Thursday, January 11th, 1923
There are labor riots in the streets of Paris. We consolidate hotel rooms for safety. French and Belgium troops occupy the Ruhr, to attempt to force Germany to pay its war debt.
The asylum (where Comte Fenalik was kept in a cellar). Hassan and Amanda and I and Remi (French translator that we hired) head to the Asylum Charenton. Greeted by Madame Rosenot, ask to look at historical records from the late 18th century. We wait for Dr. Francois Leroux. The madhouse is subdued, and the people seem sad. Doctor Leroux’s office is a mess of paperwork. Boxes open, papers scattered. On his desk is a mysterious electric switchboard, completely unlabeled… with lights. The button is the type you have to hold down, box is a few months old. Custom work. Edwards and I notice a brief look of recognition when we ask about Fenalik, but he’s a little resistant to talking at first. He’s willing to give us records to 1810, but no longer than that. He’s willing to give us more if we have a doctor with us to preserve the confidentially of the records. What year did Fenalik pass away?
A lot of the boxes of notes in here are labeled as being from a Dr. Etienne Delplace. I see something interesting on a piece of paper, and pick up something dated 2 days ago – the excerpt from the Journal of Dr. Delplace… luckily without him seeing me. I show it to the others. Hassan points out that there may be a listening device in the room. The attendant who brings us the records, Paul, asks to meet us for dinner later tonight and we make an arrangement. There should be more than two boxes of records but many seem to be missing to cover everything from 1780-1810.
Meanwhile, the others research Comte Fenalik’s estate. It was a well-described architectural potpourri, an oddity. Many elements brought together. 3 stories, dozen bedrooms, ballrooms, sitting rooms. We find plans for the house, but only the above ground part. More records in the town hall in Poisse. They decide to take the train to Poisse for more research. In Poisse, they found out that it is now Chez Laurien — new construction on top of the old site. Christien Laurien is one of the medical doctors in town, and the clerk even calls ahead about their visit. The Doctor listens to their story about the history of the place and is interested – but makes apologies for his wife, who is not feeling well. A little girl, Quitterie, comes in during Nikolai’s storytelling, ending up in his lap. Mabel notices that Dr. Laurien has a terrible scar on the back of his hand. They get the plans for the house and its surroundings, and see that there’s a spot outside the bounds of the current house, in the yard, where the cellar entry would be. And it’s… dirt. Shovels.
Back at the asylum. We go through most of the two boxes of records, skipping everything before June 1789. We find where he appears, and is checked in. There are death rolls, though, and Comte Fenalik is not on those rolls. There is obviously a lot of information missing here, including any later information on the Comte. We find some other records, but nothing that seems to lead anywhere. Meanwhile, Miss Edwards and I wander out of the administrative area. Dr. Delplace has a private wing of the asylum, all its own, probably upstairs. We find the records room, and I find out that Miss Edwards is also an accomplished locksmith. We get into the records area, find where the notes should be, and Fenalik’s files are gone — possibly the files we saw spread around Dr. Leroux’s room.
We then head up to Dr. Delplace’s private wing, and find a wing of 12 rooms… all empty! No occupants in any of them. Looks like it was recently and hastily cleared out. We do find a room set up for what I can only imagine is electroshock therapy… with a listening box in the ceiling. The electroshock device is obviously broken – blackening around parts of it, one of the chair arms is physically broken and wobbly, as if broken by a very strong patient, or overly charged. Edwards and I sneak back. Meanwhile, Hassan has found a bit more information from the records, a bit about a patient with an Arabic name.
On the way out, we ask about Dr. Delplace — and are told that he has passed away just this week… an accident… here, on the grounds. The funeral is scheduled for the weekend, and we get the details. We find yesterday’s paper and his obituary, written by the ‘acting’ director, Leroux. Maybe the electroshock device? We describe it to Hassan, and he agrees that the electroshock machine could have possibly killed Delplace, as it malfunctioned. A young lady, the housekeeper, <name>, answers the door. We talk to her and are forwarded to the law office of his executor, Mr. Dupuis. Edwards and I check with the coroner and get nowhere, then try the newspaper and find the obituary. Hassan goes to the military library to find out any more info if possible on Captain Malon. Captain Malon was unfortunately purged and killed, so there’s not much more than this available.
Back at the Comte’s estate, digging through 2-3 feet of dirt reveals a steel door. The digging has taken so long, however, that there isn’t time to open it today, so the Comte offers his hospitality for the evening. They meet Veronique, the wife, with a hand bent from arthritis. Discussing the history of the house, she mentions a possible ghost story here. There’s no household staff… because people get scared away. And hurt! Hurt with some frequency. They’ve even received a letter from Edgar Wellington (of the Golden Dawn) asking for information about the simulacrum! We now have Edgar’s address in Lausanne, Switzerland.
We meet Paul Mandrin, the orderly from the asylum, for dinner. He confirms that Dr. Delplace died in an electroshock accident, probably killed by his own electroshock machine, but Leroux had the body removed the next morning to prevent scandal. He thinks that Delplace wasn’t the only one killed, that the patient — the stranger — was also killed. One of Paul’s former coworkers, a man named Martin Guismart, was keeping a patient prisoner. Guismart had a history of mistreating many patients, but none more than his prisoner. The prisoner, his body broken, his skin hanging off of him, but with incredible strength, nearly killed Guismart, Guismart’s hand crushed and his body bleeding out when I found it. Possibly keeping the prisoner for years. Keeping him in the cellar, behind a hidden wall. The patient was apparently mostly catatonic, and lashed out. Delplace was trying to treat him, and having some success, but Delplace said some very strange things about the prisoner — that the prisoner was giving him proof that we each are connected to a racial memory — that in dreams we speak languages that we don’t know when we’re awake. The prisoner was European but in too poor condition to do anything else. Guismart is no longer with the asylum but he was not arrested for imprisoning and torturing this man. The prisoner’s body is missing as well. The prisoner spoke the name Fenalik as well. Paul merely wants to see the police involved and people punished. We think the two prime places to look are the ground floor office and the cellar. The admin office should be empty after 10 or 11 PM, and we can get to the cellar from there. Guismart kept the prisoner bound on a stone table in the cellar.
