The golden ward painted

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…

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