Horror on the Orient Express

Death and Love in a Gondola

"I need some sela petra, I'm blowing up Venice."

After successfully starting the rumor of the Demon of La Scala and recovering the torso, Eugene, Bella, and Nigel all got on the train, along with a lovely dark haired woman dressed in mourning gear. Bella walked up to her to try and comfort her, and found out that she was Maria Stagliani, the understudy they had heard sing at La Scala the day before. She had just gotten a message that her father had died, and she was travelling to Venice for his funeral. Bella and Eugene talked to her a little more, and when they got to Venice, saw her off the train. When she did, a small mob was waiting for her. Led by a dumpy, elderly man, a bunch of blackshirts slowly approached her, only to be yelled at by a younger man. Bella and Eugene intervened, and the blackshirts and the young man backed off. As they escorted Maria to her home, she explained. The young man was Georgio Gasparetti, a young student and Maria’s true love. But the other, older man, Alberto Rossini, was in charge of the local Facist party, and obsessed with her. By the time she got back to her house, Maria had sunk back into depression, and after inviting Eugene, Bella, and Nigel to her father’s funeral, she disappeared into her home.

Everyone retired back to their hotel, ready to start searching for the Gremanci family and the leg of the Sedefkar Simulacrum. Looking out the window, they could see that the canal water had turned putrid and wasn’t going out with the tide. They spent the first day trying to track down the right Gremanci family, and after lunch, finally found the right family. Conte Alvise Gremanci, a notorious 18th century sorcerer and automaton-maker, has still living relatives who carry on his work with a doll and mannequin shop near the southern edge of Venice. Unfortunately, the gentleman who runs the shop, Antonio Gremanci, spoke no English. The group had to apply for an official government translator, and found that Alberto Rossini was in charge of the local assignments for translators – along with many other facets of the government. Bella managed to convince him that she was also a Facist, however, and so he assigned Sebastiano Gremanci to work with them. It was already past closing time for the store, however, and so the group went back to their hotel.

At their hotel, they were met by Georgio. He had just come from meeting Maria, and wanted to thank Bella, Eugene, and Nigel for their help. Taking them out for coffee and cakes at a small cafe, he poured out his heart. He was deeply in love with Maria, and asked her father for her hand in marriage. Her father refused, however, and Georgio was trying to change his mind through hard work and professing his love to Maria. He believed that Maria’s father was murdered by Rossini, although no one could do anything about it since he basically is the government. Georgio again invited the investigators to the funeral, and left, waxing about how his love for Maria symbolized the emerging power of the proletariat.

Around 4 AM, everyone was woken up in their hotel rooms by a woman shouting “MORTE! MORTE!” outside on the street. Although they tried to go out and find her, by the time they got downstairs, she was gone.

Over breakfast, Eugene heard the servants gossiping about how the woman screaming last night saw a horrible murder. Gossip also centered around the canals, which had become even more putrid. Thankfully, the tide finally turned, and swept the bad water out to sea – and yet some of the smell remained. With Sebastiano, the investigators all returned to the Gremanci doll shop, and were escorted to where all the records were kept. They quickly found two records of the leg of the Simulacrum, the first record outlining the purchase, and the second record outlining where it went. Everyone retired for lunch, where the newspapers had more information on the woman who had been screaming outside. Apparently, she had seen her boyfriend was found impaled ten foot iron spike. His throat was also torn. The woman was being held by police, and so Eugene, Bella, and Nigel went to investigate. Talking to the police, they learned that the spike was nearly ten feet from the ground. The killer had to be crazed, and have a near superhuman strength. The cadaver was also drained completely of blood. The woman had no useful information, and only repeated one phrase over and over – ‘I have seen Satan.’ As the group tried to leave, the woman started trying to bite off her own tongue.

Back at the hotel, the servants were gossiping about how the statues in Basilico San Marco had wept blood through the evening service. However, they couldn’t find anyone who was able to confirm it.

The next morning, over breakfast, Bella read a story about a gondolier who had been found torn to pieces in his own boat. The newspapers openly stated that this man was drained of blood, and all of the servants were speculating on the cult, maniac, or ghouls responsible for what happened. The waiter even told Bella that his brother in law, who had been partying last night, saw Death poling a gondola down the Grand Canal. The disgusting water in the canals is back as well, with a stench so bad it’s hard to even breathe in some parts of the city. The water is starting to flood low lying houses and churches. At least one child who played in the water even fell ill, with black blotches spreading across their limbs.

Bella and friends attended the funeral, but it was not a pleasant experience. With the terrible, greasy water, everyone only wanted to leave. Bella, Eugene, and Nigel ended up taking a gondola away from the funeral with Georgio. The gondolier detoured, however, and the group ended up at an abandoned factory with a set of blackshirts waiting to ambush the group. Nigel and Eugene made short work of them, although Georgio impulsively flinging himself in front of the group to “protect” them certainly didn’t help. They finally got rid of the blackshirts, and escorted Georgio home, where he enlisted them to help in his plan to rescue Maria that night from her home.

Eugene, Bella, and Nigel redoubled their search for the missing leg. Deciding that it was somewhere high (otherwise how else could it be struck by lightning?), they found Sebastiano and got him to lead them to the campo where the leg had been replaced. The large campo was virtually abandoned, but did have a groundskeeper and a heavy lock on the door. Eugene noticed a large clocktower, and as the hour struck, a large pair of automatons came out, danced with each other, and then went back in to the tower. The groundskeeper also refused to let them go up the tower, saying it was much too dangerous. The group decided to come back after they helped Georgio and break in.

As they went back to the hotel to meet Georgio, they passed by a commotion. A crowd had gathered around a pair of fish with recognizable limbs and hands flopping around in the canal. Not exactly a great sign.

Meeting Georgio, the investigators snuck into Maria’s house. Eugene distracted the guards by claiming the demon of La Scala was outside, while Bella went and saved Maria and led her back to the gondola. As everyone was escaping, Alberto showed up with a priest and threatened everyone with a gun. Bella managed to talk him down, and he ended p leaving. Georgio and Maria got the priest to marry them, and got Nigel, Bella, and Eugene to be their witnesses.

With the night getting longer, the group hurried to the Palazzo Rezzoniani. It was a simple matter to break in and intimidate the groundskeeper into staying away. They managed to get up to the clocktower through the rickety, thin stairs, and found themselves in a pitch black room. Thankfully, everyone bought flashights, and were able to navigate through the vast cogs and pinwheels. Eight automatons were present in the tower, paired in twos who would fight and then go back into the clocktower. Death, armed with a scythe, and an Angel, armed with a trumpet – Death won. A Turk, armed with a scimitar, and a Winged Lion, armed with claws – the Winged Lion won. A Condottiere, a Renaissance soldier, armed with a sword, and an Assassin, armed with a club – the Assassin wins. Finally, a Rustic Lass (with her leg exposed) and a Rustic Lad with a bow and arrow meet, and the Lad chases the Lass back into the tower. Only the Turk, the Condottiere, and the Rustic Lass had exposed legs, and they quickly narrowed it down to the Turk. Grabbing the leg and yanking it off upset the balance of the tower, and things quickly fell apart. Thankfully, everyone managed to get out of the tower safely, while it fell apart around them.

Getting out of Venice was easier said than done. Georgio and Maria met everyone at the train, and told them that they had decided to get on the Orient Express in order to escape. Good thing, too, since Alberto was there to see everyone off. He banned all of the investigators from ever stepping foot in Venice again, and warned them that things were going to be difficult in Facist states for them from now on. Wonder if that’ll be the case?



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