Trail of Cthulhu: Eternal Lies

Episode 27: The Actor

Mid August 1937 . . .

Following the events of the following evening at the Piazza di Ville hotel which not only saw the apparent death of Chakar Singh Kalsi by the entity known as the Dweller in Destiny, but also had Prof. Marvin Harrison saying goodbye to Howard Defoe and Bethany Tibedeaux who took a commercial flight to London in order to delve into some of the ancient texts that were referenced in their research. The following morning Prof. Derrikson made his way to the Vizenti City Library to speak with Dr. Leonardis Puzo.

Confronting Dr. Puzo on the steps on the library, shortly before 7 AM, Prof Derrikson looked disheveled and upset. Prof. Derrikson demanded to know two things: first, when the Germans would return to discus further negotiations about De Vermis Mysteriis and second, where the nearest university could be found – especially one that had a functioning chemistry department. Stunned, Dr. Puzo did not know what else to say other than point in the nearest direction of the university. He did mention that the punctual Germans had stated they would be visiting in the morning which was likely around 8 AM.

As Prof. Derrikson, in his manic state, went to the university to concoct a rudimentary bomb out of simple chemicals, Dr. Puzo waited in his office, going through an entire pack of cigarettes, awaiting the Germans who he increasingly felt were at the bottom of some nefarious schemes.

At 8 AM, the Germans arrived, right on time. Maj. Hans Klingler and Dr. Jurgen Schaeffer wanted to trade for the text but Dr. Puzo was again able to stall, stating he was hoping Prof. Derrikson would be here. He invited the Germans to look around the library while they waited for Derrikson to return. The Germans reluctantly agreed.

Prof. Derrikson secretly made his way into the library with a large overcoat and slipped into Dr. Puzo’s office, unaware to anyone else in the library. Dr. Puzo was increasingly nervous about the events that were about to transpire as Prof. Derrikson clearly had vengeance on his mind. When the Germans did arrive, Derrikson made his presence known and demanded answers. Dr. Schaeffer and Dr. Puzo were clearly on edge when Prof. Derrikson not only showed he had a bomb but had also disarmed Maj. Klingler. However, Major Klingler remained calm and cool, almost as if he had no interest in his own fate.

When the discussions began to stall, Prof. Derrikson seemed poised to blow up the entire office, telling Dr. Puzo to get out. Upon leaving Dr. Puzo did manage to pull the fire alarm, trying to get as many people out as possible. Prof. Derrikson, for his part, came back from the brink and decided not to shoot Maj. Klingler or blow up the office, instead leaving, perhaps regretting that he did not kill the Nazi and Ahnenerbe representative.

The rest of the day, Prof. Derrikson wandered through Valletta trying to collect his thoughts, putting into perspective the danger he had been in as well as the dangers he was on the brink of inflicting upon others. Clearly this investigation has taken a toll on him, emotionally and psychologically.

That evening, in meeting back at the hotel for dinner, Prof. Derrikson was greeted by Dr. Puzo in the lobby, as well as Prof. Michael McKenzie. McKenzie had been told what had happened by Puzo and was concerned by Derrikson’s behavior which was close to spiraling into madness. However, things had been put into some perspective by Derrikson and between his self grounding and Puzo’s helpful words, Derrikson was able to reorient himself and reach some inner calm.

At that point, however, the group was approached by a rather attractive, well-dressed man who seemed interested in meeting Howard Defoe. He had been told by the hotel staff that Mr. Defoe (and perhaps his wife) had checked out early this morning but these individuals were friends of his.

After getting through some idle discussions, the man introduced himself as Warren Barrow and was stated he was an actor, filming on location. His film, ‘The Knights of the Cross,’ was being directed by none other than Colm Soames. This name was familiar to Prof. Derrikson who was well acquainted with the group’s run in with Soames not only in Los Angeles but also in Valletta. Barrow related a tale about how his concern for actress Olivia Clarendon as well as his concern for a growing trend in his acting circles to imbibe the unusual drug Nectar had pushed him to seek out Mr. Defoe’s help as he understood that Defoe was a private investigator. The coincidence of both Barrow and Defoe’s group being in Valletta was too much to pass up. He further explained that the director, Soames, was involved in some potentially nefarious activities in Valletta, allowing production values in the film to slide. In short, Barrow wanted someone to look into the drug connection as well as the strange activities of the director, Soames. Since Soames had introduced Barrow to a supposed ‘backer’ of the film, Dana Heche, it was suspected that Ms. Heche had different motives that simply the financial backing of a film.

Quickly, Barrow discovered what an eccentric and unusual group this was. They had clearly all been involved in some unusual activities and freely spoke of international conspiracies of cults, drug dealers and even paranormal activities. Whether or not Barrow regretted approaching this strange group, he did not show it as he was an actor, after all.

Prof. Derrikson did have a lead, so to speak. Rather than approach Soames, directly, at least yet, he thought that the cabaret, Madame Zu Zu was an interesting first step. After all, they discovered that this location was a focus point for Nectar use and distribution as the caverns underneath the cabaret did have a manifestation of more than one Minor Mouth. Since approaching Montgomery Donovan directly was proving to be difficult and since they knew Donovan was at the top of this drug cult, they would go to the cabaret and try to meet up with Victor Prescott, the man whose name they had been given by one of the sex workers at the cabaret.

That night they met with Mr. Prescott who seemed suspicious of them but agreed to sell them a large quantity of Nectar for 2 thousand American dollars. His interest was piqued when the names of Heche and Soames were dropped by Mr. Barrow as people who would be attending this actor’s party that Barrow was setting up. While at the cabaret, they agreed to exchange the money for the Nectar tomorrow set at the filming set (as Barrow knew it would be deserted).

The following day Derrikson and Puzo went about looking for other clues. They were curious how Mrs. Donovan died as it was evident she had passed on but no real information had come to light. Curiously, it was discovered that the official report of death was listed as ‘misadventure’ which detailed how Mrs. Donovan had fallen off the family yacht and had been swept out to sea, and the coroner has listed her as dead. Prof. McKenzie thought this was unusual, especially when there we no records of the navy having conducted a search. When McKenzie went to confront the coroner, he returned stating he felt that the woman was in all likelihood deceased but perhaps the body was unavailable or was in such a state that would have raised too many questions. Either way, someone from the Donovan camp had clearly bribed the coroner to create some fanciful tale. Either way, the coroner was afraid of Mr. Donovan and/or his people.

Further, when investigating the background of Dana Heche, it was discovered that she was listed as an administrator for some of the warehouse dock buildings, which was highly suspicious for someone who was interested in being an investor for a film.

That evening they went to the film set to conduct the transaction. When Victor arrived, he was in a large delivery truck but a mysterious black car was with him. When asked, Victor stated that was ‘the boss’ who wanted to get a better look at the people buying the narcotics. There was some notion that they would be interested in being new distributors to the Los Angeles market but Victor mentioned that something was already underway to put that area back in business soon.

