Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.   Posted by haruspex.Group: 0
haruspex
 GM, 2 posts
Wed 13 Jan 2021
at 16:30
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.
We left Charing Cross on the morning of the 12th, got to Paris the same night, and took the places secured for us in the Orient Express. We travelled night and day, arriving here at about five o’clock. Lord Godalming went to the Consulate to see if any telegram had arrived for him, whilst the rest of us came on to this hotel — the Odessus.

Thank God! Mina is well, and looks to be getting stronger; her colour is coming back. She sleeps a great deal; throughout the journey she slept nearly all the time. Before sunrise and sunset, however, she is very wakeful and alert; and it has become a habit for Van Helsing to hypnotize her at such times.

At first, some effort was needed, and he had to make many passes; but now, she seems to yield at once, as if by habit, and scarcely any action is needed.

He always asks her what she can see and hear. She answers to the first:—

"Nothing; all is dark."

And to the second:—

"I can hear the waves lapping against the ship, and the water rushing by. Canvas and cordage strain and masts and yards creak. The wind is high — I can hear it in the shrouds, and the bow throws back the foam."

It is evident that the Czarina Catherine is still at sea.
Professor Van Helsing
 Occultist, 2 posts
 Natural Philosopher
 Metaphysician
Mon 1 Feb 2021
at 17:20
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.
Van Helsing invited the group to join him after supper at the Odessus Hotel in his room for a council of war. He checked the corridor outside his room and then locked the door carefully.

"We have traveled almost three thousand kilometers as fast as it is possible for a human being to go," he said, settling in a club chair by the fireplace and lighting one of his Dutch cheroots and waving at a small impromptu bar set up on his dresser with bottles of whiskey and brandy and a jug of cold water. "From my mesmerism sessions with Miss Mina -- so brave, my dear -- I deduce that the beast is still at sea. His vessel, the Czarina Catherine, a Russian schooner, is is due to arrive here, in Varna, some time within the next week. I have secured permission from the Port Authority for our party to board the ship as soon as it lands, and that is when we will trap him, for he may not of his own volition cross running water."

The old man puffs at his cigar and sips brandy as he examines the others in the flickering firelight.

"Thanks to Lord Goladming's influence and his business agents, we have eyes on the ship traffic through the Dardanelles, past Istanbul, and we will have a full day's notice of the Czarina Catherine's arrival. Until then, we may wish to arm ourselves for the confrontation. He may be trapped on the ship, but he will fight like a cornered rat and he is very powerful."

This message was last edited by the player at 14:19, Mon 08 Feb.

Jonathan Harker
 player, 7 posts
Tue 2 Feb 2021
at 09:40
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.
In reply to Professor Van Helsing (msg # 2):

    I was scared and appalled at the odds against us, against the soul of my beloved.  I would fight to the death for her, but to do so blindly was to invite failure, and at these stakes, failure was not an option.  Through the courts and out of court maneuvering, I was no stranger to the importance of good planning.  In this instance however I had no idea how to plan or what to plan for.    "What hope do we have against such a creature?  What are his weaknesses?  I have hunted many times but in his home I felt I was the hunted.  Such fear is not meant for the human heart."

This message was last edited by the player at 02:36, Wed 03 Feb.

Mina Harker
 player, 6 posts
Thu 4 Feb 2021
at 02:22
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.
Mina nodded to Van Helsing in gratitude for his slight praise as to her bravery. She appeared serene to all who were gathered in the Professor's room but inside she was being torn apart. She loved her husband for his warmth and the gentle way he had about him.

But her Prince...

He ignited within her a passion so strong it was all but impossible to ignore. Stranger still was the lingering feeling that they had known each other of old but that was quite impossible. She was simply far too young to have known the man and he came from The Old Country. There was no possible way for her to have met him before.

Logic was shattered by instinct and the demands of her heart. Furthermore he had told her the tragedy of his wife which only seemed to strengthen her belief that they had met.

Jonathan was her husband - kind, warm, gentle, and loving but her Vlad - he burned with passion and had awakened something in her that would not, could not be denied. She knew he was vampire and that she was well on her way to becoming one after the third time he had tasted of her blood and she his.

"Then I give you the gift of eternal life. Eternal love." The words he had said to her along with the third bite. The pleasure of that bite, the feel of his skin against her body - those sensations were still oft-remembered and would never fade.

She wanted him. She needed him and yet here she was on a ship sailing towards Varna so these men - even kind, gentle Jonathan, could kill him and take him from her.

That she would not allow. She would ask the Professor to hypnotise her again so that her Prince might learn of their location and plans.

