Horror On The Orient Express

On the Train 1923, Part One

header.jpgSelim Makryat is presumed dead and the Investigators have the Sedefkar Scrolls – except for the Scroll of the Left Hand, which holds the secret of cleaning them from the Baleful Influence, a curse which poisons their bodies more every day.

With some reluctance they agreed to cooperate with Mr. Fleet from the Section for Research Operations, who had come to accompany them back to Venice, where the rest of the Simulacrum is stored. The quickest way there is aboard the Orient Express and Mr. Fleet arranged their passage.

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After recent stressful journeys, the Investigators are able to relax, a little, and enjoy the luxuries of the train. They met a few fellow travelers, including a boisterous American reporter, a solitary female tourist, and a German engineer. A wounded British soldier and his nurse also accompanied Mr. Fleet. Dr. Wilke was concerned about how gravely ill the soldier appears, but Mr. Fleet said he is receiving the best care. He also let the Investigators know that a special team was sent to recover the Left Arm and will be joining them at Trieste.

In the middle of the night at the Bulgarian border, a private train car is attached to the Express. The crew apologized for the disturbance, but explained that occasionally rich nobles or aristocrats make such arrangements with the Company. They also appeared to have paid for privacy since no one knows exactly who they are, or were interested in asking many questions.

Dr. Wilke paid an uninvited visit to the car and found it guarded by two men in black suits who spoke in odd stilted fragments, strangely friendly but forbidding him to come any further. Dr. Wilke slipped a ring off one during a handshake but found it was more just a circle of metal rather than actual jewelry.

Dr. Wilke did make friends with a countryman, Jack Gatling, a gossip reporter looking for whatever stories might be on the train. Miss Crispin spoke with several people, including Kurt Groenig, the German engineer. He explained was also travelling to Venice to see Arturo Faccia with whom he was doing revolutionary engineering work. She noticed that the notes he was usually studying contained a few occult symbols admits the diagrams and equations. Investigators found this a concern and after Miss Crispin slipped a sedative into his tea,Miss Johnson snuck into his room to steal some of these papers.

The strange men began to be seen about the train, interacting with passengers – who often came away confused and uncertain about what they had done or said during their interactions. Several passengers also were given small black boxes as “gifts” which they then seemed compelled to hand over to the Investigators. No one else, even Mr. Fleet, reacted to this behavior as if it were unusual. Attempts to scry the private car were blocked by an immensely powerful force of will power.

The Investigators cautiously examined the gifts and find each one aimed at a particular Investigator and waited to be activated by their touch. Miss Crispin was given the figurine of a sphinx, Miss Johnson a commemorative gold coin, and Dr. Wilke a spent bullet cartridge. Umar had yet to receive anything. It was Dr. Wilke who first touched his gift, and experience visions of war, and of civilians in rags and yellow stars being herded in train cars by German soldiers.

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Constantinople 1923, Part 2

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The Investigators considered their next actions after hearing Mehmet Makryat’s offer to ally with them to assassinate his father Selim. Mehmet seemed sincere in what he told them, but what wasn’t he telling?

Their night’s rest was disturbed by a series of late night explosions that wracked the old districts of Stamboul. While the hotel manager advised everyone that they were safe in the British controlled sections of the city, the Investigators sneaked out to see what was going on for themselves. After crossing the Golden Horn they discovered a disaster scene where emergency crews were struggling to put out fires from damaged buildings and medical tents filled the streets to deal with injured. Unlike other recent bombings this one had resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

While the others slipped into the scene, volunteering gratefully accepted help, Umar observed the destruction and saw that, besides bomb damage, much of the destruction was caused by something that had cut through buildings, melting the very stone. Inside the medical tents Dr. Wilke found victims suffering from burns like those caused by lightning. Miss Crispin was able to recognize and interview a Brother of the Skin who babbled about djinn and confirmed her suspicions about large metallic “bugs” being seen. Official newspaper reports later described the events only as a successful raid by British soldiers on an anarchist cell.

The next day Umar and Dr. Wilke met again with Mehmet at the bathhouse. He was more agitated than usual, saying his father was using recent events to rally more followers to his side. He was preparing some sorcerous response to the British making pacts with djinn from the beyond the stars, so time was running short. They confirmed an upcoming night when Selim might be surprised in his workshop. This could be reached through the ruins beneath the Shunned Mosque, but he warned about unnatural things that Selim’s spells had awakened there, particularly an unseen horror called “The Flapping Thing.”

Miss Crispin and Miss Johnson researched records of the sewers beneath the ancient city, and Dr. Wilke used them to magically scry a route through the ruins beneath the The Shunned Mosque. Mehmet had mentioned an air vent that opened into Selim’s workshop. They’d know the right one by the amount of blood running from it.

The Investigators descended and made their way through the treacherous and unsettling subterranean passages, facing crumbling walls, swarms of insects, and a close encounter with a massive creature that might have been the Flapping Thing, shuddering through this underworld, leaving a gory trail and the faint sound of a woman singing. Tired and unnerved by the journey, the Investigators found themselves in a bloody human abattoir that was part of Selim’s workshop of evil magic. After examining the rooms they waited for Selim to arrive.

Exactly on time, the crimelord appeared, removed the Sedefkar Scrolls from their sarcophagus, and began to study them. Umar took the moment to strike with the Mims Sahis dagger, while Miss Crispin prepared to grab the scrolls. As the knife move towards its target, Umar experience a slowing of time. Selim hissed that he’d prepared for such a confrontation by hiding the Scroll of the Left Hand. If Umar were to stop his attack and hand over the knife, he would tell them its location. Without it, the debilitating Baleful Influence would increase without end.

