Ye awfullest Monstre…
Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed
Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan
Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro
Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin
Absent this session
Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt
H.P Rennfarth | NYPD Forensics Specialist | 27 yrs | Mats
Link to background stories and portraits
Written under the influence of Backyard Babies/Hellacopters
London, UK, Wednesday, February 11th, 1925 | morning, about 9 am
At breakfast, Foxworthy suggests that they should pay Mr. Chabout in Limehouse a courtesy visit, in order to find out where the group’s shipped occult items are really going. Slim Shady borrows the lobby telephone and calls Chabout Shipping Co., saying that they are businessmen looking to ship a large quantity of goods and that they have heard good things about Chabout’s company. The lady they talk to agrees to talk to her boss, Mr. Chabout about this and asks for their number so that she can call back when she has spoken to him. Shady leaves her the hotel number and specifically tells the concièrge to just receive the call and to notify them when they call back. They then decide to stay at the hotel, waiting for the call and studying their occult books.
Around noon, the investigators gather in the restaurant, along with their newfound friends Butrus and Fredricks, to discuss the journey to Egypt over some light lunch and a beer or two. It turns out that Chabout has agreed to a meeting at 2 o’clock. As they sip their beers, Edward Foxworthy suddenly starts to shake, falling to the floor as if having an epileptic seizure of some kind. Carl Blackwater gets on the floor, trying to help the big game hunter. He knows that Foxworthy is carrying the strange dagger wrapped in a cloth inside his jacket, and suspecting some supernatural affliction here, he immediately removes the ancient dagger. However, the dagger looks just like yesterday and the action does not help poor Edward, who keeps cramping on the floor for about one minute before regaining his senses.
Afterward, Edward describes that he experienced being somewhere else, seeing a large body of slow-moving water under a hot sun. Along the edges of the water, there was dense foliage for as long as he could see. The group theorizes that maybe he saw the Nile for some unfathomable reason. Maybe the dagger did it… Edward is left shaken to his core by the experience (Keeper note: Minus 1 to SAN).
Butrus al-Qusi sips his strong tea and asks for their attention, as he has something important to say about the incident:
“I must now explain to you what has happened and the significance of the dagger. You may not be willing to believe my words, but I assure you that I am telling the truth. I am actually a Coptic monk and together with a few of my brethren, I am fighting against the spread of an Egyptic satanic cult, called The Watchers, which worships an unspeakably evil demon. The dagger is one of their most important cult objects for their blasphemous rituals and they will do anything to regain possession of it. I was sent here by my Elders to stop them from getting their hands on the dagger. Because of the great potential evil of the dagger, it may be best to destroy it, but now I fear that the dagger’s curse has taken hold of your friend. The evil cult must have initiated the curse, surely in order to compel us to go back to Egypt with the evil blade. I do not know how to remove the curse. My brethren in Egypt do, however, and I propose that we leave for Egypt as soon as possible so that my Brothers can exorcise the malign power which has possessed Mr. Foxworthy. I do not know the full extent of the curse, but this I do know: if the dagger is arbitrarily destroyed, the affected’s soul is eternally lost as it is now connected to the dagger. The only way to save him is to go back to our monastery at St. Pakomios, where my elder Brothers can perform the cleansing ritual. We must also make haste, for the curse will strengthen its grip over your friend with each passing day.”
The gathered friends take in the news with increasing horror, wishing it was Friday today…
Contrary to his consternated friends, the news of the curse only seem to encourage Foxworthy’s rage with the Limehouse shipper:
“-F-ck the curse. I think it’s high time that we pay Mr. Cha-f-cking-bout a visit! If he doesn’t come clean with us, I’ll teach him the meaning of a boot!”
After parking the old Adler on a run-down harbourside street outside the shipping company’s fenced perimeter, the PCs approach the two guards standing at the gate. After stating their business, the sneering head guard calls a man inside the fence:
“Hey, Gupta! These gentlemen have an appointment with the boss“.
Gupta, a tall thin man with a scar on the right cheek opens the gate and beckons the PCs inside. Without a word, he starts walking towards the building, the investigators in tow.
