MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP – ENGLAND PART NINE

There was a gap of a few weeks between eight and nine but we managed to get together to round off the chapter nicely. It seems quite short but actually there was a lot going on, its just been boiled down to the basics.

The other parts of this campaign are available if you want to catch up.

wipe them out, all of them

Tuesday 10th

It was quite dark by the time they arrived at Walton on the Naze. Inspector Barrington met them on the village outskirts and pointed out the directions to Misr house.

“I’ve got a couple of lads hiding in the bushes near the drive leading up to the house. So far they’ve seen a handful of cards and a lorry drive up there. Looks like a busy night.”

Singh set off to scout around the grounds and see what he could find, while the others planned the assault with Barrington. 

Carefully making his way through the trees, Singh could see a group of men at a gate stopping cars as they approached to check who was in, then letting them through. He carefully worked his way along the high wall surrounding Misr House grounds until he came to a river running through the trees. Following the river back towards the house, Singh tried to find a way to easily cross without too much trouble. He spotted a boathouse on the far bank with a small motor launch and a rowboat. Realising he would have to get wet, he slipped into the river and crossed to bring the rowboat back for the others to use.

Forty minutes later, a damp Singh rejoined the others with the news he had got a boat tied up they could use to cross the river and keep their kit dry. In the meantime, it had been agreed that on the sound of three shots, Barrington would take his men in through the front gates and stop anyone from leaving that they found trying to escape.

Leaving the policemen to watch the front entrance, they slipped into the woods and picked through the undergrowth to the river. Crossing quietly, they crept through the wood and arrived at the front of Misr House. The house itself was a three-story building covered in ivy and crumbling brickwork. A number of expensive cars and one lorry parked in the driveway and several of the windows had lights blazing in their rooms. The moon broke through the clouds a little and a mist was rising from the river, shrouding the surrounding area. Following the treeline around the side of the building, they kept to the shadows and tried to stay hidden. 

At the back of the house, a gravel path led from the rear door into the woods and a number of braziers lit this route. Through the trees fluttering flames could be seen and figures moving in a clearing. Readying weapons in case of attack, the group stuck to the trees and approached the clearing. Wild music could be heard through the rustling of the trees along with the steady beat of a drum that could be felt, rather than heard.

Reaching the edge of the clearing, they could see it was a large open area that had been opened up by stripping and flattening the woodland. In the centre of the clearing, a huge fire burned and figures could be seen dancing and swaying around it. All of them seemed to be dressed in robes of different colours and degrees of ornateness, a pair of figures stood watching the events from near the fire in the most elaborate robes, looking closely one of them was Zahra Shafik but nobody recognised the other next to her. To one side, a dozen cultists swayed while using a wide variety of instruments. Violins, finger cymbals, flutes and a drum all were being played to what sounded like their own individual tunes but somehow the overall effect was a blended tune that seemed to be a hypnotic melody, which was strangely alluring.

As they watched, a hush fell over the woods and another drum could be heard coming from near the house. Gavigan, dressed in elaborate robes and holding two sceptres crossed in front of his chest, led a party of five white-robed figures towards the fire. Bolan tried to identify the sceptres. One looked like a crook but the other was some kind of upsidedown ankh. Confused, Bolan wasn’t able to discern anything useful in the darkness.

In the clearing, the assembled cultists dropped to their knees and began to murmur. The white-robed group stopped in a line and the others in the circle rose up, pulling small clubs from their robes. They began to hit the five white-robed figures, some gently, some with force. Blood ran down their bodies and soaked into the robes turning them dark in the firelight.

After everyone had taken a turn striking them, three had fallen to the ground and hadn’t risen, the other two who had remained standing moved to join the crowd while the bodies of the three fallen ones had been dragged to the side. Revolted by these actions, the four figures huddled in the undergrowth finally moved into actions. Singh carefully pulled a stick of dynamite free from the pack he carried and lit the fuse. He stepped into the clearing and threw the stick towards the fire with all of his strength. It sailed through the air and, for a brief second it looked like it was going to fall short but it landed in the edge of the fire, disappearing into the flames.

Gavigan had spotted Singh as he stepped out of the edge of the undergrowth, his eyes widened in shock as he recognised the intruder. One arm started to raise to point towards Singh, a single finger extending.

“GET HIM!” Gavigan started to shout but at that moment the world behind him exploded.

The dynamite went off throwing burning chunks of wood towards the cultists surrounding the fire. The entire front row was engulfed in fire, their robes catching instantly and turning them into human candles. Those that didn’t die from the wooden shrapnel or flames that wrapped around them, staggered madly into others who quickly set alight and blundered into others creating more chaos.

