A man darted out of the shadows, clutching a broken table leg. He swung it at Maurice, cracking the hardy policeman on the shoulder. Pain exploded in Maurice’s arm and shoulder. Gunfire erupted. In the confined space, it was hard to miss their target—although Charles and Maurice somehow managed. Ikil, though, was as accurate as normal. A rifle round through the chest put the attacker down but did not kill him.
The man, now in no state to defend himself, was easily subdued. His wound was quickly treated, and then the investigators carried him up the stairs into the cabin. The man was clearly in shock—although Dudley believed he had been in such a state before Ikil shot him. A strong sedative calmed him and the patient doctor got some small amount of information out of him. The man was Red Jake, and he was just a vagrant passing through on his way home. He had arrived at the farmhouse last night, but a “monster” had chased him out of the place and into the woods. He had barely escaped and had just mustered enough courage to return to the house for his meagre possessions when the group had arrived.
With Red Jake now drifting in and out of consciousness, Maurice and Charles searched the cellar. Therein they found many mundane, uninteresting items as well as a smart travel trunk under a tarpaulin. Charles open the trunk and discovered six black robes, a handwritten letter, several other papers and two small boxes each holding a different kind of powder.
The papers were written by Marion Allen and explained in great detail the ritual required to banish the demon from the house. One of the powders—the brownish one—was to be burnt at the start of the ceremony, while the other seemed to play no obvious part in the proceedings, although Dr Dudley thought it might be some powder of Ibn Ghazi.
With this information, the group retired upstairs to lay their plans.
The balance of the day was spent preparing for the night to come. The ritual had to be started precisely at midnight, so the investigators had a few hours. They emptied the back room completely, brought up the tarpaulin from the cellar, cleaned it and spread it on the floor. On this, Maurice would draw the required mystic pentagram.
Terror in the Dark
At midnight, the group sprung into action. For the first 20 minutes or so, things proceeded according to plan. Dudley chanted, Maurice drew the pentagram, and Charles burnt the brown powder. Ikil lurked in a corner cradling his rifle—nothing would get in the way of the ritual’s completion.
However, all did not remain quiet. Strange sounds and odours began to come from above. Then the house began to shake violently as if caught in a powerful wind storm. Then, greenish, acidic ooze began to ooze down the walls. Most of the investigators managed to avoid the ooze, but poor, unconscious Red Jake—bound to his makeshift stretcher—was not so lucky. Several large blobs of acid landed on the poor man, and terrible wisps of acrid smoke began rising from his body.
Worse was to come. Suddenly, one of the windows shattered! A woman—a gaping hole in her chest where her heart once lay—pounded at the window frame. This terrifying sight almost unmanned Charles, but he unleashed a hail of bullets from his automatic, eventually slaying the woman. Even worse was to come; the door splintered inwards—a huge and obviously very dead—brown bear stood at the threshold. Again, Charles unleashed a furious barrage of gunfire; one bullet shattered the bear’s skull, and it collapsed in the doorway. He had not been quick enough, however; the sight of the obviously dead bear had driven both Dudley and Ikil temporarily insane.
A few minutes later, Red Jake’s acid-burnt corpse began to move and shudder under the blanket that had been tossed over his corpse. Ikil—desperate to avoid seeing what might now lurk under the blanket—coolly and calmly shot the thing that had once been a man.
As the chanting continued, sounds from outside overwhelmed them. It was the horn on Charles’ beloved Bentley. Something—or someone—was honking it. No one wanted to go or even look outside. Shortly thereafter, a splintering sound of metal being crushed suggested that something horrible was happening to the car.
However, the four brave men were not to be deterred. As the chanting reached a crescendo, a faint mist began to seep down from the attic into the pentagram. As it coalesced, it took the form of a man both Dr Dudley and Ikil knew well—it was Augustus Larkin! At that moment, Ikil hurled the silvery powder into the man’s face.
A horrible truth was then revealed. It was not a man that filled the pentagram but rather a horrible amalgam of teeth and tentacles. The sight of this horror instantly sent Dr Dudley, Ikil and Charles mad. Dudley lost the use of his legs. Charles—suddenly realising his car might have been damaged—rushed outside to “polish out the dents”. Ikil lost his mind. The brave bodyguard became deeply confused and thought that Maurice was Dudley’s wife, Eloise. Only Maurice kept his composure, and it was lucky that he did. The thing—now obviously desperate— offered the resolute policeman anything he wanted: knowledge, power—anything to release him. The policeman did not reply. He kept chanting.
By the time Maurice’s three companions had regained their composure, the ritual was ended, and the thing had been banished from the world. But at what cost? Red Jake was dead, and Ikil’s, Dudley’s, and Charles’ grip on reality had been seriously weakened.
This post is a session summary for my weekly 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign.
We play weekly, so sign up to get our session summaries direct to your inbox.