This is kind of a spiritual sequel to the Norman/Lily vs. Yog game, and will follow pretty much the same narrative format. If that was the story of a tired old man and his protege, this is the story of a Machiavellian politician and the hero he recruits to do his dirty work. I'm hoping to do one for each of the other three Ancient Ones; we'll see how that goes. For this one, I added an epilogue for each of the two characters, including allowing one condition that didn't come due during the game to be triggered in the epilogue for narrative oomph. Enjoy!
Charlie Kane was a survivor. Whatever else could be said of the man, and his political opponents certainly said plenty, he was a hard man to keep down. Fat and balding his whole life, Charlie had to learn to use his brain and his wits to make his way in the world. His body betrayed him when he was a young man, polio flooding into his limbs, and he had been forced into a wheelchair. But Charlie had used all his disadvantages well, always staying one step ahead of the other pieces on the chessboard, his doughy, broken body a disguise for the iron sharp, Machiavellian mind beneath. Although he had long operated behind the scenes, facilitating monopolistic takeovers and preventing the progressive wing of the party like that damn cowboy Roosevelt from shattering the status quo, Charlie was ready to wheel into the spotlight and take the ultimate prize, the presidency. But his vast network of spies and other contacts had informed him of strange things, a stirring evil that was threatening to blot out all life, including that most precious of all, his own. During pagan rites, the Black Goat of the Woods Shub-Niggurath absorbs worthy cultists into her amorphous body and transforms them into gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath, the goat spawn. Fro the wildest corners of the earth, her primal brood, the dark young, emerge to overwhelm humanity. Charlie despised moralists and do-gooders, but he knew that he would have to throw his influence against this greater darkness if he was ever to claim his crown. He was damned if he was going to let some feral creature take it from him.
Because Charlie’s strength was in his mind and his rolodex, he knew he would have to hire the best kind of muscle to do his dirty work for him. As it so happened, a spy in the army gave him a lead. His spy knew of a man named Mark Harrigan, a reckless and tormented soul who had gunned down the krauts like a man possessed during the Great War. Harrigan’s wife had been consumed by some creature, and he now blazed like a man possessed to get revenge on the darkness. Charlie knew that men like Mark were always looking for another fight, another struggle. It made them, for all their ferocity and passion, predictable and manipulable. Charlie met with Mark in his smoke-filled backroom in Washington and explained the task at hand. An ancient creature was stirring, and Charlie wanted Mark to meet the edge of his sword in striking back. He would pay him handsomely, of course. Mark smoked the fine cigar Charlie offered him and listened grimly, and then spat the money back in Charlie’s face. He’d help, Mark had said. But not for Charlie, and not for any bribe. He would kill the monsters for Sophie.
After Mark left, Charlie just smiled. He had his man, and he didn’t even have to buy him.
The first lead the men had was that bonfires roared in the wildest corners of the planet as the Cult of the Black Goat performed their bestial rituals. The cultists howled to Shub-Niggurath to let loose her children upon the Earth. Charlie had received information about a long-lost temple in the Amazon rainforest that several foolhardy explorers had gone rushing towards. He had heard that somewhere in the Ukraine, information about Shub was available. And he had heard, most spectacularly of all, that a enormous gate to some dark place had opened at the Witch’s House in Arkham, Massachusetts. From that void had come a tall gaunt man, a warlock, who promised to be the vanguard of Shub-Niggurath’s infernal black magic. [Set Up: Shub-Niggurath Ancient One, Charlie and Mark (Charlie Lead Investigator), Rituals in the Wild mystery, gate in Arkham/Warlock monster, clue in Russia/space 16]
After meeting with Mark, Charlie and his personal assistant Ms. Spence had made his way to San Francisco. He didn’t particularly care for the open spaces and the wild west lawlessness of the California coastline, but he had powerful friends in San Francisco, and he intended to exploit those friendships if need be. After visiting Hearst Castle, Charlie rolled into the most expensive marketplace in the city and began haggling. It seemed as if the rest of the country was finally learning about the dangers that Shub-Niggurath and her bloodthirsity servants represented, and Charlie found that his clout was not an instant fix for the problems he faced. For the first time in many years, Charlie had to make a deal with a rough-looking group of men in pinstripe suits for the credit he needed. But Charlie’s credit went a long way. For himself, he bought a .45 Colt Revolver, figuring that although Mark Harrigan was his muscle, he needed to be prepared to defend himself if need be. For the soldier, he hired an agent of the Syndicate named Irina known for her bloodthirstiness and professionalism. He also bought Mark a potent Lantern, imagining that his associate would be going to dark places before the end of things. After buying as much as he could, Charlie wheeled over to the gangsters he had borrowed from. With his impressive negotiating prowess and the army of goons at his own disposal, he was able to quickly convince the men that he was not, in fact, in their debt. [Acquire Assets/Gain Debt, Resolve Debt].
Mark had traveled to Helsinki. It was close to where he had fought in the war, which was the last time he had really felt alive. He gripped his .38 revolver tightly, remembering the faces of the men he had gunned down with it. Those were hard times, but at least he had known Sophie would be waiting for him when he got back. Now, it barely had any meaning at all. Mark didn’t care about the whims of that selfish budding tyrant that had hired him, and he certainly didn’t care if the world burned. For him, his world already had burned. The only thing that mattered to Mark was that the forces that had taken Sophie burned first. Even when Irina joined him, Mark felt alone. Although he didn’t have the clout that his boss had, Mark was still able to go to the police and purchase their assistance. He sent the police to go kill the warlock in Massachusetts who had been threatening to hurt the world with his black magic. The way Mark saw it, the less invocation of this other world, the better. After that, he boarded a train and traveled east to Russia, hoping to gain more information about his enemies. [Acquire Assets, travel to 16].
