Masks of Nyarlathotep – Peru Part 3

After a loooooong gap, we finally reconvened and ran the last part of the Peru Chapter in the new version of “Masks of Nyarlathotep”. If you haven’t read part one its on the blog, along with part two.

Any typos or mistake come from the fact I am a rubbish writer.

Part 3 – We need to protect our asses

Peru 1921 -Thursday 24th March

The shore of lake Titicaca

…the two figures stalked along the shoreline pulling crude but wicked looking knives from their rough clothing.

McTavish and Bolan both shouted warnings to Elias, who was oblivious to the danger approaching.

As the two attackers closed the gap, Constanza pulled his club and ran towards the nearer of the two. Swinging with an animalistic fury, he brought the club down with a sickening sound as it connected and crushed the boys skull with a single blow.

McTavish and the woman tried to exchange blows but each one managed to avoid the others attacks. Bolan, taking advantage of her distraction, moved up and jabbed wildly but only managed to land an ineffective blow. She turned and snarled at him but didn’t have time for anything else. Constanza, blood enraged, slammed his club in a merciless back swing in the side of her head, spinning her round and twisting the head at an inhuman angle. The crack of the neck snapping echoed over the lake. She dropped to the ground with a heavy thud as Elias ran to join McTavish and Bolan with pistol drawn. The fisherwoman he had been speaking with was running in the other direction, screaming with fear.

“I was worried about this.” Elias muttered, scanning the shoreline for others. “Nayra was hiding on the lake because she knew about Mendoza and this Kharisiri cult. There may be others heading to the hotel. We should hurry back to warn the others.”

As they headed back towards the hotel, Bolan paused briefly to pick up one of large blades that had been dropped. It was crude but sharp and deadly.

Puno Hotel

Gerbil and Singh found Larkin pouring over a map at the back of the hotel restaurant. The map was crude and hand drawn on aged paper but seemed to be quite detailed. Larkin explained that he had bought the map from a local when he was in the area last. He’d subsequently marked the rough location of the pyramid on it based on the description from the farmer he had got the gold items from.

Larkin pointed at a spot on the map. “Two or three days should get us there. It’s up in the highlands and the climb will be hard in places, but we should be able to get there without any trouble.”

He rolled up the map and slipped it into his jacket pocket. He announced he was going to his room for a rest and to get his energy up for the long trek ahead of them.

A little after midday, McTavish, Elias, Bolan and Constanza returned from the lake and told Gerbil and Singh about the attack. Gerbil went upstairs to fetch Larkin and pounded on his door. Larkin opened it a crack and peered out at him. Gerbil explained about the others being attacked and Larkin opened the door further, revealing he was holding his heroin and was about to take a dose. Putting down the bottle, he joined the group downstairs where the discussion was underway.

After some heated discussion, the group decide to leave as soon as possible. Larkin goes to the hotel reception to contact the animal handler while the rest of them pack and prepare for leaving.

Shortly after 3pm, a rather angry Peruvian man appeared pulling a group of mules. He marched up to Larkin and started to shout loudly saying his animals are not to be rushed and he isn’t happy about being forced to get them ready. Larkin calmed the man with a large handful of money and he left with a little less anger in his voice.

After the mules had been loaded, they quickly headed off, away from Puno. Taking a route that leads up into the overlooking hills, they begin the long hike towards the pyramid.

The first campsite

As the light began to fade, the party found a flat open area to setup camp for the night. Larkin collapsed against some cover while everyone else began to setup a fire and put up the tents. Over the meal, watches were set for the night. Gerbil and Constanza offered to take the first, while Singh and McTavish would take second. This left Bolan and Elias to take the last watch, as none of them trusted Larkin to be able to stand one watch.

