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  #1  
Old Nov 25th, 2020, 01:45 PM
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Horror on the Orient Express-Keeper Bluejack

Horror on the Orient Express
The Legendary Campaign Through fate, you have assembled in London from across the globe. No mean feat for January 1, 1923. You are by a fraction attuned to the world beyond. The shadows hold mind-bending secrets, dark secrets, and you have become privy to just a few. These are the threads that bind you. You are the people that know there is more. You are Investigators of the unknown, and that unknown cares about humanity like a boot cares about ants as it crushes them into oblivion.

Yet, you are all that stands between these dark shadows and the end of all mankind. Who are you? Unexpected heroes? Hardly. There are no heroes when compared to the might of the beyond. You are all simple people striving against the dark. The great expanse beyond us is likely to drive some mad, others may be lucky and simply die. Even fewer may survive to hold back the dark-for a time. You have been called to investigate a simple disappearance in London based on your tiny exposure to the unknown. What happens afterwards will be the epic story as you become the last hope for the mortal world.


ExpectationsI am the founder of the CallHill, a community of Play-by-Post players and game masters that have established a high standard of writing and storytelling. My strengths lie in storytelling, character building, and world building. My weaknesses are attention to game mechanics and details. I tend to start and finish more games than most. I expect players to participate and have a bit more autonomy to their story telling. In general, if you write without assuming advantage or too much agency of the story, I will accept your story. I will listen to, and fix, mistakes.

The game will be built with distinct scenarios with established goals to create leaping on and leaping off for players. If bandwidth is low, hop off. If bandwidth is high, stay for a few scenarios. The segments tend to be short and lend themselves to this approach. Be aware, the attrition rate was 70% in the first play test (death or insanity). I am going to make some changes to make you more durable, but expect you may lose your investigator. I will try to make all character deaths or losses meaningful with variable success on my record from the past.


Expectations for YouCallHill Standards are thoughtful posts with well-made character blocks that are aesthetically pleasing and with correct spelling and grammar. The occasional two liner will make sense, but if your average post is one paragraph, then don't join this game. In my games we build the atmosphere and storytelling together. I expect mature posts with gravitas necessary to keep a horror atmosphere. Humor is great, but anachronisms and potty humor should be kept to a minimum. This is not Monty Python.

Please avoid power gaming. I am going to use suggested rules for arms, customs and contraband to create an internally consistent world. Bonus sanity points will be awarded for particularly well made posts that add historical or cultural references to deepen our immersion. Take a look at Amidst the Ancient Trees to get an idea: try to be historically accurate, put in some cool headlines, mention the 19th Ammendment. etc. All this will make the game super fun.



Character CreationRoll ability scores and assign as you wish: skills have a 75 max to start the game. Note a high power is recommended here and will help your character endure long enough to improve.
Occupations:This campaign is long and arduous. All types of skills will be used. Start with a character conceptt then go from there.


Useful Skills: Archaeology, Disguise, First Aid, History, Library Use, Listen, Locksmith, Mechanical Repair, Natural World, Navigate, Occult, Psychology, Science (Biology,Engineering, Physics), Social skills (Charm, Fast Talk,Intimidate, Persuade), Spot Hidden, Stealth, Throw, as well as Fighting (Brawl) and the odd Firearms skill. Languages (English, French, German, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Latin). Please note, a lot of this is on a train! Tommy Guns on trains are a bit tough to hide, handle etc. Hunting rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and pistols make much more sense.


Other changesWe will be using 7e Luck and Push Rules. Investigators start out with 1.5 normal starting hit points due to the deadly nature of this campaign. Skill increases will occur after every scenario. While unrealistic, this will increase survivability of the players.


Letters to HomeEach scenario will require a "Letter to Home" from the Investigators. The NPC you send this to is your backup Investigator. Please keep them developing in your mind as the game moves on.

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PC: Curse of Strahd(5e), Eberron Escapades(5e), Masks(CoC), Odyssey of the Dragonlords(5e), Out of the Abyss, To the CallHill(5e), Way of the Wicked(PF1e), The Third Imperium (MgT2e) DM: Horror on the Orient Express, Under Otari (PF2e), To the StarHill:Dead Suns (SF)

Last edited by Bluejack; Nov 25th, 2020 at 02:52 PM.
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Old Nov 25th, 2020, 03:06 PM
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Henrietta Smythe-Porter
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Background:

The Smythe-Porters have been influential Names at Lloyds of London for over two centuries. The family trade passed from father to son and fortunes waxing and waning over the decades as the grace of fortune and good judgement showed or withheld their favour.

