In the week following the destruction of the thing in the well, life had gone on as normal, though there was quite the interest in the group’s exploits at the Dorchester club, particularly with Robert Carrington, who had developed full and complete faith in the dreams and predictions emanating from Paul Lemond. Once everyone had sufficiently recovered from their trip, he called them to a meeting at the club.
“I found myself rather disturbed by the revelations you all brought to me last week about the strange laboratory, a man harboring some type of monstrous creature in a well in Boston, and ties to some manner of secretive brotherhood based in Europe. I think that’s where this all leads, and I would like to discover where the trail leads,” he said.
“Towards that end, I believe those letters you found from this Baron Hauptmann – addressed from Klausenburg, Romania – are the lead we have to follow next. As you all have proven yourselves quite adept at investigating these strange happenings, I’d like to engage your services in investigating this matter as well. I can cover the expenses of your trip to Romania, of course, and any necessary expenses during your stay. Before you leave, do some research to learn what you can of the place, and keep me posted as to your itinerary. If you need anything from there, you can always wire me.”
Doing some research on the subject before they left, they discovered the following:
- Castle Hauptmann was located near a village named Drovosna, the closest major city to which is Klausenburg.
- In 1242, the first Baron Hauptmann built the castle after driving off the Mongols in the area. It was later discovered that this Hauptmann was a descendant of a Hauptmann expelled from the Knights of the Teutonic Order for heresy.
- In 1348, Louis the Great of Hungary sent a patrol to investigate irregularities in the barony. The patrol was lost and thought to have been the victim of bandits.
- In 1389, Castle Hauptmann was besieged by a Turkish army. On the fourth morning of the siege, the commander of the army and his scribe were found mutilated and drained of blood. The army abandoned the siege, broke camp, and went on to conquer Wallachia.
- In 1628 the villagers, led by a monk, stormed the castle. The baron was evidently killed, and the building stood unoccupied until 1792, when the area was reconquered from the Turks by Austria. A descendant of the earlier baron then returned to claim the family’s lands and title.
From Boston, they traveled by ship to London, by train to Paris, and then on board the Orient Express they journeyed to Budapest, from which another train took them to Klausenburg. From there, as the road to Drovosna was impassible by automobile, they hired a carriage to take them some thirty miles onto the high slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. From start to finish, the journey had taken them two weeks, and while the first part had been in luxury the carriage ride left them somewhat travel weary as they arrived in the village.
The dreary village consisted of the humble dwellings of the local peasants, a small village inn and stable, and old stone church with an ill-kept churchyard, all of it in the shadow of a decaying castle perched on the northeast face of a mountain overlooking the village.
The inn was a large two story timber framed building, with a small fenced yard and well-made wooden tables and chairs. It was generally clean and reasonably well lit by windows that offered sunlight during the daytime and torches at night. From the outside, they could surmise that there were just over a half dozen rooms on the second floor, likely accommodations. There were a handful of patrons, mostly older men, making conversation at tables around the place, being waited on occasionally by a young woman.
The Innkeeper spoke a little English and gave them rooms. He didn’t seem to want to talk about the Baron, but mentioned a Hungarian student named John Kopeche who was there studying the area. He said Kopeche usually spent his daylight hours roaming the hills, returning to the Inn for dinner when the sun began to set. Drobne also warned them to watch their possessions and be wary of the gypsy.
During the conversation with Drobne the door suddenly banged open and three dark and stocky men entered, and the inn grew quiet for a moment before resuming its usual cadence. The oldest of the three was a powerfully built man who sported a gold tooth that caught the light, an earring and a thin black mustache. He wore a shotgun over his shoulder on his back. The two other men were visibly younger, and seemed to follow the lead of the older one.
They sat down at a table that was in a darker corner of the inn with a good view of the room, and the older man rapped his knuckles on the table three times, just giving Drobne a look, and then speaking quietly with his companions. The innkeeper began filling three tankards with ale, calling for Olga the tavern girl to serve them. She hurriedly came to carry over the tankards to the men, who drank them immediately.
Drobne said they were the baron’s men – Laslo was the leader. He said they come once a week on the way back from a supply run to Klausenburg. Edmund spilled holy water into their beers, to no effect. Edmund checked and they saw that indeed there were supplies in the wagon. Edmund attempted conversation with them, which wasn’t fruitful, save for their request to meet with the Baron that Laslo said he would pass on.
