MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – ENGLAND PART TWO

This was our last session of 2019 and sadly the player who is Singh couldn’t make it. Fortunatly the others managed to not die without him around to keep them under control.

Unlike New York they managed to complete a break in without a full strength team, without setting fire to half of the city as well. I think thats a good result to be honest.

All the previous entries for the campaign are tucked away on the blog as well.

Sunday February 1st – The evening

After the events at Miles house, the group agreed to split up. Bolan, MacTavish and Constanza would go and check out the Penhew Foundation when it opened up on Monday. Meanwhile Singh would help dispose of the lizard person corpse, the remains in the cellar and the paintings in his studio.

Monday February 2nd

The Penhew Foundation

Shortly after it’s opening time, Bolan, MacTavish and Constanza arrived at the main door of the Penhew Foundation. They were greeted by a cheery doorman who smiled and held the door open for them. Enquiring about the possibility meeting with Edward Gavigan, the doorman pointed them towards the reception area and told them to speak to the front desk.

The lobby of the foundation was a large open space with display cases and statues from Egypt arranged around the room. Several bookcases lined the walls filled with books and the occasional small statue. Off to each side was a collection of tables and chairs with several people stitting at, leafing through books. Behind a desk in the middle of the floor, a young woman watched them approach and greeted them with a smile.

“Good morning gentlemen, we can we help you?” she enquired.

Explaining they wanted to speak to Gavigan about their friend Jackson Elias, Bolan asked if he was free at any point today. Asking them to wait, she picked up a phone on her desk, and spoke to someone explaining there was a group of men wanting to speak to Mr Gavigan. After listening to the reply, she turned back to tell them that Mr Kinnery would be along to speak to them shortly.

Taking the time to examine the artefacts in the lobby area, MacTavish tried to identify some of them but struggled to recognise any of them. Constanza gazed wide eyed at the exotic art around him with amazement. Bolan was looking longingly at the books on the bookcases. He leafed through a couple at random but didn’t find anything that captured his attention or interest greatly.

Presently a small, thin faced man in his 30s walked down the corridor from the back of the building. He paused to speak to the receptionist, who pointed out the group to him, and he scuttled over to them.

“Hello, I’m Thomas Kinnery, Mr Gavigan’s personal secretary. I understand you wish to speak to Mr Gavigan. May I enquire the nature of your request?”

Bolan made introductions before saying they understood that Jackson Elias had come to speak to Gavigan a few weeks earlier. He explained that they are currently following up on his movements. Kinnery, his face a constant beaming grin, nodded along as Bolan talked.

“I think we can find a space in Mr Gavigan’s diary. Please follow me.”

He led them down a corridor and to a small office with a waiting area. He asked them to wait there while he went into another office beyond. Coming back a few minutes later, he told them that Gavigan was in the middle of something but would see them shortly.

Kinnery sat behind a desk in the room and began to sort out papers and writing a letter. After about 10 minutes of waiting, a slim, well-dressed man came out of the main office and greeted them warmly.

Introducing himself as Edward Gavigan, he ushered them into his office and instructed Kinnery to hold his calls and not to disturb them.

Gavigan’s office was large but sparsely furnished. A simple desk at one end with minimal clutter on the top, a photo frame and some paper and pens neatly arranged on it. The walls had a pair of paintings hanging on them, showing different views of Egypt. One wall also had three small doors which looked like storage cupboards built into it. The most unusual feature was a small floor safe in one corner of the room near Gavigan’s desk. Each of them spotted the safe as it stood out due to the door being slightly open. The door raised up against the flat of the floor made it obvious, but Gavigan seemed to have not noticed.

Sitting down behind his desk, Gavigan indicated they should all take a seat in the luxurious high-backed chairs that faced him.

“Now, what can I help you with regarding Mr Elias?”

Bolan explained about Jackson’s death and how they had been looking into the Carlyle expedition since his murder. Gavigan seemed shocked at the news but went on to explain that he had only spoken to him once.

“He came to visit me late last year as he was looking into the Carlyle expedition. He wanted to know about the background of the Penhew Foundation and its relationship to the funding of the expedition. It was a short meeting and he had arranged to see me again, but he never made the appointment.”

When asked about the Penhew Foundation, Gavigan explained that Sir Aubrey Penhew had started the foundation. He was using it as a way of exploring further into the mysteries of Egypt. Penhew had a specific interest in a period of Egyptian history which wasn’t well known about so most of his personal research was into this time. When Roger Carlyle came to Sir Aubrey with information about this era, Sir Aubrey was eager to not only fund the expedition, but also join it.

