Masks of Nyarlathotep

Masks part 1 - NYC

'This is a ridiculous idea'

This is a early version of events as they happened. i’m going to do a better one when I have time but this should serve as a reminder of the main events/clues.

In late 1924, the members of the Realistic Policing Guild who had been present at the killing of Peter Manusco, each received a telegram from guild president Elias Jackson. Jackson had been abroad, on and off, for the last two years, following up leads in his latest investigation into the disappearance and supposed death of ‘the Carlyle Expedition,’ an archaeological expedition led and financed by an infamous New York playboy.

Since Chicago, the members had cut themselves off from each other, refusing to speak at length to Elias who seems to have given up persuading them that there were logical explanations for what they claimed to have seen and concentrated on his day job. However, they all still had a lot of respect for Jackson and when they received the telegrams and spoke to the man himself by telephone on his arrival back on American soil, were worried enough about his state of mind to agree to his request to meet them in New York on the 15th of January 1925. All except Olive L’Amore. Elias and Olive seem to have had a falling out over the intervening period and she refused to even acknowledge receipt of the telegram.

Back at Miskatonic, the Realistic Policing Guild (student body) was going from strength to strength under the leadership of Samuel Vincent, a young economics student who appears to have been a hugely fanatical disciple of Elias Jackson and ran the RPG with a level of professionalism not yet seen. New members had to be introduced by current members and pass a test, usually a simple mystery of Vincent’s devising. There was also a modest monthly membership fee which was used for hiring locations, props and, occasionally actors for the ever more complex mystery nights.

Vincent received a similar telegram to the veteran members, asking him to send a member of the Guild to aid Jackson and the others in their mission, whatever that was. Unquestioning as ever, Samuel immediately called for the person he considered his most capable member, Serene De’Boa.

Serene was a Canadian ex circus contortionist who, at the age of 23, had somehow managed to find herself the only woman taking a psychology degree at Miskatonic. Vincent seems to have felt that her greater life experience and knowledge of the ‘common man’ gained from her years in the circus would make her more useful to Jackson than himself. It should also be noted that Vincent appears to have been an extreme physical coward, with no desire to put himself in harms way on the streets of the big apple. He, along with most members of the guild, had read and heard reports of the Manusco Shooting and, although fascinated, was probably also terrified of these strange friends of his mentor, however much he would have liked the kudos of helping Elias Jackson.

As it turned out, nobody was going to be able to help Elias Jackson.

On the appointed day, Ted Waltz, Tristram Fink-Nottle and Chester Flannigan found themselves alone in the Chelsea hotel, with no sign that anyone else was coming. Resigning themselves to this fact, they made their way up to Elias’ room, after the desk clerk received no answer to his call. At this point, Tristram takes up the story in his diary.

‘We knocked at the door and received no answer. What with Elias’ recent behaviour being out of character to the point of illness and the urgency of his request for help, we were all feeling somewhat uneasy. So when Chester suggested he pick the room’s lock, neither of us complained. Perhaps we should have been more cautious but time seemed to be a factor and so, when Chester managed to unlock the door in record time, it didn’t occur to anyone to be cautious.

Chester pushed the door open, still knelt in front of it and leant in to get a good look. As he did so, a vicious looking knife, at least a foot long, came crashing down from behind the door, burying itself into our good watchmakers shoulder. The old fellow barely made a whimper, he simply slid to the floor, blood pouring from the wound. Ted, whose presence of mind was extraordinary, particularly considering his mental state the last time we’d met, grabbed our friend by the ankles and pulled him out into the corridor, quickly tearing at Chester’s shirt in order to create a bandage with which to staunch the bleeding.

Once I saw that my old comrade in arms was breathing, I turned my attention to his assailant, listening carefully for movement. What I heard was the sound of feet on metal, as a man would make were he to run down a wrought iron fire escape. Rushing in I saw that my ears had not deceived me, the window leading to the fire escape was indeed open. However, what I saw next shocked me so, that to even consider giving chase would be unthinkable.

