Masks of Nyarlathotep is a campaign for Call of Cthulhu. We’re playing the new edition for CoC 7e. These are the tales of our investigations.

Player characters

• Clarissa Ashdown (23), an antiquarian from England. Calls herself “Lady Ashdown”, but is actually heiress to that title.

• Wilhelmina Braun (26), a drifter from Austria. Lived on the streets of Lima, then moved to New York to work for Prospero House following the events in Peru.

• Dr. Carson Crane (34), a doctor of medicine from Louisiana. Indefinitely insane: prone to sensory delusions and bouts of madness.

• Professor Arthur Musgrave (62), an archaeologist from London. Suffering from ballistophobia, a fear of guns and bullets.

• Jason Steele (32), a private eye from Salem. Not insane, but seems to be a bit paranoid nonetheless.

These ages and descriptions reflect the characters as they currently are, not as they were at the beginning of the campaign.

Notable possessions

Found in Peru

• Wilhelmina’s rusty bike, which she found on the streets of Lima one day.

• A golden mirror, found in Peru, similar in design to artefacts found in Tiwanaku. Gave Prof. Musgrave a vision when he looked into it.

Found in America

• A cloth headdress with a severed human tongue attached to the front.

• A robe made of feathers.

• The book Africa’s Dark Sects, which Jackson Elias was looking for at Harvard University Library. The book details Nigel Blackwell’s travels across Africa and the cults he encountered on the way, including a description in great detail of a cult summoning the monster they worship. It contains one spell, and will take several weeks to study fully.

• A woven wooden mask, like a woven basket, but with no eyeholes. On the top of the mask are four monstrous faces, at right angles to each other. Prof. Musgrave identified the mask being possibly from the Congo.

• A wooden sceptre carved with hieroglyphics saying “Nyambe, Thy Power Mine”. From the context, Nyambe is a given name, but not one any of you are familiar with.

• A marine chronometer, a very accurate clock used by sailors to calculate their position. It was set to GMT, rather than local time.

Found in England

• Paintings by Miles Shipley:

• The Dark Pharaoh - a processional scene in which a mass of people prostrate themselves before a golden chariot. Standing atop the chariot is a pharaoh in black and gold robes, his face turned away from the canvas. Behind the pharaoh, two men have been impaled on stakes, and are being eaten by a pack of jackals.

• Drawn in Blood - a man being cut open by a silver dagger, with an occult symbol carved into his chest which you can’t quite seem to focus on.

• Black Mountain - a towering mountain over which rises a monstrous demonic creature, its head a great tentacle covered in blood. In a nearby temple-like building, small human figures wearing a headdress with a red tentacle lift their arms towards it in supplication.

Peru session 1, 2018-09-29

18th of March, 1921

You all responded to a newspaper advert looking for participants in an expedition to find an unknown pyramid in Peru, organised by one Augustus Larkin.

In Lima, Peru, you met Augustus Larkin, a sickly looking white man with a British accent, who you noticed is possibly suffering opioid withdrawal symptoms; Luis de Mendoza, a Hispanic-looking man, who is Larkin’s silent and imposing assistant; and Jesse Hughes, an African-American folklorist. “Jesse Hughes” is actually an alias he has given Larkin, his real identity is Jackson Elias, a not-unknown author who investigates and writes about real-world cults.

Over dinner, Larkin gave you an overview of the expedition and what he hopes to find. Afterwards, Jackson Elias revealed that he has doubts: he’s in Peru to investigate an ancient death cult behind the legend of the “kharisiri”, fat-sucking vampires. Mendoza has a fearsome reputation, and Larkin is acting strangely; Jackson Elias thinks that they, the pyramid, and this expedition are all connected to the cult somehow.

You, and Jackson Elias, are staying in the Hotel Maury; Larkin and Mendoza are staying in the Hotel Espana. The expedition leaves the morning of the day after tomorrow to Puno, and from there into the mountains: so you have one evening and one full day in Lima.

19th of March, 1921

You went with Jackson Elias to meet with Professor Memesio Sanchez, a respected archaeologist and historian at the local university. Professor Sanchez has offered numerous times to help Larkin’s expedition, but been rebuffed or ignored every time. He thinks that Larkin plans to steal the pyramid’s historical treasures and take them abroad, which the law currently does not prevent. He and his assistant, the undergraduate Trinidad Rizo, have been conducting research into the possible location of the pyramid, based on documents in the university archives.

Rizo was taking an unusually long time to arrive at the meeting, so you—not including Jackson Elias and Professor Sanchez—went to the store room to investigate. There you found signs of a struggle, and Rizo’s dead body. Boxes had been knocked off shelves, and she was partly buried. You found the skin stretched tightly over her bones, as if the fat had been removed from her body, and a large circular wound in her chest.

Peru session 2, 2018-10-27

19th of March, 1921 (early afternoon)

Still reeling from the shock of finding Rizo’s damaged body, Prof. Musgrave ran back to the office to fetch Prof. Sanchez and Jackson Elias.

Dr. Crane, as he finished his examination of the body and climbed to his feet noticed two things previously missed: a sheet of handwritten paper sticking out of Rizo’s jacket pocket, and the glint of gold from a crate next to her body. You all read the paper while you waited for Prof. Musgrave and the rest to return: it was Rizo’s notes on “The Final Confessions of Gaspar Figueroa”, a conquistador who came to Peru in 1541. The notes describe how he and his companions—Hernando Ruiz, Diego Garrido, Luis de Mendoza, and Pedro de Velasco—found an ancient temple near Lake Titicaca full of gold, how they removed some of the gold and, that night, all turned into ravenous monsters who pursued Figueroa. Figueroa eventually arrived in Lima, wasted and weakened by his ordeal, still carrying the gold they removed. For the rest of his days, Figueroa was plagued by hearing the voices of his friends, crying out in inhuman hunger; and another voice, ancient and seductive, promising him eternal life if he returned to the temple.

Musgrave, Sanchez, and Elias all arrived back. Prof. Sanchez, shocked and grieving, collapsed to the floor next to Rizo’s corpse; Lady Ashdown examined the gold in the crate, and found it to be a solid gold band covered in geometric shapes, with ragged edges as if it had been torn from a larger design, and managed to get enough sense out of Prof. Sanchez to learn that this gold was found with the Gaspar Figueroa documents. The crate itself looked like it had been torn apart, rather than being damaged by simply falling to the floor as a shelf was knocked. Furthermore, she noticed that the gold, while cold to the touch, had burned scraps of skin stuck to it, as if someone had tried to pick it up while red hot.

You all argued about how best to distribute weapons amongst the party as you pursued the presumed attacker by following the bloody footprints, until Sanchez cried out “we have to call the police!” You decided to split up: Jackson Elias and Prof. Sanchez would go back to his office to call the police, Wilhelmina would stay here to watch the body, and the rest of you would follow the footprints.

The footprints became harder and harder to track, and you lost them back in the corridor leading to Prof. Sanchez’s office. In front of you was the door outside, to your left were the offices. Lady Ashdown and Jason Steele went outside, Dr. Crane and Prof. Musgrave decided to go check out the offices. As they arrived at Prof. Sanchez’s office, Prof. Musgrave glimpsed a face peering in through the window, which quickly disappeared. The window looked out onto an area behind the university building full of trees and shrubbery, with no paths and few visitors. You both, and Jackson Elias, climbed out of the window, but couldn’t see anyone. Prof. Musgrave heard quiet footsteps not very far away, as of someone trying to sneak away, and ran towards the source.

Prof. Musgrave emerged into a clearing, to find Luis de Mendoza, who turned slowly and fixed the professor with a silent gaze. Dr. Crane and Jackson Elias caught up as you stared each other down. Prof. Musgrave drew a gun, and tried to question Mendoza: silence. Jackson Elias tried in Spanish: silence. Dr. Crane went to fetch the others; after he left, Mendoza charged Prof. Musgrave, who shot him twice without slowing him down. Mendoza barreled into the professor, tackling him to the ground, but got shot at point-blank range by Jackson Elias, flinging him off, and he lay still. Everyone but Wilhelmina, who was still watching the body, showed up a few minutes later. Dr. Crane examined the body and said that no man could survive that. About half an hour later, the police showed up and took over.

You decided to go confront Larkin, to see what he knew about Mendoza and, if nothing else, to tell him he needed a new bodyguard as you’d killed his current one. You arrived at the Hotel Espana and met the aged proprietor, Petronila Cupitina, who directed you to Larkin and Mendoza’s rooms. Both were silent. After fiddling around with lockpicks and considering scaling the exterior of the building, you discovered Larkin’s room was actually unlocked all along, and cautiously entered. The room was a tip, with things scattered everywhere. There you found Larkin, out of his mind on a large dose of heroin, which Dr. Crane estimated would not be fatal, but which would last several more hours. Larkin vaguely recognised you, but was unable to do anything more than suggest that you meet some other time.

