Session 19 | The Atlantic / Egypt | Dinner for Schmucks

tumblr_m5x3fqgc4z1qhij0y

Visions of Egypt

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

Kent Bengtsson | Aviator | 38 yrs | Berndt

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

Carl Blackwater | Foreign correspondent | 31 yrs | Martin

Link to background stories and portraits

Written under the influence of Lenzman


The Atlantic, Wednesday, February 18th, 1925 |evening, day 4 at sea

A fond farewell

After witnessing the ghastly (and messy) demise of the Coptic priest Butrus al-Qusi, the investigators have gathered in their favorite salon, sipping their drinks in silence, staring blankly, trying to comprehend what just happened. Each member of the shrinking band of investigators is acutely aware of the mortal danger that they seem to conjure with their every step. They are also gravely aware of the dire straits that the disappearance of al-Qusi has put Edward in, as the man was key to dispelling the dagger’s curse on Edward.

hqdefault

Pardy hardy

The only one seemingly not worried at all is Edward himself, who is gladly having a gin and tonic, flirting with a pretty lady over at the bar, at the dismay of her male companion, maybe her husband…

The Atlantic, Thursday, February 19th, 1925 |morning, day 5 at sea

Thieves try to steal the dagger

Having a late breakfast the next morning, Edward feels the force of nature make itself known and decides to head back to his cabin on A-deck to take care of business. As he comes nearer, he notices that the door to his cabin stands ajar.

55e8b59bbe1852919ef6a926ccd64804

Edward’s cabin

Drawing his gun, Edward carefully pushes open the door with the barrel. Inside, a middle-eastern-looking man dressed in black is rummaging through his drawers. The luggage has been opened as well and the contents tossed all over the floor.

When the stranger notices Edward, he produces a mean-looking curved blade and approaches to attack. However, bringing a blade to a gunfight has never been a good idea, and the man never gets the chance to strike as Edward shoots him clean in the leg, shattering the femur, sending the man to the floor half unconscious and in great agony.

Ship’s pursers come running at the sound of gunfire, and soon they have called for Mr. John F. Wayne, head of security on board. The wounded thief is rushed off to the ship’s infirmary while Mr. Wayne interviews Edward about the incident. Edward (and Slim who has joined up) plays up the part of the offended guests and soon Mr. Wayne is in full apology mode, stating that theft in the A-section of the ship is virtually unheard of.

The investigators demand the opportunity to interview the thief and are given permission for this by a clearly apologetic head of security.

sick-bay

The ship’s infirmary

However, when the PCs arrive in the infirmary, the place is in full turmoil. It seems that the thief suddenly had a seizure and died within a minute. Edward and Slim make a quick examination of the corpse, noticing a faint smell of bitter almond. Cyanide poisoning maybe? The man has a middle eastern look, is about 30-35 years old and is all dressed in loose-fitting black cotton clothes. He also has a strange tattoo on his left underarm.

tattoo

The tattoo

He has no papers, but after some more investigation, the man is identified as Mahmud bin Mahmud (or at least that’s the name in the passenger manifest). More interesting, the man apparently shared quarters with a certain Rashid Azoulay. Both men have Egyptian passports and share a cabin in 3rd class. The cabin turns out to be very plain and totally devout of further clues. And Mr. Azoulay is nowhere to be found.

The Atlantic, Friday, February 20th, 1925 |morning, day 6 at sea

Plan to root out the thieves

The investigator’s suspect that the reason for the burglary was to steal the Dagger of Thoth and devise a most fiendish plan to root out the rest of the bad guys. The idea is to arrange an opportunity for the thieves to steal the dagger, only this time with their own people ready to step in and apprehend the thieves in the act. It is decided that Edward should keep the dagger on his person, possibly showing it to someone so that it is obvious where it is kept. Edward is also supposed to play drunk in order to give the illusion of a weak target.

The plan is executed by Slim and Edward having an elaborate lunch in the ship’s restaurant, complete with champagne and other spirits (which they only pretend to drink). When being adequately plastered, the plan is for Edward to excuse himself and go out on a specific area of the deck for some fresh air. The rest of the PCs are to be hidden at that location, ready to strike when the thieves make their move.

gce49bi2

Lunchtime!

In the middle of the luncheon, one of the waiters manage to trip and spills a plate of food in Edwards lap. The man apologizes and starts cleaning up the mess with a towel, assuring that the company will, of course, reimburse them and pay for the cleaning of the suit. Edward, who thinks that the waiter is wiping him off a bit too near his private parts angrily waves the man away and the man disappears into the kitchen area, still apologizing.

Cursing and wiping himself off, the big game hunter suddenly comes to realize that the dagger is gone! The bloody waiter must have stolen it!

