Horror on the Orient Express - Total Recap!

Death in a Gondola - scenario 8 - session 3
Dr Mannerheim holds the fort

Active investigators: Dr. Mannerheim

Venice, Thursday 31 January, 1923

The stench was getting unbearable from the canals. Also the tide had risen and foul water started sipping through into the piazzas and alleys. Some of the investigators needed a break. They were feverish, injured, and right out fatigued. Dr.Mannerheim ordered 24 hours consecutive uninterrupted rest. He himself felt fine as he had joined the group later. He would continue some of the research and represent the investigators at Maria Stagliani’s dad’s funeral.

Dr.Mannerheim started with an early visit to the local police station. He wanted to find out more about the disturbing murder in the canal the other night, where a man was impaled by a large pole through the chest. The visit was a disaster (failed Persuade and Credit Rating rolls) and the language barrier proved to strong as well.

Gasparetti was true to his word and picked up Dr.Mannerheim by the canal as agreed upon. There was short boat trip to the cemetery island of St. Michele where a funeral procession was held.

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There were many relatives of Maria’s father from Milan and Venice. Rossini was there, sweating as a pig, being his usual self. Maria greeted Dr.Mannerheim warmly and asked about the other investigators whereabouts. Dr.Mannerheim noted that Rossini could barely take his angry eyes off of Gasparetti. At the same time Gasparetti and Maria exchanged caring glances.

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After the funeral there was a gathering with food and wine at Maria’s dad’s house. It was a lovely building several stories where Maria’s family held the two first levels. The living areas was like a museum full with books and art with Venetian origin.

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Early afternoon Dr.Mannerheim left the house with Gasparetti and they took a gondola. As the gondola took of down the canals something was wrong. Gasparetti started yelling at the gondolier. Dr.Mannerheim walked up to the ruder trying to grab it but failed (missed opposed Str-rolls).

The gondola entered a marina just outside the city center. There was a gang of six black-shirts waiting. A trap! “You can leave” said Gasparetti, being noble and wanting to save Dr.Mannerheim. “I shall not leave you to these thugs!” replied the battle proven Finn. “I stay by your side.”

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Above: Dr.Mannerheim.

After a couple of thrown punches, Dr.Mannerheim pulled his .45 Automatic. “Down boys, down. I will not hesitate to fire this pistol to kill. Understood?” The ferociousness of the Finn made the blackshirts stop. Dr.Mannerheim had fought the bloody civil war against the communists. He was not a man to play with. Slowly the six blackshirts backed up from Gasparetti and then ran off. Gasparetti was dizzy but still conscious. “They will probably kill me one day.” He said calmly, as a matter of fact. “Not as long as I am here” replied the Finn.

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The evening was for study and Dr.Mannerheim had now completed 4 out of 7 days of the Brother of the Skin tome. Horrible reading that made his dreams twist and turn. What an evil kult. They have to be stopped. Midnight he crashed.

The next morning there had been a second murder. A gondolier Paulo Rizo had been torn to pieces and found without blood in his gondola. A witness had seen the murder (apparently) pole away in inhuman speed from the scene. Dr.Mannerheim focused on the task at hand and decided to visit Maria. Perhaps she knew something about the letter and it’s exotic seal of a winged cherub with a doll in its grasp. Dr.Mannerheim went there alone but as he landed on the quay ask the gondolier to fetch Gasparetti as well. He noticed a blackshirt in the window and tried to rush in. Door locked. Dr.Mannerheim pulled his pistol and fired a .45 bullet straight at the lock that exploded in pieces. He ran in and saw two blackshirts afar at the courtyard. As they ran towards him he shot one of them straight in the heart and he died instantly. The second blackshirt ran away up the stairs. Dr.Mannerheim ran forward but was ambushed at the side corridor. Another blackshirt wrestled for his gun and after a couple of heavy blows Dr.Mannerheim fell to the ground unconscious.

He woke up tied to a chair. There was Rossini and three blackshirts. They were upset. Dr.Mannerheim acted surprised. “Rossini? What the hell is going on here!? I come here and spotted a burglary.” Rossini stared him down. “What is going on!!?? You just shot and killed one of my men! Now We have a lot of problems. But I will resolve it. WE will blame it on the communists.” Dr.Mannerheim had managed to convince Rossini he thought it was a burglary and had reacted accordingly. Rossini took his .45 automatic and told him to immediately get back to his hotel and say nothing about the whole thing.

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Above: Rossini, fascist leader of Venice.

Precious time was lost and Dr.Mannerheim woke up Saturday at dawn. He wanted to try another charge at Maria’s house. He called for Gasparetti and asked him to gather his anarkist friends. Six of them arrived so they were now a group of eight, versus Rossini’s five (one killed). A numerous advantage. Furthermore, Dr.Mannerheim readied his 12-gauge shotgun which surely would give firepower advantage to Rossini’s fine calibre Derringer pistol.

The group went in motor boat to Maria’s house and divided into two assault teams. Dr.Mannerheim and three anarkists went to the back, and Gasparetti with three anarkists charged the main entrance by the canal quay. Dr.Mannerheim had the anarkists break down the door and they charged inside full speed. Two blackshirts were there but they fled up the stairs. One was remaining at the other side of the courtyard so Dr.Mannerheim fired and hit “01” critical hit. The blackshirt fell dead on the ground. He ordered two anarkists upstairs to follow suit and then went to help Gasparetti break through the main entrance which was a bit more sturdy. Then he heard two shots upstairs. “Oh no, Rossini with his gun.” He ran towards the stairs and met the two anarkists retreating with bullet wounds. “He has a gun and there are several of them up there. We also saw a young woman.” Maria. “Follow me!” he shouted and ran up the stairs. He caught another blackshirt but this one was too fast and escaped into the living room. Rossini showed up in the door with his pistol aimed at them and they fired at each other simultaneously. Dr.Mannerheim missed, but Rossini hit. Dr.Mannerheim fell unconscious to the floor. Darkness.

