Session 9 | Arkham | Librorum malum

 

 

001_wta_a_hdr_s

Arkham postcard circa 1923. Private collection.

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Absent this session

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics specialist | 27 yrs | Mats


New Character

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt


 

Bengtsson

 

Kent Bengtsson is the kid brother of recently deceased investigator Ulla Bengtsson. And just like her, he has got a troubled relation with their father, the industrial magnate in chemicals. Contrary to her, he stayed away from working in the family business and enlisted as a pilot during the war. His experiences in war-torn France left him a scarred man, both physically and emotionally. He was shot down burning and spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp.

He returned home after the war as a physically scarred, disillusioned and broken man, making a day-to-day meager living by taking odd jobs as a show pilot at M.P’s Flying Circus and the occasional air pest control run. However, jobs have been scarcer lately due to his excessive drinking and drug habits.

Currently, he has been living with his sister in New York (with her providing food and rent) subsisting on a moderate monthly allowance from their absent father (who they meet only on a few yearly family functions).

Ulla meant all to him – she was his only solid anchor in the sane world and news of her violent death grieves him greatly but has also lit a flame of vengeance in his mind. He has now hooked up with the investigators to avenge his beloved sister and put an end to the evil that these deranged people and their minions…

Link to background stories and portraits


Chattanooga Choo Choo

co600lvclinforg

Slow train to dawn

 

On a train in rural Massachusetts, Wednesday, January 21st, 1925 | about noon

Arkham

howell-painting-1920-assembly-house

Picturesque Arkham

 

The train ride from New York to Arkham had taken some 5 hours including the change in Boston. Exiting the train onto the small snowy platform, sore from the hard train benches, Carl, Slim and Kent decide to take the omnibus from the train station, taking them across the Miskatonic River to the Miskatonic University campus area. Professor Cowles ought to be in his office at the Department of Liberal arts.

Miskatonic University

old-main-building-1905

Miskatonic University. Ish.

 

Asking their way across the campus, everyone seems to know the professor and the male students looks especially happy when the Cowles name pops up.

professor-theodore-maynard

Professor Anthony Cowles

 

They find the professor in his office, buried amidst stacks of paper, thick books, and other academic paraphernalia, grading a paper while puffing on a pipe. The jovial scholar invites them to sit down, offering not-so-fresh coffee and cordially asks them how he can be of assistance.

Carl and Ulla interviewed him briefly after his lecture on the night of Elias’ death and he remembers Carl. After some discussion, it becomes clear that Cowles does not know more than what is summarized in handout #23. Basically, it comes down to:

  • A bat cult once existed among the Aboriginals in Australia, worshipping an entity known as The Father of Bats.
  • Somewhere in west Australia, there’s a place where once enormous beings gathered.
  • An Australian researcher, Arthur MacWhirr was attacked by Aboriginals while investigating some old stone monuments. Apparently, the attackers used the traditional weapons of the Bat Cult from long ago.

The PCs also disclose some of the mysterious events and observations they have done since Elias met his fate and it becomes clear that the professor acknowledges the possibility of magic and that science has not yet accounted for all things. He also says that he has read a dreadful book of sorcery, named “Ponape Scriptures” that was at the University of Sidney collections, but that it was lent to a man named John Scott of Boston, Massachusetts, and that it was never returned. Cowles is an expert on things Polynesian, Australian, and New Zealandic, but knows very little of the African leads that the investigators are now pursuing.

2d6156d2a890c2b8eb263553f82f91b7

Miss Ewa Seward Cowles

 

The meeting is ended rather abruptly when the professor’s daughter, Miss Ewa burst into the office, asking about that lunch they had planned.

Miskatonic Library

p012425

One of the study halls of Miskatonic Library

 

The university library is situated just on the other the block from the Dept. of Liberal Arts, so the investigators decide to go there to see if they find something of value.

Carl asks the librarian at the front desk about the occult and Egyptian books and is directed to the east wing of the 3rd floor.