Having heard that Charlie was pursuing leads in the hunt for the mysterious creatures that had begun to crop up, the local police asked him to examine a corpse. Working with the mortician, Charlie learned some basic forensic skills and improved his observation. Still, Charlie wasn’t used to getting his hands dirty; that’s what he had people for. The body had a strange wire hood over its head and seems to have been electrocuted. It was a grisly sight, and although Charlie wouldn’t admit it to Ms. Spence or anyone else, the image haunted his nightmares. [San Francisco encounter, improve observation but fail will check, -2 sanity]
When Mark arrived in the Russian village on the outskirts of the city, he learned that there had been a battle in the Eastern Orthodox church between the followers of Christ and those who wanted to forsake Christ and return to worshipping the old pagan gods like Shub-Niggurath. When he arrived a the church, he found that the followers of Shub had prevailed. A bleeding priest who lay dying begged Mark to guard the sword. He told him that Brother Tristam and his Order of traitors would stop at nothing. Mark hated to put his faith in any kind of zealot, but he made the solemn vow, gaining a pact with a dark entity in order to hear the priest’s story about the followers of Shub-Niggurath and gain the Sword of Saint Jerome, a weapon that glowed with power and majesty. Mark didn’t put too much faith in mumbo jumbo, and so he figured it had been worth it. [Gain Dark Pact for Clue/Sword of Saint Jerome]
Shub-Niggurath and her followers responded quickly to the threat that Charlie and Mark posed. There was a time when the manipulative politician and even the hardened soldier took comfort in the company of others, but no longer. They had sacrificed much already, and wondered whether the desperate masses were even worth saving. Could humans ever hope to earn their redemption? The stars shifted in the sky. Shub-Niggurath stirred in her sleep, and from her primordial blackness a cultist arrived in Tokyo, bearing her foul contagion. As he arrived, a foul whirlpool swirled in the waters outside of Tokyo. From that whirlpool came an axe-wielding maniac, eager to join the cultist in an assault on the suddenly terrorized Japanese citizens. Charlie and Mark had to decide whether they believed it was worthwhile to stay in the company of others. Charlie thought the teeming masses didn’t deserve to be saved, but he didn’t want to go it alone. In order to keep Ms. Spence in his employ, he let the fear of destruction chip away at him. When he woke up the next morning, he had amnesia, and he couldn’t remember what else he had to do to keep his assistant by his side. Mark, on the other hand, thought the teeming masses might have some value---Sophie couldn’t have been the only good one---but he wanted to go it alone. He told Irina the Syndicate Agent to get lost, and that he worked better alone. He wouldn’t sacrifice his sanity for her when he had so little to spare. [Driven to Madness Mythos: omen shifts, Shub spawns Cultist, Tokyo Gate/Maniac, Charlie -1 sanity+amnesia to keep Personal Assistant (4/5), Mark loses Syndicate Agent]
Charlie decided that he wasn’t leaving the comfort of his five star hotel in San Francisco if he didn’t have to. The world might be ending, but that was no excuse to go around half-cocked. He was outraged when he learned that the fool Mark had sent away the perfectly good fighter he had supplied him, and so he went to hire more help, ultimately sending a well-intentioned Vatican missionary named Father James to join Mark. Charlie then retreated back to his hotel room and rested, trying to regain some of the sanity he had lost. To his frustration, as he rested, he was unable to work through his amnesia and remember what had happened. [Acquire Assets, Rest (4/6, keep amnesia)]
Although Mark had heard rumors and even thought he had seen bonfires to the east, in the wastelands of Tunguska, he knew he didn’t know enough to try to disrupt the rituals. Instead, he bought a train ticket and traveled west to Rome, grudgingly taking the advice of the priest who had joined his side. [Buy train ticket, travel to Rome]
When Charlie felt well enough to venture out into the city again, he became lost and found himself in a bad part of town. The fabric of reality is weak in the seedy Tenderloin District. As a result, many there suffered from the Black Madness. Very little of what they say could be understood, and Charlie had not spent his life learning either compassion or the arcane secrets to unlock what they said. When he snapped at them, the plague victims dragged Charlie and his chair along with them into the unknown. [San Francisco encounter, fail lore check, Lost in Time and Space].
As Mark wandered the streets of Rome, a raggedy-looking man offered to trade an old coin for one of his belongings. The man claimed that throwing the coin into the Trevi Fountain would ensure that he would safely return to Rome. Mark thought back to a day when he and Sophie had first been dating when they walked past a fountain in Kansas City. Mark had tossed a coin in the fountain, and his wish then came true. Managing a small smile, Mark thought hard before giving the man his .38 revolver. In that moment, Mark liked the idea of being the man who had tossed a coin in the Fountain with Sophie instead of being the man who had coldly gunned down other men. As he tossed the coin into the fountain and thought about what mattered, Mark felt his resolve strengthen. [Trade .38 Revolver for Will improvement].
Lightning cracked across the sky. Mark had a sinking dread that the good he had accomplished was about to be undone. The stars shifted in the sky, and Shub-Niggurath came one step closer to awakening. From the darkness of Shub-Niggurath came an ancient mummy that found its way to the Pyramids of Giza, eager to guard its secrets. As Shub’s power spread across the earth, the maniac in Tokyo was shocked to see the cutlist he had been spreading death with start to transform, changing into a horrifying creature, half man, half goat. Meanwhile, not far from Tokyo, a horrible blackness opened in Shanghai, and a pale, translucent ghost, full of hatred for the living, emerged to haunt the city. All the monsters that Shub had unleashed on the board were full of strength, ready to start killing the people of Earth and to pave the way for their Mother. [A Dark Power Mythos: Omen changes, doom advances from 13 to 12 per Arkham gate, Shub spawns mummy, Cultist reckoning/transforms into Goat Spawn, Shanghai Gate/Ghost appears, all monsters already full health/no monster in Rome so the card text has no effect].
