The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 6)

“This is my wife,” says Francis. He tries to pick up the sword.

“Pleased to meet you madam,” says Freddie, bowing and sweeping up the sword before Francis can grab it. “Sorry old man, but the Sword tends to have a nasty effect on people. We should give it to some kind of Big Hero.”

Everyone looks at Jimmy.

“On the other hand, I’m the only one who took fencing at Oxford,” says Freddie, carefully cradling it.

[So, I had to remind them that ‘the sword has two edges’ was the warning they received; Pearkes began to go murder happy because he used it on everything including innocent humans. Someone who was more careful could use it with less ill effects.


And Jimmy didn’t have any Weapons.]

The Rev gets up, groggily. “I can’t see,” he says.

I can sssseee for you.

“Which snake are you?”

Charlesssston. I’ll tell you where to go.

“Well, I’ll have to trust you to lead me the right way.”

Alwayssss….

They find a room with clothes for an adult woman and a little girl, but neither Dr. Mwimbe nor Mirabelle. Painted on the wall is a simple message:

TOO LATE.

“Huston is dead,” says Francis. “Seemed surprised that I could shoot him.”

“Someone decided to play a trick on him, I guess.”

Freddie goes out into the garden and starts digging graves. As he gets halfway down, he says quite conversationally to Isabelle, “So. Bram Stoker effect?”

“That was just…a roman.”

“Not according to my aunt.”

The Rev gropes his way into the garden. Suddenly, he sees a flash of golden light. He seems to see a man, completely shadowed, standing spread-eagled in front of him.

“There is a demon among you,” the man says. “Isabelle O’Donnell.”

“My Lord and Savior!”

“I am.”

“I will find her, my Lord!”

Jimmy is alarmed at the sound of hissing snakes. “Calm your snakes!”

“I don’t have snakes! Have faith in God.”

“Rev, if you’re done ranting, could you maybe read the Last Rites?”

“I can’t read anymore! But, I have the jist of it! Well,” he says, drawing himself up above the corpses, “You didn’t do very well in life, did you? But as you ride the elevator to Heaven or Hell, depending, think upon how you might have done better, and my Lord will judge you, either worthy for Heaven, or to be plunged in the fires of Hell. Oh, by the way, Freddie, I’ve been instructed by God himself to find a demon wife and kill her.”

“Who is it?”

“What was that name…ah, Isabelle O’Donnell.”

“Francis, your name is O’Donnell.”

Jimmy jumps between the Rev and Francis. “It’s a common name!”

“Listen, my dear,” whispers Freddie, “I believe the rites of marriage don’t survive death. So, you are no longer married to Francis, and thus entitled to use your maiden name again. I suggest you do so from now on, at least while the Rev is around.”

They return to Calcutta, and make plans to head to the last location on the pentagram sketched over the Indian Ocena—Kerguelen Island.

[Quick note: I brought back Shakhti because FP seemed to keep expecting the other shoe to drop with regards to him. So, give ‘em what they want, and I didn’t want them to be distracted during the finale.]

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Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 5)

Freddie, Jones, and Jimmy pole their way up a narrow creek. In the fog and darkness, the great bulk of a fabulous ruin lies in front of them. A few lights twinkle inside it, and they see patrols of men walking with torches around the perimeter of the building.

Short people. Quite short. Freddie stares intently—they resemble, impossibly enough, the Asian men who kidnapped him the day he won the auction for the Dagger of Thoth.

They circle around the building in the jungle. Jimmy keeps his eye open; it seems to be some kind of mosque. He points out a place where the wall has partially collapsed—if they can elude the patrols.

[Architecture and Archaeology use by JP. “And the guards say ‘Praise be to Raaka-Tu!’” I said, but apparently nobody else played text games on their TRS III.]

Jimmy raises his hand, halting them. He waits until the sentries round a corner and then they dash forward, half-dragging the Rev up the rubble pile.

Inside, they find themselves in a kind of covered pavillion. Jimmy looks at the elaborate wall carvings. The place was a mosque, for sure, and before that a Hindu temple…and then things get very weird, with half-erased carvings of a most sinister nature.

The cobra wraps itself around the Rev’s neck, hissing in his ear. Jimmy hears, for a moment, Charleston’s voice: “It’s obviously an early Cthulhu cult, although here is a sigil of Nyarlathotep, and there’s veneration to Azathoth in this section.”

He stares at Charles—the Rev.

“Down, devil!” says the Rev. He shudders as they move forward.

[I asked for a Stability roll here; passing it meant that Charleston re-emerged for a moment.]

They pass through the room and enter a very pleasant outdoor garden. The stars shine brilliantly above. Fragrant scents from many night-blossoming flowers rise up to meet them, and they feel suddenly at ease.

[The garden was so nice that it gave a point of Stability to anyone in it, but nobody was down.]

Freddie, however, notices that many of the plants are in fact Chinese medicinal herbs—ones used often in poisons, as a matter of fact.

[Biology use by FP.]





Francis leads Isabelle through the maze of corridors and ruined rooms. He enters large chamber with a high, vaulted ceiling. From a balcony above, he hears a familiar voice.

“Well, Mr. O’Donnell, I hope you enjoyed my surprise,” says Robert Huston. “I prepared it specially for you, for interrupting my work in the desert.”

