Dark Sects

Safari of Terror
In which the investigators encounter some unusual wildlife

February 8, 1925
The party awoke to Colonel Endicott’s pounding at their door. After all had gathered their belongings, Endicott drove the investigators to his lodge four hours outside of Nairobi. There they settled in and met Endicott’s manservant Silent Joe. After a late lunch, Endicott, Nails Nelson, and the party ventured out to the night-viewing platform, a large building on stilts for viewing the wildlife during night. The platform overlooked a watering hole in the river. The corpses of the dead lodge guests had all been found within the vicinity of the platform and Endicott surmised that the guests had left the safety of the platform at night and been killed by a leopard. While exploring the area, the group discovered the footprints of a child by the river bank. Claude attempted to climb the ladder leading up to the platform but the ladder became dislodged and Claude suffered a minor injury.

The investigators decided to spend the night at the platform to get to the bottom of the mystery. Wary of threats, they wisely set watches. During the third watch, the attack commenced. A horde of small, gibbering child-sized ghouls assaulted the platform. Arnold shot the first creature ascending the ladder, but the realization of horror overcame him and he cowered in fear. The rest of the party awoke due to the shot and quickly grabbed firearms. The ghouls swarmed into the night platform, slashing and tearing at the investigators in a frenzy. Fortunately, the ghouls teeth and claws were no match for lead bullets.

Seeing the failure of their counterparts, the remainder of the ghoul horde began to attack the legs of the platform. Courvoisier made a crude fire-bomb from a bottle of whiskey and threw it from the window immolating a number of the ghouls. Nails Nelson, already half-drunk from the whiskey supply, pointed his rifle out the window and began picking off the cannibals.

Lou, convinced that the party could not overcome the horde facing them, began to cast a spell to “summon the piping demon.” As the toad-like creature began to phase in, Lou’s fragile mind cracked and he shouted out, “Kill all the children!” before collapsing to a heap. The servitor obeyed its instruction, descended the platform, and began to tear the ghouls to shreds. After disposing of the ghouls, the servitor departed in the direction of the nearest village. Later, during their week-long recovery, reports trickled in of a horrible massacre in which all the children of a village were brutally murdered. Authorities chalked the matter up to tribal warfare.

The remainder of the night was spent binding wounds and attempting to console the babbling Lou.

February 9, 1925
Endicott arrived in the morning and was confronted with the corpses of the ghouls. He proffered his deepest thanks and swore that he would forever be in the investigators debt. The party decided to decline Endicott’s offer of hospitality and instead returned to the relative safety of Nairobi. Claude had suffered serious burns during the attack on the train, so the party chose to rest a week. Lou’s broken mind was beyond help and he was checked into the hospital where the investigators hoped he could someday regain his sanity.

February 15, 1925
Deciding to follow up on earlier leads, the party went to interview Neville Jermyn and Dr. Horace Starret. Jermyn proved of limited use. Jermyn was convinced that a cult was responsible for killing the Carlyle expedition, but blamed the cult of the White Gorilla rather than that of the Bloody Tongue. Jermyn explained that there existed deep in the Congo an ancient city that was in fact the birthplace of all civilization and that present day society was in fact controlled by the White Gorilla cult. The investigators dismissed Jermyn’s theories and bade him good day.

Starret was a participant in the medical examination of the bodies retrieved from the massacre site and was unnerved by the fact that the corpses were seemingly unaffected by decomposition. His personal conclusion was that supernatural powers had killed the expedition members.

An interview with Tandoor Singh had more sinister results. Singh had been a tea seller to the expedition and reportedly had more than casual dealings with Sir Aubrey Penhew. The team elected to accuse Singh of being a cultist and demanded explanations. Singh heatedly denied all such charges and demanded that the team leave his store.

February 16, 1925
Finally, the group went to see Sam Mariga, the man who had originally reported the massacre. Mariga told the group what he knew and suggested that they speak with his friend Johnstone Kenyatta, a Kenyan nationalist and so-called “troublemaker” according to local whites. Kenyatta listened to the investigator’s tale intently and asked them intelligent questions. He finally decided to help the investigators and sent them on their way to meet a powerful ally.

The investigators were driven to a village where they met a young man named Okomu. Okomu questioned them sharply but softened when convinced of the urgency of their mission. Okomu was familiar with the Bloody Tongue and informed them that the cult terrorized the region by kidnapping people and sacrificing them at the Mountain of the Black Wind. Okomu had the group follow him into a hut where a wizened old man lay nearly lifeless on the floor. Okomu explained that the man was Old Bundari, a powerful magician who could leave his body to walk other planes.

