Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 8:14 am Post subject: Horror on the Orient Express - episode 5
|A syringe and empty bottle of morphine lie beside the body of Edgar, possibly an overdose but unlikely as his brother lies mutilated downstairs.
The Dream Lausanne is a muddy liquid with a suspension of silvery particles.
Meanwhile back at the Black Cat Café, Vance’s fledgling psychology skills lead him to believe Max is spinning stories about his brother in order to garner more drinks from Vance Carlton-Gore and Marcel. Vance and Marcel make their gentlemanly excuses and head after the others towards Edgar’s shop.
Peregrine Fellowes makes for the hotel to read Edgar’s diary while Niles Sapsford makes to head back towards the Black Cat Café. However upon approaching the front door they hear footsteps from outside. Niles holds back and is relieved to see it’s Vance and Marcel.
Conversation ensues as the companions head in to the square outside the shop. While talking, a further two sets of footsteps can be heard approaching, this time stepping in unison and accompanied by low murmuring. Everyone attempts to look casual as two gendarmes enter the square. They nonchalantly make to leave the square, Niles and Vance lighting up cigarettes, as the gendarmes notice the door ajar to Edgar’s shop. This is somewhat alarming at this hour, about 10pm.
Reverend Fellowes approaches the officers and asks directions to his hotel, at which they enquire as to what, if anything, the good vicar knows of the open door. As Peregrine denies any knowledge and makes his excuses to leave one of the officer’s who’s investigated the open shop raises an alarm – “Jean Claude, Jean Claude, there’s been a murder!”
Peregrine becomes more suspicious with every word uttered and is unsurprisingly invited back to the local police station.
Meanwhile the others continue their stroll back to the hotel, realising Peregrine has been waylaid and recalling the results of his last casual encounter with the authorities, they prepare for a police visit.
Niles risks some time to have a read of Edgar’s diary while the others seek out a suitable hiding place for that and the other liberated items. They’re deposited in the bottom of a large pot plant and decorative holder in one of the hotel hallways. At the same time stories are readied for the police.
Meanwhile Peregrine digs himself further in at the police station – “Do you usually follow up unsolicited letters so late at night Mr Fellows”
“Well we had been there earlier, Officer”
“So you knew Edgar”
“Well not really, that’s where things get a bit complicated.”
Soon, Peregrine’s passport is confiscated and bail posted at £400.
The rest of the party do their best to relax in the bar of the hotel. Before long two police officers duly arrive and head upstairs after briefly talking to the hotel receptionist. Soon they return and after a further brief exchange with the receptionist are given a key. As they depart upstairs again Niles calmly follows, making for his room. He strikes up a conversation with the officers and they retire to Niles room for questioning when the police realise Niles is one of the companions they’re looking for. He gives a thorough account of the night’s events which fits the police notes from Peregrine’s interview. However, he and the others are requested to accompany the officers to the police station to collect formal statements. They all stick to the same, almost true apart from the detail left out, story.
|They were due to meet Edgar at the Black Cat Café at 7:30pm having meet him first earlier that day in following up a letter. Edgar did not show up and after some time the group went to his shop. They noticed the open door and knocked, however on receiving no response thought it impolite to just enter the premises uninvited made their way to leave and return to the hotel. At this point they became directionally challenged and were discussing which was the right way back to the hotel when the two gendarmes entered the square. Niles was suitably satisfied he knew the way as he strode off. Peregrine, being less assured, approached the gendarmes for directions. |
Eventually, statements taken, everyone is free to return to the hotel, minus passports.
Back in the relative privacy of their hotel room Niles reveals he read in the diary that the Dream Lausanne is a potion that facilitates travel to another world – one that is the same as this but different and in which Edgar has hidden the genuine scroll. Niles is keen to travel there immediately by way of consuming the potion but Vance points out it may not be an actual other world and just a drug induced stupor. It is determined that Pembroke and Marcel will remain in watch of the others as they try the potion to make sure they don’t attempt to do anything silly – like head immediately to a crime scene, a crime for which they may be suspects.
Niles measures out 5ml doses of the potion and quaffs one. Immediately he has an overwhelming urge to smile and collapses in to a deep, relaxed sleep. Vance and Peregrine follow suite while Marcel and Pembroke remain lucid to guard their unconscious bodies.
Niles, Vance and Peregrine soon awake in their hotel room and find Pembroke and Marcel have gone. The room however is now unlit. They determine to make directly for Edgar’s shop. On leaving their room they find the hotel hallway slightly different, it has more doors, one which has been boarded over. Also where the stairway once was a closed door now stands, bright light squeezes through the cracks around the door and is occasionally interrupted by passing shadows. Vance rashly opens the door and where the stairway once stood there is now a dusty plain, a short distance across which is a free standing doorway. Vance, again rashly, and rather boldly, steps out on to the plain and heads straight for the other door. The others follow and stepping through find themselves on the street in front of the hotel. They find it medieval looking and slightly nightmarish. The few items carried by the party, a lamp stand, walking cane and ornate cross, have changed in to their medieval counterparts, a candle stick, staff and crudely carved cross. As they progress each intersection is adorned by a hanging cage containing a crow-pecked corpse. Their path is soon interrupted by a fissure in the street, issuing an icy moaning wind. Taking another route they’re passed by a procession of garishly dressed and particularly savage flagellants, each with featureless blue “dolls” eyes. As they pass a sound of bells rises to a crescendo and two of the figures alight in to the sky, they fight and in doing so drip searing hot blood on to the streets. Niles is caught by a droplet as the three companions hurry on. They pass through familiar yet unfamiliar streets – a flowered, pleasantly scented lane; a withered hag bent over a cauldron; a crazy magician; and a live, life size, and violent chess game which Niles can’t help but watch. Vance equally can’t help examining a pile of refuse he glances on the side of the street – human flesh, fingers, noses, eyes and ears, all strung on meat hooks and chains. He’s revolted but cannot peel his gaze away until pressed by the others to move on.
