• This game is under the Supernatural, Horror & Action/Adventure genres.
  • The game system is Unisystem.
  • This game contains adult content.
Long Shadows: Horror in The Guilded Age
Damaged pages found from the personal Journal of Father John Andrew Riordan

- 7/April/1904
My long sea voyage from Galway; a full seven months due to bad weather, has lead me round the Cape Of Good Hope and deposited me, weary, dread-filled, yet tentatively excited; at the Port City of Bombay. I arrive in late afternoon.

The claustrophobic atmosphere of the seemingly endless voyage and tight quarters has left me with a sinking feeling. I had felt, before my departure; a general malaise, and had come to the conclusion that a change to a warmer, less gloomy clime, that required more concrete works, engagement and deeds would be the answer to the spiritual drift I was feeling.

I threw myself into my studies of Hindi and the Indian Subcontinent, studying for years in addition to my regular studies and tasks.

Now I am here, and though I hope that my vision of mental and spiritual enlightenment through sacrifice and brotherhood, bears fruit I feel alone; and strangely deflated.

The heat is oppressive and damp, yet fresher than the air on the ship, which served so long as my transport and home.  The Ships Steward, eager to stretch his legs, volunteers to lead me to St. Michael's Church; where I am intended to spend the night, currently under the control of the Padroado. I admit to a feeling of trepidation, likely enhanced by my current, weary state. I speak no Portuguese; and relations between that kingdom and the Vatican seem strained. The Steward assures me, with my knowledge of Hindi, studied from book and instructor for the last three years, and the English of the native Indians of Bombay, someone will be able to translate proper my thanks for the lodging and care.

He walks me to St. Michael's and I am immediately glad of his solid, drab, and similarly tired presence. The city of Bombay is a dizzying expanse of color and image. Brief golden sands meet sea of a striking and clear sapphire. British, Spanish and Moorish architecture overlaid with Native murals tower above us, and tradesman's bright stalls burst in lush expanses; like petals from a core or stamen, that create a magnificent and humbling display of vibrant, nearly wild, culture, of life and colour.

The proud and the humble, clad alike in bright fashions; features varying, all with thick dark hair and striking features; cajole, ignore, and inspire. Wares are sold, children and wives are cuffed and corrected, fire is eaten, juggled, and subjugated while bonds are created, and contracts are forged.

My night passes in quiet nods and sherries over a heavy and sumptuous dinner fairly unsuited for the heat. My Portuguese hosts seem to seldom mix with the natives of India, and near resent them for attending services.

10/May/1904

I arrived in Matheran yesterday, though I was too weary from heat and travel to diligently record the details of my journey. Fifteen aching hours baking in the sun, in a cart drawn by two smallish and suspect looking Indian ponies.  Matheran perches like an eyrie on a hillside in the Western Ghat Mountain Range, accessible by winding road and surrounded by dense evergreen forest.  It is cooler here, and a fog often clings to the hillside, obscuring objects in the distance with a misty white shroud that looks quite eerie; rising in me unbidden pangs of homesickness the gloomy peat-bogs of my own country.

The mission is small and clean building of buff coloured clay brick, built in the last two years. The natives seem quite friendly, if a little wary of my intentions. My pronunciation of Hindi seems to amuse them greatly, as do my ginger hair and sunburn.  My curate is an English speaking Hindi by the name of Rajeet; who trained at Rachol Seminary in Goa.

25/May/1904

Although the settlement at Matheran is small; not properly a village; but a hill station, still under development who's construction was ordered by Lord Elphinstone himself, the Governor of Bombay. Construction has started on several buildings; an area set aside for a future railway station, lodges and grand bungalows for British Officers and wealthy families seeking respite from the heat on holiday.  They stand partially built, and gape like mouths full of broken teeth in the mist shrouded evenings. British Engineers and planners come once weekly, dependent on the weather.

