Masks of Nyarlathotep

Foreigners in a Strange Land
Treacherous Guides and Frightened Proprietors

Friday 20 March, 1925

They began exploring Cairo. They investigated renting a flat for the remainder of the season, bought cooler clothes, got a safety deposit box at the Bank of England offices, and initiated some wire transfers for money hiring a dragoman (translator) arranged by the Semiramis Hotel. James was accosted by two locals offering their services as guides. One was an ugly 11 year old orphan boy named Mah’Mud, the other a cleaner 20 year old man named Hakim. James allowed Hakim to shoo off Mah’Mud and arranged for Hakim’s services.

On Saturday, James and Sean met with Hakim to enter Old Cairo and find the Street of Jackals and Faraz Najir, the curios dealer connected by Jackson Elias with the Carlysle expedition. Hakim led them through the Old City, questioning locals to find their way. Eventually the went into an alley where 3 men blocked their way. Hakim faded back, the oldest of the men demanded their money as they all pulled switchblade knives menacingly. They looked back to Hakim who also pulled a knife and said “Quickly now, my brothers are not patient.” James tried some ridiculous BS about not having any money, but Hakim knew far far better. He put his money on the ground, and when the youngest brother retried it Sean attacked him. They fought in the alley, Sean taking down the oldest brother with his own hidden blade, and James shooting down Hakim dead. The other two brothers retreated dragging back their wounded sibling, James and Sean ran. The brothers started yelling “Murderers” in arabic, and James and Sean paniced as the they ran down the street attracting a lot of attention from a forming mob. They had no ideas where they were, where to go, could not speak the language and were chased by an angry mod growing every second. They got lucky when a crate of chickens broke open during the chase and the flapping chickens caused enough distraction for them to hide. It took the rest of the day to find their way back from the Old City, scared at every turn that the locals would turn on them.

Meanwhile Chuck and Helen had hired the orphan boy Mah’Mud intending to have him follow Hakim. Mah’Mud was very enthusiastic. Over the next few days they arranged a flat, and with Mah’Mud’s help found the old shop of Faraz Najir. It was a burned down pile of rubble. Local shop owners told Mah’Mud it had burned down 5 or 6 years ago by a fire demon, but that Najir had survived and ran a shop off the Sharia Muzzedin Allah. The next day they tracked down Faraz’s new shop, selling tourist curious, but when they mentioned the Carlysle Expedition he freaked out and shooed them from his shop. When they resisted he started yelling for the police and they left.

Mah’Mud watched him for them. He went to a coffee shop then to prayer at the local mosque.

They visited the Egyptian Museum a couple of times, asking if someone could help them translate an ancient Latin book on the occult. They made an appointment later int he week with Dr. Kafour, the museum’s curator of occult.

Reading the Cairo Bulletin they found there was a Penhew expedition, the Clive Expedition, currently excavating at Memphis. Helen knew about them, but had neglected to mention it not thinking it important. Gleaning useful information from the newspaper reminded them of Mickey Mahoney, they wondered how he was faring? He sure had helped them in London and they hoped he was safe…

They next day they waited for him in the street outside the coffee shop. He wanted nothing to do with them, until they bribed him with more money than he could resist. He agreed to meet with them at the mosque at 1pm the next day.

Faraz met them and took them to a quiet room in the mosque. He demanded the money first and promises that he would never see them again.

Faraz told the Roger Carlysle was in Egypt looking for information on the Black Pharaoh, a mysterious figure from the third dynasty whose reign was ended by Sneferu at the dawn of the fourth dynasty. Najir had come into posession of a number of artifacts related to the Black Pharoah: an ancient scroll detailing the entrance to a hidden room in an unnamed pyramid, within wich the Black Pharoah was supposedly entombed; a bust of the Black Pharaoh; a small tambour (drum) bearing odd symbols supposedly of mystical power; and a strange circlet with a large zircon which was said to be the crown of the Black Pharaoh and the key to his triumph over death.

Faraz said Carlysle asked for the items to be sold to Carlysle’s agent in Cairo, a frenchman named Warren Besart.

When pressed as to where he had gotten the artifacts, Faraz was unwilling to say. Another sizeable bribe got him to admit to stealing them from the home of a wealthy plantation owner named Omar Shakti whom he believe was connected to the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. Shortly after selling the items, Faraz’s shop was attacked by a demon of pure fire and malevolence who burned down his shop. Faraz barely escaped, though badly burnt and hideously scarred.

When pressed about the Brotherhood, Faraz said they were very powerful here in Cairo and that the investigators were fools to be meddling. Faraz had heard the Brotherhood was rumored to be involved in the recent theft of a mummy from the Clive Expedition, and also that they wanted an item located in the Mosque of Ibn-Tulun, but he did not know what it was or why they wanted it. That was all he knew.

Concluding the interview, he stressed that he never wanted to see them again and did NOT want to be involved with anything related to the Brotherhood. If he saw them investigators again, he would implicate them in robbery with the police. They assured him he would not need to worry about that and left.

It was now Thursday, they contemplated what to do about their appointment at the museum and a planned trip to the Clive dig, as well as this new name, Warren Besart.

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Leaving London Town
Time to Vamoose

They decided to strongarm the spice dealer Tewfik al-Sayid.

Tuesday night around midnight, they went tot he shop. The lights were on upstairs, so he was home. They broke into the shop an looked around with flashlights. Sean knocked over a glass jar and made some noise. They broke into the stairwell leading to the flat above the shop and hurried up the stairs quietly. When Chuck opened the door to the living room of the flat, it was dark. The lights had been on a few minutes ago.

Chuck dropped to all fours and started crawling around on the ground. Sean fumbled for a light switch. A voice from across the room said “It’s to your left”. He switched on the lights and saw Tewfik sitting in a comfortable chair across the room facing the door. Chuck froze on all fours. Tewfik was wearing a comfortable smoking jacket and had a cognac and a book on the end table beside him. The apartment was warm, kept Egyptian temperatures by an oil heater. It was nicely appointed, with rugs, oil lamps, paintings, an ornate mirror, and a display case with statuary of the Egyptian gods.

Tewfik remained seated, “You lot have grown tiresome. I will give you one chance to turn around and leave, or else your lives are all forfeit”. He took a sip of his cocktail. This unnverved the home invaders. They pressed him saying they knew he knew something and he should tell them. He rose to his feet and took a step forward, “I thought I made myself clear that I had no desire to be involved. I must admit I had hoped you would prove useful, but that has not proved to be case. This is the last time I will tell you to leave. Now”.

Sean was worried. There were three armed men int his guys apartment, and he was threatening THEM! Time to leave. They had learned something, but this guy was not to be trifled with. Helen couldn’t take no for an answer, she pleaded with Tewfik to help find Paul, crying and blubbering. Tewfik looked her up and down and said “Very well my dear, since you insist, you can stay. The others must leave”. She didn’t like the way he was looking at her and fled as well. As they left, Tewfik leaned out the upper flat window, “O’Malley! You have nothing if you don’t have your health, if you are still in London this time next week you WON’T have your health…” He then closed the window. Sean was furious and fumbled for his gun, nearly shooting the window out, but stopped just short of pulling the trigger. Tewfik was obviously a powerful man, and he knew something, but what? What did he mean by hoping they would be “helpful”?