There on the bed, stomach opened, lay Elias. Poor Elias. It makes my stomach turn to write down his fate, as if committing it to paper makes it somehow more real. But there it is. Elias Jackson, my oldest friend in this country, is dead by violence.

Roused by anger, I made for the window, in time to see two men, presumably Elias murderers and Chesters attackers, jumping into a black car and speeding away through the snow. I managed to get the licence plate before turning back to inspect the body of my friend, still harbouring the faint hope that his injuries may not be as severe as first I thought. Alas, though still warm, his body was lifeless and, indignity on indignity, his killers had carved some kind of mark into his forehead with their vicious knife.

More happened after, but that is all I will manage tonight. I must sleep and try to forget the fear in Elias’ eyes.’

It was around the point at which Tristram stops writing that Bill Van Der Molen and Serene De’Boa finally arrived. It appears Bill got lost trying to make his way by car into Manhattan and Serene’s train was delayed. One can only imagine their reactions on discovering the scene. Chester, lying in a pool of blood in the hall, bloody footprints leading to a door that opened into a darkened room and the torn and bloody body of Elias. For Bill, who had almost not attended at all, it must have been as if the last two years had never happened. For Serene, whose enthusiasm for the assignment was lukewarm at best, it must have felt as if her worst fears had been realised.

They managed to compose themselves, however, and the team dropped into their natural tendencies for snooping easily, riffling through their dead friends belongings in search of clues to his murderers. It was whilst they searched that the police arrived, apparently alerted by one of the other guests.

Lt. Martin Poole was a decent man, no more corrupt than anyone else in the NYPD at the time and more dedicated than most. He was a realist, understood the politics of policing and was willing to work within the system. He recognised the arcane symbol carved into Elias’ head as the calling card of a killer, or killers who had been leaving bodies across the city for the last year or so. None of the victims were important enough to warrant a proper investigation, though Poole had made some initial forays into the world of cults and superstition, employing the services of a medium at one point though with predictably hopeless results. The cases had been laying unsolved in his desk drawer whilst more important matters took up his time but they still niggled at the Lieutenant and he saw in the members of the guild an opportunity to give the case the attention he couldn’t.

He seems to have quickly dismissed the idea that these people had been responsible for Elias’ death (though later commentators would disagree, inventing all manner of fascinating motives for Tristram, Ted and Chester to have wanted Jackson dead) and on hearing that they were investigators, of a sort, he asked for their help in the investigation. His fame wasn’t so great that the higher ups would allow paid police time to be taken up with investigating but Elias’ prominence in certain circles as an author would give Poole the wriggle room he needed to at least outsource the job.

After agreeing to become official associates of the NYPD, the group left the scene, Tristram taking a suite at the Chelsea (somewhat beneath his usual standard) and the others rooms to which their budgets would stretch.

That evening they discussed both why Elias’ investigation into the deaths of an archeological expedition might have unnerved somebody to the point of murder as well as the clues they had managed to discover in the room. They had a sketch Ted made of the symbol on Elias’ head, an advert for a lecture by an australian historian named Anthony Cowles and a letter from a Miriam Artwright of Harvard university apologising that she had been unable to find the book Jackson had asked for.

After some discussion, Serene and Bill were sent off to a local lecture theatre to see the lecture, only to discover that it had, in fact taken place the previous week. Closer examination of the handbill revealed that, although the historian was indeed based in Sydney, he was currently ensconsed in a guest professorship at Miskatonic University. At this point, the penny dropped with Serene and she realised that she had actually attended a lecture by the man. She recalled nothing of the content, however, having only attended to please a man she was seeing.

On reporting these facts to the group, it was decided that Serene and Ted, as current student and alumni of Miskatonic should head back there to see if the professor could be of any help to them.

Meanwhile, the other party members would visit Jonah Kensington, publisher, editor and friend of Elias Jackson. He was known to them all, having visited the RPG with Elias on several occasions during which he had sat at the back of the room watching proceedings with the air of a man taking in a good show. Indeed, the year that Bill had solved the case he had even applauded.