After waiting by his side for hours, Old Bundari’s consciousness finally returned to this plane. Bundari seemed to already know much of the investigator’s tale and acknowledged that the team faced a perilous mission. He bestowed upon them two gifts. A fly whisk he claimed could find and resist evil, and a small chameleon named Who-Is-Not-What-She-Seems that Bundari stated would protect the investigators once if ever they were in dire need.

With these gifts the investigators decided to return to Nairobi where they could prepare for an expedition to the Mountain of the Black Wind.

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Fire in the Night
In which the investigators receive a most unwelcome wake up call

February 5, 1925

The team arrived at the Mombasa docks late in the afternoon. Deciding against staying at the lower class lodgings available in the area, they took a taxi to a more upscale hotel. Lou made a brief visit to the bank to exchange currency and then spoke with the concierge to arrange the hiring of a guide and translator.

February 6, 1925
After meeting their guide Zuri, the investigators rented a car and drove back down to the docks to interview Ahja Singh, the exporter of goods to Ju-Ju House of New York City. Claude and Arnold chose to remain outside the shop. While the others were inside, Claude spotted a man seemingly spying on them, but before he could act the man melted away into the crowd.

Inside the shop, a young Indian man behind the counter introduced himself as Vikas Patel. Ahja Singh, he explains, has returned to India for six weeks for family reasons. After asking several pointed questions about the Bloody Tongue, M’Weru, and the Carlyle expedition, the investigators concluded that Patel knew nothing. They did learn, however, that Singh has a cousin named Tandoor Singh who sells tea in Nairobi. With other leads also pointing them to Nairobi, the team booked passage on the Ugandan Railway to take them north into the African interior.

The train left that evening with the investigators at the rear of the train in first class while Zuri was forced to ride the flatcar due to his race.

February 7, 1925
Around 3 am, the group was awoken by cries of astonishment coming from the third-class car. Two clouds of living flame drifted to the outside window of the party’s compartment. The beings were composed of thousands of tiny fires suspended in a cloud of sparks. The creatures reached forward and began burning holes into the side of the railway car. Using the fire extinguishers and ash cans in the car, the team was able to damage the flame beings, but Courvoisier and Lou were injured. Claude fled the first class car, heading to the third class car, convinced that the creatures had been summoned by someone on-board the train and were being controlled remotely. One of the entities gave chase. In a last ditch effort to destroy the first fire creature, Arnold urinated on it and successfully extinguished it. In the third-class car, Claude was unable identify a culprit behind the attacks before the whirlwind of flames attacked and severely wounded him. On his way to help Claude, Lou ran through the first-class car firing his gun into the air to awaken sleeping passengers. Another attack with a fire extinguisher destroyed the final fire creature, but by this time both the first and third class cars were in engulfed in flames.

The party fled the burning cars as the train lurched to a stop. As the crew battled the fire, the investigators tended to their burns. After the flames had been put out, a conductor gave the party a tongue lashing over their carelessness with their cigars. The team spent the rest of the journey to Nairobi on the flatcar with the lowest class of passengers.

Upon arrival, the investigators disembark and head to Hampton House, one of the finer hotels in Nairobi. While eating lunch on the veranda, a newsboy walks by hawking the Nairobi Star. After purchasing a paper and talking with the newsboy, the investigators decided to go to the offices of the Nairobi Star. In the office, they met Natalie Smythe-Forbes, the paper’s publisher, editor, and reporter. After a fruitful conversation with Smthye-Forbes, Lou invited her to dinner. Smythe-Forbes directed the investigators to Lt. Selkirk, the leader of the search party that discovered the Carlyle expedition massacre victims.

As the investigators were about to leave, a large man with a brick-red face and bristling mustache barged into the offices. A heated argument ensued between the man, a Colonel Endicott, and Smythe-Forbes. Endicott accused the Star of being out to ruin him while Smythe-Forbes protested that her paper had only published the facts. Interceding in the dispute, Arnold asked Endicott to explain himself. Endicott identified himself as the proprietor of a luxury game lodge not far from the city. Several of his guests and servants had recently been slain. The consensus is that a rogue lion killed the victims although the bodies bore numerous small-radius bite wounds which suggested that monkeys had be feeding on the corpses. The Star had naturally reported on these deaths, but Endicott perceived the publication as an attack on his livelihood and reputation. After eliciting the details from Endicott, the investigators agree to go to the game lodge the next morning to look into the mysterious deaths.