They had had enough, they were all in way over their heads. They went back to the motel, packed everything in Helen’s car and left town, driving towards Dover. Along the way they discussed all that had happened and what they had learned. They decided that even if they could find the cult, it was too dangerous to attempt a rescue or any more meddling here in England. They talked about why they came to England and what they had learned. They now knew there was some sort of worldwide conspiracy that involved cults, dark gods, open gates, and horrific truths hidden from the world. They knew the Carlysle Expedition had become involved somehow, through the Penhew Foundation. They needed to know what the Carlysle Epedition had found in Egypt, as well as Jackson Elias. They caught the Orient Express route in Dover and traveled to Cairo.

Along the way, Helen translated some of the Arabic scrolls they still had and skimmed one of the old books. They arrived in Cairo on the following Thursday night and checked into one of the swanky hotels.

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Strange Bedfellows
And Dark Dreams

Sean and James ran downstairs and found some cultists in the stairwell with some of the things they had stashed in room 507. They chased the two below them on the stairs when two more entered from the 5th floor loaded with books and scrolls. They turned back and killed the two above, but the two below got away.

Helen had found a police cruiser several blocks away sitting on the side of the road with two Met Bobbies in it. She pulled up beside them and begged for help, telling them what was going on. They asked her to get in the back of the cruiser, they would check it out. They drove to the Waldorf and pulled up behind the trucks. A cultist in the truck nodded to the cops, who told Helen to get out. The drug her out, she struggled, but was calmed with a beating from a nightstick.

Chuck saw all this and charged the cops. One of the cops intercepted him at the last minute while the other handed Helen off to the cultist in the truck and turned to help. Helen fought the cultist and managed to wriggle free while Chuck battled the cops. Helen jumped out of the truck onto the sidewalk to come face to face with another cultist running from the front of the building. Chuck covered for her while they ran for it, he had wounded one of the cops badly. As they ran one cultist chased them but the other cop pulled a shotgun from the boot commanding them to stop. They increased speed and a shot rang out towards Chuck but missed and they rounded the corner.

Sean paused to slit throats on the stairs, apparently he was pretty pissed off. James ran downstairs to the ground floor, found the night security man dead in the lobby and all other staff gone. He saw the cultists with their things jumping into trucks through the big front windows and let loose a random shotgun blast through the windows. The trucks began taking off but when James tried to go outside he spotted the Bobbies and their cruiser and was forced back by a shotgun blast from the cop. The trucks and the cop car sped off, James and Sean taking pot shots as they left.

Helen and Chuck heard the gun shots from where they had first left and after making sure they weren’t followed Chuck came back around the building while Helen ran for the car. They ran in and ran into Sean and James, after a tense exchange (Chuck looked like another crazed cultist), they determined they had a common enemy and joined up. Chuck helped them gather their things, recovering what was left from room 507. Sean asked Chuck to slash some of the paintings, but one of them freaked Chuck out. He seemed to recognize some of the monsters in one of the paintings and it unhinged them. Taking what they could they all piled into Helen’s car when she came back and got out of there.

They quickly compared stories and determined to try to find those that were taken, but Sean and James did not trust this new pair, especially when they heard Helen worked for Gavigan at the Penhew! They went to the Limestone warehouse and charged in. The Lascar guards were still there, and James was stabbed in the back by one as they ran around towards the back. The managed to quickly subdue the 6 guards but did not find the trucks or hostages at the warehouse. There was a bunch of stuff in crates and boxes amidst lots of clutter but didn’t have time to search it. They went to Banicker Park, but it was quiet. They went to the Diamondback Club, but it was also quiet and dark. They went to the Penhew, but it was quiet and dark. They broke in again, but found the secret room standing open and empty. Gavigan’s office was tidy and nothing of interest was found. They went to the Blue Pyramid, it was dawn by now and it had just closed. There was no sign of the trucks at any of the locations.

Frustrated and scared, they got some food, rented a cheap motel and made Chuck wash. Chuck was amazed that he had a bed, a full belly, and a bath! What had he fallen into? They were all wounded, tended their wounds the best they could and rested. Sean determined he wanted some serious hardware and Chuck said he could set that up and went out to make some contacts with the London criminal underground. James staked out the Blue Pyramid, but it was closed on Sunday night. Sunday night James had more bad dreams with the silhouette of a man in a purple fog who sent him more horrific imagery. The man told him “I have something very special arranged for you…” That was ominous and James awoke in a cold sweat and began to become worried.

Monday James and Helen went to the Blue Pyramid for drinks and watched. They spotted the spice dealer Tewfik al-Sayid, drinking with some other men, but nobody else they recognized. They did not talk to anyone at the club. Following him, he went back to his flat above his spice shop. Monday night James had more disturbing dreams from the man in the purple fog. The man told him “You can’t hide from the Thing forever…” James awoke in another cold sweat, now growing increasingly worried.

Chuck set up a deal to get a Thompson for Sean, which went down Tuesday night with some shady characters in an alley.

James felt a sense of increasing smothering dread. He figured Gavigan would have gone underground by now, and chasing him would be fruitless. He wondered where and how the cult recruited their membership and where their rituals would take place. The clock was ticking for those taken, if they were even still alive, and he knew he was personally in grave danger from the dream sender and this “Thing”. Sean began wondering what they hell they were doing here in London anyways. What was the exit strategy? Why had they come in the first place and what the hell had they gotten into? Things seemed to be spiraling out of control quickly, especially considering the intense violence that had erupted this weekend.

Where would this end?

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Interlude
Beauty and the Beast (with a toad thrown in for good luck)

Friday March 6, 1925

Helen Coulson was worried about her fiance Paul Maclean. She was a librarian for the Penhew Foundation, he a researcher. Last week he had brought home a book from work and was obsessed with reading it. It was called “Ghorne Fragment” or something like that. She asked him where he got it, and he only said “work”. However it was not a book from the archives, she should know, she was the librarian.

He was paying too much attention to the book and not enough to her so there was a little spat. He said he was going fishing over the weekend but never showed up for work on Monday. She thought he was still mad at her, but when he didn’t show up Tuesday she went to his place and found it empty. Now she panicked and went to the police,. They took a missing persons report but told her they really couldn’t do much else because there was no evidence of anything to follow up on.

She returned to work Wednesday but was distraught. Director Gavigan told her to take the rest of the week off, he was so nice. Growing frustrated and afraid she decided to track down he old Uncle Chuck, a homeless crazy guy. Uncle Chuck was a metropolitan policeman before the war, maybe he could help.

She found Chuck under a bridge by a burning barrel with several other homeless folk in a bad part of town. Chuck introduced her to his buddy Eddie. Eddie creeped her out and the smell was awful.

