Eternal Lies

Agony on the wind
Episode 10: April 27th to 29th

The sun set as they questioned Ayers in his cave, cooler than outside, but still stifling.

“Who is the Liar?” Phipps asked.
Ayers croaked “Probably Y’golonac. Echavarria said Gol-Goroth, but it wasn’t. He was a liar, and were elements not of Y’golonac. Echavarria knew a lot. More than me. He came from Brazil with books.”
“Do you know who SS is? We think she runs the cult in Bangkok.”
“Bangkok? There was no cult in Bangkok, nor Malta, nor Mexico. Only Los Angeles. Does Echavarria live?”
“No, we think he died in 1924 in a ritual to summon the Liar. He seems to have succeeded, at least partially.”
“His money stopped about then. The Liar cannot fully be here, otherwise I could not stop this. But I hear whispers on the wind. Is Job still alive?”
“Yes, he’s well. Er, sort of. He’s in a sanatorium.”
“He had an obsessive personality.Echavarria was fascinated with him. Selected him.”

“How do we close a mouth?”
“They used a volcano here. If someone who practiced Denial sacrificed themselves in a mouth, it might close it.”
“All the mouths are connected?”
“They are all aspects of the same god. There is no head, but maybe a stomach. That is beyond my books.”
“How did you get your mouth?”
“A welt that grew over months, it opened as we opened the temple.”
Kent and Phipps checked their wounds quickly. All looked to be healing normally.

“What is Nectar?” Kent asked.
Ayers looks wistful, “The drool of the mouth, beautiful and glorious. Try it if you can.” He winced in pain, and withdrew into himself, breathing heavily.

Phipps woke at dawn, the crack of gunshots echoing outside. The rock shelf where Ayers slept, and meditated, was empty. He grabbed his rifle and peered out the cave entrance.

At the entrance Phipps heard moans from their dying camels, then more shots came from a rock formation on the cave left. He ducked and ran out to a flanking position. He saw Ayers, sat, his back to a rock, eyes closed and lips moving silently.

The others were awake now. Martin leaned out and shot at the ridge.There were three tribesman, two large men with rifles, and a small woman, heavily decorated, with a shawl over her shoulder. She called out “Give us Ayers, the Agony wants him back.”

Kent, Martin and Phipps and the tribesmen exchanged fire, driving the tribes people back below the ridge.
“Hello again” came a strange but familiar voice from Ayers’ location.

Ayers stood up and shambled towards the cave, his head lolled on his shoulders, but the mouth in his stomach was animate and speaking a strange sibilant language. The sound of this alien language spoke directly to the ancient, animal parts of everyone’s minds.
They fired at him, hitting him, hitting the mouth, but he kept walking forward. Phipps heard the sounds from the Mouth whisper his name, talking directly to his unconscious. He struggled to fight a rising urge to run and howl, to lose control.

Ayers reached the cave and Martin hit him in the stomach-mouth and he collapsed. Martins gun embedded in what went was again normal stomach, the skin around and over the rifle.

“The Agony thanks you!” the tribes woman called.

Phipps moved up, edging round the ridge. Around the corner he saw two tribes people walking away over the desert, the third dead on the ground. Phipps’ aimed at the two disappearing and pulled the trigger, but the gun clicked, empty. He picked up the tribesman’s rifle, but that too was empty. The dead man had a mass of old scar tissue over his face.

Martin ran up and took a shot at the two, making them scatter, but they were far away across the wavering sands.

They buried Ayers and hid the books and luggage. They filled all the water skins from the oasis. There was a lot of items on the camels they can’t carry now, and there was a two day walk across the desert, at best.

Martin and Phipps navigated well and though it was difficult they only spent one night and one day in the desert.

As they approached Iron Point there were watchers on the roof of the buildings and shapes on the train tracks. At nightfall they crept to the train. Martin tried to steal camels to ride, but they are noisy and troublesome, bleating. There are gun shots from the tribespeople. Phipps jumped onto the train footplate, and came face to face with a couple of mutilated children, scarred and limbless but carrying shards of glass. Kent and Fox sprinted across desert towards sound of gunfire realising they were needed to get the train moving.
Phipps hit the children, knocking them out of the cab, Martin exchanged gunfire with guards on the roof, but clicks soon runs out of ammo. Kent arrived and quickly got the engine to start, and they all hunker down in the cab, bullets pinging off metal. Eventually Kent threw a lever and the train rolled forward, gathering speed.

It rolled over people tied to the tracks and off across the desert toward Mersa Fatma.

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Deep in the Desert
Episode 9: April 25th to April 27th

The group take a dhow down the coast to Mersa Fatma – resting and recuperating. The coast passing gently by became more desert like as they sailed south, the temperature rising.

Mersa Fatma was a small collection of huts around a large warehouse and building complex. A concrete pier jutted into the Red Sea. Disembarking, they searched for a guide and were recommended to Jerome, older dock worker.

While he booked them into the only local hotel, Phipps headed off to investigate the train tracks he spotted at the docks. They lead into a large modern warehouse and admin office complex, with CMC emblazoned on it. It looked mostly deserted, but speaking to a local on the front steps, Phipps was invited up to speak to Signore Segni, the CMC administrator.
The admin building was deserted, except on the top floor, Phipps found a large family living, and Signore Segni. Phipps flattered the train and Segni warmed noticeably, offering him access to the locomotive if he can get it running. Sinhue showed an excited Phipps to Magazine Cinquo, where a heavily built locomotive sat covered in dust.

