The game once again stars Trilby, the original main character featured in 5 Days A Stranger, and tells his story following his survival in Defoe Manor, But this time investigating the idol which has cropped up at an antiques fare on a small Welsh island in the Clanbronwyn Hotel.
Unlike any other Chzo Mythos games, Trilby's Notes uses a Text Parser, similar to interactive fiction games and the old Sierra games, Yahtzee himself stated it as a nobler control system to point and click (see Lets Play Hugo 2 Whodunit? on his youtube channel) but in the special edition's commentary track stated they are "an arse to build and I will never attempt one again so long as I live".
The story takes place a few years following the DeFoe Manor incident in 1993. In the opening, Trilby recounts what had happened to him, Simone, and Jim after escaping the manor. All three were deeply mentally scarred by the incident. Simone became an alcoholic and was eventually fired from her job as a news anchor. Jim was expelled from school for truancy, but whether this is due to the 5 days in the manor or happened afterwards was not specified. Trilby, now fearful of supernatural enemies, became careless and was eventually apprehended by the police. He was soon turned over to the government's Special Talent Project (STP). Believing Trilby to be a major asset to their cause, the STP offered to exonerate him for all of his past crimes in exchange for employment under the STP to fight off supernatural threats. Despite his past hatred for contracts and obligations, Trilby decided to accept his new job and leave his thieving profession behind him. To allow Trilby to perform better at his job, the STP begins promoting public material that presents Trilby as a fictional character of urban legend rather than just keeping his personal information classified, allowing Trilby to maintain a low profile in public.
The game opens up in the summer of 1997, when Trilby decided to visit Simone after hearing reports of her continual mental breakdown and had become a recluse. When she didn't respond to his knocks, Trilby picked at her locks and let himself in, knowing that she had to be home. He instead finds her corpse, with a large wound on the front that appears to have been caused by a machete. The Ministry of Occultism investigates the crime, concludes that supernatural activity was involved, clears Trilby of a murder charge, and assigns him to retrieve the African Idol containing the wraith of John DeFoe.
Trilby immediately sends word to Jim telling him to go into hiding until the issue with the idol is taken care of. Trilby tracks down the idol through the antique trade and realizes that it's in the hands of an antique/history professor named Chahal, who will be hosting an antique show on Clanbronwyn Island. Posing as a freelance artifact dealer named Terence Railby, Trilby sets out to retrieve the idol.
Upon arriving at the Clanbronwyn Hotel, Trilby is approached by Agent Lenkmann, presumably with the Ministry of Occult. After a brief confrontation, the two make it clear that they will be making their own investigations into DeFoe Manor related incidents. Trilby goes into the hotel and almost immediately bumps into Professor Chahal. Taking advantage of the latter's absentmindedness, Trilby slyly presents himself an old acquaintance that the professor has embarrassingly forgotten, and manages to pique his interest in settling on an antique deal for the African Idol in his possession. Professor Chahal invites Trilby to his room to further discuss the artifacts.
In Professor Chahal's room, Trilby meets Siobhan O'malley, an assistant and history student under Professor Chahal. Trilby claims that he's looking for the idol on behalf of a client and, to his relief, Professor Chahal is willing to make a business deal regarding the idol after the antique show. As the conversation deepens and turns to the events of the DeFoe Manor Incident, Trilby begins to lose his composure and suddenly sees reality in front of him shift into a more violent setting. Horrified and unnerved by the fact that neither the professor nor Siobhan did not experience what he just did, Trilby quickly excuses himself from the room, much to the confusion and worry of the other two. Trilby exits the room to find that the hotel has turned into a living nightmare: the World of Magick. Navigating his way into the nightmare hotel's bathroom. Trilby finds a letter and a bottle of tranquilizer pills from Lenkmann, who tells Trilby of the reality shift mechanic, its relation to one's fear, and how the tranquilizer pills, with their calming effects, can bring Trilby back to the real world. Though Trilby is still wary of Lenkmann, there was no denying the effectiveness of the pills, and Trilby continued to take them whenever he needed to return to the real world: the World of Technology.
Back in the real world, Trilby goes to the lobby to observe a painting painted by Matthew DeFoe, another item Professor Chahal had retrieved from the DeFoe manor. Upon closer inspection, Trilby suddenly finds himself looking into the past through the eyes of Matthew DeFoe on the night of his 15th birthday.