The camp settled down for the night, while Gerbil and Constanza made small talk to keep themselves awake. Sometime around midnight they heard the mules starting to make frighted braying noises. Alert and ready to investigate they tried to move stealthily towards the animals to investigate the disturbance. Unfortunately Gerbil was so focused on moving carefully he didn’t notice where he was stepping and tripped over something in the dark. Staggering around trying to keep his balance he ended up stumbling into the low burning fire and started to set his trouser leg on fire. Beating at it madly he was able to put it out before and serious damage to himself or his clothing but the noise and shouting disturbed whatever it was in the darkness, there was the sound of something moving away quickly from the commotion. By the time the fire in his trousers was out, Gerbil was able to investigate along with the rest of the camp who had been woken up. They found of one the mules nearly dead with its throat ripped out and its blood seeping into the ground. The other animals were in a state of fright and the dying one was quickly put out of its suffering. A quick examination of the wound revealed it was similar to the wound on Rizo, who had been found dead in the museum basement.

They also now realised that there would be less animals to carry the survival gear, Constanza pointed out that they would now need to protect their asses even more.

Bringing the animals closer to the main camp, a more active watch was set for the night. By the time the morning came, everyone was tense and on edge but there had been no further disturbances.

Friday 25th March

After a hasty breakfast, they set off again, leaving the dead animal behind, along with some of the gear they now couldn’t carry.

After a long and uneventful hike during the morning, the party reached the peak of a hill and could hear gunfire off in the distance. Carefully climbing over the top of the hill they could see two figures below them. A man, holding a rifle and scanning to the south, standing protectively over the prone figure of what looked like a young boy. Off in the direction he was looking was a blood trail disappearing into the scrub grass.

Gerbil raised his arms and waved, calling out to them, only to have a shot fired towards him so he quickly ducked down behind the cover of the top of the hill. Singh, braver and more experienced with being shot at, walked down the hill. His own rifle pointed down at the ground, trying not to look threatening. The man shouted at Singh and waved his arms, pointing at the spot where Gerbil had been standing. Singh was too far away to make out what was being shouted, only faint noise. Approaching slowly, Singh was finally able hear that the man was shouting a warning about the white man on the hill. He said his son had been attacked by a white devil and that he should watch out. Singh convinced him they wouldn’t hurt the man or the boy and the rest of the group came down to meet them.

While waiting for them, Singh knelt by the boy and examined the wound. It didn’t look serious, just ragged and bloody. Attempting to patch up the wound and stop the bleeding, Singh only managed in making the boy cry out in pain more and he poked and prodded the raw flesh. The man, visibly upset, scooped up the boy and marched off shouting Peruvian obscenities at Singh for making his son suffer more.

Gerbil turned to Larkin and somehow persuaded him to share his heroin and let the boy have a shot to dull the pain. Taking the bottle and needle from a very reluctant hand, Gerbil ran after the man with Constanza in tow to translate. Again, Gerbil’s natural charm somehow won over the man even though there was genuine fear in his eyes. Giving the boy a very small shot of the heroin calmed the crying down and the father gratefully answered a few quick questions.

He was a local Alpaca farmer and had been looking for a missing animal with his son when they got had spread out a bit to cover more ground. The farmer had heard his son shouting and screaming before he was able to find him with two figures attacking the boy. A white male in dirty cotton clothing and a woman with pale skin but dressed in local style clothing. Driving them off with shots from his rifle, he had been about to try and get the boy back to his farm, when the group had arrived over the hilltop.

The farmer left them and carried his boy, saying his farm wasn’t far but he seemed reluctant to hang around the group after being attacked earlier. These strangers didn’t seem as trustworthy as he would have liked.

Shouldering their equipment, they set off again south. Roughly the same direction as the bloody trail through the grass.

Saturday 26th March

After an uneventful night, they climbed higher into the hills and at one point spotted a pair of figures off in the distance. From the description he had given to them, this was the pair that attacked the farmers boy. They seemed to be moving at a good speed despite having an odd waddling gait, as if they each carried something heavy.

Briefly considering rushing after them, the group decided not to split up and instead followed the same route while keeping an eye on them.

The Pyramid

Finally they reached the foot of the plateau where Larkin said the pyramid would be. Larkin became more and more excited as they got closer and was ready to scramble up the side of the rough path to the top. The animals wouldn’t make it up so they left them at the foot of the path and began the scramble up. As they climbed, the amount of vegetation thinned out to almost nothing until there was nothing but rough ground and rocky soil. Clouds of flies buzzed lazily through the air, the swarms growing thicker as they got closer to the top. Despite the rough terrain and the long hike, Larkin was able to make it up along with the rest of the group and was eager to rush on.

