Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Girdle Belongs in Either a Museum or My Pocket!

Fresh from battle, our jolly bunch of investigators found it beneficial to come up with a plan. That plan consisted of getting the sam-hill out of dodge. They had delivered a mighty blow to the London chapter of the Cult of the black Pharaoh, but certainly not a fatal one. With injuries and death a-plenty, they headed back to their hotel.

The next morning they awoke to an empty bed with a letter from Horace Scarth, detailing why he chose to depart from the expedition. Frankly, I believe it was primarily due to the giant skeletal bird and the fact that he was almost sucked into a painting with a bunch of lizard people. Whatever the REAL reason, he was gone from their lives for good. Smallhousen, as you know died and Colette wasn't ding so hot. After Regina convinced Inspector Barrington to purchase her a new firearm, the crazy bunch of hooligans headed for the nearest shipyard to catch a ship Cairo.

Once on bored they were introduced to a bevy of fine individuals that were increasingly eager to join in the excitement. Miss Olivia Pendergast was found obsessively re-arranging the ships library when Elly Mists stumbled in and introduced herself. The two talked briefly and found out that they had crossed paths in London. Miss Pendergast was a a curator for the London Museum of Natural history (or something like that).

At dinner, a Fimi Defonce invited herself to the table where she began to inquire about the Carlyle expedition. Her bubbly personality managed to irk no one, surprisingly. She was the daughter of a famous Belgian detective, and was out to prove her chops to the world by solving a long closed mystery.

Conversations continued, and everyone was just charmed with Fimi, until the attention was pulled to their waiter, a man with a thick french accent and shifty eyes. Jock Botam, thief extraordinaire introduced himself. He pegged them right away as a force to be reckoned with, so he dropped the waiter act and offered to assist them on whatever they might be up to.

The rest of the trip consisted of drinks, libraries, healing and sneaking. Then they arrived at Port Siade.

Fimi, Olivia and Jock had no problem getting off the boat. It quickly became apparent to the rest, however, that they should have filed for permits for their firearms before leaving the country. It took the remainder of Regina Shmee's gin rations to bribe the customs officer into allowing them to keep their boomsticks. They then boarded a train, with Yalesha's help, and headed for Cairo.

For those that don't remember, Yalesha was a dancer at the Blue Pyramid in London. The group saved her from becoming a ritual sacrifice, and in return she agreed to be their guide while in her home country of Egypt.

The train ride was, sketchy, to say the least. The train stopped at strange intervals, and there were a group of men keeping tabs on our, primarily female, bunch of travelers. Once in Cairo, Yalesha found a small hovel of a hotel to stay in for cheap. Though tiny, it was clean, much to the relief of Miss Pendergast.

Night fell and with it the investigators. Into sleep, that is. Fimi decided to take the second watch, during which she heard voices arguing outside the door. She quickly woke Yalesha to translate. The men from the train were seeking the westerners. After waking the rest of the group, it was a miracle the arguing voices didn't hear the innumerable guns cocking in the next room. A knock came. Yalesha insisted it was just the inn-keeper. She was correct. He warned them that someone was out to get them (duh) and that they should be very careful. Regina took this opportunity to show off her new necklace which displayed an inverted ankh and asked if they were wearing something similar. This was not appreciated. The inn-keeper told them they could stay the night at no charge, but that they would have to find a new place to stay from then on.

The following morning they hit the streets and found an English Language news paper. It primarily focused on social events, but proved to be a wealth of information. Also the man in charge loved westerners and allowed them to use his telegraph machine for free. Colette immediately sent a wire to Harriet Oslow in New York telling her that the desperately needed money. Discussions were had regarding Omar Shokti, Willem Besart and Faraz Najir. There was an interesting story about a current Penhew Foundation dig in Egypt, the Clive Expedition. Rumor was that they had found the mummy of the evil Queen Niticris, who reigned alongside the Black Pharaoh in the third dynasty. However it had been mysteriously stolen. Also, the found the local favorite restaurant of the Carlyle expedition; The Turf Club.

Hungry and tires our heroes went in search of the upscale dining facility that they had no hopes of affording a real meal at. After finagling their way into the establishment, they met a fine man by the name of Jasper. It brought back painful memories of their beloved Jasper Eagleton, but this man simply wanted to chat and had no real information to offer aside from what was readily available to them. After they decided to split a salad, they questioned the waiter and mater' de. The Carlyle expedition had indeed dined here quite frequently, until they left for Africa, of course. Before leaving, Pendergast and Jock noticed a barely noticeable powdery substance on the rim of their unused drinking glasses. The two began wiping the substance up with their handkerchiefs. Jock did so to inspect the substance later, Olivia just compulsively cleaned them.

