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Brethren and Cistern

Page history last edited by Michael 6 months, 1 week ago

back to Bad Manors or the Index

 


Tuesday, May 7, 1935

 

Oxford won against Worcestershire by an innings and 13 runs this day (last of four days of play),

at the Parks in Oxford, as part of the first class University Match for 1935.

In addition, Leicestershire was defeated by the South African team after three days of play at Aylestone Road, Leicester.

The South Africans won by 170 runs, and are going on to play against Cambridge University the next day.

 

     In the morning we discussed how to travel to Istanbul. A few days wait for the return of the Kipchak text was needed, and then we could quickly voyage by de luxe passenger train -- but a sea voyage would give DeLacy time to learn the Kipchak language from the book.

 

And give our characters a chance to make Experience checks!

 

     A sea voyage from Venice to Istanbul takes about seven days (people in a hurry take the train or an airplane). Passenger ships on this route depart on Mondays and Thursdays; a first-class fare from Venice to Istanbul is probably about £15 including meals and reasonable amounts of luggage.

 

Lloyd Triestino Line outbound service from Trieste to the Black Sea

port

day

miles

hours

arrive

depart

Trieste, Italy

A

--

--

--

8 a.m.

Venice, Italy

A

63 mi

4

noon

1 p.m.

Fiume, Italy

A

135 mi

7

8 p.m.

9 p.m.

Patras, Greece

C - D

650 mi

34

4 p.m.

8 a.m.

Calamata, Greece

D

154 mi

8

4 p.m.

9 p.m.

Piraeus, Greece

E

205 mi

11

8 a.m.

9 p.m.

Volos, Greece

F

211 mi

11

8 a.m.

9 a.m.

Salonica, Greece

F

147 mi

8

5 p.m.

10 p.m.

Cavalla, Greece

G

182 mi

10

8 a.m.

9 a.m.

Alexandroupoli, Greece

G

76 mi

4

1 p.m.

2 p.m.

Istanbul, Turkey

H - I

224 mi

12

2 a.m.

8 a.m.

Samsun, Turkey

J

436 mi

23

7 a.m.

8 a.m.

Trebizond, Turkey

J - K

183 mi

10

6 p.m.

2 a.m.

Batum, Transcaucasian SSR

K

116 mi

6

8 a.m.

--

likely ships:  SS Toscana, SS Savoia, SS Lombardia, or SS Isonzo, all built in the 1920s, speeds about 17 knots

 

Wednesday, May 8, 1935

 

     The dictionary of the ancient Kipchak language was returned to the archives, and immediately checked out by Algernon DeLacy.

     The South African cricket team played against Cambridge University for the next three days.

 

Thursday, May 9, 1935

 

     We left our hotel after breakfast, traveled to the Bacino Stazione Marittima, and at noon boarded the S.S. Toscana, an Italian passenger vessel bound for Istanbul (with eight stops in between). Since Our Heroes were almost a third of the first-class passengers, were were treated very well -- first class only saw 27 persons carried on this voyage, and second class was only about half full.

 

Historically quite possible -- the nationalized Italian merchant service converted these ships

to immigrant vessels in a couple of years, as they were slow and not "earning their keep".

 

     Unfortunately, the ship's departure was delayed from noon until after sunset, waiting for a particular group of passengers to board.

 

the docks for ocean-going vessels are along the left edge of the map

 

SS Toscana

 

     Built in Germany in 1923, and recently purchased by Lloyd Triestino from their sister company Norddeutschyer Lloyd. They have a service speed of 17 knots from two screws, driven by triple-expansion steam turbines. Her length is 480 feet, beam 58 feet, and her gross register tonnage is 9,429.

     She has accommodations for 98 first-class passengers and 142 second-class passengers. 

     A sister-ship is the SS Sicilia; by 1937 both were converted to migrant transport ships, carrying 2,000 poor Italians to South America, South Africa, India and Australia in "dormitory class" accommodations.

 

This is the Promenade Deck, entirely first-class cabins (except for a few meant for maids or manservants); more are on the next deck down;

above this is the Boat Deck, which has a dozen large lifeboats, along with the ballroom, gymnasium, and another bar.

The suite taken by the Queen-in-Waiting and her party is shown in tone (left), as are the cabins taken by Our Heroes (center).

