Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cthulhu Gaslight: Monsters

Cast of Characters:
Thomas Roquefort, American, archaeologist and adventurer, recently arrived in London after an expedition to Egypt
Richard George Thomas Lumley, second son of the Earl of Scarbrough
Jasper Burnside, physician and in the last two years something of a hermit. It's common knowledge that he has lost someone close and there are rumours aplenty for those willing to listen (he's my character)

last time

The expedition enters the Temple of Toth. Thomas and Kamal lead the way and are accompanied by Jasper, Richard, Sir Jeffrey, Inspector Fox, Captain Hayden and Corporals Denham and Rester.

A tunnel decorated with a starry sky and reliefs of plants and animals gives way to a big chamber with pillars and statues of various gods, among them Anubi, Apophis and Suchos. Toth is conspicuously missing. Another tunnel leading further away from the chamber has collapsed. This is where Dümichen's expedition ended and where the bodies of the French solders were found.Kamal is still unwilling to help and tells Thomas that sometimes painful decisions have to be made when Thomas mentions that he's just trying to find a friend.

Searching the chamber turns up nothing much until Richards notices that Kamal is standing on a floor panel showing an ibis engraving. Kamal steps aside, without showing any reaction, and Thomas raises the stone slab with the help of the corporals and most of the others. Richard uses the time to talk to Kamal and is told that Kamal doesn't know where Sir Thomas Kincaid is. He gets the feeling that Kamal wants to say more, but cannot get him to talk.

The raised slab reveals a vertical shaft with brick walls. Jasper drops a stone, finally gettting a reaction from Kamal who shouts No! But it's too late and the stone is already falling.

click to explore

After a few seconds Jasper hears it drop into water and estimates the shaft to be about thirty yards deep. Thomas uses a rope to lower an oil-lamp into the shaft and after about fifteen yards the brickwork stops. At thirty feet the lamp is reflected in water and then it dips into the water and goes dark.

Richard volunteers to climb down into the shaft and finds out that the shaft opens into a huge vault. After some deliberations, the expeditions abseils into the vault, with Fox, Sir Jeffrey and two additional corporals staying in the chamber. The water is deep enough to come up to their stomachs and smells foul.

They strike out in one direction and after some wading come to a wall with a small ledge in front of it. Jasper steps on something hard and lifts a human skull out of the water. Further fishing uncovers more skulls and bones that Jasper judges to be from both humans and animals. Thomas hears a splashing, but cannot see anything. The group climbs onto the ledge, but when it's Corporal Rester's turn, he sees a bow wave coming towards him.

A huge jaw snaps at him and in the unsteady light of the torches, they all see enormous teeth, red eyes and a scaled, sickly white body easily the size of a grown man. Rester takes a shot at the monster and for a moment, everything's quiet. Then he's pulled underwater, frighteningly quick. The frothing waters turn red and the group runs to the right where the ledge widens.

The crocodiles try to climb onto the ledge and everyone who is armed takes a shot at them. Corporal Denham gets bitten and the crocodile twists, tearing his leg off. Jasper grabs the corporal and hauls him to the wider part of the ledge. Richard is attacked and falls into the water. Kamal pulls him out, jumping over the kneeling Jasper to get to him.

They all make it, with Corporal Denham unconscious and bleeding heavily. Jasper applies a tourniquet, but he knows perfectly well that the man will die if they don't get him out of here quickly.

The ledge forms a sort of apse with an altar and a big statue. Thomas recognises the altar from his dreams, although the rest does't fit. The statue has lost its ibis head long ago, it's lying shattered on the floor. But an inscription is still readable:

This is the likeness if Toth. Allies are the Gods of the Moon and of Fertility from ancient times, the bearer of the Ibis and the ruler of the crocodiles. The holy crocodiles are moon-coloured and thus their ruler Suchos has given them to Toth, for them to help protect the secret of Toth.

Next to the inscription are two small panels shwoing an ibis and a crocodile. Thomas destroys them and discovers a lever. He twists it and the water starts to drain, the crocodiles follow it to avoid being left on dry land. After some time, all the water is gone and all that is left is foul-smelling mud littered with bones. Jasper brings Corporal Denham up to the surface and sets to work on treating his gruesome wounds. The others take a closer look at the vault and find depressions in the floor that correspond with certain signs of the zodiac. With their help Thomas can determine the direction for the expedition to head next.

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Once again I realised that it sometimes sucks to play a doctor. You can't just run for your life when people are hurt. But Jasper did manage to save Corporal Denham's life and I'm quite pleased.

The vault was a very eerie place, especially when nothing much happened for such a long time. It was almost a relief when the crocodiles did appear, but that gave way to a slight panic quickly, especially when the secret of the statue didn't reveal itself despite our searching.

Kamal stays a quite mysterious character, but I think that all three players tend to not see him as a threat. He would have had a lot of time and opportunity to harm us. Time will tell.


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