Shadow of the Comet – Miss PICOTT’s Dominion

From The Adventure Gamer

Written by limbeck

The town of Illsmouth is quaint, but what about the forest surrounding it? I am curious to scout the forest, in case there are any locations I was missing. I am wrong. The forest consists of a sort of a maze, with only a handful of different screens, that I believe are connected in the same way. So if I went left in location A, I would always end up in location B. I could have been moving west for ten screens only to go east once and end up in the town. Anyway, in my hikes I pick up three branches and a creeper for no apparent reason other than that my lasersight identified them.

Having wasted about twenty minutes trying to map the forest, in vain for the reasons explained above, I decide that I need a map, so I head back to my room to see if Boleskine’s map would be of any use. But while I am passing through the town square, it is occupied by a troupe of gypsies, fully staffed with guitarist, dancer and bear. While I listen to their music, a policeman (Sgt BAGGS) arrives and does what policemen do according to my experience.

Bully some easy targets

I speak to the officer, who starts quite friendly, already knowing who I am of course. When I say I am thinking of taking a hike in the forest, he advises against it, unless I have a map. Otherwise I could get lost (I KNOW!). And he has to kick the gypsies out, towards the clearing in the forest, probably so they get lost as well. When I try to defend the troupe, he pulls his authority on me and says I should respect it, or else.

You will respect my authoritah

At least I get a friendly word from the gypsy lady, who is a fortune-teller. I expect I will find them later in the forest, if I have any idea where that clearing is. I don’t think it is the same as the location with the cross I am looking for. I leave the area and return immediately. The scenery has again changed. Now it is a young lady sitting on the bench, next to, maybe you guessed it, Miss PICOTT. The young lady is GLORIA, PICOTT’s niece. Trying to speak to them gets me a greeting from GLORIA,which then gets her a prudency lesson by Miss PICOTT. I stay a bit longer and eavesdrop their discussion. See, I can be nosy as well.

I find out that GLORIA is dating RENATO SMITH, who has apparently stolen JED’s mule. So, Miss PICOTT appears to be the local matchmaker, as she suggests GLORIA marries Mr BATES, who is in the ripe age of 34. There was also something about fake jewels, but I don’t pay any more attention after a while.

Don’t mind me. I’m just enjoying the scenery

I return to my room, but I cannot open my chest to get my camera or the map or anything really. Previously I could open it and I registered these items, but now I did not even get a description. I thought it was some kind of bug, so I reloaded and tried again, but nothing happened. So, I was probably missing something. So, I set out to my favourite activity in Illsmouth: wandering and paying unsolicited visits to people’s houses. I have mentioned in the previous post that JUGG has BOLESKINE’s rifle hanging from his wall. What I did not mention is that the rifle has an engraving that I could not read without a magnifying glass. I found the magnifying glass in the Archives after a bit more wandering about.

It took me that long for two reasons. One, I foolishly assumed that the door to the Archives would be locked after JUGG left. It wasn’t. Two, I had not properly looked around. At the back of the room there was a row of cabinets that I could examine. One had some interesting genealogical information about the town and Mr JUGG in particular.

Typical of small towns, everybody is related. No idea about SPRAGUE

In the same cabinet I also find documents saying that BOLESKINE sold all his equipment to buy a ticket home. So, that’s how his rifle ended at JUGG’s house. He probably has more of BOLESKINE’s belongings. I should investigate. But first, I need to read the inscription on the rifle. I get the magnifying glass I find in another cabinet and go to read. The inscription provides some cryptic clues about some SEARCHER, which for some reason I assume it refers to some Suzan. Another visit to the Archives did not reveal anything new.

Jumping to conclusions

Now, when I return to my room, I can open my chest and pick up the map and BOLESKINE’s drawing that I had won in the auction at Christie’s. And here we come to the first bit of this session that annoyed me. I had the map and the drawing and I could do nothing with them. No new dialogues came up and they would not interact with anything. I spent some time walking around the town making small talk only to return to my room and realise that I could now open the chest of drawers again. I could not do it before having map and drawing in my hands. I need to be very careful and again check everything everywhere.

Now that I knew I can, I open the drawer and got some surgical spirit and absorbent cotton that were lying there. That B&B seems well equipped and even has rudimentary First Aid kit. 4 out of 5 stars. I am not sure what to do with these, but I tried using them and I end up with cotton soaked in ethanol (presumably). It will be useful to rub a wound I guess. But, even having it, I did not know what to do. I tried using all the items I had, but without luck. All I got was a “Useless” when I tried to use the map. The lack of feedback when I try to do something is a bit annoying as well.

Anyway, to sum it up, I had the idea correct, but the position was wrong. When I try to use the drawing when I stand closer to the desk at the bottom left, I put the drawing on the furniture and now I can use other items on it. The soaked cotton in particular. BOLESKINE had left another clue underneath.

Are we sure he was not just rating his B&B?

And now I know what to do. I put the map on the desk and, I initiate a sort of minigame. My map has Searcher and Beast, which both appear in BOLESKINE’s notes. I assume that I have to look south of the Searcher and NE of the Beast. I make a note on the map, but I am not confident it is correct. I never got feedback that I had spotted the location. When I try later, I can put a different mark, but I decide to go with my first choice.

Or somewhere around there

Satisfied with myself and annoyed with the puzzles, I head out to town again. Outside of the pharmacy I meet MYER from the general store. Continuing his good record of customer service, he suggests I speak to Nathan TYLER, the lighthouse keeper, who could guide me through the forest. Now, why did nobody tell me this earlier? MYER also says some not so nice things about WILBUR’s sons and WILBUR HAMBLETON himself when I ask about him. He does not avoid them himself, since they seem to keep the local economy going.

