This session of the campaign saw a more thoughtful and planned approach from the Investigators, and they got safely through an encounter that I had expected to cause them a lot of difficulty and several deaths. Their success was probably down to this new approach, along with a little luck as they decided to strike at exactly the right time...
|How most plans to face the Cthulhu mythos end up...|
Convinced that Edward Gavigan, manager of the Penhew Foundation, was behind the murder of Cutter last time round, the group had enlisted the aid of young socialite Casandra Fox and were determined to bring vengeance to Gavigan's Essex estate, Misr House.
Having filled a slightly incredulous Miss Fox in on events and their plans the investigators decided to scout the area out first (after a slight delay to clean up the vomit that Hubert's still-poorly dog had decided to decorate Cassandra's kitchen floor with).
Hubert, Harry and Cassandra took her Bentley out for a drive (courtesy of Cassandra's butler Farnsworth) to have a look at the estate. They found a large, boggy, low-lying island surrounded by a dike and a high stone wall, with guards on the gate and patrolling the perimeter. A narrow swing bridge lead to the island from the shore. Getting to Gavigan wasn't going to be easy.
Farnsworth was sent to the gate to enquire after Gavigan and was told that he was not present but would be arriving later in the day for a private function.
The rest of the group had spent the time preparing in Harwich. Supplies were purchased (ladders, gasoline, rope, flashlights etc) with uncommon foresight.
A plan was hatched. Rather than try to storm the well-defended isle the investigators decided on a more intelligent approach. They would ambush Gavigan's car on it's way to the estate, thereby avoiding all the hassles of gaining entry to Misr House.
One of the roads leading to the estate was blocked by way of a felled tree, and the investigators settled down to wait for their quarry. Such a brilliant plan deserved reward. However, I'm an evil Keeper and had other ideas...
A successful Spot Hidden by Hubert, who was on lookout duty, meant that he spotted the large row boat heading for the island from the sea. Looking through his binoculars Hubert saw that there were at least eight people on the boat, and one of them looked like Gavigan. He also saw a large tramp steamer anchored out in the bay from which the rowboat had originated. The steamer was flying a Chinese flag and whilst Hubert could not make out the name from his vantage point he noted that it comprised two words.
The investigators were dismayed. It appeared as though Gavigan had inadvertently avoided their cunning trap!
The rowing boat had given them an idea however, and they headed to the nearby village of Walton-on-the-Naze to hire a couple of small boats which they would use to reach the island. They investigators prepared and waited until dark to begin their approach.
As the midnight hour approached the group rowed out from the shore and approached the island. A failed Navigate roll ensured they did not land where they had planned, but regardless they were soon ashore and over the stone wall and earthen dike.
It was at that point the investigators heard above the how of the wind the screaming and the infernal music coming from inshore. They carefully made their way through some trees from where they could see Misr House itself. The large mansion was quiet and dark as though there was no-one home...
With worried looks the investigators climbed the low hill beyond which the terrible sounds of strange music and terrified screams were coming. As they crept over the brow a terrible vista greeted them. Some kind of unholy ritual was taking place in a clearing around a tall stele carved in hieroglyphs. Chained to the base of the stele were four naked victims, each of which was in the process of being disemboweled by several cultists wielding large spiked clubs. Gavigan and another man watched on, dressed in dark robes and wielding twin golden sceptres.
Willard immediately freaked out due to a failed SAN check and ran screaming from the scene. Luckily the assembled cultists didn't notice above the howls of their victims. Harry didn't deal with things much better, falling to his knees and ripping up handfuls of earth. Cassandra decided to deal with the horrors she saw by tearing into the nearest tree. Only Hubert and Sebastian passed their SAN checks and managed to watch the ensuing chaos.
Things rapidly got worse as dark shadows fell over the glade. Three great winged horrors swooped down and alighted on the ground.
They were not any birds or bats known elsewhere on earth or in dreamland, for they were larger than elephants and had heads like a horse's. Carter knew that they must be the shantak-birds of ill rumour, and wondered no more what evil guardians and nameless sentinels made men avoid the boreal rock desert.