In a second the two men are running towards the swinging doors leading to the kitchen. Running through the bustling kitchen the PCs manage to push several staff members, sending food and kitchenware into the air. A young scared (as teaspoon-of-thin) sous-chef points them to the back of the kitchen:

“-H- he ran that way!”

ss_africa_kc3bcche

Hard work in the ship’s kitchen

Exiting the kitchen, the men enter a staff only area, with a long corridor ending in a T-intersection. Looking to the right, they see the man in front of a door leading to the outside deck. The door is just closing, suggesting that the false waiter had just met with someone else. The waiter swings around towards the PCs, drawing a mean looking dagger. A short fight ensues, ending with the waiter dead on the bulkhead. Edward stops to check the body while Slim runs out on the deck, in pursuit of the third bad guy. He enters the deck just in time to see someone disappear around a corner. Slim takes up the chase. After the bend there’s a stairway up to the aft deck, where a lot of passengers enjoy the sun and beauty of the scenery. There’s no trace of the runner. Turning around to go down the stairs again, Slim freezes. For a moment he’s sure that he saw Edward Gavigan’s face in a crowd. Looking again, there’s no trace of Gavigan.

-“Must have been the nerves!” Slim thinks as he returns down the stairs…

Meanwhile, Edwards searches the false waiter. The man is of middle eastern descent, with a tattoo on the left underarm, but no papers. Strangely enough, the man is still in possession of the cursed blade, which Edward quickly puts inside his suit jacket, a bittersweet feeling of having gotten back something precious…

When Slim returns, the PCs carry the man outside and dumps the body in the sea after having confirmed that no one else can see. However, they can’t shake the feeling that the big fish got away…

Alexandria / Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, February 26th, 1925 |morning, day 12 at sea

Arrival in Egypt

The rest of the sea voyage is relatively uneventful. Despite the investigator’s vigilance, there are no more sinister incidents and our heroes actually get some much deserved R&R. The 12th day after leaving England, the ship finally reaches their destination – Alexandria. As they glide into the harbor the first thing indicating that they are in Africa is the mighty Ras el-Tin Palace, overlooking the harbor.

ras-el-tin-palace-f2e9239f-2f79-4629-ac1a-1fc68692d87-resize-750

Ras el-Tin Palace from the sea

The Immigration Office is just a short walk from the quay, in a building that doubles as a terminal as well. The chief of the customs staff is a sweating Englishman who demands to see their papers with the demeanor of someone used to being in charge. Thanks to Edward’s previous experience with import and export of hunting weapons and the paperwork that they arranged within England, the procedure is easy and the investigators can soon take their first steps on the streets of Alexandria. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds before they are assaulted from all directions by people of all sorts – beggars, taxi drivers, hotel owners, porters all want to earn a few dollars by performing some service. If said service is wanted or not is completely beside the point.

3a2b017a47f665c1dc72d4e001403174

Alexandria street life in the 1920s

As the PCs are straining to take back luggage that some random person just picked up and started to carry away, an Egyptian man in a white linen suit comes up and introduces himself in perfect English. The man introduces himself as Mikhay’el Sufiyani and says that he’s a colleague of Butrus. He also wonders where Butrus might be.

ronald_colman_poster_large_amazon

Mikhay’el Sufiyani

To get away from the bustle, the PCs follow Mikhay’el to a nearby café at Place Muhammed Ali, to discuss further in the shade. After ordering some strong mint tea, the man explains that Butrus telegraphed him from the sea, asking him to come and meet up and also that he described the names and looks of his American friends.

midan_mohamedali_alexandria

Place Muhammed Ali

When informed of Butrus’ death, Mikhay’el looks shocked and disturbed and says that they now must make great haste as the Cult of the Watchers is on the move. Mikhay’el says that they must immediately travel to a place called Ashmunayn, where the exorcism of the curse can take place.

As they sit in the café, a man with a funny mustache approaches them, offering his services as a dragoman (guide) in broken but completely intelligible English.

-“My friends! I’m Muhammed the Dragoman. I can help you with everything! Very cheap. Special price, just for you!”

Mikhay’el waves away the man, stating that they don’t need a dragoman since they have him.

To the disapproval of Mikhay’el, the investigator’s want to go to Cairo first, to check up on some clues before going to Ashmunayn. As they wait for the train to depart, the PCs arrange for lodgings in the famous Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo. The train station is nearby and soon the group is on their way to Cairo, which takes some 4 hours.

2609fb50922786dc4857cb55856003f7

Alexandria Railway station

Cairo

 

After arriving in Cairo Central Railway Station, the investigator’s take a horse-drawn cab (kalesh in Egyptian) to Shepheard’s Hotel (situated about 5 minutes from the train station at 8 Sharia Kamil, just beside the Ezbekia Gardens park) where they are welcomed almost as royalty. Mikhay’el doesn’t ride with them as he has his lodgings in Hotel Mujaffah in another part of the city.

cairorailway1920

Cairo Central Railway Station

a87489b7e1f08c1319fb699e7f0fa7ae

Entrance to Shepheard’s Hotel

8a2857fea44cda07ae27f2c406eba5b3

Ezbekia Gardens

1200px-shepheards_hotel

Shepheard’s Hotel

Following the clues

The main lead in Cairo is the letter from a certain Faraz Najir that the PCs found at Jackson Elias’ murder scene (Clue #11). It’s a letter from Faraz Najir to Mr. Carlyle, where Najir states that he’s in possession of certain antiques that Carlyle might be interested in. The letter further states that Mr. Carlyle’s agent should come to Najir’s shop at the Street of Jackals in the Old Quarter of Cairo to arrange matters further.

