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Horror on the Orient Express, Prologue: the Haunting

Posted by maglaurus , 08 February 2018 · 61 views

Characters:
Edelmiro Cervantes - Spanish-born Occultist touring Britain.
Dr. Klauss Fischer - German-born Psychiatrist, disciple of Jung.
Flora Bianchin - Italian Nurse and Midwife, saw the Great War up close.
Mikhail Sokolov - Exiled Russian Aristo-turned-Criminal.
Viktor Gruzinsky - Bolshevik Spy posing as Exiled Russian Aristo.

 

In September of 1922, Dr. Klauss Fischer, a psychiatrist with offices in London, and a member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), receives a letter from SPR senior fellow Professor Julius Smith. Smith states that he's currently in Europe and his research assistant Richard Wentworth has received a series of letters from Henry Knott of Knott & Sons Properties. He's having difficulty renting a property on Bacon's Lane in Highgate. Knott has asked for an SPR consultation, and this is especially important at Henry's Uncle is Archibald Knott, a former MP and board member of the Challenger Trust. Given the fact that Smith is preparing a major lecture for the Trust on behalf of the SPR to secure funding and academic standing for the Society, he's asked Dr. Fischer to handle the matter.

 

Dr. Fischer, intrigued by the request, calls upon his cadre of associates within the SPR, fellow European immigrants who are often snubbed by British members of the society. This could be a great opportunity for them to contribute to a major Society project and increase their reputation. The group meet together at the foreigner-friendly Blue Swan Tea Room, discuss the opportunity, and decide to start by collecting the letters sent to Professor Smith from Richard Wentworth at Smith's University of London offices. The young student is eager to hand off the task to some SPR members and continue with his duties filling in for Professor Smith and working on his own graduate research.

 

Fischer, Cervantes, and Bianchin think they should start by checking newspaper archives, the closest ones being in the University of London Library. They are limited compared to some, but as good a place as any to start. They come up with the name Walter Corbitt, a neighborhood character residents of Bacon's Lane sued in the 1800s for nefarious and menacing behavior.

 

In the meantime, the Solokov and Guzinsky try to get in touch with Henry Knott, discovering he's made his way to the Athenaeum Club for a suppertime meeting. Always on the look out for opportunities to increase their social standing and ndulge in fancy food belonging to someone else, Solokov and Guzinsky try to weasel their way into the club's dining room. Charm (Viktor) and Fast Talk (Mikhail) get the down-on-their-luck aristocrats into the lobby, but no further. Knott appears and advises that this is not the time or place to discuss the matter, but rather than outright offend the Russian gentlemen who stand half-a-head taller than him, he graciously invites Viktor, Mikhail, and their associates to his offices for a 9am appointment.

 

During said appointment, Knott provides some details on the home: it has been difficult to rent, numerous applicants have taken an interest only to back out at the last minute. The home was purchased from the Estate of Walter Corbitt. The last people to reside in the home were the Marshmans, who moved out suddenly following an accident of some kind. With the key in hand, as well as the names and addresses of the last few applicants to take an interest in the home, the investigators set about looking into the little gothic-style cottage at the end of Bacon's Lane. They decide to divide up the work. Dr. Fischer and Mr. Cervantes head for the newspaper morgue of the London Illustrated News. The remaining three investigators start making phone calls.

 

Over the course of the day Mikhail, Viktor, and Flora manage to interview some former applicants for renting the home, learn that #7 Bacon's Lane is considered a "Murder House," and discover it was connected with an investigation involving a gentleman's club that was broken up for unsavory nocturnal practices in Highgate Cemetery: the Societas Cogitationis (the Society of Pure Thought). Fischer and Cervantes discover an unpublished article containing interviews with the home's last residents: the Marshmans. The Marshmans are currently in long term care at Bethlehem Hospital, where Dr. Fischer does weekly rounds and observations. Mrs. Marshman is the most lucid, and with some not so delicate psychoanalysis the two men manage to extract some information about a stabbing incident, but this leads poor Mrs. Marshman to have a violent fit.

 

We leave off our first episode with the investigators regrouping at the Fitz Hotel (a step down from the Ritz for sure) where Mr. Cervantes is staying. Dinner is served as the five friends share their findings.