She told her story to Uncle Chuck, and he said “Sure thing, sweetie, Uncle Chucky would be glad to help, won’t he Eddie”? Eddie let out a high pitched chuckle, “Sure thing Charlie”, then screetched another chuckle. Helen was more creeped out and didn’t like the way Eddied looked at her.

They went to Pauls flat but didn’t find anything. Everything was there, it did not seem like he packed to leave. Eddie tried to steal the scotch but had to put it back. Eddie drank the scotch. Eddie stole Pauls cotton slippers. Eddie brushed his teeth with Paul’s toothbrush, when Chuck chastised him he felt guilty and put the slippers back. He grabbed the scotch again as they left.

They went to the Penhew Foundation, Helen was going to see what she could find out about this book. However, the Fundation was closed for repairs/renovation. There were several Hindu men hanging about outside and a truck out back, the men scared Helen a little so she left. They thought it was being robbed and called the cops. As they watched a cruiser pulled up and Director Gavigan came out to talk to him. They chatted, shook hands, and the cop left.

Eddie and Chuck stayed to watch from a distance. At night they crept up and Eddied climbed the wall to peek over. They saw the truck being loaded by the foreigners with boxes and large heavy crate. Gavigan supervised. Eddie and Charlie stole a car and followed the truck to the Limehouse district, a seedy part of town. It pulled into an unmarked warehouse.

They dumped the car and thought to investigate the warehouse, but Chuck spotted guards lurking in the shadows. They left.

Saturday Helen thought again to try and go in to work to poke around, approaching the men this time. However, they wouldn’t let her in only saying repeatedly in a thick accent “Closed for repair, water damage”. They were quite rude to her. She left and went to the university to research anything on this Ghorne Fragment thing from the book Paul had.

Charlie and Eddie went back to the warehouse and opened the back door. They were face to face with a half dozen Lascar’s playing cards on a crate in the warehouse. They ran like the wind as the Lascars chased them pulling wicked looking curved blades.

Charlie went back to watch the Penhew Foundation again. Early that afternoon he saw a Yankee wearing jeans and cowboy boots walk by, take an interest in the Foundation, but think better and walk on. Later lots of cars pulled up and people went into the basement, all foreigners by the looks of them. Two trucks came.

Charlie watched, Eddie and Helen joined him, Helen waiting in her car a couple blocks away,. And watched. And watched some more. Around 1:30 am, the two trucks filled up with the people who had come and left. They jumped in Helen’s car and followed.

The trucks drove downtown to the Waldorf Hotel. When they arrived, men armed with spiked clubs jumped out and streamed into the hotel. Helen freaked out, Chuck and Eddie argued about what to do while Helen was screaming for the police. They drove around the block once. Chuck and Eddie jumped out of the car, Helen sped off still yelling about police. Eddie and Chuck snuck closer and heard gunfire erupt from an upstairs room, they saw muzzle flashes through upper story windows. They saw three guys come out the front dragging a woman with a bag over her head. They threw the woman into the back of one of the trucks where two other men were waiting to take her. Chuck said “What should we do Eddie, I’m no hero”, to which Eddie replied “Right Charles, you’re no hero” at which point Chuck and Eddie charged the 3 men screaming like maniacs. Chuck pulled a big machete, while Eddie threw a knife then pulled a Butcher knife. The 3 men charged back and clubs and knives flashed in the reflected light. A couple of the kidnappers were wounded, but Eddie fell and the huge man named Chuck was about to get overwhelmed 4 on one and ran for it. Chuck was pursued for a while, but got away. He circled back to watch from a distance and saw Eddie drug by his feet into one of the trucks.

Helen was still driving around screaming about police.

The gunfire upstairs seemed to have stopped and all went quiet. Chuck waited muttering “Poor Eddie…” over and over.

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Escalations
Death Comes Knocking

Friday, March 6, 1925

Dr. Kelly visited Malbray Asylum and asked to analyze Mr. Tylesman for some research she was doing. She showed her credentials and met with the attending physician. Mr. Tylesman’s records showed that he was highly delusional and pyrophobic and was on a wide array of medications. Sje was allowed to examine Tylesman, he was on a bench behind the asylum staring at the ground. He would not look at her and only responded to certain triggers:

  • Banicker Park Memorial: “The stone is cursed. I try to tell them that but they won’t listen. It is hungry for victims. It calls out for blood upon blood! Gavigan is to blame!”
  • Gavigan: “Damn him! Damn him! Villain! Liar! Sinner! Murderer! Murderer!! That stone was his working, you know! He’s the guilty party! He should pay! Damn him to Hell!!” A Nurse calmed him with medication, it took some convincing from Dr. Kelly to continue the interview.
  • His Family: Tylesman began to silently weep, occasionally muttering snatches of phrases—“beautiful”, “young things”, “dear, dear boy”, “Leave them be!”, and “my dear sweet Eloise” all intermixed with crying out to God.
  • The Fire: He began to weep and call out to his lost family but would occasionally mention “flying embers” and “dancing lights, burning and flying”. Dr. Kelly was able to elicit a moment of lucidity from Tylesman. He described the events immediately preceding the fire that killed his family: He was plagued by dreams of a great conflagration—sometimes the London fire of 1666, other times of being thrown into a bonfire by nude foreigners, other times of flying towards a great burning star. He will confide that his wife admitted to suffering them too. One night after waking from such a dream, he found his home filled with smoke. Awaking his wife, the pair struggled to reach the bedroom where their young sons slept. They discovered that it was the source of the smoke—the room was engulfed by fire. Tylesman will begin to lose his composure as he recounts seeing a weird ball of blue-white fire float through the window and pause over the bed of his youngest, setting him ablaze. His wife then charged forward in an attempt to shield their other child, only to be ignited herself. Tylesman will lose all composure at this point, begging the moving flame to take him instead and spare his family. This last outbuirst ended the interview.

When the tales were recounted, James remembered reading something about floating balls of intelligent fire in the book of morbid poems, the poems referred to them as other worldly creatures called Fire Vampires.

Tex went to the Penhew Foundation and met with Edward Gavigan, the director. He gave him the heiroglyphs of Ka-Thigu-Ra from the obelisk and asked if they would research details on this Egyptian god for him. Gavigan agreed and said they would send a message to the hotel when done.

Armed with the information from Mr. Tylesman, they determined to break into the Penhew foundation late Friday night. Approaching from the rear they saw the telltale signs of a night watchman with a flashlight through the windows, so they descended the outer stairs and entered the basement. Tex waited outside. The basement was cluttered with old crates, a large coal bin, the furnace, the elevator to the loading dock area, and a crawl space. Sean noticed utility connections going through the wall of the coal bin into an area of the basement they could not reach. Returning outside they forced their way through the loading elevator into the workroom on the ground floor. Carefully avoiding the watchman they went into the storage room above the area they could not reach. After searching for a while they noticed a large empty mummy case in the storeroom had scratch marks on the floor beside it. Pressing both eyes of the mummy case made it pivot with an electric motor revealing stairs down.

