Official VEKN Gangrel-antitribu Newsletter Volume 6 Number 11 November 2003. *************************** In This Autumn-Coloured Issue..... THE CASE OF THE HAND ON THE DOOR chapter 2 [Fiction, a transcription of episode 2 of the current d20 CoC game at legbiter hall] GANGREL ANTITRIBU IN THE EC FINAL GANGREL ANTITRIBU IN THE BLACK HAND *************************** THE CASE OF THE HAND ON THE DOOR chapter 2 Shona's house lay in the damp valley under Box Hill in Surrey, shadowed by its strange steep slopes to which only the tenacious and eponymous Box tree could cling. For some days after the terrible events at the museum she stayed there, diverting herself with rambles in the October sunshine and occasional Bridge parties in the evening. Walking home from one of these an idea suddenly occurred to her, and the next morning found her on the platform at Box Hill station, in good time for the 7.23 to Victoria. Once in London she caught the tube to the Museum, and made her way to the public section. Asking for Robinson's monograph she was annoyed to find it taken out, a clear breach of Museum rules, and demanded to see the record of recent borrowings. On being shown these she had grudgingly to admit that the curator of Egyptian antiquities did have the right to remove the book, but she was also intrigued to find that amongst its earlier readers had been Robinson himself! What, she wondered, was really known of this unfortunate scholar? Like herself and Calum he had been at the Dundee Institute of Technology, but they had moved in different circles and she could not personally ever recall having met him. In the absence of the monograph, she there and then resolved to spend the rest of the day finding out about him. First port of call was the Curator of Egyptian antiquities who greeted her warmly, despite being surprised and concerned at seeing her back so soon. Over tea and biscuits the curator confessed to having passed the book to Jefferson for showing to Harnden over the weekend. "O, that's all right then - Bertie's invited me down for lunch this Sunday. If he's finished with it I could bring the book back myself. Now, about this Robinson chap who wrote it - you knew him well, I think?" "Hmmmm. Not well, I should say. His early work was quite good, got him a post here anyway. Religious fellow in those days, a bit like your poor late husband - very keen, they both were, on rubbishing Darwinism by coming up with all sorts of anomalies in the geological record. Anyway after the awful thing that happened in Baluchistan the wind went out of that particular set of sails, except that after a couple of years Robinson started publishing again on different subjects, not it has to be said in particularly good journals - let me see, I have some of his reprints here, 'Anachronomantic rituals in the Tibetan Book of the Dead', Journal of the Royal Society of Bombay , 'Pre-human excavations in Southern England', privately published at the author's expense , o dear, I'm afraid there's quite a bit more of that stuff, frightfully embarassing. One used to see him going around the place muttering, but sometimes he would vanish for months and then reappear, usually with a pile of Egyptian junk which he would dump on me. Claimed to have found Ibn Schaccabo's City of Pillars somewhere in the middle Nile region, all rubbish of course, except for the mummy, that WAS an odd thing. Ever so old, no cultural context whatsoever, that late-period ring, and those letter'd bands around the body. We put it on display with the consequences you know, but the rest of the stuff is probably in the basement, if it hasn't been chucked out. Of course you can look, I'll get young Wilbur to point you in the right direction. Anyway, eventually Robinson became very ill, seemed to be shrivelling up before one's eyes; went off for a rest-cure in the South somewhere, never came back. O, that was before the Queen died - 1897 or so, I think. Ah Wilbur, this is Dr Shona MacConochie, Dr MacConochie this is Wilbur D Tolborg, my new PhD student. Wilbur, will you show Dr MacConochie the Robinson archive, please?" Shona expressed her thanks and followed the young man thoughtfully. 