In the meantime, the party went to interview Lt. Selkirk. Selkirk confirmed much of what the investigators already knew. The Carlyle expedition departed for safari with a large number of hired bearers. After not hearing word for several weeks, the expedition was feared lost. These fears were confirmed when a local man, Sam Mariga, reported the site of a massacre to the authorities. The bodies were found in a clearing torn to shreds, but none of the corpses of the white members of the party were present. Also of note was the fact that no scavengers had touched the bodies despite their long exposure.

The party then sought out Bertram “Nails” Nelson and found him at a local pub arguing with the bartender about his tab. Lou struck up a conversation with Nelson and bought him a stiff drink. Lou questioned Nelson in a circumspect way and got Nelson to reveal that he had seen Jack Brady, Carlyle’s bodyguard, in Shanghai in 1923, three years after his supposed death. The party then hired Nelson to act as extra muscle when they departed for the bush.

At dinner with Smythe-Forbes that night, the investigators gathered a few new leads. While in Nairobi, the Carlyle expedition had had dealings with Dr. Horace Starret, Roger Corydon, and a tea merchant named Tandoor Singh. They also learned that contrary to popular opinion, the Carlyle expedition had ventured into the countryside not for a safari but instead to confirm data gathered in Egypt around followers of an ancient religious leader who migrated southward to Kenya.

The party slept uneasily that night despite the comfort of the hotel. There was no telling what implacable foes or eldritch horrors awaited them in the bush.

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Dark Deeds in England
In which the investigators commit a gruesome crime

January 18, 1925
Deciding to abandon Ju-Ju House to the degenerate cultists within, Lou and Claude made their way back to the hotel.

That morning Miriam Atwright called the investigators to inform them of what she had learned of the Bloody Tongue cult. Atwright described the cult’s history in Africa and the cult’s rune. The investigators immediately recognized it as the rune carved in Elias’ forehead.

The investigators went to meet Erica Carlyle having led her to believe that her brother may still be alive. Carlyle seemed nonplussed to be meeting with the team, but gave them valuable information about Jack Brady, Roger Carlyle’s confidant; Dr. Robert Huston, Carlyle’s psychoanalyst; and M’Weru, an enigmatic African woman with whom Carlyle was romantically involved. Erica Carlyle surmised that if Jack Brady was still alive (as Jackson Elias had recorded in his notes) then the odds of her brother being alive were high. Erica agreed to underwrite an expedition to Kenya to get to the truth of the matter.

Prior to their departure, the group went to the former offices of Dr. Robert Huston to attempt to see notes of Carlyle’s sessions. Huston’s partner was reluctant to distribute such sensitive information to lay persons, but a letter of introduction from Erica Carlyle and Courvoisier’s medical background eventually led him to relent. The session notes revealed that Roger Carlyle had been plagued by dreams of Egypt and of being drawn into a pulsating ball of energy. Additionally, Carlyle’s devotion to M’Weru bordered on the obsessive. A final cryptic note indicated that Huston was somehow persuaded to join the Carlyle expedition despite having concerns over what his role would be.

January 25, 1925
After traveling first-class on the Laurentides, the team arrived in South Hampton early in the morning. During the three day layover before the Ineluctable departed for Mombasa by way of Port Said, the investigators decided to investigate a clue discovered in Elias’ hotel room: a card for Edward Gavigan, director of the Penhew Foundation.

The team arrived in London in the mid-afternoon and purchased a copy of The Scoop, a lowbrow tabloid. The headline decried the twenty-fourth killing in a string of slayings that had beset London for three years. The victim had been severely beaten, stabbed through the heart, and cast into the Thames.

After catching up on the local news, the group made their way to the Penhew Foundation located in central London. There they introduced themselves to the director Edward Gavigan, a dapper man in his fifties. Once in Gavigan’s office, Claude noticed a floor safe with its door ajar. Gavigan seemed genial although he was unwilling to produce correspondence between Penhew, one of the principals of the Carlyle expedition, and himself claiming that revealed personal information about Carlyle and it would be indelicate to share it with outsiders. A letter of introduction from Erica Carlyle left Gavigan unimpressed. Instead Gavigan showed the team artifacts that the expedition had recovered from the desert. During the endless procession of pottery shards, figurines, and bas-reliefs, Claude snuck off back to Gavigan’s office. Claude rifled through the open safe finding only a packet of five pound notes. After quickly going through the desk and shelves in the room, Claude returns to the group. Unfortunately, Gavigan noticed Claude’s return, cut the tour short, and curtly escorted the investigators to the door.

