Story

PROLOGUE:
Two days have elapsed since the investigators found the horribly mummified body of criminal Mark Ridley in the basement of an old house. On this morning, two days later, three articles appear in the local newspaper bearing the following headlines: "Bizarre Wheat Ridge Death Baffles Police," "Man Found Garroted," and "More Plague Ridden Rodents Worry Officials." The first story is about official discovery of Ridley’s body and the resulting useless investigation. This article is found on the front page of the local news section, and describes the body and objects surrounding it and the bewilderment of the police force. The article does not mention the Idol of the Abominations or the brass box it was contained in. The second story is about the discovery of the body of Sammy the hobo in an alley downtown. He had apparently been garroted with a thin cord of some kind, and all valuable items were removed from his person. The police chalk it up to simple robbery, and an attempt is being made to locate and notify any existing relatives. This story is found well buried with insignificant news items toward the back of the paper. The third story is on the second page of the paper. It is rather lengthy and describes the recent discovery of several squirrels and rats carrying bubonic plague. The discoveries have been made all over the state, and officials are concentrating their efforts on a clean-up of all potentially harmful animals. The article quotes a couple of public health officials, and mentions the Black Death of the 14th century and the plague which decimated Rome in 262 AD.

THE HOTDOG CART
Sometime during the early part of the day, William Drake, the man who started the investigators on their current quest, calls on the investigators. He tells them that he has some free time coming up soon, and he’d very much like to use it to observe and possibly assist in the ongoing investigation. He tells the investigators that he would like to meet them to make arrangements, as he is calling from work and will get in trouble if he uses the phone too much. He does not have a phone at home. He suggests meeting at a hotdog cart downtown where he frequently has lunch, and the investigators agree to meet there that day.

At the appointed time, William Drake arrives at the hotdog cart on a busy downtown street to meet the investigators. He begins the process of buying their lunches and asking them questions about the ongoing investigation. He is very interested, especially in their assessment of Mr. Andram’s involvement in the affair. He makes the suggestion that Mr. Andram is not as bad as he seems, and thereby seems to be ignorant of the events occuring in part one of this trilogy.

Suddenly, in the middle of this conversation, Drake becomes very nervous. He apparently sees something on the street that disturbs him, and begins looking quickly in every direction. He points out several scary-looking men who are making their way toward the hotdog cart through the lunchtime crowd. After a moment of hesitation, he grabs one of the investigators by the arm and bolts away. The other investigators follow, and so do the approaching men. As they run, Drake explains that the men are cultists from the Pazu-Kanpa, and they intend to kill him and the investigators. He has a car in a nearby parking garage, and tries to lead the investigators there.

They manage to escape from the pursuing cultists by going down an up escalator in a crowded office building. They make it to the underground garage and to Drake’s car, and in this moment of relative calm, Drake further reveals that his real name is William Darren and that the Pazu-Kanpa has marked him for death. He quickly unlocks the car doors and the investigators all get inside. Just as Darren starts the car, ‘Kanpa cultists appear from nowhere and storm the vehicle. Darren lurches forward and begins to attempt to leave. Cultists cling to the doors, leap onto the hood, and try to force their way through the sunroof. Darren swerves and stops suddenly, throwing the cultists to the ground. He then accelerates quickly and the investigators escape the garage.

Once out of danger, Darren tells the investigators most of his story. He is, in truth, a graduate student in anthropology who works at a downtown bank. He is very close to achieving his degree, and keeping his job is vital to the completion of his studies. His best friend is a fellow anthropology expert five years his senior named Eliot Clay. Clay infiltrated the Pazu-Kanpa three years ago using the name Montgomery Andram, hoping to stop its activities and destroy it. Darren has known that his friend was involved in the cult, but Clay/Andram never told him details, for fear that the knowledge would prove dangerous for his friend. Darren has recently felt that Clay is getting into serious danger with the cult, and so contrived a scheme whereby to get the investigators involved in the case and provide some help. Now that he realizes how much danger they’re all in, he is nervous, but still determined. He has received a few death threats from the ‘Kanpa, but hasn’t paid much attention to them. He knows how to recognize the cultists from his friend Clay. He hasn’t seen or heard from Clay in a couple of days, and is worried.

After telling the investigators these truths, and receiving their justifed anger, Darren drops them off at their own car. He has to return to work, but promises to be in touch. He asks them to try to contact Eliot Clay/Andram, and tell him that they know what is going on.

ANDRAM’S HOUSE
Following Darren’s advice and the address from the letter from Part 1 of the trilogy, the investigators go to Andram/Clay’s house. There are two cars parked in front, but no signs of activity within. The front door is slightly ajar. Upon entering, they find the house is eerily quiet. They detect motion in the kitchen, and discover there a bassett hound drinking from a bowl. The dog is very calm and friendly. On the icebox is a note saying "Emma— Take care of Mr. Bushman for me." In another room they find the dead body of Andram/Clay. There are no visible wounds or other apparent cause of death.

While checking out the body, they hear a noise from another room. They check it out, and discover a young woman hiding in a bedroom closet. She screams upon being discovered, and begs them not to hurt her. After calming her down, they learn that she is Emma Garson, the cleaning lady. She had arrived moments before the investigators, discovered Andram’s dead body, and panicked.

