5 min read

MoN 16: Death at the Museum

This sight gave the intrepid archaeologist a moment of pause.

Following a good night’s sleep, the erstwhile members of the Larkin Expedition gathered in Hotel Maury’s dining room for breakfast. Ikil Lit and Dr Dudley had received post—in Ikil Lit’s case hand delivered—and the new friends were keen to hear of Amelia’s adventures. Amelia related how she had followed Mendoza and suspected the man of vague ill-doings. However, the night’s excitement had exhausted her, and so while her colleagues spent the morning wandering Lima, she retired to rest.

Museo de Arqueologia y Antropologia

After a light lunch, Dr Dudley, Ikil, George and Jacob accompanied Jackson Elias to meet Professor Sanchez at the Museo de Arqueologia y Antropologia. Strangely, or perhaps fortuitously, several of the group carried firearms.

Arriving at the museum, they met Professor Sanchez, a dapper middle-aged man. He confirmed he had repeatedly offered to help Larkin but had been either ignored or rebuffed at every turn. He believed Larkin planned to loot the pyramid and sell the artefacts he found therein. This was something that grieved him deeply. Thus, he had decided the only way to stop Larkin was to mount a rival expedition and get to the pyramid first.

To that end, one of his research students, a lady named Rizo, was translating an old text written by a conquistador that supposedly shed some light on the pyramid’s location. Rizo was—at that very moment—retrieving something from the museum’s vault to aid in this translation.

When Sanchez revealed she had been searching for the artefact for several hours, Ikil grew concerned. Could Rizo be working for Larkin? Might she already be fleeing with the artefact?

Getting Sanchez’s permission—and directions—most of the visitors charged off to check on Rizo; Jackson stayed behind to keep the professor company.

They quickly found the vault—a huge, dimly lit underground chamber piled high with centuries of accumulated objects. Cautiously—for a sense of foreboding had overtaken them—the four intrepid heroes—Ikil, George, Dr Dudley and Jacob crept into the gloom.

It was Ikil that found Rizo. Several crates had fallen, pinning her to the floor. As he moved one of the crates, he made a horrifying discovery. Rizo’s body was horribly shrivelled and emaciated. In fact, she almost seemed mummified! Even more worryingly, a circular wound pierced her chest. As Dudley examined the corpse and Jacob snapped a few pictures, George rushed off to get Professor Sanchez; how the wheel of fortune turns.

As he reached the bottom of the stairs to the museum proper, he heard a scream from above. Drawing his trusty Webley revolver, he rushed up the stairs. He found a man slumped on the floor in a side display room, clutching his stomach. Blood oozed from a large wound in his belly. The woman trying to stem the flow of blood pointed toward Sanchez’s office.

George dashed into Sanchez’s office to see a terrible sight. A gaunt, black-haired man had grasped the professor, and it seemed he was trying to kiss him. A bloodstained sword lay on the desk. Without thinking, George shot the man.

The shot was not enough to kill him, though. The attacker spun around, and George saw it was Mendoza, but something was horribly wrong with the man’s mouth—it was distended and filled with thousands of small barbed teeth. This sight gave the intrepid archaeologist a moment of pause. At that moment, Mendoza grabbed his sword, sprung across the room and tried to stab George. More by luck than anything, George managed to bat the blade away. Then, as Mendoza was off-balance, George thrust his Webley at Mendoza’s forehead and blew the back of his head off. Mendoza collapsed, dead, his brains splattered across Professor Sanchez’s desk.

Far below in the museum’s vault, Ikil, Dudley and Jacob had not heard George’s first shot—but they heard the second. The three had been distracted examining Rizo’s horribly shrivelled corpse and a sort of gold bar they had discovered in a broken crate.

Dashing upstairs, they were greeted with a scene of horror. As Ikil tried to help the stabbed man, Dudley tended to Sanchez. By now, Elias had also returned to the room—a call of nature had pulled him away at the critical moment. The skilled doctor soon discovered something was horribly wrong with the professor: some kind of worm was wriggling about in the professor’s stomach. Attempts to induce vomiting failed, and so Dudley had no choice but to remove the thing surgically. This, the slightly unnerved doctor quickly managed using various implements from the bag he always carried with him.

By now, the police had arrived to take charge of the situation. Luckily for the foreigners, several of the locals spoke up in their defence, and so the five were only required to come and give statements at the police station. None of them was arrested.

Thus it was that the five returned to their hotel later that night.

Hotel Espana

It occurred to Ikil while the friends took stock of a hideous and trying afternoon that Larkin should be informed what had happened to Mendoza. A note was despatched via the ever-present and tremendously helpful Carlos the bellboy. Carlos soon returned and apologised. He had knocked at Larkin’s door but had received no reply.

Worried, Ikil, George and Dudley set out to Hotel Espana. Jacob stayed behind to ponder the day’s events with Jackson over a glass (or two) of pisco.

At the hotel, the four suddenly changed their plans. What secrets might lie in Mendoza’s room? Ikil picked the lock with ease and cracked the door open. The room beyond was pristine—suspiciously so. After a quick search, Dudley found something under the bed—a sort of golden face. As he examined it and turned it over, the doctor froze for a moment. His face went white, he screamed and dropped the heavy object. For the next few minutes, all his fellows could get out of him were strange, disjointed mutterings about darkness, black tentacles and other nonsense.

Although the visibly shaken doctor soon regained a vestige of his composure, he would say nothing about what had so unmanned him.

Carefully, the golden face was slipped into a bag. No one was keen to examine it further.

Ikil then picked the lock on Larkin’s door. The room beyond was in stark contrast to Mendoza’s. Disorganisation and chaos were rampant. Larkin himself lay, wrapped in sweat-stained sheets, on the bed. At George’s urging, the man struggled back to consciousness. As the man sat upright, the bed sheets slipped to reveal a hideous tattoo covering Larkin’s chest. The tattoo resembled a large, ragged spiral that ended above his diaphragm, where it connected to a stylised misshapen humanoid figure with large, outstretched hands appearing to end in claws. The veins of the man’s wrists were also black and discoloured. George spotted a glass vial and syringe on the nightstand, and a quick examination revealed the word “heroina”.

Meanwhile, Ikil was giving Larkin the news about Mendoza. Larkin seemed sceptical of the possibility that Mendoza was a vampire. However, Ikil got the distinct impression Larkin was overdoing his display of confusion.

Nothing seemed to be gained from extending the conversation with Larkin, and the trio returned to their hotel.

Hotel Maury

Jackson Elias had finally translated Rizo’s summary of the documents she had been working on. They made for interesting reading. Dr Dudley, though, was interested. Still horribly shaken by whatever had befallen him, he took to his bed after liberating the remains of the bottle of pisco.

The document did indeed seem to be an account of a small group of conquistadors discovering and part-looting the pyramid in 1543. It was the confession of one, Gaspar Figueroa, the expedition’s only survivor who had died shortly after accepting the last rites. Shockingly, Luis de Mendoza’s name appeared in the document. The document raised more questions than it answered. Could it be that Mendoza was 400 years old? How was that possible? Was he really a vampire? Worryingly, the account included Gaspar’s confession that he had killed Mendoza by shooting him in the head…

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

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