You decided to snoop around and look for clues. Wilhelmina unsuccessfully tried to find a map to the pyramid. Jackson Elias noticed that Larkin had a large tattoo on his check: of a person, but in the place of his head was a large spiral. He recognised this as the symbol of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, a particularly violent Kenyan cult, and had no idea what would bring them to Peru. Under the stench of Larkin’s strong cologne, Lady Ashdown noticed the faint smell of rotting meat.

You then broke into Mendoza’s room. In contrast to Larkin’s, it was spotlessly clean, as if it had never been used. Again, Wilhelmina unsuccessfully looked for a map. Jason Steele found a small mirror of polished gold beneath the mattress, the only personal item in the room. Prof. Musgrave examined it… and had a brief vision of white tentacles bursting through a pyramid.

You decided to come back after a few hours to talk to Larkin when he was sober again. Prof. Musgrave went back to his hotel room to rest. The rest of you confronted Larkin, telling him that Mendoza had killed a girl at the university, and asking how long Mendoza had been in his employ. Larkin expressed shock and disbelief that Mendoza would do such a thing, and said that he had only known Mendoza for a few months. Lady Ashdown realised that Larkin was lying. Larkin seemed to have no recollection of your visit that afternoon.

20th of March, 1921

You set off to Puno in the Andean foothills. Larkin was determined that the loss of Mendoza not slow down the expedition. This was an uneventful three-day journey by truck, during which you fought off altitude sickness.

You had one night to rest in Puno before heading out the next morning to the pyramid on foot. Most of you chose to stay in the hotel, but Wilhelmina decided to roam the streets. She realised an old woman was following her, and confronted this person. The old woman asked if Wilhelmina was with Larkin and, upon hearing that she was but that she didn’t trust Larkin, the woman said to follow her. She said her name was Nayra, and that she didn’t think it was a good idea to go with Larkin to the pyramid. She told a local legend, of an unknown dark god that fell from the sky into Lake Titicaca, and brought hunger and famine with it. One day a hero lured the god into a cave, which was full of the most delicious tubers and grubs; and sealed the cave with huge rocks. A pyramid was then built over the cave, with spells worked in gold to keep the god imprisoned forever. Wilhelmina wondered aloud if the god had escapedOut-of-character at this point you were discussing a few theories: such as if the golden band at at the university which Gaspar Figueroa brought from a pyramid was part of the golden seal used to keep the god imprisoned, and if Mendoza was some aspect or manifestation of this god who had escaped when the seal was broken.

, at which Nayra crossed herselfNayra seems to follow a mixture of Catholicism and local beliefs.

and shuddered.

21st of March, 1921

You discussed what you knew, and sent a telegram off to Prof. Sanchez detailing your findings. You thought that you might need to bring the gold band to the pyramid, so it’s best for him to be prepared.

You then set out into the jungle with Larkin, using pack animals to carry your supplies. No locals would accompany you now. After a few hours you stopped for lunch, and Lady Ashdown spied a majestic jaguar in the distance.

That night around 3am, the noise of one of the pack animals in distress alerted Dr. Crane, who was on watch, and awakened Lady Ashdown, a light sleeper. You found a filthy man, stinking and dressed in rags, pinning one of the animals to the ground with his face pressed into it. Lady Ashdown hit the man in the head with a crowbar, knocking him off the animal, and revealing that his mouth was no human mouth: it was circular and full of sharp teeth, much like a lamprey. The rest of you had awoken at this point, and easily dealt with the man.

Peru session 3, 2018-11-11

22nd of March, 1921 (early morning)

Dr. Crane examined the body of the man who attacked your pack animals, and the wound on the animal, and determined that it matched the wound on Rizo’s body back in Lima. He judged that it was probably a similar creature which had attacked her. Larkin appeared shocked, asking “what was that man?”, but you realised he was lying: he seemed surprised that the attack had occurred, but not by the man’s existence. You buried the man and the animal to avoid attracting scavenging animals, and returned to bed.

22nd of March, 1921

The second day and night of your journey passed uneventfully.

23rd of March, 1921

In the third afternoon, you saw two people heading in the same direction as you, half a mile ahead. Larkin suggested they may be local farmers. You failed to catch up with them.

You arrived at the pyramid, looking down upon it from half-way up a mountain. The plateau which held it had no vegetation, just dirt, rock, a pit next to the south wall, and the part-buried pyramid with a crack running along the top. Two figures were below: you could see one standing next to the pyramid, and one climbing the side. The one climbing the side crouched over the crack for a few minutes, then both went to the pit next to the south wall and climbed down.

The air swarmed with flies, which Prof. Musgrave identified as bloatflies, which feed on carrion.

You descended to the pyramid and had a look around. You found:

• The pit the people had climbed down into, which was full of emaciated and shrunken bodies in various states of decay; the air full of flies and the stench of death.
• The crack atop the pyramid, about 5cm wide, which did not offer a clear view. It also stank of corruption and swarmed with flies.
• A couple of shafts covered with stone slabs, which appeared to descend to some underground tunnels.

You decided to wade through the bodies, following the two people, to reduce the risk of being caught unawares if you used a different entrance. Larkin feigned his illness acting up to avoid going in, but when confronted confessed that he suffered claustrophobia, and didn’t realise just what it would be like at the pyramid. Jason Steele stayed with Larkin while the rest of you descended.

Wandering the narrow tunnels, you found a room full of shiny trinkets from all ages: coins, jewellery, watches, cutlery, and so on; gathered and piled up with no apparent organisation. You also saw the two people from earlier, fast asleep on filthy mats on the floor. They were thin, unnaturally so, but didn’t appear to be suffering for it.

You tried to bind the two people, a man and a woman, without waking them up. You succeeded with the man, but the woman woke up, but you managed to subdue her. You tried questioning her, but got no answer. You tried giving her food, which she ate, but not with the reckless abandon you would expect from a victim of starvation. Leaving them behind, you continued to explore the tunnels.

You arrived at the buried walls of the pyramid, which had a familiar-looking golden band embedded into them. You followed the band, and reached a point where it had been torn away. There was a crack along the wall from the floor to the ceiling, and a hole in the floor which had filled with a rank-smelling white liquid. Lady Ashdown saw rippling in the pool, as if something were moving beneath the surface.

Dr. Crane lowered a sample container into the pool, and the ripples surged towards it. He withdrew the container and examined the contents, but without much insight. He tried setting it alight, and it burst into flames with such a violence he started and dropped the flaming container into the pool, setting the whole thing alight. Black smoke billowed into the tunnel. Jackson Elias dropped to the ground, and to fresh air, dragging Wilhelmina with him; but the rest of you inhaled the smoke and collapsed unconscious.

On the surface, Jason Steele saw the smoke emerging, and tried to move one of the stone slabs covering the shafts, to let the smoke escape more rapidly. As he was struggling with that, he heard footsteps from behind. He turned, and it was Larkin, but not Larkin as you knew him. This Larkin stood straight and tall, with no sign of his usual illness, and his eyes were totally black. Jason Steele felt his mind go blank as Larkin said “you will go into the pyramid and destroy the golden seal.”

Jason climbed down into the tunnels, touching the golden band. He briefly fought to overcome this compulsion upon him, but could not. He struck the band with a crowbar, creating a new crack. A brief earthquake shook the ground.

Lady Ashdown, Dr. Crane, and Prof. Musgrave regained consciousness just in time to see Jason Steele strike the band and feel the ground shake. “What have you done,” Prof. Musgrave cried, and Jason Steele babbled for a few moments about Larkin.

You decided to try repairing the golden band with the gold in the other room, as the band was set into the wall of the pyramid, so it was clear where gold needed to be. Prof. Musgrave hammered the golden mirror he found in Luis de Mendoza’s room into the cavity in the wall. You all then turned to go fetch more gold to finish the repair, and were confronted by Luis de Mendoza, seemingly back from the dead.

“Destroy the seal,” he said, the first words you had heard him speak. He had a gun aimed at you. When you didn’t cooperate, he shot Prof. Musgrave, who failed to dodge, and lay on the ground bleeding heavily. Jason Steele shot Mendoza twice with his shotgun, inflicting a terrible wound, and knocking him back onto the ground, apparently dead once more. The horror of what you all just witnessed began to sink in: a dead man came back to kill you. Dr. Crane picked the bullet out of Prof. Musgrave and bandaged him up. Prof. Musgrave gained a nascent phobia of bullets.

You quickly fetched more gold and continued the repair, but nothing seemed to happen. Jason Steele decided to pick up Mendoza’s body and see if the seal burned it, like the fragment of seal in the university storage room did. But as he picked up Mendoza, the body crumbled away into dust. You dashed back to the room with the two people in, and saw that the man had also turned to dust. The woman was still alive, but looked incredibly feeble, and seemed to worsen before your very eyes. She seemed confused and afraid, asking what was happening. Prof. Musgrave offered her some food, but as she reached out her arm to take it, she fell back dead.