Descending into the dark room they found it seemed a bomb shelter of sorts, stocked with food and water, a comfortable study desk, a small meeting table and lots of historical art pieces all depicting hideous monsters and frightening gods. There was a stack of crates, 2 unopened, a small chest of drawers, a bookcase with books and scrolls, a small ornate chest and other supplies on shelves. In the chest of drawers they found 2 fake passports with Gavigan’s picture on them, several changes of clothes, a pistol and several boxes of ammunition, a bundle of money, lots of candles and matches, and other emergency supplies. Dr. Kelly rummaged the bookcase finding books in several languages, a couple very old, and 15 old scrolls in various states. James opened the ornate chest to find two ornate silver daggers, the chest was next to supplys of what appeared to be various preserved animal parts. Sean searched the artwork for secret panels to no avail.

Two of the crates were unopened, one stamped Ho Fong Imports, 15 Kaoyang Road, Shanghai, China “attention Honorable Ho Fong”. The other smaller crate Randolph Shipping Company, Port Darwin, Northern Territory, Dominion of Australia “Attention Mr. Randolph”. Within the larger crate was a hideous statue of a bloated tentacled naked woman:

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In the smaller chest was a 16 inch high statue of a tentacled creature:

cthulhu_statue.jpg

James took the small statue and felt an odd tingle up his arm and into his torso when he touched it. He was intrigued and became infatuated with the statue.

Sean started worrying and they grabbed some of the books (he remembers one he didn’t grab because it looked too new was called “The Gharne Fragment”), all the scrolls, the small statue, and the ornate chest with the daggers, along wtih the passports and fled back to their hotel.

They stayed up late going over the two older books and the scrolls. The scrolls were various prayers to dark gods in a few languages. The books were the Liber Ivonis and Ye Booke of Comunicacionswith ye Angel Dzyon.

They slept late, that afternoon Tex went to the airstrip for some comraderie and flying. Sean tried to stake out the Diamondback Club in the hopes of following Gavigan to his home, but had no luck. Sean visited the Obelisk in Banicker Park and when he climbed up to touch it found it rather warm to the touch. Interesting…

They went to sleep that night in the hotel suite. James was troubled by a nightmare, in a dark purple mist a man came to him, he couild not make out his features. The man spoke, “I thank you for bringing the copper bowl back to me from New York, your gift was most generous. Now I can visit you like this whenever I wish. Know that your meddling is at an end. Your child like machinations are of no consequence to the Great One, your struggles are like the struggles of an ant to an elephant and the Great Ones plans will come to fruition despite any desires otherwise on your part” As he spoke a huge menacing black figure arose behind him in the purple mists, at first a black kingly figure, then morphing into a great triangular beast with 3 legs, 3 arms, a gaping maw with a huge lashing tongue, then continuing to morph into a large number of other figures. The man int he dream laughed and James awoke to a large crashing sound in the hotel room. James was sweating, and trembling from the nightmare.

The crash was from a large foreign man who had kicked down the door to the hotel room. He was followed by 7 other beefy foreigners all wielding wicked looking clubs sporting large spikes. They were all wearing similar garb and they attacked.

Tex was caught in the front room where he was sleeping on the couch and was quickly surrounded. He grabbed his gun and fought back. Dr. Kelly was pinned in her room as 2 men charged in and took cover behind the dresser with her gun. She managed to kill one, but the second one beat her mercilessly with his club and she went down. Sean and James got to their hand guns just as two men came in their room. They killed them and went to the main room where Tex was fighting. Tex gave a good fight but was overwhelmed and killed. Sean and James arrived just in time to see the largest cultist roll Tex over and slam his spike through Tex’s heart! Sean and James managed to kill the rest of the cultists, but found Dr. Kelly also dead in her room. Sean and James, hearts racing, reloaded their guns and called the front desk to call the police. There was no answer. That was ominous.

Sean could not help but think about how this felt like a gang war as he stared at the bodies of his dead friends. He felt foolish for not realizing it would come to this and “hitting the mattresses” to protect themselves.

Events in London had taken a turn for the worse. Sean and James were alone, they had no idea what else was out there or who had sent this gang of murderers. What should they do now?

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Lost in the Fog
Too many threads

February 26, 1925

They bumbled about for the next week, unsure how to proceed and recovering from their wounds.

Sean did some sightseeing, when he realized he had seen the same man too many times. The man was middle eastern. When Sean approached him and exchanged some words he simply walked off. Sean ran away. The fact that they were being followed did not bother them in the slightest and was quickly forgotten as a matter of no consequence.

They gathered their report from the Penhew Foundation on Life as a God. The Foundations official report was that the cult activities described in the book bore no resemblance to any factual historical records of fringe religious practices in ancient Egypt. Their hypothesis was that some novice had read some obscure reference to a Black Pharoah in a book somewhere and took that as inspiration to make up his own modern cult. They tried to get the graduate assistant researcher, Roger Eggworth, to come with them for some “private time” but this made him nervous and he wanted nothing to do with such an unusual arrangement and directed them to Mr. Gavigan.

They broke into the Blue Pyramid after it closed on Saturday night, only to find nothing particularly incriminating. To all appearances it was a normal slightly seedy nightclub, but they were able to determine that the owner/manager’s name was Abdul Awisha.

They located the spice shop of Tewfik al-Sayed and visited it. It was a nice upscale spice shop and Mr. al-Sayed an Egyptian shop keeper. He acknowledged he had acted as government liason for a Penhew Foundation expedition many years back. When told they were researching a book about the Black Pharoah and wanted his perspective on Egyptian cults he quickly shot them down indicating he had no interest in being involved in such a thing. Sean was a little impressed by his demeanor, it seemed Mr. al-Sayed was a confident and experienced man of the world (just a hunch impression).

The first few days of the next week were spent researching some of the personalities they had interacted with by pouring over police records and media archives. They found Abdul Awisha had a laundry list of minor offenses and sordid activities all in line with an owner/operator of a seedy bar but nothing occult oriented. Researches into Tewfk al-Sayed turned up nothing more than the records of his involvement in the earlier expedition. Regarding Mr. Gavigan they found an interesting article in an old edition of the Daily Mail dated July 15, 1920.

Tylesman_article.jpg

However, no court records of the charges could be found. None at all… Interesting.

Tex went to Banicker Park to check out the memorial. Bannicker Park is a green area between Bryant, Millwood, Milett, and High Tabran roads in Bayswater. It can be reached from either the Bayswater or Westbourn Park tube stations (it is equidistant from either); the neighborhood is quiet and thoroughly upper middle class. The memorial is striking and a bit out of scale for the small park. The lower section is a platform sixteen feet square and made of fine white sandstone, rising up in three steps to a smaller 12 foot square tier upon which a marble base rests. Atop the base is the obelisk (see below). Each side of the base has been decorated by a bas-relief sculpture depicting the 1916 expedition against the Fur Sultanate and Ali Dinar (in what is now the Darfur region of Sudan). One side includes a short dedication to the troops who died in that campaign, listing the units that took part in that action. Several poorly repaired gouges mar the base. The obelisk itself is 11 feet tall (17’ including the contemporary base), 21 inches wide, and made of grey-black granite. The stone is weathered but generally intact and without significant cracks. The very tip of the stone is chipped off and one of the bottom corners has been repaired with modern mortar. All four sides bear hieroglyphic inscriptions, though the text on two sides show significant weathering. Tex bought a camera, took pictures himself, hired a professional photographer, paid the photographer to develop both sets of pictures, hand copied the runes, meticulously traced the cracks, studied the base, studied the obelisk, searched the grounds, talked to locals, scratched his butt, adjusted his pants, and a few other things. Dr. Kelly had an academic at the Uni translate the Heiroglyphics. The text consists of prayers to an obscure being named Ka-Thigu-Ra; this being might somehow be connected to (or perhaps was a child of) the god Ra. Additionally there are astronomical notations relating to the stars.

