Masks of Nyarlathotep

Initiation

January 23
Neal and Doris found David Lee in his bed. He was extremely difficult to rouse and seemed to be having some kind of nightmare, which he later said involved the Look to the Future rituals. Doris loaned him her book on witchcraft in exchange for information on the rituals, which largely involve lengthy chanting and meditation in order to ‘release a focused creative energy to manifest futuristic objects’. David had trouble walking and breathing and, in helping him, Doris was able to learn the combination to his safe. Doris and Neal offered to talk to Mr. Lostalus Black about the objects to find out if they’re cursed. The next LTF meeting is in 2 weeks. As they left David, they noticed that he was coughing up blood.

Neal and Ion left for the lodge initiation.

Jonah took Doris and Barclay to meet with Erica Carlyle. She lives on a sprawling estate with several guards, who she said were necessary after a recent break-in. She was able to provide information on a tall queenly African woman she suspected of manipulating Roger and who had also gone on the expedition. The party asked about the other expedition members, but mainly learned that Roger had gotten Jack Brady off a murder charge during college and since then Jack had been totally loyal to Roger. Also, Erica did not seem unhappy about her brother’s death.

Since Roger had been obsessed with books, Doris and Barclay asked to see the library. Erica had to attend to business in a nearby room of the estate, and so left them in the care of her bodyguard, Joe Corey, in order to ensure that they didn’t steal anything. Doris found a secret safe with books inside and Erica was called back in. Erica feigned ignorance of the safe and said Doris and Barclay were welcome to read the books but that they couldn’t take them until Erica had them appraised. The antiquarian will arrive tomorrow. Doris read Life as a God, which was about the Cult of the Black Pharaoh in Egypt. Barclay read People of the Monolith, a book of poetry describing the ritual sacrifice of a mother giving birth and of her newborn infant. The other books present were the Pnakotic Scriptures (English) and Selections de Livre d’Ivon (French).

Ion and Neal met Prof. Cowles at the Silver Twilight Lodge and found that he had invited many of his students to the initiation. Ion got the impression that the students were just joining to get extra credit. After initiation, Ion and Neal checked out the library. Later, Prof. Cowles began making a loud commotion downstairs, which Ion and Neal took advantage of to sneak around. They found a secret passage to the third floor, which they investigated thoroughly, finding several unsettling murals, altars, and a secret library with someone inside. Ion, now wearing his JuJu mask, felt too uncomfortable and scared to enter the library, but Neal casually entered. Apparently unnoticed by the person sitting with their back to the door, engrossed in a book, Neal looked through some of the books and found evidence that there are at least two additional secret ranks at the lodge: Knight of the Outer Void, and Son of Yog-Sothoth. At that point, he was caught by the bespectacled individual who offered to indulge Neal’s appetite for the occult. He tapped Neal with his cane, and Neal felt too weak to stand. Another tap and Neal briefly passed out on the floor. The man helped Neal up and into a chair. He then brought Neal some refreshments to fortify him. After Neal had eaten, the man made Neal promise to not share information about this secret room and touched Neal’s lips.

Too scared to keep waiting when Neal was likely just hanging out in the library reading, Ion went downstairs. He was spotted by a servant who tried to choke him out, but Ion broke his arm and sprinted for the door. Another servant charged but Ion dodged around him, down the stairs and out of the lodge. He removed his mask and went back to Dr. Call’s to wait for Neal.

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Business Propositions
A snakelike plane; Mob mentality

January 21
In the early morning, Rocky and Timmy sneak back into the JuJu House and encounter the chanting priest. Rocky pistol whipped him and shot his ear off, and the priest used his claws to slash up Rocky’s chest before knocking the gun away. Rocky and Timmy ran, but Rocky got pulled back from behind and got bit before shaking his pursuer and hiding back in the abandoned pawn shop. A large flying snake smashed through the front of the pawn shop and tore Timmy apart as Rocky ran back into the courtyard into the arms of the angry cultists who knocked him out.