Jason Steele and Prof. Musgrave came out onto the surface to find Larkin sitting down, looking very feeble, with no sign of the power which had filled him before. He told you that he had come to this pyramid once before, with some locals, and that he didn’t really remember what happened. He found himself back in Lima, with a compulsion to find some people to take to the pyramid and destroy the golden seal. He couldn’t do it himself, it repelled the power within him. This is where you, and his expedition, came in.

You then lowered a rope down one of the shafts for the rest of you to climb out. Jackson Elias carried a bag full of golden coins, and said sheepishly “well, this is why we came, right?”

None of you seemed particularly sad to be leaving Peru, and a few of you said you’d hope to never cross paths with Larkin again. Larkin said that he was just glad everyone survived this expedition, and that he hoped nothing like this would ever happen again. Jason Steele and Dr. Crane realised Larkin was lying; but the point of no return had been passed, and they couldn’t turn back to confront him.

End

This is the end of this chapter. Bonus sanity points are:

• +1d6 for killing Luis de Mendoza.
• +1d8 for restoring the ward on the pyramid.

The next chapter is after a four-year time skip. We’ll start with a brief character-tweaking phase where I’ll award some bonus skill points.

America session 1, 2018-11-24

Intro

It’s 1925, four years after the events of Peru, and you have all received a message from Jackson Elias saying that he’s uncovered new information about the Carlyle Expedition, and needed a reliable team of investigators to help him.

The Carlyle Expedition of 1919 was an archaeological expedition to Egypt funded by wealthy playboy Roger Carlyle. The expedition primaries were:

• Roger Carlyle - wealthy playboy.

• Sir Aubrey Penhew - renowned Egyptologist and founder of the Penhew Foundation in London.

• Dr. Robert Huston - a fashionable Freudian psychologist, on the expedition to conduct research into ancient pictographs.

• Hypatia Masters - a socialite acting as photographer and archivist.

• Jack Brady - Rodger Carlyle’s loyal bodyguard and manservant.

After Egypt, the expedition went to Nairobi, to unwind on a safari. That was the last time the expedition members were seen alive. Two months after their disappearance, Erica Carlyle, the sister of Roger Carlyle, arrived in Nairobi with an expedition of her own: to find her brother. The remains of the Carlyle Expedition were found, massacred by tribesmen, who were executed for their crimes.

This was all over the newspapers of the time, and it was thought to be a settled issue. Jackson Elias finding new information is quite a surprise.

15th of January, 1925

On the morning of the 15th of January, the day Jackson Elias asked to see you all, you all made your way to Prospero House, Jackson’s publisher, to ask about his whereabouts, as his message was nonspecific. There you were reunited with Wilhelmina, who has moved to New York and is working there as a secretary.

You met Jonah Kensington, the owner of Prospero House and Jackson’s friend, who told you that Jackson is staying in room 410 of the Hotel Chelsea. You made your way to the Hotel Chelsea and were directed to room 410 by a man at the reception desk.

Upon arriving at room 410, you found the door locked, and no answer to your knocking. You noticed some workmen on the fire escape outside, and asked if they’d seen a man matching Jackson’s description leave, but they irritably brushed you off and returned to work. Wilhelmina investigated the possibility of climbing down to the fire escape outside Jackoson’s room from the floor above. Jason Steele picked the lock.

Inside room 410 you found your good friend Jackson Elias, sprawled over a large chair, eviscerated and with a symbol carved into his forehead. Prof. Musgrave screamed, and ran back down to the reception. The window was open, and the fire escape visible beyond. Items were scattered around the room. Dr. Crane determined that the murder had been done recently, in the last few hours.

The room contained a telephone, and you called the police. The receptionist downstairs also called the police. While waiting for the police to arrive, you looked around, and found a few items:

• A business card for Edward Gavigan, director of the London-based Penhew Foundation.

• A business card for Emerson Imports, with the name “Silas N’Kwane” written on the back in Jackson’s hand.

• A handbill for a public lecture at New York University entitled “The Cult of Darkness in Polynesia & The Southwest Pacific”, by Prof. Anthony Cowley of the University of Sydney, currently a visiting professor at Miskatonic University.

Jason Steele got in touch with his friend Chester Sullivan, an agency detective. He arrived at around the same time as two police officers, who treated him with a professional respect and let him perform his investigation in tandem with their own.

A string of similar murders, where the victims all had the same symbol carved into their forehead, had occurred last year. Lt. Poole was looking into the case, but had no leads. There was no connection between the victims: rich and poor, black and white. Captain Robson insisted that the case be transferred to him, which it was, and he quickly closed the case when he found Hilton Adams at the scene of one such murder. Hilton Adams was convicted with only circumstantial evidence, and Lt. Poole suspects that Captain Robson had been bribed to shut down the case. Given the diversity of victims, Lt. Poole suspects that they are all people who learned too much about some secret.

Lt. Poole gave you his contact details, and said he would be in touch if necessary. You then left the scene. Wilhelmina decided to go back to Prospero House to inform Jonah Kensington of the death; the rest of you decided to go to Emerson Imports to ask about Silas N’Kwane.

Jonah was shocked by the revelation, and immediately contacted Carlton Ramsey, Jackson’s lawyer, to arrange an urgent meeting. Wilhelmina tagged along.

By the time Jonah and Wilhelmina arrived at Carlton Ramsey’s office, he had been informed by the police of Jackson’s death. After discussing the arrangements for the funeral the next day, Carlton turned to Wilhelmina and asked if she and Jackson’s other friends could see him after the funeral for the reading of the will. Wilhelmina agreed, and asked if they knew anything about Jackson’s recent work; they did, but thought it best to wait until tomorrow. Wilhelmina also asked about Prof. Anthony Cowles, but they didn’t know the man.

Wilhelmina then headed to New York University to enquire about the lecture.

At Emerson Imports you met Arthur Emerson, who made a sour expression when you brought up Silas N’Kwane. He said that Silas didn’t work for him, that he was a customer who used Emerson Imports to import African trinkets for his shop. Something about N’Kwane made Emerson’s skin crawl; he doesn’t like the man. He gave you the address of Ju-Ju House, N’Kwane’s shop.

Ju-Ju House is a very small shop, full of African trinkets, souvenirs, display weapons, and so on. The aged proprietor, Silas N’Kwane, said he didn’t know a Jackson Elias. You determined that he wasn’t being entirely truthful, but he persisted in his claim. He suggested that maybe Jackson Elias had got his name from Mr. Emerson, but had never come to the shop. To get on his good side, Prof. Musgrave bought a wooden animal, which seemed to improve Silas’ opinion of you.

You then all headed to New York University as well.

At the university, you all reunited at the reception. The lecture was last week, and Prof. Cowles had since returned to Arkham. You then went to the anthropology department, on the hunch that if anyone attended a talk about cults it was probably them, and Jason Steele stopped people until he found a timid graduate student willing to summarise the lecture.

The lecture was about the Cult of the Sand Bat, once widespread amongst Australian Aborigines. This cult worshipped a being known as the Sand Bat, or the Father of All Bats, and partook in human sacrifice. They believed that by sacrificing, they would become worthy for their god, who would appear to the world and conquer it, turning it into a paradise for the cult. There was also a legend that the Sand Bat had a battle with the Rainbow Snake, another aboriginal god—the deification of water and life—who tricked the Sand Bat, and sealed it and all his clan in a watery place from which the Sand Bat cannot escape.

16th of January, 1925

You saw an article in the New York Times about the similarity of Jackson Elias’ murder and the crimes for which Hilton Adams had been arrested, who was at this time on death row. The author was Rebecca Shosenburg.

In the afternoon you went to the funeral. It was a brief, non-denominational, and poorly attended ceremony. Only you, the priest, Carlton Ramsey, his niece, and Jonah Kensington were there. Outside the cemetery, some reporters watched. After the ceremony concluded, you left with Carlton to go to his office. As you walked by the reporters, one pushed to the front and introduced herself as Rebecca Shosenburg, asking if you had any opinions on the similarity of this murder to the Hilton Adams case. You brushed her off and continued to the office.

At the office, Carlton offered you some bootleg bourbon before the reading of the will. He said that Jackson had been by the day before his death to update his will. Jackson hadn’t said anything, but Carlton believed that Jackson was afraid, and wanted to prepare for the worst.

The key points of the will are: that Elias has given full power of attorney to Carlton, with complete authority to liquidate his assets; that Carlton is to use these assets to create and manage a fund to continue Jackson’s investigation; and that you, named in the will, are the preferred people to carry on this investigation. Carlton is also to act as a central point of contact, and a recruiter if people with specialised skills, or new investigators, are required.

Jackson left a note, to be read in the event of his death, which encouraged you to continue his investigation and find his killers. Jackson had also left some of his papers:

• A letter, dated 1919 and sent from Cairo, from a M. Warren Besart to Roger Carlyle.

• A blurry photograph showing some boats in the foreground and buildings in the background.

• A letter to Jackson Elias from Miriam Atwright at the Harvard University Library.

You all agreed to join the quest and continue in Jackson’s footsteps.

