Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Masks of Nyarlathotep - Episode 4

Episode 4

27th Jan 1925

The Mauritania

Waldo did his best to keep up with his new friend, Dick, but soon lost sight of him. Not wanting to get lost, Waldo heads back to the room where he is met by Jim and Bennett (finally having recovered from his sea sickness). After explaining what happened, the three of them decide the best thing to do is start a search, beginning at the bar of course.

At the bar they meet the Count, who sends a couple of his men out to search for the naked PI, but fearing the worst the party head to the Pursers office to report his disappearance; they explain about the sailor at their door and the Purser seems concerned, they shouldn’t be out of the engineering deck, let alone up in First Class. He reassures them that he will send his men out to search deck by deck immediately, and they head out for another hour or so doing their own search. As the time reaches 1am, Waldo, Jim and Bennett call it a night and agree to continue the search first thing in the morning.

With a brief breakfast in them, the investigators continue their search of the Mauritania, working their way down the ship. Deck by deck they search, asking passers-by if they have seen a naked Bostonian chasing a sailor (strangely, no one recalls seeing that particular show!), until they reach the entrance to the engineering deck. Despite the warnings on the door, they know that that’s where the sailors mainly work, so they decide to plunge into the dark and hot bowels of the ship.

Despite Jim being as stealthy as an armour plated rhino, they somehow managed to make their way through without being noticed, until they spot someone who stands out as looking different from the average sailors around this deck. Bennett gets a good look at the shady looking man, and positively identifies him as the ships Purser. They follow him further down into the depths, convinced that there’s something dodgy about him, until he goes through another hatchway and closes the door behind him.

Fearing the worst, our trio arm themselves, Jim with his pistol, Waldo gets his knives ready and Bennett (always one to make an impression) dons the tiger claw gloves that he took from the priest in the Ju-Ju House. Waldo is the first to sneak into this final boiler room, the heat hitting like a slap to the face. He successfully makes his way down the stairs and quietly slinks to the left, hiding behind a coal chute. At the end of the room stands four men in robes facing the back wall; facing them they see the Purser, finishing putting on his own robes and arranging things on a makeshift altar. Behind him is a very battered and bloody Dick Glover P.I, gagged and tied to the bulkhead; he’s clearly not had a good time overnight, but he is at least alive and conscious!

Jim manages to stay true to form and falls down the last couple of steps, making his presence well known and scuffles to the right hand side; however none of the sailors or the Purser seem to react. Finally Bennett enters the boiler room and closes the door behind him, making his way round to the right of the room.

The Purser raises his hands and cries out:

“Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh Wgah’nagl Fhtagn!”

The other sailors reply with a shout of:

“Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!”

The Purser and sailors continue the back and forth of the harsh, guttural chanting until the Purser pulls out a copper dagger from inside his robes; he wraps his hand around the blade and pulls, allowing his blood to flow into a metal bowl on the altar.

While the sailors are still engrossed in the ceremony, Waldo and Bennett manage to move further into the room, Jim makes the decision to try and distract the cultists with a polite shout of “Hello? I appear to be a tad lost, is this the way to the bar?” At this, the sailors turn to see where the voice came from, which leaves Bennett a clear shot to use The Fist of Yog-Sosoth for the first time, which successfully launches the Purser a good 10 feet away from the altar. The sailors are suitably shocked to see their leader fly through the air, so Waldo capitalises on the sudden turn of events and steps into view with a shout of “If you don’t want more like that, you better leave!”, queue much laughter from all of us at the image of this lanky nerd trying to threaten four insane cultists, that is until he rolled a 02 for Intimidate! The sailors back away from the surprisingly scary Waldo until they reach the altar, and that’s when things go really wrong.