Unaware of who or what was in the large black car, Prof. Derrikson had a sneaking suspicion it was none other than Dana Heche.

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Epidose 26: The Dweller in Destiny
An otherworldly assassin attacks

Mid August, 1937 . . .

As Bethany Tibedeaux explained to Prof. Marvin Derrikson the mysterious tunnels underneath Valletta, they discussed what approach they would next take. Dr. Chakar Singh Kalsi and Michael McKenzie were still working on the surgical removal of the Minor Mouth from the tongue of Howard Defoe. Bethany further explained that she would likely have to go to London to investigate what secrets the Key to Glaaki would hold in their current investigation. She felt that under the circumstances, taking Howard Defoe with her would be a good idea as his health was declining and his increasing addiction to Nectar was starting to be a serious problem.

Shortly after this, Bethany, Prof. Derrikson and Chakar went to the Emerald District in order to find any indication of where Montgomery Donovan lived. Early in the journey, they came across a wild-haired street artist who, when questioned, mentioned that he had actually met Mr. Donovan a few months ago. He mentioned that he sketched Mrs, Donovan, Portia as well as their son, Monte Donovan. The street artist mentioned that Donovan and his entourage do come buy on a regular basis, often daily. The investigators decided that they would try and shadow him tomorrow, with the use of their investigator, Howard Defoe.

Later in the afternoon, Prof. Derrikson decided to visit Dr. Leonardis Puzo at the Vizenti City Library. There was still the unsettled matter of the proposed trade between the Germans and Puzo where the Germans wanted to trade their copy of the Kamadhenu Tablets for the library’s copy of De Vermis Mysteriis. Of course, it was Derrikson that suggested that the tablets were forgeries. Derrikson implored Puzo to hide his copy of the text, as he suspected that the Germans were willing to resort to anything to get their hands on this text. Puzo agreed and decided that the following day they would meet with the Germans to formally decline the offer, with the reasoning being that the tablets were faked.

That night, the group went to the cabaret, Madame Zu Zu. Since this nightclub was directly above a cavern that contained a variety of Minor Mouths, they suspected something was afoot and needed a closer examination. Whereas the cabaret was somewhat risque, the later in the night, the more the debauchery was increased. Prof. Derrikson noticed a great deal of activity happening in the basement. When he investigated, he paid a small fee for entry and found that wild, orgiastic sex was present in the basement as well as the presence of Nectar, a drug that was until now, unseen in Valletta. When Prof. Derrikson asked the escort/dancer, Madonna, where the drug was coming from, she mentioned that the connection was a mysterious man named ‘Victor.’ With that, Derrikson left and the group quickly went back to their hotel.

The following day most of the group decided to shadow Montgomery Donovan while Prof. Derrikson decided to watch the offices of the Ahnenerbe in order to see what the Nazis were up to. Since they had a meeting with Dr. Puzo later that day, Derrikson wanted to ensure he was aware of their movements.

Following Donovan, the group did see that he had a specific route he seemed to take with his entourage. They moved through the residential area, went past the Opera House, went to the cemetery and then went to the Hospital Superbissima. When Chakar entered, he discovered which room they had gone to and noted it was the children’s wing. He made note of the room and would return later when things were not as busy. When Donovan and his group left, they left by automobile, making it very difficult to follow.

Meanwhile, Prof. Derrikson kept an eye on the Nazis who, slightly after noon went to a warehouse to collect some item at which point they made their way to the Vizenti City Library to meet up with Dr. Puzo.

Upon meeting with Dr. Puzo, it was not long before Dr. Schaeffer arrived. With him was a new man, someone he introduced as Maj. Hans Klingler. After a dispute over the authenticity of the Kamadhenu Tablets, where Prof. Derrikson outright called them forgeries, the Nazis seemed upset and wanted to prove the value. Maj. Klingler opened the strange box they had gotten from the warehouse and it was filled with dust and other forensic equipment. In attempting to use these items to prove the authenticity of the tablets, some of the dust ‘accidentally’ got onto Prof. Derrikson. Shortly after, Dr. Puzo still refused to make the trade, stating his experience had been soured and the Nazis left but not before issuing a veiled threat to Prof. Derrikson. Naturally, Prof. Derrikson watched his step the entire trip back to the hotel.

After hours, Chakar and Bethany made their way back to Hospital Superbissima in hopes of getting a better look who Montgomery Donovan was visiting. Slipping into the room that he was visiting earlier, the two of them saw two small boys resting in hospital beds. One was named Monte Donovan and the other was just identified as Alexi. Chakar examined their charts and quickly made copies of Alexi’s Medical Records and Monte’s Medical Records as they seemed to provide some useful information, including Donovan’s home address. It was at this point that Monte’s attending physician entered, Dr. Mario Salazzio as well as Nurse Bonfila Scarlotti. Both wanted to know who they were. Thinking quickly, Chakar explained they were consultants brought in by Montgomery Donovan to examine the children. It did not take long for Dr. Salazzio to become suspicious and call for security. Chakar and Bethany quickly made their escape but noticed that the security was actually individuals who looked similar to Donovan’s security detail.

That night, as the investigators slept, Prof. Derrikson had a horrific dream about some faceless, formless entity coming for him. The voice was in a repetitive format. As he tossed and turned, his roommate, Howard, awoken to hear a dripping on the wall. When he turned the lights on, what lay before him was a thing of nightmares, dripping into existence from the ceiling and making its way into the room through some dimensional portal.

What ensued next was a wild frenzy of violence, with Howard and Prof. Derrikson firing at the creature while others in the hotel awaking and either fleeing for their lives or joining in on the violence. When Chakar became involved, the creature formed into the likeness of his mentor, Michael McKenzie and began to probe his mind. Whereas Chakar’s weapon seemed to harm the creature, more so than the weapons of Prof. Derrikson and Howard Defoe. However, before Chakar could deliver a fatal blow, the creature sunk a hook into him and phased them both out of existence. Chakar’s final words were to scream out the name of this creature: The Dweller in Destiny.

The investigators had little time to react to the loss of their friend as the hotel was on fire. They managed to smuggle out their important items and flee with the rest of the guests. After a quick series of good byes in the night, Bethany and Howard escaped under cover of darkness, determined to make their way to London, leaving Derrikson and McKenzie to pick up the pieces of this investigation and move on.

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Episode 25: Catacombs of Madness
A Horrific Discovery

Early August 1937 . . .

As Howard Defoe stood before the mirror in his Valletta hotel room, Piazza di Ville staring at himself as well as the small vial of Nectar he had obtained from the Hollywood party the evening before, he pondered what he should do versus what he would do. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his addictions and took the vial of sweet tasting Nectar, despite knowing where it came from and what it would do. Sinking into dark but peaceful oblivion was the best release he had felt in the months leading into the sinister trail of madness and murder.

