The Curse of Nineveh

An offer is made
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Friday, 13th of February, 1926

A news story has been found in the West London Observer, that describes ‘ghost’ encounters at the British Museum and which states that a woman has gone missing. The investigators naturally find this interesting and head to the Museum to make inquiries as to what is going on. When they get there, they observe that the modification to the Assyrian Gallery of the Museum are nearly complete and preparations are almost complete in terms of beginning the reassembly of the Temple. It will be at least close to a month before this is complete and the exhibit can be opened to the public. There will be a Grand Opening. The investigators speak to Patrick Longton. They reveal that they have the Horn of Alu in their possession, and will eventually place it into the care of the Museum. They ask him about the disappearance of the young woman, but he knows very little. She was a volunteer working in Ancient Greek department.

Discussion with the chief of security, Yates, is slightly more illuminating. He hopes the young lady – Clara Winstanley – has simply gone off somewhere of her own accord, but he does reveal that at the time she disappeared, one of the porters, Maurice Gibbons (who the investigators have met before) was found stammering, with his own eyes gouged out at the scene. He has been taken to Bethlem Hospital. Yates is able to provide the investigators with Clara Winstanley’s home address.

The investigators visit the hospital and are allowed to speak to Mister Gibbons. He has clearly lost his mind, but in response to specific questions, states that he heard Clara scream and when he went to investigate he saw a shadow that came alive and took her away. Evil men – foreigners – offered him money and threatened him. He did not take the money.

Saturday, 14th of February, 1926

The investigators are formally informed that a memorial dinner for Theodore-Rayburn-Price will take place on the evening of Monday, 16th of February, at the Wentworth Club. It is assumed they will attend.

The investigators head to the address they have been given for Clara Winstanley, 4 Alloway Road, Mile End. There is no sign she is at home, so they effect a break in out of concern for her safety. There is no sign of any life in the house with the exception of a rather thirsty and hungry cat. The house is searched and it is consistent with what they have heard of Miss Winstanley. A young woman interested in Ancient Greece. It is clear the house has not been occupied in some days. The investigators leave taking the cat with them.

Monday, 16th of February, 1926

The memorial dinner for Rayburn-Price is well attended. Among the attendees is Mister Aloysius Delgado who invites the investigators to visit him at his home, the following evening. He wants to discuss the Horn of Alu with them. He guarantees – his word as a gentleman – that if they come to his home voluntarily, they will be allowed to leave safely.

Tuesday, 17th of February, 1926

The investigators have accepted Delgado’s invitation. His address is one of the best in London – Belgrave Square, no less. When they arrive, they find a party in progress, and get the impression this is a regular event. They are shown through the party into Delgado’s study. He explains to them that he is a powerful Sorcerer and the Horn of Alu would be safest in his hands, and if they choose to join them, they will benefit from being his associates. He can promise greatly extended life, perhaps even immortality, and a great deal of power as well. He tells them that it is better to be his friends than his enemies, and he asks them to consider his offer. If they accept, they simply need to inform him of this by noon tomorrow. If they do not make contact, he will know they have declined.

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A Tragic Night
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Friday, 6th of February, 1926

The investigators are summoned to a meeting with Theodore Rayburn-Price at the Wentworth Club. He reveals that he has become aware that an invitation only auction is to be held at Sotheby’s on Wednesday, 11th of February, and it seems that one of the lots that will be available for purchase may be the Horn of Alu that is associated with the Nineveh dig. He can arrange for the investigators to attend the auction to purchase the Horn on his behalf, or if they wish to purchase it themselves, he will gain them an invitation on the condition they will allow him to examine the Horn as soon as possible after purchase. The investigators agree.

Wednesday, 11th of February, 1926

The investigators attend the auction. They make the acquaintance of a number of other individuals who are also present – there a number of esoteric objects available for purchase, and those who are there to bid are similarly interesting (and in a number of cases accompanied by bodyguards).  They meet an exotic lady named Mafalda Violette, an American playboy named Archibald Judge, and perhaps most notably an upper class twit named Odie Mortimer who Miss Elan Gwynne manipulates into purchasing a number of the artifacts on her behalf.

The investigators are successful in their bid for the Horn, in part due to the assistance of Miss Audrey Leicester of the British Museum who was also there for the Horn. She agreed to assist them in exchange for a promise that the Horn will eventually be returned to the care of the Museum – but she is prepared to wait for this to happen (her own resources alone, not being enough to make a purchase).

As the investigators leave, they are ambushed by a number of apparently Arabic men. A Mister John Marsten (who had been attending the auction employed as a bodyguard by the now, at least temporarily impoverished and unable to pay his bills, Mister Odie Mortimer) comes to the investigators assistance. After a short battle involving both guns and knives, the investigators prevail although Mister Marsten and Miss Sharpe are fairly seriously injured. Police arrive and after some hours accepting the evidence that does point to the fact that the investigators were acting in self defence, allow the investigators to leave. They hasten to Mister Theodore Rayburn-Price’s home at the Vale of Heath, Hampstead (North London) to deliver the Horn for his examination.

