no means spacious, your small cottage tucked away in the foothills surrounding the city has become a haven of sorts. While coming back to Arkham may not have been your first choice, the people here have always been fascinated with the occult. Housewives still carry out a number of superstitious rituals and men fear to speak certain names.
“You know the rent on the office is due soon?” That’s the voice of your assistant Ida. While perhaps not the most competent of assistants, she is loyal to a near fault. Even if she may brew the worst cup of coffee in New England, her ability to stretch the budget to make ends meet is unparalleled and she has helped you through a number of lean times. “Hopefully we can find another client soon,” she sighs as she bustles about the kitchen as her latest dish bubbles on the stove. Ever since the death of her son in the war she has treated you as a sort of a surrogate, making sure you always have a home-cooked meal and your slightly worn suits are mended and freshly laundered. And while it may grate you at times, you can’t bring yourself to object to the old woman’s doting. “You don’t mind if I head home a bit early today Clarke? Burt says there is this new radio program tonight and he wants to listen in. Something called ‘The Red Menace’. You know Burt hates those Communists.”
With a sigh you heave yourself out of the armchair and enter the house. “You know you don’t have to come here every night Ida, I can take care of myself,” you say as remove your revolver from your belt and place it on the counter, your stomach growling at the smell of the bubbling stew.
“You say that Clarke but you’ve been looking thin since we came to Arkham,” Ida says with a frown. You can’t argue with her on that point. Coming back to Arkham has been… strange. Vivid nightmares have disturbed your sleep and at times if feels as if you’re being watched by some unseen specter. “Burt says that new exhibit at the university is going to bring a bunch of tourists into the city, help the local businesses,” Ida says as she stirs to pot of stew. “By the way, a message came of you by courier. Its over there on the table.”
As you turn to grab the sealed envelope on the kitchen table, you hear a deafening bang and a sudden piercing pain radiates from your back. You attempt to catch yourself on the table but it just upends, spilling you onto the floor. As you struggle to flip onto your back, you see Ida standing over you, the smoking barrel of your pistol pointed directly at you. “Ida, what are you doing?” you ask breathlessly as blood begins to run down your chin.
“You cannot stop the Order of the Ancient Stone. They are timeless and all knowing. Only death and damnation await you,” says Ida in a low and inhuman growl. Her eyes are blank and lifeless but her aim doesn’t waver an inch. You feel an increasing pressure in your chest and your previous training in the military tells you that one of your lungs have been punctured.
“Order of the Ancient Stone? I don’t know what you’re taking about Ida,” you whisper, leaving a trail of blood as you try to drag yourself away from the advancing woman.
“This is your only warning…. Cthulhu Fhtagn!”As you watch her finger pull the trigger, the honking of a car horn startles you awake.

This message was last edited by the GM at 10:09, Sun 24 Sept 2017.

The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 7 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Sun 24 Sep 2017
at 10:10
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 3): Byron Neville Character Hook

