Belgrade – Sofia
Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur, first published in 2007, is an RPG written by sci-fi & dark fantasy author David J Rodger – it blends the Cthulhu Mythos and cyberpunk genres in a post-apocalyptic setting. Learn more…
15 FEB – around 4 a.m.
The team are scheduled to board the Orient Express for 9.37 am departure to Sofia.
Roman has two satchels, 2 x FN-RAL assault rifles, one with 10 clips, one with 9 clips. 2 x laser scopes. A bandolier of 5 frag grenades and 5 flash bangs. Smart SCope goggles with IR and thermal vision. He also has conduits to carry them across borders – but needs to be careful to ensure he follows protocols.
Characters have noticed black dogs, black cats, black insects…. observing them more of less continuously since fleeing the village.
The team are escorted to Orient Express departure lounge to watch the flux and flow of important and wealthy passengers arriving.
Many stories flicker within exchanged glances or rigid eye contact.
Team quietly discuss the big picture now forming. There are four parties interested in them / the statue.
(1) Their employer. The man who pretended to be solicitor in London – Solomon Kane. The man who died three times in London. Mehmet Makryat. A man capable of changing his appearance by killing victims and wearing their skin. He is the reason the team are travelling across Europe in this train, gathering bits of statue on Mehmet’s behalf. Why can’t Mehmet do this himself? Because his father, head of cult in Istanbul, Selim, is looking for him. Mehmet told team that he wants to destroy the statue, to stop his father from activating it and unleashing a terror into the world. Josh doesn’t buy this.
Query: if the characters phased into this universe – was it on Mehet’s request? Did Mehmet have the ability to make this happen or was it a “favour” from a powerful Outer God?
(2) Selim. The father of Mehmet and leader of cult in Istanbul. Not much known about him or the cult. The team are supposed to take statue there – to the cult’s mosque and destroy it by placing it within niches in the walls. Selim has men scouring Europe looking for his son (to kill him?) and for the statue that he must now is being collected together.
(3) Count Drogo. Previous owner of the statue. A member of the race of the Great Magi. Drogo stole the statue from Sedefkar during the Crusades in the Middle East back in the 12th century. Drogo survived for centuries, using the statue to walk within the realm of men… a predator concealed in the skin of his victims. Drogo wants it back – but what has two centuries being bricked away in a wall in an asylum in Paris done to his mind?
(4) Duc Des Essain. The bloated, larger-than-life mad man from Lausanne who created his own “blister reality” where he was able to torment the inhabitants there. When the Duc approached them in Belgrade, he said this world belonged to him. What did he mean by that? This world? This entire parallel universe or…? Whatever the answer the characters realise he is possibly one of the most powerful and dangerous adversaries they face. Marcus believes that the Duc wants to stop Selim – or anyone – else from getting the statue because its activation would shift the balance of power. Right now – in this reality – the Duc is king, perhaps? And the Duc wants to keep it that way.
In the departure lounge, the team take notice of Charles Parker and Walter Protheroe and his assistant, Amy. There is some kind of sardonic dynamic in place between them.
On the train, luxury comfort and relief to be moving again. Characters won’t totally relax until they’re over the border and hopefully away from SPARSK assassins.
Marcus begins to exhibit Satyr-like qualities. An influence of his close encounter with the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. Women begin to act very strangely around him.
In salon car, team discover that Fargas Laslow (tall, glossy and highly groomed Italian) is riding with them: his job is to observe them and ensure no more massacres by the “Orient Ripper” take place.
Leaving the region of Belgrade, their following of black birds and insects fades away. Josh thinks it was Baba-Yaga.
Walter Protheroe is found dead in his compartment. Shot through the head. Gun in right hand. Window locked and a pile of Arabic stim-pipes crowding a small ashtray.
Laslow puts his ego and desire to best the team, above the desire to properly solve the crime.
Marcus and Josh put together a solid line of reasoning and work through the clues, with a final twist of help coming from Paul Bishop “It’s a locked room case”.
A locked room. Of course. The room was locked but there should have been a smell from all the stim pipes.
Team discover a false witness statement and the fact Amy found Protheroe dead from suicide, but she re-arranged clues to try and have Parker (who she hated) accused of the murder – which nearly worked because Laslow followed her bait.
When the truth is revealed Laslow is gutted – and flits between drunkenly sneering or praising them.
The the Bulgarian border, Roman is removed from train by authorities. An issue over protocol; but he ensures the team still have the bags and the webbing.
stops train in the mountains, 2 hours from Sofia. Paul goes to front of train to take a look; Marcus goes with him and so does Josh – but Josh stops to grab a coat. Alone, trying to catch up with the others he is attacked by a maniac with a knife. The maniac gouges out his eye and runs off with it.
Later, a grisly discovery is made in the snow – tracks leading from train into forest… they find an eyeball, but it doesn’t belong to Josh.
Josh begins to experience flashed glimpses of another point of view. His eyeball now in the head of the maniac.
Laslow comes up to Marcus and proffers to him a hardscreen loaded with latest newspaper; page 5, article about a strange ceramic head dug up yesterday by a farmer. It is the head of the Simulacrum. International paper. Everybody who might be interested in it now knows the head is at the University of Sofia for study.
Arriving in Sofia the team are taken to their hotel, the Caravaggio. Marcus seduces the reception girl and gets a presidential suite. Private elevator, marble statues, a sunken lounge with window wall views across city, bullet-proof glass, gas-filtered air-vents. A private fortress. Josh and Paul refuse to pay the male receptionist “a surcharge of 500 per night, each” so are given “standard rooms”. These are down in the lower floor of the hotel overlooking car park. They’re not impressed. Eventually they go up to Marcus’ suite and sleep on sofas there.
They notice when Marcus comes out of shower, stark-bollock naked, he’s walking around as if he has hooves for feet and is stoking his thighs as if they’re covered in coarse matted hair. It’s obvious this is what Marcus believes. Strange. Instead, Marcus just has the same skin deformity and scars and aching joints across his limbs and torso as the rest of the group (dire consequences of possessing the statue pieces).
Team leave hotel by extortionate taxi (again) and travel to University of Sofia. After much delay and procrastination by people who either wants bribes or don’t talk English, they finally get to meet the professor studying the recently found head. Meanwhile – Josh is experiencing all manner of strange glimpses of the journey of the maniac who gouged out his eyeball. A river gorge. A cavern. A ceremony…
The professor is intrigued by the character’s knowledge of the strange, unidentifiable ceramic material the head is made from. He agrees to show them the head.
However, when they walk into the work lab… a horror scene awaits them.
TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT SESSION
() Next Rank Roll should be when they complete Sofia. Laslow is in Sofia keeping tabs on them.
() All Cs have yet to experience TAINT from Dark Young
(!) Marcus has started experience something particularly potent due to his mind engaging with the things.The question is, where is this going to end up?
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DJR: thoughts for next session on local copy of these notes.