Thursday, 12th of February, 1926

They are invited to stay at his home while he will examine the artefact. He agrees to allow Sir Malcolm to be present while he does so, but only on condition that whatever happens – even if he fears Rayburn-Price to be in danger – he will not interfere in anything that happens. The investigators all sleep – including Sir Malcolm. They are troubled by nightmares, but worse comes when they are woken by the screams of Rayburn-Price. Only Sir Malcolm sees the bull like apparition that appears and chases Rayburn-Price from his home into the parkland outside. Attempts to pursue are stymied by a strange mist. And by the time Rayburn-Price is found, he is dead, impaled on a tree, having apparently gouged his own eyes out.

His housekeeper, Agnes Gill, who remained locked in her room on his orders throughout all of this informs the investigators that Rayburn-Price had told her that if he ever died in unusual circumstances, the investigators were to be contacted and asked to clear his home of suspicious and possibly dangerous artifacts before the authorities are called. She asks them to do this, and then suggests they leave before she calls the police. There will be no evidence they were ever here.

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Violence Brewing
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Wednesday, 16th of December, 1925

Sir Malcolm is awoken shortly after midnight by one of the servants at the Wentworth Club. There is an urgent telephone call waiting for him downstairs. It is Doctor Laurence from the Bethlem Hospital, asking for the investigators to come as quickly as possible.

When they arrive at the hospital, they find a scene of chaos. There are firetrucks and police cars outside, along with a lot of police and firemen, hospital staff and wandering patients. Four obvious bodies lie under blankets. They are taking to see Doctor Laurence and Inspector Lennox who inform them that a riot broke out at about nine in the evening when a group of women from a ward for the criminally insane managed to arm themselves and leave their ward. The riot spread and has only just been brought under control. But during the confusion, Willard Puncheon has gone missing. Inspector Lennox has been ordered to stay on the scene pending a full investigation and in the circumstances, he is willing to ask the investigators, as people interested in Puncheon to see if they can find him. Given the attempt on his life, the previous night, he suspects that Puncheon has falling into the hands of those who mean him harm – if he isn’t already dead, he may be in considerable danger. Inspector Lennox offers the investigators the loan of some firearms and though he can not officially sanction them reminds them of the powers of citizens arrest and the right to use force to defend your own life or that of another innocent party. He intimates that as long as the investigators stay within these limits, he will do his best to keep them out of trouble. A man’s life is at stake.

The only real clue is that the security guard who was helping to watch Puncheon and who had access to all the keys in the hospital, John Elwick, is missing. He lives in Stepney Green, Tower Hamlets and the investigators head to his home.

There they encounter his mother, displeased at being woken in the middle of the night. But eventually she tells them that her son is probably at the Seven Stars pub just down the road. When they head there, they find the pub is closed but the door is wide open, having been obviously forced open. And John Elwick sits at the bar drowning his sorrows.

The man is in a maudlin state. He admits that he accepted twenty pounds to release the dangerous women from their rooms and to turn a blind eye to the removal of Willard Puncheon, but nobody was meant to be hurt, let alone killed. The amount of money is ridiculously small for a man to throw away his career, if not his liberty and life, but he says he took it partly out of fear of the man who paid him. This is a doctor – a surgeon – named Lucien Sauvageot, a Frenchman, who performs illicit surgeries out of his home in Berwick Street, Soho. Elwick encountered him when the man was willing to perform a dangerous surgery that saved Elwick’s mother when other Doctors wouldn’t. Sir Malcolm has vague memories of the name Lucien Sauvageot – a Doctor who was struck off for some sort of offence who had the nickname, The Butcher of Marais, but cannot recall the details. Having told Elwick, that his best course of action is to turn himself in, the investigators hasten to Soho.

There, they manage to identify the correct address and reconnoitre the location from an alleyway running behind. They encounter a heavy set man, who opens his coat to reveal a Thompson Submachine Gun.

A gunfight ensues. The investigators triumph largely due to extraordinary good luck when their assailants Thompson Submachine Gun jams on its first burst. He is cut down by their own returning fire.

The investigators then make their entry into the back door of what they believe to be Sauvageot's house. Once inside they confirm this suspicion when they discover the rear kitchen has been turned into a makeshift surgical sluice room. They head down into the cellar where they discover a locked door. Mister Peelman returns upstairs and confronts two hired toughs, both of whom he persuades to leave.

Once entry is gained to the locked room in the cellar, they investigators are confronted by the sight of Willard Puncheon, naked and hanging from chains. Sauvageot holds a scalpel to Puncheon's neck and attempts to negotiate his freedom. But after a short discussion, tries to make a run for it, and is shot down. He is seriously wounded but not dead.

The investigators summon police assistance and an ambulance. Sauvageot and Puncheon are taking to hospital. The investigators are able to search Sauvageot's home and locate two items of interest – a ledger and a journal.

