Wednesday 10th January had arrived and the investigators said good-bye to their good friend and hurried to Victoria Station in London. They would take the 10 am train to Dover where a steamer was awaiting to take them across the channel. On the train to Dover they made friends with a Scottish upper class young woman by the name of Aileen MacGregor. They had a pleasant trip together and she even had some Scotch Whisky with the good spirited investigators.
Aileen was asking them questions to their whereabouts and backgrounds, but the investigators eluded her curiosity gracelessly and courteously. They seemed antipathetic towards her and listened carefully to her story about trying to investigate the Armenian killings by the Ottoman Empire in the Eastern part of the Empire. She would look for clues in Constantinople, but also enter on a daring journey to Armenia itself.
They arrived at Calais on the French side 13:40 pm and spent couple of hours there waiting for the connecting train to Cahlons-sur-Marne. Finally at 22:26 pm they joined the original Orient Express train and checked into double compartments 1, 2 and 3.
The following investigators were now lodged in:
Colonel John Williams
Lord Fyrom Squibb
Max von Moser
John Yip had bought two boxes exactly the same as the one containing the blood red fez. They had also bought similar fezes and put in the boxes to distract any potential suitors. For easy reference John Yip marked the box containing the real blood red fez
The Orient Express
Frank Patterson and Lord Fyrom Squibb wanted to scout the train and the other four remained in their compartments. John Yip and Hermann Müller stayed with the box containing the blood red box, and Max von Moser and Colonel John Williams took care of the two fake ones.
Conducteur Henri Peeters
They soon befriended the Conducteur, Henri Peters, both with positive Credit Rating rolls but also a very tasteful tip of 10 pounds sterling. Henri told them a little bit about the passengers on the train. He mentioned “the Russians” and “that weird Oriental man who I dont like. His name is Menkaph”. The players smiled. Bentley Burnham had told them the truth. Their nemesis and kult leader Menkaph was on this very train. Frank fingered his .45 revolver with ease.
Frank and Lord Squibb scouted the train and ended up in the Smoking and Salon Car where several people had gathered for a late night drink and chat. In the main bar were three Russian men conversing. Lord Squibb approached them and actually missed his Credit Rating roll, but Frank Patterson nailed it ironically. They more or less befriended Count Razumosky, but his entourage were harder to charm. Egorov, his servant, and Trubosky, his cousin. Lord Squibb would squander about his aristocratic background and Frank badmouthing “the reds”. The Count smiled and wished them good night as he withdrew after some 15 minutes small talk.
Further inside the Salon car was Menkaph talking very low to a man with a red fez in front of him across the table. Next to Menkaph was a man standing at his flank. Menkaph wore a fez as well, and a violet opera cape and stage-villain mustache. He moved his hands and arms in grand demeanor to underscore his point as theatrically as possible. Two tables away was Aileen MacGregor reading and making some notes. She seemed busy and did not notice the investigators.
The players discussed what to do. They were only two investigators here and now, but both Frank and Lord Squibb were able combatants. Should they attack? Perhaps not a good idea. There were three enemies in total, and Menkaph with two body guards and fellow cultists might prove quite a challenge. There was also train staff in the Salon car that might see the investigators as bad guys if they open up fire unprovoked. They decided to wait.
After about half an hour (23:15 pm) Menkaph and his company rose and was about to leave. Lord Squibb passed them and as he did tried to pickpocket Menkaph. He missed his roll and one of the body guards locked his hand in a firm grip. Menkaph and the other follower halted quickly and turned around. Frank grabbed his gun but did not pull it out just yet.
“You should be careful where you put your hands so you don’t lose them” Menkaph said and smiled wryly. Lord Squibb returned fire with a sarcasm. Menkaph warned that if they did not stay away or back down eternal pain and suffering would follow in the investigators path. Masks were off. Both parties knew very well who they were and what the struggle was about.
With those words he and his followers left the Salon car and headed towards the compartment cars. “Making new friends already?” Aileen smeared at the investigators. Frank and Lord Squibb returned to their friends in haste and reconvened. What should they do now? They called on Conducteur Henry and got all the passengers location in the compartments. (see separate post ahead). Kaporov was the name of the body guard without the fez, and the other with the fez shared compartment with someone in the second car. Their names were Cürik and Atatürket.
The investigators conferred. What should they do? Attack Menkaph in his compartment? They agreed that John Yip and Max von Moser would guard the blood red fez, and the other four would make an offensive strike-team. They started to survey the corridor and the car. They saw someone quickly dash into compartment nr 10 but could not identify who. It looked like a woman with blond hair let lose (excluding Aileen from the possible ones as she has red hair).
With Spot Hidden 99 % and Listen 95 % Frank went through the corridor and listen at all compartments. At compartment nr 6 he heard crying and sobbing. Conferring with the others they decided to act. Frank, Lord Squibb, Colonel Williams, and Hermann returned and knocked briskly on the door. “Who is it?” a yell female voice called out. “We are concerned of your well-being, open up the door”. After a while and some more brisk knocking the door opened. The compartment was pitch black, seemed almost darker than the winter night outside.
Elizabeth “Ellie” Myers
As they parleyed with the woman they realized she was deepen sad, almost in catatonic state. She told them that her husband had been sick ever since they came to Paris where they had met Menkaph. The investigators approach her husband and in the dark they can still see from their portable light that he has a blood red fez on him. Suddenly the investigators are attacked by two shadow creatures and a wild fight sets off. The investigators defeat them but take some damage. Sanity still sound. But the noise has alerted everyone and doors are opening and train staff come wondering. As does Menkaph and his bodyguard Karpov. They look with drilling eyes on the investigators. As the dust has settled, Menkaph’s two thugs stand guard outside his door. The investigators notify the train staff to Mr Myers condition and Max von Moser pretends to be a doctor. An awry feeling starts setting upon the train and its passengers. With sleight of hand the investigators manage to take the much wanted tome The Whispering Fez from in under Mr Myers pillow.
The investigators hurry to their compartments with the tome, but notice that Menkaph and his servants stare at them with hatred in their eyes. Surely they will never let the investigators escape with this tome of theirs. Prepare for battle!
PS: A funny thing was that Hermann rolled “01” for Persian 05 % and hence successfully has started to study the Whispering Fez. Incredible!
To be continued…