“The rest of the journey might be somewhat turbulent” said Henry and adjusted his mask to cover the facial burns. The understatement of the year. The investigators knew that the Sorcerer would come for Madame Bruja and her powerful artifact The Lovers’ Heart.
MacKenzie was troubled. Should I stay or should I go? Clashed with Boris who yelled at him “Make up your mind for heaven’s sake!” And he did. MacKenzie left the train and said farewell and good luck to the dreamers.
The Saarnathians also left. They only passed an arrogant glance. Assured of their supremacy.
King Kuranes left with his bodyguards Haragrim and Nadamens. Perhaps somewhat friskly Ian asked King Kuranes if they could borrow his knights’ magic adamantine weapons but was kindly informed that was not possible. King Kuranes however was by now a powerful ally and as such formally added onto the investigators’ sheets. He would be a valuable asset in the future.
Karakov was pressured hard by Boris in the restaurant saloon as the others left for the privacy of their compartments. It was well after midnight and the train would depart at two am. After a while Karakov broke down. Boris pushed him with Psychoanalysis and Persuade rolls. Karakov admitted to moral guilt of the many wars in Europe and offered to seek forgiveness in the Gulf of Noden. The players did not know how important this accomplishment was at that point.
Left on the train for Gulf of Noden were:
The Investigators Boris, Frank, Hermann, Professor Scott, Ian, Manfred and Edvard.
The cats of Ulthar
Mironim-Mer (as a prisoner)
Beings of Ib
The clock stroke two and the beasts of the Dreamland Express leaped up in the void towards the Gulf of Noden. The investigators discussed the tactics. The Sorcerer had escaped their first encounter. Perhaps he was prone to fire? They readied Molotov cocktails from the bar. Frank and Hermann would guard Madame Bruja inside her compartment with Professor Scott guarding outside the door. The rest of the pack Manfred, Ian, Boris and Edvard took up frontal positions in the neighboring compartments. They would fight to the death to protect Madame Bruja and defeat the Sorcerer.
The beasts that made the Dreamland Express reached the Gulf of Noden and the investigators watched all the oceans of the world pour over the end of the world and fall down into that dark abyss. Suddenly in the distance they saw the contours of ten large flying creatures, certainly enormous like dragons. “Contact!” shouted Frank. “Battle stations ready!”. Molotov cocktails were put forward, guns cocked and blunt melee weapons held firmly in whitening knuckles.
Apparitions came forward. Transparent images of cavalry firing upon the train but the bullets were eradicated like smoke. Artillery followed aggressively bombarding the train but again only illusions. A submarine crowned the attack but again the manifestations were only half-full. Somehow they had been neutralized before even being manifested. Hermann suspected Karakov was somehow involved and silently thanked Boris for his initiative to break down the Russian war mongerer’s denial of guilt.
The flying beasts had a rider on top of one of them. Just a few rounds remained. The investigators rolled for Spot Hidden, Listen and Cthulhu Mythos. The flying creatures were nothing less than Shantaks_. Very powerful beings, fast and agile, with heavy attack capabilities and very strong armor that was oily and slick to protect them from all kind of attacks. “Go for the Sorcerer!” instructed Hermann. "_Forget the flying beasts they are too strong in combat!"
The Shantaks combated the strong tentacles of the train beasts and ripped huge chunks of them away at the 5th and 6th wagons. The two wagons with passengers. Only remnant tentacles at wagon 5 was left intact. The Shantaks crashed into the wagons and started attacking the roof. Edvard, Ian, and Manfred rushed onto the roof to defend it. They were followed by Zsusza, Karakov, the cats from Ulthar, the two Nightgaunts from the locomotive, and the Beings of Ib. Boris also released Mironim-Mer and the zombie who entered the battle on the defending side. They rushed up on the roof all of them and sided with the investigators.
We set the initiative:
1) The cats of Ulthar
6) Madame Bruja
11) 2 x Nightgaunts
13) Professor Scott
15) the Sorcerer
16) 10 x Shantaks
17) Beings of Ib
The defenders had a great advantage with initiative and attacked. The investigators focused on the Sorcerer and their allies on the Shantaks. They noticed immediately that even though the Shantaks’ armor protected them from almost all damage, they still got disturbed by the attacks and each successful attack on a Shantak made it ineligible to attack that round.
Ian hit the Sorcerer with a critical attack with a Molotov cocktail and the burnt corpse was on fire yet again. His read glowing eyes stared at the investigators and he tried to take control of first Edvard then Boris. But both managed their rolls! Boris went furious and shouted: “Come on you fucking coward its is time for round two here and now!”
Zsusza was the only ally who did not attack the Shantaks. Instead she used her statuette of a dancer and tried to hit the Sorcerer with it. Unfortunately she missed all her attacks but she kept at it refusing to give up!
The Shantaks started tearing the roof apart and finally succeeded in opening it up so the first line compartments were visible including Madame Bruja’s. Frank and Hermann had watched her and even asked if they could retreat. She wanted nothing of that. Not even jumping into the Gulf of Noden destroying the artifact. She wanted the Sorcerer here and now. Frank and Hermann readied themselves for combat as well as Professor Scott outside the door shifting to the roof now.
The battle intensified and the Sorcerer seemed to be able to take a lot of damage. Manfred knew the situation was getting desperate, soon the Shantaks would be free to attack them and they would all die. He lounged himself towards the Sorcerer full force trying to knock him off the flying Shantak. Unfortunately he missed and plunged into the dark abyss falling down towards the Gulf of Noden… Ian looked at his friend and could only think for a short second how brave. Then he also lounged himself towards the Sorcerer. He hit him hard but the Sorcerer showed immense strength and did not even move. He was rock solid. Ian managed to cling to him and remained on the Shantak battling for control and balance.
Suddeny Madame Bruja started laughing and crying hysterically. She was changing into a monster form of alien proportions. The investigators in the room had to check Sanity. They both succeeded evading any trauma or loss. Madame Bruja tore apart her rib cage and a beam flashed out from her heart towards the Sorcerer who was struck and screamed in agonizing pain.
Boris used the opportunity and joined his friends impressed by their courage. He too jumped towards the Sorcerer and Boris player decided to push his roll knowing a fail would mean worst possible outcome. But he made a hard success and off the Sorcerer went, falling down the abyss after Manfred and Edvard who failed their attempts earlier. One of the Shantaks dove at lightning speed tracing the Sorcerer and succeeded in picking him up in its mouth. The players went silent. this was far from over. Also the Nightgaunts dove and went with furious speed after Manfred and Edvard. They also hoped to savor their allies.
Meanwhile Ian and Boris fought to remain on top of the Shantak that was by now writhing and trying to cast them off. The armor plates of its hide could have offered grip but the oily easy residue that covered it made any attempts to find a grip inutile. Instead they pulled their knives and with forceful blows to the eyes not only blinded it but also used the knives’ shafts as grips to remain onto it. The Shantak shivered in pain and Ian and Boris knew they were in for the ride of their lives…
Above: Ian Flannery, investigator.
Above: Boris Vasilij, investigator.
To be continued…