True to his word, Inspector Lennox smooths over the legal issues with regards to their use of force. Sauvageot has died in hospital and they also killed one of his associates, but while there will at some stage be an inquest, Inspector Lennox has made it clear, he will give evidence that they were acting in lawful self defence while assisting police.

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An attempt at murder
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Monday, 14th of December, 1925

Late in the evening the investigators travel to Copperfield Road on the edge of Regents Canal for a meeting at a Youth Club with a representative of the elusive Delgado. This man introduces himself as Mister Burnside.

The meeting seems fairly productive and less confrontational than might have been feared. Mister Burnside agrees to raise the possibility with Mister Delgado of lending any artifacts in his possession to the British Museum in exchange for a recognition that there was nothing irregular in the acquisition of said artifacts. No firm commitment is made, but the possibility is certainly there.

Tuesday, 15th of December, 1925

The investigators visit the British Museum where Mister Meems is able to tell them that he has begun translating the photographs taken of Willard Puncheon and has realised that Puncheon did not take the necessary precautions in trying to translate and read the scrolls. They are also informed that there was an attempt at Bethlem Hospital on the life of Willard Puncheon. They head to the hospital and find out that overnight a man of Arabic appearance, dressed as an orderly infiltrated the hopsital killing two members of staff, before entering Willard Puncheon's room and attacking him. Fortunately for Puncheon, his room mate, Louis Wain, came to his defence and fought off the attacker who fled. Puncheon has now been moved to a more secure area of the hospital.

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Two meetings with a third to come
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Monday, 14th of December, 1925

The investigators have been invited to two appointments at the British Museum this morning – one with Sir Arthur Lansdowne of the Board of Trustees in the Board Room, followed by a second meeting with Azhar Udin of the Children of Tranquility in the Museum Café.

They attend the first meeting where they are introduced by Sir Arthur to a James Smith (likely a pseudonym) who describes himself as a Yeoman Warder Extraordinary of Saint Peter Ad Vincula – St Peter ad Vincula being the Chapel at the Tower of London. In essence, Mister Smith seems to be some sort of intelligence officer in the direct service of the Crown. Sir Arthur and Mister Smith explain that they have asked to see the investigators because there are rumours of a large scale robbery being planned on one of London’s major museums and it was agreed that the investigators would be kept informed of potential security issues relating to the British Museum. Significant efforts – including stationing of troops – have been put in place to protect the British Museum, and it is unclear whether the rumours are true, or even if the British Museum is the specific target.

The meeting with Azhar Udin follows. He takes the investigators to a coffee shop near the Museum where he explains to them that the Children of Tranquility share their concerns that the god Nabu (whatever this entity truly is) may rise again and cause havoc. But unlike the investigators, the Children wish to see the Temple reconstructed within the British Museum. This is because they believe they can use it to rebind Nabu and they believe the British Museum is the best place to do this because it means having access to resources and people that would be unavailable elsewhere in the event things do not go as planned. They also believe that as British archaeologist created the situation in which Nabu might be unleashed, it is only fair and sensible that if anywhere is to be put at risk, it is London, rather than anywhere else. The Children do see the investigators as allies at present but that may change if the investigators interfere with their plans.

Mister Peelman arranges a meeting to occur with one of Delgado’s associates. This is an ‘acceptable’ way to make contact that will not necessarily trigger reprisals. Details of the meeting will be given to the investigators when arranged.

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Two different types of Clubs
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Saturday, 12th December, 1925

Around 9.30am, the investigators visit Willard Puncheon’s maisonette in Hardwick Street, Finsbury. Mister Peelman is able to deal with the locked door. On opening the door they notice three rocks arranged in a row – it has the appearance of some sort of occult ward. Miss Sharp carefully disrupts the ward after Miss Gwynne photographs it.

The investigators then search the small but well furnished flat. The most obvious feature of the room is a large blood stain on the carpet presumably marking the place where Puncheon was injured. They do no locate the Scrolls of Endless Shadows but they do find four notebooks that contain the notes Puncheon was making while  translating them. They also find his diary.

The diary reveals that Puncheon has been visiting the British Museum regularly.

 

Puncheon believes that he’s been followed to and from the British Museum, and that someone watches his flat at night. Though he’s never caught a solid glimpse of his shadowy pursuers, his diary entries are increasingly paranoid, culminating in the cryptic phrase: “Could it be that we have attracted the attentions of the mysterious Children of legend? If so, then God help us all.”

 

A week ago, two strange men approached him at the museum. Speaking with French accents, they told Puncheon that their employer (never named) would like to meet with him regarding his translation of the Scrolls of Endless Shadow. No one outside his immediate circle could possibly have known about the scrolls, and so he denied all knowledge. The Frenchmen reacted angrily, and

said threateningly: “Then, monsieur, you will be seeing our employer sooner than you think.”