At breakfast, the group was surprised to find Barclay. He said he’d been caught snooping around the basement, and while he didn’t think there was anything of value there, the lodge members had beat him up and thrown him out. Ion informed Anthony Cowles about the lecture offer at the lodge, and he seemed excited to join the lodge.

The group went back to New York to wait for the lodge induction ceremony.

January 22
Jonah Kensington set up a meeting with Bradley Grey, the lawyer of Erica Carlyle. At the meeting, the party suggested that they had evidence that the expedition members might not be dead. Further, they suggested that those who have looked into the expedition (such as Erica) might be in danger. Bradley agreed to arrange a meeting with Erica where an information swap could occur. He’ll contact Jonah with the details.

Doris went to work and engaged David Lee with her interest in the occult. He invited her to an evening date where he could show her some things that might interest her.

Neal and Ion researched the Look to the Future organization and found an address for it.

The group went to JuJu House to follow up on that lead. Ion bought a mask to ward off evil (wooden and long with lighter wood inlay). Barclay bought a taxidermied bush baby (drinking a tea made by boiling it should make you run faster and jump higher), and Neal bought a stuffed badger whose hands are similar to a small dark-skinned child (it may protect against bees). Neal offered to send more business to JuJu House for a 5% commission on any sales.

The party then went to Fat Maybelle’s and learned about a powerful priest named Mukunga who frequents JuJu House and Ransom Court.

At her date, Doris was shown a blue pen that never seemed to require refilling and whose ink dried very quickly. It said ‘bic’ on the side of it and seemed to have bite marks near the end. He also had a sort of watch that didn’t have any hands but instead would draw numerals in lights on its face. Unfortunately, Mr. Lee seemed pretty sick and complained that he had had a headache for about a month (roughly similar to the length of time that he had had the devices). He refused to see a doctor due to the exorbitant expense, but Doris offered to bring her doctor friend, Neal, who would take a look for free provided he could see the miraculous devices.

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Fragments: Hiding in plain sight

January 20 (earlier in the afternoon)
After tailing a man from Fat Maybelle’s to a residence where he may have tipped off the leaders about the group’s investigations, Rocky couldn’t find his friends. His imagination piqued at the prospect of adventure and possible mysterious treasures, he enlisted the aid of his fence, Timmy. After Juju House closed, they broke into the nearby pawn shop, and staked out Juju House. Around 1am, they saw 30-40 young black men walk into the Juju House, snuck in after, and found a secret trap door that led down to some sort of ritual where everyone was naked except the priest. The priest wore some sort of robe, had a scepter, and had lion paws in place of his hands. There was a strange sort of mask on the wall of the ritual chamber. After watching the ceremony for a bit, they were spotted and had to run. They threw the nearby kerosene lantern onto the clothes and ran back to their pawnshop hide out. 20-30 naked men ran out after them but didn’t see them. The clothed priest is still in the building.

(Meanwhile in Arkham)
Doris picked up some additional info about a John Scott in 1721 who owned a farm in the same location as the current lodge. The farm was raided after neighbors observed chanting and grave robbing. She also finds a 50-year old article on witchcraft that mentions a powerful warlock, John Scott, was killed by an angry mob and his house was burned down. Finally, Doris finds a news story that an infant has gone missing and a Karl Sanford is being held for questioning.

Neal learned that there is a New York organization similar to the Hermetic Order of Silver Twilight called Look to the Future, which has recently been interfacing with the Order, sharing members and trying to develop stronger relations. He learned that LotF is run by a Lostalus Black and that a New York banker named David Lee is a member. Luckily, he works at the same bank as Doris.

Ion caroused until late into the night.

Barclay found a flashlight and some keys, but after finding a sanity-rending carving, he ran headlong into the darkness. Eventually, he was captured by two Masters of Silver Twilight and a lodge servant. The next thing he knew, he awoke curled up inside a box. He could hear muffled voices speaking outside the box.

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Lodgeward Ho!

