Masks of Nyarlathotep with Cthulhu Dark (IC), Part II - London
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This GeekList is the second In-Character (IC) "thread" for the Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) campaign run with Cthulhu Dark (Original Version). To join, please review the recruitment and character creation instructions and then jump in on the OOC thread. A summary of the story so far has been posted here, and there's also a wiki tracking the running theories and key clues gathered thus far. A summary of player and character status is below.



You'll find additional notes plus the full text of all prior IC activity in Part I - New York City.
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1. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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Chapter 1. Faringdon



Bleary-eyed, Shaw wandered into the dining area. They were arguing again, and Shaw had a hard time keeping track of who was on which side. At first, McCall, who'd advocated for coming to London in the first place, had thought a visit to the Penhew Foundation was the first order of business, but then backtracked, saying they didn't want to reveal their presence to Gavigone or whatever his name was. But now it seemed like McCall was talking about going to Penhew again. Or maybe he was just hypothetically taking up Rosellini's point, only to argue against it. In any case, Rosellini was passionately making her own argument now. Shaw caught a wry smile from Molina and decided he needed to visit the lavoratory before joining his companions.

They'd arrived at this bed and breakfast outside London the day before, having traveled for weeks cramped in the "guest" quarters of his friend's ship and then spending a few days getting from Ireland to here. Despite the stresses of the trip, Shaw was glad to be away from New York, away from the mob, away from Coll.

He felt this, even though things hadn't seemed as bad as he thought they'd be when he left. After the meeting with Mukanga's deputy, Coll had disappeared for nearly two weeks. Shaw's peers had seen fit to put out a few choice "hits" to consolidate power, but nothing they hadn't agreed to in the days before Coll went missing. In the end, the fallout from Madden and Costello getting knocked off hadn't been too bloody, and, when Coll returned (from "some business"), he was the undisputed top dog of the Irish Mob.

Not only that, thanks to Coll's meeting with Mukanga's agents, they were now involved in the highly lucrative narcotics trade. In fact, with the police crackdown on the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, they were to receive all of the cult's former business, making them the sole distributor of khat, some East African drug, to the streets of New York City. Shaw wasn't sure what the big deal was, since khat was actually legal, but Coll seemed to think differently.

Coll had seemed to think differently about a lot of things after he returned, and that was what had scared Shaw the most. Coll had become distant, less fiery, more detached. Anything that tamed "Mad Dog" might have seemed like a good thing, and Shaw's peers seemed to view his changes in this light. But Shaw saw a more ruthless, colder, more calculating Coll, who, to his mind, was much more dangerous. His transition might not have been as bloody as expected, but Shaw didn't want to be around for the next "transition," whatever it might be.

So here he was, in London of all places--well, Faringdon, to be precise, which seemed nowhere near London. But who cared where exactly they were or where they went next? He didn't. He was along for the ride and was going to enjoy every last minute of it.
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2. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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Chapter 2. The Savoy Hotel



McCall eyed the headline "Egyptian Murders Again" suspiciously. He hoped Rosellini knew better than to trust anything written in The Scoop, a London rag with a worse reputation than The Comet's. Somehow, the distance from New York had given him the freedom of perspective to more freely admit to himself what a second-rate paper he'd been working for, but even it didn't stoop to the sensationalism of the paper Rosellini was reading. Besides, The Comet might be giving him a decent payday if he could bring home the story he was hoping for.

As he sipped the Savoy's sudsy but supposedly "sublime" Turkish coffee, his mind wandered. Back home, he had almost started to have second thoughts about this transatlantic trip. The press coverage on Wupperman hadn't gone the way he'd hoped, with nearly every paper painting him as a heroic figure. Only The Comet and Poston's Contender had anything less than sympathetic to say, and Poston's inflammatory but accurate references to Wupperman's prior associations with the KKK were largely ignored as "expected" from an "angry" black paper. Even the gun Shaw had planted in Wupperman's apartment came to nothing, spun as a desperate attempt by an innocent businessman to protect himself from evils beyond his control. The hero mania had continued to the day McCall left, with one paper using its front page to report on Wupperman's alleged rescue of a kitten from a tree in Central Park.

McCall's attention snapped back to the present when he realized it was his turn to speak. Everyone was at the table now, and Shaw had presumably just told everyone what he'd already told McCall the night before: that he'd secured work as a janitor for a small theatre just a block from the Penhew Foundation, which itself was a short walk from here. Shaw had cracked a joke McCall hadn't heard, but he chuckled anyway as he flipped open his notepad.

