Friday 19th January 1923 (pre-dawn)

Dearest Diary, it is about 7 o’clock in the morning and I have just snatched a couple of hours of sleep. The Orient Express should be arriving in Lausanne in a few minutes where we will try to find the mysteries Mr Wellington and see what he knows about our prize. It looks very cold out there.

I am feeling a little drained but it was a wonderful night. It was after midnight when the Express pulled out of Paris and it soon became clear that the passengers were eager full an all-night party. I headed to my room and emerged in one of my finest outfits (the silver one) ready to turn heads and break hearts. Most of the other passengers were men, the only other woman of note was the opera singer Catarina Cavollaro who was looking stunning in a dark blue dress.

At some point in the evening a member of staff brought Albert a telegram that had arrived for us at the stations telegraph office. It must have been from faithful old Beddows letting us know that Uncle Julius was receiving much needed attention and wishing us good luck.

The best looking man in the carriage was a French man called Ronald Lakeby. He proved to be excellent and charming company. He claimed (although I now have good reason to believe he was lying) a salesman. He spoke a number of languages. Considering all the stops we would be making along the way that might have proved useful and I toyed with the idea of recruiting him to our cause. I had been flirting with him for a while when a drinks waiter slipped me a note along with a fresh glass of Champaign. I excused myself from Ronald and slipped away to the powder room to check out the note. I recognised the handwriting, it was grumpy old Detective Meads (who, Dear Diary, I should point out had been hanging around the party with a look on his face declaring that he would rather be anywhere else than here) warning me that Ron was a crook. I can’t say that I was surprised but it was pleasing to know that Detective M was keeping an eye on me (perhaps I should reward him).

As I re-joined the party and found Ron waiting with a glass for both of us. How thoughtful. We were soon joined by Darling Antonio and Albert and they brought Catarina with them. I really did not want to like the woman but she had a charming, open and genuine demeanour that was hard not to warm to. When Catarina learnt that we would be spending some time in Milan soon she generously offered to arrange tickets to see her perform at the Teatro ala Scala as well as reserve rooms for us at The Hotel de la Ville.

 I got a little distracted talking to here and was a little surprised to notice that Ron had gone, replaced by Detective M. He can certainly move quietly for such a large man. The five of us moved over to the corner where Father P had been sharing a bottle of brandy with an old man who turned out to be called Mr. Jean Pourvois, who I had caught casting lingering glances my way more than once while I had been chatting with Ron.

It was clear that the booth was far too small for all of us so I did the decent thing and split off with Jean. We chatted for a while. My word he seemed to have more arms then an octopus and it was hard to keep track of where they all were at any given time. Of course he was far too old and ugly for me to seriously consider letting him seduce me.  Luckily I was saved by Catarina re-entering the carriage; she must have slipped back to her room to get changed as she was now wearing a long silver dress with one of the Egyptian symbols in around her neck and dramatic mascara. She was clearly not the only who had been back to their room as Albert had returned with his faithful travelling companion; no not Pongo but his violin.

Accompanied by The Express’s harpsicord player and our own Albert, Catarina proceeded to enthral us with a transporting performance from Aida. It was mesmerising. The next hour flew by in a whirl of music. Before I knew it it was 3 o’clock in the morning. The end of Catarina’s performance seemed a natural conclusion to the party. Not that I objected as I practically dragged Darling Antonio back to my room.

After we made love I drifted off into a blissful sleep and I experienced the most peculiar dream. I dreamt that I was on board a train but rather than being made of metal and wood it was a living creature. My friends were all there but there were other, stranger passengers too. Some seemed to be from the past while others were creatures that seemed straight out a dream, or a nightmare. Amongst this strange company we went on a long journey through strange lands with nonsense names. At times we had to play the diplomat and at other times we had to fight off faceless horrors. There was a cloaked Sorcerer with mesmerising red eyes who was looking for The Lover’s Heart. The dream ended when the train ran out of land to travel on and cast itself into the void. 

