Masks of Nyarlathotep

Round-up of clues for all investigators

Hello all. This is a roundup of what you discovered last time. Have a read of this before you vote on where you want to go next. Because of the amount of reading involved, you won’t be able to change your minds on the day, so conferring is allowed. I’ll be sending you all little character specific things nearer the time.

What you know about Elias Jackson’s movements over the past 2 years.

Elias had some information that some kind of African death cult had been involved in the disappearance of the infamous Carlyle expedition some years before. He travelled to the site of their deaths to investigate what had occurred.

Officials in Kenya were adamant that there was no Cult involvement and that the massacre was carried out by a local tribe. The natives, however, told him a different story, speaking of a cult that worshipped at ‘The Black Mountain’ and regularly carried out human sacrifice.

Elias’ doubt over the official version of events grew as he discovered that no Caucasian bodies were found at the site, only those of the parties black guides and bearers. Soon after, he met with a Danish mercenary who claimed he had seen Jack Brady, Roger Carlyle’s bodyguard, alive and well in Shanghai months after the whole party were supposedly killed in Africa.

He sent his collected notes to Jonah Kensington at Prospero Press and though he didn’t include any speculation amongst his meticulously well written and organised research, he did include a letter in which he insisted that this story was going to be big and had the potential to make them both rich. He asked for some more money and set off to London, where the expedition had unexpectedly stopped off on its way to Africa.

The only notes Elias sent from London were a barely legible scrawling in which he rambled about some unspecified evil, the fact that ‘they didn’t die’ and that he was under some sort of time constraint. His movements whilst in England are unknown. At some point on his trip back to the States he sent his telegram to the Realistic Policing Guild, requesting help from a ‘reliable investigative team.’

He arrived back in New York at the tail end of 1925 and met with the manager of Emerson imports about some ‘Native African Art’ that had been imported into the country. This in turn led him to Silas N’Kwame, the owner of ‘Ju Ju house’ a shop that sold native African charms and art to the local Harlem residents.

At around this time he phoned the members of the Guild requesting that they meet him at his hotel room on the 15th of January. However, when they arrived it was to find Elias Jackson murdered. It now seems clear that he was killed by the members of the Bloody Tongue based around N’Kwame’s shop in Harlem. Why they did it and who ordered the death is still unexplained, though it seems certain to have something to do with Elias’ investigation into the disappearance of the Carlyle expedition.

What you know about the Carlyle Expedition

Roger Carlye was a well known and extremely rich playboy. He was infamous for his love of the highlife, his various and plentiful girlfriends and his less than serious approach to family and business affairs. At some point in 1917/18, however, he suddenly developed and interest in the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt and began working towards the launching of an expedition to the Dark Continent. His motives for this remain a mystery, though newspaper reports call it a vanity project, people who knew him called it one of his fleeting hobbies and his sister suggested that his most recent girlfriend, a poor black girl, may have influenced him. The party Carlyle put together was not your typical archaeological expedition. He took his psychiatrist, an heiress friend of almost as bad a reputation as himself, his confidante and bodyguard who was a convicted felon and Sir Aubrey Penhew, renowned historian and founder of the Penhew Foundation. Of course, things went badly for this group of amateurs and they eventually went missing somewhere in Kenya. When the bodies of their guides and bearers were found, apparently having been murdered by local tribesmen, Roger and his companions were declared dead. Investigation of Carlyle has revealed that perhaps he was after something more than a few old bones. The discovery of occult books in his library at the Carlyle mansion seemed to point to some darker interest. He had been seeing a psychiatrist for some months and had spent time at a sanatorium, being treated for alcoholism. He is missing, presumed dead.

Jack ‘Brass’ Brady was on trial for murder when he met Roger Carlyle. Why the multi-millionaire playboy decided to pay the convicted felons legal fees, getting him off the charge on various technicalities, is a mystery. However, from then on the two men were close companions, Jack Brady acting as some sort of minder/confidante for Carlyle. He was with the expedition throughout their travels and was supposed killed along with the others in Kenya. However, a man Elias Jackson met in a bar in Kenya claimed to have seen Brady alive and well in Shanghai, some months after his supposed death. Brady wears a brass charm around his neck given to him by his mother who claimed to have ‘the sight’. The charm is carved with strange symbols and supposedly offers protection against evil. This charm is what gave him his nickname. He is still, officially, missing, presumed dead.

Hypatia Masters was an heiress and society girl, whose inclusion on the expedition was somewhat of a mystery. Although officially the expeditions ‘photographer’, it appeared to have been little more than a jolly for the sometimes girlfriend of Carlyle. However, after talking to a less than discreet friend of hers, you discovered that she had recently ‘got herself in trouble’, trouble which she had extricated herself from. Perhaps she joined the expedition to avoid potential scandal? She is missing, presumed dead.