Dr.Mannerheim woke up in a bed. He shouted for help and Bice, Maria’s assistent, appeared. Dead in the corridor was poor Gasparetti and an anarkist youth. “They forced her to marry him” said Bice and cried. She was in hysterical condition. “Please help her”. Dr.Mannerheim was in bad condition (1 hitpoint) but managed to search the house before retreating back to his hotel for medical aid. Dr.Enea gave him first aid (1+3=4 hit points by now) and told him to get some rest. It was 10 am Saturday morning and Dr.Mannerheim had no time to rest. He had gotten help from Bice regarding the wax seal. “It is the Gremanci doll works” she said. “They are right here in Venice”. Dr.Mannerheim went there without further delay.

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Above: Gremanci doll works.

He was greeted by an assistant and then showed into the office of Antonio Gremanci, the owner. An old, fragile man. He showed him the letter and wax seal. Antonio was shocked and had to sit down. He called for his son Sebastian who spoke excellent English. “This was my grandfather. My brother died in the battle at Monte Grappa. I will help you find this client.” A frantic search started in the archives in Antonio’s office. Eventually they found a lead.

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“…my old friends in the clock tower….” Could they be the statues we were looking for? “Thank you so kindly” said Dr.Mannerheim and rushed onto the canals heading for Palazzo Rezzoniani.

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Above: Gremanci doll works at work.

To be continued…

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Death in a Gondola - scenario 8 - session 2
A missing leg

Venice, Wednesday 30th January, 1923

Active investigators: Dr Mannerheim, Professor Scott, Ian Flannigan.

The investigators continued their research. Professor Scott and Ian went off to the Marciana Library once again where they persuaded one of the old librarians to assist them. They searched the whole day and managed finally to recover ancient manuscripts of The Devil’s Simulare_. Apparently this work had been lost for some time but now recovered from the dusty cellar of the Marciana institution. "_You are only allowed to read it here" said the old librarian and pointed her finger. The investigators considered using Sleight of Hand to knick it, but then avoided an unnecessary risk. Professor Scott was a master of Latin language at 80 % and thought he could read it fully in 1-2 days. In the meantime Dr Mannerheim was meticulously studying the Brothers of the Skin tome. By the end of the day he would have completed 3 out of 7 days.

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The leads so far pointed to the San Marco Basilica in the center of Venice. The investigators had a decent dinner at the Pilsen restaurant just across the square. They carefully looked for followers and rightly so they glimpsed a larger group now of black shirts, 3-4 men, in the distance trying to hide. The investigators disregarded them, convinced they would not try anything here in the center full of international visitors.

The basilica was closed for casual visits but open for religious groups all night. Hence the investigators snuck in with them and after a short while found the chapel of Saint Isidoro. They went inside and the confined space was lit with candles revealing the specially prepared stone as per the diary they found. Unfortunately (bad Luck roll) a group of German tourists entered as they were about to work the stone. There was also a watch with them. Dr Mannerheim tried to entertain the watchman but he was as thorough as courteous and remained vigilant. The investigators instead tried to hide but both Dr Mannerheim and Professor Scott was firmly told to climb down from the winged cherubs or the police would be notified. Ian however made a (03 on 65 %) great hiding and later snuck down back into the chapel of Saint Isidoro. He noticed the brick layer was darkened around the stone, that seemed to be of a more shining material then the rest. He tried a Strength check and rolled 18 on 85 % but could not lift it up. They needed to be at least two persons. Ian walked back out to gather his friends.

Tired of the cat-and-mouse play the three investigators went straight for the chapel. The watchmen followed suit and watched them carefully. Dr Mannerheim stopped by the entrance and started talking loudly to them in Finnish and Turkish, hindering any movement past him. Ian and Professor Scott hurried down and lifted up the stone. It was immensely heavy, not of any material they had seen before. Under was just an envelope, but they could clearly see the pattern of a missing leg in the lighter dust.

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The wax seal was that of a winged cherub against a shield gripping a doll. What on heaven’s earth could that be?

Tired after a long day of research the investigators went home to their suite at Palazzo Gritti and talked it over. tomorrow was the funeral of Maria’s father but they would still have time to investigate further about the leg and also The Devil’s Simulare. Dr Mannerheim was also interested in further investigation of the murder in the canals. Whatever could thrust a full grown man onto a pole was perhaps pertaining to the Mythos.

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To be continued…

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Death in a Gondola - scenario 8 - session 1
Tracing Napoleon's La Grand Armée

Active investigators: Dr Mannerheim, Ian Flannigan, Professor Walter Scott.

Venice, Monday 25th January 1923

Having destroyed the Milan chapter of the Brothers of the Skin, the investigators took the next day’s Orient Express to Venice.

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Professor Smith’s instructions was clear. Napoleon’s soldiers had brought with them one piece of the Sedafkar Simulacrum as they marched into Venice.

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Entering the train they met with beautiful Maria Stagiliani and her assistent Bice. Maria was very friendly, but sad due to her father’s passing away. The funeral would be in a couple of days. He had accidentally slipped into the canal and caught a lethal pneumonia.

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Ian thought there was something fishy about the whole story. Falling into a canal? This had to be looked at closer.

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The train arrived at a dark Venice station with intense fog beleaguering the town. At the station a group of fascist blackshirts awaited with their leader eager to court Maria. She seemed uneasy about going with the fascists and suddenly a young man dashed forward trying to protect her. The fascists grabbed him and a fracas commenced. Maria asked the investigators to intervene. “Hey, what is going on here?” Ian stepped up clenching the knuckle brass in his coat pocket hard. The fascist leader looked at the investigators. Well-dressed foreigners arriving with the Orient Express. He then looked at Maria. “They are friends of my mother. They are invited to the funeral.” The fascist let go of the young man and retracted. “Next time you will be fish food.”

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Maria asked the investigators pardon and told them that was Alberto Rossini, a high ranking official of the Venice fascist organization. A dangerous man. The young man courting Maria was Giorgio Gasparetti. They seemed to hold each other dear. Giorgio took off and Maria offered to share a cab with the investigators. She recommended the Gritti Palace hotel which was on the way to her parents home.

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At the hotel a telegram waited, apparently from Professor Smith. The 2nd telegram so far.

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How do we really know they are from Professor Smith?” asked a suspicious Ian. Not trusting anyone or anything. “Wasn’t he badly burnt?” Dr Mannerheim replied: “Indeed, he mediates through his manservant Beddows.” Ian shook his head. “And what if the turks got him? I suggest we return a message asking for him to verify his identity.” The investigators argued whether they should be head on or rather sending a more subtle telegram back. They Replied hence: “Kindly prove your identity.” The message was head on.

