SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24: In a salt block building, in the settlement of Dallol, Ethiopia, the Investigators were interviewed by the leader of a strange group of local Afar. She was a striking and intense woman named TSHOMBE. She spoke to the Investigators through a translator, an elderly man. She told them the whispers of the Agony on the Wind had told her they would come. She believes they are pilgrims, seeking communion with the Agony. She asked if they were carrying any relics sacred to the Agony and was disappointed to find that they had only the book, The Cults of the Aksumite Empire.
Tshombe offered her blessings to the party. James “Tick Tock” Cohan had already received a small benediction, which had led to the loss of part of a finger to something within the cloth wrapped around Tshombe’s upper body. The rest of the group demurred, which drew some suspicious glances from the Afar, who look at Tshombe in an almost worshipful manner.
Though Tshombe seemed benevolently disposed toward the Investigators, she showed antipathy toward their guides. While she allowed OGHAI and YONAS to live, she had the head of LAZARE delivered in a canvas sack. She allowed it to roll across the floor so that the Investigators could see that the flesh around Lazare’s mouth had been cut away, exposing his teeth. Dorothy Howard, who’d developed an attachment to Lazare was particularly horrified.
The Investigators were asked if they wished to venerate the Agony on the Wind. They were pointed toward a room in the back of the salt block building. They could hear moaning coming from inside. James was allowed to remain with Tshombe outside the room, while the rest of the Investigators reluctantly agreed to offer obeisance to the Agony. They were escorted into an unfinished space with a dirt floor. In it, a trough had been dug out by people crawling on hands and knees. The Investigators and their guides were expected to contribute, and so they rooted around in the dirt.
Yonas was outraged and horrified and made to throw a stick of dynamite, but the Investigators intervened, attempting to save their own lives and convince the Dallolites that they were not in league with Tshombe’s enemies. Their efforts were successful, but Yonas was executed in front of them.
The Investigators were taken to a small salt block building so that they could rest before being escorted to the dig site. Because James had earned Tshombe’s approval, they were allowed to keep Oghai with them, but they were told they were responsible for his conduct. Once the group was alone, Luke Davis told them that he had discovered a means of invoking powerful magic to carry them away from their current circumstances. Unfortunately, doing so would require the sacrifice of a life.
Oghai was appalled that the Investigators were capitulating to Tshombe and possibly to other dark forces. He attempted to shoot Luke, but missed. A stray bullet struck Dorothy and nearly killed her. Chantelle Perreault disarmed and subdued Oghai. Guards were drawn by the gunshots. Despite the Investigators’ inability to keep Oghai under control, Tshombe was won over by their disavowal of Oghai and by their request that they be allowed to tend to Dorothy’s injuries themselves.
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