They also agreed on the wording of and sent a telegram to, Miriam Artwright, asking for details of the book Elias had been looking for.

The next day, Serene and Ted set out in Tristrams car for Arkham and everyone else went to see Jonah. He was pleased to see them, though obviously shaken by Elias’ death. He was more than willing to help them investigate and, in fact, suggested that he hire them to do so, through the Realistic Policing Guild. This was on the advice of his accountant, who was uncomfortable with Jonah paying money direct to random individuals.

He provided them with a vast amount of information, most of which is still available in the Guild archives, so I will not go into particulars here. Suffice to say, it appeared as if Elias had come to believe that not all the members of the Carlyle exhibition died in Kenya. Jackson had testimony from a man he interviewed in Africa who claimed to have met Jack Brady (who appears to have been something like a bodyguard to Roger Carlyle) in a bar in Shanghai. There are a couple of pieces of evidence included to suggest that Jackson followed this line up, a photograph of a port somewhere in China and a matchbox from a bar that may be in Shanghai. The notes that Jonah was sent by Elias from Nairobi can be seen in the archives and are in the assured, unbiased and sceptical style of his published work.

A second set of notes, sent from London a few months later, are much more disturbing. They are a barely legible scrawl and, indeed, the investigators gave the note over to Tristram’s man, Wliburforce, to decipher. A job which took all the rest of that day. The bizarre stream of consciousness speaks of making his readers believe in some horrible conspiracy that is never fully outlined. Roger Carlyle is mentioned, as are books he supposedly kept in his safe. The notes truly seem to be the ravings of a man in the depths of a terrible madness. But perhaps the information that Serene and Ted discovered in Arkham might shed light on this extreme change in mental state.

Serene De Boa’s diary relates the trip.

January 16th.

So, a day after heading to NYC, i’m back at Miskatonic. Not that the trip was uneventful, mind you. I’ve seen a dead body, put pressure on a deep neck wound, picked through evidence discovered at a crime scene and been hired (or something) by the NYPD. And then there was this trip back.

This Ted is a very strange man. He’s nice enough and harmless I’m sure but he seems a little…distant? No, not distant, the opposite, he’s too here, too in the moment, like a man trying to convince himself that this is reality. He stares at you for too long when talking and insists on driving the, despite his occasional habit of forgetting what he’s doing and taking his foot off the gas. He talks with too much intensity, too much insistence. It makes for uncomfortable conversations in close quarters.

I shouldn’t be too hard on the poor man, though. He’s been through a lot, seen a lot. And he is seeking help, which is more than most of these shell shocked men do. And he is clever, thats for sure and he’d probably be handsome, if he were a bit less gaunt.

Anyway, after the drive, we made our way across campus to the history department where the porter gave us directions to Professor Cowles. I tried to remember the man, but all that came to mind was a big red beard. To be fair to the man, I don’t remember the date that took me to see his lecture either, so that whole night was obviously a washout.

He did indeed have a big red beard and the rest of him matched it. His accent was somewhat faint but still exotic and he spoke with passion and conviction. Unfortunately, he was little help to us. He had met Mr. Jackson once and had read his books but knew nothing beyond that. He was sorry to hear of the murder and said he’d be happy to help us. He told us about his lecture, strange tales of Australian ‘bat cults’ who sacrificed victims with poisoned weapons that made them mad before they died, weird and symbolic god myths, cities buried in the desert.

I fear Professor Cowles is somewhat of an eccentric. He certainly believes these cults and religions existed but the evidence seems somewhat sparse. Along with Ted and that strange, vacant watchmaker Chester, I believe i’ve met more freaks in the last 48 hours than I ever did in the circus.

We received a telegram from the others. Miriam Artwright from harvard had responded to our enquiry and suggested we head up there to meet her. They had also discovered a lot from Mr. Kensington. We agreed by phone that we would head on to Harvard before returning to the city. Ted wondered if we should sleep in the same room tonight ‘just in case’. I said goodnight.

January 17th.

