The Fall of the Veiled Monastery

Playlist - Kids that want to Play with the Dead - Lordi

Tara's Lake and Veiled Monastery, Tibetan Mountains, 00:20, 22nd September 1940

The Veiled Monastery - click it for larger image!

A mile's hike brought them to the edge of the Hidden Valley, from where they could look down on the Veiled Monastery. Only the light from a few lanterns illuminated their target, but they were able to compare a few things to young Dawa Rabten's map.

Most notable was the appearance of a new building 11, unlike all the others made of modern 20th Century materials, not far from the thangka wall. This seemed very likely the radio hut, though confirmation would have to wait for morning.

Most of the buildings were dark, though occasionally a walking figure could be seen passing through the lamp-light; the compound was not entirely unguarded.

While on watch with Birapeer, Marcus suggested that he might have a spell he could use to try and gain knowledge or assistance. The Sikh managed to talk him out of trying it.

Settling in, and making sure they were not conspicuous, the party continued to watch their target. The night was cold, not as cold as the freezing weather crossing the mountains, but somehow creeping more into their spirits.

Ridge above the Veiled Monastery, Tibetan Mountains, 06:00, 23rd September 1940

Kershaw Binoculars

Early the next morning, as the first rosy fingers of dawn touched the mountains, a deep, sonorous bell rang from the central temple 5. Joe, who was on watch, shivered at the sound; somehow, it had an unwholesome, disturbing dissonance to its' note. As the echoes faded, figures began to emerge from some of the buildings 7,8 and converge on the central temple. Finally, the compound was silent again and remained so for most of an hour, during which Joe managed to get a more detailed look around.

The valley itself was small and bowl-like, containing only the Veiled Monastery and the fields, stunted fruit trees, and yaks the monks needed to provide for themselves. Water was provided by run-off from the mountains, collected in large, lead-lined cisterns dotted around the fields and monastery grounds.

Pushed up hard against the low peak at the rear of the valley sat the monastery itself, its thangka wall 13 looming over the circular compound below. The enormous radio antenna, easily a hundred feet high 12 could clearly be seen on top of the thangka wall, although at first glance it appeared to be little more than a massive darchen, thanks to the number of prayer flags fluttering from it.

Funk it Up

All at once, the inhabitants of the monastery emerged, most going straight to another building 9 from which smoke and steam emerged, probably a cookhouse of some kind. Most wore similar clothing to those blasted Blue Monks the others repoerted seeing. As he watched, two more figures, more heavily wrapped against the cold and with paler skin (where it could be seen), emerged from the probable radio hut and shambled across to the cookhouse, emerging with steaming bowls wrapped under cloths. The two wireless operators, probably. He tracked them across to their lair, and examined it carefully; sure enough, heavy cables linked it to the thangka wall and the antenna. With typical Teutonic efficiency, despite the zero probability of mistaking it for anything else, the hut was labelled Funkraum - Radio Room.

The Germans vanished back into their hut, which was quite big enough for living quarters as well as their radio equipment. The rest of the monks scattered to daily tasks, including tilling the fields and tending the yaks.

As the others joined Joe, they scoured the cliffs above the monastery to see if they would provide a route in. Some of them had done a little light climbing, and to those with experience it looked a tough route - even with the climbing equipment they didn't have. Conversely, the compound wall looked straightforward; made of pale rounded stones six or eight inches across it was only 20' tall.

Ghost Wolf

They continued watching through the day, until at twilight the bell sounded once more and the community - less the Germans - gathered at the temple as the light faded. Again, they remained there for around an hour before dispersing to the acommodation. Some, however, remained outside, settling into a patrol of the compound. As he watched, a flicker of movement caught his eye where there should not have been one. He stared hard, millimetrically adjusting the focus. There it was - the shape of a great black wolf, but faint, almost translucent.

When it was described to Dawa Rabten, he looked unhappy. "Ghost Wolves," he commented. "Not fully in this world, or the Spirit World. Summoned as guardians at night."

