The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XII: Fire on the Mountain (Part 1)

Monday, 13 July 1925

The land towards dawn in Dar-es-Salaam and rendezvous with Colonel Endicott’s party—the Colonel has gone on ahead to Ngorongoro, but Mr. Jarmyn is in charge. The group includes an archaeologist, Professor Jacques Parizeau, as well as a surprising amount of people who are clearly mercenaries. One of these is Nails Nelson, the man who claims to have seen Jack Brady in China. They carefully avoid him.

[Was a bit surprised by that, although frankly they already had all the information they were going to get.]

There is also a man named Janwillem Vanheuvelen, formerly an employee of the Clive expedition in Egypt, fired because he is not above selling artifacts he finds.

There is quite a bit of activity going on in the city that morning—it looks like the local garrison of the King’s African Rifles has been called out along with quite a few of the territorials. Freddie buys a newspaper and discovers—ahem—that there was an explosion on the waterfront last night. This caused a fire that quickly spread to the low-income housing in the area, killing around twenty people besides those who died in the warehouse.

One of the dead is Mrs. Smythe-Forbes, who was burned alive in her home. The fire was a little unusual, as it seems to have raced directly at her house but not spread beyond that.

[Word of God: the fire was mostly the PCs fault; exploding buildings has consequences. Killing nice Mrs. Smythe-Forbes was Thakur sending off her fire vampires.]

The group decides to send Francis ahead to Durban to set up their passage to Australia, the next target of their investigation, while the rest of them head to Ngorongoro. Freddie manages to lead them through various narrow alleys and closed bazaars until they manage to elude the patrols and rejoin Jarmyn’s expedition.

[Fleeing roll and associated piggybacking by the rest, bolstered by a Streetwise spend by FP.

PP: Can I use Theology to check in on the local Catholics and get their help?

Me: …well, they’re both happy to see you, but there’s not a lot they can do.]

The expedition is equipped with several dilapidated trucks, and they make slow but steady progress towards Ngorongoro, almost four hundred miles away.

On the way, Charleston has a dream. In it, he meets Mr. October, who tells him that while their mutual patron is still displeased by his lack of overt activity, the incident on Torcello was enough to stave off punishment.

But he demands that Charleson kill Noor, as a sign of fidelity.

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 9)

That night they sneak down to the waterfront and pull handkerchiefs over their faces to hid their identity. The steam launch is loaded with their luggage, and the non-combatants.

Jimmy scales the warehouse and throws a rope down for the rest of the group. They open a ventilation shaft and lower themselves down. Jimmy notes that the office is on the actual mainland and should be the target of their search—it could potentially have a basement.

[Athletics spend by JP, and everyone piggy-backed on it.]

Francis leads them quietly through the darkness and stacks of merchandise—bags of coffee, crates of spices, crates of various trade goods. It seems rather more empty than they expected—probably a shipment has recently gone out.

They reach the door from the warehouse to the office. A Bengali man is asleep in the doorway. Francis puts him into a sleeper hold, and drags the man off into the darkness. Jimmy worries that his muffled cries might have been heard.

Charleston looks at the door for a moment, and then pulls out one of his many skeleton keys.

[Locksmith use by CP.]

Francis stays in the doorway, while the rest enter the office. Freddie takes out some flashlights covered with red cloth, to hide the light and preserve their night vision.

They find Thakur’s ledgers—shipments to New York, Paris, Shanghai, Australia, India are listed. There seems to be a rather high volume of shipping, most of which ends up in either Shanghai or Calcutta. The invoices are very vague, mostly listing “machine parts” or “artefacts.” And of course quite a lot is written in Bengali, which they can’t read.

Jimmy finds a trap door in the back of the office, under a rug. He heaves it open, and a staircase descends into the darkness.

Charleston, Freddie and Fritz descend the stairs, leaving Jimmy to guard the entrance. He waves at Francis—once again, the team of O’Donnell and Wright are on the job!

The stairs go down about eleven feet and end in a room about fifteen feet on a side. A large black idol of a very creepy worm-like being with multiple arms. Incense burns in front of it.

Charleston recognizes it as the Small Crawler, an aspect of—you guessed it—Nyarlathotep. He also finds a copy of a book written in Hindi. Although he can’t read it, he recognizes it from the symbols on the cover—the Cthaat Aquadingen.

Freddie notices that there are depressions in the ground…roughly six feet long…that look an awful lot like graves. Nearby he finds a cleaver with a dark substance on it.

Fritz finds some incense cones next to the idol. The smell of the burning incense from the idol to be very…disturbing.

[Two-point Stability test by FP.]

Upstairs, Francis is peering into the dark warehouse. Far off, at one end of the warehouse, he sees a light flicker. A little while later, he sees it again, closer, about the size of a torch.

Making a careful calculation, he fires his silenced pistol right where the chest of a torchbearer would be.

He doesn’t hear the shot hit anything, but the flame flares up into the size of a beachball. And then it rushes straight at his head.

[FP: I think I need to roll Stability here…]

Francis screams as the fireball roars right past his head and straight at Jimmy, who ducks. The fireball zooms down the stairs.

Jimmy pops back up, staring at Francis. Suddenly he sees a flash of blue light, and another fireball races towards them from the far end of the warehouse.

Downstairs, everyone jumps back as the reddish fireball erupts in their midst. Freddie and Charleston race for the stairs, but the fireball follows them and engulfs Freddie. He screams in agony as he is immolated, and stumbles into the office, still on fire.

[Six points of Health to Freddie, plus he caught on fire.]

Francis goes to slam the door shut, but the fireball erupts on him just as he closes it. He stumbles back, dazzled and scorched.

Freddie rolls on the ground, snuffing the fire out, but still in agony.

From the door comes the thunk of a fire axe hitting wood.

Fritz races upstairs. The fireball intercepts him just as he clears the trapdoor. Flame erupts around him, and he falls to the carpet, still on fire. Freddie desperately looks around and spies a bucket of sand. He flings the sand on it just as Charleston races up the stairs. The choking sand envelopes the fireball and snuffs it out.

Francis aims at the door with his sawed-off and fires off a blast. He opens a huge hole in the door, and in the guy standing behind it. The blue fireball begins to flow through the hole into the office.

Jimmy, standing near the front of the office complex, hears a key turn in the door to the outside. Several figures with clubs begin to run into the antechamber.

“Come on Freddie,” says Jimmy. He grabs Freddies hand and jumps through a window that opens out…over the harbor. They fall ten feet into the water.

