Horror On The Orient Express

Paris 1923, Part Two

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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.
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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.

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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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Samwise

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