The next day (Tuesday 26th January) was spent in the library and they found some interesting documents pertaining to the Sedafkar Simulacrum and Napoleon’s soldiers:

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They were getting “warm”. Dr Mannerheim in the meantime studied the Brother of the Skin mythos tome and had now competed 2 out of 7 days of study. The evening brought a visitor in Giorgio Gasparetti who shared with the investigators his suspicions that Maria’s father was murdered by the fascists.* Alberto Rossini* wanted Maria’s hand and her father had forbidden it. He was a proud Venetian intellectual and would not have fascists in the family. Giorgio left with pleads for the investigators to join the funeral in two days time.

The investigators had been followed by blackshirts during the day and had punched two of them in the face, one falling unconscious in the street and the other running away. Hence they asked the hotel to please keep an extra eye on their suite. As the night settled in they kept turns guarding the large salon fronting each bedroom. At 4 am Ian heard a woman crying for help “Morte! Morte!” He dashed to the balcony and could see just a glimpse of a woman running through the mists. Ian ran down to the street after having woken up Dr Mannerheim and Professor Scott. But nothing was to be found. The night portier called the police who asked the investigators questions and then searched the neighborhood. Unruly the investigators went back to bed for a few hours.

The next morning the papers were full of a murder having taken place in the early hours. The woman was apparently the wife of a man who had been impaled by an iron stake in the canals. His throat had been slit open, perhaps by a wild beast. The police had detained the shocked woman for further questioning. It was the woman they had seen and heard just a few hours ago. The investigators also received a letter with a formal invitation for Maria’s father’s funeral at 9:30 the following day, Thursday on an island in the lagoon. Lunch at her family estate would follow. The investigators accepted the invitation.

Morning on Wednesday the 27th they received an answer from Professor Smith in London: “It is me, Professor Smith.” End message. They checked the sender and it was indeed from a Professor Smith in London. The investigators looked up the aspects of telegram services and you could put any name as sender without proper identification. You could however not easily falsify the origin of telegrams as it was officially stamped by the sender office, in this case London. Ian questioned whether it could really be Professor Smith in person as sender since he was recently badly burnt. It should have been manservant Beddows answering them rather, on behalf of the Professor. The investigators discussed this without reaching a conclusive understanding of the matter. The rest of the day was spent successfully in the city archives where they found more interesting documents:

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Now they had not only names and leads, they had a place. The San Marco Basilica! Off they were before lunch. Soon they would have the third piece of the Sedafkar Simulacrum. Half the way to completing their task.

_In the distance in the fog, something moved towards Venice…

To be continued…_

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The Milan Chapter
Note for Note, Milan 1923, January 24th; Scenario 7, Session 3

Sunday, January 24

Active investigators: Frank, Hermann, Dr Mannerheim.

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The wealthy businessman Flavio Conti had lost his mind. The traces pointed to his acquaintance the rich industrialist Arturo Faccia. Both men had strings to the La Scala opera. The investigators went back to their hotel in the Vittorio Emanuele galleria and planned. It was still early afternoon and the opera wouldn’t start until 7 pm that same evening. A knock on the door. They reached for their pistols, but relaxed as a Nordic gentleman, a certain Dr Erik Mannerheim, appeared. “I am a friend of Professor Smith’s. He wanted me to join ranks with you. He sent me a letter. I am sorry I could not join you earlier.”

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Dr Mannerheim fought in the Finnish civil war for the white army, the anti-communists. His name revealed kinship with the famous military officer Von Mannerheim (who would many years later defend Finland against the Bolsheviks). Link: see Characters soon! He had a large trunk with him filled with not only medicine and band aid, but also heavy weaponry like Elephant-gun and 10-gauge shotgun. This doctor meant serious business! And welcome to our friend Sammy Almedal who joins our great campaign and plays Dr Mannerheim! :-)

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All traces went to Signore Faccia and his large warehouse in the Northern outskirts of Milan. The investigators assembled their weapons and put them in one koffert that they had carried down to a waiting cab. They gave 20 dollars to the driver to make him happy and silent. As they drove up about 45 minutes to the empty industry area of Northern Milan, they saw the warehouse in the distance.

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Four guards, well dressed, were outside the main doors on the front and back. Two at each place.

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The investigators elaborated at length how to infiltrate. Here are some of the ideas:

1) Fake a fight to get the guards attention, then sneak past them.
2) Pretend to be members of the Turkish Cult since Dr Mannerheim speaks Turkish (89 %).
3) Make the cab car speed up towards the guards and scare them off.
4) Trying to sneak past the guards straight on.
5) Drive down the side alley pretending to get car engine malfunction and lure the guards there.

There were some critics to the early ideas, for instance nr 2 pretending to be cultists and speaking Turkish, but what if the guards didn’t speak Turkish? This was after all the Milan chapter of the cult and these were just the muscles, not the leadership. Point 3 counted on the driver being that crazy which they feared he was not. Point 4 was difficult in plain daylight and no obstacles to hide behind. At least one penalty dice. So they settled for nr 5, the alley and car trouble.

Dr Mannerheim was left behind as to be able to sneak past the guards if they were to follow into the alley. As the car sped up and turned into the alley, the guards simply remained in front of the doors, making a note in a pad. The plan failed. At the other side of the alley two other guards looked around the corner. Now there was at least four guards. Two on the front of the warehouse and two on the back. The investigators took up to reassess the situation.

“Lets front them and ask them to see Signore Faccia. “Lets tell them we have occult artifacts. There is no way around this, just head-on.” Dr Mannerheim was tired of the fuzzing about. Frank and Hermann agreed. The driver would drive up to the guards at the front and they would carry off their koffert pretending to have the artifacts within. Instead they would show them their heavy weaponry. A persuasion they could not resist.

The investigators managed to Persuade the driver to join their prank. They had also succeeded with a Credit Rating earlier, and given him 20 USD, so the driver was inclined to assist them and long as there was no evident crime or violence.

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The car drove up and the investigators went out the car and got the koffert out. The driver tried to talk to the guards. They were stone cold and told the investigators to get away. The investigators asked the driver to tell the guards that they were there to see Signore Faccia and that they had the koffert full with artifacts for him. The guards knocked on the door and two more men appeared. One looked like a leader type. “Show me the artifacts!” he commanded brusquely. The investigators were caught between a rock and a hard place, and reached for the heavy guns. Combat commenced.

