Session 17 | London | Legacy of the Egyptologist

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Doctor von Petersdorf at work

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

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, Tuesday, February 10th, 1925 | morning, about 9 am

Bright Lights, Big City

After the relative peace of Lesser-Edale,  being back in foggy and dirty London feels slightly oppressive, but Shady and Foxworthy both appreciate the companionship with their colleagues in the occult investigation business. Breakfast is spent in the hotel restaurant, updating each other on recent events. After recounting the Lesser-Edale story, Blackwater and Rennfarth tell about what has happened in London. Rennfarth especially mentions an upcoming auction of an exquisite collection of Egyptian antiques. A famous Egyptian scholar, Dr. Karl von Petersdorf, recently passed away, and now his collection of Egyptian artifacts and book are up for purchase by the rich and famous.

 

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Auction poster

As the owner of an antique shop in New York, Rennfarth is well familiar with the late scholar and his exploits. Apparently, the man was a legend among his peers, although his theories weren’t widely accepted by the research community as they were considered way too speculative and unfounded in research. Just before his tragic demise, Dr. von Petersdorf published his life research in a much controversial book, “The Antiquity of the Egyptian Religion”. To add to the tragedy, the publication of the book was also struck by disaster, when the publisher’s warehouse burned down before distribution had begun, destroying all copies of the book, except for a few review copies. (See Clue #DoT 3 in Dropbox).

The investigators decide to attend the auction later in the afternoon, but first, they decide to try to bring some light on the location of their “occult collection” that was meant to be shipped to New York, but which they suspect has been shipped elsewhere.

They also decide to book tickets to Cairo, to continue in the tracks of late Jackson Elias, as they feel that they have investigated all leads they had in London – not to mention all the wrong people they have managed to aggravate in the Jewel of the British Empire…

In short – it’s time to leave London!

High Passage

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P & O SS Ophir

The first stop is Pacific and Orient Line’s offices near the harbor, as they have a liner going to Port Said within the week. Our intrepid heroes purchase 1st Class tickets for S.S Ophir, at the exorbitant price of 38 £ apiece! As the ship departs Friday 13th, they still have some time to kill in London and also an opportunity to tie up a few loose ends.

Books

As they are now leaving for the unknown Orient, some of the investigators visit the London bookshops to buy English to Arabic language books as well as books on hieroglyphics, in hope to do some studying on the sea voyage, which will take about 12 days.

The Limehouse warehouse

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Chabout Shipping Co. Ltd. in Limehouse

They also want to ascertain where their occult wares are going, as they suspect that Chabout has shipped them to some other destination than New York.

The first stop is the Harbour Office and Harbour Master. After some rummaging through the files, the man can confirm that the “Ivory Wind” under command of a certain Captain Larsen, is indeed bound for Shanghai and that the vessel left on Sunday the 7th of February.

Furious, the investigators decide to pay that bastard, Mr. Chabout, a visit.

The Chabout Shipping Co. is situated along the Limehouse docks and is easy to find as the PCs have been there before. The operation consists of a large three-story warehouse near the quay. The structure is surrounded by a tall fence, topped with barbed wire, and the only entrance to the compound is guarded by two ruffians of probably Indian descent. Upon asking, the PCs are rudely informed that Mr. Chabout isn’t available for a meeting. When questioned about this, the Lascars become even more belligerent, telling the investigators to sod off, or else… One of them even reaches menacingly inside his jacket while spitting on the ground.

Foxworthy, who has some issues with anger management almost draws his gun to force his way in, but as a police patrol car passes the area just then, the PCs decide to swallow their pride and leave.

The Auction

After returning to their hotel to freshen up and dress for the occasion, the investigators go to the Old Auction Room, which turns out to be situated in a rather posh area of town. The gathered crowd is obviously some of the social elite of London, and it’s hard for the investigators not to feel a tad diminished in the company of all these rich people.

The only ones “sticking out” is a scholarly-looking man in his mid-30’s, with rumpled hair and dressed in a corduroy suit and a foreign man, all dressed in black, with a beard and a black tarboosh.

 

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The man in the tarboosh

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The scholar-looking man

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London snobs

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More snobs

Soon, everyone has gotten their registrations and papers in order and taken a seat and the auction begins after a short welcome by the Auction House owner, a Mr. R. Jeremy Esqire.

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Mr. Ronald Jeremy Esquire (left)

First, the object in question is displayed for the crowd, then the bidding is begun. Some of the bidders seem very interested in the Egyptian objects from the late doctor’s collection:

  • The scholarly-looking man – bids a lot on a jeweled scarab
  • The scholarly-looking man – bids a lot on annotated Egyptian Book of the Dead
  • Young pretty woman with a way too old spouse – bids on fine alabaster plate
  • Tarboosh man and pale thin man – Ibis-headed curved silver dagger
  • Pale thin man – Black stone statue of Egyptian Pharaoh

Keeper’s Note: We played out the auction for some desirable items, and the PCs bought some very, very expensive Egyptian antiques…

After the auction, it looked like this:

Item Buyer Price
Jeweled scarab Scholar man 1000 £
Egyptian grammar book Foxworthy 32 £
Alabaster plate Young woman 200 £
Ibis-headed dagger Foxworthy 7500 £
Pharaoh statue Shady 2300 £
Book of the Dead Blackwater 3100 £

Stop the thief!

As papers and payments are cleared in the main auction room, a shot is heard from the back of the building! After the initial chaos, it turns out that someone has shot and wounded two of the auction house personnel in the back room where the bought items were kept, and stolen the Ibis-headed dagger! After the deed, the man fled the premises using the back door of the warehouse area.

Shady and Foxworthy immediately take up the pursuit, tracking the man’s route into a nearby park, where the traces end. Other than a few young couples making out in the park, nothing else can be found. Upon returning to the auction house, the Metropolitan police have arrived, taking up statements and looking for clues.

Carl remembers having seen a slightly out-of-place man enter the auction after it began, but he didn’t think more of it at the time. As he describes the thief, one of the veteran police officers seem to have a suspicion of who it might be.

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The mysterious thief

New acquaintances

To further complicate things, as Foxworthy will not pay for the stolen dagger that he purchased earlier, he is also reported to the police for fraud. As the PCs are getting ready to leave, the scholarly-looking man comes up to Shady and introduces himself as William Fredricks, a scholar of all things antique. Fredricks asks if he can buy the Book of the Dead at a price of 3500 £, or if he might borrow the book to have a peek at the marginal hand-written notes, as he says that they are quite unique for this copy of the book.

At the same time, Foxworthy is approached by the man in the tarboosh, who introduces himself as Butrus al-Qusi, collector and buyer of Egyptian antiquities. Al-Qusi says that he currently works for a government project aimed at buying back antiquities that have been brought out of Egypt over the years, and he offers Foxworthy to buy the dagger at cost plus 20%. However, he must first obtain the bank funds via bank draft from Egypt, as he currently doesn’t have that much money.

The whole discussion ends with that the investigators are invited to have dinner with Fredricks and al-Qusi, to discuss these and other matters. The evening is spent at The Crown and Empire, a fine restaurant, courtesy to Mr. Al-Qusi. After dining and drinks, the PCs find themselves with two new useful allies in all matters Egyptian.

The dagger returned

Returning to their hotel for a final nightcap, the investigators and their newly made friends have hardly taken their first sip of beer, before the police come is, along with Mr. Jeremy (of the auction house), asking for Mr. Foxworthy. It turns out that they have recovered the dagger, and it is returned to Edward after he has cleared the financial side with Mr. Jeremy.

The policeman’s story

Apparently, Carl’s description was accurate enough to direct the police’s interest to a small-time hoodlum working for an Italian criminal gang – a certain George DiVita.

The squad car arriving at DiVita’s apartment immediately noticed a foul rotten-egg odor coming from the tenement, the inhabitants of the house gagging and throwing up on the street outside. Entering the premises with cloths over their faces to protect from the stink, the police officers found DiVita dead on his living room floor, along with a small cloth bag containing approximately 3000 £ in crisp new bank notes. Despite no evident signs of struggle or visible damage to the room, DiVitas front had been burned to a crisp, while his back (against the floor) was entirely intact. Identification was done by documents found on the corpse and the police have no idea what happened. Maybe another mobster decided to settle an old score with some pliers and a blowtorch…

Exiting the building, the officers noticed two foreign-looking chaps run into a car and take off, so the police pursued with blazing sirens. The car chase went down to the docks, where a policeman managed to shoot out a tire, making the fleeing car crash into a wall, with one man fleeing on foot.

In the car, the chap on the passenger seat was found dead, a long splinter of glass from the windshield protruding from his eye. The knife was found in the glove compartment, wrapped in a dirty cloth. Apparently, the dead chap had been jammed against the glove compartment, so that the fleeing chap hadn’t been able to grab the knife before fleeing from the cops.

Later, one of the officers that had pursued the man fleeing on foot was found dead in an alley, apparently from a heart attack or something, as there was no evident trauma to be found on his body. A bit strange though, as the officer was just 40 years old and had a very good physique…

The Dagger

 

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The Ibis-headed dagger

As Foxworthy unwraps the dagger on the bar table, among the glasses of fine English stout, Fredricks asks to see the inscriptions on the blade.

According to him, the inscription says: Ny – Har – Rut (or) Lut – Hotep

The translation of this could be several things, as the hieroglyphs often have several meanings:

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Fredricks transliteration and translation of the glyphs on the dagger

The plot thickens. It seems that wherever our heroes turn, traces of occult conspiracies seem to hide behind the façade of normality…

Wrapping it up

After their new friends have left and before retiring for the night, the investigators decide to call Mr. Emerson (of Emerson Imports in New York) to ask him to do some research on what has happened to their things in shipping. They also try to call Inspector Barrington on Scotland Yard to inform him of DiVita, but is met by the bored policewoman on night duty, telling them to get a life and call back in normal Christian hours…


And there we had to break for the session! Be sure to check in for more terrible adventures with the Swedish table RPG group With a fistful of d20’s

 

 

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Session 16 | Derwent Valley | The Killing Moon

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The Killing Moon

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

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 Echo and the Bunnymen


Lesser-Edale, UK, Sunday, February 8th, 1925 | evening, about 7 pm

Don’t Fear the Reaper

The last session, we left the investigators in media res, deep in the bowels under Castle Plum, where they had just realized that young Eloise Vane had fled her containment cell and made her escape into the old lead mines that honeycomb the cliff that the castle sits upon. They also quickly realized that it would be too hazardous to pursue the she-wolf into the unknown tunnel system, leading to a heated debate on what to do next.

