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Subject: The Cruel Cunning of the Crawling Chaos rss

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Adam Mitchell
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When Lily arrived in Arkham from China to fulfill her destiny she had no idea what awaited her. She was also unaware that she was not the only one destined to oppose the rising Ancient One; four others had likewise been chosen by Fate.

Joe Diamond was leaving the police station in disgust when he heard Rita Young's conversation with Sheriff Engle. The dumb flatfoot was giving her the bum's rush, but what she was saying made Joe's antenna twitch. Those guys hassling her had to be part of the cult that had killed Rawling and Jennings and stolen the statue. After all, what were the chances that there were TWO nutcase groups in this quiet little town?

He approached her and offered to help, but Rita was no typical dame; she was toting a shining golden sword and a giant gun which packed more power than his automatic and revolver combined! She offered to pay him, but he turned her down. He didn't need her money; he needed answers. Talking together they worked out a plan of action. Rita would head down to Ma's Boarding House to check for any suspicious out-of-towners, while Joe would scope out the Black Cave. It'd be the perfect hiding place for the stolen staute, and it would probably appeal to a cult of kooks to skulk around underground. They would meet up later and compare notes.

Of course, the best indicator of what was really going on was at the Witch House, where a gate to Ry'leh had just opened and disgorged Nyarlathotep himself, in his form of the Haunter of the Dark.

The only person Rita saw at the Boarding House was Marie Lambeua, and Marie was certainly suspicious, especially when her knife started talking! If Marie hadn't talked fast herself then things might have turned out badly for everybody, but the two were able to satisfy each other that they were on the same side. Rita even gave her Golden Sword to Marie, certain that her Elephant Gun alone would protect her. Marie then left for the university to see if science could provide the answers that her magic could not.

As she moved back into the street Rita bumped into an odd-looking Asian woman. Again she thought she might have found a member of the myserious cult, and again she realized that she had found an ally instead. After they pooled their information Lily was dead-set on going to the Historical Society to see if she could dig up anything useful. Rita let her go, her head still spinning from her encounters with these two weird woman. Magic and martial arts yet! She sat down in the street, her head in her hands. Damn, she needed a drink.

Joe had found some useful information at the Black Cave, but as he was making his way out he saw a glimmer deep in the darkness. Moving cautiously toward it he watched the glint of light blossom into a . . . a shimmering circular doorway of some kind. It seemed to be a portal to another place, another dimension! Fascinated he edged his way forward. He reached out to touch the gate . . . and out of nowhere a hand shot through and seized his wrist. Before he could even think about fighting Joe was pulled through the gate and Nyarlathotep again entered Arkham, this time as his Mask the Skinless One.

Marie's trip to the Science Building had suggested something might be happening at the Unnameable, so she went straight to the abandonded house, while Lily's brief survey of the historical records had convinced her that the Silver Twilight Lodge was more than it seemed. As night fell she cautiously made her to the Lodge's headquarters and slipped inside. Rita stopped at Hibbs for a drink and ending up learning much more than she expected. She might have been able to make use of the information, if that racist jerk hadn't complained that she was sitting in his chair. Between him and his friends Rita didn't stand a chance. They tossed her in the trunk and dumped her in the Black Cave. Hoping to find Joe Rita instead found the same shimmering doorway the detective had. Unable to fight her curiousity she entered it.

Lily was prowling quietly through the halls of the Lodge when another woman came careening into her. Calling on her martial arts skills Lily quickly subdued her frantic attacker, who turned out to be a thief named Ruby Standish. When she saw that Lily wasn't a member of the Lodge Ruby screamed that they both had to run, for God's sake, run!

Hearing the sounds of pursuit from further down the hall Lily made a split-second decision. Hauling Ruby to her feet, the two women fled. When they were safely away Ruby related the terrifying things she had witnessed, confirming Lily's suspicions about the true nature of the Silver Twilight Lodge; they were servants of the Great Eye, seeking to bring it to Arkham. Then Ruby showed Lily what she had been spotted stealing, a text entitled Massa Di Requiem Per Shuggay. Paging through the ancient book Lily quickly realized that it held the secret to awakening the Ancient One. Without this priceless, unique resource the Silver Twilight Lodge would be helpless to bring the Crawling Chaos to Earth.

