Between Silas’ research and quests for books and the failing health of Brian, the group has been actively searching for some means of actually helping Brian heal. Because of all the recent fires across London the last few months, “doctors” that could help Brian have been burned to death or fled ahead of the flames. Silas has been utilizing his book contacts trying to get a lead on help.
A friend of a friend who knows a guy, who has a cousin, who knows of someone puts Silas on the trail to potential help, and a possible source of new volumes of esoteric study (meaning nasty occult stuff). There is an Abelard de Beauchamp with an estate address in Scotland, looks to be 2 hours (by carriage) outside of the city of Aberdeen.
On the surface he appears to be a French noble who has retired to the solitude of Scottish country life. He is a renowned collector of rare books and objects of art from across the globe. Those in the know, claim he is also knowledgeable of the occult world and books and artifacts of that sort can also be found within his collection. After reaching out to him, he sends an invitation asking Silas and company for a visit.
It is a 12 hour train ride from London to Aberdeen. From there, they are met by a coach driver working for Abelard. The carriage ride to the manor house takes another 2 hours.
It is just off the main road that continues on towards Balmoral Castle. The building is old and looks somewhat decayed from the outside but is quite luxurious inside. An interesting feature is that most rooms are crowded with curiosities from all over the world. Also, most rooms contain at least one bookshelf.
The heroes arrive after nightfall, the servants will have them wait in the smoking room and give them food and drinks. The butler tells them his master has not returned from a trip to purchase a rare book. They don't expect his return until the following day. Rooms have been made up for all of the guests. They will also meet another guest, Anwar, a purchaser of antiquities for the Cairo Museum.
There is pleasant conversations all around and everyone is quite taken with all of the various artifacts and collectibles throughout the home. The library has a vast collection of books that makes poor Silas drool. Silas is quite sure that some of the artifacts are actually true magical artifacts, he can feel their power.
There is one book that Silas discovers under a glass case, the Darkhold! For a moment, a look of dread overcomes the face of Silas but he regains his composure quickly. Using his magics he determines the book to be genuine.
After the best nights rest the heroes have had in ages, the arrive down to the dining hall to a wonderful breakfast, Anwar and their host Abelard. It is truly an amazing repast. Abelard apologizes for not greeting his guests when they arrived but his trip for his latest acquisition took longer than he imagined. After breakfast he gives a tour of the manor, pointing out some of the more notable pieces in his collection. While he acknowledges many have supernatural or occult reputations, he dismisses that easily enough, claiming to not really believe in such things.
However, both he and Anwar are fans of Silas' publications and are quite fascinated with his ideas of the occult and the mysteries of the supernatural. They also seem quite enamored of his cousin Kitty. Abelard claims to have traveled to the Americas long ago and found the new country rather amazing and full of life.
He has no major plans for the next few days and asks his guests to simply enjoy themselves and relax in his home. He does invite them out on a hunt later that day. They are accompanied by one of Abelard's menservants. Most of the hunting trip is a bust, they manage to bag a couple of rabbits, but as they turn to head back to the manor, Kitty discovers deer tracks and begins to follow them. About 80 yards out, they spy a grand buck still unaware of their presence. Kitty takes the rifle from Anwar (who seems to have no real skill with the thing), kneels, down, takes aim, breathes out slowly, then drops the buck with one shot. Everyone is quite impressed and it is venison for dinner!
It is another amazing nights rest for our group, perhaps the crisp country air is good for them. Just after breakfast, whilst everyone is gathered in the library, an interruption at the door draws everyone's attention. The butler leads three British soldiers into the library to talk with Abelard. One is a Captain in charge and the heroes recognize one of the other two to be their erstwhile friend James (British Agent) in apparent disguise.
The Captain is here about the book, the Darkhold. As per correspondence with the crown, they have stopped by on their way to Balmoral Castle to pick up the book, borrow it as requested. Abelard seems a bit hesitant to lend out the book. The Captain grows quite insistent. Before the discussion grows more heated they are interrupted by King Edward VII himself, who steps into the room. In the presence of the King, Abelard sighs and allows the soldiers to take the book. It is promised to be returned late the following week.
