Eternal Lies: The Masks of the Liar

Episode XII: The Man Who Sold the World (Part 5)

With Geronimo’s help, Ruby got a meeting with the local capo regime. They met in a greasy dockside tavern, full of the thick smell of frying fish and olive oil.

“What do these guys do?” she said to Geronimo.

“Drugs and smuggling,” said Geronimo. “Sometimes they run guns. The Republic had dealings with them from time to time. Oh, and a sideline in ‘losing’ things off of ships.”

The capo came out of the kitchen and sat down across from them. “I’m Carlu,” he asid. “So you’re the friend of Jose’s, eh? We’ve done a nice business sending him weapons, so I’m happy to meet another client.”

[Me: Ruby, so you’re using Flattery on this guy? How are you doing this, through bonhomie or decolletage?
RP: So let’s pretend I speak French.
GP: Decolletage.]

Ruby leaned forward in her low-cut peasant blouse. She had long gloves covering both arms, but Carlu made a point of kissing the wooden left arm. “Do not be self-conscious,” he said. “My mother has only one arm.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Ruby.

“Don’t worry. She lost it while garroting a French policeman to death. Now, bella signora e signore soldato, how can I help you?”

“There is a man on this island who we have personal business with,” said Ruby. “He’s interrupted some of our more altruistic operations across the sea—”

“Then he’s doing the right thing. Always look out for number one, that’s the first rule of altruism.”

Ruby managed to trudge back into the conversation. “We just want to thank him for this. Personally.”

“I see. So this isn’t a purchase of, shall we call them mechanical parts. You’re looking for mechanics, I presume?”

“Yes. This meeting has two purposes. The first is that we wouldn’t want to insult you by doing anything in this city that would harm your endeavors.”

“This is wise. I’d hate to have to put a bullet in your beautiful face.”

“Thank you. You’re not the first to tell me that and I hope you won’t be the last. The second purpose is to get our mechanics.”

“We can work something out, if it doesn’t cross our lines of operations.”

“Understood. We just want to accomplish our purpose and then leave.”

“May I ask who is the target of your latest charitable donation?”

“Señor Donovan,” put in Geronimo.

“I see,” said Carlu. “This will be expensive, but surely we can be of service.” He smirked.

Ruby could tell that Carlu wasn’t being honest with him. Were the Corsicans mixed up with Donovan? It worried her that he hadn’t told them outright.

[Assess Honesty spend by RP.]

“I have a number of trustworthy associates,” continued Carlu. “Leave it to me.”

They managed to extricate themselves from the cafe without making any agreements. “We can’t trust him,” said Ruby. “They’re connected to Donovan for sure. My guess is that he pays them a lot to not mention his name.”

Geronimo sighed. “Time for plan B,” he said.

“What’s Plan B?”

“Nando. I need to send a cable to Istanbul.”

[And so we created Fernando Montoya, Spanish merc, former untrustworthy companion of Geronimo who was now running a mercenary company in Turkey…]

Episode XII: The Man Who Sold the World (Part 4)

They landed in the port of Valletta, the capital of Malta. Their first job was to convince the port master that the suspiciously large number of firearms they had on the plane shouldn’t be impounded.

“Trust me,” said Ruby to him. “I really do know the Marquess.”

[Credit Rating spend by RP.]

“Who could have bombed us?” Millicent said once they had cleared customs. “I don’t think it was Pramoj, he wants us to finish the Liar first. And Annette was on the plane, so I don’t think it was her people. So…I guess someone from Malta.”

“Donovan,” grunted Jimmy.

“I looked at the bomb,” said Ruby. “That thing wasn’t just mechanical…I think there was magic involved. Did I really say that?”

[Evidence Collection and Cthulhu Mythos use by RP.]

They found an obscure but tasteful enough hotel far from the center of town. Jimmy watched the people working in there for a while.

“We’re probably okay. These guys are connected,” he told the others.

“Sicilian?” said Ruby.

“No, the language they speak is like French and Italian mixed up…I think they’re Corsican,” said Millicent.

[3-point Languages spend.]

“Maybe I can talk to their bosses,” said Jimmy. “One on one.”

“Wouldn’t they all be in Corsica?”

“Yeah…and I’m really not good at talking to street level guys. They’d smell me a mile off.”

“You’re too soft now,” said Ruby. “It’s a good thing. I’ll take care of it; we can use some muscle.”

[Jimmy has Credit Rating 5, so I told the players he was far too well-off to be able to deal with the local capos. Then I asked what RP was going to use to meet the local mob.

RP: Flattery?
Me: Where are you going with this? I’m intrigued.
GP, mostly in character: Ruby!
Me: Go on, now I’m even more intrigued…
GP: One-armed broad! It helps bring you down to their level!
RP: I want hired goons. That’s all.

Ruby has no Streetwise but lots of Flattery, so she and Geronimo, who has Streetwise, set up a meet.]

Jimmy hit the streets of Valletta. Turning over his leads and talking to the local rough boys, he discovered to his surprise that the local criminal element didn’t seem to know much about Montgomery Donovan, other than that he was rich. He returned to the hotel lost in thought.