Pausing at the top, they could see a recessed section of the plateau ahead. Within that, partly buried beneath the dirt, a wall held back the worst of the rubble that had fallen down. Within the wall a half buried pyramid poked through layers of silt and rubble.

As they watched, the two figures approached the base of the pyramid and the man knelt while the woman climbed the steps to the top. Reaching a large crack in the top, she leant over and proceed to vomit up a huge stream of white liquid into it. This seemed to last for about a minute before she finished, turned and climbed down. The man then made his way to the top and repeated the process, the jet of white spilling out of his mouth, over his lips and into the crack. Realising this must be fat being poured into the hole as some kind of sacrifice. By the time they had finished their ritual, both figures looked gaunt and withered. Shuffling off around the pyramid, they disappeared out of sight.

After a short wait to see if they would reappear, Larkin lead the group toward the far end of the plateau. A ruined entranceway was at the bottom of a path that snaked its way down from the top.

As they reached the gate, Larkin slumped up against the wall, puffing for breath. Singh readied his rifle to stand guard while Gerbil, McTavish and Constanza entered the ruins to explore. Bolan paused to examining the stonework when he began to get flashes of the past through the stonework. He saw an ancient evil trapped underground for thousands of years. Then small flashes of lives passing the gate in more recent times. First a small burst, then larger and larger amounts of visitors coming and going. All the while, the malignant force within the ground spreading out further while growing stronger.

Gerbil and Constanza climbed carefully up the tall steps to examine the crack at the top. The stench of rot and decay was almost unbearable by they reached the peak. Clouds of flies the flies grew even thicker as they buzzed lazily above the splashed blobs of viscous white liquid around the crack. Distracted by the flies and the smell, Constanza slipped and tumbled backwards down the side of the pyramid. He bounced his way down landed in a heap at the bottom with an audible thump.

Meanwhile McTavish was examining a number of stone structures around the courtyard. He noticed the top stones could be removed quite easily. Not wanting to disturb anything yet, he left them but did find a smashed structure that he was able to see down into. The opening was a chimney like passage that lead straight down with well made brickwork forming the walls. At the bottom of the chimney, the passage split off in a couple of directions but it was impossible to see where it was going from his angle.

After some more looking around, they found a large charnel pit filled with corpses and buzzing with flies. Gerbil spotted a small opening at the bottom of the pit that looked wide enough to fit into.  Nobody was interested in climbing down and investigating with all of the corpses in the pit.

Regrouping, they made the decision to remove the flagstones on the top of the chimneys and then climb down into the broken chimney mouth. Gerbil stayed on the surface with Larkin who was refusing to enter the chimney. Yet he was most insistent about everyone going down to have a look around.

Lashing a rope around some rocks, they managed to squeeze down the broken passage. It took a little time to climb down but they finally reached the passage below where it split. To the west and south, the passage disappeared into darkness. Some small pools of light spilled down from the chimneys where they had removed the capstones. Through the gloom to the east, the passage opened up into a small room lined with piles of gold and treasure around the walls. In the centre of the room lay a dozen or so dirty reed mats. Lying rigid on two of them was the prone forms of the male and female figures the group had been following for the last day.

Checking to see if they would wake, Constanza moved slowly into the room before bringing his trusty club down on the skull of the man. With a stomach churning crunch, the head imploded with the force of the blow but the woman didn’t move or react to the nose. He quickly dispatched her as well, before they assessed the contents of the room.

The items in the room was a mix of ages. Some hundreds or thousands of years old, along with more contemporary items, taken from the more recent victims of the Kharisiri.