We set off early and this time I managed to take charge of the car. It really is a marvellous machine and suits it’s owner down to the ground. Tristram is, if anything, even more flashy than his automobile.

Ted was calmer today more…normal. Perhaps the shock of Elias’ death had hit him harder than I realised. He spoke more calmly and even made some jokes. His Dr, whoever it is, has done good work, but I’m sure Ted’s scars are just below the surface, waiting to burst out. Who knows what will happen when they do? I don’t think I want to be there to see it.

Miriam Atwright was doing something librarianish with stamps and index cards behind the main desk when we arrived at the Whitener library. She was a nice, if brusque, lady, who was sorry to hear about Elias’ death. He had obviously made something of an impression on Miss Atwright. Apparently he had been looking for a copy of ‘Africa’s Dark Sects’, In fact THE copy, as Harvard has the only copy. Or rather, had the only copy. It appears that, when miss Atwright went skipping off at Elias’ behest, the book was not in its assigned position. What there was, was a ‘dreadful stench, like the corpse of a rat had lain undiscovered for weeks.’

The only other copy of the book that the librarian knew of was in England, at the Penhew Foundation. Hmm. Would this be the same Penhew linked with the Carlyle expedition? If Mr. Jackson had been investigating the party, this would seem to be a reasonable assumption.

Our trip wasn’t entirely without fruit, however. With Miss. Artwright’s help, we were able to discover that the strange symbol that we found on Elias’ body. It appears to be related to an ancient african cult, The Cult of the BLoody Tongue. It seems as though these unpleasant individuals were expelled from Egypt during the dynastic period and relocated south, perhaps to Kenya. Perhaps Mr. Jackson had linked them to the Carlyle massacre? A number of the books referenced a book named the g’har….. Apparently the Penhew foundation has a copy of that too.

After we were done in the Library we headed back to NY. Despite the murder and all the talk of strange cults, I couldn’t help but think that the last couple have days have been very similar to my studies. Libraries, research, lectures. Perhaps this won’t be anything to worry about after all.’

While all this was going on, telegrams were flying back and forth across the country and, indeed the atlantic, with Tristram sending a message home to England, asking a cousin to request access to the books they wanted to see at the Penhew Foundation. Samuel Vincent had been notified of Jonah Kensington’s plans and sent a telegram notifying the investigators of his acceptance.
Following up on some of the evidence gathered at Prospero Press which included a card for an importer at the docks with the name ‘Silas N’Kwame’ scribbled on the back, the group made their way to the named gentlemans shop. ‘Ju Ju House’ was mostly frequented by african emigres and superstitious members of the African American community and stocked a wide variety of charms, ‘magical’ items and object d’art. Chester, Bill and Serene, who all went along to see this shop mention in their respective diaries that the conversation with the shopkeeper was somewhat strained and that he was keen to dismiss a key they noticed hanging on a silver chain around his neck as nothing but the key to his store room.

Having been unconvinced by his story and finding the coincidence of the african cults symbol carved in Jackson’s head and his interest in this importer of african occultist art too striking to ignore, It was resolved that they should sneak back with the others under cover of dark and try and gain access to the shop in the hopes of finding out what N’kwame’s relationship to Jackson’s murder might be.

In the meantime the group engaged in a long process of fact finding. Lt. Poole gave them Jack Brady’s criminal record, which was substantial, as well as pointing out the strangeness of his friendship with Carlyle, built as it was on Carlyle having paid for the team of lawyers that got the man off an open and shut murder case in California. Why the millionaire should have done this, based on a single meeting with the petty thug is unknown. It was known, however, that Brady went by the nickname ‘brass’ because of a brass plate he wore around his neck, etched with strange symbols that had been given to him by his mother and supposedly warded off evil. The investigators took careful note of this connection to the occult, bearing in mind the suddenness of Roger Carlyle’s interest in archaeology and the grisly fate that befell the party.

