Session 12 | London/Essex | To kill a king

 

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The Essex mansion

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

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

Link to background stories and portraits


Secrets of 6 Holbein Mews

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | early evening

Still shocked after the horrific events in Shipley’s garret, Carl and Edward decide to investigate the rest of the dingy building.

Upstairs

The upper floor has four rooms: a bathroom with dripping faucets, a small living room where Carl sat out his temporary insanity among little pillows in once garish colors and crocheted cloths. There are also two bedrooms – one dirty and messy, reminiscent of a teenager’s room, only filled with used ashtrays, empty liquor, and pill bottles, remains of food and dirty clothes. The other bedroom is neat and orderly and looks as it would belong to Mrs. Shipley. Behind a large oaken wardrobe, they also discover a lacquered wooden box with strange inlaid symbols on the lid, containing two old glass syringes complete with injection needles and a small glass vial with a lime green liquid. Didn’t Shipley have needle marks and the look of a drug fiend?

Downstairs & garden

Downstairs is a murky parlor, complete with knit-works and garish cushions that were fashionable three decades ago. A short hallway connects the entrance to the kitchen in the rear of the house, where a back door leads to a walled-in garden. There’s a small bathroom next to the kitchen and a locked door in the hall. Nothing is found in these rooms, except another locked door in the kitchen. The garden is small and completely walled in by a 9-foot tall brick wall of recent construction, and in the far end of the garden, there’s a tool shed almost falling apart from neglect and old age.

Next, the investigators try the door in the hallway. Carl remembers that Shipley had a key on a thong around his neck, but they shoved his body into the creepy painting, so the key is beyond their reach now. The door is negotiated with a crowbar instead. Inside, is a dark and dirty bedroom with an old bed and a potty. The investigators notice that all the wooden bed posts are worn in a peculiar way, with circular wear marks. It is also evident that someone has been lying on the bed quite recently, and upon closer inspection, they find some red-brown stains that might be blood… Maybe the Shipleys kept a prisoner here…?

Basement

Behind the locked door in the kitchen is a wooden staircase leading to the basement. A nude electrical bulb lights up the stair and there’s another one in the basement. Weapons drawn, Carl and Edward descend into the basement, which is cluttered with ordinary household junk, of the kind you collect over 40 years of life. However, the boxes and broken furniture are stacked so that a clear path leads to the south wall. Closer inspection of the floor reveals markings on the concrete floor, maybe from a hidden door. Edward checks the wall and finds a crack that might outline a hidden door and after some manipulation of the wall in the area, a click is heard and door swings open, revealing a secret room, all surfaces lined in shiny riveted steel.

The room is dominated by two shiny metal tables, laden with alien-looking instruments mostly resembling some sort of laboratory setup. Against the back wall, metal stock shelves hold glass and metal jars as well as many books, most of them looking old. Against another wall sits a great stone tub with a metal lid, mostly resembling some sort of sarcophagus and next to it there’s a 1- by 1-meter metal door set into the wall. The room smells like disinfectant mixed with ozone, making the investigators hesitant to enter as they suspect they will be electrocuted. Scanning the room from the door, Edward spots some large glyphs on the walls. The glyphs are unknown but resemble the ones on the lacquered syringe box they just found, and they seem to have been etched into the metal. Finally, Edward takes the plunge and walks into the room. Nothing happens. However, he can hear faint moaning and banging sounds. Carl says that Edward’s just imagining things. Upon closer inspection of the laboratory tables, the investigators find a steel tray with two more identical syringes and yet another vial of lime green liquid. They also identify some strange contraptions resembling some sort of machine, with dials and switches, but looking much smoother, with rounded shapes and made of strange materials. The jars on the shelves look like chemical reagents, but the labels are in glyphs, similar to the ones on the walls, as are the text of the books. Now Carl also hears the banging sounds, which seem to emanate from the small metal door. Carl opens the door, while Edward points his gun, ready to shoot. Inside, in pitch darkness, they find a young woman, bound and gagged, her clothing torn and dirty. After helping her out, the woman presents herself as Alberta Boggs. It turns out that she’s a “lady of the night”, who followed this Shipley bloke home after having been promised money and drugs. However, he drugged her and she woke up bound and gagged in the darkness… Well, some pervs obviously get off by doing such things, she says. Miss Alberta wants to know if the PCs have a cigarette because she’s dying for a smoke, or even better if they have the drugs that Shipley promised her. And where is that bastard anyway? She hasn’t even been paid yet!