 

     The weather was pleasant, and the voyage seemed likely to be the same ... after a short stop in Fiume after midnight, the vessel began several days of travel along the length of the Adriatic Sea. Our fellow first-class passengers included three interesting groups

 

  • a party of eight persons:  4 soldiers in German uniforms, and 2 couples (generic bureaucrat types with Nazi pins on lapels).

  • a party of five persons:  these boarded the ship in Venice at dusk, causing the ship's departure to be delayed. They were blonde-haired, blue eyed, very charismatic and well dressed

    • a woman in her late 40’s, walking with a cane, and wearing white with red panels and accessories. Notable jewelry included a large emerald cabochon ring and wide bracelets

    • three men wearing black clothes (but that wasn't too unusual for first-class passengers after dark)

    • a 14- to 15-year-old boy wearing a sweater vest with a coat-of-arms (from his school, founded in the 14th Century…two swords, a hippogryph, a crown, a lightning bolt and the wave).

      • They are musicians, with pan pipe, mandolin and lyre. When they play, everybody dances. They are only out of their cabins between dusk and dawn, and eat a hearty pre-dawn meal.

  • a party of four, who boarded at Fiume: short (dwarves?) with brown eyes and brown or black hair. They seemed to be "Eastern European" (Yiddish?), with large brimmed hats and black clothing.

 

Friday, May 10, 1935

 

      The South African cricket team, showing increasing ability on their English tour, defeated the Cambridge University team by an innings and 40 runs.

 

Sunday, May 12, 1935

 

     This is Mothers' Day. Here's a calendar page for this month

     The Toscana was sailing along the Greek coast this evening -- the island of Corfu was only 20 miles away on the port side. They had passed through the Strait of Otranto a few hours ago; the Ionian Sea was calm, the sky was clear, the air was warm, and the Full Moon had risen in the east. Many passengers were strolling on the deck, and music came from the large open windows of the lounges. The pan pipes of the "musical passengers" seemed eerily haunting.

 

the route of the SS Toscana to Istanbul; the cross marks the location of the strange storm

 

      However, from the dark sky some rain began to fall, and the wind came up; the ship began to roll heavily. Nora Cullin and Victoria May remembered a fairy tale:

 

The Gallic Princess

     In the 5th Century, a Provencal princess was promised to the Roman Emperor in Constantinople. She was unwilling to become bride to this man she had never met, but was sent none-the-less.

     A part of her journey was in a ship; during this voyage a storm came out of nowhere, the princess's ship disappeared, and she was never seen again.

During the Theodosian dynasty perhaps? Or the Leonids?

 

     Some of Our Heroes scrambled to their cabins to grab life-vests and large sacks of equipment. The "musicians" rushed the blonde woman below decks into her cabin, but left their instruments in the lounge.

     The ship's purser appeared, and asked all the passengers to come inside and return to their cabins. As folk hurriedly left the deck, Victoria May had a vision:

 

Victoria's First Maritime Vision

     Three people appeared; one of them a young woman. The woman said, in the ancient Occitan language, "Please Aunt Cecily, you can't let me go to this? Can we turn the boat around?" The women fell to her knees, as if to kiss Victoria May's feet, but vanished through the deck instead. The other two figures also vanished.

     Victoria May could also hear the sounds of sails flapping, and sailors shouting nautical cries in Occitan, such as "Abandon ship" and varieties of "God/Saint Nicholas/Saint Michael/Saint Christopher/Blessed Mary save us."

 

Victoria May is quite skilled in ancient French dialects.

For this purpose:  Occitan ≈ Gascon ≈ Provençal ≈ langue d'oc

 

     Other passengers could hear sails flapping in the wind. Miss May told those of us still in the lounge of her vision, the fairy tale, and the plea to "turn the boat around."  She followed the blond "musicians" to the first-class cabins; Fred Willoughby thought it best to keep an eye on her, and followed.

     Meanwhile, Clive White picked up the pan pipes and threw them -- just as he heard the scream of a leaping panther or jaguar and was knocked to the deck. The rest of us saw the young blond boy jump after the pipes, and hit the bulkhead, knocking himself out. Qua Lin Worthington and Algernon DeLacy had returned from the cabins, and attended to the boy's injuries. Mr. White gathered up the "musicians'" instruments, including the pan pipes, and watched the boy suspiciously. "He's some sort of shape-shifter ... "

     As the waves slammed into the hull, and the howling storm threatened to capsize the vessel, passengers screamed and ran about, some with life vests, some without. One of the German soldiers got into a shouting match, and then a fist-fight, with some of the short Eastern Europeans -- who easily pummeled the Hun, and a couple of his fellow-soldiers for good measure.