Terrified that the Lodge would stop at nothing to reclaim the book, Ruby pressed it into Lily's hands. Lily took it willingly, knowing that this was part of her destiny. She warned Ruby, though, that simply passing on the tome would not shield her from the Lodge's wrath; even if they couldn't get it from her, they would still wish to punish her. Seeing the truth of this Ruby chose to stay with Lily and the woman of destiny swore to protect her.

Marie, in the meantime, discovered a very curious box at the Unnameable which seemed to intereact in some way with portals.

A second gateway to Ry'leh opened in the Woods and Nyarlathotep as the Bloated Woman stepped into Arkham. Lily and Ruby went to Unvistied Isle, while Marie searched Independence Square. The pair found more information of note, but their time was quickly running out; Nyarlathotep's presence in this world was now sufficient for his plans to begin to take shape. A gate opened at the Science Building and a sadistic Moonbeast emerged. Then the Crawling Chaos exerted his might and assaulted the barriers separating the worlds. Lily and Mare both sensed it, the overwhelming concentration of power and evil centered at the University, but neither knew how to stop it. What could they do?

The voice of Marie's grandmother whispered to her from the knife that if there was to be any hope, she had to face the Ancient One directly. Unless she went to the Black Cave immediately to fight Nyarlathotep, all would be lost. Singing fo Ra to give her strength Marie penetrated the underground labyrinth, discovering the gate--and the Skinless One. She invoked the Red Sign of Shudde M'ell, but the eight-foot tall crimson horror simply smiled at her; the Supreme Cthonian held no authority over him.

Steeling herself Marie charged forward, stabbing and slashing with her echanted knife and sword. Taken by surpise the Skinless One had no chance to use his Skinning Gaze. Sorely wounded he vanished back through the gate. Marie pursued him unthinkingly, yet when she passed through the portal she found herself alone. Wandering in search of her foe, Marie passed out of sight mere seconds before Joe Diamond and Rita found their way back to and through the gate. Joe Diamond then immediately closed and sealed the gate.

High above the Witch House the Haunter in Darkness gave an unearthly scream and faded away, its connection with its home plane severed.

Aware that she did not yet have the knowledge needed to assist Joe, and ashamed ot that fact, Rita tried to leave the cavern, but the entrance she'd been flung through had collapsed; she would have to find a different way out.

In the meantime Lily and Ruby had made another important discovery in the graveyard: a dead Mask of the Crawling Chaos! Somehow its slain form of the Dark Pharoah had remained here, intact, instead of dissolving away. Perhaps through examination of this part of Nyarlathotep some way could be found to stop him from brining the worlds together?

Yet another gate to another dimesion opened at Unvisited Isle and one of Nyarlathotep's innumerable Cultists scuttled out, racing into the Mechant District streets on a mission from its master. The worlds drew closer together as the fabric of reality itself trembled violently. Even those not mystically inclined could now feel the almost tangible danger. Unrest swept through Arkham and a curfew was imposed.

Joe was a hard-bitten, hard-boiled private eye. He'd never yet encountered a situaion he couldn't handle, but he had to admit to himself that he was way out of his league on this one. He didn't have a clue what to do next, how to even begin to lift the oppressive air and sense of threat hanging over the town. Out of answers he turned back to the comfort of his youth; he went to the South Church to pray.

Ruby assured Lily that their best chance of discovering the secrets locked in the Dark Pharoah's flesh lay in taking him to the Science Building for dissection. Though skeptical about the value of such a thing Lily agreed to give the men of science a chance. They were almost to the door of the building when a foul creature flung itself at Lily. Unphased by her expert blows it struck her savagely across the face, sending her sprawling the pavement. Arching back Lily sprang to her feet and launched a spin kick at the creature. The blow barely hurt the thing. Desperately Lily drew on what she had learned about the physiology of these otherworldly creatures from notes in the Massi De Reqiuem Shuggi and the hurried examintion of the Dark Pharoah's corpse in the graveyard. A lightning quick double kick broke the beast's neck. It collapse to the ground, the full moon shining down on it.

Lily was about to take a closer look at the creature when Ruby shouted her name. Whirling Lily saw a young deputy, whose nameplate read Dingby, standing shivering across the street from her. His revolver was drawn and pointed directly at her. "F-freeze, lady!" he stuttered. "I don't know what that-that thing is, but you're outside after curfew. I've gotta take you in."

