The professor waits until Daniel has taken the lead again, then he admonishes you
We have to hurry, we must presume this thing was some kind of scout or guardian, the claw looked like one of Astacus Astacus, a very organized type of animal - they will know that something is wrong soon - I mean, at least if we assume that they are still intelligent. Hurry now!
Racing through the dark corridor - your nerves strained to the uttermost - you barely notice the ghostly shadows the torches create on the walls.
You stop some minutes later as the tunnel opens into a larger cave (25m diameter) stabilized by a central natural pillar. It smells strange here - sweet and moldy.
"Why surprising? I have no knowledge of geology, but for the tunnels, it makes sense. The townsfolk or cult or whatever they are could not have build a large underground complex, could they? If anything, a natural cave or natural underground complex would explain the extensive tunnels."
Despite this, Daniel looks astonished at the sheer size of the cave and its center column, shaking hands pulling a cloth from his pocket that might have been an ascot during its better days to bind it around his upper neck, 'protecting' mouth and nose.
Charlie is the first to notice that all walls of the room are covered with strange glyphs, runes and symbols painted with a reddish/brownish substance.
The symbols don't look like letters in any language you have ever seen and some of them rather look like mandragora roots than ordinary letters. They seem to have been written without any means of punctuation criss cross all over the place. You have a pretty hard time to make out lines of symbols that belong together and whenever you think you have spotted one, there are other "lines" that destroy your assumptions.
I have never seen such a thing before, Professor.
Cummings says who has walked to the other end of the cave and peers cautiously into the dark tunnel ahead.
Has anyone of you heard about the Pickman Case?
asks the professor, ignoring Cummings' astonishment.
No, two years ago, a certain Henry Thurber told a friend of him...umm...damn, I forgot his name...whatever - about strange things he had endured. He had visited Richard Upton Pickman - Boston's most discussed painter at that time - in his secret studio in Boston's Northend. There he experienced things that obviously shattered his mind - so at least it looked like.
But back to Pickman - he became famous as a result of a painting he showed at the Boston Art Society: "The Ghoul's Feast" - that was the title and it was so obscene and perverted that it was quickly forbidden to exhibit it. Thurber liked it still and became a friend of Pickman and was allowed to visit the afore mentioned secret studio - which hasn't been found by the authorities until today... There - following Thurber's statements - he saw the horrors of the world combined: Pickman had drawn hundreds of monstrosities which were living underneath the great cemetaries of Boston and next to the underground railways! He had painted tunnels - whole systems and complexes of tunnels - underneath the city in which creatures lived that looked like dog-faced humand with goat legs.
The professor pauses and shakes his head in disbelief
I fear Thurber was not the maniac everyone believed him to be...
"Even if he does - we still cannot simply leave the town. If we do we will probably be framed for crimes this cult commited and be branded criminals - that would make looking for a missing painter quite hazardous"
You're right, we have to find out about what happens here in Dunwich first...but if we think about the evidence Mr. Thurber gave, then I cannot accept that it should just be some kind of accident that he reported of monsters living underneath the town in caverns.
Suddenly you hear voices from the other tunnel which leads out of the cave - at least three men seem to be talking to each other.
Cummings has put his index finger to his lips signalling you to be quiet, but he seems extremely nervous.
Daniel, put out the torch, quick!
Says the professor and hurries behind the central pillar.
Charlie, Dr. Chilcot, and Reggie scramble behind the central pillar just at the time the torch is extinguised - a moment of utter darkness and heavy breathing follows until a new lightsource becomes visible. Three men, one carrying a torch himself, enter the cave from the other tunnel and stop next to the other side of the central pillar. They are now only about 6m away from you.
You recognize them at once: Mr. Osborne, the grocery store owner, detective Miller, and Jed Blair, the old man from the gas station.
Miller: Osborne you are an idiot, how could you let these things happen? The elder Bishops won't be very happy to hear about what happened at the Arkin farm...
Osborne: Everything went fine before these dicks turned up here...
Miller: Whatever, we have to care about Whateley and his misbegotten son first...once they're out of the way we will rise in favour and then...
Jed: Wait, did you hear that?
Osborne + Miller: What?
Then suddenly it's silent from the other side of the pillar...
Daniel lets hear a sigh. He steps out and points his gun at the men, too (hey, they don't know he probably wouldn't hit the cave wall if he tried...). Daniel tries to keep an eye on the tunnel they came from, changing his position further, if necessary.
As Musphy turns around the pillar he realizes that this was the very best moment to do it, since Miller was just about to pull out his gun - now he quickly abandons that idea and keeps his hands where Murphy can see them - like his two companions.
Osborne looks at Miller and there's a bit of accusation in his mien
We should have killed them when we had the chance...
But Miller igrnores the grocery store owner
The fact that you are here means that you've somehow overcome the guardian...I think I underestimated you.
