Trail of Cthulhu: Boundless Deceptions

Malta: the Despicable Doctor

From the Notes of J. Murphy

(next day)

Morning:  2 days left til Donovan’s next shipment.

 

Viv, Emma, the Prof go to the hospital to see if they can slip Emma in, to snoop around. The other two to look around, see if they can get medical records.  Meanwhile, I go loiter at dingy bar near Donovan’s warehouse, to keep an eye open for trucks, other traffic.

 

Hospital Superbissima:  Emma slips in through side entrance: warren of halls inside. Main entry is not too busy. Waiting room for family members in each wing. Emma follows a gaggle of nurses into locker room, then filches a uniform, changes. Makes her way to pediatrics ward. Walks up and starts looking through the desk records authoritatively. Desk nurse (“simmler”) notices her, can tell that Emma’s in the wrong place, orders her to leave. Emma uses bureaucracy to cover her gaffe—playing up the confusion, but is still redirected to “nurse Watson” in long term care.

 

Armitage leaves car where he/Viv were waiting, goes into lobby, looking around, wanders to records office on first floor. A clerk stops him, asks if he’s lost. He blithely wanders past, playing the entitled academic.  Miss Petrie, the clerk, tries to stop him, but he blows her off, “too little time for this project today, thank you I don’t need any assistance”.  “Weren’t you expecting me?” Claims affiliation with the local university. Successfully uses bureaucratic procedure, intentionally misremembering her name (4 times within the single conversation), etc, to blow her off.

 

Armitage searches pediatric records for Donovan:  Ralph, Montgomery, Daniel.  Stuffs them in his pants, hiding them poorly under his shirt, and wanders right out towards the car…but a guard intercedes.

Guard: “Sir, Stop!”   Armitage: “Can I help you?”

 

 

Murphy:  loitering on a stoop, smoking, in the warehouse district. Not many cars, but a few come along the street. 2 guards at Donovan’s warehouse.  One occasionally leaves to walk the fenceline. Watch for about an hour, after morning traffic comes in. Nothing to Donovan’s warehouse, but some delivery trucks.

 

 

Emma:  long-term care unit.  The desk nurse is glad to put Emma to work, delivering a vial to room 303. Dr. Silazzio will meet her there. Vial is unlabeled, viscous appearance, cloudy fluid.  At room, name on chart is Alexi, attending doctor is Silazzio. In room: Dr. Silazzio is standing over small boy, maybe 6-8 years old. The child is pale, thin, big eyes, bandages on hands and arms.  Chart says boy is being treated for bite marks on arms, legs. Being treated with complicated mess of drugs, but treatments are failing, kid’s wounds are failing. 

 

Calls Emma in, asks for the vial of “medicine”. Uncorks vial, sniffs it, pours onto spoon, feeds a spoonful of it to the boy. (Almost certainly Nectar.)  Alexi immediately reacts, breathing rapidly, dazed then sleeps.  Dr Silazzio says they should leave, let him rest.  Describes the drug to Emma, as “newly discovered” and “not by the books”.

 

Emma starts to unwind some of the bandages; bites look larger than human mouth, but same shape, but toothmarks look jagged, wounds inflamed and oozing with pus.  She redoes the bandages (about time for it anyway), then checks on other charts on that floor.  Room 304 is occupied by Montgomery Donovan, also being treated by Silazzio!  Emma goes in to check on him—boy in this room seems about 10 years old, similarly befuddled and pale, though more conscious.  Monty Jr here has a chart listing symptoms that don’t match any disease, has been ill for a long time. Same overlapping but failing treatments. But periodic doses of “N” that keep showing up.  He notices Emma but calms down, and sleeps when it turns out she’s not his mummy.

 

After his adventure, Armitage returns to the car. Viv asks where he was, and Armitage blandly replies “restroom.” And settles down to wait.

 

Murphy:  has shifted positions, but notices that the guard walking the perimeter is sticking to a set path. Maybe gravel?

 

 

Back at the hospital:  Emma reports what she’s learned, then returns to try and figure out who else is being treated with Nectar. Is detailed to go pick up a delivery for Silazzio—sealed brown paper parcel.  In a side room, she unwraps it…lots of unmarked glass vials that obviously contain Nectar. Maybe 2 dozen vials.  Emma carefully siphons about half a vial’s worth out of these, filches it without making it obvious that the other vials have been drained. Then re-wraps, takes it to Silazzio’s office. He takes it, but is gullible enough to ask her to take several vials on her rounds and dose his patients.  6 patients total, besides the 2 boys, and they each get a half-vial poured into the mouth.  Emma tries to tease out more conversation from Silazzio, trying to appear bright and interested.  He talks about the substance’s fascinating properties unlike anything he’s ever seen. Emma asks to see his research notes, but then hurries off on his rounds. Emma glances through his desk, copies his address from his datebook, then heads off. 

