Return of The Black Pharaoh

Introduction
Jackson Elias calling

A mysterious telegram arrives from a ship at sea. Jackson Elias, noted author acquainted with each of the party members in some way, has contacted you. It’s been a long time, but for the globe trotting author, this is nothing new.

On the afternoon of the 15th of January, 1925 each character receives a phone call from Elias. Short and to the point, he requests a meeting in his room at the Chelsea Hotel at 8pm. He seems anxious and does not respond to any questions. He hangs up quickly.

Arriving at the Chelsea hotel, you find that you were each called and each received his cryptic messages. A knock on his door yields nothing. The British explorer decides to call his room from the house phone by the elevators. No one answers. The rest of the group hears the phone ring and also notices the sound of a couple of people milling about within the room. The explorer heads down to the front desk after his failed attempt on the phone. The contessa notes the smell of opium coming from an adjoining room. The contessa herself goes to the house phone, to call the front desk. Lord Middleton, aka the major, decides to bash in the door with his valet. The antiquarians try to persuade him not to do this, and it was a good argument, however he decides to ignore them and bash in the door anyway. Successful, he is immediately set upon by a man in a strange mask. Two others stand about the room, and Jackson Elias lies in bed, hacked up apparently by the thugs. Two of the thugs are black, as can be noted from tho color of their hands, while the other is white. The thug by the door swings an African bush knife, more like a machete, called a Pranga. He fails so miserably in his attack he imbeds the Pranga into the door frame and loses his grip on the weapon.

A fight ensues, the two other men leave through the window, while the man by the door goes hand-to-hand with the major. James, one of the antiquarians, grabs the Pranga and runs in after the other two thugs. The weapon proves too unwieldy for an unpracticed hand and the white man escapes after the other thug.

The explorer and the contessa speak with the front desk and the clerk calls the police. The return upstairs to find the fight in progress. The explorer heads down the stairwell, while a prostitute slinks out of the adjoining room and quickly leaves towards the elevator leaving the door open. The contessa peers in to see a odd looking bald man, in his late 40’s or early 50’s, passed out from his apparent drug use. She leaves and enters Elias’ room. Looking about, she notices Elias’ wallet on the floor, it had been rifled through and two business cards removed. These lay by the floor and were scooped up by her.

The major takes a kick from the thug which sends him back through the door. He rushes back and knocks the thug by the door unconscious with a mighty blow. The explorer gets out side in time to notice a black hudson speeding away. He jumps into a cab and exclaims “follow that car!” The cabbie obliges and a car chase ensues.

Meanwhile the contessa goes back to the adjoining room. She rifles through the man’s wallet and identifies him as Alexander Lifeson. The dope fiend awakes and a confused conversation ensues. The major finds a handbill wedged into a book on Elias’ nightstand and also a letter on the thug, apparently Elias’.

While the car speeds off to Harlem, cab in pursuit, the police finally arrive on the scene. They cuff the unconscious thug and escort the remaining party down to the lobby. They send an officer out to contact a Lt. Poole. Eventually Poole arrives, takes notes, questions the party. You overhear Poole exclaim that this was the ninth such murder.

Meanwhile, the Hudson arrives in harlem followed by the cab. The explorer finds that a decapitated black man lies in the passenger seat, while the white man is no where to be found. The intrepid explorer seeks someone, and finds a drunken black man on the street. He asks the man if he saw someone run by and he responded by asking the Brit if he was looking for whiskey. The Brit gives the man $, and the drunkard points to a door a couple of steps away. The window of the establishment was covered with posters. Entering he finds an old dive bar playing bad jazz music. Apparently this is a badly disguised speakeasy. He asks a fat woman he mistakes for a hat check girl if he could use the phone, and she gets him a whiskey and allows him to use the phone. She stays within earshot. He phones the hotel and has the major paged. He relates the license plate of the Hudson to the major and explains where he is. He returns to the cab and makes his way back to the Chelsea.

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Initial Investigations

Following the events of the previous night, our party of investigators goes about piecing together the clues and visiting the last known people who had seen Jackson Elias alive. A stop to Elias’ publisher Jonah Kensington provided the party with Elias’ organized Nairobi notes and the frighteningly jumbled scribblings he wrote while in London and perhaps while at sea.

A visit to Emerson Imports yielded that Elias had indeed visited here, and talked with Arthur Emerson. Emerson noted that Elias was interested in African Importer Ahja Singh, whose sole account in New York City was the Juju House in Harlem. He also noted that Silas N’Kwane was the manager of the Juju House. He told the party what he told Elias, that they were “Darky foreigners and bad to boot”.

Also on this day, a call to the Harvard Library yielded that Elias had inquired about a book called Africa’s Dark Sects from the librarian Miriam Atwright. Miss Atwright told the investigators that the book had mysteriously disappeared from the collection and she was unable to send it to Elias.

Also, on this day the Baron sends a telegram to Edward Gavigan in London explaining the Elias had been murdered and what his recollections of Elias’ meeting with him were. The response came the next day. It was short, guarded and perhaps even cryptic.

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A meeting and a kidnapping

Shortly after the telegram from Edward Gavigan arrived, Baron Middleton returned to his room. After not returning for a while, the Explorer went up to see where he had gotten off to. The evidence pointed to Middleton being abducted from his room. Searching the hotel, it was clear that he went out with the laundry.

The Contessa, previously making contact with the mysterious man in the next room from Elias’, Alexander Lifeson, arranged a lunch meeting at the Russian Tea Room. Lifeson explains that he too was summoned by Elias and feels responsible in some way for his death. Had he pressed Elias for more information or been more vigilant, Elias’ may still live.

