Tomes of Terror

Session Twentytwo

The Calling

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The trio travel deeper into the national park forest and into the night; they follow the directions they were given and turn off the main road and find themselves down a single dirt road. Twenty minutes down the road and they spot a vehicle parked up on the verge; they stop the car fifty feet away and cautiously get out. Preparing everything, night-vision capabilities and weapons – namely a 9mm handgun, a tyre iron and a pen knife; the three stealthily approach the van and quickly discern that it is the VW camper van that they have been seeking and as they get closer they see that a Honda Civic is also parked up just in front of the van. A quick check reveals both vehicles to be empty and Condita quickly immobilises both of them by stabbing the tyres with her knife. Looking around them they spot a small narrow path leading into the forest and as they approach it they see a disposable lighter lying on the ground.

The trio walk slowly and carefully down the path expecting an ambush. It’s now night, pitch black and the air is eerily silent and completely devoid of any animal noises. They push on and take several wrong turns that costs them valuable time; after retracing their steps a couple of times they finally spot a large white structure above the trees and make their way over to it where they discover a very old abandoned mill. All the mill’s windows are on the first floor and their glass panes long gone; the trio cautiously scout it out and eventually dare to enter through the open apertures. Inside they find nothing but rubbish and fifty year’s worth of graffiti which costs them even more time. They look about the grounds immediately around the old decaying structure and discover another narrow path leading further into the woods and Lloyd spots an object glinting in the grass which turns out to be a set of house keys and a Ford car key – they theorise that one of the hostages from South Garrison Street has left a trail.

At half nine at night they make their way down the new narrow dirt path and push on for ten minutes before they suddenly become aware of faint drumming and piping carrying on the night breeze. They keep moving forward and the sinister music becomes steadily louder and soon they discern a low glow of illumination when suddenly Tricia spots something that resembles a winged beast shoot up into the sky, some hundred yards away, clutching something screaming. Slightly shaken and expecting the worst they nonetheless push onwards to the source of the music and fire and the trees begin to steadily thin as another winged beast shoots up into the air, closer this time, and a human scream rends the night. They see, shaking with fear, that a clearing lies ahead of them – edging very slowly forward in almost single file, Tricia sees that the clearing is as big as half a football pitch and ringed with several ancient stone monoliths (as tall as a man) which contains a smaller ring of four monoliths. Within the smaller ring of four monoliths a small fire burns and a thick rolling black smoke tinged with glowing green phosphorescence hangs low and steadily builds. Beyond the ring a woman, Julia Brown, stands bound and screaming in utter terror, next to her stands a young boy crying uncontrollably – this is clearly one of Professor Fairbanks’ sons. Holding the two terrified sacrifices at bay are two robed figures wearing green and black patterned masks, and armed with knives. Behind this disturbing scene, some 10 yards further back, wearing much older robes and masks with tentacles, is a drummer playing a set of tom-toms and a smaller figure playing pan-pipes; next to them a figure holds a large ancient book and incants what sounds like a spell.

The scene before them is horrid and they realise that they are witnessing the late stages of a dark spell being cast. The group spend a couple of minutes trying to work out what to do and while doing so fail to spot the small weeping child being silently snatched up by another swooping winged creature; they know they must stop the spell from being completed but are under-armed and out-numbered; they know they must tread carefully lest they meet a deadly resistance. Finally they settle on a plan – Lloyd and Condita will set up the latter’s camera to emit a series of flashes on a timer while they hide behind nearby trees, ready to ambush the cultists when they come to investigate; Tricia, at the same time, will creep around the edge of the clearing until she is directly behind the musicians and the primary spell-caster with the intention of rushing as close as she can and taking them out with the only gun (she has a total of 34 rounds in two magazines).

Tricia sets off and a few moments later the camera goes off. The spell caster has moved slightly forward towards the one remaining sacrifice and does not notice the flashes, but the two musicians do and it successfully distracts them, allowing Tricia to break cover and start running across the clearing towards them. As she runs, her legs like jelly, she witnesses a black monstrosity with a long head resembling that of a decayed horse, and ant like carapace with large black wings, swoop down from the sky, and grab Julia Brown with its ragged talons. The Byahkhee just as quickly launches itself up into the night above with its prize just as the robed high priest reaches the end of the incantation. The black cloud within the smaller ring of monoliths begins to rapidly expand and contract and an intense green light swirls amidst its broiling vapours.