 

Stops by patients rooms, check their charts:  been there for several days to weeks; standard treatments plus “N”.

 

Returns to Viv and Armitage. Must have discarded the Nectar vials. Unless she kept them? [that’s the one].

 

All 3 return to the hotel where I’m waiting. We catch each other up.  Discussing what to do:  breaking into the Doctor’s house to steal his research notes?

 

Viv and Emma both lobby hard for breaking into the Doctor’s house. I disagree, arguing that we should wreck the warehouse/the mouth within.  Armitage sides with them.

 

We’re going to be breaking in to Silazzio’s house, to try and take his research notes, to find out why he is experimenting with Nectar on patients and children, and to find out where he’s getting the drugs.

 

 

Session, 23 March 2016

 

Silazzio’s hospital schedule placed him there all day. Good time to break in?  V and E convinced.

Goals: research notes; his source; why he is inflicting Nectar on children.

 

Drive-by: modest town-house; nothing fancy. No lights. Townhouse in a row of them. Pedestrians. Narrow city street. Alley running in back. We park within sight of the alley.

 

The professor volunteers to stand watch. Apparently scruples about theft. Goes and waits at trolley stop down the street.

 

Emma, Vivian, and I head down the alley. Back door to Silazzio’s is easy to find. Nobody observing. Lock isn’t hard to pick. We enter.

 

Cramped hallway, leading to main hall and other rooms. Quietly move through the 2-story townhouse, not touching yet. If we can hide our tracks, we should. Dining room, kitchen, hall, living room, & stair on this floor.  Nothing out of ordinary.

 

Second floor: 2 rooms: small office. Shelves filled with medical journals, notebooks, novels. Bedroom and bathroom also.  Four vials of nectar in the medicine cabinet. Maybe their hold on him? Or why he got involved?

 

Emma looking through his notes. Some recent ones; sheet of paper falls out, another weird code.  V sifts through desk papers; find some noting regular deliveries of several dozen N units per week. 

 

Not much of note in the bedroom, but orange smears on bedside tabletop. Ugh. Salazzio is a pervert, using it for himself, too.

 

Meanwhile:  after 25 minutes the professor notices about 8 well-dressed men, turn onto street, walking in his direction. Man in middle gestures to Salazzio’s house, says something. Group passes by the house.  

 

Suddenly, knock at the door. We panic; start ransacking to make it look like we were robbing the place.  Look out, see that the professor is standing there. Moron.  He did a terrible job of lookout. Can’t even tell us if the men walked out of sight or are still standing and watching.

 

The numbskull tries to stand on the stoop and chat, but we pull him in.  Emma checks, someone watching the alley. We do a cursory ransacking of main floor—V finds a loaded gun in one drawer; other assorted odds and ends. Silverware; pen set.  Then out the front, the professor first? “I’ve never done something like this before…it’s exciting!”  He notices that the group stopped up the street, milling around.

 

Men in suits, man in alley, are both down near the car. Abandon the car? Yes.

 

Out the back. Man in alley follows; we move briskly along. He starts jogging after, yells at us to stop. I shout a random Italian phrase at him, “can you show me where to find the restroom?”. He pauses, confused, then sprints after us.  We run.

 

He loses some ground, but still following. We try to shake him, dodging down an alleyway, but the professor has fallen behind…and the goon grabs him. Professor shouts in alarm, “yowling like a cat in a bathtub” and flails ineffectively as the goon strongarms him up against a wall.

 

I tell V and E to run ahead, I’ll find my way back to the hotel.  I sneak up while the goon’s busy beating up the professor. Tell him to stop beating my…companion.  Sirens in the distance.  I tell  Armitage to head down the alley, & the goon to beat it, he agrees there’s no need for trouble, we can each go our own way.  He departs.  Police presence arrives shortly, but we move away without drawing attention.  Stop at a butcher’s shop, to get a streak for the prof’s shiner. There’s a man with a light coat watching, pssts at us. Opens his coat, pulls out a book, sopping wet…says it’s for us. After some words exchanged (he knows nothing, but somehow knows the name Winston, knew to find me. I give him the $10 he demands; book is totally sodden, too fragile to look at now.  We return to the streetcar, & thus hotel; as I grumble about people copying too many of these damn radio dramas. The mysterious old man. The stranger on a street corner. Pulp nonsense. The bootleggers never messed around with that nonsense.