I only awoke about an hour ago. As I was getting ready to greet the day I noticed Darling Antonio sketching away in his journal and was not altogether surprised to recognise some of the phantasmagorical creatures that drawing from last night’s dream.  I have checked with Father P, Detective M and Albert and we all have the same dream last night.


Emma

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Night of Thursday 18th January in to Early hours of Friday 19th January 1923

The Orient Express pulled out of the station at exactly midnight. This is the first time that we have officially been on the OA. The carriages are being pulled by a magnificent blue and gold engine. There was a huge crowd there to see us off as there is a bit of a celebrity on board the train with us; the opera singer Cantarenn Cavollaro, fresh from another standing ovation performing Aida at the Paris Opera House.

As we pulled out of the stating my friends and I were sure we caught a fleeting glimpse of a shadowy figure with piercing eyes lurking at the back of the crows. My instincts warn me that it was Comte Fenalik and that we have not heard the last of him. 


Emma

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Thursday 18th January 1923 (morning)

All seems back to normal in Poissy. In fact all three of the Lorien family are reporting that the various ailments of their left arms are feeling better. It can be no coincidence, however, that Detective M is reporting that he is suffering from a mild stiffness of his left arm. Darling Antonio is suggesting that we should obtain a large, lead-lined box to carry the parts of the Simulacrum in.

We are returning to Paris this morning.


Emma

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Wednesday 17th January 1923

We have decided to stay in Poissy for a couple of days to make sure that there are no explorations under Dr Lorien’s house or in case Comte Fenalik tries to attack Quintterie again.


Emma

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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

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Monday 15th January 1923.

Dear Diary, I am writing this while sitting in the house of Doctor Christian Lorien in the town of Poissy. With me are my four fellow members of the VC and Dr.Lorien himself while his wife and daughter are using our rooms at the White Rose hotel following an attack by Comte Fenalik himself!

Let me explain how this came to be. We departed Paris on the 10 a.m. train. I had spent the preceding hour purchasing some warm and sturdy outdoor clothing as I imagined that we would soon be traipsing around The French countryside. The boys had picked up some digging equipment.

It does not take long to get from Paris to Poissy by train, less than half an hour. We passed through the “Foret de Saint-Germain” on the journey. A dark and lonely looking place in winter. It is easy to imagine that bears and wolves make their lair in it.

The Town of Poissy is small and quaint. There only seemed to be one hotel, the White Rose, so we booked rooms there. Enquiries revealed that the town had neither a library nor a museum and that the only source of old maps and documents would be the town hall.  With the exception of Detective M we all headed for the town hall but it soon became apparent that the old records were not open to the general public and a disastrous attempt by Albert to bride the man behind the desk resulted in us all being asked to leave. Father O suggested that we look for a church. It was in the oldest part of the town and must have been hundreds of years old. Beside it was an imposing building that, whatever it’s original purpose, was not the town jail. 

Father O was able to strike up a friendship with the local priest; a sweet old man with comically large ears and passable grasp of the English language called Father Michael. With Father Michael to vouch for us Father O, Darling Antonio and I were able to gain access to the town records (Albert decided to keep a low profile, probably for the best). It did not take us long to find the location of The Count’s old mansion. Not only that but we found an old floor plan (which I am sure will prove very useful) and the name of the current own of the land, Dr.Lorien.

 Heading back to The White Rose we rounded up Albert and Detective M. The Detective had been making his own attempts to the find out about the mansion with very little success. He had befriended a local chemist, who spoke very good English, who he had invited over to share a drink with us that evening.

Since it was only on the edge of town and we had an hour to kill we decided to take a walk over to the old location of The Count’s mansion and see what the site was like. The plot of land was surrounded by an old but sturdy stone wall that was almost hidden behind a riotous growth of rose bushes. During summer, in full bloom, I suspect that they would have been a delight to the eye and nose but in the dead of winter they looked like an unwelcoming barrier of tangled vines and nasty vicious thorns. We were certain that the wall belonged to the Count’s original estate. Looking through the gateway (there was no gate) we could see modest grounds with a small housing sitting at the centre. A warm glow came from the windows and smoke rose from the chimney.