She belonged to him.

Eternally.
Dr. John Seward
 player, 5 posts
 The secrets of the mind
 unlocked at last.
Thu 4 Feb 2021
at 18:13
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, 15 October, Varna.
"My friend, you have told us of the efficacy of a wooden stake, and indeed we have seen its effects firsthand.  Our friend Mr. Harker has confirmed to us that the fiend sleeps in the day, or as close as his kind can come to sleep.  Deep enough that he remained unaware of two incursions into his very chamber!  But he knows we seek him.  What safeguards might he have put in place, what traps and tricks might there be awaiting us?"
haruspex
 GM, 9 posts
 Keeper of Arcane Lore
Mon 8 Feb 2021
at 14:30
28 October, Varna.
The port of Varna is on the edge between the modern world of steam engines and gas lamps and telegraphs and the ancient world of sailing ships and oil lanterns and scribes. Musslemen clerics wail each day from the turrets of their temples and Greek orthodox priest chant solemn dirges in churches with foundations that were laid down well over a thousand years ago. Men wrapped in colorful scarves carry long curved daggers openly in their belts. Women cover their faces and hair in public. Shotguns and ancient flintlock rifles are carried across the shoulders shepherds herding flocks in the streets, and everywhere the air is filled with smells of thick spices and foul rot.

Wild music erupts from taverns. Groups of swarthy men with dark beards and gleams of gold in their teeth stare at the white woman veiled in black and her well armed guardians on the docks.

Almost two weeks have passed since the companions arrived by train. Still no sign of the vessel, the Czarina Catherine, and it is beginning to feel as if their quarry may have evaded their trap. And then -- crushing news. A telegram from Lord Godalming's agent in Galatz in Romania some fifty miles to the north of Varna. The Czarina Catherine docked there this morning and is unloading even now.

OOC: You have had plenty of time on your journey and here in Varna to equip yourselves in any way you wish. Lord Godalming is wealthy and is spending freely to hunt down the murderer of his fiancee. I'm not concerned about tents rations and and such like, but I would like you all to list out the specific weapons you are carrying and any items you think may be effective against the Count -- crosses, holy water, etc.
Dr. John Seward
 player, 8 posts
 The secrets of the mind
 unlocked at last.
Mon 22 Feb 2021
at 17:25
28 October, Varna.
The journey across Europe at breakneck speed had been exciting. Holmwood's purse seemed bottomless and they rode in first-class carriages on the luxurious Orient Express. Even though they traveled like the wind, they had plenty of time to talk and plot and speculate. He found Mina Harker to be fascinating. Two-thirds prim and proper English middle-class lady and one-third wild beast with a ferocity and magnetism that spoke to the very core of his being. She was magnificent.

Van Helsing certainly believed the tales about the Vampire they pursued. And he had seen with his own eyes Lucy, luscious lucy who had teased him and then chosen another, that Lucy had risen from the grave. To be sure, she was dead again and less likely to rise with the obscene stake jutting from her breast. But she had risen. And he had no doubt she had been dead. Her body had been cold and rubbery. He knew that for a fact.

And yet she had risen. Moved. Spoken. Lusted for life. He could not deny the evidence that Dracula had done something to her that had brought her back from the dead. That he had to have. To have the power of granting a second life, even if limited, even if restricted to certain hours of the day. He had patients in London who would pay thousands of pounds for just one day more.

And the level of command that Dracula evidenced over Lucy and now Mina. He had to have that too! The ability to command those he saved to do anything. His blood boiled with desire at the thought.

The others sought only to destroy the ancient monster. But he plotted instead to capture and control him. Put him in a cage and force the knowledge out of him.

For that, he would need a cage that could hold him, and stalwart men to transport that cage to a place where he could study his specimen at will.

Perhaps in the Count's own land? A plan was emerging in his head already.

OOC: Our Player has not responded to our requests to continue playing and since there seems to be at least some interest in moving forward, I will play the 'good' doctor as an NPC for now. Here's what is going on his mind -- as you would have deduced from spending several days in close proximity with him.

Hope there is still some interest in our macabre hunt.
Mina Harker
 player, 9 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 01:11
28 October, Varna.
"Please be so kind as to put me under, Professor. He has slipped through our grasp more than once so I feel it only prudent as to look into his travels once more. We are now in his lands and he has many ways he could use to lose our pursuit," Mina said, quiet sincerity in her voice.

Her other reason for calling for him to place her under hypnosis remained quite hidden and unspoken.