It is July 28th, 1821. Matthew had just finished painting his latest work and is excited to show it to his father, Sir Roderick DeFoe, who had finally begun to come around to appreciate and accept Matthew's interest in art. Matthew goes downstairs to his father, who has a guest, Mr. Smyth, over in hopes of finally identifying an unknown acquisition: an African idol found on an abandoned ship, the Sea Angel, that had run ashore some 20 years ago. Roderick instructs Matthew to retrieve some brandy and glasses from the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, knocks are heard behind the kitchen door, to which Matt recognizes as "the boy behind the kitchen door". Matt has a brief "conversation" with him, and slides his painting under door to show him his work. Then, he hears his father yelling at Mr. Smyth, who had accused the former of forgery. The God depicted in the idol came from an African tribe that had long since perished from the slave trade, and thus cannot have been found on an English non-slave trade vessel just 20 years ago. Outraged by the accusation, Roderick shoos Mr. Smyth from the manor and sulks as he drinks the brandy Matt had brought him. Roderick then practically demands that Matt show him his recent painting, to which Matt hesitantly informs him that he had given it to the boy behind the kitchen door. Roderick merely says "I see" before telling Matt to go to his room, a response Matt finds extremely uncharacteristic. After some time, Matt hears noises in the kitchen, and heads back downstairs to find the mysterious kitchen door ajar. He heads down and, much to his horror, finds his father, clearly drunk, beating a defenseless, emaciated boy with the African idol to death. Matt's pleas for his father to stop went ignored. As Trilby views the boy's final, corporeal moments, he suddenly sees Roderick's figure being replaced with a faceless Tall Man dressed in black. Trilby is then shocked out of his vision by Professor Chahal in the real world.
Trilby quickly realizes that there was more to the African idol than just John DeFoe himself, and decided to track down the real root of the problem by tracing the idol's history. He recalled what Roderick had said where he had acquired the idol: an English vessel named the Sea Angel. Professor Chahal mentions that a chisel in the convention hall bears the name "Sea Angel", also retrieved from the DeFoe Manor. Trilby touches the chisel and is once again whisked away into another vision
Trilby is now in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; July 25th, 1789. Mbouta, an African tribesman whose people had been all but wiped out by the slave trade, had been drifting in the ocean for several days after being tossed overboard by a slave trade vessel for having a fever. However, he was eventually saved by a passing English vessel, who immediately recognized Mbouta as a victim of the slave trade. The captain and the crew of the Sea Angel, disgusted at the inhumanity inflicted upon Mbouta, nurse him back to health and declare him a free man. Three days later, a fully recovered Mbouta borrows a chisel from a crew member to carve an idol of his people to present as a gift of gratitude. He goes to the lower deck and uses the wood of a crate labeled O'malley Shipping to create the idol. When Mbouta goes back up to return the chisel, he finds that the crew is being slaughtered by a mysterious faceless figure in black. Mbouta tries to run, but is also killed, and Trilby returns to the present day.
Trilby thinks that no God of Mbouta's people could possibly be the murderous figure he saw, and believes that the wood of the crate is relevant. Noting the name, Trilby meets with Siobhan in her room and asks whether if her family ever ran a shipping company. Siobhan instead presses Trilby on his past, having already deduced that Terence Railby was a pseudonym. Trilby, again losing his cool and beginning to reality shift, is unable to respond to Siobhan's questions, confirming her theory that the man in front of her is the famous cat burglar. Siobhan becomes extremely excited by the idea of a hidden world and asks Trilby to take her with him, but Trilby refuses, saying that his work is far too dangerous. The reality shift then fully materializes, and Trilby finds that Siobhan has transformed into the tall faceless man. Trilby tries to escape but trips. The Tall Man then approaches him and kneels in front of Trilby. In self-defense, Trilby kicks the Tall Man, and then instantly shifts back to the real world, where he realizes that he had kicked Siobhan and knocked her out. Trilby places her in her bed then goes through her family history notes and realizes that the O'malley Shipping went bankrupt after the Sea Angel was lost. The owner at the time blamed the misfortune directly on the crate, as there previously had been many dubious tales of misfortune surrounding the crate. The crate was originally made from the wood of a shredded harpsichord, originally owned by Jack Frehorn. Upon reading the name, Trilby again shifts back to the past.
