Horror On The Orient Express

London 1923, Part Two

LondonPC.gifAfter discovering that Prof Smith’s house had burned to the ground with Smith and his butler Beddows missing, the Investigators retired to recover from recent events through rest and prayer. After breakfast at Violet’s they split up to pursue several leads.

Umar showed the ritual knife, mask, and decoding keys to an academic at Oxford. Dr. Baris Gizem was amazed at the idea of secret messages in cuneiform, but explained that the knife was a part of a hoax cult, used by a criminal gang called the Brothers of the Skin to scare and intimidate their victims. Dr. Gizem had also been in contact with the mysterious Edgar Wellington. Wellington had asked him to authenticate some cuneiform engravings – which Dr. Gizem stated were not part of any known style or tradition.

Dr. Wilke went to speak with a young priest of his acquaintance who shared his interest in occult writings, to ask him what he knew of the “ Devil’s Simulare.” The priest knew of the text by reputation, describing it as a collection of satanic rituals to summon the Anti-Christ into a blasphemous icon. A copy of this valuable book may be in Paris, and the priest promised to write a letter to a friend at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris asking him to help Dr. Wilke

The ladies went to look for the missing Smith, with Miss Crispin being a little taken aback by the vagrants, thieves, and working girls that Miss Johnson had some acquaintance with. A second-story man recounted that he’s seen Beddows buying medical supplies from a fence, and after some pressure, gave over the address of a rundown tenement. There they found Smith, badly burned after escaping from the attack on his home. Smith explained that he had been preparing for a mission to recover the fragments of a powerful, but dangerously evil statue known as the Sedefkar Simulacrum. The statue had been broken into fragments before the French Revolution and Smith believes it can only be completely destroyed by assembling all the parts and conducting an as yet undiscovered ritual. Makryat’s men and creatures had tried to steal Smith’s notes, but he had destroyed most of them, since Makryat also seeks the Simulacrum – as does, Smith believes, a third individual known as “The Prince.” With events in motion, Smith asked if the investigators would take up the task of locating the fragments until he can recover from his injuries. He hands over the clues he recalls about possible locations and says he will send what other information he can uncover as he recovers his strength

Back at Violet’s apartment, she explains that she had been making arrangements for Smith and Beddows to travel on the Orient Express. She knew he was planning an important expeditions, but hadn’t known the details. She will now adapt the plans so that the Investigators can use the train to pursue the mission in Smith’s place. The train leaves Sunday, so there are a few days to get ready and make other investigations.
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Umar delves into the Reading Room at the British Museum, finding out that 17th Century astronomer and alchemist Robert Fludd wrote a treatise on the Simulacrum]], but then ordered all copies destroyed, stated they were only nonsense written during a fever. There was also a mention of the Sedefkar Scolls which were sent to a museum in Constantinople after the Great War.

Emily Johnson checked in with her controlling officer in the SIS, a Mr. Thames, who sanctioned her taking up the mission since if this artifact exists in could be a threat to the Empire’s security. He mentioned other reports of unusual phenomena from the locations Smith mentioned in his notes.

Miss Johnson, Miss Crispin, and Dr. Wilke went to Islington to check out Makryat’s shop. Finding it closed, with a lookout posted, Emily snuck in the back and found Makryat’s lying dead, apparently after slitting his own throat and scrawling a cuneiform message with his own blood. Examining the body a patch of oddly different skin was found on the body’s leg. When probed, the “Makryat” skin peeled away revealed another man underneath. The blood message appeared to confirm that the Sedefkar Scrolls might be at the Topkapi Museum in Constantinople and that a location called The Shunned Mosque is important to destroying the Simulacrum. Umar went to the Turkish Embassy to inquire into what they knew of Makryat’s status and found they were in an uproar about three more identical “Makryats” had been found dead that night.

The next morning, Sunday January 7th, the Investigators set off, first taking a train to Dover, and then getting on a ferry to cross the English Channel to Calais, where they would board the train to Paris.
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London 1923, Part One

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Shortly after the events of the last session, this story appears in the London Evening News:

Startling Twist in Smuggling Case

Prof. Julius Smith’s reaction to this story is more of concern that relief:

“I hardly know what to make of all this. I am sure it is some mixture of truth and lies; that is always Selim Makryat’s way. Little stands in the way of his hunger for power, be in economic, political, or… for forces beyond mundane concerns. We must all be wary for signs of activity from the Makryats or their agents. I will be sure that others I am in contact with are also on alert.”

The rest of 1922 flowed past with all the involved characters going about their lives. They did not meet up again until a wintery day after Christmas, the funeral of the elderly train conductor, Henri.

Matthew Hemingsworth had an appointment with Duc Jean de Messeraine, a Swedish nobleman and collector who is interested in locating an ancient statue that was broken into fragments before the French Revolution. He wishes to commission Matthew to find these fragments, but is hesitant to say more about them until an agreement has been made.
einstein_lecture_photo.jpgJanuary 3rd, 1923 was the date of Prof. Smith’s lecture at the famous Challenger Institute. The speech went well, with talk of Einstein, Bohr, and higher dimensions. Mehmet Makryat himself was in attendance, and made a few ominous comments remarks about the dangers of powerful relics (such as the Doom Train set) falling into the wrong hands — and implied that his father, Selim, would be the right person to control such things. “My father believes in the Old Ways,” he tells Umar ibn Abu. Makryat also mentioned a “Prince” and warned Smith from having anything to do with him. Smith explained that this Prince was a former associate of Selim, but they are now enemies.