The twentieth century had not been kind to the family. The earthquake in San Francisco, the Great War and the rolling tragedies from the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia – the collateral damage had hit the family hard and they had had to sell their Hertfordshire estate to one of the lesser Vanderbilts.

This sorry state had been wrought by the current patriarch, Cyril Smythe-Porter. An affable man, but not the sharpest tool in the box. He was known as a soft touch in the industry, and found himself underwriting the dodgiest insurance – with unscrupulous underwriters roping him in mutiple times in layer upon layer of reinsurance.

His daughter, Henrietta, made it her business to undo the most egregious of cases her father had been duped to underwrite. She’d travel the world to the site of disasters and challenge the actual damages incurred. As frequently as not finding over-claiming or downright fraud and was slowly restoring the family's fortune. Strong minded, intelligent and serious, she is a force to be reckoned with, who is used to getting her own way.


But sometimes she’d find something else. Reasons for arson that it is wiser for a sound mind to turn away from. Reasons to pay up and get out of town.


Those reason have been playing on Henrietta’s mind.




 

Last edited by Jon; Nov 28th, 2020 at 10:39 AM.
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Old Nov 25th, 2020, 03:47 PM
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Masataka 'Nikka' Taketsuru
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Background: Masataka 'Nikka' Taketsuru was only twenty four years old when he left Hiroshima, Japan. A black belt in Japanese jujitsu, he was born into a family that brewed sake since 1733. His passion, however, lay in uncovering the secrets to whiskey distillation, a delicacy imported into Japan with no domestic production. Nikka would change this by traveling to Scotland and apprenticing in three Scottish distilleries, first at Longmorn distillery in Strathspey, Scotland, and then at James Calder & Co.'s Bo'ness distillery in the Lowlands region.

While in Scotland, Masataka fell in love with a Scottish wife Jessie Roberta. The plan is to return to Japan with his hard won knowledge and open up Japan's first whiskey distillery.

His mission, however, was two-fold. Still in the midst of what would become know as the Meiji Restoration, the breakneck modernization undertaken by Japan to avoid European imperialism, Nikka is in Europe to learn what he may of the barbarian's technology and culture. To say that he is a spy would be... inaccurate. Nikka's charge is to soak up all that is white... European... and bring it back with him to Japan.

Masataka also seeks the truth behind another matter all together... a small thing... a single slip of paper found when rummaging through things he should not have touched. His father's friend, a peculiar



OOC
 

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Most people are not just comfortable in their ignorance, but hostile to anyone who points it out.

Last edited by Begon Ugo; Dec 1st, 2020 at 08:41 AM.
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Old Nov 26th, 2020, 11:39 AM
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Abraham Greenwood Bull (Deceased)
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Abraham Greenwood Bull
Abraham Greenwood Bull was born August 2, 1870 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, to Alfred Loveday Bull, a successful and somewhat wealthy antiquarian, and Mary Ellen (Hunt) Bull. At the age of fifteen, his father took Abraham under his wing in order to teach him the family business and the art of appraisal and negotiation. Three years later, Abraham was enrolled at the University of London, where he would earn both Bachelor and Master's degrees in History. In 1899, both of his parents died of cholera while on holiday in India and Abraham quickly found himself in charge of Bull & Rolfe Antiques and a small but growing fortune.

Abraham would later serve (at what some might call an advanced age) as a volunteer during the First World War, but his time of service was short lived due to a devastating injury a mere two months after he and his regiment landed in Egypt. He and his severely injured leg were shipped back to England where he would undergo a series of painful surgeries. Six months later, he was released from a London hospital and sent back home to Liverpool.

When Abraham arrived back home, he found his business affairs in disarray due to the incompetence of his only son, Henry Hunt Bull. It took close to two years of hard work to right the ship, but he was able to get the job done. Such were Abraham's skills in appraisal, negotiation, persuasion, and sometimes even intimidation. All of those skills (as well as many others) were valuable tools that he had carried in his pocket over the years. He had his father to thank for that. Fortunately, the family business would survive.