 

By the end of the diary, Puncheon has become obsessed with translating the scrolls, and is certain that the Curse of Nineveh is real. He writes: “Only by deciphering this fabled curse and its blasphemous rituals can I save us all. The others will not listen to me, and so I must act alone. I will try tonight to enact the ritual of protection, as outlined on the scrolls. Then I shall be safe from harm,

and able to free us all from the grip of Nabu.”

A very old book – Et Fragmenta Sargona - is also located but will require considerable study to make clear what relevance or use it has.

 

During their search, it is realised there is a man of Arabic appearance standing in a small public park opposite Puncheon’s flat. Mister Peelman leaves the flat by the bathroom window and creeps around ambushing and blackjacking the man from behind. He is bundled into the flat and when he recovers from being stunned, he reveals that he was one of the Children of Tranquillity, a very junior member, who was simply tasked with keeping an eye on Puncheon’s flat. He professes to know little of what is going on, and suggests that the investigators contact his superiors if they seek further information.


In the evening, Sir Malcolm invites the investigators to dine with him at the Traveller’s Club, as they have an indication that Campbell Thompson may be staying there. During dinner, they are able to confirm this and find out he is staying in a suite on the fourth floor. When they go upstairs and knock, Carruthers, Campbell Thompson’s valet confirms that his Master is at home, and he agrees to seem them.

There are two main issues discussed. The first is that Campbell Thompson is quite clear that whatever he may have written previously, there is no curse, nothing supernatural involved, and everything that happened on the 1919 Expedition must have a natural explanation. He is quite insistent on this point, but the investigators may well feel that he is simply protecting his reputation, rather than truly believing what he is saying now.

As to the Horn of Alu, he personally packed it into its crate on the steamer the expedition returned to England aboard in 1919, and personally discovered the fact it was missing on arrival in England. He believes it was stolen en route or on the London docks, and has spent years looking for it. He has uncovered rumours that lead him to believe it fell into the hands or at least one dubious ‘collector’ of antiquities as so many other artifacts have. He has also heard rumours that it may be about to resurface at an auction over the next few months and is waiting to see what happens. He agrees to pass on to the investigators any further news he hears.

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A Meeting With the Board, an Interlude, and a Madman is found
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Wednesday, 28th of October, 1925

Sleeping late at the Wentworth Club, after a very hectic night, the investigators are woken by Sykes the butler, informing them that their presence has been requested to meet with a representative of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum at 1pm. The investigators make themselves presentable, have an early lunch and arrive for their meeting.

It is with Sir Arthur Lansdowne, one of the Board, who explains to them that he is one of the Board members appointed because he actually has some idea about running a museum – rather than the vast majority of the large Board who are appointed because of various family or political connections. He tells them that based on the documents presented to him this morning by Sir Malcolm’s lawyer, he has already commenced an investigation into the security situation at the Museum and the initial reports he has received from Mister Ralph Yates, one of the Museum’s senior security guards, and a former police officer, is both discouraging and encouraging. Yates presented him with documents showing that there have been a lot of security problems at the museum and also a detailed plan to address these. Mister Yates has now been officially appointed as Head of Security for the Museum (pending Board approval) so he can put these plans into effect. Sir Arthur is prepared to personally guarantee and oversee these improved security arrangements. He asks that Sir Malcolm give him time to address these issues, and agrees to keep Sir Malcolm informed on the progress.

The investigator’s other requests are more problematic. Changing the structure of the Board of Trustees to one that would be more modern and efficient would be a very complex process as it involves amending Acts of Parliament and would likely be unacceptable to many of the current board members, who are very powerful people – amongst the most powerful in the land. But Sir Arthur agrees to at least do what he can to set the process in motion, knowing this will be a long term process.

The idea of not rebuilding the Temple of Nabu within the Museum is also extremely difficult. Thousands of pounds have already been spent on this project, and it has been announced to other Museums. Not proceeding would be profoundly damaging to the reputation of the British Museum. But Sir Arthur does feel able to reassure the investigators that the rebuilt temple will not be a perfect rebuilding simply by necessity, and he will investigate the possibility of introducing some further deliberate errors to its structure.

During the meeting, Mister Rhodes leaves and goes to see Mister Patrick Langton. He wishes to inquire into whether certain objects he has identified from the Campbell Thompson expeditions journal – are in the Museum’s possession. While asking his questions, he reveals he has the journal, and Langton demands its return, saying that as far as the Museum is concerned the journal is stolen property. Mister Rhodes agrees to return the journal, and Mister Langton then agrees to answer his questions about the artifacts.

There are six principle artifacts mentioned in the journal. Based on the questioning of Mister Langton and previous knowledge, the disposition of these artifacts is as follows.

The Statue of Nabu Incarnate – assumed to have been in Lord Brightman’s possession, and stolen when he was murdered. Current location unknown.

The Eye of Lamashtu – an opal. A large opal matching its description is in the secure vaults of the Museum.

Clay Ritual Tablets – recovered by the investigators and returned to secure storage at the Museum.

The Scrolls of Endless Shadows – not in the Museum’s possession. Last known to be in the possession of Professor Willard Puncheon (location unknown).