The following day when Dr. Chakar Singh Kalsi checked in on his friends, he had discovered that Howard not only looked terrible (which he attributed to a late Hollywood-style party), but it seemed that Prof. Marvin Derrikson was also ill and unable to move out of bed. It was at this point that Chakar took Howard downstairs to meet up with Bethany Tibedeaux and Michael McKenzie for breakfast. It was at breakfast where Chakar suspected Howard’s drug use, as he saw signs similar to opium addicts during the Great War. The rest of the group was discussing the involvement of Montgomery Donovan. Howard reminded those present of the text they had hound, Testament of the Dripping Mouths’ Emanates, found in the estate of Samson Trammel. A section of the book discussed a treatise on various methods of ‘increasing the Yield of Emanates from the Most Holy Orifaces of the Thing.’ It went on to propose acts so depraved that it would increase Nectar production, presumably from a Major Mouth. Clearly, whoever this Donavon was, he was sitting on a massive amount of Nectar, yet according to Howard’s . . . research, there seemed to be little on the streets of Valletta.

It was at this point that Chakar slipped away to look in Howard’s room, presumably for the drug. While Prof. Derrikson was present, trying to rest, he admitted that he had been out most of the night, reading in the lobby and had not seen whether or not Howard had taken any drugs. Chakar did, however, find the small vial that the drug had been in and when he went into the bathroom, he saw some cryptic, foreign message, scrawled on the mirror, written in blood. Pocketing the vial, he then went down to get the others. Upon investigating the mirror (much to Prof. Derrikson’s chagrin) Bethany translated the message from one of the texts she had. It read ‘I am inside you and I am getting out.’ This shock was most disturbing to all as no blood or body was found anywhere on Howard or in the room.

Returning to the breakfast room to plan out their day, a waiter came in accompanying Dr. Jurgen Schaeffer of the Ahnenerbe, the man with whom Prof. Derrikson had been acquainted. It was Dr. Schaeffer’s plan to trade, presumably forged, copies of the famed Kamadhenu Tablets to Dr. Leonardis Puzo of the Vizenti City Library. The waiter seemed to point them out to Dr. Schaeefer.

Dr. Schaeffer, while polite, seemed to inquire as to the whereabouts of Prof. Derrikson as he was told that they were his associates. When he was told that Derrikson had taken ill he mentioned there was no real message for him but would send him a message later. With that, he left, though the investigators got the sense that there was something sinister about the meeting. Shortly after this, Chakar and McKenzie went up to study the Nectar in a makeshift lab while Bethany and Howard went to the Vizenti City Library to investigate.

As the pair left, Howard got a shocking feeling that something was wrong. Mere moments later, a large stone feel from the roof of the hotel, narrowly missing both he and Bethany as the stone would have clearly killed them both as evidenced by the massive crack in the sidewalk. The mayhem that followed involved several hotel staff members racing to the scene to check on them both as well as the manager of the hotel taking great pains to ensure they were unharmed. Howard determined this was no accident whatsoever.

Rather than stay at the hotel, Bethany and Howard shook off the shock and continued to the library, undeterred.

As Chakar and McKenzie tirelessly worked in the hotel room to study the Nectar, a feat performed by the late Lord Edward Homeward months ago, they discovered that the properties of the Nectar were part animal, vegetable and mineral as well as something else entirely, possibly a living organism. Studying the blood off the mirror, they determined it was some mix of human as well as something else unable to be determined.

While at the city library, Bethany read up on Malta history and learned of the Knights of Malta. The ancient people who once lived here were unmolested by most over the years but it was the Christian settlements that came from Italy that likely established more of a civilization. And around the time of the first crusades was when knights from Europe may have spirited away treasures from Christian Europe, hiding them in a vast network of catacombs underneath the city of Valletta. In looking into other matters, Bethany found yet more references to the Key to Glaaki, a text that would be quite helpful but was at the British Library in London.

Meanwhile Howard introduced himself to Dr. Puzo. Howard reiterated the dangers of Dr. Schaeffer as well as his suspected dishonesty and insincerity, especially regarding the Indian plates, the Kamadhenu Tablets. Getting to the heart of the matter, Dr Puzo reaffirmed his desire not to trade the library’s copy of De Vermis Mysteriis to Dr. Schaeffer or the Ahnanerbe. However, he was hesitant to cal off the trade or make any move as Prof. Derrikson asked him to stall on the deal, keeping the Germans at bay for just awhile longer. Dr. Puzo concluded with the need to keep his promise to Prof. Derrikson.

After the group had returned to the hotel and consulted with one another on their findings, McKenzie and Chakar were shocked to just now learn of the attempt on Bethany’s and Howard’s lives. They went to the top of the hotel to look for clues. It appeared as if a massive stone block, taking at least three men to move, had been removed from a part of the hotel, dragged over to the ledge and shoved off. Any thoughts of an accident were clearly dismissed.

That night Bethany, Howard and Chakar went to the opera in hopes of finding clues about Donovan. During the performance, it was noted that one of the set of box seats was empty. After the performance, they approached the manager, Mr. Izzo, who mentioned that the seats belonged to a Mr. Montgomery Donovan. He confided that the seats had gone empty for close to two months every since his wife, Portia had passed way. Mr. Donovan closely guarded his privacy and whereas he did not know exactly where Mr. Donovan lived, he did reiterate it was likely somewhere in the city’s Emerald District.

Bright an early the next morning, the group decided to investigate the catacombs they had spotted on the set of the movie, ‘Knights of the Cross,’ the film being directed by Colm Soames. Passing themselves off as technical consultants to the crew that had assembled, they progressed into the catacombs. Realizing how deep and cavernous some of the passages were, the fact that this was a network of tunnels under the city was nothing short of amazing. According to Bethany, these catacombs were used by the ancient knights to move unfettered through the city and hide ancient treasures, likely the very things the Ahnenerbe were seeking.

Eventually, the group passed by one passage that seemed to lead to the surface. A spot on the wall had some markings written in German, suggesting that Schaeffer or some of his associates had come by this area. Pressing on, as they were unable to translate German, they began to hear some soft cries and moans. Investigating, they could not pinpoint exactly where it was coming from but Chakar thought it was coming from Howard. Instantly Chakar grabbed Howard and noticed a small, grotesque Minor Mouth forming on the bottom of Howard’s tongue! Just as Chakar, deep in shock, was to forcibly remove Howard’s tongue with a knife, Bethany intervened and rendered them both unconscious. Taking a deep breath from what had happened and the shock both men had suffered, Bethany carefully crept to the next chamber where she encountered a small bed of Minor Mouths all clamoring and screaming once she entered. Suffering her own shock, she went back to associates, noting that that wherever they were must be an important place as the activity was clearly bringing the Minor Mouths into existence. Waking her friends and helping up the ‘German entry,’ they emerged back to the surface of Valletta. They found themselves behind a cabaret, Madame Zu Zu. They quickly made their way back to the hotel where Michael McKenzie conducted emergency surgery on Howard’s tongue, causing some scarring but saving the man’s tongue, showing that despite having an issue with alcohol, McKenzie was a world class surgeon.

Whether or not they would return to the catacombs was a separate question.

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Episode 24: Mystery at the Library
In which a most unusual fraud is detected

Early August, 1937 . . .