Umar refused to bargain and time returned to normal. The obsidian blade sunk into Selim’s neck, splattering Umar with acidic blood. The sorcerer stumbled back and then cackled, claiming “The Skinless One will not be denied! Not even the Serpent’s Fang can harm me now!” He raised his hand to strike Umar down with a spell, but found himself powerless.

The confrontation was interrupted by the vibrations caused by the approaching Flapping Thing. Selim seemed to forget everything else, and was overcome with terror. Screaming “No! It was you who betrayed me!” he ran from the room, only for his cries to be abruptly cut off by a heavy, wet impact, followed by the sound of a woman tunelessly singing. The Investigators took the opportunity to flee, grabbing the scrolls and several books from Selim’s library.

While resting back at their hotel, a flood of telegrams began to be delivered, all stating: “Deliver the Skin to the Tabernacle.” After hundreds of these arrived, one last message came: “Or we will take action ourselves.”

Umar began to study the scrolls, though what he read there appeared to affect him deeply. Dr. Wilke checked in with this contacts in the Romani community. They warned that strange men had been asking about the Investigators. They were willing to help smuggle Dr. Wilke and the others out of the city if they wished to leave secretly. On returning to the hotel he encountered a prim Englishman who claimed to be Mr. Fleet of the Division of Research Operations, come to collect the Investigators and take them back to Venice.

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Constantinople 1923, Part One

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The Investigators, after resting a bit at Prof. Smith’s camp, began to prepare themselves for a visit to Constantinople, in hopes of contacting the discontented faction of the Brothers of the Skin and to locate the rest of the Sedefkar scrolls. Prof Smith bid them well, but warned them about the dangers of facing the Makryats, whom he had encountered himself years ago. He also advised destroying any of the Mi-go artifacts they had collected, saying nothing good could come from their alien presence, but the Investigators declined.

On their journey, each Investigator increasingly suffered the effects of the Baleful Influence, their bodies weakening and they minds affected by disturbing visions.

Eventually they arrived at the ancient city, creating layers of false identities to keep hidden from the Brothers and anyone else looking for them. The city was straining under many burdens, including political changes, a refugee crisis, terrorists attacks, and signs of more unnatural forces. Dr. Wilke witnessed self-mutilating cultists in streets. Miss Crispin was given orders to “Deliver the Skin to the Tabernacle” by a child made into a Mi-go drone. Umar and Miss Johnson witnessed a rebel bombing that was dealt with by British forces utilizing puzzling techniques.
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Eventually they found how to meet with their contact to the Brothers, a man known as Beylab the Perspirer, a local fixer who operating out of a disreputable bathhouse. Beylab turned out to be none other than Mehmet Makryat – the authentic one, as all the others the Investigators had met before being his duplicates. Mehmet claimed to have been keeping recent events secret from his father and had arranged the mims sahis dagger to fall into their hands. For only it can kill his father Selim. Mehmet had no wish to serve as acolyte to his father’s mad scheme to become a god through the Simulacrum.

Mehmet would provide information about his father’s schedule and when he could be found in his secret lair within the Shunned Mosque. When Selim takes out the Sedefkar scrolls from their protective case, he would be vulnerable to an attack. The Investigators can kill him and take the scrolls and Mehemt would rebuild the Borthers as a more mundane criminal empire, without occult intentions.

Sneaking past the wards of the Shunned Mosque would still be a difficult task, though Mehmet claimed the guards there were frightened of stories about “The Flapping Thing,” a monstrous creature that been awoken by Selim’s increasingly sorcerous activities.

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Constantinople 330 AD, Part Two

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In 1923 at Prof. Smith’s archaeological site in remote Yugoslavia, the Investigators listened to Miss Crispin read the strange journal they had found in the ruined temple.

In 330 Constantinople, the Fortes Falcones continued their investigation into cultish criminal activities in a blighted distinct of the otherwise thriving city. The 1923 readers recognized that this area was to become the site of Sedefkar’s Red Tower in 1203 and is the current location of the Brothers of the Skin’s “Shunned Mosque.”

The squad had divided into three groups. Galerius and Milonius tracked down the dwelling of the last survivor of the three men who had written the letter of complaint about the gang. This retired sailor lay on his deathbed and told how a stranger from the west had arrived and gather a collection of devotees, promising great rewards if they obey him and found some treasure or source of power within the district. The man departed, but his followers only grew in number and boldness, striking down any who crossed them with a deadly bite that caused wasting sickness and death. Only an ancient idol of Apollo kept the Sailor alive this long, and once he passed the artifact to Milonius , the he quickly succumbed.

Damanais had been stationed to guard the house of the dead stonecutter whose family was being forced to hand over his body to the cult. He fought valiantly against two cultists when they arrived, but they seemed possessed of supernatural strength, speed, and resiliency and he was forced to withdraw.

Belasir had agreed to accompany Lucrious, a ranking member of the cult to an audition for joining. He explained their belief that each member could rise to a position matching their worth, but certain tests will be necessary to determine that. They descended into the catacombs beneath the city.