 

The Cabin of Mysteries

 

     Victoria May saw that the cabin door of the blond musician woman ...

 

We'll put some names in here once Kevin provides them

 

     ... was left standing open, or the latch had failed as the ship rose and fell in the storm. An eerie blue glow emanated from the cabin; inside, the three men had pulled back the carpet, and were drawing a mystic circle on the deck with coloured chalks, setting out strange candles, etc. -- all around the blond lady, who was sitting cross-legged on the deck. The blue light was actually coming from the woman's emerald ring.

     Shocked by this display of sorcery, Victoria turned about to rush back to the lounge -- and found Willoughby watching from the foot of the companionway. Just at that point, one of the short, strong Eastern European men rushed down the steps, carrying a heavy carpet bag; he brushed past our two heroes, went to the blond woman's cabin, knocked on the (swinging) door and tossed the bag inside with a muttered phrase.

     The short man came hustling back to the foot of the companionway, and Victoria May briefly blocked his path. "What's going on?", she asked.

     "They are spawn of the devil," he spat. "The ship is cursed, but I've paid them so they won't summon the demons for myself or my wife!" With that, he surged up the companionway. Victoria nodded to Willoughby, saying "Bring the others", and he followed the stubby fellow up the steps.

     On the main deck, he found DeLacy, Nora Cullin, Clive White, Qua Lin and Bill Davis, all wearing life vests and carrying bags of valuables. "Miss May needs you down below -- the blond woman and her friends are performing some magical ritual; one of those short fellows has paid them off so that they wouldn't summon demons against him and his wife." This got everyone's attention -- we hustled back down the steps. Clive White dragged the unconscious boy along.

     Among the first-class cabins, the blue glow from the blond lady's cabin was seen to come and go, as the cabin's door swung to and fro. The ship was creaking and shuddering alarmingly. At DeLacy's urging, White tried to gain information from the spirit in his "torc", but it was insulting and uncooperative.

 

"Those people are doing some sort of spell"; at this White snorted in disgust.

 

     The Britisher then knocked on the door-frame, and entered the lady's cabin, where he was confronted by the three blond men. At the sight of the unconscious boy, one of them swore in "Ancient French".

     As we watched from the passage, they men calmly told Clive White, "We are protecting our lady from whatever curse is affecting this vessel."

     "Your lady?" inquired White. "Yes," said one of the blond men. "She is the Queen in Waiting, of the dark Seelie realms, from the eastern kingdoms." The men murmured among themselves for a moment, and then told White, "We can extend our protection to you, if you agree to accept a geas to not harm our Lady, and perform a boon for her in the future." We declined with thanks.

     White withdrew into the passage, and we observed the end of their magical ritual. The "Queen in Waiting" started a spell. Nora (who could understand the language) said, "She is calling on the winds and the sea to protect her and hers, in accordance with the pacts made with the Titans."

 

Some Titans:  Oceanus, Tethys, Helios ...

 

     The blue glow from the Queen-in-Waiting's ring faded; her eyes were now those of a cat. Within her cabin, it became calm, and the moon shone steadily -- un-moving -- through a porthole. Out in the passage, however, the ship was still rolling wildly, the ship's siren could be heard in the distance.

     The Queen's attendants began to gather their bags; one of them emptied the "dwarf" carpet bag into a smaller case, with a sound of many jingling coins. The Queen-in-Waiting stood up, and with her three attendants left the cabin, heading for the companionway.

 

DeLacy grabbed the empty carpet-bag from the cabin floor.

 

     On the boat deck, four full lifeboats were being hoisted out; the Germans were being belligerent about getting seats in a boat. A hundred passengers and crew were still trying to get into the remaining boats. Clive White strode into the panicked crowd, pulled out a pistol, and forced the Germans to wait their turn in line.

     As the sea-spray blew on Our Heroes' faces, and emergency rockets shot into the sky from the bridge, Victoria May had another vision.

 

Victoria's Second Maritime Vision

     The young French princess appeared again, saying, "It's too late -- the rocks are coming!" She asked Victoria to pray with her; together they knelt and said an old Christian prayer for solace and safety.

 

Presumably in Latin? Perhaps:

"We fly to Thy protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Amen."