A shot rings out, and Charleston jerks back. The blue fireball forms in the office around Francis, setting him on fire. Fritz jumps through the window and lands awkwardly, knocking the wind out of him.

Francis follows him, plunging through the darkness and crashing steaming into the water, quenching his flames.

Jimmy and Freddie begin to swim towards the steam launch, which contrary to human reason, but according to Freddie’s orders begins to move towards them in the darkness.

Charleston stands near the window, his head bowed. Thugs from the front door and the warehouse move towards him, and the blue fireball hovers eerily in front of him.

He raises his head. The fuse of his dynamite charge is fizzing and sputtering very, very close to the detonation charge.

Everyone pauses.

Charleston flips the charge in the air toward the fireball while doing a backflip through the window.

Charleston falls backward in an arc through the moonlight. The dynamite flies in an arc through the unearthly blue light of the fireball.

Charleston crashes into the water. The dynamite crashes into the fireball.

As he sinks beneath the waves, there is a sudden flash and a shockwave smashes him down. Debris and beams start to rain into the water.

[2 point Explosives spend, 1 point Physics spend to time the explosion, then Athletics tests to chuck the dynamite and make the dive.

Freddie heaves himself onto the deck of the launch. He begins to push pieces of driftwood towards the rest of the group in the water.

The explosion rocks the boat and dazzles him, but now there is suddenly more driftwood.

Jimmy turns back and helps Fritz make it toward the boat. A flow of burning oil cuts him off from the skiff as Charleston drags Francis into the boat.

[Me: Jimmy, what’s your drive? Bad Luck…]

Hyperventilating for a moment, Jimmy plunges under the water and emerges twenty feet later just past the burning slick of oil. Freddie helps him up into the boat.

Noor shakes her head at Charleston. “Why does this keep happening? You blow things up all the time!”

“That’s not true! That’s not true! Sometimes I shoot them!”

“I think you owe me a lot more money,” says the captain of the steam launch to Freddie.

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 8)

Sunday, 12 July 1925

Freddie is finally convinced by Gilbert that he should resume wearing European clothing, if he wants to make a good impression. He leaves his tie behind, though. Fritz, Jimmy and Francis come with him; Charleston insists that he is still on vacation and heads out on his own.

They find Thakur yelling at her crowd of Swahili and Bengali longshoremen. “Ah, the Englishman. Please follow me.”

Her office is ornately furnished with Persian rugs and teak furniture, including a massive teak desk that she sits behind. “So, Mr. Blakely. What is it that you want? I assure you, it will be very difficult to starve this Bengali, although you are welcome to try, as the Raj has tried for the last 150 years.”

[Bengal, like much of India, had chronic famine problems throughout the 1920s and 1930s (when it became acute). Bengal was also one of the more rebellious regions of the Raj, with several independence groups active at this time.]

“I’m confused, a common state of affairs for me.”

“I see you have brought an armed thug, a…what is it exactly that he does?”

“Jimmy? He’s off-putting. Bit of a philosopher.”

“Ah. And a Jew.”

“I was wondering when that would come up,” mutters Fritz.

“Don’t worry about Francis,” says Jimmy, in a vain attempt to lighten the mood. “He’s always armed. He would go armed to a little girl’s birthday party.”

“Then you do well to be in the company of a British man,” says Thakur with some bitterness. “They often come armed to our children’s birthday parties.”

Freddie merely sputters.

“Now, Mr. Blakely,” says Thakur, “I am taking out time from my schedule to speak with you, because I am intrigued to find out what you could possibly think would interest me. As my time is extremely valuable, I suggest you rapidly come to the point.”

“I am here to investigate the Carlyle expedition.”

“Yes, we outfitted them.”

“Well, we’ve already met two members of the expedition, and we were wondering if you could introduce us to the rest.”

“Why do you come and lie to me? The Carlyles are dead. Everybody knows this.”

“I’m certain I’ve met two of them.”

“Which two?”

“Hypatia, and Brady. Well, to be honest, we haven’t met Brady ourselves, but the person who did is absolutely trustworthy.”

“You are peddling the same story that Nails Nelson tells anyone who will listen. A drunken English mercenary, probably wasting away in the bars of Dar-es-Salaam.”

“I see. Well, I wasn’t joking last night about wanting to talk about business with you. I’m in the process of liquidating some assets, and I’m looking for investments with companies that are, shall we say, not so friendly to the Empire.”

“I suggest your man of business call upon my clerk. Where are you staying?”

[Pronounced clark, of course.]

“You were there last night.”

“You are staying there? With—with the doctor? How interesting.”

“I find her fascinating. I’d be obliged if you could tell me more about her.”

“She is a very intelligent woman. Her father was in the German Colonial Service for a time. They say she is descended from the Miyini Mkuu—an old and proud family, one of the few Swahili families to stay in power after the Omanis came. Her grandmother was from Penga; her mother, I do not know, she was from the mainland, the bush. Her father found her somewhere. She spoke Gikuyu with a strange accent.”

“Do you enjoy math?” asks Jimmy.

“It is a speciality of the Bengalis.”

“Have you ever heard of Lovelace or Babbage?”

“I have not. I could tell you of the great astronomers and mathematicians of India, but I do not have time. Good day.”

“I really think we should break in and destroy everything she has,” says Francis after they are escorted out.




Charleston is having tea with Noah Cross at a different teahouse down by the waterfront. He is waiting for Cross to come back with some whiskey—they are bored of drinking tea—when a strange tingling comes over him.

Suddenly he realizes that he cannot lift his hands off the table.

[Stability Contest here, CP chose not to spend anything and rolled a 1.]

A rather scruffy looking man sits down next to him. “Name’s Micawber,” he says in a working-class English accent. “Take a farthing, stick a ha’ penny nail through it, and nail it to bit of flesh—chicken, anything will do. Holds your limbs fast. Thought you would know that, you’re a sorcerer aintcha?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand your accent. Could you use another one?”

“Gov, you’re amusing, aren’t ya? Mr. Heep, come over please.”

A hulking man dressed like a navvy heaves into view.

“So so so so,” says Micawber. “Here’s the man who killed the great Tewfik al-Sayed, and here you are with your hands tied to the table. Call yourself a sorcerer, you do? Look, gov, we’ll make it easy on you, we just want the books.”

“Done.”

“What, you have them here witcha?”

“Don’t you see that library behind me? Come on, who travels with so many books?”

“’E’s takin’ the piss of you, Micawber,” says Heep.

“Why he is, isn’t he. Mr. Heep, convince Mr. Charleston not to take the piss again.”

