Masks of Nyarlathotep

Another Relaxing Cruise
An Interlude at Sea

They took a train to Port Said that afternoon and laid low for a couple days until they could catch the SS Osterley on the P&O Orient Line on Saturday afternoon. They all splurged on first class for a much needed rest.

Boarding the ship they noticed one of the ship’s first class stewards watching them closely. Helen recognized one of the other passengers as an Belgian archaeologist, Dr. Rene Delaflote and his party. Chuck also recognized a General he had seen once in the war.

At dinner the first night, Chuck saw Dr. James O’Reilly, the ships doctor and realized he knew him from the Mesopotamia campaign during the war. They had served together in Basra and during the seige of Kut. Chuck and the Dr. shared drinks and reminisced in the lounge that night.

They noticed the Steward, Akbar, watching them. Someone had searched Sean’s cabin while he was out on Monday,

On Tuesday the body of Dr. Delaflote was found in his room by the chambermaid. Dr. O’Reilly was tasked by the Captain to solve the murder before they reached port. Dr. O’Reilly asked Chuck and friends to help.

They searched the crime scene, and interviewed suspects and witnesses. They soon pieced together that Dr. Delaflotte was not well liked by any of his treasure hunting party and found out they were on the trail of the Carlysle expedition hoping to loot the legendary Solomon’s Mines. They eventually came to realize that Delaflote’s daughter, Sophia, blamed him for not being there when her mother died and resented him for controlling her life. She was also in love with Delaflote’s research assistant, Henry. Henry had proposed to Sophia but Delaflote refused to give his consent. They theorized this sent Sophia into a rage and she had killed her father with a blow from an artifact they were smuggling out of the country,

Searching the Egyptian Steward Akbar’s cabin, they found the statue of Bast that was probably the murder weapon. Akbar finally confessed that he was an agent of a Cult of Bast and was tasked with watching for a group of Europeans fleeing Egypt with a holy artifact stolen from Bast. He had entered Delaflotes cabin Monday night to search it and found the statue and the body. He took the statue and fled. He claimed innocence.

They accused Sophia of killing her father, but Henry confessed that he had done it, not Sophia. They arrested Henry and planned to turn him over to authorities upon their arrival in Mombasa.

They Mystery of the Cat’s Cradle had been solved (or had it?).

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Horror Beneath the Pyramids
An Insane Delve

Helen studied the obelisk and after a while managed to puzzle out a hidden message in the hieroglyphs:Miighty is the god whose breath brings death and whose form brings madness. Remembering the Coptic Egyptian words she repeated the phrase and felt magic power being pulled through her. Willingly sacrificing the power, she cast her first spell and the obelisk went translucent. She stepped through followed by the others (Gavin hesitated).

They found themselves in ancient passages far below the pyramids, the oppressive weight of the stone above their heads smothering them almost as much as the overwhelming silence. They were in a chamber with another obelisk and a large passage leading off into the darkness. Following the passage, they passed numerous other side passages but stuck to the large one. Soon enough loathsome images were seen on the walls of beast headed humans, human headed beasts, and alien monsters performing despicable acts on human kind. Their imagination got the better of them and they spotted movements in the shadows, walls moving like breathing tubes of great monsters, and imagined blood dripping from the ceiling. Soon they came to a lit area and could hear the murmur of hundreds of voices, then a scream followed by cheers.

Ahead the passage turned and there were wide black stairs leading down into a huge chamber supported by massive black marble columns. The floor was slick black marble flecked with white. Sneaking down in the darkness they managed to keep from being spotted but saw the chamber filled with 800 robed cultists and about 100 man-beast hybrid creatures wearing nothing but loin cloths. The man-beasts seemed to be guarding the chamber. They spotted a high dias with an altar atop which lay an ancient sarcophagus (most likely Queen Nitocris) attended by 12 robed priests. Before the dias was a wide rectangular pit with booms at each corner, most of the cultists thronged around this and the 100 or so tied up prisoners awaiting their turn to be lowered by the booms into the pit of leeches below then raised screaming covered in the slimy creatures to the great amusement of the crazed cultists.

Nearer this end of the chamber was another wide staircase descending below, from which a flickering red light could be seen. Beyond the altar/dias was another raised platform sporting two large stone thrones, leading from here to the right wall was a processional bridge supported by arches. Near the wall at the end of the bridge was another obelisk. Looking closer at the altar they could spot pillars near the sarcophagus to which were tied Angela Broadmoor and James Gardner, Broadmoor appearing drugged and being forced to use her spiritual powers to contact the dead.

Realizing that to push much further in the chamber would risk attention of the guards or cultists, they retreated and tried to find an entrance to the processional bridge seen across the chamber. Investigating side passages they were soon rewarded with a door that opened onto the bridge behind the obelisk. Helen snuck out and examined the obelisk, but could find no hidden spell here. They argued for a while about what to do and decided their only course of action was to kill the hostages before they could be ritually sacrificed. Chuck theorized that Broadmoor’ss abilities as a medium were possibly being used to call Queen Nitocris from beyond and if they killed Broadmoor at just the right time the spirit could be trapped in time and space, lost between worlds. Sean decided to bank everything on this and took Chuck’s stolen rifle and crawled out behind the obelisk to wait. Chuck waited just inside the door with the Thompson with Husam while Gavin and Helen watched the corridor.

Sean watched in horror as all 100 victims were fed to the leeches and died a horrible death. He watched as Agatha was forced in her drugged state to commune with the dead, and Gardner struggled feebly with his bonds. He also watched the priests lift the mummy of Nitocris (wearing crown, necklace, and girdle) out of the sarcophagus and onto the altar and pushed the empty sarcophagus down onto the cultists below, crushing several. Sean could see the white fluffy cat pacing around the dias by the altar.