The others were sitting out the heat of the day talking with Jerome. He explained that the rail line was 50 miles long to Iron Point, Kolluli village and the small Dallol village. Fox can see from the terrain that this is a volcanic area.

The next morning Fox crawled over the locomotive and got it fired up. With a screech he drove it out of the warehouse, stopping on the tracks leading out of the town, facing the open desert. Over the morning they sourced supplies, tents and argued about whether to go by train, camel or take camels on the train.

In the end they set off by train in the mid-afternoon without camels. The landscape outside Mersa Fatma was empty and hot, scarred by strange chemical pools and encrustations. Fox battled mechanical trouble with the train, and they made progress until sunset then camped for the night. Dawn came and more mechanical troubles meant they didn’t start early, but by midday they arrived with a bump at the end terminus, Iron Point. Villagers and kids from Kolluli came over to see the new arrivals.

Jerome is known here, and he introduced the team, who were accepted and brought to the collections of huts for water and food. Over conversation both sides gradually open up about their experiences, and the mouth. Jerome and two of the matriarchs turn out to be Guardians, an ancient order who defeated a mouth, they call the Eating Pit, in ancient times, and somehow caused the volcano in 1926.

They obviously knew Ayers, and indicated he was still alive, somewhere in the deep desert. They advised against hunting him. From their conversation it was clear that through control of one’s desires one could resist a mouth, but the level of commitment seemed steep, and only Kent considered it.

After a restful night, they headed for the mountain on Kolluli camels. At the low ancient volcano, and the small newer eruption site nearby, they discovered a cairn to the people killed in the eruption, and bits of tools and teeth. Martin found the teeth were an odd mix, fossilized. Fox studied the terrain, it was clearly a typical volcanic site, nothing obviously supernatural, however he also noticed a figure watching them from a distance. Using binoculars they saw a native, on a camel, watching them back through binoculars. The heat haze made any identification difficult.

After a while the figure had gone, and they headed into the deep desert hunting Ayers. After a day searching oasis, a lone figure appeared on an outcrop, sun behind him.
Approaching him, they saw he was skin and bones, but with a calcified mouth in his stomach.

Eventually he managed to speak and they managed to ask “Are you Ayers?”

“Yes.” he croaked.

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Laughter in the Dark
Episode 8:April 17th to April 24th

After the nights excitement there was little night left for sleep. In the morning they see that the Italians had hung the bodies upside down from a stunted tree.
Marching over, Phipps, Fox and Kent approach the archaeologist’s tent. The thin-moustached man comes out, surprised to see them. They ask for the promised tour and exchange names. His name is Luc Fauche. Luc somewhat reluctantly agrees to show them round, after a second to tidy up their tent.

Inside the tidied tent, he shows them the hole in the floor, surrounded by stone blocks. He descends a modern wooden ladder, holding a torch and they follow.

Below the ground is a stone passage, leading to a large tomb block. The tomb is very clean, clear of debris and artfacts. Luc overcomes his reluctance and talks knowledgeably about the stele and the tomb. They discuss the stylise windows and doors, and Fox asks Fauche what he is doing here several times but doesn’t get a clear answer.

Fox spots a strange symbol engraved on the wall, and points it out to Kent. It looks Aztec to him, but engraved a long time before, and a long way away from any Aztecs should exist.
Fauche talks about the Empire of Aksum and the founding myths. After a few minutes there’s nothing left to see, and they hear a call from above. In the tent is an Indian man, wearing a suit and turban. Exiting Fox notices a sketch drawing of a snub-nosed dogs head.

Frustrated, they head to the cathedral in the centre of town. It’s a large ancient mud brick place, plenty of Ethiopians moving in and around. inside is cool and quiet, a serious looking man stands at the altar side, others kneel in prayer.

They approach and ask him and he directs them to side chamber, where Querellos IV, the abune, discusses the history of the church. On a long bench are papers, the Book of Aksum. Kent impresses with his University credentials and spends an hour or examinging them, watched by the Abune.

There’s gaps in the record, and Kent enters into a long, detailed theological discussion with Querellos, which impresses him to open a box and produce further papers. The Secret Book of Aksum. These discuss the cult of Wazeba – worship of a loathsome toad like being with links to Pannonia. There is a story about the Guardians of Ethopia being unable to defeat it, but Christianity doing so in Ethiopia and Kush, and converting their idol into an engraved stone. The Ezana tablet.

Reading them, a newer piece of paper falls out, a telegram from Lowman to Fauche. It says Trammel knows no more about Ayers’ destination and to head on to the next location,
That afternoon, they look at the Ezana tablet – there is a long prosaic description engraved, mainly counting the cows and goats, and as they dig they uncover the undamaged remnants of the original idol. A wide mouthed toad being is eating whatever was originally carved on the now-engraved part. The horrible art rocks Phipps, and all are shaken by the implication.
“Gol-Goroth’s cult is ancient, and worldwide, and the Liar is different.” Phipps says.

They spend the night, then head off early the next morning for Massuau, intending to follow Ayers’ trail to Mersa Fatma.

During the first day on camel back, over the desert, everyone feels like they’re being followed. Fox and Phipps drop off and set an ambush in a gully.
After a while they see a hyena on a ridge, followed by two more. Fox shoots and injures one, and they disappear. However that evening they reappear and laughing and moving in the dark keep everyone on their toes.