OOC: Shame about the doctor but I remain here and shall until the lights go out.
Jonathan Harker
 player, 9 posts
Tue 23 Feb 2021
at 04:27
28 October, Varna.
OOC and I with you my love.

     So far the stake was the only mentioned weapon, it would be like wielding a very dull and clumsy knife.  One you could probably only use once if you could manage enough speed and force to plunge it deep.  Removing it would be neigh impossible, but speed and force...  “So the stake works against his corporeal being, I can work with this.  I have maintained hunting rifles and shot guns for hunting with the wealthy.  And a shot gun can easily be equipped to fire a stake.  But what about his mist state?  Would a cloud of wood shavings dissipate it even as the wood damages him? A spray of holy water perhaps?”  John hears his Mina request to be put under.  His face briefly shows a flash of heart broken sadness before his gentleman’s mask reasserts it’s self.   Even as young as he is, Jon’s profession has trained him well to hide his feelings behind professionalism.  He’d felt the feral lust within the brides of Dracula.  He could sense the same corruption seducing his own beloved.  He wasn’t happy that she was being manipulated by the monster, or by Mr Vanheilsings hypnosis, but he could only preserver and end this nightmare as soon as possible.  Yet he feared that rushing a conclusion would endanger his beloved.
Professor Van Helsing
 Occultist, 4 posts
 Natural Philosopher
 Metaphysician
Mon 1 Mar 2021
at 15:15
28 October, Varna.
Van Helsing is fuming that their quarry has slipped past them so easily. All their work and the swift chase? Just to have the infernal beast skitter by, just beyond the reach of their fingers? Intolerable!

When Mina suggests that he put her under the sway of his Mesmerism again so that she might track the vampire's progress, he is sorely tempted, but he realizes with sick certainty that the line of communication between the beast and his protégé must be two way. The creature is gaining insight into their plans through Mina, just as they are learning information about where he may be from her sensations of him. And he is rather worried that he has been feeding her obsession with the dark presence that has invaded her soul. Jonathan seems reluctant but willing to allow his wife's continued psychic dalliance with the Count, and the professor recalls the details in his journal pages about his time among the brides of Dracula in the ruined castle. Not for the first time he considers the subtle sexual politics at work in the parasitic relationship between the vampire and the victim.

He turns to Dr. Seward, noted alienist, for a consultation concerning the wisdom of allowing another contact at this point and quickly realizes the man cares very little about the well-being of young Mina Harker. He is focused on catching rather than killing the vampire and will use any bait he can to prime his trap.

The old man's shoulders slump in temporary defeat. He studies his maps and railway timetables. It will take them a full day to reach the port of Galatz, a full day for the fiend to put as much distance between himself and them as he can. The question is, will he travel by road, or by barge. Both routes are commonly used to reach the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, but both routes diverge widely. If the Count travels by road, they may have a chance to cut him off if they take the train immediately to Bucharest. If he travels by barge, he will move more slowly and over a greater distance. The amount of barge traffic will be his main defense against being caught en route. And their best hope to find him will be to travel to Galatz and ask detailed questions about what happened to the cargo unloaded from the hold of the Czarina Catherine.

He decides it is worth the risk to allow Mina to embrace the spirit of her dark master again to gain this one insight that might allow them to overtake their quarry.

"Very well, Mrs. Harker. Let us send your spirit once more into danger. You are very brave."

He glances at Jonathan.

"Will you sit with us?" he asks gently. "I know it must be difficult, but I do think that your presence in the room gives her a firmer anchor in this life than the next."
Jonathan Harker
 player, 11 posts
Tue 2 Mar 2021
at 03:40
28 October, Varna.
   Jonathan’s face darkens at t thought of his beloved once again touching the mind of the monster, but he is out of his element.  “Anything for Mina.”  It wasn’t a statement.  It was a fact.  “But please take some time later to work with me on how to neutralize this creature. It took a shot from my revolver like it was a simple sting from a wasp.  Painful but inconsiquintial.   ”

This message was last edited by the player at 19:05, Tue 02 Mar.

haruspex
 GM, 14 posts
 Keeper of Arcane Lore
Tue 2 Mar 2021
at 21:27
28 October, Varna.
Having decided to risk Mina's mental health once more by putting her in a trance state and allowing her subconscious mind to merge with her demon lover's, Van Helsing wasted no time. He arranged their sitting room in the small hotel, closing all of the curtains to block out the afternoon sunshine, and leading Mrs. Harker to recline at her ease on the sofa. Everyone else but Jonathan Harker he excluded from the room and he directed her husband to sit beside her, but behind her so he was not in her line of sight.

