I'm going to post this to both the ES and ESO boards. This is going to be a story based on the events in a session of ESO that I am going to write up as I play each turn. Each post will be a chapter. This first one is the prologue, and was written after generating a random party of four investigators.
Elder Sign: Omens of Azathoth
Monterey Jack knew better than to trust his "old friend" Bob Jenkins, but he could never resist when the old sheister said he had something "important" to show him. Of course showing him always meant trying to sell it to him, but he had come through in the past with some pretty amazing items that Monterey was able to procure for Arkham Museum, his place of employment. They were to meet at the museum at midnight. He always wondered why Bob insisted on the oddest of hours for their meetings, but he always just attributed it to the man's eccentric nature.
Even though Monterey, or Montie, trusted Bob a bit more than he should, their previous adventures had landed them in some pretty hot water, both physically and spiritually. So he asked a few friends to their meeting. One was a nun named Mary, who had been in more than one confrontation with the forces of darkness, and the other was a doctor named Vincent. He also had been in a few of their situations together and had done his part to prevent things from going from bad to worse on more than one occasion.
A few minutes before midnight, Montie was in his office in the museum with Mary and Vincent. The clock on his wall struck midnight, and Mary looked up at it.
"Soooo, is this Bob fella going to show up?"
Vincent smirked as he pulled a cigar out of his physicians' bag and snapped one of the ends off with a cutter. "Aren't you people of God supposed to be a bit more patient?"
The nun gave a scowl to the doctor and replied, "Aren't doctors supposed to know better than to smoke? And 'YOU' people of God? Do you not believe in the Almighty, Dr. Lee?"
Vincent lit the cigar, puffed a cloud of smoke toward the nun, then laughed. "Me, beleive in God? Really, now. I am a man of science."
Montie jumped from his chair and pointed a finger at Vincent. "Science? Has science explained half of the things we have witnessed and dealt with?"
Vincent blew another puff of smoke and looked around the office at the pictures of all the strange artifacts that Montie had collected over the years. "I'm sure there is some unifying theory that has yet to be uncovered. We only use words like 'evil' and 'cursed' because we do not yet fully understand the natural laws behind some of the things we have encountered."
Mary put her hand around the crucifix hanging from her neck as if to guard herself from the words she was about to say. "The things we have encountered are straight from Hell and the Devil, good doctor."
Just as Vincent was about to reply, the door to Monties's office flung wide open and there was a figure in a cloaked robe standing in the doorway. Montie jumped out of his chair and moved to confront the mysterious figure, when the man threw the robe off and slammed the door behind him all seemingly in one gesture, and Montie could see that it was Bob Jenkins. Bob had a slightly disturbed look on his face, which Montie knew meant big trouble, and in his hands was a box with what looked like a curvy pentagram engraved on the lid.
Even though he still looked panicked, Bob couldn't resist a joke, and looking at the team that Montie had gathered, he let out, "So, I guess you're all wondering why I called this little meeting."
Montie did not look amused, but instead pointed at the box in Bob's hand. "So, what is it?"
Bob chuckled. "Always right to business, Montie, eh? Fine, then. I'd give you an ominous speech about not opening it and all the dark powers and ultimate evil that it could unleash, except for one thing."
The doctor coughed out a clud of cigar smoke. "You already opened it?"
Bob nonchalantly pulled off the lid and showed them that the box was empty. "Well, yeah, but I wasn't the first. The damage had already been done, I'm afraid."
Montie took the lid and held it up to inspect it. "You're never afraid, Bob. And that's what I'M afraid of. This symbol on the cover, it's an Elder Sign, a glyph with immense occult power. I'm assuming that this box was full of them?"
Bob lifted up the hooded robe that he had been wearing when he came in. It had an alaborate sigil embroidered on the back of it, which he showed them all. "Yes, but it was empty by the time I got my hands on it. I infiltrated a cult that worships an entity named Azathoth. I gained their trust enough for them to give me a robe and let me hold the box, but that is all. Well that and I know their plan. They are all in this museum looking for the final items to perform a ritual to bring Azathoth into this world. Most of the items are artifacts that you procured, Montie. So you know their power and the reality of what we are facing. As for the Elder Signs that were in this box, the cultists have used them to conjure up help from Azathoths's realm. They are all around the museum, so if we can round enough of them up, we can say the incantation at the bottom of the box to seal Azathoth away for good. But God help us if we fail.