Gavigan, somehow untouched by the explosion attempted to create some kind of order by bellowing orders around him but the cacophony of screams drowned out his shouts. Constanza, his own club in hand, rushed forward intending to put an end to Gavigan and his schemes. Gavigan had other ideas though. Using the two sceptres in his hands, he deftly turned the brutal club swing away with a flick of one before lashing out with the other to score a serious wound across Constanza face. Turning on Constanza he raised one arm, ready to bring it down on the injured man when a fist-sized hole exploded through his chest and he dropped to the ground like a lead weight. Back at the edge of the woods, Singh lowered his Martini-Henry rifle with some satisfaction. The shot had been perfectly timed to pass through a gap in the crowd and had found its target with lethal precision. 

Also jumping into action, MacTavish closed towards Constanza to help cover him, shredding attackers with close-range blasts of his shotgun. Bolan fired his gun three times in the signal they had agreed with Barrington and then hurried along behind trying to avoid being attacked by the few cultists not running for the house or burning up.

Suddenly a voice cut through the night as if it was silent. 

“Kill them! They have murdered the high priest and must be punished!”

Zahra had appeared from nowhere and now stepped forward to point at the three figures clustered around the fallen Gavigan.

“Kill them!” she cried louder as more cultists turned towards her and rallied to her call. She began to chant something in a language that made the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck stand up.

Constanza, MacTavish and Bolan found themselves fighting for their lives, surrounded by frenzied attackers. A heavy blow struck Constanza who was forced to pause for a second to try and recover himself. Another cultist, eager to kill something to please his mistress Zahra, lept towards the group but stumbled while swinging wildly at MacTavish and was pushed facefirst into the remains of the fire. His screams added to the noises filling the night.

Singh was also fighting off some attackers who seemed to think a lone man was an easier target. They struggled to reach him properly through the tough undergrowth surrounding him and he was able to ward off most of the attacks.

Realising they had been betrayed by her, Constanza ran towards Zahra and tried to stop her before she could finish whatever she was chanting. Distracted by his attacks, Zahra paused long enough for Bolan to raise his pistol and first a shot at her. She span as a gout of blood exploded from her and then dropped to the ground. At the sight of her falling, the fight went out of the last few robed attackers who had remained behind and they fled in the direction of the house.

The moans of the dying and wounded were all that could be heard in the clearing. Gathering together, the four investigators limped towards the house to meet up with Barrington and his men who they discovered had blocked the gateway and managed to stop the majority of the cultists escape. It hadn’t helped that two of the cars had smashed together trying to drive out at the same time, blocking part of the driveway and causing the other vehicles to become trapped.

Barrington eyed the bloodsoaked group from the driveway and carried on rounding up more of the cultists as they tried to flee. Realising the police had things under control and the cult leaders had been dealt with, the group headed inside to explore the house itself. 

The search revealed a number of interesting secrets. In Gavigan’s bedroom, a regal-looking pharaoh with black skin watched them search the room with eyes that burned into their souls. A folded letter from someone in Egypt called Omar al-Shakti, called for Gavigan to return a number of unnamed artefacts and mentions that “the work of our lord and master grows ever nearer to completion.”

The rest of the house seemed to be lacking anything of interest, in fact, it was quite dusty and surprisingly there wasn’t much in the way of modern furnishings. It wasn’t until the secret room, which had been mentioned in the history of the house, was discovered that things took a more sinister turn.

Two secret passages were discovered which led down into a secret workshop and a dungeon. The workshop contained a ledger with shipping entries for locations all around the world, most of which they had heard of before. Ho Fang import/export in Shanghai, Hensons in Derby, Darwin Australia, Mombasa Kenya and another reference to Omar al-Shakti in Cairo Egypt. A half-finished letter to ‘Pale Viper’ referenced Jackson Elias being ‘dealt with’ and that the problem of Jack Brady needs to be next.

Bolan was busy pouring over a huge collection of books and scrolls lined up on several bookcases. He grabbed a couple and began to read bits at random. One book specifically caught his eye, as it had bookmarks scattered throughout the pages. Written in Arabic the tome was called “Oghniat Min al Jinn” and Bolan handed it to Singh to read through.

The rest of the space in the room was given over to collections of jars, bottles, tubes, sacks and pouches filled with herbs, roots, powders and similar ingredients that the occultists recognised as items used in superstition and witchcraft.

The second secret room was far more unpleasant. Ten cells with iron doors lined the room and several hapless victims were locked up inside. Freeing them and searching the unoccupied rooms only revealed some scraps of clothing and blood in them except for one beaten up leather wallet with a police warrant card. Later, upon showing this to Barrington he told them it was for a missing Inspector who had gone missing while looking into the Egyptian murders. Barrington was thankful for helping close that case and also for some of the other things they had discovered. Despite the widespread death and destruction, there was enough to justify the police involvement but Barrington warned them that it would be difficult for them to stay in England for much longer. 

It was time to move on.