Nothing is seen of them the next day, but Nyanzi says, it is a full moon tonight.
As the large moon rises, the barking laugh comes back. In a deceptive onslaught they attack hurting Phipps and savaging a camel. Gunfire kills several and drives the rest off. The team make an uneasy journey to Massuau and book into the Internationale Hotel for rest and recovery.

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In tents adventures
Episode 7: April 10th to April 16th

They question Bartolo in his tent, as he drinks.

He tells them of his researches using the Revelations of Glaaki, coming here to dig based on hints in the text, and finding the outer walls of a temple, right where it said they would be. An ancient orgiastic cult temple. Later, Ayers joined him bringing knowledge and money from Echavarria. He talks about finding the inner temple, and the trouble with supplies and local bandits. Then the volcano erupted in 1926, just as they were beginning to explore the inner temple.

Ayers disappeared in the desert in ’26, and he’s not seen him since. He digs out of old bags a sketch of the inner temple showing a realistic sketch of a giant mouth in the wall. Finally he draws on a napkin a rough map to Dallol, where Ayers was last seen. “The tribe around here are your best chance.”

The Italian army seems in no hurry to head off to Axum to the Obelisk, but the group feel they want to. Their guide, Nyanzi, is nervous, and the team get supplies and procure guns for the 5 day journey across the desert to Axum. They are warned about bandits, and that the war has just ended.

However they arrive in Axum without incident. It’s less than they expected, a sprawling collection of ruins around a small central town. On the north of the city is the field of stele, many tens if not hundreds. There are a couple of Italian army tents in the field, and a large civilian tent over the base of a fallen, broken stele, the Obelisk of Axum.

A pencil moustached man comes out of the tent, and brushes them off, but eventually promises to show them round tomorrow. He seems untrustworthy to Kent, and when Martin mentions Ayers there’s a flicker of recognition in his eyes.

The team make camp a little way away, and check the other stele in the field. All have windows and doors engraved on them, and seem to be built over tombs. Nyanzi casually mentions the Cathedral in the town has the Ark of the Covenant in it.

That night, after lights have gone out, Martin sneaks across the field and around the civilian tent. There are millions of stars overhead. He peeks in and can see three sleeping figures, plus a hole in the ground and a desk. Sneaking around to the other entrance he creeps in and steals whatever papers were on their portable desk.

Meanwhile Kent and Fox here soft footsteps approaching their tent in the darkness. They sneak out and over the field behind, and see a handful of men approaching the tent carrying pipes as weapons. One man is Western, the rest local. They spread out and circle the tent and Fox fires his rifle into the air.

The Westerner turns quickly and returns fire, but his pistol shot wizzes through the air between Kent and Fox. They fire at him, but he’s agile and slippery. The thugs start heading towards them as lights and shouts come from the other tents and the city. The Westerner ducks into their tent, cutting a hole, as Kent and Fox shoot dead two of the locals coming towards them.

Martin is halfway across the gap between the tents, and sees the Westerner run out the front of their tent. He runs after him, sprinting across rocky ground. He has to go at full speed to keep up with the man who runs into the town and over fences and through goat pens. He tries a shot, and clips the man in the shoulder, who stumbles, but regains and keeps on running, away into the darkness.

The four Italian soldiers and a sergeant take control, but quickly assume the dead guys were bandits. After being questioned by the troops, they go back to their tent. Martin shows the others the paperwork he grabbed, a telegram from Siam to a Luc Fauche, a report from a Husain Soliman to ‘SS’, and a sketch of the obelisk before it was pushed over. The telegram refers to the Severn Valley, and Solimans report indicates they are looking for locations of the Liar but only finding the Fisher. They seem to be a team working for SS.

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Refresh and to Ethiopia
Episode 6: March 10th to April 10th

In the early hours of the morning, on the plane Martin demands an explanation for the hurried departure. Phipps and Kent tell him what they remember while Fox flies back to New York, anywhere but LA.

Fox has changed his clothes and showered, but he’s in pain from being hit. Martin bandages his ribs while they refuel. The smell of Nectar gives Martin a strong memory. He’s standing at a rough wooden door, in a rough wooden room. Dogs are barking somewhere else.

Kent sits quietly during the flight and reading Trammels’ Testament front to back. It has sections on LA, Bangkok, Siam, Mexico and Malta.

The LA section is Trammels writings about taking over Echavarria’s worship and cult, his natural destiny. He believes Echavarria was lying about Gol-Goroth and was actually worshipping Nyarlethotep. The Big N has spoken to Trammel and confirmed this.

The section about Bangkok contains letters from an educated woman, Trammels’ peer. SS is doing her own research and seems less convinced it is Nyarlethotep or Gol-Goroth. She warns Trammel about worshipping the wrong deity. There is an address given, and instructions if any of Trammels worshippers wanted to join in their rites in Bangkok.

The Mexico section has letters from a PO Box in Mexico City, from a JB. They start positively about the use of the song of the Mouth. Over the letters it emerges that JB and de la Luz have disappointed Trammel and not made as much progress as desired. They promise big things with their new record, but the tension is clear.

The Malta sections refer to a Montgomery Donovan, in Valetta, Malta. He seems to have been experimenting with ways of increasing the output of Nectar, through various unpleasant means. A few months ago it looks like he succeeded, output has increased massively, enough doses for tens or hundreds of cities, at the LA volume.

They land on Saturday afternoon, the group split up back to their homes and families. They agree to meet up again in a few days over dinner with Janet Winston-Rogers and plan their next steps.

