Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Masks of Nyarlathotep 2: London Bridges Burning Down

Dick Shmee goes on holiday
If this makes no sense I suggest you do what Vizzini says and go back to the beginning
Part 1 Part 2

In the aftermath of the horror at the Ju-Ju House, Hariet Oslow managed to wrangle Wilhelm up the flight of stairs and into a van, they raced off to the hospital. If you remember in our last installment, Wilhelm was nearly killed by a quartet of dastardly zombies and a maniac priest brandishing lion paws as weapons. While the good Dutchman drifted in and out of consciousness, Dick Shmee took the opportunity to  try on his new loot. A strange ceremonial mask was found, among other knick-knacks, to which Dick instantly laid claim to. Upon placing the mask on his face, Dick transcended to a new level of consciousness, understanding far more about the cosmic scale of reality than was healthy. However, being Dick Shmee, he was unimpressed. The mask fell away from his face and he was relatively unharmed. A feat that would have left a lesser man a slobbering idiot.

Back at the hospital, a large, though not unattractive nurse by the name of Jezebel met the hysterical Hariet Oslow and the Dying Wilhelm Schonewetter at the entrance. upon learning that he had been bit by a zombie, Jezebel nearly tossed Wilhelm off the top of the building. She did, however remember her responsibility to help all those that she could. In an attempt to revive the man she inadvertently put him into cardiac arrest, causing her to get a stern reprimand from the head doctor. Wilhelm was left at the hospital. Jezebel and Hariet took the absence of the dying man to become better acquainted. It was learned that the Cult that was meeting at the Ju-Ju house was responsible for the murder of Jezebel's fiance. She instantly quit her job at the hospital and joined the motley bunch to fight death cults around the world! And to be honest, she wasn't a very good nurse anyway.

After burning down the Ju-Ju house in broad daylight, Ellie, Colette and Dick decided to drop off their good friend Jefferson S. Shipp at a local insane asylum and lay low at an apartment rented by Hariet, who soon joined them with Jezebel in tow. Recent events payed a devastating toll on Hariet, and while she wasn't ACTUALLY injured she expressed to her friends that she simply needed to take a break from gallivanting around fighting heathens. She was to offer the services of an old family friend, a man by the name of Kun Li, the son of their family butler. Along with his aid, she would agree to finance the rest of the expedition. Before she had a chance to leave, however, there was a stern knock at the door.

A representative of the Pinkerton detective agency sauntered into the room. Mr. Horace Scarth had a few questions about the death of Jackson Elias. As the story went, Scarth was hired by Wells Fargo, who was to fulfill Jackson's life insurance policy, to make absolutely certain that Jackson was dead. The conversations were tense, and there was a particular moment where the man inadvertently mistook Jezebel's flirtatious advances as borderline threats. He had made up his mind to accompany this strange lot in their investigation, as it would tie directly into his own research. Somehow.

Hariet had had enough. She departed from her friends and was shortly replaced by Kun Li, a young Chinese man of average height and above average reflexes. Yes, Mr. Li was, of course, a martial arts expert. Upon his inclusion to the party, Colette began to show some of her true colors. While she was an intelligent, beautiful and large woman, she had an immediate distaste for Kun Li. Having just committed a plethora of felonies, the logical next step was to flee the country. Passage was booked on a steamer headed for London. Since they were fleeing anyway, it seemed beneficial to check out the Penhew foundation, which was responsible for funding the doomed Carlisle expedition and whose address was found at the scene of Jackson's murder.

Setting foot in London, they were greeted by the shouts of a newspaper boy claiming some catastrophe had taken place in New York in which a Harlem neighborhood had been charred. Ellie bought every copy and proceeded to destroy them. While no one had gotten a good look at her whilst Dick, Colette and herself doused the Ju-Ju house in liquor and tossed a match into it, she thought it better to be safe than sorry. This did give ol Dick the idea to go visit a local newspaper man. After getting the address for the local paper from the newsie, they migrated towards Fleet Street. On the way, Colette made an off-handed remark about Kun Li's nationality. This was the straw that broke the camels back...and almost Colette's jaw. Kun li, with no warning dropped Colette to the ground with a quick punch, doing far more damage than he intended. Once the dust was brushed off, they kept their distance from each other, tensions higher than ever.

 Mickey Mahoney ran a tabloid covering all the juicy stories that major papers wouldn't. He was saddened by the news of Jackson's death as they had been acquaintances. Whe last he saw Jackson alive, he had been interested in two articles that Mahoney had printed. The first was regarding a local painter who rose rather quickly in the art community by creating works that were absolutely horrifying and disturbing. The second article was about a series of murders targeting locals of Egyptian lineage. Taking note that the local artist lived within the general vicinity of the Penhew foundation, the party decided to split up to cover more ground. Horace, Dick, Kun Li and Jezebel went to see a man about a painting. Colette and Ellie, being the scholastic types, decided to attempt to meet the director of the Penhew foundation for a tour of the museum.

The three would-be art aficionados, walked up to the home of Miles Shipley, the man responsible for causing ripples in the art community with his depictions of horrors beyond description. That being said, he had a charmingly quaint little home. It had white walls with a brick chimney and a sun roof to let in that sunshine that London is so famous for. It wasn't Miles who opened the door to their knocking, however. An old woman with a kind face and a knitting basket in hand answered their summons and inquired to their identity. All three expressed interest in her son's art, and they had no qualms about flashing money to show just how serious they were.