He mentioned that most of the background information for the expedition had come from some ‘African woman’ that Carlyle had met. Rather scathingly he felt this woman seemed to have a hold over Carlyle.

Gavigan also talked about each of the different members of the group, but only in vague terms as he had only spoken to a few briefly. He touched on their roles in the dig and how they seemed to have moved on from the dig when Carlyle became ill. Gavigan concluded that Carlyle, being a rich American playboy, wasn’t as tough as the British members of the group so couldn’t stand the heat. He didn’t have the British spirit that Sir Aubrey would have had.

Throughout the meeting, Bolan could tell that Gavigan was hiding something and that he wasn’t telling the full truth. Gavigan seemed eager to push the conversation back towards Elias a few times and he was quick to skip other points.

They discussed further about the foundation’s involvement with the expedition. How some artefacts had been discovered as part of the dig but nothing of significance. Most of the items had gone to the Egyptian museum in Cairo, a few trinkets had been put on display in the British Museum. A small number were also at the foundation.

Offering to give them a tour of the display pieces, Gavigan stood up and headed for the door. MacTavish was interested in what the picture on the desk was so made a point of saying that the safe was open. He walked around the desk to where he could point to the open door. Gavigan, not expecting this, went over to shut it while MacTavish got a quick look at the picture. It was a large stately home with the name ‘Misr House’ in small letters in the foreground.

Gavigan thanked MacTavish and then led them on a tour around the building. He was quite thorough but to the point of dryness when explaining each of the items he stopped at. Even to the point of spending 10 minutes explaining the history and production technique of half a clay pot that had been found at a dig site.

After what felt like a very long hour, Gavigan led them back to the reception area. As they had shown so much interest, he suggested that if they wanted to come back to examine anything further, they should join the foundation.

MacTavish said he would love to join as he was an amateur archaeologist. He was directed to speak to the receptionist who would give him the paperwork to join.

As a sudden thought, MacTavish mentioned that there was a rumour that one of the expedition members had been spotted alive in Shanghai. At this suggestion Gavigan’s face cracked for a second.

“What do you mean? Who is it? That’s not possible.” he said in a shocked voice.

Dismissing it as a rumour, MacTavish waved off questions of how he had found out while promising to tell Gavigan if he heard anything further.

By this point, Gavigan had regained his cool and aloof air. He bid them farewell with a polite nod and then headed back towards his office.

Quickly filling in the paperwork for membership, MacTavish took the invoice and they left.

The British Library

They spent a few hours in the British Library looking into Misr house, finding that it was in Essex and was listed as Gavigan’s family home. They also planned to have a look around the Penhew Foundation building after hours if they could break in.

The Penhew Foundation

Heading back to the Foundation before it shut, they found a darkened area to loiter in. They kept watch for a few hours until it was closed and deserted for the night. After 6pm the building emptied of most of the staff and a cleaner went in along with a security guard. Gavigan wasn’t spotted leaving but they figured he was mixed into the bigger knot of staff as they left.

After plenty of time had passed and the cleaner was spotted leaving, they headed round the back and found the rear. A large loading area with a door and a small coal chute could be made out through the gloom and MacTavish went to check the chute. A padlock held it closed so he hunkered down next to it with his lockpick set. In the dark he struggled to open it and, in the end,, he only managed to jam the mechanism inside.

Constanza lifted his club and jammed the base of it under the padlock before pushing slowly. With a low groan, the metal twisted and popped off, dropping to the packed earth with a quiet plop.

Shining a torch down the chute, they could see a mound of coal below them, but the drop seemed wide enough to climb into. One at a time they slide down and found themselves in a small coal storeroom with a low wall holding the coal in place. Beyond the wall the room opened into a large boiler room filled with pipes of hot water and steam running throughout it. The low roar of a furnace filled the room and the soft glow of the boiler cast flickering shapes over the walls.

There was a door at the far end and near where they stood a narrow set of stairs ran upwards. Checking the door, they found it unlocked and there was a small the small room on the other side. It was packed with broken furniture covered in dust sheets and other assorted bric-a-brac. MacTavish realised that this room was too small and that the room they had entered only covered half of the floor space of the foundation. Searching around turned up nothing. The walls sounded solid and there was no sign of any hidden doorways.

Leaving this area, they took the stairs cautiously upwards and found themselves in a small staff room. A lit stove warmed a kettle on top. A couple of old chairs sat next to a table covered in newspapers. Bolan resisted the temptation to spike the water in the kettle with the drug he had found at Miles house.