A drop of laudanum from a brown stoppered bottle on her tongue quickly made her drowsy, and the occultist sat beside her, speaking in a soothing tone, swinging his gold pocket watch on its chain like a pendulum in front of her eyes. They had done this several times on the journey here, and Mina slipped easily into a twilight reverie as Van Helsing's voice carried her deeper and deeper into a trance.

"Reach out for him," he instructed the young woman, not meeting her husband's fierce gaze. "Touch him. Count Dracula. Hear what he hears. Smell what he smells. Be with him. And speak aloud of your sensations."

The ticking of the clock on the mantlepiece seemed to echo like thunder in the room as her mind slipped away and traveled swiftly across the intervening leagues.

OOC: Miss Mina -- your cue.
Jonathan Harker
 player, 12 posts
Thu 4 Mar 2021
at 02:20
28 October, Varna.
John exhales slowly clearing his heart and mind as if he were in the woods with his sights on pray, his finger on the trigger.  This time he wasn’t clearing his mind to be focused on the hunt, but to be focused on his beloved.  Every ounce he was was ready to respond in any detail necessary for her.  His eyes held only her.  His heart beat only for her.
Mina Harker
 player, 10 posts
Sat 6 Mar 2021
at 23:59
28 October, Varna.
Mina felt the drowsiness of the laudanum combine with the soft imperative of Professor Van Helsing's voice and let her eyes slip closed. Reaching out to her Prince was easy in this state and she did so now - allowing a love that transcended time and death (though she knew it naught but vaguely) to connect them once more.

'My Prince, my love...be here with me once again. I need your touch,' she whispered to him across leagues. 'Come, be with me, my Vlad.'

"Îl chem. Există întuneric, dar știu că va veni. El m-a așteptat toată viața ..."

haruspex
 GM, 17 posts
 Keeper of Arcane Lore
Thu 11 Mar 2021
at 21:38
28 October, Varna.
Mina slipped quickly into a trance state, her eyeballs flickering under her eyelids as she breathed deeply and rhythmically, quick to accede to Van Helsing's mesmeric influence.


She stirred restlessly after only a few moments and her hands roamed over her own body in a pantomime of carnal caresses, pulling at her dress and kneading her breasts. Her mouth opened an inch and her pink tongue touched her lips as she panted with strong emotion.

"Where is he?" Van Helsing hissed in her ear. "What can you hear? What can you smell? What motion can you detect?" By these small clues, they hoped to gauge his method of progress as he fled towards his home land.

Without wanting herself to do so, she mumbled replies to his question. Her will was at his command, it seemed.

"Creaking of harness. Clacking of hooves. Shit of horses. Rumble of wheels." she whispered her responses.


Her voice trailed away to soft mumbling and moans. Her body shuddered as if shaken by a fierce beast.
Jonathan Harker
 player, 13 posts
Fri 12 Mar 2021
at 04:51
28 October, Varna.
Jonathan’s eyes kept flickering between the doctor and his beloved.  “Dr. She can’t keep doing this.”
Professor Van Helsing
 Occultist, 5 posts
 Natural Philosopher
 Metaphysician
Thu 18 Mar 2021
at 20:59
28 October, Varna.
"It is enough. For now," Van Helsing allowed. "We know he is inside a carriage on a road. We know where he is going. If we hurry and catch the night train to Bucharest, we may actually be able to overtake him on the road before he reaches his mountainous homeland."

He puts away his paraphernalia while Mina moans softly in her trance.

"We must travel swiftly now. No time for porters and luggage cars. Each of us can take but one case that he can manage on his own. Harker, pack a case for your wife as well. Morris is as strong as an ox -- he can carry it."

Lord Godalming settles their bill at the hotel and within the hour a hand cart trundles their luggage to the station.

OOC: What's in your case? Weapons & essential gear. I don't care about underwear and tooth powder, but if you want to have a telescope when you reach Barovia, please list it now.
Mina Harker
 player, 11 posts
Thu 18 Mar 2021
at 22:26
28 October, Varna.
'They chase you with weapons of faith and steel and think to use me against you but I will not let them. I will have the old man put me under as often as I can so you can know where we are, my Vlad. And then we shall be together once more in the castle that I see in my dreams when I hear your voice. The sound of the rushing river, and the howls of the wolves. We will be together eternally.'

Mina was still under but she opened her eyes and Hell danced within them. She hissed, revealing 2 cm fangs and when she raised her hand her nails had grown and sharpened.

