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Black Heart of Dagon


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GM

The Cthaat Aquadingen was a rare book. There were only three known copies, each bound in human skin that were said to sweat on occasion. The three copies resided in Britain, the only publically known one was in the British Museum, and under lock and key (and possibly more). The other two copies were rumoured to lie with private collectors of the occult.

There were only three copies.

The fourth copy had wound its way to Silvermans book store.

Bound in what looked like human skin, written in Latin, the book was a scrawl of writings on Dagon and the Deep Ones, Atlantis, the Serpent people, and full to the brim of horrible rituals and more horrible insinuations.

And into the bookstore, soon after its mysterious arrival by untraceable postal delivery (complete with shaky hand writing “DO NOT READ, KEEP SAFE!”), stepped a man most keen to purchase this rare tome.

A brown hued man with straggly brown hair, one glass eyes, and the other eye human but glassy. He was tall, stooped, and had a fixed grin. He licked his lips a little too much. His tailoring was good, however, wearing an excellent cut three piece suit.

“I am looking for a most rare book. The Cthaat Aquadingen. I am purchasing for a private collector. I can pay you a handsome price, as many dubloons as you can carry!” he said in a firm voice.

He carried a grey-steel box under his hand, and tapped it nervously, like it was alive.

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Meanwhile

 

The Black Flag slipped silently though the waves, on a cold spring morning with rolling waves. It always creaked, it always moaned, and somehow its voice seemed more than just timber grinding against timber. 

 

"Set sail for Freedom City! The den of inequity and guttersnipes!" said Flintlock. She leaned over the front of the ship, and gave the figure head a big saucy kiss on its big saucy bosom. She smelt or Rum and sweat and spices, and lolled from side to side with her ship. 

 

In one hand, an ancient flask of rum. In the other, an ancient urn. From this dented brass, she spilt a little dust. Black and silver it was, dust and light. And into the sea if fell like falling stars. 

 

As it sank through the ocean a black ooze could be seen, bubbling and seething like a snake. It looked like poison, it looked like night, and if one looked very closely, it looked like something you didn't want to see at all. 

 

And to the horizon it coiled, straight to Freedom City. 

 

Edited by Supercape
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As soon as Gretchen realized the true nature of the mysterious book that had arrived unbidden at the store, she made it very clear to her boss that is was scary s###, was not to be listed in the official inventory, and should be locked in the hidden back room until they figured out how to get rid of it, preferably by hurling it into a convenient volcano or dimensional rift. Such items were always trouble, and the longer it remained in the store the more likely that something bad would happen.

 

And now she was experiencing a terrifying case of deja vu, as once again a shady character showed up looking to purchase a book that no human should ever lay eyes upon; the last time she was shot and nearly died, and her fingers unconsciously traced the scar on her belly through her shirt. But now, things were different, for she had magic of her own to call upon. Gretch stood behind the counter, gently fingering the Ring of Power, drawing confidence from its weight and the chill of the silver as she adopted a pleasant tone with some effort.

 

"I'm sorry, sir, but you appear to be misinformed. No such item exists in our inventory. Is there something else I can help you find?"

 

Then she sent a slightly panicked sending Lynn's way, finding her squirrled away in the office, secretly playing Freedom League Legends on her smartphone.

 

-Heads up. We have a buyer for El Biblio Creepio. Front counter, three piece suit.-

 

-No. Way! Let me have a look at him.-

 

With but a thought, she sent her eyes and ears into the 'Skello Kitty' figure glued to the top of the register, using her link to the glamour.

 

-Oh dear God, he's creepy! Do you want me to come out?-

 

-Not yet, but keep an eye out. Oh, and he offered to pay with dubloons.-

 

-Fuuuuuuuuudge!-

Edited by Heritage
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GM

 

"I Seeeee" said the customer. He gurgled ever so slightly. 

 

"I had it on good word that the book in question was sent here most recently. Perhaps you would be so good as to check your recent acquisitions?" he asked, without being particularly polite or, for that matter, impolite. 

 

His fingers drummed the brass urn under his arm. It was a black, curious thing. On its rim, the faintest of black, curious ooze, seeping out. 

Edited by Supercape
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Flintlock

 

The Black Flag had sailed the worlds. 

 

And her captain, the Swashbuckling sorcerer, knew many tides and many seas. From storms of perpetual night that washed over the umbral moon, to the fetid rivers of the all-swamp. Many strange and dangerous planes. 