Leaving the room, they headed west along the narrow passageway before it split again near another chimney vent. McTavish realised from his walking them out on the surface, that this was the base area of the pyramid. The wall was lined with a golden band, the same as the one they had found in the museum basement. Following the passage round they found a large pool of the white liquid bubbling out of a crack in the wall. The crack in the wall was slowly oozing more of the white liquid and the stench was horrible The pool bubbled and moved as if something was inside it. The section of the wall had a gap which the band of gold they had, would fit into exactly. The problem was, the pool of filth blocked their way. It was around 10 feet across and the gap was half way along. A rope with a weight was lowered into the hole and the depth was estimated at around 4 feet.

What followed was some discussion around how they would fit the gold band into the wall where it had been taken from.

One suggestion was to use climbing gear but unfortunately, most of it had been left back at the first camp when the mule had been killed. Two further suggestions came up, the first was to line the capstones on their ends and carefully move along it. The other came from McTavish who remembered his dear sweet old grandma back in Scotland, who used to set fire to the kitchen when she used too much fat.

Making a crude wick from the rope they had dipped in the fat already, they lit it and left the tunnels. Over the next couple of hours, thick, black, oily smoke bellowed out of the chimneys into the quiet afternoon sky. The flies seemed to disappear, driven away by the smoke.

After the smoke died down to a thin trickle, they ventured back into the tunnels, leaving Gerbil and Larkin on the surface. The walls around the crack now had a thick oily residue over it but the gold was untouched. It took a brief bit of hammering but the missing gold piece was finally returned to its rightful spot.

At the same moment, Larkin sat up straight, looked directly at Gerbil and rose to his feet.

“Why do you think you’ve come here?” Larkin asked.

Gerbil was confused. “Because you paid us?”

Larkin let out a chuckle and his eyes changed to silver and then to a black colour. “There are more players here than you know about. We will meet again.”

With a gasp, Larkin fell to the ground and Gerbil rushed to help him, dropping his gun at the same time. Gerbil tried to rouse the now unconscious Larkin but with no luck, so went to call for help down one of the chimneys. Yelling down for the others to come back, he turned round toward Larkin he was shocked to find the now conscious Larkin standing right behind him.

Larkin swung at Gerbil who dodged out of the way and dived for his gun but in his haste he kicked the gun. It skittered and slid over the ground before slipping down the open mouth of one of the chimneys.

Turning to face Larkin, Gerbil prepared himself, only for the blood encrusted club of Constanza to smash heavily into the side of Larkins face, ripping half of it away and driving him to the floor. As he hit the ground, Larkin’s one good eye changed back from the black orb it was to his normal eye, looked up at Constanza and whispered something that almost sounded like ‘Thank you’.

They finished searching the pyramid and some time collecting items under Constanzas watchful eye. He was determined to make sure nothing was looted and that items would be going to the museum. Other, less rare, artifacts would find their way into everyone’s possession and the mules had their packs loaded.

They made their way down back to Puno without any incident and then back to Lima. As they spent time recovering, word reached Elias that Mendoza had been found dead outside Puno, possibly while he was hunting for Nayra. They all left in time to go their own separate way but always keeping in touch with Elias.

Four years later they each received a strange telegram from Elias saying he needed them to come to New York. He had news about the Carlyle expedition and needed their help.

The Necropolis

As well as running (trying to run) the Masks of Nyarlathotep scenerio, I recently ran the free Call of Cthulhu scenerio ‘The Necropolis’ by Leigh Carr. Theres a map of the tomb included and I wanted to cut it up and then lay out pieces as the group moved through the tomb.

Now I don’t like to use maps in RPG sessions, the players often fuss over their position and facing, but thought it would be useful this time. The problem with the one in the pdf is there is writing all over the walls. There are also hints to things hidden in places that would be obvious, so I warmed up Illustrator and redrew it.

HERE BE SPOILERS

If you haven’t played ‘The Necropolis’, its available (at time of writing) via the Cult of Chaos from Chaosium, find a Keeper and get them to run it as its great short scenerio that gets used as an introduction to Call of Cthulhu at conventions, but also makes a nice short scenerio to kill an afternoon.

Theres a playthrough with some of the How We Roll Podcast team and 1/3 of the Good Friends of Jackson Elias which is a good example of how it can play out.

I’d also advise you not to look at any of these maps, as they will contain spoilers to the scenerio. If you’re a keeper, feel free to download and use as you see fit, I hope they’re useful to you.

