Ancient Horrors of the Middle East and other Strange Tales

Dream Lands

In Dreams
You have just survived a long and highly unusual day. Like a stalking hunter, exhaustion has crept in and found its prey in you. Eyelids grow heavy as your fractured mind struggles to deal with the horrors that until today were the stuff of fiction developed from a fevered imagination. Comfort is found in the idea that today’s troubles are now firmly in the past and now is a time slated for recuperation.
Your eyes open. Unfamiliarity fills your mind while vibrant colors and rich smells fill your senses. Impossibly green blades of grass and blindingly yellow dandelions cover the field in which you find yourself in. An afternoon breeze brings with it a warm comfort and smells of life abundant. Your focus shifts to the fantastically blue sky and above that, the heavens. A solitary moon appears menacingly close and behind that a purplish ringed planet monopolizes the horizon.
Arriving as if on cue, you are picked up by some… thing. A shocking and uncouth black thing with smooth, oily… surfaces, unpleasant horns that curve inward toward each other, bat wings whose beating make no sound, ugly prehensile paws, and barbed tails that lash needlessly and disquietingly. And worst of all, never speaks… because it had no face at all… but only a suggestive blankness where a face ought to be. All is ever does is clutch and fly.
And fly it does. Together you travel across beautifully alien landscape. The seemingly rural area you arrived in gives way to a bustling mountainous city inhabited by what appears to be many different varieties of a feline species. As odd as they seem to you, they seem as though your presence was expected.
Flying past the city you are greeted with the beginning of a vast ocean. The water in the shallows appears a vast bed of fog dotted with the jagged heads of rocks from the shore. The deeper sections of the ocean appear littered with holes in which reality itself rips open so swallow the ocean. Fantastically mammoth amorphous creatures break the surface of the water spewing tons of liquid into the sky.
Passing the ocean you come across a vast plateau the color of blood. The ground seems to come alive as you approach. Upon closer inspection, you realize the “living” ground is actually thousands of bloated purple spiders, each one standing no shorter than 5 feet in height. As you pass overhead their chittering and wild thrashing in anticipation of what thy hope will be their next meal becomes deafening.
The blood red hills give way to a near colorless dessert. Your eyes strain to see anything other than sand and rock but it is of no use. The land is completely devoid of life despite a solitary crystal clear river passing through it.
Following the river, you come to a great lake with a glowing city that appears to float on its surface. It seems as though this is your destination as the winged thing started to descend upon it. It flies through the city streets that are occupied with figures seldom completely human, but approach humanity in varying degrees. Most of the bodies while roughly bipedal have a forward slumping, and a vaguely canine cast. The texture of the majority is a kind of unpleasant rubberiness. Again, they seem not to be interested in your presence as they go about what must be their version of routine life.
Your destination appears to be a room of eerie familiarity and quite dull in contrast to the marvelous sights you have become accustom to. Bare walls and bare floors with an overwhelmingly mundane yet somehow threatening feel make up this chamber. A single light hangs from the center of the room and stands alone as the rooms’ only notable feature. You turn quizzically to your host to find only a blank wall starting back and you quickly realize you are trapped in this featureless room.
Slowly, screams and moans of agony creep their way into your consciousness. The smells of decay fill your nostrils and a spray of blood splashes across one of the four walls. The realization comes like a slap to the face; there are bodies to accompany the blood! Seven human men and women of varying ages and nationalities lay on the floor in as many varying states of death. Some viciously cut open with others appear sickly and gaunt. One in particular catches and holds your gaze. A woman with neatly slit wrists in a yellow summer dress looks up at you. Her lips part as if to say some parting words. You sit up with a start, suddenly grateful to again be a part of the waking world.

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7/30/2011
The players continued up on their investigation of strange occurrences at the University of Baghdad. Their search led them to the murder scene of their former colleagues and previous members of First Team 5.