 

And 'betwixt such realms, there was fog and obscurity. As she now sailed into the port of Freedom City, she had a sense of being not quite there. The black stream of horror she followed was not of mundane dimensions, at least, not purely so. People half ignored her. The astute pointed at the site of a Pirate Ship, but many just stared with vague and dreamy eyes. They saw something not quite solid. 

 

And Flintlock could tell that the world around her seemed not quite solid, too. Dreamlike. Or, more accurately, nightmare like. She saw glimpses of spectres, or ghosts, or tentacles slipping under the surface of the water. 

 

And everywhere, the black stream of blood that wallowed from Freedom City, who knows where?

 

"Jack, this be strange tides!" she said to her first mate. 

 

Handsome Jack just puckered his scared lips. "Pfah! No stranger 'n than any we ain't sailed before!" he said, mangling his grammar and spitting some disgusting phlegm from his mouth. 

 

"Anchor the Black Flag, I'm going ashore!" she answered, as the mighty ship pulled up to the banks of its rivers. Flintlock would look most peculiar in Freedom City, dressed in nautical, saucy, and historical garb, but this was, after all, still Freedom City...

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- Okay, yeah, please come out now. This guy may or may not want to eat my brains. He also has an urn that is leaking black slime that I really don't want to have to clean up.-

 

-On my way.-

 

The door to the manager's office opened, and the lovely proprietress swept out, which she somehow accomplished without wearing a floor-length dress; instead she wore a thick, off-white fisherman's sweater, comfortable boot-cut jeans and light hiking boots. Her shoulder-length curly hair framed her lovely face, which was just a bit too pretty for a mere mortal. Though her smile was warm, the deep brown eyes were instense and somewhat challenging.

 

"Hello, and welcome to Silberma's Books! I'm the owner, Lynn Epstein; can I be of any assitance, sir?"

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GM

 

"Ah yessss...." smiled the customer, who looked like he had too many teeth. "You must be the manager" he continued, as a statement of fact rather than inquiry. 

 

"I was just telling your servant, I am reliably informed you recently acquired a certain book of considerable rarity.  The Cthaat Aquadinge" he said, drumming his fingers against his brass urn that continued to ooze a vague black mist. 

 

"I am here to purchase this antiquity. I can offer you any amount of gold for it, within..ahhh...reason..." he said, almost apologetically. 

 

Grimalkin had the sense that something was indeed leaking out of the urn, something horrible to look at, and not of these mundane dimensions. Something black and horrible. And with an awful stench, of moss and rot and dead sodden flesh. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

-Okay, I want you to leave the room like you're freaked out- -

 

-This will require no acting.-

 

-Then suit up, go invisible and use the Helm on this guy; see what you can see.-

 

-Done.-

 

Gretchen sidled out from behind the counter and began heading for the back room, making no attempt to hide how genuinely disturbed she was; meanwhile, Lynn continued to speak to the Customer from Beyond, using all her considerable charm to remain civil as she stepped over to the computer terminal.

 

"Hmm, that doesn't sound familiar; let's take a look."

 

Her nimble fingers danced across the keyboard, so fast one might not realize she was actually just a very fast hunt-and-picker and not an actual typist.

 

"I'm...I'm not seeing it listed here; who told you we had a copy? We might be able order one for you."

 

At that moment, the Shrike floated invisibly out of the back room, the eyes of her mask turned on the creep looking for anything abnormal.

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GM

 

The man, and his urn, had a black and bloody magic to them, of that there was no mistake. It burned like acrid smoke, and Shrike found the whole view unpalatable, to say the least. It was hard to look at the urn, something inside was reeking. 

 

To the helm of truth, a horrible number of wispy threads were pouring forth from the urn, like oil in water, a thick, ghastly and dark oil. These invisible but seen threads wound there way eastwards, into the ocean..

 

"Ah, I must have been mistaken...." said the customer, eyes like obsidian glass. "I shall have to find the references another way. I believe the British Library has a copy, although I do not wish a trip to such a dismal and wet land. But! if you do find the book arrives, please let me know...."

 

He passed a almost blank card, with just a telephone number on. 

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Flintlock

 

Flintlock had drank, danced, and fought in Freedom City through the ages, but the city looked half alien to her now. 

