Glances round the table, eyes all shining, dark and bright
We meet again at daybreak for the day that will be ours
We're tomorrow's history
So just check your weapons, say your prayers.
- The Attack, New Model Army
We had an odd change of pace this session, as most of the playtime this week was spent planning the next session. Apart from one brief diversion for one character, the entire play session took place in one location, and consisted mainly of discussions between the players and little action. Still, a lot of fun was had and the anticipation for the next session has now reached fever pitch!
|Time to make some plans|
Mr Mu, the elderly scholar from the museum took up the story. He told the investigators some of what they already knew; that the Order of the Bloated Woman, an ancient cult that worshipped a dark deity, was still active in China, and indeed had become more so in recent years. He then proceeded to tell them of the cult's history, and that his research had lead him to believe that they want their goddess to return to Earth.
The first step in the cult's plan is to somehow poison or rupture the sky, creating a portal through which dread entities will eventually find their way to Earth, dark gods with dark names such as Cthulhu, Nyogtha, Yog-Sothoth, and Azathoth.
Brady then took over the tale. Their investigations had uncovered the Order's secret base on Gray Dragon Island, a volcanic atoll some 300 miles southeast of Shanghai, and they had discovered plans that hinted the poisoning of the sky would happen soon. Scouts sent to the Island had revealed little except the general layout, but they had to move soon, and were planning an attack in two days time.
Chu Min then started to talk. He told the group that he was leader of the group known as New China, an affiliation of normal Shanghai folk who were determined to root out corruption in the city at any costs. Their four tenets were Firm Study, Firm Belief, Firm Practice and Firm Action, with Chu personally responsible for the fourth tenet, hence the small army based in the warehouse.
Chu, an ex-policeman had known Brady for years, and when New China started he recruited him for his military skills and disdain for rules and ethics. In turn Brady had persuaded Chu to help when he had uncovered the Order's plans.
Their tea finished, Brady told the investigators that they were welcome to stay at the warehouse, but before they retired for the night he had something else to show them. There was a ship, the Dark Mistress, that regularly travelled between Shanghai and Gray Dragon Island, that was currently docked in the city. Firm Action agents had managed to capture one of the deckhands, and they were about to question him.
Brady showed the group a photograph of the ship, and Willard recognised it as the same ship seen in a photo they found back in Jackson Elias' hotel room in New York.
They headed downstairs to a small room guarded by two Firm Action members. Inside it was bare except for a single steel table on which lay the captured deckhand, bound hand and foot to the table. The deckhand was a large and bulky man wearing ragged clothes, with a sickly grey hue to his skin and bald patches in his straggly hair. His bulbous eyes were yellow-veined and rolling as he tried to look round and see who had entered the room.
Harry immediately stepped up to the plate, asking Chu for a glass of water. Once provided he walked to the table and offered a drink to the captive sailor. The captive muttered "water" in a gurgling voice from his bulbous lips in anticipation, before Harry smashed the glass into his face! (I do sometimes wonder if I, as Keeper, am the one fighting evil forces!).
Harry proceeded to question the hapless man, but could get little sense out of him. He managed to determine there were "very many" people on the island, some kind of weapon called a "twsha", and that their leader was an "English man". Taking pity on the obviously insane soul Harry eventually deigned to give him a drink, which the sailor slurped greedily. Harry noticed that though the sailor was drinking the water it also seemed to be pooling on the table below his head as if it had passed straight through him.
Getting no more from their prisoner, the investigators decided to catch up on some much-needed sleep, and were shown to a small room with some pallet beds.
The next day Hubert decided to head back to the museum with Mr Mu in order to do some more research on Grey Dragon Island and to see if he could discover what the mysterious "twsha" might refer to. Unfortunately for Hubert his luck ran out again, and as he and Mr Mu were making their way along the Bund they were attacked by some of Ho Fong's men.
The first Hubert knew about it was a loud buzzing noise followed by excruciating pain as a wicked-looking double-bladed knife embedded itself in his thigh. Stumbling and panicking, Hubert looked round for a taxi, but all he could locate was a a nearby rickshaw. Shouting to the driver, Hubert limped to the rickshaw, bundling Mr Mu into it. As he did so he heard the buzzing again, and another knife whistled by (thanks to the judicious use of a Pulp Point). As Hubert dived into the rickshaw it narrowly missed him and thudded into an unfortunate flower seller standing across the street.
Mr Mu was shouting orders at the rickshaw driver, and the vehicle started to gather pace. Another knife flew out, and again a Pulp Point was required to save Hubert from certain doom. This time the knife bounced from the floor of the rickshaw and shot straight up in the air, narrowly missing Hubert's nose.
The rickshaw driver was now running as fast as he could, and the vehicle swayed alarmingly as it rounded a corner. It looked like the attack was over for now at least. By the time they reached the museum Hubert was in a sorry state, having lost quite a lot of blood. He was only able to walk up the museum steps with the help of the venerable Mr Mu.
Whilst Hubert began to do some research in the museum library Mr Mu prepared him a drink to ease the pain. Despite the bitter taste Hubert drained the proffered glass, and soon fell into a deep slumber.
Back at the New China warehouse Jack Brady gave the investigators a tour of the facility, then took them to a room to meet with one of their scouts who had recently returned from Gray Dragon Island. A very long discussion then took place about the best way to attack the enemy, based on the scout's testimony and the little information they had about the island. Slowly their plan took shape.
|How the attack on the Island would go down - in Harry's mind|
Once landed, each team would proceed stealthily into the island, avoiding any guards and meeting up somewhere in the interior. They would maintain a stealthy approach until the enemy base had been located, then when all teams were ready they would attack forcefully using the New China weapons cache and destroy whatever equipment the Order of the Bloated Woman were planning to use to "poison the sky". (It was actually quite fun drawing out the various plans and attack routes on the map in the Fantasy Grounds software, each player adding or adjusting to the plan as they saw fit).
|The plan of attack (from Fantasy Grounds)|
|Harry's modified Browning|
Once they were all agreed on what would happen Mr Mu informed them of the last part of the plan. None of them knew what they would face on the island, but he and Jack Brady assumed that not all of the enemy would be using conventional means of defence. In order to combat any otherworldly powers that might be employed Mr Mu had been researching something called The Eye of Light and Darkness.
He had learnt from the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, some ancient scrolls supplied by Jack Brady, of a means to create an Eye, a kind of ward that could be placed on ancient stone and used to limit the power of dark forces. There would be a ritual in the warehouse that night to create an Eye, which they would carry to the island with them. The investigators were invited to join the ritual if they wished.
So it was that a few hours later, as the moon rose above the city, the investigators found themselves chanting along with dozens of other Firm Action warriors. Each donated a little blood to feed the eye, and by the time the moon set they were all exhausted (mainly due to several of them having permanently lost a few points of Power to the Eye as it was created. In fact Willard was now left with only 3 points of Power, reducing his already poor Luck even further).
By the end of the ritual they were left with a plain slab of granite that seemed to glow strangely then they glanced in it's direction.
The investigators decided to get more rest. The time for investigating (or rather, stumbling from one danger to another) was over. It was time to take the fight to the enemy. When next night fell they would leave Shanghai and sail to Grey Dragon Island, where fate would have some nasty surprises in store...
The last thing they did before resting was to write a letter to Jonah Kensington back in New York, appraising him of what they have learnt, just in case none of them made it back alive.