America session 2, 2018-12-08

17th of January, 1925

You visited Prospero House to ask Jonah Kensington for Jackson Elias’ book notes. There was a letter, sent from Nairobi, saying that while the authorities denied the cult aspect of the Carlyle massacre, the locals thought differently. With the letter was a bundle of notes. The notes revealed that the bodies had been found in an area shunned by the local tribes, who said it was cursed by the God of the Black Wind, revered by the Cult of the Bloody Tongue. The bodies had been torn apart and, contrary to the official report, only included the Kenyan bearers from the Carlyle party.

Jason Steele noticed that Jonah held back some papers, and persuaded him to share them. More notes by Jackson, but in messy handwriting and very rambling. These notes talked about dreams—“dreams like Carlyle’s?”—and say that “many names, many forms” are all working towards one end, to “open the gate”. The notes also say “the books are in Carlyle’s safe…”

You then used Jonah’s office phone to make some calls. Firstly you rang Miskatonic University, hoping to talk to Prof. Cowles about his recent lecture. He was unavailable, but you arranged for the receptionist to contact Carlton Ramsey when she knew when Prof. Cowles would be available to talk. You also rang Harvard University Library to talk with Miriam Atwright, about the book Jackson was looking for. The book disappeared from the library, leaving behind only a terrible smell of decay, and the police haven’t found any leads yet.

You then decided to investigate the principals of the Carlyle Expedition.

Dr. Crane went to the archives of the New York City Medical Affairs Board, and managed to talk his way by the security guard. He found Dr. Robert Huston’s notes about Roger Carlyle. The notes say that Roger was referred by his sister, Erica, to discuss his dreams.

Roger dreams of being called by a voice through the mist. He follows the voice, and finds a tall dark man with an inverted ankh blazing upon his forehead. The man reveals his palms, Roger’s face is in one, a misshapen pyramid is in the other. The hands are brought together, and Roger finds himself propelled into space. He sees an array of monstrous creatures, all circling a ball of energy which Roger recognises as another aspect of the calling man. Roger is drawn into the ball, and a misshapen triangle appears in the void. The creatures rush into the triangle as the voice says “and become with me a god” and Roger awakes. Roger has no waking interest in anything Egyptian. He also does not consider this a nightmare, and that he feels it is a genuine calling.

Notes about later sessions are briefer. Roger talks about someone called M’Weru, who he calls “my priestess” and devotes himself to. In the final session, Huston says “if I do not go, C. threatens exposure.”

You decided to pay a visit to the Carlyle mansion, which lies to the north of New York City. You parked the car out of sight and peeked in: a tall three-storey building with acres of surrounding grounds, and a tall fence with a single guarded entrance. You decided not to try to sneak in and rob the safe.

18th of January, 1925

You visited Hilton Adams, arrested for the previous murders, in Sing Sing Prison. You got half an hour to speak with him.

Hilton Adams was a community leader of sorts, who grew concerned with the murders and decided to take matters into his own hands. He found that the murders fanned out in a rough circle for about a mile west of the Harlem River; but none within a two block radius of West 137th Street, between Lenox Avenue and the Harlem RiverThis is roughly the same location as the Ju-Ju House, which you previously visited. Ju-Ju House is at 1 Ransom Court, down an alley off West 137th Street, east of Lenox Avenue.

—except the one which had him arrested. A Dr. Mordecai Lemming had been quoted in the papers saying the murders seemed similar to those conducted by the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, an African death cult. As Ju-Ju House is the only thing African in the vicinity, Hilton staked it out. One day he managed to follow a muscular, shaven, African man in his late 30s from Ju-Ju House to a coffee shop on 139th Street and Sixth Avenue. Nobody seemed keen to talk about this man, just saying that he was Mukunga M’Dari, and he was bad news. Shortly after that, Hilton’s knife was found at the scene of a murder, on a night Hilton had gone out patrolling. This caused his arrest. But that night Hilton says he went out with his gun.

When you returned from Sing Sing, you managed to get a phone call with Prof. Cowles, who gave you a full summary of his lecture. The graduate student you talked to previously covered most of it, Prof. Cowles additionally described some photos from his slides: each of sweating men standing beside enormous blocks of stone, pitted and eroded, but clearly formed for architectural purposes. Cowles says that the discovered, a Arthur MacWhirr of Port Hedland, Australia, kept a diary in which he recorded several attacks on the party by Aboriginals, and records deaths to victims from hundreds of small punctures, reminiscent of the bat cult.

You then wanted to learn some more about Erica Carlyle, so you went to the New York Public Library to look through its newspaper archives. Outside, you bought today’s newspaper, and found mention that the Carlyle munitions business had become the biggest in the state, due to the careful management of Erica Carlyle and her lawyer, Bradley Grey. Grey is a partner in one of the top law firms in New York, but was described as almost a personal assistant to Erica.

After debating a few ways of getting in touch with Erica Carlyle and being invited into the mansion, you decided to send her a letter saying that you were reopening the investigation into her brother Roger and his ill-fated expedition.

You then went into the newspaper archives to try to find out some information about Hypatia Masters, as there seemed no obvious reason why a socialite would go on the expedition. You found a mention, some months before the expedition, that she and Roger had begun dating.

America session 3, 2019-01-19

22nd of January, 1925

You received a rather cold reply from Bradley Grey to your letter to Erica Carlyle about re-opening the investigation into the Carlyle Expedition. He made it clear that you would have to convince him there was some merit to your investigation before he would arrange a meeting with Erica. You got in touch with Bradley Grey’s assistant to arrange a meeting. He had thought you might, and left a spot free in his calendar the next day.

23rd of Janaury, 1925

At the meeting, Jason Steele (everyone but Wilhelmina attended), tried to convince Bradley Grey by explaining how Jackson Elias had been looking into the Carlyle Expedition when he was murdered. Bradley Grey was initially unconvinced, but was impressed enough by Prof. Musgrave’s credentials to accept that you probably weren’t just trying to make some money off of the Carlyle family. He arranged a meeting with Erica and also told you a little about the Carlyle Expedition principles:

• Roger Carlyle had a poor reputation amongst the investors, and the company’s fortunes have picked up since Erica took over.

• Hypatia Masters was a socialite from a wealthy family who dated Roger, she was known amongst amateur circles as a skilled photographer.

• Jack “Brass” Brady, Roger’s bodyguard and manservant, was a condemned man saved by Roger’s lawyers, who became incredibly devoted and loyal to his saviour.

• He only knew Sir Aubrey Penhew by reputation, and that Dr. Robert Huston was a psychoanalysist favoured by Erica Carlyle.

25th of January, 1925

You returned to the Carlyle estate, this time not hiding your car behind a hill, and were ushered into a reception hall to meet Erica Carlyle. After introductions, she led you to a sitting room and you talked about Roger.

She told you that Roger had been having bad dreams for several months before the expedition, waking screaming. He refused to discuss these dreams, and eventually Erica referred him to Dr. Huston. A month or so after the dreams began, Roger became involved with “that Negro woman, Bunay”. Erica doesn’t know who this Bunay is, but Roger became increasingly obsessed with her, describing her as “queenly”, and “a priestess”. Roger began to disappear for days at a time, saying only that he had been to Harlem on his return. Bunay had accompanied the expedition.

You then asked about the books in the safe. Erica was unable to hide her surprise, saying that Roger had spent a lot of time pouring over old books in the months leading up to the expedition. Roger had hid the books in a safe, and not even told Erica about them, so she was surprised that you knew. You convinced her to show you the books, and she summoned a guard and took you to the library.

You waited outside while she fetched the books. When you went in, there were four books arranged on a table, and no sign of a safe. The books were:

• The Pnakotic Manuscripts - centuries old and written in English.

• Selections de Livre D’Ivon - centuries old and written in a language none of you recognised (French).

• Amongst the Stones - fairly recent, English, handwritten, and bound in some sort of skin.

• Life As A God - fairly recent, English, and bound in human skin.

Over the next few hours Prof. Musgrave read Amongst the Stones and Lady Ashdown read Life As A God (after Wilhelmina tried and failed). Amongst the Stones is a collection of poetry, and one stood out. It was about the regal garments of Queen Nitocris of Egypt, in great detail. Life As A God is the diary of English artist Montgomery Crompton, who went to Egypt in 1805 and became a priest of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. Crompton was insane when he wrote the diary. It describes unspeakable acts committed in the name of the Black Pharaoh, and the hidden throne room of Bent Pyramid.

By the time you finished reading, Erica Carlyle had left, and the guard politely suggested that you would be overstaying your welcome if you remained any longer. You took the hint and left.

26th of January, 1925

Jason Steele decided to stake out Ju-Ju House, and Wilhelmina the cafe mentioned by Hilton Adams. In the mid-morning, Jason saw a white man poorly concealing a gun beneath his jacket enter the Ju-Ju House. The man left a few minutes later stuffing an envelope into his inside pocket. Jason followed the man to a nearby police station, and watched for a while, but the man did not come out. Jason peered through the windows, and was seen; but managed to outrun the police. The only thing of note to happen at the cafe is that Silas N’Kwane, owner of Ju-Ju House, went for lunch.

