Captive Audience

James David Beard

One of the investigators finds an anonymous package on their doorstep. Inside is a framed painting. There are clues to its origin on the object, e.g. the artist's initials (K.M.) and the date it was painted, and the investigators soon learn the truth - everyone who has previously possessed the painting has died within a week of first seeing it.


1     The painting appears to be modern art, with many bizarre intersecting lines and angles. However, it is in fact very old indeed, having been painted by Keziah Mason, the witch mentioned in 'The Dreams in the Witch House'. The painting is a one-way window 700,000,000 years into the past - it allows the Hounds of Tindalos to observe whoever looks into it. One of more of the Tindalos will be arriving in seven days, and the investigators had better act soon.

2     The painting is of a hideous old man (or woman, if appropriate), decrepit and ugly. As the investigators search for clues to its origin, they notice that the figure in the picture is becoming younger - and beginning to resemble the investigator that first received the painting!

The painting is stealing life from the investigator, and they soon experience rapid aging. If they cannot find a way to stop the process they will soon wither and die. They cannot simply destroy the painting, as it now contains part of their soul - damage inflicted on the painting is also inflicted on the investigator - and so they must find a way to dispel the curse.

3     The painting is desired by a ruthless art collector, who will stop at nothing to get it. The investigators will soon be targeted by thugs and assassins in his employ. This also happened to the last few people to own the painting, resulting in their rapid demise.

Copyright (c) 2003 James David Beard