Soon the sacrifices were complete and the gathered cultists crowded the raised altar. The robed priests led a chant in which the name Nyarlathotep could be heard repeatedly. The chant raised in fervor and two of the priests near the prisoners pulled curved blades. Gardners throat was sliced and his blood allowed to spill over the mummy. Sean decide it was now or never and aimed and fired. Agatha Broadmoor’s head exploded in a spray of brains and blood and all hell broke loose. Chuck stepped out onto the platform and began swinging around the Thompson as Omar Shakti turned his priests hood slipping from his head, dropping the dagger he cast a quick spell and was wreathed in dark flames as he rose several inches off the floor. The other high priest, Martin Winfield, dove behind the altar for cover and the white fluffy cat jumped off the dias transforming into a 7 foot tall hairless lion demonic monstrosity that loped for the stairs to the thrones and the bridge beyond.

Chuck opened up with the Thompson and 3 priests fell (he avoided Shakti and chose to focus on the others on the plaform). Sean froze in horror as he realized that he had murdered an innocent, overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Shakti’s reached out both hands and two elaborate ankh shaped scepters flew into his hands which he crossed in front of himself and began chanting another spell. The demonic lion-cat bounded up the stairs towards them and Husam tried to get Sean to pull out of his stupor while Chuck retreated. Chuck spotted Winfield pulling a pistol and peeking around the altar. Sean started coming to his senses as Chuck pulled him to his feet and Husam stepped around the obelisk to meet the charging demon cat on the bridge. Husam whipped open the black wrapped bundle he had been carrying on his back and pulled out the holy Sword of Akmallah as the demon cat’s 7 foot long tongue lashed out at him. Sean decided to try some more shots with the rifle and was rewarded for this bravery when Shakti waved one of his scepters and a wide gash appeared across Seans abdomen. Husam dodge the lashing tongue of the demonic beast and slashed it withe the ancient blade, Chuck pulled Sean through the door. Sean did not resist, he had had enough! Husam retreated with the crazed demon-cat pressing him hard, but managed to wound it with the holy sword. Chuck yelled at Husam to get out of there, and turned just in time to see Husam backing into the corridor slashing and dodging the lashing tongue of the horrible hairless monster. With one final duck of the lashing tongue, Husam lashed out with the sword and impaled the demon. As it died it transformed into a mummified cat and clattered to the floor.

They fled. Fast. Gavin led them in a blind mad dash through unknown passages. The echoing shouts of pursuing cultists could be heard all around. Finally they came to a dead end room where was piled trash and rotting corpses beneath a sharply slanted chimney leading up. They somehow managed to all climb the difficult climb and emerged into the open air of the necropolis quite some distance from the Sphinx where they entered. They found where they left their orphan friend and quickly retreated towards Cairo on foot.

The sun crested the horizon just as they crossed the bridge into Cairo exhausted. The welcoming light of the sun refreshed them as they all realized the horror they had survived this night. Gavin suggested resting at his apartment, but they found it tossed. That wasn’t a good idea. They asked Mah’Mud if he knew a place they could hide and rest and he led them to an abandoned building in the old city. They rested and recuperated and decided it was high time to leave Cairo. They would take the first train to Port Said and catch a steamer to Mombasa. It was time to see what horrors they could uncover in the dark heart of Africa.

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A Cult Gathering
And a sexy priestess

While they were arguing what to do Chuck slinked away and snuck into the Clive camp, killing a guard and taking his coat and rifle. He found the artifact tent and slipped in, using a lighter in his pocket to see. The shelves and tables were empty. There was only one truck in camp, he figured the Clive expedition had already left. He snuck out of camp barely avoiding a guard who discovered his deceased comrade and raised an alarm. Chuck went running for the car and they sped away.

The spent the res of the night driving from pyramid site to pyramid site, looking for who knows what, but finding nothing. They were running out of gas and headed back to Cairo. The cat in the hallway tried to get in their flat. They got a few hours sleep and went to see Dr. Kafour at the Egyptian Museum. They walked their and eventually had a dozen cats following them. For luck he was in. They showed him the broken stone from the Red Pyramid, he said he thought it was a legitimate warding symbol of some kind, but he didn’t know what. He thought if it could be combined with it’s other half it might still hold power. For some reason they thought if they put the two pieces back on the Red Pyramid all would be rosy. Dr. Kafour explained the value of locking the barn door 6 years after the horses had escaped.

They showed Dr. Kafour the scroll they took from Van Heuvelen. He was very excited to see it. He agree to keep it safe and study it. They expected Dr. Kafour to tell them what to do, but he had no idea. Taking a wild guess, they thought they would find secret tunnels in the Temple of Bast Van Heuvelen had told them about. Dr. Kafour knew of no such temple.

Leaving they passed a beautiful Egyptian woman in a slinky white dress. She stared at Chuck. When he tried to talk to her, she told him he was a rude rude man and she scared him for some reason. Going outside (where all the cats were) they decided they needed to hire a car, time was of the essence. They sent Mah-Mud off to get a car and driver for the day. Meanwhile Sean went back into the museum to talk to the woman. She seemed to know who he was and where their secret flat was! She asked him where the scroll was, she wanted it returned to it’s rightful place. Sean told he Dr. Kafour had it. She asked if they were friends of the foolish Dutchman. She advised them to convince him to return the rest of the scrolls before something bad happened. This creeped Sean out and he left.