After some discussion, they decide to borrow the castle phone and call constable Tumwell and warn him of the monster on the loose and tell him to gather the villagers in the village church. They also ask him to round up a posse of experienced hunters to defend the church.

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Searching in the old archives

Next, the investigators ask if there are any old records stating the history of the castle and maybe old maps of the castle and the area around it. Lawrence Vane turns out to be quite helpful in showing and searching the castle archives. Sir Arthur, on the other hand, seems mostly interested in refilling his tumbler of fine brandy, sulking over his problematic life… Together, Lawrence, reverend Stratton, and the investigators manage to find some very old maps showing the tunnel systems and where the entrances are. They also find a hard to read document describing the story of how Lady Evangeline Vane had a young woman – Anne Stuart – burnt at the stake for witchery and how the woman’s mother had cursed the Vanes with the Mark of the Beast. The mother’s name and what becomes of her, or where the Stuarts lived cannot be found in the document.

 

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Old documents illustrating the witch trials of the 17th century

Armed with this new knowledge, it is decided that the good Reverend and Lawrence should continue searching the archives while the investigators go down to the village to meet up with the lawman at the church.

 

The Killing Moon

Arriving at the church with the old Adler, the investigators see a bustle of activity: villagers are ushered into the protection of the church, while others are working on placing a ring of lanterns around the building to create an illuminated circle, where any assailants will be more easily spotted. The PCs ask Tumwell to pick out the two best marksmen and place them in the church steeple. Thus, they will be able to get a good “killing ground” if the beast should target the church.

The investigators also ask three brave men to step forward and accompany them in an attempt to track down the beast. Shortly after, the Adler (carrying the investigators) and an old pick-up truck (carrying constable Tumwell and two villagers with extensive hunting experience – Pete Sanders and James Brown) leave the church with screeching wheels (well, more sloshing actually). They drive up the castle hill and to the left at the T-section, driving as far as they can go by car before continuing their trek towards The Peak on foot (about 1 km). The darkness is total and an ice cold rain falls upon the hunters. The only way to keep together is by keeping track of the other person’s flashlight, as the full moonlight is frequently blocked by dark grey storm clouds.

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1920s style hunters (in the Swedish mountains I believe)

As they arrive at The Peak, they notice that the tent is now in shreds, fabric flapping in the wind and camp gear spread out on the muddy ground. Upon closer inspection, they can easily determine that some large beast has indeed ripped open the tent with powerful claws… However, Pete says that there are no existing wild predators around here that could have made those rips…

Kneeling down with his gun resting on the ground, Foxworthy studies the muddy soil using his flashlight. Indeed, he manages to find large wolf-like tracks, leading away from the camp and towards a heavily wooded area, some 500 meters to the north-west. The old castle maps indicated a mine entrance somewhere in this area, so it makes sense.

The hunting party decides to follow the tracks into the forest. Walking is a line through the dense foliage, Pete says that there’s an old cave in there, where a young boy disappeared some 25 years ago. Apparently, the boy was never found but since then people stay away from that area of the woods as it is considered haunted by the ghost of the child.

 

Pathways into darkness

Some 7-800 meters into the woods, a depressed clearing opens up. It looks like a huge (approximately 75-meter diameter) circular hole in the ground. The bottom cannot be seen in the dark, but the hunters trudge on and make a sliding and dirty descent into the hole, which turns out to be some 3-5 meters deep. Despite the dense vegetation on the bottom, it is evident that this was someone’s workplace at one point. Under moss and ferns, the shapes of very old rusty mining equipment can be discerned.

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Abandoned mine in the forest

To the northeast, a murky wooden structure covers the wall of the hole. Looking closer, it turns out to be an opening into a cave-like structure. Someone has covered up the opening with much newer planks (which are still rotten to the core) and put up a sign:

“Entry prohibited. Trespassers will be persecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The sign is marked with the symbol of the City Council of Derby and Derwent Valley.

Shining their flashlights into the opening, the PCs notice that a seemly much older tunnel runs further into the ground, at a descending angle. A rusty iron grate lies fallen on the ground. The clues seem to indicate that someone sealed up the tunnel entrance not too long ago, but the structure they built is very rotten and the locked grate has collapsed. No problem to gain entry to the tunnels, it seems. Also, the tracks that they’ve followed go right into the tunnel…

With the help of the village hunters, Foxworthy constructs a trap worthy of John Rambo outside the opening. As it turns out, constable Tumwell has some problems with confined spaces and after some heated discussion, he and hunter Pete Sanders stay outside to secure the entrance, while the PCs and James Brown enter the tunnel with flashlights and weapons ready.

The tunnel slopes down in an almost straight line for some 50 meters where it abruptly stops. However, there’s an opening in the tunnel roof above. Shady climbs up, aided by the others, then he throws down a rope to the others. The upper tunnel has a more circular shape and seems older. It’s also narrower, forcing the men to walk in a hunched position. Foxworthy takes the point, shining his flashlight before him in the stale air. Some 30 meters into the tunnel, he spots something organic on the floor. Approaching cautiously, the investigators come upon a small, decomposed body, probably the child that disappeared all those years ago. As they study the tragic scene, suddenly gunshots and fearful shouts are heard from behind them, sending the men scrambling toward the tunnel entrance.

Outside, they find that the trap has been sprung. Tumwell is hanging upside down from a branch, all bloody, while Pete is on his back in a pool of blood, his face half ripped off and his guts exposed by a large wound in the abdomen. Somewhere in the forest, the howl of wolves can be heard…

 

Hunter and the hunted

The PCs quickly confirm that Pete is stone dead. Tumwell, however, moves slightly and moans. After lowering him to the ground, they see that he has been shot in the side and arm, by hail by the look of it. Tumwell comes to, whispering:

-“They were so fast, they were so fast…”

Apparently, something had attacked Pete, who then mistakenly shot Tumwell who then staggered into their own trap, ending up in the tree. Tumwell says that there were at least two beasts, maybe three…

After patching up Tumwell with what they have at hand, they stuff what’s left of Pete in a sleeping bag (to keep him, well, intact) and decide to retreat back to the cars.

With the support of Foxworthy, Tumwell can hobble along reasonably good, if slow. James Brown and Shady pick up Pete’s body in the sleeping bag and they start to walk back. The 800-meter trek is a terrifying experience, the investigators jumping at every sound of the forest. As if that’s not enough, a drizzle of rain soon has them soaked to the bone. As they make it back to The Peak and open terrain, they relax some. Beyond The Peak and the cars, there’s a new stretch of woods for about a kilometer, forcing them to re-live the terrifying experience once again. When nothing happens, they start to relax a bit. That’s when a loud roar is heard and a large creature emerges from the woods at incredible speed. The beast attacks Shady (who’s walking last in the line), raking him with razor-sharp claws. The attorney manages to dodge the full attack, and draws his trusty Mauser “Broomhandle” C96, putting two solid hits into the creature’s back as it disappears in the forest on the other side of the path. The attack has taken no more than a few seconds. Shady is now bleeding from the claw wounds at the side of his chest, but the PCs pick up the speed and move as quickly as they can while keeping a vigilant watch at the woods around them.

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The Beast attacks!

Finally, they emerge from the woods, the cars some 100 meters ahead of where the dirt track ends.

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Mauser C96 “Broomhandle”

 

Ambush!

After placing poor Tumwell on the loading platform of the truck, Foxworthy suggests that they should try to lure out the beast on the open ground, where they might kill it more easily. Poor Pete, still in the sleeping bag, is placed at the edge of the woods, near the path. The PCs hide some 50 meters away, weapons ready, aiming at the area.

They wait. In the cold rain.

Boring.

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The wait…

After a while, Foxworthy sees something move near the “bait”. In the darkness, he can only see a shadow darker than the surroundings, but it definitely approaches poor Pete and starts digging into the bundle on the ground. Foxworthy gives the signal and the air is filled with silver projectiles, as the men fire away at the creature. A loud shriek is heard, followed by silence.

The cheers and back-slapping end abruptly, however, when it’s discovered that the “beast” is only a wild boar. Pete’s corpse has also taken a solid hit from Shady’s silver coin shots, shredding the sleeping bag and creating a new hole in his side…

 

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What they thought they killed

 

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What they actually killed

 

 

The hunters decided to try again, now using two baits instead, but to no avail. Almost as a mockery, howls can be heard from a distance.

Swearing and cursing, the men collect what’s left of Pete and the boar and load up the cars. As they drive back to Lesser-Edale, first daylight is breaking. Shady’s wound has stopped aching and is now itching violently.

 

Girl in a coma

Lesser-Edale, UK, Monday, February 9th, 1925 | morning, about 6.30 am

While the pick-up truck drives down to the village with the wounded policeman and the dead hunter, the PCs decide to go to Castle Plum.

Upon arrival, they learn that Eloise was found on the castle grounds – nude, dirty and bleeding just after daybreak. She is now sleeping in her chambers and hasn’t regained consciousness since.

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Eloise resting in her chambers

Lawrence takes the PCs to see the poor girl, who has been washed up, dressed and put her bed. On her back, they find what looks like two healed gunshot wounds…

 

A most cunning plan

Together with the vicar and Lawrence, the investigators sit down in the parlor and plan what to do. After some argumentation (especially from Sir Arthur, who pops in from time to time to refill his glass of brandy), in brief, they settle on:

  • Arrange for a good cage for Eloise. Next full moon is in a month so it will be plenty of time to prepare one of the other dungeon rooms. A special cage that can be placed in the center of the room will be commissioned as well.
  • The vicar has found that the executed witch, as well as her mother (who purportedly cursed the Vanes), was incarcerated in the dungeons below for a time. The PCs decide to search the cells thoroughly to see if they might have overlooked something.