Professor Cathcart’s Residence

• The house’s windows and doors had been boarded up.
• Multiple controlled fires were found inside. One in the kitchen and one in the laboratory where five kennels were also found.
• The house appeared to have been investigated by another first team.
• There were numerous signs of a extremely bloody combat involving at least 6 to 10 quadrupeds and 4 to 6 bipeds. One of the bipeds seems to have fallen and got up again but it is unclear who or where that person went.
• A trap door to a crawlspace or basement was found in the living room. However, it appears to have been caved in. Not sure how.

Investigation was interrupted by a call from the green zone requesting immediate return to base. Reason being, the emergency beacons on all four members of First Team 2 went off. The team geared up and headed to Al Nukhayb, a small town on the edge of the Syrian Dessert where First Team 2 was stationed. What is known about First Team 2’s mission is they were helping the town increase their infrastructure. We left off with the group closing in on Al Nukhayb. They had homed in on the Manzilla’s emergency beacon. What the players discovered at the beacon:

• Manzilla’s jacket with the activated beacon.
• The tracks of 2 to 4 people heading towards and past the beacon. Judging by the direction, the tracks lead to a town past on the way called Fort or Castle Assumption.

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9/3

While deciding what to do next, the group spotted a large group of people heading towards the group from the North. The group decision was that none of their allies would be traveling at such a time or fashion and decided to avoid the people. Doing so lead them into a nearby town called Fort Assumption. They were greeted by a dead body that had been shot by several high caliber rounds.
The group decided to clear out and take refuge a hotel/café. There they seemed to fall into a forced slumber where dreams of a populated Fort Assumption existed. However it was short lived as they bear witness to a town massacre. It appears as though a member of the town’s law enforcement had started a shooting everyone in sight before the dreamers awoke.
We ended with the players re-investigating the waking world. It was still night as they made their way to the front of the building. In the streets they group witnessed their first signs of life in the town. A man walking down the street who seemed to glow slightly in the moon light.

XP again: 5
Total: 95 (Not including degeneration)

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9/10

Catching up with the man, Specialist Hastings decided to confront him. Upon said confrontation, the man began maggots out of his mouth and stagger towards Hastings. The result was a short gun fight that seemed to “awaken” the once still town. People began pouring into the streets calling the group murderers. However, this was short lived as the group began to realize these people were illusions.

After finding a well, the group decided to start a water purification system in order to leave the town. However, a ghost began scaring the members of the group away from the distillery. This prompted a more thorough examination of the town.
The group first encountered the town magistrate, Sabaj, in his office. The first meeting led to a fight which ended with the magistrate scaring the group into fleeing his office. From here, the group decided to look elsewhere.

Eloni entered a dream state where he witnessed men loading into a work vehicle and heading west. However, he chose not to follow them. Shortly afterwards, he saw a man sneaking out of a house. Following the man, he discovered he worked as a shop keeper and was most likely having an affair with the Magistrates wife.

After waking up, Eloni’s story convinced the group to head west and discovered a graveyard just outside of town where nearly all of the tombstones had the same date. The wife of the Magistrate’s grave was also discovered here. Continuing down the path, the group found the entrance to the long abandoned “Babyhead Oil Mine”. In the mine, they discovered a stash of food, a skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull and a sleeping Manzilla.

While leaving the cave, a sniper was spotted in the hills. We wrapped with Hastings trying to call the sniper to meet the group.

XP again: 5
Total: 95* Fixed from the previous session (Not including degeneration)

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9/17

After successfully coaxing the sniper out, the group met their first living resident of Fort Assumption, Jhmanrha. The man explained to the team that his family had a home in Fort Assumption and that he lived in the area alone. He also explained that he was aware of the “crazy people” who lived in the town to the Nakhayb and that the town didn’t need that kind of people in it. When it was explained that the group believed the water supply was the cause for Nakhayb’s problems, the man suggested that his water supply was not tainted and people could rebuild here in Fort Assumption.

The group continued their investigation into the mysteries of Fort Assumption. They found in the Magistrate’s office, a cubby hole hidden under his desk. In the hole they found the skeleton of who was believed to be the Magistrate along with the AK-47 used in his apparent suicide. Upon finding the magistrates rifle, members of the group began acting oddly.

