Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CoC #33: Masks of Nyarlathotep #13 From the Ashes of Kenya

April 23, 1925- Southeast of Mt Kenya, 3am
The investigators had already learned a valuable lesson this night: Stopping an evil ritual and interrupting an evil ritual were not the same thing.  Now on the run through the Kenyan wilderness with no guide and no map, thousands of cultists wishing death upon them was not a good thing.

Lucky for our group, the swarms of cultists were not organized in the least, and group could dispatch them by the handful.  Doubling their luck, multiple gunshots could be heard in various directions, so the  remaining horde weren't all running towards them en masse when they fired their weapons. 

Our Investigators:
Dr Bob Wintermute:  Professor of History, Miskatonic University
Steven O'Hara:  Physics grad student, Columbia University
Francois Guerin:  Mercenary, ex-French Foreign Legion
Father Dorian Dolan:  Anglican Priest

The only thing that got them safely out of the forest was a brave local native, named Mutumbo.  Armed only in  spear, they evaded more cultists and almost emerged out the other side towards civilization when they heard a single click and hearty British accent, "My good chaps, if you could explain your presence here, it would be right fighting."

Standing in the clearing was an aged man, pointing an elephant gun at them.   This would be their introduction to Richard John "RJ" Cuninghame, famed African Big Game Hunter.

Mr RJ Cuninghame, I presume on an earlier safari. 
RJ was a on a safari for some samples (living and dead) for the Hong Kong Zoo.   As his camp rested last night, these crazed individuals began to overrun it.  Everyone else in his party, white or black, had been killed.

Steven was trying to better explain the investigator's reasons for getting lost in the middle of the Kenyan night, but two ruckuses were coming from opposite direction.    Francois and RJ easily covered the one side from a raid of a dozen cultists.  For Steven, Bob, their instructions from RJ were simple, "Let the lion out of its crate and get out of the way"

Bullets and the King of the Jungle were sufficient to take out both fronts.  

The group managed to re-capture the lion using ropes, Steve perfecting at lassoing the beast and bulky Francois holding and pulling the creature back in its crate. 

Sleep-deprived and sanity-drained Steven began on a bit of an incoherent rant about how the group knew what to do (even though they hadn't successfully done anything about it yet.).and if anyone left them, they ran a high probability of getting murdered.   He was eventually subdued with a slap across the face by Wintermute, and Dr Bob convinced RJ to abandoned his safari and at least head back to the safer confines of Nairobi.

April 26, 1925 - Nairobi, Kenya
There will a few more small skirmishes with cultists, but the investigators were well on their way back.  Mutumbo wishes them good luck and headed back to his village. 

They got to the ridge marking the Kenyan highlands and could see the smoke emanating from Nairobi.   

The closer they got to Nairobi, the more agitated Dr Bob became. 

"We need to avoid Nairobi... it's already too late.  We can find a river that flows away from Nairobi... build a raft... float down to the coast and find a way off this God-forsaken continent.  If that's what we dealt with before, I'm not getting anywhere near it."
The fires of Nairobi were noticeable quite a distance away.
Cuninghame was bemused, "We, a bunch of white men without porters, are going to assemble large enough rafts to sail down rivers that I only have rudimentary familiarity with?  Dear sir, the first five minutes on the river and you would try to use the back of a hippo as a stepping stone. We would only need nothing bigger than a hat box to mail your remains back home. " 

The rest acquiesced to the hunter's position... Dr Bob grumbled most of the way back.

Nairobi was a smoky mess.  The conflagration was odd in its path of destruction,   Whole buildings had been reduced to a light powdery ash, while others beside them stood intact, while a few odd buildings appeared to have the fire mysteriously stop halfway through the building, leaving the surviving portion only suffering from smoke damage. 

Cuninghame's hotel he used had been reduced to ashes, but the investigator's Hampton House Hotel stood in the precarious third description.  The building appeared to had been burning on all four sides and working its way in.   Most of the party's belongings were singed or ruined.  The books, kept in well protected steamer trunks, suffered the same random fate as the rest of the town.  All the tomes were transferred to easier parcels to carry and the group dashed to the railway station.

The railway station was utter chaos, as most of the surviving populace, white, brown, and black were in full panic trying to escape the still-smoldering remnants of Nairobi.  The investigators fought through the crowd of Africans, clubbing many who got in their way.  The Africans did not take kindly to yet another display of random Colonial power, and many tried to pull the rifles, satchels, and supplies right off the party, but ultimately, they made it to the Kings African Rifles (KAR) protecting the platform and got aboard the Whites Only train ready to race towards Mombassa.

They slept poorly, if at all on the trip down into the lowlands, but with a company of  KAR guarding atop the train, they could relax enough to look at options in Mombassa.

April 28, 1925 - Mombassa, Kenya
The investigators arrived to a scene in Mombassa, smaller in scale to Nairobi.   Sporadic fires where being put out throughout the city.  Refugees from Nairobi flooded the streets.  Every ship offering passenger service out of Mombassa was booked two times beyond normal capacity, and despite bribes and their persuasive skills, no one could get as much as a deck chair on any of them.    Cuninghame did work over towards the cargo freighters and purchased space aboard the SS Vahanna.  Destination: Shanghai. 

April 29, 1925 - Mombassa, Kenya
The team finally leaves Mombassa aboard the freighter Vahanna
The SS Vahanna, in better days

May 4, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
While the Captain, a smarmy  half-British/half Indian by the name of James Sardar Bosen, had promised the ship's arrival in Shanghai in two weeks, it was quite obvious that the ship could not run that hard.  Between that and the rainy season across the Indian Ocean, it looked as if five or six weeks minimum was more reasonable.  Steven jumped into action, spending his days and evenings below deck, repairing equipment, jury-rigging fixes when the parts were not available, giving proper maintenance that the largely Indian crew had woefully neglected.   Within a week, the ship was running as optimal as it could, and the grateful Captain recalculated arrival  of the Vahanna as three weeks. 

May 7, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
While the others decided to read tomes or keep busy with activities away from the crew, Francois was hoping a Gurkha was on-board, that he could befriend him and learning just a sliver of their legendary knife fighting skills.  There was one lone Sikh on board, a Barander Singh, who was willing to teach, but minutes into the first lesson, a rogue wave crashed into the Vahanna.  Singh lost his balance, fumbled his large knife, and gave himself such a grievous wound that no amount of first aid could save him.

As the crew was fond of the Sikh, and the only witness to the accident was the blood soaked Frenchmen, rumors of murder worked its way through the ship. 

May 10, 1925 - Aboard the SS Vahanna
It had been a tense three days, but thanks to the good professional relationship built by Steven O'Hara and Captain Bosen, and the arsenal of weapons the investigators had.  The calls for Francois to be tossed over subsided.  The Frenchmen spent the rest of the voyage hiding from the crew, and always stayed near another investigator when it was time to eat.

May 22, 1925 - Shaghai Harbor, China
The SS Vahanna arrived outside Shaghai harbor, Steven O'Hara at the helm.  His continued work on the ship had earned him a prominent spot of respect with Captain Bosen, so it wasn't surprising the captain allowed a few lessons in navigation and ship piloting, when the American asked. 

Some people may call this a hand-waving episode, but the investigators made the crucial rolls they needed to make in order to make it to Shanghai.  We got two other games in on the same gaming session, and without Bob and Aaron to run their characters, we simply wanted to see if the investigators could escape Kenya (with RJ's help they could...) and get more reading/skill training in for their final destination in Masks: China.

Next:  Masks Episode #14:  A Jolly Right Time in Shanghai

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