Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: February 05, 2005
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Nicholas Connelly, codename MICHAEL (Jason Gallagher); Joshua Frost, codename MORGAN (Jimmy Pope); Carson Kovac, codename MAYA (Alana Goodall)
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
- T. S. Eliot, "The Waste Land"
The agents flew into New York from their various residences. They met up in La Guardia after the last flight, MAYA's, arrived from New Orleans. MAYA quickly cleared baggage pickup. They carted their overnight bags to a National Car Rental booth and rented a Buick Regal. Within an hour they were driving to Club Apocalypse.
The club looked almost exactly like it did when they last visited. There was a slight layer of grime on the sign, no more and no less than when they visited a year before. The only thing different was the "now playing" sign: some group called Charnel Dreams was signed up to play for the remainder of the week. MAYA parked the rental out front. The bouncer didn't bat an eye, as though he were expecting the agents. He opened the door for them without them having to introduce themselves. Walking down the steps they noted photographs of Robert Hubert, the club's day-to-day manager, posing with some of the late, great rock stars of the last two generations. They suppressed a shudder as they entered the nearly empty bar.
The interior was decorated in black leather and red satin. The satin was surprisingly stain free, giving the place a "just opened" feel. Alt-rock played from the overhead speakers while the stage remained deserted. No doubt the festivities were slated for the evening. Sunk into niches around walls of the room were comfortable semi-circular booths. In one of the booths sat a well groomed, slightly over-dressed middle-aged man who could only be Will "The Price" Price. The agents conferred for a moment and walked over to him. Perhaps he could tell them something about Alzis.
They approached "The Price" and introduced themselves. As it turned out, "The Price" recognized them from last year, when he helped them in their "hyper-hydration" investigation. He offered them a seat, and the agents sat down with him.
"The Price" asked them what they were doing there. Agent MICHAEL told him that they were invited to see Alzis. He showed "The Price" his invitation.
"Ah, you're friends of Mr. Alzis!" he exclaimed.
"Acquaintances," muttered MICHAEL.
"The Price" looked at MICHAEL's invitation. "If you don't mind my asking, do you owe Mr. Alzis some money?"
"No," replied MICHAEL, "a favor". He did not elaborate.
MAYA walked over to the bar. She asked the bartender for Alzis. The female bartender told MAYA that she would let Alzis know they were there. MAYA returned to the table.
While making small talk MICHAEL asked "The Price" what business he had in Club Apocalypse. "The Price" explained that he was there to appraise something, but the person for whom he was to do the appraisal had not, as yet, shown up. The agents glanced at each other, then they conferred in hushed tones before an amused Price. They agreed to show "The Price" the deck and have him appraise it.
MORGAN pulled the Tarot deck from his manpurse. He slid it toward "The Price". MORGAN asked him what he thought of this. "The Price" picked up the box with an amused look and opened it. His face changed from amused to intensely interested. He pulled out a set of lint free white gloves, donned them, and then picked up the deck. He thumbed through them. His eyes widened. The occultist flipped over a couple of cards and stared at the card backs intently. His hands began to shake ever so slightly.
"This is the Tarot deck of Madame Sosostris!" he exclaimed. "This is the actual deck! Not a reproduction!" "The Price" muttered that the deck could be a fake, but that it seemed to be the right age, and it looked like all the texts described.
With all three agents leaning forward, MICHAEL asked "The Price" to tell them about the deck. "The Price" explained that Madame Sosostris was a woman with an incredible gift of foresight. She had in her possession a Tarot deck of unsurpassed accuracy. She was, perhaps, the most gifted and sought after fortune teller of her time. No one is precisely sure what happened to her. Apparently she disappeared while on a ship in the late 1920s, but no one knows for sure. Her original Tarot deck had never been seen since, though the deck had been reproduced in a limited edition run. This deck was definitely not one of the reproductions. The reproductions were machine made and had a printer's mark. This deck appeared to be hand made. One of the reproduction decks went for over $1.5 million in a private auction a couple of years ago.
He looked through the deck, counting the cards. "All the Minor Arcana cards are here. All that's missing are the twenty-one Major Arcana cards."
"No, twenty-two," corrected MICHAEL.
