Monday, 12 June 2017

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 2

Episode 2

16th Jan 1925
Harlem, New York

Despite Silas N’Kanwe seeming to be genuine, something was nagging at the investigators from the League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen, there’s just something not right at the Ju-Ju House. The party decide that a good old fashioned stake out is what they need, so parking a little way down the street, they settle in for the evening.

A few dodgy looks from the locals notwithstanding, the next few hours pass fairly uneventfully, until the investigators notice 2 men walk into the courtyard, then another one, a couple more, a total of 8 men of varying races and social standing have gone into the courtyard and not come out, so shortly after midnight, they decide to have a look.

The curtains covering the window and door hide any chance of being able to see in, but all seems quiet, so far…

Dick pulls out his lock picks (ever the sneaky git), and easily unlocks the door. They enter the shop but there’s no sign of the men or Silas. Searching around, they found a ledger, but it was all initials and codes, nothing that they could decipher; Jim was disappointed to discover that the till was empty.
They knew that the guests had to have gone somewhere, so they start searching the floor and find a trap door. It lead down to a concrete tunnel, lit by a few bare bulbs, a faint noise could be heard from further down, possibly drumming? Harry and Dick take the lead, with Bennett not far behind and Jerry and Jim keeping watch in the shop.

As Harry, Dick and Bennett work their way down the corridor, the drumming gets louder, a distinct tribal beat that as they got closer was accompanied by mens voices whooping and shouting with the music. In an unusual show of common sense, Dick tries to look through the keyhole before opening the door, but couldn’t make out much more than movement on the other side.

Eight people, they decide, is a bit too many to try and take on, especially not knowing what was on the other side, so the investigators return to the car to continue the stake out.

A couple of hours pass when they notice people leaving the courtyard, but they couldn’t make out how many had left. Determined to get answers they return to the Ju-Ju House, Jim staying behind to look after the car (because Ryan wasn’t available to play). Dick having once beaten the lock to the shop, unlocks the door with ease. They open the trap door and hear…. Nothing, just silence coming from the dark tunnel, not that that made the decision to go down any better! They reach the door at the end and could see light coming from the room, but no sound, no sense of movement, so quietly and carefully they enter.

The room itself was no more than 30ft across, bare stone with niches for torches, drums lined up against the left hand wall. In front of them, a heavy dark curtain hangs against the far wall, but the two streaks of blood that lead from the wall on either side of the curtain, across the floor, and over to a covered well, catch their attention. Harry and Jerry head to the well to see what has gone on there, in the meantime, Dick is checking around the drums for clues, and Bennett opens the curtain to see what he can see.

What Bennett saw will stick with him for time to come, the man dressed in some sort of tribal, ceremonial garb was a surprise, but the four zombies was a damn shock! The priest smiles and gestures towards the investigators, the zombies shamble forward, arms raised and moaning... Not the first time that the League have dealt with the alternatively alive, their sanity wasn’t heavily affected, and defensive positions were taken up with Dick to the left, Jerry on the right and Harry and Bennett in the middle towards the door.

The party manage to separate the zombies so they have one each to deal with, the priest having not made a move so far. Though the zombies were slow, the damage dealt to them didn’t seem to have the desired effect, blasting out half a ribcage with a shotgun, it keeps on going, most of its face blown off, it doesn’t stagger, but eventually there’s only so much that even the undead can take, and two of them lay in a messy heap on the floor. The tribal priest enters the fray, swiping at Jerrys back with clawed gloves make from tigers paws, but his attempts to tear open the doctor fail (my rolling was horrendous!). Dodging past his zombie, Dick runs towards the priest and swings at him with his cosh, cracking the cultist round the head, but unfortunately not knocking him out. Furious, the priest turns to look at Dick, and with an evil scowl he points at him; waves of terror slam through the P.I’s mind as the evil magic takes hold. Dick runs screaming into the corner of the room, unable to do anything other than shake and whimper.

With the last zombie dispatched, Bennetts attention is fully on the tribal priest, his intention was to merely wound the man so they could question him later, but ended up blowing his chest open (Hard pass to hit vs a Fail to dodge and max damage rolled).