Montie raised an eyebrow at Bob. "So you beleive in God now?"
Bob looked at Sister Mary and lowered his head. "Something around here has to be on our side."
Montie immediately ran to his desk, swiped everything off of it, and unrolled a big map of the museum on it. "Ok, Bob, do you remember how many signs were in that box?"
"Ummm, about 13, I guess."
"Ok, so that gives us a goal."
Bob burst out in laughter. "Montie, you are something else. There is an entity older than the universe that wants to come into our world and probably unravel our reality right before our eyes, and you call stopping it a 'goal'. I don't mean to make fun, it's just that you probably just made the understatement of the decade."
"Understatement or not, Bob, we need some direction to go toward so we don't lose our minds in this fight. We've all seen it happen. Anyway, if you are done with semantics, do you have any idea how much time we have?"
"Well, the quick answer is not a lot. But I do remember something about an elaborate ritual that involved 12 sacrifices, that all have to happen in succession."
Mary gasped. "Human sacrifice? We have to stop it!"
Montie held up the box lid with the Elder Sign. "Not so fast, sister. All we have to do is get 13 of these, and we can prevent this from happening. If we concentrate on stopping the sacrifices, we could lose precious time and they can always just sacrifice more people. We need the signs." He pointed to several spots on the map. We'll look here, here, and here first. And we need to go here, because I have a stash of items that will come in handy."
Bob grinned. "I hope you don't mind if I borrowed a few choice pieces of equipment from your storage room."
Montie gave a sly look back. "We'll discuss that AFTER we avoid getting the world devoured, ok? Let's get going."
They opened the door and all filed out slowly, one by one. The place had an eerie quiet to it, like nothing was going on at all. But they all knew that at the edge of their vision could be unspeakable creatures or actions that threatened their every step. They made their way to a corner of the museum that Montie had hidden some items at for just such an occasion. Montie point to a crawl space under some display cases, and it was decided that Mary was the smallest and fastest, so she went in after the stash. They heard a scuffle and Mary chanting a prayer, then she screamed and they heard her scrambling out of the crawl space as fast as she could. When she emerged she was bloodied and shaken up.
"There...is something...in there. An abomination from Hell, for sure. I couldn't get your stuff, sorry."
Montie raised a lantern that he was carrying and ducked down in front of the crawl space. "That's ok, Mary. Get a hold of yourself, though. Let me look in there."
Mary grabbed his hand to stop him. "Stay along the right wall."
"Ok, thanks." Montie hurried in, not as fast as Mary could, but he wasn't a total stranger to tight places. He shined the lantern down the space, and saw something scurrying off in the other direction. He made it far enough in to get his things, and then back out safely. He held up a satchel, and pulled out of it a book, a stone, and a small hand axe. He opened the book, and pointed to a passage. "This is a book on cults. It mentions the worshippers of Azathoth briefly, with some info that might come in handy."
Vincent was staring at Mary as Montie was talking, but they all froze when he whispered, "Mary, don't move a muscle."
The doctor went around her slowly, and then as if he had done this a million times before, he reached and grabbed something from off her back, flung it to the floor, and impaled it with a scalpel. They all stood and stared at it. It looked kinf of like a bug, but there were defeinitely some non buglike features. Vincent snatched it up with a cloth and stuffed it into his bag. "I need to get to the exam room so I can dissect this thing."
They made their way to the examination room without incident, but Bob kept looking over his shoulder and swearing to the others that he kept seeing a shadow following them. In the exam room, Dr. Lee opened up the monster, and everyone almost threw up from the foul smell that came out. To everyone else's disgust, Vincent plunged a fist into the belly of the beast, and just as Montie was about to ask him just what the hell he was doing, the doctor triumphantly pulled out an Elder Sign.
Mary looked in shock as Vincent proudly displayed his find. "That thing was in there? Dear God." As she was looking at the Elder Sign, her eyes shifted slightly beside it, and opened in pure terror. "What is that?!"