They brought Mickey Mahoney in on it. Mahoney did some digging and found a contact in the Metropolitan Police Department who remembered the case and said a judge had sealed all the records. After his arrest Tylesman was ruled unfit for trial and, under the urging of the certain influential individuals, he was indefinitely confined to the Malbray Asylum, a private facility in Hackney. On Friday they determined Dr. Kelly should pay a professional visit to Mr. Tylesman.

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Slaughter In Soho
Art Theft

February 23, 1925

The next morning the Vanes locked them up in cells while they took care of Eloise who was back in the form of an innocent 21 year old girl.

Sean talked the Vanes into releasing him and his cousin Anne, but Sir Arthur kept James and Tex locked up as insurance. They discussed what to do. Eloise had not had any scratches bites or injuries, it just happened on the full moon after her 21st birthday and every full moon since. Sir Arthur could not explain it no matter how much they pressed him for a cause. When the topic of religion came up Sir Arthur indicated that the Right Reverend Stratton had been acting unusual towards him ever since the change, but they were friends who went way back and he didn’t think the Vicar was involved.

Sean went to talk to the Reverend and after convincing him that he knew who was behind the murders and the howling every month since, the Reverend finally admitted he had been digging for clues in old church records and had found an old journal from a previous Reverend of the church, part of which was written in Greek. He was still translating the Greek, but so far had figured out that something strange happened to every Vane daughter on her 21st birthday. There had been no daughters in the Vane line for 4 generations. The Reverend was intelligent enough to connect that to the monster that had slain the two villagers, but was not finished translating yet and had no evidence nor solution so had not approached Sir Arthur yet. Sean lost it and went into a rage directed at the Reverend, ending that avenue of investigation. All the events of the past days apparently had caused something in him to snap.

Meanwhile Anne psychoanalyzed Eloise and her bad dreams under hypnosis. She determined Eloise was a sweet innocent girl who knew nothing of her condition as a werewolf but was deeply troubled by horrifying dreams she had every full moon.

Not knowing what to do, and knowing that the wolf was gone for a month, they determined to return to London and promised to help if they could dig up a solution. Sir Arthur and Lawrence Vane were reluctant to just let them leave, but were convinced and they returned to London on Tuesday arriving late. When they arrived an apologetic hotel manager informed James that their room had been broken into Friday night. Examining their things they were appalled to find it thoroughly ransacked and every last bit of evidence they had collected was gone, including the artifacts recovered from the Ju Ju House along with all the weapons and ammunition they had in the room. Only the pieces of evidence Sean had kept with him and the books in the hotel safe were still in their possession. Wednesday Sean visited Detective Barrington about the theft. Barrington was interested and told Sean his life was in danger, somebody was obviously on to them, and advised them to leave England and leave the investigation to the professionals.

Tuesday James observed the Blue Pyramid club and determined it was closed during the day and opened in the evening and late into the night. They also checked in with the Penhew Foundation, they had started on the book, but had had no trouble with break ins. They advised Gavigan to keep the book locked up and he assured them he would.

They determined to figure out what was going on with the painter in Soho and his sweet old lady mother. They picked the lock on the front door after midnight to find a quiet dark house and Sean and Tex explored while Anne and James kept watch inside. The ground floor was unoccupied and they went immediately to the back yard to see what was protected by the tall brick wall, but found only a single lounge chair in a poorly tended garden. Going to the basement they found it was full of ordinary junk with only a single path down the middle to the far side. Returning to Anne and James they were going to leave, but Sean wanted to return to the basement, something was not right. When Sean opened the door to the basement he was quite surprised to see a tall snake man waiting at the top of the stops. The man was covered in scales, had a cobra’s head complete with wide hood and a long snake tail. Sean fumbled for his gun but the snake man waved a hand, said some strange words of magic and his eyes glowed with pale light as Sean’s mind was grasped in an iron grip and he was mesmerized by the snake man sorcerer who whispered “Kill them all”. James had told the others he was going to keep an eye on Sean and followed him to the kitchen towards the basement. As James entered Sean turned the flashlight on him dazzling him, then a shot rang out and splinters flew from the door frame as Sean shot at James. James dove for cover as Tex drew his 45 and moved in, and took a shot at Sean then saw the figure of the snake man in the dark who cast another spell raising his hand towards Tex. Tex’s next shot was directed at the snake man, but was deflected by powerful magic and ricocheted into the wall. James grabbed a pan and tried to beat Sean into submission with it, while Tex struggled with the snake man and was bitten. James eventually brained Sean with the pan, knocking him out and turned towards the sorcerer while Tex started dragging Sean towards the front door yelling for help from Anne who was waiting just outside. The snake man’s eyes flared again as he controlled James mind and said “Kill those tasty morsels for me” and James attacked Tex and Anne with the pan followed by the snake. Anne fired off rounds from her 32 in a panic emptying it with 6 misses. Tex fought off the two attackers, but was dropped unconscious. Anne, facing down the snake and it’s mind slave James, grabbed Tex’s 45 from his shoulder holster and squeezed off one very lucky shot that finally killed the snake man just as Sean awoke from unconsciousness and James reeled in confusion. They had only a moments respite though as out of the dark charged a deranged man with a meat cleaver screaming like a maniac. The painter laid into them with his cleaver, trying to chop Anne into bits (apparently he was quite angry that she had killed the snake man), but he was beaten into submission by the three of them including a viscous pistol whip with Tex’s 45 by Dr. Kelly.

They quickly discussed what to do, surely a neighbor had heard the gunfire and called the police. Tex thought he was poisoned by the snake bite and Dr. Kelly agreed so they stumbled out to hail a cab and head for the hospital. Sean and James quickly explored the house, finding a locked bedroom downstairs, 3 other bedrooms upstairs and a locked door to the garret up top. Smashing in the garret door they found two kerosene lamps lighting the garret where a blank canvas with pencil markings of the start of a painting was set up on an easel beside open painting supplies. Leaning against the wall with 4 tiers of many paintings on canvas. The skylight above was painted over with black paint and there was a closet door. Looking in the closet, there was a single easel with a painting covered by a sheet. Lifting the sheet and shining a flashlight on the painting they saw it was a remarkably detailed painting of an island in a swamp. As they looked, the painting took on 3 dimensional properties and they quickly covered it back with a sheet. James grabbed this painting with sheet, and Sean grabbed a group of paintings from the garret. They raced downstairs and Sean dragged Miles (the crazed unconscious painter) outside while James poured kerosene from one of the lamps on a bed and lit it on fire. Then they both raced inside and grabbed more paintings, returning out from the burning building to hear sirens approaching.