Millicent had more success, trawling the libraries and the newspaper morgue. “Look, Mr. Wright,” she said eagerly when he came into their suite. “I’ve found out a lot, I think. See, here is Mr. Donovan at the opera—he’s a patron of the local opera company. Oh, and here are the companies he’s involved with, mostly import-export. Also, his wife is dead, died several months ago. He looks really clean, at least from the outside.”

“He’s done a good job then,” said Jimmy.

“He’s very reclusive, doesn’t like to meet with people…the few interviews he’s done were at the operahouse.”

“Let’s get my evening jacket ready, then. Time I took in a show.”

[Streetwise and Library Use for our intrepid investigators. JP was already planning to do one of those “meeting the Bond villain at a performance” bits.]

Jimmy made a couple of calls, bolstered with Millicent’s knowledge. Most of the people he called wouldn’t talk to him—they simply said Donovan wasn’t doing anything that was illegal as far as they knew, and had been very good to their business/opera/shipping company. But he got enough from them and looking at the public records Millicent had compiled to figure out that his large network of concerns, trusts, and subsidiaries was making a lot more money than they had the previous year.

“Trammell’s book had a letter from Donovan talking about the enormous increase in production,” he mused.

[Accounting spend by JP.]

Episode XII: The Man Who Sold the World (Part 3)

Ruby did some research on Malta, their next destination. Humans had been living there since the stone age, but mostly it was colonized by Sicilians and North Africans, before becoming a base for the Knights of Rhodes, who defended it from an Ottoman invasion in the 16th century. During Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign, he had seized the island from the Knights; the British had subsequently conquered it, and now it was an important naval base for them.

Most of the locals spoke Italian and/or Maltese, along with English. There had been a long standing movement to unite with Italy, but the rise of the Fascists had mostly put an end to that.

[Library Use!]

Millicent dropped in on Annette Drew. “I know this sounds really crazy, but—have you been secretly slipping away and visiting Vanessa Brady in Los Angeles?”

“No. I checked in on her a few times, but that’s all,” said Annette.

“Which means that if any of the people you can’t talk about—”

“Oh, I can talk about them. What do you want to know?”

“What do they do?”

“I guess mostly they look for you.”


“Apparently you are very important to them in some way. I don’t think they’re looking at you in a bad way—there’s not a sacrificial knife at the end of this.”

“If I were looking for somebody, though, I’d look for somebody smart. Like you.”

“The thing is that they need to find you, or this person Mirabelle? And I guess it was Jimmy who made this really hard. After a while it became obvious it was you. And Dr. Fauche seems to have confirmed this hypothesis.”

“Is it possible that someone on your end could have visited Vanessa?”

“I wouldn’t put it past them. The lady I work for, Miss A., she covers all the angles.”

Ruby was not happy about her new status as a navigator. Until she could get some people in to modify the controls of the Brightening Dawn, she was unable to fly the plane.

“Don’t worry, Ruby, I’ve flown her plenty of times!” said Betty chirpily.

“I still say I could copilot,” said Ruby.

“Nah, Millicent is fine, she’s a quick study.”

“She never told me she could fly a plane before.”

“She never says nothing to nobody. I respect that.”

[MP put some points into Pilot…6! This was a carryover from ditching Contacts and Covers.]

They took off into a beautiful dawn, the wine-dark Aegean falling away beneath them as Betty gunned the engines and did a graceful turning climb. Ruby was sitting with Charlie in the forward compartment, drinking mimosas and grumpily re-running the fuel-to-weight calculations. Jimmy, Geronimo, Annette, and Janet were in the back, watching the peach-colored clouds flow past the observation blisters.

Time passed. Jimmy watched Janet carefully—a habit of his lately. She was moodily staring out the windows at nothing in particular. While Millicent and Annette chattered away about books (and the dirty parts therein), Janet reached into her flight bag and took out her cigarette case.

Jimmy suddenly realized something. His blood ran cold for a moment as he grabbed Janet’s bag.

“Jimmy, what are you doing?” she said, surprised.

“I put that bag into the cargo bay before we took off.”

“What are you talking about? I’ve had it with me all morning. This bag has never left my possession.”

Jimmy tore through the bag. A notebook, her lighter, a novel, some makeup, a flask.

[Sense Trouble roll by our resident Big Damn Hero. I had a little countdown clock that determined how much time they had to find and defuse the bomb based on the Sense Trouble roll. Sadly, I needed to work a bit harder on the actual implementation of the countdown, but that will be for the third campaign, wherein Aviatrix actually gets something right.]

Geronimo stood up. “Jimmy, can we get into the cargo bay from here?”

“Yes,” said Jimmy, already prying up a panel on the floor. He pulled it open and dove down into the cold darkness below. He pulled the bags aside manically until he found the bag that matched Janet’s carry-on.

It was suspiciously heavy.

[Evidence Collection spend to find it quickly.]

He climbed back into the cabin and put the bag down on the floor. Ruby, her face contorted by fear and rage, and Charlie were standing by the companionway that ran through the galley.

