[Pulp COC] Masks of Nyarlathotep, Session One

Excerpts from the journal of Caridad Benitez, M.D., found in the year 2019 in an old abandoned house in Tangub, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

17 March, 1921. Lima, Peru.

An afternoon cooler at Hotel Maury (Photo by Angela Sabas)

Perry is late as usual, but I don’t mind. I’m a bit tired from the voyage, so this unexpected respite from the hurrying-about is welcome. We’d been booked into Hotel Maury, though we are meeting the explorer Augustus Larkin later tonight at Bar Cordano. I only hope that Perry won’t be too late for that meeting.

I have to say, this is quite an intriguing proposition, even if it’s meant to be a first foray/trial period for Caduceus. A hidden ancient pyramid here in Peru? Sounds innocuous enough. Although that brings me to–should I have left word of what I was going into, back home in Bacolod? Sure, they know it’s medical assistance on this expedition, but perhaps I should have been a bit more forthcoming with the possible dangers… but then again, what is there to say? I don’t even know what we’re heading into, just that this is supposedly more than just your run-of-the-mill expedition.

Perhaps I should write a letter to my sister. Just in case.

Where is Perry?

18 March, 1921. Lima, Peru, in a prison holding cell.

Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Photo by Angela Sabas / Silliman University)

Well, what a predicament. I don’t suppose Papa will be thrilled to hear about his eldest daughter being thrown into prison! And I’m doubly glad about writing that letter, though I suppose I should have posted it… I suppose tonight’s one good reason to actually be keeping my journal.

We met Mr. Larkin as planned, along with his bodyguard Luis de Mendoza and a Mr. Jessie Hughes, who introduced himself as a folkorist there to document the expedition. Mr. Larkin looked rather sick, as if from opium withdrawal, but otherwise was very passionate about his expedition plans, even if the documentation and research notes appeared to be rather thin. He showed us two items he obtained from an Ernesto Molo, a farmer near Lake Titicaca: a pendant and a golden cup. They seemed rather incongruous, however; not the same time period, I daresay. He talked about how he burned his research due to people who wanted to get at it, but told us we could get information from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and the Museo de Arqueologia y Antropologia, which is inside the university.

Larkin and de Mendoza left early, wherein the table’s mood lightened and, over drinks, Jessie Hughes told us that his name was actually Jackson Elias, and he was there researching Peruvian death cults and the “kharisiri”, and that de Mendoza seemed to be connected to these. He was in contact with a Nemesio Sanchez, a professor at the university who also works at the museum, who might have some information about this expedition. He had seemed very keen to contact Larkin, but had been ignored until now. I voiced a worry about his safety, and Mr. Elias suggested we visit him tonight.

Professor Sanchez at first seemed disgruntled at being woken up after retiring, but he understood our concerns for his safety and told us that he had tasked one of his interns, Trinidad Rizzo, with the translation of a document they possessed, and that she was likely working on it as we spoke. We went to the student dormitories and were directed to her room, where the door was ajar… and we saw de Mendoza in the room, but in a form that Mr. Elias refers to as a kharisiri.

It was definitely de Mendoza, but his mouth and jaw–it was elongated and filled with teeth. It is difficult to describe. He had been behind the girl and turned around and attacked us at the sound of the door opening. It was a blur, Ms. Rizzo was screaming, Mr. Elias was shooting–it was quite a disaster. Perry killed it with a blow, I was able to calm Ms. Rizzo down somewhat, and the police came.

We’ve reached out to Larkin, Professor Sanchez promises to help, Ms. Rizzo is still distraught (I told her it was a masked man come to burgle her; I don’t know what the police told her), and we are still here in the holding cell.

Ugh. We’ll find out more tomorrow, I suppose.

18 March, 1921. Lima, Peru, grabbing a quick lunch.

So many things happening, so many questions. We were released from prison, but no one is telling us how or why. De Mendoza’s body isn’t in the morgue, police are pretending ignorance, and Larkin… who is Augustus Larkin? We met him after the prison release but…

Anyway. Professor Sanchez gave us a copy of the survivor account Ms. Rizzo was translating last night, and a gold slab with etched symbols that apparently comes from the temple that the survivor desecrated with four other conquistadors. A name–Luis de Mendoza–comes up in the account.

We’re about to meet with Professor Sanchez again in less than an hour to talk about what to do with all of this new information.

18 March, 1921. Lima, Peru, a run-down motel near the docks.

The dockside (Batam, Indonesia / Photo by Angela Sabas)

What a day.

We left Hotel Maury this afternoon, after calling Larkin and making our excuses. I said Caduceus needed us for an urgent medical mission in San Francisco–I’m not sure he bought it, plus there’s that Spaniard-looking man following us from the university, so I had to buy two tickets to San Francisco to throw him off, and rely on the good graces of the kind man at the ticketing booth who thought Perry and I were runaway lovers.

We did buy tickets to Molendo and we’re leaving tomorrow morning. We plan to head straight out to Puno once we reach–hopefully we won’t be tracked getting on the boat–we need all the lead we can get. From the translated account we received, hopefully returning the gold slab Professor Sanchez entrusted to us is enough to set things right. Jackson has a possible contact in Puno we might be able to get more some more help from, a wise woman of sorts.

That survivor account we read this morning–it was rather chilling. It reads almost as a fantastical story, were it not for the events of last night. A Gaspar Figueroa shares how he and four other fellow conquistadors looted the temple in search of richness, and how the others were overcome with horrifying hunger and he was almost devoured alive “like a human leech”. It is too close to what we saw of de Mendoza last night…and especially that his name comes up in that account? It has to be more than a coincidence.

Anyway. We did also manage to hire a man Professor Sanchez recommended to us as an additional bodyguard of sorts–Mr. Pranit Singh Dillon, who will be heading to the Molendo boat separate from us. We need him, but I fear that we may be leading him to his death, too. We did not tell him to full extent of our expedition, and he did not ask any questions, but I feel horrible about not being forthright…

So many questions that need answering. Where is de Mendoza? Who is that man following us? And Larkin…who is he, truly? He could only say that de Mendoza sometimes does this disappearing act, but couldn’t give an account of where he was, and I daresay he seemed unconcerned his man is being accused of murder. His strong cologne can’t hide the scent of rotting meat wafting around him, he even seems to have a tattoo of sorts on his chest, hidden under this clothing. Is he one of these death cultists Jackson is talking about? Or is de Mendoza using him and controlling him somehow? Are there truly three more like de Mendoza still roaming Peru?

I wish tomorrow brings us some answers…but the chances are very slim. I’ll settle for not getting waylaid or followed further.

About this campaign

Daniel runs a Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign for Angela roughly once a month (when they get the time). She’s a scaredy cat and can only do Call of Cthulhu when it’s Pulp, so, yeah. Catch the next installment of the campaign next month-ish under the tag Masks of Nyarlathotep Campaign!