Dr. Huston seems to have been well known amongst High society New York as one of the first celebrity Psychiatrists, treating the wealthy for a reputed $50 an hour, an unheard of sum in those days. The fact that he was handsome and had been something of a rogue in his younger days no doubt helped his reputation with the easily bored young ladies of the city. Why he had gone on the expedition was unclear, though their was some speculation that he may have been treating Roger.

Hypatia Masters reasons for going along were even less clear until Tristram met with a friend of hers. She seemed to have been the typical flighty heiress, known for taking nothing seriously and for her ‘career’ as a photographer. Her friend, who Tristram describes in his diary as ‘A robust young woman with a friendly demeanour that bordered on the desperate and a mind which bordered on the dim,’ despite initial coquettish denials that she would ever speak of a trusted friends secrets, was soon laying said secrets out for all to see. It appeared Hypatia had had an affair with a dashing Spanish Communist, who had returned home to Spain. After he left, Masters discovered she was pregnant and then, some weeks later, appeared to forget. Though abortions were illegal at this time, it was not hard for women of means to obtain them and it would seem reasonable to assume that Masters had gone on the expedition, which had departed not long after this incident, to escape the possible scandal.

A quick trip to the NY Public Library and a perusal of ‘Berk’s Peerage’ told them all they needed to know about Sir Aubrey Penhew. A wealthy aristocrat and noted Egyptologist, his involvement in the expedition is perhaps the most easily understood. His ‘Penhew Foundation’ (the prime beneficiary in his will) funded these sort of trips by archaeologists as a matter of course and he himself had lead a number. He appears to have been the parties chief guide and organiser.

Information on Roger was harder to come by and it was decided that they should attempt to speak to his sister, Erica. After a humiliating encounter with the security staff at the gates to her westchester mansion, Tristram failed to speak to her. The party sent a telegram telling Erica that they had information regarding her brother. Soon a phone call from her lawyers led to a meeting being arranged.

That evening, the group set off to Ju Ju house to find out if N’Kwame was indeed linked to the cult that the group was now convinced had been responsible for Elias’ death. Ted would stay in Bills truck with Tristrams shotgun handy in case of trouble and the engine idling whilst the other affected the break in.

The shop was situated in a courtyard at the end of an alley off the main street and when the group made their way into the area, they noticed two homeless men who were using the courtyard as their bed for the night. Tristram tossed them a few dollars and they obligingly left the area. As they left, the group made a quick check of the courtyard and, finding nothing untoward, Chester got to work on the lock, which he quickly announce to be of an inferior standard and of no challenge. It appeared that this particular escapade would go off without a hitch.

However, things were not as rosy as the group by the shop supposed, as related by Ted in the diary he was keeping on the orders of his doctor.

‘At first I wondered who the two figures coming up the alley were but their shuffling gait and scruffy clothing indicated who they were, an indication that was confirmed by the others later. 2 beggars, who had been sleeping in the sheltered courtyard and who Tristram had thrown some of his seemingly endless supply of dollars to get lost. I realised I had my hand on the gun as I watched them turn the corner and made a conscious effort to move it.

I expected the two men to shuffle off to a speakeasy somewhere to spend the money Tristram had tossed in their direction but to my horror, as soon as they were out of sight of the alleyway, they removed their tattered overcoats to reveal a weird costume of leather and feathers. They pulled hideous hats from their coats, bands of material with a horrible pink tongue that lolled from the top. The outfits were accessorised with a couple of machetes and they began making their way silently back towards the others.

For a moment, all the old training came back to be. I grabbed the gun and jumped out of the seat. I aimed the gun at them and called out a warning. They paused, but continued down the alley, barely looking back. The others, alerted by my shout, came to meet them.
I don’t really remembered what happened next. I know I fired the gun. I know Tristram was wounded. I know that, once the screaming was done, the two cultists were lying bleeding to death on the floor. Did I do that? It’s possible, I’m not sure. I helped one of them, bandaging his wound but he passed out. His blood was on my hands and I could feel the bile rising but I went to my calm centre like you told me doc and the dead men didn’t come. The other man was already unconscious. As I tried to bring the man around, Serene came running up the alley screaming at us to ‘start the car!‘

As we drove off, Serene told us she’d seen some kind of ritual sacrifice taking place in the cellar of the shop, complete with chanting and silly costumes. She didn’t think it was funny though. She was obviously scared, poor kid. I thought about trying to comfort her but I didn’t think my sweaty palms and shaking arms would be much comfort to anyone. This was a job for the police, we all agreed.