As the years passed, Bull & Rolfe Antiques would eventually turn into simply Bull Antiques and thanks to its financial success Abraham would begin to have the freedom to travel and enjoy life a bit more. Long holiday sea voyages on massive ships, relaxing trips to the wine country of France, safari expeditions to Africa and beyond...Life was good and enjoyable. Abraham was living a life that drew the envy of other men.

And then, on his third and last trip to Africa, he witnessed something that he wished no other man would ever see...

One moonless night on the edge of a great desert, he witnessed the slaughter of nearly an entire village. He had seen men die before, but not like what he witnessed on that night. Something invisible, something unknown, had ripped apart tens of men, women, and children as they celebrated in feast over a massive fire in the center of the village.

Somehow, Abraham survived. Somehow, he made it back to England. But the memory persists and a fear still lives within him. He witnessed something that he simply cannot explain and it haunts his dreams. Dreams that are filled with the screaming of men and their wives and their children. And a deep, hissing laugh from the invisible thing that had killed each of them.

So now, at the age of fifty-three, Abraham loses himself in his work...work in the business that means so much to him. He stays busy to keep the fear at bay. To keep it just far enough away.



Abraham continues to look at the telegram that arrived a day ago. He attempts to steady his hand as he reads it once again.

The Telegram
 


 


 
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The CallHill Multiverse: Sain: Eberron Escapades (5e) | Aeolus: OotD (5e) | Jag Jaff: Dead Suns (Starfinder) | Jimmy Mott: Horror on the Orient Express (CoC) | Virotalus: Stargazer (5e)

Last edited by Bluejack; Jul 18th, 2022 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Deleted Boons and Banes updates.
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 12:00 PM
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PC: Curse of Strahd(5e), Eberron Escapades(5e), Masks(CoC), Odyssey of the Dragonlords(5e), Out of the Abyss, To the CallHill(5e), Way of the Wicked(PF1e), The Third Imperium (MgT2e) DM: Horror on the Orient Express, Under Otari (PF2e), To the StarHill:Dead Suns (SF)

Last edited by Bluejack; Nov 30th, 2020 at 04:16 PM.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 04:35 AM
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Leila Kalida
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Old Man Henderson

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Chapter I: 1889. Lcpl. Leslie Blyth Henderson
An ambitious young man from the Scottish Hebrides, Leslie Henderson did what any young Scot would do when they wanted fame, fortune, and glory: joined the British Army. From South Africa to Ceylon, he distinguished himself as a fine soldier and a bright young lad. He eventually found himself stationed in Cyprus. Though not quite the turn he had expected, Leslie made the most of it, finding employment in the local administration.

In 1898, his bureaucratic career was cut short by a scandal involving a lieutenant of gentleman standing, himself - a low-born Scot, and a Turkish maid at the Governor's household. Not wanting any of this made public - and likely to avoid a duel between the two men - the Governor had the lieutenant promoted and reassigned, and Henderson found himself back in Scotland where it is rumoured he bought a distillery on his native Islay. How he had accumulated the funds was never known.

Henderson would return to Cyprus in 1915 with The Royal Scots Fusiliers and from there shipped to Gallipoli. His remains were returned to Islay in 1919.

The gentleman lieutenant was Sir Ashcroft Conan Mowbray, son of Lord Hyde, Baron Catgrave. Out of some strange sense of honour, one of the lawyers in the governor's council decided the child that had caused the scandal was to be granted British citizenship. As Turkish commoners did not have last names, the child was called Hyde. Leila Kalida Hyde. It has been rumored that the lawyer in question - Archibald O'Toole, Esq - wished to remind Lord Hyde of his son's indiscretion.

Chapter II: 1899, Maryam Özlem
The child, it turned out, was a bright young mind who was never far from trouble. Accepted by neither her Turkish family, nor the British ruling class, and certainly not by the Greek majority of Cyprus, young Leila found life to be a rather lonely affair. Her mother Maryam, similarly shunned, managed to start and maintain a shop in Limassol. Help came in the form of a yearly stipend from Scotland, which she used exclusively to buy books for her child. Leila never found out where the money came from or why it did.