The old woman led them through the house to where her son sat staring at a blank canvas surrounded by a number of his other works. Miles Shipley, it was clear to see, was absolutely insane. His eyes were huge and bloodshot, and he was borderline incoherent, wanting only to talk about his paintings, often repeating himself. His mother could not have been more proud. Jezebel, Dick, Kun Li and Horace examined the paintings and subsequently all lost a small portion of their already fickle sanity. Dick, however, did find an exact painting of his prized mask, and he was adamant about buying it. However, when they stumbled upon a painting depicting the murder scene of Jackson Elias, the questions became heated. Miles only responded by asking them if they had seen his paintings. Mrs. Shipley denied that there was any correlation to reality in the paintings, but did offer to show them Miles' masterpiece. Jezebel was the only one skeptical enough to not take up that offer. The old woman opened a locked closet door to reveal a mesmerizing painting of a swamp surrounded by strange lizard-human hybrids. In the middle of the swamp was a small island with a stone altar, it was so realistic that it looked as if it was moving. Jezebel readied her pistol, seeing the dazed look in their eyes. Suddenly, Kun Li, and Dick Shmee vanished, leaving a dazed Scarth rubbing his eyes, and an old woman smiling at this peculiar turn of events.

"Where are they?!" Jezebel shouted as she advanced on the old woman, gun drawn and pointed at eye level. "Where are who? What are you talking about?" asked the old woman, cowering away from the barrel of the gun. "The two that just disappeared!" Jezebel shouted again. "There's only been the two of you, there was no one else." They went back and forth with this while Horace pulled out his firearm as well. The old woman was shaking violently, begging for her life and that of her son. "How do we get our friends out of the paining?! I'm going to count to 3 and then I'm pulling the trigger!" Jezebel was hurling any threat that came to mind when she realized the two had not vanished, but rather were transported into the painting. She got to 2 before the old woman coughed up a suitable answer. "Downstairs, there is a key in the brook closet, you must place the key on the painting for ten seconds, but DO NOT look at the painting while doing so." She lied. Scarth ran downstairs to look for the key that did not exist, rummaging around a closet as gunfire roared above him. The gunfire had come from Jezebel's firearm. The old woman, in a desperate attempt to flee the situation ran across the room. Jezebel fired at her, but being surprised at the sudden burst of speed missed the shot. Before he had time to fire again, Miles was savagely throwing punches at her, while what was once his mother transformed into a giant humanoid lizard. Jezebel dropped Shipley, but not without taking substantial damage. And by the time Scarce gave up his futile search, the lizard-man was propping an unconscious Jezebel up to the cursed painting and holding her eyes open. The Pinkerton man put a quick stop to this. Jezebel was taken to a hospital, and both she and Horace were questioned by the police as to just what happened. Due to the nature of their being a giant monster in the living room, they chalked the violence up to self defense and told the two not to leave town.

Dick and Kun Li were having a rougher time. They were transported to the center island in the painting and fending off wave after wave of lizard-man-beasts. Eventually, Kun li was bit and succumbed to the venom, while Dick managed to kill off the remainder on the island before his mind collapsed and caused his body to follow suit. When Dick awakes, he no longer finds himself in immediate danger. That just won't do, so he dawns the mysterious mask once more his consciousness is transported to the presence of a fearful horror. what was once a sunny, warm day is now dark, and cold, but the thick humidity remains. His vision is blocked by an incredibly thick cloud of mist and vapor, an earthy scent invades your nostrils. As you look to the ground, you realize you're standing on damp grass. In the mists you hear inhuman squeels and in your peripheral vision you see shapes darting in and out of the mist, always faster than you're able to turn your head. Before you, in the mist is a shape, a mass of twisting, writhing matter that, for explainable reasons, you know to be the center of this new existence. With sudden understanding, the fog clears and you realize this isn't a mist, but is actually part of the being you now face. dripping from stalactites above your head is a strange substance oozing into numerous stone chalices. Suddenly, With a voice that sounds like infantile cries mingled with the voice of an old crone you hear "Richard. What a pleasant surprise". Dick is able to muster enough strength for one last retort before his mind is enveloped by madness and his body by the unimaginable horror. 

*****Preemptive madness here. I need to check Dick's stats, he might have survived this. If so I will make an addendum.*****

Meanwhile, a few blocks away: Colette and Ellie were having a lovely time in the Penhew foundation. They had managed to gain a private tour with the suave, albeit conceited, Edward Gaviga, the current president of the foundation that focused on finding and preserving artifacts from ancient Egypt. Ellie was forward with her inquisitions about "The Black Pharaoh". Gavigan was familiar with the name as a figure of pure shadow, the head of a cult in the third dynasty, but something of little to no consequence. While on the tour, they had passed by Gavigan's office and seen a safe that was hinged open. Colette wanted nothing more than to have a closer look. Ellie was enthralled. She could listen to Gavigan drone on all day about every piece in that museum a hundred times and never bore. Colette used this as an opportunity to sneak around. Claiming she needed to use the restroom, she first looked for windows and possible other entry points into the building before heading into his office to snoop around.

During this time, the building was preparing to close for the day, so Gavigan bid adieu to Miss Ellie Mists, and worked his way down to his office. Colette hearing the footsteps did what was only logical in her mind; hid in the closet. Inside the closet she noticed that something was not quite right. Perhaps the walls were warped funny, or the depth was off, she could not put a finger on it, despite having an hour or two to think things over. Ellie was escorted off of the property promptly at 16:00 due to the foundation closing to the public. Gavigan sat at his desk riffling through paperwork before finally standing up and walking to the closet to retrieve his coat. Imagine his surprise when he found instead a shockingly tall archaeologist standing where his coat should be. "I don't know what you think you're doing, but if you don't leave now, I'm calling the police." Gavigan said cool as ever. To which Colette responded by bulling out a pistol and stating that she was going to get some REAL answers. She believed he was not forthcoming with his information regarding the Black Pharaoh, and she had friends that were being murdered and she wanted the truth!