The Seal of Nabu – on secure display in the Museum’s Assyrian gallery.

The Horn of Alu – current location unknown.

The investigators now have some time to rest, and await developments. Attempts to locate Reginald Campbell Thompson fail. Some weeks pass.

 

Friday, 11th of December, 1925

An article appears in the London Gazette that reveals that four days ago (so around 7th of December) Willard Puncheon was committed to Bethlem Royal Hospital having suffered some sort of breakdown leading to him injuring himself. The investigators have been trying to find Puncheon for some time, and now they finally have a location for him.

They visit Bethlem and managed to secure an interview with Doctor Alan Laurence, Puncheon’s treating physician. After some persuasion, he reveals that Puncheon was admitted with cuts all over his body – police regard them as self inflicted, Doctor Laurence has some doubts. Reginald Campbell Thompson signed Puncheon’s admission papers, and is paying his bills.  He is able to tell them these bills are being sent to the Traveller’s Club.

Doctor Laurence agrees to allow the investigators to meet with Puncheon, as long as they do not mention his injuries. He hopes that a meeting might lead to Puncheon saying something that will give the Doctor some clues as to the cause of his illness and an avenue of treatment. The investigators are taken to Puncheon’s room – which is shared with another patient named Louis Wain.

Puncheon is covered in bandages. In some cases, blood has soaked through them. What can be seen of his flesh is covered in cuts, that are recognised as cuneiform inscriptions of some sort.

The interview with Puncheon is difficult. The man has clearly lost his mind. But he does say a few things that get special notice from the investigators:

They were watching me, you know. Always watching. They still are – out there, in here, it’s all the same. And they want to kill me. Oh yes, they think I don’t know, but the words speak to me. They’re in me. They tell me… things. They tell me of the watchers, the Children of Tranquillity!”

“Let them take me! Let them kill me! The question isn’t ‘Who are the watchers?’ The question is ‘Who watches the watchers?’ Hmm? Yes, that’s the question. That’s what the words want to know. They’re waiting for the watchers of the watchers.”

“They talk to me, you know. The words talk to me. Inside me. They say I should tell their secret. Tell their secret and then die! The Scroll wants to be read. It wants to be reunited with the others. Statue, Tablet, Scroll, Horn, Eye and Seal. In their unison is Great Nabu revealed.”


He ends by repeating the phrase “It wants to be read” over and over again. He says no more than that.

When informed that the cuts look like cuneiform, Doctor Laurence asks if the investigators will look at them (with Puncheon under sedation) and confirm that there might be some meaning to them. When the investigators inform him that though they cannot translate the text (this will take time and possibly a more skilled expert) it does seem to be coherent and not just random, he agrees to allow Miss Gwynne to photograph the ‘text’ for analysis. This is done late on the evening of 11th December.

Doctor Laurence is also able to give the investigators the address that Puncheon was living at until a few days ago – Hardwick St, Finsbury.

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What Evil Lurks...
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Tuesday, 27th of October, 1925

It is about eleven in the evening when the investigators leave The Fox and Hound public house in Copenhagen Road, Islington, in the company of Bill Lancaster to travel to his home at 1 Carnegie Street, there to meet with Ted Williams who is currently hiding in his attic.

Williams has clearly lost his mind. He is huddled in a corner of the attic hiding under bedsheets and blankets, he has adorned the walls and floor of the room with crucifixes drawn in crayon and constantly recites broken lines of the Twenty Third Psalm. Sir Malcolm is able to calm him somewhat by reciting the Psalm in its entirety. Williams is questioned.

He confesses that he has been stealing and selling items from the British Museum collection, including the tablets from the marble casket. He sold two of them to a man named Baletheus Ginger who  has now been taken by the Devil and who wears his flesh like a shadow. He sold the other two tablets to a Lady Isabella Nichols. He is able to tell the investigators that Ginger lives in Ladbroke Square, and Lady Nichols in Belgrave Mews.

Whatever temporary sanity he had is shattered as he screams and points into a corner of the room, where the investigators see a shadow move away and pass through the crack of the door.

The investigators run down to Sir Malcolm’s car intending to head towards Belgravia. They are surprised to find a well dressed gentleman of somewhat Arabic appearance, sitting in the passenger seat. He says he need to speak to them. Sir Malcolm tells him that he can speak while driving and sets off at high speed westwards. The man names himself as Azhar Udin, and explains that he knows that the investigators are pursuing a man of shadow. They will not be able to stop this man without the help he can offer. He hands a scroll to Miss Sharp and explains that on that scroll is a spell that will contain the man of shadow and hold him in place until he dies – quite quickly – it will be the only way to end the threat he poses. He gives them the scroll as he and his own associates are too busy dealing with other problems to handle this one themselves right now, and the investigators have proven competent in recent months. He says that he will be in touch after the investigators have recovered the tablets in order to see they are placed somewhere safe. At a convenient intersection he leaves the car.