“As we see many times within Germanic mythology, the occurrence of….” You can feel yourself dozing off, the droning voice of Professor Roach and the scratching of pens filling the room. While the syllabus for the class, Paganism and Germanic Mythology, had made the class seem interesting, Prof Roach had surely killed any of its allure. The majority of his lectures were simply touting his own research or attempting to discredit that of his rivals. “Prof Leiter, in arguing that possession plays an important role in Germanic folklore, clearly forgets that the more important idea, of which I discuss at length in my book, is that…”
With a sigh you close your notebook and grab the new Psychology of Individuation by Carl Jung from your bag. While you haven’t read much, the book has been deeply engrossing and you quickly find yourself lost in the text. However, it’s spell over you is soon broken by an eerie silence that has enveloped the room. Looking around, you see the class is staring at you. “Excuse me Mr. Neville, perhaps you could tell me what is the common narrative that unites all Germanic Mythology?”
During the pregnant pause that has filled the room, you get to your feet and begin to answer. “Well, there are several schools of thought in this area. First and perhaps most common is that…”
The crack of a yardstick against the chalkboard cuts you off. “Wrong Mr. Neville. There is only one thing in this world that you should concern yourself with.” Prof Roach begins to write in broad stokes on the board. “The… Order…. Of…. The…. Ancient…. Stone….”
The silence of the room has grown oppressive as it weighs upon you with an almost physical form. “What is the goal of the order Mr. Carver?” A student on the far left of the room stands up in almost a trance-like state and says “The ascension of the Elder Gods!”
“Correct!” shouts Prof Roach, a seemingly wild gleam in his eyes. The room around his seems to darken as he stands before his oversized desk. “Ms. Montgomery, how do they plan to do this?”
A short bespectacled girl who you often see in the library stands and says “They shall find the six stones that were brought from on high and with them open a door into this world for those who wait beyond the wall!”
“Correct!” roars Prof Roach locking eyes with you. Instilled with an otherworldly power, you find yourself unable to look away, your arms nerveless and limp. “And what is the fate of those who dare to oppose the order, children?”
As one the rest of the class stands and as one shouts “Death! Death! Death!” before falling silent.
“You have been warned Mr. Neville,” whispers Prof Roach.
The gaze of all the students turns to you and they begin to whisper “Cthulhu fhtagn, cthulhu fhtagn, cthulhu fhtagn, cthulhu fhtagn” in an endless chant.
The ringing of the bell that signals the end of class startles you out of your seat, Jung’s book falling to the ground. “And today’s homework will be chapters 8 through 12. Class dismissed,” says Prof Roach. Everyone begins to pack their belongings as if nothing had happened. Shaken and confused, you begin to pack your bag.
“I think you dropped this,” says a quiet voice from behind you. You turn around to find the bespectacled girl holding out a sealed envelop.
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 8 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Sun 24 Sep 2017
at 10:12
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 4): Mike Hudson Character Hook

The screech of metal on metal reminds you that you need to replace the breaks in your truck as you pull up to Hibb’s Roadhouse. Perhaps your best customer, the roadhouse provides most of Arkham with its much sought after libations and night-time entertainment. The crunch of gravel lets you know that Shelly has hopped out of the passenger seat. “I’ll go check in with Luce while you unpack,” she says as she heads towards the heavy wooden door of the quiet speakeasy.
While you’re usually comfortable working at night, lately things have felt a bit… off. Strange shadows, the feeling of being watched, you had even considered calling off tonight’s run but Shelly insisted that you needed the money. You grab your inventory list from the cab of the truck and double check the delivery: 6 cases of Battleboro whiskey.
Lifting the first case you can already feel a dull ache in your lower back. As you round the back of the building you run into Ivan, the speakeasy’s bartender. “Mike! I was afraid we’d run out before you showed up,” he says mopping at his forehead with his ever-present checkered handkerchief. A heavyset man of seemingly endless energy, Ivan has manned the bar at Hibb’s for as long as you can remember. “Let me give you a hand with that.”
He follows you back to the truck and with a heavy grunt, picks up a case of whiskey. “You came on a slow night Mike, only the most faithful are here,” he wheezes as he deposits the crate in the small room at the back of the roadhouse. With Ivan’s help you are able to unload your truck fairly quickly.
Running the handkerchief across his balding pate, Ivan turns to you and says, “Let’s head inside and Lucy can square away the bill.” You turn and start walking towards the front door, Ivan trailing behind you. “Damn it!” says Ivan as he comes to a halt. “I forgot to lock the shed. I’ll see you inside Mike.” With a slight nod you open push open the door to the roadhouse with your shoulder and are greeted by an eerily quiet and almost empty room. Lucy and Shelly must be in the back you think to yourself as the only occupant of the room is a lone man tucked in the corner, the wide brim of his hat obscuring his face. You see the bronze bell that Lucy placed on the counter years ago, one that when rung signals drinks for everyone, on the ringers account of course. “Looks like it’s your lucky day pal,” you mutter as you reach out to ring the bell, half for the drink, half to get Lucy and Shelly’s attention, wherever they may be.
The sharp clang rings out throughout the empty bar and you pull your hand away from the clapper, a long trail of slim following it. “The hell…” you whisper to yourself as you see the mysterious substance spread between your fingers like some sort of webbing. A soft groan grabs your attention as the bars loan patron rises to his feet.
“Who am I to say no to a free drink,” growls the man, his face hidden by his hat and the upturned collar of his jacket. As he reaches out for the glass on the table in front of him, instead of a hand, a grotesque tentacle emerges from his sleeve, splashing into the glass and seemingly absorbing the liquor with greed. The hair on the back of your neck rises as the man approaches you. “You’ve always been a good friend Mike, but you need to decide and soon, how far friendship goes.” Backing away from the man as he approaches, you lose your balance falling against the bar. You look down, seeing that the floor is coated in a thin layer of slime, the noticeable scent of sea air filling your nostrils. “The Order of the Ancient Stone doesn’t need to be your enemy. Let the past remain the past and you will die in bed a man of great age.” As the mysterious figure gets closer you can feel your heart race. While you don’t know how you know, you can feel that if the man were to lay his hands on you something terrible would happen. “Nothing you can do will change the future Mike Hudson. Cthulhu fhtagn.”
As the figure reaches out, a sudden pounding on the door startles you. “The fuck Mike?! Did you lock the door behind you?” comes Ivan’s voice, muffled by the heavy door. With a quick glance back, you see the knob rattle. Turning back you find yourself alone in the room.
“What’s going on out here Mike?” asks Lucy as she enters the bar from her backroom office. “Why are you just standing there? Let Ivan in.” With a shaking hand you reach out and undo the latch on the door. Ivan storms in, anger reddening his face.
“What the big id….” He begins to thunder but falls short. “You ok Mike? You’re white as a sheet.”
You pass a trembling hand over your face as you fumble for words. “By the way Mike,” says Lucy as she reaches under the bar and retrieves a manila envelope. “Someone dropped this off for you.”
trahernwithglasses
 player, 4 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 10:02
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 3):