They all turned to look and saw a shadowy figure, clearly not human, out in the hall. It stood there motionless for a few seconds, then moved out of sight.
As the others stood in horror, Bob grabbed the tommy gun that he was hiding in the robe he had been carrying and ran into the hall to chase the shadow. The others heard human yelling, inhuman screams and copious gunfire, then they heard a hard thud on the floor. They ran out into the hall to see what had happened, and they saw Bob standing over a dead winged monstrosity of a creature. Bob was holding another Elder Sign. He dropped it into the box with the other one that Vincent had found.
"Good find, man." That was all that Montie could say as he was catching his breath. He took a few more gulps of air and then regained as much composure as he could. "Ok, now what?"
Mary pointed down the hall. "I saw a strange sigil on that wall over there. It could lead to another Elder Sign."
They all agreed and followed the nun over to a symbol drawn in chalk on the wall in the hallway they were in. Mary held her crucifix in one hand and traced the pattern with the index finger of another. As her finger ran over the exotic design, she felt a tingling that only got stronger as she proceeded. She felt the tingling start to fade, then she yelled in a strong voice, "By the power of God I command you to open!" As she said those words, the symbol and a good portion of the wall surrounding it crumbled away into a void of nothingness.
As the portal opened up, Montie was reading something from the book he had recovered earlier. "That sigil was to conjur a door into The Abyss. I need to go in there and see if there is an Elder Sign. The rest of you stay here and help guide me back when I am done looking around.
- Last edited Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:57 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:54 pm
Vincent looked concerned, but Montie gave him a nod. "I'll be ok. I've been in worse looking places. Just keep an eye out for me, ok?" He plucked a relic known as the 'Ruby of Ryleh' out of his satchel, along with the hand axe that he had gotten from his stash and boldly walked through the portal.
It was a desolate landscape that looked as alien as it did oppressive and foreboding. There was a light fog everywhere, not so dense that he could not see where he was going, but thick enough that he was never quite sure he was alone at any point. At points along the way, the fog would grow denser, as if it were hiding unspeakable things in its blankety fold. He caught glimpse of an Elder Sign down a ways, and made his way toward it, feeling good about his chances. As he was a few feet away, almost close enough to reach out for it, a dark shape a bit larger than him and humanoid, but obviously nor human, came at him and he started to feel razor cuts all over his body. As he felt his blood poring out of the little holes that the creature had inflicted, he raised up the ruby and yelled "Be gone!" A blinding flash of crimson light emitted from the ruby and the creature staggered back, but it wasn't quite finished. Montie raised his axe, and chucked it at where he was sure the thing's head was, and it dropped, lifeless, if you could use that word for such a thing. Montie looked around where he thought he had seen the Elder Sign, but it was gone. He felt his grip on reality slipping, and feared he would pass out from fatigue and loss of blood. Not wanting to succumb in such a place as he was in, he yelled out for his companions. They answered him, and he followed their voices out of the Abyss.
"So, how'd that go for you?" Bob asked in his usual snarky manner.
"Not so well. There was a Sign in there, but as I got close to it, something attacked me, and I barely was able to kill it, if things like that can even die that is."
"All things die, Mr. Jack," the doctor said as he attended to Montie's wounds. "You are just lucky that you are still alive after pulling a stunt like that."
"No offense, Vincent, but it is 'stunts like that' that are what's gonna get us all out of this alive. Sometimes we have to take the risk to get the reward."
Dr. Lee nodded and they regrouped to plan their next move. The doctor pointed to the end of the hallway. "Out that door is the loading dock. I noticed a new shipment of crates had arrived as I was coming in. Maybe there will be something useful there.
Everyone nodded in agreement and they made their way to the end of the hall and out to the dock. There were stacks of crates from a recent shipment, and anything could literally have been in them, from the mundane to the most bizarre and dangerous. All was possible at Arkham Museum. AS they approached the crates, they heard a scream from behind. It was the doctor, and a robed figure had grabbed him from behind by the neck and was strangling him. As Vinvent gasped for breath, he managed to break free of the man's grip. Bob ran to them and thrust something into the robed man, who dropped to the floor screaming. The screams turned to gurgling as the statue that Bob had use was in his neck and the man was soon still, a pool of blood gathering around his head.