After I finished them I did share them on the Chaosium Basic Roleplay forum but recently realised, that was the only place I’d put them. I thought I’d share on here, it makes it easier for me to find as well if I need them again.

Map with text

Map without text

If you want to edit the map in anyway, theres lots of links below.


This is the AI file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vhxbbhN29HSM9IWHiXmwG9KPcnVsdrA5/view?usp=sharing

The paper texture the ai file links to: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lwbaICTNw8IT9tT38fRjYKiq1S0ISfX6/view?usp=sharing

You will need a free font called Warm Showers which is here: https://www.dafont.com/warmshowers.font

I’ve run this scenerio twice now and its a fun one to play. If you do use the maps in anyway, let me know if they work for you.

masks of Nyarlathotep – Part two

The following is a writeup of the second part of the infamous “Masks of Nyarlathotep” campaign which I am running with a group of friends. If you haven’t read part one, you may want to catch up first. Any typos or mistake, please excuse as I’m not a writer but feel free to point them out if you see them.

I also 3d printed a prop to use as part of this. If you want the file or just want to know about how I made it, theres a post about that as well.

The golden ward painted - Masks of Nyarlathotep
The golden ward painted

Spoilers ahead

You have been warned.

Part 2 – Pass me that paperweight

Saturday 19th March

The Museo de Arqueología y Antropología of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

… Mendoza’s wrist flicked at lightning speed and a large knife flew from his hand towards Singh but the target was faster. Singh dodged gracefully to one side and, with ease, plucked the knife from the doorframe where his head had been moments before. He advanced towards Mendoza with anger in his eyes. Constanza and Elias pulled guns from their coats. While Elias moved into the room for a clearer shot, Constanza fired his gun at Mendoza. The shot went wide, the bullet burying itself into the solid wood desk at the end of the room. Bolan, waking up to find smashed plaster bust pieces around him, pulled himself to his feet and tried to focus on the chaotic action filling the room.

Elias managed to clip Mendoza across the arm with a shot from his .45. Constanza continued to fire wildly, doing more damage to the paintwork than to his target, bullets sinking into the wall as he missed each shot.

Mendoza and Singh began to grapple in the middle of the room, with Mendoza managing get the upper hand and landing a hit on Singh. Mendoza swung again, determined to take out Singh, but Elias intervened. Pushed to one side, the blow went over both Singh’s and Elias’ head.

Snarling in fury, Mendoza turned on Elias and they began to trade blows. Mendoza’s strength was much greater and his wide flaring mouth was inches from Elias’ face. Suddenly he stopped and looked down, his own knife had erupted out of the middle of his chest. Elias looked down as well to see the tip of the knife blade only a few short millimetres from his own chest. Singh had come up behind Mendoza and driven the knife with every ounce of his strength into his back only for the blade to go straight through. Taking advantage of his opponents sudden shock, Elias savagely clubbed the side of Mendoza’s head with his pistol. Mendoza hit the floor, a pool of his own blood spreading across the carpet.

In the cellar, Gerbil and McTavish finished checking the room for any signs of the intruder that had attacked and killed Rizo. Finding nothing, they headed upstairs to Sánchez’ office after gathering up the golden artefact and Rizo’s notebook. They arrived at the office to find the aftermath of the battle. Mendoza was facedown on the floor with a knife sticking out of his back, blood oozing across the floor. Bolan was propping himself up against the desk with a nasty looking head wound. The rest of the group was huddled around Sánchez, who was coughing and choking on the floor.

Sánchez, gasping for air was repeating the words “él me besó… él me besó… he kissed me…” between strangled gulps of air. Singh knelt beside Sánchez and noticed a large bulge moving down from his throat into his abdomen and a waxy residue in his mouth. Placing his hand where the lump was moving, Singh recoiled in horror and turned away as the mass squirmed under his fingers.