The few streets that exist are made of a gravely red earth. Nearby, yet still in the cleared areas; torches set against the ever encroaching darkness of the surrounding forest, is a small town of close set tents; the temporary homes of the workmen, their wives and children. A few of the more senior laborers have built rough thatch-roofed cabins, baking bricks of the red gravel-dirt and bread in stone ovens.  Inhabitants of nearby villages come once or twice a week to sell produce, additional tools and textiles. Lanterns hang from strings on posts giving this half built outpost some much needed cheer.

Having become familiar with my heavily accented Hindi; and soothed by the reassuring presence of Rajeet, I find the natives have become more trusting of me in the past few weeks.  A child of between three or five was playing unattended in one of the half built bungalows.  One of the workmen brought him to the Mission to be healed, vastly underestimating our valued, but flawed connection to our Heavenly Father.  However, as I had endured two years of medical school before realizing my true calling was the saving of souls, not the dissection of bodies I was able to diagnose by touch, talk and visual inspection of the swollen limb; a possible, probable green-stick fracture.  Asking the child's father to cut down a piece of board (aided handily by Rajeet and his proper pronunciations) I was able to fashion a serviceable splint, which I bound with some strips of one of the Mission's linen tablecloths. When the planners came to pass judgement on the most recent work I convinced them to take the boy and his father to Bombay, where a physician apparently complimented my rough work and set a proper cast. After these events there came a trickling stream of nearby villagers, some who were helped by basic aspirin, hygienic practices and convincing Mother's in Law and Fathers to give women who had recently given birth a proper bed rest.

7/June/1904

My reputation as a healer among the immediately local population has grown, much to my chagrin.  I counsel them all to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the Catholic Church as their one true path to redemption.  I give asprin and hygenic advice to many, all with the admonition to visit the physicians of Bombay.  Due to the influx of local travel and the presence of enterprising merchants a caravan; probably running multiple services, now comes once daily to Matheran, spiriting the desparate and hopefully faithful to Bombay.  I have begun to get requests to visit patients who are unable to travel to our Church, members of their families desperately, faithfully showing up to the services we offer at the Mission in the hopes that attendance will bring remission of the afflicted.  I have counseled each of them, in my own words and with the aid of Rajeet additionally; to seek the Physicians of Bombay, but they do not trust the British. I am 'bharosemand dost' or 'Trusted Friend' especially after explaining the plight of the Irish under British Rule.

14/June/1904

Last night I was awakened by a knock at the door. I roused myself to see a boy of 12, standing at the door of the mission. He spoke in an alarmed, rapid fashion, myself only catching what seemed like every other word. Eventually I understood, his mother had sent him to me for help, and someone was terribly ill.

Though near sickened from the increasingly oppressive heat; the monsoons have yet to start and are late this year, yet ozone hangs heavily in the air, and a rush of visitors seeking help, mostly afflicted with heat exaustion, I rouse myself, slap water on my face and hair,  and dress and go, waking Rajeet and filling skins of water before we follow the boy back to his tribal village.

Two hours or so of travel through dark and misty forest paths leads us to a small village on the edge of Charlotte Lake. Already I suspect fevers and other mosquito bourne illnesses.  I am lead by the boy and an increasing crowd of fearfully muttering villagers to a small tent like hovel, nearly a Yurt, wherein the boy's mother sits, probably a young woman; her face lined with sorrow and work, tends to a girl of perhaps five.

The child had been stricken with an obscure sort of fever, and had cried out in the night, a handful of days ago;  and had since-forth shown only alternations of unconsciousness and delirium.

The child appears unconscious, yet rapidly dreaming. Her lips are dry and crusted over with dead skin and her skin is cool, clammy and almost scaly, a sign of dehydration surely.

I suggest, quinine, water. I attempted in my poor Hindi; with the aid of Rajeet, to convince the mother to take the child to doctors in Bombay.  This illness is far past my humble powers to heal.