Meanwhile, Slim rummages through the inventory cards like a madman, discovering that the library indeed holds some very rare occult books. However, the librarian informs him that the books are part of the restricted collection and that they must talk to the head of the library, Dr. Armitage if they’re going to get access. The professor’s office is situated on the 3rd floor, but apparently, he’s not at his office today. Instead, Slim is directed to assistant director Llanfer, who is second in command.

20080221110744252

Assistant director Wilfred Llanfer.

Restless as always, Kent decides to check out the basement where old books, bound periodicals, and newspapers are located. There’s also a study area near the newspapers.  He also finds a locked door with a brass sign saying “Archive”. Being a man of action, Kent devises a fiendish plan to get access to the archive without being spotted.

First, he defecates on the floor in front of the door, hoping that this disgusting deed will keep nosy library attendees away. He then uses his small crowbar to break open the old lock on the door and enters the room. In the room, there are two plain desks with reading lamps and along the west wall, brown cardboard boxes are stacked to the roof on old shelves. Kent searches the room for hidden door and compartments but does not find anything out of the ordinary. He then scans the boxes and spots a box labeled “Restricted Access Collection”, which he searches through, finding lists of people who has been asking for or being permitted to study the restricted books. Kent folds the documents and puts them inside his aviator leather jacket and leaves the room, just missing the turd left outside the door. As he vanishes up the east stairway he hears someone shout in disgust over finding the excrements:

“Bloody hell that’s gross! Not again! Damned vagrants!

While Kent has been skulking around the basement, Carl has been studying the occult section as well as the sections on archaeology, anthropology, religion, and mythology, all situated on the 3rd floor. His cursory search spots many potential works of interest but nothing out of the ordinary.

However, in the Egyptology section, he finds an academic work by a Dr. Ali Kafour of the University of Cairo, describing some disturbing legends from the 3rd and 4th Dynasties in Egypt:

  • In the late 3rd Dynasty, when Pharaoh Zoser ruled a there came a mighty sorcerer known as Nephren-Ka to Egypt, bringing madness and death to those he willed at a flick of his finger. The story says that he came from dreaded Irem, ancient City of Pillars, deep in the desert sands of Arabia.
  • Nephren-Ka worshiped an old foul god – the Black Pharao, and soon they became as one, and now no one can distinguish their deeds and legends.
  • Nephren-Ka and Zoser fought long over control of the realm. However, no records from this time remain today.
  • For a time, the Black Pharao ruled over the peoples of the Nile, but at last Sneferu arose, founding the 4th Dynasty and with the aid of the goddess Isis he fought and brought down the Black Pharao, restoring the land from evil.
  • Legend says that Sneferu built a mighty pyramid to contain the still magical body of the Black Emperor, but the structure collapsed even as Sneferu was building a second pyramid. The Collapsed Pyramid is situated at what now is Meidum. The second pyramid is the Bent Pyramid at Dhashur. Records indicate that Nephren-Ka’s remains were moved from the Collapsed Pyramid to the Bent Pyramid. However, explorations at both pyramids have failed to substantiate this. No trace of the Black Pharao has been discovered at either site.
  • Legend also says that Sneferu built yet another pyramid at Dhashur, the Red Pyramid, to guard Dhashur, lest Nephren-Ka should rise from the dead.
  • Pharao Sneferu also ordered all traces of the Black Pharao stricken from the land, killing worshippers of the Black Pharao in the process. Legends say that remaining worshippers fled south, into the hideous swamps beyond the Sudan river.
  • The book also mentions that in the 6th Dynasty, Queen Nitocris was suspected of being in league with a new cult of the Black Pharao, but evidence of this is at best sporadic and much debated among scholars of Egyptology.
  • Finally, the book mentions that Nephren-Ka (or the Black Pharao) sometimes was known under the name of Neyar-Hotep.

At the same time, Slim gets to meet assistant director Llanfer who calmly informs him that the only person with access to the restricted collection is Dr. Armitage and that he will be back tomorrow morning.

