This is the part five of the New York chapter from Masks of Nyarlathotep. The the other posts are available if you want to catch up.
The header picture is some minitures I painted up to represent the group. Left to right we have Bolan, Singh, Constanza (and his club) and McTavish. Thet came from North Star here in the UK but they’re originally from Pulp Figures in Canada. I have plenty more which I shall be painting up when I get a chance.
Sadly one of our players (Gerbil) has dropped from the group for a while and due to a last minute turnup, McTavish was unavailable for this session as well. From a story point of view, they’re both in Arkham, visiting Professor Cowles so they can easily rejoin. The three remaining players pushed on with the session and I tried not to have any big a story events happen.
Instead, we had a lot of running. A lot of running.
The Bloody Tongue
Wednesday Jan 21th
Three figures hurried away from the now burning Ju-Ju house, arms filled with bundles of liberated items. Bolan, Constanza and Singh somehow made their way back to the hotel without being seen and packed up their possessions. They now feared that anyone who knew they had been investigating the Ju-Ju house would make them a target for retaliation.
They knew they needed to find somewhere safe. Singh placed a quick call to Carlton Ramsey who answered the phone after a few rings with a sleepy voice, complaining that it was 2am. Singh explained they needed to hide as there may be people after them. Stopping to think for a minute, Ramsey told Singh he had a place they could stay and to meet them at his office in a couple of hours.
Paying for theirs and McTavish and Gerbil’s rooms, the trio checked out in the small hours of the morning. They also left a message with the reception desk to tell McTavish and Gerbil to contact the lawyer to find them.
Several hours later, they settled into a small apartment in Harlem, Ramsey used for hiding people when needed. It was a quiet part of the neighbourhood so they should be well hidden, provided they didn’t make a scene.
It was now 7am and they’d been up all night, the adrenaline was wearing off, so they crashed out for the night and slept through until the afternoon.
After waking, they sifted through the items they’d found in the Ju-Ju house. Constanza leafed through a copy of ‘Africa’s Dark Sects’ while Singh tried to open the small locked money box. Snapping open the lock, the lid swung off to reveal some personal items inside. A couple of them had been engraved with different initials, while other items looked quite distinctive. Singh guessed he may be able to cross reference the initials with the missing people or murder victims in the Hilton Adams case. This may help to tie some of the previous owners to the cult under the Ju-Ju house.
Bolan sat down to examine the headpiece made from a tongue that he had unearthed in Silas’ room. Compared to the rough cloth one, this headdress was a much more ornate cloth band with the dried tongue stitched neatly to the front. Strange symbols and shapes decorated the band. He held the headpiece gingerly and focused on the grotesque mummified tongue that hung like old leather from the cloth.
As he stared at it, he was hit with flashes of a country far from New York and of someone lying squirming in front of him. It was night there with stars shining in a cloudless sky. He saw hands that were not his own, pulling and cutting at the victim and the triumphant cry and the fleshy mass was separated from the head. His vision swam as a wave of pain assaulted him, as if his tongue was being pulled from his head. With a gurgle,
Bolan heard the victim die but he could only see the hands holding up the bloody tongue which had been ripped out. He could see it happening and feel the pain at the same time, as if he were two people at once, the attacker and the victim. The pain passed and he caught sight of himself reflected in the puddle of blood forming at his feet. With a gasp of shock, Bolan recognised the much younger face of Silas N’Kwane reflected back at him from the dark bloody pool.
Bolan felt his mind try to reject the pain and horror he had seen, but it was too much. He snapped out of the trance with a scream of horror which startled the other two and felt part of his sanity shatter away. He let the mummified tongue headdress drop from his fingers and closed his eyes.
Singh went to contact Schosenberg. He knew the items may be of use in her investigation of the Hilton Adams case. She expressed an interest in seeing them but also said she had been in contact with Millie Adams. Millie was trying to leave town and wanted to share some information with her. Schosenberg thought it would be useful for them to all meet up. She suggests the Lafayette Theater at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue that evening.
After recovering, Bolan noticed the scratch he had got in the Ju-Ju house was now infected. Constanza and Singh seemed ok but Bolan found his was quite sore and weeping puss. The wound he received during the fight had been made with long, dirty fingernails gouging into his skin. Some dirt had got in, either during or after the skirmish but most likely from the ragged nails that had clawed his flesh.
Singh had some medical experience, so tried to clean the wound and dress it. As he wiped the wound it sprayed a thick, oily yellow pus all over his hands and clothes. Wiping the pus from himself with a cloth, Singh told Bolan he wouldn’t be able to do anything further without a medical kit. Bolan and Constanza set off to find a hospital while Singh went out to find food and other supplies.
It took a little while to find a taxi in the quiet neighbourhood of Harlem, but they finally managed to flag one down and to get to a hospital. After a long wait, Bolan managed to see a doctor in the emergency area. There were a few raised eyebrows and questions over the injury but claiming a dog attacked him seemed to be enough for the doctor even if he wasn’t totally convinced. With some cream to keep the wound clean and some bandages to cover it, Bolan thanked the Doctor.