 

At hotel, V and E learn that Wells stopped by, will return later.  Emma pores over the ciphered scrap of paper that she found…gradually deciphers it. A mystic spell, used with reference to the Mouth, to make a person docile, ill. Vivian looks into renting a boat large enough to carry all of us, and our dynamite. Works with the concierge to do so.

 

We return.  Some discussion of what happened; lay out towels and peel back pages of the book. It doesn’t seem to lose any water at any point.

 

Book is page after page of etchings: torture, perversions, necrophilia, mouths doing all kinds of terrible things—biting, chewing, oozing.  Images from middle ages to the present.  Explicit passages, hopefully imaginative because they’re awful.  Pus and bile seems to ooze from the pages.  Somewhat intriguing, however. More study might reveal important information.

 

Phone: concierge—has arranged new car to be delivered. Boat rental arranged. Will have keys, all else by end of the business day. Soon.

 

V and E found dangerous information in the research notes: what happens when administering nectar in different ways to different people. Gain more addicts. Something they are doing with the spell they found is helping “increase their yield.” Donovan appears to have instructed them to dose his child.

 

How are we going to proceed?  If we are going to skip dealing with this mouth, go forward, we need to get into Donovan’s house. If we are going to deal with this here, we still need to get at Donovan’s records.  But how? House is guarded heavily.  In LA, we got in by distracting the owner.

 

Phone: concierge. Wells is here. Vivian and I go down to meet with him.

 

The professor returns to look at the dripping book. It seems to be even wetter, even more pus, moister. Revolting and maddening. In shock, horrified, but still compelled to look more; there seems to be some truth hidden inside its pages.

 

Wells: when his brothers left Valletta, back to Europe, they left behind a scroll—confusing document. We take Wells up to our rooms. Make introductions.  He hands over the scroll.

 

Eventually, Vivian comes to understand that the scroll is a spell to banish “egolinok”. Jesus Mary and Joseph how many of these abominations are there?

 

 

Discussing plans. No good options. If we leave, the Nectar keeps flowing. If we destroy warehouse, will bring the authorities down, give Donovan a chance to flee or burn his papers. 

 

Can we use hostage to force Donovan to bring us into the warehouse? Can we hold the mouth hostage, to demand he transfer information?  Can we use the child somehow? Or bring in the police?  Nothing seems likely. 

 

Can we use our tomes to lure Donovan out from his guards? Or talk our way into his house? 

 

What is our priority?

Do we destroy the warehouse to protect the town? Or do we go after Donovan’s house to find information and leave the warehouse alone?

 

I, Emma, the professor argue Vivian out of protecting the down. The greater good.

 

Could we pose as fellow cultists, another arm; remnant of a Mexico City group, looking for secrets of increasing production?  Sneak in.

 

From another branch of the cult; we were working with Brooks, we assume that Trammell took out Brooks’ operation. So trying to start our own.  Brooks’ operation collapsed before he could tell us how to make the mouths. We’re looking for that; we kept trying to get information out of Salazzio; ransacked his house; trying to find out which side the Malta cult is on.  Maybe heard of the Maw of the Mouth and we’re convinced that it is an essential part of the process?

 

If we set up a meeting…how are we going to neutralize Donovan’s muscle?  Explosives? Gas?  If we’re meeting in his mansion, we could leave via Donovan’s own vehicle?

 

The plan:  Emma gets in touch with the Doctor, gives him message for Donovan. Donovan is given a dead drop to leave his indication that he’s willing to deal.  We set a time and place, he indicates yes or no. We use meeting to negotiate our way into the mansion.

 

V and I move the dynamite into the new car Vivian has arranged. 

 

Meanwhile, the [NERRRRRRRRRDS] two scientists…the professor goes poking around the room we share; finds the locked suitcase under my bed, but can’t unlock it. Sounds like books, other solid objects.  Emma looks at, hides the nectar vials she obtained.

 

We return, we all head to bed.

The professor is troubled by a very strange dream. His own voice, wheezing words in a language he doesn’t understand. His shirt dampens, moves at his belly. Tears away the shirt to reveal a wide mouth, jagged teeth, tongue protruding. Tries to escape, can’t! Suffocating!  He awakes with a start. All is quiet, Murphy quietly snoring. He drinks water, splashes water on his face, returns to an uneasy sleep.

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