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24 October 2016 @ 10:54 am
[CoC: HotOE] The Winter Wind Howls  
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
The wind was howling when the investigators arrived in Trieste, to the point where there were no horses on the streets, only cabs. None of the inhabitants would subject their animals to the fury of the bora (illustrative painting), as they heard some of the locals call it. They managed to find hail and taxi and check in to a hotel, a slightly lower-class/more reasonable one--replace as appropriate depending on whether you are the professor or the countess--but as they were leaving their cab, a furious blast of wind blew Professor Durand and Gianni off their feet. They weren't injured, other than their pride, but they were glad to get indoors.

After dinner where they discussed their plans in Trieste, which entirely consisted of trying to find a Johann Winckelmann at "the museum," that being the only clue they had received from Professor Smith as to the statue piece in the city, they retired for the night. The professor sent a telegram back to the University of Paris, asking that Arabic<->French translation materials be sent on to Belgrade, the next destination where they would be stopping. Demir noticed a Turkish man in a business suit and fez reading a newspaper in the lobby, but when he tried to engage him in conversation, the man brusquely said that he did not wish to talk and Demir eventually gave up and went to sleep.

That night, Demir had horrible dreams which he was unable to remember in the morning.

After breakfast the next morning, the investigators braved the bora and took a cab to the Museo Civico di storia ed arte e Orto Lapidario, where inquiring after Herr Winckelmann got them directions to the statue garden outside. It was very impressive and would have been a wonderful place to spend an afternoon without the howling winds, so when Rosaline spotted a Roman temple through a bunch of hedges, she directed the others toward it and everyone gladly took the chance to get out of the wind.

On the side of the temple was a strange frieze, of humans offering sacrifices to animal spirits. The human figure were worn, but the animals, of vaguely reptilian shape with proportions that were disquieting to look on, were unnaturally free of weathering. Something strange about the shapes struck the professor and Rosaline, but they could not place it and eventually entered the temple.

Inside, after their eyes adjusted to the gloom, the group noticed two things. The first was the large number of cats, also probably taking shelter from the wind. The second was the cenotaph in the back of the room with a dedication to Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the father of modern archeology, who died in the 18th century. A search of the premises turned up something but some archeological equipment probably left by graduate students on pilgrimage, so after speaking again with the front desk, the investigators went to the library.

Gianni looked up Winckelmann's life and found some brief biographical information while Rosaline followed a hunch about Napoleon's army, finding a reference to a document, but since she was unable to read French, she couldn't follow up on it. When the professor had a free moment he did so, discovering an account of a French soldier who brought a treasure from Paris to Trieste, but refused to give it up, claiming that it was for his "master." There were two murders, the second in revenge for the first, and the soldier died. Another soldier died as well, a third went incurably insane, and another insisted that one of the bodies was a "monster" who had attacked the first.

As this, some pieces fell into place and the professor called over the countess and explained his theory to her. From the Devil's Simulare, he knew that Fenalik had survived from the 13th century to the 18th century. He knew that the Comte had been sealed in Charenton, and that they had found a cavity in the walls when they explored in the basement. He mentioned the orderly who had been attacked, the footsteps in the empty Paris street, and hte grisly murders that seemed to be following them across the continent, and laid out his theory:

That Comte Fenalik was somehow still alive, and was following the investigators across Europe to retrieve that statue that he had held for so long.  photo emot-gonk.gif

As the professor explained this to Rosaline as well, Demir saw a man who seemed to have no hands reading a book. He approached him to ask if there anything he could do, to turn the pages or otherwise offer assistance, but when the man saw him, he fled without saying anything. Demir was sure that his tongue had also been removed...

There was a reference to a Giovanni Termona who had purchased Winckelmann's papers, including a diary, at auction, and asking the library staffs gets an address. The professor drafts a letter, mentioning the "book" he's writing and a desire to see the papers, and since it's late in the day the investigators leave to go back to their hotel.

On the way back, they see a face peeking at them from a hotel second story which does not seem to be bothered when they stare at it. Entering the hotel, Gianni asks about the room and the clerk says it has not been rented in weeks. The professor suggests that the investigators rent the room, and they do. At dinner, he reveals his suspicions about Count Fenalik to Demir and Gianni, and Demir tells the others about the man he encountered in the library. Then Demir goes back to the old hotel while the countess arranges for the transfer of luggage and the professor asks the front desk about the waiter who also received some of Winckelmann's papers.

