Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 4:36 pm Post subject: Horror on the Orient Express - episode 3
|While hunting down more information about the Comte Fenalik at the Biblioteque Nationale the gentlemen encountered another researcher looking into the Comte’s story. The researcher was an approachable Frenchman with a pencil-thin moustache named Marcelle de Lavier. M. de Lavier was writing a book about the Comte at the behest of a wealthy sponsor and appeared more than willing to collaborate with the Englishmen. He invited Commander Pembroke and Professor Carlton-Gore to accompany him to review the old Police records held at a small library near the Bastille. Here the gentlemen uncovered a Police report about the burning of the Comte’s house and this revealed that the house was located in Poissy. Meanwhile, Professor Sapsford and the Reverend Fellowes uncovered an account by Lucien Ragault, a physician to the Queen, which discussed the Comte’s debauchery and penchant for torture in unpleasant detail. M. Ragault’s account noted that the Comte was incarcerated in Charenton, an insane asylum and that he had been restrained in the cellar there after attacking other inmates.
The gentlemen, accompanied by their new companion M. de Lavier, visited Charenton but found little. The records at the asylum appeared incomplete and the institution was in a state of disruption after the death of its director. According to reports the director’s death was accidental and not suspicious, but the gentlemen found this alarming nonetheless.
M. de Lavier took some of the gentlemen around some of the more exciting areas of Paris that evening while Reverend Fellowes remained at the hotel. An acquaintance was made with a retired British Colonel and his wife who were also travelling upon the Orient Express.
The following day M. de Lavier’s car took the gentlemen on a trip to Poissy. Here enquiries found that the Comte Fenalik’s house once lay where a pleasant country cottage now stands. A visit to the cottage revealed that it was occupied by the local doctor and his family. The gentlemen revealed a little of the history of the place and this sparked the doctor’s interest. Within minutes they were seated around a kitchen table drinking coffee and arguing over whether some remains of the Comte’s old house might remain beneath the cottage. Reverend Fellowes had made a sketch and some notes about the Comte’s house and these were pored over. The good doctor himself was first to suggest conducting a small excavation and M. de Lavier headed into the village to purchase tools.
As tools were being fetched, the doctor’s wife prepared dinner and Reverend Fellowes kept the young daughter of the household entertained with stories from the Bible. It was during this time that the gentlemen realised that all three of members of the family suffered wounds to their left arms – being scratched, burnt and arthritic respectively. This oddity was remarked upon with some surprise.
Once M. de Lavier returned digging commenced and the top step of a stone staircase was quickly uncovered. Further digging was stopped after the daughter of the house woke with a scream. She claimed that a “bogeyman” had appeared at her window and with some amusement Commander Pembroke undertook to search the woods to scare this creature away. His stomping and muttering appeared to put the child at ease and the gentlemen decided to call it a night to avoid waking her again.
Accommodation was sought at a local tavern and digging recommenced early the next morning. Stone steps were revealed and further these led to a rusted iron door. The door was opened with considerable difficulty to reveal a hollow and stone-lined darkness beyond. An electric torch and some candles were fetched and the Commander led the gentlemen inside.
The cellar was full of frightful sights. It contained a number of cells and these contained the remains of some of the Comte’s long-dead victims. The gentlemen’s mounting horror was somewhat allayed by a blessing conducted by the Reverend, but beyond the cells was a horror that no holy words could sooth. Here was a large pile of corpses intertwined with roses and thorns. Black ichor dripped from the flowers and a pale, corpse-white light came from an arm carved in ivory. Commander Pembroke picked up this arm and the light suddenly faded and the roses all withered and died. A mist began to form and the gentlemen retreated from the cellar in a panic. The mist drifted with them and as they scrambled to the surface it escaped from the cellar like breath being exhaled.
The good doctor was most distraught at the discoveries and he summoned the local priest to conduct an exorcism. Even after this had been conducted he appeared rightly nervous of staying in his own home and took his family to spend the night at the tavern. Over dinner it became apparent that the wounds to the left arms of the doctor and his family were beginning to heal. Discussion also revealed that the doctor had received a letter from a Mr Edgar Wellington of Lausanne which mentioned the Sedfkar the gentlemen sought.
The following day the doctor and his family returned to their house and bade the gentlemen farewell. Before they parted, the doctor handed over Mr Wellington’s letter.
On return to Paris arrangements were made to board the Orient express. Most of the gentlemen spent their last day in Paris sight-seeing, but Commander Pembroke returned to the Charenton asylum. Here he stole some notes belonging to the deceased director and discovered that this man had been investigating strange events in the cellar – the cellar where the Comte Fenalik had been incarcerated – before his death. The notes also mentioned a mysterious wound to a nurse’s right arm.
When the Commander relayed news of his discoveries to the group it was decided to delay the departure from Paris until further investigations of the asylum could be completed.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.