Gerbil moved over to examine Sánchez after hearing Singh cry out and was intrigued by the movement under the flesh. Coming to the conclusion they had to get whatever it was out of Sánchez, Gerbil found a large paperweight and brought it down hard on Sánchez. A loud squealing noise erupted from inside Sánchez and Gerbil raised the paperweight to bring it down again. A hand around his wrist stopped Gerbil from finishing the blow and Elias stood over Gerbil.

“Good God man, what are you trying to do? Kill him? This is my friend.”

He pulled the paperweight out of Gerbils hand and tossed it away.

“We need another option.”

McTavish came up with a solution that he’d employed many a time back home in Scotland. Searching the professor’s desk, he found an almost full bottle of whiskey. After taking a healthy dose for himself, he managed to get most of the bottles contents into Sánchez. Within minutes the desired result happened. Sánchez began to cough and convulse before his mouth stretched and a huge bloated lump of fat oozed out. He retched and vomited it up along with the contents of his stomach. The flabby fat larvae flopped onto the floor and wriggled before being smashed with a large paperweight, wielded by Gerbil.

After a few minutes of stunned silence and gathering themselves back together mentally, the group started to try and decide what to do next. Elias, wanted to call for an ambulance, while Constanza wanted to contact the spirit of Rizo to try and find out what had happened to her.

After making Sánchez comfortable, Elias slumped into a chair. His hands shaking while trying to light his pipe, he sat up, looked round the room and said, “Where’s Mendoza?”

The bloody spot where Mendoza had fallen was empty, the knife that had been in his chest was also missing. Nobody had seen what had happened to him as they had all been too fixated on Sánchez.

Heading downstairs, Constanza settled next to Rizo’s corpse. Pulling the shriveled head of his grandfather from his bag, he began to focus. The head spoke to him when he needed to talk to the spirit world and he used it as his totem. Attempting to get some sense of how she had died, he was able to get a series of feelings from the departed spirit. First a feeling of boredom as tedious jobs around the museum had to be carried out, then a feeling of terror as a man suddenly appears in the basement room and attacked her. The final feeling was of pain and horror as he sucked the fat swiftly out of her body and she died in agony.

Shaking off the feeling of death, Constanza pushed on and was able to draw out more details about her work. More specifically, the notebook she had was filled with information about how she was able to connect the conquistadors to the golden artefact and that they had taken it from somewhere sacred.

Constanza snapped out of his trance, only seconds had passed but it had felt like hours when he was in communication with the spirit plane. He tucked away his grandfather’s head and rejoined the group. Elias, having called the local hospital, suggested that they all leave before the authorities turned up.

The hotel Maury

The group headed back to the hotel when Constanza translated the notes McTavish had found.

Rizo had translated the confession of a man called Gaspar Figueroa who had been in Peru in 1543 and Constanza read the notes to the group. It explaining how a group of conquistadors, that Figueroa was part of, had found and opened a pyramid they stumbled upon. There was treasure and walls lined with gold and the men had looted the site before leaving. Overnight they had become sick and one of them, called Luis de Mendoza, had attacked him and tried to devour him. Shooting Mendoza in self defence, Figueroa had managed to travel back Lima with as much of the gold as he could carry and finally dying.

Elias, troubled by all this, felt uncomfortable. He was normally able to debunk the supernatural but this was all something beyond what he had seen before. He explained that he had been warned about Mendoza by Nayra, a traditional healer of the Aymara people he had met in Puno. He hadn’t believed her story about Mendoza being a kharisi, putting it down to a fear of a stranger in the area.

With this new information, the group thought it would be idea to confront Larkin about Mendoza, so headed to the hotel España to find him.

The hotel España

Arriving at the hotel, they found Cupitina, the same old woman in the entrance way who had given Bolan so much trouble the day before, in the lobby. Gerbil approached her and asked about the location of Larkin. She wasn’t very happy about her guests being disturbed but, after being told he was possibly in danger, said he was upstairs in his room.

They headed upstairs. Gerbil knocked hard on the door and called out for Larkin, but there was no answer. He tried the handle and found it unlocked. They entered the room to find Larkin, bare chested, sat up in bed but asleep. Next to him on the bedside table was his needle and heroin and he was deep in what looked like a drug fuelled sleep.

