Horror On The Orient Express

Venice 1923, Part One


The Investigators fled Milan into the Italian countryside, the Head of the Simulacrum restless in Miss Crispin’s carpetbag. They hoped to find a place of refuge, but the long shadow of the King in Yellow stretched out after them. A red morning with two suns rose and the worm-men literally crept out of the woodwork, demanding someone take up the Pallid Mask. Miss Crispin’s will to resist was weakening when Miss Johnson snatched the Head away from her — and unfortunately falling under its spell herself. Wearing the Head she saw a distant vision of a strange city and a dry voice asked if she would be the new Herald. The vision became a nightmare of London transformed into Carcosa, and she declined the offer

"Then put down the Pallid Mask
"I leave it to the Skinless One to reclaim his own
“He will come for it, anon”

Miss Johnson could not resist the impulse to look upon the King in Yellow, and collapsed screaming.

A few days of peace followed before the Investigators headed to Venice with of two goals: a pieces of the Simulacrum supposedly brought into the city during Napoleon’s occupation, and the “Devil’s Simulare.” They found the historic city gloomy in winter, and suffering from an oily slime polluting its famous canals.

Scholarly tradition placed the original copy of the Devil’s Simulacrum at the Church of San Marie Celeste, but as an grey bearded gondolier, Alfio, informed the Investigators, that Church had burned down in a 16th Century conflagration. A Navy Academy stood on the bones of the old building. Umar found his way to its basement where, amidst standing water fouled by the canal, were signs of a forgotten order of female warriors. Also numerous graffiti of cats.

Miss Crispin identified them as The Order of The Red Maidens, and further research turned up folklore about the order defending peasants from supernatural menaces while their men were off on the Crusades. Less reputable scholarship also connected them with a secret cult of the Goddess Bast than survived into the middle ages under the guise of nuns of St. Agatha — a saint who, among other characteristics, was said to appear in as a cat to those who called on her aid.

Umar took to the library trying to find something of the fate of the book. He found hints that volumes from the burned library had ended up in the library’s archives, but had been sold to a collector for funds and needed shelf space. The way had been made easier, since earlier in the year a Prof. Stragliani had also been following the exact same trail.

Dr. Wilke had spend his time looking into some strange deaths than had been plaguing the troubled island city. Two people had been found dead, drained of blood. Talking his way into the morgue he discovered that the victim’s wounds were similar to those on the bodies of those attacked by Count Fenalik and his spawn back in France.

Miss Crispin noticed that the day, February 5th was the holy day of St Agatha. The city had a convent dedicated to her, but it had been bombed during the war. The nuns had all been killed and half the building collapsed into the canal. Miss Crispin felt moved to take a candle to light at the ruins — as well as some sardines for any cats who might show up.

Accompanied by Miss Johnson, she went to the remains of the church and found there was another visitor, a young girl named Maria Stragliani. She had recently lost her father and felt an impulse to deal with her sorrow by a pilgrimage to the Church. With a little hypnotic prompting Maria revealed further that a stray cat — who also made an appearance — was the one who had suggested that she come. She said that her father had been obsessed with finding a “devlish” book but had fallen sudden ill and died before finding it. The funeral was in two days and the two women would be welcome to attend. A large red-eyed crow was spotted spying on the group, though the cat chased it away.

Umar and Miss Johnson planned to visit the collector who had bought the book, while Dr. Wilke continued to pursue any clues or connections between the murders.

Milan 1923, Part Three


The Investigators decided their most important tasks was looking into what is going on at La Scala and the trouble production of Aida. Preparations started out with the disturbing discovery that Dr. Wilke’s playing cards, used for divination previously, had all turned yellow.

Police were stationed at the theatre, and were not enthusiastic about letting strangers wander around. Caterina appeared and explained that these were the people who has saved her, and insisted they be allowed to tour the backstage. Chaos and confusion were the order of the day as cast and crew struggled to get the show ready. The surreal world of artifice and (to Miss Crispin’s point-of-view, morale degeneracy) left the Investigators a little unsettled.


They did reach the workshop of Paolo Rischonti, prop manager of La Scala, currently missing and under suspicion for the kidnapping attempt on Caterina. They found scraps Rischonti’s mad plans for staging The King in Yellow and evidence that he frequently bought many eccentric items and curios from Milan junk shops. Dr. Wilke located a secret passage in the undercity of MIlan, as well an empty, abandoned chest. A search of the discovered a concealed stone tile with a golden occult symbol: The Yellow Sign. Umar had encountered this cult of art and madness in the past and knew how dangerous they were. The Yellow Sign could not be unseen. Even more disturbing to Umar was the growing suspicion that the magic his uncle had taught him involved calling on forces beyond this realm, and beyond the teachings of his faith.

The investigators descended the stairs into a section of the city sewers. Dr. Wilke attempted to divine the route that they might follow, but his magic only brought down a swarm of the worm-men down on them, from which they barely escaped. Back up in the theatre the La Scala manager had become enraged about strangers wandering around causing problems. Aida must go on, and the police promised security would be increased. As crowds gathered, Umar noticed a couple crewmembers making hand signals of the Yellow Sign. He confronted them, posing as a cultist himself, insisting that they were the ones not informed about current plans. He was told there would be a meeting that night, when Umar could explain what he was talking about to Paride Pavoleri, a star of the opera and chief of the cast and crew who had seen the Yellow Sign, though not the ultimate leader of the cult.