27th of January, 1925

You continued your stake-outs. In mid-afternoon, a man matching Mukunga M’Dari’s description paid a short visit to the Ju-Ju House, and then headed in the direction of the cafe. Jason followed. The man arrived at the cafe, and a few minutes later Jason also entered. Jason got the attention of Wilhelmina and indicated to Mukunga M’Dari. Mukunga spoke quietly to a waiter, and was led through a door.

Wilhelmina got the attention of a waiter and asked what was through the door. The waiter judged that she was not with the police, and seemed a trustworthy sort, so he told her that it is the door to a speakeasy. Wilhelmina went through the door, which took her to a staircase leading down to the basement.

At this time of day the speakeasy was not particularly busy, but it had a fair few customers. Mukunga M’Dari was sitting by himself with his drink. Wilhelmina asked the bartender who he (Mukunga) was, and learned that he has a bad reputation. He has no apparent employment, but always has money; he seems to be friendly with the police; and people don’t like to mess with him. Wilhelmina finished her drink and left, collecting Jason from the cafe.

America session 4, 2019-02-10

27th of January, 1925

You decided to break in to the Ju-Ju HouseBecause I mentioned that I assumed were going to do that, and you all thought it was a reasonable enough idea.

, so Jason and Wilhelmina arrived around closing time and watched the shop for a few hours.

28th of January (midnight)

A little after midnight, a light was still on inside, though the curtains were drawn across the shop window so you couldn’t see in. Jason peered through the keyhole, and saw Silas N’Kwane bent over something behind the counter.

Wilhelmina found a back door down an alley, and Jason picked the lock. You cautiously entered a small dark room, separated from the shopfront by a thick curtain, and which looked like Silas N’Kwane’s living quarters. Wilhelmina looked through the curtain and saw Silas opening a trap door behind the counter. He heard the curtain move and looked up, but did not see Wilhelmina. He entered the back room, but Jason managed to hide in a closet in time. Wilhelmina lead Silas out of the back door, giving Jason enough time to enter the shopfront, and descend the stairs beneath the open trap door.

Jason entered a large basement, running under the entire building. At one end was a large well with a stone cover, about 2 metres in diameter. Half way along the wall opposite the entrance was a curtain covering an alcove. It was completely silent.

Jason approached the curtain, and peered beneath it. Inside the alcove were four pairs of standing bare feet, two along the wall to the left and two along the wall to the right. These looked like the feet of living people, rather than a statue or something like that, but still there was no noise.

Jason slowly and quietly got to his feet, grasped the curtain in one hand and a camera in the other. He dramatically whisked the curtain aside, to reveal four people, their foreheads branded with the same symbol as Jackson Elias, their intestines spilling out of open wounds, their skin decaying, and their eyes completely black. Their heads snapped to the side to look at Jason, who took a photo and ran. They leaped after him, but he got to the stairs, and they would not follow out of the basement.

Jason climbed the stairs, to be faced with Silas N’Kwane. Jason managed to shove him out of the way, climbed over the counter, and jumped through the front window, being wounded a little by broken glass in the process. Wilhelmina had brought the car around, and they escaped to Jason’s office. Jason developed the photo in his darkroom, pacing impatiently while waiting for it to process. In the early morning, the photo was ready. Jason called everyone around, along with Lt. Poole, who came to investigate Jackson Elias’ murder, and shared the photo.

Lt. Poole shakily asked where the photo was taken, and commented that that was Captain Robson’s territory. Captain Robson is the one who arrested Hilton Adams for the previous murders. Lt. Poole called a squad of officers to go visit the Ju-Ju House.

You all, except Wilhelmina who was still sleeping, arrived at the Ju-Ju House with police backup. Lt. Poole took command of the situation, taking Silas N’Kwane into custody and demanding access to the basement. Silas looked surprised and briefly annoyed—as if he didn’t expect the police, of all people, to do this—before changing his demeanour to meek submission. The trap door was revealed beneath a rug, and you all descended. Prof. Musgrave stayed outside, due to his ballistophobia.

In the basement was Mukunga M’Dari, surrounded by the four people. Several of you gasped at the sight. Dr. Crane attempted to rationalise the situation by saying that they must be victims of torture, probably drugged which is why they can stand and move around at all with those wounds, but others were less convinced. Lt. Poole shouted for everyone to put their hands where he could see them and not to make any sudden moves. Mukunga complied, the four didn’t move.

One of the officers approached the four, and put his hand on their shoulder to guide them down to the floor. As soon as he made physical contact, the person spun around and snapped the officer’s arm in two with incredible speed. The other three adopted fighting postures, and all moved between Mukunga and the police. The wounded man passed out due to the pain and was carried to the back of the room, where Dr. Crane treated him. Dr. Crane and Clarissa carried him out while the police opened fire. The four people seemed unaffected by the bullets, being knocked back but otherwise not appearing to suffer from the onslaught. They shielded Mukunga, who was hiding behind them still.

Jason realised he still had some dynamiteFrom Peru.

, and decided to use it. He threw it, but fumbled his grip a little, and hit one of the officers. The dynamite fell in the middle of the room. You and all but one of the police managed to escape from the basement before it exploded.

As the explosion ripped through the basement, there was suddenly a sound of dozens of voices—far more than there had been in the basement—wailing in agony. Jason and Dr. Crane returned to the basement and cautiously entered. Mukunga and the four people had been torn apart by the dynamite. The stone seal over the well had been cracked open, and the noise was coming from there. Thinking it might be more torture victims, Dr. Crane approached.

In the well Dr. Crane saw a great writhing mass of tentacles, or perhaps worms, covered in screaming human faces. In a bout of madness, he threw up and ran, screaming, from the basement. He made it past the surprised officers in the shopfront, and was only caught outside. Seeing what had happened, Jason decided not to approach the well.

Jason investigated the alcove, as the photo he took showed a bulky-looking bag, and found:

• A cloth headdress with a severed human tongue attached to the front.

• A robe made of feathers.

• The book Africa’s Dark Sects, which Jackson Elias was looking for at Harvard University Library. The book details Nigel Blackwell’s travels across Africa and the cults he encountered on the way, including a description in great detail of a cult summoning the monster they worship. It contains one spell, and will take several weeks to study fully.

• A woven wooden mask, like a woven basket, but with no eyeholes. On the top of the mask are four monstrous faces, at right angles to each other. Prof. Musgrave identified the mask being possibly from the Congo.

• A wooden sceptre carved with hieroglyphics saying “Nyambe, Thy Power Mine”. From the context, Nyambe is a given name, but not one any of you are familiar with.

• A marine chronometer, a very accurate clock used by sailors to calculate their position. It was set to GMT, rather than local time.

Jason managed to persuade Lt. Poole that there was enough evidence left at the Ju-Ju House for him to conduct an investigation, and to overturn the conviction of Hilton Adams, and he allowed you to take the items from the alcove.

Having exhausted the trail in New York, you decided to follow an earlier lead to the Penhew Foundation, and set sail for London. The crossing took 9 days, during which you attempted to rest and to recover some of your sanity.

End

This is the end of this chapter. Bonus sanity points are:

• +1d6 for effectively solving Jackson Elias’ murder.
• +1d4 for finding enough evidence to get Hilton Adams off death row.
• +1d6 for neutralising Mukunga M’Dari.
• +1d4 for breaking up the cult.

The next chapter will begin with you arriving in England.

England session 1, 2019-03-16

Intro

It’s been nine uneventful days at sea since you departed New York, and now Southampton is in sight. From there you can catch a train to London, at the time the heart of the British Empire, the greatest city in the world, and famous for its incredibly thick fogs.

You came to London following two leads:

• The Carlyle Expedition, which briefly stopped over in London and picked up the Egyptologist Sir Aubrey Penhew, founder of the Penhew Foundation.

• And Jackson Elias, who had a business card for Edward Gavigan, the current director of the Penhew Foundation, in his hotel room.

Before we get into the game, I’d like to bring up some mechanics, and also talk about some backstories.

Firstly, Dr. Carson Crane is indefinitely insane. This means that losing even one point of sanity will cause him to suffer a bout of madness, and also he can have sensory hallucinations at any time. You can take sanity damage from hallucinating a mythos creature. Luke, if you think Dr. Crane is hallucinating, there are two things you can do:

• You can make a Reality Check roll, which is a Sanity roll. If you succeed you see through the delusion, and can’t have any more until you take some sanity damage. If you fail, you take one point of sanity damage and suffer a bout of madness.

• Or you can make a Psychoanalysis roll. If you succeed, you see through the delusion.

The only way to recover from indefinite insanity is to spend months in an asylum recuperating.

Secondly, there’s a mechanic I forgot about. If an investigator suffers insanity from a mythos source, they gain one point of Cthulhu Mythos, or five points the first time. I’ve given you all an extra eight points of Cthulhu Mythos, which probably covers it.