While searching the cells, the investigators find an inscription on a loose stone in the wall of a cell:

E Stuart, 1549

Behind the loose stone is a small compartment, containing a bundle of hair and a small carved wooden figurine depicting what appears to be a wolf. Closer examination of the bundle reveals that it is a mix of blond human hair and more coarse grey-white animal fur. Maybe from the witch and a wolf? And maybe there’s another way to stop the curse? Foxworthy recalls that in Africa, he once heard from a village medicine man that a curse can only be dispelled by a blood relative to the individual who made the original curse.

The vicar is quite knowledgeable in the history of the area and mentions that there is still a family by the name of Stuart in the area. Most people see as odd and they generally keep to themselves, living in a remote farm some 4 km away from Lesser-Edale. He has on several occasions tried to convince them to attend church services, but to no avail. The woman, Edith Stuart, also has a reputation for being something of a wise-woman, who can help out in matters of the heart, reading palms, and such. She is also the one young women seek out in cases of unwanted pregnancies.

The PCs decide to go back to their lodgings at the inn to get some hours of well-deserved sleep. Meanwhile, the vicar is tasked with checking the church records to see if the present Stuarts might be related to the witches of old.

 

Not fish. Snake-scales.

After some 4-5 hours of dreamless sleep, the investigators meet up in the pub for a serious breakfast. Foxworthy notices that Shady is unusually pale, quiet and distraught. Upon asking, he gets no answers, so he assumes that the attorney hasn’t slept all that well after the shocking events that took place during the night.

Keeper note: Having his morning wash-off, Shady had found that not only was his claw-wound in the side almost fully healed, but the wound area was also covered in green metallic shining scales, which had a significant impact on his mental status… Yes, you guessed right – SAN check! 

 

The Farm

After the silent breakfast, the PCs pick up the vicar, who knows the way to the Stuart farm, to the northwest of Lesser-Edale. The 4 kilometers on the map turns out to be almost double that due to the increasingly worsening roads, leading further and further away from civilization. During the road trip, vicar Stratton tells the investigators that the present Stuarts (or rather the Stuart woman) indeed seem to be descendants of the Stuarts of old. He has also found an old map, documenting the burial site of those days. The old cemetery hasn’t been in use for hundreds of years and Stratton says that most present people don’t even know its location anymore, not even he.

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The Stuart farm

In the middle of nowhere, they find the farm. Out here, the road is just a dirt track better suited for a tractor or animals.

The place screeches of neglect with boarded-over broken windows, old discarded farm tools scattered over the yard, and strange wind chimes hanging from dry trees and from the house. At first glance, the place looks deserted, but then they see a thin veil of smoke emerging from the chimney.

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Creepy wind chimes

The door is answered by a slob of a man that looks to be in his fifties.

“-Go away. We dunnit wanna buy anytinn!”

The man proceeds by shutting the door, but Foxworthy puts his boot in the door and explains why they’ve come. From inside, a coarse female voice tells the man to let the strangers in.

“-Yu have tu excuse, Osgood, here, he’s a bit sespiscious uf strangers and men uf the cloth.”

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Osgood and Edith Stuart, model citizens

The investigators are invited to sit down on dirty chairs at a dirty table and are served disgusting tea in… yes, dirty tin cups.

Shady looks around the room and notices a large bookcase filled with what appears to be old books on occult subjects.

Edith is clearly the one in command here, and while she and the investigators are talking, her husband Osgood takes care of the dishes, or whatever he’s up to since the heap of unwashed dishes doesn’t seem to diminish in any notable manner.

Edith demands to know their errand and after explaining, she can corroborate that she is indeed a blood relative of the famous Witch of Edale, Edith Stuart. In the same breath, she also dismisses those rumors as nothing more than superstitious talk.

When confronted with the occult books and her work as a wise woman, she admits that she sometimes dabbles in such things but also says that she has no real powers and that she considers such things are pure nonsense. The books are family heirlooms that have been handed down the generations. After being offered a vast sum of money of their own choosing (50 £ sterling), Edith finally agrees to help the poor girl. She says that she has a book where such rituals are described. After some humming, she returns to the table with a quarto tome clad in black leather – The Book of Shadows, where she finds a ritual for breaking curses:

  • First, they must find and open the grave of the one who laid the curse.
  • The remains must then be strewn with salt and burned, along with the focus objects of the curse (which they deduce must be the tuft of mixed hair and the wooden wolf figurine), while a short incantation is made by a blood relative of the curse-layer.

And that’s it. After that, the curse should be lifted. Since vicar Stratton has identified the old burial ground already, the PCs, Stratton and Edith Stuart are soon on their way back to Lesser-Edale.

 

The English Field

After picking up a sack of road salt and some digging implements in the village, they proceed south. The old burial ground is situated on what is now a field next to a densely wooded area some 3 km southeast of the village. After some stumbling around in the fields, they find some simple, overgrown old grave markers. It takes some time to find the correct marker, but they finally manage to find the grave of an “E Stuart a.d 1569”.

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The abandoned burial site

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Digging up graves is hard work

After revealing the bones in the grave, they toss down the fetishes and strew salt over the remains. Shady pours some kerosene into the grave as well. As Edith recites the Latin words from her book, Shady sets the ensemble on fire with a tossed match. There is a short fire, with peculiar green-blue flames, but nothing out of the ordinary occurs. Seems a little anti-climatic after all the fuss, but then, this is England, right?

 

Taking leave

After restoring the grave, the PCs drop off the vicar and then they drive Edith back to the farm and pay her the agreed 50 £, after which they go to Castle Plum to inform Sir Arthur and Lawrence about current events. After realizing that the nightmare is finally over, Sir Arthur loses control of his usually very correct demeanor and solemnly proclaim the PCs to be heroes of the Crown and that they can count on the support of the Vanes in all matters. Coming from an old officer and a peer of the Realm, such assertions might come in very handy in the future indeed.

After taking leave of the Vanes, Foxworthy and Shady go back to the Inn and pack their things, before leaving for London again. They’re fairly sure that they have solved the case with the Beast of Lesser-Edale.

Fairly. Guess no one will know until after four weeks…

In the car, they decide that their work in England is finished and that the next logical step is to go to Egypt to follow up on their leads there.

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Foxworthy and Shady, outside Castle Plum


And there we had to stop for the session. Next up is probably Egypt and Cairo! Be sure to follow our continued adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Session 15 | Derwent Valley | Canis Lupus Malum

 

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The usual suspect…

 

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Slim Shady | Attorney | 46 yrs | Djuro

Absent this session

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

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 Brant Bjork and the Bros


London, UK, Friday, February 6th, 1925 | about 2 pm

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Upon leaving British Museum, the investigators plan to leave the London area (that is getting a bit too hot at present) and leave for the English countryside to follow up on the last of Elias’s leads left at The Scoop – the gruesome murders in Lesser-Edale, which are suspected (by some) to have been committed by some supernatural creature. After reading the article (article keywords according to the PCs: bestial, walking like a man, full moon) the PCs conclude that it must be a werewolf (if it indeed is something supernatural involved in this) and decide to get some silver weapons. After all, it’s common knowledge that werewolves are vulnerable to silver, right?

Right?

Edward Foxworthy pulls all his pro-hunter strings and manages to get a weaponsmith to manufacture silver bullets – 1 magazine (5 shots) for his Mauser and 1 magazine (2 shots) for his elephant gun – at an exorbitant price. Slim Shady goes to a shop specializing in old coins to get old silver pennies, which he then loads up in some shotgun shells (10 shells for his 12-gauge side-by-side).

After picking up their gear at the hotel, the duo leaves for Derby and Lesser-Edale in their adopted Adler.

Derwent Valley Blues

 

Lush rolling green English countryside

A green and pleasant land…

 

As they get further away from London, the rustic scenery helps to bring back that feeling of “normal” and “safe” again, and soon life begins to feel better. There’s a steady drizzle against the windshield, but nothing too serious.

 

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Derwent Valley and the Derwent River

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Our intrepid investigators caught on a photograph!

 

The drive to Derby takes some 4 hours and from there winding country roads lead further into the Derwent Valley and to their destination – the little village of Lesser-Edale, where they arrive at about 10 in the evening after some detours on the muddy roads.

 

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Lesser-Edale scenery

 

The obvious stop is naturally the village pub – The Laughing Horse Pub – where refreshments (and hopefully) lodgings can be procured. The drizzle has increased to a proper downpour as they park the car in front of the pub. Running the few steps to the entrance result in wet clothes and muddy shoes, but the welcoming and warm atmosphere inside is rewarding enough.

 

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The Laughing Horse Pub

 

The pub owner, a Mr. Clarence Campbell tends the bar while Mrs. Campbell is tending the tables. The two wet strangers are immediately ushered in and offered a nice table by the fire by Mrs. Campbell. No more than a moment has passed before two steady pints of stout is in front of them on the table and food is on its way. And yes, rooms are available at reasonable rates.

 

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Constable Tumwell, posing for the newspapers

The locals are friendly and curious and when they hear that the strangers are here to investigate the three “monster-killings”, they are more than happy to share their opinions with the investigators. Soon, their table is full of locals, none of which were really invited to sit down. In summary, most of the villagers are afraid of the return of the monster and some swear that they have heard it howl in the night. One old farmer, Mr. Ames even claims to have caught a glimpse of it in the outskirts of the village:

“-It was walking on tu legs, I tell ya. No dog be a-walking like that!”

And everyone reminds the investigators that the next full moon is in two days…

As the discussion gets more intense, the village constable comes in from the rain. He is immediately called over to share his story with the investigators. It turns out that Constable Tumwell thinks that the murders were done by a wild dog, which he eventually shot with his shotgun, and that that was the end of the problem. However, the dog managed to run off into the woods after the shot and the cadaver haven’t been found yet, but he’s sure that the animal ran off into the woods to die. His friends tease him that he wasn’t nearly as sure or cocky when the big-city detectives were here a while back. When asked where he shot this alleged dog, Tumwell says “up by the old Roman ruins, near the West Woods”. It turns out that there’s a castle overlooking the village from a cliff above the village and that the ruins of an old Roman castellum are situated to the west of the castle grounds and that all the land up there are the property of the castle owner – Sir Arthur Vane. Also, the elevation where the Roman ruin sits is known as “The Peak” among the locals. Sir Vane lives up there along with his 20-something son Lawrence and a handful of loyal servants. The posh people of the castle never visit or interact with the villagers, except for Lawrence, who sometimes comes down to the pub for a pint, which he usually enjoys by himself. And come to talk about Lawrence, the boy has been to Oxford to get some fancy education and as soon as he returned to Lesser-Edale, the murders began. Some say that Lawrence is the one behind the killings, but that he is protected by his family’s good name and obvious wealth. Rich bastards…

There are also rumors that young Vane had a secret love affair with Miss Lydia Perkins, the first victim of the monster killer. The villagers recommend the investigators to go and see Lydia’s father, John Parkins, to hear what he has to say about Lawrence Vane.