1897, indeed! Why, Robinson's vivid if increasingly shaky signature had been perfectly identifiable in the borrowing records as recently as last week! So what HAD become of him - why had he wanted to disappear in this way? Perhaps the archive would give some clues ..... Robinson's relics turned out to comprise four great sea-chests. The first two were filled with Egyptian junk, and Shona shook her head sorrowfully over the pieces as she removed and examined them one by one. You did not have to be an expert on Egyptology to see that most of this stuff was poor fakery, though interestingly some of it was Ptolemaic - Ptolemaic fakes of Old Kingdom artefacts. Amongst the genuine articles was nothing of great interest, so she turned to the third chest. This turned out to contain a number of books and manuscripts, and as she opened the first of these, dated to shortly after the Baluchistan expedition, she nodded approvingly. Robinson had bounced back very quickly, it turned out, and was in the process of producing a masterly analysis and rebuttal of the superstitious gullibility in which he had previously been so deeply enmired. That explained the fakes - Robinson's monograph was liberally illustrated with photographs of the artefacts he'd collected so as to strengthen his case. Yet further into the work the book was incomplete, except for the chapter headings - Robinson had clearly meant to write about mythical locations, had meant to debunk the pillared city, Leng, Rh'lyeh and Kadath in the Cold Waste, but something had happened - and leafing through the accompanying notebooks, Shona began to understand what that might have been ..... a cold horror gripped her, and stuffing a few of the books into a carpet bag, she turned to the final chest .... When she emerged from the archives it was evening. With pale face and bulging carpet-bag she walked out into the fog, and some hours later tottered over her doorstep and poured herself a large glass of Lagavulin. ************* Next Saturday, just as the hunting party was making its way back from West hanger's End, Shona [complete with carpet-bag] was boarding the 3.03 pm from Box Hill, connecting to the Waterloo-Portsmouth line. Settling in to the carriage after connection she became aware of her only companion, a large gentleman of Indian appearance who was gazing at her somewhat fixedly. Briefly she wondered whether her corsetry might be awry, but then the Indian gentleman grinned broadly. "Dr MacConochie, I think? You will not remember me but I had the good fortune to be a recipient of your kindness when I was a Medical student in Dundee, and I was at your poor husband's funeral." "O, Dr, I'm so sorry, Professor Ramanishi, what a delightful surprise! And how is Vesha, and the children? Gali must be quite big by now!" The two old friends spent the rest of the journey filling in the gaps in one another's knowledge of their last decade. Shona learned that Ramanishi was now the Empire's foremost authority on the treatment of abdominal trauma, that he too was on his way to Petersfield, there to treat Harnden's gamekeeper who had suffered a nasty accident, and that not only was Gali a big boy but also he was training to be an engineer, though sadly obsessed by the obviously-transient fad for the internal combustion engine. Still sighing over the folly of youth, Ramanishi learned that Shona was now the Empire's, if not world's, foremost authority on the legends and vestiges of pre-human culture in the Middle East. Establishing that they were both invited to lunch at Bertie's the following day, they parted at Petersfield station, where the hospital car was waiting for the Professor, while Harnden's driver and Jefferson were waiting in the Renault for Shona. On the way to High Force Hall Jefferson briefly described the morning's events to Shona, who seemed unsurprised, nodding seriously at the account of the attack by the Undead birds. On arrival the driver parked the car in the garage, and then they all scurried across the gravel to the door, which was opened by Gurminder, armed and grim. Jamie showed them through to the kitchen, where Harnden himself was making wild mushroom omelettes for the whole household. "Ah, Shona, good of you to come! Bit of pot-luck for tea tonight, sorry about that, had a bit of a nasty shootin' accident this afternoon." But Harnden's apologies were superfluous - the omelettes were excellent, and so was the accompanying wine. Afterwards they all went through to the drawing room, where cigars, cigarettes and snuff were distributed, along with the usual after-dinner drinks. Shona began to question Harnden about the events earlier that day. "Dashed unfortunate business. We'd had a good mornin's shootin', and then coming down into the beechwood above the old Varney place the bloomin' partridges woke up again. Killed old Rex and jolly nearly did for MacAndrew, too. O, you have a map? Yes, just there - how did you know?" "Some notes that came with the map made it a likely guess. Tell me, are there any visible Neolithic remains there?" "Don't