Saturday, 11 July 1925
The evening of the party, the courtyard of Dr. Mwimbe’s house is covered with rich rugs and low tables. An enormous feast of delicacies from all of Zanzibar’s heritage is served—dates, manioc, goat, rice, flatbreads, all pungently spiced.
The Undersecretary of British Affairs comes to the party, as well as a severe looking woman wearing an elegant sari in a Bengali drape. Freddie introduces himself. He is wearing Omani clothes, large ballooning pants and a tunic.
“Artol Vann, citizen of the Finnish Republic.”
“You look like a buffoon, Mr. Vann. Why are you bothering me? I am trying to enjoy my lamb. It is not spicy enough, but what can one do.”
“I understand you are in the importing business, and I have need of such services.”
“You may speak to my clerk.”
“Well, I happen to have made the acquaintance of Erica Carlyle…”
“Ah, the sister of the American idiot who got himself killed in the jungle.”
“The same. I am investigating the death of her brother. I understand you supplied their expedition? And you may have a certain ship, the Ivory Wind…”
“Mr. Blakely—do not try to mislead me with such a blatant lie—this is not the time or the place. Please come to my office tomorrow and we may talk.”
“Madam, you are quite remarkable.”
“Yes, I am.”
[Flattery spend by FP to get Thakur to even talk to him.]
Like many people, the Sultan immediately hits it off with Jimmy.
“So, you are a private investigator? Like the Sam Spade?”
[JP: Uh, who’s Sam Spade?
Me: That’s perfect.]
“Uh, I suppose…”
“So, how many men have you shot, and how many beautiful women have you romanced?”
“Er…a real detective doesn’t keep track.”
“Ah, it like a desert thing for you.”
“Your majesty,” says Freddie, “I happen to know that Mr. Wright has saved at least one life, and been exploded four times.”
“Ah, my ancestor was exploded, but much less successfully. Have you heard of the British-Zanzibari war? It lasted fifteen minutes.
Mr. Wright, I invite you to come to the palace at any time. Anyone who is a friend of our esteemed Dr. Mwimbe must be a man of character. They say she is descended from the Mwiyini Mkuu—the last chieftains of Zanzibar before we Omanis came.”
Fritz meets Mr. Corydon, the British Undersecretary. “You are Fritz Krakauer, yes?”
“I am indeed.”
“There is something I want to know—I shan’t have the opportunity again, so—first, it is a very great honor to meet you. Secondly, what was Kafka like?”
“According to Max Brod’s biography, you were a great intimate of his, met him a the café every day. What a great loss for literature that he was called away.”
“He got himself sick, he could have taken care of that but he chose not to. He was all right…I guess…”
“What are you doing in Zanzibar? It seems so far from Prague in both time and culture.”
“I’m not really sure. I was given a ticket to come, and so I am here.”
“How Kafkaesque, to coin a term?”
“I suppose. I don’t really know what that would be like. Oh, wait—didn’t you write that one with the colony—oh, no, that was Kafka.”
“Do you remember the Carlyle Expedition? I heard they were chasing after some White Gorilla city…”
“I think they were chasing after that [racial slur] who was traveling with them—supposed to have nicked all their funds. What must have happened is that they blundered into some taboo area and were killed.”
“Do you believe these stories about Cults?”
“I’ll tell you, they’re still out there, or at least the [racial slurs] all believe so. Strange, a woman came asking about these things a year ago…had a man’s name, Jackson something. Couldn’t help her much. And now Leftenant Selkirk, the one who found the bodies, he died recently…and all the records were lost in a fire. Fortunately, the fire was contained to a small place…just burned that section.”
Nobody dies, so it is a great success by the standards of Freddie and company. When Charleston climbs up to the library at the end of the night, to immerse himself in the books that have become his best friends, he is suddenly seized with a terrible fear.
He flips over several stacks of books before he finally has to admit it to himself:
The Al-Azif is missing.
“Noor,” says Charleston. “The Al-Azif again…”
“I kept this room locked!”
[OP: Howabout you bring in…a detective?
Me: If only you knew one…or two…]
Charleston summons Jimmy. “An important item has been purloined from my posession. I need you to make a discreet investigation…”
Jimmy asks the guards downstairs if they saw anyone come up, but they haven’t seen anyone. Examination of the windows show no evidence that anyone entered the library through them.
He then checks the door. There is no sign that the room was forced. The lock wasn’t picked.
While he is examining the door, Dr. Mwimbe comes upstairs. “James, you are asking the guards many questions. What is going on?”
“A valuable possession of mine is missing,” says Charleston.
“Ah, yes. The book. I took it. It is too dangerous for you to continue to study. We have discussed this in our therapy sessions. It is too dangerous to your mental health.”
“Do you know what this book does to people?”
“As a matter of fact, I do, which is why I took it from you.”
“Well, I wish you luck. But it won’t be enough.”
“Mr. Charleston. As your therapist, I am restrained from saying the first thing that comes to mind. But as mistress of this house, I will tell you: it is very likely that I will bury you.”
Jimmy watches Mwimbe closely. He can recognize that she is not lying about having taking the book. But trying to read the mysterious doctor more deeply only nets him the nagging belief that the one thing that can be said with total certainty is that Dr. Mwimbe did not want Charleston to have the book any longer—but her motives remain murky.
[Dr. Mwimbe is very difficult to read—she is a psychologist after all, and affects a certain hauteur. I’ve been consistently surprised at how nonchalant the players have been that an NPC is in possession of all their most powerful artifacts. Maybe it’s because they fear them, since we are in a Cthulhu game—any D & D game that I’ve played with FP and CP, I think they would have already made multiple death threats against any NPC holding out on them.]