Horror on the Orient Express - Total Recap!

Murder on the Dreamlands Express
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 5

The Dreamlands Express left Zar and after a while the investigators went to check on the madman. He was well tied up in the baggage compartment. They tried to question him but he was long gone the poor soul. “He does not constitute a danger to the passengers but for now I rather have him separated from them until he gets treatment” said Boris with a firm voice
(89 % Psychoanalysis rolling 3 on 1d3 for Sanity Points).

They could again hear the scratching sound from inside Karakov’s trunk but neglected to open it due to the smell of mustard gas. Heading back Professor Scott lost 2 Sanity for seeing a Being of Ib stuck in the ceiling corner. They notified Henry who had his suspicions who it could be behind this.

Black Jack was still missing and the investigators were bothered about this. Eventually Henry and Black Jack’s mother came to the investigators as they were enjoying the swimming pool and drinks, asking if they could help ut finding him. The investigators got dressed and walked around in the train looking for Black Jack.

They visited Karakov and asked him about his injury to his right hand. He said he had grabbed his knife under duress due to artillery fire. No one else had heard the artillery but Ian played along. A Psychology check revealed that Karakov was nervous and afraid of something. But he was reluctant to share any more details.

The kitchen was self-served by invisible powers, cleaning, making the dishes and taking care of the cloths. Professor Scott stole a knife and armed himself just in case. The kitchen lacked flooring and the hideous beast inunder had an eye ramming about the hide. Unnerving they left and visited the cats who seemed disturbed as Blackjack was missing.

In the Ladies’ Parlor they again met with the lovely Zsusza who repeated her promise to sing for them after the banquet tonight. She seemed relaxed and joyful but got concerned when they asked her about Blackjack. She had not seen him since breakfast.

The Sarnathians had stopped singing and as the investigators entered their huge salon they were offered grapes, wine, and cheese. They told the investigators more about their errand. They were to travel to Sona-Nyl and there meet with King Kuranes for a verdict on arbitration between them and the Beings of Ib. A conflict would finally be resolved and the Beings of Ib were looking for war damage retribution from Sarnath. The Sarnathinas kindly asked the investigators if they could help them negotiate themselves out of these demands, or even better, “neutralize” the problem all together. Edvard Night & Day told them that killing the Beings of Ib would look bad and raise suspicions for the meeting with King Kuranes. The Sarnathians seemed to think that if the Beings of Ib were not to show up at the conference in Sona-Nyl they would benefit from it. As a gesture of good faith the Sarnathians produced two crossbows (using Dreaming skill) and gave it to Frank and Ian. "Perhaps these can aid you in fixing the problem?

Back at their cabin Professor Scott noticed traces of smeared blood on their trunk. He opened it and almost fell to the floor as if something had hit him. Blackjack’s little bodie lay their dead with three large stabbing wounds. There was not enough blood at the location so he must have been killed elsewhere and then put here to incriminate the investigators. But who wanted Blackjack dead and why blame the investigators? They investigated the area and found tracks leading to the window and out on both sides. Could be two different assailants or one that came and went different directions. The marks looked identical. Edvard climbed out and followed them along the outside wall to Madame Bruja’s compartment. Her curtains were closed but he managed to get a sneak peak of her sitting by her desk writing. The heart shaped valise by her side as always.

Edvard tried to follow the marks going the other directions but missed his Climb check, and even fumbled twice! He lost his grip and fell hard towards the ground as the train sped on along the rocky coastline. The player held his breath and spent 5 Luck Points. In the last minute before hitting those hard rocks further down, a swift tentacle grabbed him by his ankle and put him safely back. Henry was right. The train beasts were instructed to not let anything fall off the train. That would help them in finding the murder weapon and solve this hideous crime.

Returning back and informing the others Professor Scott lost in and ran over to Madame Bruja’s compartment busting her door open. The others ran after to stop him and some what of a frackas was initiated. Madame Bruja was greatly annoyed and shut the door violently. “Get out of my compartment!”

We need to calm down and assess this meticulously” said Frank getting into his police detective role that he knew so well. “We have no evidence against Madame Bruja and the tracks do not only lead to her compartment, but also elsewhere. Let us investigate the other tracks and see where they lead to. Also we need to inform Henry about this” The investigators agreed and Professor Scott had cooled down. Henry was called and he gave the investigators the task of finding the murderer and as official investigators they now had the right to interview any of the passengers and staff, and search the entire premises. The Dreamlands Express was at their mercy for now.

Hermann climbed out the train now and followed the other tracks to the window of Mironim-Mer. “I knew it” he concluded. “I always suspected him of being up to no good”. Hermann climbed back and the investigators went to Mironim-Mer without any further ado.

The investigators had noticed that the rug was pulled back and disturbed. Professor Scott pulled away the rug and there was traces of blood and a skin carcass. Mironim-Mer denied any knowledge of it. The investigators asked Henry to bring the cats and identify the blood. It was cat blood. They also informed that the skin carcass was from a Shapechanger. The investigators pressed Mironim-Mer hard and accused him of the murder. He then admitted under duress to the murder but told them he had been in an alien monster form and in that form he had killed the kitten. His yellow eyes caught a red iris or a red dot inside it and he was struggling with himself ushering a few words before collapsing unconscious: “….I was mesmerized…. Her enemy….”