In summary, the PCs can piece together the following:

First victim – Farmer George Osgood. Wife says he heard noises from the barn and went out to check, armed with his old shotgun. A scream and a shot were heard from the barn and then she saw a man-sized, hairy, and hunched-over figure run away into the woods. Osgood was later found mutilated and dead in the barn, with one barrel fired. Witness: Edith Osgood (wife).

The second victim – Miss Lydia Parkins. Found dead in her home. Torn to shreds, as if by a wild animal. Witnesses claim to have seen Lawrence Vane skulking in the area near at the time of the murder. Witness: Neighbor Tom Corty claims to have seen a distraught Lawrence Vane hurry away from the direction of the Parkins residence.

The third victim – Wheelwright Harold Short was attacked as well, but managed to drive off a terrible creature that he claimed was “man-like but not human”. Mr. Short is now recovering in his brother’s home in Norfolk. Witness: None

The investigators are a bit wiser and a whole lot less sober when they finally make it to their creaky beds in the rustic and low-ceilinged lodgings above the pub.

 

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Room at the inn

 

Day One – T minus 1 day to full moon

Lesser-Edale, UK, Saturday, February 7th, 1925 | about 9 am

The next day, breakfast is spent eating ham and eggs, washed down with copious amounts of tea. (Wonder why I’m so thirsty today when I drank so much yesterday…)

Next, the battle plans are drawn up. As The Peak seems to be some kind of epicenter of all this, Slim and Edward decide to spend the night there under the pretense that they are campers. They will also pay Sir Vane a visit to ask permission for this (and also to get an opportunity to interview the man). Hopefully, they will get a glimpse of the creature or even better kill it!

The first stop is The Pitchlock Mercantile Store, to pick up some high technology camping gear. After gearing up with top-notch modernities like sleeping sacks, a portable camping stove, water-proof tent and overcoats, big flashlights, binoculars, and a long spool of tripwire, the stalwart investigators are finally ready to take on the Derwent Valley wilderness!

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Outdoor gear for the modern gentleman

Following the main village road northwest, they soon spot a smaller dirt road running up the cliffs and into the forest. The inclination is quite steep, making the men sweat despite the cold and damp weather. On the summit, a plateau opens up and the road makes a T-fork to the left and right. They take the right road, climbing even higher before seeing a dark stone castle before them – Castle Plum. Home of the Vane family since generations.

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Castle Plum in all its glory

Upon approach, the castle looks well tended, despite its apparent age. Looking closer, it’s evident that the castle has seen better days and that the current lord is struggling to keep it running. The PCs walk straight up to the large double door and announce themselves by using the huge brass lion knocker on the door.

Nothing happens.

After more knocking and waiting, another side door is opened by a stiff-upper-lipped manservant in his sixties. The servant demands to know their names and business. After explaining that they are duck hunters, looking to procure a license to hunt on the castle grounds and that they would like to camp up by The Peak, he lets the investigators into the splendid main hall and into a parlor, where they are offered tea and, yes, biscuits…

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Smithers

While serving the tea, Smithers explains that the main doors haven’t been used since Charles I was hung as they got stuck that very same day, which was held to be a portent from God Almighty.

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Charles I hung 1649

After a reasonably long wait considering their lowly station, Sir Arthur Vane enters the parlor. Being a hunter himself, he’s a bit suspicious about hunting ducks in this particular part of the world, but he soon succumbs to Foxworthy’s hunting technobabble, agreeing to let the city gentleman and that colonial chap hunt on his grounds.

 

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Sir Arthur Vane

 

After concluding their agreement, Shady and Foxworthy proceeds to the T-intersection and takes the left road instead. It leads further into the valley and into a forest. After about two kilometers, they reach The Peak – a rounded hill some 50 meters high. After climbing the hill, they spot the remains of a Roman Castellum (small fort or tower). It’s mostly rubble now, no walls higher than maybe 1-2 feet. A few trees grow on the hill as well.

The investigators set up their camp in the center of the area, very visible, and proceed by placing tripwires all over the place. They then search the ruins for possible entrances to caves or such but find nothing of the kind.

Corfe Castle ruins on top of a hill shrouded in orange light.

The Peak (the ruins are much lower though)

As darkness is approaching, they make a fire and then withdraw to observe the camp from a distance. The first half of the night passes without any more incidents than the fact that they freeze a lot. Shady is about to give up when faint sounds of movement are heard from the direction of the path approaching The Peak. The attorney signals to the hunter to stay alert and frosty. They both fervently scan the camp with their binoculars and telescopic sight respectively but sees nothing in the dark. Suddenly, the silence is broken by a crash and loud swearing.

“-Bloody hell, what’s this shite?!”

It turns out that Constable Tumwell has taken it upon him to ensure that the big city foreign investigators are ok up here on The Peak. Upon questioning, he says that he heard that a thunderstorm might be coming this way and that he wanted to warn the investigators. Brushing off clay and old leaves he then concludes that they seem to be doing fine and that he really should return home to his comfy bed.

Foxworthy and Shady exchange a suspicious look as the somewhat corpulent police officer clumsily navigate the path back towards the village.

Other than the encounter with Tumwell, nothing else worthy of note happens, and when day breaks our heroes break camp and return to the inn to get a few hours of warmth and sleep.

 

Day Two – T-hour – full moon fever

Lesser-Edale, UK, Sunday, February 8th, 1925 | about 10.00 am

Tired and still chilled to their bones (no, English houses aren’t especially warm), the investigators ingest a steady breakfast: ham and eggs, baked beans, toast, and bucketloads of Earl Grey tea. The plan is to have a word with the witnesses, to see if they have missed something of value. When discussing with the landlord, Mr. Campbell, he mentions that the village vicar, Reverend Stratton, might know something as he has contact with most of the villagers and word is that he also caught a glimpse of the wolf-thing.

The farmer’s widow

It’s a grey and overcast day when the investigators leave the inn to first interview Mrs. Osgood, widow of the farmer George Osgood. The farm lies along the main road, a little distance from the main village proper. Upon stating their errand, Mrs. Osgood invites the smart gentlemen for tea and biscuits. Her story checks out. Her husband heard sounds coming from the barn and took his shotgun and went out to investigate, fearing a fox hunting their poultry. After entering the barn she heard him fire and then a scream. Looking out she saw what she describes as a “hairy, hunched-over form” race away into the nearby woods. Her three now fatherless cling to her skirts and teary-eyed repeat the same thing.

The angry horse-dealer

After the widow, the PCs walk to the other side of the village to see the father of Miss Lydia Parkins. Mr. Parkins does not invite them for tea. Instead, the investigators conduct the interview on the porch. The man reeks of old booze and looks as if he hasn’t slept for many days. Parkins did not witness the attack on his daughter but found her broken body upon returning home from the pub. The man is convinced that Lawrence Vane, the son of Sir Vane, has something to do with it since he’s sure that the young man wanted to get into the knickers of his pretty daughter. When she wouldn’t play along, he must have gotten angry and murdered her. And his neighbor, Tom Corty, said that he had seen Vane in the area at about the time of the murder, looking upset. Parking continues that he informed the police of this and that Tumwell and the big city detectives questioned Vane, but declared him innocent. However, Parkins feels that the authorities protect the rich family from scandal, and concludes that the Labour Party must correct such class injustice. He then continues lecturing the investigators about political power and the oppressive ruling class.

Vicar in a tutu

After leaving the bereaved Mr. Parkins to his grief and liquor, the PCs seek out the little village church and the vicar’s home, a small cottage just next door.

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Mrs. Sarah Bright, the housekeeper

Upon knocking, an elderly lady opens the door. It’s Sarah Bright, the vicar’s housekeeper. Mrs. Bright says that the vicar, unfortunately, is out doing the Lord’s good work, but that they might come in and wait if they want. And won’t they sit down and have some lunch?

Mrs. Bright joins them at the table. She thinks that what has transpired is terrible and what is the world coming to? She also says that the good reverend has been quite taken by it all and that he has been spending a lot of time, even in the late night, pouring over those old books and that old diary in his study. And he also prays more frequently than before.

Shady immediately excuses himself and asks for the men’s room. Pointing down a short hallway, Mrs. Bright says it’s the door on the right. Shady leaves the table and goes to the other door in the hallway. It is locked, but after a few tries, he manages to pick the lock, thereby destroying the lock (Keeper note: A clear fail forward move). Sneaking in, closing the door behind him, Shady finds himself in the vicar’s study! The study is very neat and clean. Just an antique desk with an equally antique chair and some shelves with old religious books and other old church documents. A quick scan of the shelves does not reveal anything that would pertain to the case at hand. The desk also has a locked drawer, that Shady negotiates with his trusty switchblade. Inside, he finds an old notebook bound in leather. The notebook is written in Classical Greek. Next, to it, there’s a more modern notebook with what appears to be a half-finished translation into English, which must be the work that Mrs. Bright mentioned. A quick look reveals something about the Vane family women and a several-hundred-year-old curse. That’s when the outer door opens and the good reverend comes home!

Foxworthy almost chokes on his tea and greets the Vicar in an unnecessarily loud voice. Luckily, Shady hears what’s happening and sneaks out of the room and into the toilet, which he flushes and then he washes his hands before walking into the dining room to greet the Vicar:

“-Aah, now I’m flying again. Don’t use the toilet for a while. It’s like the Jerrys dropped mustard gas in there!”