"No, this deck only had twenty-one," said "The Price". "It's one of the things that makes it unique. It's not a standard Tarot deck."
"What card is missing?" asked MORGAN.
MORGAN nodded and then suddenly blanched from the echo of a memory. He quickly tore open his manpurse and searched for his notepad. The others quietly stared at him. He found the notepad. He flipped through it looking for something he wrote down about a year before. MORGAN found the passage: "Alzis believes the emperor is missing". It was the whispered phrase he heard when he opened up the bottle when they were... elsewhere, during the Mcallistar Building investigation. He quietly explained this to the other agents. Fortunately, "The Price" was deeply engrossed in the cards once more and missed MORGAN's comment.
"Where did you get this?" asked "The Price", indicating the deck of cards sitting in his still shaking hands. "Do you know its provenance?"
MORGAN began to tell "The Price" about the cards, when MAYA growled, "Brevity, MORGAN!"
Before MORGAN could say anything more, MICHAEL stated that they retrieved it from a practising "sorcerer". "The sorcerer had a sudden lack of need for it," he said. MICHAEL went on to explain, in very vague and not-too-helpful terms, how they came to own the cards.
"You say you found it in Tampa?" said an incredulous Price. "How... how gauche!"
The agents asked what the deck might be worth. "The Price" reiterated that a reproduction deck last sold for one and a half million dollars. "There is no telling what this would be worth!" He put the cards back in the box with care, and removed his gloves.
MAYA leaned toward MICHAEL and MORGAN. "He has money," whispered MAYA, referring to Alzis. "Does he want them for the money, or something else?"
"If you ever sell them," said "The Price, after he regained his composure, "I would most definitely like to be at the auction."
"I doubt they will ever be sold," replied MICHAEL.
The agents thanked Will Price for his information, but it was clear that the pleasure at even touching Madame Sosostris' deck was worth the meager information he gave. MORGAN handed "The Price" his card, and not a moment too soon. Stephen Alzis walked up to their table.
Alzis was of indeterminate Middle Eastern descent, appeared to be in his thirties, and quite handsome. He smiled and greeted the agents warmly, before escorting them to his office. In spite of his warmth, the agents didn't feel the least bit secure.
They entered his office, which was opulent yet functional. He offered them a seat while he sat behind a large, teak desk in a very comfortable — and probably expensive — chair. He got down to business. "Did you bring the cards?" MORGAN nodded. "Excellent," continued Alzis. "May I see them?"
MORGAN looked at the others. MICHAEL nodded, and MORGAN handed over the cards.
Alzis looked over the cards, carefully. "This deck contains only the Minor Arcana cards. This is because the Major Arcana cards were destroyed over the years." He closed the box and placed it on his desk. "I wish to collect on your debt. I want the cards. All of them. If you get the cards for me, your debt will be repaid, in full."
MICHAEL lifted an eyebrow and asked how they were supposed to find the cards if they were destroyed.
Alzis answered that he would simply send them back in time to save the missing cards before they could be destroyed.
The agents were, to say the least, incredulous. They didn't doubt that Alzis could somehow send them back in time, but they worried that they wouldn't return from such an adventure.
"I promise you will return," said Alzis, with a smile. Then he corrected himself. "If you are successful, you will return."
"And if we say no?" asked MAYA, hypothetically?
"I gave you a gift. I would have to take back that gift."
MICHAEL shrugged. He answered for all of them when he said that they would accept. After all, what choice did they have?
Alzis clapped his hands. "Excellent!" He walked over to a credenza, on top of which sat three glasses and decanter. He poured clear liquid from the decanter into the three glasses. He handed the glasses to the agents.
"Here's to the things we did before, and to the things yet to be done," said MORGAN in the form of a toast.
"Yay, FMLA," replied MAYA.
They each drained their glasses. The liquid tasted vaguely of alcohol, and was a little bit sweet. Nothing happened for a moment, and then the room went foggy and they started to spin counter clockwise. Suddenly they were in a miasma of gray clouds. They seemed to float within the miasma, spinning downward without feeling dizzy. The agents drifted apart, while their spinning increased. They each descended down the vortex, alone.