Mr. Chabout’s office is situated on the third floor of the rather dingy building. The first floor is occupied by long rows of large shipping crates from all over the world by the looks of the markings on them, while the second floor is also dedicated to wares, but here smaller boxes with more delicate goods are kept. Gupta shows the way up two flights of steel open stairs, then down a long corridor and stops before a riveted steel door painted bright red. Opening the door, he beckons the PCs in and takes a post, arms crossed, at the now closed door.
The room is large, with a magnificent view of the harbor through iron framed industrial style floor-to-ceiling windows facing the port. Riveted steel pillars support the ceiling. In front of the windows, behind a huge jacaranda writing desk, sits a diminutive man wearing an off-white Indian style linen suit.
“-Ah, my dear friends! You have come to me bringing business, yes? Please sit down! Can I offer you, esteemed gentlemen, something to drink? Tea perhaps? Or some gin?”
The words are offered in a fast pace, with a slight accent suggesting Indian heritage. Mr. Chabout’s mouth is smiling wide, showing pearly white teeth but the expression in his eyes is reminiscent of the gaze of a snake…
The investigators decide to drop the façade, and bluntly state their real errand: That they have information that the goods they wanted to ship to New York are en route to Shanghai instead! If Mr. Chabout is taken aback when he hears of this, he doesn’t show. Instead, he ensures that any items sent with Chabout Shipping Ltd. are to be delivered to their proper destination. The shipper inquires of the details pertaining the shipment and asks the man at the door:
“-Mr. Gupta. Will you please get Miss Ginee and tell her to bring the shipping ledgers from last week.”
In a minute, Gupta returns with a young smartly dressed woman carrying a large black leather ledger, which she hands to Chabout and takes a step back, waiting for new instructions. The shipper starts flipping the ledger and soon finds what he’s looking for.
“-See there gentlemen. Captain Larsen and the Ivory Wind left for New York this last Friday evening. This is an honest company.”
The paperwork checks out and after some more chit-chat the businessman asks Gupta to escort the investigators out. Maybe the man is telling the truth and someone else is lying? Maybe that Harbour Master? Or is Captain Larsen doing his own crazy stuff on the side?
As they leave the warehouse, the PCs notice that the guard crew at the exit gate have increased to five menacing-looking ruffians. A few steps out, always vigilant Edward spots the glimpse of a rifle barrel behind some crates on the loading dock, just before a shot rings out and the men at the gate start running towards the warehouse!
The investigators quickly retreat into the warehouse and try to close the heavy sliding door. A shout is heard from behind them, where Gupta points a shotgun at them. The man fires but all that is heard is a loud click! Gupta throws the shotgun to the floor and draws a nasty looking dagger, charging and screaming like a madman. Shady draws both his guns and blazes away at the charging man, point blank. Guptas head erupts in a spray of blood and gore, and the man slumps to the floor like a sack of grain.
Meanwhile, Blackwater and Foxworthy scramble for the stairs up, realizing that the warehouse is full of entrances and that trying to close one door isn’t going to keep the assailants out. The men reach the second floor and continue up to the top floor where they just spoke to Mr. Chabout. Shady is hot on their heels but is one floor behind.
The top floor is eerily silent. No evident trace of Chabout or Miss Ginee. The men advance slowly, reaching Chabout’s office. The door stands open. A quick glance reveals that the office is empty.
Blackwater enters cautiously, checking the corners but cannot see anyone. Too late he realizes that Chabout was hiding behind the door, when the shipper attacks from behind, trying to slip a piano wire around his neck! Blackwater manages to dodge the piano wire, shooting Chabout in the leg. It seems the bullet just grazed the man because he keeps snarling in Hindi, circling to get an angle of attack. Now Foxworthy enters the fight, shooting Chabout in the leg again, the large caliber bullet tearing out a large chunk of flesh, sending the shipper down on one knee. As the PCs close in, a loud shot is heard. Blackwater topples over, unconscious, his chest turned into a bloody mess by a swarm of hail. Foxworthy swerves towards the door, where Miss Ginee stands with a shotgun aimed directly at him. The secretary smiles as she prepares to fire, but her smile is obliterated with the rest of her head as Slim Shady opens fire with both his pistols from the corridor behind her. The young woman falls to the floor, partly blocking the doorway.
Turning his attention to Chabout, Foxworthy sees the man reach for something in his jacket and fires a bullet into the man’s other leg.