 

"Glass and steel!" she yelled at the skyscrapers, to the amusement of passers by who though her either a performance artist or mad. 

 

"I need a drink! I see better when I drink!" she wagered, which was half true. She found the horrible rituals and rites of the Yellow Sign less oily and bleak when she was drunk. 

 

She strode into a run down bar habited by a few old drunks and a few downtrodden businessmen. 

 

"Who will by me a drink?" she asked, full of swagger and sauce. 

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Gretchen was happy her boss couldn't see the color drain from her face; it would've damaged her badass street cred.

 

-This guy is all kinds of not right. There's a kind of...magical slime trail he's got that seems to lead back towards the ocean.-

 

-Y'know what, follow it; you still wearing that rubber band I gave you back in Sapporo?-

 

Gretch reached down and ran her hand across her left sleeve; the big fat band was still there, beneath the leather, touching her skin.

 

-Always.-

 

-Good. Let's see where this guy came from.-

 

Lynn smiled as she accepted the card, then pulled a ballpoint pen out of her apron and clicked it. "I'll be happy to let you know, Mister...?" The pen hovered over the card as she looked at the ghoul expectantly.

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GM

 

"Mister...." the man paused. 

 

"....Smith" he answered, as an anticlimax. He smiled without mirth. 

 

"I shall be sure to keep you in mind" he added, turning curtly, and treading out of the shop like a wounded soldier. His urn was still under his arm, and the amorphous black odour kept oozing forth. There was a kind of wet, rotting smell as he left, that reminded one of sunken marshes and sucking mud full of decay. As if the bottom of the ocean had been dredged up to the surface and with it every muck-ridden aberration that lived in those unseen furrows. 

Edited by Supercape
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And but a wee moment later...

 

Into the shop, a pirate appeared!

 

Flintlock staggered just a slight as she came in, knocking a few books of their shelf. She was feeling refreshed. That is to say, she was feeling drunk. 

 

In her hand, a silver salt shaker, full of the most wonderful sparkling ashes. Faerie dust. 

 

"Good morning to ye, good morning to ye!" she slurred. "Sorry for the delay, I had to stop off fer navigational purpose, and I took time to make sure I was lubricated!" she declared. 

 

"Helps with ma focus!" she explained, unhelpfully, shaking some dust out of her shaker. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gretchen was already out the back door and airborne when the pirate lass came staggering into the store; Lynn had dealt with a number of odd folks in her 80+ years of heroics, but to her knowledge, this was a first! The combination of a flintlock pistol and the effects of more than a tot of rum (she assumed) were noted, and while the lady didn't appear to be hostile, the bookselling heroine still opted for caution, though her demeanor of course remained warm and friendly. This was, after all, still retail.

 

"Hello, and welcome to Silberman's Books! Were you looking to meet someone here? We had a patron just leave who had a certain...aquatic air about him."

Edited by Heritage
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"Meeting, no, Lass, not meeting anyone. It would be a miserable thing if I found what I am looking for!" she said, waving her pistol around airily and with a paucity of caution. 

 

"But tell me of this man, this Aquatic man? What did he look like? Wide eyes? Puffy face? Scales? Forked tongue? Something of Innsmouth about him? Did he send your spine crawling and your skin shivering? Something queer about him?" she asked, leaning forward with her flintlock still pointed in a haphazard and dangerous manner. 

 

"And most importantly, what was this patron want in this here establishment?" she paused and cast her drunken eyes around the trappings of the shop. 

 

"Aye, and a fine establishment it is, lass! Most queer and unusual books! Why, I could add to my library!"

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GM

 

Meanwhile...Just across the street...

 

The lanky "Mr. Smith" scuttled through the streets of Freedom City in a rude way, barging past an old lady that drew a smattering of "tuts" from around him but no real action. Such was diffusion of responsibility

 

Around one corner, more elbows, around another. To dirtier streets were crumbling masonry was the order of the day. Or, more precisely, the order of antique centuries. 

 

Then, the man opened a door in a crumbling building. He went up some crumbling staircases, that creaked most alarmingly, and gave a gloomy horror to the scene. 

 

Then, into a room that was hardly a room. It was chipped walls and rotten floorboards. The only furniture was a battered leather chair that had seen better decades. 

 

The tall thin man sat down and patted his urn. 

 

"There there, my dear. From the depths, he shall wake. Praise Dagon! Praise DAGON!" he said, feverishly rubbing the urn. 

