Monday, September 1st, 1924, Labor Day
Sir Kevin O’Reilly, English-born history professor at Arkham’s own Miskatonic University is enjoying an Indian summer morning preparing classes for the soon starting semester, when he hears a gentle knocking on the wooden door frame of his modest apartment in the staff housing building on campus. He looked up from his paperwork to find the tall, imposing figure of Mr. Blair Monroe standing in his doorway, with Mr. Walter Simons behind him. It wasn’t hard to see that Mr. Simons was there reluctantly.
It had been more than a year since Sir Kevin and Mr. Simons had visited Mr. Monroe in New York City, getting permission to peruse his extensive library for the journal of Pavel Dvorak. It had also been more than six months since Mr. Simons and Sir Kevin had come back from Oswego county, after which they had not stayed in touch. Seeing them together standing in the doorway was quite surprising.
It turned out Mr. Simons had been doing some work for Mr. Monroe and that they had stayed in touch. Mr. Monroe informed Sir Kevin of an upcoming auction to be held in Arkham at the end of the week, organised by the renowned Austrian auction house of Ausperg. The closed-door auction would hold many curious items Mr. Monroe assumed would be of interest to Sir Kevin as they pertained to his particular field of expertise, the occult. Having no interest in the subject himself, Mr. Monroe would only be attending because of certain rare books and manuscripts that would be going under the hammer, the acquisition of which would sate his inner bibliophile. He had hoped to get Sir Kevin, Mr. Simons, Mr. Mason and the lovely Ms. Nannetti to come in order to bid against the other attendees in order to deplete their cash reserves, allowing Mr. Monroe less opposition while bidding his items.
Mr. Monroe turned over a small booklet describing the lots that were to be auctioned. Most of them were quite expensive and Sir Kevin wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to put up much of a fight in the auction room so Mr. Monroe offered a budget of £2,000 in order for the investigators to bid against other attendees. The goal was not to buy the items, but if one of the investigators would win a bid, the items could always be sold off at auction. A small loss was acceptable, as long as the investigators would play the bidding game intelligently, Mr. Monroe didn’t worry.
After a handshake and Mr. Monroe’s departure, Sir Kevin and Mr. Simons spent some time talking. Mr. Simons appeared to be in an even more fragile state of mind than when they had returned from Oswego county and Sir Kevin worried about him. Mr. Mason was contacted and brought in on the plan and seemed to be a willing participant in the matter.
In the meantime, Mr. O’Donnell, concierge at the Miskatonic Hotel was arranging for all the necessary preparations for the arrival of Baron von Ausperg and his entourage as well as the arrangements for the auction that would take place on Thursday evening. The owner of the hotel, Mr. Tillinghouse, had used his considerable influence in local politics to arrange for the police to grant a detective and two officers to help secure the hotel. Detective Quinn was a taciturn man, but Mr. O’Donnell eventually broke the ice and the two came to an understanding, even about the champagne the baron demanded to serve at the dinner prior to the auction.
The actual pick up of the baron turned out to be quite the affair. The baron, his wife, his guard, his assistant and four servants arrived in Arkham carrying more luggage than anticipated and the baron seemed keen on sightseeing before heading to the hotel. The items to be auctioned had not arrived yet, but the energetic baron was already a handful.
In the meantime, Detective Quinn worked the grave robbery case he had been assigned and poked his nose into the robbery of the vaults of First National Bank of earlier that month. Sir Kevin and Mr. Mason both spent some time on the shooting range, considering recent developments, as well as in the library reading up on the House von Ausperg and some of the items on sale.