Leaving the room brought them to the main corridor running the length of the foundation. Opposite the staff room was a solid metal door painted red. Checking it wasn’t unlocked, MacTavish tried to pick it, but again failed.

Leaving this door for fear of being caught in such an exposed place, they headed down the corridor into the building. Finding both doors that lead into Kinnery’s office and then into Gavigan’s office unlocked they slipping into Gavigan’s office. Carefully shutting the doors, they began to search.

MacTavish went to examine the floor safe while Constanza examined the desk and Bolan went to the closets.

Constanza found a few notes and bits of paperwork but nothing of note. One desk drawer wouldn’t open, and he realised it was locked.

With a little bit of patience, MacTavish finally managed to open the floor safe. It swung upwards to reveal a couple of large bundles of one pound notes but nothing else. MacTavish shut the safe and turned his attention to the locked desk drawer. With some luck, MacTavish was able to snap open the lock but the only item inside was a telegram mentioning a dig at Mycerinus.

Bolan meanwhile, had found a secret door in the back of one of the closets. Two of them had been filled with a drink’s cabinet, books and assorted items but the third was empty. Bolan spotted that the far wall had a panel that seemed out of place. Pushing it open gently he found it swung open silently into a large storeroom at the back of the building. One side was blocked off by wooden crates, but they could see through the gaps that they had entered the room with the locked red door. The side they had opened into lead to a battered and damaged sarcophagus. Kneeling by one side, Bolan cautiously peered in, but it was empty. He examined the top and noticed the face was free of the thin layer of dust that covered everything else. MacTavish and Constanza joined him just as he noticed the eyes could be recessed into the head.

As the eyes slipped into the head, there was a soft whir of a motor. The whole sarcophagus slid to one side, revealing a set of steep steps going into the basement. Shining torches into the darkness below only showed a few wooden boxes and a switch in the wall at the foot of the steps. The faint smell of burnt candles floated up from the room but there was no sound or movement from the dark. Cautiously, Bolan climbed down the steps. Fearing the worst, he braced himself before he flicked the switch but the only thing to happen was several electric lights came on.

As the others joined him, Bolan looked round. A desk stood at one end of the room with a small study area and some chairs arranged for meetings. Crates, boxes and bookcases lined the room, what little wall space was left had paintings filling the gaps.

MacTavish rummaged through the desk, turning up a .32 revolver with a box of bullets, some passports and more money. Under the desk he spotted a box filled with paperwork so started to dig through it, looking for anything useful.

Constanza examined the artwork on the walls. The paintings seemed to be strangely hideous creatures that drove a shiver down his spine. Leathery flying monstrosities, hulking beasts, prowling humanoid figures and burning figures who seemed to embrace the fire covered the paintings and seemed more hideous than anything he could imagine. A small statue in the middle of them was of a pharaoh-like figure but his face was a mass of squirming tentacles.

Bolan was drawn to the bookcases which was filled with a dozen or more books as well as scrolls and a small jar. He checked a few at random, his heart racing as he realised the value of just one of these books alone. Most seemed to be in either French, Latin or some other language, but he found two in English. The first was a series of seemingly insane ramblings about outlandish gods and theological questions that didn’t make much sense. The second book was called the ‘Book of Dzyan’ and was bound in a soft goatskin. Bolan pocketed the book and went to look at the paintings that Constanza was examining.

MacTavish was finding a few interesting things in the paperwork. There were various receipts for goods and services, including deliveries to Henson Manufacturing, Derby for wood and coal, iron ingots, copper wiring, and an expensive cast iron safe, a receipt from Ferris & Sons of London for the six-month hire of a truck, and a letter from a Mr. Puneet Chaudhary of Ropemakers Fields, Limehouse, relating to the warehousing and shipment of “sundry antiquities” to Shanghai onboard a ship called the Ivory Wind.

Underneath the pile of receipts, a business card was wedged into one of the box’s corners. Pulling it out, MacTavish could see it was addressed as “Empire Spices” in Soho.

He was distracted at one point by Bolan giving a shout of shock at the contents of the paintings. They proved to be too much of a reminder of the events at Miles house the previous night and he had turned away with a stifled cry.

Constanza meanwhile had moved on to examine a couple of the crates at one end of the room, all but two are open and empty. A tall, closed crate was stencilled “Ho Fang Import/Export, 15 Kaoyang Street, Shanghai, China,” in both English and Chinese. In smaller letters are the

words “Attention Honourable Ho Fang.” Prying the top off Constanza found a huge corroded brass statue of a bulbous thing wearing an Asian rice hat; a snake pit of tentacles seemed to be bursting forth from beneath the hat.