Charlie drifted between time and space, his legs somehow even more impotent than they were on land. He floated past green moons and blue suns, his steely grip on his senses the only thing keeping him from the void.
Unaware that his boss was not even on Earth anymore, Mark decided to start heading back towards America to share what he had learned from the dying Russian priest with Charlie. He bought a ship ticket in Rome and sailed past England and across the Atlantic to dock in Arkham. Mark had been curious about the void he had heard the warlock had spilled out of. Since he had already sent the police to kill the magician, he figured he might as well deal with the bigger darkness too. One thing you had to say about Mark Harrigan. He didn’t quit easily. [Buy ship ticket, travel to Arkham].
In the space between worlds, Charlie encountered a being that could change its shape. The creature seemed fascinated with Charlie and asked him countless questions. Naturally suspicious, the cynical politician successfully parried the questions of the inquisitive creature, realizing that nobody took that kind of interest in another person unless they wanted something. Having seen through the doppelganger’s ruse, Charlie returned to America, finding himself in Minneapolis. He had made it back from the void, and he had managed to avoid bringing his doppelganger back with him. One Charlie Kane, even he had to admit, was more than enough. [Lost in Time and Space encounter, influence pass].
Just as Charlie was returning to Earth, Mark was departing from it. With Father James at his side, Mark entered the void. He was confused at first because he had been expecting some alien landscape but instead found himself in Times Square, New York, not that far from Arkham. But then Mark realized this Times Square was not as he knew it. The streets were empty, and the buildings had crumbled to dust. It appeared that Mark would fail to save the world, and he tried desperately not to fall into despair. At first Mark fell to his knees, seeing Sophie’s mutilated body, which seemed to call to him and blame him. Mark almost succumbed to utter despair and left the world right then and there. But Father James was by his side, and urged him to try one more time to see through the illusions. When Mark gritted his teeth, he blinked, and Sophie was no longer then. He got to his feet and found what was left of the central library. The books he found there proved useful, and he managed to close the Gate. Before leaving, though, he dug through the archives, searching for clues about the downfall of man. To Mark’s great surprise, he was able to sift through the musty pages and discover two key clues about the fall of man. The clues spoke of the Twin Blasphemies of Shub-Niggurath, Yeb and Nug, the dark creatures that would herald the arrival of the Black Goat. Grim-faced but successful, Mark left the alien Times Square and returned to Arkham. [Other World Encounter, initially fail will check before passing with priest re-roll. Pass observation check].
A Lebou sorcerer in Dakar spoke to Charlie and Mark in their dreams, confirming their suspicions. “These rab, they are ver bad. They come from the sea and the air.” The sorcerer showed them in their dream that there was information about Shub-Niggurath in Finland, not far from where Mark had begun the journey. But he also showed them that monsters created by Shub were eagerly waiting to pour through the cracks between reality, and that anyone who loitered at one of those unnatural places would risk being consumed by a horde of the Black Goat’s children. [Drawn to Our World Rumor activated].
Having been more shaken than he would like to admit from his out of body experience, Charlie spent the morning resting at his hotel, trying to remember back to his lost night. But as much as he tried, and as vivid as other memories like his triumph over the Doppelganger were, he still couldn’t remember. Discouraged, Charlie traveled to the marketplace after lunch and acquired a fishing net that he sent to Mark. Hopefully this net would help the fool catch some monsters. [Rest (4/7, keep amnesia), Acquire Assets].
Mark hopped the train from Arkham to Minneapolis, meeting up with Charlie at his fancy hotel. Even being in a place like this, where the ceilings were plated with gold and pearls, disgusted the battle-hardened soldier. Still, he knew the wily old man he was working with was more than just a checkbook. Charlie was shrewd and observant, always sussing out the weaknesses of his enemies, and Mark imagined that for all of his physical impairments, the old man might be better equipped than he was to examine the wilderness rituals the cultists were performing. He gave Charlie the clues about Yeb and Nug he had discovered in the otherworldly New York, hoping the old man could stop the rituals in the wild before either of those ominous names materialized. [Travel to space 5, trade/Give Charlie 2 clues]
Irritated that Mark was tasking him with something, Charlie decided to blow off steam. When he was a younger and less important man, he had enjoyed causing trouble in town. Without an able body, it was harder to get away with things, but there was a perverse sociopathic streak in Charlie that thought it was funny for man of his means to resort to common thuggery. He made sure no one was watching before sneaking out of the shop with his stolen dynamite. Mark had been right about the old man’s wiliness, and Charlie easily escaped with the explosives in tow. [City encounter, pass observation test, get dynamite].
A short while later, Mark visited the same store. But if the shopkeeper had not noticed Charlie’s light fingers, he definitely noticed being robbed by a group of masked thieves. Mark gritted his teeth and engaged with the thugs, beating them all back. The grateful store owner reached behind the counter and gave Mark a .45 automatic as a reward. [City encounter, pass strength test, get random item/.45].
The stars shifted in the sky, and Shub came one step closer to awakening. Information was available in Texas, but things weren’t looking as good for Tokyo. Already beleaguered from the axe murderer and the goat spawn, Tokyo now also had to contend with a horrible fish-like deep one that had emerged from the darkness to prowl the city’s edge. Meanwhile, Charlie compared the picture in the magazine to the drawing on the old, tattered map. It was definitely a match, but what could be so valuable that it required so much secrecy, and why was that particular point on the map marked with blood? As if in response to Charlie’s theft, Shub-Niggurath’s cultists had laid a trap for him at an abandoned warehouse. When Charlie arrived, he found numerous workers dead, their throats cut and blood covering the floor. Charlie wheeled to the center of the room and found the Pallid Mask, a horrible and off-putting masquerade mask that could frighten even the spawn of Shub-Niggurath away. As he grabbed at the mask, a black spell tried to grip Charlie, punishing him for his greed. But the politician was strong, resisting the spell Shub’s cultists had put on the mask. As he left the failed trap, Charlie sneered. They’d have to do better than that. [Heart of Corruption Mythos: omen shifts (doom advances from 12 to 11), Deep One surges in Tokyo, clue on space 6, Charlie gets artifact/doesn’t roll a 1 or 2 so no loss of 2 health/sanity].