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Belasir’s first test was to carry a dead body to a vat on a ceremonial altar, were it is devoured by hungry black tar. This tar was then poured on another willing, if hesitant, applicant to the cult. When the substance utterly destroyed the applicant, Lucrious proclaims “He was not worthy.” He turned to Belasir and said “Now it is your turn.” Seeing he has no chance of escape, Belasir agreed. As the oily liquid poured over him, a deafening buzzing filled his head and he blacked out.

The other members of the squad gathered to compared information – and noticed that Belasir was missing. Recovering a comrade was their highest priority and so they set off to search.

Belasir woke up in a pleasant apartment attended by servants. Lucrious arrived and subserviently explained that Belasir’s passage through the ceremony suggested he may be the “Chosen One” they, the Cult of The Flayed, have been seeking. He must travel to the west into Dacia to see the “Teacher” who will know what this means. Lucious seems puzzled that Belasir has no interest in the pitcher of blood he has been provided to drink and has no hesitancy in walking into the sunlight. Belasir feels perfectly normal.

Finding the others, Belasir explained the best he could about what happened. He’d been given directions and a list of contacts of the Cult of the Flayed that will lead him across the countryside through the cult’s network and to the sanctum of the Teacher. After reporting to their commander, the Falcones are ordered to follow up on this lead and remove this threat to the Empire.

A long journey followed, with the squad moving farther and farther into the barbarian controlled countryside outside the Empire, hearing as they go stories of plagues, witches, and walking dead. The 1923 Investigators who are hearing the story realized this journey is taking the Romans to their current location and Prof. Smith’s excavations.

Eventually they found a village of crude huts surrounding a complex of stone buildings. The villagers are drained physically and spiritually and claim to only live to assist the great Teacher and share in his coming glory and ascendance.

Cautiously the soldiers entered the stone maze, its wall covered with blasphemous carvings of people worshiping insect-like sky demons. Two silent figures in robes and theatrical masks met them, but only observe. At the labyrinth’s center is a strange domed chamber with walls of metal plates and a whirling, flashing machine of unnatural proportions at its center. They were confronted by a wild-haired man who claimed he had discovered the secrets writings and awoken the sleeping priests. He and he alone was the Chosen One who will be found worthy to serve the Outer Ones who are older and greater than man, god, or Titan.

He commanded Belasir to kneel and worship him, but the spry soldier attacked, attempting to throw the Teacher into the machine. Bat creatures dropped from the ceiling to engage the others in a bloody battle of blades, fangs, and fire. Belasir grappled with the Teacher until he desperately threw them both into the impossible machine.

The others had defeated the creatures, though Damanais and Milonius lay injured and unconscious. There was a flare of strange light and Galerius saw Belasir rise, lambent, from the machine. He was greeted by the silent, masked attendants. Then the dome’s ceiling dissolved and a horrific creature, a huge crustacean swathed in fungus descended and approached. Galerius, barely holding onto his senses, grabbed the bodies of his fallen comrades and attempted to drag them out of the chamber, though unknown dangers and foes stood between them and escape. The chronicle of these events told nothing of whether they were successful.

What did follow were fragments of scenes depicting Belasir’s dissection, reconstruction, and indoctrination into the vampiric Mi-go bio-weapon that has become known as Count Fenalik.
Before turning him loose on the world they showed him an image of the Simulactum:


“We are pleased.
You are our greatest creation, our greatest success
This is your reward.
Seek it out and do as you like with its power Revel in it,
Until the day comes when we shall call on you
You shall be our Tabernacle
And deliver the Gift of Skin unto our Master”

The 1923 Investigators then found themselves in a dreamlike state in a dark room, somehow in Fenalik’s presence. He explained that he had written the book with his own blood and their contact with had activated a bond between them all. He is imprisoned by unknown forces, and renewed his offer that if only they’d return his “armor” they would be freed of all their worries. Miss Crispin asked if he recalled his original life. He did, but gave it little importance, having over the centuries, been “so many people.” She inquired if he had any remorse or would turn from his existence of debauchery and sadism, and he was clear that he had no such intensions.

The Investigators finally awoke in Prof Smith’s camp, the enchantment of the book fading. Though Dr. Wilke remained distrustful of what they had learned from Umar’s Uncle Sayed, they decided to follow the lead he had uncovered as to a rebellious faction in the Brothers of the Skin, in hopes of discovering the remaining Sedefkar Scrolls.

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Campaign Update 1/28/2018

We are slowly starting up from another, holiday related hiatus, but the campaign is getting back into business.

As part of moving to the story’s conclusion, here is a general summary of the main plot points of the campaign so far. A lot has gone on over the years, but these are the main things to keep in mind to follow what’s unfolding:

The Simulacrum
One fragment of the Sedefkar Simulacrum remains to be found. There are hints suggesting a link between the fragment and pioneering archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who is buried in Trieste.

The Simulacrum can neither be fully activated or destroyed until all the fragments are gathered together.

As there is a ritual to awaken the full power of the Simulacrum, a Ritual of Ending to destroy it should be possible. Umar can put together a rough outline of such a ritual, but it would be very uncertain and risky to perform it without more study and knowledge. Some important sources of this dangerous knowledge include:

  • Albert Alexis, dilettante mathematical sorcerer, currently staying at Arturo Faccia’s villa, recovering from a sojourn in the Dreamlands.
  • The Sedefkar Scrolls, particularly the Scroll of the Right Hand, which describes the Ritual of Enactment for the fully awakening the power of the Simulacrum.
  • General dark occult lore, i.e., Mythos Points.