Everyone held their breath as Jimmy slowly opened the bag.

“Can’t we just toss it outside?” said Ruby.

“No. We don’t know how it is rigged. It could explode if we shake it too much,” said Geronimo. He knelt down by Jimmy and looked in the bag.

His first impression was of the absolute professionalism of the job. This will be a difficult bomb to defuse, he thought. It had a timer, and a shock detonator as backup—and strangely, a radio receiver, although he couldn’t think of any remote detonator that had enough range.

“Annette, you know anything about bombs?” barked Jimmy.

“What do I look like? I’m an investigator,” said Annette, her face pale.

Silencio,” said Geronimo. “The Fascists used bombs, although not as complex as these. I will do what I can. Jimmy, we need to partially disassemble it…I’m not sure good enough a mechanic to do it right.”

“Millicent is our best mechanic while Doc Orange is away,” said Ruby.

Ja, aber er is nicht hier,” said Jimmy. He pulled a small repair kit from under the seats and began to work on the bomb. “Ach, sehr klug…” he muttered as he deftly removed the outer casing, exposing a nest of wires inside.

[They needed to make a 4-point Mechanical Repair spend to be able to defuse the bomb. Jimmy used his Gol-Goroth ability to borrow points from Dr. Orange, even though OP had to miss the session. They system works!]

Geronimo worked on the bomb feverishly for ten minutes, sweat beading heavily on his brow. He had managed to remove most of the wires, but the last few had him dithering. Finally, he cut a red wire.

The clock wired into the bomb as a timer began to spin rapidly towards midnight. Madre Maria, estamos muertos, he thought.

Millicent came flying down the corridor from the cockpit, sliding down on one knee next to the bomb. She wrenched the pliers out of Geronimo’s hands and pulled two more wires out of their sockets.

The clock stopped with twenty seconds remaining.

Mann muss alle die Drähte herausreißen,” she said.

[And Millicent follows suit, saving the day; GP rolled a 1. My players don’t speak German (and I barely do) but I like to put it in the writeups when they borrow points from Dr. Orange.]

“Jimmy, were we really about to die?” asked Janet.

“Absolutely not. We had it all under control,” said Jimmy.

“Too bad.”

Jimmy slid onto the bench next to Ruby in the forward compartment. “I have to ask you something,” he said.

“Yes, James?”

“See, the Messenger gave me something too when we saw her…it…in Ethiopia. A ritual. If Janet and I both take Nectar and I do the ritual…she’ll be free of the Mouth.”


“No. For a time. And then we’ll both be…you know.”

“Jimmy. For about an hour, it will be the most wonderful thing in the world…but after that, you’ll wonder why you ever took it.”

“Yeah.” He grimaced. “I guess we’ll just have to kill the Liar first.”

Episode XII: The Man Who Sold the World (Part 2)

Ruby had been resuming her lessons in oneironavigation with Charlie. And as was usual, he took some pleasure in needling her.

“I suppose I understand,” he said. “I lost my tribe, my family, my wife…a daughter about Millicent’s age. Still, it seems very careless to lose an arm.”

“You know, Charlie…” began Ruby.

“Yes, all right. You white devils don’t understand the dreamtime anyway, what with your ‘radios’ and ‘vacuum tubes.’ Did you learn anything?”

“With great responsibility comes great sacrifice.”

“Very good. You’ve stumbled on your first important lesson, in your usual clumsy fashion.”

[Ruby had Challenged her Solace statement last session, so that was her new Statement.]

“Kinda feeling judged here,” said Ruby. “I’ll beat you with the stump arm if I have to.”

Paix,” said Charlie. “Forgive me, Ruby. I just worry about you. I may not always be around to help you out.”

Millicent got a letter from Jimmy’s people in the Special Branch, some of whom were being used as investigators for the Los Angeles Society of Archaeological Studies. She dropped the letter when she was finished reading it.

Vanessa was missing. The Greys hadn’t made a big deal out of it yet, but she had vanished from her house in Venice Beach. The house didn’t look like it was broken into, and some of her clothes and a suitcase were missing, so it did not seem that she was kidnapped. It looked like she had left on her own.

Millicent sent a telegram and some money to Jimmy’s people, asking them to take a closer look at the house and giving them some ideas of what to look for. They soon reported back that there were signs that she had been living with someone. And some of Millicent’s clothes that she kept at the house were missing.

Jimmy checked on Dr. Fauche, who had come back with them from Ethiopia. He was not doing well, spending most of his days raving “La Bouche! La Bouche!” Dr. Seward was trying to help, but it wasn’t looking hopeful.

“I am never leaving you people alone again,” said Jimmy to Ruby and Millicent when he found them in the kitchen. “How did you get a Mouth on your arm again?”

“I accidentally completed a ritual, and that summoned up the Final Mouth. So I had it cut off, and now it’s missing—we should really get that back, and set it on fire…” began Ruby.

“And what was it Dr. Orange said about you breaking the spacetime continuum?” said Jimmy to Millicent.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I was hoping to give him enough time to set the explosives…”

“You do not break the spacetime continuum to solve a problem!”

