4 min read

MoN 052: Through the Looking Glass

The redoubtable adventurer immediately collapsed.

For a month, the group sailed south on the Ineluctable. Passing down the west coast of Africa, the ship briefly stopped at Cape Town before starting the final phase of its journey. On June 10th, the liner finally docked at Fremantle. From the docks, it was a brief 17-mile train ride to Perth. Kirk, after one look at a “good” road, immediately arranged for his Rolls Royce to be shipped home. Enjoying a challenge, however, he had the Model T unloaded and gamely set off for Perth.

The road was a challenging drive. Just six short hours later, Kirk and his companions pulled up in front of the King Edward Hotel in Perth—apparently the best hotel in Perth. Charles and his loyal band of followers were already ensconced in a suite when Kirk and the others arrived. Shortly thereafter, the group gathered in the hotel bar to discuss their next move.

North, To Darwin

It transpired their journeying was not over. The only safe way to reach Darwin was by tramp steamer. As luck would have it, such a vessel was leaving on the morrow, so Kirk, Gilbert, George and Charles, and his companions, packed their bags; Jacob would stay behind in Perth to establish a “base camp” of sorts.

The voyage north was another 14 days of drudgery for the investigators. Meanwhile, back in Perth, Jacob was busying himself in the university library, examining minerals for any hints of exotic metals. He found nothing of interest but made a different—perhaps sensational—discovery when he bumped into someone who swore they had seen Jack Brady and Roger Carlyle months after they were both reported killed in Kenya! Apparently, they had stopped briefly in Perth on their way to Hong Kong.

On June 26th, the voyagers reached Darwin; they would not stay long.

Taking rooms at the “best” hotel—the Victoria Hotel—in the sweltering mining town, they assessed the lay of the land. Charles rapidly discovered that Darwin was not for the likes of him—the amenities in the hotel were sorely lacking for a man of his refinements and needs. Meanwhile, George heroically ingratiated himself with the locals by drinking heavily and—crucially—buying all the drinks. He learnt much, including a few Aboriginals in the Great Sandy Desert allegedly worshipped some kind of bat god and that apparently a wonderful hidden city lies buried somewhere in the Great Sandy Desert.

The next morning, the four set off for Randolph Shipping Company’s headquarters. This small, one-building operation was not what the group had expected. It occupied little more than a commodious shack, and only two people worked there—Toddy Randolph and his employee Billy Burraglong.

Impersonating employees of the Penhew Foundation—and dispensing liberal cash—the group managed to get a look at the company’s shipping manifests. They found several consignments sent to Ahja Singh in Mombassa and Ho Fang Import/Export in Shanghai and discovered that two crates in the building at the time were destined for the Penhew Foundation! These deliveries all seemed to originate from a Mortimer Wycroft in Cuncudgerie.

Excited, they searched for and then opened the crates. The first contained a wooden statuette of a hideous be-tentacled humanoid creature; the other contained a machine comprising a queer assortment of rods, gears and an eye tube. A letter with the device identified it as a “short-term survey device employed by the Yithians”. This description in no way helped anyone understand what the device actually did.

Intrigued and on George’s suggestion, Kirk looked into the machine’s telescope-like aperture. The redoubtable adventurer immediately collapsed. Gilbert examined him and discovered Kirk was in a deep coma. Nothing the group could do would rouse him. Carrying him back to the hotel, the three remaining members of the group realised that Kirk needed serious treatment—perhaps at the world-renown Claremont Hospital for the Insane in Perth.

South, to Perth

There was nothing for it; they would have to travel back to Perth immediately. Booking passage on the next available steamer heading back to Perth, the group were delighted to see Toddy Randolph loading several crates onto the steamer—among them the crates destined for the Penhew Foundation. Perhaps their luck was again on the turn!

The steamer set sail on the 30th of June. During the two weeks, the steamer slowly made its way to Perth, Kirk seemed to recover—sort of. After a few days, his legs and arms started twitching as if he was having a strange fit. Gilbert restrained him so that he could not hurt himself. On the fourth day of the voyage, Kirk woke up, but the manner of his speech and his total lack of knowledge about who he was made his friends exceptionally suspicious. He seemed to know nothing about who he was or who they were but was voluminous in his questioning. He wanted to know about everything and seemed particularly keen to see the stars. This request, his friends did not grant, and they kept the obviously ill man below decks.

The voyage was eventful for another reason. George hatched a plan to break into the ship’s hold and steal the odd item that had caused Kirk to collapse. While Alice distracted the crew, the heroic archaeologist broke into the hold and did just that—replacing the item with scrap metal of similar weight. Now the group possessed the “short-term survey device employed by the Yithians”, but no one seemed particularly interested in looking into the device.

By the 13th of July, the group were back in Perth, and Kirk was safely ensconced in the Claremont Hospital for the Insane. For the next few weeks, the group rested as Kirk underwent treatment. On the 27th of July, the good news came through on the telephone that Kirk suddenly—as if a switch had been flipped—seemed completely recovered. His friends dashed to the sanatorium to discover this was apparently the case; whatever had beset him was gone.

North to Port Hedland

Although he was somewhat drained and confused by the affair, Kirk was ready to continue. The party seemed to have only one clue: that Mortimer Wycroft in Cuncudgerie was sending goods to various far-flung places linked to the Penhew Foundation and Edward Gavigan. Thus it was the party booked passage on yet another steamer heading north to Port Hedland and Cuncudgerie. They reached the dusty frontier town on August the 8th…

This post is a session summary for my weekly 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign.

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