Francis notices that Huston looks much older. The psychiatrist glances down. “My Lord did not enjoy having me call upon his aid. He took me to Sirius, all right—that’s a twenty year round trip, if you only go as fast as light.”

“Yeah. I’m going to take my wife here, and leave.”

“Has she told you yet? What keeps her alive?”

Francis looks back at Isabelle, like Orpheus looking at Eurydice. “What’s wrong?” he says.

[That was OP’s actual description.]

Isabelle shrinks back, trying to draw herself into the shadows. “I have—to—consume…sangre.”

Francis blinks. “It’s okay. We’ll get through this.”

Isabelle begins to cry.

“Doctor, thank you for bringing my wife back.”

“You are not welcome, you were supposed to be tortured.”

“Hrm. I guess I feel really bad that you brought my long-lost wife back.”

[Me: I think I know how you’re going to punctuate this sentence…]

Francis fires his pistol at Huston, who smirks down with a gloating look on his face that changes to a look of shock as the bullet smashes into his shoulder, spinning him around. He turns and starts to run for an exit, but Francis drills him in the back.

Huston falls to the ground dead, a look of surprise plastered on his face.

Freddie and Jimmy start running towards the sound of shots. As they round a corner of the garden, they see two people sitting in chairs, with a small table holding a bottle of wine between them. One is a middle-aged Chinese man, wearing an elegant English suit.

The other is Ho Hsi-Tzu.

“Greetings, Mr. Blakely,” she says. “Allow me to introduce my father, Ho Fong.”

“What ho…Ho. You’re a dragon, I suppose?”

“I? No, Mr. Blakely, a simple human being. I am myself—but I know that you think my daughter must have been possessed, to show such acumen at a young age. As a matter of fact, I raised her to be a intelligent and most capable woman—for few of us in the Cult are fortunate enough to have a relative chosen to be a vessel.”

“Did you just say you were in a cult?” asks the Rev.

“Yes—I thought that was common knowledge. We are both men of the world, Charleston Chiu—the larger world. You more than of all of us.”

“I am a man of God.”

“As am I.”

“Mr. Ho Fong, it’s delightful to see you, and Miss Hsi-tzu, I hope you are happy being a vessel for whomever…”

“I think you know for who, Blakely.”

Freddie suddenly realizes that Ho Hsi-tzu is carrying a sword. A sword he recognizes—the Sword of Akmallah.

“It’s time to pay you back for Irem,” says Hsi-tzu. “Then you defeated me because of your monkey and his machine gun.”

“Jimmy, she’s got the amazing sword of chop anything. Do something!”

“I don’t want to shoot a teenager!”

“She’s not a teenager! She’s a 5,000 year old vampire!”

“OK, then.” Jimmy fires the lightning gun at Hsi-tzu. She proves to be blindingly fast.

Ho Fong begins to chant. Freddie waits for the most dangerous moment of the ritual, and then shoots him. With an elephant gun.

Francis, from inside the building, hears the sizzle of electrical discharge. “My lightning gun!” he says. “And it missed! Jimmy!”

Tentacles lance out of the ground and drag Ho Fong beneath the earth. Freddie realizes, in a flash of insight, that he has sent Ho Fong to Chthuloid Hell—and there’s a Cthulhu Hell! Ho Fong is dead, but the passage of his soul seems to have strengthened Ho Hsi-tzu…er, Shakhti.

[Cthulhu Mythos spend by Freddie to ‘hit him at the worst point in the spell.’]

The Rev sees Francis coming up into the garden behind Ho Shakhti. He dashes forward, but she moves faster than thought, slashing for a decapitation strike. The Rev tries to slide beneath the blade, but he sees it flash forward into his eyes.

It’s the last thing he ever sees. He is blinded.

[5 points of rating loss to Health and Athletics—the fully tuned up Sword of Akmallah is a devastating weapon. CP decided that the loss of Athletics was due to his being blinded.]

“If anything happens to me,” says Francis to Isabelle, “go to Jimmy. He’ll take care of you.” He runs forward.

“Which one is Jimmy?” calls out Isabelle.

Francis launches himself at Ho Shakhti, catching her momentarily off guard. The Sword flashes out, slicing him across the chest, but he crashes into her, firing his pistol at point blank range. She deflects the shot with the Sword, but he pins her arms.

[Two rating points of Health and Athletics to Francis, but he got the shot off at point blank and then I let him spend some Scuffling to grapple her.]

“Jimmy! The lightning, now! Don’t go weak on me!”

Jimmy takes aim and fires the lightning at the Sword. Sparks arc into the blade, bathing it in an eerie blue glow. Francis grits his teeth as he takes the feedback and is thrown backwards.

The Sword flies out of her hand.

[So: I used the NBA hit location rules, knocked off a point for conductivity, and ended with a HT of 6 for the sword. The gun is a +3 weapon, and Francis took the 3 points.]

Freddie steps forward and fires the elephant gun’s other barrel into her chest.

As Ho Shakhti falls to the ground, Jimmy hears her last command: “Feed!”

Isabelle launches herself forward and latches on to Francis’ neck. He shrugs. “Next time ask, baby.”

“Sorry,” she says as soon as Freddie and Jimmy drag her off of him.

[OP nailed the Stability check.]