Zoomable Old Cairo map

540px-cairo_map1933_nicohosoff

The investigators realize that they need a guide and since they don’t trust Mr. Mikhay’el fully, they decide to get a dragoman of their own. The hotel reception is happy to provide for this and after some 45 minutes the concièrge have rounded up a selection of dragomen:

  • Ma’muhd – a young poor barefoot boy of about 11 or 12 years of age
  • Hakim – a young man of about 20 years of age

As the PC discuss with the boys they hear a familiar voice:

-“My friends!”

It’s Muhammed – the dragoman from Alexandria! Despite him never being silent, the PCs decide to go for him as he’s a bit older and since he speaks a plethora of languages (however, how well, they don’t know). The boys depart, looking sullen and disappointed, Hakim swearing in Arabic.

A typical dragoman ( interpreter ) in Cairo, Egypt. 1920s

Muhammed the Dragoman

The Street of Jackals

In the afternoon, the investigators leave the hotel for a tour of the Old Quarter, that is situated to the east of Ezbekia Gardens. In fact, hotel guests with rooms facing the east have a lovely view of the Old City and the slums.

oldcairo1870s

Old Quarter

Asking people on the streets, Muhammad navigates to the Street of Jackals in about 30 minutes. The neighborhood is incredibly old and squalid, consisting of very narrow streets and alleys that twist and turn in a totally random pattern, sitting next to the old city wall of Cairo.

c5a95906-ba1f-40c1-94f5-94572f41deff

Cairo street life

Sadly, the address provided in the letter leads to a burned-out husk of a building. Asking around with the help of Muhammed, they learn that 5 or 6 years previously, a fire demon descended upon the shop and set it aflame. They also learn that the owner, Mr. Najir was horribly burned, but that he survived and has since opened a new shop in Khan el-Khalili, an ancient marketplace near Sharia Muezzeddin Allah.

Faraz Najir’s Shop

Muhammed knows where the location of the old market is and after some 30 more minutes walking, the PCs finds a shop clearly marked “Faraz Najir” in Arabic, “Curios” in English and “Magasin des Antiquités” in French. The shop is located on a very narrow street of mostly pottery shops and above the shop are several floors of low-grade tenements. Inside, the shop is filled from floor to ceiling with a mish-mash of cheap tourist stuff. A man wearing a djellaba sits on a low stool beside a small round brass table, sipping some tea from a glass. As the PCs enter, he stands up to greet them:

-“Salaam Alaikum dear friends! What can I do for you? Perhaps you want to purchase some real Egyptian antiques today, yes?”

Despite the fact that the man’s face is shadowed by the hood of the djellaba, it is evident that his right side is horribly disfigured by fibrous scarring, consistent with the scarring you would see after serious burns.

When the investigators mention Carlyle, Najir’s eyes bulge and his English rapidly deteriorate as he mumbles something about closing the shop, trying to shoo them out. When they don’t leave at once, he picks up a bejeweled decoration scimitar which he points at the PCs as he starts to yell in Arabic. Muhammed says that he is calling them thieves and that he is calling for aid.

http3a2f2fa-amz-mshcdn-com2fwp-content2fuploads2f20162f052fcairo-5

People gather outside the shop

Outside the shop, people start to gather, talking angrily and spitting at the accursed foreigners that come here to steal. Muhammed manages to negotiate an uneasy truce but says that they must leave immediately as violence is just beneath the surface. All but Slim are eager to get the hell out of the place, but the attorney won’t give up until he has been hit with some thrown rocks.

After this frightening experience, the investigators decide to head back to the hotel for some well-deserved food, drink and rest and return to business the next day.

Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, February 26th, 1925 |morning

A clandestine meeting in the mosque

Early the next morning, the investigators send Muhammed alone to try to talk sense into Mr. Najir, and also offering him a sum of money if he agrees to talk with them. The dragoman returns with the good news that Mr. Najir has agreed to meet them before lunch (1 to 2 p.m.) in the El Hussein Mosque (not far from the Street of Jackals) where he feels safe.