We call the other team and make sure they’re informed.
We get to the asylum shortly after 11PM. The fog has taken on a stench…. the stench of many dead bodies. Once we get into the office through a window, though, the stench completely disappears. We find some documents on Fenalik, who when arrested, was wounded, but went willingly, assuming that his influence would see him freed soon. 4 days later, he was wracked by terrible convulsions, and on the 5th day, he began killing. The records are unclear, but they describe him killing people barehanded. The King’s men were able to drive him back through strength of arms and trap him in the basement. There, they bricked him in. The treatment notes before this record him begging to be returned to the Sedefkar statue.
We also find records of Guismart’s personnel files – he was found with a prisoner, after all. Guismart was weak, and preyed on the weaker. He would regularly choose one to sexually assault in the cellars, release them, then capture them in the cellars. One night, he saw the glint of gold behind a brick in the cellar. Breaking through the wall with a crowbar, he noticed that thick golden rings were on its hands. Going for the rings, he found out that the body was still alive and was struck. Guismart is now under lock and key on the 4th floor, having apparently gone mad.
According to the old records, Fenalik also had been stabbed a number of times… but the swordsmen weren’t enough, thus the bricking up.
The equipment malfunction happened Monday night / Tuesday morning. I check all of the remote listening boxes on the desk unit. There’s a map of the buttons. 4th floor, room 13, is a man in pain — Guismart.
The cellar is mazelike and huge, with many twists and turns. I have navigation, a compass, and chalk to make marks on the tunnel walls. Less than 10 minutes of walking takes us to a torn-open hole in the wall. Someone lost a lot of blood here. There’s not much on the other side where he was bricked in. There are claw marks on the bricks on the far side of the wall… many era of clawing. Really ancient clawing (140 years), then 50 year old clawing, then recent clawing… the most recent clawing probably got him through enough of the wall to get a small hole open to the outer tunnel. He’s not here… where might he have gone?
Um. Back home. Where else? But… that's where our friends are. We go back to Leroux’s office and make a phone call to them to warn them. The fog there isn’t smelling like death, at least. Our friends talk their host into leaving for the night and staying somewhere safe. We’re going to cab to meet them, stopping along the way to get my rifle. As we leave, the fog has dissipated and no longer smells of death.
We get Paul’s address so that we can return his keys. (Tom isn’t at the game, but…) Bennington has some contacts with the Gendarmes that can follow up on the criminal aspect of the asylum. An hour and ten minutes later, we’re at Chez Laurien. I set up with my rifle on a spot that overlooks the hole dug to the basement. We find out that Laurien’s scar is actually from a horrific… gardening accident? Yes, the house is haunted.
Nicolai points out that the roses… the roses that Laurien was tending when he had his accident, and the roses where the gardener was hurt… are right over the area where our dug-out door would open up. We set up a technique to pour dirt on the opening quickly if needed, and the digging is set to in earnest. The door is finally opened up, but rusted in place. We decide that it would make sense to wait until morning, though, not knowing what we’re about to unleash but prefer doing it in sunlight.
Upon opening the door, damp cool air greets us. Miss Beddington gives me a magic item safely-picking-up cloth, and in I go, flashlight and saber drawn. There are some pretty thick roots coming down near the opening. Once we’re through, we see 6 side rooms, 3 on either side… some looking like prison cells, with bars that are still in place. The rooms contain torture implements, cages, and skeletons – many apparently suffered and died here in this cellar. In the middle-right chamber is a rack, with a chaise lounge set in front of it. In the far-left room, we see two skeletons chained together, one wearing an ancient (1870s) bridal gown. All dusty, undisturbed in many years. There’s an extremely dim light coming from the far end of the tunnel. In the chamber at the far end, there’s a rosebush 20 feet underground, in full bloom, aquamarine, violet, orange, grass green, and some colors not found in nature… a weird green. They hang thick from rose vines that have an oily black sheen, that’s dripping off. The long vines have grown through the remains of those who died here, leaving bent and twisted skeletons among the roses as well, in odd poses. Flowers bloom in the empty eye sockets. At the base of this group of flowers lies the left arm of a statue… part of the arm glowing in the dark. The arm appears to be a funky green glowing marble but weighs only about 20 lbs where marble would wear 40lbs.
We fetch the statue arm with a grappling hook (left behind) and rope. When the hook sets in the statue arm, Lady Beddington’s arm develops wounds, as if it were the statue arm… but she doesn’t seem to believe that she has a connection to the statue. Beddington drops a note to the local Golden Dawn chapter warning them about Fenalik, his physical description and the fact that he had to be bricked into place, but not his name or the address of Chez Laurien. They can get in touch with her via the French professor that she went to school with. We burn the rosebushes and the tunnel, then the doctor is going to fill in the tunnel then go on vacation.
Telegrams are sent to Beddows and the Golden Dawn asking for guidance on preparing a chest to hold a magical artifact, namely the arm. We get a telegram back from Beddows stating that the Professor is in good care. Hassan sets me up with a hop-on, hop-off ticket, which I greatly appreciate as I’m low on funds. We also do a bit of testing, and hurting the arm hurts Miss Beddington.