The investigators considered the Sorcerer. Was it him again? And who was it that Madame Bruja feared? That some one who wanted something that was hers? Or was Madame Bruja the sorcerer hidden in a female disguise? After all “Bruja” means “witch” in Spanish.

Hermann rolled for Cthulhu Mythos and Professor Scott for Occult (89 %). Their presumption was that Mironim-Mer was possessed hence the red iris in his eyes. The best way to free Mironim-Mer was to find the creature possessing him and killing it.

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To be continued…

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Lost dreams in Zar
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 4

The train left Dylath-Leen and the investigators got their much rewarded sleep. Waking up early the next day there was Frank, Hermann, Boris and Edvard. Odd how the Dreamlands manifestations interchanged the investigators…

Boris Vasilijev
Frank Patterson
Edvard Natt och Dag
Hermann Müller

They decided to look up that odd looking thin, pale man. They found him in the Men’s Saloon grabbing breakfast. With him were two of the Sarnathians and they seemed eager to talk to the man as well. They were pushing him on some matter but hesitated as the investigators walked in. “May we join you?” asked Boris as the man sat down. “Yes, my pleasure” he replied courteously. His name was Mironim-Mer and he was a Sarrubian wine merchant of the finest quality. The investigators remembered him slipping a bottle to Henry as he boarded last night in Dylath-Leen. He was courteous but distant and not much was conveyed. He did warn the investigators to get off at Zar as it was a dangerous place of broken dreams.

The Sarnathians were listening in to the conversation trying to catch the eye of the investigators, who were well aware of that. “I ignore them” said Boris player and tried to pump Mironim-Mer without success. Eventually the Sarnathians introduced themselves as Theophed and Caromel. “We are here on an important errand. And who might you be?” They were as always courteous but somewhat cool, almost arrogant with finesse. The conversation was short and polite and the Sarnathians seemed to have a delicate interest in the Waking World.

The Dreamland Express entered Zar and the investigators had a chat with Henry. Frank could not resist but had to ask him about the gloves and mask. “You did not wear them last time we saw you in 1893. What happened to you?” Frank’s player even rolled for Persuade whilst Boris and Edvard refused as they did not want to hurt or offend their friend Henry. “I had an accident” he said sadly. “There was a fire in 1895 aboard the train. I had to help my passengers. A woman and her daughter. Unfortunately I did not make it myself and hence got these severe burns.” Henry became rather distraught so the investigators quickly changed topic. Zar was no good! Henry warned them to get off there. “You might not return and we only stop there to save any lost dreamers.” Boris and Edvard smiled wryly. “Of course we have to get off there now that everyone warns us from it.

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As the train pulled into Zar train station they could see the broken palaces and pillars that looked like ancient Greece. Not so many people, here and there they could spot a lone soul. Surprisingly at the station there was a man waiting. He looked odd in tattered clothes and wild hair. In his hand the remains of some paper note, perhaps a ticket. His eyes… There were no eyes. Just empty sockets. The investigators opened the window trying to see more and keep an eye on him as Henry went out to greet his new passenger. Suddenly the wild man tried to strangle Henry! The investigators went bananas with Edvard and Hermann jumping out the window to Henry’s rescue. Frank and Boris ran out through the ladder. The madman continued to strangle Henry who was turning blue. Hermann succeeded with a fighting maneuver (end strangle hold) and Henry was released. Frank drew his sword and cut him down over the left shoulder and arm for 9 damage. The madman fell prone to the ground (failed CON-roll due to massive damage). The tentacles intervened and hold the madman to the ground in all of his four limbs. Boris successfully applied First Aid to him so they could interrogate him. But he was long gone, mad from his time in Zar. “The things I have seen!” he cried. “I tore my own eyes out, yet I can still see!” He clutched his broken ticket that had bite marks all over it.

Henry did not want to take the madman aboard his train fearing the safety of his passengers. But the investigators insisted. Boris succeeded with Pyschoanalysis and cooled the madman down so they could put manacles on him. Boris diagnosis was that he could cure the madman so he would calm down for longer periods at least. With that the players rolled for Persuade with a bonus die and again succeeded. Henry let them take the madman aboard. They chose between the Padded Compartment or the Baggage area. Henry told them about the “odd creatures” in the Padded Compartment and so the investigators chose the Baggage area where the madman was tied to his manacles and a post railing.

The investigators decided to investigate Zar despite all the warnings. As the wanted off the train and walked around the city of broken dreams their mind was affected negatively and they had to roll for Sanity. All succeeded (1 Sanity point penalty) except for Hermann who got 3 Sanity point penalty (1d4). They met with some lost dreamers, poets, artisans and artists. They were mellow almost sad. Nothing and nothing just an empty void. But when Boris asked about the Sorcerer they suddenly woke up. “Beware of the Sorcerer” they said. “Beware of the Sorcerer.” Boris asked them where the Sorcerer was but they did not know.

