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