The decision was taken to make the attempt to destroy the radio equipment the next day at dusk; but having seen the probable defences, the plan had been revised back to the original of sabotage rather than an all-out assault.

Ridge above the Veiled Monastery, Tibetan Mountains, 16:14, 24th September 1940

What a time to throw a Critical!

Retreating back down the ridge to a safe distance, Marcus prepared himself to work the spell he had learned from Cultes des Goules. Carefully, he inscribed some arcane symbols on the ground where he'd cleared a space, then knelt down in front of them, the book open before him. As Joe, Jimmy and Francoise watched, he incanted the ritual, his voice twisting and wailing as he framed the calling in the medieval French of the original. His eyes widened as he opened himself to the black magic, hideous phantasams passing in front of his mind's eye and pushing him towards the brink of madness. Desperately he struggled to retain his grip on reality.


After some minutes, Joe and Francoise became aware of several humanoid figures moving towards them from the direction of the Hidden Valley. Strange twittering, meeping gibbers came from them as they approached. Backing carefully away, they watched with trepidation and then horror as seven ghouls emerged from the twilight, moving directly to where Marcus stood wide-eyed next to his symbols. Slavering and snarling, they began to fan out around the humans, muttering and growling. Much to their surprise, the agents realized they could understand the hideous monsters; perhaps a function of the spell? This was not necessarily a good thing, as the ghouls were discussing which of the party to eat first.

Joe and Marcus had seen these creatures before; to Francoise and Jimmy they were new and their senses reeled at the horror. A misshapen head, with canine, dribbling features and rubbery, loathsome skin. The clawed forelimbs - no-one could have called them hands - had a repellent hoof-like quality to them. The whole movement of the creatures were dreadfully wrong as they loped towards the professor. Francoise leaned towards Marcus. "I don't suppose," she whispered, "your book included anything like Bind or Dismiss the Eaters of Dead Flesh?" Pale-faced, he shook his head. "Bon," she muttered ironically.

Gathering what control he had left, Marcus held up a forbidding hand. "Hold!" he called, puting all the force of personality he could muster into the word. "If you do my bidding, instead of having to share we three between all of you, we can give you all the inhabitants of the monastery down there!"

Charles de Ghoul?

There was an ominous pause, and then the leading monster, which looked a little more intelligent than the others, responded. "Monks! The monks, we hate them, they imprisoned us, ssss! How can you give us their flesh?" With a conversation started, Marcus explained in simple terms that the humans with him would be attacking the monastery at dusk, and if the ghouls aided him, they could have free rein to take their revenge. After considerable snarling, an accord was reached. All the humans were left with a soiled feeling, as if they had betrayed their kind, but they had secured allies at least. Marcus, at least, was well aware that his 'control' of these creatures was flimsy in the extreme, and without the irresistable temptation of vengeance on their captors, the ghouls would likely have already torn them apart.

Carefully, Marcus restrained the ghouls to a cave well away from the main camp, as he didn't want Dawa Rabten or the flight crew to know what he had done. They had been given strict instructions not to attack until "the big boom!" had happened. He could only hope that they had understood.

Veiled Monastery, Tibetan Mountains, 18:50, 24th September 1940

Thangka Wall - this one's somewhere else but gives the general impression

As night began to fall, the agents split into their pre-arranged groups; Marcus, Cyril, Francoise and Jimmy on overwatch, perched with rifles as close to the monastery wall as they could get. The three most skilled in stealth and sabotage - Anné, Joe and Birapeer - descended to the valley and approached the main gate of the monastery, reaching it just after the bell had tolled and the monks had returned from the fields.

Wall of Skulls

As they crept closer, it dawned on them that the wall 1 was not made of pale white stones rather like skulls; it was actually made of human skulls. Thousands and thousands of them. An unshakable feeling that the myriad empty sockets were somehow watching them crept over the three. For a moment they just stood, taken aback by the scale of the death that building this wall must have required. Then, shrugging off the feeling, they started to scramble up the hideous surface.

