Selim 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.
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.