No! She had a destiny to fulfill. She couldn't allow herself to be detained, not now! But the deputy was too far away to attack and he looked like he might fire that revolver just through his trembling.

"Go away," she told him in an icy tone which brooked no argument. He wavered, and she used one of the last techinques she'd been taught. Concentrating, she made her aura visible, a glowing nimbus surrounding her form. That was enough for the deputy, who turned tail and ran.

At the church Joe took what he thought was probably his last confession with Father Michael. He told the priest everything which had happened recently, all that he had learned in that strange other dimension. Gotta give the father credit, he took it like a man. He said their only hope lay in the Lord, and together the priest and the private eye got down on their knees and prayed desperately for His aid.

"Lily? Lily, are you all right?" Ruby was starting to get worried. Lily hadn't moved since she'd scared off that deputy. She just stood there, her eyes closed.

As she meditated Lily felt a strange new energy enter her. It touched her on a deep spirtual level, bestowing a peace and power beyond anything she had ever felt. Opening her eyes she stared south, toward the woods. In the distance a monstrously fat figure was approaching, a grotesque avatar of the entity she had come to fight, its last physical manifestation here in Arkham.

Hardly aware of what she was doing, Lily raised her right hand and called out, "Begone! In the name of Nodens I command you, begone!". With a shriek the bloated woman disappeared.

Raising her eyes to the heavens Lily knew that she had the power to stop the tearing asunder of the barrier between the worlds-if she was willing to sacrifice a part of herself to do it.

Almost since birth Lily had been trained as a human weapon. She had worked for hours each day to perfect her skills, to learn and integrate all of the varous forms of martial arts. Her mastery of unarmed combat was her sword and shield, her only hope of surviving to complete this incredibly dangerous task. It had literally been the work of a lifetime to get to where she now was. And without hesitation she took everything she had learned and gave it up.

All knowledge of the lethal techniques which she had been taught since she could walk fled her mind and body. In a blinding blaze of light Nyarlathotep's dark design was undone. The power Lily had released spread throughout the town, lifting the fear of the people of Arkham and mentally and physically restoring those who fought in its defense.

"Lily!" Ruby cried again as the Asian woman collapsed. She was barely conscious, exhausted by the forces she had been channeling. Lily could feel the emptiness in her mind, the absence of her once extensive knowledge of combat. Yet her overwhelming feeling was not despair or sadness, but hope. Had she done it? Had she fulfilled her destiny? Had the sacrifice of her skills defeated the Great Eye entirely?

She looked around desperately, searching for a sign. As the wind carried to her a deep, mocking laugh, Lily's eyes filled with tears.

She had not defeated Nyarlathotep. She had done naught but parry his first move, and that at great cost to herself. In her weakened state, could she truly hope to triumph against him?

Nyarlathotep's power surged wildly, bringing to Arkham otherworldy beings from every gate. At Unvistied Isle a Rat-Thing crept forth from another dimension; from the Underworld gate at the science building escaped a ghost; a man driven mad by the architecture of Ry'leh ran screaming into the woods, and at the Witch House Nyarlathotep himself returned to the world as the Haunter of the Dark. The Crawling Chaos then shifted his focus, concentrating his nearly limitless power not on forcibly merging the worlds, but on destroying that which strengthened the barriers between them.

In the depths of the Black Cave, unseen by any mortal eye, the rock which had been emblazoned with an Elder Sign by Joe Diamond vibrated slighty. Minute, almost microscopic cracks begin to form on its surface.

Unaware that his good works were in danger of being undone, Joe's mood had rebounded remarkably. His and Father Michael's prayers seemed to have been answered; he could feel the difference in the air, the lifting of the immediate threat. Now it was up to him to make sure it all turned out okay. Problem was he didn't really have any idea what do next. Where could he go to dig up more dirt on what was going on?

The detective wandered aimlessly around about Arkham, finally ending up in the merchant district. Deep in his own thoughts Joe almost missed the character in the funny costume creeping up behind him. Whirling Joe drew both his automatic and his revolver, leveling them at the guy's chest. He was dressed in a weird looking robe, with a red sash. He looked to be in his twenties, with dark hair and a narrow, pinched face. His eyes had a wild, intent look.

"Halloween's not for seven months, pal. You wanna tell me what you're doing in that get-up?"