The Investigators are increasingly suffering the effects of the Baleful Influence that results from being linked to the Simulacrum. The Scroll of the Left Han, contains the Ritual of Cleansing which balances the Baleful Influence.

The Investigators possess The Scroll of the Head. The other four Scrolls, according to official records, are in the Topkapi Museum in Constantinople, sent there from the British Museum after the War. It is quite likely though that they have ended up in the hands of Selim Makryat.

The Makryats
The family is run by Selim Makryat, who has controlled a vast network of both legitimate businesses and criminal operations for many decades. He is also a dark sorcerer who discovered some of the secrets of the Simulacrum and has been attempting to gather more of its power by any means.

Selim has reformed an ancient cult called the Brothers of the Skin. To many this cult is just an intimidating mask for a criminal gang, but behind that facade is Selim’s true quest for power and world dominion.

Some of the Brothers are becoming discontented with how Selim’s occult obsessions are getting in the way of profitable crime.

Umar’s Uncle Sayad has communicated with this faction and knows a way to contact their leader.

Since the Simulacrum began to awaken, Selim has become more determined and active in his goals, and has become a public figure protesting British interference in Turkey, as well as quietly gathering followers as a messianic figure.

The elder Makryat does not leave Constantinople, but works through his son, Mehmet Makryat, who is well known as an international businessman.

Mehmet uses spells from The Scroll of the Legs to produce flesh masks that allow his minions to take on his appearance and act for him. He also appears to have a limited ability to take on other faces, and to steal the flesh from others to wear as disguises.

Division of Research Operations
This branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service, under the authority of MI6, was formed in the 18th Century to deal with the newly discovered truth of vampires. After the War it expanded to protect the Empire from supernatural dangers in general.

Investigator Emily Johnson is an agent of the Division, assigned to a Field Handler known only as Miss Avon.

Miss Avon is working with Italian industrialist Arturo Faccia to safely contain the Simulacrum in a magically warded vault until means of destroying it can be arranged.

Faccia was a former ally of the Makryat’s, but is now working with the Division and the Investigators, believing he can learn how to harness the mysterious energy known as “vril” by studying the Simulacrum.

It has revealed that the Division has a secret program called “Project Edom” that seeks to not only protect the Empire, but develop new technology and weapons from occult sources.

Fenalik
The French Compte Fenalik is the most recent guise of an ancient vampiric creature. He awoke this year, along with the Simulacrum, after a century of imprisoned dormancy.

He claims the Simulacrum is his personal possession and seeks its return.

The Investigators magically bound the vampire in a cave outside of Paris.

Unable to act directly, Fenalik sent his vampire spawn Lily to follow and occasionally aid the Investigators. She also continually reminded them they how better off they would be by freeing her “father” and returning the Simulacrum to him, thus escaping its dangers.

Lily recently abruptly collapsed into a rotten corpse while screaming that someone was taking away her father.

The Mi-go
These “Outer Ones” are an extraterrestrial race that has operated on Earth for ages, occasionally meddling with human affairs, perhaps becoming the truth behind legends of bargain-making demons, faerie, and djinn.

A Mi-go base was found by the Metzger family in central Austria, and Gregor Metzger mastered enough its secrets to gain a certain immortality.

These beings know of the Simulacrum and the cataclysmic cosmic “Procession” that it summons.

They are also aware of the Investigators and given them a cryptic message to tell the “Tabernacle” that the time of his purpose will soon be here.

The Investigators recovered a medallion from the Austria base that seems to a summoning device/spell of some sort.

Shortly after the Investigators left the base it was destroyed in a gigantic Tunguska-like explosion that killed thousands and was publicly blamed on a meteorite impact.

Prof Julius Smith
After an earlier encounter with Selim Makryat, Prof. Smith discovered the existence of the Simulacrum and planned an expedition to uncover the fragments and find a way to destroy them.

After the fragments unexpectedly began awakening, Makryat attacked Smith’s home to kill him and steal his research.

Smith managed to escape, but an imposter took his place to trick the Investigators into taking on the mission, facing the dangers of the Simulacrum and baring the curse of the Baleful Influence.

The real Smith sought help from his network of contacts to stay undercover, eventually reuniting with his old acquaintance, Umar’s Uncle Sayed.

Together they have been working to research the Simulacrum and the plans of the Makryat family.

Smith has been leading an archaeological investigation of Roman ruins that he believes hold secrets of the Simulacrum.

Sayed has studying the history of the Brothers of the Skin, and the ancient cults that preceded it. The intensity of his work and the secrets he’s uncovered has led to a state of nervous exhaustion and paranoia.

Order of The Red Maidens
During the Middle Ages an order of warrior nuns began defending Italian settlements from supernatural dangers while official military powers were off on the Crusades.

They were organized as part the Order of the Saint Agatha, but there are suggestions and rumors that their origins lead back to an Egyptian cult centered around the cat-goddess Bast.

A nun named Melisende was involved in the breaking of Sedefkar’s power in 13th Century Constantinople. After the Simulacrum was stolen by Fenalik, then using the name Brother Merovac, Melisende attempted to track him down, a mission that led her to the Mi-go base in Austria where she met a fate difficult to put into words.

By the 18th Century the Red Maidens were based in Venice and were guarding the Torso of the Simulacrum. They were also seeking other fragments in order to seal their evil away as well.

The Order appears to have persisted until 1915 when their last convent was bombed during the War.