In the light of this, the investigators decide to stay the night in Arkham and go back tomorrow. On the way to the campus, they saw a nearby hotel and head there through the increasing snowfall.

Hotel Miskatonic

ma-boston-hotelvendome-1927r-preview

Hotel Miskatonic, Arkham

 

The five-story hotel on West College Street turns out to be very luxurious and expensive, but the investigators think that they are worth it and checks in nevertheless. After a nice meal and a Miska-Tonic in the bar, Carl and Slim withdraw to their rooms to study their new books while Kent stays in the bar having a few more drinks while studying and copying the documents he stole.

 

Arkham, Thursday, January 22nd, 1925 | hazy morning

The Restricted Collection

Next morning, which is sunny but cold they head back to the library and get an appointment with Dr. Armitage, who turns out to be a friendly man, albeit with a slightly troubled look in his eyes. They notice that the old scholars’ left arm seems to be trembling all the time as if having been through a scarring ordeal. Or it is just tics…

While Carl and Slim introduce themselves to Dr. Armitage, Kent returns to the scene of the crime and sneaks into the archive, returning the stolen (and now copied) documents. The door has not been mended so it’s an easy task. Sneaking back up, he’s pretty sure that no one has seen him come or go…

edwin_walter_kemmerer

Dr. Henry Armitage. Head of Miskatonic Library.

 

Dr. Armitage turns out to be a friendly fellow if a bit inquisitive about the reasons for their interest in the tomes of the restricted collection. It soon becomes evident that the good doctor has some hands-on experience with the unknown and things not of this earth. The investigators also share some of their experiences with Armitage, among them the reasons for their interest in these old books, which seems to put him more at ease. He confides that after his terrible experiences with a degenerate sorcerer, he decided that such books are to be kept away from mankind in order to prevent other evil men from meddling with the occult.

Finally, he leads them to a locked vault where the restricted books are kept. The room is windowless and surrounded by thick new-build concrete walls and the thick steel door is protected by several sturdy locks and a state of the art electronic burglar alarm.

Inside the room, the following books are spotted on the shelves:

  • Necronomicon, John Dee English translation
  • Necronomicon, Latin translation
  • Unausprechligen Kulten, German
  • Book of Eibon, English translation
  • Pnakotic Manuscripts, English translation
  • Liber Ivonis, Latin translation
  • Cultes des Goules, French translation
  • Cthulhu in the Necronomicon, English
  • An Investigation into the Myth-Patterns of Latter-Day Primitives with Especial Reference to the R’lyeh Text, English
  • Eltdown Shards, English

Also in the room are two fine oak desks with good reading lamps and a box with white cotton gloves to be worn when handling the books.

The investigators decide that Dr. Armitage is one of the good guys and confides further in him, even showing him photographs of the purportedly magic items that they found in the cult basement under Ju-Ju House (mask, headband, metal bowl, scepter). Using the Mythos books as reference works, they spend many hours in the vault, trying to shed light on the artifacts, but sadly very little information is found.

  • The only real lead is a text passage in the Necronomicon that discusses an entity called “Nodens”, usually taking the form of a bearded human male, often riding a chariot in the shape of a huge seashell, drawn by beasts from legend and served by winged creatures. The reference mentions a headband that can be used to protect the wearer from the entity’s entourage of creatures.
  • Another lead is a reference to a highly magic item called “Ye Maske of Ha-Jama” that allows the wearer to “communicate with the gods”. However, it is very unclear if the mask in their possession is the same as the one mentioned in the book.

Upon leaving, the investigators even discuss leaving their own Mythos books in the vault as they deem it the safest place, but then decides to take them with them to study them further. After all, knowledge might be the key to success now. Or survival.

Should we stay or should we go?

We leave our intrepid book-wormish investigators trekking back through the snowy streets of Arkham, towards the train station, discussing what to do next – go to merry old England or go to Boston to pay a certain Mr. John Scott a visit…

Decisions, decisions, decisions…


Stay tuned for our next session – it will be, err… interesting, no doubt…

 

 

Advertisements

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s