After the events at Trinity Christian Cemetery, the investigators go their separate ways. Ivy Morgan returns home. Connor O’Shea drives back to Brooklyn after dropping Alistair Sinclair at his hotel. A rifle-carrying Jonas Markham walks the streets of Harlem, fearless and defiant.
Tired and frustrated, Jonas returns to his car, parked in Ivy’s driveway, a few hours later. He sits behind the wheel and ponders the mysterious statue he found on his Maine potato farm. As sleep begins to take him, Jonas sees a man climb up Ivy’s front steps and leave something in her door. Exiting the vehicle as the man leaves, Jonas recognizes him as Vincent Falker, the gravedigger he met earlier in the evening. Walking cautiously up the steps, Jonas takes the piece of paper and examines it. Signed by someone with the initials A.L., the letter seems to be an invitation to a location in Hell’s Kitchen.
Jonas spends a sleepless night in his car, waiting for the morning. As the sun rises, he knocks on Ivy’s front door and confronts her with the letter. Ivy, eager to unravel the mystery, agrees to go with Jonas to Hell’s Kitchen. Jonas, eager to get some sleep, asks if they can wait until he’s gotten some rest.
Later in the afternoon, Jonas and Ivy drive to Hell’s Kitchen in Jonas’ Packard. The trip is uneventful. The majority of the neighborhood is working at one of the local factories or warehouses, and outside of a few ne’er-do-wells, Hell’s Kitchen is relatively deserted. Shady storefronts and tenements pepper the block. At first glance, nothing stands out.
As they walk up West 39th Street, Ivy’s glance is suddenly drawn to the image of a severed wolf head painted on a garbage can near the entrance of an alley. Grabbing the letter from Jonas, she confirms that it matches the one in the letter. The alley leads to what appears to be a dead end. However, there is a narrow gap between two buildings that they can squeeze through with some effort. Once through the gap, Ivy and Jonas stand in a hidden courtyard at the threshold of a beautifully stained mahogany door. At the top of the door is an iron peephole – at the center of the door is a strange symbol:
Ivy knocks on the heavy door while Jonas watches from behind. The peephole opens and a heavily-brogued voice asks for a password. Reciting the magic words described in the letter, Ivy says, “Come forth, Lazarus – and he came fifth and lost the job.”
The door swings open.
A gigantic, hulk of a man greets Ivy and Jonas as they enter. “I’m Alec Long. Welcome to The Slaughtered Lamb.” He closes the door behind them.
The bar is absolutely pristine – polished mahogany, tin ceilings, leaded glass, and etched mirrors decorate the small space. Alec walks behind the bar, grabs a bottle of Old Unhappy Dog, and pours three shots. “On the house,” he says.
Ivy and Jonas notice they are not alone. Several bar-stools are occupied (they notice a uniformed police officer nursing a beer in the corner). The patrons glance up at them for a moment, and then return to their drinks.
“Sorry for the secrecy,” Alec begins, “but Dora and I don’t just let ANYONE into the Lamb. We try to keep the patronage to a minimum – although lately it seems business is booming.” He gives a chuckle to an equally gigantic man in an overcoat seated at the bar, who gazes back at him, shaking his head.
Ivy and Jonas look around the room. The walls of The Slaughtered Lamb are plastered with newspaper articles (the morning Times is hanging on the bathroom door – Ivy and Jonas both notice Agent Daniels’ face plastered on the front page), maps of the five boroughs, and various lists (Known Cults raises an eyebrow).
“Vincent told me there were four of you – the others couldn’t deal with it, huh?” Alec chuckles, “He let me know what happened at Trinity Cemetery last night, and I just wanted to let you know that I understand.” Alec notices Ivy and Jonas’ looks of disbelief and continues, "I know what you’re thinking – there’s got to be some logical explanation for what happened. Well, there isn’t. It’s very complicated, actually. Have a drink – it’ll help you deal with the shock.”
The hulking man in the overcoat next to Jonas croaks, “Here-here!” and drains his glass.
Over the next few hours, Ivy and Jonas ask Alec countless questions. Alec explains that The Slaughtered Lamb is a safe-haven for people that have encountered the mythos, and that they are committed to protecting humanity from the horrible truths about the real world. He believes that man is evolving and becoming more perceptive – that he is more in tune with the universe than he once was. And that those who choose to open their minds to the truth will behold it, at their own peril.