When the Investigators arrived in Venice in 1923 something that claimed to be the ghostly spirit of Melisende began possessing the body of young Maria Stagliani. The spirit believed that attempting to destroy the Simulacrum was futile and the best plan was to hide the fragments in such remote places that they could never be gathered together.

The possessing spirit on occasion has appeared to be the manifestation of some far greater than a mere ghost, and has warned of a coming apocalypse, and not to trust the various factions who have become involved with seeking the Simulacrum.

Inspired by the story of the Red Maidens, Miss Crispin has suggested the formation of a new organization that would use the skills and resources of British weapon to help the Homefront. Miss Avon agreed that this was a good idea and has lobbied the British Government to start such a program.

The orphaned Maria, lacking any family or prospects in Italy, has, on Miss Crispin’s advice, greed to emigrate to England and join this program.

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Vinkovci 1923, Part Two & Constantinople 330 AD, Part One

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In the Yugoslavian railway town of Vinkovci, the Investigators have seen to the care of Sayed, exhausted and at the edge of mental collapse from his research. Sayed apologies to his nephew Umar for dragging him into this affair, but has faith Umar will live up to the responsibility.

Sayed had collected a considerable library of occult books, including the shunned “Unaussprechlichen Kulten”, in which Sayed uncovered clues about the primal cult that has formed again and again around the Simulacrum. The scholar also acquired a strange artifact that he claims can detect the activity of the extraterrestrial Mi-go.

The Investigators next set out on horseback to visit the archaeological excavation being conducted by Prof. Smith. After some trouble with bandits, they arrived and found their long missing patron wearied but pleased to see them. A thorough medical exam convinces the Investigators that this Smith is not a flesh-masked duplicate. Smith is grateful for the Investigators’ continued help, but is concerned about the accumulating costs to body and soul.

Smith has been digging out a Roman construction uncovered by recent erosion. It is quite old, though shows signs of being altered and rebuilt for centuries. Throughout are carvings and images of humans worshipping not the gods, but unsettling crustacean-like creatures. A central panel appears to show these horrors delivering the Simulacrum from the heavens. An inscription reads:

We beseech the holy words
So we might be found worthy
With joy we give our flesh and blood
To build the Tabernacle of the Great Gift

May our prayers and sacrifice be pleasing
So we may be transfigured and purified
To deliver the Great Gift of Skin
Onto the True God of the Black Stars

Beneath the panel Smith has found a pit of human sacrifices, each with its skull neatly cut open, and a pendant show Mi-go symbols around the neck.

Dr. Wilke found more symbols, similar to those on the standing stones in Austria, and Umar managed to activate them, causing the panel to slide open and reveal a hidden chamber. Within is a half-collapsed room similar to what was found in Austria. Most everything is broken and in ruins, but a lead box is found containing a strange manuscript. This book has an 18th Century binding, but its pages have been patched and repaired for many centuries. The hand writing through is eerily the same, related what seems are historical events from over 1500 years ago….

Constantine.jpegIn 330 AD Constantinople, the city is being rebuilt into Nova Roma, the capital of a new united Roman Empire under Constantine the Great. A squad of elite military veterans, the Fortes Falcones, has been invited to a lavish banquet by their commanding officer, Tillius Corvus. To the surprise of none of them, the dinner leads up to new assignment. A Senator recently received a letter complaining of possible new organized crime activity in a certain blighted corner of his district. The politician wants to show that he is a man with connections who can get things done, and Tillius owes him a favor. Tillius in turn orders the squad to investigate, clear things up, or otherwise make the problem go away in a reasonably efficient manner.

The letter of complaint was signed by three citizens of the area, and the Falcones proceeded there to interview the three. On arrival at the riverside neighborhood, they immediately felt a sense of listless depression contrasting with the rest of the bustling metropolis. They quickly find that the first name of their list has recently died. No one is very willing to give details and all residents seemed tense and frightened.

Belasir sought out a local hole-in-the-wall pub and finds out that a Dacian passed through some weeks go and formed a cultish gang that quickly took over the district in a reign of terror. He expressed interest in working for such organization and was pointed towards an ominous figure literally lurking in the shadows. This figure expressed interest and agreed to meet later to discuss a possible employment interview. He must though be discreet and tell no one. Within his mind Belasir feels chains close on his will and he knows he cannot tell anyone.

Galerius moved to the next name on the list, a local stone cutter. The man had been sent home from his work due to lack of business— very strange in a city undergoing vast reconstruction. At the man’s home it is discovered that he too has just died of an unknown illness. Strangely, though the stonecutter’s family subscribed to a community fund to provide cremation and burial service, his family refuses to turn over the body. Galerius barged into the family quarters demanding explanations. The dead man’s mother admitted that they are being forced to give the body to the new criminal cult. Galerius insisted the law can protect them, but the woman revealed her son’s body, withered and showing two ugly bite marks on the neck. Can they protect the family from that?

Galerius ordered Damanais to stake out the apartment, waiting until the gang arrives to collect the body that night. Galerius and Milonius headed to the address of the third man, without much hope for what they will find.

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Vinkovci 1923, Part One

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The Investigators find themselves feeling more of the debilitating effects of the Simulacrum‘s Baleful Influence. A purifying ritual in the Scroll of the Left Hand is the only known relief from this curse, but the rest of the Sedefkar Scrolls are likely in the hands of Selim Makryat in Constantinople.
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The Investigators decided to track down Umar’s Uncle Sayed, who has gone missing in the Yugoslavian city of Vinkovci. Wanting to remain as secretive as they can, they charter a plane flight once again, which took them as far as Belgrade. An aerial encounter with black chickens reminded them that they are not welcome in the part of the world.