Martin

Martin heads to his apartment and drops in on Howie. Howie’s struggling with a demand from his landlord for back rent they say he owes, but he wasn’t even renting it then. Martin takes up his problems and visits the landlords offices. Howie made a simple error on the form, but they refuse to correct. Martin threatens them, and they back down.

At the asylum hospital Martin borrows some lab facilities, and tests some of the liquid from Fox’s clothes, where the tongue hit him. From basic tests it proves unusual, partly alive and with chemistry Martin has not seen before. Slightly shaken, Martin makes some progress, but comes to no firm conclusions about it yet.

Finally a session with Dr. Karl. Nervous about whether he will get re-commited, Martin reveals some but not all of his adventures. Dr Archer is very interested and ask more. Martin gives Dr Karl the sample and suggests he could spend some time investigating it.

Raymond

Adrienne, Fox’s wife, is happy to see him back, but nervous about his employment status, now that Winston rogers has passed away. Fox is also bruised and she’s concerned about his health, but he brushes her off with glib reassurances. She asks him to fix some bits round the house, but he’s hurt.

A couple of days later he goes out to the bar with his gang. They’ve missed him, and welcome him back with jokes and affectionate mockery. Over drinks and cards, Fox loses money and rebonds. They complain that Clyde who they had brought in to play cards when Fox was away was not a good player.

Phipps

Henrietta is away at a week of Long Island parties, so Phipps stays with Uncle Theodore. Phipps is badly affected by the events in Los Angeles, but some good food and brandy helps. Theodore puts pressure on him to keep his sister under control, Phipps eventually agrees to help get her married.

Back at his tattoo parlour customers have been missing him, and he is busy with needles for several days. Diego has put an envelope under the door, returning the money. He seems to be doing well at his painting.

Kent

Eric, Kent’s colleague at the University of Columbia, has become very interested in wider influences after Kent mentioned some of what happened in LA in 1924. He’s been looking for correlations of psychic activity to August 1924 and has found a weak pattern of increases in cattle mutilations and odd animal behaviours around that time. He’s also contacted Universidad Complutense in Madrid and found that Bartolo has gone back to Ethiopia to help the Italian army retrieve the Obelisk of Axum.

Mrs Jarvis has kept Kent’s apartment clean and tidy while he’s been away. She looks tired and unwell. He sits her down and gets her to talk about her nightmares. She has been dreaming about Kent, seeing him bloody in a ring, fighting for his life. She sees his blood staining the sink, no matter how hard she scrubs it off.

After resting and recuperating, they have dinner with Janet Winston Rogers. She brings along Eugene, who seems to be a suitor. After listening to their adventures, she’s keen for them to finish the work her father started and end the cult. However she has also received a letter from lawyers representing Samson Trammel threatening legal action against her ‘thugs’ that broke in to his house and stole several books. They demand the return of the books. The letter makes no mention of anyone killed.

The group discuss and decide that Ethiopia is the best bet. From Trammels’ Testaments of the Dripping Mouth Emanates it’s clear there is cult activity in Siam, Mexico and Malta as well as LA, but the group think that the stone in the safety deposit box is a clue to perhaps some defensive capabilities in Ethiopia. Phipps and Fox refuse point-blank to go back to LA, even though there’s unfinished business.

Several days later, the group board the Hindenberg to cross the Atlantic, then over several hops from one city to another they travel across Europe, over the Med and then take a steamer down the Gulf of Aden to Massaua in Abyssinia.

Barging through customs, they explore the hot, dusty town, find the Internationale Hotel and information that Bartolo is encamped with an infantry division south of the city.
Hiring camels they rush off to the camp, and find a drunken Bartolo Acuna in his tent.

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Come back and see me!
Episode 5: Weds 10th March 1937

Martin stays in his room, bad food poisoning.

Kent, Fox and Phipps decide to drive by Trammel’s house. It’s a large plot on an expensive road in Pasadena. Large white stucco houses, maintained lawns and quiet. Trammels house is set back, in a decent plot, with a carriage house. There’s a couple of cars parked on the drive and one parked in front of the carriage house. Fox notes down their registration numbers.

The main house has a large conservatory on the left as they face, and a grand entrance hall. Fox and Kent drive past and drop Phipps off for him to walk by.
A 4’ wall surrounds it, there are trees at the back, and behind it is a dusty, gentle slope up to another road higher up.

There’s a gardener tending the garden next door, who watches Phipps carefully as he walks past. They pick him up and drive the car around the neighbourhood and up onto the higher road. They can see down into Trammel’s estate, there’s a back patio and pool.

Two large flashy cars pull in Trammels drive and pull up at the carriage house, zoot-suited Mexicans get out. A guy with mutton chops whiskers comes out the carriage house and greets them, they enter the back door of the main house together.

They decide that Phipps will watch the house, while Fox and Kent do further investigation. Phipps makes himself comfy on the road above, with a pair of binoculars.

Fox calls Meeks and asks him to find the car registrations and any records of Samson Trammel and Captain Walker. Meeks promises to call back with info, but says Fox owes him.
Phipps is watching the house, over lunchtime delivery vans arrive with drink and food, and more flashy cars pull up and Mexicans enter the back door of the house and then leave. Staff take washing out and clean windows. Phipps can see a man come out on the 2nd floor balcony in a dressing gown for a cigarette. He stands watching the activity, then begins to play with himself and masturbates on the balcony, in full view.