220px-masjed_1985

El Hussein Mosque

Najir meets them at the side of the mosque and proceeds with silently leading them inside to a small secluded room where they sit down on the floor.

faraz-najir

Faraz Najir

Faraz Najir’s tale

According to Najir, Roger Carlyle had sought information on the reign of the Black Pharaoh, a reign supposedly ended by Sneferu, first pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty. Since Najir had come into possession of certain objects of art related to the Black Pharaoh, he reached out to Carlyle to inquire if he was interested in purchasing them. The New York dilettante was interested indeed and arranged for his agent in Cairo, a certain Warren Besart, to settle the deal and collect the items, which were:

  • An ancient scroll detailing the entrance to a hidden room in an unnamed pyramid, wherein the Black Pharaoh was supposedly entombed
  • A bust of the Black Pharaoh
  • A small tambourine drum bearing odd symbols, rumored to be laden with mystical power
  • A strange circlet with a large zircon which was said to be the crown of the Black Pharaoh and to be the key to his triumph over death

More questions (and baksheesh) also reveals:

  • Najir stole the above artifacts from the house of Omar Shakti, a prominent businessman and rumored high priest of the Egyptian Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh
  • It was the Brotherhood that punished his theft by sending a fire djinn to burn him
  • The Brotherhood is rumored to be involved in a recent theft of a mummy from the currently ongoing Clive Expedition
  • Another rumor is that the Brotherhood wants an item located in the Mosque of Ibn-Tulun, but he has no idea of what that object may be

Najir also tells the investigators that he wants no part in any of this anymore and he asks them not to tell anyone of this meeting. It is evident that he fears for his life and that he is very frightened of the Brotherhood. When the horribly disfigured little man leaves, he asks the PCs to wait for 10 minutes before they leave.

Searching for Warren Besart

The investigators return to the hotel and discuss their next move. It is decided that H.P Rennfarth and William Fredricks pay a visit to the main Police Station near Ezbekia Gardens to see if he can find the address of Warren Besart.

Book river cruise

Muhammed the Dragoman is sent down to the river to book passage on a felouk (small river sailing boat). Such meager means of travel will increase the chances of keeping themselves incognito as they suspect that the more luxurious river steamers will be monitored by either the Watchers or the Brotherhood.

Felucca 2

A felouk on the Nile

More plans and Edward’s condition

They also plan to ask around for the Mosque of Ibn-Tulun, but the number one priority now is to help Edward with his “condition”.

His seizures continue to come around noon on a daily basis but over the time described in this post, they increase in duration as well as in severity, abrading away a chunk of Edward’s mind and sanity with each passing day.


And here we had to end the session. To be continued soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Session 18 | London/ The Atlantic | High noon at the UK Corral

 

 

hunting2bhorror2b2528by2bloi25cc2588c2bmuzy25292bv2

Ye awfullest Monstre…

 

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, Wednesday, February 11th, 1925 | morning, about 9 am

Courtesy call

At breakfast, Foxworthy suggests that they should pay Mr. Chabout in Limehouse a courtesy visit, in order to find out where the group’s shipped occult items are really going. Slim Shady borrows the lobby telephone and calls Chabout Shipping Co., saying that they are businessmen looking to ship a large quantity of goods and that they have heard good things about Chabout’s company. The lady they talk to agrees to talk to her boss, Mr. Chabout about this and asks for their number so that she can call back when she has spoken to him. Shady leaves her the hotel number and specifically tells the concièrge to just receive the call and to notify them when they call back. They then decide to stay at the hotel, waiting for the call and studying their occult books.

Visions

Around noon, the investigators gather in the restaurant, along with their newfound friends Butrus and Fredricks, to discuss the journey to Egypt over some light lunch and a beer or two. It turns out that Chabout has agreed to a meeting at 2 o’clock. As they sip their beers, Edward Foxworthy suddenly starts to shake, falling to the floor as if having an epileptic seizure of some kind. Carl Blackwater gets on the floor, trying to help the big game hunter. He knows that Foxworthy is carrying the strange dagger wrapped in a cloth inside his jacket, and suspecting some supernatural affliction here, he immediately removes the ancient dagger. However, the dagger looks just like yesterday and the action does not help poor Edward, who keeps cramping on the floor for about one minute before regaining his senses.

Afterward, Edward describes that he experienced being somewhere else, seeing a large body of slow-moving water under a hot sun. Along the edges of the water, there was dense foliage for as long as he could see. The group theorizes that maybe he saw the Nile for some unfathomable reason. Maybe the dagger did it… Edward is left shaken to his core by the experience (Keeper note: Minus 1 to SAN).

Butrus al-Qusi sips his strong tea and asks for their attention, as he has something important to say about the incident:

I must now explain to you what has happened and the significance of the dagger. You may not be willing to believe my words, but I assure you that I am telling the truth. I am actually a Coptic monk and together with a few of my brethren, I am fighting against the spread of an Egyptic satanic cult, called The Watchers, which worships an unspeakably evil demon. The dagger is one of their most important cult objects for their blasphemous rituals and they will do anything to regain possession of it. I was sent here by my Elders to stop them from getting their hands on the dagger. Because of the great potential evil of the dagger, it may be best to destroy it, but now I fear that the dagger’s curse has taken hold of your friend. The evil cult must have initiated the curse, surely in order to compel us to go back to Egypt with the evil blade. I do not know how to remove the curse. My brethren in Egypt do, however, and I propose that we leave for Egypt as soon as possible so that my Brothers can exorcise the malign power which has possessed Mr. Foxworthy. I do not know the full extent of the curse, but this I do know: if the dagger is arbitrarily destroyed, the affected’s soul is eternally lost as it is now connected to the dagger. The only way to save him is to go back to our monastery at St. Pakomios, where my elder Brothers can perform the cleansing ritual. We must also make haste, for the curse will strengthen its grip over your friend with each passing day.”