know about Neolithic, but there are some queer old stones in a ring, basalt I think. So you mentioned something about notes, care to elaborate? Any other local sites we should score off the possible afternoon walk list?" "The notes are by Robinson, whose monograph you have. At the time of his disappearance he had a threefold interest, in Egyptian antiquities, blasphemous pre-human legends, and the geology of this part of the South Downs. Just here, if you look, is a pencil-mark - Aleph-Theta-9 - and if you look that up in the corresponding notebook, you find this .... " Shona passed the notebook to Harnden, indicating the section, which he read aloud: "Great holes are digg'd where Earth's pores should suffice, and things have learn'd to walk that ought to crawl." Harnden and Shona exchanged a meaningful glance. "And there's more. I think Robinson is not dead at all, I think he's in hiding. I think he learned something awful out in Egypt, learned that something which could not be, which must not be, actually IS - and furthermore, that IT had become aware of HIM. He thinks he is being hunted by it, or them, and that only the knowledge of the Dead can protect him. I think he's been trying to call them, and that you got caught in the Psychic residue of one of his attempts." "Go on." "Necromancy basically involves creating a gate to the spirit world, and you summon the souls of the dead to the gate, hopefully allowing through only the one you wish to re-embody or to interrogate. But it's a chancy business, and easy enough to let through the odd extra soul, or to leave the gate a bit ajar. When that happens all sorts of frightfulness can ensue. I think we need to make sure the gate is shut, and that everything that's on the wrong side of it is pushed back, or at least de-embodied." "I agree with you, been wondering whether I should do something about West Hanger's End for a few weeks now. I've made some preparations, and I propose to scout out the ground tomorrow morning after church, when we're all in a state of grace. For you know, my friends, it is likely that some of us will be dead before tomorrow lunchtime." Some quiet talk about the logistics of tomorrow's expedition later, they all shook hands and went to their various rooms, where they slept soundly, except for Jefferson. Around 2 am he awoke, conscious that the wind was getting up. Cautiously peering through a crack in the curtains he could see the tops of the trees waving and lashing as if in a furious semaphore; and creeping across the lawn were columns of dead leaves, that seemed to probe the doors and window-frames of High Force Hall, seeking unspeakable ingress. Shuddering, Jefferson returned to his bed, but was for long aware of the stealthy scratching and shuffling of the leaves around his window. ************ Next morning the wind had died, and so had the engine on the Renault. From the breakfast-room Harnden's guests could look out onto the gravel drive where Jamie, Gurminder and the driver were fruitlessly attempting to start it, with many valuable observations on technology in general, and French technology in particular. Eventually automobility was given up as a bad job, and a pair of pony-traps was produced instead, the less-used of which smelt powerfully of turnips. In these they set off for church. The morning was cold but pale sunshine was wrestling with the clouds and the party's spirits were high, seemingly forgetful of the previous night's forebodings. This changed as they breasted the slope and descended into the valley on the south side of the great hanger - for here a great thick mist lay, an ominous and oily viscosity manifest in its occasional swirls and flurries. As far as the sea it seemed to stretch, with only the distant island of Portsdown Hill to punctuate it. So it was a quiet, damp and disorientated party which finally alighted at the little church of St Juvenal Nigrum Silvaticae, an interesting construction which Shona judged to represent Saxon adaptation of a late-Roman temple. The hour was already approaching eleven, and other congregants were already gathered in the porch, mostly working men of Irish appearance and speech. The two groups regarded one another thoughtfully and then returned to their private concerns, except for O'Keeth, who realised that he knew one of the others. Tom, or Timothy .... Kennedy, that was the name ..... had been in the OTC with him at Trinity, but then was broken at Sandhurst for, for ..... O God ..... Kennedy KNEW. At these inner thoughts O'Keeth paled, invisibly except to Kennedy, who glanced towards him, took the clay pipe from his