Later that night found everyone at a subterranean lair where Cultists were preparing a ramshackle rehearsal of the King in Yellow. Some of the cast and crew of La Scala thought they were on the threshold of a art revolution that would change the world, others that this was just avant garde performance art. Paolo Rischonti, master of the Cult finally appeared, dressed as the Stranger and wearing as the Pallid Mask, the face of the Sedefkar Simulacrum.

Rischonti demanded the Investigators explain why, if they were a branch of the Yellow Sign themselves, they interfered with the abduction of Caterina, who was to have been brought here to rehearse the role of Cassilda of Carcosa. While Dr. Wilke played fawning cultist, Umar acted outraged that Rischonti was rehearsing the play under these shabby conditions. You do not rehearse the King in Yellow, you just do it. Rischonti agreed that if his Cassilda was delivered to him, ready to perform, on the night of Aida’s premiere, he would wait and present a complete performance of the great play for all Milan to see.

Back at the hotel, the Investigators struggled to build a plan around this thread of possibility. They had a day to rest and recover, but attempts to calm each others nerves and steel themselves for the coming struggle met with little success, perhaps due to simmering hostilities and resentments in the team. A desperate plan was eventually put together.

Miss Crispin convinced Pavoleri (with some hypnotically persuasive) to deliver a message to RIsconti: Caterina would be ready to perform, but had to meet with him at an isolation location to discuss important matters. The Investigators waited, ready for violence, at a desert warehouse, Miss Crispin dressed as Cassilda as bait. The Stranger did appear and, as he detected the deception, met with a hail of gunfire. He collapsed as waves of worm-men appeared. While Umar attempted to hold them off with holy light from the Koran, Miss Crispin snatched the Pallid Mask off Rischonti — just barely managing to resist the lure of putting in on herself.

Dr. Wilke finished off the badly wounded Rischonti and Umar used the last of his will power to keep his left arm from grabbing the mask by itself. Nerves at the breaking point, the Investigators decided to get out of Milan as quickly as possible.

Milan 1923, Part Two

Aida.jpgAfter arriving in Milan, the Investigators discovered that the Brothers of the Skin were active in the foreign slums of the city and that the Makryats had connections with the industries that were thriving under the new Fascist government. Few clues had yet been found leading to where a fragment of the Simulacrum might be.

Captain Raimondi of the Carabinieri stopped Umar in lobby, asking about his reasons for wanting a weapon permit. Miss Crispin convinced him that they were relying on Umar for protection, and the officer says the paperwork should be completed shortly. A visit to Milan’s thriving fashion district provided new clothes to wear to the coming party, their budget kept in line by Dr. Wilke’s attitude and stinginess.

They then visited the University library to look into the strange names and places mentioned in the playscript snuck into Caterina’s notes. A long day of research turned up only a French journal account of a performance in a private club that left audience members mentally disturbed and muttering about “Carcosa” and other seeming nonsense.

In hopes of gaining some helpful omens, Dr. Wilke performed some card divination. It took some effort, but the cards did suggest some coming changes and dangerous shifts of power. Also, for some odd reason, one of the Kings in his deck became stained yellow.


A car hired by Caterina whisked the Investigators to a noisy, champagne and jazz fueled party at the mansion of elderly art patron Flavio Conti. Dr. Wilke and Miss. Johnson kept an eye on opera star Paride Pavoleri (who had been behaving oddly at rehearsals), Miss Crispin mingled, and Umar stood off to the side of the festivities. There he caught the eye of Caterina, who was trying to extricate herself from the La Scala’s prop master Paolo Rischonti. She explained that Rischonti is constantly trying to convince her to support a new, lavish production of a play he is designing. After she excused herself to get ready for a performance for the party goers, Umar chatted with the manic prop master, who was alternatively boastful and protective of his plans to stage an obscure French play that will revolutionize theatre. Glimpses of his sketches showed sets and stagings beyond anything La Scala, or any actual theatre, could produce. After shaking Umar’s hand, he rushed off. Umar left arm was struck by a spasm of pain…

Caterina appeared on a balcony and dazzled all with the aria from Aida. For an encore she began a second, strange, discordant piece, Cassilda’s Song, that upset her as much as it did the crowd. She fled as the jazz band started to get the party going again. Dr. Wilke, hurried after her. The others conferred from a minute before following.

Dr. Wilke tried to locate where Caterina has vanished into the mansion, and encountered an armed gentleman who was also looking for something. Dr. Wilke sent him off in the wrong direction, before hearing a scuffle from a servants’ stairwell. The other investigators also ran into the searching man, who asked about “the little men” he was pursuing.

Dr. Wilke meanwhile made his way to a side door and spotted a group of very short, pale men stuffing Caterina into a large black car. Distracting the little men with magic, he managed to get into the front seat of the car but was unable to get it started before being discovered. When the others arrived, a melee broke out between the Investigators and the little men — who were revealed as fanged inhuman creatures. The Investigators managed to get the upper hand, command the car, and with Miss Johnson at the wheel, escape with the dazed Caterina. In the glovebox Dr. Wilke finds the rental papers show the car had been hired by the Paolo Rischonti.