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Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 4)

Jimmy catches them up on what he has learned. “So, we’re going to need some people. A lot of people, and they have to be there. The island is the center of the eclipse, and should be where the gate will be created.”

“How many people?”

Jimmy shrugs. “Depends on how big the generator is. How much blood is in a human being?”

Freddie ponders for a while, and then heads to the telegraph office.

He sends many telegrams that day.

Tuesday, 15 December 1925

Mr. Patel of the Civil Service happens to have a relative with a flatboat perfect for navigating the Sundarbans. He arranges for a meeting with Hardekker’s yacht that evening.

Freddie donates some money to Congress Party and a local non-violent organization, Anushilan Samiti. They let him know that he should probably lay low for a while, since the British have moles everywhere.

[Streetwise spend by FP to avoid getting arrested.]

The sun plunges splendidly into the Bay of Bengal as their yacht anchors off the Sundarbans. They board a few flat-bottomed boats and set off into the forbidding labyrinth of endless streams and mangrove islands.

Francis comes to again, this time on his bed.

His bed.

Isabelle is lying next to him.

“Is this really you?” he asks.

“You mean, am I the person who in life was your wife? Yes, it is me. We are not in Paris. You may already be aware of that.”

“Are you all right?”

“Well, I’m undead.”

“How can I help you rest again?”

“They used a spell to call me up, I suppose there’s one to put me back down again.”

“Is that what you want?”

“I…suppose it is not right that I am here. I…don’t remember anything about being dead, except dying. But…”

Francis embraces her. She is neither cold nor warm. Her skin feels different, rougher somehow. But all the little details, the intimacies only he would recognize, are there.

It’s her, he thinks as he kisses her.

“We’re going to get out of here,” he says. “They used magic to do all this, right?”

“No, it is our furniture. They brought it from France.”

“That’s stupid. They don’t know me that well, then.” He knocks the kitchen table onto the ground and unscrews one leg. He takes out a strange screwdriver like tool. Ducking under his desk, he begins to fiddle with the drawer from below.

There is a snick, and a panel falls to the floor. He reaches up into a cramped, narrow space and pulls down a disassembled automatic with two magazines. He rights the table and quickly reassembles the gun.

“Stay behind me, and if you recognize anything, let me know—I’m hoping there’s a way out nearby.”

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Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 3)

James Warren Jones, DD, sets up a soapbox down on the wharves by the Hooghly. He begins his preaching. Not long later a large crowd gathers to listen to what they assume is some kind of Chinese mystic.

The snakes slither all around his body as he preaches.

“That’s nothing,” says a man to Jones. “I can do that with snakes. I can prove that my ability to control snakes is better than yours.”

“I have no control over snakes. They are the emanations of the Devil; he craps them out and sends them among us. It is my faith that protects me from their foul venom.”

“Then hold mine,” says the snake charmer, who tosses his cobra at Jones.

Moving faster than the eye can see, the three snakes wrapped around Jones spring onto the snake charmer, biting him. He falls to the ground, convulsing.

The cobra curls up around Jones’ leg.

“Do you see! Do you see what faith can do!”

“A miracle!” gasps the crowd. “A sorcerer!”

Several fall to their knees in front of Jones. Three men spring up and surround him. “Do not touch a hair on this sacred man’s head!” They glare menacingly at the near-riotous crowd.

“Guru, what should we do?” says one.

“Who’s Guru?”

“Why, you, Rishi. What shall we call you?”

“Reverend James Jones. People call me Jim, Jim Jones.”

“A good name. Nobody with a name like that could ever do evil,” mutters one.

“Teach us guru, we want to hear,” say the men at his feet.

“I think he’s Shiva,” says one.

“No, totally Ram,” says another.

“Tell us how we may rid our nation of the British!” says a third.

They begin explaining their woes. One’s grandmother has millet blindness. Another has a deformed child. All are starving, part of the Bengal-wide near famine conditions endemic to the period.

[Me: It’s Calcutta in the 1920s; their stories are legitimately terrible.]

“Let me speak to you in tongues,” says Jones, and begins spouting gibberish.

Freddie, discreetly watching from a tea wallah’s cart, notices that Jones isn’t speaking gibberish—it’s Aklo. “Blessings of the Dark Lord to you,” he is saying. “I will offer you to him. Soon the time of his ascendency will be here.”

No one notices that the cobra had been typically dark brown when the charmer threw it at Jones, but now has become jet black. Neither does anyone pay much attention to the fact that the snake charmer’s body has vanished.

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Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 2)

Monday, 14 December 1925

Freddie sets out into the bustling streets of the Bengali metropolis, hoping to dig up some clues on where Ho Fong Imports has relocated. He buys some porters tea and passes some pound notes among the less savory elements. From this he gathers that Ho Fong Imports have moved to Calcutta, they have some sort of a warehouse, but nobody has seen the boss our his daughter.

[Oral History and Streetwise use by FP.]

Taking a deep breath, Freddie plunges into the Indian Civil Service, hoping to find some paperwork that will locate his quarry. Fortunately, he chances upon Mr. Patel, a young, ambitious civil servant who is bored out of his mind. With his help, Freddie discovers that among other holdings, Ho Fong Imports owns some sort of decaying temple located in a “lost city” somewhere out in the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans.

[Bureaucracy spend by FP.]