On arriving in town they are met by Sayed’s assistant Turgay. He explained that Sayed and Prof. Smith came here researching the mystery of the Simulacrum. Smith moved on to an archaeological excavation, while Umar’s uncle researched the history of Makryat’s cult. But after the disaster in Austria he grew erratic, becoming obsessed with reports of strange phenomena such lights in the sky and unexplained noises. He then disappeared without explanation. Turgay was particularly worried as one of the last things Sayed was trying to do was contact a local branch of the Brothers of the Skin, a gang calling themselves the Wolves of Vinkovci.

The Investigators began looking into what they could find out about the Wolves, discovering they were a recently arrived gang and were trying to establish themselves through protection and selling amulets of Namtar. Umar found that while his uncle had been seen around the city he was not to be found at any of the usual places a scholar might be staying.

Miss Johnson volunteered to take one of the Namtar amulets to a coffee house that was a known hangout of the Wolves. She hung around in disguise until a young man arrived. She asked him about the amulet and he nervously assured her that she need only show the amulet and ask for the Wolves and they’d deal with any trouble. The more she questioned him, the more anxious he became until he fled the coffee house. Miss Johnson followed him to a rundown apartment block, but was attacked by a hambaba. Barely escaping, she met up with the others

Deciding they needed to act fast, the Investigators hurried to apartment. Dr. Wilke magically tracked the man’s trail to his room, but they were met by gunfire and the golem-like hambaba. Umar used a spell to make the man’s gun explode and Dr. Wilke tied him up. A magic stone was found that control the hambaba and it was halted before it could attack a fleeing Miss Crispin.

Kemal, the subdued “Wolf”, explained that he and his friend Badem have been sent to this remote town as punishment for questioned the authority of Makryat. Badem had been in touch with Sayed, but the night after a meeting something attacked him, leaving him in a state of shock and confusion. Dr. Wilke found strange scars on the back of his skull, similar to the marks on the dissected body found in the alien underground lair in Austria. Dr. Wilke revived the man with drugs, and he ranted about being attacked by blinding lights and giant insects that cut into his head with machines.

Kemal and Badem are taken to the hospital, and the Investigators located the warehouse described as the location of Sayed’s secret library. After Umar disarmed a protective spell, the Investigators confronted a disheveled Sayed in his disorderly study. While pleased to see his nephew, Sayed is paranoid and a bit unstable. He believes he is being watched by the alien Mi-go, creatures from beyond earth who have some mysterious interest in the Simulacrum. From the Wolves, Sayed has learned that there is faction within the Brothers of the Skin that is discontented with Makryat’s dream of godhood. A contact within this faction might be willing to provide information helpful in destroying the mad crime lord.

But Sayed also does not trust the involvement of the British Empire in these affairs. He pulled a gun on Miss Johnson and demanded she tell what she knows of “Project Edom.” A tense confrontation ensued with Dr. Wilke insisting he drop the gun, while Umar protected his uncle. Miss Crispin diffused the situation (for now at least) by calming the distraught Sayed. Miss Johnson admitted that she has heard of Project Edom, a top-secret division of the British Secret Service that seeks to weaponize supernatural power for the defense of the Empire.

After taking Sayed back to Turgay, the Investigators began to examine Sayed’s notes, finding more of signs of his instability, as well as an intercepted note from British Intelligence about their interest in vampires, the Mi-go, and other disturbing topics. They decide to take the short journey to Prof. Smith’s excavation to consult with him on the situation.

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London and Venice 1923, Interlude 02

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Suspicious and worried, the Investigators decided to make a detour in their mission and find out what been happening with their patron, Prof Smith, back in London. They arranged airline passage to throw off anybody watching or tracking them. Before setting off they visited the Simulacrum’s vault in Venice and placed the befuddled Albert Alexis into Arturo Faccia’s care.

They found the Simulacrum pieces safe, but Faccia had asked German scientist and occultist Heinrich Glessler to study the effect that the mere presence of the statue has on the space and energy around it. Faccia and Glessler booth believe that studying the simulacrum is the key to master the secrets of vril energy, which could lead to a new revolution in industry and technology. Glessler wished to study the statue directly but Dr. Wilke and the others forbade this.

Faccia later asked Miss Crispin if she would speak with the young Maria, whom Faccia had been caring for. Maria had been worried what to do with her life, though Miss Avon had offered to take her to England to be a part of the organization of women she has been forming, at Miss Crispin’s suggestion, to assist the Homefront battle against supernatural troubles. Miss Crispin advised that this is a good idea. Maria thanked her – but Miss Crispin found herself speaking to something… else manifesting through Maria. This entity warned Miss Crispin of a coming war, and hoped that she will be ready to participate when the time comes. She warned her not to trust either Caesar, or those old forces that lurk in the skies. Miss Crispin woke in her bed, her memories of what was real and what was a dream blurred.

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After a cold and bumpy flight, the Investigators arrived in London and paid a surprise visit to Violet, their only contact with Smith. She reported that Smith’s butler Beddows has been relaying messages and is the only person who knows his hiding place. Beddows was reluctant to reveal anything, but Dr. Wilke convinced him of their dedication to help Smith, and the loyal butler broke down in tears, expressing how strangely Smith has been acting, hardly eating or sleeping, pouring all his effort in to mysterious research and study. Dr. Wilke attempted a divination spell on an old pocket watch given by Smith, and got an unsettling impression that Smith may be far away, near old stone and fresh dirt.

