Paris much more so called ‘cultured’ than England and America. You tip your hat to another gentleman, not shake hands. Schuyler “Not very manly”. Jeremy “It’s France” Must give cards as letter of intro, in person only. 3:30-3:45 is the polite time to do such exchanges. Schuyler “If I ever climb the Pyrenees it’ll be on the Spanish side.”
One part of Simulacrum should be here, as explained by Prof. Smith. Our one lead is a Count Fennelik. Paris has one of greatest libraries in world the Biblioteque Nationale with buildings all over Paris, unfortunately. Gest, from Orleans, and Jeremy speak French. We stay at hotel The Majestic on ‘Champ de Lazy’ as Schuyler calls it. We go to Rue de Richeleau Library Branch. Applicants must obtain a ticket from the secretary naming subject. Foreigners must get reference from embassy, books requested by form, none handed out in the hour before closing. Simon, being French goes to get us a ticket. Jeremy fast talks the 3 day wait down to 1. Schuyler checks in with the U.S. Embassy, but the Secret Service says they could do 1 day as well, no better. Talks to a handler as well. They do give him several candidates for researchers who we then meet with, choosing a guy named Remmy Vangeim. Paul hires him for 4L/day starting tomorrow morning:
- Next day: research = On the Eve of the Revolution, a man of minor nobility, a German Count named Fennelik, executed without trial after an unspecified scandal in the court.
- Next day: research = With mostly Paul and Jeremy’s help, Remmy finds some leads but nothing specific
- Next day: Paul and Wilhelm help best. Found diary of member of Queen’s court, including Fennelik in June 1789. Parts illegible. Fennelik appearet to be in early 30’s. Count was like a light among us. His feasts raved by all, most lavish and lacivious of all and full of pleasures. Only then did it become known that evil was afoot. Queen became angry so King’s men raided the house and much destroyed, Count arrested.
- Next day: Paul and Wilhelm help well again, but Simon and Schuyler lead us astray.
- 2 days later: Reference to diary of Louise Malon who led the assault on the house is in branch near Bastille. We head directly there.
- Next day: Find nothing
- Next day: Wilhelm and Remmy find it w/in an hour. Feast/orgy in progress when authorities arrived. Sent 5 to get count while he entered chambers beneath. Torture devices and remains of long dead bodies. Gave orders to burn house and all those who remained within then took him to the place to be his new home “May he rot there forever.” Find reference to a record of physician to the Queen. Find nothing else.
- Next day: Nothing
- Next day: Finally find it: 2 nights later soldiers of the king went in force to the villa, bringing count before us screaming and writhing mad. As a noble and mad could not be executed. Placed in the asylum by King’s deputy and made permanent by king, locked away in a cellar after attacking other patients. Schuyler suggests we look for any old plans of the villa, and we do find a etching of the front view and schematic of Count’s old villa, including stairs leading to an unmapped cellar area! The lines of the building are crazed, not the product of a rational mind. The etching itself gives us the creeps.
So, we have the villa grounds to seek, as well as the asylum which is still in operation, same that Jean Paul Marrot and Marque de Sade spent their final days. We split up: Paul, Red Cloud and Schuyler to villa about a day from Paris in the morning; Jeremy, Geste and Wilhelm to asylum. In the papers, Jeremy finds an interesting story detailing the recent happenings at the asylum less than a week ago.
Paul, Schuyler and Red Cloud, with interpreter (for 5 pound overnight fee), leave via stage for 28 kl ride NW of Paris to the village near old Fennelik grounds, on the Seine. Other 3 to asylum.