He had casually canvassed the area around the Penhew Foundation, finding mostly residences and a few odd theatres like the one he'd recommended Shaw check out. Residents held the Penhew Foundation in high regard and described Gavigan as a "gentleman of the highest order." McCall's investigative instinct could detect no "dirt" beneath the veneer of Gavigan's sterling reputation within the neighborhood. Although he had not secured an exact address, he had learned that Gavigan lived in Mayfair and typically walked home through Soho at night.

Rosellini shared her news next. Having visited the British Museum, which was just around the corner from the Penhew Foundation, Rosellini too had inferred that Gavigan's reputation as a gentleman was impeccable. Although she had been welcomed as an academic, she had been frustrated in her attempt to learn of any upcoming happenings in Egyptology; apparently the rage for now was Leonard Woolley's discoveries in Sumeria. She was however directed to both the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Penhew Foundation, which was how Gavigan had innocently come up in her conversation. If what she heard at the British Museum was true, Gavigan would love nothing better than to speak with a fellow Egyptologist.
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Chapter 3. The Scoop



McCall had learned already that it was generally best to walk whenever possible in London. The roads were not designed for car traffic so, although taxis were plentiful, it seemed to take them far longer to squeeze about the tortuous route to wherever they were going than he'd expect. But The Scoop was on Fleet Street, a wide avenue just a block or so from The Savoy, so he figured a taxi would work fine this time.

He regretted it anyway. The avenue was packed with throngs of people bustling about, and it turned out The Scoop was only a mile away. Well, he could always walk back, assuming it hadn't started raining. Again.

On the third floor of a shabby office building, McCall found Mickey Mahoney, the editor of The Scoop, busily reading his own tabloid amidst a mess of papers: scrawled notes, receipts, files, and other more respectable news journals. The red-haired 40-something beamed at McCall as he entered, drew his cigar from his widening grin, and offered up a gregarious welcome.
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Chapter 4. The Penhew Foundation



Taking advantage of the rare slice of sunlight dazzling the streets of London that day, Rosellini decided to make the journey to the Penhew Foundation by foot, walking up Charing Cross Road before it turned into Tottenham Court Road, where the foundation was located. That morning, she had reviewed telegraphs she had received from the handful of students she had recruited at Columbia. While she had been pleased with her selections--and that she had been able to select anybody at all--she was not yet satisfied with anything they had sent her thus far. They too had concluded that the Westcar Papyrus was nothing more than a series of fables, but one of them had not given up on trying to see if there were secret codes to be found by rearranging the hieroglyphs. Rosellini couldn't be too critical, as she had found little of note in her attempt to project a line connecting her "magical" locations around the world before she had left.

One thing disturbed her, however. One of the students--the one who had taken the most interest in learning more about the Black Pharoah--had suddenly quit the group. According to the other students, he was still on campus, but seemed shaken and tried to avoid them. They were trying to recover his notes, but she knew they would go about this politely, rather than enlisting the help of someone like Shaw. If only they knew how important this information was...

Rosellini was startled to find that she had walked past the Penhew Foundation. Backtracking through the residential neighborhood, she was even more surprised that she'd missed it when she came upon it. The building, opulently appointed in the High Victorian style, was hard to miss. After passing through a high iron fence and crossing the courtyard, Rosellini was greeting by a doorman, who helped her inside. She regretted to inform the secretary that she did not have an appointment with Mr. Gavigan. The secretary asked her whether she would like to make an appointment or wait to see whether Mr. Gavigan might become available later in the afternoon.
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Chapter 5. Scotland Yard



McCall continued to be amazed at how close together key locations were in London. On his way to Scotland Yard, he passed by no less than a dozen historic landmarks, including Big Ben and Westminster Abbey--and those were just the ones he recognized. Once at his destination, McCall was brought directly to Barrington's office, where the inspector, a thin man in his 50s, was wrapping up a briefing. Once over, he waved for McCall to have a seat and raised an eyebrow upon hearing McCall's accent.

"Huh. With that last name, I took you to be an Irish bloke. What on earth brings an American to London digging around about these 'Egyptian Murders'?"
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Chapter 6. The Shipley House


Miles Shipley

Dr. Carter was quite surprised that his mention of Elias had gotten him this far. He had expected to drop his name only to feign familiarity with Shipley's reputation and had not foreseen that Shipley himself would have even heard of Elias.

He had hardly a moment to take in his dim surroundings before Shipley was presenting the commission for Elias to him. Sweeping the cloth off the canvas, Shipley revealed a stunning scene. A monstrous figure towered over a mountain, dark by night or perhaps by the shadow of the figure itself. Small human figures near a temple lifted their hands toward the figure, each wearing an African headpiece of some sort. Dr. Carter peered closer, trying to ignore the terrifying being at the center of the canvas, and noticed the headpieces looked identical to those worn by Elias's murderers. Aghast, he stepped back, mind reeling.
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Chapter 7. Tewfik's


Tewfik al-Sayed

Dr. Carter couldn't hide his nervousness wandering amidst the hobos and rapscallions of Soho, but Rosellini couldn't have been more pleased by the Bohemian atmosphere. It took them a bit longer to find Tewfik's than they'd hoped, as Shaw's directions were hazy at best. But Rosellini untangled things by talking to a street vendor, and they got to the spice shop about an hour before closing.