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Following Beddows’ direction, Miss Johnson drove the group across the bleak English countryside, to a run down, ill-maintained manor house. Beddows showed them in, and up to the second floor library where Prof. Smith had been spending all his time. An unused bed and untouched meals indicated Smith had neither slept nor ate since Beddows had last been there. Dr. Wilke barged in, ignoring the wheel chair bound Smith’s demands to be left to his important studies. While Dr. Wilke confronted him, Miss Crispin approached and pulled off the blanket and hood that covered Smith, revealing a bone, wax, metal, and magic construct.

Standing at the entrance to the library, Miss Johnson was attacked by a burly man in a clay mask, with a second one close behind. While the Investigators fought off these hambaba, a terrified Violet fled the manor house. The building then shook with a crack of thunder. Out in front of the house, a small truck – apparently the vehicle of the attackers — had been destroyed by a terrific force. Miss Johnson ran out to check on any survivors, only to glimpse what seemed like a large, metallic beetle perched on the roof. It fired its thunderbolt weapon again, but targeted the last remnants of the attackers’ truck, rather than Miss Johnson or the Investigators’ own vehicle. Their car had been knocked on its side by the blasts, but Dr. Wilke used his sorcery to upright it. Umar and Miss Crispin helped Beddows and Violet out to the car, and they drove off, thunderbolts striking in their wake.

Their fears about Prof. Smith confirmed, the Investigators decided to try located the “real” Smith. Their only lead is Umar’s Uncle Sayed, an old acquaintance of Smith. But when Umar attempts to contact him, it seems Sayed himself has disappeared while conducting investigators in the Yugoslavian city of Vinkovici…

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Lausanne and the City of Bells, 1923

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In addition to finding the scattered pieces of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, the Investigators are gathering lore to devise a “Ritual of Ending” to destroy the cursed artifact. Dilettante Albert Alexis had discovered some of the secret mathematics of the universe, so consulting him would be of great help. He though had been lost in Time and Space aboard the Doom Train. The only clue to his location were glimpses Miss Crispin had of him being hunted through Dream Lausanne by the Duc de Messeraine. Perhaps he could be located there.

With only a small amount of the drug that allows passage into the Dreamlands, the Investigators attempted brewing their own, though what they produced had limited shelf-life and other uncertain properties.

Taking the Orient Express back to the physical Lausanne, they read news reports of a deadly meteorite strike that had devastated the region of Austria they had visited only a few weeks earlier.

Miss Crispin had a disturbing bout of sleep walking, where strange voices demand she:


Deliver the Message to the Tabernacle. His apprenticeship ends
The Procession nears. He must be ready
You have touched the Skin, but you are not Worthy
The Tabernacle has been prepared, only He must greet the Procession of the Skinless One
Deliver the message. The Tabernacle must be ready

Settling in at a hotel in Lausanne, the Investigators made their plans for journeying to the Other Side of Sleep. To fortify themselves they sat down to a special dinner (including flamingo tongues and a sugar castle) being served at the hotel dining room, only to slowly realize that they had already taken the drug and were dreaming. The Duc knew of their coming and arrived aboard his own dream version of the Orient Express to grant the Investigators an audience. They are welcomed by their old acquaintance Henri, who spirit was drawn to this train after his death in the Waking World.
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Brought before the throne of the Duc, in his guise as the Patchwork Prince, the Investigators explained that they were looking for the missing Alexis. Messeraine revealed that he had added the unfortunate man to his collection of rare items, since it is unusual these days for someone to come to the Dreamlands in their physical form. He is currently being kept in a cage transformed into a monkey.

The Duc offered a deal. He would hand Alexis over to the Investigators, if they will do a service for him: His dream kingdom is being invaded by an ever growing gray city, that blights the landscape and draws hordes of dreamers into its walls. He plans to attack and drive back the city, but wants the Investigators to be his advance spies and go into the walls and report what they find there. They are well suited for this mission, as they are newcomers still close to the Waking World and will be able to influence the substance of the Dreamlands with their wills. They agree, though demand that in addition to Alexis they receive more dosages of the Dream Drug.
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The Duc’s train dropped them off near the gate of the city, where the Investigators waited with crowds of silent, hunched cloaked figures. Within the tall gates the crowds dispersed, leaving them alone amidst the dim foggy streets and towering, crumbling stone buildings. Miss Johnson and Miss Crispin used their new dreamscaping abilities to blend in, while Umar andDr. Wilke stayed prominent, to attract attention. Which they did, when a cloaked figure appeared and offered to show them the truth of the coming “Great Day, ” if they would follow him. The figure disappeared down an alley, leaving a bone key behind.

The two groups of Investigators then explored the dark city, finding a variety of nightmare tableaus. A preacher warned about the imminent return of Satan to the Earth. Flagellants sought to have their flesh torn apart by a horror in a pit in order to purify their souls. poster_small.jpgSoldiers were recruited to fight a coming invasion from Mars. An astronomer observed a strange approaching celestial phenomena. A swamp cultist celebrated the rise of Cthulhu from his tomb under the sea. Each twisted scene included a key of a different material for the Investigators to recover: wood, leather, steel, crystal, and stone.

