All those other games.

In the “What the Fuck have we been doing in role-playing” we keep mentioning all these other games that are going on. Most of the Cult are either my players or people I play along with so I thought I’d let you have a quick look at the other games that are going on.

Call of Cthulhu: “The Blood of the Father”

When the game started I had everyone roll on a table to see what they looked like. There were many jokes about how “everyone had the same nose”, or similar hair. Then a Turkish cultist tried to murder the two upper class twins, and after a horrible stabbing which nearly caused Michael Dalley to die in the first two minutes of the campaign, they subdued him and found a list of the other potential victims. Which strangely consisted of the other PC’s and one other name. The Dalleys managed to gather up everyone, including an elderly ex soldier Horace Dolby, a middle aged bare knuckle boxer Henry Compton, a middle aged “Adventuress” Sonia House, and a young news reporter Rowena Tower. The last name on the list a Daniel Delmorte, was an artist and as they headed to his house to warn him came face to face with two Turkish Cultists in front of his house. Given how deadly the single cultist was they decided not to attack them, but when another cultist ran out of Delmorte’s house and the others ran off they realised they had made a terrible mistake. They found Delmorte horribly murdered (no eyes and with a flayed head), and some strange paintings of something like Medusa, that had a strange effect on all those who found women attractive (which included Sonia) rooting them in place with it’s beauty. The took the painting and several clues and headed to Sonia’s house. Michael Dalley however quickly succumbed to an opium addiction.

The next day they split up to cover more ground… which ended up being a mistake as the Cultists had been keeping watch on all of their houses. A single cultist attacked Sonia and Rowena, and having knocked Sonia out headed towards Rowena with a knife. Who promptly jumped out of the third floor window, leaving the Cultist with the unconscious Sonia.

They later found her dead, no eyes and with a flayed head.

Which is when they picked up Henry Terrence Smythe, a friend of Daniel Delmorte’s, who had been investigating them as he thought they were the “Dancing Devil Gang”, the name the papers had given to the Artist’s Murderers as none of them were very careful about stepping in the blood in his house.

Horace and Henry Compton meanwhile had managed to capture one of the cultists, but sadly had not been told about their suicide pills so got nothing more out of him than some crazed ranting and boasting followed by a pressing need to get rid of the body. Luckily either Mrs Stone, Henry’s landlady was not very observant, or more likely was not going to comment.

Having read the leaflets that the cultists carried Henry and Mitsy first visited the Dalley collection to look for information, and then the British libraries forbidden books section, using Mitsy’s credentials to gain entry. They found a number of things about a cult called the Sthenites, an ancient Lycian cult that had worshipped the Gorgons, or specifically the youngest daughter Stheno. According to the books they found (or Mitsy found as Henry was busy reading the King in Yellow) the Greeks claimed to have killed one of the Gorgons, but more likely they had not. The Lycians had allowed the cult for some time but eventually their rites turned dark and the Lycian army descended on their Home city of Tlos and destroyed it. Within 50 years, the Lycians had disappeared from the face of the world, with no clue as to how their empire had been destroyed. Later the Byzantines accepted the Sthenites help, which actually may have kicked off the attacks by Saladin on the holy land who was attempting to reach Turkey to destroy the cult.

He was unsuccessful, as the combined Christian forces descended on him, however he did managed to warn the Byzantine emperor and he thankfully listened. The Byzantines descended on the cult, stopping some form of foul ritual, breaking apart the cult. They also managed to seize their Idol, a huge carving of Sthenos face which they hauled back to Constantinople. There it was handed over to one of the Monks of the Hagia Sophia, who tried to work out a way of destroying the idol, but failed. Eventually he had to accept defeat, and the idol was hidden “Drowned in a place with no light”. The writings of the Mad Monk also mentioned another book, the book of Saladin that had further information. Mitsy located it and gained far more information. The Sthenites had approached Saladin, but when he refused they turned on him, murdering his wife and fleeing back to the Byzantines. Saladin’s book also contained some more secret knowledge, the Sthenites hoped to raise their God Stheno from its sleeping state, and also included two of their spells. The first contacted Stheno when in the presence of the idol, or pieces of it, and the other protected people from the eyes of Stheno stopping it from capturing people and turning people to stone. The latter however required the sacrifice of an innocent… so although they learned the rite they left it on the list of things they were not intending to use.

Gathering back together they decided to investigate why Daniel Delmorte had a letter from a Genealogist amongst his letters, especially as Henry Terrence Smythe mentioned that his friend had become more and more strange recently. When they visited Mr Rafe Parkely Ssmythe they found him unhelpful, but his secretary was much more forthcoming explaining that there was no reason for not taking Delmorte’s job as the work had already been completed for the Turkish gentleman. Also after they left Parkely Smythe immediately took a cab up west.

Worried by this they broke into his office and were in the process of searching it when they spotted a cart pull up and two Cultist lead an obviously seriously ill Rafe Parkely Smythe away from it, dumping him unceremoniously in the alleyway when they realised that the office had been broken into. They approached, and the two ladies who didn’t know about the Cultists were inside, so the two Henry’s discussed what to do. With one of the ladies screaming however the Bare knuckle boxer went to the rear of the house while the other Henry headed round the front. Horace meanwhile found that Rafe had been poisoned and the genealogists last words were “The Yews The Yews”. Henry grabbed Horace and they headed back to relieve Henry Compton.

Against two armed cultists the unfortunate Henry Compton had not fared well. As Horace and the other Henry approached they arrived just as the foul cultists beheaded him. Then taking their grisly prize they fled having lit the Genealogists office on fire.

Mitsy Dalley had escaped through the front of the building, but of Rowena Towers there was no sign. Finally however she appeared from the burning building clutching a sheaf of notes. They fled from the scene and holed up in Michael’s Club, where they looked into the Genealogists notes. He had performed the researches on Daniel Delmorte’s family on the request of a man known as Abel Ibn Fahrd, who despite his seemingly Arabic name, was in fact Turkish. The notes went on to reveal something else, most of the people in the room were actually related. Daniel Delmorte was Horace Dolby’s grandson through his estranged son of his first wife. The Dalleys were not in fact the offspring of Lord Walthamstowe, but in fact their mother was pregnant from her first husband (Horace again) when she married the Lord after a sudden divorce. The other three, were actually descended from a lady of negotiable affection Horace had frequented, with Sonia House and Horace Compton being his Daughter and Son and Rowena Towers being his granddaughter.
By now they had also found out a lot of information about the Cultists. They had a house in the East end of London, which the players checked out and found out they were very unsociable, annoying all of their neighbours with their ungodly chanting in the middle of the night. They were also fairly certain that the cultists had a house up west somewhere. The players also gained a new member as Henry Compton’s land lady Mrs Stone located them through means she was not willing to explain (actually gypsy magic).