—H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
The terrifying beasts proceeded to consume the still-screaming remains of the sacrificial victims, tearing at their flesh with long teeth. Ecstatic cultists threw themselves at the creatures, several managing to climb atop them and were carried off as the hideous things took flight once more, heading into the clouded east.
Hubert had seen enough. It was time to take action.
To describe the following chaos I will hand over to the diary of one of my players (slightly edited for format), DJC, who plays Willard.
Hubert lobs a canister of petrol toward the cultists and sets light to it on an area of ground in front of the party.Somehow our heroes had survived (perhaps because Harry wasn't involved for once!), and Gavigan was slain. After recovering Willard and Harry the group searched the bodies, finding the cultists to be mainly of Chinese and Egyptian descent. Each carried an amulet in the shape of an inverted ankh.
Sebastian shoots at the gent with his .32 . He wings the gent slightly (but) only pisses him off. The gent chants menacingly and points his sceptre at Sebastian
Cassandra (recovering from her temporary insanity) shoots at Gavigan with her .357 Magnum Revolver. Hit in the chest, Gavigan slumps to his knees barely conscious but glaring evilly back at Cassandra. From inside his robe he pulls out his shotgun and fires back hitting her slightly in the leg.
Hubert ponders the situation.... and decides to fire back at the gent fourteen yards away from him with his 10-gauge. He hits!
(A) stomach wound. It lays him out on the ground face first seemingly out of the fray.
The 4 remaining cultists charge toward the party, running around the burning fuel.
Poor Harry is still in the land of the sanitally challenge!
Sebastian levels his pistol at one of the charging cultists firing wildly and inaccurately, once again merely winging his opponent.
Cassandra in a change of tactics draws her fencing rapier and leaps toward a cultist, slicing into him deeply, sending him to the ground bleeding profusely.
Gavigan on his knees, clutching his shotgun, fires back at Cassandra, but misses.
Hubert glances at Harry and spots his Thompson machine-gun on the ground. He stoops down and picks it up. He takes aim at the cultists and waits.
The cultists close in. One swings at Hubert but misses.
Meanwhile Sebastian desperately reloads his pistol as quickly as he can.
Cassandra sprints over to Gavigan, who grins evilly and launches into a speech promising dire retribution.
Hubert, Thompson in hand, depresses the trigger fully. He sprays bullets at the approaching threesome of cultists. Two of them are riddled with bullets, turning into a bloody pulp.
The remaining cultist swings with his club at Huberts but misses.
Sebastian spins round and fires at the cultist attacking Hubert. Three bullets slam into its body and it falls to the ground.
Cassandra places her rapier point at Gavigan's heart and pushes forward as he laughs. Something in his unnerving mania in the face of certain death causes her to wonder if she has done the right thing or merely made things worse for herself and her new companions.
(The battle is over...)
|Haven't we seen this before?|
After a brief rest the investigators headed towards the house. It was dark and empty. A thorough search lead them to a secret basement through an old priest-hole. In the cells beneath the house they found a prisoner, Ahmed.
A member of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh who had turned, Ahmed had been earmarked for sacrifice. He was able to tell the group what little he knew - that those Gavigan represented were trying to open some kind of Gate.
In Gavigan's workshop they found a shipping ledger that detailed shipments to one Ho Fong in Shanghai and to Randolph's Shipping in Darwin. Alongside the ledger was a half-finished letter...
Dear Aubrey,The shocked investigators pondered this new information. Were Aubrey Penhew and Jack Brady still alive? Had they somehow survived the massacre of the Carlyle expedition in Kenya?
Elias has been dealt with in New York. You must stop Brady. It is stupefying that he has evaded us for so long. This man may become an obstacle to our Great Lord. If you wish, I will...
A few hours later, tired but rested, the group gathered in Cassandra's house in Harwich once more. Their instincts were telling them they should travel to Shanghai to continue their investigations. The decision suddenly became easier when Farnsworth entered and placed the latest issue of The Scoop on the kitchen table. Mickey Mahoney had been true to his word.
The headline read:
AMERICAN PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR WANTED FOR MURDER
Police search for missing murderer. Harold Crum is armed and dangerous!