They went to Van Heuvelen. He screamed at them to leave him alone, he cried “murder, they have come to kill me!” Nobody came to his aid. He was insisting they leave immediately, but Sean got his attention with a promise of treasure and more artifacts, including the scrolls from the burial chamber of Nitocris if they would take him to the temple where he got the scrolls. He was leery, but eventually convinced. He insisted on taking his scrolls with them because he thought they might just be trying to lure him away so some accomplice could steal them. He led them to the hidden temple deep in the heart of the old city through a winding path. It was lit with a burning brazier, had an altar to Bast and lots of nooks filled with a dozen cats. The sexy woman from the Museum was there. She insisted she be given the stolen scrolls. Van Heuveleun tried to escape running for the stairs, Charlie and Gavin stopped him. The priestess pulled the satchel with the scrolls from his grasp and thanked them. Van Heuvelen began to cry, tears ran down Chucks hand which was clamped over his mouth. They asked the priestess about the secret tunnels in her temple, she told them there were none. They asked her to answer their questions about how to stop the cult, she did not know. They asked her if her goddess could help, she paused and looked at the statue on the altar and said “She does not want to get involved, it is much too dangerous for her”. The priestess dismissed them, and they climbed the stairs. Sean wanted to ask her one last question and went back down. When he reached the bottom he was quite surprised to see the woman gone and a large black panther in front of the altar! It roared at him and he fell over himself scrambling back up the stairs. They got out of there quickly and abandoned Van Heuvelen to his fate back at his hovel.

They decided to go look for the Vengeant Ulama Husam that had saved Gavin. It was late afternoon and when they arrived at his mosque they found out HE was looking for THEM at their apartment! Eventually they met up and he told them he needed their help. He had been poking around in the town of Gezira Muhammed looking into the dealings of Mr. Omar Shakti. He said everyone seemed afraid to talk, but one man suggested he check the plantation tonight. He went to the plantation and found quite a bit of activity there. Realizing something was going to happen, he determined to crash the party, but needed their help if they were willing.

They all drove to Gezira Muhammed and dismissed their driver and car. The streets were deserted, it seemed people were hiding in their homes. They walked north to the plantation, there were quite a few people gathering there. They watched as night fell, people coming from all over and gathering at the plantation. Around 10pm, a procession left on foot of about 500 robed cultists led by Omar Shakti carrying his white cat. They people had lanterns and torches and walked in a long column south.

They followed, easily able to track the lights in the night. The procession walked through town and into the desert. They walked for 3 hours all the way to Giza!

The cultists gathered around an obelisk about 150 yards south of the Sphinx. One of the robed figures stepped forward raising his hands and saying something they could not make out from their hiding place amongst the ruins some distance away. The obelisk shimmered, went transparent, and the robed figure stepped into it and disappeared. The throng of cultists followed.

They thought about attacking as the crowd thinned, but Husam suggested it might not be good to give up the element of surprise just yet. So they waited until the last cultist disappeared into the obelisk and ran for it. By the time they got there, it had returned to it’s solid state and they could not follow into it. They were alone in the necropolis of Giza in the darkest part of the moonless night.

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A Drunken Duitchman
And Nosy Cats

Gavin Dempsey returned to Shepheards the next day (Saturday afternoon) disguised in native garb. He bribed a hotel worker to find Gardner and Broadmoor having afternoon tea on the garden terrace. He talked to them, the guards somehow allowing it. According to Gardner, the Clive expedition knew from texts they had exhibited in London before leaving for Egypt that the mummy was Queen Nitocris. Dr. Clive was being overly discreet in not identifying it. Neither of them believed the sarcophagus was dragged from the pyramid, Broadmoor thinks something supernatural was involved, Gardner theorized about secret passages. Broadmoor was theatrical in displaying her air of mystery, telling Gavin that Queen Nitocris could rise from the dead if the Crown of Nitocris, the Necklace of Nitocris, and the Girdle of Nitocris were placed on the mummy and the proper rituals performed while the celestial bodies were right. Whether she knew something or was just being spooky Gavin wasn’t sure. Gardner told Gavin he wanted to come here to study his theory of the Riddle of the Sphinx and that it was tied to great underground tunnels, perhaps even an entire city, under the Sphinx. However, Dr. Clive moving the expedition to Memphis shortly after their arrival had made that difficult for Gardner and he wasn’t too happy about it.

Sunday morning the newspaper had an article about “Tragedy at the Mosque of Tulun”. It said six scholars had died in the collapse of the ceiling of their study chamber, including Efti, and that the Nazir had collapsed and was in the hospital. They went to the mosque and found Husam, who at first thought they might have had something to do with it. He told them that something or someone had come up into the chamber from an underground tunnel and the girdle was gone. The tunnel was collapsed, the police had a strange chunk of gray flesh they had found at the scene. Everyone at the mosque was quite upset.

Sunday afternoon they chased down Janwillen VanHeuvelen, who turned out to be a drunkard living in the back of a ratty tailor shop. They promised to buy him lunch and drinks, he drank a lot. There were a lot of cats around. At lunch Charlie decided to choke and throw the owners cat. She wasn’t happy with this and pulled a shotgun, Charlie ran for it chased by a spray of buckshot and her two sons with knives after his left nut. VanHeuvelen told them he had hired on with the Clive expedition shortly after their arrival in London but was fired not long after the disappearance of the sarcophagus for cost cutting reasons. He told them that the scrolls found with the mummy were quite legible and legitimate (quite different than the story Clive was peddling). VanHuevelen told them he was working on a book translating some lost scrolls of his own, this would be his big break. Apparently, Martin Winfield had told him of a lost temple of Bast here in the old city and the hiding place of the scrolls. VanHeuvelen had gone there and stolen them and was translating them now. He would not let them see the scrolls, so later that night they forced their way in, subdued the unfortunate man, and found the scrolls. They took one, the one that mentioned something about the Black Pharoah. More cats were around, one followed them, and one was watching their front door Monday morning. Helen translated the heiroglyphics as prayers to the Black Pharoah pleading for aid. Monday afternoon they stole a car and drove to Memphis, they spied on the camp, counting 50ish armed men guarding it.

What now? The new moon was tomorrow night.

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Holy Men
And Unholy Goons

Friday, April 17, 1925

At noon they met with Gavin’s savior, the Vengeant Ulama Husam from the Mosque of Ibn-Tulum. He told them his superiors at the Mosque wanted to meet with them. They went to the old Mosque and met with them. The holy men of the mosque wanted to know all about their connection with the Cult of the Black Pharaoh and what they knew. They found out that the Mosque had protected the Girdle of Nitocris for centuries and they met the 90 year old holy man who wielded the Sword of Akmallah and protected the girdle.