We checked initiative (Dex) and got the following set-up including the inside cultists:

70 Frank
65 Cultist Guard 1
65 Hermann
60 Cultist Guard 2 (front door)
60 Cultist Guard 3
60 Cultist Guard 4
60 Old Lady (inside warehouse)
55 Sig. Arturo Faccia (inside warehouse)
55 Cultist Guard 5 (front door)
55 Cultist Guard 6 (inside warehouse)
50 Dr Mannerheim
45 Sig. Flavio Conti (inside warehouse)
40 Cab driver
14 Andriani, Cult Guard boss

The initiative was heavily tilted towards the cultists with 8 out of 10 first actions. Frank knew he had to even out the odds numerically as well. He fired automatic fire (2 bursts x 3 bullets) towards them. He rolled a “96” and with skill value 39 it was a fumble. The Thompson machine gun jammed! The players were silent. One of the cultists ran up to Frank and hit him with a hard blow of his club for 6 damage. That was more than half of Frank’s hit points! “One more blow like that and he’s dead” cried his player. Hermann decided to retake the initiative. He fired two bullets with his 10-gauge and hit two of the cultists, including their captain, straight in the face. Gray brain tissue and bone splitter was all over the place. Hermann didn’t move a finger, just prepared to reload. With two cultists dead early in the first round, things started looking good. Dr Mannerheim applied First Aid on Frank for 3 hit points (rolled a 6 for max). The remaning two cultists ran inside, they also had only clubs, not a great challenge for the heavy arms that the investigators were carrying.

The cab driver sped off, wheels screaming. “Will he be a problem?” wondered Dr Mannerheim. “Not at all.” answered Frank. “He knows the fascists would hang him as well just for the 20 bucks.”

The investigators reloaded and Frank managed a skill check (Firearms machine gun 39 %) to fix his Tommy gun (took 3 rounds (1d6)). They headed straight for the backdoor. Hermann fired with his 10-gauge and blew out the lock and handle. The door was open. Inside they saw the rest of the cult. There were 5 more guards and an industrial spool that had been flipped over as a table. That table entertained three more cultists, two gentlemen and an elderly woman. The investigators thought they heard Miss Cavollaro’s voice coming from that very table. The fight ensued and as two more guards fell dead with their heads blown off (Hermann was on a high, rolling 3 straight crits with impaling damages at 30, 39 and 35), the rest fled out the Northern main entrance. The cultists at the table tried to make a last saving effort. Signore Faccia trend to parley, walking up to the brute investigators. He spoke with a feminine voice, that reminded them of Miss Cavollaro. “Ah finally you are here. How lovely. Let us talk about this in a friendly manner.”

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Frank killed him with another head shot. Signore Conti fired back with his revolver .38, missing 3 shots and then it jammed.

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The investigators shouted to him to throw away his weapon. He refused and Frank shot him causing a major wound and -2 hit points. Dr Mannerheim however applied First Aid (89 %) and Medicine (89 %) to stabilize him. Perhaps they could interrogate him.

A search of the premises found them a Cthulhu Mythos grimoire tome, a cultist skin knife for skinning humans, some weapons. The tome was bound in human flesh with parts of a human face on the front. It contained instructions and spells how to work and control human flesh.

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Dr Mannerheim took the book. He wanted to study his first Mythos tome. Later he checked for Turkish (89 %), the language of the tome, and succeeded. He would need a full week of study to comprehend the full book.

The elderly woman was crying and in chock. Dr Mannerheim used Psychology (89 %) to analyze her and Psychoanalysis (89 %) to stabilize her and she regained 3 Sanity points (rolled 6 (3) on 1d3). Her diagnosis was “temporarily insane”. Something was weird with her voice, it sounded coarse as a man’s voice. Dr Mannerheim also found a huge scar on her neck as if a recent major surgery had taken place. The same scar was found on Arturo Faccia’s neck, the old industrialist.

Roll of the day: Dr Mannerheim passing his English check at “01” (Skill value 01). He later checked for experience and rolled 9, increasing the skill 900 % to “10”.

We rounded up the session and the scenario. The investigators were again successful, finding the Torso early on and rounding up the entire Milan chapter of the Brothers of the Skin. Further east, someone was watching them from afar. They were getting close. Too close….

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Note for Note - Milano 1923 - Scenario 7 - Session 2
Brothers of the Skin

A mannequin, we need a mannequin. Where can we find one at this god forsaken hour?” Lord Fyrom Squibb noticed it was just about an hour before midnight. They dashed back to their luxury hotel in galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Milan was after all the fashion center of the world. “Certainly Sire, we will have a taylor with you within the hour.” Impeccable service. The hotel had taylors on call. The galleria Vittorio Emanuele the heart of the pulsating fashion city.

The taylor agreed to sell his mannequin for about 50 francs equivalent in pounds. The investigators dashed back to La Scala and the Stage Manager, Paolo Rischonti, took them to the deepest basement with flickering electric lights. Behind a locked storage door there it was. It’s opalescent marble making identical to that of the left arm. This must indeed be the torso of the Sedafkar Simulacrum. The investigators agreed that Ian should carry the torso. With his Strength 80 and Dexterity 80 he was well suited for the task.

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The night was calm and the investigators had four suites in line, so only one investigator at a time watched the corridor outside. Milan was cold this January.

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The next day, Monday 25th January, 1923, was the day of the premiere for the opera Aida. According to the news the opera singer Miss Cavollaro was still no where to be found. Her spare would sing instead.

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The investigators decided to go to the main library and do research. They had until the evening free.

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They got interested in this Flavio Conti. How did he recover so quickly from TBC? They investigated him further and found his address in a fashionable part of Milan and also that he had an Alfa-Romeo RL. Now this was a sharp lead! Off they went to see Signore Conti.

His apartment was on 3rd floor and surprisingly all the windows were wide open in the middle of the winter. Cold winds blew from Monte Bianco straight into the apartment. “Wait here I will see to him.” answered one of the servants in broken English. There were three servants altogether. The investigators were admitted.