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Right Reverend Jeremy Stratton

After some pleasantries, the PCs start to press the Vicar, who breaks and tell them of his suspicions (Keeper note: Some VERY good Persuade and Psychology rolls there).

In short, the story goes that many years ago, Lady Evangeline Vane had a young witch burnt at the stake. For the death of her daughter, the mother put The Mark of the Beast on all the daughters of the Vanes. After turning 21, the curse takes hold.

After the two first murders, the Vicar remembered the old notebook, written by a previous vicar long ago. Stratton’s not that proficient in Classical Greek but has been putting things together piece by piece, hoping to find a cure for young Eloise. Upon seeing the PCs jaws drop, the vicar confirms that Sir Vane has a daughter as well. A demure young lady named Eloise Vane. More importantly, she recently turned 21 years old!

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Miss Eloise Vane

As an old friend and acquaintance of Lord Vane, Stratton has been to the Castle many times and he has also met Eloise frequently over the years and he has seen her become increasingly reclusive over the last years.

Upon learning this, and taking today’s full moon into consideration, the PCs decide to pay the Vanes a new visit. The vicar will accompany them to try to persuade Sir Vane to talk to them.

Looking out, they realize that sunset is coming very soon…

 

The Killing Moon

After a short stop at the inn, to pick up their arms and silver ammunition, the sun is setting as the investigators approach Castle Plum. This time they use the side entrance directly. Smithers answers the door with his usual stiff upper lip, but after hearing what the good vicar and the PCs have to say, they are let into the parlor, where Sir Arthur and Lawrence are already sitting, sipping on exquisite brandy. No other servants are seen in the house.

Confronted with the newfound knowledge, Lawrence Vane finally decides to drop the facade and they tell their story.

The Vanes haven’t had a daughter for many generations, but have obliquely known of the family curse, dismissing it as an old family legend. However, after Eloise turned 21 strange events started to take place. She was found missing at the first full moon thereafter and then they discovered her back in her room, naked, torn and bloody. At that time she must have killed an animal or something because nothing was heard of any murders. After that event, Lawrence started to look into old family records and found out more about the curse. Apparently, their forebears had simply locked up the women during the full moon or in some cases, they had slain any female babies outright to avoid the curse.

Since that first event, Lawrence and Sir Arthur would sedate Eloise and after she has fallen asleep, they carry her down to the castle dungeons and lock her up during the full moon. The poor young woman has no idea of what she has become. Only Sir Arthur, Lawrence, and Smithers know about this, although they suspected that Reverend Stratton might also have his suspicions. During this whole story, Sir Arthur has sat silent, sipping on his second brandy with a determined look on his visage.

As Lawrence finishes his story, a loud howl is heard somewhere inside the house, followed by wild thrashing and loud thumps.

As the investigators stir and reach for their weapons, the Vanes say that it… she is perfectly safe in the old dungeons. At this point, the loud sounds have abated.

As Lawrence is reaching to offer the PCs some more brandy, a much louder howl is heard from what appears to be outside the castle.

Despite assurances, the investigators demand to see the creature, just to be sure. After some hesitation, they all go down to the dungeons. From the kitchen, they enter the big basement, go through a wine cellar with many excellent and rare vintages and enter a storage where there’s a second stair down behind a stout and locked old oaken door.

At the base of those stairs, there’s a second stout and locked door, leading to what appears to be an old torture room. From there, a third locked door takes them into a corridor with eight cells. The dungeon rooms are lit by oil lamps, spreading a yellowish flickering light on the old stone walls.

Eloise is in the last cell on the left. The PCs are on high alert despite the assurances of the Vanes. Peaking in through the small barred “window” in the door, all seems calm. Lawrence says the girl often falls asleep after a while when the sleeping drug kicks in again.

Shady notices a draught in the stale dungeon air, seemingly emanating from Eloise’s cell. Peeking into the door window, only parts of the cell can be seen as it’s rectangular. In the light from a kerosene lamp in the cell, the foot end of a bed can be discerned as well as straw on the floor, like in an animal pen. A strong scent of wild animal dominates the room. However, Eloise can’t be seen.

The investigators demand that Sir Arthur opens the cell, which he grudgingly agrees to, mostly to get the annoying PCs off his back and let him get back to his brandy. The lord opens the door, gesturing for the PCs to have a look.

“-She’s chained to the wall, so she can’t reach the door,” he says with a semi-drunken sneer.

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The dungeon cell

Entering cautiously, the first thing that they see is the large hole in the back (east) wall of the cell, letting draughts of chilling air into the cell…

“-Bollocks!”

The investigators run over to the hole, Foxworthy sticking out his head and flashlight. The breach in the dungeon wall has revealed a rough circular corridor running perpendicular to the cell.

Lawrence has also entered the cell, looking terrified.

He explains that this must be an old mine shaft and that castle Plum is built on an ancient Roman lead mine that honeycombs the cliffs beneath the castle. That’s what gave the castle its name – plumbum is lead in Roman…

The investigators enter the old mine but after a short foray to the right, they realize that this is a huge mine complex.

Somewhere, a loud howl can be heard echoing through the tunnels…


And here we had to stop for the session – cliffhanger style! Be sure to come back and read our further adventures in Masks of Nyarlahotep for Call of Cthulhu 6th edition!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Session 14 | Essex/London | Appetite for destruction

 

Header-Raid-01

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


Sneaky basterds

Essex, UK, Thursday, February 5th, 1925 | early evening (about 5 pm)

After having taken out the guard at the mansion gates and disabled the phone, the investigators move stealthily along the road that runs raised over the marshlands and over the swivel bridge. No one is to be seen anywhere and the operator’s booth for the bridge is still in splinters after last time the PCs were here.

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Well, maybe not this abandoned, but still an evocative picture…

As they approach the mansion they stop to recon the house but no one can be seen, although many windows are lit. Two black cars are parked in front of the entrance. It’s cold and foggy outside, so no one probably wants to go outside on such an evening. The main entrance is in front of them, facing the access road and the bridge, but the sneaky investigators decide to scout around the house for other possible points of entry. Sadly for them, there are none. Near the northwestern corner of the house, a window stands ajar, and loud voices can be heard. It turns out that they are speaking Chinese and by the smell of it, they are probably cooking food in there. To be sure, Foxworthy demands to climb on Shady’s shoulder to have a peek inside. After some initial slapstick style mishaps, the large hunter finally manages to get up on the much smaller attorney’s shoulders and can confirm that two Chinese looking chaps are indeed preparing a big meal in a rustic country kitchen.

They sneak all the way around the house and peek into another lit window on the ground floor (which is still a half story up), into a once magnificent but now rather decrepit dining hall, with a long table set for some 10-15 people. The chefs are moving between this room and the kitchen.

Having an idea of the size of the opposition, the PCs move to the front entrance and manage to pick the lock and enter the premises. The entrance hall is huge and just as decrepit as the rest of the house this far. On the east wall, the room is dominated by a huge fireplace. There’s also an ornate staircase leading up and some doors leading to the west (probably towards the dining/kitchen area).

The grand fireplace in the hallway hasn’t been used in a long time, which strikes Foxworthy as odd in a damp and cold place like this. The big game hunter starts poking and prodding the stones and details on the fireplace and finds a loose brick on the left side. When pulled forward, a portion of the fireplace swings aside, revealing a stairway down into nothingness.

 

Basement

Flashlights sweeping the stale and dusty air, the investigators descend the damp stone stairs, which end up at a rusty steel door , which is locked. Nothing can be heard from behind the metal. The PCs decide to sneak upstairs to see if they can procure a key. As they sneak up the basement stairs, suddenly, voices can be heard from the hallway, speaking loudly in Arabic. A door slams shut and the PCs sneak out from the fireplace secret door. Peeking out the window they see two armed men walking in the direction of the entrance to the compound. Maybe it’s time for change of guards…?

 

Upstairs

The PCs sneak up the creaky stairs. The upstairs area is dimly lit by naked light bulbs fitted into wall lampettes. There’s a small open area where the stairway comes up and a hallway running the length of the house, with lots and lots of closed doors – almost like a hotel or dormitory. All of a sudden, a door in the right corridor opens, and an attractive middle-aged Chinese looking woman comes out of a room, wearing a lab coat over a traditional Chinese silk outfit and a low-caliber pistol in a hip holster.

The woman grabs for her pistol, and shouts in Chinese, but her cries are cut off by the butt of Foxworthy’s elephant gun, right in the face. Bones crunching and blood spurting, she collapses on the dingy hallway carpet. Slim Shady steps in and slits her throat with a strange expression on his face:

“-No witnesses…” he says with a feral grin, sending a chill down Foxworthy’s battle-hardened spine…

After the slaying of the unfortunate woman, the PCs continue by checking doors. Most are unlocked, leading into bedrooms, some that seem to be in use, or in some cases old bathrooms.

As they check out a smelly bathroom at the end of the right hallway, there’s a sound behind the door and two pistol-armed men dressed in what appears to be hospital coats peek out. Spotting the intruders, they move to shoot at the investigators, but Foxworthy is faster and swings up his trusty hunting Mauser, putting a bullet in the right guy, sending him flying into the wall. The left guy backs into the room again, shutting the wooden door, trying to lock it from inside. Shady and Foxworthy send a hail of rounds through the door. A thump is heard and a pool of blood can be seen emerging from beneath the door…

Armed with his “Broomhandle” Mauser, Slim picks up the .38 that the dead cultist dropped, moving towards the door, with Foxworthy close behind.

 

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Friday night, firefight!

 

The sorcerer

Slim Shady pushes open the door at the end of the hallway, shuffling the fallen cultist aside. In stark contrast to the rest of the house, this room has been renovated and both looks and smells like a hospital room. The PCs are shocked by what they find in the single hospital grade bed that dominates the room: Edward bloody Gavigan! Alive!