They performed some examinations and realised that the place up west was probably a mansion for hire called the Yews. Which they decided to watch. They realised that every night someone (who looked similar to one of the Turkish Cultists, maybe a cousin or brother) went to the Kensington post office, collected the post and then returned to the mansion. They determined that their best chance to learn more about what was going on would be to capture him and interrogate him.

They had taken a new house as the curator of the Dalley collection had been capture and they were worried that the Turks had captured him and that he might reveal the location of Michael’s club, so instead they took a house in Shoreditch and also hired a carriage. However the night before they put the plan into action something happened.
Having taken a low rent building they were reduced to sharing rooms, Mrs Stone and Rowena Towers shared the back room, while Michael and Mitsy had been placed in the front room, Henry Terrence Smythe watching over them, downstairs Horace slept in a chair, watching the front door. They were worried that they might be discovered and so blocked all of the windows with the wardrobes.

Early in the morning Rowena was woken by the sound of claws scratching at the window, and a sniffing sound. She barely had time to wake Mrs Stone before there was a crash and two part rotten, part scaled, part insectoid clawed arms crashed through the window and knocked the wardrobe on top of her trapping her beneath it. As Mrs Stone drew a derringer from somewhere and fired at the beast the rest of the house was awoken. Whatever it was however seemed not to be bothered by the tiny bullets, and instead put all of its efforts into grabbing hold of Rowena’s arm and trying to drag her out from under the wardrobe. With an Explosive crack her upper arm snapped in two places as the thing tried to work her back and forth to free her from the wardrobe. As Mrs Stone fired again Henry Terrence Smythe also rushed into the room, adding his much larger weight of fire. The beast still did not seem too bothered, but as Horace joined them in the upstairs room Henry managed to hit something important on the creature by firing through the curtains. There was an unearthly screech as the thing fell back slightly from the window that was increased as Horace hurled an oil lamp after it lighting the curtains on fire. The burning mass fell backwards into the garden, but before they could finish it off the whole mass took to the air on massive bat like wings.

They quickly dressed Rowena’s broken arm, but decided that they could not do anything right at that moment and so decided to wait until the morning. Unfortunately it seemed as if the creature which had found them had informed the Cultists where they were, as they left the house they were surprised to spot one of the Turkish cultists across the street watching the house. Expecting him to attack they were more surprised when he headed towards a side street instead. There they saw a number of other cultists waiting, and these began to run towards them. However realising they were out matched, Rowena had a brainwave, and began shouting at the top her voice that they were being attacked by Turks.

Very soon curtains all along the row were twitching, and at least one man angry at being woken so early in the morning was threatening to set his dogs on them. Rowena continued screaming about murder and Turks, and the man appeared at the door with two very large rottweilers. The cultists seeing that there were now too many witnesses to get away with killing off the remaining targets decided to leave instead.

Realising the house was now compromised, they decided to go through with their plan to kidnap the “postman”, but not to return to the house. They also decided to take the carriage with them to transport the prisoner. The plan was to wait until the postman was on the way back from the Post Office so they could not only interrogate him but could also read the mail. Having hidden the carriage down a side street, driven by Henry Terrence Smythe with Mrs Stone and Rowena as back up. Mitsy meanwhile hid in an alleyway with a large syringe full of tranquillisers, and Horace hid ahead of the man with a cosh in case Mitsy was unable to take him down.

Unfortunately the man spotted Horace and seemingly knew exactly who he was, pulling a large curved knife from his belt. Mitsy attempted to get behind him with the syringe but the man turned on her, stopping her from tranqing him, and forcing her on the defensive. Henry drove the carriage round the corner to box the man in between them, but was also forced to get involved leaving Rowena in charge of the carriage. Together they managed to wrestle the man, restraining him enough that Mitsy could dose him. As he slumped to the ground they dragged him into the carriage, but not before they heard a shout in Turkish, exclaiming that someone was kidnapping Hakeem!

Realising they were rumbled, Rowena whipped the horses into a frenzy and they rocketed off into the darkness. With only one arm she was not actually able to keep them under control, eventually however she was able to turn them into one of the larger parks. Stopping in the middle of Regents Park they awoke the prisoner and using her extensive knowledge of drugs Mitsy also added a truth serum. As they waited for the drugs to take effect they checked the post, one letter was in Turkish telling someone known as the Chosen Child that “the steed” had managed to locate the targets in Shoreditch and although it was heavily wounded they would go and finish the job in the morning. The other letters were a request from the Estate agent asking if they would be paying for another six month lease on the Yews and the Cultist house in Lime house, and another which seemed to be in some sort of code.

When the cultist came round they were able to pump him for information having removed his suicide pill. It turned out that the chosen child had come to hunt down the other children of Stheno, to kill them and regain his power. According to the cultist they stood no chance against the Chosen Child as he had the full backing of his mother, his eyes were like a ravaging storm, able to flay a persons flesh from them if they met his gaze and were not wearing a pair of special glasses. Worse still he supposedly had something called the laughter in darkness at his beck and call. The Stheneites were going to perform a ritual to wake Stheno once more, the previous attempt having failed, as Horace’s progeny had stolen the chosen childs power.

Then he lapsed into silence as they discussed what else they wanted to ask him. Before they could however outside the carriage they heard a strange throbbing chuckling sound. Mrs Stone opened the carriage window and leaned out to see what was happening. With quickly strangled shriek she was bodily dragged out of the carriage window shattering it. Seeing this the others leapt into action, Horace dived out the opposite side of the carriage and Henry occupied the shattered window. Above them they could see Mrs Stone floating in the air blood pouring out of four huge wounds in her body. The blood however was not falling to the ground, it was being drawn away into the air and where it flowed a mass of writhing tubes was slowly becoming visible in the air.