The gathered friends take in the news with increasing horror, wishing it was Friday today…

Contrary to his consternated friends, the news of the curse only seem to encourage Foxworthy’s rage with the Limehouse shipper:

“-F-ck the curse. I think it’s high time that we pay Mr. Cha-f-cking-bout a visit! If he doesn’t come clean with us, I’ll teach him the meaning of a boot!

Namaste, suckers…

 

1e75d22cd5c73cd911a0f160db1efee6.jpg

Chabout’s ruffians

 

After parking the old Adler on a run-down harbourside street outside the shipping company’s fenced perimeter, the PCs approach the two guards standing at the gate. After stating their business, the sneering head guard calls a man inside the fence:

Hey, Gupta! These gentlemen have an appointment with the boss“.

Gupta, a tall thin man with a scar on the right cheek opens the gate and beckons the PCs inside. Without a word, he starts walking towards the building, the investigators in tow.

 

Ramanujan

Mr. Gupta

 

Mr. Chabout’s office is situated on the third floor of the rather dingy building. The first floor is occupied by long rows of large shipping crates from all over the world by the looks of the markings on them, while the second floor is also dedicated to wares, but here smaller boxes with more delicate goods are kept. Gupta shows the way up two flights of steel open stairs, then down a long corridor and stops before a riveted steel door painted bright red. Opening the door, he beckons the PCs in and takes a post, arms crossed, at the now closed door.

The room is large, with a magnificent view of the harbor through iron framed industrial style floor-to-ceiling windows facing the port. Riveted steel pillars support the ceiling. In front of the windows, behind a huge jacaranda writing desk, sits a diminutive man wearing an off-white Indian style linen suit.

 

bengaliharlem2-310x465

Mr. Chabout

 

-Ah, my dear friends! You have come to me bringing business, yes? Please sit down! Can I offer you, esteemed gentlemen, something to drink? Tea perhaps? Or some gin?

The words are offered in a fast pace, with a slight accent suggesting Indian heritage. Mr. Chabout’s mouth is smiling wide, showing pearly white teeth but the expression in his eyes is reminiscent of the gaze of a snake…

The investigators decide to drop the façade, and bluntly state their real errand: That they have information that the goods they wanted to ship to New York are en route to Shanghai instead! If Mr. Chabout is taken aback when he hears of this, he doesn’t show. Instead, he ensures that any items sent with Chabout Shipping Ltd. are to be delivered to their proper destination. The shipper inquires of the details pertaining the shipment and asks the man at the door:

“-Mr. Gupta. Will you please get Miss Ginee and tell her to bring the shipping ledgers from last week.”

 

images

Miss Ginee

 

In a minute, Gupta returns with a young smartly dressed woman carrying a large black leather ledger, which she hands to Chabout and takes a step back, waiting for new instructions. The shipper starts flipping the ledger and soon finds what he’s looking for.

“-See there gentlemen. Captain Larsen and the Ivory Wind left for New York this last Friday evening. This is an honest company.” 

The paperwork checks out and after some more chit-chat the businessman asks Gupta to escort the investigators out. Maybe the man is telling the truth and someone else is lying? Maybe that Harbour Master? Or is Captain Larsen doing his own crazy stuff on the side?

As they leave the warehouse, the PCs notice that the guard crew at the exit gate have increased to five menacing-looking ruffians. A few steps out, always vigilant Edward spots the glimpse of a rifle barrel behind some crates on the loading dock, just before a shot rings out and the men at the gate start running towards the warehouse!

Ambush

The investigators quickly retreat into the warehouse and try to close the heavy sliding door. A shout is heard from behind them, where Gupta points a shotgun at them. The man fires but all that is heard is a loud click! Gupta throws the shotgun to the floor and draws a nasty looking dagger, charging and screaming like a madman. Shady draws both his guns and blazes away at the charging man, point blank. Guptas head erupts in a spray of blood and gore, and the man slumps to the floor like a sack of grain.

Meanwhile, Blackwater and Foxworthy scramble for the stairs up, realizing that the warehouse is full of entrances and that trying to close one door isn’t going to keep the assailants out. The men reach the second floor and continue up to the top floor where they just spoke to Mr. Chabout. Shady is hot on their heels but is one floor behind.

The top floor is eerily silent. No evident trace of Chabout or Miss Ginee. The men advance slowly, reaching Chabout’s office. The door stands open. A quick glance reveals that the office is empty.