“That wasn’t part of the plan!”

“It should never be part of any plan!”

“Jimmy,” said Dr. Seward gently, “Pot, kettle?”

Jimmy made an expression that somehow combined regret, resignation, and frustration.

“You can do it too?” chirped Millicent.

“He needed a little help!” retorted Dr. Seward.

“When I did it, this shit didn’t happen!” said Jimmy.

“Five people died when you did it!” said Dr. Seward.

“Wait, Jimmy, when have you used magic?” said Ruby. “You haven’t told us that?”

“Is there a safer way to do it?” said Millicent.

“Jimmy, I do believe an explanation is in order,” said Ruby.

“It was not my fault,” said Jimmy darkly.

“I’m not saying it is,” said Ruby. “I’m fully accepting what I did—”

“I’m sorry,” said Millicent.

“I’m not mad at you dear. You broke some of the laws of physics, but there are no police to—well, wait, for all we know there might well be—”

“The last two times I’ve done it, someone has lost their arm. That’s why I tried to go to the asylum. Only I never got there, I ended up in Ethiopia instead and all my luggage was there…”

“That’s why you don’t do it!” said Jimmy. “The last time I did it, there was a giant portal, to let the Messenger into the world, and we had to use a lot of blood—”

“About 30 or 40 quarts,” muttered Dr. Seward.

Episode XII: The Man Who Sold the World (Part 1)

Jimmy turned the wheel over and the yacht Fortune, a trim Bermuda rigged thirty footer, glided toward the pier. He luffed the sails and soon was tying up. He walked down the dock and up the path to the villa he was renting.

Behind him the sun dazzled on the purple blue water of the Aegean. He stopped for a moment to breathe in air scented by flowers, listening to the distant sounds of the little village that wrapped around the shoreline, then climbed the stairs and stepped into his house.

It was a large, whitewashed clapboard building, furnished incongruously with heavy furniture in the English style except in the sun room adjacent to the piazza, which had managed to bring in a breath of Mediterranean charm. Perched on an overstuffed leather armchair was an old man, drinking a from a cup of tea. There was a cane resting against one of the armrests of his chair, but he stood up without it and greeted Jimmy.

“Dr. Seward,” said Jimmy. “How is everyone?”

“Well, you have managed to collect quite a bit of human detritus this time,” said the old psychologist, but with a wry grin. “Were I a Freudian, I could become famous just off of Mr. Cuevas alone.”

“I was wondering how you were with Millicent.”

“I’ve been trying to help her, but she keeps on bringing up my connection to that terrible Irish playwright. What horrid press, I’m sure I’ll never live it down.”

Jimmy grunted and went to the sideboard to make himself a drink.

“I’ve been doing what I can,” said Seward, picking up his cane and hobbling over to Jimmy. “Today I managed to elicit a spark of hope from her.”

“How’d you manage to do that?”

“I told her that the thing about the powers of darkness is, there’s never just one.”

“That does sound like the thing that would cheer her up. Where’s Janet?”

“Out walking with your friend Karen, I believe.”

Jimmy had indeed brought Karen Eliot over from Los Angeles to try and cheer Janet up, although at first Janet didn’t know why he thought that would do anything.

“I don’t know your friend,” she had said. “I might have seen one of those shorts she was in, what are they, Man Hood, Journalist—”

Guy Manning, Ace Reporter,” corrected Jimmy. “Just talk to her. I think you find you have…a lot in common.”

That very morning, they had taken breakfast on the piazza. Sometime between oranges and a third cup of coffee, Karen had broken the news of her real identity.

“Jackson Elias? The reporter?” said Janet.

“Well, Elisa Olney if you want to get technical. My friends called me Jax.”

“But…you’re dead, aren’t you? I mean, it was in the news, very well documented.”

“Should I quote Twain?”


“I’m a friend of Jimmy’s,” said Karen simply.

“Why didn’t you…why didn’t you tell people? Take back your career?”

“Oh,” said Karen. She nervously twisted a napkin. “See…I was involved in something really terrible, really dark…I learned there are powers out there, and there’s so little we can do to fight them. And, well, I kind of lost my fighting nature. I mean, we won the war, so to speak. I could rest. And I found out that maybe I didn’t need to be Jackson Elias anymore. That she had served her purpose.”

They sat in near silence for a while, broken only by the muffled sound of the Thing on Janet’s arm.

“I can understand that,” said Janet with a sigh. “I don’t know what I’ll be after this…or what Jimmy and I will end up being. I’m glad he’s been here…I think I would have been destroyed otherwise.”

Karen nodded.

“You know I edited your collected writings?” said Janet.

Karen frowned. “Yeah. About that. See, here’s a few things you got wrong…”

[This was special for the writeup; I didn’t play out a whole scene in front of my players, although I summarized what would happen when these two NPCs met. But y’all deserve a peak at what it would look like.]

Episode XII: Who By High Ordeal (Part 16)

They woke up in the village of Kolluli, being tended by the Elders. It turned out that they had no memory of the last several days—nothing since they had wounded the Great Mouth.

