Tuesday 16th January 1923

Today we have made a major breakthrough in our quest to recover the Sedefkar Simulacrum but I will admit that it was touch and go for a few moments whether we would escape with our lives.

As the sun rose Dr. Lorien left to check on the welfare of his family, leaving us with his blessing to carry out our excavations. Darling Antonio had been looking over the floorplan that we obtained yesterday, comparing it to the old wall, and had narrowed down our search are for the way down into the cellars to a piece of ground ten yards or so behind the house. The boys set to work with the spades and picks that we had acquired in Paris. I must say that Detective M may be a pain in the neck at times but it was fun to watch him working away; he is a veritable Samson!

After about three hours we had uncovered stone work and fire charred bricks. A little while after that we uncovered the top of a flight of stairs leading downwards. Shinning our flash-lights down the stairs we say that it ended in a sturdy looking iron door. There was a lock but it looked far to corroded to be of any use so Detective M once again put his mighty physique to good use and, using a crowbar, forced the door open. Beyond was the subterranean world of Comte Fenalik that was hinted at in the reports that we had read, the one where he had indulged his perverted passion for other people’s suffering. Although old the place was clearly well constructed with stone walls and flag stone floors. Here and there the flagstones had been lifted and benefiter pits had been dug in the earth. Looking down one pit Detective M reported it was more like the end of a shaft as, about six feet down, the pit went off at an angle.

We soon found traces of the Counts fetishes as there were side rooms off of the cellar which were clearly prison cells. Peering through hatches we could still see the skeletal remains of his captives trapped within. The largest room was clearly a torture chamber where multiple captives could be tormented at once. In the middle of the room was the rotted remains of a couch and it was easy to imagine The Count relining here while he watched his victims being tortured for his gratification. It was while we were looking around this room that we spotted a strange, bluish light coming from another chamber.

Investigating the light we found the most disturbing sight yet. I am not sure that I can convey with words alone the nightmarish nature of what we found. It was like something out of the fevered dream of an opium addict. Against all the rules of nature and sanity there was a tangled rose bush growing in the room bearing a perfusion of blue, black and purple roses. The rose bush grew up from the ground and carried on up through the roof and entangles and intertwined with in its may vines were numerous human skeletons. The light we had seen being shed from the very middle of the rose patch and was being shed by a stone arm of an eerie bluey-black rock.

The sight was so uncanny that for a moment I thought that I was going to feint and a felt my flashlight slip from my nerveless fingers. Luckily it did not break and I snatched it back up again. I did not want the boys to see how shaken I was so I retreated to the dusty old torture chamber until I had regained my nerve. By the time I had returned to the chamber with the roses Detective M had hacked his way to the centre of the rosebush and freed the arm from the tangle. Once the arm had been removed the bush began to visible begin to wither and rot away.

The arm could only be the first piece of the Simulacrum. Detective M had wrapped it sack cloth and we were about to head back to the surface and sunlight when we heard furtive noises from up ahead. In the beams of our flashlights we began to see humanoid figures pulling themselves up out of the earth pits between us and the way out.  With their lean but muscular bodies and bestial faces they matched the description of the creature, the ghoul, which Detective M and Father O had glimpsed in the Paris catacombs. It was clear that their intentions were hostile. Darling Antonio ordered that we should run for our lives. I needed no second telling. Before the ghouls could close in and block our escape I dashed towards the way out, slipping between two of the ghouls (they stank of fresh earth and death). Aware that one was chasing me I drew my pistol and fired nearly blind over my shoulder. I don’t know if I missed but the ghoul kept on coming. A few seconds later I was through the door and starting up the stairs. I heard a cry behind me and turned to see that Father O, despite his bulk, had also reached the door but had gone no further. He was clearly waiting to throw the door shut when the rest of our party was through but two ghouls had reached him first and were clawing to get him.  Before the ghouls could pull down the priest one of them was hammered to one side by Detective M who was swinging the stone arm of the Simulacrum like a stone club and caved its head in. Antonio and Albert rushed through the opening that had been made. I caught a glimpse of spade that Albert was carrying, there was a black blood in the end; he must have been using it against the ghouls like an axe. From the whoops and hollers there was a horde of ghouls close behind them.

Steading my aim, and nerve, I emptied the last three rounds from my pistol in to the ghoul that was half through the door. As it went down Father O reached back into the darkness and pulled Detective M through. Detective M and Albert threw their weight against the door, driving it shut just as the ghouls crashed in to it. With supreme effort the pair held the door back as the rest of us started to brace it with whatever we could get our hands on.  Once we were sure that the door would hold we headed back up the stone stairs and began to rebury the opening. All the time we could hear the frenzied punching of the ghouls on the other side of the door.


Emma

Topics: France, Horror on the Orient Express |

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