The sight of it was terrible, so terrible that Horace was unable to take the sight of it, and as his psyche rebelled his vision shifted. He was back in the trenches and revetments of Sebastapol, and Mrs Stone was being held aloft by a huge Russian. As Henry fired his weapon into the mass of rubbery tubes, Horace pulled a sawn off shotgun from his belt and cocked the hammers. The weapon had served him well in the sharp engagements of the Crimean war, and now he felt it was the perfect weapon to deal with this enemy. Henry was shocked to see that his shot had done practically nothing. Horace then stepped round the end of the carriage and fired both barrels into the mass. With a pained shriek a large portion of the tubular mass was blown away from the rest of the creature and fell instantly into slime that sublimed into a gas almost instantly. As the creature fled Mrs Stone dropped bonelessly to the floor. Henry and Mitsy raced over to her, but she was grey, her wounds punched straight through her.

Realising that the creature could potentially lead the cultists to them they set off once more, they also realised they now had two dead bodies with them, the cultist having passed away from the massive overdose of drugs he had been plied with. Mitsy, ever the practical one, went through Mrs Stones belongings having worked out that she would probably have wanted them to have them anyway, and then having released the horses the pushed the bodies into the Thames before taking rooms in a hotel.

There they recuperated for a day. Horace continued to think he was back in the Crimean, and although she was not in any immediate danger Rowena’s arm gave her considerable amounts of pain. When evening rolled round however they realised that they couldn’t stay here forever, and having seen the brutal murder of too many of their friends they now had vengeance on their minds. They determined to attack the cultist house and burn it to the ground. Even better they had been bolstered by the appearance of Michael’s butler Beddowes although they were worried that he was able to find them by following Mitsy’s account from a clothing shop where they had purchased fresh clothes.

Beddowes had arrived mainly because he was worried, the curator of the Dalley Collection had been kidnapped and the collection itself set alight, and having not heard from his employer for nearly two weeks had decided to catch up with him. He had not only brought clothes but also weapons, emptying out the gun cabinet. They decided to wait until midnight and then hit the cultist house with everything they had, they decided on Midnight as their previous information had left them with the information that the cultists had their main prayer meeting at midnight, so all of them should have been present.

When they got there they found the place strangely silent, given the neighbours had been complaining of this made the investigators instantly suspicious. Rather than throwing a lit lantern in through the front window, they waved Rowena forward and she used her locksmiths ways to open the door. The house was utterly silent and as they found out completely devoid of cultists. They set to searching the place, turning up a number of Cult pamphlets all still speaking about the Gorgon rising from beneath the place of learning. They also found some form of religious text in Turkish and some strange fragrant tobacco. Finally in the basement they found the cults place of worship. They had flooded the basement with water and in one corner they found the corpse of a child obviously strangled which had most likely been the sacrifice to consecrate the place. On one wall they found a picture of Stheno the gorgon, a very simple painting that when Rowena looked at it seemed to move and smile at her. On the shelf below the picture they found a number of small chunks of strange green stone.

They realised that the Cultists had left. Which did not bode well, especially if they had decided to return to Turkey. There was only one other potential avenue of information. They set off immediately to assault the Mansion.
They found the mansion was also dark, but as it was by now four in the morning was not unusual. Again Rowena picked the lock on the servants entrance and soon they were sneaking through the kitchen and trying to locate anything of importance. On the first floor they found a study, with a large number of empty bookshelves and some slips of paper. On the table however was an assemblage of brass and clockwork with a flask of greenish liquid inside. As they were looking at it the clockwork wound down, there was a crack and a cloud of green gas rolled over them. They gasped once or twice, Mitsy was able to stagger away from the door slightly, but soon they all fell unconscious.
They awoke later, still were they had fallen but they found the place changed, the shelves were filled with esoteric books, the table covered in clutter and a strange assemblage of golden rods and crystals. The clockwork item had disappeared but as they looked around there was a short flash of a darker room with them lying on the floor still unconscious. They began to search and found a number of things. Henry managed to find a copy of the King In Yellow, a book he had previously read a part of while Mitsy had been researching in the British Library. Rowena and Mitsy however found a book called the Revelation of Stheno, which although they initially saw it was in Turkish, it slowly changed to English as they read it.

It seemed to be the holy book of the Cult, detailing how the Chosen Child would be born and Stheno would be raised. It also detailed why the targets had been chosen. Anyone who was related to the Chosen child would receive some of the power, hence why after the child had been conceived the Cult had attempted to kill Horace and why all of his children and grandchildren were targets. The book also spoke of the rite to speak with Stheno explaining that only those of the blood could speak directly to the god using the chunks of green stone, while others would receive dreams. This explained the chunks of green stone they found in the Cultists place of worship. They also found the remains of a steamship ticket to Constantinople and a broken pair of spectacles seemingly made of Obsidian, but broken. These were obviously a set of the glasses that kept Ibn Fahrd’s eyes from killing his followers.
As they explored the house and the area around it they quickly realised that whatever that glass vial had held it had thrown them deep into the dreamlands, trapping them in a dreamlands version of the mansion that Ibn Fahrd had been using as a research lab. Talking to the denizens of the house, one of which claimed to have been the original owner of the mansion they realised that they had been drugged and so would not awaken properly from the dreaming world. They had been trapped in the dreamlands, and their bodies would eventually die in the real world of thirst. They spoke with the Original Owner who told them that normally when Ibn Fahrd brought them here they woke naturally, but that he most likely had used the Wine of the dreamlands, which would keep them here until they died or were awakened. The fact that they had been brought here before was both a surprise and explained some of the odd dreams they had been having.

There was one other person in the House who they determined might be able to help, a man who had tried to wrest the house from the dreamlands owner by placing himself in an area of the house the Owner could not affect as it had not existed when the house was created. Now walled into the basement, and visible only as a pair of eyes behind a removed brick, he could potentially help them escape. Ibn Fahrd had been using the basement as his laboratory and the Walled up man said he could teach them how to make something that would wake them. However his requirement for the deal was that when they returned to the real world they would destroy the basement wall, opening it and freeing him to take over the dreamlands house. While they were thinking about the plan they also heard a large commotion from the attic, which they were informed by the walled up man was Ibn Fahrd’s captive. Finally they agreed and the man talked them through making a concoction which then filled the room with red smoke.

