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…