Monday, November 16, 2015

Coc #31: Masks of Nyarlathotep #11 Obey the Black Pharaoh!

April 4, 1925 Cairo, Egypt

Steven O’Hara - Doctoral Student of Physics
Dr Nathaniel “Doc” Millheim – Parapsychologist

After combing over all the documentation from the Carlysle Expedition, after conversing with Dr. Ali Karfour of the Egyptian Museum about antiquities and the Black Pharaoh, and visiting some of the seediest (and violent) bars in Cairo, the investigators had one priority before venturing any further.  

Getting as much information out of a mentality and physically scarred “Dr Bob” Wintermute from his misfortune venturing out to one of Carlysle’s dig sites.

While stable from the severe sunburn he suffered under the Egyptian sun, he still wasn’t lucid enough to talk. O’Hara and Millheim thought some outside stimulation might cause a breakthrough, but instead of hashish like Walter Besart had wanted, they had the ex-Foreign Legionnaire Francois Guerin go find opium. A little while later and Guerin returned with his Egyptian contact Habib, and enough to sedate a shipful of sailors on leave in China.

Dr. Bob became delirious, hallucinating at the furniture in the room, but he manages to detail the ambush in the desert, his first attempt at casting a spell, and the disastrous consequences.  

Even after hearing this American’s wild ramblings, Habib ran a few errands for cash for the investigators and was ultimately convinced not only to go back to his house and fetch his pistol, but to accompany the trio the following day back out into the desert.

April 5, 1925
There was nothing at the first site they hand visited, but the second site (an unimportant site according to Karfour). Over another dune they notice a major depression. Ringing this near-crater were rows of large stones nearly buried in the sand. At the bottom of the crater was a large rectangular slab. Digging around the slab resulted in a stone foundation that made eerily appear like an altar. It took all four of them, but pushing the slab off revealed a stairwell leading down beneath the desert.

They descended the stairwell to a large, ancient, empty burial chamber, dominated by two alabaster columns. Steven discovered a secret door in the one column that provided an additional stairwell inside leading further down.

Upon Francois hearing some faint gunshots off in the distance, the party decided it might be best to head back up top, get better supplies, and more batteries for the flashlights they carried. A quick hat on a rifle butt trick yielded no shots. 

When they reached their car, two tires had been ruined. They scouted the area again, and could find no tracks, save the ruined car from Dr Bob’s previous foray out and the peculiar combed sand of the area beside it.

Steven managed to repair the one tire and used the spare to replace the other, but it only held up for a few rock-strewn miles down the road. With the sun setting, they abandoned the vehicle and tried their luck with a village down the road. Steven carried the tires along with him to make additional repairs.

Thanks to Habib, they managed to acquire a meal and shelter, even if they were split up among different households in village. The villagers admitted that there was a bandit problem, but they had little there for them to take. Regardless, they had acquired an almost random assortment of firearms to defend themselves, from rusty jezzails to more modern Great War models.

None of the investigators could get a wink of sleep, so it was no surprise that they all jumped into action when they heard gunfire outside.

Habib got to his door first. He and the man of his host family, got into position to see five bandits with modern weapons, terrorizing their neighbors, kicking open doors and shoot indiscriminately inside.

Steven peaked out the door with his family’s patriarch, but decided to hold their shots until the optimal moment.

Francois took it upon himself to shoo the family away, and as the only investigator with a rifle, found a great defensive position to aim. 

Doc Millheim tried to break the only table his host family had to make a club for defense.

Francois took the first shot, completely incapacitating the bandit. 

Habib unloaded as fast as possible with his revolver, sinking shots into three more bandits, killing one and wounding the other two.

The only unwounded bandit charged Habib, but Habib managed to hit him with the door, knocking him out. 

Steven just held his shot.

Although one bandit escaped with his life, the villagers finally got organized, shooting all the bandits, alive and dead, in the head, save Habib's capture. 

In the aftermath, the damage to village was less severe than the bandit's rampage sounded.  A few hand minor wounds and by the grace of Allah, only two had persihed.

Habib took the bandit into his host's home.  His interrogation skill seemed swift and brutal, if ineffective.  The bandit basically admitted he was a cultist in sheer defiance to Habib and their endeavour was doomed to fail.

Then Habib took the man's trigger finger off with the flick of the wrist.

Just laughter from the bandit.

Habib kicked the man's chair over, and proceeded to drag him by his hair out to the center of the village.

Steven's persuasive insults that this man's god was a bootlicker for the Jewish god didn't translate well through an already flustered Habib. 

Habib with fire gently crisping  the open wounds finally brought the man to screams.

After a few moments, a large hand appeared on Habib's shoulder and gentle but slurred voice said, "Stop."

There stood a huge man who had his right side of his face gouged off, a missing right arm, and a prosthetic for a right leg.  His crutch/walking stick was a large spear, which he impaled the cultist with.  He then asked the investigators to follow him.

He led them to a small shanty on the outskirts of the village, where he introduced them to his grandmother, an woman who was completely missing her jaw.  The man explained that he knew the investigators were powerful and driven, "but in the end, it all ends in failure."