It is July 28th, 1778. Jack Frehorn had recently purchased a harpsichord, whose wooden keys were made from the wall of a former inn in Wales known as The Unicorn that existed nearly 200 years before. Jack, who long had a deep fascination for occult, informs his friend Wilbur that the wood had gone through many iterations even before that. Furthermore, The Unicorn Inn had a lengthy troubled history, with its patrons experiencing varying levels of terror ranging from insanity to death. After Jack and Wilbur debate the validity of such tales, the two head out to dinner. Later that night, Jack is awoken by music playing downstairs. Jack takes his gun with him to confront the intruder, and sees a tall, faceless man dressed in black playing the harpsichord. Recognizing him from his occult studies, and knowing that his death would be imminent unless he acted, Jack fired at the Tall Man. To his horror, however, Jack realized too late that he had actually shot Wilbur, who was now dead. The Tall Man confronts Jack again, and Jack, knowing that he would not live otherwise, begs for mercy and pledges his body, mind, and soul to the Tall Man, who then disappears.
Back in the present, Trilby recognizes Jack Frehorn as the same man who founded a masochistic religious cult whose activities the government was currently monitoring. He then notices that Siobhan had disappeared, and heads out to find an artifact relating to the Unicorn Inn. Upon exiting, Trilby reality shifts again, and this time, the pills were no longer effective. Guided by what appears to be an apparition of Lenkmann, Trilby heads into the kitchen basement, where he finds a small pool of water. The water has a rejuvenating property identical to that of the tranquilizer pills and Trilby immediately bottles some in his pill bottle before shifting back to the real world. Trilby heads back into the convention hall where he finds Professor Chahal, who ignores Trilby's plea to leave the hotel out of safety from the reality shift. Trilby then asks about the Unicorn. Professor Chahal points to a shingle he has from it, having acquired it just a few years ago. Trilby examines the shingle. Upon touching it, he is once again whisked away into the past.
It is July 25th, 1581. The Unicorn Inn was still operating in Wales. Owen Somerset is a travelling merchant and was heading back to his family in London after some successful business dealings in Ceredigion. A sudden summer storm forced him to take shelter at the nearby Unicorn Inn. Owen inquires about a room, but the innkeeper refuses, due to the supernatural nature of the inn and the high likelihood of death just from staying. The innkeeper then explains how the inn was built from the wood of a fallen oak tree from a nearby island 20 years ago by his father. The innkeeper's father had noticed human bones near the oak tree but chose to ignore it, and since then, the inn had been nothing but a curse to their family. The innkeeper notes that his father died at this time last year, and believes death to be coming for him and is unavoidable. Owen, however, insists on staying, as he does not believe in the supernatural. The innkeepers relents and says that if Owen is still alive by tomorrow morning, the night's stay will be free. Early next morning, Owen is awoken by the smoke of a fire downstairs, and puts it out with a blanket, only to find that the object that was burning was the innkeeper. Owen is then skewered by the Tall Man.
Back in the present, Trilby notes the possibility that the island the oak wood is originally from is actually Clanbronwyn Island, but has no way of proving it. He then heads for the roof to see if a bird's eye view can provide him any leads. However, the door to the rooftop is locked. To unlock it, Trilby completes a prosthetic figure of a human sacrifice in the nightmare world (humorously noting the absurdity of the lock). Trilby gathers the 4 limbs from various locations in the real world. He then sees that the head is in the possession of Professor Chahal, who is now in a drunken stupor over the disappearance of Siobhan. Professor Chahal asks for a drink first, which Trilby retrieves from the basement, but upon return, the Professor has now disappeared. Trilby then drinks some cola, using the caffeine to forcibly transfer to the nightmare world, where he finds the Professor decapitated. Trilby takes the prosthetic head and unlocks the roof access. On the roof, Trilby finds a pile of papers under a rock. Upon touching the rock to retrieve the papers, Trilby travels back further into the past.
On July 28th, 1501, Clanbornwyn Island was still covered in forest. A young boy named Boyle and his father had just finished chopping down a massive oak tree for them to use in their carpentry business. Boyle is troubled by a layout of stones under the oak tree, noting the possibility that a house once existed there. His father, however, was too excited about the massive oak to care, and is then slaughtered by the Tall Man. Boyle tosses a rock at the Tall Man out of fear, but the Tall Man decides to not kill Boyle as a warning to others. Boyle flees home, but his tale is believed by no one. The oak tree is left in its fallen state until 60 years later when it would be retrieved to build the Unicorn Inn. Trilby is then back in the present, albeit in the nightmare world.