“-No funny games or the next bullet hits your head!”
Chabout calms down, swearing and continuing to drag himself across the floor using his arms.
In the corridor, Shady can hear people moving downstairs and on the stairs. In the distance, the sound of police sirens can also be heard. The attorney runs into the office and sees the mayhem, telling Foxworthy what’s going on. While Foxworthy tries to staunch the blood flowing from Blackwater’s chest, Shady decides to neutralize Mr. Chabout once and for all. He drags the protesting shipper into the corridor and over to the stairs, where he tries to press the man’s head in between the metal grates of the stairs in order to keep him in one place. First, he tries to “slam” him through but misses and manages to smash the man’s face against the grates. Next, he carefully places the now unconscious Chabout in place before pushing the man’s head through with his boot, mangling Chabout’s ears in the process. Satisfied that the villain can’t escape, he returns to the office. Blackwater has come to but is badly wounded. The men return to the stairs, shouting down:
“-Don’t come up you bastards, or your boss takes a bullet to the head!”
Keeper’s Note: The metal grates “scene” had us laughing so hard we could hardly concentrate on the game. It was like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie mixed with a few pinches of Monty Python – so bizarre that it became hilarious in all its horrific-ness.
Seeing Chabout’s lacerated head lodged firmly between the stair grates, even the big-game hunter, used to guns and violence, wonder what has happened with the correct and timid attorney…
Realising that their boss is taken hostage by the investigators, Chabout’s ruffians stay on the floor below. A Mexican standoff it seems… While Shady is guarding the stairs, Foxworthy searches Chabout’s office but doesn’t find anything suspicious. He takes the shipping ledger though.
Within ten minutes, the police arrive and arrest Chabout’s men as well as the investigators.
Blackwater is taken to hospital due to his dire injuries, while Shady and Foxworthy are taken to a dingy jail cell. From the constables, the PCs soon find out that Chabout is dead, having suffocated by the pressure exerted on his neck by the grates. This news are met with astounding indifference by Shady:
“-I guess we won’t be interrogating him, then.”
Investigators brought to justice
The most pressing issue, however, is that they now face charges of assault and possibly murder and that a legal process will take a very long time to conclude. And they have a ship to catch in Southampton in two days!
Inspector Barrington goes mental
At about 8 in the evening, Inspector Barrington arrives. He is absolutely furious at the investigators, keeping a monologue including topics like “What did I tell you”, “I cannot protect you any longer” and “You will rot in jail for this”.
Inspector Barrington talks with a police colleague
The investigators tell him their version of the story – how they were duped by Chabout and how they went there to talk sense into the man, and that they were ambushed on the way out and had to defend themselves. The details of how Chabout ended up lodged to death in a stairwell is kept sketchy, with the PCs suggesting that Mr. Chabout had tried to escape and that he must have slipped and somehow got stuck in the stairway structure. Barrington is still furious but agrees to send a team of men to investigate the warehouse closer.
Calling in services
London, UK, Thursday, February 12th, 1925 | morning, about 6.30 am
After a miserable night in jail, Edward suddenly realizes that they have a favor to call in and asks the constable to borrow the telephone to make his call. Foxworthy then calls Sir Arthur Vane in Lesser-Edale to explain their predicament.
It seems that the old peer of the realm still has some important connections because, in the afternoon, they are brought to the chief of the police station where they are being held and declared free to go, as someone high up in the chain of command has declared them free of suspicion. The police chief also says that they have found lots of contraband goods at Chabout Shipping Ltd. Apparently, the warehouse was found to hold illegal weapons, illegal art, and other restricted goods, so it seems that the PCs story checked out after all. The police chief also advises the PCs to leave the country, as you never know how these things turn out and that a certain Inspector at Scotland Yard isn’t all that convinced of their innocence…
It seems that Carl is well taken care of at the hospital…
Leaving jail, the investigators pop by the hospital to check out Blackwater and then go straight to their hotel to pack their gear to get out of London.
By noon, the old Adler is on the way to Southampton, jam-packed with stuff and people. William Fredricks and Butrus al-Qusi are to meet up at a certain hotel in Southhampton before the S.S Ophir leaves on Friday.