The precocious little brat learned to use her wits to get in and out of trouble. With no real friends to speak of, young Leila always found herself to be an outsider. Come 1914, sixteen-year-old Leila Kalida, fluent in English, Greek, and Turkish, found employment in the wartime office of the British Administration, the island of Cyprus then formally annexed to the British Empire when the Ottomans declared war on the Entente.

Chapter III: Leila Kalida Hyde
As a child, Kalida would stare out from the port of Limassol and wonder what lay beyond the waves of the Sea. Head full of romantic tales and eager for more stories, she constantly pestered sailors, soldiers, clerks, and merchants who came through the port.

One fateful day, in November 1918 she would find out for herself what the world was really like. Her mastery of three languages and skill with the written word earned her a position as secretary tasked with aiding the Administration of the British occupation of Constantinople. From humble Cyprus, Leila moved to the greatest city in the world. Until then, she had been spared the horrors of war, only now and then seeing wounded soldiers being shipped out from Limassol back to Britain. But the capital of the Ottoman Empire was full of veterans from both sides.

It quickly became clear that sitting behind a desk would not suit her at all. Leila signed on with a local newspaper to write about what would be called the Turkish War of Independence. Any romantic notions quickly disappeared from her head then. The reality of war and the true face of man's inhumanity became clear to her. The violence of British imperialism, the cruelty of Turkish Nationalists disgusted her in equal measure. Young Ms. Hyde became a rebel in search of a cause. And when her editor and boss fled East, Leila moved West.

By 1920, she found work at a socialist newspaper started by a Jewish-Ukrainian woman, Odessa Bilhorod, in Paris - the second greatest city in the world. Leila wrote articles on subjects ranging from the emancipation of the working classes to voting rights for women, decolonisation, and especially - an end to all wars.

But Fate would have something else in mind for young Leila Kalida.
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Last edited by Frostburn; Dec 14th, 2020 at 03:04 AM.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 07:56 PM
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Ale Hiltunen(Deceased)
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Descended from generations of fisherfolk, Ale Hiltunen was born on January 26th, 1897 and raised in the northern reaches of the Grand Duchy of Finland, on the shores of Inarijarvi, or Lake Inari. Though a young Ale dutifully followed his father and grandfather onto the waters of Lake Inari, the boy spent the long hours in the boat wondering when he would see his uncle, Mikko, next.

Despite his father’s reluctance, Mikko was allowed to teach Ale to read, and the boy proved to be a quick study. It was as close as Ale would ever get to an education, though often as not, Mikko’s lessons revolved around wondrous tales of the Far North, of lands where men seldom walked, of the mythology of their people, and of folklore long forgotten. Of all the tales, those of Loki, the Trickster, always kindled a mischievous streak within the young Ale, and with his nimble hands and quick words, the young fisherman often played the part within his small group of friends. However, Uncle Mikko’s visits were never often enough for young Ale, who lived in a world where there simply wasn’t time for an education; the fishing and growing season were never long enough as it was, and the harsh winters meant that a productive summer was the difference between hunger and comfort.

Mikko’s greatest gift to Ale turned out to be an old set of tools, well made and well used. Despite his appetite for knowledge, Ale did not wholly stray from his heritage, and he took great pride in working with his hands. Skills developed over years of tinkering served Ale well during the Finnish Civil War where the young man quickly built a reputation as a first rate mechanic, able to coax life out of stubborn automobiles, make repairs to the all-important locomotives, and strip down any jammed firearm.

Despite the Whites defeating the Reds in the civil war and Finland gaining its independence from Russia, Ale was restless in Anari after the war, though he could not bring himself to move south. During those post-war years, Uncle Mikko continued to visit Ale and his growing family, for he married his childhood sweetheart, Lempi, but Mikko had changed. The once-hale outdoorsman and adventurer began to look older, aged beyond his years, even haggard. The joy had left his eyes, and his stories became darker, ominous warnings from ages past. This change worried Ale, but his father tutted; Mikko had always been like this, Ale had just never truly known him.