January 19
Neal spent the day talking to Dr. Call about the Hermetic Order. He learned that Dr. Call has some proficiency in the sorcerous arts, but they may just be parlor tricks (conjuring smoke and cards, causing a signed card to appear in a pocket, conjuring a rose and making it wilt). He also refreshed his knowledge of basic taxidermy and remembered how to stuff badgers more effectively.

Ion spent the day talking to Prof. Cowles about Sir Aubrey Penhew, who was a renowned Egyptologist. He learned that Sir Penhew started the Penhew Foundation in London, a philanthropic organization devoted to knowledge and learning, especially about Egypt and its customs

Doris, Barclay, and Rocky spent the day trying to find info on the JuJu House in the papers, but they were unsuccessful. After walking around Ransom Court in the afternoon, they found Fat Maybelle’s, a Kenyan bar. There, they learned the location of the JuJu House down an alley in the middle of Ransom Court, but when they asked about its relation to a black mountain in Kenya, they noticed a man quickly leave the bar. They sent Rocky to follow the man stealthily and quickly lost sight of both of them.

Doris and Barclay noticed a commotion near their car, but by the time they reached it, the car was missing a hubcap and no longer functioned. Doris grabbed the repair kit and the electric torch from the trunk, and they headed to the JuJu House, a small African import shop at the end of an alley. In the dark, Barclay shot a cat that surprised him and as the echoes died down, the two used the flashlight to peer in the shop windows. The gun shot attracted locals who ran them out of the area.

January 20
Doris and Barclay checked in with Jonah Kensington and learned that a possible route to meeting with Erica Carlyle is through Bradley Grey, who managed the estate transfer after Roger’s death. A short train ride later, they met up with the Arkham group.

The group discussed strategies and Dr. Call gave the group a brief overview of the Lodge layout before they left for the open house. Since only men are welcome in the lodge, Doris went to the university library to read up on the members of the Carlyle Expedition. She learned:

  • The history of the Carlyle (nee Carel) family and how they made their fortune
  • The background of the Masters family (in the arms industry)
  • The Penhew Foundation’s goal (funding brilliant young researchers), director (Edward Gavigan), and address (in London)

At the open house, Neal immediately explored the library and was introduced to John Scott, the Noble Philosopher (aka Chief Wizard) of Silver Twilight. John was impressed with Neal’s knowledge of science, experience with death, and his apparent access to money. He sent Harry Tammers to interview Neal and ensure that he had sufficient knowledge to join the Order with the rank of Initiate. The next induction ceremony will be held on Jan 23.

Ion took note of the stoicism of the waiters but quickly became obsessed with the extremely high quality of the appetizers and alcohol being served. He made friends with Joe Carroll, who he impressed with his knowledge of the occult in both Romania and Australia. After drinking for a bit, Ion told Joe everything he’d learned from Prof. Cowles regarding Australian cults and the plans for the Australian expedition. Ion was invited to give a lecture about the Romanian occult at an upcoming meeting of the Order, and he was asked to invite Prof. Cowles to give a lecture on the Australian occult.

Barclay talked to a few neophytes about the Order and found that many of the lower-ranked members are perfectly happy with their rank and that they mainly see the order as a social club with great food and drink. After exploring the rest of the first floor, Barclay found stairs leading to the basement. He left the door cracked and went down. He used the butt of his gun to break the padlock from a door in the basement, and found a tiled room with a secret passage in it. As he descends the stairs leading further down, he wonders what horrors could lie in store.

Next leads:

  • Try to talk to Erica Carlyle (Possibly)
  • * Try to talk to Veronica Post (Jonah will look into this)
  • * Try to talk to Bradley Grey
  • Investigate the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight
  • Investigate the JuJu House (during posted business hours? 9-5 M-S)

Long-term goals:

  • Follow Carlyle Expedition (London, Cairo, Kenya)
  • Investigate Jack Brady sighting (Hong Kong)
  • Investigate connections between Australian and Kenyan Cults
  • Investigate resurgence of bat cult (Sydney; Desert Expedition)
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Like-minded Fellows

January 17

The team decided to head to Boston, so Barclay got the old Lancia Lambda out of storage (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/MHV_Lancia_Lambda_1923_01.jpg). An enterprising youth, Mikey Rockefeller, noticed that the Lancia seemed to be missing a headlamp and offered to sell a replacement to the party. (Mumble mumble) He joined the party!

