Constantinople: By The Skin of the Teeth
February 13 - 16

It seems that I am doomed to interfere with issues best left untouched by human hands. But what am I to do, allow the human race to be overcome by these hideous creatures from beyond? And yet I fear for my sanity: I am still young, but feel the strain of my last two years of macabre experiences eating away at my sanity like a cancer. But enough of this idle musing and on to the matter at hand.

I had personal business to attend to in Constantinople, and left my new found friends to try and destroy the Sedefkar Simulacrum in a place called the Sunned Mosque. I will not now openly discuss the "business" I had to conduct, but will briefly mention that after much risk, I concluded the matter successfully. Returning to Constantinople, I found that the Americans had been in grave trouble (all the market was a-buzz with the news), and following their trail, I came to the local British Ambassador, Sir Douglas Rutherford, whose son the Americans had rescued, and whom they had talked with only a few hours earlier this evening. Except for rescuing several children, things did not go well with the team, but still, none had died - yet.

The team must of been watched from the moment they arrived in Constantinople - of this I am certain. The local cult of Nyarlathotep, the Brothers of the Skin, knew they possessed the Simulacrum and were watching them like hawks, but they had plans to infiltrate the group and find out even more. After settling in their hotel, the investigators began searching for the Shunned Mosque. Alas, the name was obviously a pseudonym, used only by the cult members themselves, so quickly the search came to a dead end. One of the staff at their hotel suggested they try asking about at the city's bazaar, which they agreed to try in the morning.

The next day found the team wandering through the maze of stalls and booths that comprise the great bazaar. After spending several hours stumbling around the different sections of the square, the team finally found where the "information" peddlers did business. They spent tedious hours asking around for the Sunned Mosque, but nobody knew of it, although several people suggested asking "Beylab". The team finally inquired as to where Beylab was, and they were told to leave a message at the bazaar requesting an audience with Beylab and he would contact them with a meeting time. The place was always the same, an extensive Turkish bath overlooking the Golden Horn. Before the team left, a group of Turkish thugs attacked the proprietor of a nearby stall: beating him up and toppling his table. The group chased off the Turks (sort of) and the victim introduced himself as Feyar, and proclaimed that he was at their service. Feyar was a very talented scribe, and could help the investigators find the Shunned Mosque, if it existed, for a reasonable price. The group agreed and Feyar suggested a trip to the Topkapi museum.

At the museum the team began to look for any references to a place called the Shunned Mosque. At the same time, Ian and Edward looked for references concerning the Sedefkar Scrolls and, much to their surprise, they found that the museum held four of the scrolls! After a heated discussion with the museum curator, the team was led into a musty old room filled with sealed tubes. The curator selected an ancient brass tube and opened it. Within was a small note, recently scribed, which read:

The Skinless One reclaims what is his.

Cursed be Garaznet the thief.

The curator was quite upset at this discovery, and quickly checked the records for the last person who requested the scrolls. It was Selim Makryat, some hundred years before. The team found that Garaznet was a Turkish scholar many centuries before, and his grave was in the Uskudar Cemetery. On their way back to the hotel, the team thought they saw a man following them, with what looked like a bear at his side. The figure vanished into the darkness when they stopped to look at him. At their hotel, the investigators found a message waiting from Beylab, specifying a meeting time of 10 the next morning.

While browsing through a local paper, Edward found an article about a recent rash of missing children. The local authorities thought the children were kidnapped by a Greek slave ring, but the latest victim was the son of Sir Rutherford, British ambassador to Turkey. Sir Rutherford was looking for anyone who could help him find his son. The group decided that these mysterious kidnappings may have something to do with the Brothers of the Skin, and that they would visit Rutherford after their appointment with Beylab.

At ten in the morning the investigators arrived at Beylab's baths, which were typical Turkish baths, which meant only the men could enter. Ian, Mac, and Edward entered the baths and asked about Beylab. The attendant led them to Beylab, whom he called the Perspirer. Beylab was a huge mound of flesh reclining on a heated slab. When they told Beylab of what they were seeking, he indicated they might find the answer to what they seek in the grave of Garaznet. He recommended they hire a boat and pay a visit to this grave site, then exhume the body. There, he assured them, they would find out much about the Sedefkar Simulicrum and the Shunned Mosque.