I smooth out my whitening eyebrows and try to put the mental images I just witnessed behind me. Despite how real they felt, the dents in the table; the humidity of steam from the cooking, I know they can't be real. They are my subconscious yearnings towards death made manifest. For years, ever since the Philippines, my mind never has ceased to find a way to punish me for all the sins and follies of a youthful soldier desperate to please his commanders.

"Ida", I say, as I focus on her dark emerald eyes. "Did anyone say they were going to call on us at this time?"
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 9 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 10:16
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 6):

"None that I can recall. But I hope they aren't staying for dinner. I don't think I've made enough pasta." She turns back to the meal she has been preparing. As you watch an open top Model-T approaches the house. Branded as a regional courier service, it comes to a stop and a dusty young man hops out of the drivers seat.
"I have a letter for a Mr. Walsh, a Mr. Clark Walsh. That you?"
Jrodimus
 player, 1 post
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 10:56
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 5):

"I...I..." Mike stammers, still reeling from the vision. Did he imagine it? It felt so real, he can still feel the texture of the slime on his finger tips. The car ride over and unloading at Hibbs' feels like a distant memory.

Taking a deep breath he finally speaks, "I'm ok. Just got a little light headed there. I suppose it's time for some supper." Mike smiles weakly.

With hands still faintly trembling, he takes the envelope and as he begins to break the seal with a key, he turns to Lucy, "Who's it from?"
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 10 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 11:15
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to Jrodimus (msg # 8):

With an exasperated sigh Lucy brushes a lock of hair from her eye. "I don't know Mike, I didn't give him the third degree. He said he was from New York and had a letter from your friend. Said his name was Jack Meredith and that he didn't know where to find you. I remember you guys used to be chummy back in the day so I thought nothing of it. The kitchen is closed but I have some leftover chowder and biscuits if you want. I already made Shelly a bowl." The envelope is heavy in your hands and a single wound string keeps it sealed. There is no return address, simply the name Mike Hudson written in a loopy hand.
trahernwithglasses
 player, 5 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:15
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 7):

I open the door hesitatingly.