Flavio Conti sat behind a large oak desk with his back towards two large windows wide opened. The room was freezing cold. Despite it, Conti had his sole shirt three buttons open. The investigators (Spot Hidden_) noticed huge scars on his chest going from top and down in under the shirt. What was going on here? Conti acted nervously and shouted to them in Italian. He was obviously under enormous duress and pressure (Psychology_). Professor Scott tried to calm him using Latin. Colonel Williams switched to English and Conti did speak English. Conti seemed to calm down for a moment (Fast Talk) but then suddenly reached for something in the drawer on his right side. Colonel Williams stared him down forcefully. "Now this is a path you do not want to stride down. We all know how it will end." The investigators moved their hands slowly towards their guns. They were 4 to 1 and had superior firepower. Conti looked as in total despair. He dashed for his .38 revolver and put it to his head, but Ian was quicker and flew over the desk trying to knock the revolver out of his hand. A hard punch for 6 hit points but Conti was still sitting up with the revolver in his hand. Colonel Williams also jumped the desk but missed with his 30 % brawl skill. Professor Scott ran over and managed to grapple the revolver out of Conti’s hands. Lord Fyrom Squibb drew his gun but aimed towards the back door to cover it in case the servants would dash in from behind.

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Conti now in total despair tried to jump out the window. The investigators jumped after him and luckily grabbed him by the legs in a last hundred of a second dash. Ian and Colonel Williams were strong men (80 respectively 75 Str). Unfortunately Professor Scott was not as lucky and went out the window himself (fumble 00-roll) but managed to get a grip with his left hand hanging in the balance. Colonel Williams valiantly switched his grip to Professor Scott and saved the day. Ian managed to pull Conti back by himself (80 Str). A short interrogation followed but nothing important came out of Conti except for a few lines: “I cannot die….. A Brother of the Skin lives forever!” Then he just laughed evilly and watched the investigators as in a daze.

Colonel Williams left the crowd and went for a drink with the servants. Using Fast Talk and Persuade he managed to get some information from the otherwise impeccably dignified servants. “Can I see the garage?” “No sorry you have to ask Signore Conti”. A certain Signore Faccia had been seeing Signore Conti recently. Quite often too. He was of great stature apparently. “At least we have something” thought Colonel Williams and convinced the others it was time to leave.

Researching Signore Arturo Faccia they found his address, a mansion in the outskirts of Milan. They went there and using Locksmith gained entry through the backdoor. The mansion was gated and had broken glass as protection on three meter high walls and the gate had long spears discouraging any intruders. The house was almost empty on the inside, no correspondence or leggers except for a description of a major warehouse in Northern Milan.

We still have time to check the warehouse out before the opera starts” said Colonel Williams. They left the mansion looking for a cab. Arturo Faccia would get visitors soon.

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Note for Note - Milano 1923 - Scenario 7
Sunday, January 24, 1923

Active investigators: Lord Fyrom Squibb, Colonel Williams, Professor Scott, Ian Flannery.

The investigators hurried down to the train station. The next express train for Milan would be within the hour (successful Luck roll). They got the tickets and waited among the others, about ten or so individuals dressed for Sunday in Milan. Suddenly two policemen walked in. They looked about and then head for the ticket counter. Colonel Williams rose and walked slowly towards them holding up his traveler’s guide, playing the part. He approached them carefully and rolled for Listen_. Failed. However he picked up a couple of words. “Blaissé” Meaning “hurt” in French. The ticket operator having failed to spot Ian’s injurys hidden below thick layers of winter clothing nodded his head. No injured passengers here. The police looked around obviously contemplating asking questions to the passengers. Colonel Williams again caught the moment pointing outdoors through the entrance windows. "_Oh my, look Atatürk is out there heading for the town!" (the Turkish leader that was currently on a conference in Lausanne). We rolled for Fast Talk and again he succeeded. The two police officers went outside in a haste looking to secure any assistance if needed.

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Above: Arms of the House of Sforza, notable aristocratic family in Milan during the 14th to 16th century.

The train to Milan was an express train and took about five hours. At the Italian border they were stopped by fascist black shirts checking their passports and visa. British citizens didn’t need any visa (Professor Scott, Ian and Lord Fyrom Squibb), however, the American Colonel Williams was somewhat harassed but being unable to understand any of the vocal harassment the fascists left for better prey.

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Arriving in Milan the city was undergoing major overhaul. Scaffolding and construction workers all over the place, carefully monitored by armed groups of fascist black shirts. “Hermann would have come in handy here with all his pals around” muttered Colonel Williams, thinking of his German friend who was a stunt member of the German NSDAP party.

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The investigators hasted to their hotel in the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele and rightly so the opera diva Miss Cavollaro had not only booked their rooms but also made sure they had been paid for three nights until Wednesday when the Orient Express was due. The investigators asked to see Miss Cavollaro but were surprised to hear that she had not arrived yet. “Not arrived?” bursted Lord Fyrom Squibb. “How is that possible she should have been here 5-6 hours before us?

The investigators used the hotel telephone services and talked to Miss Cavollaro’s assistant Ysabel who was currently at the diva’s residence in central Milan. She had not heard anything and was worried since this was not usual behavior. She takes her opera very serious and would not freely disappear like this.

The investigators called the orient Express and got confirmation she had indeed left the train with her entourage of five people and they had seen them walk together towards the exit where Miss Cavollaro waved her entourage off and then disappeared out the station doors.

The investigators went up to the Milan Central Station and talked to the porters. A couple of liras loosened their tongues and they found out that Miss Cavollaro had been picked up by a gentleman in a luxury sports car. An Alfa Romeo RL.

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The porters could not describe that man’s features unfortuntaly. They had also seen Miss Cavollaro’s manager taking care of her luggage, and the entourage waving Miss Cavollaro off (as confirmed by the staff of the Orient Express).

Next they went to the police. Language was quite an issue here as no one of the investigators spoke Italian. Professor Scott spoke French however and in the Milan Central Police Station they luckily found a Captain from old Savoy, the French-most province of Italy (today Liguria). The police confirmed there was a missing person report filed on Miss Cavollaro, but became somewhat suspect of why the investigators were here.

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A roll for Persuade (Colonel Williams used Professor Scott for translation) soften the police up and they admitted no leads as of yet. The investigators mentioned the car, a sports model, but it was built here in Milan and could be out in the streets all over Milan and Italy, or Europe, in the hundreds if not thousands. The police had no register according to model. They had according to license and registration but this data was failing the investigators.