We called Lt. Poole. He jumped to it straight away. He picked us up on his way to the shop, a dozen men with him. I think he thought this would be a big victory for him, an easy PR coup. ‘African death cult apprehended’ or something. But when we got back, the bodies were gone, the blood had been scrubbed and the room beneath the shop where Serene swore she’d seen the sacrifice of a human being was just a store room. Poole apologised to that liar N’Kwame and balled us out about it. I could tell he was rattled though. He isn’t a stupid man, he knows something happened there. I still had the blood on my shirt after all and Serene still had the sight of that man’s death clear as day on her face.

I hate that place. I never want to see it again.’

It would not be long, however, until some members of the group did see it again.

The next day was spent in quiet contemplation as they attended Elias’ funeral. For the last few days, the party had felt someones eyes on their backs and had glimpsed figures out of the corners of their eyes who vanished down alleys or into shops when they turned to look. The feeling of surveillance was strong at the funeral and on searching for it’s source they saw Olive, standing quietly at the back of the room, sobbing softly. When she realised they’d spotted her, she left quickly.

The only other attendee was Jonah Kensington, who asked them how the investigation was going. On hearing of their escapade at Ju Ju House, Kensington pointed out that even the most prolific death cult would not hold sacrifices every day of the week. Perhaps they had simply been unlucky to try and break in on a ritual night. This caused some consternation in the group, With Ted point blank refusing to return. Tristram was still in hospital recovering from his wound, so Bill, Chester and Serene resolved to head back and discover the truth.

That night, Chester again picked the lock and the reduced group made their way into the shadowy interior. All was quiet. Bill fumbled his way into a curtained backroom and, perhaps incautiously, fumbled for the light cord, flooding the room with light. lying on a bed in the corner was N’Kwame who, at the sudden brightness began to wake.
Thinking fast, Bill leapt at the old man, holding him down and clamping his mouth shut. He takes up the story in a letter to Olive.

‘I am not sure what I was thinking, Miss L’amour. I did not want the man to call out but I am not sure I had cause to treat him as rough as I did. I am a strong man, a young man. My years on the farm have left me fit. I have not been in many fights but I do know how to throw a punch if needs be. I think I may have busted the old negro’s teeth. He still tried to call for help though so I had to hit him again.

We knocked him cold and we left him in that little room, bound and gagged and took from him the key around his neck. Serene had guessed it would open the trapdoor and she was right. Chester stayed upstairs to look after the old man and keep watch and we went down the steps.

It was different from the morning. There were no crates, no piles of stock. There was a wooden contraption like a cart with no wheels and some wooden slats missing hanging from the roof. In the middle of the room was a round stone that Serene said covered the hole they had thrown the man into and it was connected to a thing like a hayloft pulley. On the walls were carved strange symbols and at the back of the room was a curtain.

We opened the curtain and behind it was a small alcove and there were some bodies, at least we thought they were bodies, hung on the walls, their guts all coming out. Sorry miss, but that’s what it was like and you did ask me to be truthful. At the end of the alcove were some strange things. Under a piece of cloth on the floor there was a copper bowl and a book and things and on the wall was a cloak and a mask and some gloves with claws in the end of the fingers.

Me and Serene were looking at those things when we heard a noise behind us. Those men on the walls weren’t dead after all, or maybe they were and no one had told them. They came for me and Serene with murder in their eyes. One of them began turning the wheel that operated that pulley and the stone started to rise. I know they planned to sacrifice us Miss L’amour, like they did that fella Serene saw.