Asylum: Jeremy with gather info, slipping a few franks here and there, and Simon using diplomacy hang outside talking to orderlies and nurses. Simon rolls terrible. Jeremy hears no one is supposed to talk about Fennelik or the recent incidents. Jeremy sees a pudgy guy, looks like dirtbag, and has a hunch he may be worth talkin to. Just has that kind of look about him to Jeremy, a dirtbag. One orderly points him out saying “Ask Mandarin, he may know something”. Jeremy bluffs that he is working undercover for cops, then Geste intimidates ala good cop/bad cop, says we know you know somoething. Urine leaks from Mandarin’s pantleg. Says “I had nothing, nothing to do with it. Dr. Delplace was killed by his own machine!” Jeremy “What machine?” “The electroshock therapy machine. But Dr. Larieux removed body next morning hoping to avoid scandal by witholding the details. Perhaps the patient who Delplace was working one was killed at same time, not seen since either.” “Do youknow who this patient was?” “No, no one does. Kept him in his private wing. But it all started after the Gumar incident.” “What’s that?” " See the scratches on my face? Dangerous work. A little time ago I found a collegue Gumar in the basement, bleeding from a wound given him by a patient we assume. His right wrist was slashed badly, not know who the attacker was but when Gumere recovered his mind was gone." Insanity lost! Geste feels count was half vampire or something. “Gumere got what he deserved. He took patients down there. But only the young, pretty, female patients (if you know what I mean).”Just remember, last thing Dr. Delplay said as I left work that night he died. I passed him in corridor and said goodnight. He said to me “It is within my grasp, Mandarin, each of us holds the key to our whole racial memory. In our dreams we speak languages we have never known. Soon I will have proof. I think he was as crazy as the patients in the end.” Says no one was assisting him, working alone with this Patient X. Begs us to not tell new director, calls asylum devil’s work but needs a reference for a new job and would be fired if Larieux knew he talked with us.
Inside meanwhile, Wilhelm who speaks French meets Dr. Larieux who finds it a pleasure to meet the esteemed known Dr. Van DerNort :) It’s Van DenNort! Asks what his purpose here is. Wilhelm says investigating some psych history, now looking into a Fennelik who was in this hospital long ago. Says can give full access to records up to 1810, which would include that period. Wilhelm “Why only to 1810?” “Records after are too recent and sensitive to living immediate family, that sort of thing.” Brings up, in passing, the recent director found dead, and Larieux says “Oh, my predecessor, yes. Nothing really to say or talk about there.” “Well, quite a fairly uncommon occurence there.” “Are you scandal-mongering?” “Of course not, but these things are unusual.” “He died of a heart attack while working at his desk.” Orderly takes him to records room. Finds records easily, very well organized. Count Fennelik commited in 1797 for life, had been in and around Paris for years. No record of him leaving or death up to 1810. Nort asks if he can see the later records, Larieux gives in but must block him from politically sensitive and current cases. Wilhelm finds nothing at all still. Hm. We regroup: Geste and Wilhelm think Fennelik still here, maybe Delplay was doind experiments on him. Jeremy asks if doors were kept locked to records rooms, Wilhelm says actually they were not. Might try to break in that night.
Paul and Company:Arrive at village after dark and go to town hall and get more current map. There is a small family farm on the old castle grounds. We walk the half mile there: Surrounded by large crumbling 18th centure brick wall, partially supported by climbing rosebushes which would be gorgeous in spring, but now resemble grim, twisted barbedwire. Through gateless gateway, smoke rises from small 2 story house and a warm light glows within. Looking at our schematic, the home sits on part of mansions old spot and stairway from those days lies within the house’s walls. Paul and Schuyler knock on door, Red Cloud will skulk outside, scouting grounds and watching through windows for trouble. Paul “best to stay out of sight of these French commoners anyway. You may frighten them with your appearance.” 30 year old man opens door “May I help you at this late hour?” Via interpreter Schuyler asks “Researching history of old Fennelik place and were told his old mansion was on these grouds, which we even have an old map of.” Says “wife and I both speak English. So you have a map of the old villa? Well that is interesting. Come in out of the cold.” The 2 go into kitchen. He puts on some coffee, wife Veronica upstairs. Then a ball of energy that is their 3 year old daughter runs into room and leaps onto the lap of closest stranger, Paul. Tells his wife why we’re here, and Marie the daughter goes to dad and stands by his leg straring at us, then she runs back and climbs up on his lap and demands to be told a story immediately. He start to tell her an old war story.
