Thursday, April 28, 2016

CoC #32: Masks of Nyarlathotep #12 The Mountain of the Black Wind

April 7, 1925
Two of the investigators, Dr Bob Wintermute, Professor of History at Miskantonic University and Joshua Wanisko, Chemical Engineer and a man well out of place, had just made it downstairs to the hotel bar for some pre-dinner libations, along with their new-found friend, Father Dorian Dolan, an Anglican Priest and overzealous wanker who just happened to arrive in Egypt to convert the unwashed masses (Welcome back Aaron to the playgroup!).

For Wintermute it was the first trip down around the lobby in many days since his incident in the Egyptian desert had stolen his friends, his health, and a slice of his sanity, but it was a bold step to not be in constant physical pain. 

In a scene largely a mirror image of a few days prior, Steven O'Hara, Doctoral Student of Physics at Columbia University staggered in with the ex-French Foreign Legion merc, Francois Guerin, both covered in sand and road grime.

Steven filled in the blanks while Dr Bob had been incapacitated.  Steven and notable author/parapsychologist Dr. Nathaniel Millheim had traced back the clues to Bob's research and ultimately found a secret chamber at a Carlysle dig site and had a face to face encounter with... The Black Pharaoh.   O'Hara escaped with a shattered Guerin, while Doc Millheim and their hired Egyptian muscle disappeared. 

It was time for some bookkeeping.  Numerous telegrams had arrived:
  • Joseph Carrington rescinded the letter of credit toward the party.  Joshua was formerly recalled.
  • Jonah Kensington confirmed receipt of Doc Millheim's latest fiction.  Forwarded them £500.  
  • Kensington also acknowledged that Doc Millheim's secretary "Betty" had cleaned out his office and was working out of Prospero Press.  "Say hi to Brian, please."
Despite Steven's confirmation to the Black Pharaoh that the group would stop Jackson Elias' investigation,
"Going to spring Nate after this..."

April 8, 1925
They visited Dr Karfour at the Egyptian Museum and upon discussion, uncovered that Dr Bob had been the only one to read Life As a God and realized that it described the Black Pharaoh's throne room. 

They noticed in the papers that the library of the Mosque of Ibn-Turan had been destroyed.   The investigators realized that they were marked men, no matter what Steven had promised Nylarathotep, so they booked immediate passage to Mombassa.

April 9, 1925
Departed for Mombassa

April 12, 1925
Arrived in Mombassa unscathed.   Spent their day talking with those interested in the Carlysle Expedition.   The Lieutenant had perished in a suspicious fire a few years previous and the rest of the leads seemed to be in Nairobi.  Two elephant guns were procured and train passage to Nairobi purchased.

April 13, 1925
Left the Mombassa Train Station, headed for Nairobi

April 14, 1925
Early in the morning, the faint light of Nairobi nearly in view.   The Reverend could not sleep and was pacing between the dining car and the Whites-only car.  He heard what could only be described as a "sizzle" from the front of the train, and a flaming object pass the window on the train.  This flame paused in front of the window of the other investigators, pressed up against the wooden walls of the car, and appeared to seep through the cracks, lighting everything around it that was flammable.

The rest of the investigators awoke to a growing conflagration in the car. 

The Reverend and Doctor Bob tried to hunt down water,  Francois tried to beat the fire out, and Steven rushed to wake up the other civilized passengers.

The flames danced around the investigators but no one was getting harmed.  

Wintermute and Rev Dolan finally found a little water in the dining car, but also discovered a blue dancing flame working its way to them.  They dashed water on the blue flame, but the first class car was fully engulfed.   They then worked to the second class car and successfully uncoupled the rear cars.

Back in the fire, things had escalated quickly.  Neither Francois  nor Steven could hold themselves together, with the strange fire and a women getting burnt alive in front of their eyes.  Francois went delusional, thinking the world was on fire, running right off the back of the track, while Steven jumped out a window to safety.  Both took significant bumps and bruises. 

By the time Francois and Steven recovered and got back to the tracks, they were forced to dodged the first class and dining cars rolling back downhill, completely aflame, with no survivors.

Through the early morning hours, the investigators were interrogated heavily by authorities, but with little evidence that they were at fault (no cigars, lighters, etc). 

They finally reached the Hampton House Hotel and rested for the entire first day in Nairobi.

April 16, 1925
The investigators visited the headquarters for the King's African Rifles and spoke with Captain Montgomery.  He confirmed Lt Selkirk's death a year and a half previous, right before he arrived and assumed command.  He introduced them to Sergeant Bumpkin, the only person remaining who had seen the site of the massacre.  He was an ornery folk.  Wintermute pushed matters further, under his insurance investigator persona, but the soldiers referred all additional questions to the Office of Internal Affairs of the Kenya Colony.     They also inquired about Nails Nelson and Bumpkin referred them to the Quartermaster's Club. 

The head of Internal Affairs, Roger Croidon had been the lead investigator at the Carlysle massacre and actively fought any idea that the stories didn't match up.  Previous  insurance investigators had come asking to resolve the incident efficiently, and he obliged them. 

They uncovered the location of guide Sam Maringa, who knew little, but was willing to take them up to the mountains. 