Heep starts to throttle Charleston.

“So so so so,” says Micaawber. “Where are the books?”

“At Mwimbe’s,” croaks Charleston.

“The doctor? Nobody told us—the doctor…”

Charleston yanks his hands off the table. “How much research did you idiots do? This is the only place I’ve stayed.”

Noah Cross is standing behind Micawber and Heep. “Is there any problem, gentlemen?”

They turn to face him and grow pale. “No, no, no, gov. No trouble here. We’ll be seeing you, Charleston.”

“If you don’t get lost,” mutters Charleston.

“What kind of a sorcerer are you, anyway?” asks Cross, pouring out two glasses of whiskey. “Falling for a stupid folk magic trick like that. ‘Stick a ha’ penny nail into a bit o’ meat’ indeed.” He snorts derisively.

“I’m seriously not a sorcerer!”

“Charleston Chiu, you killed Tewfik on the streets of Paris, and probably had something to do with the death of Mukunga in New York. Did you really think the sorcerer community would not notice?”

“And that guy in Egypt. Shakhti. Anyway, I’m not a sorcerer, I gunned those guys down! It must be embarrassing to them, to die after how many centuries!”

“They’ll be coming for you. And what can you do to defend yourself? Not a bloody lot. Those two were merely the first. And after all, I found you as well. Not everyone is going to underestimate you like Tewfik did. Do you think we learned all this magic just to be brought down by a gun-toting thug?”

“But that seems to be what is happening! It’s not my fault!”

“Charleston, I’m going to make you an offer. I think you’re an interesting case. You could clearly be a sorcerer of power.”

“And then get shot by some schmuck with a Tommy gun!”

“I can show you how to defend yourself against bullets. Look, I’m here for a few days, look for me wherever they sell tea.”

“Well stay and have a drink. Are you really an anthropologist, or was that a cover?”

“No, I really am interested in humanity in all its different natures…”




Freddie swings by the house. “Doctor, a few things. That Indian woman who came by the other night may come around to kill us all.”

“Ah. Shri Thakur. Do not worry, we are safe here.”

“Excellent. Also, many people are deathly afraid of you.”

“My father was an important man.”

“And your mother was from Penga.”

“My mother? No, she was Ameru, from near Arusha. Now if you are asking my advice, I would go with the Colonel and Mr. Jarmyn. If there is a cult, it won’t be here among civilization.”




Jimmy decides to do some actual investigation and goes to look for Sam Mariga, who turns out to be the gardener at the post office. The flowerbeds are remarkably beautiful.

“Nice flowers,” says Jimmy.

“Thank you.”

“Say, is it time for your lunchbreak?”

“Yes, we get fifteen minutes to eat around now. Then we must work through the afternoon, because they are British, and crazy.”

“They are.”

“I like you Jimmy.”

They go around back and get some stew on a banana leaf from a cart. “Tell me about the clearing, and tell me the truth,” says Jimmy.

“The truth is a very dangerous thing.”

“If I don’t know the truth, I will go stumbling blindly into danger. If I know the truth, I will be able to see the danger coming to slap me in the face.”

“The wise man, with his eyes wide open, would not go into this danger.”

“The danger is already following me,” says Jimmy.

“You are determined to hurt yourself, I will not stop you. But why do you ask me these things? I know nothing, that is what I told the reporter lady.”

“I would reconsider you lying to me,” says Jimmy, with menace in his voice.

[Intimidate spend by JP]

“I am a good man, I go to mosque, I…oh, all right. Everything they say about the Carlyle expedition is a lie. I have seen many dead white people, and I did not see any dead white people in that clearing.”

There is an awkward silence.

“I was a porter in the war, against the Germans,” says Sam by way of explanation. “There were many dead people there, but they were all their bearers. None of the expedition. I do not think any of them died, at least not there. As for what they were doing there, I asked people. I did not waste my time asking the white people! The Carlyles were asking about things you should not ask about. The were asking about the Mountain of the Black Wind. The Cult is very real, and has many branches—they say there is even one in New York. And they are tied to the Black Pharaoh cult, in Paris and London—it goes to the very highest levels of society! Now, you are going to the mainland? I will tell people to watch out for you, and help you if they can.”

“Thanks, Sam. Sorry I got rough with you.”

“No, do not worry. You were much gentler than Jackson was.”

Freddie finds Charleston down by the waterfront.

“I made a friend,” says Charleston.

“How rare for you. I’ve made a discovery. Did you know Mwimbe is a powerful sorceress, or at least descended from a line of them?”

“I assumed that had to be so. Why else would she be with us?”

“Yes, well, do you think it’s possible she’ll kill us all in our sleep?”

“I think it’s possible I may kill us all in our sleep. She did steal something of value from me. She may kill us, although I think she probably just wants to wrap things up and get out of here.”

“Do you think Mwimbe is working with the people we are investigating, or against the people we are investigating?”

“I think the people we’re investigating don’t tend to work with other people.”

[No comment.]

“They seem to work with Thakur.”

“Yeah, but each one seems to be waiting for the opportunity to stab each other in the back. Or the face. By the way I have to admit I’m a sorcerer and start taking dueling lessons. Frankly, I’d rather keep shooting people.”

“Ah. There’s a trick I learned from a Houdini novel. You take a ha’ penny nail, stick it through a farthing…”




They lay plans to break into Thakur’s warehouse, under Francis’ leadership.

“Donnie, I’ve noticed that your solutions are getting a bit, explodey,” says Freddie.

“When have you known them to not be explodey?”

They decide to go in to find out information, and if necessary, destroy the warehouse to deny the conspiracy resources. Charleston prepares some explosive charges. Freddie hires a steam launch to serve as their getaway boat.

Jimmy warns them that some of the workers probably sleep inside the warehouse.

[Gave this to JP since Jimmy has Anthropology.]

The plan is to enter from the rooftop. Francis will stand guard while Freddie, Fritz and Charleston examine what they find.

Freddie asks Mwimbe if she will accompany them further.

“You are going into the bush? I will at least accompany you to Dar-es-Salaam. You would be lost on the mainland.”

“Doctor, everyone seems to be terrified of trying to break into your house.”

“My family is closely allied with the Sultan.”

“And you are some kind of sorceress.”

“No. I merely have my eyes open, as it were.”

“People seem to believe you to be a sorceress.”

“Superstition.”

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 7)

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.”

“The writer?”

“Yes?”

“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?”

“Uh…”

“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?”