Wednesday, 28th of October, 1925

Reading the scroll, Miss Sharp realises that the spell requires the blood of a crow or raven to succeed. It is now midnight and time seems of the essence. Where can the blood of a crow or raven be found at such a night? The Tower of London seems one possibility but breaking into a Royal Fortress that contains an army barracks seems difficult to say the least. It is also in the wrong direction. The best idea anybody can come up with is for Mister Peelman to take the Rolls and drive to London Zoo after the others get out at Belgrave Mews. Miss Gwynne agrees to accompany him on this nocturnal expedition, and so Sir Malcolm, Mister Rhodes, and Miss Sharp knock on the door Lady Isabella Nichol’s home as the car speeds north.

Sir Malcolm knows the address because he knew Lady Isabella when he was a child and she still sends him Christmas cards, and he must of course send cards in return. She is considerably older than him – a friend of his parents rather than of himself. The Butler opens the door after some minutes of frantic knocking and agrees to summon Lady Nichols when Sir Malcolm tells him that her life is in danger.

At the Zoo, the car is parked in Regent’s Park, and Mister Peelman climbs the wall into the zoo. He has visited in the recent past so knows the rough direction to where the birds are housed but finds a convenient map as he moves through the darkened grounds, eyes and ears alert for watchmen.

Lady Isabella is annoyed at being woken up in the very early hours of the morning and becomes even more annoyed as Sir Malcolm berates her for engaging in the purchase of stolen historical artifacts from the British Museum. She claims to have no knowledge that anything she has purchased has been stolen.

At the zoo, Mister Peelman has located the building in which the birds nest at night. He picks the lock and enters and finds where the crows are kept. He manages to get one of them into a sack without too much trouble, until he is leaving when he walks straight into a watchman. The man is bowled over and Mister Peelman takes the opportunity to run. Whistles break out, and Mister Peelman, decides to climb the wall back into Regent’s Park at the first opportunity. Miss Gwynne sees him climbing over the wall in the distance and drives through the park to meet him, and together they head back to Belgravia.

Lady Nichols has no time for what she terms ‘supernatural nonsense’ but when she understands that Sir Malcolm is telling her somebody may be about to break into her house and steal from her collection and that this person is dangerous, whether shadow or man, she rouses the servants and orders the house to be locked up. She leads the present investigators to the room in which her collection is stored.

And screams as she sees the torn, but obviously man shaped shadow, standing near the mantelpiece holding a clay tablet in each hand.

The shadow seems trapped. The investigators realise that while it can slip through the smallest crack, the objects it is carrying cannot.

Sir Malcolm steps forward and attempts to communicate with the shadow.

Mister Peelman and Miss Gwynne are pulling up outside.

The shadow can speak, and Sir Malcolm tells it that they know what it has done, and that they may be able to help it. That there is a spell that they can cast that may help restore it. The shadow, who names himself as Baletheus Ginger, agrees to let them try.

When all the investigators are together, the crow is killed and its blood is used to draw a circle on the carpet of the room. Lady Isabella Nichols weakly objects from the couch she has slumped in, but nobody is listening to her anymore.

Ginger enters the circle and Miss Sharp begins to read the spell that will trap him and destroy him. It is a horrible experience to watch, as the shadow screams in pain and agony for over a minute before it finally tears apart, leaving the tablets lying on the carpet.

The Butler brings brandy. A considerable amount is consumed before the investigators decide to head to Baletheus Ginger’s home in Ladbroke Square.

There they find a dead body – a man who has been strangled and has had his head bashed in. They do not waste any time. They locate the other two tablets quite easily.

When they leave the house, Azhar Udin is waiting by the car.

There is a discussion. He explains that he is part of a group called the Children of Tranquility and his aim is to ensure the tablets are safe and do not fall into the wrong hands again. He would like them placed in his possession, but when Sir Malcolm proposes a compromise – that they be returned to the British Museum and that Sir Malcolm will undertake to have the Museum’s security improved, Udin agrees to let him try. Making the Museum more secure is in everybody’s interest – and if Sir Malcolm cannot do what he hope to do – well, then the Children can always take advantage of continued lax security to get the tablets later.

Sir Malcolm immediately heads to the home of his lawyer despite the early hour and tells him that he wants to sue the British Museum in order to get them to improve their security. He makes it clear this is something of an ambit claim – the real intent is to secure a meeting with the Board of Trustees to discuss the security situation. Sir Malcolm’s ultimate aim is a seat on the Board himself.

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The Mysterious Casket
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

 Tuesday, 27th October, 1925

It is about six o’clock in the evening. The investigators are in Storage Room 11b at the British Museum, looking at an ancient Assyrian casket that should contain four cuneiform tablets. They are in the company of Miss Audrey Leicester, a curator of the museum’s collection. They examine the casket and find it is unsealed in any way, although it does bear the remain of the type of seals that would have been placed on it in Nineveh before it was sent to London. They ask Miss Leicester if she knows who would have examined the casket since its arrival in London. She does not but suggests they consult, Mr Meems, the senior curator who may still be in the building, if he has not left for home yet.