"Eu sunt Prințesa lui! Sunteți cu toții proști, țărani și hrană pentru creaturile nopții. Vom fi încă o dată împreună, așa cum am fost în fața turcilor, iar minciunile lor murdare ne-au separat!"

Mina was speaking the Romanian language which Jonathan had heard whilst he was there. Mina did not know Romanian...

This message was last edited by the player at 16:41, Sat 20 Mar.

Jonathan Harker
 player, 14 posts
Tue 23 Mar 2021
at 15:39
28 October, Varna.
John did know the language.  He stands and looks into the eyes of his fiancé and speaks with truth and love.

   “Vorbesc cu Dracula sau cu iubitul meu? Nu stiu. Nu tiu ce minciuni v-au spus turcii. Nu tiu ce minciuni i-a spus Satan. cele trei mirese ale lui Dracula tiau furia, pofta comia. M-au bit i sclav. Reflectând minciunile pe care le spune soul lor lor  i lui însu”

    John’s voice wavered at first, but continued with a powerful conviction, having stood with his feet bound to the soil of both worlds and returned, he began to understand the edges of why much of this was happening.

    “I have only ever spoken my heart my love.   If you are truly his lost princess then you are not here because of Satan’s revenge, but of gods forgiveness.   And in the name of my love for you, I have to see a path for the man who loved you to be redeemed, for it would have been the loss of your purity that allowed the darkness to take his soul.  I have already committed to you for all time.  He must relinquish his commitment to the darker emotions before he can commit to love you again.  God is not accountable for the lies of the Turks.  There is no reason for him to allow Satan to bind him with similar lies.”

This message was last edited by the player at 22:11, Tue 23 Mar.

Dr. John Seward
 NPC, 9 posts
 The secrets of the mind
 unlocked at last.
Thu 1 Apr 2021
at 15:42
28 October, Varna.
Seward packed his portmanteau with the bare minimum of clothes and personal requisites. He checked his doctor's bag for medicines and powerful drugs -- mostly cocaine and morphine -- and made sure his transfusion and surgical kits were in place. At the last moment, he stuffed in a stethoscope and a portable microscope.

A Colt pocket pistol weighted down his overcoat pocket and a cigar case within an inner jacket pocket contained two syringes fully loaded with morphine -- enough in each to sedate an elephant.

OOC: My bad. Forgot the condition

This message was last edited by the player at 18:34, Thu 01 Apr.

Jonathan Harker
 player, 17 posts
Thu 1 Apr 2021
at 16:33
Re: 28 October, Varna.

This message was deleted by the player at 06:45, Fri 02 Apr.

haruspex
 GM, 21 posts
 Keeper of Arcane Lore
Tue 6 Apr 2021
at 18:11
Re: 28 October, Bucharest and beyond
After the luxury of traveling on the Orient Express, the local train from Varna to Bucharest paled in comparison. Even though Lord Godalming secured a First Class compartment for them the seats were hard, the upholstery torn and dirty and the whole train stank of goats and mildew. The ancient steam engine bellowed and labored, brakes screeched on rusty wheels and locals wandered onto the tracks with suicidal vagueness at every stop, forcing the conductors to leap off of the train and chase the residence away to allow the vehicle to leave each station. Nevertheless, they reached the ancient capital by mid-afternoon.

Godalming's agent, seemingly tireless, had arranged a fine carriage pulled by four horses to meet them at the station and by evening they were ten miles northwest of the city stopping for the night at a rustic but rather splendid coaching inn.

Harker's passable Romanian and the entire party's general force of intent secured them good rooms for the night and a private dining room where their beaming host served peppery goulash and loaves of crusty bread still warm from the oven. Steins of beer and bottles of semi-sweet wine were available to wash the food down and it was not long before the maps were spread out on the table and cigar smoke filled the room. In comparing his published maps with Harker's sketch map*, drawn from memory of his previous trip, Van Helsing declared that they would reach the Viscounty of Barovia within two more days.

Tapping at the spread-out papers, he mused aloud.

"Our quarry may enter his lands by one of two routes. Either from the south by way of the Tsolenka Pass, or from the east along the Old Svalich Road. The southern route is the most accessible, but the eastern route while adding a full day to the length of his journey will deliver him much more quickly to his castle, where Mr. Harker first encountered him.

"Will he go there? I do not know. We can be in no doubt that he knows we are in pursuit. He is strongest there, but he may have other bolt holes we have no knowledge of where he can lie hidden for weeks, playing a waiting game as we seek him out.

"What do you others suggest our strategy be?
"

* See the Game Map for Group 0 for Harker's sketch map