“Or Katzaueresque…”

“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.]

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 6)

Saturday, 4 July 1925

The Zanzibar Star is not much of a going concern—Mrs. Smythe-Forbes runs it out of her house, publishing a single-page broadsheet every day—usually.

“Mrs. Smythe, how wonderful to meet you,” says Freddie.

“So nice to meet someone who understands the other side.”

“I myself have been to the other side. I found it incredibly disturbing.”

“They ask a lot of questions!” says Fritz.

“I happened to bring the Carlyle files from our morgue. And this is Mr. Jarmyn, and Colonel Endicott.”

“Ah, Colonel—”

GOOD TO MEET YOU, BLAKELY!” bellows the Colonel. YOU HAVE THE LOOK OF A CAMBRIDGE MAN.


“Well, yes—”

NEVER WENT TO UNIVERSITY MYSELF, WASN’T WORTH MY TIME. YOU KNOW COLONEL RHODES?

“I knew a Colonel Pearkes, a Canadian—”

AH, CANADIANS, NO USE FOR THEM. SOFT PEOPLE.

Fritz crawls out from under the table and sits back down with a sheepish look. Francis finally decides to put his gun back in its holster. The Colonel is a rather overpowering presence.

[In fact he always talks in ALL CAPS. I came as close as possible to yelling while doing the Colonel’s voice.]

“Neville Jarmyn, Mr. Blakely, good to meet you. You want to know about what the Carlyles were looking for, and I can tell you. The Lost City of the White Gorillas!”

“Really?”

“Yes, my ancestor had the skin of one—well, what was left after he burned it for some reason.”

“Was it on a mountain?”

“Why, yes, I believe the Lost City must be on a mountain. It was supposed to be in the Congo, but I believe they moved. To one of the lost worlds of Africa.”

“What’s a lost world?”

NGORONGORO, OLD MAN,” says the Colonel. “I HAVE A LODGE THERE. AMAZING PLACE, GIANT VOLCANIC CRATER.”

“Amazing. Well, we’ll have to come. Say, is this mountain called the Mountain of the Black Wind?”

SUPERSTITION,” says the Colonel.

[FP: No, Colonel, I wish to know more, can you speak to it?

Me, as the Colonel: WELL, I…PERHAPS IF YOU SPENT SOME POINTS FROM ONE OF YOUR POOLS!

FP: Colonel, let me flatter you some more…



They speak with Jarmyn and the Colonel. In response to a question from Jimmy, Jarmyn indicates that there seems to be some relationship between the Egyptian myth of the Black Pharaoh, and the stories in Tanganyika about the Black Wind. While they talk, Fritz goes through the Carlyle file.

[KP: I copy down or filch whatever I think we need.


Me: …our you could borrow it. No, no—you’re player characters, please continue with your criminal activities.]

Freddie offers Mrs. Smythe-Forbes a regular column in his paper. Stars in her eyes, she readily agrees to let them borrow whatever they want.

[As it turns out, KP has a friend who went to Ngorongoro. Small world.]
Wednesday, 7 July 1925

“You know what,” says Charleston, “I’ve been working hard not doing anything for your paper, Freddie. So I am on vacation.”

“It is beautiful,” says Noor. “Palm trees…spices…and I am high-ranking here, because I am Arabic!”

“Noor, I’m on vacation, so I need you to look at all the books in the library.”

“What? Charleston, let’s talk. Are we partners in this thing, or what?”

“I thought you hung out with me for all this dark carnal knowledge.”

“There isn’t any carnal knowledge, and if there is, I should be informed. Why do I always have to do the menial work? I am still a young woman! I may have Coke-bottle thick glasses, and my legs may be unaccountably weak, but I can still do things. Like, I can turn a dog inside out with a spell! I can still have fun.”

Charleston sets out to sit by the harbor and drink tea. He is approached by an American, dressed like him in a white summer suit.

“Noah Cross,” the man says.

“We should order those little cucumber sandwiches, right?”

“I don’t know, whatever you do in the Limey colonies. I’m a traveler. Like to go around the world, here—I do some work in Australia.”

“I’m a photographer for an obscure and uncelebrated paper back in New York. What are you hoping to see here?”

“I’ve become a bit of an amateur anthropologist in my retirement. I’ve done all sorts of things, was a doctor for a while. Thought I’d come see Africa, though I don’t think you can get a feel for it here—you have to go to the mainland.”



Fritz pores over the files provided by Mrs. Smythe-Forbes. The Carlyles made a big production about going on safari; they bought supplies from Dil Chandra Thakur. He finds some photographs—something bothers him about it, but nothing he can put his finger on.

He also finds out that there was a man named Sam Mariga, a mainlander who works at the post office in Zanzibar. Mariga, during one of his trips to the mainland, was the one who found the Carlyle massacre site. The British arrived and promptly hung several Mutumbis, a tribe well-known for their rebelliousness.



Freddie returns to Dar-es-Salaam with Francis. He has changed into sensible clothes—a white burnoose and a keffiyeh. Since he doesn’t know how to wear it on his head, he wraps it around his neck. People shoot him dagger looks on the street.

“Everyone is so friendly here,” he thinks.

Francis just shakes his head.

They try and find out more about the Carlyle Expedition and the Bloody Tongue Cult. The white people laugh them off; the Africans are difficult to get to talk, although Freddie’s adorable coterie of children help break the ice eventually.

It seems the Bloody Tongue Cult is still a going concern here, or at least it’s believed to be—children seem to be captured from time to time. If the Cult exists, they tend to worship on volcanic mountains.

They finally meet with Colonel Montgomery. “Freddie, this is Sergeant Bumption.”

“Gov. ’Twas April of 1920. A [racial slur] named Sam told us he found a massacre. We hired some local guides, rough lot, mercenaries. Anyway, we found them in a clearing. All torn to pieces as if by a large animal. Recognized them all, Sir Aubrey, that poor Roger fellow, that American Brady.”

“And so you hung some Mutumbis?”

“Very uppity lot they are, rebelled against the Jerries a few times.”

“How did they manage to fake all that?”

“Sorry, sir?”

“How did they manage to kill all of them?”

“Well, you can’t trust that type.”

“That should satisfy you, Freddie,” says Montgomery.

“It certainly answers some of my questions.”

“There you are, then.”

“My best to your wife. Are you still getting on?”

“She’s in London, I’m in Africa. So there it is. Take care, Freddie.”

“Lied to my bloody face,” says Freddie to Francis, as they leave. “Saw all the Carlyles massacred indeed.”

