MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – EGYPT PART ELEVEN

Catch up with previous sessions elsewhere on the site.

There’s been a rather long break for Christmas and the start of the year. Between some illness’ and difficulty getting everyone together we struggled to find time to meet but we finally did it. Our group managed to get together… well nearly all. The player who is Bolan couldn’t make it but we pushed on to try and wrap up this part of the story and see if they could escape from the trap laid out for them by Nyarlathotep.

A PAIN IN THE ASP

ANCIENT EGYPT, c. 2600 BC

Months had passed since being trapped in the past by Nyarlathotep. Bolan and McTavish had been spending as much time as possible trying to decipher the scrolls which Waaiz al-Shakti looked after.

Bolan had recently grown excited about something he discovered in one scroll which talked about creating a gate that could be used to ‘step from one place to another place or time’. A huge amount of energy would be needed but he felt it was possibly a way home. Spending as much time as he could in the scroll library, Bolan was hard at work trying to translate the spell.

It was a lazy afternoon several days later when a loud gunshot echoed around the palace. Constanza alerted to the noise, gathered McTavish and Singh and headed for the source of the noise which seemed to be near the library. The rest of the palace was abuzz with activity, the unusual noise had stirred guards and priests into action. Pushing their way towards the library they entered to find signs of a struggle but no sign of Bolan.

Quickly searching the room they found Bolan’s notebook with the scroll he had been translating on the table at one end of the room along with his pistol on the floor. Scooping it up it was obvious that a single shot had been fired but there was no sign of who, or what, the target was. A few drops of blood were on the floor near the kicked over chair and also a knife. Picking up the knife carefully, Singh could see blood and a sticky black liquid coating the edge of the blade. Unable to identify it, he handed the knife to Constanza who went to speak to some of the priests he had been studying with to see if they could help.

Finding one quickly and showing him the knife the priest was quickly able to identify it as a mix of concentrated Asp venom and some herbs which would cause quick drowsiness and a slow, lingering death. The priest warned Constanza that whoever had been cut with the knife was currently dying and to handle it carefully. Alarmed by the news, Constanza headed back to the library to find McTavish fiddling with one of the scroll racks. Singh had found a loose one that seemed to move but was somehow locked in place. McTavish found that the rack lifted and swung out revealing a narrow passage leading down under the palace. They pulled their guns and after grabbing a couple of lit oil lamps, carefully headed down the passage.

It sloped down for some way while curving back on itself. The stonework around them was cool but a strong breeze was coming up the passage bringing warm air up. Singh slowly advanced down the tunnel ahead of the other two. He carefully slipped into a large chamber and hid behind a large pillar. There were a dozen of the pillars arranged around the room with burning braziers hanging from them lighting up the space. The centre of the room was taken up with a stone altar with the prone form of Bolan spread out on it. Around the altar, four robed figures stood chanting and swaying in time with a fifth figure who was holding two small crooks and leading the blasphemous ceremony. 

Chants dedicated to the Black Pharoah filled the room and Singh realised the lead figure was Al-Shakti. Raising his rifle, Singh aimed carefully at Al-Shakti, as he cocked the hammer one of the cultists turned and saw Singh crouched near the door. With a shout he leapt forward as the rifle went off, rather than hitting Al-Shakti, the bullet smashed into the charging figure who was thrown back violently. 

The echo of the shot echoed up the passageway to where Constanza and McTavish stood waiting. At the sound the charged forward into the room, weapons firing. Constanza’s shot took down a cultist but McTavish was moving too fast and his shot missed.

Al-Shakti turned at the noise of the intrusion, raised the two crooks over his head and brought them down with a cry of anger causing a wall of force to ripple out from him and slam into the trio. McTavish was thrown from his feet and landed heavily on the floor but the other two managed to keep their footing. The remaining two cultists pulled short swords from their robes and ran to attack. Constanza managed to land a blow on the one attacking him but Singh was having no luck against his opponent. Sensing a chance to deal a blow to his attackers, Al-Shakti pointed towards Singh and intoned a guttural phrase. Singh’s head suddenly exploded in pain as fingers in his mind began clawing at his brain. With a roar of agony, he stumbled and crumpled to the ground unconscious.

McTavish thought it was time to fight fire with fire. Reaching inside himself to the powers he had somehow unlocked, he breathed towards Al-Shakti and a gaseous cloud drifted from his mouth before enveloping him. Al-Shakti began to choke as the gas quickly filled his lungs.

Realising his combatant was down, the cultist fighting Singh turned from one prone form to another as he headed towards McTavish. Bringing his sword down sharply the robed figure narrowly missed McTavish as the Scotsman rolled away before bringing his foot up quickly to kick out at the attacker. His foot connected with something and the cultist stumbled in pain. Swinging his other leg around, McTavish delivered another brutal kick to his attacker who then crumpled to the ground.

Realising things were not going his way, Al-Shakti coughed and stumbled his way towards the exit and started up the slope. Constanza set off after him and quickly caught up before bringing his lethal club down with a heavy slam. The back of Al-Shakti’s head was torn apart like tissue paper, bringing him to his knees before dropping onto his back.

Looking up at Constanza, Al-Shakti found the strength to curse him.

“The Black Pharoah has spoken to me. He knows who you are and will bring doom to your time. You will see everything you love burn.”

As he whispered the last few words, a dark blue light began to seep from his eyes and mouth before dispersing with his last breath. Constanza scooped up the two crooks he carried as Singh and McTavish, having picked themselves up, came up the passage behind him carrying the still unconscious Bolan. Singh had examined him and realised that Bolan needed more serious attention that they could provide here. The snake venom was burning it’s way through his system and the only way to save him was to find a way back to their own time and get him a dose of anti-venom.

Reaching the top of the passage, the group found the library swarming with priests and their acolytes. Quickly explaining what had happened below, they conferred about the incantation that Bolan had discovered. It would require a huge amount of magical power to be able to get them to the correct time. 

Several hours later, at the site of where the Bent Pyramid would be one day, a huge congregation of acolytes were being led in the ritual which would open a gateway back to the 1920s. As the hours drew on and darkness fell, one of the priests handed Constanza a scroll.

“This contains instructions on how to repair the stone you carry. Find it’s other half and fix them together. Carry out this ritual under the full moon and it will help you to defeat the forces of the Black Pharaoh.”

At that moment a whirlwind was forming in the centre of the circle of acolytes. Out of the funnel, light poured and thunder cracked. They could see it was opening up onto a hazy image of another place at the foot of a pyramid. The wind picked up around the whirlwind as they ran through the chanting masses and dived through.

Blinking under a baking hot sun, they found themselves standing next to the Bent Pyramid. Sitting in the shade of the doorway a slightly confused looking Mahmoud stared at them. He looked at the doorway behind him and then back at them.

“You just went in that door. How did you do that? You look different as well.”

Cocking his head to look at Bolan who was being carried.

“Is he ok?”

Dragging Bolan to Dashur, they found a small hospital that had anti-venom available. They now knew he would be safe and they had escaped from the trap Nyarlathotep had put out for them this time. But there would be other traps ahead.