 

 

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There was a good chance this pirate lady was on the side of thr angels, but her behavior was nonetheless alarming, and Lynn had patrons to think about; clasping her hands together, she shook her head . 

 

"Ma'am, I would love to discuss these things with you, but I'm going to have to ask you to either put away your firearm or else turn it over to me for safe keeping." 

 

She indicated the customers hiding under tables or behind bookshelves.

 

"I cannot have you putting these good people in danger."

 

- - - 

 

Meanwhile Gretchen, still floating and invisible, had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from freaking out at a scene right out of a Gahan Wilson cartoon; she then realized she was now shut in the room with the creepy-ass thing, and unsure how to get out! Thinking quickly, she used a fraction of the power of her ring to rapidly knock on the door of the apartment.

Edited by Heritage
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"What, this old thing? This is me flintlock!" said an indignant flintlock. 

 

"Which is to say, it is named after me. Or I'm named after it. Never can tell!" she finished, scratching her head with the tip of the loaded weapon. 

 

"Ladies, Gentlemen, Boys and Girrrrlzzz..." she mumbled to the customers, almost falling asleep standing up until she jolted her head back once more. Her breath reeked of rum. 

 

"Captain Flintlock, at yer service! No need to panic, no need to fear! It's jes' me zombie crew of cut-throat rapscallions that need worry ye!" she laughed. 

 

But, all said and done, she put her pistol on the counter, undischarged. 

 

"Now then, me beauty" she slurred at Grimalkin. "Tell me 'bout this here shop, and ye customer! I been followin' some scurvy dog up to blackest mischief! I reckon..."

 

She leaned in to whisper in her ear. 

 

"It be the Cult of the Yellow Sign!" she said, tapping her nose. At least trying to. Being blind stinking drunk, she missed twice before finger collided with nose in a conspiratorial fashion. 

Edited by Supercape
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GM

 

Meanwhile...

 

"Hmmm, who isssss there?" hissed the tall man. He hissed in a manner which was a little too hissy than normal. He hissed in an exceptionally serpentine fashion. 

 

Putting the urn down on the battered leather chair, he cautiously - in a paranoid manner - crept towards the door. One hand dug deep into his pocket, and pulled out an old but impressive revolver. One of those antiques that looked heavy and most probably was. One of those antiques that looked like it fired cannonballs rather than bullets. 

 

Creak....

 

The door opened. 

 

"Who is there? Ssssshow yourself!" demanded the tall man, opening the door another inch wider. 

 

But was it wide enough???

 

 

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Lynn recoiled slightly at the captain's breath, which would probably melt any breathalyzer forged by man.

 

Jack Sparrow lives, and he's trapped in the body of a supermodel.

 

With considerable effort (which involved sealing off her nasal passages with glamour), the changeling focused on the issue of the disturbing 'Mr. Smith'. 

 

"He wasn't super fishy or snakey per se; it was more..." 

 

She squinted with thought as she tried to shape the thoughts with her hands. 

 

"Like he lived in a trunk on the Titanic, and just decided to do a bit of shopping, y'know? Plus he had a super-creepy urn under his arm, and offered to pay with frickin' doubloons, ferchrissake!" 

 

She leaned in closer. 

 

"And he wanted to purchase a very scary book that showed up, unannounced and unordered, at our shop just today; how did he know it was coming?"

 

Lynn didn't know a lot about the Yellow Sign, but she'd heard rumors, and none of them were good.

 

- - - 

 

Gretchen looked down at her figure, she nearly panicked; she wasn't sure if it was topographically possible for her to fit through that space! Holding her breath, she steeled herself and made a float for it.

 

I'm an eel. I'm a slippery, sneaky eel.

 

Using the Ring of Power, she zipped through the door just over his head, twisting her body in ways she never knew could. Then it was down the stairs and out the front door, the proverbial hounds of Hell nipping at her heels.

 

- He was talking to the urn. He was talking to it and praising Dagon. Isn't he a pagan god of some sort? God, I need a f###ing shower and a bottle of Jack. -

 

- Gretch, you are amazing! Come back to the store before you get all liquored up. -

 

- Copy that. -

 

- - -

 

Lynn's eyes had gone unfocused for a few seconds during this mental conversation, but then they locked back onto Flintlock.  

 

"Dagon; he might worship Dagon."