[Assess Honesty by Freddie.]

“Jax said she saw Brady,” says Francis.

“And we saw Hypatia, although that may not mean anything, given her abilities.”

View
Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 6)

Saturday, 4 July 1925

The Zanzibar Star is not much of a going concern—Mrs. Smythe-Forbes runs it out of her house, publishing a single-page broadsheet every day—usually.

“Mrs. Smythe, how wonderful to meet you,” says Freddie.

“So nice to meet someone who understands the other side.”

“I myself have been to the other side. I found it incredibly disturbing.”

“They ask a lot of questions!” says Fritz.

“I happened to bring the Carlyle files from our morgue. And this is Mr. Jarmyn, and Colonel Endicott.”

“Ah, Colonel—”

GOOD TO MEET YOU, BLAKELY!” bellows the Colonel. YOU HAVE THE LOOK OF A CAMBRIDGE MAN.


“Well, yes—”

NEVER WENT TO UNIVERSITY MYSELF, WASN’T WORTH MY TIME. YOU KNOW COLONEL RHODES?

“I knew a Colonel Pearkes, a Canadian—”

AH, CANADIANS, NO USE FOR THEM. SOFT PEOPLE.

Fritz crawls out from under the table and sits back down with a sheepish look. Francis finally decides to put his gun back in its holster. The Colonel is a rather overpowering presence.

[In fact he always talks in ALL CAPS. I came as close as possible to yelling while doing the Colonel’s voice.]

“Neville Jarmyn, Mr. Blakely, good to meet you. You want to know about what the Carlyles were looking for, and I can tell you. The Lost City of the White Gorillas!”

“Really?”

“Yes, my ancestor had the skin of one—well, what was left after he burned it for some reason.”

“Was it on a mountain?”

“Why, yes, I believe the Lost City must be on a mountain. It was supposed to be in the Congo, but I believe they moved. To one of the lost worlds of Africa.”

“What’s a lost world?”

NGORONGORO, OLD MAN,” says the Colonel. “I HAVE A LODGE THERE. AMAZING PLACE, GIANT VOLCANIC CRATER.”

“Amazing. Well, we’ll have to come. Say, is this mountain called the Mountain of the Black Wind?”

SUPERSTITION,” says the Colonel.

[FP: No, Colonel, I wish to know more, can you speak to it?

Me, as the Colonel: WELL, I…PERHAPS IF YOU SPENT SOME POINTS FROM ONE OF YOUR POOLS!

FP: Colonel, let me flatter you some more…



They speak with Jarmyn and the Colonel. In response to a question from Jimmy, Jarmyn indicates that there seems to be some relationship between the Egyptian myth of the Black Pharaoh, and the stories in Tanganyika about the Black Wind. While they talk, Fritz goes through the Carlyle file.

[KP: I copy down or filch whatever I think we need.


Me: …our you could borrow it. No, no—you’re player characters, please continue with your criminal activities.]

Freddie offers Mrs. Smythe-Forbes a regular column in his paper. Stars in her eyes, she readily agrees to let them borrow whatever they want.

[As it turns out, KP has a friend who went to Ngorongoro. Small world.]
Wednesday, 7 July 1925

“You know what,” says Charleston, “I’ve been working hard not doing anything for your paper, Freddie. So I am on vacation.”

“It is beautiful,” says Noor. “Palm trees…spices…and I am high-ranking here, because I am Arabic!”

“Noor, I’m on vacation, so I need you to look at all the books in the library.”

“What? Charleston, let’s talk. Are we partners in this thing, or what?”

“I thought you hung out with me for all this dark carnal knowledge.”

“There isn’t any carnal knowledge, and if there is, I should be informed. Why do I always have to do the menial work? I am still a young woman! I may have Coke-bottle thick glasses, and my legs may be unaccountably weak, but I can still do things. Like, I can turn a dog inside out with a spell! I can still have fun.”

Charleston sets out to sit by the harbor and drink tea. He is approached by an American, dressed like him in a white summer suit.

“Noah Cross,” the man says.

“We should order those little cucumber sandwiches, right?”

“I don’t know, whatever you do in the Limey colonies. I’m a traveler. Like to go around the world, here—I do some work in Australia.”

“I’m a photographer for an obscure and uncelebrated paper back in New York. What are you hoping to see here?”

“I’ve become a bit of an amateur anthropologist in my retirement. I’ve done all sorts of things, was a doctor for a while. Thought I’d come see Africa, though I don’t think you can get a feel for it here—you have to go to the mainland.”



Fritz pores over the files provided by Mrs. Smythe-Forbes. The Carlyles made a big production about going on safari; they bought supplies from Dil Chandra Thakur. He finds some photographs—something bothers him about it, but nothing he can put his finger on.

He also finds out that there was a man named Sam Mariga, a mainlander who works at the post office in Zanzibar. Mariga, during one of his trips to the mainland, was the one who found the Carlyle massacre site. The British arrived and promptly hung several Mutumbis, a tribe well-known for their rebelliousness.



Freddie returns to Dar-es-Salaam with Francis. He has changed into sensible clothes—a white burnoose and a keffiyeh. Since he doesn’t know how to wear it on his head, he wraps it around his neck. People shoot him dagger looks on the street.

“Everyone is so friendly here,” he thinks.

Francis just shakes his head.

They try and find out more about the Carlyle Expedition and the Bloody Tongue Cult. The white people laugh them off; the Africans are difficult to get to talk, although Freddie’s adorable coterie of children help break the ice eventually.

It seems the Bloody Tongue Cult is still a going concern here, or at least it’s believed to be—children seem to be captured from time to time. If the Cult exists, they tend to worship on volcanic mountains.

They finally meet with Colonel Montgomery. “Freddie, this is Sergeant Bumption.”

“Gov. ’Twas April of 1920. A [racial slur] named Sam told us he found a massacre. We hired some local guides, rough lot, mercenaries. Anyway, we found them in a clearing. All torn to pieces as if by a large animal. Recognized them all, Sir Aubrey, that poor Roger fellow, that American Brady.”

“And so you hung some Mutumbis?”

“Very uppity lot they are, rebelled against the Jerries a few times.”

“How did they manage to fake all that?”

“Sorry, sir?”

“How did they manage to kill all of them?”

“Well, you can’t trust that type.”

“That should satisfy you, Freddie,” says Montgomery.

“It certainly answers some of my questions.”

“There you are, then.”

“My best to your wife. Are you still getting on?”

“She’s in London, I’m in Africa. So there it is. Take care, Freddie.”