 

      As the prayer ended, the princess sobbed and faded from Victoria's sight.

 

     Even as the vision faded, so did the strange storm. The ship rolled slowly a few more times, and then was gliding smoothly over calm seas, under the starry sky. The last few rockets fell hissing into the sea; the four lifeboats that had been swung out were filled with abashed crew (and only a few passengers). Clive White stood on the deck among the passengers, with his hands on his hips, and said loudly, "You silly crowds!"

     People walked quietly into the cabins and lounges; Our Heroes gathered for a few minutes to discuss the storm. Victoria May said, "We sailed through a haunted space." She felt a great sense of loss, and knew that something still needed to be accomplished.

     Lying on the floor, the blond boy awoke, groaned, hissed, and darted away to his cabin.

 

Fred Willoughby started his Awesome skill, at 1%

 

Monday, May 13, 1935

 

      Well after midnight, the ship arrived at Patras, in Greece. The scheduled departure time of 8 a.m. allowed the vessel to make up time lost waiting for passengers in Venice (and any time lost during the storm).

 

Michael has a suspicion some of the 2nd class passengers disembarked here, after the storm.

 

      After dawn, as the ship was underway for the port of Calamata, Our Heroes met for breakfast. Victoria May had slept poorly, feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. She told us in detail about her visions during the storm; as far as we could tell, the princess's kingdom was conquered by the Franks in the 6th Century.

 

Among other Dark Ages and Medieval conquerings ...

 

      As the ship's voyage continued, the Queen-in-Waiting, and her three attendants, stayed in their cabins. The teenage boy, however, did re-appear, somehow having recovered his pan-pipes from Clive White.

     The ship's crew claimed the vessel was now haunted by a "ghost cat" -- the ship's terriers were not catching rats, but something else was ...

      By now, Bill Davis had finally gotten rid of all but one "cursed Stygian coin."

 

one of these bad boys ...

 

Wednesday, May 15, 1935

 

     The S.S. Toscana sailed into the Dardanelles this evening.

     In England, the South Africans began a three-day match against Oxford University.

 

Thursday, May 16, 1935

 

      The S.S. Toscana passed through the Sea of Marmara during the night, and anchored at Istanbul before dawn. After the ship and its passengers cleared customs, Our Heroes disembarked, and were whisked from the Lloyd Triestino dock to the Pera Palace Hotel. Our mountaineering and expedition supplies had already arrived, and were being stored by the hotel for us.

     After taking advantage of the hotel's baths, barbers, newspapers, restaurant, etc. we began our day in the Turkish metropolis.

 

At the Bedestan

 

     Qua Lin Worthington, accompanied by Bill Davis, visited the "Bedestan" -- the Grand Bazaar -- which held more then four thousand small shops, all within a vaulted structure. Old books, jewelry, lanterns, textiles, furniture, spices and herbs, antiques, and many strange things were sold by many thousands of vendors.

     There were no restaurants or toilets within the Grand Bazaar, and only a few water fountains. A few small kiosks sold puddings, doner kebab, or other hand-held foods.Some groups of urchins mingle with the crowds, attempting to pick their pockets.

     Various herbs and powders were purchased by Miss Worthington:  peppers, hashish and opiates, powder of mummies, and a dust that "makes the unseen to be seen". Bill Davis considered his magical experiences, and purchased supplies of colored chalks and powders, along with various scented and colored candles.

     The short, Eastern European people which had been aboard the Toscana were also in the Bedestan; they were now wearing "adventurer garments", and were armed with a strange variety of weapons such as battle-axes and blunderbuss revolvers.

 

At the Brotherhood of Truth

 

     Nora Cullin and Algernon DeLacy passed through the narrow streets and alleys of the old city to the high-walled compound of this Orthodox order. They knocked on the door, and a small window opened; a suspicious monk asked what they wanted. "Greetings," said DeLacy, "we would like to speak with your reverend father."

     "Nobody can see you," flatly replied the monk, "We are in mourning. Our healer was killed yesterday in the street by short demons, only a meter tall."

     DeLacy bowed and said, "I am very sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do to help?"

     The monk told him, "Yes, bring the heads of the demons, and a new healer." During this conversation, the monk was conspicuously ignoring Nora Cullin.

      "When may we speak with your abbot?" asked Delacy. "Come back after the mourning," was the response.