After dealing with the authorities in Valletta, Professor Marvin Derrikson was unsure whether his ruse would work. His attempt at making it appear as if their DC-3 had gone down in the Mediterranean Sea was a risk. So his first action was to send a telegram to Janet Winston-Rogers, explaining they were all (relatively) fine and to keep up the ruse on their behalf. Meanwhile Howard Defoe and Chakar Singh Kalsi settled into the hotel room that Janet had arranged for them. The Piazza di Ville was one of the more luxurious hotels the group had encountered, which was certainly a stark change from anything they had experienced in Ethiopia. Bethany Tibedeaux, still feeling the effects of the poison from a White Hermit retired to her room. Prof. Michael McKenzie and Frankie Fawn began setting up the cargo in the rooms.

There was a great deal to do a few leads from which to begin. The mysterious Montgomery Donovan was their best lead and that was little more than a name in Samson Trammel’s cursed tome, the Testament of the Dripping Mouths’ Emanates. Professor Derrikson concluded that perhaps the best way to begin was to go to the library and see what details were available in the newspaper or society sections. Howard, however, decided to patrol the streets, investigating what supplies of Nectar were available, while Chakar reconnected with Prof. McKenzie, hoping to become more grounded in the face of what they had recently experienced. On his way out of the hotel, Prof. Derrikson asked if the hotel manager knew Montgomery Donovan and determined he did not. But suggested that the city’s social elite may congregate at one of the many gentleman’s cubs in town.

Howard quickly discovered that the streets of Valletta were seemingly empty of Nectar but this seemed to contradict some of the intelligence they had gathered that suggested Montgomery’s operation had ‘tripled production.’ So where was all the Nectar?

As Prof. Derrikson made his way to the Vizenti City Library, he noticed some men unloading crates from a delivery truck with a well dressed German man standing nearby. This seemed a most unusual site and when Prof. Derrikson asked about it from one of the circulation clerks, he directed Prof. Derrikson to the library director, Dr. Leonardis Puzo. Dr. Puzo, a charming intellectual, immediately connected with Prof. Derrikson and explained that the man outside was Dr. Jurgen Schaeffer, a representative of the University of Berlin. He was in town negotiated a trade between the two institutions where the University of Berlin would get the rare Latin copy of De Vermis Mysteriis and they would give to Puzo an even rarer set of Hindu plates known as the Kamadhenu Tablets. Dr. Puzo was even more delighted to discover that Prof. Derrikson was an expert in such matters as only recently his own expert, someone who could verify the artifacts, had befallen an accident and was in the hospital. Perhaps Prof. Derrikson could step in and assist in the examination of the tablets.

Upon meeting Dr. Schaeffer, formally, Prof. Derrikson noticed he was a man of few words and seemed surprised that Prof. Derrikson would step in and aid with the examination of the tablets. Prof. Derrikson, for his part, detected something very unsettling about the German professor, who was also attached with the German organization, the Ahnenerbe. Dr. Schaeffer said he would be in touch and provided Dr. Puzo his contact information. With that, Prof. Derrikson went to the archives for newspapers and just when he was about to give up, he did discover a clue, a Photo of Donovan. The photo gave reference to a night at the opera with Donovan and his wife, Portia. At least this was something to start with.

That night when the group met back up, they traded information over dinner. Prof. Derrikson gave his suspicions that something was unusual with the trade he was witnessing, suspecting there could be something off about the Kamadhenu Tablets. They also discussed the photo they found and suspected that the next step could be the opera house, suspecting they may have information on wealthy patrons. Howard wanted to investigate Dr. Schaeffer and would look at the address he provided Dr. Puzo.

The following morning as all the investigators left the hotel to go about their various investigations, they noticed that there were signs that something was being set up for a party – grand decorations, fine food being brought in and an air of excitement.

Prof. Derrikson made his way to the library to meet back with Dr. Puzo where they spent the day examining the Kamadhenu Tablets. It took a better part of the day to uncover it, but it was evident that they were mostly fakes; elaborate forgeries. But the question was whether or not Dr. Schaeffer was the perpetrator or whether he, himself, was duped.

When Howard went to the address that Dr. Schaeffer had left behind, it was a simple, one-story building surrounded by restaurants and cafes. The outside of the building proudly displayed the German flag as well as the Nazi party flag. As he waited, he eventually noticed someone meeting Schaeffer’s description leave the building and head across the street for lunch. Howard decided to go over to the office and enter.

Once inside, he discovered an office about 7 employees, several of them in Nazi uniforms. One of the individuals, likely the man in charge of the office, got up and introduced himself as Major Heinrik Volk. Major Volk was friendly, asked a great deal of questions of Howard and explained that this office was a group dedicated to researching German cultural heritage across the world as well as tracking down ancient German artifacts. Malta was rife with such things as it was theorized that many items were brought to Malta centuries ago by orders of knights to keep such items in hiding. There were catacombs underneath the city that may house many of these items. He even showed Howard a map of the world, showing a variety of locations where other members of the cultural department, the Ahnenerbe, had been deployed.

Meanwhile when Charka had gone to the opera house, the leads were not very strong until the opera house manager agreed to speak with him. Whereas he admitted that Mr. and Mrs. Donovan were patrons of the opera, in that they purchased box seats, there was little more than that and he knew little more about them. He suspected that citizens of such wealth may well live in the city’s Emerald district.

When the group circled back for dinner and exchanging information of what they had looked into, they noticed that whatever gala event the hotel had been planning was about to start. Prof. Derrikson began to examine the guest list and just as he noticed a name that caught his attention, Howard was approached by someone he seemed to remember from a few months ago.

Colm Soames, the Hollywood director whose party he and Lord Edward Homeward had attended in order to investigate the Nectar trade was standing in front of him in Malta. After the initial shock of seeing someone he thought he would never see again, Soames admitted that the party was for he and other employes of MGM studios who had sent Soames and some of the production for on location shoots in Malta. They were filming ‘Knights of the Cross,’ a historical piece and invited Howard to the set to look around. He mentioned they were using some catacombs they had discovered, which was interesting since Major Volk had also mentioned catacombs. When Soames invited Howard to the party, Howard quickly found his interest in Nectar replenished as some of the starlets brought their own supply. However, they mentioned how the drug was much harder to find in Los Angeles over the past few months.

The following day the group went to the shoot where Soames was directing and saw the catacombs in question. What mysteries lay beneath were as of yet unclear.

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Episode 23: The Scuttling

Late July, 1937 . . .

After dealing with the stresses of breaking into the Orne Library at Miskatonic University and dealing with the horrors of the Faceless One, the investigators spent another week gathering their supplies and conducting some important correspondence.