A mere 10 yards away from the back of the completely oblivious and otherwise pre-occupied high priest, Tricia comes to a stop, takes up a shooting stance and opens fire on the figure; of the ten shots fired rapidly, six find their mark and take the target down. She immediately turns and fires on the two shocked musicians who manage to duck and dive just in time to avoid being killed themselves. The flutist, a woman, produces a shiny silver revolver from underneath her black robes and fires at Tricia, but misses; as the PI returns fire in a panic her assailant is protected by the bullets by being brought down just in time by her companion. Lloyd and Condita realise that their plan to lure cultists towards them has failed and everything is going down right then and there in the clearing – they leave the safety of the trees and race out onto the clearing, heading directly for their endangered team mate. Sadly they are too late and witness a truly horrific sight – the female cultist roles on the ground and raises her gun again and quickly fires off three more shots at Tricia; while two of the shots are wide of the mark one lucky shot slams into the Eagle-Bond investigator’s head, killing her instantly. An enraged Lloyd is soon on top of them and knocks the murderer out cold with a swing of the tyre iron before bringing down her companion and beating him savagely to death.

While all this occurs a Star Spawn, freshly summoned from R’lyeh, suddenly materialises in the middle of the small ring of monoliths; the mind-bending sanity wrenching sight of which sends the two cultists who were guarding the sacrifices running for their lives in separate directions. Condita, who was running towards Tricia, was not as fast as Lloyd and fell behind; she too spots the star-spawn arrive and stops immediately in her tracks, her jaw opening in shock – moments later, as the black cloud continues to expand and contract a second star-spawn suddenly appears; this makes the photo journalist turn and run in similar vein to the cultists. The first star-spawn, as big as a two-storey house, spots the two fleeing figures below and begins to stomp towards them. The second creatures emits an earth-shaking bellow that finally grabs Lloyd’s attention; the journalist turns away from the pulped body of his victim and sees the two unearthly monsters near the small ring of monoliths and is frozen to the spot. A moment later he sees a third and final star-spawn arrive and the black cloud of broiling glowing smoke finally begins to disperse.

Condita and one of the cultists manage to reach the tree-line and plunge into the woods. The latter trips and falls and Condita turns just in time to see him being picked up and squashed by a curious star-spawn towering above. She screams and carries on running, blindly, deeper into the woods, followed by an extended straggling chain of giant alien monsters. Lloyd witnesses the three monsters leave the clearing and him behind as they follow the fleeing Condita. Lloyd walks over to Tricia’s corpse and finds the car keys and then walks over to the prone body of the high priest – removing the mask he finds that it is indeed Professor Gregory Fairbanks. Lloyd then picks up the large old book lying nearby and discovers that it is the much sought after fourth missing book – the Necronomicon. He then leaves the clearing, now littered with bodies, and manages to trace his way back through all the different paths all the way back to Tricia’s car. He starts the car up, makes a u-turn and drives out of the national park and stops only when he arrives at the first gas station beyond its limits. Hiding the Necronomicon under a car seat, he gets out and uses a pay phone to call the police. He tells them that shots have been fired and people have been killed. He agrees to wait for the police cruiser dispatched to meet him.

Condita continues to run deeper and deeper in to dark depths of the forest and stumbles upon a stream and makes a diversion along it which finally succeeds in shaking off her shambling pursuers. Exhausted, she still doesn’t dare stop and continues to stumble on into the night. Meanwhile the police arrive at the gas station where Lloyd is waiting. As they approach him they see that he is covered in blood and immediately detain him and place him in the back of their patrol car. They question him as to where the crime has occurred and he agrees to direct them back into the Adirondack Park. Thirty minutes later he is back at the abandoned VW camper van and Honda; more police shortly arrive including search dogs and a couple of detectives. Lloyd is taken out of the police car and is made to take them back to the clearing. The group of ten policemen get as far as the derelict mill before their dogs start to bark wildly which is shortly followed by the sounds of crashing trees as something huge stomps its way towards them. Shots and screams rend the night as the enraged star-spawn makes short work of them all and Lloyd meets a grizzly end.

In the early hours of the morning Condita finally emerges from the trees and stumbles upon a crossroad and spots a house. She bangs on the front door and an elderly man answers the door to the distressed photographer. She begs him to take her to the gas station at the entrance to the national park which he duly does. Once at the gas station Condita calls her boss, John Macrone and tells him she’s stranded, denying all knowledge of Lloyd’s whereabouts – he agrees to send a taxi out to her to fetch her back to Arkham. When she arrives back into town hours later she wastes no time; she returns to the motel, packs up and leaves, abandoning her job and everything associated with it and flees to her family home in Vermont.

A subsequent police party is dispatched to locate the first and find only mangled corpses and the remnants of what appears to be a satanic ceremony. Tricia’s car is recovered and the Necronomicon is interned in the Arkham PD Evidence Room where it remains and waits for the next curious reader.

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