As host poors coffee, Schuyler notices a bad scar on his left hand, really ugly nasty bulging one that runs up under his sleave. “Nasty wound there sir.” “Strangest thing, was cutting roses back last summer, and scratched it on a thorn. I’m the town doctor, and physician heal thyself, but I was sick for months and still feel weakness from it from time to time.” Schuyler “Wow, that’s amazing, never heard the like of it. Some hellish roses. You sure you didn’t get some rare poisonous variety?”
“So what interests you in the old days here?” Paul “Just interested in old estates and land from revolutionary times.” “What specifically are you looking for?” Schuyler “Have you ever found a basement to this house?” “We have a small basement.” Paul “No that you own.” Schuyler pulls out schematic and shows him. Host “What do you hope to find there?” Paul “Well, lots of rumors of some bad stuff. You should send your daughter upstairs with wife.” He does. “So that’s it, nothing specific?” Paul “Why?” "Oh, I got a letter recently(see handout) that seemed to imply something was here." Schuyler “Can we see it? Who is it from?” “It’s upstairs in my desk.” Schuyler “Can you get it for us?” “Well if your looking for the same thing I’m curious what it is.” Paul “It’s like a statue, or a piece of one.” “I was not given any description, just a name.” Schuyler “In the letter? Is it the Simulacrum?” “Yes, that’s it. Let me get the letter.” He calls his daughter back down and tells her entertain us as he goes to get it. Paul keeps her occupied while Schuyler walks around with schematic to try to line things up. Marie jumps up on his lap “Ok this is the story of the ghost train…” She spills the hot coffee in the rush, which lands on her arm and Paul’s lap. She screams in tears like she were being beaten. Host runs back down to find out what happened and Paul explains. “Good sir, it seems as though your young one has spilled coffee on my whirlygig.” He apologizes and gets Paul a cloth. Takes daughter in bathroom to look at her arm. He has left letter on table. Paul picks it up, it’s written in English: From an Edgar Wellington researching statue commonly known as Sedefkar Simulacrum. Recently got a scroll describing it. Now looking for it and his research led him here. His research says last resting place of the art, unique arabian artifact lost during events ot 1789. Please if you have found any traces of old house and its possessions or old tales of items fate, please write to me with summary of info. Is is markes as from Lausanne, which is on our train route! The writer is unfamiliar to us. Host returns and daughter’s arm has long line of enflamed and blistered skin, much worse than should have been. Something nefarious going on here, like a curse on the land and those living on it. Says he never looked for it and had never heard of it before. Has found nothing strange while digging garden or anything like that. He asks us to stay for supper and we agree to. Interpreter wants to leave, says something wrong with these people and does not wish to stay longer than necessary, but we insist. Host starts a stew. Paul “Notice this health issue the whole time you have lived here?” “Have lived here a few years, but no.” Paul “Can we look around?” "Sure, and I’d like to help as this is fascinating but I need to get my wife up. She has been crippled at times by arthritis recently and is on a sedative but I will bring her down now. They return and she seems very nice. Arthritis totally ruined left arm. Same as Host’s scar and Marie’s burn. Paul realizes “I notice it always seems to be the left arm that has the problem here!” Schuyler “Wait, Simulacrum is in pieces from what Smith told us. The left arm is on these grounds!” While he’s cooking, Schuyler steps outside and tell Red Cloud what we know, and don’t get scratched on the left arm. Entrance to old cellar actually seems to be outside of house. Host says I know right where that is on the grounds. Red Cloud goes to check out the area, but nothing noticable in dark and snow, will have to look in the morning. Inside, we hear a blood-curdling scream from upstairs. We run up to daughter’s room, and swear we see something fly away from window. She sits crying, and runs to Paul, says saw boogie man at window with huge red eyes and fangs. Paul “Red Cloud! Check on him!” Schuyler runs down and outside finding him ok. He saw nothing. The parents say she has such a case of nerves, but they invite us to stay the night. We accept and introduce Red Cloud. They say house was here when they got here and has been here a while.