When Ivy asks why they should keep the truth from humanity, Alec sighs. “Have you read the papers, Miss Morgan?” He picks up the Times and begins to read aloud, "And poor Pete Manusco, mortally wounded yet somehow indomitably willing himself to stay alive, tried to reach help only to be cut down, ironically by the very aid he sought._
“My contacts in the NYPD tell me that the coroner was prepared to testify that Manusco’s head wound was immediately fatal – that more than half the volume of his brain was shredded or blown away – until he was relieved of his duties in favor of someone that would corroborate the reports in the news.”
“Presented with the most damning evidence to the contrary, humanity still tries to find the most reasonable explanation for anything out of the ordinary.”
“And what do you think would happen to you, Miss Morgan, if you tried to upset that balance? If you started telling people that you witnessed a dead man rise from the grave? Or that the gods we worship are nothing but a contrivance of mankind? The padded cells at Bellevue Hospital are filled with well-meaning people that have tried to tell those truths.”
“The world we once knew is dead. It is filled with untold horrors – horrors that would unravel the fabric of our society and send us screaming into oblivion. Most people are unaware of these horrors. Some people are crazy enough to try to unleash these horrors upon the world. Those of us that were unlucky enough to learn about the horrors in the world feel responsible for those who are oblivious to them. We have taken on the role as humanity’s protectors – if we can keep the world from learning the truth, then we’ve done our job. Now that you know about us, we hope you will join us in the fight.”
Ivy drains another shot of Old Unhappy Dog. “Join you, like a club?”
“We are not the Loyal Order of Moose, Miss Morgan,” quips Alec. “We are a collection of like-minded individuals. If you wish to put your life on the line to keep the truth from the rest of the world as we have, then you will never be alone. We will help in any way possible. If you choose to do nothing, so be it. The Slaughtered Lamb will always be a safe-haven for you as long as you promise to keep our existence secret, and you can remember the password. Please extend the invitation to the others in your group.”
Alec finishes. Jonas asks if Alec would look at something he found on his farm, and runs out to his car. When he returns, Jonas unwraps the statue from some old rags and places it on the bar.
Almost instinctively, Ivy gives a shudder. There’s not much to discern – it’s only a fragment, but she can see what appears to be a set of hooves and a lone, wormlike tentacle. There’s something decidedly unsavory about it, but she can’t put her finger on it.
Alec eyes the statue disapprovingly.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he says after a moment. “What about you, Truth?” You notice that the man in the overcoat, the uniformed police officer, and another man (there seems to be a chunk of his face missing) have joined you around the bar and are looking at the statue.
“Nah, I’ve never seen it.” He pulls a flask from his overcoat and takes a swig. “But it’s ugly, whatever it is.”
The uniformed policeman, Ray Honore, shrugs his shoulders. “Yuck,” you hear him say to himself as he walks back to his table.
The man with the chunk missing from his face looks at the statue. “I suppose it could be an idol of some sort. Idols are used in religious rites and rituals a lot – it helps worshipers visualize the deity that they are praying or sacrificing to.” He looks from Jonas to Alec, “You know, Dr. Bickle had a colleague at Columbia University who could probably shed some light on this. See if you can get a hold of Mars, Alec.”
Alec picks up the phone and talks to the operator. The man with the chunk missing from his face introduces himself as Trent Tucker – he’s a freelance photojournalist that works for several of the New York dailies. “If you ever need help getting access to the archives of any of the local papers, give me a call,” he says with a smile.
After a few minutes, Alec hangs up the phone. “Good news – I just talked to Mars. Rudolph Pearson is a professor of medieval literature at Columbia University. He’s also well versed in folklore and the occult. Mars says that if there’s anyone in New York who can identify the statue, it’s him.”
It is beginning to get late, and Ivy and Jonas are exhausted. Alec advises them to use Dr. Mars Bickle of Miskatonic University as a means of introduction if they decide to make contact with Professor Pearson. He invites Ivy and Jonas to join him in one more shot of Old Unhappy Dog before they leave and Ivy obliges. As they exit the bar, Truth Justice toasts them with his flask.
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