They awoke in the basement, in utter darkness, stiff and cold. Remembering their deal they immediately picked up one of the dusty benches on the floor and used it to smash down the wall behind which the Walled Man’s body was. The Walled man had been a resourceful type setting up his room to allow a drip of water to keep him from dying of thirst. However the battle to take the house had taken longer than he had expected, and when they knocked down the wall there was a rumbling and a wave of foul water rushed out of the wall, and a bloated grey corpse was carried out with it coming to rest across Mitsy’s legs.

From upstairs they heard someone approaching to investigate the sound, muttering to himself about having done as he had been asked, laying the trap, and how the mistress would no doubt thank him for his efforts. Everyone tried to hide, but as the man entered the room with a shotgun, Horace’s training took over, he stood and shot the man with both of the barrels of his shotgun. Mitsy was shocked, not just by how easily Horace killed the man, but also by the fact that Horace attempted to claim that the man was a Russian spy.

They then headed to the Attic finding a large locked chest, Rowena picked the lock and inside they found the Curator of the Dalley collection, badly beaten but asleep. Although some of the things they had found in the dreamlands had come with them, the cure for the Dreamlands wine had not. They decided to try the tobacco they had stolen from the cultist house, but were not expecting for the man to awaken with a blood rending scream and continued screaming until Mitsy drugged him. When finally they left the mansion they took the man with them to Bethlehem Hospital, where the Doctor informed them that the Curator would likely spend the rest of his life in the Asylum.
They returned to their hotel and discussed their options. It was obvious that the capture of the Postman had triggered the cult to return to Turkey to attempt their ritual, especially given the damage done by the investigators to the Laughter in Darkness. The issue was that according to the Revelations of Stheno, the murders of the other children, and in particular the flaying of their heads probably meant that Ibn Fahrd had been taking their power for himself. Perhaps he now thought he had enough power to complete the ritual successfully, and worse although they knew the idol had been hidden by the Mad Monk of Byzantium they had no idea where in the city it might reside. Worse still the police had now revealed that they were looking for Mitsy and Michael in relation to the murders of Daniel Delmorte and Sonia House.

Rowena set off to procure both steamer tickets and false passports from some of her contacts down in Lime house. Within the day they were on a steamer to Constantinople, and within the week they were checking into the Palace Hotel, in view of both the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Luckily they did not think that the Cultists were expecting them, Horace having killed the only person who could have warned them that the investigators had not fallen into the trap in the mansion. With this in mind they installed the now almost comatose Michael in the hotel and began to try and search out information on the location of the Cults hideout or the location of the idol. They knew the idol had been “drowned in a place with no light” so they hired an old Turkish Gentleman to show them the sights. Most of what he said rolled over them, but when he began speaking of the Basilica Cistern a huge cistern the location of which had been lost. It had been somewhere near the Hagia Sofia and the Palace and they realised that this was the most likely hiding place of the idol.

He also showed them the outside of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, and the Men determined that they would return after the end of the tour to look inside and see if there were any clues. The Tour guide also showed them something else which they found very interesting. In the Hippodrome square there was a Serpent pillar supposedly a pillar erected by the Greeks, however Mitsy was able to tell it was far older than that and also noticed that the scales of the snake had writing on it that looked like the coded letter they had intercepted. They decided to go back later that night to examine it further.

As the women would not be allowed inside the Hagia Sofia under normal circumstances they parted ways with the Men. Instead they decided to go back to the hotel and tried to gather information on any strange goings on. They were not disappointed when one man told them a story about stopping to have a cigarette in an alleyway over on the Gokmen Sokak, only for three Turkish men in “little green dresses” to chase him out of it wielding huge curved knives. The description of the Cultists usual apparel made the ladies suspicious and despite the danger they took the time to take a walk over to the alley way and carefully observe it, without being spotted by the guard they spotted there.
The Men meanwhile took a trip to the Hagia Sofia, and in the beautiful Byzantine building they found something telling. It looked as if one of the stairways leading down to the catacombs had been altered, almost as if originally it had extended out further, but had been inexplicably walled off. This was almost certainly where the Idol had been dragged down to the Basilica Cistern, but as they searched the wall one of the Imams approached them and asked them if they had any questions. As he gave them a searching look, they shuffled their feet and then changed the subject before quickly leaving.

Later that night and after Mitsy and Rowena had filled them in on the probable location of the Cultist’s hideout they set off to examine the Serpent pillar. Keeping watch out for anyone seeing what they were doing, Mitsy and Henry climbed down into the pit the pillar was mounted in and examined it closely. The pillar obviously disappeared deep into the ground, and more importantly was definitely not iron. A small part of it had chipped off and Mitsy found that it was far heavier than it had any right to be, the small piece the size of the top knuckle of her thumb seemed to weigh almost five kilos! As they climbed back out of the pit however, they spotted that high on the front face of the Hagia Sofia was a lit window from which someone was watching them with a telescope.

Worried that they had been spotted they took a long and drawn out route back to the hotel, but by the time they got there Mitsy realised that there was something very wrong with her leg. Where the piece of strange stone had been resting was absolutely numb and the rest of her leg was slowly losing feeling as well. Removing the stone from her pocket, feeling suddenly flooded back into her leg causing her to fairly shriek as the whole limb felt as if hot pins were being hammered into it. The Serpent Pillar was obviously not what it seemed, and its strange properties utterly baffled Mitsy’s knowledge of chemistry and medicine. Once again they were left confused, who had been watching them from the Hagia Sofia, and how did the pillar fit in. More importantly where was the Idol of the Cult, and the cult themselves.

They decided to once again split up, the men would return to the Hagia Sofia and attempt to search for more information, the women meanwhile would stake out the alleyway the Englishman had been driven out of. They had seen a restaurant opposite and determined to spy in style!

The next morning they left Michael in the hotel as they split up. The Men headed straight to the Hagia Sofia where they again tried to work out where the passageway the idol had been dragged down had been. They also went to where they had seen the light the night before, finding it to be a private study room. They were about to sneak in and examine it, when they heard a polite cough from behind them. They turned and found the Imam they had met the day before. He introduced himself as Imam Boursakis, and invited them into his room, opening the very door that they were about to break into. As they moved in and saw the Telescope and other paraphernalia of a scientific man he asked them to sit down and then blatantly asked them why they had been looking into the Serpent Pillar. The continued to be evasive, but he quickly cut them off by asking if they knew of the Sthenites.