Determined to smooth over his cohort’s faux pas, Charles re-entered the Penhew Foundation to have a private chat with Gavigan while the rest of the group returned to the hotel to sample the refreshments that non-Prohibition England has to offer. Charles managed to smooth Gavigan’s ruffled feathers, and the two begin a lengthy conversation on Egyptian history. While Gavigan exhibited some artifacts in a storeroom, Charles noticed worn areas on the floor near a dilapidated sarcophagus. After asking several pointed questions about the sarcophagus, which Gavigan dismissed, Charles returned to the hotel.

January 26, 1925
Having related his observations to the team, Charles and the rest decided that Charles should return to the Foundation in the morning and attempt to pose as a cultist. After making his revelation to Gavigan, Charles was lead to the sarcophagus where Gavigan pushed in the two eyes. The sarcophagus moved sideways revealing a staircase leading down into darkness. As the two descended the stairs, Charles heard Gavigan mumbling behind him. Suddenly Charles’ limbs and face began to wither and shrivel. As his internal organs transformed into desiccated husks, Charles let out a groan and passed from this world forever.

As the day wore on, the investigators grew anxious after their friend failed to appear. Courvoisier and Durry decided to confront Gavigan directly while Arnold waited outside. Claude having been seduced by the easy availability of alcohol had begun drinking in the morning and was now thoroughly intoxicated. Gavigan denied any wrong-doing and insisted that Charles had left of his own accord hours ago. Courvoisier deflected this deception when he revealed that the group had been watching the door to the building since morning and had not seen Charles exit. Gavigan stuck to his story and asked the investigators to leave.

Durry extended his hand and when Gavigan took it to shake hands farewell, Durry slammed Gavigan’s face into the desk. While Gavigan was regaining his wits, Durry and Courvoisier both pulled out their weapons and took Gavigan hostage. Hearing all the commotion, the burly secretary/security guard stepped into the room where he quickly lost his stomach for fighting when Courvoisier trained his gun on him.

Demanding to be taken to Charles, Durry followed Gavigan into the storeroom keeping his gun pointed at Gavigan’s head. Gavigan began mumbling again, but before he could finish casting a spell, Durry coshed him on the head with the butt of his pistol and put his hand over Gavigan’s mouth. Gavigan opened the secret passage leading to the basement room, and Courvoisier with his hostage joined them in the storeroom. The two bound and gagged the hostages with some rope they discovered and went to get Arnold to guard the hostages while they explored the basement room.

The room at the end of the stairs contained a large desk with a chest and stone jar on it, a workbench with various glass jars along the back, several open crates and two sealed ones, a large bookcase, and walls covered by terrifying paintings and other perverse objets d’art. In the corner of the room lay the corpse of Charles. Overcome by the sight of his friend dead and the obscene depictions of horror on the walls, Durry momentarily succumbed to madness grabbing his friend’s corpse and sobbing over it.

Courvoisier examined the stone jar on the desk, finding it to contain an unknown sand-like powder. He took the jar, a copy of Liber Ivonis from the bookshelf, and fifteen ancient scrolls. Opening the chest on the desk, he found two ceremonial knives made of silver. Upon seeing the knives, Durry and Courvoisier began to hatch a foul plot. They would kill Gavigan in the manner described in the article they had read yesterday in The Scoop. Then they would kill the secretary and pose the scene to look like a suicide. They would close the corpses up in the secret room giving them time to flee the country before the crime could even be discovered. They could escape the notice of the public by exiting the building via the coal chute into an adjoining alley. Arnold wanted no part of the bloodshed but agreed to deliver fresh clothing to the conspirators after they had crawled up the coal chute.

Once all the details had been covered, it fell to Durry and Courvoisier to execute their dastardly plan. They fell upon Gavigan with clubs, beating him to death, plunged one of the ceremonial daggers into his chest, and carved the rune of the Bloody Tongue into his forehead. They forced the panicked security guard’s mouth open and fired a bullet into his brain. Afterwards they staged scene as they had planned and sat in the basement with their victims’ corpses while they awaited the cover of darkness.

After sundown, they snuck up the coal chute and began changing into the clothes that Arnold had left in the alley. While in the midst of changing, the Penhew Foundation’s night watchman (already on alert due to the absence of his day time counterpart when he arrived that night) rounded the corner to discover the two partially disrobed men. Disturbed by the scene, the watchman ran back into the building to phone the police. With sirens approaching, Durry and Courvoisier finished dressing and casually walked out down the street car as police cars raced by.

January 26, 1925
The next day the cover story in The Scoop held all the lurid details of the Penhew Foundation murders. The investigators remained at the hotel anxiously awaiting the departure of their steamship to Kenya and fearing the knock of the police at their room door.

