Booking cheap passage across the Atlantic has drawn the investigators to the converted cargo liner the Dragon Empress. Own by the mysterious but influential Chang Wei Saisong, the ship makes money moving bulk cargo, low cost no questions asked guest accommodations, and some customs personnel suspect more than that.
The ship hosts a number of shady characters, ranging from desperate aristocrats fallen on hard times and looking to start anew to criminals running from the authorities. Cabin doors are seldom left unlocked aboard the Empress. Early in the voyage, Saisong's second in command, a half Dutch half Chinaman named Abelard suffers a violent episode, convulsions, speaking in tongues, and the like.
Midways through the trip Abelard suffers a second bout of convulsions, this time the fit ends with Abelard grabbing Saisong's sidearm and organizing a mutiny aboard the ship.
1 Abelard is simply an undiagnosed epileptic and his fits have no real pattern or meaning behind them. Saisong has been shortchanging and underpaying his crewmen and this has created a large deal of hostility between the crew and captain. If the Investigators don't try to defuse the situation, Saisong with try through force and instigate a shoot-out on the bridge in which several people are wounded and Saisong himself killed.
2 Abelard is a drug addict, and Saisong has been making a large fortune by moving Asian opium into Europe by smuggling it across the US and then aboard the Dragon Empress. The confrontation is Abelard's play for power to gain control of the lucrative Dragon Road, the opium highway across America. Abelard's fits are caused by his reckless use of more than one drug.
3 Saisong has been moving a number of highly questionable items aboard his ship, many of which connected with the mythos. Unbeknownst to Saisong, Abelard has been spending too much time around these artifacts and has been reading the books that come across on the ship before they are sold in Europe. Thoroughly insane, Abelard plans to hijack the Dragon Empress and enact a ritual that allow his to take the ship to dreaded R'leyh.
Copyright (c) 2006 Jared Lain