 

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Miss Alberta Boggs

 

 

While Alberta has a smoke, sitting on a chair, the investigators decide to check the sarcophagus. When they lift the lid, the stench is unbearable. Inside, they find body parts in various stages of decomposition, mostly from what seems to be women, but also from at least one man. Disgusted, they close the lid before Alberta sees anything. She, on the other hand, has gotten her eyes on the syringes and demands that the investigators “share” the dope with her. After some discussion, where Alberta shows her superior persuasion skills, they go upstairs where Alberta lies down on the bed and injects a dose of the green stuff. Her eyes immediately roll up and she sinks down on the bed, unmoving…

Carl and Edward, unnerved, decides to go before someone finds them. They locate an old phone in the parlor and calls the Metropolitan Police about a suspected burglary and specifically asks for Inspector Barrington. After that, they take all the paintings, the syringes and drugs and the strange books and calls for a large cab. As they carry out the loot to the car, an old man, presenting himself as “the Major” walking a basset dog walks up to them and asks if they are moving, eh? Giving a half-assed reply, Carl loads up the last of the stuff and the London cab rolls away, just as two police patrol cars turn into the street in the opposite direction.

 

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The Major

 

The cab driver, Pete the Cabbie, is extremely chatty and knowledgeable about the streets of London, and as they arrive at the hotel, he tells the PCs to call him if they need a ride again. As they enter the hotel, the clock is about 7 pm. It feels strange to walk into the hotel, their home away from home, missing a member of the team…

 

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Pete the Cabbie

 

Waiting…

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | evening

 

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Aerial view of Tower Bridge

 

Upon returning to the hotel, the investigators stash the art and the other stolen goods in Slim Shady’s room (they have two double rooms and one single room where Slim stayed). After updating the other PCs, H.P leaves to stake out the Blue Pyramid Club – they wouldn’t want to miss if the strange truck arrives to pick up club patrons again. The rest of the evening is spent having dinner in the hotel restaurant and after that a few drinks in the hotel bar. A calm evening of R&R before retiring to get some sleep…

 

I fought the law…

London, UK, Monday, February 3rd, 1925 | early morning

 

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The policeman cometh…

 

Around 9 o’clock the investigators are awakened by harsh pounding on the hotel room doors. Outside, grim bobbies demand their presence in the hotel lobby in ten minutes. Sleepy and unkempt, the investigators put on some clothes and leave their rooms. In the lobby, a much annoyed Inspector Barrington is waiting, demanding to know what they have to do with an anonymous tip about a burglary in a certain Chelsea artist’s domicile. Apparently, the semi-famous artist Miles Shipley and his elderly mother, Bertha Shipley were nowhere to be found and all his art was gone. The alleged kidnapped woman was also nowhere to be found. All that was found was a bed with traces of blood and what looked like electrical burn marks in the cracked corners of the room. And in the attic, there were traces of a fight. Also, there were witnesses who saw two men resembling the PCs move things from the house. The PCs manage to keep up their innocent appearance, spilling nothing. After a thorough interrogation, a clearly annoyed Barrington tells them in sharp formulations that he warned them about taking illegal action and tells them to stay in town and leaves with the bobbies.

 

Mr. Shady, I presume…

Flabbergasted, the investigators sit in the lounge, hair on end and an air of dog-breath around them. Seems they have managed to antagonize the law again…

As they discuss the next line of action, Carl looks over to the stairs up and sees Slim Shady coming walking down, a puzzled look on his face, but otherwise in perfect shape, even if his clothing isn’t as immaculately pressed as usual…

 

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Slim Shady comes down the stairs…

 

After initial happy greetings, Shady tells his story. Basically, he cannot remember anything beyond looking at the weird painting in Shipley’s attic. He does have some vague recollection of a primordial swamp or jungle. Other than a soreness in his throat and, well, rear body parts, he feels great. Even better than in a long time. The first thing he remembers is waking up on the floor in his hotel room, next to the weird painting. After a quick refresher in the bathroom, he then came down to look for his colleagues, and here they are!

After returning to their quarters to dress and get presentable, the investigators return to the hotel restaurant to have breakfast and discuss the next line of action. However, during the meal, the others can’t avoid noticing that Shady’s dietary preferences seem to have, well, changed. He ingests large amounts of water and seems to prefer meat and protein over other foodstuffs – ham, sausage, eggs, and bacon disappear at an alarming rate, which is quite uncharacteristic of the otherwise very polished demeanor of the attorney. Maybe he’s just starved and malnourished after his disappearance…

The next days are spent at the hotel or in the near vicinity, waiting for a signal from H.P or Kent who takes turns to stake out the Blue Pyramid Club. This also gives the investigators a chance to rest and recuperate as well as study their occult tomes.

 

Follow that truck!