The grandmother's eyes lit up when she saw the investigators.  She could only make these foul, gurgling noises and point to communicate, but Doc Millheim could see a basket in the far corner with the Egyptian hieroglyph for protection on it.  Inside the basket was a large piece limestone, multiple inches thick, with a portion of the symbol from the basket carved on it.  The best they could determine was that it had been used for outdoor use.

April 6, 1925
Steven got the car operational again, and they were back in Cairo before lunch.  They tried to talk to Bob, but he was still out of commission, and even the least empathetic member knew not to try the opium trick again.

The returned to the Egyptian Museum and sought out Dr. Karfour.   He identified the piece of limestone as the capstone for the Red Pyramid, which had been discovered vandalized shortly after the principals of the Carlysle Expedition had left for Kenya.   He confirmed that it had been used as some sort of a ward, either trapping something in or keeping something out.

The investigators admitted where they had been and what they had discovered.  Dr Karfour advised that they stock up on supplies and visit him the next morning and he'll try to get additional information on the site.

April 7, 1925
Before leaving for the site, they dropped in on Dr Karfour.  He provided them a stone with a strange symbol that would help them ward evil spirits away.  Upon leaving, Doc Millheim spied the large book on Dr. Karfour's desk, an aged copy of... The Necronomicon.  *cue dramatic music*

Back at the site, everything was back in its original positions, they pushed off the lid, cleared the blocks, and went back down.

The descent in the alabaster staircase was dark and monotonous, only the ragged breathing of a tiring Dr Millheim interrupting the footsteps.  The repetitive steps up caught the group in a small panic, but they finally reached a level floor. 

The floor opened up into a ancient throne room, a giant obsidian throne dominating the back wall.  A mixture of Egyptian and Mythos dominated the back wall.  Six five- foot tall pillars stood beside the throne, each with an alien, flame-shaped gem set atop the stone.

The right wall had a barely recognizable map of the world on it, with a huge red triangle filling up the Indian Ocean, it's corners meeting in Africa, Australia, and somewhere in the water.  An odd ebony strip ran across the ocean like a line of latitude, with a inscription about the Old Gods making their appearance. 

The left wall had a huge star chart, each star lit up by unknown means.  It seemed that the star alignments and a planetary alignment showing the solar system with NINE planets (Pluto was discovered in 1930!)  It took a few moments, but they were able to determine an eclipse scheduled for the ebony area of the map... on January 14, 1926, along with the birth of a child, possibly that of the god Nylarathotep.   (The investigators really started making their astronomy rolls in force.)

Then the alien gems lit up.

In a panic, they realized  the passageway leading back to the alabaster columns had been sealed up.

And sitting on the obsidian throne, was the Black Pharaoh himself, two swirling vortexes floating beside him.

The Black Pharaoh only spoke a few words, warning the party of the foolishness of their search, how they should give up their quest, and simply return to their normal lives.

Habib, who had been warned that this search could feel more like war than research, pulled out his .38 and unloaded three rounds into the dark god... to absolutely no effect.

After the first shot, everyone could see these foul, almost dog-like beings emerged from the vortexes. Second shot rang out and the beasts moved forward. The third shot missed and the beasts stood at the feet of their apparent master.

The Black Pharaoh simply raised a single finger, and Habib vanished from existence.

O'Hara immediately agreed to the being's demands, "No, we will never bother you or your friends ever again!"  At the moment, Nylarathotep seemed pleased. 

For Francois, this was entirely too much, as he crawled into the far corner in a sobbing mess. Doc Millheim's fragile psyche managed to hold on through such a mind-blowing encounter but his sense of right and wrong went right out the window. 

"We humbly apologize for irritating you like a fly on an elephant, but I myself have questions that I know only you can answer!"

"Answers?  You want answers?  Here, little one, go find the knowledge you seek." 

And with a move of the the Black Pharoah's hand, the star chart was replaced by a scene of an Egyptian marketplace.  Doc Millheim simply walked through the portal without any hesitation or concern for his friends and the scene from ancient Egypt faded from view, back into the stars and planets.

With that, the passageway materialized, Steven grabbed the maddened Francois, and the ran out of the alabaster columns without turning back.

Perhaps it was time to leave Egypt. 

For Hoyce's character Habib, he knew coming in he was to be hired muscle.  Trying to shoot a god in the face was what he was paid to do, although if he had succeeded he would have asked for more money.

Habib's Character Card for the table, edited in hindsight.
For Doc Millheim, it was a sad but fitting way for the parapsychologist/pulp writer to leave the game. He was the last original character still operating from session #1, and he knew his 30% in Cthulhu Mythos and 25% Sanity meant he was already on borrowed time.
But the commiserating of the good Doc didn't go on as planned.    Nate (the player) said that Doc Millheim would survive as long as he could, scratching anachronistic symbols and writing on any stone surface he could find.   He wasn't going down without a fight.

Then there was Steve (the player).   Although he had avoided learning anything from the Mythos, Steven the character had obtained tremendous amounts of knowledge regarding teleportation in an encounter in New York years ago.  He had been talented enough back then to improve upon the mad calculations of a raving madman.    Two years later, his knowledge in physics and mechanical engineering were far superior and, if he could get the materials, he would build a gate to travel back in time and rescue Doc Millheim.

We might be onto Kenya next, but I have a justified fear that I may need to prep a Stargate game... just in case.

Next: The Mountain of the Black Wind

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