Blackwater enters cautiously, checking the corners but cannot see anyone. Too late he realizes that Chabout was hiding behind the door, when the shipper attacks from behind, trying to slip a piano wire around his neck! Blackwater manages to dodge the piano wire, shooting Chabout in the leg. It seems the bullet just grazed the man because he keeps snarling in Hindi, circling to get an angle of attack. Now Foxworthy enters the fight, shooting Chabout in the leg again, the large caliber bullet tearing out a large chunk of flesh, sending the shipper down on one knee. As the PCs close in, a loud shot is heard. Blackwater topples over, unconscious, his chest turned into a bloody mess by a swarm of hail. Foxworthy swerves towards the door, where Miss Ginee stands with a shotgun aimed directly at him. The secretary smiles as she prepares to fire, but her smile is obliterated with the rest of her head as Slim Shady opens fire with both his pistols from the corridor behind her. The young woman falls to the floor, partly blocking the doorway.

Turning his attention to Chabout, Foxworthy sees the man reach for something in his jacket and fires a bullet into the man’s other leg.

“-No funny games or the next bullet hits your head!”

Chabout calms down, swearing and continuing to drag himself across the floor using his arms.

In the corridor, Shady can hear people moving downstairs and on the stairs. In the distance, the sound of police sirens can also be heard. The attorney runs into the office and sees the mayhem, telling Foxworthy what’s going on. While Foxworthy tries to staunch the blood flowing from Blackwater’s chest, Shady decides to neutralize Mr. Chabout once and for all. He drags the protesting shipper into the corridor and over to the stairs, where he tries to press the man’s head in between the metal grates of the stairs in order to keep him in one place. First, he tries to “slam” him through but misses and manages to smash the man’s face against the grates. Next, he carefully places the now unconscious Chabout in place before pushing the man’s head through with his boot, mangling Chabout’s ears in the process. Satisfied that the villain can’t escape, he returns to the office. Blackwater has come to but is badly wounded. The men return to the stairs, shouting down:

“-Don’t come up you bastards, or your boss takes a bullet to the head!”

Keeper’s Note: The metal grates “scene” had us laughing so hard we could hardly concentrate on the game. It was like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie mixed with a few pinches of Monty Python – so bizarre that it became hilarious in all its horrific-ness.

Seeing Chabout’s lacerated head lodged firmly between the stair grates, even the big-game hunter, used to guns and violence, wonder what has happened with the correct and timid attorney…

Realising that their boss is taken hostage by the investigators, Chabout’s ruffians stay on the floor below. A Mexican standoff it seems… While Shady is guarding the stairs, Foxworthy searches Chabout’s office but doesn’t find anything suspicious. He takes the shipping ledger though.

Within ten minutes, the police arrive and arrest Chabout’s men as well as the investigators.

Jailbirds

Blackwater is taken to hospital due to his dire injuries, while Shady and Foxworthy are taken to a dingy jail cell. From the constables, the PCs soon find out that Chabout is dead, having suffocated by the pressure exerted on his neck by the grates. This news are met with astounding indifference by Shady:

“-I guess we won’t be interrogating him, then.”

mr_00106560.jpg

Investigators brought to justice

 

The most pressing issue, however, is that they now face charges of assault and possibly murder and that a legal process will take a very long time to conclude. And they have a ship to catch in Southampton in two days!

Inspector Barrington goes mental

At about 8 in the evening, Inspector Barrington arrives. He is absolutely furious at the investigators, keeping a monologue including topics like “What did I tell you”, “I cannot protect you any longer” and “You will rot in jail for this”.

 

14425765072_f5d0905ca4

Inspector Barrington talks with a police colleague

 

The investigators tell him their version of the story – how they were duped by Chabout and how they went there to talk sense into the man, and that they were ambushed on the way out and had to defend themselves. The details of how Chabout ended up lodged to death in a stairwell is kept sketchy, with the PCs suggesting that Mr. Chabout had tried to escape and that he must have slipped and somehow got stuck in the stairway structure. Barrington is still furious but agrees to send a team of men to investigate the warehouse closer.

Calling in services

London, UK, Thursday, February 12th, 1925 | morning, about 6.30 am

After a miserable night in jail, Edward suddenly realizes that they have a favor to call in and asks the constable to borrow the telephone to make his call. Foxworthy then calls Sir Arthur Vane in Lesser-Edale to explain their predicament.

It seems that the old peer of the realm still has some important connections because, in the afternoon, they are brought to the chief of the police station where they are being held and declared free to go, as someone high up in the chain of command has declared them free of suspicion. The police chief also says that they have found lots of contraband goods at Chabout Shipping Ltd. Apparently, the warehouse was found to hold illegal weapons, illegal art, and other restricted goods, so it seems that the PCs story checked out after all. The police chief also advises the PCs to leave the country, as you never know how these things turn out and that a certain Inspector at Scotland Yard isn’t all that convinced of their innocence…

 

corsham-hospital-scan0018

It seems that Carl is well taken care of at the hospital…

 

Leaving jail, the investigators pop by the hospital to check out Blackwater and then go straight to their hotel to pack their gear to get out of London.