Gavigan lies perfectly still on the bed, seemingly asleep or unconscious, and his wounds seem much milder than you would have expected from two clean rifle shots to the chest… As they observe the cultist leader, they notice that Gavigan’s eyes seem to move rapidly under the eyelids…

Suddenly, there’s frantic activity in the house. Down below, loud agitated voices and running can be heard. The cultists must have found the dead guard and realized that there’s intruders on the grounds…

Blackwater and Foxworthy takes post at the intersection where the stairway enters the hallway. When the two Egyptian cultists come up the stairs, rifles in hand, they are met with a barrage of bullets, sending them sprawling on the floor. Next, the two Chinese chefs attack, armed with kitchen utensils, like a huge meat cleaver and a massive rolling pin, but they’re also mowed down by the investigators. The cordite smoke lies thick in the air as Foxworthy and Blackwater looks at each other, listening for signs of more approaching enemies.

When no one else comes up the stairs, Foxworthy returns to Gavigan’s room while Blackwater stands guard in the smoke-filled corridor.

As Shady and Foxworthy search Gavigan’s room, they hear something from the hallway. Looking into the corridor, Foxworthy sees Carl Blackwater waving his arms about him, as if fighting an invisible foe. Blackwater’s breathing is forced and looking closer, Foxworthy sees that the journalist is engulfed in something not quite tangible, something fog-like that have entered the man’s nostrils and mouth, slowly suffocating him. Foxworthy rushes forward to help but ends up with something cold and incorporeal up his nose and throat as well!

In the hospital room, Slim can hear his friends struggle and squeal for help with muffled voices and moves into the hallway just to see the mist engulf them both. His conclusion: this must wicked sorcery, and with a wicked sorcerer just ten feet away, there can be no doubt as to the source of the foulness.

The attorney rushes back into the hospital room and empties both of his guns in Gavigan’s immobile form. The sorcerer’s body twitches with each added bullet, red tinted duck feathers filling the room, and the mist dissipates into nothingness, releasing Blackwater and Foxworthy from its suffocating grip. The men collapse on the floor gasping for air.

Seeing that he was right about the sorcery, the investigators take precautions to prevent Gavigan the sorcerer from coming back from the dead by severing the sorcerer’s head from the body, and burning it in the fireplace.

After the deed is done, Slim looks at himself in a mirror. His hands, face and his fancy suit are all covered in blood. There’s a strange glint in his eyes. He knows that he should feel revulsion and disgust, but he doesn’t. In fact, killing comes naturally to him now… Slim smiles…

Realizing that he can’t walk around in his murderous state, Slim Shady “borrows” a fine tailored pin-striped suit belonging to the now late Gavigan from the cupboard. In the suit they also find an old key that looks as if it could fit in the basement door.

After a quick sweep of the upper floor, the investigators check the ground floor more thoroughly. Except for the grand entrance hall, there’s a dining hall, kitchen and a library containing many old books, but none with occult or Mythos content.

 

The Horror in the basement

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Nothing good has ever been found in the basement in a Call of Cthulhu game…

The key found in Gavigan’s room actually fits the basement door. It opens with a creaking sound, revealing a small room and what appears to be many small cells behind steel doors equipped with slits.

Somewhere someone is singing a nursery rhyme…

It turns out that the basement holds twelve prisoner cells. Most of them are empty. Three of them are not. Inside are prisoners of the cult, now stark raving mad after abuse by cultists and creatures not of this world alike.

One of the prisoners turns out to be Yalesha, the charming belly dancer, who is the one singing. By the looks of her, she is pregnant and happy to be in so a blessed state. She does not recognize the PCs and raves about how her beloved has come back and given her a child and how they now will become a happy family. It is obvious that she doesn’t remember what happened during the cult ritual a few days ago or that the pregnancy is highly unnatural since she looks to be in the end of the second trimester after just a few days…

Aside from the cells, there’s also a locked door to what once must have been a torture chamber but now has been converted to a sorcerer’s country workshop. This is one of the best-kept rooms in all the mansion and filled with magic paraphernalia and trinkets: a statuette resembling a black pharao, paintings, and various pieces of jewelry and the odd watch (mostly modern, surely stolen from cult sacrifices). There is also a fat ledger with details about shipping – what was shipped, when, from where to where. The ledger details many occult items and who they were shipped to, with addresses in London, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Australia, Odessa, Calcutta and many more.

On a neat and cozy desk, a half-finished letter from Gavigan to Aubrey (Sir Aubrey Penhew?), connecting Gavigan with Elias’s death and also implicating that Sir Aubrey is still alive along with Jack Brady (Clue #29). So, maybe Carlyle might be alive as well?

There are also well over one hundred books on the occult in German, Frisian, Hebrew, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

The esoteric collection is rounded off with an extensive supply of strange compounds and reagents in pouches, vials and clay and metal containers, along with two one-inch long sealed metal tubes adorned with a star-shaped eldritch sign. The containers turn out to hold sands, powders, liquids and dried parts of animals and plants.

The investigators gather in the strange study and discuss how to proceed. It is decided that the poor victims are beyond saving and that the abomination that Yalesha is carrying cannot be allowed to be born into this world. However, no one wants to be the one doing this foul deed… After a sweaty-faced long silence, Foxworthy resolutely picks up his elephant gun.

“-I’ll do it. These people will be better off if freed from their pain.”

Three deafening shots echo in the confined space and Foxworthy comes back with a grim appearance.

“-It’s done.”

The PCs decide to take as much as they can from the basement workshop and then let the evil mansion burn in a cleansing fire…

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Ze old Adler (my grandfather actually had one of these – his first car)

They load up one of the cars, an old Adler, with the items they deem most important. The car keys are found on one of the coat-clad men from Gavigan’s upstairs room. They then douse the house in gasoline siphoned from the other car.

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Fa-fa-fire…!

As they leave, they see the evil house burning in the rear mirror, casting beautiful reflexes on the surrounding watery surfaces…

 

Breaking & entering

London, UK, Thursday, February 5th, 1925 | evening (about 9.30 pm)

The ride back to London in the stolen Adler is dominated by silence. Everyone is absorbed in his own thoughts and doubts. How did it come to this? From righteous investigators to murderers and arsonists…?

After loading the stuff into Shady’s room along with the rest of their accumulated “antiques”, the PCs have a well-deserved shower and a stiff drink.

There’s a note from Emerson in the reception. Apparently, he called during the day, saying that a UK associate of him, a Mr. Chabout, will come tomorrow morning and collect the packed crates for subsequent shipping to New York.

Then they drive over to Gavigan’s place for a visit in the protection of darkness. They park a bit away from the flat and proceed on foot and gain entrance to the premises by picking the lock on the rear door. Inside, it’s all dark and silent. Inside the front door, a mountain of unread mail sits on the doormat. Apparently, Gavigan hasn’t been back for many days.

The flat is really a three-story townhouse, equipped with the latest technology (private phone line) and fancy furniture. The search does not reveal anything more than that Gavigan has an exquisite taste in whiskey and cognac as well as an impeccable gentleman’s wardrobe and an impressive collection of these new trendy wrist watches made popular by the Great War. There is also an impressive collection of tastefully arranged Egyptian bric-a-brac, really just fancy versions of stuff you would find in tourist shops.

Our heroes return to the hotel to help Bengtsson and Rennfarth finish up packing the two big wooden shipping crates with the majority of their “antiques”, before crashing into bed, exhausted by the day’s events…

 

Shady shippers?

London, UK, Friday, February 6th, 1925 | morning (about 8.00 am)

The next morning, a team of men arrives at the hotel to collect the loaded shipping crates. They’re led by a haggard-looking man who grudgingly introduces himself as Mr. Punji Chabout, proprietor of Chabout Shipping Ltd. He’s also brought four hard-working Lascars to do the heavy lifting.

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Mr. Punji Chabout, owner of Chabout Shipping Ltd.

Slim thinks he recognizes the truck from somewhere but cannot place it until he suddenly realizes that these might be the same men he saw at the loading dock on the side of the Penhew Foundation on their first visit!

Asian Seamen in the port of London, c.1908

Indian sailors (Lascars)

The two crates (one mega-big and one smaller) are carried down to reception, contents checked and sealed and paperwork is signed. The men then load the crates on a beat-up truck and drive off in a cloud of oil-mixed exhaust.

Slim shares his observation with his friends and they scramble to the Adler to shadow the truck. The trip goes down to the Limehouse docks and a run-down warehouse with a sign saying: Chabout Shipping Ltd. The warehouse sits right on the dock and is surrounded by a high fence crowned by barbed wire and fitted with many floodlights. Pretty tight security for a crappy old warehouse it seems…

On the quay next to the warehouse a rusty old freighter, “The Ivory Wind” is moored.

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The Ivory Wind

The investigators decide to check out Mr. Chabout and his operation and drives down to the Harbour Office and the Ship Registry, where a bored official can corroborate that Mr. Chabout and his shipping company is registered and legit. What is more interesting though, is that The Ivory Wind is scheduled for Shanghai and not New York!

 

British Museum again

London, UK, Friday, February 6th, 1925 | late morning (about 10.30 am)

After the trip to Limehouse, the PCs picks up some items at the hotel and drives over to British Museum to see what the scholars have found out.

The curator, Dr. Hattersleigh is delighted to see them and is amazed by the new items they bring for identification:

  • The mirror and scroll from Tewfik’s apartment, plus the two sandstone vials with the powders
  • The metal vials from the Essex mansion
  • The glass vials of green liquid from Shipley’s full-metal futuristic lab

Hattersleigh immediately calls his colleagues – Reginald C Thorpe and Walter Frunck. In short, this is what they learn:

The Black Sphinx – This is probably an artifact from the 3rd Egyptian dynasty, a troubled time when Egypt was rumored to be ruled by a god-emperor by the name of Nephren-Ka or The Black Pharaoh. The meaning of the strange hieroglyphs still eludes the scholars, however.

 The Mirror – Frunck says that the metal almost surely is speculum metal – an alloy of 2/3 copper and 1/3 tin, with added arsenic. These mirrors were common in old times but Frunck has never heard of one this large. The frame, on the other hand, is much newer, made in Rococo style and made of red-hued massive 18-carat gold, suggesting admixture of copper in the alloy. The style suggests French or possibly Russian origins. The cuneiform symbols on the frame are in Babylon-era Sumerian and quite easy for the scholar to translate:

The first part of the inscription identified the entity to whom the Mirror was dedicated—“Šenšen ___ Gal (The Mirror [or Wrath] of the Great ___ )” but the symbol where the God or King’s name should go has been chiseled out. The cuneiform inscription continues that the Mirror was made in Lagash and is a gift from King (LuGal) Bur-ra Bu-ri-ia-aš (“Servant of the Lord of Thunder and the Lands”) to his “brother”, King of Egypt, Ne-ne-fe-ka-____; (this has no meaning in Sumerian and is probably a phonetic transcription of the Egyptian Ne-Nefer-Ka-____; The symbol which should represent the patron god of this pharaoh is likewise destroyed). “When the King my Brother wishes to view his enemy, anoint the mirror with Ub-ra-an. When he wishes to strike his enemy, anoint the mirror with Ga-bé-segal. Let there be no misunderstanding between us.”