The house was clearly comparatively new, maybe only a hundred years old, and was presumably the home of Dr.Loren. We decided to pay him a visit, passing ourselves off as historians who wanted to write a history about the scandalous Comte Fenalik and his time in Paris. Dr.Lorien was very hospitable and we were invited in. We soon made the acquaintance of his young daughter, a golden haired angel called Quintterie, and a while later his rather plain wife Veronique. What we all noticed was that each member of the Lorien family had something wrong with their left arm; Dr. Lorien had a rather nasty cut on his arm and little Quintterie had an extremely painful rash (she screamed the place down when some warm coffee was accidently spilt on her arm). Mrs Lorien had it the wrist as her left hand and wrist were twisted into a useless claw by arthritis. She was also pale and seemed to be exhausted. Later on, when we had a little privacy, Father O put forward in interesting idea; perhaps the piece of the Simulacrum that the Count had possessed was the left arm and its proximity was the cause of the Lorien family’s arm-related ill health.

By now evening was creeping in and Dr.Lorien invited us to stay to dinner. With the exception of Detective M, who was determined to meet his chemist friend back at the White Rose, we accepted. Over a pleasant if rather rustic meal of beef stew we explained that we wanted to excavate the grounds in the hopes of finding the remains of Comte Fenalik’s house. While we talked we mentioned that we would be travelling on The Orient Express and that our next scheduled stop was in Lausanne, Switzerland. Tis run a bell with our host who headed off to his study and returned with a letter that he had received a few months ago. The letter was from a Mr Edgar Wellington who lived at Rue St.Etienne, Lausanne, Switzerland (although the name sounds more British or perhaps American to me that Swiss). What was the thrust of Mr. Wellington’s letter? He claimed to be a scholar researching the Sedefkar Simulacrum! Dr.Lorien let us take a copy of this unusual letter.

It was now getting late and were thinking of heading home when things took a dramatic turn. Pretty much simultaneously we heard Quitterie scream in her room above us, the sound of breaking glass and, from outside, the unmistakable sound of a Metropolitan Police whistle being blown. We all dashed upstairs towards the sound of the screaming child. Quintterie came running the other way and threw herself hysterically into the arms of her parents. Darling Antonio and I headed in to her bedroom. The window was broken. Bending down Antonio retrieved a very familiar wooden truncheon from the floor. Going over to the window I looked out to see Father O, who had clearly ran out of the front door as the rest of us had gone upstairs, helping Detective M to his feet.

Detective M’s story went something like this. As he had left the cottage a few hours before he had experienced a strange sensation of being watched. Slipping in to cover he had watched the outside of the house for any sign of the spy but all he had noticed was an usually thick puff of smoke or mist drifting through the grass. 

With nothing else to do Detective M had gone back to the bar of the White Rose where he had spent an unremarkable few hours with his new chemist friend. After that he had returned to the cottage and to his amazement had disturbed a figure hanging on to the vines that grew up the side of the house and looking in through what we now knew to be Quitterie’s bedroom window. Acting quickly Detective M had hurled his trusty truncheon at the intruder (missing but smashing the bedroom window) and begun sounding his whistle. The intruder, with unnatural speed and agility, had leapt down from the wall and dashed towards the Detective. Before he reached Detective M however, the burly policeman was hurled aside by some unknown force. As he pulled himself together Detective M caught a fleeting glimpse of the intruder disperses into a thick fog and vanished in to the night!

As Detective M himself said it had all the hallmarks of something out of Dracula. Had the intruder been Comte Fenalik and if so was Fenalik an honest-to-god vampire?

And so here we are. Mrs Lorien and her daughter have gone to The White Rose and we are taking it in turns, along, with Dr. Lorien, to watch the house in case Comte Fenalik returns during the night.


Emma

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Sunday 14th January 1923

We have spent most of the day at the Charenton Asylum looking in to the fate of Comte Fenalik.  What we have discovered is both baffling and worrying in its suggestiveness.

