Call of Cthulhu : Cairo

Travel to Cairo

Partly due to a preference for luxury, and partly because of a suspicion of travel by ship after the traumatic events on board the Titanic, the group has decided to travel to Cairo overland.

The journey begins with the train from Calais to Paris, from there continuing on the Simplon-Orient Express as far as Constantinople. From there you transfer to the extension line through Syria and Palestine to Egypt. This leg of the journey involves several trains and ferries, as well as a jaunt in an automobile for one leg.

Assuming a few days in Paris to rest and stock up on any expedition equipment you may need, you arrive in Cairo on Sunday 12 April, exactly 13 years after you faced the priestess Hettunaway on board the Titanic.

The arrival

Things are moving so fast these days that I do not even have time of writing my diary. The day we arrived in Cairo we were unaware of the uses of the autochthonous people. As soon as we landed, people stormed around us stealing our luggage, moving towards an hotel (not our hotel). Me and Mr. Bell, the most highly placed of the bunch, did not flinch and resisted these thugs. The others went searching for their luggages, lost in a sea of people. After a day, we met all together at the hotel.


The visit to the Museum

Before visiting the pyramids we decided to investigate first in the city about the Carlyle expedition. We went to the museum to meet professor [Kafur]. After a brief, friendly conversation between occultism experts like us, we discovered that:

  • the Monster, Black Pharaoh is indeed mentioned in Egyptian archaeology.
  • There was a battle between [Nefer Ka] and [Sneferu]. Probably the [Black Pharaoh] participated (I do not remember)
  • [Nicotris] right-hand of the [Black Pharaoh] and priest
  • [Cafur] owns a copy of the [Necronomicon] in arab, called [Alasif]
  • The Carlyle expedition visited the following digging sites in this order:
    – [Giza, Micerino Pyramid]
    – [TODO]
    – [Dashur] in Kenya. They claimed that they have found a secret entrance to the bent pyramid
  • Additionally, the Carlyle expedition claimed to have discovered the sarcophagus of [TODO]
  • There was a [TODO guy] who worked in the Carlyle expedition and is living with his mother [TODO Nuri] in the suburbs of Cairo (El Wasta, El Dun)

Given all the information he gave us, he does not look implicated in the Cult of the Bloody Tongue. However, you never know…


The first visit to Giza

We decided that, before visiting possibly dangerous people and gunning them down (which could lead to a very short permanence in the country) we decided to explore Giza and follow the trail of the Carlyle expedition. The first sign of the black pharaoh was right in front of the Sphinx: a stele. While visiting the Micerino’s pyramid, in the burial chamber, the one where the Carlyle expedition said that they have found the sarcophagus of [TODO Mummy, Nartotep? Neferka?], I spotted a secret button on a wall that lead to a secret passage. Thank to our newly acquired guide [TODO Nefeli’s char], we were able to enter without being spotted by tourists.

The passage in the pyramid was dark (and full of terrors?) with many “natural” ramifications. At times we heard a faint laughter coming from nowhere. That put all of us on the edge. Basile Lerouc went psychotic once asking to go back. These french people are real pussies, in Russia we never flinch! Drink some vodka I say and grow a spine! In one later tunnel we heard wind passing by following a pattern… like being inside gargantuan lungs. In another tunnel we found razor-sharp stone roses and mushrooms. We decided to continue on the main corridor. Some passages were collapsed and we spent already some hours inside. I was taking a map, trying to figure out our position with respect of the pyramids outside when… some half-men, half-animals attacked us with their disfigured features (i.e. beaks and horns)! Fortunately, our brave men ( Jude Gregson and Frank Johnson) did quick work of them. I withheld my guns: such a small corridor can be a problem for my marksmanship.

We kept pushing forward even if Frank wanted to retreat. It is incredible, just a small peck and he is already ready to flee! We need to eradicate the devil from these lands! We need to move forward!