As they let themselves quietly down on the other side, they could see the shadows lengthening between the buildings, and slipped carefully from concealment to concealment. As they approached the thangka wall, they split up; Anné headed for that monument, while Birapeer and Joe headed for the radio hut.

As they circled it, Birapeer noticed a stack of jerricans at the back; the fuel dump for the radio's generator. Grinning, the pair gleefully set up the explosives Joe had prepared next to these. As they did so, a voice spoke from inside the hut and both froze. "Was ist das?" Another replied, disinterestedly, "Was?" The first speaker replied, "Ich habe etwas gehört." There was a long pause. "Ich höre nichts," grumbled the second speaker. Joe relaxed and gestured to Birapeer to move away. "Warum halten sie uns an diesem verdammten Ort?" muttered the first speaker discontentedly as they did. You won't be stuck here much longer, pal, thought Joe to himself grimly as they headed across to the thangka wall to join Anné. Birapeer, shotgun in hand, parked himself just inside the doorway to hold the entrance.

The sniper had entered the wall - which turned out to be simply a building, internally - and cautiously climbed to the roof. There, she laid the charges Joe had prepared, and turned her attention to the guy-cables that held it up. Her expert saboteur's eye swept over the rigging, and she identified which were the correct cables to cut as Joe joined her on the roof. Within minutes, the wires were cut and the three descended to the compound once more.

Keeper Note: Ghost Wolves have a really, really good Spot Hidden skill.
So when the players are caught in the open by one, it would have to roll something stoopid like 99 to miss them. Oh, well, look at that...

As they emerged from the thangka, Birapeer spotted one of the ghost wolves across the compound, and indicated it to the others. Carefully, covering each other, they worked their way into the cover of a building and, keeping it between them and the wolf, slipped back to the radio hut. Joe started the timer on the charges, and the three hurried to the wall and scrambled over.

On the ridge above, Marcus had slipped away on a pretext to check on the ghouls, to discover to his horror that they had slipped away. Rather shaken, he returned to the ridge and - with an effort - concealed his worries from the people who didn't know about them.

At that moment, with a coughing boom, the charges at the base of the antenna tower went off. The blast kicked the legs out from the base of it, but the remaining guy lines directed its fall and with ponderous grace it leaned over towards the compound, then toppled faster and faster with a succession of pings as the remaining lines snapped, sending lethal whips of high-tension steel thrashing around the area. Watching through binoculars, Cyril gasped. Surely they couldn't get this lucky? Surely they could. With precision aim, the great mast crumpled down to smash neatly down on top of the radio hut, crushing it to around half its original height. Further up, the antenna also landed atop one of the monastery's own buildings (the library, though the agents didn't know that), which turned out to be much more robust; the mast crumpled into twisted wreckage across the stone roof.


A moment later the second set of charges detonated, in a much more spectacular blast as they hurled blazing petrol all over everything in a twenty-foot area - most notably the remains of the radio hut. That structure had been shredded by the blast, held in place by the weight of the mast and absorbing all the blast instead of being blown down or away. There wasn't a chance anything as delicate as a radio set, or a radio operator, was going to have survived that.

As he watched, he noticed indistinct shadows swarming over the outer walls further to the south. He couldn't see what they were, but a moment later a succession of ceramic crashing noises came from inside the compound.

As they made their escape Joe, Birapeer and Anné caught glimpses of what was happening inside the compound. The seven ghouls had cleared the wall into the monastery grounds and were racing around the perimeter, methodically smashing the stubby stuba that lined the inner surface of the wall. As each broke, another ghoul emerged to join the fight. Where in a normal Tibetan monastery the stuba would contain the cremated ashes of respected monks, here they held imprisoned ghouls. Now, more and more of the monsters were bounding across the compound to attack the monks as they emerged from the main temple. The three caught glimpses of younger monks swarmed under and torn to pieces; of more martial figures armed with staves or bare hands fighting the monsters; and a few monks, sheathed in blue auras of magical energy, blasting ghouls to bits with spells. Here and there a shadowy wolf shape would tear down a ghoul.