When they had recovered from the severe dehydration and exposure they had suffered, Maryam came to talk to them. “Perhaps you should go talk to Dr. Ayers,” she said.

“Hasn’t he vanished?” said Millicent.

“We did not tell you the entire truth. He came to us after the destruction of the temple site, and we helped him. Ruby, you share a common affliction with him.”

Ruby looked at the bandage on her arm. Something under it moved. She bit her lip as the smell of Nectar filled the air.

[And here I finally revealed what I was using to figure out how Millicent’s power worked—I took the Dreamscaping table from Dreamhounds of Paris and basically used it to let Millicent…Realityscape. This table is basically broken down into 2, 4, 6 and 8 for Target Numbers…and that’s the Mythos Shock Stability loss for those effects. So with great power comes great madness. Also, Millicent was not immune to it.]

“He was afflicted as you,” said Maryam. “That was ten years ago.”

“Let’s go,” said Ruby.

Simeon led them into the desert…up to a point. “Beyond here I cannot go,” he said. “This is a place…well, not of evil, but a place where I have no power.”

“If it is a place of good, should I not be here?” said Millicent.

“I think you are beyond questions of good and evil. Certainly beyond my understanding.”

“I mean will I reveal it or something?”

“I trust your ability to control yourself.”

They said their goodbyes and hiked forward, the sun setting behind them. After a time, they came to a rise made of slate. Beyond it was a small grotto. They saw a man sitting cross-legged, with his back to them.

He looked like he was made of leather and sticks—they had never seen someone so emaciated. Long gray hair flowed down his back in twisted locks. He turned to look at them.

He had a huge Mouth over his stomach. But even from that distance they could see that it was calcified, stony, and not moving a bit.

“Dr. Ayers, I presume?” said Ruby.

The man stared for a long moment, then gave a single nod.

“You and I share a common problem. How…how did you do this?”

Ayers pointed at the east, where twilight had already gathered. “Laa…laaa…later,” he croaked.

They waited. At sunset, he drank a surprisingly small amount of water from the rusty trickle that flowed through the grotto, then meditated for several hours. He ate a small amount of a very plain porridge, then rolled over and fell asleep almost immediately.

He hadn’t talked once since that one word. In fact, he barely even made a sound, no matter what he was doing.

The next morning Ayers awoke with first light and moved slowly to the grotto. He drank a great deal more water than he had the night before, then sat cross-legged in front of the rest of them. For a long moment, he had a look of intense struggle on his face. Finally, he said…


“Yes?” said Ruby.


“How do I calcify it like you did?”


Everyone looked at Ayers.

“Tell?” he said. Ruby nodded. Ayers rubbed the frozen Mouth on his midriff. “Danger,” he said.

“Show?” suggested Millicent.

Ayers shook his head. “It…has been a very long time since I talked. I guess you are here because of Ramón? I figured it would eventually come to something like this. How bad is it out there?”

“The Mouths have been spreading,” said Ruby. “We’ve been fighting them, but one just opened up in Dallol.”

“They said it was the last one,” said Millicent.

Ayers nodded. “I felt that.”

“It is a disgusting thing,” said Ruby.

Ayers looked at her with a trace of amusement. Ruby flushed, staring at his stomach.

“I am afflicted as well,” she said. “What should I do?”

“Mouth…talks. Mouth…eats. Mouth wants, desires, controls. You have seen the ones that make you angry? The ones that make you…well, all those lusts feed the Mouth. To starve it, you must resist them.”

“So you must become a Buddhist?” said Geronimo.

“Buddhism would be easier. I can teach you some of what I know. It takes a long time. Or you can amputate. Or you can try to live with it…although it will eventually consume you.”

“How long would it take?”

“I could teach you something in a week…but you won’t learn anything very useful until a month has passed. It took me a year to overcome my affliction.”

“Be quiet for a month?” pondered Ruby. She stood up with sudden decision.

“Geronimo, we need to find a surgeon,” she said.

In the end, they agreed to stay a week, to learn what they could from Ayers. He still talked very little, and almost never about his former life. Once, he asked about Job.

“How is Edgar?”

“He’s fine,” said Dr. Orange.


“Yes, he’s still doing his work in Georgia…at his institution…”

“Ah. I don’t know what Ramón wanted for him, but it wasn’t that.”

“He writes equations all over the walls,” said Millicent. “About…conic sections?”

“That makes no sense,” said Ayers.

“No kidding,” said Dr. Orange.

“No, I mean he was a physicist more than a mathematician.”

“Ja,” said Dr. Orange. He wondered again about his encounter with Job…about light cones and…hyperspace, which was a thing he now knew existed…could it be that Job was actually on to something? But what?

[1 point Physics spend by the doc.]

“Tshombe, the woman who opened the Mouth…said that Ramón sent you here because you would try and stop him from doing what he was doing.”

“The Elder was probably right. Ramón was trying to do many strange things.”

“She said he was going to end the world.”

