The first thing that Alexander St. Roivas became aware of, upon cracking open a bleary eye, was the unholy mess. Unholy in more than metaphor: eldritch texts were stacked close and piled high upon every flat surface, including upon stacks of other, less critical eldritch texts, which doubled nicely as book-stands. What bits of the floor, walls, and furniture were not mazed with bookmark-studded tomes were littered with scribbled incantatory formulae, mind-twisting diagrams drawn in many things that were not ink, and the numberless blasphemous, bizarre devices that were the tools of Alexander’s family trade. He had clawed frantically through each and every one in search of the proper response to–
–ah, yes, there was the second thing he became aware of, the bloom of the indefatigable scratching seemingly buried in the depths of his formidable brain. Like a maddened, verbigerative Horace Greeley the phantom itch could only pulse its warning in the most general of senses, go west, young St. Roivas, go west–but there was quite a lot of barbaric American wasteland to the west of Massachusetts, and Alexander cherished civilization in those rare moments in which he was allowed to enjoy it. Until he could put a name and a reason to the itch, he was not inclined to let it lead him into the wilderness. Indeed, he was barely inclined to let it bring him to leave his bed (despite thirty-some-odd years of stern self-discipline to the contrary) for, in his rage at his continuing failure, he had resorted to carefully-rationed self-medication in the form of three sturdy measures of his best Irish whisky. The drink had stilled both the itch that ravened in his mind and his own furious self-recrimination, but given that much of the rest of the night was a blur, he was now, in his waking state, aware that it might have led him into untoward behavior–
–as if summoned the heavy bolster beneath his head shifted and flexed, resolving itself as a particularly gross and meaty arm covered in a thick mat of fur, and Alexander St. Roivas (much to his chagrin) became aware of the third and final thing: that is to say, the hulking, unconscious presence of a second body in his bed. His disgust was at least partially aesthetic. Catching the edge of the bed in one hand Alexander made to ease himself away from the intruder, noticing as he moved that he was both completely unclothed and sore in certain suggestive places. “Blasphemous gods, not again,” he hissed under his breath.