After a night in a nondescript hotel, they reported the events to the Milan police. Caterina backed up their story, and the police insisted they will handle the investigation now. Umar tried to see if this weapon permit can be expedited, but the bureaucratic process would not be hurried.

Back at the Grand Hotel, they again encountered the gunman from the party, Benito Andriani. He explained that he works for Arturo Faccia, who was concerned about what disrupted the party. He would like to know what information the Investigators have. A little magical influence from Dr. Wilke led him to give more than his share of information and Benito related that the bodies of the little men were clearly not human and were being examined by another of Faccia’s men, one who is knowledgeable about such things. When asked if he could assist with Umar’s permit, he said he couldn’t help there, but handed over a pistol of his own. He departs, saying he would see if Mr. Faccia might provide more about the creatures, if anything is discovered.

The Investigators mulled over their options, and decided it is time to check out La Scala for themselves.

Milan 1923, Part One

Aboard the Orient Express, steaming its way across Switzerland, the Investigators finished reading Prof Smith’s Constantinople diary and began considering their next actions. They have only a few clues, and the names of people Prof Smith had been corresponding with, to lead them to where the next fragment of the Simulacrum might be within Milan.

Needing some food and a chance to gather their wits, they retired to the Dining car to enjoy some the luxuries available. The Maitre d’Hotel informed them the train is about to enter the Simplon Tunnel, the 15 mile passage cut through the granite of the Alps. Their meal is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the Duke du Messeraine, accompanied by William Wellington, apparently under the Duke’s control. The Duke demanded the Investigators hand over the Scroll taken from Edgar Wellington. They refused and a violent struggle of sorcery and unnatural strength broke out, though the staff and other passengers remained oblivious. While Miss Johnson and Umar grappled with William, Miss Crispin and Dr. Wilke hurried back to their cabin to recover the Scroll .They were uncertain about whether it would be best to threaten to destroy the Scroll, actually destroy it, or make some use of the fake Scroll that Edgar Wellington had prepared. A battered Umar and Miss Johnson had been taken captive by the Duke, until Umar cast a spell to disrupt the electrical lights of the dining car (on due to the passage through the Tunnel). In the darkness they escaped and met the others bag in their cabin. When William charge in a few minutes later, he was met by a hail of gunfire from the Investigators, thought it took a knife strike by Umar to finally put down the thing that had been William Wellington. The Duke appeared, fist ablaze with green fire, but Dr.Wilke doused the fake Scroll with alcohol and incinerated it. Duke Messeraigne was enraged, but stated that at least Makryat would not gain the Scroll either, before he vanished.

After treating their wounds, the Investigators debated what to do next. Was the Scroll too dangerous to keep, lest it fall in enemy hands, or were the secrets in might contain be too valuable? They decided to hold on to it for now, as Umar studied it to learn about the terrible lore of Sedefkar and his crazed beliefs about the power of the Simulacrum and the Skinless One.

Entering into Italy, the Investigators dealt with the strict customs of the country and hid their more interesting suplies in Umar’s diplomatic trunk. They were also joined by the opera star Caterina Cavollaro, whom they had met on the train as it left Paris. She explained to Dr. Wilke that she was travelling incognito to relax some before upcoming performance of Aida in Milan. She promised to arrange rooms for them at Milan’s best hotel and hoped they would attend the opening night performance. Bidding Dr.Wilke good afternoon, she was disturbed by a page of a strange script that had become mixed in with her direction and staging notes.

After settling in at Milan, the Investigator decided to first speak with Father Angelico, a priest at The Duomo, the city’s famous cathedral. The Father had been corresponding with Prof Smith about spiritual evil and the possibilities that agents of Satan were active in the city. The Father mentioned that some of his own parishioners were worried about Devil worshippers in their neighborhood. Contrary to Dr. Wilke’s request, Miss Johnson slipped away for a moment to arrange a meeting with a local contact in British Intelligence. She was informed that the Makryats had connections with businessmen through Italy, and was suspected of providing gray market supplies to manufacturers such as Arturo Faccia, owner of a large automotive plant outside of town.

The Investigators caught a trolley to the industrial district of Portello, to look into the rumors that Father Angelico had mentioned. As they rode through blocks of soot stained tenements, Miss. Johnson suggested checking out one of the large factory complexes. Posing as a sports car enthusiast, she toured the plant. The name Ennio Spinola was being mentioned often by the workers, and it was learned that he was, according to a plant manager, a Communist agitator who was recently murdered by the unsavory types he associated with.

Locating the slum where workers from the Middle East lived, Umar spoke with the owner for a coffee shop and was told that some of the residents might indeed be having commerce with dark forces. Their fear and poverty was leading them to look for whatever protection was being offered. It seemed the Brothers of the Skin were at work. The owner also knew of the death of Spinola, though he had heard him described as labor advocate who had come to Portello to organize workers and protest unsafe conditions at the plant.

Back at the hotel, they met again with Caterina, who had been having a hard day herself. Rehearsals had not be going well, with players forgetting their lines, workers quitting and being replaced, and the performer of the King of Egypt showing up drunk in a ridiculous yellow costume. The next evening Caterina was to attend a ball held in her honor by the wealth but ailing patron Flavio Conti. She invited the Investigators to attend as her guests— though that would mean a shopping trip to buy suitable attire.

