3 min read

MoN 054: Going Round and Around

Finally, they got going again.

On the morning of the 16th of August 1925, the expedition headed into the desert. They didn't know what they were looking for or where it was, but that didn't deter them. Successfully pretending to be (clueless) tourists, they drove south and east from Cuncudgerie. 

During three days of hot, difficult travel during which Kirk suffered increasingly terrifying nightmares and daily woke up screaming, Jeffrey had an extremely close encounter with a two-meter-long brown snake attracted to his body heat, and Kirk managed to puncture one of the wheels on the lead the truck, the little convoy of two lorries and four camels struggled out of the hills and into the Great Sandy Desert.

After a discussion, they decided that whatever they sought would probably be near water. Thus, they spent the next two weeks fruitlessly driving around the various "lakes" marked on their maps. Most were little more than dried-up depressions, but the investigators managed not to die of thirst.

After two frustrating weeks of exploration, and increasingly vivid night terrors for Kirk, they decided to try the Canning Stock Route. The thousand-mile-long track was pockmarked with wells, and thus, it seemed safer than most other options.

By the 31st of August, they had found the Canning Stock Route. No sooner had they done so than they encountered a weary prospector, Dave, who told them a story of seeing something horrible and indescribable in the desert. Galvanised by this, the group set off the next morning on the first day of September only to run straight into a sandstorm, which halted their progress.

After the storm abated, the investigators dug their lorries out of the mini-dunes that had formed around them. Then they discovered both lorry's engines were full of sand. More time was lost cleaning the engines.

Finally, they got going again. Following the stock route for most of the next day, they came across what looked like a well-worn track heading roughly north. With no other options, they followed the trail into the arid, heat-blasted wastes of the Great Sandy Desert. By the next day, the trail had petered away to almost nothing, but cresting a dune, they finally discovered something—what looked like a ruined mining camp. 

Investigating cautiously, George, Kirk, Charles, Jeffrey and Gilbert searched the camp's tents and discovered the bones of several people amid the ruin. All have been killed violently. (George would later find a club studded with tiny teeth that matched the wounds on the skeletons). One of the tents seemed almost lived in—perhaps there was a survivor. A trickle of water jetting forth from the rock ridge behind the camp interested George—it baffled the archaeologist, for it was exceptionally strange that a rock in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert would spurt forth such clean and fresh water. 

A shack at the other end of the camp stood next to a lorry that looked like it had been flattened by a giant standing on it. The shack was a minehead protecting a deep shaft, winch and other machines. A small shack behind it, with a sign marked "Explosives," was sadly empty.

At this point, the party's investigations were interrupted by the frantic honking of one of the truck's horns. Jacob had stayed behind, and as his friends emerged from the shacks, he fired a flare to the east. Following its trajectory, the group saw a huge black bird-like thing flying toward the camp. It seemed to be making for the lorries. A fusillade of gunfire from the camp distracted it from eating Jacob. However, the thing was clearly not natural, and as it swooped closer, Charles went mad—his sanity shattered by the faceless, mouthless half-bat, half-bird monstrosity swooping toward him. As the thing dove at the party, Charles—utterly mad—demanded that Jeffrey put on his clown suit. All was not lost, however. Gilbert—coolly, calmly and with some luck—put a round from his rifle straight through the thing's head! As it crashed into the ground, a ragged cheer went up from Gilbert's unnerved companions…

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

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