First the group began to grow increasingly irritable followed by turning on each other. The magistrate appeared and forced Eloni and Sarkan to flee. He then commanded Hastings to attack Beaker. It was decided then that quick action was required. The bones of the Magistrate were taken from the cubby hole and buried in the cemetery next to his wife. However, this seemed to have little effect as the group continued to turn on each other.

Luckily the group came to its scenes long enough to figure out that part of the problem was the magistrate’s rifle. Whoever was holding it seemed to become enraged. The group then decided to destroy the rifle believing it to be an anchor of the magistrate’s ghost. This seemed to work as the attacks ceased.

However, the group soon realized that the Magistrate was not the only supernatural force residing in Fort Assumption. Waking that night to discover the town’s residence were all leaving their houses and joining a march down the town’s main street. The people seemed to be following a hooded figure carrying a staff with a bell on it to the town’s mosque. Inside the group encountered the imam and the whole town who only stared intensely at the group.

We wrapped with the group backing out of the mosque and returning to the makeshift distillery.

XP again: 5
Total: 100 (Not including degeneration)

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9/24

The group decided to try and find the rest of the anchors in the town. The decision was that if they could remove all the anchors, they would be able to leave the town. Before they could do this, they spotted Jhmanrha watching the group from a rooftop. After a brief conversation with him, he mentioned that the town will not let them leave.
At this point, the group decided they had had just about enough of Fort Assumption and decided to make a break for it. The plan was to take the water supply they had been collecting and walk back to the nearest town.

However, the group was confronted by a throng of dessert vipers with glowing red eyes on the town’s outer boarders. Determined to stick to the plan, the group made a mad dash through the army of snakes. Throwing grenades and running through the holes in the lines made by the blasts.
The group made it through however the cost was high. Nearly the entire group was bit and poisoned by the vipers. Both Hastings and Manzilla succumb to deadly poison that coursed through their veins. The group started their trek into the dessert but did not make it far before they realized the power had returned to their equipment. A call was made back to base and within hours, the group was picked up and headed back to the green zone.

After giving a report, the group began to pick up where they had left off. A new member was added to the group to replace Hastings from the intelligence field named Finn McAdams and Beaker began treatment for his poisoning.

The group had a follow up meeting with Colonel Sink on the subject of the most recent mission. Feeling unsatisfied with the Colonel’s answers, a call was made to Simon. Simon explained to the group that the problems of Nakhayb were being taken care of. He also made an offer to the group to join him but added in the warning that “the truth is ugly”.

Simon’s offer was turned down. Instead, the group headed for the university to follow up on the leads of the madman, Mohammad Kasif. Kasif was gunned down months earlier but a member of the first team after going on what was believed to be a school shooting spurred by insanity. The group started by talking to his frat boy neighbor, Adam Michaels and searching Kasif’s room. What they found…

Kasif…
• Studied Political Science
• Used to be very outgoing but had very few friends leading up to the end
• Has an ex named Jenny, Joan or Joanna or something…
• Was Adam’s roommate until he got “weird”
• Covered his room in charcoal glyphs and ramblings
o One particular pentagram like glyph had been seen by the group before
• Had all his possessions confiscated by the local police

The investigation led the group to head to the local police station to follow up with the detectives assigned to the case. While they didn’t get much from the police, they did convince them to allow the group access to the evidence locker. In the locker the group found…

• Kasif’s cell phone
• Proof that Kasif and Professor Cathcart had extensive communications up until Kasif’s death
• His ex-girlfriend’s name, Joanna Forester
• An ancient book with the title “Azazoth and the Others”
• The meaning of the pentagram like Glyph known as an “Elder Sign”. Protection from the “Outer Gods”.

With said revelations, we wrapped.