Mary made the sign of the cross on her chest and looked at the others. "We better get out of this area. The others are sure to have heard this man's screams."
The group agreed and left the dock the way they had come in. As they passed through the hall again, Bob got a strange look in his eye as they approached where the portal to the Abyss was. Before anyone could discuss whether or not to go back in, he pulled out a stick of dynamite he had stashed away on his person, lit it, and jumped into the portal.
"Is that man mad?" Vincent asked the group, and Montie nodded.
"Madder than you know. Let's hope he doesn't get himself killed."
They heard a loud explosion from the other side of the portal, then Bob emerged from it coughing smoke and looking even crazier than when he went in. "It was there. I was so close. But the things, they were there too. Things that no man should ever see. But I got most of them. Got them good." Bob grinned and almost laughed as he spoke, then he started sobbing and whispering to himself.
Montie slapped him and grabbed his shoulders. "Get it together, man! You need to focus on what is at hand!"
Bob looked up at him and nodded slowly. Mary pointed to the other side of the hall. "Let's see if we can't rest a bit in the lobby. I need to go there anyway, because I think I left my purse there as I came in this evening."
They left the hall and went to the lobby. It seemed to be free of monsters or murdering cultists, so they rested as they took turns standing watch. Mary spotted her purse, and pulled a .38 revolver out of it, tucking it into a pocket on her skirt. A few hours later, they heard a blood curdling scream come from the hall. They all ran out to see what had happened, and they came upon a man with a dagger stuck in his chest, and around the dagger was the sigil of Azathoth drawn in blood. Montie and Bob looked around to see if the culprit was still close by while Vincent confirmed the man was dead and Mary knelt over him and prayed.
- Last edited Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:58 pm (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:42 am
Before they left the man, Vincent searched his pockets and found a .45 automatic. "Well, you won't be needing this, old chap." He put the gut in his own pocket and him and Mary went to join Montie and Bob.
They caught up with them in a large room full of exhibits. As soon as they came in, Montie motioned them to duck down and he whispered, "We followed something in here. Bob has an item that he took from our storage that he is going to use to draw it out."
There was a chittering, almost screaching sound coming from the corner of the room. Bob was standing in the center with a flute in one hand, and the statue he had used to kill the cultist earlier in the other. He brought the flute to his mouth and played a melody that seemed other worldly. Out of the corner came something so hideous that they all had to turn away from it's sight. All but Bob, that was. He stared the thing down as he played the flute and it drew closer and closer to him. It basically looked like a man-sized flying squid with wings. It got within inches of Bob and flayed out it's tentacles as if it were going to wrap them around his head at any second, but before it could do that, Bob took the statue and jammed it down the monster's throat. It fell to the ground, making an awful gurgling and screeching sound. Blood, bile, and whatever other foul liquids were in the thing exploded out and Bob barely was able to cover his face before it all hit him. He doubled over and threw up on the floor in front of him, then wiped his face off with a towel and, as if nothing had happened, went to a locker he had been searching prior to the creatures attack. He opened it and took out a stick of dynamite and an axe.
Montie looked at him holding the dynamite and shook his head. "Last time you played with that stuff, you nearly blew your own head off."
Bob grinned and put the items in his coat. "Yeah, well I'll probably have another chance at that, so let's hope my luck continues."
As they were about to leave the room, Mary turned back and bent over the corpse of the monster. "I think there is something in here. Lord, please give me strength!" She then plunged a hand into the mouth of the beast and pulled out an Elder Sign. "Here, Bob, take this before I...." She then threw up all over the dead creature. She fell to the floor and clutched her crucifix tightly. "Lord, please see me through this!"
Bob grabbed the Elder Sign and put it in the box with the others. "Hey, great catch there, sister." He helped her up and they left the room.
They were back in the hall, and Montie was reading through the book he had, and when he looked up from it, there was an understanding look on his face. "I've got it! I'm going back in that portal. I found this incantation that will protect me." Before anyone else could respond, he jumped into the portal.