mouth, and almost imperceptibly lowered an eyelid. Inside the church Harnden's party settled into the family pew, commanding a good view of Sir Cecil and Lady Erwinia Harnden's remarkable communal sepulchure, a 12th century affair, having in many sober critics' opinion a good claim to being England's first erotic public sculpture. But the church held other, more disturbing oddities - the garlands of thorns which surrounded the statues of the saints, the queer greens, blues and purples of the stained glass, and the extraordinary ritual performed by the Reverend Napoleon Bonaparte Fitzgerald, with the strange upside-down crossings of the Irish labourers. None of this was secret or furtive, and the Harnden party had the definite sense of being teased and taunted by their apparent co-religionists, who seemed to share some private knowledge of the meanings of the rite, denied to themselves. As soon as they decently could, Harnden and his guests rose and left the church, and found themselves waiting outside while the rest of the congregation filed out. O'Keeth, feeling in his pockets for a cheroot, felt himself gently brushed on the arm, then a whiff of tobacco-breath and a muttered "Erin Go Brach, Mr O'Keeth". He did not have to look to know that the speaker, already being swallowed up by the fog, was his old acquaintance Kennedy. Harnden was stalking up and down in an irritated manner, sometimes tapping the ground with his cane. His face brightened somewhat at the clip-clop-clip of approaching hooves, but then darkened again when they turned out to belong to the horses directed by George Washington Fitzgerald, the vicar's son. He had brought the trap to pick up his father, and already had a passenger; a somewhat hunched figure, slender of build and well-wrapped and hatted against the autumnal chill. As the cleric climbed into the trap this figure turned to gaze at Harnden's party, seeming as they drew away to hold them in prospect for as long as possible. As the conveyance dissolved into the fog Shona snorted. "He'll know us again, I think!" Harnden was thoughtful. "If he did not do so already." ************ Just at this point the car appeared, having finally been started, and Jamie and Gurminder got out. Martini-Henry rifles were distributed to each of the men, together with fifteen cartridges. For Shona there was a Derringer pepper-box, and each of the companions had a torch, extra ammunition and a gas-lighter. Equipment checks having been completed, they all shook hands and marched purposefully towards the looming and beech-clad slope. The hill was steep indeed,and the climb was toilsome for the first hundred feet or so. Then suddenly the gradient declined, and the wood opened out. They found themselves in a semi-circle of great black stones, with dead leaves piled as if for a bonfire in the centre. "What's that?" "Pagan fire, lot of that round here - has been since before the Romans came. They light them on All Hallow's Eve." Cautiously the party began to explore the ground, not quite sure what to look for - a hole, a discontinuity, evidence of the unnatural. The fog was dissipating and a cold wind was blowing up from the south-east, eddying oddly as it came through the beech-trunks. It picked up the leaves of the bonfire, and swirled them about, and as it did so the entire party turned to watch, seized by a cold and collective horror. A vast columnar whirlwind of leaves had built up, and it seemed to be leaning, moving, questing blindly but with some blood-hungry sense towards its prey ... towards THEM. Rooted to the spot by terror, Jefferson could only watch as the leaf-column writhed and gyrated towards him. He could feel its dry, dead but life-hungry whisperings and ticklings as it drew him into its mass, how the leaves crept towards his eyes and nostrils, how all their thought was of gouging and ripping and terrible gory feasting ... NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! At the last moment Jefferson was struggling free of the leaves, sobbing and straining like a man swimming in treacle. Gurminder had the doctor's wrists in his strong hands and was pulling for all he was worth. As Jamie rushed to help, the leaf-column seemed to bulge, and before anyone could react Jamie was seized and borne aloft, shrieking and jerking .... then, with a terrible scream that none of the rest of the party would ever forget, before their very eyes the leaves stripped the skin from his living flesh, the flesh from his bones. Blood drenched them all, the scream died into nothing, but still the bloody skeleton wildly twirled, danced and disintegrated before their