In response the man sneered. "You are an enemy of the Ancient One!" he accused.

"If the "Ancient One" is the guy doing all this, then you're damn right I'm his enemy. I'm looking forward to having a word with him. You know where he is?"

"You fool! Nyaralthotep no mere human; he is the Messenger of the Gods, the servant of Azathoth! He dwells outside this world, but his avatars, his Masks, even now walk the streets of this pitiful little town. Look for one of them if you wish to see my master."

"I think I will, after I finish shutting all these weird doorways. I already closed one, and I made sure it won't open again."

"You waste what little remains of your life in vain! There are almost a dozen places in Arkham which might open to reveal the glory of the Crawling Chaos, and more in Dunwich-" the cultist stopped abruptly after the last word, and a grin spread across Joe's face.

"Dunwich, huh? Thanks, kid," Joe said, lowering his guns.

With a snarl the man pulled a curved blade from a sheath at his back and threw himself forward. An instant later he hit the pavement with two holes in his chest, the twin reports of Joe's guns echoing through the quiet street.

Joe shook his head. This Ancient One couldn't be all that terrifying, not if his followers didn't know any better than to bring a knife to a gun fight.

With Ruby's help Lily hid the bodies of both the beast and the Dark Pharoah in some nearby bushes. It was too late to get them to the Sciene Building; they'd have to wait til morning. In the meantime it wouldn't hurt to spend some more time looking over the records at the Historical Society. It was past hours there too, but before departing earlier Lily had been careful to leave a window slightly open. With a little luck . . . Yes!

Once inside the two women split up; Ruby concentrated on records pertaining to the Silver Twilight Lodge, while Lily looked for any references to supernatural events. After two hours Lily found something of worth. The book she'd come across explained how it was possible to shift a seal from its current location to an open gate. Concentraing she could feel only one seal in the town, and four gates. Which one? Which one should she move it to?

Unbidden in her mind came the voice of Nodens! Though the bulk of his power had left her, a connection nonetheless remained between them, and she heeded his words without question. She moved the seal from the Black Cave to the Uvisited Isle.

Squeling the rat-thing disappeared back into the gate, while the Haunter of the Dark was banished from Earth for the second time.

Lily leaned back and closed her eyes. Then she got up and went to check on Ruby. The redhead looked terrible, and she wouldn't speak of what she had learned about the Silver Twilight Lodge. She insisted that it was nothing which could help them; in fact Lily was better off NOT knowing. Looking at Ruby's grave, stricken face, Lily believed her.

The gate at the Science Building rippled as Marie emerged from it, her gate box allowing her to reenter Arkham via the Underword Gate. Without hesistation she used her understanding of magic to seal the gate, carving an Elder Sign on the interior of a cabient door. She started to turn away and stopped in surprise. The surface on which she'd carved the Elder Sign was . . . trembling, as though it might fly apart.

Rita stopped at the train station, scanning the posted times for the next run to Kinsport. If these cultists were here in Akrham, then maybe they had bases in other nearby towns too. It was a possibility worth checking out.

Again Nyarlathotep's power surged. In his form of the Bloated Woman he came from Ry'leh to the Witch House, while his form of the Beast bounded through the gate in the woods. Finally a Dark Young lurched slowly to the Witch House from Ry'leh. In the downtown streets a Mi-Go collector's invisibility shield malfunctioned, exposing his true form to panicked picnicers.

The rate of vibration for both seals increased noticeably. Neither Rita nor Joe had any way of knowing this, and both left Arkham, bound for Kinsport and Dunwich respectively. Marie and Lilly, however, were well aware that something was wrong with the seals. Even as she had been shifting the one seal Lily had felt its instability. It was under attack by another force, one directed by the Crawling Chaos.

At first light Lily and Ruby returned to the university, retreiving the bodies from the bushes. It would be much simpler to move the corpses if they could do so unnoticed, and the best way to do that was to act before anyone else was up.

They crept quietly into the Science Building, arriving at the lab just in time to see Marie drive a glowing dagger and sword through a moaning, spectral figure. Lily assumed this was the Marie that Rita had spoken of, and she and Ruby pooled what information they had with the woman. When Professors Armitage and Rice arrived they found three women already waiting for them, and the trio wouldn't take no for an answer. So it was that the Professors began performing the strangest dissections of their careers.