Opening the front door pleasantly jingled a beaded and belled curtain along the left wall, and the pair's senses were overwhelmed by the pungent scents of spices at once both heartwarmingly familiar and intoxicatingly exotic. Spice racks covered the walls floor to ceiling, one area featuring eighteen varieties of cinammon. A long counter with a register stood parallel to the right wall. The clerk behind the counter smiled affably at his guests and asked how he could be of assistance.
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Chapter 8. Return to Shipley House

McCall wanted to wait until Rosellini and Carter were gone before heading back to the Shipley residence. He hadn't told them where they were going. He wasn't concerned about Dr. Carter flying into a rage, though he knew he would, but he didn't trust something about Rosellini's reaction to the place. He had a feeling that if she went with them, she wouldn't come back. Irrational, he knew, but he'd learned to trust his instincts long ago and wasn't going to make an exception this time.

He scribbled a note for the other two and met Shaw in the lobby of the Ritz. He wasn't sure whether to return before the sun went down or try to sneak in under cover of darkness. He wasn't sure either that sneaking in would even be the best way to go about this, but taking the more frontal approach hadn't quite worked last time. He figured he'd talk it over with Shaw.
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Chapter 9. The Blue Pyramid



Rosellini's date with Gavigan was two days later at the Blue Pyramid in Soho. She was somehwhat disturbed to find it to be a less than savory establishment, with noisy throngs of customers crowding the tables and provocative belly dancers soliciting tips from ogling onlookers. But she could tell as she squirmed her way to a table in the corner that the food was Egyptian, a small comfort.

As she waited for Gavigan to arrive, she surveyed the clientele, which seemed to be mostly Egyptian itself, as was the staff. She observed one of the belly dancers, whose gyrating hips distracted from the dancer's miserable countenance, which seemed fixed on some distant thought far away from the smoke and the groping hands. They made eye contact, Rosellini trying to extend some sympathy in her gaze, but received nothing but a cold, unfeeling stare in return.

Suddenly, the dancer looked away, towards the far corner, next to the bar. A large man teetered on a bar stool, sipping his drink. Rosellini was surprised to find that he was looking directly at her. As soon as he saw that he had been spotted, he rose and went into the kitchen.
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Chapter 10. A Haunted Land



The cab driver's patience began to wear thin once they had left behind the last remnant of civilization that could be associated with London. They bounced along the country road trying to keep up with the truck and car that sped along ahead of them. Carter paid the driver another handsome sum up front and silently considered his fate. His sense of impending doom seemed to have washed over Shaw, sobering him up considerably, and the two stared out at the moonless sky.

They passed through a number of settlements, principally Chelmsford and Colchester, before making any significant divergence from the main road, turning left, following signs for Thorpe-le-Soken. While an occasional other car had joined the three vehicles before, the cab was now uncomfortably alone in its pursuit of the other two cars. Shaw leaned forward and told the drive to slow down, putting some space between them and the truck.

They passed through a couple hamlets where not a soul stirred, and the cabbie started muttering about how they were in "witch country." Now in the distance, they saw the truck's taillights turn left, following the lead car. By the time they got to the secluded and unmarked road, they could no longer see their quarry, as the earth seemed to roll away from them in the distance, and a light fog was setting in. Here, the cabbie paused, complaining that he'd taken them far enough, that the land was "haunted," and he'd had enough.
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Chapter 11. Return to the Penhew Foundation



The Penhew Foundation was dark, as was the entire residential street upon which it was located. Something compelled McCall to approach the building. That "something" wouldn't ordinarily be noteworthy; McCall was no stranger to late night investigative shenanigans, though he preferred to start with a more professional approach these days. But McCall could feel something else drawing him toward the building, a more urgent cause, a deeper resolve. Destroying that painting had felt...cleansing. According to Rosellini, nothing but the most ordinary of Egyptian artifacts were housed at the Penhew Foundation, but McCall had a feeling the building, like its administrator, hid some secrets.