“Lied to my bloody face,” says Freddie to Francis, as they leave. “Saw all the Carlyles massacred indeed.”

[Assess Honesty by Freddie.]

“Jax said she saw Brady,” says Francis.

“And we saw Hypatia, although that may not mean anything, given her abilities.”

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 5)

Friday, 3 July 1925

As it turns out, Captain Montgomery, commanding officer of the Dar-es-Salaam garrison of the King’s African Rifles, is an old classmate of Freddie’s—in fact, he introduced Montgomery to his wife. They meet for tea.

“Listen Blakely, I could get in a lot of trouble helping you. Still, I owe you for pulling me out of the mud in Eton. What can I help you with?”

“It’s a matter of my former fiancee.”

“Which one, old man?”

“An American. I was rather infatuated with her, and she’s left me a few instructions in her will—she’s a reporter, you know. The Aunts made me a publisher, did I tell you.”

“Good show, I suppose.”

“So it’s the Carlyle Expedtion—”

“Good Lord, Freddie, that old thing? It’s a closed book. Nobody wants to hear about it.”

“Except my fiancee, and Rotten Roger’s sister, Erica.”

“That shrew?”

“Well, I know her husband-to-be.”

“Poor bloke. I’ll look into our records and get back to you. Talk to you in a few days.”

[Credit Rating spend by FP]

Freddie heads back to Mwimbe’s house. “Wie geht’s, Imani!”

Ganz gut, mein edler Herr.

“Excellent, excellent, keep up the good work.”

Zum befehl, mein Herr. "

“Doctor Mwimbe! I’ve found the most remarkable things on the mainland. An old friend who hates me—”

“That is not very remarkable, Mr. Blakely.”

“Not at all, true. It seems this Ivory Wind ship carried things to Emerson Imports in New York. The very establishment that recommended you to us.”

“I would authenticate artifacts for Mr. Emerson.”

“Grey market goods?”

“I would never do something so illegal. Mr. Emerson was typical of white men dealing in African artifacts, he could not tell the difference between a forgery and an item of great value. He paid me a commission, which helped augment my salary from Columbia. I need not mention that my salary was lower than that of the other professors.”

“I’m surprised you were on staff, to be honest.”

“The School of Anthropology is somewhat more liberal than the rest of the college.”

[More or less true; they certainly hired female faculty much earlier than many universities.]

“I also learned some Indian woman has something to do with that ship.”

“We think we should go in and close her down,” says Francis. “She has a connection to Gavigan, and whatever Jax was up to.”

“Oh, Francis, I’m meeting my old friend Montgomery in a few days. Mind tagging along?” says Freddie.

“I found out from the local newspaper lady about the Cult of the Bloody Tongue. Oh, I dropped your name,” says Jimmy to Freddie. “She wants to meet with you!”

“Nobody wants to meet with me!”

“I know! But she’s an exception.”

“I think I should come to that too,” says Francis. “It could be a trap. Fritz, you come with me. Find a place to hide this.” He hands Krakauer a large revolver which he hides in a briefcase.

“Doctor, could you see about getting us a meeting with this Thakur lady?”

“An Indian? That might be difficult, but I could give you a reference—”

“This isn’t really my wheelhouse,” says Francis, “but I think it’s yours. You have a very nice establishment. Couldn’t we have a party to draw her out?”

“A party? With an Indian? I guess that could be done,” muses Mwimbe. “Very well. She may even be a Muslim for all I know. I don’t know anything about Bengalis, my servants were always Gujaratis.”

[If you are playing along with the original Masks, Dil Chandra Thakur is my replacement for Tandoor Singh—ridiculous name, and a ridiculous character. Thanks to the Masks Companion for the suggested replacement. The spelling of her last name is important—Thakur is often Anglicized as Tagore (like Rabindranath Tagore); she rejects even that slight concession to English sensibilities. Her first names are a riff on a character I played in a fantasy game named Delshandra—she was from an Indian-style culture, so I eventually worked out that her name was really Dilchandra and merely poorly pronounced by everyone. Dil means heart in Hindi, and chandra meansmoon.]

Later that day, invites are sent from Dr. Mwimbe’s house to all the best people in Zanzibar for a dinner party next week. Everyone accepts—including the Sultan.


Freddie is somewhat agog at hearing that the Sultan is coming. He asks Mwimbe what language is appropriate for speaking with the Sultan.

“Arabic.”

“Suppose you could no longer speak Arabic.”

“Then you must use English.”

“Is that appropriate?”

“I suppose if you could learn Kiswahili in six days…”

“Six days may be cutting it a bit close,” says Freddie. He hires a gang of little children to follow him around and point at things, telling him their names.


Francis spends some time ingratiating himself with the local police force, who are dropping by every day to prepare the security arrangements. The British officers in charge of the Zanzibari police are happy to bring him in on the arrangements, clearly recognizing a tough guy. Not without a few “That’s all well and good, sir. But this Africa, sir. This is Zanzibar.”

[Cop Talk spend by Francis.]

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 4)

Wednesday, 1 July 1925

Freddie finds Dr. Mwimbe standing by the rail, watching the sun rise behind the islands of the Zanzibari archipelago. “Can you smell it, Mr. Blakely? That clove smell? Those are the islands of my home. You are welcome to stay at my home.”

“You still have a family house here?”

“I do.”

“I am deeply honored.”

“You should be.”



Zanzibar! The exotic Spice Islands! Once the capital of the Sultanate of Oman! Now a British protectorate, stripped of its mainland possessions, but still maintaining a sultanate.

The European population is small, under a thousand people. The caste and color system prevails among the locals—Omani Arabs on top, then the Zanzibaris who claim Persian descent, and then mainland Africans. It is the origin of the Swahili language.

[I actually found a book from 1920 on Zanzibar—thanks, Google Books!]

The oldest part of Zanzibar, the Stone Town, is known for its old houses, with elaborately carved doors in the Indian tradition. This is where Dr. Mwimbe takes her companions.

“Doctor, what is the socially appropriate form of our relationship?” asks Freddie.

“You are my guests. The common people I do not care about, and the nobles have too much respect for me.”

“I was more worried about what your family would think.”

“My family are mostly dead. It will happen to all people in time.”

“Depressingly true.”
Dr. Mwimbe’s house is deep in Stone Town. The door is even more elaborately carved than the other doors in the neighborhood, showing signs of Indian and Persian influence; Charleston notes many signs in the twisting patterns that he has seen in the Al-Azif: protective spells, spells calling on the name of Nyarlathotep, as most incantations do.