The beast was fascinating, but straightforward; the apparent Egyptian Pharoah was another matter entirely. The could not seem to even pierce his skin! At least not until Professor Armitage poured holy water onto the man's chest. Then the cold flesh smoked and burned as though it had been doused with acid, and the indisputably dead body spoke! "Free!" he hissed, before dissolving into a foul-smelling black mist.

Everyone watching was deeply shaken, but Lily recovered first. Snatching the remainder of the holy water from Professor Armitage's limp hand she called for Ruby and Marie to follow her.

Urged on by the prompting of Nodens she stopped in the Eastown Streets and poured the holy water, the fluid inmical the Great Eye, in a complex pattern. She beseeched Nodens for aid, and he answered. A stillness fell across Arkham, and both Elder Signs ceased their trembling.

Nodens rewarded Lily for her actions. She and Marie both found unusual treasures in the gutter, as did Rita in Kinsport. In Arkham Joe Diamond unexpectedly came across a pallid mask that might fool people into thinking he was part of this crazy cult.

Lily knew she had to take advantage of this brief lull in her enemy's attack while it lasted. Now that her martial arts ability was gone she needed to find something to defend herself with. Marie assured her that the Curiousity Shop contained many powerful eldritch weapons, and Lily and Ruby headed there without hesitation. They just missed seeing the gate open at the Unnameable and an Elder Thing take up residence there.

When they reached the store they ran into Rita, who had just returned from Kingsport, where nothing of importance seemed to be going on. When Lily expained to Rita what had happend to her Rita pressed most of her money into the Asian woman's hand. Lily tried to refuse, but Rita wouldn't take no for an answer. With her new funds Lily was able to purchase a formidable-looking golden sword.

In Dunwich Joe Diamond was finishing his investgation of the Devil's Hopyard when he heard a cry for help. Again the cry came, from a small building which had smoke pouring out of every window. Joe sprinted to the doorway, preparing to dash inside to the rescue . . . and then he hesitated. This whole thing seemed just a little too convenient. What were the odds that he should be passing by just when this place caught on fire? What is this was a trap? There could be one of those nutty cultists inside, one who might not mind burning to death if he could take Joe with him.

Before Joe could make a final decision one way or the other the roof caved in, and the screaming stopped. Though he didn't know it, Joe's failure to rescue the fire's victim would cost more than one life.

The seal on the science building suddenly shook again but held firm. As she left the Curiousity Shop Lily glance up at the night's sky--and stopped dead. The Big Dipper was gone. The stars . . . the stars were wrong.

"No," Nodens whispered in her mind. "The stars are right, right for the coming of the Crawling Chaos. He had forced them into the proper alignment, centuries before the destined time."

"How?!?!" Lily screamed. "How can I stop . . . this?!?"

"There is a creature called a Mi-Go in the downtown streets. He posseses a magical blade, an artifact thousands of years old. If you can obtain this enchanted knife and use it to sacrifice a willing soul, you will restore the stars to their proper places."

Lily stood stockstill for a moment, the implications of that running through her fevered mind. Then she sprinted for the downtown, leaving Ruby to race to try to catch up to her.

The Mi-Go didn't even have a chance to blink before it was cut in half by the shimmering sword. Lily caught the dagger the thing had been holding before it hit the ground. Positioning it over her heart, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she plunged the blade home.

Or at least she tried to. Opening her eyes she saw that Ruby had caught her by the wrist with both hands and was hanging on for dear life, for Lily's life.

"Are you crazy?!?" Ruby demanded. "What the hell are you doing?"

"It's the only way," Lily insisted, blinking the tears from her eyes. "Look at the sky!"

Wary of a trick, Ruby glanced up quickly, paused, then stared upward, her mouth falling open in shock.

"HE'S doing it, shifting the universe to speed his awakening. The only way to stop him is to use this dagger to sacrifice a willing soul."

"So you were going to use yourself?" Ruby asked, her voice equal parts incredulity and dismay.

"It is my destiny to stop him," Lily declared.

"Putting the sky back to normal will stop him for good?"

"No," Lily admitted reluctantly.

"So how can you stop him if you're dead?" Ruby shouted.

"I don't know!" Lily screamed back. "I just know that it has to be done, and it has to be done now! Every second we delay brings the world closer to its doom!"