Months went by without hearing from Uncle Mikko, until one day a rare package arrived, from Mikko and addressed to Ale. This troubled Ale, and as he read the attached letter, his concern grew. Mikko’s words were disjointed, and Ale could almost hear his uncle raving. The letter spoke of wolves, lead by the legendary Fenris, and of darker myths, of the Henkijahti, the Wild Hunt from which no man could escape. All of this Ale read with skepticism, but his uncle’s final line made Ale’s blood run cold. It was a warning, for Ale. To run and to hide. For the Hunt had come for Mikko, and would soon come for his heir.

That night Ale slept fitfully, plagued by nightmares of hounds and wolves, monstrous creatures of yore that pursued him through field and forest, and across lake and sky. A series of sharp blows startled Ale awake just before his usual hour, and under his door, a pair of telegrams. The first summoned his uncle to the state of Georgia, a place Ale had never heard of. The second telegram froze his blood. Mikko was dead.

OOC


 


Last edited by Bluejack; Jul 18th, 2022 at 04:00 PM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2021, 11:16 AM
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Shenandoa Orenda
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Name: Shenandoa "Hemlock" Orenda

Theme Music (Tor-Cheney-Nahana (Winter Ceremony)) Alternate theme (Land of Promise) Modern theme (The Night King) Obligatory theme (Dark Orchestral Violin)

Occupation: Tribe Member (Shaman)

Appearance: Shenandoa is old. Her short frame appears frail and wizened beyond her years, though there is an inherently wiry toughness to her movements, which were perhaps more vigorous in her youth. She bears a weathered face with the reddish complexion of her people, adorned with a crown of white, straggly hair that she wears long. She dresses in an attire that is typical of the fashion of her people, though it is often considered as tacky or strange by Western standards. Noticeable is her habit of not wearing any shoes, preferring to walk barefoot wherever she goes. She also wears a few adornments, which are indicative of her position as former medicine woman and tribal elder.

Personality: Shenandoa, or "Old Hemlock" as she is known by the members of her tribe, has the wisdom of the ages. She is not afraid of making her thoughts or wishes known to others, often in a slightly offensive if not antagonistic tone. Although her body no longer allows her to display the strength that she once held, her indomitable spirit and razor-sharp insight are still able to make use of her body's stubborn refusal to pass quietly into the Spirit World to ensure that her own brand of wisdom and justice is imparted upon others, whether they need it or not.

Background: Shenandoa was born and raised on the reservation of the Cayuga Nation of New York in Seneca Falls, New York. She studied the traditional ways and became a Medicine Woman within her tribe at a young age. Although she never married, she attained the status of a Tribal Elder at 45 and went on to teach many of the young initiates to maintain the Old Traditions.

Lately...


 

Last edited by Strange2099; Feb 19th, 2022 at 11:31 AM. Reason: Added theme music selection.
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 03:48 PM
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Arthur Henry Vane "Milly" Millington-Fairbanks
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Background:

The third son of a wealthy family (though relatively low on the aristocratic scale - father is a hereditary baronet, with a country pile and all the usual trimmings), Arthur was attending Cambridge (reading Classics, of course, and following a stint at Harrow for his schooling, naturally) when the Great War broke out. Despite his severe reluctance - he never really wanted to join up, but duty and family responsibility demanded it - he took a commission and entered the war as a second lieutenant in 1914, when the war was still in its early manoeuver stages, before the static lines of trenches took over. Crossing the Channel with the British Expeditionary Force (2nd battalion, Yorks and Lancs), he fought alongside the French poilus who were defending their country from the Hun at Armentières. His time at the front was short.

Scared out of his wits, Arthur put on a brave face, but it was a thin facade (and one that a close friend from school, Percy Featherstonehaugh (pronounced “Fanshawe,” and known to Milly as’ Fanny’) immediately saw through, but didn’t give away to others, instead offering him an oasis of comfort in the desert of the battlefield), and when the English position was hit by a German artillery barrage (thankfully before the gas canisters of the later war were tossed their war), he was almost relieved to be injured, though the months of painful surgeries and recuperation were a harsh price to pay. With severe wounds to his left side, particularly his left leg (from which he still now walks with a pronounced limp, and often relies on a walking stick) and the left side of his face, he was invalided out of the army in early 1915, and thus returned to Cambridge to complete his degree.