Dr. Robert Huston was psychiatrist to the rich and famous. Huston had been Carlyle’s doctor for some time. Why he chose to go along with the expedition is unknown. Perhaps he was concerned for Carlyle’s mental health or perhaps he was offered large financial incentives. Huston was something of a celebrity himself, being a handsome older man with a somewhat chequered past. The fees he charged were famously extortionate. He had been recommended to Roger by his sister, who hoped to cure him of his dissolute and reckless ways. After the disappearance of the expedition and the declaration of his death, all of Dr Huston’s patient notes were taken into trust by the NY medical board where they can only be accessed by a family member or a fellow doctor with good cause. Dr. Huston is missing, presumed dead.

Sir. Aubrey Penhew was the only archaeologist and historian in the group, was officially the co-leader of the expedition and also arranged the trip through the organisation that bears his name. The Penhew foundation gives funding to archaeologists to carry out digs and expeditions to various parts of the world, but with a special interest in Egypt and North Africa. Penhew himself made a number of important finds, particularly in Dhashur. An old aristocrat, Viscount Pevensey, Colonel (ret’d) to give him his correct title, was well respected, both by his peers and society in general. His background is readily available in works like Who’s Who and Burke’s Peerage. He held title to several stately homes, as well as mansions in London, the Cotswalds, Monaco and Alexandria.

He graduated with honors in classics from Oxford, thereafter working with distinction as an archaeologist in Egypt. He served as a Lieutenant in the Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment (19th First North Yorkshire Regiment of Foot) from 1901-1902 during the Second Boer War. He was promoted to Colonel during the Siege of Kimberley. Penhew’s only criminal record was for stealing a policeman’s helmet whilst a student. The Penhew name traces to the Norman invasion and has been undiminished since, save for a single ancestor convicted of treason and black magic.

Sir. Penhew is currently missing, presumed dead.

Unknown woman: Erica Carlyle, Roger’s sister, mentioned a ‘negro woman’ who Roger had met and become infatuated with. She seemed to think that it was no more than one of Roger’s frequent infatuations and she had hoped he would grow tired of her before any scandal could break. She believes that his sudden interest in Africa was probably something to do with this infatuation and that the woman was with the expedition in Africa, though what became of her is unknown and there is no mention of her in any of the news reports. In 1920’s America it would have been more surprising if the newspapers had mentioned an unknown black woman with the party. Erica couldn’t remember her name.

The Expedition: The expedition set off in April 1919. Despite initially saying that they would be heading straight to Africa, the Expedition first headed for London and the Penhew foundation to ‘perform researches’ and pick up Sir Aubrey, who would act as a second in command for the expedition as well as providing some actual expertise, before heading on to Africa. The expedition based itself in Cairo, setting out on various digs along the Nile valley over the next few months.

Sometime in June, Roger became ill with sunstroke and the expedition retired from the city for a break. In July, the group unexpectedly made for Mombasa, taking a break from their labour, where they were entertained by the local Under-secretary Mr. Royston Whittingdon before apparently heading inland in early August on a hunting trip, though rumour suggested they were really after buried treasure. Nothing was heard from them for two months.

In October searches began for the lost party. In May 1920, Erica Carlyle made her way to Kenya, following rumours that the expedition had been massacred by a local tribe. This was confirmed later in the same month when Erica herself led a party into the bush following leads from local Kikuyu tribesmen. The police accompanying them discovered the site of a massacre.

Reports at the time said that the bodies of the whole party including bearers and guides had been discovered, though later reporting said that the bodies off the white members of the party had been hidden by the Nandi tribesmen accused, tried and hanged for the murders. These tribesmen always maintained their innocence and the bodies were never found, though all members of the party were officially declared dead later in the year. However, Elias Jackson interviewed a man who claimed to have seen Jack Brady Alive and well in Shanghai some time after his supposed death at the hands of hostile native tribesmen.

NPC’s:

Erica Carlyle

Erica was satisfied that the official report on the Carlyle expedition was true but is somewhat concerned by the thought that perhaps all is not as it has seemed. Whether her interest comes from genuine interest in her brother’s fate, or a fear that he might not be dead and she might lose control of the Carlyle empire, you don’t know. Whatever her motives she agreed to let you see the books in her library in return for being kept informed of what you discover.

Lieutenant Poole

Poole is not best pleased with the distinct lack of evidence that you’ve provided him with so far, though he is perfectly willing to accept the idea of an African death cult working out of Harlem, despite N’Kwame’s successful attempt to appear an ordinary businessman. He is still expecting some kind of result for the accreditation he got you.