London, UK, Wednesday, February 5th, 1925 | late evening, about 11.30 pm

 

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London cab

 

Finally, there’s a call from H.P Rennfarth late on Wednesday evening. Calling from a payphone near the Blue Pyramid Club, Rennfarth reports that a truck has parked near the club and that they are loading in club patrons as they speak! And it seems that the polite spice merchant Mr. Tewfik is leading the whole thing! The investigators, bored and restless from the wait eagerly jump from the Chesterfield sofas and call Pete the Cabbie to come and get them now! By lucky chance, Pete was on his way home, near the hotel and he arrives within 10 minutes and they proceed to drive over to the nightclub as the last club patrons climb onto the canvas-topped back of a beat-up old truck.

 

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The truck (but with a canvas top instead)

H.P reports that about 30 or so club patrons, mostly male, have gone into the truck, led by Mr. Tewfik, who’s now in the driver’s cabin with an unknown man. As the truck revs up the engine and takes off, the PCs tells Pete to “follow that truck”!

The truck rolls east through the night streets and after some time they leave the city and the lights behind and roll into the countryside. The truck moves steadily east, on smaller and smaller country roads. After some 1 1/2 hours Pete says that they are in Essex, near the sea. It is hard to perceive the landscape around them but a certain somewhat salty smell of moist earth tells them that the land in the area is water-sick, as is also corroborated by frequent glimpses of watery surfaces around the road as well as the passing of numerous little creaky bridges.

 

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Essex saltmarshes from the air

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Essex saltmashes

 

Rolling down a road really nothing more than a dirt track really, the truck arrives at a guarded gate in a long 2-meter high old brick wall. Four armed men are seen guarding the gate, but they just hail the truck and let them through.

The cab has stopped around a bend a bit further up the road and the investigators make the last stretch on foot, ordering Pete to stay put and alert if they should be forced to leave in a hurry.

The investigators choose to approach the wall to the west of the gate instead of challenging the guards. The wall seems old and neglected and is easy to climb. However, jumping down on the other side, Shady manages to twist his ankle and is now hobbling along with clenched teeth. Beyond the wall, some 800 meters away, a once magnificent but now rather derelict mansion can be seen, surrounded by marshes or water on all sides, effectively standing on a small island. Beyond the gate, there’s a narrow road running along a raised levee connecting to the mainland and in the center of the levee is a small wood and steel bridge of more recent construction. Using stealth, the investigators manage to skulk over the levee unseen. They approach the house but stay hidden in the terrain, watching in their scopes and binoculars. The people from the truck seem to be in the house, which is brightly lit. Outside, two guards armed with submachineguns guard the truck. From their vantage point, the PCs also spot light some 4-500 meters to the west of the mansion. After some 15–20 minutes, figures dressed in hooded black robes, some wearing strange masks exit the house and forms a procession moving towards the lighted area west of the mansion. To their horror, the procession is led by Mr. Tewfik and Mr. Gavigan, who both are carrying strange scepters and big old tomes of forbidden knowledge. The cultists also drag some seemingly sedated and half-naked prisoners with them. Through his scope, Edward thinks that he recognizes Miss Yalesha, but he can’t be sure in the darkness…

 

Cultist

Cultist

 

 

The PCs follow the procession from a distance, hiding in the terrain. The lighted area turns out to be a cleared area, centered by a pointed stone monolith reminiscent of Egypt on a small hill. Lit torches have been placed in a ring around the area. Several hooded cultists are already at the site, along with several more semi-naked people that seem drugged. As the procession approaches, some of the prisoners are chained to great iron rings on the monolith. Others are chained to steel spikes that are driven into the ground along with the ones from the procession.

 

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The Monolith

Cultists start do dance frantically around the victims as the high priests start to chant blasphemous words from the books. The air around the monolith seems to grow thicker and blue electrical discharges emanate from the monolith. Some of the cultists throw off their robes, revealing their naked flesh and touching themselves in the most shocking way. Suddenly a form emerges from the dim area around the monolith, soon followed by two more!

 

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Monolith entity #1

 

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Monolith entity #2

 

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Monolith entity #3

The entities immediately crawl down the monolith and begin to carnally ravage the shackled victims, surrounded by the ecstatically moving cultists, some also starting mate with each other, all accompanied by the rhythmic drone of Tewfik and Gavigan’s chant. The sight of the alien monsters ravaging the human victims is horrifying, but Carl and Edward manage to stay cool and focused. Slim, however, loses it and starts babbling incoherently, trying to control his feelings of utter insignificance at bay with words.

