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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign Journal: Chapter 34 - Out of the Fire and Into the Frying Pan

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Following the exertions of their journey from Mombasa, George and Jacob were resting at the Highlands Hotel when a loud knock came at George's room door. It was two men from the King's African Rifles demanding entry. George greeted them and was told that he had to go with them; they were to take him to the hospital where he would be questioned alongside his companions about the fire on the train.

After collecting George the soldiers went next door and apprehended Jacob as well. They were marched down the road to the Highland Breeze Hospital where an official named Corporal Neville Witteringham was waiting in the ward where Hubert and Sebastian were recovering.

The King's African Rifles
Once they were all gathered the Corporal began questioning them about what had happened on the train. He took statements from them all, then concluded by warning them to keep their noses clean and not cause any trouble in Nairobi. The only other witness, the salon car porter, was dead, and so the authorities were having to take the matter seriously. Hubert mentioned that he had seen the porter smoking in the water closet!

Several hours later the soldiers left. George had started to feel unwell, and decided to book himself into the hospital alongside Hubert and Sebastian. Hubert took some time to bring Jacob up to speed on what was going on, and after a long discussion the investigators decided to rest in the hospital for a week whilst Jacob went to investigate Tandoor Singh and Nails Nelson.

As they were about to conclude their discussion there was a knock on the door. A black newsboy had arrived with copies of the Nairobi Star, a single-sheet daily newspaper focusing on local news. The main story concerned the train coach fire, and it seemed to be quite accurately represented, though perhaps not surprisingly there was no mention of any supernatural element. The author, editor, and horoscope writer were all listed as Mrs Natalie Smythe-Forbes.

Before he left the others to their rest, Jacob Slater informed them that he was a little short of funds. George passed him £50 to cover any expenses, though not before raising his suspicions about their new ally. Jacob took the money and immediately went out and had a nice expensive meal at the hotel.

After his meal Jacob took an evening stroll into Browntown. There were few white faces around, and the buildings were much poorer in aspect. Biashara Street was a narrow row of shops built from crude brick. Jacob located Tandoor Singh's shop, a tea emporium, and scouted the area out. The single front door was closed, as was the back door located in a narrow alley. He could see some lights on inside the building. Having scouted the place out Jacob went back to the hotel to rest for the night.

The following morning Jacob made some enquiries about the location of Bertram "Nails" Nelson, and was told that he could be found at the Loyal Defender Pub on Smut's Avenue in Whitetown. After doing so he headed back to Biashara Street and went into Tandoor Singh's Tea Importers. Inside he found a cool, dark store with shelves stocked with sacks containing different varieties of tea. Behind the counter was a tall Indian gentleman wearing a turban and tightly rolled beard.

Tandoor Singh
Slater walked to the counter and was offered tea by the Indian man, who introduced himself as Tandoor Singh. Accepting the offer, Jacob then asked if there were any jobs going, explaining that he had been told there may be employment opportunities at the shop. Tandoor Singh apologised and said he had no openings.

Mr Singh discussed the tea trade and poetry with Slater, and they parted on friendly terms. When asked Jacob told Mr Singh that his name was "Jason".

Following his visit to the tea shop Jacob decided to go ad look up his old friend from London, Bertram "Nails" Nelson. He made his way back into Whitetown and headed to the Loyal Defender pub, a rather low-grade establishment. His was in luck. A rather scruffy, unshaven man was tending the bar. It was Nails.

The two old friends spent some time catching up. They had a long history, though they had not seen each other for quite a few years. Over a couple of beers they discussed their recent histories. Jacob revealed he was on the run, for some undisclosed scam, and then revealed that he had found a group who were ripe for ripping off - the other investigators!

Between them they cooked up a plan to scam the group out of as much money as they could, with Nails posing as an experienced bush guide. Jacob also told Nails that the group would pay well for any information about the tea-seller Tandoor Singh. They discussed the recent train fire, and Jacob revealed that there had been something unnatural about the fire. Nails sounded doubtful and mentioned that they should keep all that voodoo nonsense in Blacktown, with Johnstone Kenyatta and his cronies.

It was starting to sound like a certain soap set in the east end of London
Later Jacob returned to the hospital to tell the others what he had learnt, though not surprisingly he did not reveal the details of Nails Nelson's plan to scam them out of some cash. They discussed their options and decided to rest properly for the remainder of the week, before discharging themselves and continuing their investigations. They had decided that visiting the proprietor of the Nairobi Star, Mrs Smythe-Forbes, might be a good source of information.