As the rest of the investigators arrive at the tea room, the Antiquarians recognize that Lifeson bears a striking resemblance to noted occultist Aleister Crowley. After Lifeson leaves they impart this information. Crowley is known for being an occultist, author, black magician, pan-sexual dope fiend, and a little off-kilter, perhaps as evidenced by Lifeson’s liaison and opium use on the night of Elias’ murder.

On to the matter at hand, the party determines that the Ju-Ju House is the most logical place to investigate the kidnapping of their associate and Elias’ murder. The meet with Silas N’Kwane, who seems to be hiding something. They quickly determine that what he was hiding was a trap door in the floor. The pull a gun on K’wane and back him up into a corner. They close down the shop, and go off to explore the basement. There they find Middleton and Martin Poole tied to the wall above a lidded pit. They were soon set upon by the animated corpses of former victims of the Bloody Tongue cult, whom they were able to determine were more susceptible to fire than bullets. After fighting the zombies they were able to free the captives and look about the alcove, finding some interesting items. Meanwhile, a gang of cultists arrive at the Juju House. Poole was able to get the police down to the Juju House post-haste and a major bust occurred. Meanwhile, some of the bolder investigators looked down into the pit, finding something they couldn’t quite comprehend, but instinctively knew to destroy.

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The Funeral of Jackson Elias

In the aftermath of the raid on the Juju House, the party finds itself with a host of odd items, including a mask, a scepter, a grey headband and a copper bowl. The learn from the book Africa’s Dark Sects about the mask. It is a powerful cultist item called the Mask of Hayama, which can be used for envisioning 4 gods: Nodens, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth, and Azathoth. It is said that using the mask can be useful in contacting these entities. Thinking that maybe Lifeson (Aleister Crowley) may have some useful knowledge, they arrange a late dinner with him. He suggests a place with a good steak and private room.

Admitting at last that he was Aleister Crowley, he is guarded when asked about mythos related information. It wasn’t until the Baron mentioned Azathoth that he was notably stirred. He tells the group that Azathoth is the seething nuclear chaos at the center of the universe… whatever that means. He imparts that he has read a translation of a book called Mysteries of the Worm, translated into to English by Leggett, originally written by a sorcerer named Ludwig Prinn in the 1500’s. He said in this book he learn such names as Azathoth and the dark messenger Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep, also know as the crawling chaos, was somehow connected with a Black Pharaoh called Nephren-Ka… who may be Nyarlathotep, or may be an actual pharaoh of Egypt… the lines are blurred and seems that the title Black Pharaoh may be interchangeable between the two. He relates this to Elias’ notes, particularly the entry of “Many names, many forms” for Nyarlathotep is said to have many forms. Crowley is noticeably troubled.

The next day, Elias’ funeral takes place. It is conducted in Brooklyn’s Evergreen Cemetery by a reverend from the Seaman’s Church. After Kensington gets up to say a few words, the Baron and Fowler notice a nervous white male enter the chapel and take a seat in the back. He studies the group. Knowing that something is not right about him, Fowler gets up and goes to speak with him. He bolts. A chase ensues, with Fowler and the Baron keeping pace. He appeared to be running towards a Cleveland Six automobile. Finally the man’s pace gives out and Fowler catches up with him and tackles him. The auto speeds off, leaving the man behind. The Fowler and the Baron question him. He states that he was sent by Mukunga, who wants his stuff back and that Mukunga is laid up at Fat Maybell’s speakeasy in Harlem. They turn him into the police.

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A Trip to Arkham

After turning the cultist over to the police, the party takes the Hartford and New Haven train to Boston and transfers to the B&M train to Arkham. The arrive about midnight and get a room at the best hotel they can find. The next day they seek out Anthony Cowles, the professor whose lecture at NYU was missed by Elias and the party. Cowles is a boisterous Aussie, very friendly and a little fiery. He is easily persuaded to recount his lecture. It primarily consists of a tale about an old Aboriginal cult worshipping something called Sand Bat, the Father of All Bats. He also mentions a lost city in the desert and shows some over-exposed slides of massive cut stone. He finally mentions that Sand Bat was defeated by Rainbow Snake.

He proves to have little information regarding either African or Egyptian cults or items, except saying that the scepter seems to be a fetch stick used in tribal magic. The bowl the party has seems to be something called copper from above and used by sorcerers to send dreams. A quick trip to the geology department confirms that it seems to match no known terrestrial copper.

During their stay in Arkham, they receive word that Erica Carlyle wishes to meet with them. They return to New York City.

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A Meeting with Erica Carlyle

Erica Carlyle is rather forthcoming about her late brother. She mentions that it all seems to be the doings of the Negro woman. That Roger was somehow captivated by her and Erica is convinced she played a part in Roger’s expedition to Egypt. She mentions that she knows nothing about Aubrey Penhew, but assumes he needed money. She said that Robert Huston went along to continue treating Roger, something the party didn’t find plausible. She said she was unimpressed by Hypatia Masters and Jack Brady was her brother’s loyal confidant.

She shows the party the books from the safe and is persuaded to lend them to the investigators. They include the Pnakotic Manucripts, Selections of the Livre d’ Ivon. The People of the Monolith and Life as a God. They have little time to deal with the books just yet, and take them along.

When returning to the city, a call to the police department reveals that they would be unable to recover the psychoanalyst’s files and that Mukunga was in custody.

The decide that it is time to escape from New York and go to London to trace back the footsteps of Elias.

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