As the King glances about the room and spies the other guests, he smiles wickedly upon laying eyes upon Kitty and steps up to introduce himself personally. He flatters her with compliments regarding her beauty and the wonders of her homeland America, the King just recently returned from a trip across the pond. Upon hearing the name of her cousin Silas, he is over-joyed. The King is a huge fan of his writings. Accepting no answer but yes, he invites Silas and his friends to travel up to the Castle during their visit and join the King for a dinner. Who can turn down a King? And just as quickly as they arrive, the King and his men leave.
Everyone is a bit overwhelmed by the King's visit. Anwar and Silas poor themselves some strong drinks. Abelard appears amused by what transpired. Brian might have been impressed but is hiding it well. Kitty seems to be a bit unsure of how to process everything, it is not often that one is flirted with by a King.
The heroes decide to get out of the house for a bit and visit the nearby town of Ballater. It will prove a nice brisk walk and allow enough time to walk about, meet some locals, chat, and still get back to the manor before dinner. It is a lively town, friendly folk, and bustling about now that the royal family has passed through. A few townsfolk work up at the castle. Realizing the best source of gossip, news and anything else would be the local pub, Silas drags the group within and begins to buy rounds for all the locals, encouraging all to tell stories.
After several stories concerning missing sheep and local shenanigans, one of the old-timers begins to tell them of…
the Legend of Balmoral Castle
In 1879 Queen Victoria was traveling to Balmoral Castle. The Queen, accompanied by two mysterious travelers, stopped for the night at the Torchwood Estate, home of Sir Robert MacLeish and Lady Isobel. The Queen’s escort was under the command of Captain Reynolds.
A mysterious band of monks from St. Catherine’s Glen had secretly taken control of the estate, threatening the lives of Lady Isobel and the servants. In their possession, was a caged human cursed with lycanthropy. They hoped to infect the Queen and create a new “Empire of the Wolf.”
With the help of the two strangers, the werewolf and the evil monks were destroyed. But there were rumours that her majesty suffered a small cut from the claws of the werewolf. It was only enough to infect her so that the curse would pass down to her descendants.
As the heroes walk about to the manor, they have a lively discussion about what they have learned. Based on Silas' knowledge of the Darkhold, he explains how a possible ritual cure for lycanthropy can be found within. It is a delicate ritual, difficult to render correctly, and the side effects if casting goes wrong could be horrible. Back at the manor, Silas uses his Encyclopedia Occultis to determine the next full moon. It would start on Monday week next through Thursday. Wednesday will have 100% visibility. That would be the ideal night for the ritual.
Perhaps the news from the night before plagued their nightmares but everyone's sleep appears to have been troubled and our heroes wake restless (1 point of Fatigue). Later that day, Silas listens in on a private conversation between Anwar and Abelard. They are discussing the Golden Pyramid Anwar wishes to purchase from Abelard. It gets a bit heated. Abelard mentions he knows Anwar's true secret and the reason he wishes to acquire the pyramid. He knows it will not appear on display in the museum in Cairo. He warns Anwar that pursuing this course could end in madness and death. Sometimes that which we desire, in the end, will destroy us!
Anwar threatens back that he is aware of Abelard's secret, why he purchases so many artifacts and how many have not been acquired legally. Abelard appears to be more amused by this threat then frightened. In the end, he chuckles and sells the pyramid to Anwar. The matter settled, Anwar says good-bye to his fellow guests and plans to take a carriage back to Aberdeen to return immediately to Egypt. Desiring more information and another trip, the heroes accompany Anwar. Abelard's driver will allow them some time in the big city then return them to the manor before dinner. Silas uses the travel to try and get some sleep, fighting the fatigue that has overcome him. Unfortunately the sleep seems to not help.
Kitty is suspicious of their symptoms, she is unable to identify what is wrong but they have learned to trust her judgement. She proposes they spend the night together in one room, someone always keeping watch. Silas has the first watch of the night. It is uneventful but gives him time to think about the upcoming ritual, what he can do to assist. It is late into Brian's watch that it happens. In the darkness, he spies two large spiders creeping up the beds of his two sleeping companions. Dashing quickly across the room, he crushes the two spiders with his bear hands.
Out of concern for their host, they explain the spiders from the night before and their weakened state. He appears surprised and is quite apologetic that they may have come to some harm under his roof. All is forgiven as the heroes explain they will be leaving for awhile, to visit the King up at the castle. Abelard asks that they bring his book when they return.
