Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:38 am Post subject: Horror on the Orient Express - episode 14
|While fleeing from the witch’s house in a blind panic the gentlemen became separated and lost in the dank Serbian forest.
Alone, and in separate parts of the woods, Fellowes, Slovdan and Ronald were set upon by beasts. The creatures hid in the shadows and sent tentacles which smashed down trees in trying to reach our heroes. Each managed to escape, but only by fleeing deeper into the forest.
Harry was the first to escape the forest. He came upon a woodsman’s hut and, after a tense exchange during which both men presented firearms, eventually obtained directions back to the village of Osach.
Django did manage to escape, he was pursued by the witch and she struck him down with her mortar. His body was left in the forest to the wolves.
Having fled a beast, Slovdan reached the edge of the woods and came to a hut. He called for help and from the hut came a nervous young woman. As Slovdan tried to obtain directions he became aware that the women’s chickens, unusually large and black creatures, were gathering to stare at him with beady eyes. Slovdan began to feel stalked by these birds and so ran. The chickens flew after him and pecked viciously at his face and chest. Slovdan, already badly wounded, slumped to the forest floor. He awoke to find himself in the young woman’s hut. She tended his wounds and asked what he had done to make the chickens attack. Slovdan grew angry at this and blamed the young woman for the attack. He stormed out of her hut and, after making sure that the chickens had gone, departed back down a forest path.
After his brush with a beast, Ronald came across fields. Clouds gathered and a storm broke as he entered open ground and he sheltered for a while with a local beneath a tree. With the help of hand signals Ronald obtained directions to Osach and then came upon a farmer who offered him a lift upon a cart. Ronald was therefore the first to return to the village. Here he found that the locals appeared startled and afraid to see him return. Ronald began to suspect the locals had conspired with the witch, but before he could leave a scream alerted him to the arrival of a flock of black chickens. These began to attack him and the villagers without discrimination. Ronald fled down the path towards the distant railway station.
Fellowes was next to reach Osach. He heard the screams and the blast of a shotgun before he entered the village and so decided to avoid it. He scrawled a message upon a mile post to indicate to his friends that they should join him at the railway station.
Ronald, Fellowes, Slovdan and Harry were all eventually reunited at the station. They waited here for some hours in vain for Django to appear, but they had no desire to miss the only train to Belgrade so were eventually forced to assume the worst and leave without him.
As the train took the four survivors through the dense forest, Slovdan thought he saw a familiar looking old woman collecting wood alongside the tracks. She looked up at him as the train went by and appeared to mutter something. A few minutes later Fellowes found Slovdan collapsed on the platform between two cars. The Serbian was covered in ulcerating and pus-filled sores. Fellowes retreated quickly and asked if there was a doctor aboard the train. By chance there was and the medical practitioner quickly diagnosed a virulent strain of chicken-pox. Remarkably, this condition cleared rapidly almost as soon as the train left the woods and Slovdan recovered much of his strength before the gentlemen reached Belgrade.
Once safely in Belgrade, the gentlemen contracted the services of Peter, a young guide they had met earlier, and asked him to find them secure but out-of-the-way accommodation. Peter was then asked to open a post-office box on their behalf and the gentlemen sent him on a number of errands over the next few weeks while they remained hidden away. Peter couriered letters to and from the post-office box bearing stamps from England and Turkey. Fellowes had decided to make use of Professor Smith’s money and contacts and wrote to prominent academics in London and Constantinople seeking information about the Sedfkar Scroll, the “skinless one”, the shunned mosque and other things that seemed to have a connection to the statue. He and the others needed but one more piece of the statue, but feared what might happen once all the pieces together.
While awaiting replies, Peter introduced the gentlemen to a Turk staying in Belgrade. Peter felt this man, an expert in Turkish antiquities, might be able to provide some assistance. The antiquarian, Mr Ali Osman Hanim, quickly proved helpful and as the weeks passed he gradually became intrigued by the statue. He advised the gentlemen that he was due to return to Constantinople shortly and offered to travel with them and act as their guide there.
After three weeks in Belgrade, the gentlemen decided to accompany Mr Hanim on the train to Sofia. They took Peter as long as well, hoping that his skills as a translator could help them during the stop-over in Bulgaria.
As they waited upon the Belgrade station, the gentlemen noticed an old woman lurking in the shadows watching them board the train. Then, as the train travelled through the dank Serbian woods, they noticed another old lady come from her house to watch intently as the train went by. After darkness fell, some of the gentlemen claimed to have observed a house on legs on a parallel course and keeping pace with the train. Nerves frayed even further when a grinding sound was heard above the noise of the train and a silhouette of what appeared to be the witch in her mortar and pestle appeared briefly in the clouds. Fellowes was ready to leave the train at the next station, but Slovdan persuaded him that it was best to stay aboard. He theorised that the witch was restricted to the wilds and that the iron of the train would keep her at bay.
As the train crossed from Yugoslavia into Bulgaria signs of pursuit began to fade. Border guards arrived however and they began to check the gentlemen’s papers. Fellowes was taken aside by one and, as his papers were checked, the guard suddenly lunged at him with a pen. The guard plunged his pen into Fellowes’ eye and then plucked out the eyeball. As Fellowes’ screamed and collapsed to the floor, the guard snatched up the eyeball and leapt from the train. The conductor was called and the train screeched to a halt. Several of the other guards left the train in search of the attacker, but they found nothing except for another eyeball – an eyeball that clearly did not belong to Fellowes.
The train resumed its journey. Fellowes was given laudanum and told he would need to wait until they arrived in Sofia before he could get medical care. The laudanum stopped the pain however, and allowed Fellowes to sleep. He dreamt he was looking through his missing eye, and was running through woods and then into a car which travelled through strange villages.
Fellowes’ dreaming was interrupted by the train’s arrival in Sofia. He was transported by stretcher to an ambulance and was then taken to hospital. During this journey he was told by his companions that they had seen the last piece of the statue – the head. It had allegedly been recovered by a farmer digging in his field and was even now being transported to the local university for investigation.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.