The second crate of interest was stencilled “Randolph Shipping Company, Port Darwin, Northern Territory, Dominion of Australia”, along with a curious symbol that seems to show a stylized deer’s head or winged creature. Again, Constanza removed the top of the crate and inside was a 16 inch (41 cm) high representation of a fat, dragon-like figure, whose evil-looking head is fringed by tentacles.

MacTavish brought out his camera and started to take photos of the two statues and other parts of the room.

They tidied up as best they could, setting things back to how they had found it and went back up to the storage room above. Carefully pushing the door open to Gavigan’s office they were shocked to see the surprised face of a young security guard looking back at them. There was a moment of quiet as both sides sized each other up and then the guard stuttered out a confused question.

“What are you all doing in Mr Gavigan’s closet?”

MacTavish slowly walked towards the man, pulling his wallet out. He presented the guard with a large handful of notes while reassuring him that they hadn’t been up to anything bad. They just got lost and he should forget about them.

The guard cautiously took the notes and watched them climb out of Gavigan’s window one by one into the night before stuffing the notes into his jacket and continuing his rounds.

Casting Cthulhu

Many eons ago (mid 2012), I sculpted a statue that I thought would be a bit of fun, would end up on my shelf and never be touched again. Cthulhu. Originally I wanted to make a Deep One statue but I couldn’t come up with a nice design I liked so ended up making the big chap based on the description from the Call of Cthulhu story.

After making it, I thought “How could I cast this up? Can’t be that hard, I’ve done some before at uni.” and so I went for a browse round my local craft shop. All I could find there was latex which is a good enough casting material so I bought a big bottle of the stuff and set to.

It took weeks.

Honestly, latex is one of the slowest ways to make a mould. Its also one of the smelliest. The sulpher released was making my eyes water.

Its a case of layer, upon layer brushed on but you have to wait until its dry before putting the next layer on and that can take hours. I was layering it up with thickener as well to get some of the thickness once the first few base layers had been put on.

And so, the first few Cthulhu (Cthulhii? What do you call a group of Cthulhu) arrived via the latex mould.

Cthulhu statues

It was very hard to get them out of the mould. Latex doesn’t stretch very much so it was tough demoulding them.

During the following year I made another Latex one and then started to try out other materials for making moulds. At some point I tried Dragon Skin from SmoothOn which is silicone that can be used for either mould or casting.

Latex, latex, dragon skin and dragon skin.

Apart from the toughness to stretch the latex moulds, they had started to corrode from the heat when you pour the resin in. The Dragon Skin is far stretchier and can take a bit more punishment.

The first Dragon Skin mould was made in 2013 and the second was made in 2015 and is finally starting to give up. Bits come away in the fine detail areas and it becomes harder to remove the casting so I knew it was time to make a new one. Four years is a pretty good run for something that gets used a lot.

Over a couple of hours, one Sunday, I made a new mould by layering up Dragon Skin over the casting. As it flows quite freely, its great for getting into all the nooks and crannies but it does mean it runs everywhere. It takes a few layers to get a good thickness and you hae to apply it as its nearly set. Another thing is to make sure there are no big air pockets in overhanging areas.

After 24 hours to fully cure the mould peeled off easily, ready for the first casting.

It does look odd inside out…

The Cthulhu statue is available in my Etsy shop in a different range of finishes such as bronze, copper and green.

Adeptus Mechanicus Purity Seal

After I made my original purity seal, I’ve been meaning to make some new ones for a while. I even managed to start making a couple several years ago before forgetting about it. I finally got round to finishing and casting one based on the Adeptus Mechanicus logo.

It had been sitting unloved in a drawer for a while so with a little polishing up I managed to get round to casting it with some spare Dragon Skin silicone left over from remoulding Cthulhu. I used a trick I’d picked up a while ago for measuring the volume needed by pouring rice into the area to be moulded and then measuring that volume.

To test the mould, and also some different pigments I have, I mixed up some red resin and poured some test pieces.

I’m also trying out some new weathering process which look nice and is a little quicker than my current process. Using oil paint instead of black polish means I have longer to work with the weathering.

Adeptus Mechanicus purity seal
Adeptus Mechanicus symbol on the scroll as well

I’m pretty pleased with the end result. It looks nice and battered but the detail is still clear.

Adeptus Mechanicus Purity Seal

The finished Adeptus Mechanicus Purity Seal is now available, along with the standard Purity Seal, in my Etsy shop.