Edited by Heritage
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Flintlock

 

"Doubloons, eh?" slurred Flintlock. "That takes me back, aye, to the Golden Age!" she declared, loudly and drunk before bursting into song. Given her intoxication, it was not a bad performance. 

 

"Cannons and muskets

Sabre and Knife

Plunder the galleons

Its a Buccaneers life!"

 

"Tankards of Rum, Chests full of Gold

Ill sail the Black Flag, till I die or grow old!"

 

Oh its a Pirates life for me. me hearties

A Pirates life for me

It a Pirates life for me, me lovelies

A Prates life for meeeeee"

 

And with that she passed out, standing up, head slumped on the desk in front of Grim, snoring loudly and muttering something about Dagon and Lemuria. In Dutch. 

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Gretchen came back into the store at the tail end of Flintlock's performance, raising her eyebrows in appreciation. "Wow. Nice set of pipes for a drunk sexy pirate."

 

"Yep! Here, help me get her into my office." She smiled as innocently as she could and waved a calming hand towards the patrons who were starting to come out from behind cover. "Not to worry, folks; we've got the situation under control!"

 

She hooked the flintlock on her belt (discretely conjuring a bit of leather to restrain the trigger), and then they both put one of her arms over their shoulders and lifted. Gretch used the power of the Ring to cheat a little, TKing herself a bit of extra lifting power. Once they had her in the back, they closed the door and gently lowered her into one of the leather chairs.

 

Greth looked down at her blankly. "Now what do we do?"

 

Lynn smiled cheerfully. "We wake her up!" With a wave of her hand, she conjured up a gallon of ice-cold water, in mid-air, directly over the slumbering pirate's head; the resulting splash was truly impressive.

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"Wha...wha...wha...Agh f'taghn Leng!" spluttered Flintlock, waking up in a start. 

 

"That's cold! Although I have had colder waters" she conceded, patting down her wet hair and wet clothes. She seemed less drunk. But still drunk. 

 

"Whose the wench?" she asked Grimalkin, flicking a thumb at Gretchen. She did, however, not wait for an answer. 

 

"Now why did I come here? Ah! Yes!" she stood up straight with barely a wobble, although a wobble there most definitely was. 

 

"A horror beyond imagining dwells in the sea below seas, asleep and slumbering, or dead, if such concepts apply to the inconceivable! Dagon! Dagon! The alien god of the deep ones! And he must not awaken!" she said, clutching onto Grimalkins clothes for emphasis and balance. 

 

"And yet, there are those that seek to awaken this mad god! The rites found in the Cthaat Aquadinge! a book of human skin and terrible sorcery! So tell me, do you have this tome?" she asked. 

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"I am Gret- oh, forget it," said the young assistant manager as she shook her head; she could tell when someone didn't really give a crap. At the mention of the Cthaat Aquadinge, Lynn frowned and exchanged a look with Gretch, along with some telepathic conversation.

 

-Whaddya think, can we trust her? She seems too drunk for proper scheming.-

 

-I do my best scheming when I'm wasted. But I think we can trust her. I think.-

 

-Alright, here we go.-

 

Clearing her throat, the changeling took a seat behind her desk. "As a matter of fact, we do, though my gut tells me we should probably destroy it; it's certainly not for sale, if you're looking to buy it." Both women eyed Flintlock carefully, watching for her reaction, and Gretchen fiddled with her Ring, though she dare not turn it yet.

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"Destroy it?" gasped Flintlock, theatrically holding both hands to her heart. 

 

"Verily, I be tempted!" she said, pondering her chin with her hand. "'tis not a tome for the eyes of the world. To read it, one courts madness! But, it is also contains much lost knowledge, so I understand" she said, more seriously. 

 

"Such knowledge may be the worlds undoing, but it may also be it's salvation. Just as it may be the road to Dagon, it might give the clues and rites to stay his awakening" she explained solemnly. "There is no safe way, such is life. Tell me, are you so sure we should burn it?" she asked. 

 

"Fear not, I have no wish to buy it. Bury it, maybe. Hide it away. If it is safe here, then seal it away. Make it safer. Tell no-one!" she said, dramatically sealing her lips with her fingers. 

 

"No, I have no wish to buy it. I have a fine set of books on me ship, but my ship is known on many strange tides, and such a tome would be a target!"

 

"Not buy, no. But consult, yes! Let us read it!"

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