It was dark outside and the clock approaching 9:00 pm. They head back for the hotel and rested in Ian’s room. Ian was at only 4 hit points and somewhat beat. (Since he didn’t rest he didn’t receive 1 hotpoint healing either.)

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They searched the room to see if anyone had been there or planted anything. Some what paranoid after current events. In the book shelves they found a vast amount of guides to Milan’s different cultural and culinary spectacles. But only one book was kind of worn out. Thumbed all over. They investigated it and found it to contain a rather curious story. The famous opera composer Verdi believed that by singing along to an aria, you would have your utmost wish fulfilled. But it had to be inside the La Scala of course. They also noticed a picture of a dummy, a torso, that was being dressed by a very small woman, almost a midget. Professor Scott looked closer. “Could it be? It almost has to be. The size and shape would fit. It’s covered by armor but what I can see it reminds of that opaque marble same as the left arm in our possession. Gentlemen, I think we might have found another part of the Sedafkar Simulacrum, if yet not it’s picture.” Rarely had they seen Professor Scott so upbeat. “Hurry on, we must go to the La Scala at once without any further delay!”.

The investigators decided to call first and after many signals the door keeper Marco answered. He did not speak either English nor French, but after a while the Stage Manager Paolo Rischonti took over who indeed spoke French. Professor Scott put forward that they were sent by Il Duce (The Italian dictator Mussolini, currently in Lausanne) from the Lausanne conference to inspect the La Scala ahead of the grand premiere in two days. “Come over then but quickly please” replied a tired Stage Manager. Arriving at the La Scala and meeting up with both the employees, Colonel Williams was successful with a Persuade and so they gained full access to the La Scala.

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They immediately asked to be taken to the costumery and after a long passage through dwindling narrow corridors and leaning steps and stairs up and down, they arrived. Three very small women, almost midgets, were frantically attending to six wooden dummies in a row. There was also a young woman there, Luisa Visconti, who thankfully enough spoke quite good English. The investigators interviewed her and were quite disappointed to see that the six wooden dummies were not quite like the one portrayed in the book found in Ian’s room. Talking to Luisa they rolled for Psychology and noticed something was amiss. She was nervous and keeping something from them. The investigators pressed her harder, all in front of the Stage Manager who started to wonder what was going on here, flanked by the door keeper.

The investigators disregarded the other staff. The three small women paused and stood silent. Luisa started to crack under pressure. She had only been employed four months with the costumery but the old ladies, the midgets, had been here for over two decades. They had told of weird sensations connected to a seventh dummy. They felt uneasy around it and for some reason clothing attached to it never had to be fitted. For the last couple of years alone more than twenty helpers and aides had left the costumery because of this weird feeling around the seventh dummy.

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The investigators pushed to know where was this seventh dummy…

We keep it further down, hidden in the dark in the lowest basement.”

To be continued…

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Nocturne - Lausanne 1923 - Scenario 6, session 2
The Sedafkar Scroll of the Head

Sunday, January 24, 1923

Investigators: Frank, Hermann, Professor Scott, and Ian.

The investigators took up positions within the shop lest the other buyer would arrive. He could be a potent spell caster. Frank hid behind the giant stuffed bear with his .45 Automatic ready aimed towards the door. Ian had a gun and brass knuckles waiting for any intruder just next to the entrance. Hermann took up a more defensive position behind the counter with his double-barrel shotgun. Scott was upstairs glancing through the curtains on the 2nd floor and at the same time guarding Edgar’s unconscious body and William who now as hooded and in a catatonic-like condition.

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Ian heard steps getting closer. So did Frank eventually. They signalled each other to confirm probable contact. On the 2nd floor Professor Scott saw a big, round man wobbling towards the entrance of the taxidermy shop. He wore expensive clothes and used a cane to balance himself better. His walk was funny, odd.

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Above: The Jigsaw Prince

The man approached the door and stopped for a second. Then he looked up to the window above but Professor Scott hid behind the curtains. The man poked his cane at the door and the door opened up. “Hello any one there” he called in English with French accent. Ian put his hands in front of his mouth and replied: “Oh yes we are here please come in”.

The man walked forward into the store then fell heavily due to the trip wire installed by the investigators. The game was on and we checked for initiative:

1) Ian
2) Hermann
3) The Jigsaw Prince
4) Frank
5) Professor Scott

With the sole antagonist lying down Ian preferred to save his bullets. He hit the man hard in the back of his head and managed a special hit for 8 total damage. However the blow failed to cause damage to the head and instead no damage at all seemed to effect the target. Ian got worried and rolled off his target. Hermann stepped forward and emptied two slugs in the man. Both hit but again no injury. Not even a drop of blood or a so much as a sigh from the big man. Suddenly he rose up. “It will be a pleasure to cut you all into pieces” he said and looked at Ian. He muttered just a few short verses and crucifying pain hit Ian all over as if flames were eating him from the inside. His flesh turned blackened (missed opposed POW-roll even though using a lot of Luck Points). Ian took 15 hit points damage and fell to the floor dying.

Hermann rolled for Cthulhu Mythos to identify the spell. It was Shrivelling_. This guy was a major spell caster no doubt. With a few words Hermann shout out to Frank who was next to act. "_Lethal spell caster!!!" Frank immediately understood the grave danger. Next round the spell caster would probably kill another one of them. Frank aimed with his .45 Automatic carefully against the opponents head, just between the eyes, and pulled the trigger. Perfect hit! (“01” after spending some 20 Luck points). The spell caster fell dead to the floor. The players were cheering but not too much as Ian was still dying. Professor Scott managed his first First Aid roll and at least prevented a CON-roll for death. But now they only had an hour before his wounds would go critical again. They needed a hospital!

The Lausanne hospital was some 20 miles off and they did not have time to move on foot encumbered with Ian and Edgar out, and William severely handicapped.

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Above: Lausanne 1923

They went for the Cathedral and as they got closer Edgar suddenly woke up. With him was the Sedafkar scroll in a water-tight leather tube. It also contained the English transcript. Mission completed. The investigators asked Edgar for help and agreed to pay him 1500 dollars for his help. 1250 that he wanted for the scroll plus an extra bonus of 250. Edgar assured the investigators he had many friends at the cathedral and could assist them in finding an automobile or a carriage for fast transport.