“Fortunately I’m surrounded by American heroes,” says Freddie to himself.

Jimmy sets out to see if he can find someone who can help him find out more about the gate—specifically, is there anything at the center of the vast symbol sketched out around the Indian Ocean. With the help of Brady—who seems to have his finger on the mystic pulse of the area—they locate a sage/mystic/university professor.

Jimmy hands over the charts, and Noor’s notebook (after asking Noor’s permission.) The mystic—Rabindranath—waves at Noor, then starts consulting mathematics textbooks while chanting softly.

After several hours, he reports back to Jimmy. “First, let me show you on the map.”

“Looks like a patch of blue, like all the other parts.”

“Ah, but here, in the center, is a higher area, with many atolls. This place is centrally located…and the name seems somewhat appropriate. DANGER ISLAND!”

[I am not making it up, it’s right there, smack dab in the middle of the Indian Ocean.]

“Is that a translation?”

“No, the British gave it that name. Now, the young woman standing over there in doorway was very intelligent. You know the Saamaaa Ritual? This picture—” he points out Noor’s illustration of the broken slab of pinkish rock given to her and Charleston by Nyiti in Egypt—“is the key to the mystic 8th line. But there is one problem. The size of the gate will be considerable, perhaps several hundred feet. You must think carefully on who you wish to help you, for the ritual demands mystic energy—and blood.”

[Cost is: 2 Stability or 4 Health, per “number of the line” (this case, 8) per 31 feet of enclosed area.
Me: I’m sorry, was saving the world supposed to be easy and free? They have a god on their side!]

Francis slowly comes to.

He doesn’t remember much about the voyage over. He was drugged and beaten—of that he was sure. He thinks at one point he saw Dr. Mwimbe, beaten badly and chained to a wall. But he passed out soon after.

He is lying on mildewed marble floor.

The air is damp and hot.

There is music playing somewhere nearby.

The walls are a crumbling ruin, carved with symbols. Indian or Chinese? He’s not sure. Probably Indian.

The music is coming from an arched doorway, the only exit from his room.

He has no idea how long he’s been unconscious. He could be almost anywhere in the tropics.

The music is familiar.

It’s the last song his wife recorded before he died. He had the only pressing of the record, back in his apartment in Montmartre.

He’s wearing the same suit he was wearing in Singapore. It’s been cleaned, he notices.

He reaches for his lighter. It’s missing. So are his guns. His money is there, he notices with some irony.

…mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment… sings Isabelle on the record.

He walks through the archway, and down a corridor. The air temperature is getting cooler, almost temperate.

…tout doucement, sans faire de bruit…

In the dim light he can now make out a room at the end of the corridor. He can see a table inside. The table looks familiar.

Standing on it is his lighter.

…et la mer éfface sur le sable…

He steps into the room. The table was familiar, he now realizes, because it’s his. Not a replica, but the exact table he had in his apartment in Montmartre. He can see the stain from the first dinner Isabelle cooked him as his wife. In the dim light he now realizes that the room is an exact replica of his apartment in Montmartre.

There’s a window where he’d expect it to be. Outside is…the street his building was on. Parisians move around on it.

Move…must be some kind of a motion picture.

The gramophone is playing in his bedroom, just through the doorway. He pockets his lighter and steps into the next room.

Sitting in a chair in the corner is Isabelle.

Francis faints.

…les pas des amants désunis…

[Shatter! goes the pillar: Death is the end. Fortunately, OP actually had read the rules, so he knew that he could reduce the Sanity loss by fainting. He still had to make a 7-point Stability test, so he lost 1 Sanity and a total of 9 Stability.
And his last pillar shattered. This means he wouldn’t get any Stability back from his Drive, but that didn’t come into play this session.]

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Episode XVI: Here Comes Your Ghost, Again (Part 1)

Sunday, 13 December 1925

The good ship Sterkte makes its way up the Hooghly River towards the Port of Calcutta. Jack Brady finds Jimmy standing on the bow, watching the river flow past.

“Hey, sorry if I came on a little strong when we met. I’ve got to know you, you seem like a pretty okay gee. Even if you did help get the girl captured. This may not end up so well for me…so if anything ever happens to me, could you make sure Vanessa gets back to her family? You seem like a reliable sort to me.”

“I get that a lot. Sure, I’ll make sure she gets back. I’d rather you not die.”

“Hasn’t happened yet.”

Jimmy notices that Brady is wearing a rather…unusual pendant. He stares.

“This? Oh, my mom gave this to me, for protection. It…helps me sometimes. When I’m in trouble.”

As they approach the Calcutta waterfront that evening, they hear the boisterous singing of German drinking songs. On the wharves, sailors in German uniforms are battling the British shore patrol and otherwise carousing.

As they tie up, a British Customs official glances at Freddie’s passport. “Russian? You don’t speak German, do you?”

“A bit,” groans Freddie. The Customs official points him to “those two Jerry officers over there.”

Two stiff-backed German officers in overseas uniforms are indeed standing there. Freddie introduces himself. They bow.

Käpitanleutnant Karl Dönitz,” says one of the officers. “This is my counterpart, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Canaris.”

“Charmed. I see you are doing a wonderful job watching your men fight the British. Highly entertaining.”

“We are from the training cruiser Emden, making our maiden voyage,” says Canaris. “Our crew…has gotten somewhat out of hand.”