Seeing the looks on their faces the Imam introduced himself again, as Imam Boursakis, the heir to the teachings of the Mad Monk of Byzantium. Obviously relieved to find someone who they could probably trust they began to set out what they knew about what was going on. It turned out that the Imam had been aware of the first ritual, but as he did not know where the Basilica Cistern and the Idol of Stheno where there was no way to stop it, instead he had prepared for the aftermath and had been surprised when it did not occur. He was even more surprised when he received information that Abel Ibn Fahrd had left the country. He had not given up trying to locate the Idol, but had achieved no luck. As the Investigators began to tell the London part of the story however a commotion down in the square drew their eyes.

Rowena and Mitsy had settled themselves into the café opposite the alleyway to watch. However where they began diligently and secretively, after a few drinks they began to get slightly less diligent and definitely less secretive. They had seen a number of people go into the alley way, and a few leave again but as yet they had not worked out which of the three houses down the alley way was the entrance to the Basilica Cistern. Realising they needed to keep sharp they ordered some food. Which proved to be a mistake.

As the food was brought in the waiter carrying the platter suddenly stopped staring first at Rowena’s bright red hair, then at Mitsy, before dropping the platter and running out of the Café. They were very surprised, but all became clear as they spotted him running across the road and directly into the alley. They realised they had been spotted and had to get out of there before more cultists appeared. There best hope was to get into the square in front of the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, where hopefully the crowds would keep the cultists from murdering them. They set off at a run, but it was not long before they saw three of the Cultists and the waiter pursuing them.
Knowing that the rest of their compatriots were in the Hagia Sofia they started making their way across the square, pushing through the noon day crowds with the cultists only a few steps behind them. However Boursakis had spotted them from his rooms so as they reached the gates he appeared and ordered the guards to allow them in. The Guards seemed to have been changed since the last time they visited, now they were hard faced Turkish men wearing squarish metal helms, and much more heavily armed. Seeing the guards and their rifles the cultists swiftly turned tail and fled.

Now back together they launched into another planning session, spending several hours questioning Boursakis about what they could do. He revealed that he had an ally who would be able to provide them with troops, but without the actual location of the entrance to the cistern Boursakis was unwilling to call upon him. He also explained what was happening with regards to the power of the blood line. Each person had their own power, but as they died their power was redistributed amongst the remaining members of the line. However they had not felt this when Daniel, Henry, and Sonia died, and Boursakis believed that this was due to some method Ibn Fahrd had of stealing it away. When the ritual was performed anyone with the blood could speak with Stheno to try persuade the Gorgon to their way of thinking. Thinking about this however Mitsy pointed out that with Michael they had as much power as they believed Ibn Fahrd had. If they could find the idol then they could probably disrupt it.

They also asked about the Serpent pillar, and Boursakis revealed that it had always been in the centre of Constantinople, with each generation making it’s own myth about how it came to be there. Boursakis believed that the Serpent pillar was thrust into the body of the gorgon, keeping it from rising on its own, and he believed that the Cult would try to remove the pillar. Indeed the sudden need for one of the buildings at the side of the Hippodrome for repair work which required two large and powerful looking cranes was exceedingly suspicious.

The investigators finally decided on their plan, they would locate the entrance to the cistern which had to be in one of the houses in the alleyway, this would allow Boursakis to take some definite information to his ally and spur him into action. The next conjunction that the ritual could be attempted on was only two days ahead, leaving them very little time. There was another wrinkle, once the ritual was begun only members of the bloodline could harm other members, the power of Stheno would prevent anyone else from interfering with them. Worse still killing the person who was running the ritual at the time could be catastrophic.

Which is when they heard the bells, strident sounding alarm bells ringing out over Constantinople. They craned their neck out of the window but could only see a pillar of smoke over the area of the city where their hotel was! In a panic they set off back to it at a run.

When they got there they found the place surrounded by police and fire engines, with fire and smoke pouring out of the sixth floor, the floor on which all of their rooms were. Nearby they spotted the Manager of the hotel sitting talking to a police man with a large cut on his head. They demanded to know what had been going on and he explained that earlier in the day (not long after the women had been spotted in the restaurant) a man had come in looking for the Red haired English woman, and when the manager had told him that she was out he said he would return later. Return he did, with several other men wearing the robes of the cult under large coats, and demanded to know which room she was staying in. When the Manager refused they attacked him and started searching the rooms.

The Investigators realised that they needed to get into the hotel not only to rescue Michael, who was still they presumed unconscious upstairs, but also to re-secure the Revelations of Stheno which were hidden in Mitsy’s room. However the place was surrounded by police and firemen. Thinking quickly they ran around the back of the hotel and tried to sneak past the remaining policemen. Horace, Mitsy and Rowena managed to sneak in through a back door but the others were stopped.

Horace and the others headed upstairs to the rooms, they saw nobody in the smoke filled corridor, and so Mitsy and Horace headed straight to her room where both the stone, the Revelations of Stheno and all of their guns were. Horace took his shotgun and his old Martini Henry rifle, while Mitsy took one of the Hunting Rifles and handed one of the large revolvers to Rowena. They then headed straight to Michaels room, but found it both empty and on fire, with a large pool of blood on the floor by the bed. However from Rowena’s room they could hear the sounds of someone searching. They quietly crept into the room finding that someone had already set it alight, and saw three of the cult tearing the bedroom apart. Horace took aim and fired hitting one of the men in the heart dropping him instantly. As the other two cultists turned Mitsy and Rowena also fired but both shots went wide. The Cultists drew their knives and charged, but Horace managed to interpose himself in the door way using his Martini henry two handed and wielding it like a club.

The Cultists tried to stab at Horace but he managed to fend them off for the moment. Mitsy fired again but with the swirling melee came awfully close to hitting Horace so instead she dived in attempting to keep them from overwhelming her father. They traded blows but the cultists were managing to land a few light strikes on Horace but it would only be a matter of time before they landed a telling blow. Mitsy was not able to land a blow on them and Rowena realised that she would need to do something, so she aimed her gun and fired into combat. As she did so, Mitsy shifted position and the bullet hit her square in the spine. She dropped like a stone unconscious on the floor, as Rowena almost dropped the pistol in shock. Horace however had had just about as much as he could take, so he dropped his rifle and managing to dodge their knives for a moment snatched his shotgun from his belt, and gave the first cultist one barrel in the chest, killing him. The other managed to slash at him but then got the other barrel in the shoulder. He kicked Horace back and prepared for an over head strike when there was another boom, and a bullet hole appeared in his chest toppling him over. Horace turned and saw Rowena holding the smoking gun in her good arm.
They wrapped Mitsy in a rug and carried her down the stairs, escaping down the back stairs from the fire raging above. As they escaped they made as if they had been trapped in the Hotel. The Policeman waved them through and the others “volunteered” to take them to the hospital, instead going directly to the Hagia Sofia, with the almost dead Mitsy.