We went in another lateral tunnel. When we came back the dead bodies of the 2 half-animal creatures were taken away. We followed the trails/proceeded in the main corridor until… another secret door. Found the mechanism, we proceeded again into a big chamber. In the [Nicotris Secret Chamber] we found:

  • Stairs with a purple fog going downstairs
  • Pool of water and leaches with a ceremonial raft
  • An altar with the [Nicotris] sarcophagus
  • An altar with a double throne linked with a bridge to an opening in the wall where there was a stele and, behind, a natural opening in the wall. The stele had hieroglyphics about the [Black Pharaoh] (successively, [Cafur] was able to decipher these markings).
  • A gigantic hole in the wall were no light could pass through. Very spooky.

While exploring the room, near the pool, the half-animals attacked us again! They were many, we fought but, unfortunately, Cecile Goulding felt in the pool and never re-emerged. He left us saying: “See you on the other side!”. That was a real man. After, we opened the [Nicotris] sarcophagus. There was the mummy. We took many photos and performed a ouji board ritual. [Nicotris], indeed contacted me. She asked for three items of power:

  • a girdle (belt)
  • a crown
  • a necklace

She did not want to answer to any other questions. Quite rude in my opinion. After this we headed back to Cairo: we needed to translate the hieroglyphics and buy more batteries for our torches.

Second visit to Giza

After a brief visit to [Cafur] where he translated the hieroglyphics we headed towards… [a mosque] to look for the girdle (he suggested it). We did not find anything and we decided to go back to Giza to finish the exploration. Fully prepared, weapons loaded, Molotov bombs charged and so on, we proceeded along the main corridor. After some time we ended in a hemispherical room with a small round stage in the middle. Everything was dark and silent. I decided to contact these blasphemous creatures: we need to know what/who we are dealing with I say! A new ouji board session started. The board said only one word: [Niartotep]. I started asking questions: no answer. Frank Johnson noticed some figures that were approaching: another round with the semi-animal humanoids? I was ready to fight! Unfortunately, I asked one more question: “Do you want us to fight Niartotep or do you want us to help her?”. Immediately I teleported outside of the pyramid, in the desert, in front of the stele near the Sphinx. Does this [Niartotep] teleport works two-ways? I did not try. In the rush I just thought of going back to the pyramid by foot: my comrades are lost without me.

Escaping Cairo

The investigators started out in the Cairo hospital where some party members were still healing from the battle wounds inflicted by the cultist encounter in the pyramids. They had saved two new acquaintances, [Agatha Broadmoore] and James Green from the cultists. As James was staying in the hospital he could tell them about the Clive expedition that he was participating in. The expedition had found a mummy (most likely [Nikotris]) and a coffin with papyrus that later had disappeared along with the people guarding the found. Following this, the expedition had moved to Memphis for further excavations.

Basile visited the Cairo bulletin and discovered that a wealthy egyptian lady [Sharifa Rawash] would be organising a society party in the upcoming days. The investigators were keen to learn more about this lady, as it seemed very plausible that she could be the resurrected queen [Nikotris]. While waiting for the society party, they visited the pyramids in Giza once more to investigate the teleportation mechanism (by which Rashkolnikov had “disappeared”) to see if it worked to teleport anyone from the outside into the pyramid. Two egyptians were following the party and observed them during this experiment (which failed).

Back in Cairo some investigators went for a shopping tour on the bazaar and Frank decided to visit the museum on his own, despite warnings from Jude about wandering off alone. He had an encounter with some back-alley egyptians that led to some severe wounds and a lecture from Jude as he returned bleeding to the hospital.

Finally, as the society party took place, all investigators happily showed up as servants and friends of Basile who had managed to get a press pass. Jude snuck away to try to lockpick his way into the house, but returned to the rest after a failed attempt. Luckily, someone allowed the whole group of investigators to enter. This “someone” turned out to be Omar Al-Shakti who interrogated the investigators about their business in Cairo while showing signs that he already knew who they were. As Al-Shakti showed up with [Sharifa Rawash] who was wearing a stunning selection of accessories – a girdle, necklace, and crown – the investigators decided to get out of there.

The escape was interrupted by a giant flaming sphere that attacked Rashkolnikov. While fleeing, Basile heard the noise from the fight and turned around to try to save Rashkolnikov as neither bullets nor holy water seemed to do any damage to the creature. Rashkolnikov violently burned to death and Basile’s bravery turned to his demise. After being hunted trough the streets of Cairo the beast of fire turned both Basile and some innocent bystanders into piles of ashes.