Professor Marvin Derrikson, due to two separate inquiries, received two important pieces of information, both from the staff at Joy Grove in Savannah. First, the receptionist-nurse, Beth, informed Professor Derrikson that a shady character had been seen around Joy Grove, asking about Edgar Job, still a patient at the institute but who seemed to be growing in importance as the investigation went on. When he was rebuffed he later tried to sneak into the grounds, leading to the death of an orderly but being run off by hospital security. The stranger’s description seemed to fit that of the mysterious Luc Fauche (the ‘skin stealer’). Secondly, Dr. Keaton’s letter described that Edgar Job had, indeed, gotten the letter sent by George Ayers. Dr. Keaton felt that the correspondence from his old friend, indeed helped in Mr. Job’s recovery. However, the complex ritual that Professor Derrikson was put away in Dr. Keaton’s safe as he felt such odd things would not be beneficial to the recovery. Professor Derrikson was angered by the impudence of Dr. Keaton but this was the least of his concerns, presently.

The following day was spent with Bethany Tibedeaux teaching Chakar Singh Kalsi the Rituals of Self Denial as the group felt as many people who knew about this the better. This ritual was one of the best tools that the group had in in dealing with the Liar from Beyond. Also, in Bethany’s research, she determined that there was a key tome that could be of assistance – the Key to Glaaki, currently held in the British Museum in London. According to her research, this text could grately add to the understanding of the Revelations of Glaaki, a set of books already in their possession.

The following day the group begin their intercontinental journey with stops in several locations. Professor Michael McKenzie also came aboard as it was felt his expertise could be of some value. Howard Defoe was in charge of the cargo in the back and kept a careful watch over some of their more valuable items.

The final stop before Valletta in Malta was Palermo, Sicily. Frankie Fawn needed to make some final repairs and switch out some engine pieces. The rest of the group went into town for a hotel and some good food, leaving Frankie to work on the plane. It was what happened at the conclusion of dinner that set events in motion at a breakneck pace.

A stranger approached the group after dinner and stated his employer wished to speak with them on an important matter. Intrigued but suspicious, the group agreed but Professor McKenzie and Howard retired to watch over the belongings in their rooms. The rest were taken to a country villa outside of town where they were introduced to the mysterious host who introduced himself as Husain Soliman. He was direct and straightforward with what he wanted. He had a deep interest in some of the artifacts and texts he suspected the investigators had in their possession, specifically, the Warding Stone found in Savannah, as well as the tests Revelations of Glaaki (volume 12) and the Testament of the Dripping Mouths’ Emanates found in Samson Trammel’s estate. The investigators were polite but refused. However, when Professor Derrikson made reference to the terrible Skin Tomes found in Ethiopia, Soliman virtually salivated with desire at the thought of getting his hands on such blasphemous items. But still they refused. It was then that Soliman had one of his underlings bring out a box, covered with a sheet with something perhaps alive inside. Soliman suggested it was some kind of ‘pet’ he would be interested in trading. When asked what it was, Soliman was vague, stating only that the pet had wondrous powers that the mind was unable to truly comprehend without experiencing it one’s self. When again, the investigators declined, he seemed resigned to the decision but also gave them a bit of warning: he was just as interested in seeing to it the investigators did not have these items at all as he was in having them for himself.

As soon as they returned to their hotel, they immediately suspected they were in grave danger and decided to check out and head to the air strip, giving Frankie a little time to make what repairs they needed. Upon arriving, Frankie seemed clean as if she had not done a great deal of work on the plane. When pressed, she admitted to having been out to dinner and met a handsome Frenchman who the investigators suspected may have been Luc Fauche, adding to their desperation to leave. With several of them taking guard positions, Frankie and Bethany made the needed repairs and the group was ready to depart by 1 AM.

The flight, while mostly quiet, quickly changed at close to 5 AM. Chakar was jolted awake on the plane looking at a small white spider, dangling from a strand. he recognized it as a White Hermit which was mostly harmless as its mouth was too tiny to bite. However as the small spider turned around, he realized that this particular one had a much larger, mutated mouth, likely the result of Nectar infusion. This sudden shock caused him to scream out but this was drowned by the screams coming from the cockpit.

Prof Derrikson and Bethany raced to the cockpit to see Frankie panicking as a dozen of these dangerous spiders were crawling throughout the area and Chakar suddenly realized that there were a half a dozen crawling out from the overhead storage area. The plane was infested with scuttling spiders, all mutated and possessed with angry dispositions. This infestation was a sure problem.

As the group in the cockpit worked to fend them off, they all continued to get bit with Frankie losing control of the plane, heading towards the ocean in a dive. Knowing that something had to be done or else they would all die, Bethany and Prof. Derrikson threw together some chemicals and tried to douse the cockpit. But they were too late, Frankie was losing her nerve and as a result, control over the plane.

Meanwhile, Chakar and Prof. McKenzie were dealing with the spiders in the back. When Chakar investigated the storage area, he was shocked to too dozens of these creatures scuttling forth, exploding into the rest of the plane. Things seemed dire and desperate.

Panic was the order of the day but thankfully, Bethany and Prof. Derrikson managed to calm Frankie down and force her to regain her nerve. Prof. McKenzie and Chakar came to the front and began dousing the area with the whiskey that Prof. McKenzie had not yet consumed. Once the onslaught of White Hermits crawled to the front, a full army of close to 50, they drowned them with as much whiskey as they could, killing the vast majority of these terrible insects. Not long after this, they saw land in sight – Valletta, the capital city of Malta.

Upon landing, Chakar dealt with the bites, the poison and the physical ailments of the team. Prof, Derrikson then offered a substantial bribe to the customs agents to falsify a report that their plane had crashed into the ocean and the Royal Navy had been dispatched to look for survivors. This, hopefully, would throw Luc Fauche and Soliman off their trail, buying some time.

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Episode 22: The Faceless One

Early July 1937 . . .

As the investigators began to pack up and start the long trek back to the United States, hoping to leave Ethiopia far behind, there were a few loose ends that Professor Marvin Derrikson and Chakar Singh Kalsi needed to tie up. Speaking with the Guardians, the two men left specific instructions on how to deal with the village in Dallol as well as the temple at the Dig Site. Additionally, Professor Derrikson made certain that Muhoho was fully versed in the Rituals of Self Denial. After bidding Muhoho and Jerome a fond farewell, the two men took Bethany Tibedeaux and Howard Defoe back to Massua, met up with Frankie Fawn and began their trip by air back to Providence to meet with Janet Winston Rogers.

During the week long trip, the group stopped outside of London for the night and Chakar took the opportunity to check in on his friend, Professor Michael McKenzie. Much to Chakar’s surprise, Professor McKenzie had taken an emergency sabbatical and was unaccounted for for several days. The last anyone had seen of him, he was ranting about some subject or another and demanded a large truck. Whereas Chakar was concerned, he also assumed that this was yet another one of his manic investigations that McKenzie was known for. Disappointed he was unable to see his friend, the group began the flight to Providence nonetheless. It was on this flight that Professor Derrikson began stitching the collar, once belonging to Fr. Carl Meinardus, as a wrist band of remembrance.