Emma knows nothing about Andram’s occult connections. She describes him as an executive at an ad agency. She tells them that he lives alone, except for the dog, Mr. Bushman, but that he has frequent visitors: men who have frightened her the few times she has seen them. They often leave strange, vague messages for her to deliver to Andram. She describes Andram as a decent, God-fearing man, and points out the bible that he is fond of reading.

If the investigators examine the bible, they find a letter hidden in the binding. It is a long, paranoid ramble of regret and fear, telling how he learned of the Pazu-Kanpa while a doctor of anthropology and changed his name to Montgomery Andram and infiltrated the cult. It tells that he had risen to the rank of lesser priest, and was in charge of obtaining ancient relics for use in a ceremony. He names Bill Darren as his best friend. He says he tried to warn Ridley about the power of the relics, but that Ridley did not believe him. Then it tells of their future plans.

"...They have a horrible plan to worship Pazuzu. Pazuzu is the Lord of Fever and Plagues and they have a plan. It must be stopped. They plan to bring a new Black Death to the world.... They have a laboratory where they cultivate the disease and send it to the world. When the scientists have perfected the strain they will send it to the high priests in Europe and in Asia and to the coasts.... Everyone will die and doctors won’t be able to help.... I have dreams of death with rotting bodies and diseased children... who reach out their hands but can’t speak because their tongues have swollen up inside their mouths but their eyes speak to me. Their eyes accuse me and say why didn’t you stop it? WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP IT! I have failed and they will kill me. You must stop it.... There is still one sacred relic that I obtained... but I have hidden it. ...They can never find it. The Lord will protect it. It is the Wisdom of the Messenger. It is an ancient sacred relic. It is...made of silver space metal. It has the oak leaves carved in it like the weirding staff and it has a set of teeth from the hideous creature. ...Whoever controls the Wisdom of the Messenger has power. The teeth are from the mouth of the messenger from the other worlds.... I have hidden it.... There is another who knows where it is hidden. I trust him more than anyone else, and I have told him and he will keep the secret. If I am dead seek him out. ...The ‘Kanpa must be stopped.... The laboratory is in an office building downtown where there are other people who don’t even suspect the ‘Kanpa still exists.... It is called Ramshead Enterprises... I pray that you will be successful but I don’t think God listens to my prayers. I have done too many evil things and seen too many evil things. I am damned forever for my part in their evil and my deception and my failure. But I am not completely beaten.... —Eliot Clay"

With Emma Garson’s help, the investigators search the rest of the house. They find several items, like a rosary, suggesting that in truth Eliot Clay was a practicing Christian, as well as information about historical outbreaks of bubonic plague.

THE LABORATORY
The investigators go to the building described in Clay’s letter, the headquarters of Ramshead Enterprises. They speak to a receptionist there, but she is wary and they do not get past her. They make a show of leaving, but manage to sneak back into the building. Skulking through the corridors, they encounter a door marked NO ENTRANCE— AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. Naturally, they go in.

Inside they discover an experimental medical lab. In addition to beakers full of bubbling liquids and other scientific apparatus, they see a large metal cage filled with albino lab rats. There are about 30 of them, crawling and scurrying over each other. The investigators have a few minutes to soak up the scene and begin to root through clipboards and notebooks for pertinent clues, when the cultists walk in.

Led by a very nasty man, and accompanied by a lab-coated scientist, the cultists immediately overpower the investigators at knifepoint. Helpless, the investigators listen as the cult leader gloats. He tells them that the Pazu-Kanpa is very close to succeeding in its plan to bring a new strain of bubonic plague into the world. He points to all the equipment with pride, telling them that the incubator on a nearby bench contains the bacteria, merrily fermenting into a lethal brew. He points to the rats, and explains that each of them has been infected with the new bacteria. He describes how the scientist, Dr. Harbin, timed the experiments to coincide with natural outbreaks of sylvatic plague, thus diffusing the suspicions of authorities. After he has revealed a lot of useful information, the leader orders that the investigators be tied up with duct tape, which happens to be handy. The investigators are also gagged. They are tied, back to back, around a pipe attached to the wall.

Then Dr. Harbin explains that the rats have not been fed in several days, and are desperately hungry. He points out a timer on the lab bench, which is connected by rods to the door of the cage. He explains that when the timer runs out, it automatically opens the cage door, releasing the rats. With the cult leader’s approval, Dr Harbin sets the timer for ten minutes. Then all the cultists leave the investigators to their verminous fate.

Left alone, the investigators manage to free themselves without undue difficulty. Dr. Twobears, who has a cast on one arm, manages to get his injured hand free very quickly, and within a few minutes has escaped. They turn off the timer, and begin to search the lab.

Just then, Bill Darren enters, with a gun. He is pleased to see the investigators alive and well. He explains that he learned from Emma Garson where they were headed, and followed, fearing that they might run into trouble. Donning rubber gloves and masks, they work together to destroy the bacteria in the incubator, and, pulling a bottle marked "poison" from a shelf, they kill all the rats.

They flee to a safe place, where Bill Darren tells the investigators everything he knows about Eliot Clay. It substantiates everything in the letter they found in the bible binding. He confesses that he has no idea what the Wisdom of the Messenger is or where it is hidden. He has no idea who Clay might have told, since he has no family, no friends except Darren and a bunch of cultists, and lives alone except for his dog and a part-time cleaning lady. Darren tries to relate the things that have been happening to classic Greek myth, and mentions the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.

The investigators break up, with Darren warning all of them to be extremely careful, since they are all now in the gravest danger imaginable.