Ruby stared into Lily's face searchingly. Then her sholders slumped and the fight seemed to go out of her.

"Okay," she said. "Okay." With a sigh Ruby released her hold on Lily's wrist.

Lily started to speak, to thank Ruby for all she had done, but she didn't get the chance, because Ruby kneed her hard in the stomach.

A few days ago she would have been able to block that blow in her sleep. Now it took her completely by surprise. She doubled over, gasping, and felt Ruby wrench the knife from her hand.

Straightening herself as best she could, Lily raised her eyes just in time to see Ruby collapse to the ground, the handle of the knife sticking out of her chest.

"No!" she protested.

Lily dropped to her knees beside the dying woman, completely at a loss.

"Why, Ruby? Why?!?" she asked, her anguish evident in her voice.

"Becasue . . . becuase you have a destiny to fulill," Ruby whipered, a trickle of blood running out the corner of her mouth. "You have to stop him. I-I don't have anything. I didn't have much longer to live anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"Last night . . . at the Historical Society. The Silver Twilight Lodge has been here since the town . . . was founded. Over a hundred members. Too many for me to fight, and I can't run forever. They wouldn't have stopped until I was dead. How long would I have lasted, especially without you . . . to protect me?"

Ruby fell silent and Lily's heart broke. Lowering her head she wept for her friend, for the woman who had saved the world from the Silver Twilight Lodge before she, the destined one, had even known what was going on! Lily wept for almost an hour, and when at last she raised her head she saw that the stars were back in their proper places. A motorcycle stood only a few feet away, and there was something on the seat. Another gift from Nodens, probably, but it was small consolation indeed for the loss of Ruby

Once again Nyralathotep had been thwarted, but this time the cost was almost more than Lily could bear.

"Thwarted?" a deep, amused voice asked her. It was in her mind, like the voice of Nodens, but it sounded nothing like him. No, this was the voice of the Great Eye, the voice of Nyarlathotep.

"Yes!" she screamed defiantly. "Each of your moves I have blocked!"

A swell of laughter filled her head. "You think you have interfered with my designs? At the first you gave up all of your skill in combat, weakening yourself more than even you understand. Then you returned to me a form which had been lost for over a thousand years. Finally I see the thief who stole from my servant Carl Stanford lies dead before you, punished as she deserves for her audacity. Thwarted me, Lily? Though you seek to oppose me, your every action has been according to my will!"

No! NO!!! It wasn't true! It couldn't be true . . . could it?

The mere possibility that all of her efforts and sacrifices against the Great Eye had only served to amuse it by fulfilling the thing's hidden goals was enough to leave Lily tottering on the edge of madness.

What could she do? How could she hope to fight against Nyarlathotep if she had to second-guess her every action for fear of falling prey to its manipulations? She could not; it was as simple as that. Without even bothering to face her physically, the Crawling Chaos had defeated her.

Mechanically Lily reached down and removed the magical blade from Ruby's heart. Ruby deserved to be buried as a hero, praised for her honor and courage, but now that would never happen; the world wouldn't be around that long. Bidding her dear friend a temporary farewell and promising to join her soon Lily headed for the train station.

On her way she met Rita again. In a numb, dead voice Lily expained what had happend to Ruby. She forced Rita to take the golden sword and magical knife. She had no use for them anymore; better to leave them in the hands of one who still had hope. Rita was clearly very worried about her and tried unsuccessfully to get her to talk. Finally she pressed her elephant gun and some money into Lily's hands, insisting that Lily needed something for self-defense.

Not bothering to argue, Lily accepted the gifts, entered the train station, and caught the first train out of Arkham.

In the Black Cave Marie had fallen into an unseen pit, shattering her right hand. The pain was almost more than she could bear and her first thought was to go to St. Mary's hospital. If they could do nothing else, perhaps they could at least give her something for the pain.

But her grandmother's voice came from the knife again, warning her that time was running out and telling her she needed to be brave. Striving to ignore the pain Marie made her way to the Curiousity Shop, hoping Lily might still be browing there.

Instead she met Joe Diamond, and while the two compared notes Rita fought and slew the Elder Thing which had emerged from the Unnameable house to haunt the streets.