After what seemed like an hour of silence with the rest of the group standing in the hall waiting for Montie to come out, they heard a loud screetching sound and then Montie yelling out an incantation. A winged creature flew out of the portal, and everyone gasped as what looked like a humanoid bat swooped past them and out of the hall. Then they heard Montie yelling again, but this time it was directed at them. "Get away from the portal!", he yelled, and they all barely jumped away from the portal before it exploded, sending dust and debris everywhere. When the dust settled, Montie was laying in the middle of the hall, holding an Elder Sign. He gave it to Bob and stood up to dust himself off. "These creatures mean that the cult is getting closer to their goal. We have to keep finding these Signs."
- Last edited Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:58 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:52 pm
Vincent noticed something in the debris and picked it up. It was a disk with yet another strange sigil on it. He showed it to Montie, who turned to a page in the book he had been carrying.
"Here. There it is. It's the Key to Rlyeh. It says that to open the portal to Rlyeh, destroy this seal. Since this came from the Abyss, it was bound to have been used by the cult, so there should definitely be some more Elder Signs in Rlyeh."
Bob grinned and took out his dynamite. "This should destroy it real good."
Vincent grimaced and put the disk on the ground. "Not so fast, you pyromaniac. I have a better idea that won't get us all killed in the process." He drew the gun he had found off of the dead man, aimed at the item on the ground, and fired all the rounds that were left in it. As the bullets pierced the disk, rays of light emitted from each hole, until the whole thing exploded in a flash of light. Then there was a circle of light that outlined the boundry between this world and the place called Rlyeh.
Bob looked at the strange place through the portal, then backed away. "I'm...I'm not going in there, man."
Mary held her crucifix to her lips and kissed it, then pulled out a .38 revolver out of her purse. "I'll back you up, Montie, if you wanna lead the way in there."
Montie opened his book, read an incantation, and his right hand started to glow with a blue light. "Okay, sister. Let's go in there."
Montie and Mary entered the strange looking city of Rlyeh through the portal. They were in the center f what seemed to be a great square, with a hugely tall tower on one side of it. At the center of the square was a huge Elder Sign, on which was an altar. Montie could see a pile of disks on the altar. "There has to be two or three Signs on that altar."
As they made their way toward the altar, a huge creature that looked like a snake with wings swooped down on them. Montie lifted his glowing right hand and made a gesture toward the creature. The light from his hand shot out and enveloped the monster, which came crashing to the ground.
Mary held her gun toward the creature. "Now's your chance. Get those Signs!"
Montie ran toward the altar, but the creature broke out of the spell and knocked Mary down with its tail. Then it swooshed toward Montie, colliding with him and snapping its huge jaw over one of his hands. "Gaaaah!!" He fell to the ground and saw that the thing was turning around for another attack. He jumped to his feet, ran over to Mary to help her up, then they both ran as fast as they could back to the portal. They lept through, and the creature flew right over the portal as they escaped. It either could not or just did not want to pass through the portal.
Vincent looked at Montie's hand. "That looks like a nasty cut there. I'm out of bandages, but there should be some at the museum gift shop."
They all headed to the gift shop, which was not far from the hall they were currently in. When they reached there, they found the shop clerk sitting at the register. Her shirt had been ripped open and there was a dagger in her chest with a sigil drawn around it, just like the man they had found.
Mary took off her coat and covered the woman. "Dear God. Please have mercy on her soul. Let's just get what we need and get out of here, ok?"
As Vincent was gathering some needed medical supplies, a voice familiar to Montie came on over a loud speaker in the shop.
"Oh, Montie! So you made it to the gift shop, did you? Did you like what we did with Ms. Pierce? She really lived up to her name. Hahahahahaha!"
"Cranston! You are in this cult?" John Cranston was the museum Curator, and had evidently used his position to enable the proceedings that were now taking place there. "Why would you want to see something so horrible and destructive enter our world?"
"Horrible and destuctive? Nonsense! A new world will be created over this decrepit carcass that we call our home. A new glorious world with Azathoth as its master!"
"Do you hear yourself? You sound like a lunatic!"
"Maybe, Montie boy, maybe. But I feel like a visionary. You are welcome to join me. I'll be in my office waiting for you." Then the speaker cut off.