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Above: Edgar Wellington

Sunday morning in Lausanne was indeed a sleepy affair everything was closed and no traffic in the streets. Adding to that there was this international conference in town over the end of the Ottoman Empire with the new state Turkey negotiating Italy, France and the United Kingdom for it’s new statehood.

Edgar’s friend Agathon helped the investigators to the hospital and Ian was rushed to the emergency unit. Edgar asked to leave with his brother William and the investigators agreed. Agathon drove them back home. Ian was hospitalized for almost four hours and the others took up watch positions in the reception, the canteen and Professor Scott just outside Ian’s room. Suddenly a police car pulled up outside the hospital entrance. Frank signalled to Hermann to rush and warn the others. Two police men come into the hospital, one senior officer and one regular police offer. Frank hid behind a newspaper. The policemen talked to the reception for a short while, then rushed towards Ian’s unit. Too late, Professor Scott and Ian were already out the backdoor heading for the tree line. Hermann joined them and Frank remained hidden in the shadows of the reception far corner. The police men ran back to their car and started patrolling the nearby road and houses using a mobile search light.

It was a cold morning and the investigators were contemplating what to do. The train had left them and they needed to reach Milan for the opera they were invited to. They checked their travel guide for airline routes and checked the Orient Express time table. What should they do? They were also discussing all the events they had lived through these days. Professor Scott got stuck on Comte Fenalik. “The Comte Fenalik is the epitomy of evil. His crimes and his story implies he might be behind the life and death as we understand it. Remember the laughing picture in Le Louvre. I am sure he is bound to the painting somehow and perhaps he can trick death itself. Comte Fenalik is our man.”

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Above: Picture of Comte Fenalik

With those words the investigators took a break in the cold Sunday morning, wrapped up in a thin layer of snow that had blown down from the Swiss Alps. On the other side of the mountains was Milan and the Orient Express waiting for them. How would they get there in time?

To be continued…

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Lausanne 1923
Troubled brothers - Scenario 6, session 1

Saturday, January 23, 1923

Investigators: Hermann, Frank, Professor Scott, Ian, Edvard.

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Above: The time table for the 1923 Orient Express.

The investigators returned from the Dreamlands with the Lovers’ Heart and the Sorcerer defeated.It was close to midnight and the Orient Express departed Paris Gar de North and then Paris Gar de Lyon close to midnight. The investigators noted crowds gathering outside the train prior to departure from Paris, screaming of joy and throwing red roses on the pavement. The famous soprano Miss Cavallaro was entering the Orient Express and her cabin was next to the investigators.

A party started in the Salon Car and the investigators befriended Miss Cavallaro thanks to the charms of Edvard who’s tricks with Swedish safety matches and his scarred face created excitement in Miss Cavallaro’s entourage.

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Miss Cavallaro went off to change to her gala dress once more wearing a beautiful ankh on a chain around her neck and singing her favorite aria from Aida, “Ritorna Vincitor”. She had heard it first time as a five year child at the opera and it had been her favorite ever since.

Aboard the Orient Express joining the party were also:

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Above: Lorna Campbell.Barnes, widowed millionaire.

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Above: Kerim Mahtuk, Turkish finanzier.

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Above: Colonel and Mrs Herring, retired.

Miss Cavallaro invited her new friends the the Opera in Milan three days later and gave the investigators five tickets first row. “I will book there best hotel in Milan for you. It’s in the Milan galleria. You will love it!”

Next morning 06:45 the Orient Express entered Lausanne. The train would only stay briefly but the investigators decided to look for the mysterious Mr Wellington who had written the Loriens outside Paris about the Sedafkar scroll and statue. If the letter was true, they would find the scroll.

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It was a cold and grey Sunday morning 24th of January. It was freezing cold and small chokes of ice and even snow could be seen. The investigators checked in a the Hotel Central and found out there was a conference in Lausanne. They even got a glimpse of the Italian leader Mussolini. He was here together with envoys from France, United Kingdom and Turkey to finally lay the Ottoman Empire to rest and establish a new modern Turkish state republic.

Urging to find the Sedafkar scroll, the investigators ordered a taxi and off they went. Arriving at the correct address the investigators scouted the house, a small taxidermic shop, and decided to break in using a crowbar.

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They had spotted lights on the backside second floor so they pulled their guns and charged inside. “Who are you, what do you want?” cried a desperate voice upstairs. “We have no money here!”. A large bear stared at the investigators with its glass eyes and wired jaw.

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Edgar Wellington was quickly overmanned by the armed investigators and so was his traumatized brother William. William was mute and head major wounds to his head which created an odd shape of his skulle. Professor Scott guarded the entrance downstairs as the rest of the four investigators searched the premises and interrogated Edgar.

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Edgar’s diary was found and revealed more than Edgar initially wanted to. Ian lost his temper. “You either be straight with us or I will break all your finger’s and toes!” Edgar yielded and told them that the scroll was hidden in Dream Lausanne. An alternative reality of Lausanne that he would visit at nights due to insomnia. He also told them about a certain Duc Jean Floressas des Esseintes, called “The Duke”, who was on his way this morning to buy the scroll. Perhaps the Duke already knew the scroll was hidden in Dream Lausanne. The Duke was a potent occultist and had certain means to know things he shouldn’t even know. Edgar rounded off by explaining he had been given a dream drug by the Duke to be able to visit Dream Lausanne at his convenience but he also suspected the Duke had a portal in his home.

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Above: Lausanne 1923.

The investigators feigned kidnapping his brother William and forced him to take the dream drug and return to them with the Sedafkar Scroll. Edgar had no choice and injected the fluid. The investigators noticed that there were 4-5 doses left in the jar as well.

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Above: Edgar applying the dream drug, forced by the investigators to retrieve the Sedafkar scroll in Dream Lausanne.

The investigators seized the remaining dream drug and waited for the Duke to arrive. They set traps in the entrance trip wire and trying to arrange the floor boardings and the stuffed bear. The Duke might be a powerful spell caster but the investigators were ready. They were concerned with the broken door which might alarm the Duke.

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Above: 4-5 doses remained of the dream drug and it reminded Professor Scott of laudanum.