Now, backstories.

Lady Clarissa Ashdown, it’s a bit unusual to be a Lady in your own right at such a young age. Normally your mother would be “Lady Ashdown” by virtue of being married to Lord Ashdown. Are you actually a lady, or do you just call yourself that because you have noble parents? What’s your family situation like?Possible follow ups depending on the answer: Is Lord Ashdown a member of the House of Lords? Where are the Ashdowns based?

Professor Musgrave, you must know of the Penhew Foundation, unless you’ve spent your entire academic career under a rock. You certainly know that it was established in 1890 by Sir Aubrey Penhew who, as director of the Foundation, funded and oversaw several expeditions to Egypt. When Sir Aubrey was presumed dead after the massacre of the Carlyle Expedition, Edward Gavigan became director. The Foundation issues grants to scholars undertaking the study of Egyptian history and antiquities. It also helps out with planning and funding expeditions, negotiating permits with Egyptian authorities, hiring local labour, et cetera. The Foundation building itself is partly offices, partly museum. Have you been on an expedition supported by the Penhew Foundation?Possible follow up depending on the answer: Do you have a research membership to the Penhew Foundation?

Now, before you all disembark, there’s one more thing. Firearms are illegal in England at this time unless you have a permit, except shotguns which are considered weapons for hunting game. Everyone who is bringing a gun into the country make a Luck roll now.

10th of February, 1925

Prof. Musgrave, who has had dealings with the Penhew Foundation and Edward Gavigan before, rang the Foundation to arrange an interview. Thomas Kinnery, Edward Gavigan’s personal secretary, arranged a meeting for the following day, in the late morning.

You then hopped aboard a train, which took you to London in about six hours. You spent the rest of the day sorting out your accommodation, finding a regular meeting place to discuss the events of each day, and planning the next day.

11th of February, 1925

Wilhelmina decided not to accompany you to the interview with Edward Gavigan, and went to look through newspaper archives for any new information relating to the Carlyle Expedition.

The rest of you went to the Penhew Foundation and were greeted by Thomas Kinnery. He took you to an anteroom outside Edward Gavigan’s office, where you took seats, and he returned to work. Jason Steele got up to examine the room, which was decorated with Egyptian scrolls, and some information about the Foundation’s previous expeditions.

After a few minutes, Edward Gavigan emerged from his office, and greeted Prof. Musgrave like an old friend before ushering you all in. The office itself was quite bare, there were chairs, a desk with a photo facing away from you, a cupboard against one wall, and a floor safe in one corner of the room, its door ajar.

Prof. Musgrave trusts Edward Gavigan, and so told him the story so far (if a little abridged when it came to the more unbelievable components). Gavigan confirmed that Jackson Elias, “that journalist working for The Scoop”You have never heard of The Scoop before, and Jackson Elias was not a journalist. You guessed that this is probably a cover story Jackson gave.

, had come to visit him and ask some questions about the work of the Foundation. Gavigan had been pleased to talk about the Foundation’s role in grant funding and assistance with travel permits and the like. It had been a short meeting, and he had never heard from Jackson Elias again.

You then asked about the Carlyle Expedition. Gavigan said that Roger Carlyle had obtained information from “an African woman” about a shadowy time in Egyptian history where the Nile had been ruled by a sorcerer. Sir Aubrey had been interested in this period as well. Unfortunately, the information turned out to be a hoax, and after conducting some digs in Egypt, the African woman took off with the money (some £3500). The loss of the money bothered Carlyle less than the defection of his lover, and the party went to Kenya to distract themselves with hunting and wildlife photography. There they strayed into unfortunate territory, and paid for it with their lives. Sir Aubrey had kept in touch with the Foundation during the expedition, even sending some artefacts back before they left for Kenya, but Gavigan would not show you these telegraphs, saying that they concerned much of young Carlyle and were of a personal nature, not the sort of thing which the Foundation could afford “getting into the gutter press.”

Gavigan then showed you some of the artefacts in the exhibition hall, which Prof. Musgrave greatly enjoyed, but the rest of you less so. While showing the artefacts, Jason Steele returned to Gavigan’s office, with the excuse that he left his hat behind. Without much time to spare, to avoid rousing the suspicions of Kinnery, Jason quickly looked at the photograph on the desk and in the floor safe.

The photograph was of a three storey country house called “Misr House”. Upon being told this later, Prof. Musgrave recognised “Misr” as being Arabic for “Egypt”. The safe contained roughly a hundred £1 notes.

Musgrave spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the Penhew Foundation’s library, where he found a book mentioning the “Black Pharaoh”, a figure of myth who is said to have ruled during the Third Dynasty.

While this was going on, Wilhelmina spent the entire day in the newspaper archives, finding nothing new about the Carlyle Expedition, but finding an article by The Scoop on the “Egyptian Murders” from right before Jackson Elias was in London. The article describes a series of murders with the victims all severely beaten and stabbed through the heart.

You then reconvened, and decided the next day to check out The Scoop and Misr House.

12th of February, 1925

Prof. Musgrave decided to go with Jason Steele to investigate Misr House, mostly to keep an eye on Jason, because he didn’t want the man he introduced to Edward Gavigan as a friend, to be found the next day breaking into Gavigan’s country estate. You both went to the General Records Office and found that Misr House was located on a 1000 acre estate on an island in the Naze, in Essex. You got on a train to Colchester, intending to change to a local train to Walton-on-the-Naze, and hire a car from there.

The rest of you went to the offices of The Scoop, located on the third floor of a grubby building on Fleet Street. Mention of Jackson Elias got you to Mickey Mahoney, owner and editor of The Scoop. He said he was a friend of Jackson’s, and that any friend of Jackson is a friend of his. He said that Jackson had been investigating a cult in the heart of London, but Jackson hadn’t told him the details; he would pay £15 for the story if you bring it to him. He also said that Jackson had been interested in three stories The Scoop had printed (the Egyptian Murders was one), but he couldn’t remember the titles of the other two off the top of his head, and that you were welcome to look through the back issues to try to find them. He didn’t know of anything suspicious about the Carlyle Expedition.

After a couple of hours of finding likely looking articles and asking “is this one?” you finally found the two others that Jackson Elias had been interested in:

• Slaughter Continues! Reward Offered! - the Egyptian Murders, a series of murders in which all the victims had been killed by severe beating, and then stabbed through the heart. Inspector Barrington at New Scotland Yard has been investigating, and Mahoney said that Jackson Elias had gone to visit him.

• Shocking Canvases Craze: Local Artist’s Monstrous Scenes Mock ‘Surrealists’ - Miles Shipley, a local artist, has been painting very realistic scenes of horror, which are said to be visions of another place the artist merely makes visible.

• Police Baffled By Monstrous Murders! Killer Beast Shot But Still Alive? - two murders and one wounding in Lesser Edale, Derbyshire, which have been attributed to a rabid dog. Despite the dog being shot dead, local residents report a strange beast lurking in the area which wails on nights of the full moon.

In the afternoon, Prof. Musgrave and Jason arrive at the island of Misr House, but are turned away by a guard at the one bridge onto the island. He says that this is private property owned by Edward Gavigan, and you cannot come in. From the bridge you could see Misr House, but not much else on the island due to the heavy forestation. Prof. Musgrave seemed a little smug, asking Jason if he was satisfied now. You returned to the village to try to gather some information about the estate.

In the village pub the landlord, after being encouraged to pour a third drink “for yourself”, told you some of the history of the area. The land and house had previously been owned by an Egyptologist and occultist Neville Lloyd-Price. Rumour has it that he went bankrupt and had to sell the land to pay his debts, Edward Gavigan was the buyer. Neville Lloyd-Price has not been seen since the sale, effectively disappearing from London society. The house dates from the time of Queen Elizabeth, and is rumoured to have a priest hole, used to hide Catholic priests during the religious purges. The estate itself is 6000 acres, with the island being 1000. The surrounding land is rented out to farmers. Edward Gavigan doesn’t show himself much, he visits the house occasionally but it doesn’t seem to be his primary residence. Everyone knows of him as the land owner, but he is a fairly distant figure. You then decided to return to London and meet up with the others in the evening.

The rest of you decided to visit Miles Shipley, the artist, at his home in Holbein Mews. You were greeted at the door by an old woman who introduced herself as Bertha Shipley, Miles’ mother. Upon saying you were interested in buying some paintings, she took you in to a sitting room, and called for Miles while she made some tea. As soon as you stepped into the house you were struck with a strong biological smell, which Wilhelmina recognised as the smell of a reptile house. Upon asking Bertha about it, she seemed embarrassed that you had noticed, as if she had not realised how strong it was, and said that she was looking after a friend’s reptiles while they were away.