Deciding being caught for assault, murder, robbery, and arson weren’t in their best interests Sean and James left Miles on the street, grabbed what paintings they could and fled into the night.

After avoiding the police they returned to the hotel and investigate the paintings. They were all quite disturbing but one showed cultists with the Bloody Tongue headband they had encountered in New York! James was intrigued by the painting from the closet and examined it closely, Sean wanted nothing to do with it, it made his skin crawl. James peered closely into the painting and it was as if he was peering through a window into another world. As he watched the 3D scene, the water began to ripple and things moved just below the surface. James could feel himself being pulled into the painting, but could not pull away. The forms under the water took on serpentine form, if he watched for just a while longer he was certain he could get an answer. Sean watched James study the painting for several minutes, when he realized James was not responding to his surroundings Sean tipped the painting over on it’s face. As he did he though he saw James’ form ripple as if made of water! James reeled back and sat down as he was released from his fascination with the 3D painting.

Sean and James collapsed onto the couches of their suite and Tex got treated for a snake bite at the hospital with Anne at his side. They had all barely survived a trying night, England was proving to be quite a dangerous trip…

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Weekend in the Midlands
The Derbyshire Monster

February 19, 1925

They took the Thursday morning train to Derby arriving late afternoon, then hired a car to Lesser-Edale, an quaint village of 30 houses, one pub, and a mercantile store. At the Laughing Horse Pub they met some of the locals, including Constable Tumwell, a slightly portly fellow with a gigantic bristly mustache and inflated opinion of himself. Asking around about the murders (and buying rounds of drinks to loosen tongues), the Constable indicated it was a closed case, he had shot the wild dog that was responsible and it had slunk off into the hills to die. Some locals teased the good Constable, saying “No dog walks on it’s hind legs” and “you aren’t that good a shot Hubert.” Also, “No dog could tear someone limb from limb like happened to poor Lydia.” They found out that after the attacks 3 months ago that left two dead and one badly injured, no more attacks had happened, though for 3 nights every full moon they could hear howling.

They arranged sleeping accommodations, with James getting a cot in the back room of the pub, Anne being given a spare room with old widow Murphy, and Tex and Sean given a spot in a hayloft. Mrs. Murphy spoke with Anne about the attacks, saying she heard it was a bat winged creature. Asked what she thought it was, Mrs. Murphy claimed it was a demon come to punish the wicked.

They tried interviewing survivors of the deceased. Mrs. Osgood told them how her husband had heard a noise and took his shotgun to investigate the barn. She heard a shot, then a scream, and looked outside to see a huge black beast running away hunched over into the woods. Investigating the woods they found nothing unusual.

Mr. Perkins, the horse dealer who had lost his daughter, was unwilling to talk to them. When James started saying uncouth things about his daughter, the shovel in Mr. Perkin’s hands convinced them to leave. Mr. Parker was obviously greatly affected by his loss. Interviewing the Perkins neighbors, Mr. Tom Corty told them he had seen Lawrence Vane, the 23 year old son of the local noble Vane family, running from the Perkins house the night of the attacks. He said Constable Tumwell and the investigative board from out of town had interviewed Vane and cleared him of any wrong doing. Corty told them Perkins had been in a black mood ever since the murder, and blamed young Vane. He claimed the authorities were covering for the upper class Vane family and that the Labor party should do something about the class injustices.

Marching up to Castle Plum, the home of the Vanes, they found it to be a manor house made from the old keep of a ruined castle whose towers and curtain walls were long gone. James and Anne banged repeatedly on the large main doors, eventually a maid came out a side door to ask them to stop the banging, those doors had not been opened in 270 years (they stuck on the day Charles I was hung, a portent from God). They asked for the lord of the house but the maid was reluctant. Insisting, she took their card and made them wait outside while she retrieved the master. Sir Arthur Vane, an aristocratic looking man of 67 years, came out and proceeded to summarily dismiss them. He had no interest in talking to such rude people, and asked them to leave. James was incensed, expecting his wealth to somehow impress this old world aristocrat.

That night they heard the howling after midnight. It echoed from all around, they could not pinpoint a source. Sean did not sleep well, he expected to get eaten. He felt like livestock sleeping in that barn. The next night they formulated a plan involving a purchased sheep as bait (the sheep was very unhappy with this plan). While Sean and Tex spent the night on the moors with “Dolly”, James and Anne returned to the Vane house in the middle of the night to watch, but were surprised when they realized the howls were coming from the manor house. They returned to town with Dolly.

Saturday they planned to stake out the Vane house with Dolly. Dolly was unhappy about all the strolling about. As Tex and Sean walked Dolly down the road to the Vane manor, a car passed them with a young man driving. He looked at them strangely. Lawrence Vane made an appearance Saturday afternoon at the Laughing Horse. James tried to talk to him, he assured them that the villagers were stupid with their superstitions, that the Constable had the truth of the matter, and that the Vanes had nothing to hide. He was pleasant enough, but firm, and when James asked “So how long have you been killing people?” he became incensed at the insult and left. Returning down the road in his car, he passed Sean, Tex, and Dolly again. Stopping and asking if they were yanks, Tex said “I ain’t no damn Yank, call me that again and I’ll let you have it.” Predictably Lawrence said “So you are yanks, you must be with that rude Wadsworth fellow.” Tex kicked his car and bent the fender while yelling at him. Sean was appalled. Lawrence backed up his car and returned to town to get the Constable. Constable Tumly came and nearly arrested Tex, but Sean smooth talked them out of the situation after making Tex humble himself with an apology and paying for the damage to the car.

Their plan shot, they returned to town with their sheep and Lawrence returned home. Constable Tumly made it clear they needed to leave town. They did, but returned Sunday night from Derby with a rented car and broke into the Vane manor. One light was one in a ground floor room, which they avoided and proceeded downstairs into the old dungeons where there was an old torture room (unused for centuries they hoped) and cells. In one cell they found the source of the baying, a hybrid man-wolf form that threw itself at the bars of it’s cell to try and get at them. Shocked at this, James let loose with his shotgun, but it did not harm the beast only made it angrier. Anne noticed that the werewolf was actually a female! It must not be Lawrence or Sir Arthur, but rather the daughter Eloise!!!

Sean was rattled by the appearance of the beast, and they fled. However, the shotgun blast had alerted Lawrence and Sir Arthur and they appeared at the steps from the basement armed with shotguns. A tense standoff ensued, with Sir Arthur raging “What have you done to Eloise?!?” Anne somehow managed to defuse the situation by offering to help. Miraculously Tex and James agreed to give up their guns in order to talk things out with the Vanes. Anne pointed out that Sir Arthur merely loved his daughter and wanted to save her, as did Anne. Sir Arthur claimed “Eloise killed nobody, it was that monster, Eloise wouldn’t harm a fly!”