Arriving in the early evening in early July, the investigators were surprised that nobody was present to pick them up, despite the telegram they had sent Janet and her people. After securing a taxi and making their way to Janet’s estate, they were prepared for anything. But as they pulled up to her home, they saw a hearse, haphazardly parked, blocking in the rest of the cars. At this point, the investigators made their way into the home, they heard shouting and screaming in the home and saw a large coffin to the side, in the dining room. And entering the home to see what was happening, to their shock, they saw Professor McKenzie in a screaming match with Janet, with McKenzie clearly berating her, demanding to know where his friends, Chakar and Marvin were. Upon seeing his two friends, McKenzie immediately calmed down – but only briefly.

Quickly, the conversation moved to who or what was in the coffin. It was at that point that Professor McKenzie revealed that it was a beast, something he called a Faceless One and it was still alive, as evidenced by the thumping and scrawling that began from inside the coffin. Shocked, the investigators wanted to know McKenzie’s story.

McKenzie explained that shortly after he dispatched Chakar to look for Professor Derrikson, he began being stalked by some unknown entity. Eventually he discovered a horrific creature in his home, missing a face but with a body covered in slathering mouths. Discovering that he was unable to actually kill the creature, he took a spare coffin that he kept in his home and managed to throw the creature in, then using a ritual he had learned, sealed the creature in. However, the magic in the ritual would wear down and was in constant danger of escaping. So, he did the only thing he could think to do and that was to drag a coffin from England to the United States.

Realizing this was a serious matter and that Professor McKenzie was clearly erratic over a long journey and a harrowing experience, the investigative team knew that something had to be done. With Janet’s permission, they moved the coffin to the wine cellar and Bethany looked into some of the tomes she had collected in order to find how to get rid of this terrible creature.

Her research uncovered that the creature was one of several creatures dedicated to the service of Y’Golonac and that it was actually called a Faceless One. Further, she uncovered it was, as Professor McKenzie had suggested, invulnerable to attack and that it has to be dispatched through rituals. The rituals in question were found in the infamous volume 12 of the Revelations of Glaaki. This book could be found in the Orne Library at nearby Miskatonic University in Arkham. So the investigators decided the best plan was to go to Miskatonic, break in and steal the Revelations of Glaaki.

The trip to Mikatonic was fairly easy and breaking in was surprisingly simple, with Bethany demonstrating skills that indicated she had a less than honest education. Within a short amount of time they had gotten into the restricted area, found the tomes and made off with the entire set of books that Miskatonic had on the Revelations of Glaaki. Returning to Janet’s estate, Chakar began to translate the text, looking specifically for the passages that discussed Faceless Ones. Fortunately, he found that passage. Unfortunately, it involved ‘bathing it in blood’ as a means of dispatching it. Interpreting this passage as literal human blood, the group, including Professor McKenzie, began collecting blood to use for the ritual. After a botched attempt the first time, it was the second instance of the ritual which was successful, sending the creature back to wherever it came from.

The following day, Howard was reunited with Elena Alcatruz, who was still living at Janet’s estate. The conversation then turned to Malta which was agreed would be the next stop on their travels. Janet stated that she and her late husband had vacationed there before and she could suggest some fine hotels and restaurants. However, she also cautioned that the government in Malta had become very friendly with the new German government under Adolph Hitler. As to the mysterious Montgomery Donovan, Janet had little knowledge other than he was a wealthy recluse with a great power and money at his disposal.

With that, the team began collecting the things needed for a trip to Malta.

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Episode 21: Agony of the Wind

Late June 1937 . . .

Upon returning from the Temple of the Mouth, the investigators were exhausted, deciding to freshen their supplies in the village of Kolluli. Howard Defoe and Bethany Tibedeaux were in no condition to travel, leaving the task to Fr. Carl Meinardus, Professor Marvin Derrikson and Jerome to investigate the village of Dallol. However, the following morning there was a visitor to Kolluli.

Once introductions were made, the weary visitor was Chakar Singh Kalsi, a Sikh medical doctor from Oxford, seeking out Prof. Derrikson. He explained that he was sent by a mutual friend, a Professor Michael McKenzie, also from Oxford. Chakar seemed interested in some of the unusual circumstances which Jerome and Prof. Derrikson eluded to, so they had a discussion regarding some of the more unusual and strange phenomena the investigators had experienced, holding back some of the more harrowing ones. When Chakar noticed some of the wounds on Prof. Derrikson, Fr. Carl and Howard (the wounds dealt to them by the Azurfre from the Temple of the Mouth, Chakar was intrigued and Prof. Derrikson hinted at unusual creatures in the desert. The conversation concluded with Chakar willing to travel with Prof. Derrikson, Jerome and Fr. Carl to the village of Dallol, in hopes of uncovering some of the mysteries that the village no doubt contained.

Unsure of what awaited them in Dallol, the investigated decided to travel overnight to the village. They were unsure if the villagers would be hostile, friendly or something in between. Jerome assured them that the few villagers who his village had come into contact with were close to shunned for their strange and erratic behavior.

Getting to the edge of the village just before dawn, they took out their binoculars and scouted the situation. They saw that many of the villagers, of a community of close to 80, roamed listlessly around the area and most had some kind of injury to either the legs, head or arms. While they were letting this sink in, they noticed that one villager turned directly to them and began pointing, silently. The rest of the village turned to stare, also silently, not moving. It was at this point that the group slowly moved forward.

Greeted by a man who seemed excited to see them, he spoke a foreign tongue that only Jerome and Prof. Derrikson could understand. He explained that their prophet, Tshombe, had foretold of their arrival and it was important to seek her out. As they made their way to Tshombe’s hut, they got a closer look at the wounds. To Chakar, many seemed either self-inflicted or as if they were bitten and chewed. Disturbingly, in the short amount of time it took to get to Tshombe’s hut, they did witness several instances of severe self-mutilation by the villagers. What was to happen next, at Tshombe’s hut, was never something they could have expected.

The hut was filled with bodies lying under rags and sheets. It was unclear whether they were alive or dead, but many of the rest of the villagers began to enter, to see what would come of the visitors. In her native tongue, Tshombe greeted the newcomers and told them how she had dreamed of their arrival. The Agony of the Wind told her that visitors would come and bring something that would change the entire community. It was clear to Chakar and Prof. Derrikson, they had walked into something disturbing and macabre. Eventually, Tshombe put them to the test. She explained that there was something they needed to see but first she had to learn more about them. She took Prof. Derrikson’s hand and began touching it to her body. Eventually, in a sensual way, she lowered his hands between her legs. But instead of touching what he expected to be there, his fingers were instead seized by teeth – clearly she had a Minor Mouth where her vagina should have been! Prof. Derrikson screamed in horror and agony and despite his best efforts to keep calm, it was not possible, turning the entire village against them.

Thinking quickly, Chakar, was able to calm things through his quick thinking and use of Jerome to demonstrate that while Prof. Derrikson may not have been the messenger they expected, he was still capable of providing them with gifts and knowledge. This seemed to mollify her and the crowd, and they did not decide to rip the investigators limb from limb.