 

Or:  "Come back after the morning" ...

 

Narrowing Down The Search

 

     Frederick Willoughby made a brief visit to the British consulate; they warned him about riots, and government attempts to suppress the Kurdish, Yezidi, and Mithraic communities. He also visited a tailor, who gave a more the same advice, and also mentioned that a mob had "torn apart" an Orthodox holy man the day before.

     At a bookseller's shop, Willoughby found some useful maps and books (including a couple of Turkish dictionaries), which he purchased and brought back to the hotel. He spent the middle of the day comparing maps, reading history books -- all in an attempt to pin down the location of the ancient library and treasury mentioned in the book taken by DeLacy from Lotta's ship.

 

"One in Latin dates to about 1500, an account of the sacking of Constantinople. In and amongst that is a map of 11th century Constantinople, and featured prominently is a location of an ancient (in 11th c.) library and a treasury."

-- see the notes for April 26th.

 

     Quickly able to determine the ancient library's approximate location, a zone of about 6 square blocks near an ancient cistern of Mocius (now converted to a garden known as Çukurbostan  -- the "hollow garden").

     The diplomat looked over police reports about crime in that neighborhood ... referring to a Turkish-English dictionary a lot, since he didn't read Turkish.

 

The green square on the upper right is the open-air cistern;

the red cross near it is the entrance we found;

the other red cross is where we eventually came out.

Note that the red hatch-marks represent the edges of a massive fire in the 1920s.

 

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

 

     In a deserted street of the burned-out portion of the city, Clive White removed his coat, and donned a butcher's apron. He told his torc, "Would you want to be washed in the blood of the lamb?" The torc replied, "I like it!"

     White provided the blood of a lamb, and pushed a random button on the torc, which opened a portal! From the portal came four greenish demonic creatures, each about 1 meter tall ...they wanted to be fed, and proved to be about as uncooperative as the torc. The torc said, "I take no responsibility! You chose the button." The creatures bit, cursed, and were entirely crude; in the end, a few gunshots rang out, and the creatures's corpses were dumped in a collapsed basement. With his shoes and trouser-cuffs filthy and ragged, White returned to the hotel.

 

The Horror Below Istanbul

 

     We decided to at least reconnoiter the neighborhood where the ancient treasury and archive was located, and gathered our rubber boots, gloves, flashlights and boiler suits from our "mountaineering" supplies. The hotel provided a car which dropped us off near the Mocius cistern.

     Fires in the 1920s had destroyed the dwellings around the huge open-air reservoir. It was now surrounded by tents, shacks, and poorly-repaired masonry buildings, all inhabited by the poorest classes. A foul smoke drifted over the neighborhood, from bonfires where bodies were being burned. We saw carts and barrows carrying corpses to the fires -- Qua Lin Worthington thought they showed signs of having contracted "African rabies", though the locals claimed it was cholera.  Many doors had been nailed shut, with crude yellow flags and strips of cloth marking infectious areas.

     Near the reservoir, we found a rusty iron grille, secured with an ancient brass padlock; grass had grown up through the grille. We could year faint moans coming from beyond the grille. Miss May easily "picked" the padlock ...

 

More like:  "Miss May tugged on the padlock, and it fell to pieces ... "

 

    ... and swung the grille open. Beyond the grille was a small stone-paved courtyard, with grass between the paving-stones, and debris piled in the corners. A brick arch along one wall of the courtyard revealed the top of a stair.

     We pulled our larger weapons out of the bags they were carried in, brought out the flashlights, and descended into the foul-smelling depths.

     The stairs formed a "square" spiral, and descended forty feet; DeLacy led the way, followed closely by Fred Willoughby, Bill Davis and Nora Cullin. The moans grew louder, and less like those of ... regular people.

     At the bottom of the steps, a brick-vaulted passage led away into the darkness; the floor was covered in a thin layer of slick filth. A dim glow of light was visible many yards along the passage. Various shambling creatures approached the stairs -- animated corpses and revived warriors, some clad in burial shrouds, others in the remnants of ancient armor.

       Clive White fired a green-tinged beam of magical force over the heads of our front rank -- DeLacy and the others slashed and stabbed with swords, while parrying and dodging the clumsy attacks of the undead. Nora Cullin fiddle with the Lich Belt, and managed to activate some sort of levitation effect -- she quickly floated to the ceiling, and began drifting up the stairway.

