Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:04 pm Post subject: Horror on the Orient Express - episode 15
|The Reverend Peregrine Fellowes’ sleep in a Sofia hospital bed was disturbed by the arrival of a prying newspaper man. With the assistance of a nurse this annoyance was eventually evicted from the wounded vicar’s room. Nonetheless, the Reverend Fellowes and his companions were alarmed the next morning to find that the assault on the train had made the front page of the local papers. They were somewhat relieved to find that a translation of the article did not name any of them and that Reverend Fellowes was mistakenly identified as an “antiques dealer”. The attack was blamed on communists, much to the bemusement of Slovdan.
After breaking their fast and consuming the contents of the newspaper, Ali Osman, Peter, Harry, Comrade Slovdan and Ronald paid a visit to their sponsor in his hospital bed. They found a pale and sweat-covered Reverend Fellowes writhing upon his bed as though in the grip of a nightmare. He cried out and Slovdan felt obliged to step in and shake him awake. The disturbed Fellowes called for a nurse and medication before explaining to his companions that he had been experiencing terrible visions. He said he suspected that in these visions he might somehow be seeing through his stolen eye – which he believed had been inserted in the eye socket of a cultist through dark and strange magicks.
Leaving Fellowes to recuperate, his companions left to visit the university. They had read that a mysterious head had been dug up and taken here for study, and suspected that the head may be the final piece of the Sedfkar Simulacrum.
Language proved to be a problem at the museum and even after that was overcome, the companions experienced great reluctance on behalf of the university staff to talk to them. A flash of Harry’s British Museum credentials eventually obtained the co-operation of a curator enough to get permission to view the piece.
The group was shown through to the interior of the museum, but they did not find the head here. Instead they came across a scene of frightening violence. Burglars had taken the head and left behind a trail of death. It seemed the burglars were not the only ones committing violence however, as some of them lay wounded too – and one lay dead with his head cleanly removed from his shoulders. The squeal of tires shook Peter from the horror of this scene and he rushed to the window to see a black car speeding off.
Slovdan spent some time rousing the badly disturbed Ronald and the professor who had led them to this violent scene. While he did so Ali Osman rushed to fetch help. The sound of assistance arriving panicked Slovdan and Peter who fled via the open window. This action appeared somewhat suspicious to the arriving Police, but the professor corroborated the story told by Ali Osman, Harry and Ronald and they were not pursued.
Once they had finished with the Police, Ali Osman, Harry and Ronald paid a visit to the university library. Here they found a book which appeared to discuss the simulacrum. Ali Osman persuaded a student to loan this book on his behalf and it was taken back to the hotel for further study.
While his companions were at the library, Peter rushed back to the hotel and removed any potentially incriminating pieces from the group’s rooms in anticipation of a visit from Police. When the others returned it was agreed to take this strategy one step further and to remove the pieces of the statue from their rooms. These were deposited in the vault of a local bank for safe keeping.
Study of the university’s book revealed details of an ancient druidic sect which believed that heads contain power and that taking someone’s head gives the taker power over the soul.
Ronald paid another visit to Fellowes. Although still pale and dazed, Fellowes appeared more lucid at this visit and was even more convinced that he was able to see through his missing eye. He claimed that he had seen the interior of caves marked with ancient paintings and occasional Roman numerals. A doctor at the hospital told him that there were some notable caves in the area, but he did not know if these contained cave paintings or numbers. Fellowes asked Ronald to buy him a guidebook. This briefly made mention of the difficult to access Ishkar caves which contained cave paintings. Fellowes became quite excited by this mention and insisted that Ronald should lead the others there. He claimed that his visions showed a number of people in these caves, dancing and chanting, and warned his friend to take care.
Ronald conducted some enquiries and found that the only way to gain access to the caves was to hire a boat. He gathered his friends and some equipment and then hired a boatman and his coracle.
As the group departed Reverend Fellowes experienced another vision. He saw the chanting of cultists disturbed by a violent new arrival. He saw bodies torn asunder and heard screams of pain and fear. Then, through his lost eye, he saw a glimpse of something black and fast moving. Then there was a flash of white light and the vision ended. With his friends out of contact and on their way to face this possible slaughter, the vicar woke with a pit of fear in his stomach
The journey across the lake was long. Ali Osman had packed a good deal of food for the journey and on arrival insisted on taking a break for lunch. While the overweight Turk dined, his companions looked around the area surrounding the caves. This was dank swampland and an unpleasant place to spend much time. It was almost a relief to finally enter the caves.
It quickly became apparent that Reverend Fellowes must have seen some truth in his visions. The interior of the caves were as he described, full of ancient cave paintings which were numbered by use of Roman numerals. Further exploration revealed that someone had beaten the gentlemen to these caves and its druidic inhabitants. A large cavern opened out to reveal yet another scene of bloody murder. The limbs and bodies of cultists lay amongst gore and filth. Slovdan reacted badly to these sights and ran panicked from the cave.
A mound of human heads stood in the centre of the cavern. Many of the heads were ancient, but some were clearly taken only recently. Peter climbed this mound and found that atop it was a golden shrine and a cushion with a heavy indentation in its centre. The companions quickly concluded that the head of the statue had been placed here, but had been stolen by some unknown entity. Harry came across a head of a corpse that looked familiar too him. It was the train guard who had attacked Peregrine Fellowes. In its eye socket was a rotted and gelid mass. Harry put his shotgun to this head and pulled the trigger.
Slovdan burst outside to find Ali Osman and the boatman still eating their lunch. The Serb rushed to the boat and in his panic tried to row himself away from them. The sound of a shotgun blast from within the cavern only panicked him further. Ali Osman and the boatman tried to stop him, but Slovdan thrashed around with the oar to fend them off. With a sickening crack the oar struck the boatman in the head and he fell face down into the water. Ali Osman retreated away from the flailing oar and leapt into the shallow lake, using his bulk to hold the boat in place while Slovdan paddled furiously but with no reward.
Ronald searched the floor of the cavern and found a trail of blood leading down a small passageway. The group followed this and found that whatever left this trail had exited the caves through a hole less than the size of a fist. The caverns revealed little else so the companions departed to find Slovdan slumped weeping and crying in the bottom of the boat which Ali Osman had dragged up onto the shore. A brief search was made for the boatman, but he was not found and the companions presumed he had drowned. Empty-handed and disturbed, the group made its own way back to Sofia.
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.