That evening Nigel Wassif informed Gavin that James Gardner and Angela Broadmoor, from the Clive expedition, had come into town for the weekend and were staying at Shepheard’s Hotel. The group went there walked in the back door and all four of them went into the bar where they heard the Clive people could be found. Mr. Gardner and Ms. Broadmoor were indeed there, but they had two guards with them, one of whom clearly recognized Chuck from the confrontation at the dig site. The guards and Gardner had a heated discussion, Gardner got quite angry and they all stormed out of the bar, the guards stopping anyone following them. It seemed clear Gardner was not happy with the guards telling them he had to leave the bar.

The hotel staff received a complaint about guests being harassed and asked the investigators to leave. They hailed a carriage and rode off. However, the carriage driver took them the wrong direction to a place where a gaggle of cultists was waiting in ambush. A chaotic brawl ensued involving knives, swords, clubs, guns, screaming cultists and wild carriage rides. They eventually managed to escape in the carriage, wounded but alive.

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Revelations
And a Harrowing Escape

Friday April 10, 1925

Returning from the Semirammis Hotel they noticed they had picked up a tail, a car full of four rough looking Egyptians. After quite a bit of cat and mouse they managed to loose them, including a harrowing ride in an open trunk by Gavin Dempsey.

For the next several days Gavin continued his search for Janwillen Van Heuvelen while Sean and Helen visited the American University library for some fruitless research into the symbol on the stone. Charlie went looking for a mystic to create more protection runes on baskets with Mah-Mud. Eventually he got some old Bedouin man to paint some baskets for him.

Monday, Sean visited Nigel Wassif with the picture of the old woman in the Clive camp taken by Gavin. Nigel told them she was Agatha Broadmoor, a medium popular in London high society for her seances. She had come with the Clive expedition, very unusual. He showed them some articles form the Cairo Bulletin mentioning her unusual participation in the expedition. They asked if members of the Clive expedition ever came into town, and he said of course they did, they couldn’t stay out in the sands all the time and occasionally returned to Cairo to relax.

Tuesday Sean, Helen, and Chuck went back to Gezira Mohammed to break in to Omar Shakti’s mansion during the broad daylight (hoping he and his scary cat wouldn’t be there). Helen distracted the servants by pretending to want to apply for a cooks job while Sean and Chuck went in a side window. They nearly got caught by the upstairs maid poking around for a master bedroom, but found a study downstairs with a steel cabinet/safe. Picking the lock on the safe Sean found 250 Egyptian pounds, business records, and a shipping ledger. They took it all and vamoosed.

Looking at the ledger, they found it was all Egyptian artifacts shipped to two addresses: Ho Fong Imports, 15 Kaoyang Street, Shanghai, China, or to Randolph Shipping Company, Port Darwin, Australia. Falling out of the ledge was a receipt dated a few months back, on the back of which was hand written “My Dear Omar, The scarab is magnificent. If the matching pieces could be found, it would be most appreciated. A. P.” They postulated that “A. P.” might be Aubrey Penhew, a guess further backed up by validation from some familiar with his handwriting. Was Penhew alive? The receipt was written in Chinese.

Wednesday morning they met with Dr, Kafour again at the Egyptian Museum. He had pulled some stock photos of the Red Pyramid from 10 years ago, where with a magnifying glass you could tell the capstone was still intact. He had failed to find anything matching they symbol Sean had tried to draw, Kafour indicated it was clearly not hieroglyphic nor any other known ancient Egyptian symbology. He hinted that if he could see the original, maybe he could tell something. Sean promised to bring him something more to go on. At the end of the workday Sean brought him photos of the stone.

Wednesday evening they visited the hotel Semmirammis again to check for messages. While Chuck and Helen were up in the room, Sean checked at the front desk. Mr. Waldorf’s bill was due, and there was a message for Waldorf that the desk clerk would not give to Sean. Sean bribed him and found out it was from a Pinkerton Detective.

Gavin was waiting outside in his car. He spotted 4 rough looking Egyptian men approaching, he tried to flee but one managed to jump on his running boards and get in while the car was careening down the street and the other three gave chase wielding short curved blades. Gavin struggled with the man as the car careened around the corner, but was subdued and the car came to a halt. Sean heard the commotion and ran outside to help. Sean managed to kill two of the assailants with his pistol, but two others got away with Gavin prisoner in his own car!

Things seemed bleak for Mr. Dempsey. He was taken to a rough part of town to a building and dragged from the car. He managed to escape briefly as they tried to tie him up and put a bag over his head, but his chances of successfully evade them in a hostile neighborhood were slim. He was rescued by a young Vengeant Ulama who just happened to be in the area. The Ulama challenged the men who were chasing the agnabi (foreigner). After a tense exchange where Gavin assured him he was a reporter for the London Times, when the Ulama went to inspect Gavin’s credentials, the men attacked him. The Ulama, who already had his scimitar drawn, cut one down immediately and engaged the other in a prolonged sword fight in the street. Gavin stayed close by and prayed the Ulama was the better fighter. He was.

The Ulam introduced himself quckly as Usam al Din Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Bakani of the Mosque of Ibn Tulum. Usam suggested they evacuate the area quickly as more of the assailants compatriots could be around. Usam helped Gavin escape the area and took him to the Mosque of Ibn Tulum where Gavin was grilled by and elderly Imam Achmed Zehavi. Gavin was given hospitality for the night and returned in the morning to the others. They were surprised to see him.

Thursday morning they revisited Dr. Kafour. Dr. Kafour told them that the engraving on the stone was what he suspected, a rune of real power but broken. It was something ancient, more ancient than anything Egyptian. With this, the investigators began pouring out all their crazy stories. Dr. Kafour believed them! Dr. Kafour told them much:

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Broken Pyramids
And Broken Locals

Monday April 6, 1925

Gavin Dempsey, the Times reporter, drove them to El Wasta, a decent sized town 90km south of Cairo. They spent the better part of a day tracking down Nyiti, the old woman who had tipped off Warren Besart to the cult ritual that drove him insane.