Further on a square is filling with people, in the centre stands a gallows upon which are three figures – a bronze statue, Edgar bound in chains, and the Duke of Assentes issuing proclamations to the crowd. The Duke pronounces Edgar a traitor and invites anyone from the crowd to come forward in his defence. No-one accepts but a further invitation to assist with the prosecution incites a brief and bloody stampede as members of the crowd rush to accept. The crowd sets upon one man in particular, his skin is torn from him with bare hands and thrown to the Duke. The Duke gleefully accepts the skin and drapes it over the bronze statue which then animates itself. The Duke screams at Edgar “I’ve won, I’ve won” and demands to know the whereabouts of the scroll, Edgar steadfastly refuses. As Niles, Vance and Peregrine are watching they fade like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future, and suddenly find themselves back in their hotel room with Commander Pembroke and Marcel. With scarcely a nod of recognition between them they quaff another dose of the potion each and materialize back in the square. Vance and Peregrine press on to Edgar’s shop while Niles proceeds to Edgar’s defence.
The Duke seems momentarily surprised by Niles presence but quickly composes himself – “too late, sentence has already been passed” he shouts to the crowd and Niles at once and as such a torturer sets to work on Edgar. Niles forces his way to the front of the gallows but is confronted by two crudely armed guards who push him back. They keep their eye on him as he makes his way around to the back of the gallows. The torturer hesitates as Niles demands Edgar’s release. The previously animated statue has returned to bronze. Harsh words are exchanged between Niles and the Duke ending with Niles assaulting the stage but being beaten back and knocked unconscious by one of the guards, the other being knocked down by Niles in an adrenaline fuelled rush.
Meanwhile Vance and Peregrine have scant success finding Edgar’s shop, passing a crazy magician, withered hag and flower scented lane before re-entering the square just in time to see Niles hauled on to the gallows. Peregrine immediately presses forward through the crowd while Vance attempts to incite the crowd against the Duke – “Can’t you see he too is a foreigner?”, “Why do you let him lord it over you?”
He has some success and causes a small commotion but really stirs up a rabble when he demands a trial by combat. The Duke selects a champion from the crowd while Vance continues his diatribe against the Duke and demands to fight him. The champion interrupts Vance’s grandstanding and soon knocks him down and out but not before Vance gets a swipe at the champion with his staff as he would one of his petulant students with a cane.
At this time Peregrine has had the foresight to ask a local for directions to Edgar’s shop and convinces a young boy to guide him. He wastes no time busting in to the taxidermists shop and frantically searching. Just as his vision starts to fade he tears in to an unusually large stuffed bear and places his hand on a scroll. He grasps it just in time to open his eyes to Marcel and Pembroke’s shocked faces. All of a sudden Vance and Niles unconscious bodies have materialized bloody and serious wounds. The priest administers first aid and they revive a little – enough for Vance to insist on getting to a hospital which of course means involving the authorities in an already eventful night with them.
After some arguing a plausible story is developed. The others quietly retreat to their own rooms, shortly after Vance and Niles start making a commotion, screaming and yelling for help. Guests gather outside their room unable to open the locked door and eventually the night manager comes running with a key. By now the commotion has subsided and he opens the door to the sight of Niles and Vance beaten and bloody applying bandages to stifle the flow of blood – “help, there’s been a break in, we’ve been attacked, call an ambulance!”
Ambulance officers arrive and whisk Vance and Niles to hospital, trailed closely by police officers, notebooks open and pens at the ready. Vance and Niles reveal they’d fallen asleep on their respective beds fully clothed after a long night, they’d left the window open for fresh air. Next thing they knew they were each being attacked by an intruder who must have come up the fire escape, they could only furnish a vague description of a “burly thug” as they were to shocked to get a better look.
They receive good treatment at the local hospital and are relieved to be treated by the police as victims rather than suspicious perpetrators. The inspector investigating this attack and the murder of Edgar and his brother, surmises that it is the same attacker, he strongly suspects the Duke and his henchmen. This is effectively correct except that it occurred in a parallel world.
The party are struck off as suspects in the murder of Edgar and William and are returned their passports the next day. The passports are returned with the advice to leave town on the next Orient Express service – “for their own safety”. The party gratefully obliges.
At lunch on the first day back aboard the Express the party hear a familiar voice, the slimy Duke approaches their table. Pembroke immediately stands and puffs out his chest,
“You’re not welcome here”,
“Gentlemen, I want the scroll”.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.