Constantinople 1893, Part Three

At Selim Makryat’s hidden palace, Nisra awakened Georgia, saying that it would be best if she made herself scarce for the morning, though she was anxious to return to their mathematical explorations. On the way out, they again spotted a boy spying on them. Nisra explained that this was Selim’s son Mahmet, whose strict upbringing has limited the number of women he had ever seen.

Back at Sayed’s brother’s, there was a grim exchange where Sayed handed over the pages he had taken from the Apocrypha of the Fez. Now the question was only what can be done to stop Makryat from whatever he wishes to accomplish with them. Georgia arrived, delivering a message from Duke Messeraine that he wishes to meet with the Investigators to discuss such further actions. Sayed, Georgia, and Albert agree — though they first wish to return to the Shunned Mosque to study it some more. Prof. Smith, who has been making a careful record of what has gone on, also decided to come along.

Before arriving at the Mosque, Albert hired a few unemployed street toughs as bodyguards — and ignored their warnings about the dangers of the Brothers of the Skin who lurk there. At the Mosque, more of the hidden mosaic was revealed: a swirling chaos rising from a tower. Before the tower was the image of a conjuring man wearing a red fez, and around it was a melee of combat between soldiers of different countries and eras, while flying machines dropped explosives from the air. They were interrupted by some disturbing vibrations and the scream of one of the hired guards. Hurrying away they encountered a lumbering monster with a fez-like tumor on its forehead. Clarice stumbled and is attacked, but Sayed and Albert ran back to help her. Prof Smith was separated from them during the escape and was also badly wounded in his leg. Everyone managed to get away, as the creature was reluctant to step into the sunlight.

The Investigators regrouped for their appointment with the Duke. An injured, subdued Clarice, declined to join them. A carriage with a silent driver arrived and carried them off into the bustling city. The throngs grew ever thicker around them, until they were in an impossibly vast crowd of refugee families and wounded soldiers. The crowd began to rush the carriage, trying to climb aboard or hand over starving children. The driver whipped them off, which horrified the Investigators — until physical contact with the refugees injured Georgia. At Sayed’s direction the driver spurred the horses on, trampling the crowd, but getting them to safety in an alley — which opened into a beautiful garden courtyard, where the Duke awaited.

Meanwhile, Clarice had returned to the Grand Bazaar and contacted new friend, Bulent. She explained that she was desperate to have her scarred face and back healed, by supernatural means if necessary. Bulent solemnly explained that such a thing was possible, if one was willing to deal with the Brothers of the Skin, and pay the price they would name. Clarice was quite willing.

Reclining on silken pillows and amidst trays of delicacies, Duke Messeraine explained how Makryat’s lust for power made him a danger to the entire world. Makryat wished to use the power of the Fez to summon the Father of Sorcerers and demand information about the location of an ancient statue of great occult power. Further, even if Makryat did not obtain such power, the world was on the precipice of a century of war and genocide. The Duke said that by disrupting Makryat’s plans at such a crucial juncture, a third future was possible, a new Enlightenment, led by his protege Nisra. Their plan was to attack Makryat when he was distracted and drained by the ritual to summon the Father. Any help the Investigators could provide would increase their slim chance of success.

That night Clarice met with a Brother, and agreed to take a debt of obligation to the cult as the price for the restoration of her beauty. The Brother tore the living flesh from the face of a young woman and molded it like to Clarice’s skin. When she returned to the others and revealed how she had been healed, a furious Sayed threw her out for having made a deal with evil forces.

Working with the Duke the Investigators concocted a plan. Messeraine, still pretending to help Makryat, would help sneak the Investigators into the Shunned Mosque and infiltrate the ritual. Albert would, after preparing some flashbangs, disguise himself as the minor Prince who was to be sacrificed. Sayed would take the duplicated Fez that had been grown and attempt the spell that would seize control and make himself the Master of the Fez. Georgia would be on hand as an assistant to Nisra.

When the night of the ritual came, the Duke and Albert made the exchange with the drugged prince. The Duke said he was worried that Makryat would sense something going wrong with the ceremony and pinned a badge to his costume. This, he said, granted him the powers and sovereignty of “The Domain of the High River and the Ten Thousand Green Waterfalls.” Albert was himself now a Prince.

On the roof of the Shunned Mosque, Makray began the summoning of the Father of Sorcerers — a manifestation of Yog-Sothoth. At the moment when Nisra was to turn on Makryat, she struck at Albert, proclaiming she need his blood for her destiny as the Daughter of Fate. Chaos broke out as the stars swirled around them. Sayed put on the Fez and engaged Makrat in a mental duel. Albert slashed at Makryat with a ceremonial knife him, but was grabbed by Georgia, who was mentally under the control of the Duke.

Clarice revealed herself as one of the cultists and grappled with Sayed, but calling on his will and faith, he managed to overcome the distracted Makryat and gain control of the Blood-Red Fez. Nisra meanwhile slashed at Albert, anointed herself with his blood, and called out to the bubbling sky to grant her the power she deserved. She danced wildly as the Duke laughed at the melee. A rent torn in the sky and a strange flying machine appeared, approaching the scene. A wounded Albert attacked Nisra but she lifted him like a child and hurled him bodily at Georgia — though Nisra’s supernaturally strong arms tore and distorted. Her whole body began to unravel in sheets of flesh.

