It takes quite a while for the train to get moving again. This causes further delay not only for the group and the passengers on their train, but also for trains all along the line.
The mood is strained. Most of the staff, as well as several passengers, saw the “ghost” rampaging through the train. Between that terrible apparition, the dual murders, the sabotage to the train, and the destruction of the baggage car, everyone is tense and terrified.
The staff continues to do their jobs with deeply ingrained professionalism. They move the surviving luggage from the baggage car and distribute it as evenly as they can between the recreation cars and passenger cars. Once the baggage car is emptied, and once the staff determines that the undercarriage of the car is structurally sound, the train is cleared to continue its journey.
(At some point during all of this, Mikhail finds a very long access ladder that descends from the top of the bridge to the defile below. Amidst shattered luggage and the smeared remains of Mr. Smith, he finds his Masonic blade.)
Even after all of this, the journey is still much slower than it should be. The locomotive’s controls were severely damaged by the possessed engineer and, though they have been jury-rigged back to something approximating functionality, none of the staff wants to risk causing further damage. That, plus the fact that both the engineer and the fireman are out of commission, makes the remainder of the journey to Milan taken an agonizingly long time.
The wait in Milan for a new locomotive, a new berth car #8, and a new baggage car, is similarly frustrating. Especially for Liam, who feels his dreams of movie-stardom slipping away from him. He attempts to send a telegram to the offices of Palm Tree Studios on the platform in Milan, once he realizes that he is definitely not going to make the April 1st deadline.
Quite a number of passengers who were not previously expecting to get off at Milan get off at Milan. Some have decided to wait and see if their tickets are valid on another, slightly less accursed, train. Others choose to abandon their travel altogether and return home, having decided that they have had quite enough excitement to last them for the rest of their lives.
Several passengers remain, including Ingrid and Greta, Mr. Craegen (who is determined to go to Venice), and Luci Martin, who is also traveling to Syria on journalistic business.
The End of the Investigation
The incidents surrounding the two murders is, frankly, so bizarre that everyone more or less wants to wash their hands of them. This includes Inspector Thorne, who, after hearing the group's heavily edited tale of their final fight with Mr. Smith, rules that the case is closed. Thorne tells the group all that it is now fairly clear to him that Smith not only killed both the countess and…himself? Temporarily? Maybe? But also attempted to frame them for the murders. Murder/suicide. Whichever.
He realizes that he does not have all the answers to this puzzle and attempts to probe the group for information. He asks about Bryan Slim, about the group's connection to Smith, and about what they could have done to garner such hatred. Judge Putnam and Mikhail are able to deflect enough of his questions that he doesn’t get much of anything, but also doesn’t believe that the group is lying to him.
The group later learns, by osmosis, that the Prussian Countess was a woman by the name of Uda Edelweiss. There are rumors that this is not actually her name, that she is not actually a countess, that all of her fine jewels are actually made of paste, and that she was actually a con artist and grifter.
The group is
The group iscongratulated for assisting in the apprehension of Dwight Featherstone (aka Gordy Ottelly), a member of a drug smuggling ring that the international police have been attempting to shut down for quite some time. Inspector Thorne hopes that Gordy will give up the names of his cohorts in exchange for a lighter sentence, and hopes this marks the beginning of the end of this particular gang of smugglers.
Conductor Jannsens informs the group that, as you experienced undue hardship and delays during your trip on the Orient Express, the company will be refunding the cost of their tickets. He apologizes for the inconvenience.
Athens to Damascus
The group's journey from Milan to Athens is a quiet and restful one. The weather in Greece is balmy and sunny, despite it still being early Spring. The people of Athens are friendly and welcoming, and Johnny is able to use his limited Greek to locate a very good restaurants and arrange for a tour of the city center and of the Acropolis.
Several hours later, as the sun sets over the wine dark sea, the group sets sail from Athens. They arrive very early the next morning in Beirut. While the bags are unloaded, Johnny, Dr. Black, and Kane arrange for passage by car to Damascus. Unfortunately, they discover that there is no one awake at this hour to rent cars from. However, the trio encounter an earnest young man named Faisil, who promises to take the group to Damascus in his truck.
The truck is Great War surplus, with a wobbly suspension and a loose gearbox. Most of the group rides in the back with the luggage, several bales of hay, and the pungent aroma of goats. Judge Putnam rides in the cabin with Faisil. During the drive, he learns about the young man’s opinions on a wide variety of things, from his barely concealed hatred of the French, to why Italians are nicer than Spaniards.
The group passes through several checkpoints on the way to Damascus, all of them stationed by members of the French Foreign Legion. At each checkpoint, they are asked to step out of the truck and show your passports. At one checkpoint, the very thorough commandant demands to search the truck. Faisil acquiesces, nervously, and everyone waits while half a dozen French soldiers pick over the luggage. Johnny sweats noticeably when the commandant himself takes a seemingly undue amount of interest in one particular piece of luggage, and is relieved when nothing comes of it.
After his search is complete, the commandant at last smiles, returns the group's documentation, and bids you a good morning.
It is just after noon when the London Group at last arrives in Damascus. Faisil informs them that the best place for then to secure cars, lodging, or anything would be from the people who work in and around the train station. He drives the group to the station and cheerfully begins to unload bags as the group disembarks, stretches, and tries to massage their spines and glutes back into some semblance of working order.