Bob pulled out his dynamite. "Okay, I know this sounds like strange timing, but you three can handle the kookie curator. I'm going back to Rlyeh to get those Elder Signs. I was afraid to go in, but I have to face that fear head on. So go kick that loon's ass, and I'll meet you in his office when I am done at Rlyeh."
Montie regarded Bob with a smile. "Okay, if you think you have it. But if you don't meet us before an hour passes, we'll assume the worst and go on without you."
"The worst? Death is hardly the worst that can happen at this point." With that, he sprinted out of the gift shop bound for the portal to Rlyeh.
Montie gestured out the door to the others. "Let's go get this guy."
They made their way cautiously to the curator's office. Nothing seemed to be in their way or out to stop them. Vincent whispered as they approached the door to the office.
"For a museum full of monsters and crazy cult members, we sure had an easy time of getting all the way across it. I'm pretty sure we all know this is a setup of some kind, right?"
Montie read a quick incantation from his book and replied, "Yes, of course it is. But we have a few surprises ourselves. Mary, still got that gun?"
Marie pulled the gun out of her purse and checked it over. "Fully loaded. Why, you got a plan?"
"Of course I do, sister. You go in and immediately find cover and start firing that gun over his head, ok?"
"All right. Say the word."
"I'll count to three. Doctor, you just hang tight out here, ok? That office isn't too big, so all three of us in there will make things a bit too cramped. Okay, Mary, one...two...three!"
Mary flung the door open and ran in. The curator started immediately firing a gun at her, but she dove behind a chair and aimed her gun over his head where there was a huge window. She fired until all the glass had shattered and had fallen around the curator.
The curator laughed and brushed off the little pieces that had managed to fall on him, but he was completely unscathed. "You missed, lady. My turn."
He went to walk over to the chair that Mary was hiding behind when Montie came in through the door. Mary saw it all in slow motion as the curator aimed his gun at her head. Right before he was about to pull the trigger, surely ending her life, Montie yelled an ancient foreign sounding word, and all the shattered glass lifted off of the ground and formed in a spherical pattern around the curator.
Montie stood next to him with his right hand glowing and raised in the air. "Drop the gun, Cranston. And hand over the Elder Sign that I know you were given by your cult buddies."
"Oh, Montie, you do surprise me. You might have the upper hand over me, but you are no match for Azathoth. And you will fail because you will never get my Elder Sign. So do your worst." He turned his gun to Montie and was about to fire it when Montie clenched his glowing fist, and all the shards of glass flew into the curator, shredding him instantly into a pile of meat, bone, and blood.
Mary saw what was left of Cranston and immediately threw up. She jumped up, grabbed Montie's waist with her arms, and started wimpering. Montie gestured to Vincent.
"You can come in now, but I doubt you'll be much help to that guy."
Vincent entered the room and regarded what was left of the mad curator with a steady glance. "That was quite a viscious spell you used, there. Was all of that necesarry?"
"It was what I had to work with, doc." Montie turned his gaze to Mary, who was still clinging around him and sobbing. "Are you gonna be ok, sister?"
Mary loosened her grip around Montie and sat herself down on the chair she had hid behind earlier. "Yes, I just need a moment with the Lord, please." She bowed her head, closed her eyes, and clutched her crucifix.
Just then, Bob came strolling into the office and held up three Elder Signs. "Told ya I'd get these bad boys. Turns out that creature that chased you guys out of Rlyeh doesn't like dynamite up its ass or an axe between it's eyes. Go figure."
Montie chuckled. "You never cease to amaze me, Bob. Now if only we could find the Elder Sign that Cranston was hiding."
Vincent held up a bloody Elder Sign. "Found it. You don't want to know where it was."
Montie looked at it and shivered. "Very well then. We are definitely done here. Where now?"
Bob raised a statue, then put it back in his coat when everyone was staring at it. "Found it in Rlyeh. Might come in handy like the last one. Anyway, when I was in the hall, I heard screams coming from the basement. I think there was another sacrifice."
"To the basement, then." Montie walked out the door and the rest of the group followed.
- Last edited Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:34 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:53 pm