Once the six keys had been collected, the Investigators gathered at the tower in the center of the city. Carved bas-relief on the walls depicted a priest copying symbols from a statue onto a knife and apparently triggering the sinking of Atlantis. After noting these they used the keys to open the iron gate. Within they met the cloaked figure who led them through a huge, empty fortress. On its highest tower he began to speak, telling of the long history of earth, lost civilizations, and the non-human creatures that rules before. His tale began to reach beyond Earth to the vast cosmos beyond, and the Investigators fought to protect their minds from such corrosive revelations.

Realizing their sanity was in jeopardy, Dr. Wilke tackled the cloaked figure, while Miss Crispin slapped awake a transfixed Miss Johnson. The figure laughed and pointing at the coming dawn. If the Investigators were not in their beds by sunrise, they would join him in the City forever. From the height of the tower they could see the Duc’s train outside the walls. Dr. Wilke transformed himself into an eagle, and the others dream up a Leonardo flying machine. They flew off to meet the train where Henri hurried them aboard, back to their rooms at the Lausanne hotel – where they found their own sleeping forms in bed.

The next morning they were met at breakfast by the Duc, who gravely listen to their report. His suspicions about the dangers to the world were confirmed and he offered the Investigators sanctuary in Dream Lausanne, for while it was in danger as well, he believed he could defend it and give it a better chance of survival than the Waking World. After presenting them with the Dream Drug and promising that Albert Alexis would be delivered to them, he vanished in a puff a green smoke.

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Belgrade 1923, Part Two

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In the Serbia village of Orasac, Umar and Dr. Wilke finished observing the ritual parade of the cigani. The locals believed this to be a quaint folk custom, but the Investigators recognized it as a magical ward protecting the locals from a powerful, devouring nature deity. Miss Crispin and Miss Johnson accompanied Ana Filopovic to a old, half-ruined church to pray against the “devil-worshipping pagans.” Miss Crispin grew suspicious about the inauthentic looking church, and Miss Johnson spotted horned, goat hoofed creatures about to attack. They broken into the Church, dragging off Miss Johnson while Miss Crispin held another one off with her crucifix and prayers. Ana screamed, but did not seemed quite as upset as one might expect.

Drawn by the commotion, Umar and Dr. Wikle arrived and the Investigators fought off the creatures with spells and firebombs, ultimately confronting a horror of twisted tree trunks and oozing tentacles. While the creature was destroyed, all the magic-using Investigators experienced strange surges of power that, to differing degrees, marked the parts of their bodies that were bound to the Simulacrum.

Back in the village, Dr. Wilke angrily confronted Ana, IMG_0047.JPG accusing her of calling up the monsters — something she blamed on the cigani. Father Filipovic coldly suggested the Investigators finish their business and leave town as soon as possible. While the others rested, Wilke visited the local cigani camp. The travelling folk had realized that their help protecting the town is not wanted, and that they should move on before being blamed for whatever happened next.

The next day, no longer welcomed in the village, they set off to visit the mysterious “Grandmother.” After a hike through fields and forest usually verdant for this time of year, they found an idyllic looking cottage tucked away in a mountain valley.
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Inside was a shy young maiden, Kcerca, 9c8a808b707c26ebe212fa918a2d6662.jpgwho appeared to be the wild girl they had encountered before. She was weaving a tapestry with an extraordinary detailed depiction of the village. The walls of the cottage were lined with shelves holding many fragments of statuary — with what seemed the Leg of the tucked among them.

Grandmother herself was flattered that travellers had come so far to see her and asked Kcerca to serve tea while she went to get some fresh baked bread.Phaedra.jpeg The young girl gestured for Miss Johnson to help, only to ensnare her in the suddenly animated statuary. The entire cottage began to shift and come alive around the Investigators. Dr. Wilke used his magic to pull the Leg off its shelf and Miss Crispin gathered it up in a table cloth. The Investigators quickly fled to the cottage door, only to find it was rising off the ground. They lept out, and saw the entire structure lift up on a pair of scaly bird legs. Grandmother began to chant prayers to Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat, but was felled by by more firebombs from WIlke and Miss Johnson. She collapsed into screaming flames and the towering, walking horror began to go beserk. The Investigators fled as quickly as they good.

They reached the safety of the pastures beyond the forested hills, only to see the Walker come charging out the trees, Kcera riding it, headed towards the Orasac. With some reluctance, they decided they had to do what they could to save the village. The creature’s huge strides would get it there well before they could arrive, but Dr. Wilke recalled the bone flute and suggested Umar try it. The unearthly tones of the instrument caused the monster to stumble and fall, monetary stopping its advance.

When they reached it, the Investigators found a strangely older and more vocal Kcerca. She had no desire to unleash the Walker on the countryside, for while it needed to be fed, such devastation would draw unwanted attention. Grandmother had found the Leg and used her magic to feed its power into the Walker, as an alternative to is usual meals of human sacrifice. She and the Investigators combined their occult lore to break the spell. The Leg itself still need to be calmed, and Miss Crispin took on the burden, enduring a vision similar to Dr. Wilke’s earlier nightmare of a robed figured being carried by a dark procession. The figured stood, on two strong legs, and reached towards Miss Crispin with a skinless hand.

Their partnership completed, Kcerca insisted the Investigators leave her domain, which they were eager to do. Her wishes were seemingly reinforced by a sudden plague of black chickens that met them at the train station and herded them aboard.

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