Back at the train they noticed a slimy, jelly creature stuck up at the corner of the ceiling. It was just stuck there looking at them. It had tender claws but did not say anything or even move. The stench and foulness surrounding the creature was so bad that the investigators had to make a CON-roll. Again it was Hermann who failed and got nausea so he had to leave (penalty die on all skill checks for now) immediately back to the compartment. As they were moving about Karakov came running from his sleeping car (Car nr 6) with his hand in bandage and it looked like blood as well. He ran past them in haste.

As the investigators were about to enter their compartment they heard the Sarnathians sing and play guitar in their compartment. A party was going on. “Perhaps we should join them?” said Boris and smiled hoping to see vodka in their bar.

To be continued…

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Call of Cthulhu "Keeper Deck"
Enter cards of the mythos

I am happy to inform the followers of our campaign that we are from now on using the Call of Cthulhu “Keeper Cards” that add a bit of excitement and tension to the game. These cards are divided onto four different decks that can be played out in different circumstances. They can be played immediately or at any later time during the game according to the instructions of the Game Keeper of Lore. That is I, Caligula.

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The decks are:

’’Curious Characters Deck" that add NPCs to the game in different places and encounters. They can be both allies or enemies. Sometimes you cannot tell until after a while…

“The Weapons and Artifacts Deck”. Finding treasure and alien creations have never been more exciting. But be careful, do not press that red button just yet…

“The Unfortunate Events Deck”. Oh sorry, did you fumble again, said you? Pull a card and see what happens…

“The Phobia Deck”. That sanity problem again… Only one investigator in the group has developed a phobia so far. Edvard Night & Day after the scar in his face when he destroyed the blood red fezes. He got Agrophobia, fear that everybody is staring at his scarred face…

The cards will be implemented from tonight’s extra session at 21:00 CET. We play until midnight. Muahahahaha!

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Zsusza and the Sarnathians
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 3

Due to extensive travel among the group we played this session using Google Hangouts. It worked quite well and we will continue playing online next Tuesday 4/4 as well. We actually play four Call of Cthulhu sessions in five weeks which is a new record. The session today was shorter than usual, only two hours. About half the normal sessions. Next Tuesday we will play a full length 4-5 hour session again.

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Above: The Carriages of the Dreamland Express. The investigators are residing in Sleeping Car #1 (Carriage nr 5) together with Madame Bruja, Miss Zsusza and the pale thin man (name unknown). The Sarnathians, Karakov, and MacKenzie are residing in Sleeping Car #2 (Carriage nr 6).

As the monster-train started to leave Dylath-Leen the investigators peeked out the window and saw a figure running after it. “Hey, wait for me!”. It was a young woman in a black cloak and sporty wear underneath. She ran like the wind but the train was too fast and she struggled to make it. Professor Scott wanting to help her tried using the “Dreaming” skill to make the tentacles help her. He failed the roll. The young woman ran all along the station but failed to catch the train. As a last resort she jumped for it but missed…. As she dived towards the ground, one of the long tentacles simply caught her in motion and put her on board the train with grace.

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Above: Zsusza enters the train.

The investigators rushed to the last carriage (nr 10, the cats’ compartment) to see how she fared. She was already talking to the conductor Henry who was still wearing his odd mask. The young woman was introduced as Zsusza and she kissed the investigators for trying to help her. Henry had explained Professor Scott’s trial with Dreaming. How did he know…?

Blackjack, the little kitten, stuck his nose inside the cats’ carriage and seemed to want company. Professor Scott picked him up and the two friends were back together. A student by the name of Alexander Briarwood (new investigator played by Jesper, see “Characters” here at Obsidian) entered also and fascinated by the investigators he decided to join them. He was a student, an intern, with specialization in forensics (89%) and chemistry. The brawling and fighting? No, he preferred to avoid those elements (Dodge 89 %).

It was now past 2 am and Ian Flannery decided to call it quits. The others remained up and went to the Men’s Saloon for a drink. After a while the elegant group of six people that boarded in Dylath-Leen with some locomotion came in singing and partying. They poured drinks and danced spontaneously. Professor Scott and Alexander tried to converse them and they responded politely, yet with a distance. They told the investigators they were Sarnathians and they had an errand to attend to, hence taking the Dreamlands Express. Both Alexander and Professor Scott tried to dig deeper (rolled for Spot Hidden, Listen, Psychology – all failed!) but did not succeed to penetrate the Sarnathians polite facade.

The clock was getting closer to 4 am and the remaining two investigators decided to end the night. As a last thing Alexander drew a sketch of the woman he had been talking to mostly, a certain Besweet. There was something about this group of people. They were so handsome, intelligent, highly civilized yet arrogant and cool. They looked like people but where did they come from?