When they returned to the Hagia Sofia they found the place much more well guarded and the guards, who were now all hard faced men wearing the squarish metal helmets, waved them straight through and up to Imam Boursakis’ room. Seeing how badly injured Mitsy was the Imam instructed them to lay her face down on his bed and began pulling a number of strange items from the cupboards and chests. Soon he began painting complicated Arabic passages onto her back and chanting in a strange sounding language. Slowly the letters began to glow golden and suddenly there was a clonk as the bullet fell onto the floor and the wound began to close up. Eventually he stopped, and the letters stopped glowing, instead becoming a tattoo on Mitsy’s skin. Mitsy awoke soon afterwards, and although her neck was stiff she seemed unharmed.

Boursakis fell on his bed, deathly pale and shaking, explaining that the spell he had used took a great deal of his energy. As he fell asleep they realised that with the ritual scheduled for the following night they had to find the location of the entrance to the basilica cistern that night. With that in mind they decided to go and wait for the cults midnight meeting. No doubt this close to such an important ritual the majority of the cult would be in attendance leaving the house less guarded. This plan in mind they set off to watch the alley way with all of weapons they could find.

It didn’t take them long to notice the large numbers of people who walked nonchalantly down the street only to disappear down the very alleyway they were watching. Not just the twenty or thirty people they expected but in fact well over a hundred. They waited until almost ten past twelve and saw a young man rushing down the street towards the alleyway. Obviously this was the last, slightly tardy member of the cult, and he was not paying due care and attention as he rushed down the alleyway, took nothing more than a cursory glance around himself as he dived into the second building. The investigators watched for another few minutes before realising there were no extra guards, and then began sneaking closer. As they neared the house they could hear very very faint chanting, coming as if from underground.

Very carefully they eased open the door to the run down looking mansion. Ahead of them they saw a corridor with peeling plaster and threadbare Persian rugs, with three doors on either side. From the end of the corridor they could hear a much louder sound of chanting. Horace and Beddowes carefully edged into the hallway. From the first door on the left they heard the sounds of pots and pans being rattled and looking in they saw a little old lady preparing a large tureen of soup, they carefully eased the door shut and left her to her own devices. The second door on the right however posed a greater threat as there were three of the cult sat, ostensibly on guard but in fact playing a game of dice. The two older men made their way past with relative ease, but as Beddowes passed the door his gun clonked against the wall. Beddowes and Horace rushed to the far end of passageway, drawing the attention of the guards who rushed out and charged towards them.

The Guards had not however expected to be caught between the two venerable warriors, and the veritable firing squad on the other side. With the Guards trapped between the two groups the fight did not take long, Beddowes seizing one of their scimitars and Horace using his bayonet and shotgun. One of the guards broke free as Henry and the others opened up on them, but before he made it three steps Mitsy shot him through the head. Finally finished they began to head towards the end door where they thought the chanting was coming from. However as they set off the door to the kitchen was opened, and the little old lady dived out wielding a huge butchers knife and trying to kill Rowena.
However again Mitsy employed her revolver, shooting her in the chest and killing her.

They moved to the end of the corridor and opened the top left door, revealing a small room with stairs down to a cellar. the sound of chanting was getting much louder now and when they made it to the bottom of the stairs they saw why. Over in one corner of the room there was a well, and from it came a throbbing chanting sound. As they looked down it however they saw no stairs or ladder down, but at the bottom they saw the glimmer of water. Looking around the room they saw no sign of a way down, however as they began to search they realised that one of the three huge barrels on the far wall was not in fact a barrel but a hidden stairway. They opened it to check and saw mossy green steps leading down, and the sound of chanting increased a great deal.

Satisfied that they had located where the cult met they fled. They realised that once the cult finished their ritual they would find the dead guards and most likely would increase the guards they set for tomorrows main ritual. Whoever Boursakis’ ally was they had to hope they had a lot of men at their disposal. Their job done they headed back to the Hagia Sofia finding that for some reason there was a number of men in the square metal helmets “lounging” around the serpent pillar. Reaching Boursakis room they found a number of the same guards waiting for them who directed them to a suite of rooms in the Hagia Sofia set aside for their use. Exhausted they fell into the beds provided and dropped almost instantly asleep.

The next day they rose late and breakfasted in the Imam’s quarters. The Imam still looked exceedingly weak and shaky, pale as if he had lost a great deal of blood. They told him that they had found the location of the entrance and Boursakis immediately leapt to his feet exclaiming that he would go and fetch his ally straight away. He also told them that he had been able to provide three sets of obsidian glasses, which they gave immediately to the three people still carrying the bloodline, Horace, Mitsy and Rowena. They had not felt the strange redistribution of power that Boursakis had told them of so they assumed that Michael was still alive, which seemed illogical, until Rowena suggested that the number of voices involved in speaking to the Gorgon was important. The investigators briefly considered doing something during the day, but instead chose to rest, the past few days having taken a great deal out of them.

About four O’clock in the afternoon Boursakis returned and told them that his ally wished to meet with them. He led them downstairs through the Hagia Sofia and towards the back of the building. There they found an ornate door with the Byzantine symbol on it. He opened the door and went into the room, finding themselves in what was once a Private Church for the Byzantine Emperor and when the Hagia Sofia had been converted to an Islamic place of worship by the Ottomans, it had been updated to being a private mosque. Inside they found a number of Turkish men wearing the squarish metal helms, and one huge blond man wearing the same uniform with what looked like a hatchet from his belt, and a far larger axe sticking up over his shoulder. The last man in the room was a somewhat larger man with a full slightly greying beard. The man was dressed in fine clothes with an empty scabbard at his belt and looked like a competent fighter.