We tried to fight past them, I blasted one into bits with my shotgun, but one of them grabbed Serene and began trying to bite her. I tried to get him off her, but he was too strong. If it hadn’t been for Chester I do not know what would have become of us Miss l’amour, truly I do not.’

Chester, hearing the commotion from his place at the top of the stairs, ran down to see what was happening, drawing his gun as he went. He related what happened next in a diary entry marked January21st.

‘I saw the farmboy and the hussy, assailed by men who appeared to be trying to throttle the life from her. Another of their number was turning a wheel which appeared to be opening a large hole in the floor. I fired my pistol, hitting one of the buggers square in the chest. He fell heavily but his compatriots continued their endeavours. I managed to wing the one opening the hole and Bill succeeded in freeing miss De’boa from the last ones grasp.

As they fled I happened to glance into the hole that was mostly uncovered and from which a terrible moaning and wailing was emanating. I think I saw a face, a mans face screaming, but I couldn’t be sure and the feeling of dread that washed over me caused me to turn from the sight before I could confirm what I had seen. The three of us ran full tilt up the stairs but when I glanced back the men in the cellar were simply staring stupidly back up at us. They appeared unwilling to move beyond the room itself.

As I watched, something grabbed one of the men, the one I had injured and he was dragged, uncomplaining, out of sight. I slammed the hatch shut and we ran for the car.

I have spent twenty years searching for proof of the arcane and occult, the hideous and horrible,, but the thing that grabbed that man at the bottom of the stairs was something so foul that I believe my mind may have obscured it’s true image from my memory. It had the shape of a great tentacle, like that of an Octopus, Which is no doubt a horrible enough thought, but there was something else about it, something I cannot quite bring myself to fully comprehend.

Later, when we got back to our lodgings, I sat up late into the night reading the books we had found. ‘Africa’s Dark Sects’ was one of them, indeed the very copy missing from Harvard. There was also another tome, something altogether more bizarre. The book mentioned things I have heard not even a hint of in all my researches, creatures of alien intent and evil countenance who wish to bring the world under their heel. The book mentions the servants on earth of these monsters, madmen and lunatics who wish for nothing more fondly than the end for all men that these creatures promise. Were these men who murdered Jackson such lunatics? Was the thing they had in that cellar one of their dark Gods? I must know. We may have discovered the men who killed Jackson but why did they do so? What was it he had uncovered of their shadowy activities that drove them to kill him and bring attention on themselves? It is almost too much to comprehend and the leads multiply like the heads of a Hydra. Following one leads to more questions than answers.

Today we meet with Erica Carlye. Perhaps she can clear some of the mist that seems to fog my mind of late. If only I could sleep I feel sure I could discern some pattern to all this but the dreams keep me awake. And the others are of limited value. Oh, no doubt Ted’s warning saved our skins the other night and Serene is an able researcher but they offer no more explanation than I can discover myself. It is infuriating. I must sleep.’

The tone of this entry is unusual. Chester’s diary entries are usually cold to the point of sociopathy but there is obvious passion and fear in what he relates here. The group were obviously much afraid of what they were uncovering and the malicious forces that may take offence at their interference. They were right to be concerned.

Erica Carlyle was not pleased to meet with the group but answered most of their questions, apparently honestly and even gave them access to her brothers books mentioned in Elias’ mad scrawl from London though she would only allow Tristram and Serene access to them, much to Chester’s annoyance. In return, she wanted them to keep her apprised of anything they discovered about her brothers death and demanded all they had learned so far. She mentioned that Roger had taken up with ‘a negro woman’ from Africa and she wondered if this might explain his sudden interest in the dark continent. she had no strong feelings about Brady, though she did not particularly like him. Huston had indeed been Roger’s doctor, on her own recommendation. Hypatia Masters was, as she had appeared, vapid and directionless and probably joined the expedition on little more than a whim. She had never met Aubrey and could not comment on his involvement.

With the men responsible for Elias’ death tentatively identified and the leads around NY drying up, it began to become clear to all involved that if they wanted to discover the reason for Elias’ death they were going to have to head overseas…

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