       Standing on one of the lower steps of the stair, Willoughby called out, "Trust in your companions, and fear naught! Strike hard for humanity and these foul creatures will fall before you!" Our Heroes were inspired by his commanding presence!

     As we battled the terrible undead foe, we saw -- ten or fifteen yards down the passage -- another battle, between some zombies and some statuary entities -- perhaps gargoyles? -- and small swarms of rats. Beyond that, gouts of weak flame fluttered above the floor.

     Qua Lin fired her Fury Gun into the brawl between zombies, rats and statuary; but the explosion set off gases in the tunnel, damaging friend and foe alike. Nora scrambled against the ceiling, trying to return to the ground, while Bill Davis and Algernon DeLacy destroyed the nearest undead.

      A few of us heard Victoria May call upon the "spirits of the Outer Planes" to aid and protect her ... and, while Clive White fired another green beam from his wand, Miss May leveled her hands towards the furthest enemies, and created a blinding beam of white light! Several enemies were destroyed, and the light destroyed our night-vision.

     The flames caused by the Fury bomb killed off most of the rats. A whining, zipping sound, and some cracks on the bricks warned DeLacy that there was someone firing at him from far down the passage. A couple of small pellets, or bullets, hit him painfully. He yelled, in Turkish, "Stop shooting!"

 

Presumably, "Ateş etmeyi kes!"

 

     Qua Lin rushed forward to help the front-line fighters, tripped, and fell onto Fred Willoughby -- which may have spared her from the zipping bullets.

     The two gargoyles turned away from Our Heroes, and stomped away into the darkness; Victoria May fired another blast down into the far end of the passage, and DeLacy yelled in Turkish again.

    

 

     Victoria May sat down hard on the stairs, exhausted by her magical attacks. At the far end of the passage, a few screams and terrible ripping sounds signaled the end of some people down there; the gargoyles merged into the walls, and the grim vault was mostly silent.

     We gathered ourselves together, reloaded guns, and carefully advanced past the bones and rotten flesh of the zombies. At the end of the passage was a barred gate on the left, and a wooden door straight ahead; the gruesomely mangled remains of four men were scattered about the floor (and walls). They'd been torn limb-from-limb by the gargoyles, apparently.

     One of the dead men had been wearing a robe, and carrying an Orthodox crosier.

 

In fact, that of a bishop, but we probably had to do some research on that later ... abbots, archimandrites, patriarchs, etc.

carry various different crosiers, and they also differ in form among the various Eastern Christian rites.

 

     There was also a strange, boxy firearm, with two barrels and a crank on one side, which had a magazine of 125 small-caliber cartridges. It was a bit damaged, and we broke it a bit more. More usefully were two bolt-action rifles, manufactured by Krieghoff before the Great War; they fired .416 Rigby ammunition, each had a three-round internal magazine, and there were two leather bandoleers, each with 25 rounds of the ammunition. Each rifle had a telescopic sight attached (these were of post-war manufacture), and were probably out of adjustment, or broken, from the explosions, gargoyle attacks, and being dropped on the floor.

 

.416 Rigby game rifles

     Call of Cthulhu stats:  range 100 yards, damage 2d10+4, shots 1 per 2 rounds, magazine capacity 3 rounds, malfunction number 00, weight empty 12 pounds. 25 rounds of ammunition weighs 2-3/4 pounds. 

     The stats are given for new or well-maintained examples.

 

     A spirit spoke to Victoria May through her "wings", saying "This place must be cleansed," and asking her to repeat some phrases aloud.

 

The Twisted Cistern

 

     The wooden door at the end of the passage was not locked, but was sturdily barred on the other side. To one side of that door was a metal gate, locked -- after some fiddling with lockpicks by various of Our Heroes, DeLacy blew the lock off with one of the game rifles.

    What most of Our Heroes didn't notice during the gunshot was Qua Lin "disappearing" through some tricky stage-magic secret door.  Some searching found a couple of loose stones that might have been triggers to activate the secret door. Bill Davis touched one of them, and flames erupted from holes in the floor, giving Fred Willoughby near-lethal burns; DeLacy tackled the flaming diplomat and extinguished the flames; his head had major burns.

 

Given that Willoughby was nearly one-shotted to death by the flame, the damage presumably wasn't just comical singed eyebrows ...