Nyarlathotep pressed his avantage, his forces advancing further north. The Bloated Woman stalked the Rivertown streets, while the Beast prowled about the Mistkatonic University and the madman laughed and sobbed just outside the woods. A gate opened at Gardener's Place in Dunwich and a Tcho-Tcho Priest entered the town.

Rita threw herself through the gate at the Unnameable. Considering the extent of Marie's injury, Joe figured the kindest thing to do would be to get her out of the way. Letting her up against these creatures with only one hand would be suicide. He told her he thought Dunwich was worth checking out, then he headed south on the motorcycle he'd picked up just after the sky came back from being all funny.

He blazed past that huge Sphinx-beast without slowing down. He could see the woods and the shimmering portal, but before he could reach it some maniac tackled him right off the bike! The guy was nuts and Joe couldn't seem to get him under control. When the lunatic's hands went around his throat he was forced to empty some lead into the poor SOB.

He had just got to his feet when he saw Marie appear out of nowhere and pass through the gate! For a second he wondered if mabye HE was going nuts too; Marie should have been at Bishop's Brook Bridge by now, not down here! What was going on here?

As the scenery flashed by Lily heard the voice of Nodens again.

"Leave me alone!" she cried, but the entity would not be silent. It insisted that there was still work for her to do.

"I can't fight him anymore. Everything I do he twists to his own advantage!"

"You need not fight him," Nodens whispered. "There is still a role for you to play in this, a way to contribute which cannot benefit the Crawling Chaos."

Lily didn't want to listen anymore. She had been through too much, given up too much trying to fulfill her destiny, and it had all been for nothing. She just wanted to fall asleep on the train and stay asleep until the end. But when Nodens urged her to leave the train at Kingsport Station, Lily did so.

Joe had made up his mind to go in after Marie when he heard screaming from Southside. He tried to ignore it, but then he remembered the last time he had ignored a cry for help. One hand or not, Marie knew what she was doing; whoever sounded so terrified probably didn't. Reloading his guns, Joe mounted up and rode over to see what was up.

He found a bunch of people running out of the Historical Society and following them was . . . it looked like a man-sized white worn. Just seeing the thing made him want to be sick. Fighting with his stomach Joe cut in front of the monster on his motorcycle. As he he'd hoped, it snapped at him, forgetting about the other people. He could stay and deal with it here, but he figured it was more important for him to take care of where it had come from, before any more showed up.

Riding straight up the steps Joe steered his motorcycle through the glowing portal.

In Dunwich the Tcho-Tcho Priest passed through a vortice, becoming the first of the three needed to awaken the Dunwich Horror. A Cultist came through the gate at the Historical Society. Rita returned out of the Unnameable gate and sealed it, sending the Crawling One back to Yuggoth.. Marie did the same at the woods. Then the seal at the Unvisited Isle burst apart and another gate appeared. The mystical protection which had been given to that area had been destroyed by yet another of Nyaralathotep's Masks, the Black Man. Now once again half of the evil in all of Arkahm consisted of three of the one thousand and one forms of the Crawling Chaos.

Rita went up to Dunwich while Marie stopped just outside the University, steeling herself to sneak past Nyarlathotep's avatar. Joe came out and sealed the gate at the Historical Society. Rita sought refuge at Harney Jone's Shack and Lily continued to visit various locales in Kingsport. A book at the Artist's Colony called "Dreams and Fancies" helped give her greater insight into her enemy, but the confirmation that the entity thrived on manipulation and trickery did little to help her sanity.

Rita dashed past the Beast, but had to stop for breath in the Merchant District. If the Black Man should come forth from Unvisited Isle he could easily destroy her; she knew that Mask held great power over those who practiced sorcery. Joe came out of the Historical Society to see another guy in funny robes. This time he didn't waste time in conversation; he just drilled the punk at twenty paces.

It was not the Black Man which came for Marie, but the Beast. It sought to pounce on her in the Merchant District Streets, but again she evaded it. By chasing her Nyarlathotep had left the way to the Science Building open, and Joe wasted no time in going there. It seemed the professors had been working around the clock since Marie, Lily and a dame named Ruby had brought in some funny corpses earlier. They knew a lot more than Joe expected and when he told them what he'd seen in the other worlds they came up with even more useful info. He knew what he had to do next.