January 28, 1925
The investigators board the Ineluctable headed to Mombasa by way of Port Said. The enormity of their crimes finally sinks in and both Durry and Courvoisier suffered bouts of madness during the voyage. The rest of the team kept the two confined to quarters.

February 5, 1925
The investigators arrived in Mombasa late in the afternoon.

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Death of a Friend
In which the investigators lose a fast friend

January 15, 1925

A short telegram from an old friend, Jackson Elias, summoned the investigators to New York. Elias claimed to have information on the ill-fated Carlyle Expedition. Elias scheduled a meeting with the investigators at his hotel room, yet when they arrived did not respond to a knock on the door. After hearing noises within the room, Lou expertly picked the lock and opened the door to reveal a horrible tableau. Elias lay dead on the room’s bed; his entrails had been removed and a cryptic sign carved into his forehead. Lou caught a glimpse of one of the killers as he exited through the room window onto the fire escape. Lou and Courvoisier gave chase and wounded the murderer in the shoulder with a pistol shot. Desperate to avoid escape, the culprit leaped from the third floor fire escape to land in the alley below, shattering his leg and dropping a piece of paper. The killer managed to limp his way to a running car where his co-conspirators awaited.

A quick search of Elias’ room yielded several other clues, but the investigators did not remain at the scene of the crime to be interviewed. Instead, Arnold who had been waiting in the lobby below gave a description of the events to a patrolman, conveniently leaving out any investigator involvement. After the evenings traumatic events, the investigators regrouped at their hotel room determined to avenge the death of their friend.

January 16, 1925

The next morning the team split up to track down the leads gathered at the crime scene. A call to the police put them in contact with Lt. Martin Poole, the detective assigned to the murder case. Poole stated that there had been several similar murders in the past two years and chalked them up to cult activity. One half of the team went to Prospero House, the firm that published all of Elias’ books. There they learned from Elias’ editor, Jonah Kensington, that Elias had been crisscrossing the globe to research his latest work on death cults. Along the way, he became convinced that at least some of the principal members of the Carlyle archaeological expedition, previously thought massacred, were alive. Later notes from Elias were disjointed and confused, but indicated that Elias believed himself to have uncovered a global conspiracy.

A business card for Emerson Imports lead the other half of the investigators to a run down warehouse in Hell’s Kitchen. A conversation with the proprietor, Arthur Emerson, revealed that Elias had been there recently asking about importers from Kenya. Emerson told the team that he is the US agent for Mombasan exporter Ahja Singh whose only known American account happens to be Ju-Ju House located in Harlem.

A trip to Ju-Ju House seemed to be a dead end when the owner Silas N’Kwane had nothing of use to tell investigators.

Posing as a police officer, Lou attempted to contact Erica Carlyle, the sister of Carlyle Expedition leader Roger Carlyle. A secretary quickly quashed any hopes of an easy interview with the wealthy, powerful Erica.

January 17, 1925
Another call to Erica Carlyle this time with the implication that her brother may be alive quickly lead her to schedule a meeting with the investigators.

Based on another clue found in Elias’ room, Courvoisier contacted Harvard librarian Miriam Atwright who was able to confirm that Elias had been searching for a book entitled Africa’s Dark Sects. The book had disappeared mysteriously months earlier. Based on Elias’ notes, Courvoisier asked Atwright to search her archives for the cult of the Bloody Tongue. Atwright promises to call the next morning.

Meanwhile, Arnold and Claude decided to revisit Ju-Ju House. While making their way down the narrow street leading to the shop, they spotted a man in a cast with his arm in a sling. Convinced this was the same man who had leaped from the fire escape after killing Elias, Arnold tried to photograph the man so as to provide a lead to police officers. Instead, he was spotted in his attempt and the man made his way into Ju-Ju House. Almost immediately, four burly men exited the shop and smashed Arnold’s camera.

Shortly thereafter, Lou arrived at the scene. He and Claude barge into Ju-Ju House demanding answers for why their friend’s camera was destroyed. The four burly men ignore the pair until Lou pulls out his gun. At that provocation, the four men pull out long knives and attack. Both Lou and Claude flee to Arnold’s awaiting car. Lou has Arnold drop him off around the corner where he reconnoitered the dead end street where Ju-Ju House was located.

As the evening wore on, Lou saw over two dozen people venture into Ju-Ju House. About 1:30 in the morning, Lou heard bone-chilling howls issuing from the store. Lou picked the lock to the store and discovered a trap door leading downwards into a basement where the howls appeared to be emanating from. Lou beat a hasty retreat and returned to his surveillance spot to wait out the strange events.

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