Land of Enchantment by Jason Bengtson
Approximately forty eight hours ago DG agent Kyle Mendez was sent to investigate a vague report from a DG friendly about "Chet's Used Books" near the campus of the University of New Mexico. According to the report, Chet Armstrong, who has already been convicted once of illegally dealing in stolen goods, had begun to exhibit strange, obsessive behaviors since purchasing an old paperback volume from a sale on E-bay. Chet had apparently bragged about the acquisition, showing it off to customers the day after it arrived, though most people seemed unimpressed with the cheap paperback and its missing cover. This didn't dampen Chet's enthusiasm, however. Reportedly he wouldn't tell people the title of the book, only that it was rare enough that soon his "financial problems would be a memory". It was only a day later that he begun to appear irritable and withdrawn, snapping at customers who mentioned the book. The friendly also reported that Chet had started muttering to himself, and seemed to have lost a noticeable amount of weight … a nearly impossible feat over the course of a single day.
Agent Mendez was suspicious of the report, since the friendly in question had a history of exaggeration. Mendez used his day job as a deputy federal Marshal as a pretext to visit the shop, telling his superiors he had received an anonymous tip that Chet was harboring a fugitive he had spent time with in prison. The agent has now failed to check in with either his DG team or his superiors at the Albuquerque Marshal Service office. A trip to "Chet's Used Books" by his fellow deputies found the building locked and uninhabited. A follow-up by Kyle's DG colleagues discovered no new evidence, beyond the disturbing fact that several books of high value and cash in the register had been left behind.
What Chet managed to get get ahold of was a copy of "the King in Yellow" printed in a short run at a university press in 1962. It was the only copy to survive the subsequent seizure and burning of the printing by the authorities. Chet has been reading the book and is now completely insane and obsessed with finishing it. When Agent Mendez flashed his federal badge and questioned Chet about the book, the bookseller snapped and knocked the agent unconscious while he was briefly distracted. Mendez is now bound with duct tape in the trunk of Chet's car, slowly dying of dehydration. Chet has retired to a small shack in the desert that he has frequented before, where shady deals are often conducted for Mythos tomes in the Tijeras area. He had contacted a local branch of the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign upon receiving the book, and a group of six armed members were waiting for him at the shack. They recognize the mental state that he is in and have encouraged him to read the book before he parts with it. Chet has lost his financial motivation and now cares only about finishing the book. He doesn't realize that he is opening a gate to Carcosa by doing so and wouldn't care if he did.
Involving the Agents
The Agents will be advised that the University of New Mexico maintains a Voelz Grant Collection. They will be further advised that they should consult the librarian at Zimmerman Library most involved with collecting Mythos tomes, Robert Crucian, to see if he has any insights about the case. Agents should at no time drop the cover provided by their legitimate law enforcement status. Crucian is likely to be suspicious, but it should be considered unwise to attempt to engage him directly as a DG friendly or operative. He will want to be part of the actual operation; agents may include him at their discretion. It may be difficult to preserve their cover but Crucian would be a valuable asset in the fight they will face. Upon consulting with Crucian he reveals:
- Chet Armstrong has been dealing in Mythos tomes for several years. Crucian has managed to purchase two from him, and "liberate" a third in some manner that the librarian will not specify. Crucian was under the impression that Chet had finally gotten out of the Mythos business.
- There are many cults and Mythos groups that are highly active in the Albuqerque and Tijeras canyon areas. These groups are often heavily armed.
- If pressed repeatedly for information about where Chet might have gone Crucian will reveal that he knows of a number of locations where Mythos groups meet to obtain illegal or dangerous items, including Mythos tomes. One of the four or so locations he mentions will be the shack that Chet is occupying. An appropriate Luck roll will lead them to this location first.
- A Spot Hidden role will cause one of the agents to remember an item on Weather.com about unusual weather in the desert that will also lead them to Chet's shack.