The professor turns up nothing, but Demir finds another Turkish businessman, wearing the same suit and reading the same newspaper, in the lobby of their old hotel. He is again unwilling to speak to Demir, so Demir hides, waits, and follows him. The man walks down to the dock, to a small pensione, and enters. Demir waits and then tries the door, opening it onto the unmistakable scent of rot that he remembers from the battlefield.

The lights are off, but Demir creeps in and checks under the stairs, finding the body of an old man who has been horrifically mangled, with organs misplaced and chunks carved out of his body. He listens at the stairs, hearing the Turks above discuss what was obviously the location of the investigators, and then begin a low chanting in a hideous tongue which grated on Demir's nerves. He pulled out three bullets, left them at the top of the stairs, and slipped out back to the hotel.

There is nothing strange about the room and no sign that anyone was watching them, but that night, Demir and Rosaline have hideous dreams. Rosaline doesn't remember, but Demir remembers something enormous moving in dark water, far below the surface.

The next morning the investigators catch each other up at breakfast--the professor, remembering Sedefkar's face-changing power from the Devil's Simulare, especially asks Demir if he would remember the pensione-owner's face if he saw him alive again--and then they go to the museum to ask about Winckelmann's medallions and the dispensation of his papers. The museum curator is happy to speak with the professor, but he doesn't know much, continually directing them to Antonio Termona who may know more. So that is their next stop.

The scion of the Termona family is a young man who is missing his left arm. He is happy to speak to the investigators, and when the professor tells him about the book he is writing he brings up Winckelmann's papers and says that the diary is written in a dialect of Ancient Greek, which the professor does not know. Antonio is willing to lend the diary to a fellow scholar and provides the name of a translator who could do the work, and then they part.

As they are talking, Rosaline and the countess think they see movement in Antonio's empty sleeve.

The professor goes to the linguist to get a translation, which the man says will be done in a day and a half. Demir leads the others to the docks, down to the pensione, to see if anything has changed, but nothing has. On the way back to the hotel, the professor passes a man with red hair but a strange streak of black in it. The professor looks behind him, but the man continues down the street and doesn't seem to be following him. Nonetheless, the professor makes sure to take a slightly different route back to the hotel, continually checking behind him to be sure he's not being followed.

When they meet up at their hotel and ascend upstairs to their rooms, a Turkish man is standing outside the room door! He turns to leave, but Demir explodes into motion, running at him and seizing him by the arm. The Turk pulls a knife so Demir draws his gun, and a struggle ensues. In the struggle, Demir tries to disarm the man but leaves himself open and is stabbed in the chest. As he bleeds copiously and collapses, the Turk runs and escapes down the stair at the far end of the hall.

The countess provides first aid as people stick their heads out of their rooms, and at a nod from the countess, the professor tells a woman nearby to call a doctor. The doctor tends to Demir and asks what happened, and Gianni and the professor explain. Demir asks if his tattoos will heal, and the doctor says that it is too soon to see and that Demir should come see him in the morning to make sure the wound isn't getting worse.

After speaking to the police, who are very skeptical of Gianni's "It was a scary foreigner!" defense but eventually come around and agree to go check out the pensione by the docks, the investigators go to sleep, where the countess has horrible dreams of being in the vastness of space and something enormous rushing at her.

The professor has 98 SAN, but his paranoia here is entirely logical! The Devil's Simulare really made him start jumping at shadows, so now he's worried that everyone is either a servant of the Comte, the Comte himself, or a Turkish cultist wearing someone else's face. If/when he loses enough SAN for a permanent mental disorder, I'm going to push hard for that kind of paranoia.

I asked if the professor could go into the Dreamlands to get more study time for the Sedefkar Scrolls, but mutantur pointed out quite reasonably that while he was familiar with the Dreamlands and their properties, he didn't actually know how to get there without Henri pulling him in. Which is true, but  photo c9a2ed93dbfb11e324f5b3e281e5e1b2.gif.

There were also several instances of the bora blowing people over that I didn't include. It got pretty predictable, at least for Gianni and the professor--go outside, get blown head over heels.  photo emot-psyduck.gif
Current Mood: worriedworried
Current Music: The Good Friends of Jackson Elias podcast
Ian, Viscount of the Osirian Wastesmutantur on October 24th, 2016 04:04 pm (UTC)
Anthony Termona is 44. Although that may seem young to Professor Durand, it is not usually regarded as such. Perhaps his bright demeanor in comparison to his dour servant is what lends him an air of youth?
dorchadasdorchadas on October 24th, 2016 04:23 pm (UTC)
I was wondering how his grandfather had been old enough to attend in auction in the 18th century...