“The Engländer want me to break up this commotion.”

“Perhaps if we could guarantee the men some…entertainment…”

“Say no more.” Freddie ambles over to the shore patrol commander. “I say, if you were to, oh, drop all charges and take the Jerries to your best local house of entertainment, I think we could end all this trouble. Here’s some funds to compensate you.”

Soon arrangements are made. Canaris gives a short speech to the men, dismisses them, and then gives Freddie his card. “Feel free to call upon me on the Emden at any time,” he says.

Freddie walks away, shaking his head—he’s gotten a very strong intelligence agent vibe from Canaris.

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Episode XV: If You See Her, Say Hello (Part 14)

They are met at the dock by a throng of people. “Free the Reverend!” some shout. “Sifu! The bullets did not harm him! Bless us! We believe in your church of machine gun violence?”

One quick trip to the jail later, Jimmy is put into infirmary, Freddie into his own cell, and Charleston to the [racial slur] tank with the other Chinese prisoners.

The Rev spends some time checking the welfare of his cellmates.

[First Aid use by CP.]

“Are you the one they call the machine gun priest?” says one.

“I don’t like that title,” says the Rev. He opens his coat and a snake hisses at them all.

He begins to read from his “bibble.”

As it turns out, there is another African in the cell. “You should all listen to him. He is impervious. And reading from that book makes him very persuasive! I would bet you could convert an entire village just by talking to them. Just pray to God, in the right way.”

“I only know the way I preach.”

“There are many ways to preach.”

“But those are the wrong ways.”

“Ah, yes, many wrong ways. But then there are the right ways, the secret ways, only taught to his prophets.”

“Is that an eye infection you have there?”

“It is nothing. My irises grow large in the dim light. I like your philosophy. It makes me…chuckle.”

“I feel I’ve met you before.”

“Really? Perhaps in Africa—one can find almost anything in the wide-open vistas there. Have you been to the desert? It is the anvil of God, and the sun is the hammer. It will anneal your faith, burn away your impurities. May I see your snakes?”

“Do you have the faith?”

“I think I do.”

“This one is called Noor. I don’t know why I call her that.”

“The name means ‘Shining’. Her eyes shine! You should listen to this snake. The snake will tell you the right way to pray to God.”

“I just came from a garden. You want to know the lesson about listening to snakes in a garden? Then read the Good Book—you’ll find out it’s not the right thing to do.”

“I know that story. They have always gotten that wrong. Adam and Eve ate the fruit, because that is their natural condition. This story is always misinterpreted. The serpent was not evil, he was teaching them the right way to speak to God. The serpent told them the way to avoid all these indignities. You would never grow old, never die, but you would never learn. So pain? Yes. Suffering? Yes. Sacrifice? Yes. But—they became as God said, and were like gods.”

“God told them, you have what you want, just don’t eat of that tree. But that damn dirty snake—sorry, guys—fooled them.”

“God made Adam, and Adam could not resist this temptation, because it is the nature of thinking things to want more knowledge. When they realize they cannot see everything in front of them, then they learn. And when they learn, they become like gods.”

“See, that’s where I’m different. I don’t want to know anything about the universe.”

“That is because you already know too much, my friend. There will come a time when you will have to talk to God. When that time comes, you will lose all your illusions, and be as simple as a child, but as knowledgeable as a god.”

“I talk to God every day, and he gives me solace and comfort and later, salvation.”

“You know what I like to read? Comic books. They are morality plays. All these detectives, and cowboys. The morality is so simple! I like them because morality is never so easy. But I think it would be nice if we could all be in the comics one day.”

“Then you must be some kind of moron.”

The man laughs. “I have been called many things, but never that! If anyone was to call me that, though, it would be you, Charleston.”

“Who?”

“I understand, I understand. Do not worry, I will not shatter your illusions today, it is not what I came here for.”

“You came here because you were arrested.”

“Was I arrested?”

The Rev turns to the other prisoners. “This guy, did he come in with you?”

“Who are you pointing to, preacher?” says one.

“Then who have I been talking to all this time?”

“It confused us, but we thought you were preaching. Then you changed to a strange language we didn’t recognize.”

“I must have switched to Latin.”

“I have heard Latin. I do not think it was Latin.”

Jack Seward comes around to visit Freddie. “Bit of a spot you’re in,” he says.

“I keep forgetting that our opponents have the resources of an empire behind them.”

“So, there are two ways I could help you. One relies on deception, the other on whatever remaining influence I might have. Which would you prefer?”

“Direct, I suppose. I’d rather not get you in trouble.”

“You know, she told me you’d say that.”

“M?”

“Mina still owes me one or two things. She’s very fond of you, old man. She just shows it in a very…Wilhelmina fashion. Now, take these pills as soon as I leave. And Freddie…it was a great pleasure and honor. And…I think Arthur would be proud of you.”

At 9 pm Freddie takes the pills.

At midnight, he dies.

Jimmy wakes up with a start. Interns are wheeling Freddie into the room. “Cardiac arrest!” shouts one.

A doctor gives Freddie CPR. “Come on, damn you, live!”

Jimmy watches as a Chinese attendant slips up behind the doctor, and inject him with something.

The doctor collapses.