On their way to dinner with Violet Gibbs-Wolf, the Investigators were confronted by Wallis Hilton as he was being chased by a Hambaba. Wallis did not know why he was being targeted, other than it might be related to some research and translation work he was doing for Edgar Wellington. He stated he could explain more if they would meet him at his office in a couple days. Emily Johnson found this suspicious, and through a combination of violence, reassurance, and alcohol it was revealed that he was not truly Wallis, but was hired by Makryat to lead the Investigators into a trap.

The Investigators then split up. Umar slipped away to check out Wallis’s office, where he found Wallis’s notes, the Cuneiform Decoding Keys, and an unposted letter to Edgar Wellington.

Matthew took the fake Wallis back to his townhouse, where the now intoxicated imposter was tied up, after making strange references to his skin as looking “just like the real thing.” Matthew got his shotgun ready.

The others continued to Violet’s where they found a distraught Prof. Smith. He had received word that the real Wallis had been founded, his body flayed, in a storage closet at the British Library. The Investigators hurried drove off to rendezvous with Matthew.

Dr. Wilke performs a little scrying magic and sees that Matthew’s home appears under surveillance from the air. They break in through the servant’s entrance and explain what they have learned.

Umar himself arrives, unaware of any danger and is attacked by a Flesh Kite.

A full scale attack by Makryat’s forces ensues, with the sorceror demanding return of the Decoding Keys, but the Investigators fight them off. The flesh of the false Wallis pulls itself free and issues an ominous: “The Skinless One will not be Denied! Ask Prof. Smith what happens to those that denies Him!”

The Investigators rush off into the night only to find Smith’s home burned to the ground with Smith and his butler missing.

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The Doom Train
Horror On The Orient Express: Prologue.02

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In the Spring of 1897 a passenger train set on the Liverpool-London line derailed in a terrible accident, the front four cars falling into the Thames to be washed away without a trace…

In the Winter of 1921 Prof. Julius Smith gatherers some acquaintances to assist him with an odd problem. Smith had been corresponding with an Albert Alexis on the subject of mysterious disappearances. Albert believes his own father, Randolph had vanished, years ago, rather than being killed in the 1897 train wreck. Now Albert himself has gone missing.

Investigators go on the trail of an elaborate train set assembled by Albert, which has ended up in the hands of a Turkish merchant, Mahmet Makryat. This train set is somehow linked to the 1897 disaster which did not destroy the train, but sent it adrift in time and space as the result of a botched ritual performed by Randolph Alexis, a murderous sorcerer. Albert had used the train set as part of his own ritual to reach his father, but succeeded only long enough to be taken aboard himself.

The train set is recovered from Makryat, and Albert’s notes are used to summon the lost train back into normal reality, at the risk of the wrath of the The Hounds of Tindalos which haunt the strange angles outside our dimensions. The surviving passengers are rescued, Randolph is killed, all before the train vanishes again.

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Terror On The Thames
Horror On The Orient Express: Prologue.01

10835444_10206648043829045_2942846132338377039_o.jpgOne of the most talked about London social events of the Spring of 1920 is an exclusive party organized by self-described “Southern Gentleman” Thaddeus Grant. He has paid for an entire Mississippi riverboat, The Louisiana Lady, to be brought to London and he will host a lavish party aboard her as she steams up and down the Thames river.

While many of the London elite wouldn’t be caught dead at such a gauge affair, many others are clamouring for the limited invitations. A highlight would be the debut of a young lady of uncertain origins, variously described as Grant’s ward, goddaughter, or simply his “companion.” Further rumors say Grant’s rise in society is being assisted by William Cunliffe, who, while the youngest son of Lord Cunliffe, is not exactly the most respectable guide he could have chosen.

As the ship set forth down the Thames, towards a late-night firework show, guests mingled on the dance floor, Dixieland Jazz in the background. There were many whispers about who exactly Felicia was, and her lascivious dancing and the way she slipped off with the first young man she met supported those who claimed her origins were on the London Streets, not the royal mansions of Europe.

The crew of the Louisiana Lady also seemed a bit more unsavory that would be expected. Evidence was found that the guests had been gathered as victims of an evil ritual and Felicia showed a hunger for more that just amorous attention. The Investigators set fire to the boat as a distraction and sabotaged the steering to send it to the nearest shore. Felicia began to transform into a horrific creature, killing who were she encountered, including Cunliffe, who failed to persuade her to wait until the “bridegroom” was ready and their ascent to power could begin.

The creature was shot down and set aflame, hopefully to perish with the sinking ship. The guests were safely carried, or swam and waded to shore.

One of the guests, Prof. Julius Smith, asked if he could remain in touch with the Investigators, as he liked to have the acquaintance of individuals who could handle themselves in such circumstances.

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