Afterwards, Edmund broke into the Hungarian student’s room, stole his books and notes, left the door open, then closed the door, but broke the lock. He took the lock out of his own room and replaced it with the Hungarian student’s. When the Hungarian student returned, he was unable to open his door, but managed to pick the lock to get into his room finding his belongings missing, having promised to share his notes with Edmund. Suspiciously, Edmund was downstairs outside of the window with the notes as if they had been left there, then returned the to him.
They bought him a drink and had conversation with him, during which Eliza flirted with him while they attempted to get information out of him. Edmund put holy water into his drink, to no effect. He told them a little about the baron, but recommended they seek out the priest. In a ruse, Eliza told him she needed to talk to Bailey about “feminine issues,” (a ruse she attempted to use repeatedly). In reality, she schemed that they should not visit the priest, as she thought the visit would be a waste of time, wanting Bailey to tell the others while she danced with Kopeche.
The next morning while the others slept in, Edmund went to seek out the priest, who had overseen the area’s flock for about 40 years (the others deemed it a waste of time and decided to sleep instead). It was ultimately a very fruitful visit. He asked the priest various questions about the baron. Edmund put holy water on his hands to shake hands with the priest, to no effect. The priest said that many villagers believed Hauptmann to be a vampire, but he did not share these views as he had seen him during the daytime in full sunlight, and described him as a short, well-muscled man who was dark of hair. More questions revealed that the Baron rarely saw visitors. The last he could remember were an Englishman that the baron hired as a secretary last summer. A tall blonde man who walked with a limp, the Englishman left the area one day suddenly in the middle of the night. The other visitor the Baron remembered visited around 1890. A boy, the visitor was referred to as “young Master Edward” and stayed with the Baron for several years. The boy was a distant cousin whose parents had been killed in an accident. The Baron and the boy left on a trip when the boy was seventeen, and the Baron only returned a year later.
The priest granted him access to the catacombs in the church, where the records for the parish were kept, dating back several hundred years. Some of their findings were as follows:
- In 1545, the local church requested a formal investigation of Baron Hauptmann VII on charges of unjust imprisonment and torture
- In 1546, Baron Hauptmann VII was excommunicated by the Eastern Orthodox Church
From 1546 to 1552, an outbreak of vampirism took place. No conclusions were drawn.
- In 1628, it was claimed that Baron Hauptmann abducted a peasant girl from the village and held her captive in the castle. Several days after her abduction, her mangled body was thrown from the walls of the castle.
- The 1632 testament of Jan Savechik, priest of the village of Drovosna is recorded here also.
The priest’s belief on vampires were made known:
“Indeed, this area has been subject to periodic attacks by a vampire over the years. The victims are always found mangled and drained of every drop of blood. The worst outbreak happened some thirty two years ago, when a large number of locals were killed over a period of weeks.”
The priest also spoke about the Baron when asked:
“Well, many of the villagers believe Hauptmann to be a vampire, but I do not believe this. The Baron is rarely glimpsed by the villagers, so this must arouse this suspicion, but I have seen him walking in full sunlight.”
The priest described the baron as being a short, dark haired, muscular man.
The priest spoke about visitors to the castle:
“The Baron rarely entertains guests. The last one I remember was a young Englishman he hired as a secretary last summer. A tall, blonde young man who walked with a slight limp. He stayed several weeks before leaving suddenly in the middle of the night.”
“Before that, there was also a young boy who came to live with the baron. That was more than thirty years ago, I believe in 1890. He was called as “young Master Edward” and he stayed with the baron for several years. He was supposedly a distant cousin whose parents had been killed in a tragic boating accident. When the boy was seventeen he and the Baron left on a trip somewhere, and only the Baron returned. Perhaps the boy was enrolled in a university.”
Edmund returned, and then the group decided to go visit the gypsies. They went to the gypsy camp to find only one old woman who was a fortune teller with a mentally disabled son who was chopping wood for her. She echoed some of the sentiments expressed by the priest, saying that while she believed in vampires she didn’t believe the baron to be one. She drew tarot cards for the group, but found only omens relating to death no matter how many times she drew. This shocked and upset her. Then suddenly a loud sound came, and they ran to see that some invisible force seemed to be lifting up her son into the air and was violently killing him, snapping his spine. The thing then seemed to fill up with something deep red in color. They tried to shoot it, and it flew away.
Returning the woman to the care of the priest, they returned to the Inn where several copies of the pagan symbol that Edmund had had the Blacksmith forge were waiting for him, along with a letter from the Baron delivered by Laslo – an invitation to come dine at the Castle with the Baron that night.