After many hours of searching and asking around, they found her son, Unba. He was in a coffee shop and he was missing his right arm and shoulder and the right side of his face was maimed. He was reluctant to talk to them, but eventually was convinced to take them to his mother. When asked about his injuries all he wanted to say was they were attacked by creatures in the desert. Helen realized the wounds were similar to what James looked like after his head was bitten off…

Unba only allowed Gavin and Helen in to see his mother. They lived in a small hovel on the edge of town. When they went inside they were shocked to see the old woman. She was missing both hands and he lower jaw. She sat slumping in a chair with her milky eyes gazing at nothing. When Gavin tried to talk to her she looked up at him then her eyes went to Helen. When she saw Helen she began gurgling excitedly and pointing to the corner with her stumps. Unba went to calm his mother and Helen went to the corner where amongst rags and pots she saw a basket marked with an Egyptian hieroglyph of protection. Opening the basket she found a piece of sandstone engraved with a partial marking of a larger symbol of some sort. It appeared to have been broken off from a larger piece, but weathered. She realized this sandstone had probably come from a pyramid and the engraving was only half of it. She tried to give it to Nyiti, but Nyiti only pointed at her and at the door. With the rock back in the basket they left, in the light of the sun Helen recognized that the stone had a pinkish cast to it, it must have come from the Red Pyramid at Dashur.

They spent the night in El Wasta and went to Dashur. There they looked around the base of the pyramid but found nothing. Talking about getting to the top to see if anything could be found higher, Mah-Mud went scrambling up which drew the attention of the guards. Gavin though taking pictures of the guards would make them forget about the boy defiling the pyramid and when a guard took his camera, he shoved the guard and began protesting. That got him a swift rifle butt to the face and an arrest. The rest yelled for Mah-Mud to get down, which he did and they talked their way down to simply being asked to leave (without Gavin but with his camera). Gavin went to the hoosegow.

Returning to Cairo, Mah-Mud told them the south face of the capstone was broken off, it looked like they had half of it in the basket, the other half was missing. Back in Cairo they asked Nigel Wassif if he could help with Gavin’s arrest. He said he would try. They asked Nigel where they could find pictures of the Red Pyramid from before it was broken. He didn’t know it was broken, he reminded them cameras and photographs were a recent invention but that tomb robbing was an ancient tradition. Nigel said if they wanted historical records the Egyptian Museum was the best resource, and Dr. Ali Kafour there was their curator of Egyptology.

Wednesday morning Gavin was released with some bribes clearing the way. They made an appointment with Dr. Kafour. Wednesday afternoon, Gavin began looking for the man fired from the Clive Expedition, Janwillen VanHeuvelen. However, his last known registered address was with the Clive foundation, if he was still in Cairo he had disappeared into a million people. This could take some time…

Thursday morning they met with Dr. Kafour and tried to dance around the subject of the stone. He was a spry and lively old man, an Egyptian scholar of some renown. Dr. Kafour was smart enough to realize they had something no matter how clumsy their approach, enough so to intrigue him. Sean tried to draw him a picture of the engraving on the stone and he said he would do some research.

Thursday afternoon Gavin went to the Clive expedition requesting an interview for an article for the London Times. He was met by Martin Winfield and eventually got to talk to Clive. Clive told him the story of how they found a sarcophagus they suspected was of a queen, and the story of how it and the two Egyptian state guards with it disappeared one night without a trace. Gavin took some photos for the article, including one of an older white woman he spotted in camp and left.

That night while out for a smoke, Sean gazed at the beauty of the full moon. It was then he realized that the new moon was less than two weeks away…

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Meeting A God
And a madman

Friday April 2, 1925

On Friday afternoon they traveled to the Red Alley in the old city. It was a narrow street bazaar. Finding a red door, they entered a clothing shop. The proprietor had not heard of Warren Besart, but Sean noticed him glancing at a curtained doorway in the back. Pushing open the curtain while the shop owner protested loudly in Arabic, Sean saw a filthy tiny back room nearly filled by a foul bed, two filthy cushions and a worm eaten low table. There were empty wax packets scattered about and a couple pipes, which Sean knew were hashhish related. Standing next to the back door was a pale white man with dark sunken eyes and a scruffy blond beard. He threw open the door and ran.

They gave chase and nearly lost him, but spotted him again. Sean caught up and tried to tackle him, the man crumpled to the ground and curled up in a little ball blubbering “Leave me alone!” They drug him to his feet and forced him back to his filthy room. He insisted on smoking some more to “get them out of my head”. When bribed sufficiently so he could purchase more drugs he spilled the following story in a crazed manner:

A lawyer contacted me.I agreed to act as purchasing agent for Mr. Roger Carlyle of the United States, who was represented to me as a wealthy American. On written instructions from Mr. Carlyle, I purchased certain artifacts from Faraz Najir, an antiquities dealer, and illegally shipped them out of Egypt to Sir Aubrey Penhew in London. I know the artifacts were ancient, but nothing more.

“When the Carlyle Expedition came to Egypt, I arranged for all their equipment and permits. Their main site was at Dhashur, in the area of the Bent Pyramid.

“One day at Dhashur, Brady came to me and told me that Carlyle, Miss Masters, Sir Aubrey, and Dr. Huston had entered the Bent Pyramid and then vanished. Brady was excited and suspected foul play since he diggers had already fled the site and work came to a stand-still. We did not know what to do, so we drank.

“The next morning, Carlyle and the others reappeared. They were excited by some tremendous find, but what it was, they would not say, nor did I learn, for Sir Aubrey was a fiend for secrecy. All of them had changed in some inexplicable way, and a way not for the better; I did not ask further.