No one introduced him but when he began talking in perfect English they realised that they were speaking to someone fairly high up in the government. Mitsy looked at the uniforms of the men around and realised they were Janissaries the Personal Guard of the Sultan, making the bearded man Abdulaziz the First, Sultan of the Ottoman empire. Making their greetings they found him to be a personable and intelligent man. He told them that he would put all of his Janissaries at their back and call for the ritual that night. Boursakis also told them that he would also be joining them as he feared that Ibn Fahrd might have brought some of his more esoteric allies.

Asking if they needed anything else, they thought for a moment but realised that they were in fact as ready as they ever would be. Abdulaziz returned to the palace and the investigators spent the rest of the afternoon in nervous inactivity.

They waited until midnight and then set off for the house, bypassing the Hippodrome square where there was a raging fire-fight going on between the Janissaries that had been lounging round the Serpent Pillar and the “workmen” of the house with the two large cranes. Abdulaziz and twenty or so Nordic looking men lead by Sven at the front some one hundred and fifty janissaries stacked up at the head of the Alleyway. The Investigators were intending to go first but Abdulaziz prevented them, and called for the Forlorn hope. A troop of twenty five Turkish warriors with Scimitars and Pistols, snapped to attention and with a wave of his ancient looking and heavily calligraphied sword, the Sultan ordered them into the building. The front two snatched up a heavy ram and took the door down in one blow and the rest then rushed in. There was a storm of fire from within and screams began to echo from inside. Within the minute one of the Forlorn Hope staggered out bloodied, and in Turkish told them that the house was taken.

The inside of the house looked like a charnel house, some thirty or so cultists were dead inside and most of the Forlorn hope were either badly injured or dead. The rest of the troops began to move into the house, led by the Nordic Janissaries who had now pulled large axes from their backs. They and the Investigators went into the Cellar and the Sultan and Boursakis opened the secret door. However before they proceeded down the stairs Sven and his men pulled huge iron hand grenades from their pouches and stacked them on the lip of the well before lighting the fuses and pushing the whole mess of them down the well. With that Sven and the other Varangians threw themselves down the spiral staircase. From below the Investigators heard the bombs explode, and the chanting faltered and was joined by the screams of injured and dying cultists. Soon after that there was a roar as the Varangians hit the cultists and started using their axes to clear a space for reinforcements.

The Investigators, the Sultan and Boursakis were just behind the first troops, and found themselves in a huge stone cavern, the roof held up by hundreds of square pillars, the floor also stone was covered in a foot or so of blackish water in which totally white carp were swimming. The Varangians had pushed back almost three hundred cultists to form a beachhead into the cavern. Luckily for them the troops of the Sultan moved in perfect unison, forming firing lines and firing volley after volley into the mass pushing them back.

Entering the room, Horace, Mitsy and Rowena all felt their attention drawn to an alcove on the left of the Cavern at the very end of the room. There was a slight glow coming from that end of the cavern and they set off in that direction, hacking and shooting at the cultists, who took one look at them before moving away. Henry and Beddowes were less lucky however as they did not have the protection of Stheno. More and more troops managed to force themselves into he room forming a semicircular area around the entranceway. It was not an easy fight however as only the Varangians seemed to be the match of the cultists in close combat, and when the cultists managed to charge through the volley fire they were able to kill many of the troops.

As Horace and his two relatives forced their way towards the glow, Beddowes and Henry heard a strange buzzing sound and descending from above were three horrific creatures. Almost like insects with huge gossamer wings their heads were a mass of red writhing tentacles, and in pincers they held metallic tubes that were revealed as weapons as they fired bolts of lightening into the Janissaries. As bodies flew through the air many of the Janissaries were overcome by the sight and turned tail to flee, even some of the Varangians fled, although they were swiftly called back by Sven. Abdulaziz meanwhile was utterly unphased and drawing the ancient sword (which now glowed from within) launched himself towards the creatures with Henry and Beddowes behind him. A cultist attempted to stop him, but Abdulaziz parried and stabbed the man, who although the wound was not deep screamed and began to desiccate as if all of the liquid in his body was being drawn away. As the now mummified corpse fell into the water, Henry snatched up his scimitar and Beddowes shot another cultist and took his. They forged their way through the mass towards the terrifying creatures, Sven joining them.

At the other end of the cavern Horace, Mitsy and Rowena reached the alcove and carefully edged around the corner. In front of them was a strange sight. The Idol of Stheno had been used as the base of one of the columns, the gorgons face placed upside down in the water, although they could see the stone face moving as if talking. In front of the idol were three figures. One was obviously Michael, still bandaged but now with a cut on his head. The Person in the middle of the group was almost certainly Abel Ibn Fahrd. His head had been cut open, and sewn back together, from the cuts protruded small fleshy tags looking like the mythological snakes of the Gorgon. These had obviously been taken from the other members of the bloodline. The third of the figures however was a grey haired woman, but as Horace and the others stepped round the corner she turned.

Although the years had not particularly been kind to her, Horace saw immediately that it was Fatima the Turkish “prostitute” who he had slept with thirty years ago and whose “brothers” had tried to kill him. As Abel’s father and mother locked eyes, she shrieked a Turkish curse and hurled herself towards him drawing on of the cults curved knives as she did so. Horace found himself in a viscous close combat where he was forced to put all of his efforts into parrying Fatima’s frenzied assault.

Mitsy crossed to her brother Michael finding him in a trance and speaking hurriedly to someone. He stank of the strange tobacco that they had found in the cultist house back in London. When she lifted his eyelids she found that there was no sign of the iris at all, but more worryingly he was saying “Rise Mother Stheno and destroy the world” over and over. She tried to shake him awake but he continued to chant. Mitsy looked around her at the battle going on in the main cavern, she paused a moment and put her considerable intellect towards working out what could be done.
Rowena meanwhile had been fixated by the gaze of the stone idol, an idol she realised she had seen time and time again in her dreams. She took out her piece of the idol and began the ritual to contact Stheno. It proved very easy and she found herself in a brightly lit version of the cavern, all made of white marble. Where the Idol had stood was a beautiful woman, but every time Rowena turned her head away the woman was revealed as a hideous monster with a snakes tail in place of her legs and strange tendrils extending from her head. In front of her were Michael and Ibn Fahrd, Michael was repeating his mantra, but Ibn Fahrd was arguing strenuously for Stheno to rise and destroy the world of man and take her place as Ruler. Rowena stepped forward and argued that the world was not yet ready.