Keeper’s note: Slim missed his SAN roll and ended up with a short temporary bout of logorrhea…

Edward decides that he has had enough and aims at Gavigan though his rifle scope, firing two quick rounds into the cultist’s chest, sending him sprawling on the ground. Tewfik looks around in horror and produces two short scepters which he keeps crossed in front of him while continuing the chant. The entities do not stop their horrendous activities though… The shots also alert the cultists who stop their carnal acts, looking around desperately to locate the shooter! Meanwhile, Edward calmly takes aim at Tewfik and fires two shots at the high priest. One hits in the chest and the other is a clean head hit, dropping him to the ground instantly in a bloody mess.

Keeper’s note: Edward managed two hits, of which one was a crit, dealing Tewfik a whopping 30 points of damage!

This time around, the cultists spot the muzzle flash and starts running towards the PCs, weapons drawn, intent on killing the blasphemers, or worse. The chant broke, the entities stop what they’re doing and move drift back to the monolith, where they slowly fade out along with the blue electrical discharge The investigators realize that they must move and start running towards the truck at the mansion in the dark, Slim hobbling along with his sprained ankle, babbling as a maniac, making an excellent sound trace for the cultists to follow…

Approaching the truck, Edward stops and shoots the guard to the left, sending the other one running for cover. After a final sprint, the PCs finally reaches the truck. Carl picks up the Thompson that the shot guard was carrying and jumps into the passenger seat. Slim takes the driver’s seat, while Edwards posts himself on the truck bed in the back, ready to shoot at any approaching enemies. Luckily, the keys are in the ignition. Problem is, the truck won’t start… As Slim swears, turning the key, again and again, the second guard appears from near the mansion and starts spraying the truck with his Thompson. He’s a lousy shot though and manages to miss the PCs despite lots of bullets in the air. There is a short firefight, ending when the guard takes a bullet. Meanwhile, the truck still won’t start and now the pursuing cultists are almost upon them. Edward tries to keep the crazed cultist at bay from the rear of the truck but they keep coming and four cultists manage to come real close to the truck. Carl hangs out the passenger window and fires a salvo at them, missing badly, while Edward manages to get one of them in the leg, stopping her advance.

Things look bleak when Slim finally manages to get the engine running and they accelerate away towards the gate leading off the creepy island!

Keeper’s note: I had Slim roll Luck checks to determine if and when the engine would start and he rolled badly…

As they approach the levee, Carl spots that the bridge in the middle has started to move! It turns out that it is a swivel bridge. On the far end of the bridge, there’s a small wooden cabin with a single window directed at the bridge, where Carl suspects that the bridge operating controls are situated. Leaning out of the window of the speeding truck, he fires a ten-round burst of .45 caliber bullets into the cabin, turning it into splinters.

The bridge stops moving and despite the slightly odd angle of the bridge, Slim just barely manages to maneuver the truck onto it and on towards the gate, where three guards stand on the road, firing upon the truck. Despite the hail of bullets, the truck crashes through the gate and beyond into the Essex night, sending the guards diving for cover…

They don’t slow down until they reach Pete and the parked cab, where they disable the truck and quickly change vehicle to drive on towards London and safety.

 

Breaking and entering

London, UK, Thursday, February 6th, 1925 | very early morning, about 4.00 am

Back in London, the investigators decide to pop by Tewfik’s spice shop. Pete parks a distance away and the last bit is covered on foot. After some reconnaissance, they find a back door which is forced open. They first search the shop, but nothing suspicious is found. Then they ascend the stairs to Tewfik’s private quarters on the second floor of the building. The flat is furnished in Egyptian style, complete with elaborate carpets, pillows, and low tables. Hanging lamps, incense burners and a fancy hookah pipe complete the mid-east style. A sizeable oil heater keeps the temperature at Egyptian level, making the PCs perspire in their winter clothing. The investigators split up and search the rooms, finding a glass case with souvenir style statuettes of various Egyptian gods as well as a prominently displayed but dusty Koran.

In a roll-top desk in the living room, they find a hidden compartment with two sandstone vials, a folded black robe, a black inverted ankh on a metal chain, a black skullcap embroidered with inverted ankhs and twin scepters made out of black metal, and a crumbling papyrus scroll covered in ancient hieroglyphs. On the wall, they also find an asymmetrical ornate mirror with strange figures and glyphs carved into the frame.

Carrying all their newly acquired loot, the PCs leave the same way as they came and haste back to the cab, which carries them back to their hotel. Pete says that this has been his best taxi job for a long time – exciting and great pay and he leaves his private number, should the gentlemen need his services again.

The clock hands show 5.30 am when our intrepid investigators finally crash into bed, falling into the deep dreamless sleep of oblivion…


And there we had to quit for the night after an awesome session of Call of Cthulhu! Stay tuned for more recaps from our Masks of Nyarlahotep campaign!

 

 

 

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