"That'd be me. A bit late for these kind of deliveries, ain't it?"
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 11 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:30
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 10):

"My apologizes sir, but this is supposed to be urgent. The man who gave it to me seemed ready to be on to other things." He hands you a large envelope with your name on the front but no address. "You were a little hard to find but  every business has there paper trail," he says with a wink. "If there is noting else sir," he says turning back to his car.
Jrodimus
 player, 2 posts
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:30
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 9):

"Well that's a name I haven't heard in a while." Then in response to Lucy's offer of food, "I suppose we could stay for some supper, what do you say Shelly?"

While waiting for supper, Mike reads the letter.
trahernwithglasses
 player, 6 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:34
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 11):

"Sorry Sir, I know that you must be tired, but may I inquire about the man who gave you this package? Sometimes, in my line work, I receive joke packages. They are quite amusing to the sender, but for a small business owner, a frustrating exercise in discovery."
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 12 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:41
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to Jrodimus (msg # 12):

So this is kinda out of game but I'm going to make one post since the letter is the same for everyone and is as follows:

To My Dearest Friends,
     Do you remember those days before the war when we were young and full of high ideals? How we all laughed and joked about how we were going to send the Kaiser’s boys packing. Of course, we soon found out things were not going to be so easy. I do not have to remind you of the mud, the blood, and the death. Even in my wildest nightmares I had never imagined such horrors. Like so many soldiers, the madness of war wormed its way deep into my heart. In the fire of the machine guns I could hear the chatter of demons, promising mutilation and death. In the explosions of the artillery shells I could hear a roaring voice saying, “God is dead,” “God is dead,” over and over.
     The madness and horror chewed at my very soul, tearing away my faith in God and country. All that I held dear seemed empty and meaningless. I do not know how I survived those terrible days, but I did. Now, I think it might have been better if I had died.
Perhaps if we had been able to go back together, things might have turned out differently. But, on the return voyage I met another soldier, a man name Lance Blake. Like me, Blake had been terrible affected by the war. Blake, like myself, had lost his youthful connection to God and country. Unlike me, Blake had found something else to replace them.
     I can only hint at the dark secrets that Blake had learned in dark and horrid places in the old land of Europe. Suffice it to say that Blake lead me blindly down a path leading to a madness and horror greater than any I had witnessed in the war.
Possessed of an almost infernal charm, Blake was able to draw others into a group, which he called the Order of the Ancient Stone. Many who joined thought it was buy yet another group of eccentric spiritualists, but they soon learned, to their endless horror, that Blake was offering something else.
     Even now I cannot bring myself to write of all I know. Suffice it to say, that I have done terrible things and participated in activities that no sane and God-fearing man should engage in.
    Ironically, it was Blake himself who caused me to turn against the group. He thought he could trust me and revealed some of his true plans. The horror of these words surpassed all the previous horrors and shocked me back to my senses. While I realized that I am beyond redemption, Blake must be stopped. Although I have not spoken to you in years, I know you to be a brave and good man. I hope I can count on you, for Blake must be stopped.
     I have stolen an important item from Blake and I have entrusted it to Father Ronald Henesey. I have sent him to my family camp in Maine. You must meet the good Father there and receive the item. He will be able to tell you more. I now go to try to kill Blake. I fear that he cannot be slain by any mortal weapon, but I must try. For my soul, I must try. I can only hope that this letter has found its way into your hands. One of my few regrets is that the four of us drifted apart for there are few things that buoy the soul greater than friendship. While I know it has been some years, I hope that I can rely on that friendship one last time.

Yours,
Lieutenant Jack Meredith
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 13 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 13:43
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 13):

"He said his name was Jack Meredith. Said you grew up together," replies the courier. "Well truth be told, it was a bit odd. He kept looking around, checking out the windows and such. Like he was looking for something. He gave me a mighty strange look, like he
was trying to look right through my skin. Yeah, I know that is a weird thing to say, but, God’s honest truth, that’s how it felt.”
trahernwithglasses
 player, 7 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 15:59
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 15):

"Jack? That doesn't sound a lot like the man I used to know. Well, thanks for responding to such an ... unusual ... request. I'll have to pay him a visit tomorrow. Well, have a good evening sir."