Delirious or unconscious, eyes rolled so far back in her head that they show only whites, the girl sits up and begins to prattle nonsensically. Something sleeps or is dead, and will soon awaken. I look for explanation to Rajeet, who shakes his head and crosses himself. The girl falls back onto her ragged bedding and is still, not dead but more deeply sleeping.

We bless the girl, and instruct the mother to sit her up periodically, giving her water.  Rajeet and I part at the Mission, him to stay while I continue on to Mumbai on the bicycle of one of the laborers, the girl must have an English Doctor.




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Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica
May 1, 1905







St Peter's Basilica; the palace of His Holiness The Pope of Rome, was the headquarters and crown Jewel of Catholicism since 1662.
In 1905 it was presided over by Pope Pious X; born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, a short and serious man, who was about to unknowingly alter the course of human events for centuries to come.

Cardinal Guiseppe Bellucci:  "Your Holiness, Father Alexi Von Jaeger has arrived for his audience."

Pious X:"Ah yes, Von Jaeger; the American.  Show him in."

Alexi Von Jaeger entered the room. The blue eyed man stood six feet tall; with an innocent and honest face-- features possibly a bit rough; framed by neat, close clipped chestnut hair, held in place by a touch of pomade. He wore the traditional Priest's Cassock, rather like a long and simple black dress, buttons down the front and a gather in the back to hang properly yet allow free movement. He'd been in Rome for the past three years, serving as a gopher and lackey to Cardinal Holgate-Collinson; a well-published Cardinal who preferred an English speaking assistant.

Perhaps a study in opposites to Von Jaeger, Pius X was a rather wide, short man who's broad face was currently etched with worry, the skin under his eyes puffy and dark from uneasy sleep. The brown eyes surrounded by the tell-tale skin were a deep, warm brown, full of intelligence and perhaps sorrow, his skin a light olive tone. He had neglected to wear the triregnum, or Papal Tiara, but held in his right hand the Papal Ferula, and on his left hand the Ring Of The Fisherman caught sunlight and put forth glints of gold. The ring was matched by a pectoral cross suspended from a gold cord from the neck of His Holiness and his white Cassock and zucchetto were made of watered silk, the long train made of the white Falda and red Mantum hanging down past the edges of the Papal Throne, streaming over the immediate steps below. Red Papal shoes peeked out from behind a bunching of expensive cloth.  Von Jaeger stepped forward, bowed deeply and kissed the Papal ring.

Von Jaeger:  "Your Eminence, thank you for granting your humble servant a moment of your time..." He bowed his head again and waited, still unsure of what had prompted this interview with His Holiness.

Pious X:  "Mio figlio, grazie per aver reso cosė prontamente disponibile per questa riunione." Pious X started in his native tongue, then caught himself.

"My son, thank you for making yourself so readily available for this meeting. Your quick wit, loyalty, and ability follow orders without being distracted by politics has built you quite the reputation among your superiors. I hope that you will be able to serve me as discreetly and ably as you have Cardinal Holgate-Collinson. Have you heard of Father John Riordan?"


Von Jaeger nodded in quick ascent. His Holiness continued.

"His work with the poor of Punjab Provence in India is quite well known. That Earthquake was the most devastating example of God's fury that we shall ever see in our lives.  But it shows me that Our Heavenly Father has blessed us all with a sacred burden.

What I am to tell you goes no further than the select few with whom I ask you to communicate.
There is a plague sweeping the world.  A sleeping disease, that puts it's victims into a coma-like state.  Father Riordan saw it in The Kangra Valley in the Punjab Province of India.  It would have been easy to miss among so much death and devastation, but he had once studied briefly to be a Doctor before feeling the call of his Sacred Vows.  He had been in communication with fellow missionaries around the world, and they allowed him to track the disease as it as spread.  By the time he started to feel that this was no ordinary illness, the sickness had already spread to Calcutta.  Not long after, it spread Diego Garcia, and parts of East Africa.