Next they searched for Johnstone Kenyatta.  Kenyatta was receptive to an honest plea for help and information and scheduled a special meeting the next night.

Nails Nelson was a certified drunkard and could vaguely remember running into Jack Brady in a bar in Hong Kong, but not much else.   He was also a self-reputed guide when he wasn't drinking and offered to lead them to the Mountain of the Black Wind for a nominal fee.

April 18, 1925
That night, they stowed away their larger weapons at the hotel and met with Kenyatta.  He blindfolded them, led them through the streets of town, hopped into an automobile which took them to the "Blacktown" section of Nairobi.  They then switch cars, switched guides, and reached a bright yellow Rolls Royce.  The Rolls drove them to a small village outside of the city, whence they disovered their contact, Okuma, had been personally driving them.  Okuma turned around, pulled a large handgun out of nowhere and demanded a reason why he should proceed.  It took a lot of stuttering and yammering, but the investigators satisfied his demands, at least temporarily.      The Rolls drove them to a nearly identical village.   Okuma led them to a hut, where a withered old man was in a meditative trance.  The investigators were told to wait until he returned. 

Nine hours later, the man awoke, stood up, and told each of the investigators a piece of their heart.

To Father Dolan, he showed up to all this a bit too late.  He may already be beyond help.

To Francois, he showed up at the right time, but the penalties for your knowledge would be severe.

To Wintermute, perhaps studying the traditions of the natives of your land would have been more benefit to your well-being.

To Steve, he would share his mad knowledge with the world, one way or another.

The old man warned them that the Mountain of the Black Wind was what others called Mt Kenya.  It was a desolate area where little lived.  The priestess of the Bloody Tongue was M'Weru and her minions kidnapped dozens from local tribes to satiate the appetite of their god with sacrifices. He also gifted them a small box with a chameleon inside with instructions to release when they need the greatest help from evil.   The also received what could be best described as an African fly swatter "to protect them."

They return to Nairobi the same meandering way that they had left.

April 19, 1925
Both Sam Mariga and Nails Nelson leading, they leave for Mountain of the Black Wind.

The visit the site of the massacre.  Everything within the site was barren, with scorch marks and a disgusting black seeping substance oozing out of the rocks.  Outside the site, the world was sparse, but at least showed signs of life. 

April 22, 1925
While working up Mt Kenya, they discovered a separate path leading into the mountain itself.

They worked through the passageways to come up a strange room with a great throne and a cage full of naked men, women, and children.  They released the captives and instructed Sam to lead them back to the closest village. 

They uncovered yet another secret entrance behind the throne which led up.    Upon reaching the top of the rise, they looked down upon a collapsed lava dome with human construction built around.  There was deafening chanting surrounding an African woman and her fifty bodyguards.   Torches were lit by the bodyguards and they reached out to light other torches.  To barely visible persons at the edge of the dome.  These light multiplied out to the horizon, unveiling thousands upon thousands of followers of the Bloody Tongue. 

The distance between the cultists, their priestess, and their bodyguards was prohibitive.  Wintermute grabbed a Tommy Gun and mowed down the men rather ineffectually, by that incited the cultists. 

The Priestess cast a spell at the group and Wintermute countered with a great beast from beyond.  M'Weru's talents stunted the beasts effectiveness. 

They released the chameleon and it exploded in size.  It pushed most of the investigators into the lava dome, before racing down to meet the charging cultists, but in doing so it caught Nails unawares and crush him into the rock wall. 

Steven tried to sneak down closer to the distant alter, only to slide down to it uncontrollably.  Francois followed suit.   On the altar was a woman, whom Steve recognized as Hypatia Masters, photographer on the Carlysle Expedition.    She was quite pregnant, with something near-reptilian clawing its way out of her stomach.  Francois went mad, but Steven managed a single shot of his rifle at the distorted fetus (?), only angering it. 

Steven waited no time, grabbing Francois and scaling up the lava dome to the secret passageway.    With the Priestess nowhere to be found and the creature "transforming" it was best to leave the way they came and leave Kenya as soon as possible, if no sooner. 

With no guide traversing the wilderness was difficult, but they were able to find a small copse of trees when they turned around and saw the transformation complete. 

Oh boy....
No one else went mad with the great reveal of the God of the Bloody Tongue, but the journey back to Nairobi, and hopefully Mombassa would not be easy.  Cultists that survived the dark god's arrival, traipsed the land like the psychopaths they truly were, hacking at anything and everything, including each other.    The shadows of the forest only shielded them from the horrible fate of Sam Mariga and the rescued villagers, some hideous new form with four legs and large as majestic oaks feasted on their remains. 

Shanghai was in the back of everyone's minds, but survival through the night was the first priority.

RIP Bertram "Nails" Nelson  1888-1925 - There was a reason Jack Brady didn't tell you anything...
Outside of early rolls by Steven and Francois, all the bad rolls stayed on my side of the screen.  This allowed a section of Masks with multiple-TPK possibility into multiple warning shots, yet the investigators only achieved minor success by staying alive...

Next Episode:  #13 - From the Ashes of Kenya

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