The asylum itself is a sprawling brick building with an impressive Greek-style façade. Inside the walls were made of a rather disconcerting black and grey pattern of bricks. Getting in was simple enough and we made our way to a receptionist who worry a very eye-catching red lipstick (I regret not finding the time to ask her where she got it from). From there we were escorted through the maze of corridors to the office of the asylum director; a Doctor Leroux. Perhaps it was my mind playing tricks on me but there was something slightly unnerving about the hospital, as if all the light in the world could not quite dispel the shadows that clung to the corners. Periodically, throughout the course of the day, we would here snatched of voices echoing down corridors; ghostly cries and laughs of the poor souls committed to the hospital. Incongruously there were also snitches of music that we later learnt were part of the asylum’s policy of art therapy. Most macabre of all were the times when the lights would suddenly dim for a few seconds, a sure sign that somewhere some poor man or woman was being subjected to electro-shock treatment.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We ended up in the office of Dr. Leroux. I cannot say that I warmed to the man nor did he to me. The way he looked me over as we entered mad it apparent that he did not approve of modern fashions. I suspect that to his mind a woman’s place was at home in the kitchen. That said Dr. Leroux seemed cooperative enough and agreed to let us search through the asylum achieves for any records concerning Comte Fenalik. One other thing that I should mention is that it appeared that Dr. Leroux had not been in his office long; the name plaque folder on his office door was empty and there were several cardboard boxes full of books and journals that were stacked in a corner and seemed to be awaiting collection.

We were escorted deeper into the bowls of the hospital, shown as duty old store room full of files and were pretty much left to our own devices. After a few hours searching we had turned up very little but then Father O made a breakthrough. He found a simple record with the count’s name on it confirming that he had been committed to the asylum but that was it. This was puzzling as we had seen numerous other records during our search and they had always shown things like the date the patient had been released, transferred or died. How odd.

While we had been searching Detective M, who really hadn’t been search at all, had noticed that one of the orderlies had passed by far too often. The Detective was convinced that the little man was spying on us. When he called the orderly over the man just ran away.

Next time the orderly drifted past I fluttered my eyelashes at him and reeled him in. It wasn’t much of a conversation as his English was about as good as my French. I was able to learn that his name was Paul but when I mentioned Dr. Leroux the orderly became very nervous and quickly made his excuses. I was convinced that, if Paul was indeed spying on us, he was not doing so on behalf of the asylum’s director. 

Albert wandered off and got chatting with the receptionist. Our suspicions had been correct, Dr. Leroux had only been in the role of director for a few weeks following the death of his predecessor, Dr. Delplace. There was a hint of scandal about Dr. Delplace’s death. Officially he had been killed by a faulty electro-shock machine. This was scandal enough as the machine had been designed by Dr. Leroux but there was also a suggestion that the death was connected with one of the orderlies who had lost his mind some time earlier. With a little bit of wheedling Albert had received the advice that an orderly called Paul Mandrin might know more.

Since it looked like we had discovered all we were going to in the achieves we headed back to the director’s office. On the way back we spotted “Paul”, who was almost certainly the Paul Mandrin we had heard mentioned. Albert sidled up to him and had a hushed conversation.  Yes, Paul knew about the other orderly, the one who had gone mad, as well as the death of Dr. Delplace but he was not prepared to talk about it at the hospital; he would meet us at the nearby Red Café after work.

Back at the director’s office we thanked Dr. Leroux and took our leave. Just as we were about to go Detective M asked the director if he knew who had been the man in charge back in the 1780s. The director admitted that he did not know and popped out to ask his secretary. I don’t know if that had been a ruse cooked up between the pair of them but as soon as Dr. Leroux was out of the office Albert made straight for the boxes we had seen before and started to look through them. He found a number of journals belonging to non-other than the late Dr. Delplace. At Darling Antonio’s suggestion Albert slipped what appeared to be the most recent on in to his pocket.

What we found in the journal when Albert read it later, confirmed by the words of Paul Mandrin when we met up with him a few hours later at the Red Café told a rather sinister tale. Granted that there was nothing concrete to connect with our mysterious Comte Fenalick but I know in my heart that the two a linked.