I take the package back inside and close the door.

"Ida," I call out. "This package might contain something new for us to chew into. I'm going to need your eyes and brain to help me out."

Carefully, I open the package and slide the contents onto the kitchen table.
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 14 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 16:35
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 16):

With a soft salute the man returns to his car, the engine barking to life. Raking your memory, you remember having a tight knit friend group with Jack before you left Arkham as a child. The names of Mike Hudson and Bryan Neville are rather familiar. With a little bit of effort you are sure you could track them down. "I don't remember you mentioning a Jack, but my memory isn't what it used to be," says Ida.

(OOC) see the posted note
trahernwithglasses
 player, 8 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 16:43
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 17):

I rack my brain trying to remember a Jake, but like Ida I only have faded memories of him. Was he real, I wonder? Or another part of my brain slowly coming apart from my own sins?

Sitting down to eat Ida's meal, I take slow bites, saying nothing. There is no money in this, but if I could reconnect with Mike, maybe share a bottle of bourbon, that alone would be worth it. See if his life has turned out kinder than mine.

I mention my plans to Ida and see if her network knows where I could find the run-running, card-switching cheat his friends love, but gamblers hate.
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 15 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Tue 26 Sep 2017
at 02:58
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 18):

"I think Burt might have mentioned a Mike. You know he has his weekly poker game at the roadhouse," says Ida. "I think you could ask around there." While your memories of Jack are vague, you remember spending the summers of your youth with him, Bryan, and Mike, doing all the things that children are want do. You all went off to fight the Germans and haven't really been in touch since.
Jrodimus
 player, 3 posts
Tue 26 Sep 2017
at 10:03
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 14):

In disbelief Mike puts down the letter, feeling the trembling from before start to return. Was there a connection? Was it a premonition?  He didn't believe in any of that sort of hocus pocus, but it had been an odd night.

"Hey Shelly," he said, sliding the letter back into the envelope before putting it in his pocket, "you think you can run the shop for a few days on your own? Might have to go up to Maine to check on some things for an old friend."
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 16 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Tue 26 Sep 2017
at 11:28
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to Jrodimus (msg # 20):

Shelly's response is lost among the haze that has taken over your mind. It has been years since you've thought about your childhood friends and you find yourself reliving some of those early memories. You know that Clarke recently came back to town and Bryan started studying at Miskatonic years ago. However, part of you is still skeptic. A long lost friend, a mysterious cult, a stolen artifact, and a priest on the run, it all seems like the plot of a late night murder mystery. But that premonition still haunts you. The spell that had overcome you is broken when Shelly places a hand on your shoulder and asks "Mike, did you hear me? I said it shouldn't be a problem"

With a deep breath you place your hand over hers. "Thanks hun, I shouldn't be gone too long," you say as you gently squeeze her hand. "Do you remember the old gang Lucy?"

"You mean Arkham's most wanted?" she says with a soft chuckle. "You four used to be the terror of every playground as kids. Is that what the letter is about? I just walked by Clarke office the other day, although I didn't seem like business was booming. And Bryan comes in here with some of those university kids from time to time. And... I'm forgetting someone... Jim? John? I know it started with a J..."

"Jack," you say in a half-whisper.

"Jack!" Lucy exclaims clapping her hands. "Whatever happened to him. He went off to Europe during the war and no ones seen him since," she says as she places a bowl of soup and a some dry biscuits in front of you. "Rumor is his father hasn't been doing so well recently. His wife passed awhile back and I think that took a toll on him." Lucy's gossip mongering fades into the background as you help yourself to the food placed before you. The warmth and aroma of the stew clear your head a bit and you find yourself to be ravenous. You haven't heard from Jack in years but perhaps Clarke or Bryan had been able to stay in touch.
trahernwithglasses
 player, 9 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 02:40
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to trahernwithglasses (msg # 18):

"The Roadhouse? That'll old flea bag? Well, if I must go there. Better than the den full of posers and knowledge whores where Byron spends his days."