“That is a distinct possibility. Ramón became convinced of the illusory nature of existence…and he wanted the illusions to end. He hated the lie, and that is why he was so dedicated against the Liar, which was a secret he held from all of us. I only suspected it at the time.”

“Is that why she said destroying the Mouths would end the world? I’m confused.”

“As am I. Ramón was a strange man with deep sorrows.”

“Because his sister died? Drowned on that ship?”

“Merida? Merida did not die. But she left him. He never told me the full story. But I know he told her on the ship what he had done to Salvador. I guess before the collision…strange that there was a collision…”

Deciding that not getting her amputation done by an Italian military surgeon was advisable, they flew up to Athens to meet Jimmy. Millicent wired Freddie Blakely and he sent a Harley street surgeon he had gone to Oxford with to do the surgery.

The surgery was done quite successfully. Even before it, Ruby had already been planning out how to accessorize her prosthetic.

Geronimo did some research. He discovered that the first Ethiopian converted to Christianity was a man named…Simeon.

But that happened in the first century. It was perhaps anti-climactic when he discovered that Mahabet was one translation into Coptic for “Eve”.

Dr. Orange was working on his own project. It had to do with evaporation rates, and wind patterns…he had already realized that the climate of Ethiopia would cause the Nectar the Dallol Mouth would produce to evaporate…but it would be a long time before it would precipitate out of the air into a body of water.

Like the Nile. He figured they had a few months.

Right after her surgery, Ruby was groggily reliving in her dreams the moment Tshombe attacked her, over and over again.

Suddenly she sat up. “She said the Mouth had already been born! Already been born! That means it wasn’t the Last Mouth! That means…”

Moments later she dashed out into the hallway. Several nurses tried to grab her. “Where’s my arm!” she screamed. “Where is it! Where is it!”

Episode XII: Who By High Ordeal (Part 15)

The ground began to shake.

“Everyone out of the magic circle,” said Ruby, standing up, covered in blood.

At the edge of the village the white rocks began to rise from the ground. In the sunlight it was clear they had really been the tips of enormous teeth.

The Afari fell to their knees, chanting at the top of their lungs.

“We have to try to destroy it!” shouted Dr. Orange.

“We don’t have time!” said Ruby. “We have to go!”

“Time?” said Millicent. “Time? We can have all the time in the world…”

She raised her arms, and said a Word—

It was the dust Ruby noticed. It stopped drifting on the breeze. It stopped drifting…at all. She looked up. A drop of sweat on one of the Afari men near her slowed…slowed…dripped off his face…and froze.

In mid-air.

Dr. Orange moved toward Millicent, who seemed to be the center of the phenomenon. He noticed that with the dimension of time radically enlarged, other things had become…relative. Things like the length of his arms and legs, for one thing.

He tossed Geronimo his pack of explosives and looked up at the rising sun.

He fell to his knees, knowing he was the first human being to ever see this.

Ahead of him, the rising sun had changed in color and brightness, becoming an intense, actinic blue. The light was blinding—quite literally—and he had to turn away. Behind him, he saw a lantern glowing in an intense red. The few remaining stars had all shifted in color.

He was beholding Doppler shift. The visible Doppler shift of sunlight.

From the horizon halos of light of different colors arced over the bone dry hills. Wordless appreciation bubbled up in him as he stared at the rainbow wrought by gravity. Had he tears, he would have wept.

[I kicked the Doc back a point of Stability for seeing what only he would appreciate.]

Millicent my dear, did you really think all you risked were your friends when you intervened? Did you not sense somehow that you were drawing attention to yourself? Or did you think that you could just keep getting away with it, that there was no greater consequence to announcing yourself to the universe than a few extra moments of time available for you to play with?

Because you were wrong. And even as you stood stunned beneath the coronal glare of a blue sun, something was already lurching toward you, roughly, a beast already born but with purpose unfulfilled…

They planted the explosives and ran as quickly as they could for the edge of the village. Millicent struggled to keep up, but when they were all past the ring of enormous teeth she gave a sigh and said another Word…

The explosions went off almost immediately. It was not enough—by a long shot—to destroy such an enormous Mouth. But it did damage—horrible damage, judging by the harsh shrieks that filled the air. And it obliterated the inhabitants of Daillol, destroying the blood sacrifice, and rendering the Great Mouth weakened, emaciated, twisted and abominable.

Dr. Fauche moaned and tried to crawl toward the Mouth, his sanity nearly blasted away, but Dr. Orange was able to stop him. The two mercenaries they had recruited from the porters both ran into the maw of the Mouth and vanished.

They lost all sense of time after that, probably mercifully.

[That was an eight point Mythos shock, because seriously don’t screw with the spacetime continuum for your own jollies. This dropped pretty much everyone to Blasted.]