One thing they had learned in particular about Mr. Faraz Najir was that he was one of the few people that saw Jackson elias during his time in Egypt. He apparently sold antiquities. After learning that he was a customer of the local shipping house found in a ledger they ransacked from the Penhew Foundation's chairman, they decided to look him up.

Faraz Najir had a shop on the street of the Jackal. That is, he did, what was left of it was simply ash and rubble, with a single necklace with an inverted Ankh in the wreckage. Locals informed the investigators that the shop had been cursed and a supernatural force burned it to the ground. Najir had opened a new shop further down the street.

It has become almost a sacred ritual for this lot to rough up local shop keepers, so they commenced with the usual accusations and threats. Eventually, once Regina showed off her fancy new cultist necklace, he went completely crazy and started waving a scimitar at them. A crowd gathered and a riot almost started, until the group decided to pull out the strongest remedy to a heightened situation they knew of. Cash. Bribing the poor man who had lost almost everything (including his good looks, half his face was scarred from the fire) the got him to agree to a scret meeting the following day at a local mosque.

Calling it a day, they headed to their new digs, a local family that Yalesha knew had offered to house them and keep their belongings secure. At peace, oddly, they all slept wonderfully and headed out to the local importer where they hoped to find out more information about stuff and sundries and ledgers and business and such.

Jock wasted no time in casing out the joint, attempting to see if it had any gaps in security. It did not. A man offered to answer any questions they might hae, though he appeared to be very busy. Hoping to understand just what the contents of the ledger meant, the man was able to trace certain artifacts to Faraz, Shokti and a Willem Besart. Olivia Pendergast posed as a liaison for the Egyptian museum, and in doing so received a small crate that they asked her to deliver. The crate, according to the slip, contained an ancient Egyptian scroll and two stone scarabs. Her creed was, for perhaps the first time, put to the test.

Surprised and relieved, they found Najir still alive and willing to talk. He escorted them his local Mosque and informed them of the dangers surrounding the Brotherhood and how he believed they were attempting to raise the evil Niticris from the dead. He was convinced that they were after something hidden in the Mosque of Ibn-Tulun, also located in Cairo. As for connections with Jackson Elias, he had sold the man a statue of Ra, as well as sundry information about the brotherhood. Roger Carlyle had used his agent to purchase items as well, a Mr. Besart, who still resided in Egypt, as far as Najir knew, though he couldn't say where. Ripe with information and leads, the gang decided there was still enough time to hit the Mosque of Ibn-Tulun.

In-ornate and smaller than expected, the Mosque stood on the edge of Cairo, just on the outskirts of the desert. Jock went in to case everything out and found the place to be of substantial historical importance. Unable to crack the mystery of what they held with a three minute conversation, he reported to the group that the only option was to lay siege to the place under the cover of darkness. This plan was discussed at length, as was the idea of allowing the Brotherhood to steal whatever was hidden within and just steal it back. Ultimately, Elly came up with an idea that was agreed upon. Just tell them that the brotherhood was after something. An enemy of an enemy sort of deal, you know?

In they waltzed and would have gotten no further than Jock had Regina not shown her fancy necklace and explained that they wanted to help. Escorted to a smaller room at the heart of the Mosque (that is to say, it was an  appendage) they met with an older teacher who informed them that the Girdle of Niticris was quite safe. He appreciated their concern and assistance, but he did not believe the brotherhood capable of stealing the artifact necessary to raise the evil queen. Why wasn't the girdle simply destroyed? The man explained that they had tried to destroy it through a number of means, but nothing seemed to work. He then excused them from the Mosque. Or at least he tried, until Regina chimed in that she wanted a go at the girdle. He was reluctant, until she showed him her fancy new silver daggers she had pinched from Gavigan. As he reached for the blades, he felt the remnants of some foreign power stemming from either the daggers or Regina or both. He agreed to give it a shot.

He showed them through several large doors leading well underground where four strong guards and a much older man holding a jeweled scimitar stood guard in front of a gargantuan safe. Once the safe was unlocked Regina was shown the chain mail and jewel encrusted girdle that was the source of a great amount of trouble. With a hack and a slash, the girdle succumbed to the daggers, throwing Regina back and filling the room with light. The guards cheered, and the old man handed Shmee his scimitar as he cried tears of joy. Then the earth trembled, and they were told they were in grave danger.

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