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05 July 2016 @ 12:00 pm
[CoC: HotOE] Battle at the Gulf and Venice investigations  
Dramatis Personae
  • Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic
  • Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
A roar filled the air as the train hurtled on over the ocean toward the Gulf of Nodens. The trainbeasts seemed to gather themselves in a final rush and then leapt--and as they did, the train passengers saw in the distance something flying toward them, and the glinting of red eyes.

As the other passengers make battle preparations, the investigators gather in the baggage car, reasoning that the baggage and padding on the walls will provide sufficient cover for the coming battle. As they made their preparation, they saw ghostly forms arise from the whirling stars and galaxies above and below that made up the Gulf of Nodens, spectral shapes of men in military uniforms riding ghostly steeds. As the night-gaunts that tended the engine left their station to join the fray, the investigators heard Karakov roaring that they had come for him and he needed to get "it" off the train.

The spectral riders closed on the carriage and the investigators took up arms. One of them swung at Gianni, its spectral sword passing through his flesh and leaving a deep chill where it had passed. The countess and Rosaline noticed that the train was slowing down and made their way toward the engine to try to work it. After scrambling up and over the train, they noticed that the fuel behind the car was another trainbeast, with chunks gouged out of it and fed into orifices on the main trainbeast in the front. Steeling themselves, they picked up shovels and set to their work.

Karakov burst into the baggage car and Demir tackled him as a trunk on the other end of the traincar shook wildly. The professor concentrated on the dream, banishing a ghost-rider from existence, as two night-gaunts came close to the train, seemingly willing the investigators to mount them, and the professor and Gianni leapt on...only to spend much of the rest of the battle falling off and forcing the night-gaunts to retrieve them. Half-DEX or Ride, whichever is better, still wasn't much.

While the countess and Rosaline shoveled and Professor Durand and Gianni failed to ride, Demir grappled with Karakov. He contemplated throwing the arms dealer out the window but settled for dreaming the lock of the case open...and causing an endless swarm of bloated trench rats to pour out, biting and clawing all in their path. The rats and ghost-soldiers set on Karakov and Demir, including ghost-cannons on either side of the train, and Demir decided that he was taking the wrong approach and helped Karakov muscle the trunk to the window and out into the void. Karakov refused to release his grip and went with it, laughing happily as he plunged into the Gulf of Nodens, streaming rats behind him. As he vanished into the Gulf, so too did the spectral soldiers, their role in Karakov's guilt no longer relevant.
Me: "I wonder if he sold the gun that killed the archduke?"
Demir's player: "Or told [Princip] where the cafe is."
The train was quiet for a time. The professor and Gianni indicated that the night-gaunts should return them to the train and the investigators made ready for the approach of the sorcerer.

In this moment, the investigators cast their dream-artifacts into the Gulf of Nodens, unburdening themselves of their fears:
  • Demir Sadik: His guilt over the deaths of his comrades in the war.
  • Gianni Abbadelli: His fear of losing his job due to his lack of real faith.
  • Luc Durand: His nihilism after the deaths of his wife and son.
  • Rosaline St. Clair: Her fear of having her lowly origins--and real name--found out.
  • Valentina Durnovo: Her fear of aging and losing her beauty.
As the sorcerer approached on his shantak-bird mount, he glared at the professor with his baleful eyes, but the professor returned his gaze unflinchingly (woo 75 POW!). Guillaume the ghoul, the beings of Ib, and the others on the train attacked the other shantaks as Demir moved through the train cars and came on Max the Scotsman, whose briefcase had come open and where papers were endlessly streaming out of. Demir managed to muscle it out of the window, but the briefcase was chained to the man's wrist, and, pressed for time, Demir curtly said, "This will hurt" and chopped off the man's hand at the elbow.
"He screams in a Scottish accent!"
-mutantur
As the sorcerer's shantak landed and he dismounted, Madame Bruja appeared, after previously being absent. She was changed--she had burnt-black flesh and iron-grey flowing hair, and as she stared at the sorcerer and laughed and laughed and laughed, she cried "Here it is!" and, laughing maniacally, tore open her ribs, which grossly expanded and revealed a winking red gem glowing with malevolent light. The Lovers' Heart!

