Horror on the Orient Express

The City of Lights
Answers lead to still more questions

They read Smith’s old diary on the boat from Dover, and on the train from Calais, first passing it from hand to hand, and then reading passages aloud in hushed tones. They finished the book, huddled over a table in a berth about 30 miles outside Paris, with expressions of shocked horror on their faces. Everyone had heard of the great train wreck that had claimed the lives of almost all aboard the Express in ’93, but to even imagine it had some sort of eldritch occult cause…

Dr. Barnes had excused himself to be ill; he had still not returned. Professor Adler and Dr. Franklin, shaking their heads in disbelief, excused themselves as well. Lord Winthrop, Ms Madison, and Mr Montclair, alone for the moment, put the book away and prepared for their business in Paris.

From the Gare du Nord, Lord Winthrop hired a car and driver for their time in Paris. It being too late to explore the Bibliotheque Nationale, they arranged lodging at the Hotel le Bristol, and headed to the Sorbonne to hire a research assistant. There, on the steps of that ancient edifice, they met Remi Vangeim.

Remi was floored by Lord Winthrop’s incredibly generous offer (and a bit smitten by Ms Madison, too), and agreed to work on their behalf at the Biblitheque. Using his connection there, he got them in to meet with the librarian early the next morning. Having secured a table, they began the painstaking work of researching Fenalik and the Simulacrum.

Over the course of three days, they uncovered tantalizing reports of a scandal at the Queen’s court in 1789, leading to reports of Fenalik’s arrest and imprisonment in the asylum at Charenton. There was even a bill of goods seized, including an intriguing reference to statuary (incomplete.) They were also able to pinpoint the Comte’s manor as having stood in Poissy, 17 miles west of Paris.

On the second day, during a late visit to the Louvre, Mr. Montclair seemed to hear a desultory laugh coming from the vicinity of an old sketch of a sneering noble, found in Queen Marie Antoinette’s possessions. Nothing further came of it, though, and as the museum was closing, they got dinner at a local café.

Once the research was complete, a discussion of where to go next ensued. Eventually, it was decided to take the next day’s train to Poissy, and to use the remainder of the afternoon to explore Charenton, both to seek clues to Fenalik’s fate and to indulge some curiosity regarding the odd death of Docteur Delplace, the late director of the Maison Nationale de la Sante.
The acting Directeur, Docteur Leroux, was more than happy to allow them access to the old patient records, but was completely unwilling to entertain any discussion of Delplace’s demise. In the old records, they found but one reference to Comte Fenalik, and that to his arrival at the asylum. No mention of his death or discharge was to be found. Their recalcitrant guide was replaced by a young orderly named Paul during their records search, and for the price of a ride home, he offered to share the tale of the death of Docteur Delplace.

Returning to Leroux’s office to say their farewells, they were able to use a well-timed distraction by Montclair to lift a journal belonging to the late Doctor. As they walked back to the car to await Paul, they pondered over what might be contained in the journal…and why Leroux would put it in the pile of papers to be incinerated…

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Of Blood and Clarity
The Fez knows a new master now

In the wake of Menkaph’s treacherous triumph, the dauntless Investigators decided to regroup and reappraise the situation. Although poor Mr. Myers was still wasting away in the sleeping berth up the hall, and the Chef de Train was apparently on Menkaph’s side, they had still managed to come away from the confrontation with one very important item – the mysterious black book that had been under Mr. Myers’ pillow. Professors Polat and Worth retired to their berth to pore over the odd tome, while the Inspector decided to have dinner and drinks before turning in for the night. George and Dr. Saroch were nowhere to be found. Ms. Meadowcroft and Captain Barrington decided to attempt a search of Menkaph’s berth.

With Henri’s complicity, they gained entrance unnoticed. There was little to be found here; the man appeared to have spent very little time in his own berth. Two items of interest were turned up: a ticket stub in Turkish and a scrap of paper covered with odd scribblings. Amelia brought the papers back to Professor Polat for his perusal, while the Captain joined the Inspector and Ms. Macgregor for dinner. Over dinner, they explained a few of the more believable aspects of the investigation to Ms. Macgregor, and they discussed the Armenian Question and her mission to Constantinople, as well.

The ticket was for a ferry from Constantinople to one of the Prince’s Islands in the Sea of Marmara. The scribblings were uncanny. They appeared to be translation notes on the hieroglyphics appearing on the Fez; only two phrases were translated: “rising from the past” and “dominion over all.”

The Captain appraised Mr. Menkaph from across the dining car. Grabbing a bottle and three glasses, he decided to try to talk to the man. Making himself comfortable at the table, he attempted to strike up a conversation, but to no avail. Menkaph ordered his servant Kapok to remove the Captain, and after a brief stare down, Barrington left. There seemed nothing left to do but turn in for the night. The Inspector noticed some activity around the Russian nobles’ berths, but nothing seemed amiss so he filed the information away for later perusal and went to bed.

The restless Prof. Worth started awake in the deep hours of the early morning as the train stopped at Strasbourg. The whispering….He was close. Close to a breakthrough. As the train began to roll across the Alsatian countryside, he dropped back into a fitful sleep.

At 6:41, the Express arrived at Stuttgart. The Inspector and the Captain, both early risers, were already awake; the Inspector decided to take advantage of the stop to send a telegraph back to New Scotland Yard detailing the progress of his investigation. Leaving the telegraph office, he was accosted by one of Menkaph’s thugs with a concealed gun! Luckily, Capt. Barrington had been watching, and got the drop on the ingrate, disarming him and dislocating his elbow in the process. The intrepid pair fled back to the train with the man’s passport in hand, mere steps ahead of the German constabulary, who were deflected from their pursuit by the unflappable Henri. Safe from pursuit, they headed to the lounge car to relax a bit before breakfast; Ms. Meadowcroft joined them.