Back in the main cavern Abdulaziz was busy almost fencing with one of the strange fungus-insects, trading blows with his glowing sword and dodging its metallic claws. One of the others was pinned to the floor, desperately trying to escape as Sven stood on top of it and hacked at it over and over again with his huge axe. The Cultists and Janissaries continued to fight in the back ground as the last of the fungus-insects stalked towards Beddowes and Henry. It raised it’s lightning gun but before it could fire a clay pot sailed through the air and shattered in front of it, covering it with dust and causing it to scream in anguish. Glancing over to Boursakis who had thrown it, he waved at them to assault the creature before it recovered.

Henry fired into the mass, but the bullet passed through the creature seemingly without affecting it at all, it clacked it’s metal pincers at them and lunged forward trying to get at Henry. However Beddowes took a leaf out of Sven’s book and using a captured scimitar attacked it, slicing into the strange almost flesh of the creature. It rose up on its back legs trying to get at them, but Henry also joined in. Between the two men they hacked the creature to pieces, and Abdulaziz managed to defeat his opponent as well but not without being injured. Sven grabbed his Sultan and seeing that the Jannissaries were being pushed back tried to call for them to pull back. Henry and Beddowes however began trying to forge a path to the alcove.

In the alcove Horace had been blooded twice by Fatima who continued to throw insults at him as she tried to land a telling blow. While she kept him busy he could not perform the ritual to join Rowena in trying to keep Stheno quiescent, and he knew he had to finish the fight swiftly. They circled time and time again, the woman groomed from birth to be the heir of an insane cult, and the elderly British soldier. Suddenly Fatima pushed off from the idol leaping through the air to try and stab Horace in the chest, he however was ready for it, catching her on the end of his bayonet and pinning her to the idol. As she spat at him and told him that there was nothing he could do to save the world, he drew his shotgun and gave her both barrels. All of the members of the blood staggered as the power she held was redistributed.

However this was not a good thing as it increased Ibn Fahrd and Michael’s power with regards to Rowena, and the features of the idol began to twist and move. Mitsy stopped as she realised that there was only one way to be on equal footing with Ibn Fahrd. She drew her revolver, and placed it against Michael’s head. As long as he was alive the opponents to Ibn Fahrd could not equal his power, but the moment Michael died Her, Rowena, and Horace would be the equal of Ibn Fahrd and able to argue on an even footing. Steeling herself she pulled the trigger and Michael fell sideways, shot through the head. She grabbed Horace and together they cast the ritual to enter into conference with Stheno.

Rowena had been holding her own, pointing out that even in the cavern there were people who would stand against her, that there were people who knew enough to prevent her from coming to her true power. Ibn Fahrd continued to claim that Stheno would easily defeat her enemies and then she could rule with him as her first servant. Stheno seemed to be listening to Ibn Fahrd however when Michael suddenly winked out of the communion she paused. Ibn Fahrd looked enraged, and his rage only became worse as first Horace and then Mitsy appeared. They began to argue against Ibn Fahrd, but seemed to be making no headway, until Mitsy realised and pointed out that Ibn Fahrd mostly seemed concerned with his position after Stheno took over. Horace agreed, pointing out that Ibn Fahrd had not mentioned the opposition, because he did not really care about Stheno’s victory but was more interested in his own prestige. Seeing that this seemed to have an effect Rowena and Horrace also backed this ploy. Ibn Fahrd tried to argue against it pointing out that the other voices were not the voice of the chosen child, were not the voices of members of the cult, but unfortunately for him this just lent credence to the Investigators arguments. Stheno seemed convinced, leaning down as if to place a kiss on Ibn Fahrd’s forehead. However as she leaned forwards her jaw unhinged and fangs erupted from it and in one swift strike she bit his head clean off.

Horace, Mitsy, and Rowena found themselves back in the Cavern as the Communion failed. A burst of energy came from the idol, cracking the pillar above, and knocking them sprawling. As they stood up however they saw that the ritual had been disrupted, they also saw no sign at all of the Jannissaries hidden as they were around the corner. As the headless corpse of Ibn Fahrd tumbled into the water however they saw the sea of cultits in front of them. Horace calmly reloaded his shotgun as Mitsy pulled the body of Michael up onto her shoulders. The Cultists started forward, when suddenly a clay pot sailed through the air, exploding with a bright flash and driving them forward. Suddenly in the gap were Henry and Beddowes driving the cultists back and shouting for the others to follow them. Above them large cracks were rushing across the roof from the broken pillar, and they set off at the run towards the now very small beachhead the Janissaries were holding on to almost by sheer force of will. Sven and the Sultan had already left, the Varangian carrying his wounded lord from the Cavern. As the Investigators ran Beddowes took Michael’s body from Mitsy allowing her to run on ahead, while fighting off cultists as they tried to attack them as they ran.

Henry, Mitsy, and Rowena made it to the beachhead first but before Horace and Beddowes could make it a huge cultist barreled into them knocking them to the floor. There was a brief struggle before Horace was able to shoot the man with his shotgun and Beddowes finished him off with the Scimitar. By now blocks were beginning to rain down from the roof above and Horace tried to get Beddowes to leave Michael behind, but the loyal servant would not do so. Horace reluctantly left him behind, escaping up the spiral stairs with the last of the jannisaries pursued by a cloud of dust.

Up at the top of the stair way they left the now collapsing building and slumped down near to the Sultan who was being bandaged by Boursakis. The Sultan asked if it was done, and they told him that it was… for now. He nodded and looked off towards the Hippodrome where the firefight seemed to be dying down. He thanked them all for their help, and with some pride announced that this was finally the end of the Sthenite cult, the Ottoman Empire had defeated the cult the Greeks, Lycians, and Byzantines had failed to do.

It was then that a Cultist leapt from the shadows aiming a knife at Horace’s throat, but before the blow could land he was shot through the heart. Rowena lowered her pistol, as Boursakis noted that it could be quite some time before they could truly make that claim.

OOC

Abdulaziz was found dead in his chambers some 12 years later, having been deposed by his ministers 6 days before. No one was sure if it was murder or suicide. Some time afterwards both the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire collapsed, just had the Byzantines and the Lycians before them.
The entirety of this campaign popped into my head during a three day stay in Istanbul, and many of the places are actually real:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_Column
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_Cistern

 

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