Crucian will insist in accompanying the team. If he does so he will radically increase the chances that the mission will be a success and that Mendez will be recovered alive. However, he will also attempt to take the book, by force if necessary. Crucian will be able to direct the team to each of the four locations. If they do not take Crucian he will at first refuse to give them the locations, but if pressed he will provide them with directions of limited accuracy that will significantly slow their arrival. He will warn the agents to be prepared to meet armed resistance if they find Chet.
There are no local Friendlies that should be considered reliable enough to be part of the rescue/retrieval. There is an available local green box in a locker at the Albuquerque bus terminal that contains 3 kilos of cocaine, a small wooden box with unknown contents, a photograph of a smiling man posing with a dog, two nine millimeter pistols, and three hundred rounds of hollow point 9mm ammunition. DG agents removing items from this green box must exercise extreme discretion.
The consultation with Crucian will be all the Agents need or have time for.
The Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign Crew
The Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign has been watching the shack ever since they were contacted by Chet, assuming he would show up eventually in a disordered state. All six men are armed, four with Beretta nine millimeter pistols and two with twelve gauge shotguns. All of them will remain outside the shack while Chet "finishes". Three will be near the cars in front of the shack and another three will position themselves out of sight behind the building. They will aggressively confront anyone who approaches the shack.
As Chet continues to read he will open a gateway to Carcosa, bringing the King in Yellow into our realm. Assuming the Agents (and, possibly, Crucian) dispatch the unfriendlies outside the shack and force open the door they will be confronted by Chet's mutilated body and an incarnation of the King in Yellow which they must find a way to neutralize. Crucian's elder sign inscribed bullets will be particularly handy here for stopping the King's corporeal form. The appearance of the King in Yellow may be abandoned by the Keeper if the team has taken too much damage in dealing with the Brotherhood.
To the Site
The shack is accessed by following Grant road out into the desert and turning North at an abandoned service station. From that point there is no road, and the Agents must keep due North for about a mile or they will miss the shack. Crucian's participation will be particularly valuable at this point.
Upon reaching the shack the team will immediately be confronted by the three Brotherhood members near the cars. The other three will wait until they are occupied to ambush the team. A Spot Hidden or Idea roll will lead the Agents to release Mendez from the trunk of Chet's car before entering the shack. If Crucian is with them and this is the first or second location they visit, Mendez will still be alive. Without Crucian the team will take long enough getting to the locations that the shack must be their first destination in order to find Mendez alive. They will have a bottle of water with them to give to Mendez. Otherwise they will find Mendez in the trunk after they enter the shack and he will have just died from dehydration and heat stroke.
At this point the Keeper must decide if the Agents have had enough in dealing with the Brotherhood or if they are prepared to additionally deal with an incarnation of the King in Yellow. Each attack by the King should come at a cost of 9d5 damage. The presence of the King should result in a loss of at least two points of sanity for each player. It is up to the Keeper to decide what will effectively neutralize the King. Since his incarnation is within a corporeal body, enough physical damage should eventually do the trick. Crucian's elder sign bullets, which can damage more of the King's essence, should have a considerably greater effect. If one of the Agents possesses Mythos magic, they might have an effective spell to use. The King's hold in our world should be regarded as tenuous at this point, or he will be too powerful for the team to overcome.
If the team is successful and Crucian is with them he will attempt to take custody of the book. It will be up to the Agents whether they try to contest this. Since they are keeping up their cover they may want to put up token resistance about "removing evidence". The Agents know that the book will be locked away by Crucian, however, so they may decide to simply let him have it. If they attempt to keep the book themselves Crucian will respond violently. Either way, the team will want Crucian out of the picture before they make arrangements to clean up the scene. The bodies should be arranged in such a way as to make it look like a drug deal gone bad. The cocaine from the green box will be handy for this purpose.
+1d2 points of Sanity for allowing Crucian to take the book
+1d4 to Agents if they confront the King in Yellow and successfully neutralize him
-1d8 if Mendez is not released from Chet's trunk before the shack is assaulted