Quote of the session: “Can we put him in the incinerator?” German NSDAP member Hermann asking to shove William Wellington into the incinerator for hiding (I hope).

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Lloyd leaves our train...
Boris and Edvard say farewell!

The joy of completing the extremely long 5th scenario The Dreamlands Express has not even vanished until we got shocking news. One of our core players, Lloyd Baltz, will leave the campaign. Lloyd pays the Russian Psychiatrist Boris Vasiliji and the Swedish Aristocrat Edvard Night and Day. Two very heavy investigators that will be sorely missed.

Boris Vasilijev

Edvard Natt och Dag

We hope that Lloyd will find more time in the future and re-enter the campaign at a later stage.

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Above: Lloyd toasting us farewell I presume… :-)

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The Lovers' Heart
The Final Battle - Scenario 5, session 10

We continued the battle from the last session. The allies of the investigators continued to land blows on the Shantaks, distracting them from fulfilling their offensive against the investigators. The cats of Ulthar, Mironim-Mer and Karakov made sure only one Shantak per round could attack. This was a major contribution to the battle as each time a Shantak hit, an ally or investigator would be killed.

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Above: Mironim-Mer. Blackjack’s murder who would repent in the final battle against the Sorcerer.

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Above: Karakov, Russian arms dealer that fueled the Great War in Europe. In the last dying hours of his life he regretted his deeds confessing to investigator Boris his sins.

The Beings of Ib were quickly reduced from 6 to 4 as the Shantaks bit them in half. They still held the line that was now a front along the middle of the carriage roof that had been torn apart. Their numbers times 2 attacks was also a hindrance to the Shantaks.

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Above: Beings of Ib soldiering through during the last battle against the Sorcerer.

The Sorcerer returned carried by a Shantak and joined the battle. Unfortunately the Nightgaunts lacked the speed and agility of the Shantaks and failed to retrieve Edvard and Manfred who fell down into the abyss of the Gulf of Noden. Never again would they ever visit the Dreamlands sadly.

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Above: The two Nightgaunts tried to save the falling investigators Edvard and Manfred but failed.

The Nightgaunts returned to the battle and opened up a small second front at the rear of the Shantaks. Unfortunately the Nightgaunts were struggling to have an impact on the Shantaks as their armor was too heavy to penetrate for them.

Ian managed to leap (DEX-check) away from the back of the blinded Shantak in the last minute before it took off in a ferocious speed leaving the battle under horrendous screams. The pain of losing both its’ eyes overwhelming. Ian landed on the side of the torn carriage and was hanging now with a grip onto the edge. He dragged himself up on the remaining roof just in time for the Sorcerer to lounge upon Madame Bruja’s monster form. The Sorcerer gripped her from behind and was trying to reach the Lovers’ Heart. Frank and Hermann were quick on their feet and Frank assaulted the Sorcerer from behind, winning the wrestle and locking him in a firm grip.

At the same time the front line took some heavy blows as the cats and Karakov were wiped out by the Shantaks. These allies had occupied 2-3 Shantaks each round and now that they were gone more heavy attacks from these dragon beasts would land on the investigators…

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Above: The powerful dragon like Shantaks threatened the Dreamland Express.

Ian saw this coming and jumped down through the hole in Madame Bruja’s apartment and readied his crossbow. Kneeling he got a good firing angle onto the Shantaks bellies above. He fired and hit a critical! He rolled “8” for the critical damage and totalled damage “20” which might be a new record in the group! (1d8+2 maxed out is 10, + another 1d8+2 rolling 8).

Frank maintained his grapple on the Sorcerer who in turn maintained his grip on Madame Bruja. The Sorcerer had immense strength but Frank’s player rolled well and sacrificed his last remaining Luck Points. This was the final battle and they had to win it. As the 3-part wrestling continued Madame Bruja dropped the Lovers’ Heart and it bounced down on the carriage roof landing at the feet of Hermann. Hermann had just thrown a home made molotov cocktail at the Sorcerer and with his hands now free he quickly bent down to pick the artifact up. Unfortunately Hermann failed his Cthulhu Mythos check, but with the Lovers’ Heart firmly in his hands he felt an intense rage and hate running through his veins and mind and again the artefact shot out rays of light that was only visible in the darkness for some reason. Both the Sorcerer and Madame Bruja, as well as the Zombie took immense damage from the rays (I rolled “10” on 1d10). The Sorcerer wrestled free from Frank and jumped down into Madame Bruja’s compartment. One of the Shantaks landed onto the giant hole to cover him as well. Professor Scott who was holding a defensive position by the compartment took off running towards the kitchen to look for knives. He remembered seeing a butcher’s hackett knife there earlier. Frank was quick on his heels and managed to throw himself under the Shantak, joining Ian who was already there inside the compartment. Ian nailed another quilt on the Sorcerer and Frank also hit him again. The blows and hits were coming down hard on the Sorcerer and his burnt carcass of a body started to fall apart. Hermann made a final lounge trying to dive in under the Shantak, and failed. But he pushed his roll with_ Luck Points_ and managed to join Frank and Ian. The Lovers’ Heart sent out another burst of raw energy and the Sorcerer froze before he was destroyed into shambling pieces. The red light in his eye sockets went out. Unfortunately so was Madame Bruja. She was killed by the radiating light and had returned to her human self. The investigators caught a wryly smile on her as Szuzsa was crying by her side.

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Above: Madame Bruja fell during the last battle returning to her human form.

The Zombie was still “alive” and looked at the investigators shortly before lounging himself into the abyss for ever gone. Unfortunately Mironim-Mer and Karakov were killed in the battle but their brave fighting had saved the front. With Mironim-Mer dead the remaining cats were satisfied that justice had been done and he had died for a good cause in the end. The cats left for their compartment waiting to return to their country of Ulthar. The investigators felt a strange connection now to cats and Ian’s prejudice towards cats was gone. Was there something else going on here?

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Above: The cats of Ulthar retained their great respect for the investigators. Back in the wakening world the investigators would notice how cats around them would follow them and purr around them.

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Above: List of cats of Ulthar secrets as revealed by conducteur Henry at an earlier session.

With the final battle over we closed the session and awarded Sanity points and checked skills.

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Above: The passenger list from the Dreamlands Express on this journey.

Next session we enter scenario 6 of the Horror on the Orient Express campaign.

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