Sayed, still avoiding Clarice’s attacks, was reaching the limits of his strength as he tried to close the opening rift. The weakened Makryat reached out with his own occult power to share it with Sayed, as he had no desire for what was happening to transpire. Only the Duke seemed pleased at it all. Georgia struck at Nisra, whose entire body now dissembled into a flapping mess.

Suffering huge mental strain, Sayed pulled the rift together just as a object dropped by the flying machine explored in a titanic blast — fortunately on the other side. With a last effort Sayed used his remaining power to break the magics of the Fez, causing them all to melt into a staining goo. Clarice, having fulfilled her debt to the Brothers insisted that everything was now back to normal…

Makryat, weakened, with his cultust scattered, allowed the Investigators to leave, giving Sayed a smirking warning about the consequences of taste of true tower. The pile of flesh that was Nisra appeared to still be living and had slid away into the ruins of the mosque.

The shaken and wounded Investigators reported what had transpired and were left with returning to their lives.

Aboard the Orient Express in 1923, the readers of Prof. Smith’s diary closed its cover and sat in a silence broken only by the muffled rhythm of the train.

Constantinople 1893, Part Two

After convening at Sayed’s brother’s, the Investigators separated to pursue different leads and questions

Georgia had an invitation to meet with the mysterious Nisra. A carriage took her to a grim, rundown neighborhood, but a nondescript door opened to palace hidden in the squalor. Nisra was anxious for her help with some complex theoretical math, equations that suggest new, startling relationships between space, time, matter, and energy. Nisra is thrilled with what they might accomplish, and spoke of a new era of learning and enlightenment springing forth from Turkey and transforming the world. Georgia was introduced to Selim Makryat, who appeared to accept her as a companion to keep Nisra amused. The Duke Messeraine had more to say though: he revealed that he and Nisra are plotting against Makryat and his plans to summon the Father of Sorcerers and learn from this entity the location of a lost statue possessing vast occult power.

Alfred consulted with his contacts in the city’s newspapers to learn more about the missing Menkaph the Elephant, Constantinople’s former crime lord, and how his absence has left the city’s underworld in chaos. On his way back though, he experienced a vision of a huge rally of German soldiers, listening to an impassioned speech by some charismatic leader.

Clarice returned to the bazaar, and heard some of the rumors about dangers and cyclopean monsters lurking about the neighborhood of the Shunned Mosque. She stumbled into a street battle and met Bulent Sadik, a lieutenant of The Elephant. Charming him, she heard the tale of how the Elephant had become acquainted with “the Frenchman” (apparently Duke Messeraine) and began enjoying the city’s entertainments together. He even sold the Frenchman his favorite slave — Nisra. It was shortly after this that Menkaph abruptly retired and retreated into seclusion.

Sayed talked his way into access to the police records of the city, looking into the history of the Shunned Mosque, and the heathen cult that operated there in the previous century. In more recent times, despite various reports of criminal activity and rumors about the so-called Brothers of the Skin, the police seem to be avoiding investigating the area too closely. Sayed’s own investigations were interrupted by a visit from an officer of the Sultan’s secret police, who advised Sayed to avoid looking too much into things best left alone.

Alfred, Sayed, and Clarice decide to investigate the Shunned Mosque in person. They quickly divide up. Alfred, following the route from his previous visit soon found a hidden entrance and a passageway beneath the ruins. Sayed noted that the Minaret is not quite as ruined as it seemed and climbed its stairs. Clarice was fascinated by the strange architecture and wandered inside on her own.

Alfred donned a disguise, avoiding Brothers in the dark passages. He did though encounter the missing Hamlin Polk. Polk seemed quite cheerful and said his now recovered son wants to thank Alfred and the others for their help. Alfred decided to declined this meeting.

At the top of the minaret, Sayed found Selim Makryat waiting for him. Makryat demanded the return of the missing pages from the Apocrypha of the Fez. Sayed denied having them and Makryat threatened to send a cursed Fez to Sayed’s family if he does not comply. Sayed responded by defiantly sings a call to prayer from the tower. He struggled with two of the Brothers, but Makyrat ordered them to let him go, saying Sayed has until sunrise the next day to produce the missing pages.

Clarice found a old mosaic beneath the plaster walls of the crumbling mosque. It appeared to depict a tower with a weird, abstract swirl design rising above it. A Brother discovered her and the two scuffled. She managed to get him a choke hold, but was badly slashed on the face. The outcome seemed ominous when Sadik, whom Clarice had asked to watch out for her, appearsed, shot the Brother, and heroically rescued the damsel in distress.

Eventually they reconvene bask at Sayed’s brother’s — though Georgia is still staying with Nisra. Thugs are prominently lurking on the street keeping an eye on the place. Sayed consulted with Smith, who says a gentleman would give the pages and deal with consequences later. Reluctantly they all agree…

Constantinople 1893, Part One


Aboard the Orient Express, the Investigators receive a curious package: Prof. Smith’s student and patronViolet had come across a diary of Smith’s that described his unsettling 1893 trip to Constantinople. Smith and Violet believe The information from that terrible time, which Smith has been reluctant to talk about, should be useful to the 1923 Investigators, so they sent the diary to them on the train.