Terrified by this encounter, the party assembled at the hospital of Cairo and decided to send the still wounded members to Port Said, while the rest escaped south, to [Meidum], to trace down a woman, Nuri, whose son had participated in the Carlyle expedition. During this train trip Frank started doubting the saneness of continuing to follow the traces of ancient legends that only seemed to end with the death of his fellow investigators.

As the investigators arrived in [Meidum] they attempted to find Nuri but only managed to irritate a clerk in the local post office. Finally they found a young student, Muhammed, who spoke english and could act as a guide to the city [Al-Wasta] where Nuri supposedly lived. The investigators managed to find Nuri, and by bribing her son, managed to talk to her. She gave the investigators a piece of pink-colored limestone with some carvings that had been taken from one of the pyramids nearby. She and her son had been attacked by one of the creatures of doom, so the party did not bother them further.

Having suffered the loss of two investigators and friends, Frank decided to take a break from the adventure and bid farewell to the rest of the group. He hinted at a return after some time, but for now he needed some moments of solitude. The remaining team did not allow themselves to be let down from the numerous losses, but instead continued their investigation, traveling towards the Red pyramid.

Doom in the Bent Pyramid

It was a much diminished group who investigated Meidum and Dahshur. Cecil had met a grisly death in the leech pit in the Great Chamber below the pyramids; Basile and Raskolnikov had been consumed by a terrible ball of sentient plasma which fell from the sky. Daniel was still recovering in hospital in Port Said, attended by Arthur and Jack. Even steadfast, reliable Frank was so appalled by the horror he was unable to go on and departed from the others at Meidum.

So it was that from the original group, only Bessie and Jude arrived in Dashur, on 9 May 1925. Accompanying them was Al Corleone and his hired muscle, a taciturn man known as Hans Gruber. Al was following his own investigation, and the two parties decided to continue together.

There are two pyramids near Dahshur: the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid.

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid is so-called because it is faced with pinkish limestone. This unusual construction material led the investigators to conclude that the fragment of carved limestone given to them by Nuri of El Wasta had originally been taken from this site. However, the pyramid had not yet been excavated and they were unable to find any entrance.

The Bent Pyramid

About a mile from the Red Pyramid stands The Bent Pyramid, so called because the angles of its walls change between the upper and lower sections. There were two entrances, on the west and north faces. The north entrance was guarded by soldiers wearing the uniform of the Egyptian army. The west entrance was boarded up.

Coming back under cover of darkness, the investigators were able to pull aside some of the boards and sneak into the funerary chamber beyond, somewhere in the centre of the pyramid. The only features were two remarkably thick and startlingly white alabaster columns. Remembering the notes he had made in Erica Carlyle’s library all those months ago, Jude insisted that there must be a secret passage. Indeed, a careful search of the pillars revealed a secret door in the right-hand pillar. Inside the pillar, a narrow spiral staircase led upwards.

At the top of the staircase, a series of ramps ascended up towards the pyramid’s capstone. At the end of this passage, an asymmetrical arch opened into an ominous throne room. The most striking feature was an obsidian throne on a stepped dias. Around the throne were six half-height pillars, each topped by an alien gemstone.

The wall behind the throne was covered with bas-reliefs and strange inscriptions, some of which looked Egyptian, others which could not be identified. The wall to the left depicted a star chart and a smaller image of planetary positions in the solar system, ringed by astrological symbols. On the right-hand wall was a distorted map of Eurasia, Africa, Australia and the Western Pacific. Set into this latter map were three uncut rubies, one marking a point in the East China Sea, one in central Kenya and one in western Australia. An inlaid ebony band marked an arc crossing the Indian Ocean. Arcane symbols bordered this map.

Al’s companion started trying to loot the chamber by prying the weird gemstones from the tops of the pillars. As he did so, all six gems burst into a cold, white flame. Jude made for the exit, but it condensed into solid rock before him. Spinning around, he saw a dark humanoid shape materialising on the throne. The room filled with an echoing laughter, faint at first, but rising in volume as if arriving across a great distance or the span of the centuries. Al drew his pistols.