I stretch out my arms and fake a long, exhaustive yawn. "Ida my dear, I think I might take an early rest. If I'm going to relive the hellish days of The Great War, I better be in the best mental state."

I help her, as best as I can, with cleaning up the dishes until they meet her steely inspection gaze and head upstairs (?) to my tiny room. Unlike my study, it is immaculate in its barrenness. A single slat bed sits in the middle with a tiny chest of drawers next to it. There are some books, neatly stacked, on the top. One is open from my previous reading.

I slump onto the bed and take off my spectacles, slowly, placing them where they always go on the counter.

"Germany," I mutter. "All those boys. All that futility." A wave of exhaustion sweeps down my head and into my heart. Into my soul. "Goddamn it Zoe, can't you let me go? I've paid all my debts and then some. And them some."

Tears start to roll down my cheeks as I start to picture her face, her smile and the way she would sarcastically comment about the moon. Or maybe the stars. Or maybe anything before my bullet took all that away, all that away and more.
Jrodimus
 player, 5 posts
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 05:34
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 21):

1918. Somewhere in France

Mike sat with shaking hands trying to light his Lucky Strike. His fingers fumbled the match box again and they fell defiantly into the mud at his feet. He leaned forward to pick them up.

Thuck...thuck...pop

He managed to get a grip and find one still dry. He bit his lip and struck it against the flint. It flared brilliantly in the dull light of a lantern in the corner.

Thuck...crunch

Bringing the cigarette back to his lips, he carefully brought the match to meet the end of it. Like a star the cigarette lit. He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. He could taste the mud in his teeth and feel it dry on his neck and face, starting to crust.

Thuck...pop...thuck

Mike looked over at Jack and his ugly work. The German soldier, no more than 17, lay limp under Jack's weight. His face red with gore, nose busted and crooked. Lips red and torn around a gaping mouth. Jack brought down his fist again, his brass knuckles gleaming in the light of the lantern.

Thuck

Like a dullard, his ears still ringing with the raging thunder in his head, Mike started forward, "Jack...for God's sake, man. Stop it."

Jack paused briefly before bringing his fist down one more time.

Crack

He turned slowly, the dirt on his face emphasizing the shadows already cast by the lantern. He cracked his lips in a ghoulish smile and half cackled, "God? There is no God here." Dark fire behind his bulging eyes, like a cow going to slaughter. Like they all were. Jack turned back....

Crack

Now. Arkham

"Stop!"

Mike bolted upright his hands reaching forward, grasping at the darkness. It was dark. Breathing heavily he looked around, slowly digesting his surroundings. Moonlight illuminating the objects in his room. He looked over at his night stand and eyes his late Grandfather's revolver, his most prized possession. Oddly enough, never lost in the war, despite all of the other things that had been lost in Europe.

He felt a hand reach from within the blankets and started, then relaxed realizing it was Shelly. Her face was still half in the pillow, "You alright, Mike?"

Mike tried to smile reassuringly, "Yeah, just a bad dream I guess."

Not moving, "About the war? That hasn't happened in a long time."

Mike scratched at his beard, "Yeah, I guess so. Maybe hearing about all the old boys last night made me think about it a bit."

Shelly sat up, resting her shoulders against the headboard. "Whatever happened to you guys after the war? Before you were all thick as thieves."

Staring towards the cracked door of their bedroom aimlessly, "I guess life happened. As it usually does." Mike laid back down, his back still sweaty from the nightmare. "Well I guess we oughta' get more sleep. Busy day tomorrow."

Shelly laughed, "Of course, tomorrow is poker night."

After a few minutes Shelly began snoring softly, but Mike watched the moon set and the sun rise, the shadows from the hallway illuminating into the morning.