Down in the holding tanks, a guard walks along, raking his rattan cane against the bars. He quietly asks in Cantonese where the preacher is.

Charleston gets up and say his goodbyes to his cellmates. The guard takes him out into the corridor. “You’re going to get one, right behind the neck,” he says.

“Well, it will be quick.”

“Shut up, crazybags,” says Brady, uncuffing Charleston. “Come on, we gotta go pick up Freddie.”

“Careful! You’ll wake up the snakes.”

The door to the infirmary bursts open. “I’ve been bitten by a snake!” shouts Brady in Cantonese.

The Rev’s snakes hiss threateningly. The Chinese attendants scatter, except for two who bar the door behind the rest of them.

“Well, I’ll say this for crazypants, he made a good distraction,” says Brady.

At that moment Freddie sits up with a gasp.

“Up for a climb?” asks Brady.

“Down, I hope.”

One of Brady’s Chinese allies throws a rope out the window. Freddie, Jimmy, the Rev, and Brady slide down to the ground. Seward is waiting for them in a car.

Freddie glances around. “Where’s Bertie?”

“Mr. Gilbert?” says Seward. “I’m sorry, Freddie, but we couldn’t get there to protect him in time…I’m afraid he’s dead.”

[Don’t dangle your Sources in front of a GM; I’ve telegraphed repeatedly that when PCs aren’t around, then bad stuff is going to happen, since they weren’t around to deal with the threat.]

At the waterfront, a grumpy Captain Hardekker meets them and they board his yacht. Brady and Seward have managed to find out the destroyer’s destination.

Calcutta.

[And thus closed the main campaign, and we started on the final resolution, which sees me get the Mountain of the Black Wind scenes in (what, you think I ditched them just because the mountain wasn’t in Africa?), and a final assault on Penhew’s base that got high marks for coolness from the players.


And then CP won the campaign.]

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Episode XV: If You See Her, Say Hello (Part 13)

“I am going to kill you guys,” says Brady menacingly. “When people try to hurt me, they get dead, and they get dead fast.”

The Rev runs over to Vanessa. “Where’s the girl?”

“Some people came, and told me…I…don’t remember. Jack, did I do something wrong?”

“These people played with her head for years,” spits Brady. “That Huston guy, who knows what he stuck in there.”

Jimmy grabs a doctor to take care of Vanessa. Freddie canvasses the bystanders.

One of the patients talks to him. “What I saw—and keep in mind, the people here tell me that I’m not always good at knowing what’s real, so you’ll have to tell me if it’s right. Like, I think that guy has a snake wrapped around his arm.”

“He has three.”

“That’s real? Wow. So, these guys, maybe Chinese, maybe Indian, they walked up to crazypants over there, looked her in the eye, and she just went limp. Then they took the girl, said they were from the school.”

“Thank you very much. And your name is?”

“My name? Why, I’m the Emperor Napoleon.”

[Oral History use by FP.]

Jimmy finds out that whoever grabbed Mirabelle had rented a cab and left it waiting outside until they came back with the girl. Brady is upset. “I stuck your gunsel in the trunk of one of those cabs, nobody was in it. I think it was the one they brought.”

“Probably headed to the waterfront,” says Jimmy.

The Rev summons his disciples. “The devil has shown himself! He kidnapped a little girl!”

“How can we help, Sifu?”

“Go back to this address, find a Frenchman named Gilbert and have him meet us at the docks.”

They head down to the waterfront. With his usual skill, Freddie finds a fried shrimp vendor who saw a girl in a white dress being dragged around by some tough looking fellows.

[Oral History spend to find the right guy right away.]

Fan arrives. “Sifu, I couldn’t get into the hotel, what with all those police surrounding it.”

The Rev and Fan talk to some longshoremen. “Yeah, some guys were looking for guys to do a job,” says one in rapid-fire Cantonese. “Some muscle to head down, hit a hotel, and drag this [racial slur] down here. Kill anyone who tried to stop them. Seemed weird, what’s in a cheap hotel like that, and why get a [racial slur] when you can get one for free in Africa!”

[Streetwise spend by CP.]

Jimmy quickly navigates the extremely orderly Singapore police bureaucracy. A Malay in the harbor patrol saw two men with a little girl and an African lady, along with a couple of crates. “They had all their paperwork filled out in advance, very efficient.”

[Bureaucracy spend by JP.]

A policeman finds Freddie. “Count Orlok? Can you come with me?”

“May I ask why?”

“Your servant’s been hospitalized.”

“My other servant has been kidnapped, and is somewhere on the docks.”

“That’s a very serious charge to make.”

Freddie flags Jimmy to bring over the Malaysian official he’s been talking to. “This man saw the whole thing,” he says.

“What? They had their paperwork all filled out.”

“Very suspicious.”

“Very efficient!”

“I suppose it’s somewhat suspicious,” says the constable. “I will talk to the harbormaster and get some men on this.”

[And so FP left his Solace in the hands of the GM.]

They race down the waterfront. At the end of the docks, they see a steam yacht tied up to the pier. The name on the bow is Dark Mistress.

As they approach, a machine gun on the deck of the ship opens up. Freddie, Jimmy and the Rev hit the deck. The constable collapses with a sucking chest wound.

Brady starts firing back. “They’re too far away for me to use…the thing!”

Jimmy starts looking for the explosives the Rev was forced to carry with them by Francis.