Marie fled from the Beast to the Downtown streets, but it followed her again! No matter what she did, she couldn't seem to shake it. Joe headed straight for the Witch House, driving past the horrible tree-like creature and into the gate. The company of Harney Jones had done Rita a world of good and she was starting to put together the pieces of the puzzle which were in Dunwich. Then a gate opened at Wizard's Hill and a creature of sentient shadow emerged, a spawn without form, identical the the thing coiled around the Gardener's Place gate.

Dodging the Beast again Marie darted through the double doors of the asylum. She needed to take some time to reaffirm her sense of reality, or she really would belong here.

In Kingsport Lily came across the same book once more, but this time it had an account of everything that she done in her life, ending with her failure to stop Nyarlathotep and the end of the world. She flipped frantically through the book, searching desperately for the passages she had read previously, but they were gone, and Lily's already overstressed mind gave way.

Marie's surpise was total when she saw Lily wheeled in strapped to a stretcher. She snuck into Lily's room that night and started to try to nurse her back to a semblance of sanity, wrapping the poor women in her dark cloak.

Otherworldly creatures once more poured through the gates. In Gardener's Place a Spectral Haunter took up residence and a Mummy shambled through the Wizard's Hill gate. A Leng Spider joined the Dark Young at the Witch House. When Joe came out of the Ry'leh gate the spider nearly took his head off. He was so busy dodging in and the Dark Young that he didn't have time to even close the gate! At Cold Spring's Glen Rita found the last piece of the puzzle she needed.

With her tenous hold on reality restored LIly crept past the Beast and to the Train Station. She had to get back to Kingsport; she had to complete her destiny! The Black Man missed her only by seconds as he moved northward. At the same time the Mummy moved to the Backwoods Country.

Sweat was really running down Joe's forehead now. At least the tree-thing was slow moving, but that spider was greased lightning! Playing hide and seek with it througout this crazy house wasn't exactly his idea of fun. Finally he managed to get past it, race back to the sitting room, and seal the gate to Ry'leh.

In Dunwich Rita evaded the Mummy and the Formless Spawn and threw herself through the gate at Wizard's Hill. Marie snuck past the Beast and placed herself precarously between it and the Bloated Women. If the two converged on her . . .

In the other world Rita found passage back to Arkham and returned to Wizard's Hill. She was about to shut the gate when the Mummy loomed out of the darkness. It had followed her! She was trapped between it and the Formless Spawn.

Joe was between the tree-thing and the spider. He tried for the door, but the horrible tree had anticipate him; it was right in the entrance hall. One good look at it drove the detective mad.

In Kingsport Lily continued her work to keep the rifts closed. Marie dashed into Velma's dinner for more information. On Wizard's Hill Rita began the race of her life. She darted about the steep hillside, avoiding her lethal pursuers as best she could. The Mummy snatched at her shirt, but Rita dodged it and, her legs on fire, sprinted back to the apex of the hill. There golden sword and magical knife worked in concert, carving an elder sign on a flat rock and sealing the seventh and final gate. It was over. Arkham and the world had been spared.

In the mad court of Azathoth the Messenger of the Gods grinned as his Masks left the Earth. It was always so much fun to toy with these humans! He'd have to do it again. Soon.

*****

This had to have been one of the best games of Arkham I've ever played. First, there were lots of appearances by the Masks, which I always look for in a Nyarlathotep game (I deliberately sprinkle the eight Masks over the top of the monsters in the monster cup, then when drawing always take the first chit my fingers touch). Second there was the apperance of three Rumors in quick succession (Good Works Undone came the turn after Worlds Torn Asunder was passed, and there was only one turn between passing Good Works Undone and the apperance of the Stars are Right), all of which we passed, yet each of which benefited the AO in some way. Finally all the little events which made this such a great story: Ruby stealing the Massi from the Silver Twilight Lodge, Marie failing to cast the Red Sign against the Skinless One, Noden's Blessing giving Lily the ability to banish the Bloated Woman, Joe failing to rescue the ally at Devil's Hopyard which we could have sacrificed in Ruby's place, etc.

One of the reviews up on this site suggests that games of Arkham Horror do not tell a story; I must disagree strongly. I think they can tell a fantastic story, and that really adds to my enjoyment of the game.


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Nick Oakley
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Novel way to write up a game report.
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Sarah Jaernecke
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I may be committing thread-necromancy here, but I just wanted to say: awesome write-up! You wove really gripping story here.
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