Meanwhile in Paris, the trio decide to indeed break into the asylum to go through all the sensitive records. They case the place overnight. Jeremy decides it would be best to force a first floor window open, and we should try to disguies ourselves as orderlies if we can.
At the farm, go out to the spot in the yard. “Will you let us dig up your yard?” Host “I have to tools right over here. This is a real adventure.” Red Cloud starts digging with Schuyler. They dig, and dig and dig. At 2’ becomes charred brick. We clear it off and find a flat, worked stone. Start clearing around it and uncover stone steps. We all start taking turns digging through frozen ground with axes and shovels. Takes much of the day, sun is low and cold wind blowing. Finally, at 18th step, get to old steel door. Won’t open. Interpreter “Shouldn’t open it anyway. Getting dark, you should do this in morning.”
In Paris, during day Jeremy in disguise is able to bribe some uniforms out of the laundry. Late at night, Jeremy gets us in through a window with the right tools. By the bare-lighting in building at night we make our way easily to records rooms. With carbide lamps we search it, with Simon Geste on guard in hallway. Wilhelm notices several crates markes with Dr. Delplay’s name, with books and personal effects waiting to be shipped away. Lid of one is partly open, with a journal with blue chipboard cover just on top inside. We take it with us.
Geste now takes watch outside door, Wilhelm start going through records couldn’t look at before while Jeremy does a detailed search of room. Simon makes a will save, suddenly hearing a voice in latin inside his mind (he does know latin) whispering “What are you doing here, what do you seek?” Geste very straight forward “The simulacrum.” Feels fingers touching his face and cheeks, more like long fingernails or claws. Senses a trance taking hold but shakes it off. Out of no where sees a man in front of him, a twisted, feral man. A mockery of a human being. Scar covered and bulging knotted veins, skin pulled tight over it’s body. Long talon-like fingernails are at Geste’s face, the tips upon his cheeks. Dirty and gnatty hair, thin lips unable to cover his fangs. The nose it rotted away, only a raw pit into it’s face remaining. Eyes bulging red with evil, it smells of the dust of centuries. Geste fails the sanity check for 1d10 sanity, losing 3. It whispers Do you answer? Do you answer me? Geste stabs with his longsword, running the thing through. It instantly becomes a puff of smoke around the blade and floats away, but before it does it runs it’s fingers down Simon’s cheeks leaving 4 scratches on each side. Geste goes into the room and alerts the others to the presence of what we all assume is Fennelik himself. Quickly finish up but find no record of Fennelik. He is a vampire, and has been at this asylum for 100 years.
At the farm, try to pry door off, Christian gets horses from a nearby farm and using chains they are able to bend it up enough to rip off. Cool and dank air escapes. We entered armed and with lanterns. Passage leads toward walls and outer gate. Roots of trees now snake through the brick masonry, in some parts we must hack our way through. Paul “What do you see odd about those roots? They all come down and ends in 5 smaller roots like they are arms with hands and fingers/thumb. They way the fingers curve it is obvious they are all left hands.” Rooms line the hall to either side, all look as prison cells. Some doors still locked, but see through peep hole chains and stocks, some with skeletons still within. A few larger rooms contain obvious torture equipment and cages. As we go, a dim light seen ahead. Paul orders us ahead, and see that it comes from roses of aqua, green and violet, hanging from thick vines with a black oily sheen and ichor upon them. Red Cloud “Right under the rose garden.” The vines twist through bent and twisted skeletons of those who died here long ago. At the base, in the midst of the room we see the arm of a statue. Sanity checks all around, Paul and Red Cloud fail losing 4 and 2 respectively. Schuyler “Well let’s get it.” Paul sees that there is a mist in the room, which slowly rolls behind us, down passage and disappears. We get out a sack and scrape the arm into it. We say our goodbyes, walk back to town and get a stage to Paris arriving late at night.