Hurt, bloodied and frankly confused, the investigators survey the carnage that lay around them, blood and chunks of flesh coating almost every surface. Bennett went back to the alcove that the priest and his zombies had been hiding in and found a copper bowl, a short staff and a wooden mask, along with the missing book from Harvard University, all of which he hurriedly shoved into his bag for inspection later, along with the clawed gloves.

Jerry and Harry go back to the covered well, and after a couple of attempts, manage to lift the stone slab that covered it. The wailing started immediately, multiple voices, all crying out at the same time, but the voices weren’t attached to people, but a roiling, misshapen being at the bottom of the well.  As face after face rose to the surface of the oily black blob, the stone slab slammed down with a thud and a shout from both Harry and Jerry of “Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope!” as they dived back.
Dick was now coming to his senses and the four investigators left, not before throwing a couple of Molotov cocktails through the door, and ran up the stairs and out of the shop. The sight of two men covered in blood and gore sprinting down the road, followed by another man, equally messy, nonchalantly strolling along, and finally the mustachio’d Harry trying his best to be sneaky but failing miserably, must have been quite a sight!

Realising that attempting to stroll into a five star hotel covered in blood and bits of zombie would probably cause a little bit of a stir, they decide to take a detour past Central Park, utilising one of the ponds for a quick bath, terrifying a poor homeless man in the process! So soaking wet, they stride back into their hotel and acting as if nothing was untoward, stroll past the night porter and retire to the suite.

Bennett passes out the odd items that he picked up from the alcove, the copper bowl seems to have some sort of mythos attachment, but no one could identify in what way. The staff however was carved with Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Bennett was able to discern that it said 'Nyambe, Thy Power Mine'. As he says it out loud, a warm feeling spreads up his arm and gently fades. The feeling was quite pleasant, but as to what it meant, he is unaware. Dick has a quick skim through ‘Dark African Sects’, and spots the symbol that was carved on Jacksons head, The Cult of the Bloody Tongue, a name at last!

Harry turns the mask over in his hands, something isn’t right with it, it’s lighter than it should be for its size, but as hard as rock, this is no wood that he’s ever come across, but he’s no botanist. Doing what anyone in his position would do, he placed the mask on his face, and screamed… The mask latched onto his face, Harry desperately clawed at it as the eye holes opened wider, forcing his eyes to stare out. Harry’s pupils expand wide and his arms drop to his side. As far as the other investigators are concerned, only a couple of seconds pass before the mask falls away, but for Harry it was so much more. He saw himself floating up, through the ceiling, up above the hotel, ever higher, New York stretches out below him as he carries on up, the Eastern Seaboard, North America, the Western Hemisphere, eventually the whole planet falls away as Harry speeds out into the deepest of space. Soon the Solar System is dwindling away, further, deeper into space, out of the Milky Way and ever onward. Time becomes meaningless as the journey continues, until after what could have been aeons, there seems to be a surface, smooth and shiny like the inside of a bubble, and on this surface are images of Harrys life, every memory he’s ever had, laid out for inspection. As Harry stares, each memory shatters and fades, and through the now clear surface, he sees more bubbles, each containing other people, other creatures, other worlds, all of them connected to something, huge beyond understanding, but somehow connected to everything, everywhere. Harry floats further away, away from everything that ever has been or ever will be until he is alone, utterly and unendingly alone.
As the mask falls away from Harrys face, he drops to the floor, unmoving and silent (his mind having been turned to porridge after witnessing Yog-Sosoth, losing 100SAN will do that to you!), his friends try to get him to come to, but with no avail. They keep an eye on him over night, but by morning there’s no change. Doctor Jerry takes him to the local hospital with the intention of having him transferred to the asylum in Arkham after he has been assessed.

With a heavy heart, the rest of the party head back to Arkham, but first they go to Harvard to return the book and find somewhere secure to lock away the mask and copper bowl, Bennett is intrigued by the staff and keeps hold of it.

Back at the headquarters of the League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen, the party discuss their next move, eventually they decide to retrace Jacksons steps, and as London was the last place he was seen, that’s where they should go.

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