The party continued to Harvard where they spoke with Miriam Atwright about East African cults. They found that Jackson had spoken with her about Africa's Dark Sects, a book which had gone missing from the Harvard library months before. Miriam was able to fill in some details about the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, the cult that apparently killed Jackson. A man approached the group and introduced himself as a correspondent of Jackson Elias, Edward Call. He arranged to meet with them later that evening in Arkham.

Meanwhile, Mikey (aka Rocky) tried to rifle through a locked cabinet in the rare book room, and brought the cabinet down on himself. In the ensuing chaos, he managed to snag a book, Saducismus Triumphatus, from that same cabinet and bolt out the door. Not being patient enough to read the tome himself, he loaned the book to Doris.

After driving to Arkham, Neal and Ion spoke to Prof. Cowles about his Polynesian cult lecture. They learned more about the Cult of the Sand Bat, inferred that it may have been an earlier version of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue and that it may be undergoing a resurgence in West Australia. Cowles offered the party a place to stay in Sydney and a guide in the form of his colleague and lodger, Professor David Dodge, if they will investigate the resurgence of the bat cult. He also has set up an expedition into the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, but it's on hold while he acquires funding. The party decided to make use of Jonah's funds to help fund the expedition, though they've not spoken to Cowles about this plan yet.

Meanwhile, Doris, Barclay and Rocky went to a diner to meet with Mr. Call. He told them that he was a member of a fraternal brotherhood, the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight. The organization is well-respected and popular in Arkham, but it may have actual occult significance. Mr. Call recently was inducted into a secret rank of the order and has begun to realize that the order may be more sinister than he first thought. Jackson's investigations had somehow led to the order, and he had contacted Call to setup a meeting. Call is not sure how Elias learned of his affiliation to the order. Call has invited the party to an open house of the order for interested lay people to learn about the order and potentially join (Jan 20). Call wants the party to help determine whether the order is actually dangerous in a way that will grant him plausible deniability should the party get discovered. Maybe they'll find some clues Elias had sought. Call offered the party a place to stay while in Arkham.

After the party went to bed, Rocky snooped about Call's large house and managed to steal a pocketwatch from Call. Though Rocky was discovered as he left Call's bedroom, he managed to get to his room and hide the watch before Call could realize what was missing or search Rocky. Rocky later showed off the watch to Doris, Rocky's surrogate mother figure(?), who was less than impressed. Call now tries to lock Rocky into his room at night.

January 18

Doris, Rocky, and Barclay went to Elias' funeral, but it was a small closed casket affair. In the middle of the service, Barclay opened the casket to verify that Elias was actually dead and in the casket, which was off-putting to Jonah and the funeral director, but explained away to Jonah's satisfaction. During the wake, Jonah offered to look into contacting Erica Carlyle, agreed to find the party transport to London, and agreed to look into the possibility of helping fund an expedition into the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. He's more worried about the immediate threat of why Elias was killed (since Elias never went to Australia), but he's very intrigued by the Australian parallels to the East African cult, and he likes that the party already has access to Cowles to write any reports in a publishable fashion.

Neal got more information from Call regarding the initiation rites into the order and crammed using Call's science books in order to try to skip straight to the rank of Initiate upon joining.

Doris finished reading her book at a cafe while Barclay and Rocky went to the Kenyan community in Ransom Court to ask around about the Bloody Tongue. Rocky asked a grocery store owner about the Bloody Tongue symbol and got scolded for potentially attracting the attention of such dangerous people. Rocky did manage to intimidate the clerk into letting slip that the most dangerous place to make these inquiries is JuJu House, which is apparently elsewhere in the Ransom Court neighborhood.