Alexander kept wondering where he was as his eyes closed and he was swept away in the night of the Dreamlands…

To be continued…

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Next stop Dylath-Leen
Scenario 5, The Dreamlands Express - session 2

How odd” thought Ian Flannery and pulled out a flower bouquet from under his coat.
I am sure I had my revolver in the shoulder holster”. The stiletto and brass knuckles were also gone exchanged for a pen and a spoon. Professor Walter’s revolver had morphed into a make-up set. Lord Fyrom Squibb however was pleased to see that his magic artifact, a trumpet taken from the musician Leroy Turner in Chicago, was still intact. Playing it would make dead men stomp…

With the investigator’s in the banquet hall was only MacKenzie, the British government courier; Henry the Belgian conductor wearing his hideous mask; Blackjack the cute little kitten; and of course the ever eager tentacles who were cleaning the table through the windows and the floor. Noices came from the kitchen as the Dream Express porcelain and crystal was cleansed and cared for.

MacKenzie bid good night and walked off to his compartment in wagon nr 6. He looked more tired than drunk (successful Spot Hidden followed with Psychology_). “What if we kill him and then play the trumpet?” Suggested Ian Flannery well aware of the trumpet’s magic capability to restore the dead to the after life. “I won’t have that!” countered a seemingly shocked Lord Squibb. "_Murdering a member of His Majesty’s government? Heavens Flannery, get your act together!" Ian clenched his fists in his pocket thinking of a free Ireland (Ian Flannery belongs to the Irish resistance, the prequel to the IRA).

The investigators were a little bit lost about what to do. They were indeed curious on MacKenzie’s portfolio but he seemed so nice. Professor Scott was caressing little Blackjack who was now on his lap purring. “Lets roll for Occult and target cats” suggested one player (Mats). Someone succeeded, I think it was Professor Scott, and they found out several interesting facts on cats in the occult:

1) The cat is cryptic and close to things that man cannot see.
2) The Sphinx is the cat’s cousin and they speak his language. Cats are older than the Sphinx and can remember things he long forgotten.
3) Cats have nine lives and with each life they may board the Dreamland Express, hence more cats.

To delve deeper into the cats connection to the Dreamlands and the Dreamland Express they needed success with Dreamland Lore but no one succeeded unfortunately.

Ian FLannery wanted to try the music box again but this way reverting the ram and turning it backwards counter-clockwise. In Ulthar they received four train tickets but this time a note came out. “Beware of the sorcerer” it said.

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Wwat? Who is this? Where do the notes come from? The investigators became somewhat disturbed. “Perhaps it is Madame Bruja” someone said and thought that her heart shaped box that she was carrying with her all the time might be some kind of phylactery shielding her soul or spirit. Lord Squibb rolled for History and defined her clothing as a mixture of different times ranging from the 1500s to the 1700s. “Perhaps she is stuck on this train going round in a loop century after century” he speculated. “The sorcerer is probably the nicest person, the one we least suspect!” concluded another player.

The train had reached the coast and they could see the sea bathing in silver as the moon lit up the surface. Soon they arrived inside Dylath-Leen and great sailing ships were anchored in the harbor waiting to load and unload their goods. It was midnight and the train would depart again at 02:00 am. They could see shadows moving about the harbor and the train station, an elephant walked slowly by idling its own business. “Lets stay in the compartment so we do not get lost in the dark” said Professor Scott and tried to get a better angle to see what was going on outside.

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A thin man with pale skin and dark hair arrived at the train and greeted Henry. Succeeding with a Spot Hidden, Colonel Williams saw the man handing over a bottle to Henry who discreetly hid it under his coat. There was also a loud group of snobby people dressed for party and singing and dancing to random music accords. There were six of them, three men and three women and they had immense amounts of luggage being carried onboard by an army of Dreamland Express staff.

Almost an hour later the investigators noticed Henry whispering towards some oddly shaped figures at the far side of the train station outside. They looked like large chunks of jelly almost floating forward as a special landing was lowered to make them enter the luggage compartment. A high pitch shriek seemed to come from one of the jelly monsters answering Henry and then they disappeared aboard the train. Lord Squibb tried for Cthulhu Mythos but failed. What in heavens was going on here? The clock approached 02:00 a.m. and it was time for departure.

To be continued…

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Cultists among us...
The secret room

I shall inform you that one of my players has gone over to the dark side. He has built a secret antechamber where he worships his foul Gods and read secret tomes since long forgotten. Written in blood, bound by human flesh and bone.

I cannot reveal the payers name but I see him outside my home at nights after midnight has struck. He waits there for me. For the next session. However, I managed to take a picture with my hidden camera and share it here now with you. I f something happens to me please use the picture to track his whereabouts.

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Caligula

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The Dreamlands Express
Scenario 5 - Session 1

It was Saturday 26th of January 1923 and the Orient Express would part from Paris 22:53 the same evening.

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Boris was carrying the first recovered body part of the Sedefkar Simulacrum in his bag. His body had started to ache and feeling uncomfortable. Apparently the sadistic magic of the Sedafkar Simulacrum was affecting him already. No matter what they still had to assemble all of the parts and find the ancient scrolls that would initiate the sacred ritual to destroy it. And it all had to be done inside the shunned mosque deep inside Istanbul. Probably surrounded by violent thugs and cultists. Piece of cake!

As they boarded the Orient Express yet again they were tired and went straight to their compartments. They changed and slipped into the velvet sheets. Soon they were asleep. Deep asleep. Deep…. Deep….. Zzzzzzz.