They left and headed along the main road outside the hospital. Constanza had a bout of paranoia and became convinced they were being watched. He scanned the street as they walked, looking for anyone paying too much attention to them. Unfortunately he wasn’t watching his step himself and walked into an old lady on the sidewalk, nearly knocking her to the floor.
The woman began to scream and shout, accusing Constanza of trying to rob her. She was a small woman but she swung her handbag at his with surprising force and her voice was sharp. They tried to calm her, with no luck, her cries of “THIEF!” and “HELP!” attracted the attention of two police officers walking a beat outside the hospital.
Hurrying over, the officers asked what was going on. Bolan attempted to turn on his English charm but it had no effect. The officers exchanged glances at his weak charms. Saying that the pair would have to go for a little walk with them to the precinct to sort this all out one tried to place his hand on Bolan shoulder.
Bolan looked at Constanza, and the pair set off running as quickly as they could. Taken by surprise policemen reacted slowly but took off after them. Constanza quickly took a lead, his early life growing up in the Peruvian hills had given him strong powerful legs. Unfortunately Bolan was struggling to keep up, his more bookish lifestyle meant he didn’t have much physical exercise.
The two beat officers closed the distance on Bolan but one skidded on a spot of ice and tumbled over, leaving just one to try and grab at him but missing. Constanza desperately looked around for some way to escape but he couldn’t see how until he spotted a taxi, engine idling, a few yards away. He dashed for the car and leapt in, leaving the door open for Bolan.
The driver, looking back and seeing the policeman bearing down on the taxi, started to gently roll off and Bolan made one last big push to reach it. He dived into the open door, feeling the fingers of his pursuer snag against his coat but there wasn’t enough purchase and the hand closed around nothing. Bolan, out of breath and slumped in the car, pulled the door shut as the taxi sped off.
The driver, laughing about how he was always being shook down by crooked police officers and it was great to get his own back on them for once, dropped them a couple of blocks away from the safe house.
Arriving back safely, they prepared to see Shosenburg and Millie that evening.
The Lafayette Theater – 8pm
They arrived to see Millie Adams and Shosenburg waiting for them outside, Millie ushers the trio into the lobby into the main theatre and towards one of the rows of seats. Members of staff moved around cleaning and preparing the theatre but none came near them as they sat and talked.
Millie explained how she went to see a friend of hers over the other side of the street and happened to glance out of the window to see a pair of men she recognised from staking out the Ju-Ju house. After Hilton was arrested, she took to investigating the Ju-Ju house after she heard Hilton mention it. She saw groups of men going into the building once a month, often with crates, so she suspected it may have been some kind of club or speakeasy.
The two men came hurrying out of her apartment building when she noticed that it was on fire. Now convinced the men are after her because of some kind of disturbance in Harlem last night. She was planning to leave New York that night and head down the coast to North Carolina where she had some family.
Giving the description of the two men she had seen, Constanza and Bolan recognised one as the man they had spoken to outside the Ju-Ju house a few days before.
Hilton had been arrested after he had been investigating the Ju-Ju house and was found standing over a dead white man by Captain Robson. They found his army bolo knife nearby covered in blood but Millie swears that he never took it out on patrol with him.
A sound coming from above catches Constanza’s ear. He glanced up to see a figure in the stalls overlooking them on the lower floor of the theatre. The figure, shrouded in darkness, realised he had been spotted and ducks back out of sight. Singh and Constanza leapt towards the lobby with Bolan staying behind with Millie and Shosenburg.
The sound of running feet came from the lobby as they burst through the doors, a black man in his late teens or early twenties was just reaching the main door. He turned, eyes widening as he spotted them. Slamming open the main door, he ran into the snowy night with the two investigators close behind him.
As they ran through the streets, the young man screamed he was being attacked but few of the pedestrians took note. Most made the point of ignoring what was happening except to step out of the way when they ran in their direction.
After a hard chase they managed to catch up and pin down the man. He continued to call for help so Singh stuffed a glove in his mouth. Searching him turned up one of the cloth headbands with the red fabric tongues, he was one of the cultists. They discussed what to do with him, reasoning that if they let him go, Millie would be in danger. Singh was all for holding him down and suffocating him or just simply gutting him but it would prove to be difficult to do in public.
He managed to spit part of the glove out of his mouth to which Singh punched him in the face, knocking him out instantly. Dragging the now unconscious form back to the theatre while pretending he was drunk, they tied him up while Shosenburg phoned Lt Poole.
Millie was getting ready to leave, Singh gave her some extra money to help get away for which she thanked him profusely while wiping a couple of tears from her eyes, and left to try and catch a train out of New York.
30 minutes later Poole arrived and they showed him the evidence. He agreed it wasn’t enough to fully clear Hilton and the nature of its acquisition was more than a little bit suspect, but it was enough to put some pressure on Robson. He dragged the now handcuffed prisoner away, promising to keep him out of Robsons clutches.
Slumping into their seats, the group wondered what there next step would be.