When we last left our anti-heroes, they had returned to the "loaner house" currently being occupied by the Countess and Phillipe, after the harrying (and horrifying) events of the previous night, and settled in to catch a few hours of nightmare-haunted sleep. Phillipe was awakened first by a thump on the door at noon, which turned out to be the afternoon paper featuring the headline, "Midnight Train to Murder." The story indicated that the police had found the slain Charlottesville deputy, the real Bates (a.k.a. "bowler hat"), who was alive but in critical condition at the hospital, and the gruesome scene at the DuPont family manor. A few minutes later Elizabeth suddenly remembered that her gossip-column story about the auction and the Countess had been due at 11:00 a.m., so she rushed in to the office to quickly type up a heavily-edited version and snuck it onto the Editor's desk when he stepped out for a cup of coffee.
Shortly thereafter, plain-clothes officer Sergeant Ukridge of the Madison Police homicide department knocked on the door; Phillipe went out and talked to him on the porch. Sgt Ukridge asked several questions about the auction, about various other people who'd been at the auction, about the Countess, and the train ride to Charlottesville afterward, which Phillipe answered approximately 40% truthfully, taking careful mental notes so as to coordinate stories with everyone later. Sgt Ukridge asked to speak to the Countess, but Phillipe stalled him by saying she was asleep and taking a card with promises to have the Countess call him back later. Phillipe then recalled that there was something rattling around in the African drum he had purchased and carefully opened it to find a chunk of polished sandstone about the size of a baseball, with an emblem on one side which Ethan identified as an "Elder Sign."
Eugene Wilcox, the rich upper-class twit who had been supplying the house and generally playing Sugar Daddy for the Countess for the past several weeks came roaring up in his Rolls-Royce shortly thereafter, and when Elizabeth got back from the office (after stopping at home for a change of clothes, finally), the group all went downtown for lunch at the club (which was suggested by Ethan because it was conveniently close to Haywrights, the jewelers who had originally carved the statue of Fredric DuPont). At the jeweler, Countess Zolna distracted Eugene by shopping for jewelry at him while Ethan and Phillipe asked about the history of the statue and how the stone inside could be retrieved. It turned out to have a fairly simple trick mechanism for separating the statue from the base (much to the chagrin of Boris, who'd been trying to get it open all morning). Inside was a small, semi-translucent, purple-black crystal that looked more or less like a lidless cat's eye ("the Eye of Shub-Niggurath"). Mr. Haywright, the jeweler, boggled at this, informing everyone that the jewel was not polished stone but was in fact some form of artificially-created crystal that had somehow been grown into this specific shape, and offered on the spot to buy it from them. The party opted to keep it, but bought an amethyst of approximately the right size and shape to put into the statue as a decoy.
From there they went on a "sightseeing drive," with Boris taking over the wheel of Eugene's poor abused car ("How can you so mistreat such a fine automobile!"), and drove to Richmond so Phillipe and Elizabeth could attempt to talk to Bates in the hospital. Again the Countess distracted Eugene, this time by heading for the nearest speakeasy; Ethan sat in the car reading the DuPont family spellbook, while Boris began nursing Eugene's Rolls back to health. It took some persuading to get past the State Police guard standing watch, but they finally got in to see Bates, who was in traction and on heavy painkillers. Although he was not able to tell them much, Bates did indicate that the characters might find assistance from Dr. Haverston of the Gregson-Parker Museum (which had held the auction originally), Professor Mannington of Chesapeake University, or Professor Armitage of Miskatonic University in Massachusetts. He also told them to stay away from the Charlottesville police, who were completely under the sway of the "buzzing angels," and that they had agents everywhere. Ethan, a former student of Professor Mannington's and still chummy with the old boy, arranged for a meeting with him that evening to look up items in the Vardeman Room at the Chessie U. library.
At this point they finally ditched Eugene, totally lying to him that they'd see him at the Cannery (popular local nightspot) later that evening. Phillipe and Countess Zolna gathered their things to prepare for a quick getaway and then Phillipe carefully put the statue back into its crate and left it readily visible on the table in the living room, hoping that the decoy stone inside would buy some time. Ethan tried to pick up his car, where it had been left at the train station, only to find it gone and several messages from various police departments on his answering service. He called back the Madison police and was put directly in touch with Captain Archer, who told him that his car had been impounded and asked him to come in for questioning.
Ethan took Boris and went along to the police station, where he was interrogated by Captain Archer and put on a good show of ignorance. ("Claw marks? Smashed door? It was fine when I left it!") He also managed to slip Boris a nicely subtle hint of what their cover story would be when Captain Archer asked to question Boris as well. Boris, the strong-and-silent type in the best of situations, was even more strong-and-silent than usual in the presence of police, giving just the "facts" and claiming "I just follow the boss. If he wants to chase a skirt to Charlottesville in the middle of the night, what am I caring? Is not my bizness to care."
The meeting with Prof. Mannington started out somewhat tentative, with the players not trying to say too much, and Prof. Mannington apparently trying to give them cagey answers about Mythos-related questions (presumably to spare their sanity); eventually they decided that they were just going to have to hope for the best and laid their cards on the table, telling him the whole tale of the auction, the DuPont family and juicy tidbits about them Ethan had been reading from the family diary/spellbook, and flat out asking him what they should do with the Eye of Shub-Niggurath.
Prof. Mannington, once he found out they were already in up to their elbows, became considerably more forthcoming. He confirmed that the creature that had been clinging to Ethan's car was a ghoul, and gave them what information he had on hand about the Elder Sign, the Mi-Go, and the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign, mentioning that a Prof. Akeley, formerly of Miskatonic University, would be able to tell them more except that he was in a mental institution after a severe shock in his own investigations. Upon the characters' request, Prof. Mannington called Prof. Armitage and got him to speak to Ethan. Armitage, while amiable, was not terribly helpful, although he did provide a few more details about the Mi-Go. The meeting finally adjourned, with the characters considerably more educated about the kinds of things they were up against.
Once the evening was done, most of the part retired to Ethan's house, leaving Phillipe and Elizabeth staking out the house they'd been staying in. Phillipe spotted a dark figure moving around inside the house, so Elizabeth found a hiding place in the back yard and Phillipe rattled the front door, causing whatever was inside to come bolting out the back carrying the crate with the statue. Elizabeth took a photo and was simultaneously horrified to see the scowling visage of a ghoul in the light of the flash, and elated that she finally had a solid, conclusive photo. She fled to Phillipe, and the two of them fled to his car, and were subsequently re-horrified to come zooming around a corner only to see the self-same ghoul in the headlights, jumping down through a manhole cover.
They stopped briefly at Elizabeth's apartment to develop her film; inconclusive pictures of the walking corpse-things notwithstanding, the ghoul photo was the one really strong piece of photographic evidence. They took that to Ethan's house and showed it to the rest of the group, who were suitably disturbed, and the session ended there, with the party desperately trying to figure out what the heck to do next.
PS: Handouts from this session (intro, DuPont Family Spellbook) should be up at the website later tonight.