A town. Full with cats in the cobbled street and a mist hiding its features. Professor Walter Scott JR bent down and caressed a beautiful siamese. It purred. Ian, Boris, and Edvard were almost tripping over the cats as they were all around, 30-40 perhaps 50 of them. But as Prof. Scott caressed the cat the others dispersed and they could move freely along.

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They saw a sign, Ulthar. They had never heard of the town. As Ian produced his camera he was shocked to see that it had turned into a small toy, a carousel that played music. He tried to play it and out came four tickets to the Dreamlands Express.

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The players realized they had entered the Dreamlands. We hence added the skills Dreaming (1/5 Power) and Dream Lore (1/2 Cthulhu Mythos) to their investigator sheets. Unfortunately none of todays investigators had any Cthulhu Mythos so the Dream Lore skills were left blank at zero skill points.

The investigators:

Ian Flannery
Boris Vasilijev
Edvard Natt och Dag
Professor Walter Scott JR

As they approached the northern limits of the town they saw a platform and a train station. There was a VIP-section for cats and the large community of cats gracefully entered the velvet ropes that was entertained by staff from the Dreamlands Express. The investigators entered the platform and were duly greeted and tickets controlled. Strangely, there were no rail tracks just thick grass covered in moist and weird signs cut into it. There were three more humans waiting for the train.

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Above: MacKenzie, a jovial courier for the British government. Keen on food and drink, wanting to become a poet. At all times carrying a briefcase locked to his arm with a chain.

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Above: Karakov, a Russian arms dealer rumored to be in poor health. His arms deals supported the bloody conflict on the Western Front during the Great War.

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Above: Madame Bruja, from another time, another world. Dressed in Elizabethan collar from the 1700s. Difficult to engage and sticks to herself. Carries a heart shaped case at all times.

Suddenly the ground shook and something was penetrating the mist. A terrible monster train or rather huge beings clung together with tethering tentacles. Was it a huge spider king, a mass of shapeless octopus, or what was it? There were several of them and the tentacles moved it forward. Huge eyes and several maws that were full with razor sharp teeth, opened and blinked all over the jelly shaped body mass. On top of these entities there were carriages and ladders that came down for the passengers. “Hello, hello, welcome my name is Henry, how can I help you?

The investigators were flabbergasted as they fully recognized Henry from the 1893 Orient Express mission that thwarted the Blood Red Fez cult (see earlier posts). But this version of Henry wore a mask covering his entire face. Using Spot Hidden and Psychology they still were confident that it was him. Asking him about it he acknowledged he had been on the Orient Express “a long time ago” but did not convey further on the issue. Despite the mask they could see (Spot Hidden) that his face was deformed and discolored at the edges of the mask as if something terrible had happened to him. But they refrained from asking at this point.

Entering their compartment it was certainly in lavish style and Henry told them that there would be a welcoming banquet before sunset in just a little bit. The investigators should get ready and wear formal dinner attire. “The Dreamlands Express take you all the way to the Gulf of Noden where you can through away all of your fears.” Henry smiled seeming to be the same perfect servant as back in 1893 on the Orient Express.

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Get rid of all of my fears?” thought Edvard. His agoraphobia that he inflicted after having destroyed the master blood red fez certainly was not a pleasure.

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The investigators were put off. They only had the clothes that they were wearing. But they could use the Dreaming skill to create objects. They tried. All but Professor Walter Scott JR failed. The professor even failed terribly. Suddenly he wore a pink women dress! The others laughed. Henry was called yet again to help them out and the huge tentacles delivered their wanted clothing through the windows. The tentacles were swift and agile and clearly controlled everything within the carriages from the outside with their great reach.

The investigators went to look around the train and entered the bath area. They were accompanied by a little black kitten called Black Jack and Professor Scott immediately was very affectionate to it. Henry arrived with some drinks and told them that Black Jack’s mommy Sophie wondered where he was and now could tell her that he was in good company with the cat loving investigators. Henry talked to Black Jack in cat language, making weird miaowing sounds. “Here in the Dreamlands the cats have their own language” he informed.

The investigators tried the nicely smelling water, a smell of roses and jasmine. Deliciously scented and salted. Nice drinks were served by Henry as well, wine of the most exquisite vintages and not from the world as we know it.

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After the bath they went to the Banquet Hall carriage together with their new acquaintances MacKenzie, Karakov, and Madame Bruja. MacKenzie brought his portfolio with him still locked around his ankle. It was apparent that MacKenzie and Karakov knew each other from before hand even though they kept a courteous distance. Madame Bruja kept her distance and the heart shaped box was in her hands continuously. The dinner was amazing and started with turtle soup. MacKenzie and Karakov enjoyed their wine and temperature and the sound of conversation rose accordingly. During a break between dishes, Ian approached Karakov by the window overseeing the vast landscape of the Dreamlands.