This message was last edited by the player at 07:18, Wed 27 Sept 2017.

novissimo
 player, 1 post
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 14:07
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 4):

“Right,” I say, unsure if I recognize the envelope as mine. I still feel dazed and am wary of the girls suddenly nonchalant demeanor. I clench and unclench my fists, trying to shake off the chilly numbness from my limbs.

“Thank you” I say as I reach for the package.

“You’ve studied the writings of the Ancient order?” I ask in an attempt to mask my ignorance of it. In my sickly youth, I read hundreds of books of German mythology, and dozens of books on or about it. My fascination with mysticism and the occult drove my studies in phsycology and parapsychology.  But I'd never heard of this “order of the ancient stone”.
The Keeper of Secrets
 GM, 17 posts
 Harbinger of Doom
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 15:04
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to novissimo (msg # 24):

"The Ancient Order?" the girls says with a blank look. "Is that some kind of band or something?" As you try to come up with an explanation the girl rolls her eyes and mutters "weirdo" under her breath before joining the rest of the students as they leave the classroom. Something about the name tugs at the back of your mind but you can't quite place it. In the envelope you find a letter from your childhood friend Jack Meredith (see previous post).
trahernwithglasses
 player, 11 posts
 Heirloom Specialist
Wed 27 Sep 2017
at 17:27
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
15 May 1917, Abandoned Farmhouse Outside of Poperinge

Zoe rubbed the coarse blanket lying on the uneven ground. Although she had pulled her legs up, as if to be in a cocoon, her toes protruded outside of the checked materials covering. In her calloused fingers, she spun Clarke's glasses with her other hand. They moved around like a the blades of tired helicopter that didn't want to fly anymore.

"You going to let me vote in the future?" she asked Clarke.

He turned, his gaze shifting away from the weak moonlight seeping through the cracks above. A part of the beam fell on his angular face, splitting it in two. "Think you deserve it?"

"Damn straight I do. Out here, watching men die and getting my ass slapped by the brass. If they can slide their hand up my crack, I should be able to slide a paper in a box."

"I should get you on your knees for that blasphemy."

"If you were a bigger priest, I might just take that offer." She paused, flicking the glasses into the air, she caught them with her left hand, not making a sound while she did it. "Can an atheist confess to a priest?"

"Does the atheist want to?" Clarke sat up. He stroked Zoe's back. Her muscles were taught even though she looked relaxed. Her brown hair was ragged and dirt-filled, yet it still had barely made it past her shoulders.

"No. But ... I love you. There I said it." She turned, and passed Clarke's glasses back to him. Her grey eyes were caught in the moonlight, but the light did little to brighten them. "You said there was a push coming, and this war's going to end soon."

"They been saying that for a while now. Said it to Mike and then shipped him some months later. Said it to Byran and sent him away as well. Promised Jack we'd be done by Christmas. Wish we'd asked which one."

"Just, shut up, would you? I got to say these things. War's going to end sooner or later and ... that's when they worry about people like us."

Clarke put his glasses back on. He inhaled sharply. "Us two half-Arab dogs?"

"Spat from the loins of Satan himself, if I've heard enough sermons by Fredrick. God he goes on, doesn't he?"

"I'd like it if you did tonight too."

"Yeah." Zoe stood up, her full figure turning into a filled out shadow. "My father is a wicked Frenchman. Parisian. Full of debauchery, evil and all the sins the ten commandments hate. And I love him. No, I love the idea of him. Like I love the idea of us coming back war heroes, secret assassins that torched Germany to the ground. But, the Germans, they like him just fine too."

"Wait, you said he was dead. His record says he's dead."

The shadow placed a finger on Clarke's lips and ran it down them. Each one popped. "Did you wake up a skilled locksmith Mr. Walsh? Or did someone teach you it in your youth?"

"Your father was a forger."

"My father was a forger," she repeated. "Pretty decent one too. Enough to sneak us into the U.S. when things got dicey with his criminal connections. And I couldn't let him go." She met Clarke's gaze, his face empty. Two large tears, ones that had wound their way down to her mouth sparkled in the faded white light of the night sky.