From her book, Doris learned about witches and skeptics. From it, she learned to create Magic Bottles, a kind of folk magic protective ward.

Next Leads:

* Try to talk to Erica Carlyle (Jonah will look into this)

* Investigate the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight

* Investigate the JuJu House

* Learn about the members of the Carlyle Expedition

Long-term goals:

* Follow Carlyle Expedition (London, Cairo, Kenya)

* Investigate Jack Brady sighting (Hong Kong)

* Investigate connections between Australian and Kenyan Cults

* Investigate resurgence of bat cult (Sydney; Desert Expedition)

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Milk and Tonic, Please

On January 9, Barclay got a telegram from Jackson Elias, an old war buddy, to form a team of investigators to follow up on the Carlyle Expedition. Barclay invited a medical examiner, Neil Dayan, who had dealt with the death of Barclay’s previous master, the Duke of Rutland. He also invited a bank secretary, Doris Stinson, who had helped arrange the late duke’s affairs. Finally, Neal brought along his janitor friend from the morgue, Ion Dumitru, who he had formed a connection with due to their shared dark humor and who had a keen interest in the occult overtones of the Carlyle Expedition and the mysterious disappearance that followed.

On January 15, Jackson called Barclay and asked him to come to room 410 in the Chelsea Hotel at 8pm. At 8pm, the team knocked on the door and received no answer. After hearing movement inside and knocking and calling a few more times, the team tried unsuccessfully to break down the door. When they eventually got the door open, they found Elias disemboweled on the bed with a strange symbol carved in his forehead. The window was open and nobody else was present.

In the room, they found a playbill advertising a lecture by Prof. Anthony Cowles and a matchbook advertising the Stumbling Tiger bar.

Detective Martin Poole arrived and took the team in for questioning. After they cleared their names, Poole mentioned that a black Hudson had been seen leaving the street behind the hotel shortly after 8. The Hudson had previously been reported stolen. Poole mentioned that Jackson was the ninth murder victim to have been killed like this and gave Neil the list of other victims. The police had been consulting Prof. Mordecai Lemming on this matter.

Prof Lemming gave the PCs information on the symbol carved in Jackson’s forehead, speculating that it looked similar to ritual symbols of Yende blood cults of West Africa, but that Jackson’s symbol was more intricate. The Yende blood cult kills victims by tearing off and beating them with their own legs. He wasn’t familiar with East African folklore, but he recommended the PCs contact Miriam Atwright, a Harvard librarian specializing in East African occult. He also briefly described Prof Cowles’ lecture involving an extinct blood cult in Australia who infected victims with rabies as they were slowly bled from tiny cuts inflicted by bat teeth.

Barclay talked to Elias’ publisher and editor, Jonah Kensington. He gave the party Jackson’s Nairobi Notes taken by Elias and offered to help fund an investigation into Elias’ death if the party passes along information that can be made into a book or series of articles. Jackson’s notes suggest that the usually cool-headed writer had become somewhat unhinged, frantic, and paranoid during his investigations.

PCs tried to follow up on two of the previous murder victims, Margaret Teach and Alfonzo Vicario. After a brief search, Neil was unable to find a prostitute who had known Margaret in Harlem, and Ion discovered that Alfonzo’s nightclub, the Dodgy Swan, a dingy low budget bar that served milk and tonic had been commandeered by someone named Rico. Supposedly, he protects the local community. The server seemed to be a bit prejudiced, and Ion (and the rest of the party) left before things got ugly.

Next plans:

  • Prof Cowles in Arkham
  • Meet Miriam Atwright at Harvard
  • Arrange a meeting with Erica Carlyle, Roger Carlyle’s sister
  • Attend Elias’ funeral in 2 days (arranged by Jonah)
  • Kenyan community is around Ransom Court, Harlem

Long Term plans:
Follow the Carlyle Expedition’s path by visiting

  • London
  • Paris
  • Cairo
  • Kenya/Nairobi
    Follow up on the sighting of Jack Brady in
  • Hong Kong
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