In 1893 Smith was studying the languages and archaeology of the Middle-East. But while traveling to Constantinople about the Orient Express (which had been making the Paris to Turkey run for two years) he and several other passengers encountered Englishman Hampton Polk, and his unfortunate son. Matthew Polk was suffering from a degenerating condition brought about by, his father believed, a cursed fez. A mysterious man named Selim Makryat had told Polk that if he stole a collection of rare writings and scrolls from the British Museum and brought them to Constantinople a spell in them could be used to cure Matthew.

With a day left of their journey, Smith and cleric Sayed al-Masri studied the collection of papers, known as the Apocrypha of the Fez. These described the power of the Blood-Red Fez and its associated magic rituals. Nothing they could find hinted at the supposed cure, adding to the suspicions that this was some sort of ruse. Sayad took notes for further research and carefully removed a few key pages, to interfere with anyone who might attempt the spells and rituals.

On arrival, Polk and son were whisked off by agents of Selim Makryat, a man many had heard of but few knew much about, other that he was involved in international crime and had connections and spies across both Asia and Europe.

One topic described in the Apocrypha was that a sample cut from a Fez would grow into an entirely new item. Reporter Albert Botham and Dr. Georgia Macksy tested this and found, disturbingly, it appeared to be true.

Albert, who had come to the city to investigate rumors about a change in its criminal organization, talked with reporters from a local newspaper and learned the former kingpin of the city, Menkaph the Elephant, appeared to have abruptly retired, leaving rival gangs to fight for control of the streets. There was some thought that a shadowy gang or cult, The Brothers of the Skin, was waiting for this struggle to resolve, before taking control themselves.

Georgia, attended dinner with an associate, and was introduced to both the Duke Messeraine, and his companion, a former slave woman Nisra. She dominated the evening with talk and ideas for a reborn Turkey that would arise in this new century. As she was leaving, Georgia encountered a street urchin to calling to this woman as “The Daughter of Fate.”

Sayad visited the so-called “Street of Mages” in search of greater understanding of the things described in the Apocrypha. Among the fake mystics and fortune tellers, he sought out Umut Yagmar, a fakir of some true knowledge. Together they examined the cryptic Blood Runes of Atlantis found in the Apocrypha and discovered horrible suggestions about a ritual to call on an entity called The Father of Sorcerers to unleash the full sorcerous power of the Blood-Red Fez, though at terrible risk.
All the while that these investigations were going on, each of the group had been experiencing visions of soldiers and war, including unknown flying machines and armored vehicles. Some seemed mere mirages, but others left real traces in their wake.

After a day shopping in the markets. Composer Clarice Warren also met the Duke. He commented that the visions were omens of things to come, and of futures that it might be possible to avoid — if she told him about the missing pages from the Apocrypha and those who had taken them. The influence of his entrancing words and promises that he could make her dreams come true, led her to reveal the locations where the Investigators were staying.

Albert was almost ambushed by a stranger in his hotel room, but escaped and tracked the attacker to a ruin known as the Shunned Mosque. It stood in an area of town with a long, dark reputation stretching back to the 13th Century when a sorcerer named Sedefkar made his home there.

After gathering at the home of Sayad’s uncle, the Investigators contemplated their next moves.

Lausanne, 1923


The investigators boarded the famed Orient Express as it prepared for a late night departure from Paris. The perfectly adequate dress and manners of our heroes earned them snobbish glares from fellow passengers, but the highly trained and courteous staff of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits welcomed them aboard and showed them to their cabins.


Also on the train was the famed opera singer, Caterina Cavollaro on her way home to Milan after a world tour. Many of the passengers spent the night at a party in her honor, but Umar was absorbed in studying the letters they’d collected regarding Edgar Wellington, while Miss Crispin was absorbed in something else: a dream of a lupine shape pacing alongside the train, which was driven off by a hunting party lead by the medieval Prince who has haunted her dreams before.

Morning found them across the Swiss border, in the town of Lausanne. Miss Johnson, who had previously been recovering from her wounds with remarkable swiftness, took a turn for the worse and was confined to her bed. After a hotel was arranged for the night, they located the taxidermy shop of the Wellington brothers. They first encountered not Edgar, but his brother William, who was mute and disabled by war injuries. When Edgar himself arrived, Dr. Wilke launched into a pretense they were associates of Wallis Hilton the London student Edgar had been working with to translate and decode a strange scroll holding knowledge of the Simulacrum. Edgar was nervous and flustered, but became exciting by the notion of selling the scroll to them, claiming, with limited sincerity, to have grown bored with it. There was though another potential buyer, and Edgar suggested they all meet this evening to discuss offers and arrange a final deal.

The Investigators spent some time then seeing a few sites and encountered a local nobleman, Duke Messeraine — who strangely resembled the Prince Miss Crispin had seen in her dreams. They correctly surmised that the Duke was the other party interested in buying the scroll.

The time of the evening meeting came and went. A messenger from the Duke reported that he was delayed and sent a bottle of wine as an apology. A boy sent by the Investigators themselves returned to describe the Wellingtons’ shop as sitting dark, but with the door ajar.

They hurried over as quickly as possible — Dr. Wilke having over-indulged in beverages during the wait. In the rooms above the shop, Edgar was found dead on his bed, apparently from an overdose of a mysterious narcotic. Another bedroom, seemingly William’s, looked unused for some time. A hidden stairway was found and it led to a basement workshop.