Meeks calls back with details about the cars, two are registered to Samson Trammel, and the other three are registered to Mexicans living in nice parts of LA. They have criminal records, but from a few years ago, nothing recent. There’s no police record on Samson Trammel and ‘Captain’ Walker can’t be found.

Fox and Kent come back to Phipps just before sunset. They plan to sneak down to the house and take a look inside. Phipps reports that he’s seen lights and things that look like a party happening – cars arriving, guests smoking on the patio and distant music.

They wait until the early hours. Some guests have left now, the staff look to have gone to bed and there’s no-one on the patio. They have seen a couple of guards in the garden, but believe they can sneak in unseen.

They creep down the slope, hidden by trees in Trammels garden. At the bottom Phipps slides over the wall and hides in the undergrowth inside the garden. Fox comes over and makes a sound, the guard investigates and gets knocked unconscious by Phipps, who ties him up and puts on his clothes and takes his place.

Fox sneaks in round the patio, spotting a door in the conservatory and up the drainpipe to the second floor balcony. He explores the second floor rooms, finding bedrooms and bathrooms and an upstairs dining room. He hides from people moving about in a linen closet and climbs back down to the others.

They wait another hour then sneak in to the conservatory entrance. Inside is the distant sound of music and they creep from the conservatory into a library, stacked floor to ceiling with occult tomes. Kent is in his element scanning shelves and whispering. He finds several partial copies of the Revelations of Glaaki which he has only heard rumours about. He takes the cover off a cushion and begins stuffing books into it.

Fox checks the desk and finds a locked drawer, which is quickly unlocked. Inside is a rank smell and a disgusting looking book, with notes and letters stuffed in it. The Testament of the Dripping Mouth Emanates. Kent stuffs that into the cushion cover too. There’s a door with light coming under it to the main hall. They drop the books back over the garden wall and then open that door. The main hall is quiet, but music is coming from the door under the stairs. They sneak over and down into the cellar.

There’s a large room, not on the floorplans, with chairs and books and another door. The door leads to a storage room filled with junk, but they notice a patch of wall panelling a different colour, and it opens up to reveal a small passage with another door. The music is much louder, and there’s a strong smell of cut grass or moss. They draw guns and Phipps pushes the door open.

He sees a table laden with food and drinks, and a gramophone playing Mexican sounding music. There’s a door opposite, and a naked guy sprawls into view, covered in goo. He looks ecstatic and mumbles stuff.

They enter the room, expecting to see an orgy and are not disappointed. A large pile of men and women all naked are piled writhing in the room. The balcony guy, Trammel they assume, is sat naked on a chair taking it all in. Disgusted they see two gas-masked, humanoid forms standing at the back of the room, one with a gun, the other with a bucket.

In between the two is a huge, animate mouth coming out of the bricks of the wall.
Curvaceous red lips surround a jangle of bad teeth. Drool pours out of the corners of the mouth onto the floor, and a thick grey tongue is joining in the orgy. They are shocked, but regain in time to shoot the two gas-masked figures.

The mouth whips it’s tongue back in, and says “Interesting, are you here to rescue or revenge?” They shoot into the mouth, bullets seemingly making no damage. The orgy continues unaffected, Trammels is slowly focussing on the events.

The mouth’s tongue flies out in anger, hitting Fox hard, coating his clothes in saliva. He’s hurt. The speed and suddenness of the attack shocks and scares them and they run.

“Come back and see me again!” the mouth calls after them, happily.

At the top of the stairs a small mouth has appeared in the wall, it curses them and spits acid into their faces.

They run out of the house, a guard challenges them, but Fox shoots him in the head and they get back to the car, with the books.

Without stopping they rush back to the hotel, grab their stuff and Martin, onto the plane and fly all the way back to New York, barely stopping to refuel.

Fox is wide-eyed, Phipps is practically catatonic, only Kent seems to be unaffected. Martin tries to get them to explain what happened…

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Walker and Trammel
Monday 8th March to Weds 10th March 1937

They drive back from UCLA late on Monday night.
The wealth of papers and books in Ayers’ boxes is comprehensive, but also odd research.
They discuss what to do next. Kent found another page of Ayers’ itinerary with a map of Eritrea and Ethiopia. They consider going there soon.

Fox’s flea bite is swollen and sore, the cat scratch on Kent’s leg is itching.

The next morning, Tuesday, Kent stays at the hotel to speak to his colleague Eric at the University of Colombia in New York.

Fox and Phipps head off on foot from the Roosevelt along Hollywood Boulevard, to try and find Olivia Clarendon. Fox pops into a Western Telegraph office and send a telegram to Janet Winston Rogers.

Martin drives back to UCLA, to find the new professor of Ancient Religions who replaced Ayers.

Eric’s at his desk, always prompt and on time. Kent tells him about the symbols and that the event that happened back in August 1924. He also asks Eric to pop over to the Archeology dept and ask about Bartolo Acuna. Eric promises to call back in an hour or two. Kent sits in reception. The cleaners come in to start changing the rooms, giving him evil looks. They are still struggling to get the rotten smell from his old room.

Fox and Phipps buy a copy of Variety on the way and find Olivia is at Universal and the address of the studio lot.
The main gate is huge, with people coming in and out. The guards are checking paperwork on everyone entering, and there’s a couple of tourists from Oklahoma standing watching for stars.
They learn from them that there’s many stages inside the studio, and that Olivia Clarendon is filming Anthony and Cleopatra on one of them. They also find out that extras are recruited at a side door every day.
Round the corner is a long queue of people waiting to be called in for whatever extras are needed that day. Impatient Fox and Phipps spread a rumour about MGM paying double to get lots of extras for Curse of the Crocodile Wizard, and most of the queue runs off.