Paris, read journal: relates tale of Gumere night before. Mandarin investigated his absence and found him in severe shock. When he regained conciousness that mornning raved about attack of undead and creatures of the night. With Gumere was another man, one unknown to the institution and in tragic physical condition. Dr. questioned Gumere about the patient. Why had he opened the door, how had the man survived behind the bricked off room? Moved the stranger to his private wing. Notes it’s horrifying appearance and regurgitates all food and lives in a catatonic state. After several electro shock treatments, finally partially awoke but immoble. Wined in greek and latin about cities crumbling and dark things;and spoke gibberish in a vaguely slavic lang repeating the names Marosh, Georgnia, Sophia and Cthulhu. Seems I have tapped some vague racial memory. So, Fennelik sealed up in a room, went into a comatose state and somehow infected some of the asylum’s dreams. Gumere was sexually abusing female patients in basement, finding hole or something in the wall. He opened it and inadvertently let Fennelik out, who gave him the wrist wound and maybe fed on him. Mandarin then found Gumere, who turned out to be insane from what happened. The now dead Dr. took Fennelik to his private wing to study it. He died via his own electro-shock machine, though Larieux said he had a heart attack at his desk. Geste thinks the Dr. in control now found out it was down there and has some part in this. Maybe he told Gumere to go down and investigate that room. Jeremy figures no clues likely to be found in basement, but he and Geste should try to get in and talk to crazy Gumere. They go and Larieux says no. Jeremy says we have an idea of what may be happening at your asylum, that Gumere attacked by another crazy man in your basement. He is so worried about a scandal, he gets more friendly. Says we can talk to Gumar. Geste asks if anything found downstairs and if we can take a look. He says no and yes respectively. First, to Gumere whose rants change rapidly from undead to his female conquests. Looks at Simon and says with wild eyes “he visits me in the night and does unspeakable things, and he’ll visit you too.” Not too much help. They go to the basement and find the hole and rubble. Geste sees part of a symbol on a fallen brick. They have trouble, but Geste finally is able to piece it together using his general knowledge of arcane lore and an AP. Geste wonders if it is the correct religious symbol that keeps Fennelik at bay. Jeremy traces a copy of it to show to Wilhelm. Nothing else is found.
Wilhelm researches further while they are at asylum. It is known that Dracula is vulnerable to crosses, but Van Helsing’s theory is that others are vulnerable to holy symbols related to their own past. Fennelik was Scythian and also was in ancient Greek and Latin society, but in the histories Wilhelm finds nothing within what is known about their religion of assistance, nothing obvioulsy like the Christian crucifix. Especially considering their polytheism. Whick god’s ‘symbol’ would effect it? All? One? Does find mention of a journal of one Montague Sommers that may be of use that may be her in the vault, but we can fill out a card requesting it, can only read in the library. He is best known for a book called “The Vampire in Europe”. It says in colorfully terror-filled adjectives, Fennelik possibly thousands of years old. But age by itself does not make a vampire more powerful especially when bricked up. Dracula is known to be one of most if not most powerful. Fennelik Scythian chief-priest that rode the steppe around Black and Caspian sees. He was known as the most bloodthirsty. 3 days after his death, he rose again as a terrible plague. They used to call him the first vampire, but that is mostly debunked. Likely Egyptian and Stygian one’s before him. Found in 1204 found an item, the Simulacrum, from prehistory. With it he was able to take on appearance of regular person again. Before, he was hideous, probably as Geste saw him. Changed identities in society across Europe, living decadent life. Has abilities other vampires don’t, and lacks some others have. Writes that he is sure there are no weaknesses for Fennelik related to his past and religion. Thinks he can become a mist When the 3 regroup, Wilhelm can not identify the symbol.
When Paul et al return late, all discuss that obviously Fennelik not in the asylum anymore or travels quickly, and knows we have the arm. Wilhelm thinks he is likely to follow us for it.