A few weeks ago I received letters saying that it has spread to Paris, London and Hong Kong. After alerting his peers Father Riordan began to fear for his life.  Random accidents at first, then signs of things more sinister.  The poisonous snake in his bed, the rock collapse along his common morning walking path, an attacker gone mad from drugs, finally the Possession of a local child. Another Priest was called in from a separate Mission to aid Father Riordan in an Exorcism. Most of what the child spoke was apparently nonsense, but some of it alluded to some grand design behind the sleeping sickness."


 


After a wave of a hand from Pius X, Von Jaeger felt he was to respond. He felt confused and shaken, how was he to help with maladies such as this?

"Truly the Lord works in mysterious ways; Your Eminence."

"Madre di dio, it is more than that!" Pius responded forcefully, gesticulating in high emotion. "This sickness is not of this world I fear.  Mano del Diavolo plots its course.  We need to root it out and end it with the hand and sweat of righteous justice!"

Von Jaeger: "What exactly are you asking of me Your Eminence?"

Pius X: "A Papal decree is needed to institute The Clypeus Sanctificavit Sanguine. This order has not been called for since The threat of Napoleon, over 100 years ago. Events have become so dire! Riordan was recalled to Rome a more than month ago. The Priest who helped him conduct the exorcism; Father Cartwright is dead, soon after returning to his mission he felt the bite of the poisonous snake.  Father Riordan's correspondence became more erratic; more volatile. The few of us with knowledge of the situation thought that a combination of heat stress and grief were causing a spiritual crisis. He seemed excitable, delusional.  When he saw we questioned his accounting of events, he fell silent. Taciturno!  We arranged for his rest in a special hospital, here in Vatican City. He was found dead shortly after, in a locked cell, the room itself totally clean; his eyes, tongue and heart missing. He...is not the first to be found this way.

There have been events that defy rational description occurring over the last twenty years.  In Europe, in America, there have been a rash of incidents, and portents. Infants and animals born with strange defects.  Sensational Murderers stalking the streets of great metropolises, confounding the press and the law. Possessions, blamed on the popular fad of Spiritualism. The seance.  I make the decree!!!"


Pius X' face softened momentarily.

"These are difficult times my son. I do not ask you personally to fight monsters, rather I ask you to go to Singapore, to enlist a Father Russo to the cause.  He will know how to continue from that point.  I trust that you can be both discrete and accurate. Excuses will be made as to your absence.  Tell what I have told you to nobody but Father Russo.  Do not share your plans with anyone. I will give you the designation for a telegraph station, you will send an answer, si, o no."

Von Jaeger "It will be as you wish Your Eminence."

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Singapore
Church of St. Peter & Paul
May 10, 1905




Father Alexi Von Jaeger stepped out of a black and tan stage coach, onto the cobblestone road that lead to the only Catholic Church in the British Crown Colony of Singapore. He pulled gently at his collar, it was still morning and already the day was becoming uncomfortably hot and humid.  His hair had yet to dry fully from the morning's ablutions.  Sweat accumulated on his neck.  It reminded him the recent talk of India; he was used to the cooler climes of Italy, even his tropical-weight white Cassock felt like a test to endure and it was not yet midday.  He remembered the fate of Father John Riordan and his stomach gave an unpleasant lurch.

Once inside the dim building he was greeted by a rush of cool air, and a small woman, dark of brow and thick of eyelash.  She gazed at him dourly, her Habit crisp and white, not a drop of perspiration visible. A plain silver band graced her left ring finger and an intricate Rosary of carved wooden beads hung from the belt at her waist.  Von Jaeger blinked stupidly at her, his eyes adjusting to the change in light.



Von Jaeger: "Good day, Father Alexi Von...."

She interrupted him, speaking in a clipped British Accent.
"Yes Father, you're expected.  I'm Sister Mary Theresa, Father Russo will be available in a few minutes.  If you would like to wait in the rectory, I can show you the way."