She takes them to his office. Mr Meems is just leaving but agrees to give them a moment of his time. He is familiar with the casket and he opened it himself when it first arrived in London approximately five years ago. It contained four cuneiform tablets as expected. When it is suggested to him that the casket may be in danger of being stolen, he authorises Miss Leicester to have it moved by the porters to a more secure location. He is asked if he knows precisely where the casket came from. He consults a ledger in his office and tells them that there is a bit of a mystery about that. It was found in the tent of Doctor Edward Mulgrave after he was murdered during the 1919 expedition. Mulgrave had left no notes as to its precise location.

The investigators now leave for the Wentworth Club and their dinner with museum porter, Maurice Gibbons. They notice Mr Meems is also present dining with club president, Sir Geoffrey Bluffstone. Once dinner begins, the investigators ask Gibbons about his supposed encounter with the ghost of Tutankhamun and eventually Gibbons agrees that he does not really believe the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh attacked him. But he was accosted by a dark, shadowy, apparition which spoke to him, and demanded to know who he had sold cuneiform tablets to. When he refused to answer, the apparition punched him, and so he gave it the name of Andrew Noble. The ghostly figure had no accent, but spoke English. Gibbons insists that Noble is the only person he ever sold stolen items to, but when confronted with the evidence that he sold to Stanley Edgerton from Edgerton’s own notebook, he concedes that he did sell to him – and to Matthew Smiley. He has been involved in a racket that he claims was lead by fellow porter Ted Williams for the last six or so years, selling various items from the museum’s stores to collectors. He is familiar with the casket but has had nothing to do with it – but only because he has not found a potential buyer. He confirms that Edwards has not been at work recently. He knows Edwards lives in Putney Street, Islington, and regularly drinks at the nearby Fox and Hound public house in Copenhagen Street.

After the investigators let Gibbons leave, they invite Sir Geoffrey over for port. They ask him about his dinner with Meems. Apparently Sir Geoffrey and Meems were discussing possible plans to borrow – on a proper, official basis – some undisplayed minor artifacts from the British Museum for display in the Wentworth Club. Apparently Mr Meems has been discussing this with a number of clubs, as he thinks it might inspire some club members to become generous donors to the Museum collections. Apparently most of Lord Brightman’s private collection went to the Museum after his death.

The investigators decide they would like to find out if Brightman kept any journals that may be of interest, concerning the Nineveh expedition – or any other subject.

The following morning, Mister Peelman sets out to visit newspaper archives to see if he can find out what happened to Lord Brightman’s effects. After some digging he finds that anything of archeological value was donated to the British Museum, while other private property was auctioned off with the proceeds given to charity.

The other investigators return to the British Museum where Miss Leicester tells them that Mister Meems has told her to cooperate with their investigations. She takes them to the vault where the casket was moved to last night. When they mention Gibbons’ story to her, she reveals that she had a similar encounter with a shadowy apparition in Storage Room 11b. It frightened her quite badly and has left her willing to consider the possibility of something supernatural occurring. After some discussion, it is decided to open the casket for a quick look to see how many tablets are still inside. The answer is none. The four tablets have been removed.

Asking Miss Leicester for any more details she knows about the Nineveh expedition, she mentions that the Museum is preparing a new Assyrian gallery, the centrepiece of which will be the reconstruction of the Temple of Nabu. Stones from the temple are currently stored in a warehouse on the Isle of Dogs. She does not know exactly where, but agrees to find out.

In the evening, the investigators visit the Fox and Hound in Islington, where people are worried about the reappearance of ‘Springheeled Jack’ because somebody who cannot be seen has been attacking people in the nearby streets by night. Miss Gwynne makes the acquaintance of Mister Bill Lancaster, a friend of Ted Williams. Lancaster is worried about Williams. The man seems to him to have gone mad, and become paranoid. He is hiding in Lancaster’s attic. Lancaster welcomes the idea of the investigators speaking to Williams and maybe getting the man some help.

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Two Men and a Museum
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'

Tuesday, 27th October, 1925

The investigators having spoken to Mister Noble about the ransacking of his collection of historical artifacts have determined that their next step should be to speak to the two gentlemen who they have been told have also experienced a similar misfortune in recent times. To this end, they decide to first of all pay a visit to Mister Matthew Smiley at his home at 41 Montagu Square, Mayfair.

This proves to be a five-storey terrace house in the middle of a row. The door knocker is a modern representation of the Ancient Egyptian God, Anubis. After knocking the investigators are shown into the house by the Butler (Jones) and into the presence of Mister Smiley.

Mister Smiley readily confirms that he had a collection of historical artifacts in a private museum in his home and that they were recently destroyed – more or less in their entirety – in an extremely odd fashion. It happened on the night of 15th to the 16th of October. He retired late on the evening of the 15th, having checked that his museum – which consists of three connected rooms at the front of the first floor of the house – was securely locked as always. In the morning, when he was woken by Jones, they discovered that somebody had been through the room like the proverbial bull in a china shop, smashing almost everything in the collection.