The issue seemed very much in the balance, and the agents were very unwilling to stay and see how it turned out. Reassembling at the ridge, they gathered their gear and headed back up towards the lake as fast as they could manage in the darkness.

Half an hour later Dawa Rabten waded into Tara's Lake and swept his left hand through the water. He looked up at them. "The Lama is ready," he said, and led the group back into the water. It took Jan Kledermeyer the pilot a considerable effort of will to force himself in, but finally he made it.

Tibetan Mountains, 22:40, 24th September - 1st October 1940

Drokpa Camp

After resting for the remainder of the night, the group - once again accompanied by the drokpa nomads - set out across the mountains towards Kyung Ri. The first two days' travel were straightforward enough, with each night's camps guarded by an alert watch comprising one military agent, one non-military agent and a drokpa or aircrew member, all alert in case of pursuit by the Chankopa. On the 26th, the weather worsened, and the expedition was forced to camp early under a meagre outcrop as a blizzard set in.

Marcus Brody

The storm lasted four days, during which the company was trapped in the well-made but rather smelly tents the drokpa had brought with them. Most of the agents treated this as a chance to rest, play games of chance with their tribesmen companions, and maintain their equipment. For Marcus, however, the confinement removed the day-to-day activity that had been helping him block out his experiences. Now, the dreams began. First horrific dreams, then waking hallucinations, all leavened with a large dollop of claustrophobia. Cyril, an amateur psychologist, did the best he could to talk him through it, and when the blizzard was least wild walked him around outside the tent a little. It seemed to help to some extent.

Kyung Ri Monastery, Tibet, 19:02 2nd October 1940

Tsering Lama

Finally, on the 2nd of October, the expedition wound its way up the steep paths to Kyung Ri, to find the gently smiling Tsering Lama waiting for them, framed in a doorway through which warm orange firelight promised comfort and recuperation.

Warmed, bathed and fed, the agents were settled around a warm fire with (their own) bowls of tea and warm feet for the first time in a week. With the politeness of a good host, Tsering Lama had not pressed them for an account of their activities, but now he indicated he was ready to hear their story.

Each contributing some of the words, they told him of their success, omitting only Marcus' use of black magic to enlist hideous allies to the cause. "Their pet ghouls turned on them," the Professor himself commented. Tsering Lama acknowledged this with a nod, but made no comment. Looking at his icy blue eyes, though, Marcus was not so sure that they had hidden the truth so well. The Lama sat back.

"So, and so," he said with an air of satisfaction. "The Dark Ones in Berlin will not be getting any more knowledge from the Chankopa; and I feel it is quite likely that the Blue Hats will consider this alliance too costly to continue with. You have my thanks, to add to the knowledge that you have struck a telling blow against the powers of evil."

Birapeer made to speak, and Tsering Lama lifted a hand. "Yes, my young warrior, I have promised you a trade for your services. Please, all of you follow me."

THE BOOK OF THE MACHINE — in English, translated from the Atlantean version by Jamyang Tsering, c.1939.

Who originally wrote the book is unclear from Tsering Lama’s translation, nor is how he came to possess a copy. Written in a style not dissimilar to the Black Stone of Saïs, the manuscript relates the story of the five pieces of a fabulous machine broken up and hidden by the survivors of Atlantis. Although it does not claim to know where the pieces are, the function of each individual component is listed although, somewhat irritatingly, the author omits any description of what the parts actually look like (other than to say they are made of “astounding” crystals, glass, and precious metals).

The first chapter of the book consists of a slightly lurid retelling of the destruction of Atlantis, including many of the elements reworked over time by the likes of Plato, the Theosophists, and Cayce, as well as introducing the presence of the great worm, Shudde M’ell. There is also speculation that removing “the machine” helped bring about the catastrophe in the first place.