Moments later, the men heard a hissing sound from beneath Beylab's stone, and as the jumped back, flames shot up and engulfed the fat man, reducing his flesh to a liquid goo that formed at their feet and then began to creep towards them. Ian, Mac, and Edward wisely ran away.

Shaken, but determined, the troop set forth to Sir Rutherford's estate, where they were admitted and told to wait while the servant fetched Rutherford. Sir Rutherford was delighted to meet them, and quickly told all he knew about his son's disappearances. The investigators were fairly certain that the Brother's of the Skin were behind this and the other kidnappings, although they had no concrete information to make a direct link. They left Rutherford and gathered equipment they would need for that evening's task: shovels, picks, pry bars, lamps, and some rope. Once again, on their way back to the hotel the team thought they saw the shadowy figure of a man and a bear following them.

Late that night the team and Feyar left for the grave-site of Garaznet, across the Bosporous. After looking around the docks they found a boat for hire, and quickly sped over to Uskudar. In an hour they had found the cemetery, and after three hours of searching, they found Garaznet's grave. Half an hour later they had uncovered the stone slab covering his tomb, and began to pry-bar it out of the way. Awaiting beneath was another skin-creature, like the one formed from Beylab's seared flesh. The thing came at them, and the team quickly backed away from it. As they turned to escape, however, they found themselves surrounded by more than two-dozen Turks.

An old man stepped out from the darkness and introduced himself as Selim Makryat. His men tied up the investigators, as Feyar walked over towards Selim, who welcomed him as a trusted friend. Selim then turned to the investigators and demanded they tell him where the Simulicrum was hidden. When they refused to answer, he motioned towards Tilly, whose flesh began to bubble and drip from her body. She screamed and collapsed, but a few moments later she appeared normal. Selim then demanded once again to know where they hid the Simulicrum. After a repeat of his previous illusion on Tilly, she broke down and told Selim that the Simulicrum was at their hotel. Selim scoffed as he ordered the investigators bound together.

A group of children was then ushered before them, and the team recoiled in horror as they realized the kids had been sewn together by their arms, legs, and other body parts. Another group of Turks brought forth a steaming cauldron of liquid flesh, which they poured over the children, who screamed in agony. As their screams stopped, the now fused together mass of children took on a different stance and attitude: that of a single, hideous creature! Selim laughed again, as he and his thugs marched off, leaving the tied down investigators at the many hands and mouths of the newly created flesh monster.

The flesh-thing advanced on the team, but before it could attack, a large bear lumbered past the investigators and fell upon the creature. As the bear tore into the monster, a man began to cut the ropes that bound the group. He urged them to quickly flee with him away from the cemetery, and back across the Bosporous. Upon his boat, the man, a gypsy, introduced himself as Aktar. Aktar's daughter had been kidnapped by the Brothers, and when he found her, hidden within the Shunned Mosque (commonly called the Red Mosque), he had killed her, for they had transformed her into some hideous creature. Since then he had been closely watching the cult, looking for his chance of revenge. This is how he knew of the investigators, and that a trap had been set for them at the grave of Garaznet. Now that he had rescued them, Aktar wanted them to go to the Shunned Mosque with him, find the kidnapped children, and then report the cult to the British embassy. Aktar himself had tried to make a report, but was dismissed as a lying, untrustworthy gypsy.

Aktar had found a secret entrance into the Shunned Mosque, through which the team could enter, find evidence of the kidnapping, and then escape. Shirley Bath was sent off to bring Sir Rutherford and help, while the rest of the team followed Aktar onto the mosque. The team managed to enter the mosque unnoticed, and found robes with which they disguised themselves. Within the main hall of the mosque, Selim and his followers were preparing for an evil ceremony. The pieces of the Sedefkar Simulicrum were mounted in a pillar at the center of the hall, and another group of children was held nearby. Robed figures stood near the children with needles and twine, ready to sew them together.