After a few minutes, you heard Miles clattering down the stairs, and he entered the room. A quiet and nervous looking young man, you spotted that his hands were shaking. He invited you up to the garret to see the finished paintings. He took the lead, Dr. Crane, Clarissa, and Wilhelmina following, and Bertha Shipley bringing up the rear carrying teacups. In the garret room you noticed that Miles glanced over at Bertha, who seemed completely calm, and in charge of the situation. She said that the paintings were £75 to £300 each. The paintings were:

• Ancient Science - an alchemical lab with a reptilian humanoid working at a table surrounded by glass jars emitting colourful vapours.

• The Dark Pharaoh - a processional scene in which a mass of people prostrate themselves before a golden chariot. Standing atop the chariot is a pharaoh in black and gold robes, his face turned away from the canvas. Behind the pharaoh, two men have been impaled on stakes, and are being eaten by a pack of jackals.

• Goat Wood - a nighttime woodland scene illuminated by a yellow moon, naked men and women dancing around a bonfire. Rising from the flames is a goat-headed man with outstretched arms.

• Drawn in Blood - a man being cut open by a silver dagger, with an occult symbol carved into his chest which you can’t quite seem to focus on.

• Black Mountain - a towering mountain over which rises a monstrous demonic creature, its head a great tentacle covered in bloodThis reminds you of the tattoo on Larkin’s chest of the man with a spiral emerging from his neck in place of a head.

. In a nearby temple-like building, small human figures wearing a headdress with a red tentacleThese look like Mukunga M’Dari’s headdress you found at the Ju-Ju House.

lift their arms towards it in supplication.

Miles also showed you a painting he is working on entitled City of the Great Race, which depicted tiny human figures next to a colossal building, but it was still in early stages. You examined the paintings themselves, and the art supplies in the room; everything looked ordinary, other than the subject matter of the paintings. When asked about the newspaper article saying that Miles was painting visions, Bertha said that the newspapers exaggerate everything, which Miles agreed with.

You pick out The Dark Pharaoh, Drawn in Blood, and Black Mountain as paintings you would like to buy, and leave to go to the bank.

While out of the house, you formulated a plan: Clarissa and Dr. Crane would distract the Shipleys by haggling, while Wilhelmina would sneak out of the garret and examine the rest of the house. When you returned, you put the plan into action, and Wilhelmina slipped out of the room.

On the first floor, there are four bedrooms. Three were open and very dusty, as if they hadn’t been used in a long time. One was locked, but through the keyhole Wilhelmina could see it looked messy and in active use.

On the ground floor, in addition to the corridor, stairs, and sitting room you had seen, there is also a kitchen (which looked normal), and a dining room and lounge, both of which looked dusty and unused. There was no sign of reptiles, beyond the pervasive smell. In the garden was a locked cellar door which Wilhelmina could not pick. Wilhelmina quietly returned to the garret, where the Shipleys were still distracted. You then exchanged the money, and left with your paintings.

As you left the house, Wilhelmina asked what reptiles Bertha was caring for. Bertha looked momentarily confused, as if she had forgotten about the reptiles, and then said snakes.

England session 2, 2019-03-30

12th of February, 1925 (evening)

You discussed the events of the day. Photos were taken of the symbol in the Drawn in Blood painting, in the hope that a photo might be easier to focus on. You then parted ways. Wilhelmina, suspicious of Edward Gavigan’s refusal to show you the telegraphs from Sir Aubrey Penhew, decided to go stake out the Foundation, and asked Jason to join her. The rest of you went home.

On her way home, Clarissa realised she was being followed, and chased a man down an alley. However, he gave her the slip in the thick fog, and she lost sight of where he went.

Wilhelmina and Jason watched the Penhew Foundation for a few hours, learning that there is a single night watchman (who patrols infrequently) and, around the back, a yard large enough for delivery vehicles, with a visible store room and a coal chute. You decided to return the following night and gain entry to the basement through the chute.

13th of February, 1925

You went to see Inspector Barrington at New Scotland Yard about the Egyptian Murders. He was able to spare you a little time. Throughout the interview he was quite cautious, not giving much away about the case, and asking about you and your interest. He said that the press is calling the murders the “Egyptian Murders” because most of the victims were Egyptian nationals. All of the victims are killed by being beaten and then stabbed through the heart.

Barrington confirmed that he had met Jackson Elias. Jackson Elias said he thought the murders were conducted by an Egyptian death cult known as the Cult of the Black Pharaoh, but due to the lack of evidence Barrington is not pursuing that particular avenue. Barrington spoke to the Penhew Foundation, who said that such an organisation did exist once, but died out centuries ago with no modern equivalent.

You mentioned that you had dealt with a death cult in New York, and that such things are not unreasonable. Barrington seemed unimpressed by this and quickly drew the interview to a close as you had no leads for him.

After the interview Wilhelmina and Jason went to buy supplies to break into the Penhew Foundation that evening (they had still not shared their plans with Prof. Musgrave at this point). The rest of you decided to have the photos of the painting developed and to arrange transport to Lesser Edale, to investigate the third newspaper article.

The developed photos proved just as hard to focus on as the original painting, but Prof. Musgrave really concentrated, and realised that it was actually two overlapping symbols, which tricked the eye. The symbols were:

• An inverted ankh:

  |
|
--+--
/ \
\_/
|
• A circle with two lines coming off it, like wings:

__     __
_\   /_
\_/
/ \
\_/

After sunset Wilhelmina and Jason returned to the rear of the Penhew Foundation. Jason managed to force the padlock on the back gate, without breaking it, and you entered the yard. In the yard Jason noticed an air intake vent, going underground, at the opposite side of the building to the coal chute.

You descended the coal chute using a rope tied to a grappling hook, and found yourselves in a pile of coal. Using flashlights you could see that you are in a large basement, approximately half as wide as the building (though not wide enough to include the air intake vent) with a low wall separating the coal heap from the main basement, which contained the boiler. After stepping over the low wall you could see an elevator and a staircase up into the main building, and a door.

You listened at the door, and couldn’t hear anything. You opened it cautiously, and found a storage room full of crates. The discovered basement now consisted of an L shape:

 ________
|     .  |
|     .  |
|     ...|
|        |
|        |_______
|        |       |
|                |
|________|_______|

The air vent suggested an underground room in the missing area, but there were no more doors. You tried to look behind crates against the back wall of the storage room, but they were flush against the wall. Quietly, to not alert the night watchman in the rooms above, you moved some crates. This revealed a door.

You listened at the door and, again, couldn’t hear anything. However, this time you were certain that the room was empty. You opened the door.

Inside the room your flashlights played over a collection of unexpected items: high quality furniture, evidently well cared for and used; strange paintings; books, crates, and an ornate chest. The air vent was visible at the far end of the room, as was a ladder into the main building.

Examining everything in the room, you found:

• A .32 revolver and a box of bullets.
• Several passports, for various genders and nationalities. None of the faces or names were familiar.
• Bundles of five- and ten-pound notes, totalling thousands of pounds.
• A receipt for the rental of a cast iron safe from Ernest Whitfield & Co, Birmingham to Henson Manufacturing, Derby. Strangely, it appears to have no connection to the Penhew Foundation.
• A letter from Puneet Chaudhary of Limehouse relating to the warehousing and shipping of “sundry antiquities” to Shanghai.
• A business card for Empire Spices in Soho.
• Egyptian-style artwork of strange creatures:
• A dark winged thing, somehow both leprous and scaly.
• A winged hulking beast, with a dragon-like tail and a fang-rimmed jaw.
• A group of people with deformed faces and too-large eyes.
• A man on fire and surrounded by colourful lights, but his features shrouded in darkness.
• A large sealed crate addressed to “Ho Fang Import/Export, 15 Kaoyang Street, Shanghai, China”.
• A smaller sealed crate addressed to “Randolph Shipping Company, Port Darwin, Northern Territory, Dominion of Australia”. This crate had the winged-circle symbol on it.
• An ornate wooden chest decorated with silver depictions of strange creatures that look like a cross between a lizard and an ape with too-long arms, which contained two ornate silver daggers.
• Books in many languages.

Not wanting to leave any evidence of your presence, you took photographs but didn’t disturb or take anything.

You then snuck back out of the building and left, locking the gate behind you.

14th of February, 1925

Jason and Wilhelmina finally told Prof. Musgrave that they still suspected the Penhew Foundation, and asked his opinion on the paintings, handing him the photos they took. After spending some hours in his study, Prof. Musgrave found features in the artwork which clearly dated it to the Third Dynasty, which is when the Black Pharaoh is said to have ruled. Caught up in his research, he almost missed the train to Derby.

You then all set off for Lesser Edale.

England session 3, 2019-04-13

14th of February, 1925 (mid afternoon)

You arrived in Edale, which is far as the train can take you. You walked the five miles to Lesser Edale in a little under two hours, with rain starting just before you arrived at the village pub, the Laughing Horse Inn.

Lesser Edale is home to the Vane family, currently presided over by Lord Arthur Vane. The Vanes live in Plumb Castle to the north of the village. Clarissa knows of them, but has not met them in years.