Siobhan had just arrived on the roof to escape the Tall Man, extremely relieved to have found Trilby after accidentally reality shifting upon waking up. Trilby gives her his remaining tranquilizer pills, noting that he won't need them anymore. He then reads the papers under the rock, which are from Lenkmann telling Trilby to meet him in the hotel basement. In the nightmare world, a hole in the basement leads to a small room with a large tree stump. Trilby touches it for the final flashback.
On the Clanbronwyn Peninsula in the (equivalent) date of July 28th, 55 BC, a Celtic druid by the name of Cabadath and his colleague Gladn discuss the invasion of their home Anglesey by the Roman General, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Cabadath, long since exiled by his other colleagues for his radical beliefs and activities involving what he called the Ethereal Realm, believes that his demons and elementals can be summoned to fight off the invaders. He invites Gladn inside to witness the reality of the Ethereal Realm. Cabadath desires to summon Chzo, the powerful pain elemental, to fight off the intruders, believing that Chzo can be controlled like other demons using magic bindings. While the summoning was successful, the plan failed, as Chzo is too powerful to be controlled by any means, and Gladn flees. For his arrogance, Chzo drags Cabadath into the Ethereal Realm to feed on the latter's pain. Chzo places Cabadath's soul in an oak sapling planted underneath his home, where it would grow for the next 500 years as his torment would eventually transform him into the Tall Man, an entity known as the Prince.
Back in the present, Siobhan walks in on Trilby having decided to follow him instead of returning to the real world. Lenkmann then enters the room, explaining that when John DeFoe was killed with the idol, his soul was infused with Chzo's magic as the idol was made from the oak wood carrying Cabadath's tormented soul. As John DeFoe then became a being that had access to both the World of Technology (real world) and World of Magic (Chzo's world), his complete death would then create a "bridge" that would allow Chzo to enter the World of Technology. A complete death meant that John's mind, body, and soul would all have to be destroyed. The mind was the burnt ruins of the DeFoe Manor. The body was John's original body that Trilby destroyed in 5 Days a Stranger. The soul was the African Idol. Lenkmann then reveals himself as a member of the Order of Blessed Agonies, the cult founded by Jack Frehorn. Lenkmann had been dropping leaflets after every vision Trilby had that contained passages of the holy books written by Jack Frehorn, hoping to get Trilby to join the Order. Lenkmann then also points out that Trilby defied prophecy by only destroying John's body, and that the mind and soul were still intact. Lenkmann then stabs Trilby and ties up Siobhan, intending to use the former as a sacrifice for the Tall Man in order to bring him into the real world. Lenkmann then beings the ritual to summon the Tall Man, but Trilby wills himself to die at the last moment, effectively depriving Lenkmann of an offering. Lenkmann is then killed by the Tall Man for failing to provide a living sacrifice, and Trilby has hallucinations of a mysterious figure in red that tells him to return, as there is still work to be done, and that he cannot fight fate. Trilby then miraculously returns to life, and finds Siobhan tending to his wounds. The Tall Man and Lenkmann, as well as Trilby's bloody waistcoat, have disappeared. However, the cursed idol is still present, and Trilby takes it into custody. The reality shifts stop completely. An STP clean up crew and ambulance arrives. Professor Chahal and the reality shifted hotel staff are classified as missing. Siobhan and Trilby go about their separate ways.
In the first half of the epilogue, the recovering Trilby contemplates destroying the idol, but decides against it, knowing that destroying John DeFoe's soul will only satisfy the Order''s desires. He then thinks about how to hide the idol forever from mankind, setting up the events of 7 Days a Skeptic. In the second half of the epilogue, the Tall Man appears in front of the Order of Blessed Agonies, using Lenkmann's corpse as a communication puppet. He tells his followers that they now have the blood of the Guide (Trilby's bloody waistcoat), and they must now prepare and wait.
Differences from other Chzo Mythos gamesEdit
- The game takes place over the course of one day.
- Light/Dark world mechanics a la Eternal Darkness and Silent Hill.
- Text Parser instead of Point-and-Click