The soldiers spent a cold, hard night in the sheltered dell. Most dared not sleep—as they remembered the last warning of the village priest. Earl Martin seemed particularly affected by the horrors of the past few hours and kept muttering about “whispering” coming from the darken wood.
The next morning, thick fog blanketed the woods as Dr Dudley explained what he had learned from the book. Mainly the book was a history of the old church and the village, but four passages spoke of an ancient, cosmic evil lurking in the forest in the “Valley of the Black Stone”. (Dr Dudley shuddered at the thought of the fragment of such as stone engraved with curious markings, which he had picked up on a whim just yesterday from a stream bed and stored in his pack). This inhuman evil was even now stirring as the deaths of countless millions in the war gave it sustenance. The book also contained a special verse that could return the evil to its ageless slumber—if only the soldiers could find the valley in which their comrades yet sheltered.
With that in mind, they set out again into the fog-shrouded forest. After interminable hours wandering about, they encountered a band of French peasants clearing away bodies from an old battlefield. The peasants were friendly and invited the soldiers to their camp for food and shelter. Cold and hungry, the soldiers readily agreed. They were to rue this choice, for the peasants were not as friendly as they at first seemed.
The French Camp
The peasants led the soldiers to a tent in which to rest. As the soldiers looked around, Hank discovered a bloody American greatcoat. At the same moment, several of his comrades realised the sounds from the camp had ceased. As Emmett Ryan—on watch outside the tent—called out a warning, all hell broke loose as the strange orange crystal burst into life. A mob of peasants, some clutching pistols, others wielding pitchfolks and other sharp farming implements, advanced on the tent.
Realising there were too many to fight in the tent, Hank slit a hole in the back of the tent and the squad dashed away toward the forest. However, something terrible was happening back at the tent. Emmett Ryan had been slow to react. As Ikil had retreated, he saw burning sores begin to break out on the doomed soldier’s face. As the rest of the squad retreated behind the tent, Emmett started screaming in a horrible high-pitched voice as smoke billowed skywards from in front of the tent. Horrified, Jake let off a burst of fire from his BAR, which silenced Emmett’s screams.
However, that was the last shot the soldiers fired for some time! As they formed a skirmish line in the woods, they discovered that every single one of their rifles failed to fire! The only option was to flee. Thus began a nightmarish few hours as the soldiers ran, hid and dodged through the forest, pursued by a pack of murderous French peasants and their dogs. Eventually, however, despite several close shaves, the soldiers gave their pursuers the slip.
Forest of the Dead
By now, it was dark and getting colder again. With no choice but to push on, the soldiers blundered onwards! As the darkness grew deeper, they realised something horrible. What they had thought were saplings filling this section of forest was, in fact, an army of the dead! hundreds of dead soldiers—French, British and Americans—stood silently at attention. The sight was horrible. All the soldiers were struck dumb with the horror of it all, and all had a single moment of blinding, cosmic clarity that this was an army of the dead risen to sweep the Americans from the Valley of the Black Stone.
When they had composed themselves, the soldiers searched the dead for ammunition—supplies of which were running dangerously run low. Sadly, although all the dead were armed with rifles with fixed bayonets none of them had any bullets. However, Ikil did find a map and compass on the body of a German officer. Miracle of miracles, the man’s compass worked, and the map showed several local landmarks and the Valley of the Black Stone! It seemed the soldiers’ luck had finally begun to change…
About this Session Summary
This post is a prelude to my 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. We decided to run some “origin” sessions for some of the main characters, and this is one of them. Session summaries are posted in (game world) date order, so it will be some time before we get to the main campaign.
We play weekly, so sign up to get our session summaries direct to your inbox.
This post is a session summary for my weekly 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign.
About No Man’s Land
No Man’s Land is a Call of Cthulhu adventure from Chaosium set in the last months of World War I.
THE DATE IS OCTOBER 2, 1918. In France, soldiers huddle in hastily-dug trenches, faith their only protection against the never-ending artillery barrage. It is the time of World War I — the Great War — when mankind proves itself capable of atrocities never before conceived. As above, so below. Beneath the cracked and shattered soil of the Argonne Forest lives something that waits, lurking and feeding upon misery—something inhuman. Very soon the members of the doomed Lost Battalion will stumble upon this mystery older than Mu, and then the fate of the world will lie in their hands.