Before leaving for the wilderness, Charlie met with Mark for a curt breakfast. Charlie ate ferociously, his teeth tearing into the crisp bacon and bloody sausage he loaded up on his plate. Mark just drank strong black coffee and stared resentfully. Charlie slipped Mark the dynamite he had stolen, and demanded the .45 automatic Mark had been given by the shopkeeper. The soldier had the Sword of Saint Jerome, and didn’t need any other weapons. Mark shrugged and did as the boss asked. This wasn’t the battle he was interested in fighting. After getting his way, Charlie grimaced and began the long, difficult trek into the Canadian wilderness. He had heard that one of the Black Goat’s cult rituals had been occurring there, and it seemed like the quickest way to get this over with. [Trade Dynamite for .45 Auto, travel to Space 4].
Mark was eager to leave Minneapolis behind him, so he took the train back to Arkham, buying a ship ticket when he got there. He didn’t know what the next step would be, but he wanted to be ready. During the trip back to Arkham, Father James tried to talk to Mark, and to discover why the soldier was so filled with rage. Mark said something curt about his wife, but he didn’t want to get into the sob story with this man of God. Mark didn’t have time for sob stories or God. Just for the job. [Travel to Arkham, buy ship ticket].
After a long hard journey through roads that a man in a wheelchair was never meant to travel, an ornery, frustrated Charlie finally made his way to the ritual in the wild. He saw bloodthirsty cultists dancing around infernal hell fires, beating their chests, drinking the blood of grizzly bears, and hollering in some bizarre, disgusting language. Charlie watched from a safe distance and, armed with the knowledge Mark had given him, tried to discern the ritual’s purpose. With his keen eyes and keener mind, Charlie realized that the ritual was designed to call forth the Twin Blasphemies, which would herald the way for Shub-Niggurath. He knew that he would have to send his attack dog, Mark Harrigan, to kill those creatures when the rituals achieved their purpose and summoned them. [Rituals in the Wild encounter, pass observation test, solve mystery at the end of the turn].
Mark had a more embarrassing evening once he got to Arkham, a place that he had thought of as a comfort. Grifters had chosen him to be their next mark. Mark was a worldwise man and he knew that they were casing him, but his plan to turn the tables failed when he didn’t notice a ploy and was swindled. The grifters stole Mark’s lantern and would’ve taken more had he been carrying a trinket. Ashen-faced and embarrassed, Mark angrily rejoined Father James at the hotel, grabbing a bottle of whiskey and drinking the rest of the night away. [City encounter, fail observation test, lose lantern].
Charlie and Mark both had a horrible dream where the world was being torn apart, meteors raining from the sky and an apocalyptic prophet standing atop a sinking island, chanting. When they woke up, they realized that the strange phenomenon was no dream, but an echo of the catastrophic destruction of Mu. The repercussions of the serpent people’s overreaching ambition still takes its toll. Charlie and Mark realized that the world was getting torn apart, and that eventually they would have to address the darkness contained in the ruins of the island of Mu if they wanted to prevent the cracks Shub-Niggurath was trying to slip through from bursting loose. [Fractured Reality Rumor activated].
Charlie had discovered the purpose of the rituals in the wild. As suddenly as they had begun, the rituals ceased. Shub-Niggurath’s twin blasphemies had been awakened from their slumber in the beyond, and were readying to prepare he world for the Black Goat, destroying any potential challenge to their mother’s reign. One of the pair, Nug, began its dreadful task, lurching is many tentacles and snapping mouths out of the ancient temple in the Amazon. [Spawn of the Black Goat Mystery begun].
Charlie traveled out of the Canadian wilderness and made his way back to Minneapolis, cursing the outdoors and the fools who would choose to spend their time in its austere bleakness instead of in the well-maintained corridors of power. He knew damn well that after that trip he wasn’t about to go fight some awe-inspiring monster. The best Harrigan could expect from him now was for him to continue to provide supplies and information. Pondering the information available to his south, Charlie went to the rail office owned by one of his robber baron friends and obtained a complimentary train ticket. [Travel to space 5, buy train ticket].
Mark knew full well that the children of Shub-Niggurath were the reason he was getting paid, and that soon it would be either him or the dark monstrosity that had emerged from the darkness of the Amazon jungle that was dead. The world wasn’t big enough for the both of them, and that was the way Mark Harrigan liked it. Mark already had a boat ticket, but on his way out of Arkham he bought another one as insurance in case he needed to make a quick getaway. Using the older ticket, Mark sailed through the Caribbean and landed in Panama, a short journey away from the creature that he was soon to face. [Buy ship ticket, Sail to space 7].
The Syndicate was engaged in a gang war with local thugs and under intense legal scrutiny. Charlie tried to trade his political clout for their assistance. To Charlie’s great irritation and surprise, the Syndicate rebuffed him. They told him that they had already helped him by hiring out Irina, and that Charlie’s goon had insulted them by dismissing her from his service. The Syndicate told Charlie that he wasn’t welcome in their office and not to expect any help. In a huff, Charlie promised to remember this when he was president. [City encounter, fail influence check so no service].
Mark didn’t have better luck. He wanted to go to a shooting range to practice his marksmanship or at the very least to a bar where he could drink. But Father James, that persistent fly in the ointment, suggested that Mark already had the weapons he needed and so he might spend his time searching for arcane assistance. Reluctantly taking the priest’s advice, Mark wandered through the aisle of an antique book store. Although many extremely rare books could be found there, the organizational system was almost impossible to decipher. Try as he might, Mark had no mind for books, and he failed to understand how to look for the most precious books. Irritated, Mark left the store. [City encounter, fail lore check so no tome artifact].