It was obvious that something had to be done quickly, so Aktar told them he would provide a distraction during the middle of the ceremony, and the investigators could try and rescue the children during the confusion.

The ceremony began, and at what appeared to be the pinnacle of the event (judging by Selim's rantings and ravings) Aktar, who had been slowly moving towards the center of the hall, stabbed Selim in the back. Bedlam reigned, and the investigators rushed towards the children and began to untie them and push them towards the main entrance. Some remained where they were, dazed from all that had happened, but several quickly ran away.

At this point, Aktar began to shout and chant, much as Selim had done, and before the investigator's eyes the pieces of the Sedefkar Simulicrum fused into one. Aktar then stepped into the assembled statue, which melded into his flesh, and then flowed back out in separate pieces. Aktar then shouted out:

I am Mehem Makryat, son of Selim, I have donned the Simulicrum and all must obey me! Kill the presumptuous old fool, and capture the intruders!

A mob of cultists jumped onto the old man, who lay bleeding at Mehem's feet, and ripped the flesh from his body. Another band gathered around the investigators, tied them up, and then led them to a room at the top of a tower in the mosque, where they were chained to the wall and left alone. Not quite alone. Huddled in a dark corner was an armless, leggless man who called out in fear. It was Professor Smith, their old friend from London! Smith had no recollection of talking to the team about the Simulicrum in London. In fact, he had never heard of it before. All he could remember was a strange creature appearing before him at his house, and then he awoke to find himself here. Since then the cultists have come and removed his limbs, which he gathered they used as replacement parts for their own bodies. In this way, he theorized, they were able to live for hundreds of years. He also said that the Brothers feared an apparition that roamed the halls of the mosque. Smith had never seen it, but hinted that they might use this fear to their advantage.

An hour later Mehem appeared, still dressed as the gypsy Aktar. He gloated over his victory, and told them he had impersonated Professor Smith back in London to convince them to search for the parts of the Sedefkar Simulicrum and bring them to Constantinople. He could not do so himself without attracting the attention of his father, Selim, the previous leader of the cult. With the Simulicrum now in his control, he could take on the form and voice of anyone he desired. Mehem suggested his first target of importance would be a member of the British royal family. Mehem then told them of their impending doom: having been in possession of the Simulicrum, their bodies would begin to rot until they went mad with pain as their bodies congealed into puddles of goo. Only through the ritual of cleansing could they rid themselves of the taint. He would send his guards around later to unlock them so they would feast on one another's flesh as they went insane. As for himself, he would dine on better fare on his trip back to London aboard the Orient Express.

A half an hour later a pair of guards entered the room and began to unlock the investigators. As the Mac was unchained, one of the guards screamed out in pain. Professor Smith had pulled himself over to the guard holding the gun and bit his leg. Mac clobbered the guard near him while Edward knocked out the bitten guard. Mac grabbed the gun, and Edward used the keys to unlock everybody else. Smith begged that they kill him, for he no longer wished to live. Mac granted his last wish.

Quickly the team ran town the tower and towards the front of the mosque, where they hoped to escape through the main doors, but a group of Brothers blocked the exit. The cultists began to advance on the investigators, but soon backed away in fear. Drifting up from behind came a bizarre montage of human parts and clothing! Using this diversion and their gun, the team escaped out into the night, where Shirly Bath and Sir Rutherford were waiting, along with Rutherford's son, whom the team helped rescue earlier that evening. The group leapt into the car, which drove off quickly.

It is now early in the morning, and the Americans have tickets on board the Orient Express for a return trip to Paris, then on to London. There is little doubt that Mehem is also aboard the train with the Simulacrum, but because he can now assume the skin of anyone he chooses, it will be difficult to find him. I too have a ticket for this trip, and will visit the Americans at their hotel before they leave for the Orient Express, which is scheduled to depart at 4:30 this afternoon.

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