They are met at the door by an elderly African man in a butler’s uniform.

“Imani! Wie geht es dir, mein lieber Freund?” says Mwimbe with obvious pleasure.

Ganz schön, meine gnädige Frau,” says the old man. “Sind sie unseren Gäster?

Ja.

Fritz and Freddie, who both speak German, look at each other and shrug.

“Maybe that’s the only language they have in common?” says Freddie.

Mwimbe’s other servant is a young Frenchwoman, her cook. “Enchantée, messieurs,” she says, curtseying. “Madame, je dois préparer le déjeuner pour vous?”

Non, pas maintenant.

The house is two stories high, built surrounding a large courtyard with a fountain. It has relatively few doors—most passages are left unblocked for ventilation—except for a large room with locked double doors on the second floor, next to Mwimbe’s excellent library.



Fritz and Francis head for the Port Warden’s office to see if they can follow up on when the Ivory Wind was supposed to arrive in Zanzibar. Fritz, well-schooled in the ways of bureaucracy by stint of working in an insurance agency and having grown up in Austria-Hungary, secures a promise to get the records in a few days.

[Bureaucracy spend by KP.]

Freddie heads for the harbor and catches a ferry to Dar-es-Salaam, to chase down the leads from Jax’s notes. He wanders around, asking after Jax, and using his connections to try and get appointments with the local officials.

Jimmy checks into local business records, using Jax’s notes as a guide. She discovers that a single shipping company supplied the Carlyle expedition with most of their equipment. It’s run by an Indian family; while everything is in her uncle’s name back in Bengal, locally it is run by a woman named Dil Chandra Thakur.

It turns out that the Ivory Wind has shipped items from Thakur’s warehouses back to Emerson Imports in New York.

Jimmy asks around about spiritualists and magicians. He hears that there is a tradition of sorcery and witchcraft on the island of Penga, the northern island of the Zanzibar archipelago. He also finds out that a local white woman, Mrs. N. Smythe Forbes, is very interested in spiritualism. With his characteristic understated charm, Jimmy gets invited to a séance being held that very afternoon.

“Is there anyone you wish to contact?” asks Mrs. Forbes, a pleasant, grandmotherly woman.

“Yes, you!” says Jimmy.

“But I am not on the other side! Oh, wait, I see. Is this to be a formal interview? We could go to my offices.” She indicates the sitting room she uses to publish her English-language paper, The Star.

“Off-the-record,” says Jimmy, who feels he is getting good at this journalism stuff. “Oh, whatever I ask, try not to freak out.”

“I’ve peered through the veil, young man, I doubt there is anything you can frighten me with.”

“Excellent! Have you ever heard of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, or M’Weru?”

“I’ve never heard that name. The Cult is legend; they say it is a witch society on Penga. I don’t believe it; you know those [racial slurs], very superstitious.”

“Do you remember the Carlyle Expedition?”

“Oh yes, it was very exciting. Strange people though. We never saw Mr. Roger, he was always ill. Come to think of it, we never saw Miss Masters. I suppose you can guess what was going on. Sir Aubrey was very nice to me. He was interested in looking for a lost city somewhere in Africa; I put him in touch with our Mr. Jarmyn. Now, young man, you can’t fool me. You’re a reporter, aren’t you? Are you from the Kane syndicate? We’d dearly love to have our little Star as part of the Kane syndicate.”

“Actually, I work for a man named Freddie Blakely.”

“Mr. Roland Blakely? The publisher of the Golden Sentinel? We don’t get it very often, but I read every word! Such brilliance! Next you’ll be telling me you know Wo Fong, the author of so much Oriental wisdom!”

In a flash, Jimmy realizes this must be Charleston. He remembers Sheila telling him once that she wrote down random things he used to say and published them in a column. “It’s a small world.”

“Wait, Mr. Blakely is here? Could you come down and grant me an interview? I’d be happy to give you free access to all of our files.”

Jimmy makes his way back to Mwimbe’s house and searches through her books. He finds a mathematics textbook and finally locates an entry on Babbage and Lovelace. Charles Babbage designed a mechanical calculator, called the Difference Engine, and Ada Lovelace was the first to realize that it would be possible to create instructions that would allow you to make the Difference Engine calculate many different kinds of problems. Checking his cryptography notes, Jimmy realizes that the search for such a mechanical device could be revolutionary in the field of coding.

“Hey Francis, this technology could replace computers!”

“Those guys who add up columns of numbers?”

“Yeah!”

But what does it mean? Why would the conspiracy be interested in such an obscure subject?

[1 point History and Cryptography spends by JP.]

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 3)

Thursday, 30 June 1925

Freddie awakens with a start. There is a loud knocking…somewhere.

He tries to look around, but everything is absolutely black. The air is stuffy. He tries to move his hands, but soon discovers that he is in an uncomfortably coffin-shaped area.

There is a ripping noise as nails pop free. A prybar bashes through the boards of his..box…and nearly smashes his noise. The bar swings down, and the lid to the box is pulled away.

“Hallo Mr. Freddie, hello Mr. Freddie, hello Mr. Freddie!” says Billy. “Miss M said I’m to take care of you.”

“Oh good. Where are we?”

“In the Red Sea, sir. Approaching the Somali coast, I should think. Billy’s kept your cabin nice and ship-shape, he has.”

“Does this mean you work for Miss M?”

“No sir! Miss M made me better. Billy’s much better now!”



In ship’s saloon, Jimmy is poring over several textbooks on mathematics, psychology, and history. He glances up as Fritz Krakauer enters the room from the deck. Behind him, Freddie Blakely stumbles in.

“Scotty. Felix. What ho.”

“Jimmy?” says Fritz.

“Freddie!” says Jimmy.

“I’m off to my cabin, I’m knackered,” says Freddie. “Billy, do I have a passport?”

“No sir! That’s why we had to put you in the box, sir!”

Freddie enters his cabin. Gilbert is sitting in the corner, smoking. He has already laid out clothes for Freddie.

“Gilbert, I understand I’ve been fired and you’ve been recruited. Do you have any idea what I’m supposed to do?”

“Can’t talk about that.”

“I see.”

Someone pounds on the other side of the cabin wall. “Keep it down in there!” shouts Francis. “I’m trying to brood.”



They all meet later in the saloon. Francis plunks down a bottle of whiskey. “Gavigan’s buying,” he says.

“I suppose you’re in on the great assassination plans,” says Freddie to Fritz.

