- Our characters – Lula McCrackin, Seymour Von Kreator, Shoshawna Birdseye, and Dr. Theo Tang – met on the train on their way home to Tygh Valley. By some strange coincidence, the quartet of Oregonians had been assigned to the same sleeper compartment. Shortly after picking up Seymour and Shoshawna at Butte, MT, the train stopped in a smaller town.
- As the train pulled away, there was a knock on the door and a slim, exotic looking black man entered the compartment. He announced himself as Harlan Pyotte, traveling salesman and story sharer, and asked where everyone was going.
- After hearing that the group was headed to Tygh Valley, Harlan mentioned briefly that he had a friend out that way, one Ken Hatch, then launched into a tirade about the practices of a lost tribe of “heathens” who practiced all kinds of repugnant rituals…cannibalism, bestiality, and other assorted ‘black magic’.
- Toward the end of Harlan’s little tear Shoshawna pulled out her big hunting knife and proceeded to menacingly clean her nails and teeth with it. Harlan, getting the hint, stopped his story and excused himself to the WC.
- Bit of an awkward silence while he’s away. Then, on his return, he rifles through his bag and becomes suddenly panicked. Starts demanding that our characters return what they took. He insists that ‘it’ is very rare, and becomes increasingly loud and agitated.
- He puts his hands on Dr. Tang, which is the cue that Seymour and Shoshawna seemed to have been waiting for. Both produced weapons and put them in Harlan’s face…they were the very center of his attention for a moment, until a small sound from outside the compartment caused his ears to prick up.
- Moments later the porter came into the car to examine tickets, and Harlan failed to produce one. Thinking that she might be able to get an interesting story out of the seeming stowaway, Lula produced cash for his ticket. After the porter left Harlan, looking a little shaken, ducked into the closet of the compartment to stow his bag. The closet door shut behind him.
- After a few minutes passed and Harlan failed to emerge, Lula went to investigate. Found a necklace with an Akaitchi design, but no Harlan. The symbol was somewhat familiar to Lula from her occult research, but she couldn’t place its specific meaning. Her inability to identify it was explained when she showed the necklace to the group and Shoshawna recognized it as a small fragment of a larger design: an Akaitchi sealing, binding pattern.
- Given the evening’s events, the party unanimously decided to seek out libations in the dining car. Almost immediately a gregarious, pudgy man in a worn fedora approached Lula and offered to buy her a drink. He was slightly discomforted when he realized that Lula was there with a group of people, but he quickly adapted, asking about the group’s travel plans.
- Turns out that the man – Sean McCormick, private eye – was also on his way to Tygh Valley. He’d been hired by a woman in NYC to seek out her nephew who had quit answering her letters and telegrams. The nephew’s name? Ken Hatch.
- McCormick explains that Hatch was known to have been staying with Dr. Cassius Wainwright, town doctor of Tygh Valley, and Dr. Tang’s adopted father and mentor. McCormick took the opportunity of Tang and Wainwright’s acquaintance to ask some questions of Tang. However, when his questioning intimated a less than wholesome relationship between the bachelor Wainwright and young Hatch, and when his ham handed flirting with Lula became completely insufferable, the group decided to return to their sleeper for the night.
- In the night Seymour (?) was awoken by a commotion in the closet. Upon investigation he saw a strange shade of some kind, like the fading shadow of a man, and also found the cigar that the disappeared Harlan had been smoking much earlier. He woke the others, and Shoshawna found that Harlan’s necklace, which she had been wearing for safe keeping, was gone.
- The next day the train made its last stop before Tygh Valley, and another passenger was assigned to their car for the last leg of the trip: one Lena Avondale, a young British anthropologist studying the natives of the region. Specifically, she’s investigating a ‘lost tribe’, the Gadach…mention of the name caused a bit of a hush to run through the party, as it was associated in memory with tales their mothers or grandmothers had told them to keep them out of the woods as children.
- Avondale immediately warmed up to the group, asking reverent, fascinated questions of Shoshawna and very nearly sitting on Theo’s lap. She showed the group some of her notes, including a sketch of an artifact that she was seeking…the party immediately recognized the design in the sketch as the same as the Akaitchi necklace. They became slightly suspect of Avondale, asking where she had seen the necklace…they were all badly shaken by the night of strange coincidence they had so far had, and found it hard to accept that she had simply copied it from a newspaper illustration.
- Suddenly, the emergency brake of the train squealed piercingly and the train slowed sharply. A few members of the party were thrown from their seats, but relatively little injury was sustained. A moment later a porter cane and ordered everyone off the train…the train had struck something and it would take a few hours to clear the track.
- Fortunately, the train was only a few hundred yards from Tygh Valley, so the party was able to walk the rest of the way into town. Moving past the front of the train there was a crowd of railroad personnel and men from down at the Tygh Valley station. Beyond the crowd, the party glimpsed what the train had hit: a group of maybe a dozen deer (hard to tell precisely, given the damage that the train had done) lay tangled and bloody before and under the first set of the train’s heavy wheels.
Tygh Valley, 1890
Session 1 Recap
strangers on a train