When Prof. Derrikson eventually came around, they began a procession to a large building on the edge of the village. Tshombe promised they would see things that would affirm their faith to the Agony of the Wind.

Entering the temple, the investigators saw a horrific sight – the early stages of a Major Mouth forming on the floor. It was a clear that it was not yet alive, in the sense that other mouths had been, but the cult in Dallol was cultivating it. Tshombe revealed that they were once nomads but after the great explosion from the volcano, it was then that she began to hear the voice of the Agony of the Wind. It was then that the villagers known as the Diggers decided to take root and explore what the Wind had to say. Ever since they had been preparing for the Wind’s arrival. When Tshombe had one of her followers throw himself into the pit for nourishment, the investigators wondered how they were going to get out of this precarious situation.

Tshombe took them to the next room where she showed them torsos of bodies hanging from the ceiling. Upon the mangled bodies were scars, tattoos and other sigils forming out some kind of ritual or spell. Prof. Derrikson immediately recognized this as a way to summon and cultivate a Major Mouth. These Skin Tomes were dangerous but useful knowledge.

Following this, Tsombe asked if they were prepared to speak with the Avatar of Agony. Reluctantly, they agreed. At this point Tsombe took them upstairs to the upper level of the temple. Taking them into a room which smelled of rot and flesh there was a dais which she promptly lit aflame. This grill began to pop and sizzle and slowly an entity began to form. The entity, forming from discarded pieces of the mutilated cultists began to hiss into existence. The creature then began to speak directly into the minds of the investigators. In short, it said that the sacrifice of all the cultists could bring it into permanency and allow it to roam the earth. Clearly, this was something the investigators did not want have happen. When Fr. Carl was told to keep it together, the only response he could muster for this madness was to end his own life. Slitting his own throat, the Avatar seemed with what had transpired. When the Avatar dispersed, the investigators then acted quickly if they wanted to get out alive.

They decided this evil had to end. They rendered Tsombe unconscious and then Chakar used his ether to put the entire building unconscious. They then went through the grim task of exterminating the entire cult village. With the knowledge that the cult was destroyed in Ethiopia, they then left and returned to Kolluli with the intent of packing up and leaving for their next stop.

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Episode 20: Temple of the Mouth

Late June, 1937 . . .

Leaving the mysterious hermit George Ayers to his cave, after learning some of the secrets he had to provide, as well as the Rituals of Self Denial, the investigators decided that the Dig Site was their next best option. The dig site that contained the ancient temple that Dr. Bartolo Acuna once thought held historical secrets was long abandoned but it was possible that there was something of value that still remained. Fr. Carl Meinardus, Howard Defoe, Bethany Tibedeaux, Prof. Marvin Derrikson and Jerome, packed up their supplies and went out to seek the temple.

Whereas the temple was not too far from George’s cave, the brutal heat and sand was a dangerous obstacle they had to overcome. The distance, while short, still took them 16 hours to traverse. As they approached, they saw the massive volcano that had erupted over 10 years ago, destroying the site and killing most of the workers. It was easy to follow but the terrain was unforgiving. The following day, as they approached the location, they found old tools and bones from when the volcano erupted, telling them they were closing in.

Upon reaching the temple, which at this point was a pair of stone doors leading into the earth, it took some time to pry them open with the limited tools they had available. However, putting together a simple pulley system, they were able to open them. They noticed that there was a spot for the missing sigil that Acuna and Ayers had removed a decade ago. As the doors came open, they were greeted with a foul stench that assaulted their senses, reminiscent of sulfur and some other, unidentified substance.

Faced with whether to prop the slabs open and risk them closing and never getting out or slamming them wide open (and making it impossible to quickly close in a hurry), the investigators had just about gotten them open when a white appendage lashed out, striking at Fr. Carl and dragging him into the temple. Quickly the others gave chase, seeing splattered blood on the stairs. Going into the underground temple, they saw only darkness, save for the flashlights they brought with them.

Exploring the area, looking for Fr. Carl, they knew that time was their enemy. They entered a massive chamber dominated by a large, calcified Major Mouth lying dormant. Nearby was a horrible creature hovering over Fr. Carl, seemingly draining the moisture out of him. This creature, perhaps a Azurfre was a clear threat that Jerome, Howard and Prof. Derrikson were prepared to destroy.

After a brief firefight, the investigators were all wounded but seemingly destroyed the creature. However, Prof. Derrikson quickly discovered the creature was reforming in the next chamber. Realizing this terrible thing could well pursue them through the desert, he created a controlled explosion with the little dynamite he had remaining and brought the ceiling down, seemingly destroying it for good.

Leaving the temple, they then closed up the doors, not wanting anyone else to come across this foul location.

At this point, realizing that the temple was ‘safe’ and no longer posing a Mythos oriented threat, the plan was to travel on to Dallol and investigate possible Mythos activity there. But first they would return to Kolluli in order to resupply and tend to their wounds.

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Episode 19: George Ayers
Harsh conditions and violent altercations lead to secrets revealed.

In and around June 17th 1937 . . .

Leaving Mersa Fatma on the train provided by representatives of the CMC, the investigators set out with Jerome to get to the village of Kolluli in order to see if the mysterious George Ayers was available to provide any details useful in fighting against the forces of the Liar from Beyond. Further, it was hoped that other members of the Guardians could provide information about the Dig Site or the unusual Diggers in Dallol.

The trip was only expected to take a few hours by train. With Howard Defoe acting as engineer and Bethany Tibedeaux overseeing some of the basic maintenance, the others, Jerome, Fr. Carl Meinardus and Prof. Marvin Derrikson keeping the fire in the engine stoked.

Whereas there were some problems with clearing sand off the rail tracks, the investigators noticed some figures on horseback in the distance, likely watching them. The investigators seemed unnerved by this, unsure of the figures’ motives, but they redoubled their efforts to clear the tracks, moving on towards Kolluli. An hour later, they would meet again.

The figures were bandits and staged an ambush on horseback against the investigators as the train was moving. Whereas the investigators managed to fight them off, they recognized that one of the bandits, their leader, was someone they had run into in Mersa Fatma, a man who they had a brief conversation with. Clearly he had been scoping them out for a possible attack. After some minor damage to the train and working on the injuries they had sustained, they were back on track. Of course, shortly before they arrived in Kolluli, there were some minor repairs that had to be made to the engine, but by early evening they did enter the Kolluli area and took advantage of the rest and stress-free situation.

That evening the villagers planned a feast in honor of the newcomers and Jerome then introduced them to a member of the Guardians, Muhoho. They asked her about the whereabouts of George Ayers and whereas Muhoho was hesitant to reveal anything, for a variety of reasons, she eventually did reveal his location as a hermit in the desert. She was moved by the reasons the investigators put forth, namely that he could provide some much needed help for their work against the Liar, Y’Golonac. Muhoho was very clear about the dangers of the Liar as well as the manifestations of the evil that the Guardians had found on George Ayers. But she relented in the end, deciding that they could talk to George and perhaps get him to do some good, believing that they, the investigators, could uncover some secrets. The group agreed to set out the following morning to meet with George.