The stars shifted in the sky. New information was available in Minneapolis, very near to Charlie. But that was no consolation to Mark, who was disturbed to hear that a gate had burst loose in Rome, the site of his one happy memory on this journey so far. Even more disturbing, the people of Rome had become frenzied, rioting and looting. Rumors spread that the Pope was sealed up behind walls of guns in the Vatican, and priceless treasures were torn apart by the maddened riot. Meanwhile, the full moon seemed to have stirred the blood of every beast. Even listless old hounds seemed possessed by the spirit of some feral ancestor, vicious and cruel. Shub-Niggurath’s awful pull on the meaner beasts was beginning to take hold, and bloodlust was on the rise. Things got even worse for Mark when he realized that from Nug’s awful body had come two new ghoul servants, ready to do its bidding. [Rising Terror Mythos: omen shifts, no comet gate so gate burst, Rome Gate/Riot, clue on Space 5, Nug’s reckoning spawns two ghouls].
Charlie twiddled his thumbs and waited for the chance to pursue the lead that had just dropped into his lap. Compulsively, he went and did what he did best, using his clout. There wasn’t much of interest to him that day, but he did acquire a shiny gold pocket watch, intending to make sure he never got stuck in one place longer than he wanted to. Then, Charlie used his influence to book Mark on an expedition down to the Amazon, sending the soldier there to hurry up and fight. [Acquire Assets, Charlie Action -> Mark travels to Amazon].
Stumbling up to the Amazon temple where Nug had emerged from, Mark gritted his teeth and tried not to panic. He had seen horrible things during The Great War, and something even more horrible in the lifeless body of his fiancé. But he wasn’t sure he had ever seen anything as horrible as the monstrous creature before him. With a cry, Mark hurled the dynamite he had been carrying since Minneapolis at the monsters standing before him. The dynamite exploded, smashing the ancient ruins and sending stonework that had stood proudly for millennia crumbling pitifully to the ground. The dynamite consumed the ghoul slaves that Nug had spawned, incinerating their clammy, lifeless bodies. The blast had also hit the monstrous Nug square on, burning its black form. Mark heard an unearthly shrieking, and he struggled not to let the horror overwhelm his senses. He knew he had to act fast. As Nug writhed in pain, Mark threw himself towards the beast, willingly letting stray tendrils nick at his body as he aimed a bullet straight for the center of the beast. The bullet was true, and in one fell swoop, Mark clambered to his feet, panting but triumphant. Somewhere Shub-Niggurath shrieked in rage, because Mark Harrigan had just killed her first baby. [Dynamite on Nug/Ghouls, Mark Action to hurt himself/Nug, killing Nug. Mark at 7/4].
Charlie was horrified to find blood beginning to drip from his ears, nose, and mouth. A witch was casting a hex against him, and he had to resist! Charlie was so overcome by frustration at the affront that his will didn’t hold out, and he felt his body shiver and his spirits drip. Whatever the witch had done to him, it was sticking. Charlie felt bloated and nauseous, and he felt a spiritual rot deeper than any that even his dark heart had felt before. He was cursed. [City Research Encounter, fail will check. Cursed].
Mark figured that while he was at the Temple, he might as well go inside and try to discover its secrets. He was sure nothing inside could be worse than the awful darkness he had just vanquished. After passing under the first arch, Mark saw the vine-covered temple ahead of him, but he was going to have to fight his way through a thick tangle of venomous snakes between himself and the entrance. Although he was weary from the battle with Nug, Mark easily hacked apart the snakes with his holy sword and entered the Temple of Yig. Somehow, standing in the dark place of worship of an Ancient One opposed to Shub-Niggurath helped give Mark strength, and made it harder for Shub to break through to Earth. As he continued to study the temple, Mark saw strange runes inscribed on the wall in a serpentine design. He tried to interpret their meaning to avoid their hypnotic effect, but Mark was not a learned man, and he soon fell under their spell. When he came to, he was outside the temple, Father James was shouting at him, and he could remember nothing. [Spawn of the Black Goat mystery solved at turn’s end. Expedition Encounter, pass strength test, retreat doom from 11 to 12, fail lore test and gain amnesia condition].
Shub-Niggurath howled in her slumber. She would have her revenge on these humans, especially the soldier that had killed her baby. The stars shifted in the sky, and the gains Mark had made in the temple were erased as a pale shadow fell over Tokyo once again. A new corner of the beleaguered city was suddenly under the dominion of a ferocious vampire, who began glutting himself on the citizens who had been hiding high up above the reach of the maniac, the goat spawn, and the deep one. Information was available to those who could make it to Istanbul, but it was cold comfort. Keep running. Never look back. Charlie and Mark had known for al ong time now that the consequences of their actions, their political machinations and cold-blooded killing, were always one step behind them. But now, it was all catching up to them. Suddenly, Charlie’s amnesia lifted. He remembered exactly what had happened during his lost night. The terrible memories of the profane ritual returned to him. How merciful his mind had been to forget his horrible deeds. Now that he remembered the truth, remembered the malevolent entity with the red face and the smell of embers, he knew he would soon have to hold up his end of the bargain. Charlie had a Dark Pact.