XP again: 5
Total: 105 (Not including degeneration)

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new guy
10/2
After leaving the police station with “Azazoth and the Others”, the group decided to follow up on more leads at the University. Starting with a visit to Kasif’s ex, Joanna Forester. After an interview with her, she mentioned that Kasif spent most of his days in the library. The group headed there next. In the library the group ran into Professor Cathcart who ran as soon as he was spotted. The group gave chase but he seemed to disappear into thin air. After a complete and thorough investigation of the area, it was clear to the group that he shouldn’t have been able to get away. The group currently suspects that Cathcart is a ghost or super natural of some kind. The group then decided to research the books that Kasif had been reading before his demise. Once the books were gathered, the group headed back to the green zone to start their research. While a significant amount of time was put into the research, there was simply too much complied information to go through before exhaustion set in. Taking a break from research, the group decided to interview Professor Detwiler (psychology) about the happenings on the university campus. While his answers seemed to the group to be evasive, Detwiler led to the group to professor Fallou Ngom (Ancient Arabic). Fallou was much more forthcoming about the events that transpired those years ago.

· The group of people mentioned in Cathcart’s journal were most likely professors , not students.

· The group professors decided to attempt one of the rituals in a book with a number of paranormal activities occurring as a result.

· Only Cathcart and Detwiler know where the book is.

· A disagreement formed about studying or hiding their findings. Detwiler wanted to exploit them while Cathcart wanted to hide them.

Armed with new information, the group decided to re-interview Detwiler. After refusing to admit to any of these new facts, the group decided to set up surveillance on him. While watching him, he appeared to become aware of being followed at some point and ran from the group. When the chance became vehicular, the group decided to go with the prudent option and let him get away. The group then decided to head back to what is believed to be the beginning; in the boiler room of the university. There, the group found the strange glyph scrawled into one of the pipes and what appeared to be a blocked door behind one of the boilers. Without the proper tools to open the door, the group left. And that where we wrapped.

XP gain: 5
Total: 110 (Not including degeneration)

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boiler room
10/15

10/15

Once back at the green zone, the fifth first team came across their newest member. A soft spoken Mexican American with a strong affinity towards computer science. After thoroughly examining the man’s paperwork, it seemed apparent that everything was in order.

Along with the new member, the First Team went about their business. The plan was to wait until late at night and break down the door found in the university boiler room. The group deft snuck onto the university campus and successfully avoided the campus patrols. Once in the boiler room, the group moved the boiler out of the way and used sledge hammers to demolish the wall.

Once inside and after a thorough investigation, the group found the following.

· A 100 to 150 year old ceresin lamp

· An extensive library on demons. The books were in several different languages and appeared to coincide with the origin of demons culture.

· Two of the books from the demon library were on a desk in the room. Azazil and Asmodeous.

· Faint carvings in the floor that formed the same symbol found scrawled into the pipes in the boiler room.

· A secret compartment in the floor that held a leather bound book that Billings seemed to think was written in Aramaic.

After moving the library out of the boiler room, the group began to study it. While that was happening, Finn decided to visit Ishmael Rush. Finding only an empty apartment and a closed book store, Finn decided to put out a military APB on him.

The group also found the apartment of Professor Detwiler. After a day of surveillance on his condo, it became apparent that he was not home. After gaining entry to his condo, the group copied his hard drive but wasn’t able to find out anything else. After some deep research into Detwiler’s computer the following email chain was found.

From: Muhammad Makkawi

To: Jerry Detwiler

It is always good to hear from you my friend. Your research has proven invaluable. However I regret to inform you there is no need to meet on this topic. Plans have already been set in motion and it can’t stopped now. Make sure to watch the news on the 2nd, the world will bare witness to what the Sayf Al Adel is capable of.

From: Jerry Detwiler

To: Muhammad Makkawi

While I greatly appreciate our working relationship and certainly still respect your ideology, I must respectively disagree with the current course of action. Without further research, there’s no telling the extent of the damage that could be cause by releasing the agent. It’s possible could spread far beyond any containable boundaries. I’m writing to implore you to reconsider this plan. Can we meet for further discussions on this topic.

After making this discovery, we wrapped.

XP gain: 5
Total: 115 (Not including degeneration)

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