Phipps and Fox are now only a handful of people from the door, and are invited in to be extras on a pirate movie. They start several hours of wardrobe and makeup to become drunken pirate extras.

Martin find Dr Childs is the new Ancient Religions professor from Samantha Burnish the UCLA history secretary. He arranges to meet him at lunchtime after invigilating.

A hotel staff member tells Kent there’s a call for him round the corner. He wanders round to the bank of phones, and someone whacks him on the back of his head.
The scruffy PI is standing there, holding a blackjack and his other hand inside his jacket.
Kent is scared, “What you doing here in LA? Huh? Investigating stuff you shouldn’t be! Get out of town, interfering fucking academic” he growls.
“We’re going tonight!” says Kent, not used to violence.
“Good, cos it could be worse” the PI opens his jacket to show a revolver in his hand.

Kent ducks another blow and runs away, yelling for help. The hotel manager comes but the PI is nowhere to be seen now. Kent has a swollen bump on his head, and the cat scratch is itching.

The phone rings and it’s really Eric this time. He’s found out that Bartolo Acuna is based at Universidad Computense, Madrid, but has been quiet since he came back from a dig in Ethiopia in 1924/5. Not published anything but no more info here in US. Madrid might have more info.
On the symbols, “The symbols appear to be summoning ritual icons, but it’s odd, there are two types, one part is sort of European, the other Mesoamerican. Odd combination.” Eric says he’s exhausted the books he has there.

Martin finds the telegraph office on campus and sends a telegram to Olivia Clarendon asking to meet. He then meets the aged Dr Childs, Professor of Ancient Religions (Mainly Greco-Roman though).
Dr. Childs was here while Professor Ayers was, roughly. Martin shows him the engraved stone from the safety deposit box. “Definitely African, probably Empire of Aksum. 200AD to 600AD or so. NW Africa. The eye symbol is typically warding or protection. Used by 100’s of gods as a symbol. Very popular.”
Martin has also taken a sketch of the symbols, but Childs is less knowledgeable about them. “Look pagan to me, hard to tell for sure. European universities might be a better bet.”

During a break Fox and Phipps sneak across to Studio 4 where Anthony and Cleopatra is filming. They alter the pirate costumes and get in a lighting staff. They pretend to be runners with a message for Olivia , and suddenly Phipps finds himself standing next to a beautiful actress in Cleopatra costume sat having her make-up touched up.
“Uh, I have a message from George Ayers” he starts, she scowls but agrees to listen while she walks to the car that evening.

Fox and Phipps appear as drunken pirates in the background of The Blackbeard Story (1937). They get paid 50 cents each.

That evening, Olivia is later than planned, but they see her, evening wear as she walks from the apartments to her waiting car, she waves her bodyguard back. Fox promises that this isn’t trouble.
As they walk she tells them her story and the weirdness about Echavarria.

“I was starting out, and met Professor Ayers to help me prepare for Queen of the Desert film, he invited me to a party at this guy Echavarrias place. He was some rich guy, connected, it sounded useful for my career”
“At the second party I went to I went into the wrong room, and there were, well, people having sex on a couch. Do you know how hard it is to keep a good reputation, something like that would have ruined mine. I left and never spoke to either of them again.”

Who was there? Phipps asks.
“I remember Ayers and Echavarria, and there was this other creep, Samson Trammel. And a lot odd people, some film people, Spend, Meg Lighton, Brandon xXXX”
“He was a Satanist or something like that, a very bad man. I distanced myself, and cannot be seen to be part of it.”
“We will keep your name out” Fox promises. She gets to the car,
“The couch was shaped like a mouth” she tells him, “Creepy.”

That evening catch up, everyone shocked at Kent’s scary meeting.

They decide it’s time to trap the PI. The spend the evening planning and get the hotel to hire another car to be delivered the next morning.

After breakfast on Weds they all make big show of checking out and loading up their car. Phipps sneaks off and tails the first car in the second hire car.

He soon sees the car reg they saw before behind the front car on the freeway. Kent driving the front car exits the freeway before the airport, and drives down into an industrial area, he finds a narrow alley and goes down. The PI pulls up across the alley entrance, looking down it. Phipps tries to swerve in front to stop him leaving but stalls it in the middle of the road, Kent slams car into reverse and shoots back towards the PI. His eyes widen & he floors it.
CRASH!
The PI drives straight into Phipps car, hurting them both. Kent reverses into the car too, damaging a back door. Fox jumps out and pulls a gun on him, Martin draws a vicious knife and smashes his windscreen.
“Get out!” he shouts
Pizner climbs out, scared, hands up.

“Alright! Alright! Keep calm!”
“Who do you work for?” Fox asks, waving his gun.
“Walker, Captain Walker! That’s his name, that’s what everyone calls him. He works for Samson Trammel, but no-one messes with Walker – he’s big time bad.”
There’s some threats made and he gives up their address in Pasadema. 1141 Hyacinth St.

