With nothing for it, the soldiers decided to head back to the valley from which they had started to find the Black Stone and put an end to the cultists’ foul doings.
They struggled westwards for an hour or so as the shadows lengthened and the fog grew thicker. Eventually, they reached a steep hill. but then disaster struck.
Earl Martin slipped and fell into the fog-filled valley just as the crystal burst once again into fell light. As Leopold and Dudley slid down after Earl, he called up that he had fallen into barbed wire. This warning came just in time for Leopold and Dudley to stop themselves from suffering a similar fate.
After a few minutes, Leopold managed to free Earl from the barbed wire, and the three struggled back to the rest of the (nervous) squad. Worse was to come, however. Just then, Jake screamed as his face began to break out in a sordid mass of bleeding boils. Blinded, he could only scream. Earl cried out for the book while several of the soldiers began the chant Dudley had taught them. But then, as he clutched the book, an evil look came over Earl’s face. He tore the page from the book bearing the chant and tried to eat it! Ikil reacted instantly and shot him dead.
This event shocked several of the soldiers deeply. What had come over Earl? Why had he acted the way he had? No answers were forthcoming from the bullet-riddled corpse, and so the now five-strong squad pushed on.
The Valley of the Black Stone
An hour later, the soldiers rejoined their comrades in the valley-pocket and were standing before Major Whittlesey, giving their report. Wisely, they did not tell their commander of the glowing crystal they carried or the army of the dead they had encountered. Rather they spun a convincing tale of battling Germans and of the discovery of a bridge over which the boche were bringing up reinforcements.
After giving their report, the squad was dismissed. The five realised that doom was quickly descending on the pocket and realised their only hope was to find and destroy the Black Stone. Quickly they scavenged four grenades from the pocket’s desperate survivors and headed down to the stream running through the valley, theorising the stone Dudley had found had been washed downstream from the monolith spoken of in the book that the doctor yet carried.
Under the Black Monolith
Quickly they found a deep shell hole. At the bottom of the shell hole, a black monolith perhaps 15-foot-long thrust upward from the earth. The monolith lay on its side, and the dismayed soldiers realised it was too bulky to be destroyed by four grenades.
Jumping into the shell hole to investigate, Leopold found a narrow passage hidden in the shadow of the monolith that led deep into the ground. Fashioning rudimentary torches from the tunics of fallen soldiers, the squad crawled within. Led by Hank, they traversed a narrow earthen tunnel that led to a monolith-lined chamber like the one they had discovered below the German trench days ago. A wide set of stairs descended deeper into the ground.
At the bottom of the stairs, the soldiers discovered a huge chamber. At its centre stood a ceremonial archway and three altars. As the soldiers began to explore the room, the distant sounds of fighting reached their ears. Screaming and the staccato of machinegun fire told them that the pocket’s defenders were again beset—but this time by an army of the dead.
Working quickly, Ikil began to rig the archway with the four grenades while his companions crouched near the stairs. They didn’t have long to wait. As Ikil worked feverously to complete his makeshift bomb, the first of a dozen or so French cultists rushed down the stairs.
It was payback time.
The cultists were surprised by the soldiers and were mown down in short order by the vengeful, desperate men. When the crackle of rifle fire died away, all the cultists lay dead. Sadly, Hank had also been badly injured—a cultist had stabbed him with a pitchfork—but the soldiers had bought Ikil the time he needed to set his explosives.
But, Ikil had set them wrong, and the bomb failed to explode. Luckily by now, Dudley had revived—at least partially—Hank and he worked with Dudley to reset the grenade-bomb. This done, the soldiers fled up the stairs. An explosion, followed by the sound of falling stones, heralded the arch’s destruction. Behind them, the tunnel began to collapse, spurring them on to an even faster flight.
As they scrambled out of the shell hole, the ground began to suck the monolith back into its depths. As the exhausted, filthy survivors looked on, the monolith disappeared from sight. The danger had been averted, but who would believe them?
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.
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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.