Madame Bruja pulled it out and hurled it at the sorcerer, and its light seared his undead flesh. It missed hitting him, however, and fell to the ground, landing near Demir as he climbed a ladder to the train's roof. The professor uselessly tried to dream impediments to the sorcerer, but it was Demir who defeated him--he picked up the Heart, and as his mind flooded with endless hate and his face distorted with rage, he grasped the Heart and strode forward, thrusting it at the sorcerer's face. The sorcerer burst into dust and crumbled, finally dead, the train landed on the other side of the Gulf of Nodens with a thump...

...and the investigators woke up in Venice.

Demir secreted the Lovers' Heart, carried with him out of the Dreamlands, into his luggage, and the investigators gathered for a quick breakfast. They had a lot to research, and so the countess and Professor Durand headed off to the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana while Giannia and Rosaline went to the San Marco Basilica to look for the Church of San Maria Celeste and the last copy of The Devil's Simulare, noting that the canals were suspiciously oily-looking and strange-smelling. They were not successful in finding anything, and neither was the professor in finding it--while there were references in the libraries of London and Paris, the Biblioteca had no references to The Devil's Simulare at all. Suspiciously few, in fact...

The countess was more successful, finding references to Napolean's army and its disposition of the leg of the statue. After the others arrived in the library after their fruitless search, they set to work, and their combined efforts found the diary of a French officer at the time of Napolean's conquest. The diary mentioned how the officer took a strange statue leg from a man who the locals wanted to try as a witch and buried it under the black flagstone in the San Marco Basilica in the shrine of St Ignacio. So the investigators only had to retrieve it from one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. Easy.

And it actually was pretty easy. While one attempt was ruined by a tourist group, the shrine was out-of-the-way and not well attended, and the group was able to find a moment when no one was around for Demir to pry up the crumbling mortar and pull the flagstone up...but the cavity beneath was empty except for a note with an unknown seal stating that the statue piece had been taken and used to repair another statue, though both parties were left unnamed.

The investigators went to the location of the Church of San Maria Celeste, which burned down centuries ago, and found that it had been turned into a school for mechanical engineering. They consider breaking and entering, but decide to send a letter and arrive in the morning, and head back to the hotel, where they find Giorgio waiting for them.

As they walked along the canals, which were free of the oiliness from before, Giorgio spoke of his despair about Rossini, his love for Maria, and how he was sure that Rossini had her father killed. At this, Demir turned serious, and he asked Giorgio if he knew where Rossini lived. When he had the address, Demir begged leave to speak to his companions and told Giorgio that he would deal with the matter for him. Apart, he made it obvious that he intended to kill Rossini, and Professor Durand urged him to think twice about it, pointing out what had happened to many of those who opposed them in their previous destinations. Demir said he had thought about it and he would do it unless the other investigators urged him not to, and the professor said he should at least see where Rossini lived before they made a decision. The others went back to the hotel and Demir went skulking, and found that Rossini lived in an elaborate apartment and his original plan of arson would be problematic if he didn't want to possibly cause scores of innocent deaths. He headed back as well and everyone else to sleep.

Just before dawn, cries of "Morte! Morte!" echoed through the street, and the investigators looked out into the fog to see a woman running madly through the streets. They couldn't tell where she had come from and she was soon lost in the fog, so they went back to bed and in the morning...well, we'll find that out next game.
 photo 3fee9e98b02297d6546ef2c40646360b.gif Ninety-nine SAN.  photo 3fee9e98b02297d6546ef2c40646360b.gif

The reward for casting our cares into the Gulf of Nodens, saving the train, and defeating the sorcerer was 1d6 + 1d4 SAN, and that combined was enough to push the professor up to 99 SAN. I started this with 83 SAN, so I've been doing really well. Which is good, because with what happens later on in the campaign, I suspect I'll need it.

I knew that finding the leg in the Basilica couldn't be that easy! Now we have to track down where the leg went and who has it. I expect the murder will prove useful for figuring that out.
 
 
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