A bumpy 3 hour carriage ride brings them to the castle. They are welcomed as guests by the King himself. He is quite overjoyed to have some company. Most of the trip has been focused on business and has proven quite boring, he claims. Brian is posing as Silas' manservant so he is shown to different quarters whilst Silas are Kitty are given rooms fit for a king, literally! They are asked to join the King for dinner. As this is a royal dinner, Silas is adamant Kitty forgo her usual outfit of trousers and shirt and dress like a proper lady. The ladies waiting on her easily find a proper dress and help her dress for the evening.
As Silas settles into his chair for dinner with the King, they are both taken aback by the appearance of Kitty. She appears dressed in a lovely lavender gown, she is radiantly beautiful. The King is obviously smitten. Throughout the dinner he makes many overtures asking her to be his consort. "Please, call me Eddie," he tells her. Kitty deflects much of the flirting and his overtures but she does seem to be considering the offers seriously. How often does a King propose?
After dinner, they retire to the library, there they are joined by James, Brian, and the Royal Physician Sir Henry Thompson. All pretenses of joviality ends as the King, standing at the fireplace, grows somber. Facing the crowd he begins to talk.
"I know that you three are more than meets the eye. I have it from many reliable sources (he glances over to James) that you are aware of the true horrors that haunt the night. That there is war between man and the supernatural. And I can only assume you have already heard the legend about this house and my mother, Victoria. The legend is true I am sad to say. I am indeed cursed with the blood of a wolf. And unless I can be cured, I will pass this curse onto my children and they onto theirs. Much like my mother did."
"I would like your help in saving the throne of England. Four nights hence we will attempt the ceremony to cure me of this affliction. Perhaps it was divine intervention that placed you three along my path. Whatever the reason, you are here now and with your experiences, perhaps you can tip the balance towards the side of good. I have many things to attend to before the first full moon Tuesday, so I will not see you again until after the ceremony, assuming all goes well. So please confer with Sir Henry and James in ensuring all preparations are made and to the best of your knowledge, as good as they can be."
With that, the King bids them good night and leaves them. It is a heavy burden he leaves behind. James confirms that there is chatter of these mysterious monks returning to disrupt the ritual, to finish what was started with Victoria. He is relying on Brian and Kitty to provide aid in that defense, should these monks attack. Silas and Sir Henry will conduct the actual ritual. Silas explains that the ritual will take about an hour. The werewolf King will be trapped inside a circle of power. Whatever happens, that circle must not be broken. Once the ritual begins, it cannot be stopped without dire consequences. For it to succeed Silas and Sir Henry must complete the ritual. Silas and Sir Henry will be bound inside two smaller circles, inside those they must also remain until everything is completed.
Within the secured room will be James, Captain Hodder, Brian and Kitty to defend and protect the circles. Everyone will be locked into the room until the ceremony is completed. The room is over 60 feet tall, smooth walls, rising up to four corner windows and a giant windowed dome, all to let in the light of the full moon.
The ceremony begins. The bestial King is trapped inside his circle and Sir Henry and Silas are within theirs, chanting away. After 30 minutes have passed, everyone begins to relax a little bit. Perhaps James's information was wrong, perhaps no attack will come. At the 40 minute mark all hell breaks loose as monks drop from the ceilings using cloth belts that unfurl. As they drop down to engage, two monks fire blowgun darts at Sir Henry and Silas, attempting to disrupt the chanting. The arrow intended for Sir Henry misses by a wide margin. Silas is hit but barely flinches from the wound. He has grown stronger battling the forces of darkness.
Two monks drop to either side of Kitty in the room corners, she draws both pistols and fires one shot at each. One bullet drills right between the eyes, dropping the first monk. The other bullet slams into his chest, killing him as well. James fires his gun at a monk who leaps in to attack him. He misses! The Captain has engaged the other monk with his saber. They are trading blows, knife versus saber. Neither is giving any quarter.
The monk who fired upon Silas charges, attempting to knock Silas from his circle and break the chant. But Brian is faster and charges catching the monk and snapping his neck.