"Tell me you're not stupid Clarke Walsh, tell me you know what I'm trying to confess."

His voice broke. "So when this war ends, you think they'll know?"

"How many pretty French and English speaking spies you know in the inner circle? How many German assholes are going to forget the great assassin that fucked their friend until his brain was splattered all over the wall? I'll be a pawn, something to trade for another genocidal General's freedom."

"I'm not that smart Zoe, I don't know what you want. I'm an idiot in love."

"I want you to promise me, that after tonight, you'll cast a vote in my honour. Every vote till you meet another woman. Hey," she smiled, "maybe a man. Not too much of a change, you've already fucked your heritage in the ass by siding with the racists."

"Americans are not racist, they're just," Clarke couldn't finish.

"Misguided? So they won't shoot the Arab woman? They'll try me like a blonde with curvy hips?" She swayed slowly, sliding her body against his. "One of those bitches who pout and then thrust their breasts out." She mimicked the motion. "I'm the same as her? I won't be raped, or humiliated, or yelled at. I won't die inside, everyday knowing I was trying to save both of the men I loved?"

Clarke stood up. "I brought a ring tonight, but you knew that. You've been snooping through my bag since the first date."

"Have to check for condoms. Can't be a whole woman in this line of work."

Reaching into his pack, Clarke ruffled around, his eyes closing as he searched. "Talk to me Zoe, tell me about what kind of person you would vote for."

"I don't know. Someone who believed a bilingual woman could be better than a monolingual man. Someone who understood I shouldn't have to wear tight dresses when the General is visiting. Someone who gave two fucks about my father. Hell, maybe even a pagan."

The piece of metal Clarke held glistened in the farmhouse. It was not circular, but cylinder-shaped and looked heavy. "You think there is no god?"

"I know there isn't."

"Not even a dark one, not even something people sacrificed to when the ghosts were out?"

"There is no price to pay Clarke, just living. And then it ends." She paused, her grey eyes going soft. "Please."

The barrel lit up, shattering the sound of the stillness. Shattering Zoe's voice forever. At that moment, Clarke knew she'd been wrong. There was a god, he just didn't know which one.

This message was last edited by the player at 17:45, Wed 27 Sept 2017.

novissimo
 player, 2 posts
Fri 29 Sep 2017
at 03:07
The Order of the Ancient Stone Game Thread
In reply to The Keeper of Secrets (msg # 25):

Bryon opens the letter and reads it.

“Jack Meredith”, he says. “That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time.”

He folds the letter and puts it in his bag. He picks up his books and heads out the door.

“Can I get to Maine? I have my studies. And then there’s the question of finances.”

“Tonight is poker night.” He says to himself. “If I earn enough tonight I could perhaps take a short leave from school”

Byron had a privileged up bringing. He was an only child but  sickly, subject to frequent bouts of pneumonia and was often bedridden. His father was a doctor from a well off family and had a successful practice that helped to maintain a life of comfort and leisure afforded by the upper class. For a time. But his father died when Byron was young. His mother became a cold and distant spinster and Byron was too sick to help with chores or house work. As the family inheritance slowly dwindled, Bryon watched as his once stately residence fell into dank poverty and disrepair. Byron became more healthy as he aged but the family income was to never recover.

Byron struggled with poverty even after the war. He took to gambling in desperate bid to escape it. Part of his psychology studies informed him of the various ticks and compulsions which could manifest into addictive gambling. Byron wasn’t quit sure if he was an addict himself.  As a person born to a higher station in life, he loathed gambling as beneath him. As something vulgar and common. He almost loathed himself for indulging in it.

He still went to the Roadhouse with the detached knowledge that he was chronically neurotic, brimming with the tensions of self loathing and addiction, the need to return to former class and knew full well that he couldn’t stop himself.

Perhaps one day when he completes his studies and has a practice of his own he could finally stop.

Or maybe this was when he’d finally strike it big.

Byron walks across the campus in the refreshing breeze of a May evening to catch a bus to his apartment before heading to the Roadhouse