He tells the investigators that his collection was mostly Egyptian in origin, although in recent years he has acquired a number of rare artifacts from Nineveh. The pride of his collection was four fine Cuneiform tablets from the 1919 Campbell Thompson Expedition – of which he is therefore self-evidently aware.

He is perfectly willing to show the investigators what is left of his collection. The rooms are now quite bare, although were clearly designed to hold and display quite a large collection of antiquities. Smiley explains that nearly everything was damaged beyond any hope of repair. He has sent off the paintings (more recent works of no great value) that hung on the walls for restoration, but continues to display the few damaged items from the collection that he considers worth preserving even in their damaged form. These consist of items include three pieces of Assyrian jewellery, (two rings and a chain, all inlaid with precious stones), a gold statuette of Bast; and four Egyptian bowls, all broken, as well as the four aforementioned tablets – all broken into quarters but besides this still reasonably intact. He consents to all this being photographed.

When confronted with the fact that no items from the 1919 Campbell Thompson Expedition have been released for sale to private owners, Smiley becomes agitated and evasive. But under careful questioning, he reluctantly confirms that he purchased the items – he insists in good faith, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he has purchased items on occasion from two men named Gibbons and Williams, who he believes to be employees of the British Museum. He asks for the investigator’s discretion. They give him vague reassurances that will try to avoid causing him any problems with legal authorities.

When leaving, Jones the Butler takes aside one of the investigators and tells them that on the night of the crime, Mister Smiley went to bed in an extremely intoxicated condition – not an uncommon occurrence. Around one in the morning, Jones was woken by crashing sounds from the museum and assumed his master was wandering around drunk. He went to investigate but found everything locked. But he saw and felt a strange dark, phantom like apparition that scared him deeply. It was morning before he was able to finally rouse his master and obtain the key to the museum, when they both discovered the damage.

Their next stop is to visit Mister Stanley Edgerton at his home at 7 Craven Hill Road, Kensington. He proves to not be at home, but they are able to speak to his wife Alice. She tells them her husband is away on business.


When they explain why they are there, Alice becomes quite distressed. She says that they did suffer a break in on 8th October. She and her husband were both home when they heard a crash from his private study. Her husband went to investigate and she was startled when she heard him cry out in anguish. She found him standing amidst a scene of chaos in his normally impeccably neat study. Papers and antiques had been thrown about the room as though a violent wind had passed through. Much of Stanley’s collection of Assyrian antiquities had been totally destroyed. He was beside himself with grief. Alice questioned and then dismissed the servants, and then took Stanley in hand, telling him to pull himself together. Unsure of how this misfortune could have taken place, Alice questioned her husband to discover that when he had gone upstairs the room had been locked. When he unlocked the door was when he claimed to have been attacked by a phantom, which reared out of the darkness and struck him on the head before vanishing.


Alice is at a loss as to what may or may not have actually happened. She fears some disreputable associate of her husband is behind the event; perhaps he owes them money? Alice is aware that he buys his antiques from rough-looking tradesmen, and has been doing so for about a year. Stanley has told Alice he buys the pieces direct from museums and the men are simply delivery men, not criminals at all. Alice does not believe her husband and is desperate for someone to assist her and stop her husband’s criminal dealings, which she fears will land him in gaol.

 

Unlike the other two collectors the investigators have spoken to, the Edgerton’s are not wealthy – they are solidly middle class and hardly struggling, but Stanley has been spending more than he really should on his collection. Alice says it has become almost an obsession.


The investigators examine the study. It has been cleaned but there are still some signs of disturbance.  Some half broken pottery vases and bowls are still present as is one cuneiform tablet that has been broken in half. A search of the room also reveals shards of a clay tablet under a writing desk, and a notebook that details some transactions that Stanley has engaged in. He has been purchasing artifacts from a man named Gibbons, an employee of the British Museum. Once again, photographs are taken before the investigators take their leave of Mrs Edgerton.


The investigators next stop is to visit the British Museum again just near its closing time. Through talking to Patrick Longton and Ralf Yates, they are introduced to Mister Maurice Gibbons, a porter, who they invite to dinner at the Wentworth Club this evening (He accepts), and Miss Audrey Leicester, one of the junior curators. When they show her the photographs of the tablets they have seen, she agrees they do look like they may have come from a particular part of the museums undisplayed collection kept in a room called ‘Storage 11b’. She takes them there. The room contains many clay tablets, but also a marble casket approximately 20” x 14” x 12” and is covered in ornate carvings and cuneiform inscriptions. When asked, she tells them it contains four tablets. The investigators realise there are mystical warding symbols among the cuneiform inscriptions. They ask Audrey is she can translate the inscriptions. She tells them that it will take some time to do that, but gives them a rough idea of what is said.


“Be warned that what is inside is dangerous. Four tablets are inside. Do not touch. Two turn a mans soul black. Two diminish the ritual. Madness comes from delay.”

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