The air in the room seems to take on a prickly feel, the hair on everyone’s necks standing on end….. RRRRIIIIIIPP!! A tearing sound echoes through the boiler room, the sailors look up as one to see the monstrous claws protruding through the air from seemingly nowhere. The claws drag down leaving a 10 foot long gash in space, the other side leading to eternal darkness, but what comes out of the dark is more worrying! Its head a strange combination of canine and ape like, leads down to broad shoulders and long powerful arms. A sickly sheen covers its mottled grey/green hide….Sanity checks all round! Most people did well with their rolls, apart from one sailor who freezes in place, staring in horror at the Dimensional Shambler, and Waldo who took a bit hit to his sanity but the effects weren’t immediately obvious…

As the three other sailors move away (a shambler is a lot scarier than a shouting researcher!), the Purser gets to his feet and manages to slap his bloodied hand on the back of the shambler, finalising his control over it. “Take them all” he says, and the shambler looks down at the terrified sailor, picks him up and opens another dimensional tear, stepping through with his quarry.

With no immediate sign of nightmarish creatures, the party leap into action, Bennett frees Dick from the wall and engages the Purser, the clawed gloves taken from the Ju-Ju House swiping and tearing at the enemy. Waldo fights against one of the sailors, seriously injuring him with one of his many knives, Jim isn’t quite as effective, his gun jamming twice and then failing to hit a single target with six rounds. But then the air takes on that same feeling of static electricity and another dimensional tear opens up, the shambler stepping through minus one sailor.

At this point, Bennett manages a mighty swipe at the Pursers throat, tearing it open and spraying him in blood. As the Purser drops to the floor, the shambler visibly shakes it’s head, the controlling effects leaving it. No longer being directed it dives for the first person it can see, the wounded Waldo Butters. A single swipe of its massive claws tears open Waldo’s chest, and with no one nearby to help, a few moments later he bleeds out.

Jim and one of the sailors both bolt for the door, the sailor managing to barge past the professor and escape. Jim ducks around the side of the door, taking cover and reloading his gun; meanwhile Bennett and Dick hunker down behind one of the smaller boilers, hoping that the monster doesn’t realise that they’re there. The Dimensional Shamber surveys the scene, it’s too hot and noisy here and there’s nothing to eat or fight that it can see; it swings its claws through the air and once again steps through into whatever place it came from.

Slowly the investigators regroup, three bodies lie on the floor, Waldo, the sailor that he injured (and subsequently killed), and the Purser. The final sailor is found cowering in the corner, his mind completely broken by the events that transpired, all attempts to communicate with him are met by a blank, tear streaked stare.

Jim, Dick and Bennett discuss what they should do next and decide that if the Purser was an evil cultist, then there’s a good chance that the Captain is too, best to hide the evidence and deny all knowledge! So slowly and somewhat shell shocked they search the bodies, and throw the corpses into the furnaces. The only things of interest that they found was a small stone tablet covered in Cuneiform, and a book called ‘Cthulhu in the Necronomicon’.

Battered, bloodied and exhausted, the trio head back to the suite to clean up and pack up, ready for their arrival in Portsmouth the next morning. All is not smooth for Jim, as his dreams turn to nightmares about underwater creatures, humanoid fish people that loom out of the dark….

A grey cloudy sky greets our investigators as the Mauritania docks at Portsmouth the next day, Dick is thoroughly unimpressed with the weather but Jim and Bennett are glad to be back in England after over a year in America. After a tense moment with customs, they gather up their luggage and head to the train station, not before introducing the Boston PI to the delights of real fish and chips, and cashing in on their favour with the Count to get tickets to Shanghai for in a couple of week (a clever move as without Harry to fund them anymore, the journey would have been less than comfortable on their current budget).

Our intrepid investigators head to London and then to Bennetts old house, a slightly dishevelled old town house, but it’s home. They drop off their luggage and unneeded equipment and head to the British Museum to see if there’s anyone available to translate the stone tablet that Jim found. They find a Professor Wyatt who takes a rubbing of the tablet and says he’ll try to get something in a couple of days.

True to form, Dick goes to the local pub to attempt to blank out the last few days. Bennett and Jim head home to recover, but Jims dreams are still plagued by images of creatures from the deep….

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