“That evening, an old Egyptian woman from El Wasta named Nyiti visited me. She said that her son Unba had been one of the diggers. She said the diggers had fled because Carlyle and the others had consorted with an ancient evil, the Messenger of the Black Wind. She said that she could recognize that the souls of all the Europeans but Brady and myself were lost. If I wanted proof, I should go to the Collapsed Pyramid at Meidum at the time when the moon is slimmest – the night before the dark moon. Three weeks later, on the night before the dark of the moon, God help me, I went!

“I took one of the trucks, pretending to leave for a night in the pleasure quarter of Cairo. But instead I drove the twenty miles south to Meidum, and secreted myself where she advised. There in the midnight blackness I saw Carlyle and the others disport themselves in obscene rituals with a hundred madmen. The very desert came alive, crawling and undulating toward the ruins of the pyramid. To my horror, the stone ruins themselves became a skeletal, bulging-eyed thing!

“Strange creatures emerged from the sands, grasped the dancing celebrants, and, one by one, tore out their throats, killing all until only the four Europeans, and one other robed celebrant remained.

“Something more loomed out of the sand, the size of an elephant but with five separate shaggy heads. Then I realized what it was – but it is madness to speak it! I saw it rise and in a great ravening swallow as one all the torn corpses and their hideous murderers, leaving alive only five people amidst the stench of the blood-soaked sands.

“I fainted. When I recovered, I wandered into the desert. There further horrors awaited me. Stumbling up a rise before dawn, I saw beyond hundreds of dark sphinxes, rank upon rank drawn up and waiting for the hour of madness when they will spring to devour the world! I fainted again, and this time I left the world for many months.

“A man found me; for two years they cared for me – a man mindless and without hope. Eventually I returned to the world and made my way back to Cairo. But I began to dream! Only hashish helps now, or opium if it can be found. My supply is low again, and my life is intolerable without it. Will you good people please contribute? Only strong drugs keep me from insanity. Everything, everything is lost. There is no hope for any of us. Everywhere they wait. Perhaps you will join me in a pipe?

They paid him and left him to his drugs and insanity and filth.

They arranged with the hotel for a driver and guide to Dhashur the next day. While walking to their flat, they noticed they were being followed. by and Egyptian man, whom they ditched.

On Saturday morning they traveled to the site, the driver giving them the standard tourist information on the pyramids at Dhashur. Arriving, they found some other tourists there and looked around at the various structures. Investigating the Bent pyramid they found two entrances, the north one guarded by 4 Egyptian soldiers and the west one boarded up. James bribed the soldiers and gained entrance to the north section which led to an empty room, Heln thought it might have been a preparation chamber for the priests.

While James and Helen distracted the guards, Sean and Chuck pulled off a few boards and went in the west entrance. They waited for the others to join them then crept down the dark passage to a large room in the middle of the pyramid. This room was decorated with faded hieroglyphs of a burial chamber with two remarkably thick alabaster columns in the back. Searching the right column, Sean found a secret door which they opened revealing a set of twenty steps rising up in a tight spiral. Ascending the steps they followed a series of ramps leading to the apex of the pyramid. The ramps ended at an archway opening into a large room. The room had six 5 foot high pillars topped with strange gems set into their tops. In the back of the room, on a raised dias sat a massive black throne carved of obsidian and studded with precious gems. On the wall behind the throne were carved runes, Helen recognized part of it as Ancient Egyptian but it was mixed with something alien and unfathomable. She could make out something about a prophecy, a birth, and a mountain, and something related to the timing of the prophecy, but that was all.

On the left wall of the room were two bas relief depictions: One of the stars and the other of the solar system. Formidable looking astrological symbols ringed the latter.

On the right wall of the room was a distorted map of Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and the western pacific. Mountains, rivers, and continental outlines were easily recognized; no cities or nations were shown. An elongated triangle was formed by three uncut rubies marking points in the East China Sea, central Kenya, and western Australia. An inlaid ebony band marked an arc crossing the Indian Ocean inside the triangle. Arcane symbols bordered the map which could not be read.

James was intrigued, the others frightened. Chuck wanted to leave, Sean was unsure what to do (he recognized the chamber from the description in the book his cousin had read), Helen was amazed. Sean began playing with the gems on the pillars. When he flared a cigarette and touched it to a gem, the gem burst into flame. He did it to a second and Sean freaked out. Sean tried to club James with his flashlight and they tussled. Chuck grabbed Helen and began pulling her towards the door. The door suddenly filled with clacking bricks popping into place blocking their exit as the other four gems flamed to life one after the other.

When the last gem lit a tall dark figure appeared sitting on the throne. The figure rose to it’s feet, he was magnificent in the glittering regalia of a pharaoh, his skin was darker than the blackest night and perfectly smooth, his eyes glittered with an alien intelligence and malevolence. He carried two scepters in his hands and raised them high, the air on either side of him boiled and rippled and foul unearthly music rang int he minds of those in the chamber. He spoke in unearthly tones a strange language they somehow understood: “Who dares enter the sanctum of the Black Pharoah?”

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James drew his pistol and fired off two shots at the tall dark figure on the throne. The rippling air materialized into two great viperine creatures, which had curiously distorted heads, and grotesquely great clawed appendages, supporting themselves with ease by the aid of black rubbery wings of singularly monstrous dimensions.

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The beasts descended on James, one of the them grabbed him in it’s sinuous tail and bit his head off. Blood sprayed from his headless shoulders and the beast dropped the twitching body to the floor. The Black Pharaoh swept his scepters out to the sides and the creatures retreated to the corners of the room and went invisible again. His voice rang out “Any other of you wish to meet a similar fate?” There was only silence in response.

“You are foolish to continue your current efforts. The gods you seek to defy are too powerful to be discomfited by the puny struggles of mortals. You should gratefully and meekly return to your homes and await the inevitable. Look you at the fate of those who came before you…”

He waved his right scepter and a vision appeared shimmering in the air before them. They saw clearly a scene of a camp in a lush environment, probably somewhere in Africa. Black bearers came and went, the principle members of the Carlysle expedition could be seen. The scene was peaceful, they could hear the chatter of the camp, the wind blowing on the grass, and the songs of birds. Then the screams started. Scores of the winged serpents that had killed James descended from the sky, while out of the earth lurched ghoulish figures with lolling tongues and claws, formless spawn, and other frightful beings. The monsters set upon the camp and the carnage they view was unspeakable. All of the whites were ripped to shreds and their dark skinned employees died in droves.