[FP, as Freddie, trying to set up a long throw of explosives: Does it surprise you that I spent a year playing American football?


Me:…it does, especially since the forward pass wasn’t legal yet.


Still, FP and CP spent like 12 points on a preparedness roll. So…okay, the Rev had a satchel charge.

Jimmy primes the charge, whirls it around his head, and launches it at the boat.

[And JP spent 10 points of Athletics, rolled a 15.]

Bullets chew up the deck around him. One catches him in the shoulder and drops him.

The charge impacts the water near the screws of the steam yacht. There is a horrific grinding noise and smoke begins to pour out of the stern of the ship. However, it continues to pull away from the docks.

“We sent for a destroyer to stop them,” shouts a constable.

Soon enough, a grey warship approaches the Dark Mistress. Freddie and company grab a rowboat and begin to row towards them.

They watch as British sailors board the yacht.

They watch as the crew of the Dark Mistress, a little girl, and an African woman are brought back on board the destroyer.

Then they watch open-mouthed as the destroyer puts out to sea.

Not long after a steam launch from the harbor patrol heaves to next to them. “Count Orlok? Reverend Jones? James Wright? I’m afraid I must place you all under arrest,” barks an official-looking man.

“What are the charges?” asks Jimmy.

“Um…high treason and terrorism,” says the man. “Apparently you threw a bomb at a ship owned by an agent of the British Crown. Wow. Never arrested a terrorist before! And quite a throw, according to the constables. You are to be commended on your terroristic skills. Fear not, lads, you’ll receive full and fair Singapore justice.”

Jimmy sits down, clutching his wounds. “I’m just going to blackout for a while.”

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Episode XV: If You See Her, Say Hello (Part 12)

“Roger and I met in ’19, out in California. I got into a little fix with the local bulls, they were gonna stick a gas chamber charge on me. Roger swooped in with lawyers and got me out of it.

“I knew Roger was bent, but in another kinda way. I was okay with it. We had an affection for each other…

“So when Roger got that crazy idea, chase after that M’weru lady, I wanted to stay with him, take care of him. He was into a lot of stuff back then, it was all nuts—pretending he and Patty were an item…I mean, I’m a tough guy, but it eats your heart out a little, seeing your…you know…parading around with people.

“Then he told me it was all because of his shrink, that’s how Patty ended up going with us. He said Patty and Huston were related, it was his leverage on the Doc. And Penhew? One of those guys, pleasant, absent-minded, but he was into some stuff…I don’t even want to think about it. And there was the whole thing he did in Ireland…

“Penhew and Erica were tight, though. When Roger and Erica’s parents died, Penhew was there to help them out. We thought maybe he and Erica would get together. Then Rog told me about his dreams.”

Brady pauses. “Hey, Vanessa? Why don’t you go over with Mirabelle. Got some things to discuss you wouldn’t find pleasant.”

He watches her leave with a strange expression on his face. “So, the thing is. Roger was bent, in a kind of different way, right? And what M’weru was offering him, was the thing he’d wanted all his life. So we went to Egypt—you’ve seen it, the temple? The one of the female pharaoh they dug up? I hear Penhew sent another ‘expedition’ there. So…we went there, opened the gate…and went back to Egypt.”

“What?”

“Yeah, twenty-five, thirty-five hundred years ago…I couldn’t read the language or anything. So Aubrey got to be the Black Pharaoh, ruling by the might of the Black Wind—you know, Him. You know who I’m talking about. We came back—the legends say the Pharaoh got killed, but He just brought us back…”

“And that’s when Hypatia…” begins Freddie.

“Yeah. I mean, He had this idea, that she was going to bear his child, but Patty didn’t want none of that. She said, you’re teaching Aubrey all this magic, you’re going to show him how to remake humanity, why not remake me? And I guess He saw something in her. They came to an accommodation, I don’t know what—afterward, she don’t talk to us no more. And Rog, he, he got what he wanted—”

“Which was to become Vanessa,” says Freddie.

“Got it in one, Chief. It can’t be the same between us no more, cause that’s not my thing. But I still…you know. You can keep loving someone, sometimes.”

“And the child? Is that yours, or Aubrey’s?”

“That’s Vanessa’s kid. That’s what I know. And that’s kinda the story.”

“And Vanessa? What does she remember?”

“Some of it? I don’t like to bring it up.”

“Is she in here for protection or treatment?”

“Both? She’s, you know, fragile. The thing is, Him? He don’t give nothing for free. Oh, he’ll give you what you want, but never quite the way you want it. She’s mostly fine, and when Mirabelle comes, she’s really good. If I could take her someplace where I knew they’d take care of us, and nobody was trying to kill us…”

“So what’s Penhew up to?”

“Good question. Aubrey always had the idea of remaking humanity, and Huston got caught up in that.”

“Oh, I nearly killed Huston,” says Jimmy.

“Good for you, pally.”

“I was in an alien body at the time.”

“You know, there was a time when something like that might have phazed me…Penhew’s got somebody helping him, there’s way too much money being thrown around. The Cult of the Black Pharaoh is one of the oldest cults, got a lot of higher-ups in it.”

“And Miss M’weru? Is she Ho Fong’s daughter, via magic?”