The story begins with a rather dubious hospital orderly called Guimart who seemed to have a predilection for sneaking inmates down to a cellar to do unspeakable things to them. When he disappeared one day Paul was sent to look for Guimart. Paul found him in the cellar, wounded and mad, and with him was an unknown man who was in a terrible physical condition and non-responsive. There was a suggestion that Guimart had been keeping the man a prisoner in a bricked-up part of the cellar.

The beastly Guimart had never regained his wits. Dr. Delplace placed the mystery man in a private room and tried to nurse him back to health. In the end he had resorted to electrotherapy in an attempt to bring him around. This seemed to have worked but he man was incredibly weak and only raved in “very old forms of Greek and Latin…tales of crumbling cities, and other, darker things.” It appeared that Dr. Delplace had become rather obsessed with the mystery man, believing that he could use him to access a sort of “racial memory” (whatever that is, I must ask Darling Antonio) but then he had his fateful accident and the mystery patient seems to have vanished.

What could it all mean? As insane as it all sounds could it be that the mystery patient was Comte Fenalik himself somehow alive one hundred and fifty years later. Surly it is no more impossible then some of the things we have seen recently. If it was the Comte where was he now? My guess is that he would flee to somewhere he knew. The old records that we found yesterday in the libraries seemed to suggest that he was deeply affected when his mansion was burnt down. Could he have fled back there?

I guess that we will soon know as there seem to be nothing else to keep us here in Paris, tomorrow we depart for Poissy.  


Emma

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Saturday 13th January 1923

We have defiantly made some headway today. Most of us have spent the day in two libraries; The Biblotheque Nationale and The Bibliotheque de L’Arsenel.

The one exception to this was Detective M and I shall tell you what he got up to first. Still intrigued by his macabre encounter in the catacombs yesterday Detective M headed back there and struck up a conversation with one of the guides who spoke good English. From the guide Detective M learnt a most incredible tale. It appeared that many of the people who worked in the catacombs believed that there was a colony of degenerate, tunnel dwelling troglodytes living a subterranean existence in the tunnels under Paris. The creatures, referred to as Ghouls, avoided humans and sustained themselves by feeding off carrion, including the bones of the dead in the catacombs. 

As for the rest of us we spent the day digging up old records looking for any trace of Comte Fenalik. We managed to piece together his story from a number of sources; including the diary of a Madenoisell De Brienne, a report of a Captain Luis Malon and the journal of a Dr. Lucie Rigault. From what we can piece together Comte Fenalik came from somewhere in Germany and caused a sensation amongst the French nobility in 1789 with his libertine ways and wild parties. It seems that the queen got herself mixed up in it all and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back as the king ordered a raid on the Comte’s mansion in Poissy. The king’s men were so shocked with what they found that they burnt the mansion to the ground and dragged Fenalik back to Paris. His arrest and the destruction of his mansion seemed to have broken Fenalik’s mind and the Comte spent the rest of his days locked away in a madhouse called Charenton. Enquires have revealed that Charenton is right here in Paris and still in use.

While I do not have a scrape of proof I am certain that the sketch I say in the Louvre yesterday was Comte Fenalik.

Could the fragment of the Sedefkar Simulacrum still be in the ruins of Comte’s Fenalik’s mansion in Poissy? Perhaps there are still records of his incarceration to be found in Charenton? 


Emma

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Friday 12th January 1923

Ah Paris. I fall in love with the city every time I visit. After London it is without doubt the most vibrant, cosmopolitan city in the world. It has been a cold day, cold enough for the odd snow fall, but the air has been so much clearer and fresher than Foggy Old London.

After breakfast Darling Antonio declared that he would head off to The Biblotheque Nationale to do some research. Of course he does not speak a word of French so Albert went with his.

Detective M and Father O decided that they would do a tour of Paris’s churches and graveyards in case they could find and mention of the Fenalik family, who (According to Uncle Julius’s research) had a part of the Simulacrum at the time of The Revolution.  