He reaches inside his jacket, but Martin threatens him “Do It Slowly”, while holding the knife to his crotch.
Pizner pulls out and drops a piece of paper with their descriptions on and Walker’s phone number.
“What have you told Walker?” Martin asks him.
“I’ve told him who you are and that you’re going away.”
“How much did he pay you?”
“er, $500. Look he’s really bad, I’ve given you his address let me go, I’ll leave town. Walkers’ got gangs and people all over LA.”

They drive him to his office, and question him more. Kent watching can tell he’s genuinely scared of Walker, but they don’t get more information. They debate killing him in front of him, but in the end leave him alive.
“You got to beat me up some, otherwise he’d know” Pizner complains.
Kent takes his revenge and punches him on the side of the head.
“Ow! Thanks!”

Weds PM
The team return the hire cars and pay damage deposits. Martin goes to the LA library and City hall. He finds out that Samson Trammel was a realtor in the 1920’s, but stopped in 1925. He also finds planning permission for a new house, and the blueprints submitted for the house.
He also digs around on Kullman. He was a famous (ish) occultist back in the 1910’s and 20’s, but not much else. He was based in NY.
Kent calls a friend in NY, Piotr – an occultist. He knew Kullman, did some spiritual work, lost his legs to polio.

Fox goes to Glendale and hops the plane down to small airfield south of the city near Seal Beach. Less eyes on it they hope.
The others check into a different hotel. Martin is pushing to return to NY and find Kullman.

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Beer, Beans and Bullets
Sunday 7th and Monday 8th Feb

Sunday AM
Fox gets interrupted at breakfast by messenger boy, Meeks is on the phone.
He wants to meet soon, round the corner.

Kent stays in his room reading Henslowe’s notebook.

Phipps and Horowitz head to UCLA to try to find a cryptographer to decrypt the accounts book.

Meeks and his silent partner are waiting in the diner for Fox. Meeks has the police report, but wants a favour, opening the back door of a restaurant when a delivery arrives. Fox reluctantly agrees.

At UCLA, Phipps heads for Maths Dept. and finds a student, Alfred Kendall who likes cryptography. $10 to decrypt the book.

Horowitz finds a directory and finds George Ayers’ office listed, in the History dept. There he finds Dr. Romans name is actually on the door, who pops his head out of another office. He took the office in 1926 after Ayers had been gone a long time. Horowitz should speak to the Head of History Dept on Monday.

That evening, tooled up, Phipps and Fox enter the Mexican restaurant, the Happy Sombrero. It’s a little odd, they’re served food and asked for “anything else?”. Clearly there is stuff happening. Many of the tables are busy, mostly Mexicans. A barman eyes everyone entering.
A Mexican in a zoot suit enters and chats to the barman. Things are happening. Fox heads to the door to the back, but there’s just a passage, a toilet and phone. No backdoor. There’s a guy standing behind bars heading up the stairs, glaring at Fox. No back door. Fox waits in the toilet, thinking.

He hears the cage door being unlocked and Spanish spoken – new arrivals are greeting the guard. Fox ducks out into the main restaurant and catches Phipps eye. Phipps knocks over his table, food and drinks and Fox sneaks into the kitchen, and to the back door, watched by confused cooks.

Meeks comes in the back door, stuffs the report into Fox’s hands and starts pointing his gun and badge around. Fox exits the back door, Phipps bails with other guests out the front of the restaurant, as gunfire erupts.

That night they study the report. There were13 deceased, including all Walter Winston’s colleagues, and a Ramon Echavarria. The investigation wasn’t great, and they thought it was a deviant sex club. There were odd animal wounds on the bodies.
The 1924 Police Report on the farm

Kent wakes up in the early hours in his dark room. There’s a terrible smell in his room, and the sound of dripping liquid. He finds the bedside light, and sees a writhing, stinking mass on the table where he was reading. Black organic liquid drips onto the floor. Henslowe’s notebook has turned into black, rotten mush. White and pink worms wriggle in the gunk.
Kent has heard of occult magic spells used like this – to target the imagery in the book maybe. The hotel find him another room, and put a large cleaning charge on Kents bill.

In the morning the receptionist hands Phipps a letter from his sister and Fox a telegram from Janet WInston-Rogers.

Phipps and Martin Horowitz head off to UCLA early. They catch up with Alfred who’s worked all night translating the book of accounts. The books cover 1918-1922, and show sales of N referred to once as ‘Nectar’ through various code names like Umbrella, Slick and Moses. Towncar is clearly the accountant, and Black is the owner. A slip translates the Black codeword as Echavarria and Towncar as Buchwald. Phipps knows that accountants need to be registered.

In the history department, Martin meets Samantha Burnish, the aged secretary who remembers creepy George Ayers and organising a trip for him to Africa.
Dr MacDunn the head of History also knows Ayers and his trip to Ethiopia, and that he sent reports back for a short while. He wilts under Horowitz’s intimidation and agrees to bring Ayers’ stuff over later today out of storage.

At lunchtime, the group drive up north out of the city to find the location of the farmland mentioned in the police report. After some directions, they arrive at a patch of farmland, next to a new and expanding housing sprawl.

They find the remains of two buildings, and blackened rotting timbers. One of the beams has add symbols engraved on it – Kent sketches them. In the long grass a feral cat scratches his leg.

Phipps heads down the hill to talk to the housing construction crew. They say the land is cursed, Phipps senses the foreman’s odd and gets from him and some $$ that he’s been paid by a PI, Jack, to call him when anyone comes sniffing. He promises not to, for some dollars.

