Horror on the Orient Express Nouveau
Arriving in Paris the search for the Sedefkar Simulacrum begins with research in the Bibliotheque Nationale. Hiring an assistant (Remi Vangeim) helps immensely due to his language and research skills as well as his knowledge of the library itself. After several days of research here is what is found:
Discovering the tale of the Comte de Fenalik, the last known owner of the Simulacrum, the PC’s inquire as to the location of his estate and the Charenton Asylum. With the help of Remi they learn that his villa was in the area currently known as Poissy and locate a set of plans from the builder. The Charenton Asylum is still in operation today and still as an asylum. Although it seems to be having a difficult time as of late.
The PC’s decide that since the last of this information was uncovered late on Saturday and Charenton is most likely closed to visitors on Sunday to travel to Poissy first to look around.
In Poissy, the PC’s heavily bribe the local officials to gain access to the town records on a Sunday. Pouring over the documents they discover the current address that used to be the Comte’s villa.
Chez Lorien is the home of the Lorien family, Christian, Veronique, and their young daughter Quitterie. While discussing the reasons for their visit Christian Lorien mentions an odd letter he received from Switzerland asking about similar things. He lets the PC’s copy it. After scalding her left hand with some coffee the young girl goes to bed. A few minutes later she screams and says she saw the boogie man at her second floor window. Her parents comfort her and put her back to bed. During the conversations with the PC’s Veronique mentions a famous soprano opera singer who is currently singing in Paris. Her name is Caterina Cavollaro and she praises her performance. After dinner the PC’s go over the old villa plans with Christian and he agrees to let them do a little exploring and digging to find the old cellar in the morning.
The PC’s eventually find the old cellar door and venture within. In the tunnels under the house they find numerous dead bodies and torture devices set up as entertainment. At the end of the tunnel they find a faint glow coming from roses of fantastic colors—aquamarine, violet, orange, and grass green. These flowers hang from thick rose vines which have an oily black sheen and drip black ichor from long thorns. The vines have grown through the remains of those who died here so that they support the bent and twisted skeletons, which are thus tormented even in death. Flowers bloom in empty sockets, and the vines have pulled the dead into strange poses. At the base of the mass lies the left arm of a statue. It is human-sized, and glows faintly.
As the PC’s retrieve the left arm of the Simulacrum, they become aware of a thin mist concentrating in the room. It swirls about, momentarily blinding the PC’s. Then it flows eerily out the hall and disappears up into the open air.
The PC’s return to Paris the next day and make an appointment to see Dr. Leroux, interim director of Charenton Asylum. While waiting to meet with him the PC’s glimpse an open storage room with boxes of papers and files. They manage to steal a journal from the top of the pile for later reading. While meeting with Dr. Leroux they obtain permission to go through the older records looking for any mention of the Comte. The only thing they find in the records is an entry for the admittance of the Comte. No other records exist. However, the stolen diary is of interest.
Curious about the contents of the diary they return the next day to ostensibly go over the records some more but actually find an employee willing to talk to them about the recent goings on in the asylum. They find a Paul Mandrin, a disgruntled employee willing to speak to them for a price.
- In the previous week, Delplace had been preoccupied in studying a patient he kept in his private wing. Mandrin does not know which patient it was,
but the new observations began after the Guimart incident. The room has been empty since Delplace’s death, so perhaps the patient was moved.
- Delplace was probably killed by a fault in the electroshock machine, but no one knows for sure because Leroux removed the body the next morning, hoping to prevent scandal by withholding the details of Leroux’s Grand-Guignol style electroshock device. Perhaps the patient on whom Delplace worked
was killed at the same time.
- He recalls the last thing Delplace said to him, as he left work the night of his death. Delplace passed him in the corridor and Mandrin said goodnight. Delplace was preoccupied. “It is within my grasp, Mandrin,” he said. “Each of us holds the key to our whole racial memory. In our dreams we speak languages we have never known. Soon I shall have the proof.”
- Mandrin has fresh scratches on his face, from one of the patients. “Yes, it is dangerous work,” he tells them. “A little time ago I found Guimart, a colleague, slumped in the basement, bleeding from a terrible wound one of the patients had dealt him. His right wrist was slashed badly. It is not known who attacked him, for when Guimart recovered, his mind was gone. Now he is an inmate, like so many others. This job is a demon, I tell you.”
- Mandrin urges them not to tell Dr. Leroux about this meeting. He wants another job, but needs a good reference from this one.
Unable to manage a way to speak to Guimart personally the PC’s board the Orient Express to leave Paris. At the train station they see the glamour and opulence of the train. This evening a large crowd is gathered to see off the young Italian soprano Caterina Cavollaro. The PC’s who venture into the salon car after the train departs are welcomed like old friends by the singer who just finished her last show at L’Opera an hour or so ago. She befriends the PC’s, telling them all about the marvels of Milan. She insists on booking rooms for them at the best hotel in town. She performs an impromptu aria from the opera she will be performing in Milan in a few days. She then offers the part free front row tickets for the show on opening night in three days.