Within, William lay comatose, hooked to a rack of strange machines — confirming suspicions that he was some sort of revenant brought back to life after fatal war wounds. Numerous books and letters showed that William had been attempted to translate The Scroll of the Head but had been frustrated by the cuneiform codes. What at first appeared to be the scroll itself turned out to be a fake, with no sign of the original. Edgar had been introduced to the drug that killed him by the Duke. Fantastic as it seemed, it appeared to transport one into a dreamworld version of Lausanne.

While clues were gathered and a sample of the drug located, William began to stir. Miss Crispin calmed him by reading from his favorite storybook. As the Investigators were leaving, William requested a pen and paper. Scrawling as best he could, William wrote that when he first awoke he had moments of relative coherence. Trapped in his current state, he was dependent on constant treatment from Edgar. William wrote that they should leave, soon, before his intelligence and control faded away. The Investigators decided it best not to tell William that Edgar was dead, and while worried about William’s eventual fate, hurried away.

The Investigators did some cautious experiments with the dream drug, finding that one could pass into and out of Dream Lausanne and that it was even possible to bring physical objects across the membrane between worlds. Umar and Dr. Wilke took full doses, and went to the dream-analog of the Wellington’s shop. They looked for the underground workshop, but in frustration found it does not exist in this world.

Meanwhile, the streets of Dream Lausanne had become filled with people… and other things.


All were rushing to the town square for the “Trial.” Swept along with the crowd, Umar and Dr. Wilke found a multi-level scaffold hung with plants, lights, and dangling bodies. Duke Messarine, now in full regalia as the Prince, was accusing Edgar Wellington of numerous crimes. Umar agreed to speak in Wellington’s defense, while a wheezing statue stood as Judge.


The Prince presented a series of outlandish crimes which Umar successfully deflected, with Dr. Wilke trying to win the crowd over to their side as well. The Prince grew increasingly angry, it becoming clear that he was primarily after the location of the Scroll. The Judge decided in Edgar’s favor and he was released. The Prince rallied the crowd to apprehend the intruders ,and the rampaging mob chased them through the city.

Distracting the crowd with illusions and gunfire, they managed to reach the Wellingtons’ shop. Edgar revealed the hidden Scroll and gratefully handed it over. He explained it takes only concentration to wake from this dream. He was though unaware of his dead in the waking world and only faded away into nothingness.

The Investigators then hurried to catch the morning arrival of the Orient Express in order to leave Lausanne far behind them.

Paris 1923, Part Three

The Investigators fled from the cave where they’d bound the dark figure. Miss Johnson was in need of medical attention, so they drove to Dr. Lorien’s house. Christian was not home, as he’d been working late, but Vernique welcomed them in. Dr. Wilke was called from Paris to join with the rest of the team.

When Dr. Lorien arrived he was shocked to see that Miss Johnson’s wounds matched those of both of the hotel doorman he’s been treating, as well as the shepherdess slain by the “killer wolf”. Fabien, the doorman, was not doing well for reasons the doctor could not diagnose so he was planning to take him to a Paris Hospital.

Umar checked in with Constable LaBree who was now convinced that the town was being plagued, not by a killer wolf, but a murderous madman. He warned the Investigators not to make any more reckless expeditions. He would send men to recover woodman’s Gervae’s body

The next morning Miss Johnson was doing better — surprisingly better, given how badly injured she was. The suspicious Dr. Wilke asked Miss Crispin to test Miss Johnson with silver — concerned that she had become a werewolf from her encounter. She showed no reaction to the test. Wilke and Umar meanwhile accompanied Dr. Lorien to Paris with the fading Fabien.

The ladies, staying behind, were introduced by young Quitterie to “la belle mademoiselle,” a strange woman she’d met in the forest whom her mother considered only an imaginary friend. The hooded figure introduced herself as Lilly and claimed to be Count Fenalik’s “daughter.” The Count wished to apologize for his “rudeness” and, recognizing the Investigator’s capabilities, now wanted to help them in their mission to assemble the Simulacrum, which Fenalik refers to as “his armor.”

The men returned with the unfortunate news that Fabien had died on the trip, despite all efforts to preserve his life. Constable LaBree had the disturbing news that Gervae’s body could not be found, and the madman had desecrated the grave of his first victim, the shepherdess, and carried off her body.

Curious about what knowledge she might have, the entire team met again with Lilly. Dr. Wilke, exerting all the self-control he could manage, quizzed her about what sort of being she was. She evaded many questions, claimed that she herself did not understand everything about her new state of existence, but largely conceded she and Fenalik were what could be called “vampires”

Her main intent was mentioning that others would be seeking the Simulacrum, as they have many times before when it had been broken and scattered. Fenalik claimed to be its true owner, by right of understanding it far more than anyone else. It was once owned by a sorcerer named Sedefkar, who gave it his name and wrote down his knowledge is a set of six scrolls. Her father does not know what happened to these scrolls — but previous clues point to at least some of them being a museum in Constantinople. Fenalik would prefer not to wait until “the current generation of men passed into dust,” before he reclaimed the Simulacrum, but was willing to if necessary. Until then his “children” such as her wished to accompany the Investigators and assist them. She promised that neither the Loriens or any of the Investigators would ever be their prey. She further warned that the fragments of the Simulacrum would have a “Baneful Influence” on those who possessed them. The only protection from this was contained in the Scroll of the Left Hand.