Across Larkins chest was a large tattoo of a large, ragged spiral that covers Larkin’s chest. The spiral ended above his diaphragm, where it connects to a stylised, misshapen humanoid figure with large, outstretched hands that appear to end in claws.

Gerbil tried to speak to Larkin but only got a mumbled response, so found a glass of water and threw it over Larkins face. Spluttering awake, Larkin tried to focus on the faces infront of him but was still feeling the effects of the heroin. Gerbil kept trying and finally managed to get a straight reply after explaining what had happened to Mendoza in the university. Larkin, pulling himself together, explained that Mendoza had been blackmailing him to organise the trip to the pyramid and steal the contents. He sobbed with relief that he was gone but didn’t quite believe that Mendoza was some kind of monster. Larkin said that he had a contact in the police who he had been dealing with and that he would be able to get Mendoza’s description to him and the police would deal with him if he reappeared.

Singh noticed that Larkin wasn’t being fully truthful but it was difficult to get anything from Larkin while he was still in his drug fugue state.

The investigators managed to get Larkin to agree to leave the hotel and stay with them for safety. Hurriedly packing Larkins room while he tried to get dressed, Gerbil asked Larkin about the unusual tattoo across his chest. Larkin was unable to answer any questions about it and it almost seemed like he couldn’t or wasn’t able to answer anything about it or where it had come from.

Larkin began to dawdle around his bed and asked them to leave and wait downstairs while he finished getting ready but Gerbil wasn’t taking no for an answer. Breaking out his best charm, Gerbil persuaded Larkin it was in his best interest to stay together. Grudgingly agreeing, Larkin dragged one of his bags to the edge of his bed, knelt down and lifted the edge of the mattress. He scooped three items from under the bed into the bag, the pendant and cup from the meeting but also a third golden item but nobody was able to get a good look at what it was before it was hidden away.

Heading downstairs to the foyer, Larkin explained to a shocked Cupitina that he was leaving for the night but would be back to pay before they left on Monday.

The hotel Maury

Back in the hotel Maury, they settled into the bar area to try and get more information out of Larkin but it was tough going as Larkin was still addled and confused by the events they had told him about. Gerbil finally brought out the large golden artefact they had found in the basement of the museum. Larkin reached towards it then withdrew his hand with a shocked look on his face. He was somewhat upset at the sight of it and unable to glance at it for long. He told them to cover it up quickly before anyone else saw it and tried to take it but it wasn’t convincing. He was hiding something but was covering it up well.

Bolan began to worry that he didn’t have a weapon to protect himself in case there was trouble but nobody was willing to spare him one. Singh tried to reassure Bolan that in the case of trouble he would protect the group and that there would be equipment and weapons with the trucks, but Bolan still felt he needed a weapon.

After some more discussion, they all headed up to two adjoining hotel rooms with connecting doors for the night and slept. Staying together for protection over the night time.

Sunday 20th March

The hotel Maury

The next morning everyone except Bolan and McTavish went downstairs to breakfast. They had continued to use Elias’ alias of Jessie Hughes around Larkin incase something slipped and Larkin found out who he really was.

As soon as they’d left, Bolan unpacked the museum artefact while McTavish set to work rummaging through Larkins bags, looking for the third golden item he had put in his bag. It was a stylised face mask, made of blocky geometric shapes and solid gold but with no eye holes.

While Bolan was busy meditating over the museum artefact, McTavish was preparing to take photos of the mask he flipped it over to find the other side was perfectly flat and polished to a mirror finish. As he examined it his head was suddenly filled with visions, flicking too quickly to catch much in the way of details. He saw a pyramid on a plateau with a giant crack in the middle with tendrils reaching up to a nightmarish sky. Another view. This time from a train while the plains of Africa burned. Another. A man, painting. He was crouched in a corner but turned and look directly at McTavish. McTavish snapped out of the trance to find Bolan looking at him in a confused way. McTavish stepped away from the golden mask and couldn’t bring himself to finish taking the photos of it.