 

      Bill pushed the other brick -- the door opened and revealed a confused Qua Lin. There were two more doors, and a corridor extending out at a right angle to the original corridor. Algy put the (destroyed) machine gun in the opening of the “secret” door to block it open.

      We turned their attention to the now-open metal gate. Stairs descended to running water; it was too deep to venture further—maybe 10 feet or more, so we went back up the stairs.

      Next we opened the door inside the hidden passage. The scene was lit and there were dead bodies spread out throughout the room. The dismembered bodies were wearing khaki clothing and fezzes. Some seemed to be recent (perhaps hours), others were desiccated, and still others were just bones. The ceiling was domed, with a fresco that was somewhat shiny.

       Algy stepped into a square room with walls about 24 yards long, with Bill blocking the door open. Around the corner was the barred door that was at the end of the original corridor. There was a scene from the Old Testament: Genesis Chapter 19, Lot and Gomorrah, in a variety of stone mosaics. Lot was shown holding a plaque of gold toward his wife. She was shown as not the only one that got turned into a pillar of salt. Gomorrah looked as if it had been destroyed by bombardment, from a trajectory. Algy made sketches.

        We found another door that should have led to the chamber with the stairs, but instead led to a different long corridor. Algy and Nora walked down the corridor; it felt longer than they’d traveled, and they could no longer see any light from the rest of the group. They tried yelling back to the rest of the group, and could barely hear replies. Willoughby used his duck call to respond.

      Algy and Nora turned around and walked for a long time, but somehow missed the opening, so when Qua Lin fired a flare into the hall it somehow fell behind them.

       Victoria could see them and directed them to turn around again and walk toward her. Through the mica goggles there was a blinding bright green light in the shape of the hallway. They walked slowly, and came up to the opening (that they couldn’t see) and then faded out of sight. Qua Lin reached into the hallway, making her arm visible to Algy and Nora. Algy took her hand but she was not strong enough to pull them through. Bill managed to pull them out individually.

       The Heroes opened the barred door that should have been common to the original corridor, but it instead opened to an entirely new corridor.

 

Strange physics at work here! Future home of the Istanbul Mystery Spot!!

 

     They ventured down the new corridor; there was a open archway i50 feet along, which opened into another square room, about 24 yards across, with another fresco. This fresco showed the parting of the Red Sea. In this room were 8 stone tables; on the tables were various metal tools (roughly medical tools), decrepit rolls of cloth, jars, mortars and pestles, sacks that had fallen apart, piles of moldering white powder, a sort of baptismal font/birdbath, and a tray cover with handles. Light in the room came from gas flames on the walls. On four of the tables there were body-shaped indentations and a fluid channel down the middle of the room. An embalming room?

     Algy lifted the cover off the tray and found a powdery residue at the bottom. On the 4 plain tables, there were blocks of wax. On one of the tables were alembics and a saucepan.

      There were three doors leading out of the room.

      Through the other doors we saw:

 

  • a lift/hoist that had decayed.

  • a spiral stair going up, made of brick.

  • a wider corridor that ran roughly north by northwest of where they entered the tunnels.

 

     Hoping for more light, the Heroes found enough supplies in the room to make torches.

      It was now about midnight, and they wearily marched about a mile through the tunnel. Every so often there were parallel lines on the floor (from carts). The tunnels were worked stone, while there were some areas that had been bricked. Eventually there were drips of water running down the walls. The Heroes figured that they are outside of city.

       At the end of this long passage, a squared-spiral stair rose up, around a hoist platform that had fallen off its supports long ago. We climbed the stairs, up about 120 feet; lose stones on the stair, and the lack of a railing, made the climb a bit dangerous.

 

Among the Quiet Dead

 

       At the top was a is a stone chamber with the remains of 4 carts. Our Heroes had to dig ourselves out a bit, and found themselves in the middle of a large Christian cemetery, or necropolis, with Orthodox graves and burial vaults tightly-packed. Close by were the lights of a building, the Eastern Orthodox Monastery and Church of Saint Mary of the Life-Giving Spring. It was in the Balikli neighborhood, about five hundred yards outside the Gate of Silivri.

 

The church was originally established by Emperor Justinian in 580 AD; the current building was built in 1835.

The stream that they saw in the tunnel was from the famous spring.

 

 

 

Again:  the left-hand red cross marks the Church of the Life-Giving Spring

 

     Miss May reported that there was something about this place that made her feel that she was "in the right place."

 

On to Descent Into The Demonastery

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