Arriving in Southampton, the PCs check into the quite decent Hotel Atlantic near the harbor and decide to sell their trusty car to Honest Harry’s car dealership to secure some funds for their travels. In the evening, their new friends al-Qusi and Fredricks arrive as well.
Southhampton, UK, Friday, February 13th, 1925 | morning, about 8.30 am
Hotel Cliff (later renamed Atlantic)
The quay in winter
The next morning, the investigators and their new colleagues embark on the S.S Ophir for the sea voyage to Cairo. Having paid for First Class passage, they enter the ship via their own deluxe gangway, complete with a red carpet, brass knobs and perfectly white new rope, and tended by ship’s staff in stiffly pressed uniforms. The queue here is much shorter than the common gangway for common people. However, it takes some time, where the investigators have nothing better to do than to study their fellow travelers and what is going on around them. The quay is full of people seeing off their loved ones, crewmen taking care of luggage for the ship’s holds, staff checking boarding passes and customs officers checking travel documents.
On the First Class gangway, a smartly dressed smiling young purser walks up and down, offering drinks and tobacco to make the wait a bit more pleasant. A bit ahead of the investigators, they notice a superbly-dressed gentleman, surrounded by a half dozen large brutish fellows, and with a beautiful young lady in equally superb garb on his arm. No one comes within arm’s length of the couple, who seem to radiate wealth, power and that self-assured posture of a life lived in extreme luxury. Behind them, they also notice a shabbily clad young man of the cloth. What religious order let their priests show such a level of shabbiness in public?
In the salon, after entering the ship, they learn that the fancy dilettante man is no other than Count Mikhail Andreevich Kurosov – a blood relative of the Romanov czars, and a man with a substantial claim on the now vacant Russian throne. And the lady on his arm is no other than Signorina Bianca Castafiore, the most shining opera diva in existence, and a woman surrounded with rumors of romances and indiscretions with the high and mighty of the world.
Signorina Bianca Castafiore, opera diva galore
It seems that they will travel not only in style but also together with some of the most famous people in the world!
The Atlantic, UK, Saturday to Monday, February 14th to 16th, 1925
The cruise in First Class is nothing more than an exercise in luxury. From their superbly fitted and roomy cabins to the scheduled lunches, dinners and drinks. The staff is extremely professional, discrete and attentive and the investigators are pampered beyond what they thought was possible. The first few days are spent studying in their cabins (or in the exquisite salons) over a coffee or a drink, or carousing with the other guests, with the occasional romantic tête-a-tête. A welcome time of R&R after all the horrors in New York and London.
Foxworthy’s strange visions have come every day since they started. Always around noon and always the same. Until today (14th), that is. The latest vision lasted longer (about 2 minutes) and while showing the same watery landscape, it now panned out beyond the water and the foliage, revealing barren desert in all directions. The PCs are now certain that Foxworthy has visions of Egypt…
Carousing in the salons
On the evening suppers, they see Count Kurosov and Signorina Castafiore with their entourage of bodyguards and servants, sitting in a roped-off area, being served by private staff. Someone says that the Count even has his own private chef who prepares the meals for the couple. However, they never mix with the rest of the A-deck passengers.
A history of violence
The Atlantic, UK, Tuesday, February 17th, 1925 | about mid-day
The third day at sea promises to be just the same as the previous ones, but as we shall see, things are about to change. After a late breakfast, the PCs and their friends find themselves in various places on the ship. Slim Shady has decided to polish up his shotgun skills and is attending some clay pigeon shooting up on the aft deck.
Slim wishes he could have one of these…
Carl, still reeling from his wounds suffered at the raid on Chabout’s place, is resting and studying over a cuppa coffee in the A-deck salon with Edward. There’s a bit of a commotion going on on A-deck, since the Russian nobleman has decided to use the entire shuffleboard course for his personal use, and no one is allowed into the shuffleboard area, which is situated across the hallway from the A-deck salon.
A shuffleboard game in progress
Apparently, this unorthodox decision has been approved by some smirking director at the Orient Steam Navigation Company to the dismay of the Captain. A group of wealthy A-deck spectators is watching the game, sipping on fancy drinks, tended by stewards. Edward spots the shabby looking priest among them.
