Follow along with my Rex Murphy and D’s Zoey Samaras at ArkhamDB. Do be aware that these deck have been through The Essex County Express and both print-on-demand scenarios and contain spoilers as a result.
“But my head still hurts,” Rex complained, touching the spot gingerly.
“You fell.” Zoey pressed forward without looking back.
“It was very traumatic. Do you think the damage could be permanent?”
“Where are we?”
“Miskatonic University. Dr. Morgan says that this is where Dr. Rice works.”
“Yes. Did Henry not tell you?”
“I can’t remember. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning,” Rex whined.
“You should investigate the Humanities Building. Dr. Morgan says that is where Dr. Rice teaches classes.”
Rex looked a little more cheerful at the news.
“That does sound a good place to look for clues. What will you be doing?”
Zoey tested the edge of her machete. A bead of red rolled along the metal from the lightest touch of her thumb. She nodded grimly.
“Preparing for war. This place stinks of evil. Are you with me, professor?”
“It doesn’t stink of evil. At least, not compared to Dartmouth. Absolutely smells of cheap alcohol and reeks of inferior cologne. Would never set foot on its campus myself, but I don’t see anything wrong with spending more time with such a formidable woman.”
Dr. Morgan moved a step closer toward Zoey and leaned in close to investigate her machete as well. She barely noticed. Rex was about to say something about impropriety but reconsidered. Both of them were stronger than him. He left for the Humanities Building. Upon opening the door he saw a familiar, round, sweaty face.
“Why, hello, Dr. Milan. What are you doing here?”
“I work here, Mr. Murphy. I’ve told you that before.”
“Have you? I’m having trouble remembering things. No matter. I’m investigating a mysterious disappearance. Would you like to come with me?”
Dr. Milan shrugged.
“Why not? Better than office hours I’m sure.”
“Absolutely. Have you heard anything about a Dr. Warren Rice?”
“Haven’t seen him today. Maybe the janitor knows something. He knows everything about everyone on campus.”
“Interesting. Maybe we should look in the library for clues.”
Dr. Milan shrugged again.
It was a lackluster, directionless search. The Orne Library was immense. The lights were few and weak. If he needed to read something, Rex had to bring it to a window. Sometimes he knocked at a wall and listened for an echo, suggesting a secret room, or closely studied a page for possible cryptograms. He found none. When Dr. Milan noticed that Rex was looking at him, he idly fanned the pages of some tome for secret scraps then went back to leaning back in a comfortable chair.
Dr. Milan gave a start.
“Did you hear that?”
“Sounded like screaming outside in the quad.”
“Nope. Didn’t hear a thing, but it sure is hard looking for clues. Maybe you could tell me what this strange solution is? I’ve been carrying it all day.”
Dr. Milan was sweating more but took a look at the beaker of transparent green fluid in Rex’s hand.
“Looks like some plant derivative to me. A chlorophyll solution, maybe?”
“Fascinating. I think you’ve identified the solution. Let’s keep looking.”
Some minutes later Rex came eagerly up to Dr. Milan.
“I believe I’ve discovered the janitor’s name. It’s Mulligan. No word yet on his given name, but some call him ‘Jazz.'”
“Any word on where he is?”
“Not yet, but it won’t be long, not at the rate we’re finding these clues. Let’s head out to find more.”
Crossing the Quad, Rex and Dr. Milan ran again into Zoey and Dr. Morgan. She was covered in blood.
“Are you hurt? What happened?” cried Rex.
“The war came to us. He called himself a wizard, and we are called to tolerate no magicians. I felled him where he stood.”
“We felled him,” Dr. Morgan amended. “It was a team effort.”
Zoey gave the man at her side a long look, but before she could say anything, the sound of an explosion knocked the group to the ground. An unnatural scream, like metal against glass, closely followed.
“It came from the Science Building,” shouted Dr. Morgan already rising to his feet and extending a hand to help Zoey. “We must go.”
“Do we have to?” Dr. Milan asked, still on the ground and covering his head with his hands.
“We must,” Dr. Morgan repeated. “Look, there is an innocent in front of the building. It looks like the janitor. We must save him.”
“Another clue!” shouted Rex. He pulled Dr. Milan to his feet and began to sprint toward the Science Building. Zoey and Dr. Morgan passed him on the way.
Gasping, Rex stopped before the man.
“Are you ‘Jazz’ Mulligan the janitor?” he asked between breaths.
“Rex Murphy, reporter for The Arkham Chronicle.”
“Never read it. Prefer The Atlantic.”
“They do some fine journalism.” Rex finally caught his breath enough to stand up straight. “But perhaps you could come with me and help me investigate a mystery.”
“Well, there is that.” Rex pointed toward the basement Alchemy Labs. Something with too many teeth and too many mouths and arms and legs that bent where they shouldn’t was emerging from the broken door. Its limbs and tail flailed wildly, and again there was that terrible sound of metal on glass. Zoey had already engaged it, nimbly dancing past its wild blows and sinking her blade into its exposed flesh. Every time metal met abomination, it gave a scream but did not slow down. Dr. Morgan stood just out of range and shouted encouragement and complimented her form.
“Huh,” ‘Jazz said evenly. “Don’t see that everyday. What do you need me to do?”
“If it was birthed in those labs, perhaps we shall find its doom there, too.”
“And what can I do?” Dr. Milan asked, finally arriving.
“Distract the beast.”
Rex and the janitor ran past the beast as Dr. Milan was struck by its wicked tail.
The lab was in ruins. Those students and professors who could still stand, struggled to put out fires and comfort the fallen. Amidst the wreckage one flask, spitting and smoking like a witch’s cauldron, caught Rex’s eye.
“Perhaps this will help,” he said.
“Probably won’t make things worse,” ‘Jazz’ said.
Rex grabbed the bottle and rushed out of the lab. The beast was at the Quad now. It was moving slower from Zoey’s blows but was still far from dead.
“I’ll save you!” Rex called. He swung the flask as a woman had once down to him with a glass of wine when he had attempted to remove a particularly large piece of lint from the back of her dress and save her embarrassment. The liquid splashed harmlessly on the grass. Rex looked around. No one had noticed.
“I’ll save you!” he shouted. This time his aim was true. Liquid coated the creature’s back. If its shrieks before had been terrible, this now was unearthly. Its back arched at an impossible angle, and its hideous limb slapped at the liquid where a sizzling sound had begun. The sizzling only grew louder as it expanded to those slapping arms and legs. It wasn’t much longer until only bones remained.