Meanwhile, Mark’s own pact with darkness came due. The agreement he had made seemed necessary at the time, to get the mystic sword, but now he regretted signing that pact with the dying priest. The sinister beings have come to claim what was his: blood, knowledge, and hope. Mark lost the will he had gained from his sojourn in Rome. He lost his kerosene and his fishing net. He lost the Sword of Saint Jerome that he had given up so much for, swallowed into the darkness. He even lost Father James, whose throat was cut by one of the shadowy creatures who had come for him. The darkness assaulted Mark, shattering his body and his spirit, and the bedraggled soldier was soon left barely clinging to his life and his sanity. When he stumbled, delirious and half-dead, into town, he was confronted with more bad news. He didn’t want to believe it was true, but the evidence was irrefutable. At some point that he no longer recalled, he went on a violent crime spree. Now the police were seeking to drag him to prison. Somehow, Mark’s lifeless, half-dead husk of a body still had the will in it to resist the police, and he leaped from the car into a rushing river. The police shrugged, assuming the bloody, gaunt figure was soon to be dead. But Mark clung to life, even as his body rushed down river and all was lost. [Tied to a Dark Purpose Mythos: Omen shifts, doom advances, 12 to 11, Vampire in Tokyo, Clue in Istanbul. Charlie’s Amnesia/Terrible Truth comes due, gains Dark Pact. Mark’s Dark Pact comes due, All is Lost, loses everything but 1 health/1 sanity (-kerosone, -fishing net, -Sword of Saint Jerome, -Vatican Missionary, -+1 will token); Mark’s amnesia is Forgotten Crimes, but he can’t become delayed per his passive ability].
The Black Litanies have been intoned and Yeb has been called forth from the Black Fire to purge the earth in preparation for Shub-Niggurath’s arrival. The second of the twin blasphemies was unleashed, the final link in the chain before Shub-Niggurath herself awoke. All would depend on the cursed politician and the near-dead soldier somehow rallying to defeat Yeb. Yeb arose in the wastelands of Kamchatka. A Gnoph-keh, a horrific yeti, arose with Yeb, but in a stroke of luck for the investigators, abandoned the dark thing for its home in the Himalayas. Less fortunate was the emergence of a horrific Lloigor, a malevolent reptilian worm that would guard Yeb until the end of all things. [Blasphemy of the Black Goat Mystery begun.]
Charlie’s skin was green and splotched, but he still managed to tumble his way down to the merchant’s square in Minneapolis, eager to acquire more goods. Most of the merchants avoided the man like the plague, for he looked like he was contagious and about to die a horrible death. But one merchant was willing to deal with Charlie, and sold him a bowl of fresh fruit. Charlie quickly sent it Mark’s way. Charlie also gave up his other activities to insure that Mark would be guarded while he rested. Mark’s eyes flittered as he chewed on fruit and slipped in and out of consciousness, but when he woke up, he had started to recover. [Charlie Acquires Assets, Charlie gives Mark a rest action, Mark uses fruit and comes to 3 health/3 sanity]
After recovering most of his mental facility, Mark tried to barrel forward on his quest. But he no longer had Father James at his side to give him advice, and he was still weak. He only made it as far as Panama, stumbling the rest of the way out of the jungles. Mark then tumbled into a shop, where his effort to purchase some of the goods he had rudely knocked over was met by scorn and anger by the incensed shopkeeper. [Travel to space 7, Acquire Assets fail].
Charlie ought to have rested in his condition, but the politician was as stubborn as he was ambitious. His men had captured one of the Brotherhood’s knights. These assassins, who were now working for those aligned with Shub-Niggurath, were rarely captured alive, and this was Charlie’s only chance to interrogate one. But the assassin struggled and escaped, knocking Charlie from his wheelchair and severely damaging the frail man’s body on his way out. [City Research Encounter, fail observation check, -2 health, 2 health/7 sanity].
Mark heard the police report that people were being abducted by a monster dwelling in the sewer system. Although a wiser man would have continued to nurse his grievous wounds, Mark was not that man. He began wandering through the underground tunnels, and was suddenly attacked by a deep one. Despite his weakened state, Mark successfully fought off and killed the monster, rescuing its hostage. As it turned out, the deep one had somehow taken a powerful muscleman named Ivan hostage. Ivan had worked as a bodyguard to several mobsters before having a price put on his head and running to Central America to hide out. Now, Ivan pledged to work with Mark until Mark’s mission was over to thank him. And so Mark Harrigan, the man who hated putting his fate in the hands of others, once again found himself with a traveling companion. [City Encounter, pass strength test, gain bodyguard ally].
The stars shifted in the sky, and Shub howled, coming closer to waking up. Because of the gates in Shanghai and Rome, doom grew closer. Another cultist emerged from Shub’s dark mass, and because the world was beginning to be overrun by monstrous forces, Shub grew even nearer her horrific ascension. A new gate opened in Sydney, and a lumbering Gug came out of it. Meanwile, reality began to fracture as the long dormant storm clouds gathered over the ruins of Mu. All was not darkness though. Charlie managed to overcome his curse, recovering his health during a horrific storm that battered all of the heartland of America. After the noise and violence was over, one of the shopkeepers, ironically the man Charlie had robbed from before, peered out from his shuttered windows. Amazed to see Charlie alive, the shopkeeper opened the window and called out, “Is it over? Are we safe?” With the smile of an oily politician, Charlie waved to let him know all was fine. Soon the word was out, thanks to Charlie’s political skills, that it was thanks to him that the storm was passing. As a result, a strange white-haired woman named Katerina who described herself as a mystic bounty hunter pledged herself to Charlie’s service. [Rally the People Mythos: Omen shifts/doom advances by 2 (11 to 9), Shub spawns cultist in Sydney (more than 10 monsters, so doom advances 9 to 7), 3 instead of 4 tokens on Fractured Reality Rumor, Sydney Gate/Gug, Charlie gets mystic bounty hunter ally]
With Shub having come much closer to waking up and no end in sight to the number of monsters teeming across the globe, Charlie and Mark knew the end was in sight. Charlie was eager to force the soldier into a confrontation with Yeb regardless of how close to the breaking point the younger man was, and Mark was just as eager to finish it, one way or another. If he killed the thing like he did its sibling, he would maybe have gotten some measure of revenge for Sophie. And maybe if he died, he would be with her. Charlie went to the shop and bought a carbine rifle that he sent Mark’s way, and then again spent his time insuring that Mark could rest and recover some strength. [Acquire Assets, Charlie Action to let Mark rest, 4 strength/4 sanity. Mark sailed to San Francisco, and again barged into a shop and tried to buy things he couldn’t afford. [Travel to San Francisco, Acquire Assets but fail].