By noon, the old Adler is on the way to Southampton, jam-packed with stuff and people. William Fredricks and Butrus al-Qusi are to meet up at a certain hotel in Southhampton before the S.S Ophir leaves on Friday.

Arriving in Southampton, the PCs check into the quite decent Hotel Atlantic near the harbor and decide to sell their trusty car to Honest Harry’s car dealership to secure some funds for their travels. In the evening, their new friends al-Qusi and Fredricks arrive as well.

Leaving England

Southhampton, UK, Friday, February 13th, 1925 | morning, about 8.30 am

 

3649155

Downtown Southampton

 

 

s-l300

Hotel Cliff (later renamed Atlantic)

 

 

f24326b5ba8103b23ce11f8ecff41504

The quay in winter

 

 

The next morning, the investigators and their new colleagues embark on the S.S Ophir for the sea voyage to Cairo. Having paid for First Class passage, they enter the ship via their own deluxe gangway, complete with a red carpet, brass knobs and perfectly white new rope, and tended by ship’s staff in stiffly pressed uniforms. The queue here is much shorter than the common gangway for common people. However, it takes some time, where the investigators have nothing better to do than to study their fellow travelers and what is going on around them. The quay is full of people seeing off their loved ones, crewmen taking care of luggage for the ship’s holds, staff checking boarding passes and customs officers checking travel documents.

On the First Class gangway, a smartly dressed smiling young purser walks up and down, offering drinks and tobacco to make the wait a bit more pleasant. A bit ahead of the investigators, they notice a superbly-dressed gentleman, surrounded by a half dozen large brutish fellows, and with a beautiful young lady in equally superb garb on his arm. No one comes within arm’s length of the couple, who seem to radiate wealth, power and that self-assured posture of a life lived in extreme luxury. Behind them, they also notice a shabbily clad young man of the cloth. What religious order let their priests show such a level of shabbiness in public?

In the salon, after entering the ship, they learn that the fancy dilettante man is no other than Count Mikhail Andreevich Kurosov – a blood relative of the Romanov czars, and a man with a substantial claim on the now vacant Russian throne. And the lady on his arm is no other than Signorina Bianca Castafiore, the most shining opera diva in existence, and a woman surrounded with rumors of romances and indiscretions with the high and mighty of the world.

 

images

Count Kurosov

 

1c13d03822506505faba928bd911450e.jpg

Signorina Bianca Castafiore, opera diva galore

 

 

It seems that they will travel not only in style but also together with some of the most famous people in the world!

At sea

The Atlantic, UK, Saturday to Monday, February 14th to 16th, 1925

The cruise in First Class is nothing more than an exercise in luxury. From their superbly fitted and roomy cabins to the scheduled lunches, dinners and drinks. The staff is extremely professional, discrete and attentive and the investigators are pampered beyond what they thought was possible. The first few days are spent studying in their cabins (or in the exquisite salons) over a coffee or a drink, or carousing with the other guests, with the occasional romantic tête-a-tête. A welcome time of R&R after all the horrors in New York and London.

Foxworthy’s strange visions have come every day since they started. Always around noon and always the same. Until today (14th), that is. The latest vision lasted longer (about 2 minutes) and while showing the same watery landscape, it now panned out beyond the water and the foliage, revealing barren desert in all directions. The PCs are now certain that Foxworthy has visions of Egypt…  

 

2c58569000000578-3226659-image-a-10_1442336788568

Carousing in the salons

 

On the evening suppers, they see Count Kurosov and Signorina Castafiore with their entourage of bodyguards and servants, sitting in a roped-off area, being served by private staff. Someone says that the Count even has his own private chef who prepares the meals for the couple. However, they never mix with the rest of the A-deck passengers.

A history of violence

The Atlantic, UK, Tuesday, February 17th, 1925 | about mid-day

The third day at sea promises to be just the same as the previous ones, but as we shall see, things are about to change. After a late breakfast, the PCs and their friends find themselves in various places on the ship. Slim Shady has decided to polish up his shotgun skills and is attending some clay pigeon shooting up on the aft deck.

 

main-qimg-7e7e29f526d094d70254e45bf8e4e0f8

Slim wishes he could have one of these…

 

Carl, still reeling from his wounds suffered at the raid on Chabout’s place, is resting and studying over a cuppa coffee in the A-deck salon with Edward. There’s a bit of a commotion going on on A-deck, since the Russian nobleman has decided to use the entire shuffleboard course for his personal use, and no one is allowed into the shuffleboard area, which is situated across the hallway from the A-deck salon.