This was too much for Helen and Sean. Helen began eating her socks and Sean crumpled into a blubbering ball in the corner. Chuck stood their looking around confused.

The Black Pharoah sneered, “Even the brave know their lot. All doors are closed to you; all your dreams are doomed; all your struggles futile!” At another wave of his hand, the map on the right wall shimmered and dissolved. In it’s place was an archway: Beyond stretched ancient Egypt. They recognized the area near the pyramid, but the red pyramid was not there. There was an active market bazaar set up where craftsmen worked busily.

“Or you can accept what is to come and profit by it. Come, join me and I will open your eyes to universal truths that few mortals are blessed to know. Join me, join me, join me…” He gestured to the open portal, but none of them approached. The figure of the Black Pharoah and the archway slowly dissolved and the flames of the gems doused. The bricks in the doorway crumbled to dust.

When they recovered their wits, they didn’t know what to do with James’ headless corpse. Sean took all his belongings and left it on the ramps. The three of them fled back to Cairo and drank heavily the rest of the day.

Back at the hotel they received a card from a reporter for the London Times. On the back, was written “Jonah says hello” and “Rm 201, Shepheards”.

Sunday they went to church. The reporter who left the card found them there. He said Jonah Kensington had wired him to ask if he could help them. He had worked with Jackson Elias in the past. They spent the day talking with their new friend, bringing him up to speed on most of what had happened, and he began talking about a book deal. They had lost a friend but gained another, but could this one be trusted? Recent events had left them paranoid and afraid.

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Newsworthy
And a Hospital Holiday

Saturday, 28 March 1925

They rested. James went to see the on call doctor at the Semirammis Hotel. He checked him into the hospital for a blood transfusion on Monday. Sean stayed with him at the hospital.

Chucky and Helen thought to go to uni to get a scroll translated. Chucky dressed up in a dress and broken glasses and tried to pass himself off as a scholar (he couldn’t tell the difference between a dress and a robe). They tried the Egyptian State University, but found out it was focused on Egyptian nationalism and politics and was not a historical specialist. They went to the new American University in Cairo and somehow managed to convince them he wasn’t a loon (surprising because he is loony). Maybe Helen helped. They got the scroll translated, it was a prayer of some sort.

James got discharged from the hospital on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon James and Sean took a taxi to Omar Shakti’s plantation outside of the small town of Gezira Mohammed, on the west bank of the Nile. The plantation was huge, they asked the taxi to wait while they walked down the dirt lane to the buildings across the fields. They were stopped by workers (carrying tools such as small bladed scythes and heavy metal rakes) who jabbered at them in Arabic, probably asking what they wanted. Sean started asking for Omar Shakti and the locals recognized that and began discussing amongst themselves. James briefly glimpsed an amulet of an inverted ankh around the neck of one of them. The workers motioned for them to follow. They took them to the buildings which comprised storage barns, tool sheds, worker barracks, and an office building. One of the workers reached for Sean’s hidden revolver (apparently not so well hidden considering it is a hand cannon). Sean refused to give it up and things got heated. Eventually Sean backed off and sat down, while James was led alone to the office.

On the steps of the office he was met by a genial rotund Egyptian man, a robust 50 years old or so. He was dressed immaculately in the latest London fashion, wearing a fez, and holding a fluffy white cat which he stroked gently. James introduced himself as James Kraft, and spun a story about being an American startup company looking to import textiles and was interested in discussing cotton purchases. Shakti invited him inside where a servant served mint tea and honey cakes. Shakti was extremely polite and proper, but began grilling James about his business. Soon James realized he was in over his head and apologized claiming his father was the business man and he as new to all this. Shakti assured him it was all right and to have his “father” get in touch, Shakti would “deal with his father”. During the whole conversation James realized the fluffy white cat had not taken it’s eyes off of him the whole time. This freaked him out a little. He concluded things with Shakti and they fled the plantation. They visited the town and found what they thought must be Shakti’s house, but there were plenty of servants on the grounds that any daylight shenanigans were out of the question so they returned to Cairo.

They got telegrams from Jonah Kensington saying he could find nothing on Warren Besart and that he had not heard back from Mahoney. They assumed Mahoney was dead.

Thinking of the newspaper man in London and how helpful back issues of The Scoop were in London, they finally decided to visit the Cairo Bulletin. Sean and Helen went on Wednesday afternoon. There they met Nigel Wassif, Editor. While talking to Nigel, Helen spotted Sean’s mugshot on the bulletin board amongst a lot of other clutter. It was the mug shot from the London Times article about Sean and James being wanted for questioning in the hotel murders (James’ photo was there too). Helen decided to take it down while Nigel and Sean were talking. Nigel noticed, then realized why Sean looked familiar. Maybe Helen shouldn’t have drawn attention to the posted article, she’s not very good at sleight of hand being a librarian and all…

Sean started to panic. Nigel pointed out that it was his civic duty to turn Sean in to the English authorities here in Cairo and asked why he shouldn’t. Sean realized Nigel might give him the benefit of the doubt. Nigel said in exchange for an exclusive story about the events in London he would give them the info they wanted on the Carlysle expedition.

Sean spent the afternoon discussing their adventures with Nigel. Sean was a little intense and came across as disturbed. Nigel promised to have the info organized for them tomorrow and asked if they could return at 9am. He also asked if James Waldorf was with them. Sean hesitated, but said yes. Nigel asked to speak with him too, for his story.

Thursday they returned to the Cairo Bulletin. Nigel has spent last evening pulling all his articles and notes on the Carlysle Expedition.