In short – the mirror seems to have been a gift from a Babylonian or Sumerian king to his brother the King of Egypt and can be used as a scrying device or to strike his enemies, provided you have the Ub-ra-an and the Ga-bé-segal, which the PCs suspect are the two powders they found with the mirror. Sadly, there’s no manual provided for how it’s supposed to work…

The scroll from Tewfik’s place – The item is written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, easily translated by Dr. Thorpe. It is presumably some kind of bogus magic spell called “Body Warping of Gorgoroth”. Thorpe agrees to write down the translation in plain English for later perusal.

The investigators bring the mirror and sphinx with them when they leave, but leave the vials for chemical analysis by the museum chemical laboratory.

The sun is peaking through the clouds as the PCs exit the museum at about noon – a break, at last! Maybe luck is coming now!

Keeper comment: Yeah right – you wish…


And there we had to take a break from the session! The recap of session 15 is coming up soon – be sure to follow our Masks of Nyarlahotep adventures!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Session 13 | London/Essex | Tea and biscuits

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Marvellous art by Christine Mitzuk

Game system: Call of Cthulhu 6th ed

Dramatis personae

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

Edward Foxworthy | Big game hunter | 34 yrs | Flan

Link to background stories and portraits


Trying to make sense of things

London, UK, Thursday, February 5th, 1925 | morning

The morning after the terrible events at Gavigan’s Essex mansion finds the investigators tired and weary. Over breakfast tea and too-hard scones, they read about a grisly murder in the Daily Chronicle (Clue #27a), a grisly murder that pertains to them, as the victim is none other than Mr. Tewfik! The article states that the man was stabbed as well as shot in his Bethnal Green home – facts that the investigators know for sure have been fabricated. The article also mentions witnesses and three men disappearing in a London cab… Which means that someone is on their trail…

Securing the loot

They also discuss the possibility to arrange for shipping of the hitherto found artifacts to New York for safekeeping in the reinforced basement of Rennfarth’s antique store and end up calling Mr. Emerson of Emerson Import and Export in N.Y. Mr. Emerson promises to make inquiries with his London contacts about this and will call back the next day.

In preparation for the shipping, the PCs decide which items they will keep with them and which ones to ship home. They also cut loose the antediluvian swamp painting (that absorbed Slim Shady) and roll it up, stuffing it into a leather map field tube that Foxworthy bought. That way they can have the painting on hand at all times.

British Museum

British Museum, London, 1929

British Museum

They also decide to pay a visit to the scholars at British Museum to see if someone can help with identifying the black sphinx from the Ju-Ju shop. After some of the usual red tape, coupled with dreadful tea and dry biscuits, they get to see the head of the Egyptology department – museum curator John Hattersleigh. This polite but peculiar man is reserved at first, but when he lays eyes upon the black sphinx he becomes most excited. After a first look he says that he can’t decipher the most unusual hieroglyphs and demands the aid of the foremost expert on all things Egyptian, a Mr. Reginald C. Thorpe, Ph. D. Now, Dr. Thorpe is as confounded as Dr. Hattersleigh, so the consult Mr. Walter Frunck, Ph. D in Sumerology. Together they conclude that:

  • The hieroglyphs are unusual and probably very old
  • They show some similarities with Sumerian
  • More time is needed to study the glyphs properly
  • It is definitely the real deal and no newly made fake

 

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British Museum curator John Hattersleigh

 

It is decided that the academics may borrow the sphinx for about 48 hours after which the investigators will get it back along with any new insights pertaining the strange inscriptions or its origins.

 

The Penhew Foundation

The next stop is a second visit to the Penhew Foundation. Apparently, the staff on duty has no clue as to the whereabouts of Mr. Gavigan. It is claimed that he is ill at home and not available. Slim sees a chance and starts arguing about a fictive “most valuable statuette” that was left in Mr. Gavigan’s tender care at the time of their last visit and wouldn’t the staff now let them into Gavigan’s office to retrieve said statuette because they must return to the US this very day! Needless to say, the Foundation staff does not fall for Slim’s bluff and the whole thing ends up with the shady attorney literally being thrown out of the premises by security staff.

 

Gavigan’s residence

Not deterred by the debacle at the Penhew Foundation, our intrepid investigators locate a pub, where they consult the Metropolitan telephone registry over a pint, searching for Mr. Gavigan’s private address. It turns out that the man lives in a flat in the posh Mayfair area. Armed with this new knowledge, the PCs hail a cab and travel there. Gavigan lives in a three-story townhouse which is all deserted when they bang the door with a large brass lion knocker. To avoid unwanted attention, the investigators abstain from breaking and entering. Instead, they knock on the left neighbor’s door instead. A surly manservant opens the door, asking their business and is talked into getting the master of the house, a retired army colonel by the name of James St. John (pronounced sinjin).

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Gavigan’s residence in Mayfair

Despite his age, St. John is a most energic man, tall and imposing, with that obvious presence produced by a life of command. The old man orders tea and biscuits and invites the PCs to his library, complete with dusty hunting trophies and age-old unread tomes with leather covers.

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James St. John, complete with swagger stick

 

Other than the odd war story and assertions about what a “jolly good chap” Gavigan is, nothing new is learned from the colonel. The PCs leave the townhouse with nothing more than stomachs rumbling from extensive consumption of tea and biscuits…

Before leaving, the sneak into the back garden of Gavigan’s house, where they find a patio and a locked rear entrance. Keeping a low profile, they do not risk breaking into the house. This time.

After having spent most of the day visiting various places in London, learning next to nothing, the PCs decide that they need to go to the Essex Mansion again, to investigate the main building., as they had to flee a throng of crazed cultists last time.

 

Scotland Yard

Before going back to the hotel to equip themselves for their nightly mission to Essex, the PCs go to see Inspector Barrington about leaving for Derby later. The Inspector is suspicious at first, but having heard about the strange killings in Derby and Elias’s interest in the case, he agrees to the idea. Barrington also cautions them about using force or intimidation up there, stating that “the Yard has eyes and ears everywhere”.

 

Back to Essex

London, UK, Thursday, February 5th, 1925 | about 5 pm

After calling for Pete the cab driver and gearing up, the investigators leave for Essex as the sun sets. It is dark, cold and foggy as they leave the big city…

Pete parks the cab at a distance from the gates and the PCs sneak the last bit. From a small knoll, they reconnoiter the place. The gate has been temporarily mended and from what they can see, there’s only one guard at the gate. In the distance, lights can be seen in the mansion.

Climbing over the wall some 100 meters from the gate, the PCs sneak along the wall until they come to the gate. They manage to knock out the Egyptian guard without a sound and proceed by giving him a coup de grace. In the small guard shed next to the gate, they discover a phone. The guards probably use it to communicate with the main building, so the investigators disable it by cutting the cable. The dead guard is hidden by rolling his body into the muddy water nearby before moving towards the mansion through the mists…


And that’s where we had to stop for the day. Stay tuned for next session of Masks of Nyarlahotep, Fist of d20’s style! 

 

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!

 

 

 

Session 11 | London | The Talented Mr. Shipley

 

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Papillons du mal. Miles Shipley 1923. Oil on canvas.

 

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


Meeting Yalesha

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | slightly past noon

Late from the drawn out meeting with the head of the Penhew Foundation, Mr. Gavigan, the investigators catch a cab to go to the meeting with Yalesha the belly-dancer. On the way to Limehouse, Carl and Edward pick up Slim Shady and proceed to the pub where they’re supposed to meet Yalesha. Even though the cab driver is most knowledgeable of the London streets, frequent traffic jams make them arrive about 20 minutes late. The pub looks like it has been in the same location for several hundred years, a battered wooden sign reading “The Bouncing Duck” swinging over the entrance in the drizzle. Inside, it’s murky, the colored small pane windows letting almost no light in. There’s no sign of the young woman, only some working class males can be seen sipping lager at the tables. Only after asking, the bartender points out a slim figure in a hat too large, sitting at a corner table in the back of the room. Yalesha, now more properly dressed in a woman’s trench coat, is hard to recognize in the dim light but she waves them over, looking around nervously. She’s a bit suspicious about Carl and Slim, but soon calms down and tells her story.

 

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Off-work Yalesha

 

Her Egyptian boyfriend and husband-to-be, Fahed Al-Harbi has disappeared and she suspects that he has been murdered by evil men. He worked at the club as a bartender and got involved in something and now he has been gone for 6 weeks. The young woman says that maybe once or twice a month, a shabby canvas-topped truck comes to the club somewhere around midnight. Some two dozen of the club patrons then go out and get in the truck and it drives away. Whereto she doesn’t know, but she suspects somewhere out of town. The patrons don’t come back to the club later, what she knows of, but then they close at 1.00 am. Yalesha thinks that this operation is run by a dangerous man called Tewfik Al-Sayed and she has heard the name The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh mentioned in connection to this. She doesn’t think that the owner of the club, Mr. Nawisha, is involved but she is sure that he knows some of what is going on. Yalesha also says that these people have eyes and ears everywhere and that it’s not safe to discuss such matters in the open. The PCs volunteer to get Yalesha somewhere else to live, but she says that she has no one else in this country and that the alternative to dancing for money at the club is doing immoral things instead. Also, her beloved Fahed might return and she must be there to meet him. She asks the PCs to find out what happened to her boyfriend. She also wants revenge on these evil men!