Charlie still hadn’t come up with anything in Minneapolis, and he searched frustratedly for insight into what the Order of the Death’s Head was doing before they left the city. Without his curse affecting him, Charlie was able to find notes about a creature. He gained the information and used his knowledge to send a plane full of his men to gun down the Lloigor that was guarding Yeb. All of the pilots were destroyed by the mighty beast’s assault, but the clue Charlie had found gave them the information they needed to exploit its weak spot. The Lloigor was dead. Charlie smirked, and thought about Mark Harrigan. The little shit couldn’t say that Charlie hadn’t done anything for him.
Mark visited the Tlaxcala Mining Company, where he found strange records of man who could transport himself across tremendous distances. The idea sounded absurd, but some elements of his story rung familiar. Mark figured that he could spend some of his precious mental energy to try teleportation. Ivan seemed uncertain, and Mark agreed with the strong man. No, that mumbo jumbo magic crap wasn’t his thing. He would sail to Yeb, and he would meet it on his own two feet. [San Francisco encounter, rejected -2 sanity for moving to another space deal.]
The stars shifted in the sky, and the dreaded wasteland that once was Tokyo caused Shub to come even closer to waking up (doom 7 to 6). A horrific insectoid creature, the Mi-Go, crawled out of the earth beneath Tokyo. Rumors were that new information had been found towards the North Pole, but no one seriously thought such an out of the way destination would be considered. Worst of all, pulling the curtain back slightly, Charlie and Mark realized that the same suspicious men were still watching their hotel. They were going to have to sneak out the back exit to try to lose their watchers. They realized to their dismay that they could no longer rest. If they did, the cultists watching them would take advantage of their sleep and kill them. Mark especially would be unable to regain more strength before the final battle. [Strange Sightings Mythos: Omen shift/doom advances 7 to 6, Mi-Go surge in Tokyo, clue at space 13, No resting until another reckoning].
Now that he had finally gained information, Charlie decided to start moving towards Mu, and try to resolve the fracturing of reality that had been hanging as a backdrop to the bloodshed that had consumed the investigators. He knew that there was also the prophecy that the Lebou sorcerer had warned of, but since most of the rifts in the world were happening in Asia, Charlie wasn’t so concerned. Let those countries be consumed while he focused on problems closer to America. He took the train to San Francisco, and then revisited the store there, acquiring assets and buying a shotgun that he passed to Mark. [Travel to San Francisco, acquire assets.] Mark, still holding a ship ticket he had bought what felt like ages ago, sailed from San Francisco past Alaska and towards Kamchatka, where Yeb was waiting. When he got there, Mark cavalierly, psychotically, hurled himself at the monster, damaging both it and himself as a prelude to the carnage that was to come. [Travel to space 19, Mark action, he takes a damage (3 health/4 sanity), Yeb takes one damage].
Charlie was hired to spend a night in the Wincehster Mystery House. He was provided with experts in detecting the supernatural, and Charlie once again improved his observation skills. But the odd architecture and the building’s history threatened to unhinge his mind, and when the evening passed, Charlie left the house strangely rattled, as if a nightmarish voice in the house had warned him of an ugly fate that was soon to befall him, a punishment for his overreaching ambition. [San Francisco encounter, +1 observation but -2 sanity (2 strength/5 sanity)].
Mark, meanwhile, confronted Yeb, the second of the twin blasphemies of Shub-Niggurath. Staring upon the monstrous creature affected Mark’s harried mind in a way that Nug had not, and Mark felt his grip on reality slipping. He bit his teeth and fired his best shot at the creature. But despite the assistance of his firepower and Ivan’s muscle, Mark was only able to manage one shot. He and Ivan both took some of the brunt of Yeb’s counterattack, and Mark was able to retreat to lick his wounds before they became critical. [-2 sanity, -1 strength, 1 damage to Yeb; Mark at 2 health/2 sanity].
The stars shifted in the sky. Horrible things began happening. The Mi-Go that had been spawned in Tokyo expanded its ugly, chitin wings and flew all the way to Istanbul, devouring the dervish who had information on the cult of Shub-Niggurath. Shub itself spawned a horrific monster, the Hound of Tindalos, which crawled out of the depths of the Indian ocean, roaring its mighty roar and breathing blue flames. The storm clouds over Mu grew more ferocious. Charlie’s pact with darkness didn’t come due, although he couldn’t help but worry about in light of his troubling night at the Winchester Mystery House. Before his very eyes, the house was consumed by a dark void, and serpent people, like the ones who had seen Mu crumble before them, emerged. Charlie let out a yelp of fear, but the serpent people ignored him, slithering down to their home in the Amazon. Now that the investigators knew what to look for, they saw eyes all around them: the man pretending to be asleep on the bench, the woman watching in the reflection of a tobacconist’s shop, the trio who had been following them since they left the station. They had been tracking every move. Although the cultists watching Charlie tried to pull something, he had too much of his own protection, and his guards stopped the cultists from reaching him. Mark, on the toher hand, found himself ambushed by a grinning skeleton straight out of a Harryhausen movie. Though Mark was weak, he steadied his nerves and blasted the skeleton away. Prevailing over a force of darkness actually brought Mark some measure of peace, and he felt more prepared to face the darkness. [Eyes Everywhere Mythos: omen shifts, Mi-Go eats Istanbul clue, Shub spawns Hound of Tindalos, too many monsters so doom advances by 2 (6 to 4), no more resting ban, San Francisco Gate/Serpent People to Amazon, Eyes Everywhere has no effect on Charlie, Mark is ambushed by and kills a skeleton, gains will [2 health/3 sanity].