With this uneasy agreement, the Investigators dug out the entrance to the secret chambers of Fenalik’s mansion, which still existed beneath the Lorien’s house. There they found the remains of a hideous torture chamber, still littered with the bones of the many who had suffered there.

The end the catacombs was overgrown with the wildly blood roses. At the heart of the vines was the left arm of a statue, gleaming eerily. When Miss Crispin attempted to extract the arm, the vines came to life and tore at the Investigators. Umar was badly slashed, but, bandaged by Dr. Wilke, he dived in and grabbed the arm. He was flooded with alien perspectives and awarenesses, but managed to keep his wits. The vines collapsed and the Investigators hurried out.

Leaving a note for Lilly, and making their farewells to the Loriens — who seemed relieved of their arm ailments — the Investigators returned to Paris. They decided to at last board the Orient Express, recover by enjoying its luxuries, and stop at Lausanne, Switzerland to seek out Edgar Wellington and see what knowledge he might possess.

Paris 1923, Part Two

Deciding to follow up on the situation in Paris before heading on, the Investigators rented a car and drove through the wintery countryside to the town of Poissy. They found the small but bustling city somewhat unwelcoming to foreigners, but Umar managed to overcome bureaucracy and xenophobia with a wine-fortified lunch, and city officials uncover old building plans for Fenalik’s bizarre villa. The construction was not only architecturally odd, but its proportions and patterns suggest lost cities and the channeling of occult powers. There are also indications of lower levels beneath the villa not included in the plans. The estate itself was razed 8 years ago, and the land partitioned and sold to private citizens. The site is now home to the town’s doctor, Christian Lorien, and his family.

The town is also suffering from wolf attacks. Sheep have been taken and one shepherdess killed. The “killer wolf” is said to have been shot by woodsman Pascal Gervae, but after a pause, attacks have been increasing again, and some have claimed to have spotted the killer wolf again.

A foul smelling stranger invaded the ladies’ hotel room and rifled through Miss Crispin’s personal things. The hotel put the blame on her habit of leaving the window open. The window showed signs of claw marks, and Miss Crispin agreed to lock it — as well as guard it with a saint’s medallion.
The Investigators drove to the older part of town and survey the Loriens’ property. With the information from the building plans, they located the probable entrance to the forgotten sub-levels. They met Dr. Lorien and his family, saying they are investigating the archaeology of the area. The Loriens are pleasant people, with Miss Crispin and Vernique getting along particularly well. They made plans to meet again for dinner and further discuss matters. Strangely, all the Loriens seem to be suffering from various injuries to their left arms.

Their second night is disrupted by a creature leaping on Miss Johnson in the middle of th night. She pushed it off and stabbed it with a silver knife, while Miss Crispin threw a bedspread over it. When the spread was pulled back, a swarm of black mice scurried everywhere. Umar speared one mouse to the floor and then hurried off to investigate a scream from downstairs.

The hotel doorman is badly injured, saying he’d been clawed at by an old man who knocked on the door, showing off a gold ring as proof he was no beggar. Back in their room, the ladies kept watch on the mouse, only to face the return of the rest of the swarm. Unnatural darkness gathered, as the mice formed into a human shape. “What… year..?” it demanded in French. Umar dispelled the darkness with light and holy words from the Koran, staggering the sinister form, which escaped by blasting open the sealed window.

The next day the Investigators located Pascal Gerave at his cabin. When confronted on the topic, Gervae stated that if what he shot was a wolf, it would be dead — but he can’t swear to what exactly it was, and feared that it might be something supernatural. When they convinced him that the Investigators can deal with the matter, he agreed to help them track down the beast.

They found an old cave amidst strange 4th Century Roman ruins. Umar examined the weather construction, finding them carved with figures worshiping some insect-like deities or demons.

Gervae stayed behind to guard the cave’s entrance, while the Investigator went inside. They first found an aged, rusted cabinet of weird wires and machinery — which had recently been broken into and torn apart. Further in was an eerie glowing lantern, and a magic binding circle painted in the wall, made from both arcane symbols and circuitry. The beam of light from the lantern revealed that the circle bound the ecoplasmic form of Brice Clavet, the murdered scholar whose spirit Miss Crispin had contacted earlier. Wanting to make up for her earlier failure, Miss Crispin began to undo the spirit’s bindings. Shots rang out from the cave entrance and Umar and Miss Johnson went to investigate. The dark figure had returned, having torn out Gervae’s throat. It advanced, inquiring after why the Investigators had come, uninvited, to this place. As Miss Crispin began to free the spirit, the dark thing rushed forward to stop her.

Umar began to entone a spell from a book on controlling Djinn, attempting to bind the dark thing to the lantern. It spun to attack him, but Miss Johnson shot it. Enraged, it rushed at her, grievously injuring her, but giving Umar the chance to finish his spell. This seemed only a temporary solution and so once Clavet’s spirit was freed, Umar and Miss Crispin joined forces to bind the dark thing more permanently to the magic circle.

As the creature howled in rage, the Investigators, helping the unconscious Miss Johnson, fled the cave and into the night.


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