“I thought about that…dunno. She was always weird, wearing that mask in public and everything…”

Freddie offers a picture of Mwimbe.

“Dunno…could be? I…my memory’s a bit fogged from back then.”

“Do we all just look alike to you?” demands the Rev.

“What the hell is he talking about?”

Jimmy unfolds Huston’s map. “This is a thing,” says Brady. “There’s the clearing, Vanessa and I were already gone…there’s Irem, where we came back from Egypt…Calcutta, I knew about. You say Huston was in Australia? So there’s that…Kerguelen Island? What the hell is that? All I know is that they’re moving a lot of heavy equipment around, and they got some special fast boat—can’t be the Dark Mistress, something else…”

Jimmy looks at the map, which is upside down to him. He notices for the first time that the points on the map could form a pentacle…in fact, rather like the one they put on the inside of their armor—the Elder Sign, the sign of protection.

But, it would be upside-down. As if…it wasn’t meant to protect…but…

Defeat protection. Open things up.

“Looks like they’re trying to destroy the Earth,” intones Freddie.

“Yeah, we know the date,” says Jimmy.

“What?”

“January 14th, 1926. There’s going to be an eclipse over the Indian Ocean. Maybe there’s something in the center of the star…”

Jimmy looks up suddenly. There were a lot of interns walking around—he had barely paid attention.

But now he doesn’t see Mirabelle anywhere.

Vanessa begins to scream.

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Episode XV: If You See Her, Say Hello (Part 11)

[OP had to leave early, which explains why he wasn’t around for the rest of this; we decided on what happened to him after the session.]

Francis is about to step into the garden when he freezes. Something…just at the edge of his vision.

He spins around reaching for his pistol, but too late: a fist crashes into his face and he stumbles backward. Whoever punched him springs on top of him, jamming a handkerchief over his nose and mouth.

Chloroform, he thinks. It is his last coherent thought for a long time.

Mirabelle dashes into the garden, followed by Jimmy. Freddie grabs him by the neck.

“James, I think this is the time we should take a good hard look around.”

“You…called me James.”

“I’ve turned over a new leaf, Jimmy.”

A little girl dashes up to the woman in the white dress. “Mummy!” she says. She stares at the Reverend Jones.

“Are those snakes?” she asks.

“They’re God’s snakes.”

“Can I pet one?”

“I don’t care.”

Freddie and Jimmy stroll up.

Vanessa watches them with a troubled look on her face. “You all are strangers to me…I’m not supposed to trust strangers.”

“Not to worry, my dear,” says Freddie. “We’re hoping to meet your protector.”

“I’m not supposed to talk about him.”

“No need. We’re figuring he’d show up on his own.” He and Dr. Seward sit down next to Vanessa.

On cue, Jimmy feels something cold, hard, and gun-shaped poke him in the ribs. “Don’t move,” hisses a voice in his ear. “Put your hands where I can see them, nice and slow. Now go sit down under the tree. But not near her.”

Freddie glances up and sees Jimmy walking towards them with his hands in the air. “Ah, hello.”

“You fellas have been spending a lot of time trying to find me.”

“Jack,” says Vanessa. “I’m scared.”

“Don’t worry. I just need to check these guys out.”

“And have you determined that we smash conspiracies and are ruthless individuals? Count Orlok.”

“That’s not your real name. You,” he gestures towards the Rev, “You’re just a basket of crazy. But you there, I like.”

“Name’s Jimmy.”

“We’ll just wait on shaking hands. Tell these interns to back the hell off.”

“Excellent idea,” says Seward, beating a hasty retreat.

Brady waits until they are gone. “Took care of your gunsel. He’ll be fine. I don’t like killing people unless it’s necessary.”

“I got involved in all of this because of Jax,” says Freddie.

“That crazy broad?”

“My ex-fiancee, yes.”

“Poking around in stuff, got her killed.”

“We ended up in touch with your boyfriend’s sister.”

“Erica? She don’t like me very well, her and that Grey guy.”

“To be honest, we were hoping for some direction, fighting this cult conspiracy. We took care of Shakhti Bey…”

“I didn’t know Shakhti that well.”

“We met Hypatia—”

“Wait a minute, you met Patty?”

“She seems to have the power of some sort of pagan goddess.”

“They dropped a building on her,” says Jimmy.

“So this is supposed to make me want to put the lives of Mirabelle and Vanessa in your hands? I gotta tell ya, between you and snake boy over here, you’re not doing a good job at being convincing.”

“We just need some help. Ho Fong and his daughter are moving to Calcutta—”

“We burnt down her warehouse,” says Jimmy.

“You guys did that? I don’t like the Fongs, or that Thakur lady.”

“I appreciate how you protected your daughter. That was rather clever. Sorry to bring you out of retirement, old boy.”

“I haven’t been retired. Five years I been on the run, and nobody’s found me, and then you yahoos waltz in. Like it’s easy. I guess Taro sent you. Must have trusted you for some reason.”

He turn to the girl. “Mirabelle, honey, go over and play by the fountain.” He waits for her to leave. “So I guess you want to hear the whole thing, about the expedition and everything. I guess if Patty didn’t tell you anything she’s not as bad as I thought; you don’t strike the kinda deal she made without being pretty bad.”

“She seems to be working for Mr. N.”

“I remember their relationship as being more contentions. Don’t know where to begin…

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