immobilised eyes. In this crisis only Shona kept her head. Resolutely she lit her torch, shielding the gas-lighter under her coat, then marched towards the vampiric whirlwind, flourishing the torch like a sabre. Leaves smoked and crackled, and the column seemed to recoil before the resolute Dundonian. "Rin! Ye muckle great loons! Rin, for God's sake!" And they did, out of the circle .... Gurminder stumbling and weeping, but helped by Jefferson, while Shona guarded the rear. Outside the ring Harnden was fumbling for something in his coat; suddenly he raised his arm to the sky and fired the flare-pistol which had evidently been the object of his search. A trail of white smoke arched into the sky, ending in a fountain of silvery sparks. "Get DOWN!!!!!!" Down they all went, and then there was a whistling noise, a thump and a tremendous detonation. The ground rocked and they were all deluged by clumps of earth, sparks and .... rain ... sweet-smelling rain .... The column of leaves had disappeared, along with about half of the stone circle, when they got up and surveyed the scene. "What the dickens was that?" "Holy Water Bomb. It's the only way to be sure. Everyone alright? That is, apart from Jamie ...." In sombre mood they tramped up to the top of the hanger. A strange chuffing and grinding noise was apparent there, and as they came over the crest they could see its origin - a great armoured caterpillar tractor, looking like an animated version of one of Mr Owen's prehistoric reconstructions for the Crystal Palace, except that Iguanodons were not thought to have six-inch guns mounted on their backs. The concerned faces of two artillerymen looked down on them. "Everything alright, Lieute-, erm, Mr Harnden?" "Alright chaps, direct hit and good show. Corporal Taige bought it, I'm afraid. Can we beg a ride on your excellent machine?" "Righto Sir, all aboard the Land Monitor! Where to?" Home was the answer, of course, at a rattling 4 mph. As the shock of the fight at the circle receded Harnden's guests began to find themselves IMMENSELY hungry; and once washed and changed for lunch, were not disappointed by the hospitality of Highforce Hall. ....... to be continued ...... *************************** GANGREL ANTITRIBU IN THE EC FINAL Zsolt Varga from the Slovak Republic came second in this year's EC at Barcelona, and here, thanks to Damnans, is his deck; it contains two of our all-time favourite vampires in the forms of Caitlin and Shane Grimald. Congratulations, brother Zsolt! Deck Name: European_Championship_03_2o_Clasificado_Zsolt_Varga Created By: Zsolt Varga Description: VEKN ID: 3090014. City: Kosice. Country: Republica Eslovaca. Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 10, Max: 27, Avg: 4,58) ---------------------------------------------- 1 Gabrin ANI CHI dom for 8, Ravnos 1 Natalia ANI chi dom for 7, Ravnos 2 Sarisha Veliku ANI chi dom FOR 6, Ravnos 1 Caitlin ANI aus dom PRO 6, Gangrel Antitribu, Bishop 1 Laurent de Valois ani dom obf 4, Nosferatu 1 Shane Grimald ani dom pot 4, Gangrel Antitribu 1 Sennuwy ani chi for 4, Ravnos 1 Anka ani chi pro 4, Ravnos 1 Spleen ani chi 2, Ravnos 1 Dani ani 2, Nosferatu Antitribu 1 Gillian Krader ani dem 2, Pander Library: (80 cards) ------------------- Master (13 cards) 1 Anarch Troublemaker 4 Blood Doll 1 Dreams of the Sphinx 1 Guardian Angel 1 Jake Washington (Hunter) 1 KRCG News Radio 1 Powerbase: Montreal 1 Rack, The 1 Rumor Mill, Tabloid Newspaper, The 1 Week of Nightmares Action (9 cards) 1 Army of Rats 4 Computer Hacking 4 Govern the Unaligned Action Modifier (8 cards) 3 Change of Target 2 Conditioning 1 Daring the Dawn 2 Freak Drive Reaction (26 cards) 6 Cats' Guidance 5 Deflection 3 Delaying Tactics 2 Elder Intervention 4 Forced Awakening 2 Guard Dogs 4 Wake with Evening's Freshness Combat (16 cards) 9 Aid from Bats 7 Carrion Crows Retainer (5 cards) 1 J. S. Simmons, Esq. 3 Raven Spy 1 Tasha Morgan Equipment (3 cards) 1 Laptop Computer 1 Sport Bike 1 Treasured Samadji *************************** GANGREL ANTITRIBU IN THE BLACK HAND The Black hand preview is gradually materialising on the White Wolf web site, and near the top we find the following: Sébastian Goulet Gangrel antitribu Adv Jalan-Aajav Gangrel antitribu Jesús Alcalá Gangrel antitribu Maria Stone Gangrel antitribu Skryta Zyleta Gangrel antitribu Soldat Gangrel antitribu Woo-Hoooo!!!!!!!, as i believe you say in the colonies. ***************************** And that's it for November. Next month it will be Christmas but we will all be too poor to do anything about it, having spent ALL our money on the Black Hand. Didn't want nasty turkey anyway.