That left me at a bit of a loose end, neither expedition sounded all that exiting, so I ended up wandering around Paris for most of the day. I had a rather half-baked idea of seeing if I could find some English ex-pats and pick up the local gossip from them, perhaps even discover if they had heard of the Fenalik family. It really didn’t come to anything so in the afternoon I took myself of to The Louvre to soak up a little culture. While I was there I had the queerest encounter. It is almost enough to make you believe in ghosts. I had already seen the Mona Lisa (she doesn’t have any eyebrows!) and was taking in a special exhibition dedicated to Rembrandt when I found myself all alone in a gallery. It was quite eerie; the grand scale of the halls and the size of some of the pictures has an odd way of making one feel very small especially when it is so quiet and there is not another soul about. And then I heard laughter. It was a mocking, male laughter. Intrigued I tried to locate its source. I never did find out who was laughing but I ended up beside this picture. It was really only a sketch, quite modest and unassuming compared to many of the painting that I had passed already. It depicted a man in courtly attire of the late 18th Century. Tall and straight he was handsome in his own way but had a superior, sneering expression on his face. Not really the sort of man I go for at all but I will admit, Dear Diary, that there was something about his commanding stare that sent a delightful shiver down my spine. The label beside it simply said it was found among the possessions of Queen Marie Antoinette and both the subject and the artiste were unknown.

Latter we all met back up at the hotel and it was clear that everyone had had exiting days in their own way. 

Working together Antonio and Albert had researched more about The Devil’s Simulacrum (a book that Albert had found a mention of in London). It was originally written by an unknown monk in 1260 but was not bound together in to a book for another 250years. The only copy know of is believed to be in The Church of St. Marie Celeste in Venice.

It seems that Detective M and Father O had had the most disturbing encounter during the day and, if it was not for the fact that they were level headed fellows that I knew them to be, I would have been inclined to disbelieve them.

The pair had decided to take in a tour of Paris’s famous catacombs. Apparently they are only open on Saturdays but for a small donation one of the custodians let them in and have a wander about. They had been in there for a while when they started to hear a strange noise coming from a side passage that seemed to be off the main route. Intrigued they investigated. The passage was blocked by a locked gate but the lock had proved no match for the bulging biceps of Detective M. Creeping down the passage the pair turned a corner and found themselves in the presence of a monster! From what Detective M and Father O described it was about the same size and roughly the same shape as a man but it’s head was more dog-like and it’s eyes glowed like coals. The monster was simply sitting there, chewing on a bone that it had presumably exhumed.

The beast had clearly seen them and the pair were unsure what to do next. It looked as scared of them as they were of it but, as Detective M said, the beast’s fear could have turned to violence at any moment. Without taking their eyes of the monster the pair backed away and, as soon as they were out of sight, they heard it sprint away further down the tunnel.

What do you make of that?!

Now that we are all back together we have decided to spend the night at the opera. I understand that The Barber of Seville is playing at the Paris Opera House.


Emma

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Thursday 11th January 1923

Dear Diary,

 I am writing this in my bedroom t The Balmoral Hotel in Paris. I wanted to stay at The Majestic but the others thought it was an unnecessary expense. Honestly who put men in charge of the world; they are such frightful oafs!

We left from Liverpool Street Station early this morning. Father O still has an axe to grind with Mr Butter and has decided that the best revenge is to send him a post card from every train station along our journey.

The train from London to Dover was nothing spectacular. We were there within a couple of hours. Once there we crossed the English Channel by ferry (I forget the name) and boarded a new train in Calais. This was our first taste of the splendour of the Orient Express. While the train is not technically part of the Orient Express route the carriages we are in are supplied by the company and will be hooked-up to real OE when we get to Paris.

And what luxury it is! I can really get used to travelling in this style, in fact I fear that I will have trouble settling for any other form of travel ever again. I have quite made up my mind that, when this is all over, I will have to marry some multi-millionaire with a bad heart!

We arrived in Paris only an hour or so ago. That is when we got to arguing about where we should stay. Not that there is anything wrong with the Balmoral it is just that it is a bit of a let-down after experiencing the delights of the OE all afternoon.

Darling Antonio should be along in a moment. Paris is after all the most romantic city in the world and it would be rude not to celebrate our arrival. 


Emma

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