I wonder why he is carrying that briefcase with him at all times, and why is it locked to his arm? Would you know?Ian asked Karakov carefully when no one else was listening. Karakov smiled wryly. “I have no clue, but being the curious person that I am I would probably pay a handsome fee to anyone acquiring that very briefcase. Let us say…. 500 roubles?Ian looked at Karakov who kept his smile locked in position. Was he a communist spy perhaps? He looked nouveau riche with his fur jacket and fingers full of rings in expensive metals. “Perhaps when he sleeps…” said Ian playing along. “Sounds like a terrific idea” concurred Karakov. “500 roubles” he repeated and returned to his seat next to the presumptuous victim MacKenzie.

Dinner continued and the atmosphere went from good to great. Even Madame Bruja opened up to Edvard Night and Day who charmed her (Credit Rating). “He will not have what is mine. I know he wants it. I will never give it to him!” She talked in riddles and also mentioned she had lost her daughter in terrible circumstances. Edvard tried to pry further but did not succeed (failed Persuade roll). The cute little kitten Black Jack was carried out from the kitchen from time to time after a casserole or two hit the floor with a bang. Henry was very patient however and explained to Black Jack softly in cat language that the kitchen was off his premises.

MacKenzie was easier to parley and he admitted working for the British government as a courier traveling back and forth often using the Orient Express for fast connection. He had met Karakov there on many occasions. “But I don’t like him. He is a warmonger. Might even be a spy!Ian tried to ask him what was in the briefcase but the questions were not appreciated and Ian retreated from the subject despite his journalist core.

Time to get Karakov drunk”, Boris thought to himself and started a long row of toasts to the Russian revolution. Karakov drank and drank dutyfully and after couple of hours (opposed CON-rolls) they had to carry him to his quarters. Boris noticed that Karakov did not seem to be in great physical shape as he went under the wagon just a bit too fast. Boris and Ian took care of business. In Karakov’s compartment they searched the premises and found a receipt for checked in luggage in the baggage compartment wagon. They went there and looked for the trunk. A huge piece. It was locked with a padlock and tight ropes were all around it. Someone wanted it to be sealed to a great extent. They felt a weird smell. Ian identified it as mustard gas. What? Here on the train? They could also hear scratching noises from the inside and distant whining. Was somebody or something locked inside the trunk? Boris tried to stick a bayonet inside it but it was too tightly configured and he failed.

The little kitten Black Jack was as ever very curious and came up to them. Boris lifted the kitten up towards the trunk and he clawed and screamed obviously scared by the trunk and its content. The investigators returned to Karakov’s compartment and returned the receipt. They went back to the banquet where all were friends by now. Edvard escorted Madame Bruja to her compartment through the lavish gardens and fountains of the Ladies parlor wagon. MacKenzie was really drunk and started to look tired. Was this the moment? The investigators looked at each other. “Perhaps it is time to call it for the day?” MacKenzie nodded. Soon he would be in deep slumber and the briefcase perhaps lose from his arm…

To be continued…

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The Left Arm of the Sedefkar Simulacrum
Scenario 4, Fleurs de mal - session 3

Saturday, January 26th, 1923

The morning broke and reinforcements were due. Frank Patterson, Hermann Müller, Boris Vasilijev and Edvard Natt och Dag joined from Paris. The crypts under the house could reveal difficult challenges and just to make sure the group expanded.

As they went down the 18 steps toward the iron door they could tell rust and time had done its best to attack the door. Though buckled, the door still held. The investigators tried to force it open but failed (failed hard Strength check). They borrowed a crowbar and chains from Doctor Lorien and finally the crypt was open. Cool, damp air met them…

As they progressed they noticed the twined huge roots that sprawled around them and ended in finger like appendices. Strangely enough each one with five of those. The same number as human fingers… Frank cut away the roots as they impeded movement and large thorns looked unpleasant. Doing so he gut stung for 1 hit points and the wound burnt like salt had come into it.

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They progressed down the corridor and discovered prison cells with torture racks and gadgets, and several skeletons. The worst was two skeletons chained together, one wearing the rotten remains of her bridal gown, and a bench in front for someone to watch the sadist torture of them. It cost the investigators 0/1d3 Sanity points.

The investigators searched through the six prison cells but hasted onward as they noticed a strange light from the far end crypt. Fearing a major hostility in the last chamber, Frank fired 4 rounds of his Mist Projector. Certainly no one would survive that (4d10 damage). The glowing stopped and they advanced. The last chamber was full of large roses with roots and thorns much bigger than normal. At their root were many skeletons and the roots intertwined them and went through their empty eye sockets and around their necks and arms. Behind them was a piece from a statue, a left arm. It looked pale and smooth almost like china. The scene caused 1/1d4 Sanity points.

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Boris used the axe again to lay a way clear through the branches. But he was stung as well and the little wound hurt surprisingly much. He grabbed for the left arm. A weird sensation went through his body and the feeling was rather unpleasant. What was that?

Mission completed and the investigators retracted and on their way back noticed a mist moving ahead of them. They tried to chase it but it went out the crypt and vanished into the thin air. Checking for Cthulhu Mythos, Hermann realized that vampires could transform and alter into a mist to hide and getaway. The plot thickening even more…

Back in the house they shared their experiences with Doctor Lorien. Apparently the Lorien family had now been relieved of their pain and troubles with their left arms. How peculiar as they still had them earlier this morning.