As the figure on the throne coalesced into existence, it took on the form of the Black Pharaoh, awesome in his majesty. Al realised [fails Sanity check] that his companions were in league with the Pharaoh and were about to kill him. An expert sharp-shooter, he fired wildly at each of them in turn, killing Hans instantly with two shots to the head. Bessie took three shots to the midriff at close range and crumpled to the floor in a pool of blood. A sixth bullet injured Jude as he was diving behind one of the pillars for cover. Al continued fitring, emptying his remaining rounds into the unyielding stone.

The Black Pharaoh was deeply amused by this carnage. “So, Al Corleone,” his voice boomed. “Welcome to my royal throne room! I can see it has made an impression on you.” Al stood staring at him, babbling incoherently, pointing his empty pistols and clicking the hammer time and time again on the now-empty chambers. The Pharaoh chuckled.

“And what about you, Jude Gregson? What is it your heart desires in all the world?”

Jude yelled back at him, “Vengeance against Gavigan and Al-Shakhti and all those who had a part in the death of Jackson Elias and all my friends! And the safe return of my friends!”

The Black Pharaoh seemed to consider this for a moment. Then he continued, in a voice seductive and dripping with promise. “Give yourself over to me, willingly and completely, and I will grant what you desire.”

Jude shouted back, “Never! You are lying, I will never serve you!”

The Black Pharaoh’s expression changed to one of intense irritation and his tone grew cruel and mocking. “You are foolish to continue along this path. The gods you defy are too powerful to be hindered by the efforts of mere mortals. After all, unless you can be in three places at once, you have no hope of stopping what is to come. As with the hydra, unless all its heads are removed, the creature still lives. You should meekly return to your home. Be grateful that you may enjoy the rest of your insignificant life. Give up your doomed and pathetic struggle and await the fate which must come. It is inevitable.”

To emphasise his point, the Pharaoh waved his hand and the map on the wall was replaced with an image of a camp in Africa. The members of the Carlyle Expedition and their camp crew could be recognised moving around the camp.

“Look you,” sneered the Pharaoh, “at the fate of those who came before you, and see how they prospered.”

With that, terrible screams were heard as scores of winged, gigantic snake-like things swooped down from the sky, while diseased mockeries of humanity erupted from the earth below. The members of the expedition were torn to pieces in a scene of unspeakable carnage. There were no survivors.

“It’s not true! This is a lie! That’s not what happened!” yelled Jude.

The Pharaoh laughed, a pitiless harsh sound that echoed in the sealed chamber. “Even the brave know their lot. All doors are closed to you. All your dreams are doomed. All your struggles are futile.” The Black Pharaoh dissolved from view to the sound of his echoing laughter.

The departure from Egypt

The visions faded and the chamber fell silent. Jude turned around and saw that the exit was open again. Between them Jude and Al dragged the bodies of their companions down the ramps and out to the moonlit sands outside. Digging graves and burying their fallen comrades, Jude swore to himself that Bessie’s death would not go unavenged.

Depleted in numbers, Al and Jude had no choice but to return to Port Said to regroup with the others. They discussed whether they should attempt to deal with Omar Al-Shakhti. However, the cultists of the Black Pharaoh were now looking for them and a return to Cairo seemed too dangerous. Weakened and outmaneuvered, at least for the time being, the investigators reluctantly decided to leave Egypt. After some discussion they decided they should continue to Shanghai.

“Let’s send a telegram to Dorothy,” suggested Jude. “We need all the help we can get. She was with us in Peru and survived the Khaisiri. Maybe she will be willing to help us in China.”


On the sea voyage to Shanghai, Jude reflected back on what had happened, and remembered the words he had read in the book in Erica Carlyle’s library in New York :

(From Life as a God by Montgomery Crompton)

Jude also recalled that this book frequently referred to “The Black Pharaoh” or “The Pharaoh of Darkness” and contained many graphic descriptions of murders and sacrifices, which usually seemed to be carried out by means of a short, single-spiked club.