Episode XII: Who By High Ordeal (Part 14)

Geronimo saw Tshombe appear out of the thin air behind Ruby and slice at the American’s arm. The wound seemed to bleed much more than he’d expect, not that he pondered that very long as he dropped into firing position, crouching on one knee, aiming without thinking about it, waiting for the space between heartbeats to fire—

The shot rang out—perfectly aimed, sure to kill any human target—but faster than the eye could see the sickle flashed again, sweeping around to intercept the bullet. There was a clanging noise, and the now-bent and ruined sickle sailed off into the air. Tshombe’s face froze in surprise. She looked up and saw Geronimo and Millicent crouching by her tent.

She said a single word in Afari and half the crowd turned and charged them.

[Tshombe had magical protection (basically an ablative armor which I chromed with the sickle.) She took damage from the shot, but as long as Health stays above zero that’s mostly cosmetic.]

Dr. Fauche and Dr. Orange dashed through the smoke, easily eluding the patrols running behind them. They heard a rifle shot ring out and then heard the crowd shout as one. They saw the villagers surging in one direction, but couldn’t see what they were running at.

“Let’s get under cover!” said Dr. Orange. They kicked in the door of a house and ran inside.

Millicent’s eyes widened as people ran at her, eyes rolling in their sockets. “I can’t let them get to me, I can’t let them get to me—”

The crowd covered half the distance towards her. Then half the remaining distance. Then half the remaining distance. Then half the remaining distance…never getting quite to her.

[Millicent spent two of her Aberrance pool here. This was a four-point Mythos shock Stability loss for everyone; Ruby went below 0 and lost a point of Sanity.]

“Oooh, Zeno’s paradox,” said Dr. Orange from his hidden vantage point. “See, good thing they don’t have power series…”

“So it is true,” said Geronimo to himself. “She can do miracles.”

Ruby stumbled back, mind reeling at what she was seeing…it was impossible…but…Tshombe wasn’t watching her…she raised her little automatic and ran off a couple of shots. One struck Tshombe in the shoulder, and she screamed in pain. Blood ran off her shoulderblades and dripped into the sand.

“What are you doing, Ruby?” said Tshombe. “Do you think this will stop anything?”

“For about a minute,” said Ruby hopefully.

“The Mouth was born before dawn. It only grows now. But since you wish to see a Mouth…”

She leaped in the air, robe flying behind, her mouth transforming into the evil lipless gash of a minor Mouth. She pounced on Ruby, knocking her down, trying to push past the American’s desperate defense.

Geronimo clubbed his rifle and viciously cut a swath through the crowd, leaving a wake of mutilated bodies. The crowd cleared in front of him for a moment. The sun burst over the horizon, and for a second he could see daylight between Ruby and Tshombe as the Afari reared her head back to tear out her victim’s throat.

Geronimo put a bullet into her left temple. Tshombe slumped to the ground. Ruby beat the mortally wounded priestess with a rock until she stopped breathing.

Episode XII: Who By High Ordeal (Part 13)

“…and then I’ll start singing show tunes,” said Ruby, explaining her plan to create a distraction to Geronimo.

From the village, carrying faintly through the still air, came the sound of gunshots.

“I do not think that will be necessary,” said Geronimo. “The doctor has taken care of that for us.” He began to jog down the hill toward the town.

Ruby dithered for a moment. Her mind was whirling. All her life she had wanted adventure, to go beyond the horizon, to push herself to the limits.

But instead of the dashing heroics she had expected, she found herself in a land dryer than bones, telling the man she loved to go and shoot a woman, in order to save a young person who might not even be human and was definitely possessed of enormous supernatural power.

Not to mention the Doc, who seemed to have started killing people again.

“Maybe I’m not up for this,” she said to herself, faintly, and then marched grimly behind Geronimo.

[RP wanted to be able to “tell the truth” to the Liar. I pointed out that she spoke the Tongue of Lies, so a Cthulhu Mythos and Flattery spend might make that possible. Sadly, Ruby was out of Flattery, so we had a Challenge of Ruby’s “Always up for a little adventure” Value, giving her some points to refresh her Flattery pool.]

Geronimo melted into the shadows on the edge of the village and stealthily crept up to Tshombe’s tent. He lifted the flap, but only saw Millicent.

“Tshombe disappeared when the shots started,” whispered Millicent. “And by that, I mean she vanished in front of my eyes. But she has to come back sooner or later.”

“Let’s get out of here,” said Geronimo. He and Millicent sneaked around the side of the tent.

Ruby strode into town, head held straight, reciting the Tongue of Lies. Around her, people began to gather. “Are you a priestess?” said some of them to her in Afari. She kept walking.

Most of the village had gathered in the center of town, chanting softly; cantors scattered around the crowd provided the call and response for them. A few men with guns were running toward the edge of town, but Ruby ignored them.

Ruby walked slowly, trying to summon up every ounce of confidence she had, and stood in the middle of the crowd. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Geronimo and Millicent hiding behind Tshombe’s tent, but didn’t acknowledge them.