There is a split second of surprise on the faces of all three cultists which is quickly torn apart in Miller's case. He's dead before he hits the ground and while Jed Blair only closes his eyes to ready himself for the inevitable to come, Osborne yells
"What you think they are interested in us seeing the light of day? what like the other victims? Like that thing they are keeping down here? These guys are murderous villains, f*ck em. They wanna live by the sword..."
"You gotta be kidding me Reggie, you think this is all going to end in conversation and a few sarsaparillas? It's us or them and you know it, now grow a pair and help me do the job or shut up and stay out of the way."
"Do you think we can walk up there, bind them all, look for tatoos and shoot everybody who has one? What then, build oru own private empire where the cops can't come looking for us? If we fail to find evidence against the cult, you only managed to shot a cop and two unarmed men!"
Daniel, speaking fast and trying to keep his anger and desparation out of it takes a deep breath
"We could have USED prisoners to find this evidence so we can walk free and they can get rounded up by the cops. You better snap out of your killing spree before you get US killed."
"No, but what I can do is put a bullet through each one of these murderous bastards as we get out of this place eh? How many do you reckon you can tie up and manage? You heard 'em, we would have been done for other than they made a mistake - a mistake we'd be wise to learn from. No there won't be any police investigating this whole mess, the same way no police investigated all the other missing bodies around here. They won't be investigating that nice old lady that no doubt was killed by this mob either."
Murphy looks at the bodies and starts checking for firearms and ammo...
"You can bet your last nickel that conversations about evidence and police investigations are way off, this is some forgotten corner of nowhere and these inbred hicks wont be saying a damn word. They are even more suspcious and unhelpful than the g## d*@ned mafiosa I had to put up with for years. Well like those Mafiosa, the only thing these peckerheads understand is a few holes here and there to set them straight. They look at us again and try stop us leaving then they will get it straight between the eyes, capice?"
"Now pick up a gun and be ready to get out of here. Otherwise prepare to be fed to another one of those things. No doubt they have more"
Charlie looks away as Murphy opens fire. "It's true. There were no witnesses, and I don't think the Believers are going to want a lot of police investigation going on in this town. They'll probably keep quiet, at least long enough for us to build an unbreakable case."
"Keeping one might have been useful for further questioning, though."
"I thought we were to find clues and eveidence so we could get out? Wasnt that what we set out to? How the hell did we get from that to shoot our way to uncertain freedom? This will get us nowhere but in a grave!"
As Reggie tries to grapple Murphy he is rather unsuccessful and quickly pushed back by the much more experienced ex-cop. In Miller's trenchcoat Murphy finds a box with 20 bullets and a loaded revolver. The other two men were unarmed.
"That was the plan until they started speaking plainly about us being corpses. Gentlemen these locals don't plan on pussyfooting about, especially while we gather evidence against them. They know that if we get out of here alive then thier whole caper comes crashing down around there ears and they are all up for a dance with the executioner the whole lot of 'em."
"So I put it to you guys, you plan on leaving alive at all? then it's going to be fighting our way out of here. They are going to realise real quick they'd be better off disappearing to some other bandoned shanty town in the deep swamps than get shot dead by a bunch of fellas set on getting out of here - so if they have any sense or self preservation they might just run. If we have any sense of self preservation we might consider the same."
"They're hunting us in the meantime; they know the area, they know the trails, so we need to beat that with aggression and bloody mindedness... when the Italians go to war they bathe their enemies in tears and drown them in a sea of blood. Gents, its time to be Italian."
"We knew they wanted us dead! Them saying it aloud changes nothing. They are a fanatic, murderous cult. They will not back down from a couple of armed men they probably outnumber one or two dozen to one. You want to go out shooting to die in a blaze of glory, I sure can not stop you, but remember that the italians would be mindful enough to make sure the odds favor them before going to war.
If anything, we need to find out what it is about the Whatley fellow. They seemed to be rather keen on getting him out of the way, too, yet despite living here, he is still there. Perhaps, knowing what we do know we can improve our chances by visiting him again.
"We could have asked them questions for starters, but that is spilled 'shine and not worth fighting about anymore. But, if we go out again, yes, I think avoiding the mob of cultists that is out to get us instead of underwhelming them by the sheer lack of strenght of our numbers will keep us alive longer.
Regarding Whateley - I agree, he seems even weirder then the rest. But since the rest is out for our blood and strong, clever and connected enough to kill travellers for fun and profit since the lord almighty knows when, weird seems harmless in comparison, soes it not? And if they want him dead, we better get to know why and how he is still around.
The next leg of your journey through the tunnels does seem endless and the fact that it steadily goes downward does not make you feel any better. After about another ten minutes you reach a forking - the left branch leads further down, while the right one seems to go up. A smell of decay wafts over to you from the left and there a strange moaning sounds echoing through the tunnel.
Hey, but what about this guy we left behind? If that things moves into his direction, it will surely attack him!...I...I got an idea, I'll run back to him and we both wait at the Sawmill for you to return, ok?
You can't help yourself but think that all the things that occured have already taken their toll on Cumming's mind and that he really appreciates the possibility to stay behind in relative safety.