As morning turned into noon the investigators thanked Lorien and his family. Their trip had to continue and leave Paris for the continuation of their journey. They had collected one piece of the statue, yet five remained. And who was that Edgar Wellington from Lausanne, Switzerland who was looking for the statue as well? The train would pass Lausanne next so perhaps their was an opportunity to look him up.

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To be continued…

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Chez Lorien
Scenario 4, Fleurs de mal - session 2

The investigators now had two major leads. The asylum and what happened with the director’s awful death. Second, Poissy where Comte Fenalik’s old mansion had been. Perhaps something was still there in the catacombs underneath? Where the sadistic fornication and torture had taken place.

The investigators decided to go to Poissy and would take the next morning train. Only Lord Fyrom Squibb and Colonel Williams volunteered for the trip as the others were tired after eight days consecutive research and investigations. Joining them for breakfast was the Swedish Ambassador’s military attache Lieutenant Nilsson and a friend of his from the Paris Cavalry, a certain Captain Louis de St.Germain. “I know you are struggling with the French language and the locals, so please let me offer you the competent aide of my friend Captain Louis de St:Germain”. The French officer greeted them proudly with his large breast plate shining like the .

The snow clad forests surrounding St.Germain on the way to Poissy glittered in the sunny winter day. Captain Louis was pride to point out some high lights of his native country side. The river Seine was close to the tracks and in the summer young couples would flourish by the river banks. Today it was almost empty, minding the lone wanderer.

Arriving in Poissy they visited the city hall and with Captain Louis’ aide were eligible to search the archives. 4 hours later (and a successful Library Use) they were happy to have found some old prints of Comte Fenalik’s mansion and the address to the current owners of the property. A certain family Lorien. The husband being a doctor.

The house was surrounded by an old brick wall that was falling apart at certain places. But very large vines of rose bush with large thorns kept the wall mainly intact.

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They promptly visited the nice family and after a while noticed some weird things.

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The husband, Doctor Christian Lorien, had a really bad scar on the backside of his left wrist. And the lovely wife Veronique had her left arm badly twisted due to a serious case of arthritis. As they were drinking coffee their daughter little Quitterie got badly burnt on her left arm. The injury seemed somewhat exaggerated considering the mildly warm coffee. What was going on?

After the locomotion settled down, Doctor Christian told of a mysterious letter that came about six months ago. He showed it to the investigators. He had no idea who the person was or what he was writing about. Postal stamps and the authors indicated address suggested Lausanne, Switzerland as point of origin. Apparently the investigators were not the only ones looking for the Sedefkar Simulacrum…

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Above: The letter to the Lorien family

The investigators interviewed the nice family but nothing else seemed wrong (successful Psychology roll). They seemed genuinely nice. The investigators told the family about their mission to find missing pieces of a statue and they were allowed to search the house. They found nothing inside, but outside Captain Louis made a discovery. Stone bricks that could be the top of the cellar. He started digging and Colonel Williams joined him. They freed up the top of stairs leading down inwards toward the ancient cellar of Comte Fenalik’s old mansion.

Inside the house Lord Fyrom Squibb was entertaining Doctor Christian who was preparing dinner for tonight, Beef Bourgogne. In secret Lord Squibb was doing some skill checks (Spot Hidden, Occult, History) and reviewing his spells of the Cthulhu Mythos. Plutonian Drug at 1d8 Sanity Points for +1d6 Cthulhu Mythos somehow seemed attractive now… Lord Squibb was currently at 27 % Cthulhu Mythos.

Outside Captain Louis and Colonel Williams had dug out several steps of the cellar stairs. They would not be done before nightfall and decided to continue tomorrow in the morning light. Dinner was lovely and after they were served wine and cheese. Little Quitterie said goodnight to the investigators and her mother took her to her room. Veronique had barely come back before a scream came from little Quitterie’s room upstairs. The investigators ran all the way up and met little Quitterie at the top of the stairs, just outside her bedroom. “There was a boggie man in my window!”

The investigators dashed to the window but nothing there (failed Spot Hidden ). They ran down the stairs and out the main door. There were no tracks in the snow and no one there to be seen. Little Quetterie’s window was up on the 2nd floor and there was no way to climb up there, just a slate wall. How could anyone be looking in her window?

Preparing for the night the investigators took turn keeping watch. Captain Louis kept his gun close during the first match, and was replaced two hours after midnight by Colonel Williams. The night passed quietly and early at first sunlight they were out digging igen. Just before lunch Colonel Williams’ shovel hit an iron door. They had dug out 18 steps of the stair and all the way to the door to the cellar. Would they find the first part of the statue here somewhere?

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Comte Fenalik - Paris by night
Scenario 4, Fleurs de mal - session 1

Paris, Monday January 15th, 1923

You must go in haste” were the last words passed on by the manservant Beddows to the investigators from the severely burnt and suffering Professor Smith. Comte Fenalik was the last known owner of one of the missing pieces of the statue the Sedefkar Simulacrum. Professor Smith’s instructions were to reassemble the Sedefkar Simulacrum by collecting the six pieces scattered over Europe and then destroy it. The enormous evil power it possessed had to be terminated permanently.