[RP: Could I Lie to them about what they need to do?
Me: You wanna make another Cthulhu Mythos spend along with your Flattery…
RP: I’m out of Mythos.
MP: You could borrow some from me! (Via the Gol-Goroth cherry.)
Me: Yup…though you’d be opening a window to Millicent’s brain…during this ritual…
RP: Nope nope nope. How about Occult?
Me: Occult is ghost stories and witch cults. Cthulhu Mythos is how the universe really works. In 17 steps…once you get to OT III, that’s when you really get moving…]

“The other priestess is lying to you,” Ruby said. “She is not a true follower. She is trying to summon something to destroy the Mouth. She will summon…the Fisher. The FisherFromOutside.”

She raised her arms in benediction. There was a flash of bronze in the first rays of dawn, and she felt a sharp pain on her lower left arm. She whirled around and found herself face-to-face with Tshombe, who was holding a bronze Egyptian war sickle.

“Ah, a witch’s duel,” said the Elder. “I have not indulged myself in so long.”

From the edge of town came the sound of an explosion. A cloud of salt and smoke rose into the air. Ruby tried to pretend like that was her plan all along.

Dr. Orange and Dr. Fauche dashed out of their house and ran two buildings over. Dr. Orange kicked in the door and they stepped inside. From the curtains on the open window, Julius saw four teams of two men with guns begin to search their area, house by house.

“What do we do?” said Dr. Fauche. “I’ve never been hunted like this.”

“Oh, you get used to it, being German. I’m a Social Democrat, this is nothing. Try running from those Freikorps assholes, then you can talk to me.” Dr. Orange fished in his pack for some dynamite. He waited until one of the teams had entered a house only a…stick of dynamite’s throw away.

The explosive sailed through the open doorway and detonated inside, destroying the house completely along with its occupants. The other three teams converged on the crater.

Episode XII: Who By High Ordeal (Part 12)

“So, as you can see in the Revelations of Glaaki, the sacrifice of a Nephilim…” said Tshombe, pointing at a handwritten passage scrawled in an ancient tome.

[MP pointed out that Millicent could certainly keep up with Tshombe, given that she had Cthulhu Mythos 5.]

“But I’m not a nephilim! My father was Jack Brady! My mother was Vanessa, an ordinary woman!”

“Your mother was far from normal.”

“I grant you she’s a bit special, a bit flighty…”

“You don’t even know! Your own mother, and you don’t even know! It is a shame that we are doing the ritual this morning. I would have liked to talk to you longer.”

“What don’t I know, other than this ritual isn’t going to work?”

“It’s not important. Now, look at the Livre d’Ivon—”

“But that’s the French translation, it’s not authoritative—”

“The Latin is also corrupt.”

“Wait, you’ve seen the Latin translation?”

They fell back into their discussion of the hermeneutics of the Outer Dark.

[MP made a Cthulhu Mythos spend here. I gave her a 3-point “Aberrance” pool, and then said that Millicent’s ability to teleport away probably wouldn’t work because the area was “sick” with the power of the Liar (but the Aberrance pool, which came from her crash studying of Mythos tomes with Tshombe and that would probably continue to work.) Then I pointed out that Millicent’s value statement of being a normal person was shattered, as Tshombe had proved in multiple ways that Millicent was absolutely special. Finally, two clues: that Tshombe believed what she was saying, and that somehow the Liar pulled everything into the ground.]

“We have to stop this,” said Ruby to Geronimo. “If we don’t, for all we know the Mouth will open, say ‘Now I have my full power!’ and eat the world. Sorry, you’re an hors d’oeuvre.”

“It seems the people are important. Or perhaps the stones,” said Geronimo.

“Yes. There will certainly be chanting. So that’s part of it. A ritual of four parts: chants, people, accessories, hors d’oeuvres.”

Geronimo gave her a look.

“I need to know,” continued Ruby with aplomb, “if you are comfortable going there to kill the priestess…I know that you’re not always—”

“To kill her? Of course. We have to save Millicent.”

“I’ll give you that rock we found at the dig site…that should help. And I’ll cause a distraction. You know I’m good at those.”

Drs. Orange and Fauche had been headquartered in one of the salt brick houses. In the early morning, when the only sign of dawn was a light blue band at the horizon, Dr. Orange awoke with a start. He yawned, and stuck his head out of the doorway to take the air.

He saw two men with rifles heading towards his house.

He pulled his head back inside, and ducked up alongside the doorway, trying to stay very still.

[Sense Trouble, then Stealth.]

One of the Afari stepped into the room. He raised his rifle, sighting it at the sleeping body of Dr. Fauche—

Dr. Orange blew his brains out with his pistol.

The other Afari jumped in the room and butted Dr. Orange in the stomach. The German doubled over, backed up a step, and winged the man in the chest with another round from his pistol. The Afari began to scream and started to crawl for the door. Dr. Fauche came awake and jumped up.

“What do we do?” he said wildly. “Should we let him go? I’m not a percussive archaeologist!”


Dr. Fauche pulled their attacker back into the house. “Now what do I do?” he said.

“Hit him on the head with the rifle!”

Dr. Fauche chopped the butt of the rifle into the back of the man’s neck. There was a cracking sound and the Afari slumped to the floor.

“I think he’s dead!”

“No, he’s fine,” said Dr. Orange, trying to get a look outside. “He’s sleeping. We have to go!”


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