You quietly asked Bill Tatlock, the landlord, about the recent murders. He said that “folk around here don’t like to talk about it” but, with a little encouragement, told you that the murders happened three months ago during the nights of the full moon. George Osgood and Lydia Perkins were killed, Harold Short was attacked but survived, and has gone to his brother in Skegness. Constable Tumwell shot a wild dog, and he thinks the matter is settled, but there have been strange howls on the nights of the full moon—which starts tomorrow.

You decided to split up and go talk to the families of the victims. Dr. Crane and Lady Ashdown went to see John Perkins, father of Lydia Perkins; the rest of you went to see where Harold Short was attacked and then go on to the Osgood farm.

Dr. Crane knocked on the door, and was answered by John Perkins. Dr. Crane introduced himself and Clarissa, and upon hearing the title Lady Ashdown, John took a step back in shock and said “Another one! Come back for more, have you?” He started ranting about the unjustness of the British class system and how the Labour party would put a stop to thisThe Labour party had experienced a rapid increase in vote share since about 1910, which probably contributes to John’s high hopes.

.

After several minutes of this, Dr. Crane asked if this was something to do with Lord Vane (Clarissa was keeping quiet). You learned that John thinks that Lawrence Vane, son of Lord Arthur Vane, had something to do with the death of Lydia, who was found mauled. Lawrence was seen nearby on the night of Lydia’s death, though “he had no reason to be here”. The police talked to Lawrence Vane but declared him innocent, but “the police won’t charge these aristocrats”. You also learned that both Lord Arthur and Lawrence had been away recently, Lawrence returned six months ago and Lord Arthur three or four. Although seeming somewhat unhinged, John seemed to believe everything he said about Lawrence being the culprit (or at least very close to the culprit). After managing to extract yourselves from the conversation, you examined his field where the body had been found, but found no clues.

Wilhelmina, Prof. Musgrave, and Jason went to Harold Short’s house, but nobody was at home. You continued on to the Osgood farm, and there met Edith Osgood, wife of George Osgood. She said that George heard a noise in the barn and went to investigate, taking his shotgun with him. She heard a shot, and a scream. She looked out of the window and saw a hairy form, the height of a man, running away on all fours into the woods to the north. “It was a demon”, she said. Upon mustering her courage, she went to the barn and found the mauled form of George Osgood. The sheep in the barn had not been attacked.

You all returned to the pub, where you stayed the night.

15th of February

You decided to pay Lord Vane a visit, and went to Plum Castle first thing in the morning, leaving your calling cards to request a social visit.

You visited the police station, which is clearly just a house, but didn’t find anybody in. You then returned to the pub, and there met Constable Tumwell, the police force for Lesser Edale. You asked him about the murders, and he said that there had been no trouble since he shot the wild dog, the case is closed in his opinion. When asked about the howling he said that there are always wild animals in the countryside, but these don’t seem to be causing any trouble.

You went back to his house to use his phone to ring Harold Short. You got in touch with his brother, Thomas Short, who said that Harold couldn’t possibly talk about the events of that night, as he was still recovering. You failed to persuade Thomas to tell you any more details than you already knew.

You then visited the village church. The church building is quite new, but the foundations of the old can be seen in the grounds, which are partly cemetery. Next to the church is a vicarage. Inside the church you found Reverend Jeremy Stratton.

You asked Rev. Stratton about the murders, and he said that he understood Constable Tumwell had shot a wild dog, and that that seemed to be the end of it. Jason could tell he wasn’t being entirely truthful, and that he really didn’t think the shooting of the dog had achieved anything. Jason hinted at this quite strongly, but Rev. Stratton simply said that he hopes life in the village can return to normal.

You then turned to the topic of the Vanes. Rev. Stratton said that Lord Arthur spent most of his time in London, taking his role in the House of Lords very seriously. In addition to a son, Lawrence, there is a daughter, Eloise. Lord Arthur returned about four months ago and has remained in Lesser Edale to care for Eloise, who has taken ill. You asked how long ago Eloise fell ill, but the Reverend thought that you were beginning to pry upon personal matters, and ended the conversation.

Outside the church, you found a groundskeeper. Jason approached him and tried to make conversation, but mostly got grumblings and laughter. Nearby you spotted the new graves of George Osgood and Lydia Perkins, and noticed they had a small silver crucifix over their headstones. You asked the groundskeeper about these, and his good natutre fell away immediately, as he said “these are local matters, they don’t concern outsiders”, and turned away. You pressed him to continue, and he said “they were murdered by the beast, them crucifixes will keep ’em down where they belong; don’t want ’em turning”, and he stalked off. Jason tried to get him to say more, but he wouldn’t.

As tonight is the first night of the full moon, you decided to arm yourselves and go to a high location to try to identify the source of the howling. Dr. Crane visited John Perkins and rented three shotguns.

England session 4, 2019-04-27

15th of February (late afternoon)

With not much to do until sunset, you returned to the church to ask if you could buy any silver crucifixes, like those on the graves. You were told no, the silver belongs to the Church and is not for sale.

At sunset you went up a hill, and a little after the moon rose the howling started. The sound seemed to be coming from every direction, echoing so much you couldn’t tell if it was one voice or many. Clarissa recognised the sound from a story she had once heard, about ghouls: man-sized creatures which eat human flesh.

You decided to walk towards Plum Castle to see if the sound was coming from there. The howling steadily got louder as you did. About half way between the castle and the village, you found a torn scrap of frilly cloth, perhaps from a dress. It had clearly been out in the elements for a while.

When you arrived at the crumbling outer wall of the castle, you could tell that the howling was coming from somewhere inside the castle grounds, on the opposite side of the keep to where you were. You snuck around the building, paying close attention to the windows, and stopped facing the mausoleum. You could see light reflected on the ground, a room in the keep had a lighted window.

    x <- you are here
_____
|                       ___________
|                      |           |
keep |                      | mausoleum |
| <- lighted window    |           | <- door
|                      |           |

Wilhelmina crept to the window and listened. She heard two male voices, one older and one younger, having some sort of argument. The younger said “we can’t keep this hidden… this nightly ordeal… we need help!” the older said “no, we can’t involve outsiders.”

You snuck across to the mausoleum and around to the big double doors, which face away from the keep. You listened, but couldn’t hear anything other than the howling. You carefully pushed the door open, and saw just a mausoleum, no movement, no creatures. The howling seemed to be coming from a staircase to a lower level. You descended it, and saw nothing again—the howling filled the room.

Jason found a loose floor slab, which revealed a narrow man-made shaft with a rusty ladder, descending into what looked like a natural cave. You descended, and saw a tunnel. Clarissa realised the tunnel headed towards the keep. You followed it.

You arrived at a brick wall, and the howling was now very loud.

Wilhelmina found a hidden mechanism to open a door in the wall. Everyone readied their guns. Wilhelmina flung the door open, but even as she was opening it the creature burst through: man-tall, with a dog-like face, grey skin, shaggy hair, and yellow talons. Dr. Crane panicked, losing the ability to focus. Jason fired two shots, flinging the creature back into the room whence it came. It didn’t get up.

You saw that the room was a dungeon cell. When you looked at the creature again, it had transformed into a young girl, you guessed to be Eloise Vane, with a gaping wound in her chest from the shotgun blast. Dr. Crane rushed into the cell, trying to help the girl, who was obviously dead. He began grinding his teeth from stress.

You heard a door opening inside the keep, and rapid footsteps. Dr. Crane wouldn’t leave the girl, and Jason stayed behind with him. The rest of you fled back through the tunnel.

Two men with shotguns entered, who you guessed to be Arthur and Lawrence Vane. When Lawrence saw Eloise, he collapsed to his knees. Arthur alternately demanded “what have you done?” and “where did you come from?”, gesturing towards the hidden door. Dr. Crane looked up sadly and said “the mausoleum”, and Arthur sent Lawrence to it after dragging him to his feet. Jason tried to reason with Arthur, saying that it had to be done, that there had been enough death in the village already, but didn’t get through. Arthur said that you would be staying there, and left.

Those of you who fled escaped back to your rooms at the pub.

16th of February

Prof. Musgrave, Wilhelmina, and Clarissa planned a rescue operation for that evening.

In the morning, Dr. Crane and Jason were left alone, though they heard hammering from the secret passage. In the afternoon, Arthur and Lawrence returned. Jason again tried to persuade Arthur, but is just told to get back, as Lawrence pointed the gun at you. Arthur took Eloise’s body, and they left you alone and locked in again.

In the evening, Prof. Musgrave, Wilhelmina, and Clarissa returned to the mausoleum the way they came. The door had been boarded shut. They tried to pull the boards out by hand, but lost their grip and loudly fell back into a puddle. A door in the keep opened, and you managed to hide before Lawrence arrived. He looked around, but didn’t see anything, and returned to the keep.

You then broke into a garden shed, and found a claw hammer and a shovel. You returned to the mausoleum, and removed the wood. You reunited with Dr. Crane and Jason, and all travelled cross-country through the night to Edale, to get the first train back to London.