DART Review: The Masks of Nyarlathotep: Part 5

While Hazel and Zeke are occupied in Kenya with the events of Part 4, Victoria and Cecil travel to their next destination aboard the yacht of Victoria’s good friend, Cornelius Vanderbilt III.

“Neily” Vanderbilt sums up this phase of the investigation:

“Victoria’s cousin had a friend… who thought there was a cult in Australia… and apparently he was interested in rumors about a buried city somewhere out in the desert. And someone in Australia ships strange machines from Darwin to that company in England which makes new copies and ships them to China.”

So it’s off to Darwin we go.

Props: matchbook and a photo of ruins in Australia

Australia

At a dive bar in Darwin, Cecil chats with an aborigine, who tells him something about the Cult of the Sand Bat and the Buddai. The Buddai, he says, sleeps beneath an ancient city in the Great Sandy Desert “until he’s ready to wake up and devour the world.”

Victoria and Neily meet up with a cheerful young pair of Australians, Penny and Mark O’Brien. All the way back in Part 1, Hazel spoke with an archeologist at Miskatonic University about enormous and incredibly old stone blocks out in the desert; he has arranged for the O’Brien twins–his niece and nephew–to guide Hazel’s friends on a trek out into the desert, once they learn that that’s where the original versions of those “strange machines” that were shipped to the Penhew Foundation in the UK are coming from.

Cthulhu statue

They also come across a small statue of Cthulhu in a warehouse but don’t perceive its significance. I’d like to think this is the same figure that was discovered aboard the Emma, but this story is set before March of 1925, when Cthulhu woke up.

It’s Nyarlathotep and what he’s up to that’s important here.

Original Astounding Stories cover of "The Shadow out of Time"

While the Egyptian part of this saga remains my favorite, this Australian segment runs a close second because of its connection to Lovecraft’s story (and an earlier DART production), The Shadow Out of Time.

Once they get out into the desert, the party ventures down into those same enormous, antediluvian stone structures that featured in that story.

Along the way, Cecil, Victoria, and their twin Ozzie guides encounter:

  • A naked man who once witnessed something horrible; he’s been wandering out in the desert in a dream-state, accompanied by dingoes since. Victoria befriends him by making him a strawberry-jam sandwich.
  • A family of outback cultists who hilariously spout lines like “you never looked on the three-lobed burning eye,” or “the Great Race of Pnakotus is the great power”–which makes it impossible to take them seriously even though they’re constantly threatening our heroes with brutal death.
  • The mysterious doctor (another missing member of the Carlyle Expedition, voiced with chilling, clinical menace by Matt Foyer) who has made his home among the ruins while he tests the ancient technology he’s uncovered and conducts fiendish experiments on his captive “patients.”
  • An extremely old – old – personage who is being kept prisoner by the doctor.

This last scene may be the thing I love most in the entire story. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Yithians, and it was nice to see one helping the Good Guys, no matter how briefly.

Between them, the doctor and the Yithian outline what the many Nyarlathotep cults all over the world have been striving to do. Unbeknownst to Victoria and Cecil, one important piece of the cultists’ plans was already taken care of by Hazel and her companions in Kenya, but the next, and final, step will unfold in Shanghai… where everybody who’s still alive will meet for the ultimate confrontation with unspeakable evil.

Will our heroes prevail? Find out in Part 6! This is getting exciting.

Props: Telegram, map, and plans


avatar

Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.