The Shabby Priest says hi
On aft deck, Slim observes that many passengers have flocked to the starboard side of the ship since rumor has it that a ship has been following the Ophir’s course since the night. The ship is a fast yacht, keeping a distance of about 2 nautical miles (12 000 feet / 3.6 km) at all times. The alien ship brandishes no flags or other markings.
The game begins at 11 a.m., with the Count’s food taster as the opponent. Miss Castafiore sits on a comfortable chair with a drink. The black-clad bodyguards loom nearby. Suddenly, Edwards spots two men coming out of a personnel door. The priest nods at them, making some discrete hand signals.
The Bolshevik assassins
The men, clearly not A-deck passengers or staff by the look of their clothes, along with the priest move towards the entrance to the shuffleboard court, where a chief steward controls the door. The priest approaches the steward, saying something. Then, a shot is heard and the steward slumps to the deck, while the priest and one of the men run into the court, screaming something in Russian:
-“Die, you oppressor pig-dog of the ruling class!”
The assailants shoot wildly at the Count while the bodyguards rally around their leader and return fire, hitting one of the attackers in the chest. Meanwhile, Edward is on his feet, gun in hand, running towards the court. The priest has produced an egg hand grenade, preparing to lob it towards the count when Edward comes up from behind and shoots him. As the priest falls, the grenade detonates, reducing the priest to atoms, while showering the shocked onlookers with gore…
Realising that attack has turned sour, the third attacker runs down the gangway, towards the aft deck, shooting blindly behind him to stall followers. However, on the ladder to the aft deck, he runs into Slim Shady who has heard the gunfire below and is coming to investigate. Seeing the fleeing man, gun in hand, Slim fires his shotgun from close range, sending the man to the base of the ladder in a bloody mess.
After searching the bodies and cabins of the attackers, it is evident that they were Bolsheviks on a mission to slay the Count. No proper papers of identification are found, but in the B-deck cabin, boxes of ammunition and 3 well-read copies of Bolshevikskiie Revolutsyonne Kampanie is found.
About at the same time as the assassination attempt, the alien yacht changes its course and leaves the Ophir to the solitude of the Atlantic.
The Count is impressed with the investigators and offers them his everlasting thanks and an invitation to sit at his table at supper this evening. An offer they can’t refuse…
After the fracas, Foxworthy returns to his cabin, awaiting the now increasingly familiar seizures and visions. As anticipated, it strikes just after noon. However, this time it has altered again. Starting with the river, foliage and desert, Edward finds himself travelling along the river bank when a city of mud comes into view. Some buildings are of large well-made bricks and painted white, with paintings of men and animals in rows and columns. Afterward, Edward realizes that the paintings resemble crude hieroglyphs. He also realizes that he has been out for a longer time, now about 4 minutes.
Dinner for schmucks
Before supper photo
The supper is naturally excellent, cooked by the Count’s personal chef (and checked by the food taster) and accompanied by champagne and vodka. It turns out that the Count is on a sightseeing trip to the Orient with his lady friend. Afterward, the investigators have to use the bulkheads for support as they stumble back to their cabins. These Russians know how to par-tay…
After the par-tay…
The Atlantic, UK, Wednesday, February 18th, 1925 |early evening
The next day is spent in the sign of hangover-ness and the investigators don’t come out of their day-after reeking cabins until afternoon. Maybe this is as good, as the weather has changed, with dark storm clouds covering the sky, rain, and high seas, making the ship roll a great deal.
The afternoon is spent in the aft salon, discussing recent events with al-Qusi and Fredericks. A pale Al-Qusi doesn’t tolerate the ship’s rolling well and after an hour or so, he excuses himself and goes out on deck to get some fresh air.
After a few minutes, a loud roar emerges from outside, followed by a high-pitched scream of terror! The PCs rush outside, where the black-clad priest stands screaming in front a huge winged beast!
The Winged Thing
Frozen, the investigators can just observe as the thing lashes out, nearly biting the man into pieces. With a high-pitched scream, the obscenity takes off from the ship, with al-Qusi firmly lodged in its huge maw!
The investigators can only impotently observe as the thing climbs higher into the air, seemingly undisturbed by the strong winds, finally vanishing into the clouds…
And there we had to break for the evening. Be sure to check back for more nail-biting Cthulhu goodness as we continue our Masks of Nyarlahotep game!