Then there are five very short chapters, each of which describes a different segment, giving its name and what its role in the machine was. Chapter 2 deals with the Aten Life Giver, the machine’s central power source; Chapter 3 describes the Clypeus as tasked with providing a shield of protection for the doomed city. The offensive protection provided by the Agneya Weapon of Flame is covered by Chapter 4, while the visual and auditory monitoring capabilities of the Cup of Yima form Chapter 5. Finally, Chapter 6 waxes lyrical about the time-keeping capabilities of the remaining fragment: the Mitawi (Viracocha’s Mirror).

Sanity loss 0/1D4 (thanks to a rather graphic description of Shudde M’ell). Cthulhu Mythos +1 percentile (Skim)/5 percentiles (full study), Folklore +10 percentiles, Occult +5 percentiles; average ten days to read fully/3 hours to skim (due to the flowery style). No spells.

As promised, Tsering Lama now disclosed his knowledge regarding the Palladion. He told the investigators about the pieces of the Palladion and how they were scattered as Atlantis fell. As he mentioned before, he feared that dark forces were seeking to gather and reunite the separate parts, something which he suspected could only lead to catastrophe. Although he did not know where all of the component pieces were hidden, he had managed to identify the location of two of them. One, which he referred to as the Agneya Weapon of Flame, can be found in the Ellora Caves, approximately 220 miles to the northeast of Bombay. Another, whose identity the old lama believed to be the Cup of Yima, was also associated with fire, but this time the fire temples of the Parsi (Zoroastrians) close to Isfahan, Persia.

The Book of the Machine

Besides sharing this information with the agents, Tsering Lama also handed over his translation of The Book of the Machine. "I think you will find the translation excellent," he said with a twinkle - evidently he himself had performed the work. "The original book, much like me, is sadly far too frail to travel any more."

As well as the book, the old man gives Joe Vandeleur a small, carved statuette of a robed figure. The androgynous figurine was strangely heavy, and one of its arms appeared to be articulated; it was the companion of the piece recovered from the power station at Cascata di Lares. Tsering Lama instructed the agents on how to use it, describing how the elevation of the arm indicated how close someone is to a Palladion crystal, while the direction the arm points in was self-explanatory.

Shudde M’ell

Several of the agents tried to persuade Tsering Lama to come with them, assuring him that his knowledge and wisdom would be invaluable in the fight against the darkness. Gently he smiled, shaking his head. "My day is gone," he said quietly, "my world is gone. This world is yours, and the fight to defend it is yours. My place is here. It may be that my task is fulfilled and my time may at last be over; and that would not be a bad thing."

That evening, Joe and Marcus flicked through the precious translation, picking up the highlights. Some of it was rather shuddersome, but without doubt it was everything they had come to expect.

Kyung Ri Monastery, Tibet, 9:02 3rd October 1940

The next morning, the KLM aircrew reported that the plane was, mysteriously, fully fuelled and in complete working order once more.

Tsering Lama gifted each person a white kathak (prayer scarf) as a final keepsake. Smiling almost to himself, he said "I look forward to seeing you again; please accept my apologies in advance if I happen not to recognize you." Leaning forward, he gently touched Anné's luk mik dzi with one finger. "See," he said, "the bead is slightly cracked. It has served its purpose and preserved you from harm. From now, it will be merely a good luck charm."


Dawa Rabten had his own gifts for the investigators, consisting of tea, yaksha (dried yak jerky), and tsampa to make sure they are properly fed on their journey; he also insisted they keep their tea bowls, which he had carefully wrapped in readiness.

Once all of the farewells have been completed, the plane bumped its way along the rough and ready runway marked out by the crew. As the plane climbed it was once again joined by the glowing red orbs. The weather also grew steadily worse, and the glowing white fog that accompanied them to Kyung Ri enveloped the plane once more.

Session Date: 21st August 2018