Sunday, June 28, 2015

Coc #29: Masks of Nyarlathotep #9 Why Bob Should Not Have Punched Francois in the Face

April 1, 1925 - The Ritz,Cairo

It had been a long voyage for Steven O'Hara.  Plenty of time to lay about and heal up from all his wounds, firearm, motorcycle, and hypothermia related.  After two trips into icy English waters, he had welcomed the warm water that Egypt had to offer.

For the first few days, Cairo was just like London, if you never ventured outside the hotel and ignored the deluge of perspiration.    Dr Bob, his grad assistant Parks, and the belly dancer were doing all the leg work while O'Hara, Doc Millheim, and Joshua healed up.  Each night Bob would come back to the hotel more agitated than before, sometimes at Parks' incompetence, other times at things that he wouldn't relay to the group.  The invalids knew something was wrong when he brought back three mercenaries to talk over plans of raiding a few dig sites.  Bob was back to this near-rage status when the healthy group, plus the mercenaries, were to set out and investigate some of the distant exploratory sites the Carlysle Expedition originally poked around.  The French mercenary, Francois, was nowhere to be seen and the party left without him.

About two hours later, Francois appeared at the hotel invalids while they were having drinks after second breakfast.

"I knew you gentleman were having trouble with the French Embassy looking for a man.  I have connections there that have kept me in the country far longer than I should be allowed, so I paid them a visit.  I know where Walter Besart is."

The hot desert air had done great things to O'Hara, so a trip down the back alleys of Cairo with a mercenary did not seem as dangerous as his previous exploits.

As they found the Red Door on the Street of Scorpions, they opened to find a men's native clothier.   The proprietor was quite impressed by the potential scale but all three men talked around the question in the room: Where is Walter Besart?  The proprietor, Aboud, claimed no knowledge of such a man, and neither Investigator could pick up on the worry in his voice and casual glances to a curtained doorway.  Finally, a hacking cough was emitted from the curtain, and Francois pushed Aboud aside to see who, or what, was there.

The first thing that hit him was a pungent stench of stale hashish.  An emaciated shell of a man lay on a small bed with nothing more than a tiny nightstand with a well-used hash pipe atop it, covered in ash and residue.

If this was Walter Besart, his only lucid moments were his demands for more hashish to ease the pain, or opium if they had it.  Steven was completely out of his element:  Gin joints were one thing. Dirty hole in the wall speakeasies with rot gut produced a peculiar type of man.  He had no experience in the heavier, or at least more exotic drugs.   After much pestering by Besart, he acquiesced, and gave Francois the money to obtain the drug.  After an even longer time smoking the drug, Besart was finally ready to tell his tale with the Carlysles.

"Despite conflicting licenses, the primary dig site for the Carlysles was Dhashur, in the area of the Bent Pyramid.  One day, Jack Brady came to him and said that the rest of the group had entered the pyramid and vanished.  All the workers had fled from the site, and Besart and Brady couldn't decide what to do, so they drank. 

The next morning, the group appeared, very excited, but very secretive about their find.  Although he couldn't tell specifically why, Besart felt that they had... changed somehow.

That night an old Egyptian woman visited him.  She claimed her son had been one of the diggers, and that they all fled when the Europeans consorted with the Messenger of the Black Wind.    She declared that all of their souls were lost, save Brady and himself, and if he wanted proof of that, he should arrive at the collapsed pyramid on a certain night.

He snuck out of the camp on that night and witnessed Carlysle and hundreds of raving lunatics dancing in the midnight blackness.  The desert swirled around and unearth a giant monster that tore apart the cultists and an army of dark sphinxes awaiting their invisible master's command.  The grisly sight forced him to faint, and when he awoke it had been many months and some natives found him wandering the desert.  Only the hashish helps now..."

Next:  Episode #10:  "Never Look a Man in the Eye in Cairo"

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