Braving the heat and elements of the desert, the investigators went with Jerome to the south east of Kolluli. Spending hours through the desert they eventually came across a figure sitting alone. Upon approaching the emaciated and ragged figure, they realized they were looking at George Ayers. He was thin and gaunt and barley clothed and sitting in the desert. Worse, he had a Minor Mouth in the middle of his chest. The mouth appeared to be calcified but it was still unsightly. It did not take long to realize that George had not spoken in a decade and was not used to speaking. He wandered back to a nearby cave and took the investigators with him. He would then, over the next few days, communicate via speaking and writing, part of his story. It was clear he wanted to help their investigation but at the same time he was also concerned about the damage it would do to him. Merely speaking was putting him in peril as it was revealed that the purification process George went through caused him to abstain from most human activities. To engage in them would allow the Liar’s influence to return, as well as allow the Minor Mouth to come back to life.

Talking to George Ayers over the next few days, they learned about the Rituals of Self Denial which had two stages – the Cleansing Stage and the Purification Stage. The Cleansing Stage simply made the body pure. The Purification Stage was a never ending journey. The interesting aspect to the Cleansing Stage was that it could make a body so pure that if a Major Mouth fed about such a body, it will likely destroy it. The Purification Stage would take decades of self denial and clean living.

It was also of note that when Edgar Job, the inmate at Joy Grove was mentioned, George Ayers seemed to take an interest. He stated that Edgar was fundamentally good, was very intelligent with knowledge of physics and mathematics, and was someone who had a lot to offer, despite being shy. However, he admitted, and the investigators agreed, based upon what they knew, that he was curious as to what Ramon Eschavarria saw in Edgar Job. Edgar was something of a nobody compared to the rest of the inner circle.

The reason for the delay – several days worth – of staying with George Ayers, was that the more he spoke and tried the help, the healthier the Minor Mouth became. He needed to regulate and limit his speaking. But at the end he managed to reveal important information as well as teach the investigators the Rituals of Self Denial. It was at this point that they thanked George for his help and wished him well on his journey, as the investigators had their own journey to continue upon.

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Episode 18: The Guardian's Tale
A myserious ally is met and tells his story

Mersa Fatma was not the bustling hub that Massaua was. The investigators, upon arriving, instantly felt the extreme heat that poured in from the nearby desert. They knew that precautions would have to be made in order to make the eventual trek into the sands to the Dig Site. The group immediately made their way towards the CMC building in order to see if it was possible to secure passage to Kolluli. The mystery at nearby Dallol as well as the whereabouts of George Ayers needed to be solved.

En route to the building a local man stopped to have a conversation with the investigators, speaking with Bethany Tibedeaux as she was the only one who spoke the local language. He explained that there was not much activity from the CMC, but it was still technically open. He also said, much to their chagrin, that he had not seen a train come or go in about seven years. This was not welcome news at all. However, they pressed on to see what could be done.

Arriving at the CMC building, they were impressed at how large and sound the building seemed to be, yet it also gave the sense that it was all but deserted. Upon entering, they quickly encountered Sinhue Djau, an Egyptian who claimed to be the second in command of the operations. He further explained that not only was there a very small staff at the CMC, but the trains had not been running for close to a decade. Since cheaper labor and more abundant resources were found elsewhere, the CMC moved their activity to a more southern locale. However, Sinhue would be more than happy to introduce them to his employer, Renzo Segni.

Upon meeting Renzo Segni, it became clear that he was a man who had set himself up as a king among the ruins of a one profitable business. Whereas there were scant few subjects in the form of employees, it soon was evident that he had thrown away the vestiges of his European upbringing, in exchange for the lifestyle of the natives, taking on several local wives and fathering numerous children. While friendly to the investigators, he did seem to take the wrong impression with Fr. Carl Meinardus, suspecting that perhaps he was an agent of the Vatican sent to castigate him for his liberated social values. Once that was set aside as a concern, Segni was far more amicable. It was then that the investigators got down to business with Segni.

Prof. Marvin Derrikson asked about the use of the train that the CMC had in its possession. Segni said not only were the trains not in working order but the CMC had given specific instructions that the trains would not be in use. However, after some masterful negotiations the group appealed to Segni’s selfish side and offered him a great deal of money for use of the train. Segni, ever the self-indulgent individual, greatly accepted and said that the train would be available the following day after his engineer had a chance to look it over. With that the group went to check into the hotel Segni had suggested.

On the way back through town, towards the hotel, the investigators noticed that there was a suspicious figure observing them from the alley. When they doubled back to close in on him, he attempted to make his escape but the group caught up with him in an adjoining alleyway. After a brief scuffle, where Howard Defoe disarmed him, the man identified himself as Jerome and claimed not only do mean them any true harm but perhaps he had some information they could use, for he was one of the Guardians.

After the investigators vetted Jerome, believing his story the be accurate, they went to a nearby restaurant to discuss the details further. Jerome explained that his group, the Guardians were safekeepers of the ancient temple site that had been in existence for centuries, left sealed up by his brethren for hundreds of years. When Dr. Bartolomo Acuna and George Ayers arrived over a decade ago, the two men and their porters were dangerously close to releasing an ancient evil upon the world, perhaps aware, perhaps unknowingly. The Guardians were able to disrupt as much of the operation as possible, using subtle means and means that were not so subtle from time to time. Eventually things became drastic when it was clear that Acuna was not going to give up. When Acuna and Ayers left the dig site to deal with the CMC’s inability to follow through with instruuctions, Jerome claimed that he and his compatriots unleashed a ritual that caused the nearby volcano to erupt. This was the final straw for Acuna but not for Ayers.

Jerome continued with his tale, stating that when Ayers returned to the site, it was Jerome who was sent to deal with Ayers. When Jerome discovered that Ayers had a horrific slathering mouth alive on his body, Jerome was set to end this man’s madness. However, Ayers plead for his life. Jerome took pity on him and took him to his elders. They decided that Ayers could be saved and salvaged, teaching him the Rituals of Self Denial in order to suppress the evil that had overcome him. When the investigators pressed Jerome for the whereabouts of Mr. Ayers, Jerome hesitated, saying that Ayers had been in the desert for 11 years, atoning for his sins and past actions and that this work had the risk of being undone. But he would consider it.

The question was also broached about how Jerome could gather more Guardians to their cause, especially if, as was suspected, the people in Dallol were unfriendly or in league with the cult as Diggers. Jerome revealed that members of the Guardians were away and that he and a pair of women in Kolluli were all that were in the area. The Guardians were off fighting against the Italians in their resistance movement. Clearly, the investigators would be on their own.

Jerome agreed to accompany the investigators. Whether it was to aid them or prevent them from causing the damage that Acuna and Ayers had done over a decade ago was unclear. But he knew how to get from Kolluli to the dig site as well as to Dallol. Therefore it was agreed that the next day they would take the train provided by Sengi and go to Kolluli.

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