 

26c4032c00000578-3000444-life_on_board_onlooks_observe_a_man_and_a_woman_enjoying_a_deck_-a-6_1426846783381

A shuffleboard game in progress

 

Apparently, this unorthodox decision has been approved by some smirking director at the Orient Steam Navigation Company to the dismay of the Captain. A group of wealthy A-deck spectators is watching the game, sipping on fancy drinks, tended by stewards. Edward spots the shabby looking priest among them.

images2.jpg

The Shabby Priest says hi

On aft deck, Slim observes that many passengers have flocked to the starboard side of the ship since rumor has it that a ship has been following the Ophir’s course since the night. The ship is a fast yacht, keeping a distance of about 2 nautical miles (12 000 feet / 3.6 km) at all times. The alien ship brandishes no flags or other markings.

The game begins at 11 a.m., with the Count’s food taster as the opponent. Miss Castafiore sits on a comfortable chair with a drink. The black-clad bodyguards loom nearby. Suddenly, Edwards spots two men coming out of a personnel door. The priest nods at them, making some discrete hand signals.

 

b6a7c5a5b27c948bbe09d9c08b8692b0

The Bolshevik assassins

 

The men, clearly not A-deck passengers or staff by the look of their clothes, along with the priest move towards the entrance to the shuffleboard court, where a chief steward controls the door. The priest approaches the steward, saying something. Then, a shot is heard and the steward slumps to the deck, while the priest and one of the men run into the court, screaming something in Russian:

-“Die, you oppressor pig-dog of the ruling class!

The assailants shoot wildly at the Count while the bodyguards rally around their leader and return fire, hitting one of the attackers in the chest. Meanwhile, Edward is on his feet, gun in hand, running towards the court. The priest has produced an egg hand grenade, preparing to lob it towards the count when Edward comes up from behind and shoots him. As the priest falls, the grenade detonates, reducing the priest to atoms, while showering the shocked onlookers with gore…

Realising that attack has turned sour, the third attacker runs down the gangway, towards the aft deck, shooting blindly behind him to stall followers. However, on the ladder to the aft deck, he runs into Slim Shady who has heard the gunfire below and is coming to investigate. Seeing the fleeing man, gun in hand, Slim fires his shotgun from close range, sending the man to the base of the ladder in a bloody mess.

After searching the bodies and cabins of the attackers, it is evident that they were Bolsheviks on a mission to slay the Count. No proper papers of identification are found, but in the B-deck cabin, boxes of ammunition and 3 well-read copies of Bolshevikskiie Revolutsyonne Kampanie is found.

About at the same time as the assassination attempt, the alien yacht changes its course and leaves the Ophir to the solitude of the Atlantic.

The Count is impressed with the investigators and offers them his everlasting thanks and an invitation to sit at his table at supper this evening. An offer they can’t refuse…

After the fracas, Foxworthy returns to his cabin, awaiting the now increasingly familiar seizures and visions. As anticipated, it strikes just after noon. However, this time it has altered again. Starting with the river, foliage and desert, Edward finds himself travelling along the river bank when a city of mud comes into view. Some buildings are of large well-made bricks and painted white, with paintings of men and animals in rows and columns. Afterward, Edward realizes that the paintings resemble crude hieroglyphs. He also realizes that he has been out for a longer time, now about 4 minutes.

Dinner for schmucks

26c3fc7f00000578-3000444-dressed_to_impress_bar_scene_with_couples_seated_at_a_bar_though-a-7_1426846786539

Before supper photo

The supper is naturally excellent, cooked by the Count’s personal chef (and checked by the food taster) and accompanied by champagne and vodka. It turns out that the Count is on a sightseeing trip to the Orient with his lady friend. Afterward, the investigators have to use the bulkheads for support as they stumble back to their cabins. These Russians know how to par-tay…

kgndd9j

After the par-tay…

Terror strikes!

The Atlantic, UK, Wednesday, February 18th, 1925 |early evening

The next day is spent in the sign of hangover-ness and the investigators don’t come out of their day-after reeking cabins until afternoon. Maybe this is as good, as the weather has changed, with dark storm clouds covering the sky, rain, and high seas, making the ship roll a great deal.

The afternoon is spent in the aft salon, discussing recent events with al-Qusi and Fredericks. A pale Al-Qusi doesn’t tolerate the ship’s rolling well and after an hour or so, he excuses himself and goes out on deck to get some fresh air.

After a few minutes, a loud roar emerges from outside, followed by a high-pitched scream of terror! The PCs rush outside, where the black-clad priest stands screaming in front a huge winged beast!

 

images

The Winged Thing

 

 

Frozen, the investigators can just observe as the thing lashes out, nearly biting the man into pieces. With a high-pitched scream, the obscenity takes off from the ship, with al-Qusi firmly lodged in its huge maw!

The investigators can only impotently observe as the thing climbs higher into the air, seemingly undisturbed by the strong winds, finally vanishing into the clouds…

cce00001


And there we had to break for the evening. Be sure to check back for more nail-biting Cthulhu goodness as we continue our Masks of Nyarlahotep game!