Monday, May 4th 1925, continued:
The Karori, under Capt. Oscar Leonard, makes way. Accommodations aboard ship are tight, but serviceable. It seems to be a repurposed crew bunk with some curtains, bunks, and hammocks. The bulk of the luggage is stowed here, too.
Plans are made on how to present themselves, and what aliases to use. After significant debate, they decide on the following:
Viljoen Ballard: Arthur Brown
Spalding: Lucy Fitzgerald
Nickels: Henry Smith
Eastwick: Winston Chapelhill
Henry: Archibald Smith
…and a cover story posing as touring rich folks (Geologists searching for precious metal was briefly entertained). In order to reasonable disembark in Darwin, they plan to say that Ernst is getting seasick, and it would be very bad if he vomited in his condition.
Nickels volunteers to help out the crew, and gets chummy. He busies himself helping to replace some conduit, and uses his position to gets a lay of the crew and Capt, as well as scope out the technical specs of the ship in case sabotage becomes warranted.
Spalding continues her study of True Magick. She also tells Viljoen Ballard the tale of the Headless Horseman, after hearing that he’s Dutch Reform.
Eastwick studies ‘Tales of the Priest Kwan’
Tuesday, May 5th 1925
Ernst is digging amongst the scrolls.Nickels wakes up and confronts him. Ernst has removed some scrolls, and seems to be reading, out loud, one of the ones in Arabic. Nickels gets out of his hammock and puts his hand on Ernst shoulder, asking him what’s going on. Ernst stops speaking, but does not otherwise respond. Nickels shakes him, and Ernst topples back to the floor. Viljoen Ballard is woken up, and checks Ernst, who seems to be ok, save that he can’t be roused. Viljoen Ballard takes Spaldings matches and checks his dilation, which is also fine.
Nickels wants to burn the scroll, but Viljoen Ballard challenges him. They argue, and the others wake up. Spalding grabs the scroll back from Nickels, saying that it’s a piece of history. Also, it may be the only clue to find out what’s happening with Ernst. Nickels seems convinced. They lift Ernst into his bunk. They agree to post watches, and Nickels takes the first, breaking out his M10. Spalding keeps the scroll in her trunk.
Nickels does not wake any others, and keeps watch til dawn.
Wednesday, May 6th 1925
Viljoen-Ballard sees that Ernst seems to be speaking very, very quietly. Listening closely, he’s pretty sure that Ernst keeps repeating “I’m Henry God-Damned Ernst”. Viljoen Ballard takes that as a good sign… that Ernst is reasserting himself as an individual. Viljoen Ballard goes up to the deck to get some air, and seeks out some breadfruit to eat.
Returning to the bunks, Viljoen Ballard give Ernst a shot of cocaine solution. Ernst blinks, shakes a bit, and sits up. He repeats his phrase. He tries to say something else, but fails, then gets his flask from his trunk, and takes a shot. He repeats his phrase, and brings out his typewriter. Trying carefully and methodically to type, with intense focus, he types out his phrase. Nickels briefly wakes up, surveys the happenings, and decides to go back to sleep. He says to wake him back up if Ernst does something different.
Eastwick tries to use psychoanalysis to focus Ernst, who seems unable to concentrate. Thinking on his occult studies, Eastwick tries to discern if there is some malign force at work.
Nickels decides he’s not going to get much rest with Eastwicks analysis going on. Nickels thinks someone might be spying on the party through Ernst, and gets up to go walk around.
Meanwhile, Eastwick tries to contact any invading spirits. Ernst becomes violent, and smashes Eastwick in the jaw, dropping him to the ground. Ernst jumps up to continue the beating, but grapples with himself, throwing himself against the bulkhead and toppling to the ground, once again repeating his phrase. Viljoen Ballard is summoned through a crewman to attend to both of them.
Viljoen Ballard checks them out… both will be ok with time… no outstanding injuries.
A watch is set over Ernst, who goes to sleep. Eastwick keeps an eye on Ernst. The others go to bed.
Thursday, May 7th 1925
Viljoen Ballard negotiates with Capt Leonard to get him to let the party off at Darwin. The Capt is suspicious, but a suitable amount of cash exchanges hands. He agrees to launch the party in one of the longboats.
Ernst is doing a little better, not repeating his phrase so much and being able to respond to simple questions.
Evening: The Karori passes by Darwin, launching the party ashore as promised. The party asks around and finds a boarding house called the Hoyster House, run by Alice and Terrance Hoyster; a late middle aged couple that won’t ask too many questions. They arrange lodging for a week, ostensibly for Ernst’s convalescence. They take two rooms; one room for Spalding, one for the rest. They get a cheap meal from Alice and turn in for the night.
Friday May 8th, 1925
After breakfast Spalding, Nickels, and Viljoen Ballard head to Randolph Shipping. They look up the address in the local directory. It’s a small dockside warehouse not far away. Knocking, they are eventually greeted by Toddy Randolph, the fat proprietor with bloodshot eyes and a bulbous, splotched nose. They ply the story that they are fossil hunters shipping trilobytes and shark teeth, with Dr. Spalding as lead, and require suitable shipping arrangements for their finds. Toddy takes them through the process and negotiates rates.
Viljoen Ballard raises questions about security, and slips Toddy some extra cash for a tour of facility. It is, essentially, one large room spanning roughly 1.5 stories with a stack of crates on one half, and a rolltop desk and some cots on the other. There are windows at irregular intervals, the large wooden double front door, and a loading door out the back that opens onto a deck and dock extending into the water. Toddy shows Nickels the building and locks. THey look mundane, and Nickels would likely have little issue compromising them. However, Toddy also stresses that the greatest security is provided by Billy Burraglong, one of his aboriginal laborers, who is currently stacking crates on the dock. Toddy has Nickels stand against a wall and whistles to Billy for a demonstration of his skills. Billy throws a massive knife into the wall within ¼ inch of Nickels ear. Toddy says that Billy will track down anyone who touches the goods, and that the party can be sure that their stuff will be safe with him.
During the tour, Nickels spies some crates labelled for shipping to the Penhew Foundation in London.
Satisfied, the party leaves, collects Ernst from the Hoyster House, and gets some lunch. They debate their next steps. They need to find the location marked by the gem on the mural wall, but the map is imprecise. The gem covers a good chunk of the Great Sandy Desert. Viljoen Ballard wants to find a wise woman who knows the Great Sandy Desert, and follow up on any local legends. Spalding wants to break into Randolph shipping and see where Penhew boxes came from. If they decide to do that, Viljoen Ballard wants to makes sure that they have an escape route before they get into trouble. Darwin is a small town, and the surrounding area is inhospitable. They will need horses, provisions, a lay of the land, etc.