They spent most of the day going over the information. They asked Nigel about Warren Besart, he said he would see what he could do to find the Frenchman. Friday morning they returned to Nigel and he had an address for Besart he had gotten from a contact at the French Consulate: The Red Door, Street of Scorpions, in the Darb el-Ahmar (“Red Alley”). Mah’Mud went to work and found out the “Red Alley” was another part of the Old City, a bazaar located along the Sharia Muezzedin Allah.

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Old Aquaintences
And new enemies

Thursday, March 25, 1925

On Tuesday night Helen awoke with a startle, short of breath and anxious. She couldn’t shake a feeling something terrible had happened. It wasn’t until a few days later they realized this coincided with the new moon…

On Thursday they resolved to visit the Clive Expedition in the ruins of Memphis. Helen shared what she knew of them: Dr. Clive was in his 50’s and a well respected archeologist, she had met him a couple times and thought him a kindly old man. Martin Winfield was a young archaeologist, only 24, going on his first dig. She had only met Martin once when he came into the library, she did not like the way he leered at her, he gave her the creeps. James Gardner was an archeologist who was strongly influenced by Carl Jung. Gardner had written 3 books and was well respected in the community. The last archeologist was a German by the name of Sprech, she knew nothing about him. She had never met Gardner or Sprech, though she had read one of Gardners books.

They took the train and debarked at the Memphis platform which was about 10 miles south of Giza. There were no people at the small station, just a platform, a few storage buildings and an empty animal pen. There was no civilization here, just the ruins of an old one.

They had a sinking feeling as they watched the train recede to the south, realizing they were alone in a dead city in the desert.

Wondering what to do, they decided to try to find the dig site by following trails in the sand from the platform. Charlie was able to find a trail and follow it to the dig site at the necropolis near Saqqara. When they came upon the dig site they were surprised at how well guarded it was. All it was missing was machine gun nests and minefields to look like an army camp from the war. They approached the dig and were stopped by the guards. Helen tried to talk to the guards, claiming she was an important representative of the Penhew Foundation here to see Dr. Clive. The guard kept saying “No visitors”. James noticed the guards watching them were very sullen. Helen kept insisting and they refused to leave. Eventually one of the guards went off and a while later a man in a loose linen shirt came striding up. Helen recognized Martin Winfield, he was carrying a riding crop and had a pistol at his hip.

Martin leered at Helen, “Well, well, if it isn’t the skirt from the library! How’s Paul, Helen?” He sneered. Sean realized the veiled threat in his tone and demeanor.

Helen insisted she had been sent here by the Penhew Foundation to check up on the dig. Martin found this hilariously funny and made disparaging remarks as he stared at her chest. She insisted she talk to Dr. Clive, Martin said Clive was a very busy man and not taking any visitors, but he would be happy to show her around. Alone. She declined. Helen continued to try and insist she had some sort of special privilege from the foundation, much to Martin’s amusement. Finally Helen’s patience wore out and she said “Hit him Uncle Chuck”. Out came the guns and swords of the guards and they realized they had just closed negotiations with a schoolyard bully approach. They retreated, waited for the next train going north and returned to Cairo.

Friday the met with Mah’Mud and sent him off to seek anybody who might know Warren Besart. James went off to find the location of Omar Shakti’s plantation under the pretense of making a business arrangement with him. He found out that Shakti’s plantation was about 4 miles north of Cairo on the west side of the river near a village name Gezira Mohammed. Sean and Helen went to the Semirammis Hotel where they had kept rooms even though they slept in their rented flat. The desk clerk had a note for Helen in an envelope that had been dropped off early this morning. The note was from Martin Winfield, apologizing for his behavior yesterday, saying he had to “keep up pretenses in front of the guards” and that he “had much to tell them”. He asked for a meeting in a small ravine a few hundred yards north of the Memphis platform one hour after dusk.

They spent the day preparing to meet Winfield. They rented a truck and bought supplies for a couple days in the desert. Driving to Memphis at dusk, Helen waited in the ravine with James a ways behind her with his shotgun, Sean hiding on the ridge above the ravine where he could see her, and Chuck a ways away guarding the truck.

Dark came. The night was silent, the stars bright. Chuck was marveling at the stars when he saw them flicker off then on again one after another. Soon he realized it was because something big was flying towards the ravine. Squinting, he realized it was one of the creatures from his nightmares, a Byakhee! Chuck freaked out and ran around in circles for a bit while fumbling for the truck keys.

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The monster landed with a thud behind James and screeched. James about jumped out of his shoes and spun around to stare straight into the unhinged beak of the beast with it’s long lashing tongue as it jumped on him and grappled him burying it’s sharp teeth in his shoulder and drilling the tongue into the meaty parts as it sucked out his blood in great gulps. James dropped the shotgun as it was now useless in the grapple with the 7 foot tall monstrosity, and fumbled for his pistol. Helen turned and panicked, pulling her 32 and shooting. When she realized she almost shot James she ran towards him to get a better angle and shots. Sean scrambled down the slope of the ravine and ran to help. Chuck got the truck roared to life and drove like a madman (which he was afterall) towards the ravine. James was growing weak from blood loss and was helpless in the creatures grasp. Helen, getting a clear shot finally, shot it. This angered it, the monster threw James to the ground and reached for Helen flapping into the air. It was trying to grab her and fly away! Sean took careful aim, and nailed it in the head with a shot from his 45 revolver and it dropped to the ground lifeless. The truck came roaring over the ravine edge and crashed into the raving, rolling onto it’s side. Chuck leaped out and they all stared at him. He started screaming and hacking at the dead monster.

Chuck started yelling about “It’s real!” but finally they calmed him. James was in bad shape. They argued about staying this night here, but Sean eventually convinced them that was idiocy. Since the truck was wrecked and leaking gas, they burned the truck and monster and walked back to Cairo. James was weak so the going was slow. They eventually made it back to their flat just before dawn, exhausted and scared.

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