Bolan went back to meditating over the museum artefact, after a few minutes he began to feel a warm sense of safety and protection coming from it. There was also a sense that for thousands of years it had been both deep underground but also up high. A more recent sense of violation and anger as it was torn away and carried to another place but still with the sense of protection around it.

After McTavish explained what he had seen, Bolan briefly considered trying to look at the back of the mirror while holding the museum artefact but thought better of it. The first psychic probe had been enough for him for now and he wasn’t sure if he could handle it.

After carefully returning the mask and hiding the artefact away, they went downstairs to rejoin the group and spend the day preparing for the long journey ahead.

Monday 21st March

Rising early they headed to meet the trucks outside the the hotel España. Wary for signs of trouble they loaded their kit onto the trucks, checked the equipment and set off. The journey took several days travel, slowly winding through the lowlands and heading upwards towards Puno.

Gerbil took great delight in sampling the food at the small villages they stopped at each night for rest. Singh however, was starting to show signs of altitude sickness. His normally even temper was becoming more and more prickly. Even to the point of snapping at Elias when the writer tried to offer some words of comfort.

Larkin spent most of the journey in the cab of one of the trucks, often a drug induced sleep. Leaving the others to discuss quietly among themselves what to do next when they arrived at Puno.

Wednesday 23rd March

Finally, on a cloudy afternoon, Lake Titicaca appeared in the distance ahead, Puno visible at the edge. A short time later the trucks rattled and bounced along the streets to stop at the hotel that Larkin had arranged for them to stay at. After unloading, the trucks departed and the group took to their rooms.

Thursday 24th March

Elias wanted to slip away from Larkin to speak to Nayra, so the next morning he left with Bolan, McTavish and Constanza before Larkin woke up. It took about half an hour to get to a small cluster of fishing huts on the edge of the lake. As they left the hotel a small mob of children clustered around them and laughed and pointed at them. Elias spoke to a couple as they walked to the lake but they thinned out and finally disappeared as they reached the huts.

Elias spoke to a woman fixing a fishing net and was able to rent a reed boat for them to paddle out into the lake. Just as they left, McTavish noticed that a boy and a woman who had been following them from Puno, still stood near the shore and looked busy trying not to be seen watching them paddle out. It was too late to talk to the pair, but they would keep watch for them later.

Poking out through the mist rising up from the lake, was a small collection of floating islands, each with a small cluster of huts on them. Elias explained that he had been told Nayra had moved to one of these floating huts as she was worried that Mendoza or one of the other Kharisiri, may come for her.

Docking with one of the islands, Elias hopped off and approached a hut, calling out to Nayra as he went. A small wrinkled face poked out through the doorway and smiled broadly as she saw who it was. The next second, an old woman was wrapping herself around Elias in a hug and pulling him into the hut. As he was dragged in Elias beckoned the others to join them.

The hut was warm and dark but Narya was having no problems bustling around making a strong tea drink. She chatted with Elias and chided him for not listening to her warning when he explained about Mendoza. Tutting and fussing over the story, she gave more details about the Kharisi. They’re normally depicted as white men with big brimmed hats and knives for cutting the fat out of their victims. Hover recently there have been more disturbing tales of local people behaving like the Kharisiri. She had noticed some people watching her so she gone to the people of the floating island to try and hide.

When the golden artefact from the museum was described to her, she grew quiet for a minute then she told them the legend of a dark and evil god that fell from the sky into the lake and began to devour everything in its path. A trickster named Ekeko told the god that the best food was underground and showed the god how to find tubers and roots, he led the god to an old armadillo burrow which the god crawled into. Piling rocks over the mouth of the burrow, Ekeko told the people to build a temple over the site and bind the god with spells made of gold.

Nayra warns Elias, that to go near the site of the pyramid would be foolish, and that it will be guarded by other Kharisi but she gives them a more accurate location when pressed for information.

A few hours later Elias and the other three headed back to the shore. As he paid the fisherwoman for the use of the boat, McTavish noticed the two figures, the teenage boy and the woman, walking towards them. Studying them as they approached, McTavish saw with horror that they had long knives poking out from their clothes. He was hardly able to shout a warning before they drew them and advanced menacingly.

To be continued…