Last night I had a dream. Not a pleasant one. We were walking along the corridors of a cyclopean city, made from steel and white concrete. The impossible architecture of the place were almost organic, living. We were searching for corpses. In order to bypass the security systems, we had to wear at all time skin masks made with the faces of the deceased inhabitants. That’s why we were searching corpses. The previous inhabitants were all dead. They were only human in appearance, and the skin was acid, slowly melting the flesh of our faces underneath, blurring our features
La nuit dernière j’ai eu un rêve. Ou un cauchemar. Nous marchions le long des corridors d’une cité cyclopéenne, faite de métal et de béton blanc aseptisé. L’impossible architecture de ces lieux leur donnait un coté organique, presque vivant. Afin de tromper les systèmes de sécurité, nous étions forcés de porter en permanence des masques de peau, réalisés à partir des visages des anciens habitants. C’est pourquoi nous cherchions des corps. Les précédents occupants étaient tous morts. Ils n’étaient humains qu’en apparence, et leur peau acide faisait peu à peu fondre la chair de nos visages dessous, effaçant nos traits.
Sleep tight, tonight, the Guardian’s watching over you Dream far and wide, venture the realms of the unknown You’re safe, you’re warm, the Guardian is protecting you Embrace, hold tight, once you’re awake it will be gone
Dors bien ce soir, le Gardien veille sur ton sommeil Rêve loin, rêve large, explore les contrées oniriques Ne crains rien, au chaud, le Gardien t’enlace et veille Puis à ton réveil, il disparait, c’est magique
Mouhammad reluctantly left the room of the Continental Hotel, letting Betty preparing the ritual with the various ornaments he fetched for her. That was a strange set of tools she asked him and he did his best to find them all. Buckler, arrows, arc, an ankh, a tiny sarcophagus… All this esoteric stuff was making him nervous, not that he feared the occult, but returning to the place he once worked was risky. He didn’t exactly leave a notice or any explanation of why he left his receptionist job, and “finding the love of his life” was not among accepted motive.
Betty told him not to look. She told him to return in a few hours. She said she will invoke the Spirit of Nets the Huntress to beg her for rest and protection.
He couldn’t resist and swiftly turned back. Using his pass on the door, he cautiously went back in the hotel room. He heard the words of Betty speaking softly some kind of prayer, in an unknown language. As he tried to hide behind the plants, he was overwhelmed by a sudden urge to sleep. He briefly saw a feline shadows, heard a strange metallic noise and fell to the ground unconscious. And now he’s here. They all are here.
There is no time here. No past. No future. Only an eternal present. The grass is everywhere, taller than them. A gentle and warm wind is blowing. They feel presences out of their sight around them, furtive noises in the bushes of predators, but no fear. They feel protected, relaxed. Mouhammad saw Betty, alongside her sister. Betty was pregnant, and all signs of worry has disappear from her face. She was expecting, radiant, a true goddess. He fell in love again and sit with her. Keeva was slowly stroking the dog. John was alert, but calm and peaceful.
There was no pain, no worries, no anxiety, not even the slightest discomfort. For the first time since ages, they could relax themselves and forget for a while the tasks at hands, the horrible fraternity of the black Pharaoh and the impending return of Nitocris.
This was bliss though Mouhammad. He could stay here for ever. Betty leaned on him and said:
– I want to hunt small critters. To run after they little tails. I want to sleep in the sun and to be petted. This is a dream, I know that. Not The Dreamlands, ‘though… This is the dream of a cat.
– Oh uncle. I’m so glad to see you! – ‘evening son – I must ask you for help. Would you kindly listen to me? – Sure, son! – I kept dreaming of a titanic figure, truly a god. Each night, over and over. At first it was blurred and vague. And now it is clearer and clearer each night. Last was the worst! it saw me! And then it made a gesture. – Oh my! That is quite terrifying. – I’m scared. What can I do? I’m afraid to fell asleep again. – But you are dreaming dear. – oh… – like, right now. Remember, son: I died three years ago. – no…nononoNONONONONOWGAWD!
– “Quick ! Follow me ! And do not, I said : DO NOT look behind you.”
couldn’t help himself. As he turn around, he felt more than he saw a
cold shadow spreading around the flooded room. Slowly rising from the
mud he woke into, a colossal snake was rising to the roof, dripping mud,
algae and whatever was decomposing in these foul waters. Grotesquely,
this creature had a human face that looked like the face of the spice
shop owner Tefwik. – “Wha.. How .. Why !?”- “No time ! Come ! screamed Gavigan”
face split in two, revealing a protrusion of tentacles, mandibles and
other unnamed appendices. John was paralyzed by the grotesque and
terrifying sight of the creature slowly leaning to him, unable to giggle
a toe. He could smell the foul and putrid stench of the abysmal cloaca
ready to swallow his body and its soul, and yet his body wasn’t
responding. Suddenly, he felt pulled back, and
dragged in the mud against the flow, then saw the door close itself
thanks to the undertow. That somehow rebooted his mind, and he soon
could started to flee as anyone should reasonably do facing such a
monstrosity. Grabbing his pistol, he shot some round behind as him and
Gavigan were struggling to progress among the floating detritus. They
heard loud banging noises on the door they left. John took a look at Sir
Gavigan. He was dressed like the day they met him at the Penhew
foundation, the exact same costume. As they reach the stairs, John
noticed the entire manor was flooded. They could try to reach a window
and jump outside, but there was a strange glowing fog that felt almost
tangible outside. Sir Gavigan turned to him.
– “We need power objects, artifacts, relics, anything of power !” – “hu… I dunno ! The attic ?”- “lead the way, this is your dream !”
climbed the stairs, followed closely by Sir Gavigan, just in time to
hear a loud cracking noise in the corridor and a wave of mud coming
toward them. He took position and let Edward pass him, then emptied his
round in the mud, to no avail. – “Here ! I found something !” Following
the voice, he ran in the fist room with the broken door and saw the
most incredible gathering of magic tools. Everything was as he has ever
imagined, whatever loosely related to the occult it was : walls and
walls of leatherbound grimoires and massive books piled in dust covered
huge shelves, chandeliers, ritual knives, cauldrons, African masks,
bones, marking on the floor, robes, bottles of glowing fluids… They
even was a living black goat munching a tapestry covered in occult
markings ! Sir Edward was already reading from a heavy black grimoire in his hands.
– “Elhoim sabbaoth Nephren-Ka… Grab the sword ! Et Nyarl Ft’hagn sibbo Neth Ka..” John
dropped his now useless gun and grabbed the sword, which started to
glow and suddenly burst into flames ! Gavigan started to levitate and
runes appeared all around him in the air, shining brightly like his
sword. John heard the sound of the creature approaching and turned
around turned around to face the door, raising his now blazing magical
sword. As his brother William said, there is a time to think. And there is a time to act. Pencil doodle on A6 sketchbook Excerpt from an ongoing run of Call of Cthulhu Campaign : The Masks of Nyarlathotep (London arc)