Evening in Paris, Geste goes to a small store that is known to him as a Templar safehouse. Old man behind counter. Simon gives the secret sign, and man asks what can I do for you. Simon shows him the symbol. Man says there are 3 of us in Paris, this safehouse and a small library in the private room if you would like to check there. He opens a trapdoor to a basement and leads Simon down. Simon notices as the man holds up a lantern his sleeve falls back revealing a tatoo of a tentacled head = Cthulhu. (Is he bad or a recruited former cultist?) They get to bottom and the library. Opens a secret door to a hidden room. Motions Simon in to do what he needs to. Simon is suspicious “Lead the way my brother.” “I must go upstairs to the front.” Simon gets very forward as usual “I’d like you to explain your squid-face tatoo.” “Well, in my younger days I did fall in with a bad crowd, worse than I first realized, and was rescued by the Templars. It was a cult.” As Simon thinks for a second, he is struck from the rear by a club wielding cultist for 5. Another from the rear and the old man fail to grapple mighty Geste, who draws his longsword. The rear grappler then pulls a dagger and hits for 5. Geste turns on the club wielder, hits for 9. Club hits for 6, and old man pulls dagger hitting-4. Rear grappler hits again-6; Geste hits club-12 drawing blood. Club and old man misses, rear grappler misses. Gest hits club-12 who goes down. Grappler misses, oldman hits-2. Geste hits grappler-13. He hits Simon-6, oldman hits-4. Geste hits grappler-12. He hits Simon-2, oldman misses. Simon misses. He misses Simon, oldman hits-2,drawing a little blood. Simon hits-8 and blood flows. Oldman critically misses. Simon hits grappler killing him. Simon then turns on old man for 9. Oldman lunges desperately and misses, Simon hits-13 dropping him. Simon finishes off the first wounded, and administers first aid to oldman but fails and oldman bleeds out. Geste goes into library which has been trashed. Some burned, some torn up; and at least a week old dead body of an old man, probably real Templar oldman. Geste searches store but finds nothing of use, locks the place up and takes the key, leaves to meet up with others taking a tatood cultist arm with him. Wilhelm says it is indeed Cthulhu, but not a cult with real Cthulhu knowledge, it’s a wanna-be with no real direction of grand aims. Geste sends an emergency telegraph to Edinboro, Scotland (HQ Templar) to deal with this issue. They find that the other 2 safe places were already empty at this time, not seen by anyone for days. They do give him the names of several non-templar but connected civilians to follow up with, who are concerned that there Templar masters have disappeared. So probably dead. Seems Templars in Paris have been totally eliminated. They will send a real unit to check it out. Geste cleans up the mess with the civilian help.
While he was doing that, Wilhelm finds nothing else with more research. Thinks a mothergoddess of good may have some impact, but it must be an original. Would need to get it from a collector or museum. Neither Watchers nor Iluminati have such a thing. He can only find that a collector in Belgrade has such an object, which is on our route. Schuyler thinks Jeremy should go to museum acting like a scholar, maybe if they have something in the backroom collection he can swipe it temporarily. He bluffs his way it “So, you’re Rick Rathbone?” They have one thing, a Scythian fertility goddess but not THE mother goddess. Jeremy pockets it. Wilhelm says it won’t have the major effect, being a lesser deity it could have an effect. As one goes down the list of importance/power of the deity in the religion the effect lessens. It may be of moderate/little/no help.
[There is an article soon after that Rick Rathbone stole an object from the museum, but he quickly clears his name when he returns as he is in Egypt at the time]
Paul and Schuyler go to the Iluminati HQ in Paris to show them the symbol, using their membership in Watchers sister group to get in. They immediately say its the elder sign. They can’t protect you personally. One man tried to protect himself from an occult magica blast, and only the piece of him behind the amulet was left. It would have held him at bay however as a ward, and kept him from passing. He could not pass the symbol. They are used for closing portals. He could not pass the wall, teleport, mist his way out… Even if the wall crumbled but symbol was on floor, still would not have been capable of leaving. The implication is his vulnerability to it meand he is linked to the Mythos, so he was likely made into a vampire by Mythos means. There is an entity/legend called the Red Death. A theory floated by a man named Archimedes that it is only one of his aspects. If so, and the Red Death caused his vampirism, that would be why he is Mythos-connected. It is a powerful ritual to create it, you don’t just draw it.
Late that night, all aboard Orient Express at almost midnight.