Charlie paid one more visit to the shop in San Francisco, but his coffers were beginning to run dry after a long series of events and he was unable to purchase anything. Frustrated, Charlie sailed to the ruins of Mu to enter the portal and try to stop reality from fracturing. [Acquire Assets fail, Travel to space 2]. Mark, meanwhile, sat grimly at a campfire with Ivan. He couldn’t leave, not when Shub-Niggurath was so close to waking up. He couldn’t rest when Yeb was so close by. Instead, all he and Ivan could do was wait, wait for the end of times, wait to see whether Mark’s flickering strength might be enough to stand against the darkness. [No actions].
Charlie entered the void by the ruins of Mu and found himself in Lost Carcosa. He was at an elaborate masquerade ball and put on his Pallid Mask. He talked to decadent party-goers who were all maneuvering to be declared as the proper heir to the crown. Charlie’s political skills paid off in spades, and the party-goers all believed that Charlie could help them achieve their goals. A guest attempted to bribe Charlie to favor them, offering him any item he chose. Charlie, still worried about his Dark Pact, asked to take the Elixir of Life that the guest was offering. When Charlie looked at more carefully, he cursed under his breath that the Elixir could heal his injuries and illnesses but could not cleanse his soul. Just then, the Queen, who had been watching Charlie be bribed, demanded that he unmask. She questioned him relentlessly in an attempt to discover what he had learned. Alas. Charlie had spent so long letting others, letting Mark, do the dirty work for him, that he didn’t have enough information to give the Queen more than a half story. As a result, Charlie found himself stuck in Lost Carcosa, being harangued by dark spirits, uncertain about when he could leave and return to the light. He sensed a dark presence, saw a flash of red and smelled burnt embers. Charlie feared that the creature he had made a dark pact with was waiting for him in Lost Carcosa, waiting for his guard to be down to spring on him. So Charlie sat in the other realm, his steely ambition fading into fear. [Other World Encounter: pass influence, doesn’t have two clues so becomes delayed].
Mark found himself face to face with the Blasphemy of the Black Goat. Looking upon Yeb scarred Mark’s mind once again, costing him all but a threadbare of his sanity. But this time, as Mark stared at the undulating tendrils and the eerie blue light that Yeb gave off, he thought of Sophie. He thought of the way this creature would consume Sophie if it had the chance, and everything like her. Roaring in rage, Mark fired his weapon, blasting again and again and again at Yeb. His eyes were furious, overcome by bloodlust. Mark found himself in a kind of trance, and when he came out of it, he was firing at nothing. His bullets had sprayed and destroyed Yeb, and he was still alive. [-2 sanity, so 2 strength/1 sanity, but does 4 damage to Yeb and kills it].
The final time the stars shifted, doom advanced by one because of, for the last time, the inferno that once was Tokyo. [doom from 4 to 3]. The Hound of Tindalos hurtled across Asia, confronting Mark when he least expected another gunfight. Somehow, though, Mark was battle weary but his guard was not down, and he gritted his teeth, overcame his horror, and blasted away [rolling six successes], obliterating the creature even as it tried to pull him down with it. Shub spawned a Byakhee in the Heart of Africa. The world moaned and quaked under the weight of the Spawn of the Black Goat, but with Yeb dead and with the work of Charlie and Mark making just enough difference, doom stopped one push away from the apocalypse. Shub-Niggurath slept still, and the opening of a gate in Istanbul and the arrival of a Zombie, or the coutndown to reality fracturing, didn’t matter. The day was won.
Still, Charlie and Mark couldn’’t sleep and couldn’t stop shaking. Compulsively, they opened up their suitcases and counted everything, gripping everything they owned so tightly their hands bled. Charlie was a greedy man, but he was a pragmatist. He knew when he left Lost Carcosa that if he did not leave everything behind, the watch, Pallid Mask, .45 Colt Revolver, and .45 Automatic, he would be crushed by its weight. So when Charlie emerged, he emerged only with the assistant Ms. Spence and the bounty hunter Katerina who had been following him. As for Mark, he gladly tossed aside his carbine rifle and his shotgun, eager to leave behind a life of war. [Burden of Greed Mythos: omen shifts/doom advances (4 to 3), Hound attacks Mark/Mark kills it, Shub spawns Byakhee/Doom advances (3 to 1), Istanbul gate/Zombie, Fractured Reality from 2 to 1 token left, all items lost per Burden of Greed].
After saying goodbye to Ivan, Mark had wandered the world, slowly recuperating from his bloodied body and battered mind. He found himself back in Rome, looking at the Trevi Fountain. The wish that he had made, tossing the coin into the fountain, had come true once again. He had made it back. Mark sat on a bench, breathing deeply, staring at a young couple in love. Once upon a time, the sight would have filled him with resentment. Now, he smiled an unsteady but unmistakable smile. Sophie was gone, but maybe in this journey, Mark’s soul had found some measure of peace.
Charlie had capitalized on the stories of his heroism and claimed all the credit for the victory over Shub-Niggurath. He sat eagerly in his office in Washington, rubbing his hands together. Any minute now, Ms. Spence would tell him it was time to get in the car and head towards the Washington Monument. His speech, announcing his almost certainly triumphant campaign for president, was soon to begin.
When Ms. Spence stopped in, she said he had a visitor.
Suddenly Charlie knew. The Elixir of Life on his desk shattered. He had known that ever since he signed his name in that terrible book, signed it in his own blood, this day would eventually come. He had saved the world, but he had done it so that it could be his and his alone. Now, he would pay for it all. Charlie could hear the Dark Man’s cloven feet approaching, and for the first time in his life, the ambitious Charlie Kane knew that he was destined for something far more horrific than greatness. He was no longer a survivor.
He was devoured.
VERY nicely done.
Epic! Love your write-ups!