That was his hardest time; he often found it hard to concentrate, both because of the physical pain of his wounds (especially when it rains, or is about to) and the mental anguish - the guilt with which he faces what he knows to be his cowardice in the war in particular ,but also because of a curious event that took place when recovering in a field hospital. He’s still not sure if it was real, or a phantom brought on by the large amounts of morphine that were in his system at the time, but the nightmares - clear as day, not in the opiate haze of that time - still hunt him; the cadaverous, grim, foul-smelling creatures that crept through the field hospital that night, the leering face that examined his leg before it sniffed in disgust and the realisation the next morning that the man in the bed next to his was no longer there - presumed to have deserted, or something - though how he could have done so with a leg that gangrenous was never explained.

After Arthur completed his degree (a second), he opened up his own antiquarian bookstore in York, a life much more suited to his gentle nature than the violence and chaos of war. He has been pursuing this profession for the last 5 years now, and enjoys the peace and tranquillity that it brings. His shop is old, dusty, cramped, and almost silent, save for the turning of pages, the occasional cough of a quiet and studious customer browsing his wares, and the soft-spoken conversations about editions of Bede’s De Orthographia and their codicological peculiarities with like-minded patrons.

Thanks to this quiet life and several years of therapy (both physical and psychological), Arthur has decided to take a trip on the Orient Express to see Europe at peace (having seen all too much of it at war), which he thinks will do him the world of good. He has told his good friend Fanny that he will write often; Arthus is what is commonly referred to as a “confirmed bachelor” - he tells those who pry that his facial and bodily injuries preclude attention from female suitors to explain his lack of personal relationships with the opposite sex, and Fanny is his confidant and frequent companion, but on this trip, Arthur is travelling alone - the Ministry keeps Fanny busy. Still, this trip should be just what Arthus desires - a fresh start, a journey filled with art, history, and a chance to get away from the bustling chaos of the war and his tumultuous dreams.




 
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 05:26 AM
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Mei Li

Ying Mei Li (Addressed as "Mei")

Mei grew up in Hong Kong during the reign of the British Empire. Her father, Haoyu Li, was an archaeologist affiliated to a secret Shaolin society. Over the centuries, many artefacts had been plundered from ancient temples, by the Mongols, and later by the Europeans. Haoyu made it his business to track these down and return them to the monks. Some relics were believed to have sacred powers and helped protect against supernatural forces of evil. Haoyu’s work brought him into constant contact with European traders that came to the port.

Mei’s mother died soon after her birth, but Haoyu raised the child, teaching her about archaeology. When she was old enough, he inducted her into the society, for Haoyu agreed with the intellectual Chinese movement of the time that placed women as equals to men in society. She proved adept at persuasion and using her charms to enter exclusive European clubs. Her small frame and agility also allowed her to climb and sneak around to search for hidden items within the warehouses preparing to ship Chinese treasures off to faraway continents.

But one mission went wrong. Mei took employment as a waitress under an English trader called James Huntingdon, for the purpose of seeking a cursed vase that had been disturbed from its place of burial in mainland China. Some said it contained the imprisoned spirit of a daemon. Huntingdon took a liking to Mei, and she in turn fell for him. They married in Hong Kong and he asked her to return with him to London to meet his family. The plan was then to return to Hong Kong and settle there. For her part, Mei kept her secret hidden from her husband, though it created great conflict in her soul. The journey was a good opportunity to search the ship for the vase. It had eluded her investigation so far. She planned to tell him of the danger of the vase at the right time.

Unfortunately an accident during the voyage broke the vase and something was released. One by one, the crew were killed by some invisible entity. Mei finally told Huntingdon of the curse, and her mission. Though he was shocked, his love proved true and he vowed to help her. But they could not defeat the curse. They were the last two survivors on the ship. In a final desperate action, Huntingdon forcibly placed Mei in a lifeboat and scuttled the ship himself, taking the evil presence with him to the bottom of the ocean.

Mei was picked up and eventually returned to Hong Kong. As the young widow of Huntingdon, she inherited a little wealth. She bought passage on another ship and travelled to England, to tell his family of his fate – and his heroics.

 

Last edited by Bluejack; Jul 19th, 2022 at 02:46 PM.
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