Sir Arthur was rattled. He didn’t know what to do. He had to think, but couldn’t right now. He insisted on locking them up in the dungeon for now until the beast was gone at sunrise and they could talk about this under the light of day like reasonable men. James was calculating ways to kill them all, Tex was confused, Sean was rattled, but Anne agreed. The Vanes confiscated their weapons, allowed them chairs and a lantern as he locked them in the torture room until morning. James immediately began formulating a slaughter of the Vanes while Anne argued for a civilized resolution.

They waited for morning to come locked in the dungeons of Castle Plum.

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Knocking Around London Town
The wall is how tall?

January 17, 1925

While Anne was finishing up reading Life as a God on Tuesday, the rest went to Scotland Yard where they met with Inspector James Barrington. Inspector Barrington was in charge of investigating the so called “Egyptian Murders” a series of killings of mostly middle easterners. They indicated they were following up on the murder of Jackson Elias, and knew Jackson had visited Barrington while in London. Though they went there to ask him questions, it somehow found themselves telling the Inspector all about the happenings in New York, though they managed to leave out the parts about dead men walking and wails from pits so as to not look foolish. It seemed the Inspector was a little suspicious about holes in their story, but some smooth talking from Sean got him to overlook it. They also could tell that Barrington was sizing them up.

After being interrogated by the good Inspector, he shared information about the visit from Jackson. He said Jackson had claimed the murders were ritual killings by a modern version of an ancient Egyptian death cult known as the Brotherhood of the Black Pharoah. Barrington had interviewed an expert on Egyptology to follow up on Jackson’s claims, but Mr. Gavigan had indicated that there was no modern day equivalent of the Brotherhood and that the pattern of the murders did not match the known rites of the historical Brotherhood. Gavigan suggested that Elias was a sensation seeking profiteer. A favorite London nightspot, the Blue Pyramid in Soho, was an Egyptian themed night club that was frequented by several of the vicitms. Following up on Jacksons suggestions of connections with the Carlysle expedition, Barrington had interviewed Tewfik Al-Sayid, a spice dealer who had once guided an Egyptian expedition for the Penhew foundation and was a frequenter of the Blue Pyramid. Tewfik also denied that a modern day version of the Brotherhood existed, and a police tail learned nothing. One final piece of information that Barrington wondered if it meant anything to the investigators: One of the victims had reportedly cried out “Hotep” an ancient egyptian word meaning “rest” or “peace” according to Gavigan, but it meant nothing to the investigators. They took their leave from the good Inspector who made sure to make a point about not taking the law into their own hands, that anyone who did so would also be a law breaker and here in England they did not differentiate between intentions.

They returned to their hotel that afternoon where Anne had finished reading the Tome Life as a God, They saw clear connections between the cult activity described in the journal and what was described by Inspector Barrington about the Egyptian murders, they resolved to visit the Blue Pyramid night club themselves. First they had drinks with Micky Mahoney that evening at the Waldorf bar. They told Mahoney sordid details of their adventures in New York and he was very excited to print them, he promised to leave their names out along with some details that were left obscured to protect their identities. All he needed was a “lady” to pose for pictures in a skimpy maid outfit, so he left to purchase the services of a “lady” so inclined, while the others headed for the Blue Pyramid in Soho.

Arriving they found it to be a glitzy and busy night spot, with loud Egyptian music, loud voices, and belly dancers. They Egyptian theme was over the top with fake palm trees, statuary, and a gigantic relief pyramid on the stage. They began “casually” dropping the name “Toofek” asking each other “I wonder if Toofek is here tonight” and other such references, but it was difficult given the noise level in the rowdy club. When Sean visited the men’s room to relieve himself, a small Egyptian man next to him became very irate and began yelling at Sean in Arabic. Sean was surprised, but when the man pointed to his shoes Sean saw that his lower leg and shoe had been urinated upon and the man apparently blamed Sean. The guy shoved Sean and grew increasingly angry as Sean retreated from the men’s room where the large bouncers of the club got involved and ejected Sean from the club, Tex and the others following. Sean insisted he had not pissed on the man, though he seemed not entirely sure….

On Wednesday, James and Sean went suit shopping, James buying a sharp new outfit in the current London styles. Sean needed to replace the pants that had gotten slightly soiled when getting in the altercation yesterday while in the middle of his “business” in the men’s room. Later that morning they visited the Penhew Foundation in central London at a Bloomsbury address north of Oxford street and west of the British Museum, roughly between Regent’s Park and the Thames. The building was a sturdy two story building surrounded by a high iron fence. They spotted some men loitering around a delivery truck at the rear and a doorman at the front door. Entering the building they found a lobby with a burly male receptionist behind a desk. There were signs posted about the current exhibits in their museum, and the building was quite elegant with opulent appointments in the Victorian style. Asking to see Mr. Gavigan on the subject of one Jackson Elias they were soon met by the director of the Penhew foundation, Mr. Edward Gavigan. Gavigan was immaculately but stylishly dressed and quite stuffy, and he led them to his well appointed office down the hall. The office was magificently paneled in carved wood, with a massive detailed oak desk, and high backed leather desk chair. There was a small library and a sturdy floor safe whose door was ajar, several guest chairs, a small stocked bar, a filing cabinet, and 4 closets in the back. Gavigan asked about why they were visiting him, and when informed about Elias and his fate he expressed condolences. They asked Gavigan about what he knew of Jackson’s activities in London, Sean noticed a slight tick in Gavigan’s otherwise steel faced demeanor.

Gavigan recounted his conversation with Jackson during their one brief encounter. jackson had asked about the records of the lost Carlyle expedition and what details Gavigan knew about what had happened to the expedition. Gavigan had explained that Carlyle had obtained information from a mysterious African woman about a shadowy time in Egyptian history about which Sir Aubrey had long been interested. During this time a sorcerer was reputed to have rules the Nile valley, and the African woman disappeared with the expedition’s ready funds in the amount of some 3,500 pounds sterling. He related that it was Hypatia Masters who was concerned that the heat and the disappointment would seriously affect the health of Carlyle and herself. She suggested that the party spend some months in the relatively cool Kenyan uplands, which would also afford the opportunity to use some of the new lenses that she acquired for the photography of African wildlife. It was there that the party injudiciously entered dubious territory and paid for that mistake with their lives. The vast share of the records Jakson was interested in were lost there as well since Sir Aubrey (always loyal to Carlyle) took them with him to work on while matters were still fresh in his mind.

When asked about the Brotherhood of the Black Pharoah, Gavigan asked if Inspector Barrington had sent them. He reiterated what he had told Barrington, that there was no known modern equivalent, and the ritual slayings did not match any historical records of religious practices of ancient Egypt. They asked if they could retain the services of the Foundation to research a journal they had found that detailed pracitices of a cult last century and see if it had any connection to ancient Egyptian practices. He indicated that they did indeed have staff on hand for hired research at $15 per day, and introduced them to Roger Eggworth, a graduate student from Oxford who specialized in the pre Ptolemy era in which they were interested. They agreed to do the research starting next Monday. Gavigan then proceeded to show them some of the artifacts recovered by the Carlyle expedition in Egypt, but everyone but Anne grew quickly bored and they took their leave.