“No, I don’t know anything about that,” says Fritz, “although I’m sure I will hear about it soon. I’ve been around the block.”

“Right, Austrians and assassinations,” says Freddie. “Say, could you provide me with something to get me into Zanzibar?”

“A Czech passport would be difficult. But let me see…” Fritz grabs a suitcase, opens it, and shakes his head. He opens a second suitcase, looks through it, and then closes it. He opens a third suitcase. “Ah. Finland. There’s like eight people in the country, it should be easy.”

Freddie checks with his man of business via telegraph. He discovers that what liquid wealth that could be moved has been shifted into the American stock market. “Safe as houses! We’ll make a mint!”

Jimmy is poring over a package sent to him by Bradley Grey, his lawyer employer back in New York. They include some transcripts of psychotherapy sessions Roger Carlyle had with Dr. Robert Huston, fellow member of the Carlyle Expedition, and some notes taken by Jackson Elias during her stay in Zanzibar that Jonah Kensington had forwarded to him.

He also has succeeded in decrypting the message he found in the ruins of the Fondation Aubrey Penhew, using the notebook he found in Gavigan’s Venetian villa. Francis had to help him with the final translation:


Avez-vous des changements pour Lovelace? J’espère qu’elle sera fini en Août. Le baronnet m’a dit que Babbage projet a été achevé la semaine dernière, il n’attend plus que les systèmes de guidage. Nos amis les ont détruits. C’est bête – ils ont fait des problèmes pour nous depuis trop longtemps. Je me suis dit que le plan de M’Weru est trop risqué. Certes, si la situation ne s’aggrave, je vais prendre les choses en mains propres.

======

Do you have any changes for LOVELACE? I hope that it will be finished in August. The baronet told me that project BABBAGE was finished last week; he waits only for the guidance systems. Our friends have destroyed them. It’s stupid—they have made problems for us for too long. I have said to myself that M’Weru’s plan is too risky. Certainly, if the situation gets any worse, I will take matters into my own hands.

[I also have the notes from Jackson but I’ll have to scan them in. Writing the Huston sessions was a lot of fun.

“Dr. Mwimbe,” says Jimmy, “Do you know anything about someone named M’Weru?”

“M’Weru? It is a Gikuyu word that means white. Should I know who this person is?”

“Just wondering. Jax mentioned her name.”

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Episode XI: Tonight That's Where I'll Be (Part 2)

Athens, Greece. Thursday, 25 June 1925

Francis steps out of the murky atmosphere of the taberna. Even at this late hour, Athens bustles around him; the sound of singing, loud conversation, and cursing swirls around him. He yawns, and stretches his back. The trip to Athens—48 hours of hell, from Trieste to Athens via several ferries and a backbreaking ride on a Greek bus—still isn’t quite forgotten by his stiff muscles.

Suddenly, he spins and draws his automatic. A man step out of the shadows, holding a gun on Francis.

“Well well well shamus,” says Eddie Gaffigan, “imagine meeting you here. D’ye wanna get a drink?”

“Sure.”

“What do you want to do, count to three and we’ll both holster our pieces?”

“Sure. One…”

“…Two…”

They both pause.

“Ah, if you’re going to shoot me, you’re going to shoot me,” says Gaffigan, putting away his gun. He enters thetaberna. Shrugging, Francis holsters his gun and follows.

They order drinks. Francis grabs an ouzo, and Eddie orders wine. “I’ve been a Frenchie so long I can’t stop drinkin’ the stuff,” he says. He’s returned to his native Northern Irish accent, Francis notices.

“Ye wouldn’t happen to know where Eloise is, d’ye?”

“No. Sorry.”

“Ah, ‘tis to be expected. You’re probably right, it wasn’t a good plan. I had a way to control Gévaud, but there were too many unexpected vectors on that.”

He pushes away his glass. “We’re not so different, shamus, you and I. I just made some different choices that were probably wrong, a long time ago.”

“I would say that it’s not too late, but in your case, I really think it is.”

“I can’t disagree with you there, Francis. What d’ye say we finish this thing?”

“I think we’re finished.”

“Oh, we’re not finished, not you and I. You won, don’t get me wrong, it’s all over with me now. It’s for Eloise, no matter whose fault it is. A man’s gotta do something when the love of his life gets kidnapped.”

[I am not ashamed to have stolen that sentiment from the last five minutes of The Maltese Falcon, possibly the best acting Humphrey Bogart ever did.]

“And yet instead of chasing after her, you went to Venice to take care of business.”

“Boyo, you have no idea of the forces you’re up against.”

“I really don’t.”

“All I can tell you is, when it comes to the Carlyles, not a single bloody one of the bloody expedition is dead. People are going to tell you it’s Penhew you have to watch out for. I worked for him for many years. The man is seriously crazy. He’s into things I can’t even imagine. But I don’t even think he’s the one to worry about.”

He looks at Francis with a mad glint in his eyes. “They’re going to be coming for you now, boyo. You have a very big name to ye. The organization’s gonna be looking for you.”

“Well, if you could find me, it shouldn’t be hard for them.”

“The thing is I’m a wee bit better at infiltration than they are, which is how I found you.”

“I’m going to be honest with you. I need to find out what happened to my cousin.”

“Well, we certainly tried to kill her in Paris. We almost did, except for your little friend the newspaperman. I hear they buried him in an envelope.”

“If I find out anything in the course of my investigation about Eloise, I’ll tell you.”

“No, boyo, I think we need to have it out right now—”

There’s a popping noise. Gafigan looks down. Francis has his silenced pistol out—the same pistol Gavigan had thrown him back in Paris.

“I was right,” he says, slumping down. “Not so different.”

Francis jams the pistol into his waistband, and quickly sneaks Gaffigan’s wallet out of his coat. He tosses a few bills on the bar.

“Sorry about the mess,” he says, and leaves.

[So, I wanted to give the PCs some closure on Gavigan, and not keep him in my back pocket; too many not-quite-dead villains drags things down and robs the PCs of their initiative.


Gaffigan/Gavigan was at the end of his rope. His entire life had been one long game of raising the stakes, until somebody finally came to call his bluff and it all came crashing down. He most definitely had a death-wish.


I had a vision of a nifty gun fight on the moonlight Acropolis (actually impossible, because it was the new moon at this point), but OP cut to the chase in a much more entertaining way. Given a chance, Gaffigan would have tried to kill Francis for sure—but he was really out of options no matter what, hunted by the cult, bereft of resources, and Eloise irretrievably gone. So RIP, Eddie. You were fun to play.]

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