Not waiting for a response, Sister Mary turned on the heels of her well-worn, sensible black shoes and headed through the chaplet toward the rectory.

Father Von Jaeger dipped his fingers into the font of holy water, and blessed himself with the signs of the cross before following.  He wondered to himself how or why he was expected, since his mission was of the utmost urgency and secrecy and had been given to him by the Pope himself.

Father Russo entered nearly 30 minutes later.  He was in his seventies, white haired, bearded and weather beaten. Here and there he still had a streak of darker hair, though it had turned from black to iron-grey.  He wore a white Cassock that stretched a bit at the gut and his face looked slightly damp with more florid coloring in his cheeks and nose.  Russo wasn't especially tall, but he had a knack of filling every room he entered with his presence. His voice was sonorous, rich and booming with a trace of of both British and Spanish accents.

Russo: "Apologies for keeping you waiting, my boy. What's your name, the girl didn't get it?  We're unofficially trying to rally parishioner support for a new church.  The crown's not about to support anything that's not  Anglican, spreading God, light, and civilization to the Malay; and hopefully the rest of Asia, be damned!"

Father Von Jaeger waited patiently as Father Russo tut-tutted about the disappointing state of affairs.  Yes, he agreed the money for another Catholic Church in British controlled Singapore would have to be dispensed by the Vatican and philanthropic parishioners. Finally the impassioned rant wound to a dramatic close.  He introduced himself properly, puzzled as to what this bombastic and disorganized man could bring to the current situation.

Russo: "Sorry Von Jaeger; old boy, you're here because the Vatican has finally decided to do something about this mess, is that right?" He grinned broadly at Von Jaeger's curt nod of acquiescence.

Well, lad I'm in! We're in luck no less, divine providence. You and I are to meet with Andrew Helms, adventurer, man of letters, and hunter of the deadliest game this world; and the next, has to offer.  He'll help us assemble our task force!"

Von Jaeger felt a chill run up his spine despite the balmy heat of his surroundings. When His Eminence had requested the initiation of the "Clypeus Sanctificavit Sanguine" or "Shield Of Sanctified Blood" Alexi had assumed that the men who were to make up the newly re-instituted Order would be men of faith.  Perhaps from one of the more obscure orders, a hermetical brotherhood of Warrior Monks perhaps. Instead he'd been sent to Father Russo, who would serve as something of a mentor or advisor; if not the team lead, despite the reputation the man had of participating in dubious Native rituals in his far-flung postings.

Andrew Helms; Russo's suggestion of team lead; in place of Russo himself, had something of a reputation as a challenger of the faith and the hierarchical bureocracy of the church. A man of the world and a worldly man, his three marriages; which consisted of two widower-ings, and a scandalous divorce from a famous British actress, were enough to famously bar him from communion at the exceedingly proper St. Leonard's Church in Boston.  Helm's response had been to publicly start attending services at the Episcopal Christ Church of Boston, generously donating enough money to fix their ailing roof.

Helms had reportedly made and lost fortunes. Gambling, race cars.  Indeed, as Father Von Jaeger had read in the newspapers and magazines he studied on his trip to Singapore, Helms was here; in Singapore, enjoying a grand traveling honeymoon with his latest bride, a wealthy half caste woman of British and Malay-Chinese descent, at least twenty years his junior.

Could such a man be trusted with the sacred task of assembling the team that would serve as the Shield Of Sanctified Blood?  What more, How could such a team unmask and vanquish whatever shadowy hands were behind the tenuously connected supernatural events; documented with increasing frequency over the last five years?

"Father Russo, I must protest; Helms has a reputation as a serial philanderer.  He can ill withstand earthly temptations, how will he weather supernatural ones?"

Russo gave Von Jaeger a sober look.  "I knew the mans' Grandfather, and his father before him.  Met him as a lad as well, though I doubt he remembers me. You've got to learn to see signs more subtle than a burning bush.  Helms has the knowledge and connections to build our team, and the mettle to lead it."