At this point we skipped forwards a few days, allowing the group to rest and recover some hit points (they were going to need them). Jacob visited Nails a few times for drinks, and George spotted an unusual item in the Nairobi Star - an addendum to an earlier story correcting a mistake in the name of a "victim" found near the Endicott Game Lodge. The name Endicott rang a bell, being a possible lead given to them in Mombasa. Other than that the week passed without incident.

Once they were feeling better and reunited the group set off to meet with Nails Nelson, but not before Jacob had treated them to a celebratory meal (paying with the money they had given him in the first place!). They quizzed Nails Nelson him about his encounter with Jackson Elias. After a little persuasion, aided by the greasing of Nelson's palms with a few pounds, he revealed that he had indeed spoken to Jackson Elias the previous year. He had told Elias of his encounter with Jack Brady in Hong Kong in 1923, several years after Brady's supposed murder at the hand of Nandi tribesmen.

They also discussed the situation at the Endicott Game Lodge. Nails was disparaging of Colonel Endicott, and told them that there had been several odd deaths there recently, which according to the Nairobi Star at least were not down to the expected wild animal attacks.

Finally they agreed to give Nails a few pounds to allow him to start making hires and enquiries for a possible safari into the Aberdare Range.

They decided to take Nails Nelson with them into Blacktown the following morning as a guide to find Kenyatta. Nails had only wanted to charge them £5, but thanks to a badly failed Bargain roll by Hubert (he rolled a 99!) he upped the charge to £10. As dusk was approaching they decided to would head to the offices of the Nairobi Star in the meantime, to see what Mrs Smythe-Forbes knew about the Carlyle Expedition and the problems at Endicott's game lodge.

They located the offices of the Star quite easily. From the outside they could hear the sound of machinery, and upon entering the wooden building they saw a large open room which contained a huge printing press manned by a couple of workers. The sound of the machinery competed with the sound of a gramophone playing some popular music, and behind a desk sat a brisk woman in her late forties.

Mrs Smythe-Forbes greeted them and asked what they wanted. The group introduced themselves as the travellers embroiled in the recent train fire, and offered her an exclusive interview in exchange for some information off the record. Mrs Smythe-Forbes introduced herself as Natalie, and turned off the gramophone so that they could converse more easily.

Over some iced tea they discussed the deaths at the Endicott Game Lodge. Smythe-Forbes revealed that there had been several deaths, and despite the protestations of the Colonel that they were due to the usual wild animal attacks, other evidence such as the strange gnawing marks in the bones suggested otherwise.

As Smythe-Forbes was about to look up some more details of the case Hubert noticed a fire starting by one of the doors. Suddenly the doors burst into flames and blue and red sparks flew towards the investigators! "Fire!" screamed Smythe-Forbes.

They're back! (image courtesy of Vaporeon249)
George jumped back across the desk, spilling ice tea everywhere. Jacob ran for the far exit. In the meantime the blue sparks danced across the wooden floor, raising fire in their wake, and attacked Sebastian, setting light to his sleeves.

Hubert followed George over the desk and ran past Smythe-Forbes, also heading for the exit. The red sparks also attacked Sebastian, and seeing their fellow investigator in trouble gave them pause. They resolved to try and save him, and stopped fleeing. Sebastian had to use a Pulp Point to avoid a fiery death, stumbling backwards into the desk.

Seeing her livelihood going up in flames Smythe-Forbes displayed a great deal of courage. Instead of fleeing she ran to a nearby barrel, trying to prise the lid off to get to the water within. Sebastian meanwhile had grabbed the water jug that had been used to prepare the iced tea and threw it at one of the flames.

George and Jacob went to help, and between them they managed to pick up the barrel, attracting the attention of the seemingly living flames. Jacob had to use a Pulp Point to avoid being burnt.

At this point Hubert decided on an unusual course of action. He unzipped his flies and started to urinate on Sebastian in an effort to put out the flames! Unfortunately the elderly investigator had a little trouble, and did nothing more than douse Smythe-Forbes' desk...

Sebastian found himself attacked again. He was now in the same state he had been before his extended stay in hospital!

Smythe-Forbes had now decided to flee, and ran for the far door, along with Sebastian. George and Jacob managed to drag the barrel across the room, and flung it at the remaining sparks. Luck was finally on their side, and they managed to douse the living fire. That still left the huge inferno now raging along the wall of the building however. They looked at each other and ran for their lives.

Exiting the flaming building they ran into the back of Smythe-Forbes and Sebastian, who were standing in the alley outside with a look of shock on their faces. There was an explosive noise, and they then noticed the ruddy-faced man standing before them who had just fired his elephant gun over their heads, a look of anger on his face.

They had escaped the fire at the Nairobi Star, but had run into yet more trouble!



Here's the embed of the session. Note that there is a brief moment of racist language, but it is in the context of being said by a racist NPC. Apologies if anyone is offended.

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