Silas N’Kwame

N’Kwame is the owner of a small shop in Harlam selling African objects de art and ‘magical’ charms. The shop is a front for a branch of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, probably the same branch that carried out Elias’ murder. In a ceremonial chamber beneath the shop cultists make human sacrifices to their dark God. However, the wily shopkeeper disguised the chamber as a storeroom when the police arrived to search it. N’Kwame was last seen beaten unconscious and tied down in the back room of his shop by Bill Van der Molen.

Jonah Kensington

Editor and friend of the late Elias Jackson and interested visitor to the Guilds meetings in the past. Jonah was horrified at the news of Elias’ death and has offered to fund the party’s investigation through the guild in return for all the information they find out so that he can finish Jackson’s last book. He has provided much of the information gathered so far.

Leads:

A photo of a boat in an eastern port. The name of the boat cannot be seen in the picture. The general consensus was that the port could well be Shanghai. Found in Elias’ room.

A matchbook from the ‘stumbling tiger bar’ 10 lantern street, probably in Shanghai, definitely not in NY. Sent to Jonah by Elias.

The business card of Edward Gavigan, Director of the Penhew Foundation with a London address. Sent to Jonah by Elias.

A letter from a Faraj Nazir to Roger Carlyle offering his help in acquiring ‘certain curios’. He asks Carlyle to visit his shop in the street of Jackals in Cairo’s old quarter. The letter was obtained by Jackson and was included in the file of his notes that Jonah gave you.

Anthony Cowles lecture notes. In which the eccentric academic sets forth his theory about an ancient ‘bat cult’ amongst the aborigines of Australia. The cult bears a number of striking similarities to the cult of the bloody tongue which appears to have been responsible for Elias’ death. Obtained from the professor at Harvard.

Elias’ Jacksons Nairobi Notes: a neat, well ordered file of Jackson’s findings from Africa, sent to Jonah before he left for London. Obtained from Jonah.

Elias’ London notes: a barely legible scrawl filled with cryptic ramblings sent to Jonah as Elias headed back to NY. Obtained from Jonah.

Roger Carlyles books: a set of rare, occult tomes that talk of dark alien gods, hideous monsters and insane cults. Tristram and Serene read them and were horrified at what they contained. Whatever Carlyle was looking for in Africa, it was obviously nothing sane. You were allowed to study the books by Erica Carlyle.

*‘Africa’s Dark Sect’s’ *a book found at Ju Ju house: This book had originally been the property of Harvard university but had apparently been stolen by the members of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue in New York. The book contained some information on the Bloody Tongue, talking of it having been founded in pre-dynastic Egypt before being forced out by the Pharaoh and apparently moving to Kenya, where they remain a small but active presence. When you were looking for this book at Harvard, you discovered that the only other known copy was owned by the Penhew foundation.

Cloak, Lions claw gloves, metal bowl, occult book and Mask: items recovered from the sacrificial chamber at Ju Ju house. These items are all a mystery, though they appear to have some ritualistic significance. The mask seems to exert a strong urge on those who see it to put it on, an urge you have all so far resisted. The book was read by Chester and it contains what purports to be a ‘magic spell’.

Ongoing investigations:

Tristram’s cousin: He was contacted by the party by telegram and asked to visit the Penhew foundation in London to ask if they could see their copy of ‘Africa’s Dark Sects’. He agreed and sent a telegram back telling them he was on his way down. Three days have passed and nothing else has been heard from him. This lack of urgency is not strictly unusual amongst the dissolute English aristocracy, though his mother has not heard from him either.

Dr. Huston’s notes: The party would like to see these confidential files. There was some disagreement about how to go about accessing them, with some members suggesting Serene attempt to pose as a member of the Doctors family and others insisting they should pursuade Ted’s Psychatrist, Dr. Vendtner, to obtain the files and pass them on.

Australia: Prof. Cowles theories on an ancient aboriginal bat cult with similarities to the cult of the bloody tongue is set to be tested by an expedition leaving from Sydney University in the next few weeks.

Cairo: This is where the expedition was based during their time in Egypt. Roger Carlyle was apparently in contact with some kind of dealer in antiquities named Nazir in Cairo’s old quarter. Elias visited Cairo and spoke to a number of the Carlyle expeditions contacts in the city.

London: The expedition stopped here on their way to Africa to carry out research, presumably at the Penhew foundation which has its headquarters here. Elias also came here on his way back to NY. Something here affected his mental state deeply, as shown in the differences between the calm and measured Kenyan notes and the madly scrawled London notes.

Mombasa/Nairobi: Kenya is where the Carlyle expedition met its grisly end, apparently whilst on a break from their work. The local authorities were in charge of both the search and then the prosecution of the perpetrators. Elias met with various contacts here, including the Danish mercenary who claimed to have seen Brady alive.

Shanghai: A number of clues point to Shanghai, not least of which is the report that Jack Brady was seen alive in a bar somewhere in the sprawling port city. There is also a picture of a boat in what looks like the port, but what this has to do with anything is unclear.

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