At 8:18 the Express pulled into Ulm. After a short stop, it began to roll again. As the whistle blew and the locomotive began to chug, the door to the Professors’ berth exploded inward! It was Kapok, armed with a curved knife, a demented look in his eyes. He charged into the room, bulling into Worth and knocking him from his chair. But Polat was stronger than he looked! He grabbed the knife hand and started to drive the blade into the big bodyguard’s ribs. Kapok dropped the knife and Worth grabbed it up, but Kapok, despite being restrained, managed a chopping blow that fractured the Professor’s wrist. He collapsed in pain. Polat continued to twist, though, and with a wet snap, Kapok’s arm broke. The big man screamed and collapsed in shock. In the meantime, Henri had dashed to the lounge car to notify the other investigators. They returned in time to see the aftermath, and Amelia immediately dashed off to find Menkaph. Enough was enough. The Inspector went looking for the Chef de Train, Maurice. He found the man strolling nonchalantly down the lounge car toward the sleeping cars. He seemed oddly unconcerned with the assault, and fixated on recovering the Book. Perhaps he was drugged? Henri helpfully suggested that perhaps his illness was flaring up; a condition the Investigators had been unaware of. But he would not give up on his insistence that the Book be given to him.

Ms. Meadowcroft stormed through the dining car. Ms. Macgregor was there, and together they resolved to rescue Mrs. Myers from Menkaph’s clutches. He sat at his customary table, the despondent lady at his side, with a flunky across from him. Amelia did not mince words; she demanded he let the Myers go and cease his monstrous activities. Menkaph wondered aloud why the Investigators even cared what he did, and Mrs. Myers tearfully begged Amelia to leave it alone. But the anguish in her eyes was too overwhelming to ignore. Amelia pulled a revolver from her handbag and leveled it at Menkaph’s face. His flunky started to pull a knife, but Aileen pulled her own revolver and he froze. “I’ve seen enough people turned into monsters by that thing,” Amelia fumed, “I won’t see another.”

“No, you won’t,” Menkaph chuckled. Enraged by the implied threat, Amelia pulled the trigger, not noticing Menkaph had pulled a knife and was holding it to Mrs. Myers’ side. The bullet raked along Menkaph’s skull, opening a horrific gash as the skin and hair peeled back and the blood gushed. Shocked, the bleeding man somehow managed to bring up his knife to stab at Amelia; she calmly pulled the trigger again. This time, the bullet entered the middle of Menkaph’s forehead, and vacated the contents of his skull on the beautifully carved wooden wall behind him. Ellie Myers screamed, and the dining car erupted in chaos.

In the Professors’ berth, as the argument grew heated, the Inspector suddenly heard the POP…POP of two gunshots from the dining car. At the same time, Maurice became agitated and confused; he was unaware of where he was or what was happening, and the last 12 hours seemed like a red dream to him. Everyone started speaking at once, and Maurice just sat down, put his hands to his eyes, and quietly abdicated his authority to the Inspector. His overstressed mind had had enough.

Amelia returned and explained what had happened. She intended to get Mr. Myers from his berth and remove the Fez from his head. Prof. Polat agreed to help her, and they headed for the berth. The Inspector took the two henchmen to the Fourgon to be detained, while Henri returned with the train’s doctor to treat Prof Worth’s wrist. While the doctor went to work, Henri fetched lanterns from a locked cabinet. Ellie watched as the two investigators opened the door. Polat grabbed for Mr. Myers’ feet, while Amelia swung her lantern madly at the shadow creature that raked her with its cold talons! As the struggled spilled over into the hall, Ellie screamed in horrible recognition when she saw the creature’s resemblance to her husband. Cpt. Barrington grabbed his shotgun and ran to join the fight, while Worth continued to pore over the horrible tome…it almost made sense. It did! The last piece of the puzzle! IT WAS ALL SO CLEAR NOW! All he needed to do was to don the Fez. So he did.

Drawing energy from Mr. Myers, he dispatched the shadow creature with a thought. Then, realizing he could help the poor man recover a bit, he slowed the process by which the Fez was draining Myers, at the cost of some of his own soul’s fragile energy. Wasting no time, Barrington and Polat decided to cut the Fez from Myers’ head. With a horrid moist rending ripping sound, it came free…and the unfortunate young newlywed Scott Myers was no more. With an agonized gasp, he died. Ellie screamed and threw herself on her husband’s body, weeping inconsolably. Henri stood by, shocked, while Maurice lay on his side in the berth in his own filth. A shocked silence fell, broken only by Ellie Myers’ choked sobs.

Pulling themselves together, the Investigators took stock. Henri, now the de facto Chef de Train, hurried off to supervise the cleanup of the dining car. Amelia suddenly noticed a Fez on Worth’s head! The maddened Professor convinced his companions not to try to remove it, as it would kill him; with nothing else to do for it, they convinced the doctor to give him a heavy dose of laudanum and put him to bed. They nod had an hour and a half until the next stop. Would it be enough time to sort out the chaos of the last twenty minutes? And would Amelia stand on murder charges in a German court?

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Monsters and Men
It's worse than we had feared

Session notes to come.

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Watchers in the Fog
Thugs and ruffians...and worse

Session notes to come.

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Shadows of the past
Restless ghosts, three decades passed...

Session notes to come

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Where there's smoke...
The good Professor meets his fate

Session notes to come.

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Wintertime in London
The First of January, 1923

First session notes to come.

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