James is stabbed, a mere flesh wound, but is able to place his gun under the chin of his attacker and blow the top of his head off! The Captain in a fine display of fencing, knocks the dagger from the monk's hand then runs him thru! The last monk, who was tangled in his cloth belt, manages to free himself and charges Sir Henry! But once again Brian is faster and intercepts, driving the monk into the stone wall, crushing him!
It is now quiet except for the chanting and thrashing of the werewolf struggling against the spell to banish the curse. Just outside of the hour, the ritual is complete and successful! Our heroes have cured Edward VII and his family from the curse of the werewolf!
That Saturday finds our heroes returning to Beauchamp Manor, the Darkhold in tow. Silas knows he is obligated to return the book to their host but he knows the power it contains. Abelard sits alone in the smoking room as the butler escorts them to him. He stands and greets them warmly, thanking them for returning the book. All are poured drinks and asked to sit, Abelard has something to discuss.
“After you first arrived I realized quickly that you were not simple dabblers in the occult. You knew the truth of such things. And that made you a danger to me. And I was prepared to kill you all to protect my secret. But I was also lonely and desired company besides my men. So I kept putting it off, getting to know you better. I liked what I saw.”
“Let me explain. I am a bit older than you think and certainly not what you think.” He loosens the shirt and tie around his neck, revealing a clean cut-mark encircling his entire neck. “My real name is Comte de Beaux-sur-Tombes, a noble quite active on the eve of the French Revolution. I was a cruel and feared man by my servants and the surrounding peasants. I was quite arrogant and superior in my position of nobility.”
“I was executed on the Guillotine and my body thrown into the Seine. The next night, a loyal servant sewed my head back on and I rose as a vampire. This very servant became my first meal as a Vampire. I didn't know then why I was chosen to arise. That came later. You have heard of Dracula, the father of all the current vampires. Dracula sires 6 Vampire Lords and gives them lands to control. They fight among themselves and keep the lesser vampires under control. Dracula pays no real attention to the world anymore, perhaps he grew tired.”
“But the world is changing and science is evolving. Men of science are mixing in rituals of magic. They are creating the supernatural with scientific means. They are creating life that should not exist.” He glances over to Brian. “They made you, something many would call an abomination. Scientists of the Night Guard are creating chemically controlled werewolves. The Cabal pulls the strings of the Night Guard. But does someone pull the strings of the Cabal?”
“Some of the Vampire Lords are openly allying themselves with the Night Guard; they feel they are above mankind. After all, to them, you are simply food. And Dracula hides in his castle, apparently unconcerned, or so the Vampire Lords believe. The covenant of the six cannot be broken, if one lord falls another must take their place. But there can be only six. And then there is me. I wasn’t sired in the normal sense.”
“One should never underestimate Lord Dracula, he plays the long game. Reaching out with his power, he used my servant to remake me, turn me into the equivalent of a Vampire Lord. Perhaps he intended to utilize me as a secret weapon. I know not why. I fled France and escaped here to Scotland. Oh, don’t misunderstand, within me I have a great capacity for evil. But out here I have been able to dig within myself, try to find answers. That is why I began to travel the world and gather my collection. For answers. But I have made mistakes and I have made enemies and the Vampire Lords have learned of me. And I must die. But the war is just beginning.”
“So I sat alone in my room, thinking of ways to kill you. And I realized I could not. You must take part in this war; you must fight on the side of good. And you must face the Night Guard, the Cabal, and perhaps even Dracula himself. For that, I leave you my collection and entrust the safety of the Darkhold. You know its power. You know what it can do. Understand this; it is a book of evil. It can be used for good, but even evil used for good will corrupt. There will be a price!”
“I think I will go West, I will go to America once again. I will get lost in that vast land. Perhaps I will die there. You will take my collection, the book, and my men, and you will return to London. You will gather new allies and you will enter into a new world. This house, and what remains will burn…I will be presumed dead. That should provide me some time.”
“My men may have down wrong in their pasts, but they are loyal to me and they will be loyal to you. They will aid you in this war, that you can count on. And now, I must take my leave. I don’t think we will see each other again, at least, not in this world. Oh, and Brian, you might find some answers in Glasgow, there is a Doctor there, and he has drawn the eye of the Night Guard, find him first, and you might get your answers…”
Abelard stands, bows and walks from the room.