That afternoon they took a late lunch at a local pub, checked train schedules to Derby then went to the Soho address of Miles Shiply, the artist painting macabre pictures from one of the newspaper articled Jackson had taken an interest in from The Scoop’s archives. The home was in the middle of a row of townhouses all butted up against each other in great need of repair. It had missing shingles, peeling paint, a skylight, a series of steps leading to a small stoop, several windows on both stories all of which had the curtains tightly pulled. Knocking on the door it was answered by a little old lady carrying a knitting basket peeking around the door. She was quite meek and nervous about the four strangers on her door step. When told they wanted to see Miles, she indicated that “my Miles isn’t much interested in visiting with strangers I’m afraid, and he definitely does not like crowds…” They told her they were admirers of his work and had traveled from America to meet him. She was quite surprised to hear that, and maybe a little afraid. She promised to give Miles their card and contact information, but stressed “I quite doubt my Miles will be interested in meeting with you, but I will give him your card my dear.” With that she closed the door.

Investigating the alley around back they were surprised to find a relatively new 19 foot high brick wall with a single door around the back yard. Returning after dark, Sean was unable to pick the lock on the back yard door and they gave up for the night.

Thursday morning they headed to the station to catch a train to Derby.

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Horror at the Ju-JU
And a Reading Cruise to Europe

After the attack on Dr. Kelly they all resolved to stay in random hotels until they left for London on Saturday. It was late Wednesday afternoon and much discussion ensued about the Ju-Ju house. James was quite worried about the danger, but Sean was insistent that they needed to know what it’s connection was. In the end they decided to break in late Wednesday night. They all met at Sean’s garage where he kept his booze supply, loaded up their guns and drove to Harlem in Sean’s car.

Arriving at the alley entrance to the courtyard that held the Ju-Ju, Sean and Tex got out of the car while Anne and James drove off planning to circle the area and pick them up when they exited. Luck was with them as the court was quiet and the Ju-Ju dark. Sean picked the lock and they went in with flashlights to illuminate the scene. It was creepy with all the tribal paraphernalia in the dark. Sean and Tex immediately went into the small back room and searched it, but all they found was a cluttered storeroom with a small desk cluttered with routine letters, bills, receipts, and accounting ledgers. Frustrated and disappointed they didn’t find any smoking guns in the back room they decided it was a dead end and was time to leave. Just as Tex was opening the door, Sean decided maybe they should have a look in the FRONT room and found a trap door under a rug behind the counter. Lifting it revealed a narrow stair leading to a cramped underground passage way heading towards the building next door.

Climbing down the stairs they saw a narrow hall dressed in stone carved with African tribal symbols. At the end was a door of stout oak banded with iron. It was locked with an antique lock that Sean was unable to pick. However the hinges were on this side, so Tex returned to get tools from the car and worked to unhinge the door. This took quite a while, so Anne and James parked the car and joined them.

The door opened into the basement of the building next door, but the stairs up had been bricked off. The basement walls were covered in strange runes nobody recognized. To the left of the door were two poles with leather thongs that looked like they were designed to hold people by the wrist. Along each of the four walls were large African drums. The right side of the room was filled with a large stone plug set into the floor which had chains through pulleys attached to a winch. Across the room was an alcove covered with a curtain.

They entered the room to investigate and Tex headed for the curtained alcove. Just before he reached it, the curtains parted as four walking dead men came stumbling through to greet them. More zombies! Tex peeled off a shot from his .45 at the first one to little effect and was quickly mobbed by them. The others rushed to help swinging whatever weapons they could improvise. Tex was bitten twice and badly injured. As the others got the attention of some of the zombies he was able to flee the room, he was hurt pretty bad. They managed to beat down the dead men until they stopped moving.

Sean investigated the alcove and found a blood red ceremonial robe hanging from a peg, a set of large tiger claws mounted on gloves also hanging from a peg, and a large bundle wrapped in a leopard pelt leaning against the wall. Unwrapping the pelt showed it contained a book (Africa’s Dark Sects!), an African tribal mask of a leering demon face, a burnished copper bowl etched with more symbols similar to those on the walls, a wooden scepter of African design inset with runes, and a headband of grey metal with more runes scratched into it. Sean grabbed the bundle and the claws and returned to the main room.

James tried turning the winch to lift the plug, but it was too difficult. Sean and Tex were able to do it together and as the plug cleared the hole it was covering the sound of a dozen voices shrieking echoed throughout the room. Tex freaked out and covered his ears, so the winch lever was ripped from Sean’s hands and the plug fell back into place. The shrieking stopped. What the hell was that? Time to get out of here, so they ran to the car and fled Harlem. When they reached Manhattan they called the police to tell them they heard screams from the Ju-Ju house in Harlem. The police could deal with it.

They went to a hotel to lay low and recover from their adventure at the Ju-Ju. Over the next two days, Anne made arrangements with her publishe, Jonah Kensington to aid them in their travels as a point of contact here in the states. Jonah wanted her to finish Elias’ plan for a book about what he had uncovered as a final tribute to the fallen author. Jonah gave Anne two contacts Elias had mentioned in London: Mickey Mahoney, a reporter for a tabloid called The Scoop and Inspector Barrington of Scotland Yard. Being careful, they made preparations for their trip on Saturday. Saturday morning Sean was flipping through the paper when he read a small note in the police blotter about a fire that had claimed 10 lives in lower Manhattan. The address was the address of his brothel. He was horrified, but left on his luxury cruise that afternoon with the rest.

They cruised on the HMS Majestic of the White Star Line, sister ship to the Titanic. The ship was luxurious but the weather in February in the North Atlantic was cold. Anne, Sean, and James spent most of the time reading some of the books they had recovered while Tex enjoyed the booze and striking out with the ladies.

Arriving in Southhampton and clearing customs with prearranged firearms visas for the guns they had packed, they took the train to London where Sean had arranged for them to be picked up by a car from his father’s Waldorf hotel in London. They were given a suite of very nice rooms on an upper floor with a view of the city and spent Sunday settling in. Monday they explored the city a bit, made some financial arrangements, and visited the offices of The Scoop in the afternoon. Mickey was there, they found out he pretty much WAS The Scoop. He was a rumpled red haired Irishman in his 40’s. When they mentioned they were friends of Jakson’s, Mickey said he was saddened to hear of his death and asked about it. Mickey and Jackson had been friends and Jackson had visited him last month. He seemed harried and stressed, and asked to go through Mickey’s article archives. There were 3 stories Jackson was particularly interested in (monstrous murders int he Midlands, a strange artist in Soho, and a string of murders of foreigners, mostly Egyptian), but Jackson left for America suddenly and Mickey had no idea if Jackson followed up on any of them or not. Mickey was quite interested in why the investigators had come to London and pressed them for anything he could publish. They agreed to meet with him tomorrow night over drinks at the Waldorf.

Monday they made some financial arrangements and got to know the city.

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