Edward borrows the establishment’s phone and calls Mahoney to see if he has some notes on the young man. Mahoney doesn’t know the name from memory but promises to check his files. Edward then phones Inspector Barrington to ask the same thing. Checking the files of victims, Barrington says that Fahed’s name is not among them, but then again, some victims haven’t been identified yet due to the state of decomposition of the bodies when discovered. He also informs Edward that a man called Tewfik Al-Sayed was implicated in the investigation in relation to the Egyptian killings. Apparently, he’s a spice merchant operating out of the rather poor and immigrant-rich neighborhood of Bethnal Green. Al-Sayed had also been hired as a guide in a Penhew Foundation-funded expedition to Egypt a few years back. The man was investigated and even tailed for a week but nothing incriminating could be found. Al-Sayed also denied that there was a thing such as The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh.

Yalesha looks a bit relieved when she learns this and the PCs promise to look into the thing. Edward hands Yalesha his business card, writing down the name and number of their hotel and asks her to contact them if something new should happen or if she needs assistance. And with that, the young woman walks out into the rain without looking back.

 

London, UK, Sunday, February 2nd, 1925 | late afternoon

Bethnal Green, East End

 

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East End street

 

 

 

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Whitechapel locals enjoy jellied eel, East End, the 1920s

 

After meeting Yalesha, the investigators take a cab to Mr. Tewfik’s spice shop in Bethnal Green in East End to follow up on their new lead. As the cab moves north through the busy streets, the poverty and despair get even more evident. The shop fronts and people’s dress switch from mainly English working class to more exotic as the area is populated mainly by immigrants of many different nationalities. On Canrobert Street, a small side street to Bethnal Green Road, they find Tewfik’s Spice Emporium, advertised in both English and Arabic. The PCs stop the cab some 100 yards up the road, then walks back, scanning the busy street for threats. There are lots of shops here at street level, with what seems to be lodgings in the floors above. Carl and Edward stay outside keeping watch on the opposite side of the street, while Slim enters the shop, pretending to be a customer. The shop has racks to the ceiling on all walls and a big counter in the center of the room. Sliding ladders provide access to the higher shelves. Just inside the entrance is a stair up with a “Private” sign and in the back of the shop, there’s a door. Upon entering, Edward is overwhelmed with the scents of spices from all over the world.

 

Tewfik

Mr. Tewfik Al-Sayed

Browsing around, Slim is soon greeted by the shop’s proprietor, Mr. Tewfik as he calls himself, a pleasant and knowledgeable man. Slim acts the customer and manages to find out that Tewfik sells spices, tea, and coffee but not so much more. The man seems beyond reproach. He’s also a good businessman, and after a while, the attorney exits the shop with a big brown paper bag filled with exotic oriental spices. Outside, nothing has happened other than that Carl spotted some middle eastern men looking suspiciously their way and discussing something but then they disappeared in the throng. After a short sidewalk meeting, the PCs decide to follow up on the “mad painter”-lead. They catch a cab and go to their hotel to find out the address of Mr. Shipley.

 

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

The talented Mr. Shipley

The artist’s residence is in sophistically sordid Chelsea, just south of Hyde Park, a favorite haunt of London’s artist elite. Exiting the cab on a suburban street with little two-story houses and well-tended gardens, Shipley’s house stands in contrast to them. The garden is a tangled mess and the house in need of repairs, paint chipping, and wood rotting. Upon entering the front garden, the PCs notice that the curtains are drawn on all the windows.

“–Seclusive people, those artists, eh?”

No one answers their knocks with the lion knocker but after a long while, shuffling sounds can be heard from within and the door is opened by an old white haired lady, holding a knitting basket with thread and knitting needles. The air inside smells stale and has that scent of old people and slow decay.

 

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Mrs. Shipley

Upon asking for Mr. Shipley, the old lady says that he is indisposed, but after stating that they are there to buy some art as they are American art collectors, the old lady disappears up the stairs of the narrow house and promptly brings down a protesting wreck of a man:

“–No mama, I don’t want to see any nice gentlemen! I’m tired! And where are my French toffees and hot cocoa?”

 

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Miles Shipley, one of his better days

 

Miles is dressed in color-spattered pajama pants and plaid slippers with holes in them. His chest is bare and he has borrowed mama’s morning gown, which he wears open, arms down. The man hasn’t shaved in days and his pallid face and hole-eyed looks suggest that he does not sleep all that well. Or that he is a drug fiend. Or both. However, he lights up when he hears the word “purchase” and immediately shows the investigators up the stair to the garret, which he unlocks using a key that he keeps on a leather thong around his neck. The old lady, who seems to be the one running things around here, follows last.

The garret has sloping walls and is dimly lit by kerosene lamps. Along the walls are stacks of paintings. There’s a shut skylight, painted black, letting very little daylight in. In the back, an old Victorian closet looms, locked with an oversized padlock.

The manic artist invites the PCs to have a peek at the art, even lighting a naked lightbulb hanging from the rafters for better visibility. Mrs. Shipley sits in an old comfy chair towards the door, picking up her knitting project. As Miles starts pacing, chewing his nails, the PCs set to work with one stack of paintings each. Edward’s and Slim’s stacks contain six paintings each, while Carl checks out two stacks with a total of nine paintings.

The motives are all starkly discomforting and on the verge of mind-bending (see List of artworks, Dropbox) but despite the clearly demented content, Slim and Edward manage to shrug off the discomfort. Carl, on the other hand, snaps from delusion and starts slashing a painting depicting a city of dark tower-like buildings, screaming at the top of his lungs. His compatriots manage to calm him and send him downstairs to sit in the lounge and take a time out.

In the garret, Miles is severely upset at the damage done to his painting and demands satisfaction – in cash that is. There’s also especially one painting that’s drawing the PCs attention – one of the paintings that poor Carl reviewed:

“It is night. A vast black mountain rises from a savannah. A great figure rises over the mountain, blotting out the moon. Its head is a massive red tendril. Near a temple-like building, tiny human figures lift their hands imploringly towards the creature; each wears a head-dress of the Bloody Tongue.”

 

After some haggling about the price, the PCs buy the mountain-painting for 160 Pounds plus the damaged one for 90 Pounds. As the economic transaction is settled by Slim, and they get ready to leave, Edward asks to see what’s in the locked cupboard. Miles looks immediately nervous, stating that it’s just some old rubbish and nothing to be seen.

And this is where Edward decides that enough is enough, drawing his .38 revolver, demanding that the artist opens the cupboard. Miles is wringing his hands, looking at Mrs. Shipley for support, gaining nothing but a hard look from the old lady. Slim menacingly put on his knuckle-dusters and takes away the old lady’s knitting basket. As Slim looks over towards Edward and the artist across the room, Mrs. Shipley lunges out, fast as a cobra, trying to bite Slim in the neck! The attorney manages to dodge, aiming a punch at the old lady who dodges with amazing dexterity. This is the second time that Edward has had enough. He picks up an old pink pillow with a floral pattern and fires at the old lady in a cloud of duck feathers, hitting her in the chest – with no effect! Meanwhile, the deranged artist has produced a rusty meat cleaver from somewhere and attacks Edward who turns and fires two shots point blank into the chest of the man, sending him bleeding to the floor. The old lady bites Slim again but with a heroic effort, he manages to shove her off, punching her in the mouth with the knuckle-dusters, sending her dental prostheses flying across the room, before sinking to the floor in a heap, almost passing out from the intense pain where the old lady bit him.

Slim looks up, but where the old lady just stood, there’s now a large serpent-man-thing instead!

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Mrs. Shipley’s real appearance…

Edward fires at the snake-thing through what is left of the pillow, hitting its arm, seemingly to no avail as it tries to pin down Slim. At this time, Carl bursts into the attic, gun in hand drawn by the noise above, just in time to see the snake-thing rush towards the center of the room, making an impossible leap towards the skylight window…

…only to be hit in the chest in mid-jump by two bullets from Edward and his now almost non-existent pillow. The big snake-thing thuds into the roof, missing the skylight and falls to the ground in a bloody mess. [Keeper comment: Edward’s player managed a clean critical hit here, dealing out severe damage in addition to the ordinary hit he also rolled]. As Carl rushes over to tend to Slim’s wounds, Edward puts one bullet each in the heads of the snake-man and the artist – again through the remains pink pillow.

The cordite smelling air is full of blood-smeared duck feathers as Carl tends to Slim’s wounds. It turns out to be two puncture like bites on the attorney’s neck. Carl tries to squeeze out any venom before binding the wounds. Meanwhile, Edward checks the dead for keys to the closet. When he doesn’t find any, he resorts to his trusty crowbar to get the job done. However, it isn’t until Carl gives it a try that the sturdy hinges give up and the closet opens. Inside is an easel, covered with an old bedsheet.

Despite the warnings of Edward and Carl (who are both deliberately looking away), Slim decides to have a peek at the hidden painting. He rips off the cover, revealing a photorealistic painting of an antediluvian jungle swamp. In the center, there’s an island and on the island, there’s a great stone slab, mystical glyphs along its sides. As Slim studies the painting, the fetid swamp water seems to ripple and move. Slim reaches out a hand to touch the fantastic painting:

“–Hey guys! This is unbelievingly realistic! Look – I can almost……”

Suddenly, all goes silent. Edward and Carl take a quick peak in the direction of the painting. Slim is gone. However, on the very realistic painting, a small figure resembling Slim can be seen, waving for help. No sound can be heard. Looking away, the two remaining PCs quickly scramble to find the cover and as they cover the weird painting, they see some 30 strangely dressed snake-men emerge from the borders of the painting, long crooked blades in their scaly hands…

In silence and shock, Carl and Edward clean the scene – they shove the corpses of the snake-man and Miles into the painting and wrap the other paintings in canvas from the roll that they saw Miles pack the painting they bought before all went south…

Exhausted, they look at each other – what now…? Three men entered. One went mad, one disappeared due to some foul sorcery and one is still standing…

And here we had to take a break for the evening. Stay tuned for more Call of Cthulhu goodness from the Fistful of d20’s crew!


Link to the ever-growing tributary page to the heroes lost in the struggle against the Mythos


Reminder to Players: Next time SAN checks for (i) seeing Slim disappear into the painting and (ii) for seeing the Snake-thing. Also, Carl went temporarily insane for the first time so he receives 5% to his Cthulhu Mythos.