Carefully circling the building along the outskirts of the lawn, McCall noticed a dim light coming from the front entrance, but nothing else around the building. A high iron fence surrounded the sides and the rear of the building, where a closed gate restricted access from the street to a loading area. The rear seemed to have three entry points: an elevator, a door, and a basement hatch. Windows ran along the sides and the front, there were two more on the rear wall as well. There were many ways to gain access, but McCall would first have to scale the fence or try going through the front door.
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Chapter 12. Thorpe-le-Soken



Doctor Carter received two phone calls the next morning. The first was from McCall, who said he had urgent news to share with him and the others. Carter did not have a chance to mention that he had no idea where the others were before McCall ended the call to rush over to the Savoy, a journey Carter presumed would take ten or fifteen minutes at the most coming from the Ritz.

A half hour later, without a peep from McCall, Carter received the second phone call. A husky, rasping voice was on the other end of the line, and it took Carter several moments to understand that it was Shaw. He and Rosellini had made it out alive and somehow were in Thorpe-le-Soken, a hamlet Carter remembered from last night's trip. Shaw claimed to be "fine," but said Rosellini was "in a bad way" and "needed a doctor."

There was a pause before Carter realized that Shaw meant for him to come to them. His relief gave way to agitation as he looked at Trudy, still in bed and calmly sipping some tea. Couldn't he get just one day's peace from this madness?

"She needs help. Now, Doc."
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13. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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Chapter 13. In Hiding



It had been a couple days since they arrived back at McCall's boarding house. McCall wanted to wait until the right time before making any of his moves, and he wanted to be sure he planned things out in the right order. Rosellini was finally feeling up to reviewing the materials McCall had acquired from the Penhew Foundation: fifteen scrolls, most of which were in Arabic with the remainder in Latin, French, or Egyptian hieroglyphs. Just glancing at them revealed their contents would be disturbing at the very least. Rosellini paused a moment to decide which scroll to read first.

Meanwhile, Shaw had taken up his post near the Penhew Foundation again. From what he could tell, little had changed. There was a new security guard, and an odd visitor in a black trenchcoat who appeared a couple times daily. Shaw saw him chatting with Gavigan on his way out twice, so Shaw shadowed him a short way to his office on Oxford. Apparently, Gavigan had hired a private detective. Shaw figured McCall would be very interested in this news.
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14. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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Chapter 14. Return to Misr House



The trio got hold of a taxi to navigate the cramped streets to Scotland Yard. McCall did his best to summarize their investigation so far, but Shaw noticed that he left out some key details, probably in case Bourbon could not be entirely trusted. But the private investigator was sharp and had just started to cleverly inquire about the very things McCall had intentionally skimmed over when they arrived at Scotland Yard.

Barrington leapt to his feet when he saw McCall from his office and hurried to meet the investigators before they could interact with anyone else in the office. So focused on getting to McCall, he scarcely noticed Bourbon until he was upon them.

"Bourbon, eh? Are you involved in this...affair?" Barrington didn't wait for an answer and called over another officer.

"Dawson here will be going with you to Essex. It is out of our jurisdiction, but I have contacted the appropriate authorities there, and Dawson will be working with them as our liaison."

Barrington paused, looking at Shaw for the first time. "And who is this?"
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15. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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Chapter 15. Denouement



The next morning, the investigators awoke to the scent of freshly baked bread and one by one made their way downstairs to partake of a welcome breakfast. Around 10 o'clock, the village doctor stopped by and was shown up to Dr. Carter's room, leaving Shaw, McCall, Bourbon, and Rosellini alone in the quaint dining room. An expectant silence fell over them, as each one waited for the other to speak first.
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16. RPG Item: Masks of Nyarlathotep (1st & 2nd edition) [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:43]
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O'Malley's pub

Shaw was sitting alone at the bar having a pint. He was going over all that needed to be done in his mind. Things in London had quieted down. Business as usual. He couldn't say the same about New York though. News he got from back home was grim. Lots of people dying. Partner turning against partner. He took another sip and waved to Frank to bring him a whisky.

He heard someone come in and he turned towards the door. A young boy walked in.

I am looking for a Mr Shaw. Mr Michael Shaw.

Shaw tensed up. Instinctively, his hand moved towards the weapon in his pocket. He looked past the boy, making sure no one else was with him.

Who wants to know? Whatcha want from 'im?

The boy walked up to Shaw and pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket.

I have an urgent telegram for Mr Shaw.

Shaw ripped it from the boy's hands. He paused for a second and reached in his pocket for a quarter. Here ya go kid. Now get lost!

He unfolded the telegram.

To Mr Michael Shaw Stop From Mrs Stanley in Nairobi Stop have sad news Stop Professor Rosellini has passed away Stop malaria Stop She asked me to notify you Stop She sends her love stop

Shaw looked up. He felt his throat tighten. His heart was pounding. He fought hard to keep back the tears.

Bloody hell. He muttered.

Bloody fucking hell.

Frank! I'll take the rest of the bootle...
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