MYER told me that TYLER would be at the tavern, so I headed there. Outside it I meet Dr COBBLE. When I ask him about a guide, he fakes poor health and also suggests TYLER, with the additional comment that he “drives a hard bargain”.

Dr COBBLE also revealed that he leads the Temperance League of Illsmouth along with, who else, Miss PICOTT. Apparently he was bullied into it by her.

Who really rules in this town?

In the tavern, I was warned once again about TYLER by Thomas BISHOP, a sailor, but not about his prices. When he came, we immediately started chatting about him taking me to the forest. He asked for $20, which was quite steep, but as soon as he learns my name, he offers to take me there for free.

You can wait in the bathroom while I go get my axe.

I agree immediately and we go to his house for some soup (smelled nice) and we would head out right away. What could go wrong?

Now I know why the soup smelled so nice

After my first death in the game, I reload and this time tell TYLER that I want to think about it. As soon as I do, somebody throws a stone through the window and breaks the glass. We head outside and see the HAMBLETON boys roughing up somebody called WEBSTER. BISHOP and TYLER just sit around for the spectacle and I cannot seem to be able to do anything apart from listening to the annoying repeating sound sprite of punches. Well, not really, as I find a baseball bat nearby and grab hold of it. By the time I do, the HAMBLETON boys have knocked Webster unconscious, so I can get a clear shot. The HAMBLETONS are not so happy with me, but they leave.

I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick some HAMBLETONS

I take WEBSTER to the pharmacy, where the doctor/pharmacist treats his wounds, while his daughter warms up to me, I want to think for my bravery and my stunning accent. She starts saying that her father is an avid photographer, only for him to interrupt her and say it himself. He also offers his dark chamber to develop the photos. That’s something I hadn’t thought about until now. Thank you sir.

I need to say that I have not mentioned photography to many

The pharmacist is not the only unexpectedly helpful person here. WEBSTER offers to be my guide to the calvary in the woods. We agree to meet in front of the town hall in an hour and I should bring my map with me. Maybe a camera as well. I decide to do another round in the town before I collect my stuff, but there is nothing important. JUGG is now at the Archives and he sends me to the tavern to find a guide. I am not sure I should trust him now. In JUGG’s room, I pull a curtain which was hiding a door, but I cannot do anything with that. I’ll be back later. I hope.

I go back to my room, where I pick up my camera, its tripod, a lantern and “lens”, which looks like a flashlight. As soon as I get out on the street again, it is night.

Some nice change of colours and shades with the darkness

As agreed, I meet WEBSTER outside the town hall and we head off. He is kind enough to carry my tripod. He leads me to a place in the forest, just before the calvary with the cross. There is a wooden bridge I can cross. As we arrive, there is some rustling in one of the bushes. WEBSTER suspects someone is following us, but I think he is paranoid. I try poking it with a stick, but it is not possible. I head on.

Don’t forget to leave the trip…oh

I finally arrive at the opening with the cross, but I do not have the tripod with me. WEBSTER ran away with it. I am pretty sure if you are scared to hell, you’d run faster without a cumbersome tripod, but what do I know.

Anyway, here is where the three sticks and creeper come in handy. I put the three sticks down and tie them with the creeper. I place my camera on top and unwrap the plates. I use them one by one on the camera and get three exposed plates.

So, did I really need the map to come here

Now I sit here and do not really know again what to do. I walk back to town, but there is no cutscene or any other indication that something has changed. Well, I think I was getting tired by this time, because if I headed east from the cross, I would arrive to a different location. There, a black cat runs past and hides in the undergrowth. This is a nice hint that I should go and check there. I do and I reveal a hidden passage. I walk to the passage and arrive at the scene of a ritual, led by a Native American (the game says Indian). Where I am noticed and killed.

I see TYLER, WILBUR, Dr COBBLE I think and who else?

I died several times in this scene and I will blame it partially on the game. When I am noticed, I run back to the area with the passage, but I cannot do anything with any of the objects I have. I try to flash the cultist in the face, hit him with the lantern or even take his photo. The game allowed me to access my inventory, but not do anything else. I always ended up in ashes.

I lost count of how many times I saw this close-up

It turns out that what I had to do was much simpler. As soon as I arrive at the clearing, I have to jump to the right and hide behind a tree. I must here state my hate for quicktime events or the like. And the fact that the game allowed me freedom after I was spotted set me on a different train of thought.

Anyway, to finish this very long post, I am hiding behind the tree, the ritual proceeds and the cult leader cuts his wrist with a knife. Then, a flying creature, I assume the owl from the intro, comes and drops a parchment. I pick it up quickly in a cutscene and run like hell to the safety of the town, smashing the arrow keys in a panic. In the meantime, I learn that in two nights time (i.e. when I plan to photograph the comet) Cthulhu will wake up to reign again and the Native American’s name, which is even more complicated than a chant to Cthulhu to write down.

As I run, I stumble in front of Dr COBBLE’s house and wake up the next morning in my bed. Dr COBBLE examined me and ordered a lack of excitement, as I run the risk of a heart attack. He prescribed me some pills for the heart.

Well, I don’t go around looking for excitement. It just finds me

Meanwhile, I try telling him about the ritual and the Native American, but he was dismissive. He mentioned someone like him living in the forest, but the names did not match. Finally, he joked about the elixir of eternal life, because the name I gave him belonged to someone that lived a few centuries ago.

Apologies for the long post. Next week we will try and develop the photos and make sure we do not die of a heart attack.

Session time: 2:00
Total time: 3:30

Sanity lost: 3 from witnessing the ritual
Total sanity lost: 4 (still sane, but a bit twitchy)

PS. Can anybody let me know if I would still be able to set out if I hadn’t marked the correct spot on the map? Right now, it feels as if it didn’t really matter.

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