Late afternoon they leave the farm and drive back to UCLA

George Ayers’ stuff has been brought into a spare room at the history dept. Lots of dusty boxes of books and papers. Kent remembers his name now – Ayers published a weird controversial paper in the early 1920’s.

In the papers they find his travel itinerary to Ethiopia, his address book, and lots of odd stuff about ancient religions. Ayers writes about Gol-Goroth, the FIsher from outside, and the Liar from Beyond. They also find a film poster “Queen of the desert sands” signed from the a-list actress Olivia Clarendon. “Thanks for your help”

From quick scanning the documents, Ayers seemed to believe in the Mythos, but believed Gol-Goroth was a fool.

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Savannah to LA
Sunday Feb 28th to Sat March 6th 1937

At the Henslowe estate, call for a taxi.

Currothers watches them leave, big dog at his feet.

On the way back to Savannah, the taxi driver goes over a covered bridge, then swerves. There’s a car blocking the road, and 5 thugs standing in a circle, holding clubs and metal bars.
They seem to be a mix of Asian and white, all covered in tattoos. Jeffereson recognises some of the tattoo’s as from south-east Asia – maybe Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam.

The brutes smash the front window, the taxi driver gets out and runs. Fox is in the front and slides over to the drivers seat, Martin climbs into the front. Various people draw guns, Fox crunches the taxi into reverse and floors it. Thugs beat the taxi driver.

Shots shatter the windscreen, main thug throws a note into the window,
Fox steers the car back over the covered bridge,

Back in Savannah Fox reports the incident to the police, the others get a hotel and supplies for the long journey.

They use the hotel phone to call their families and friends, Fox calls Janet Winston-Rogers.
Phipps calls his sister, Fox lets his group of ex Vets know. Martin speaks to Dr.Archer
Kent calls – Eric his co-worker & Mrs James his housekeeper.

Over night Fox has a strange dream about mouths.

At the plane, they hear that someone’s been asking around about them. They fly to Little Rock and then Albequeque.

On the plane, various people read and get disturbed by Henslowes’ notebook. Kent feels watched by something or someone.

Approach LA on the 26th Feb, fly over refugee camps and the big low sprawl of LA.
Land at Glendale. The ground crew point out a scratch on the plane’s outside. It looks like a mouth or an eye. They ask the team to clean and repair it.

Book into the Hollywood Roosevelt and eat dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby.
They see there is still damage in the city from the 1933 Earthquake.

The look up the address of the First Bank of Long Beach, and Jefferson and Raymond head off down south, in a rented large car (Packard One-Twenty). They drive for hours to find the bank is broken by the earthquake, speaking to a local homeless woman they hear it’s been declared bankrupt. Check out building, see it is empty.

Martin and Kent research in library, try to find Echavarria, but there are pages of them. Can’t find farm. Start searching for large disasters/fires in August 1924.

Fox and Jefferson get back to library and find that bank records at FDIC. In the library Martin finds a copy of the Los Angeles Herald, with a story about Richard Spend buying the farm. Search for his obituary and find out about his sister. They visit her, and she’s bitter. She mentions Richard became involved in a porn thing, and used Honey?

That night Fox meets a local cop to try to get the police report on the incident at the farm and bribes him. The cop says he’ll be back Monday.

Saturday morning they all head to the FDIC offices and speak to Marv. He gives details of the Federal warehouse down in Long Beach.
The place is busy and large, they are given remit to search, and eventually find the box. Fox picks the lock and they find a coded book, a note with Echavarria and some disgusting photo’s.

All visit to get safety deposit box. Have to search warehouse. Break into it, box. Coded book of accounts, slip with names. Photo’s – OMG!

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A meeting in a hangar
Feb 26th, 1937

Very rough notes:

Kent Nelson, Raymond Fox, Martin Horowitz and Jefferson Phipps have been hired as investigators by Janet Winston Rogers to investigate the past life of her father, Mr Winston, recently deceased.

Meet in aircraft hangar with contents of Winston’s office arranged in centre.

Janet explains that something happened to her father in 1924, that he changed and became withdrawn, that there was a change in his character.

Signs in the office indicate a study of the occult (though nothing too overt contained in the bookshelves.

Find sheaf of letters sent by Douglas Henslow of Savannah, Georgia. Seems that though these were read, Winston did not reply to any of them.

Henslow being treated for mental health, has ups and downs, seems to have had some kind of shared hallucination involving Winston and others.

Investigators travel directly to Savannah using Fox’s plane.

Visit Henslow’s assylum first. Gain access to his personal diary.

It appears Henslow and Winston were part of a team, including Katherine Clark, Vincent Stack and Kulliman.

Interview Henslow. After convincing him that his ‘hallucination’ was in fact real he talks about the events: a barn outside Los Angeles, a cult ceremony, murder and fire, a disatrous raid and a terrible monster unleashed. Members of the team killed or disappeared into the barn.

Henslow believes a fellow inmate, Edgar Job, has been sent to keep tabs on him for the cult.

Talks about Echovaria, apparently some kind of cult leader, ‘The fisher from outside’, the thing with a thousand mouths, Golgoroth.

Raymond Fox gets attacked by another patient, who attempts to bite him. Has vision of mouth opening from a wall.

Henslow confirms existence of a journal, which was carefully hidden in the graveyard of his old family estate. While team retrieves it following his coded instuctions, an unnaturally large and peckish alligator attacks, though they manage to fend it off before it swallows too many limbs.

Other names noted down: Carruthers, Fank Hickory, George Avery

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