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Above: The Sedefkar Simulacrum

The investigators arrived in Paris late at night and decided to rest for the following days investigations. The task force assembled constituted by Edvard Night and Day, Boris Vasiliskij, Professor Walter Scott JR, and Ian Flenning. The next day promised investigations at the magnifique Biblioteque National, but was thwarted by the administrative rules.

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Above: Biblioteque National

The investigators needed a letter of reference from their embassy and it would take 3 full days. “I will have none of this” proclaimed Edvard Night and Day, 13th in the order of Swedish Nobility, and marched towards the Swedish embassy. Arriving there he and his companions were treated by Swedish Ambassador Silverstråle (Silver Beam) and with a Credit Rating roll of “11” it was a success. The Ambassador and his adjutant Lieutenant Nilsson treated them to a full Swedish breakfast of porridge with blue berry jam and fresh milk, hard boiled eggs, fibre rich dark bread and a single round of aquavit from the rich fields of Southern Sweden.

The Ambassador was befriended by now and wrote a letter to the Director of the Biblioteque National to let the investigators have full access to the library. The investigations could now commence.

The French language was an obstacle with Professor Walter Scott JR being the sole practitioner in the group and at only 30 %. They decided to hire an aide. The librarians suggested a student, Remi Vaugeim, who would be at their service for a daily fee of about 20 to 50 francs. The investigators wanted him in good morale and hence offered 60 francs.

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On the 2nd day they discovered a diary of a certain Mademoiselle De Brienne (Players: see investigator’s diary for reference). She was at the Queen’s court and the diary told of excesses and terrible things happening not too far away… Whispers told of Comte Fenalik.

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With great joy for this initial lead, Boris Vasilji arranged for a loge at the Paris Opera to celebrate the partnership with Remi. Remi, however, seemed agitated and declared that these bourgeois excesses were not for him. Spot Hidden rolls revealed that his starched suit was worn and small holes in the shoes. Proud but poor. The investigators later found out that Remi wrote essays for l’Humanité and that a friend of his was shot in one of the many riots in the streets. Clearly a socialist activist. The investigators sighed of relief that Hermann was not with them at this particular point. Boris instead invited Ambassador Silverstråle and his aide lieutenant Nilsson. The evening was a networking success as the investigators were introduced to the brass and the rich and the famous in Paris.

The investigation continued but grinded somewhat to a halt. Remi suggested that they changed to Biblioteque Arsenal which was specialized on pre-revolutionary events.

After a coupe of days there they found a report from Captain Louis Malon, who on June 1789, shortly before the revolution to come, was the officer in charge of the raid of Comte Fenalik’s mansion in Poissy, outside Paris.

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Apparently Comte Fenalik was a brutal sadist and extravagant sexual orgies and torture took place in his cellar. Captain Malon decided to arrest the fornicating lot and burn the mansion to the ground. At least the investigators had a geographic location now to investigate even though the mansion had been burnt to the ground, perhaps the cellars and other hidden areas could be recovered. They also had more leads to investigate.

The libraries were all closed so the investigators spent the day sightseeing. They went up the Eiffel Tower and Ian took a bird eye view picture of Paris. They also visited the Louvre and as they entered one of the large halls of magnificent art, they heard a cold laughter echoing from the other side of the hall. They approached but no one was to be seen. In that corner was a painting of an unknown man poised majestically holding a cain. Dark hair and with eyes seemingly staring back at them. The investigators interviewed the museum clerks but no one knew more of the painting then that it had been given to the museum by a secret giver and it was a replica of a painting owned by the former Queen Mary of France (Queen Marie Antoinette). Could this be a picture of Comte Fenalik himself? Ian took a photo of the picture for future reference.

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The investigations now moved back to Biblioteque National and with combined skill checks in Library Use and Occult found more traces and leads of the Sedefkar Simulacrum. Apparently there was literature available on this subject, a certain “The Devil’s Simulare” last known to be in Venice in the church San Maria Celeste. Obviously more leads were to be found in that tome.

The continuing investigation was now running almost a full week and more leads were discovered. A doctor’s journal where Dr Lucien Rigault told of Comte Fenalik being a writhing madman, thrown into an asylum called Charenton rather than execution. Why had they kept this a secret pretending to execute him?

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They also found an interesting news article about a Doctor Etienne Delplace, Director of Charenton, recently died in an accident. Could all this just be coincidences? Boris looked skeptical.

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Visiting the Charenton asylum and the new director, Doctor Leroux, the investigators were granted access to archives prior to 1810. After that all files are confidential out of respect for the relatives.

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However, waiting outside Dr Leroux’s office they noticed several boxes with material from the previous director and with a Spot Hidden Edvard identified and knicked the former director’s journal. That journal contained some really astonishing material.

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As the investigators headed back to their Hotel du Rhin, they passed by the German embassy. It was empty and had barbed wire and blocks of beton surrounding it, guarded by French soldiers. The French and Belgian occupation of the German Rhine valley was according to some an act of war and many feared hostilities again. Somewhere in the mountains of Bavaria an Austrian corporal was practicing on his speeches for the Munich beer halls…

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