|Monday February 28, 2011 at 5:30pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
Upon entering the main hall of the cathedral, the group witnessed the heart of London's darkness. A shadowy, ragged cloak-like shape hovered beneath the dome in a vortex of swirling air currents. They also noticed a figure slumped over the altar at the front and could just make out another figure collapsed in a large chair in one of the antechambers.
Molly raised her pistol - the bronze one with the golden cross dangling from it's handle - to take aim at the floating shape above, and pulled the trigger.
The cloak-like shape swirled downward to engage the intruders - launching chapel benches, animating statues and even puppeting the body of Lord Caspar - dead figure in the chair antechamber. Robert and Gerald also seemed to experience some space/time anomalies which transported them to some other location, showing them bizarre scenes and events. Ultimately they were able to defeat the apparition - in large part thanks to Molly's effective use of Lance's spirit pistol - as the cathedral continued to crumble.
After the final wraith was banished back into the Shadow World, the storm ouside seemed to subside - but distant thunder continued to rumble - thunder they later discovered was actually gunfire. French soldiers had made a beachhead at the London docks and were attempting to move in and take the city, only to incounter unexpected and horrific resistance in the form of maddened sailors, goblin-like creatures and other unspeakable things - giving local soldiers enough time to mobilize to fend off the remains of the badly demoralized and retreating force. King George would later laud the "Spirit of the City" as being responsible for terrifying the witless French - a miracle from God which allowed the English to prevail. The Treaty of Amiens having been broken, plans for repelling further French attacks - and even the possibilites of a foreign offensive - are being discussed in the Hall of Lords.
The group returned to the bathhouse to recover. Over the successive weeks, things seemed to be calming down. Strangely, it was the city regaining its normalcy that made clear to them more than any other event just how far from the mundane world they had come - and they could not go back.
[end campaign arc]
As Molly was checking on her friends - all of which seemed to be unconscious but not mortally wounded - she saw some flashes of light coming from the common room downstairs. Upon descending to the first floor, she saw 6 or 7 people sprawled out on the floor as flashes of light from the center of the room illuminated the bathhouse like lightening. It was then that a strange and alien figure appeared floating above the ground at the room's center.
The figure was guant and oddly jointed and draped with a kind of sinuous clothing that seemed to end in tendrils which floated in a non-existent breeze - almost seeming to move with a volunatry motion. The figure's head was large and oval shaped, marked only by a single, massive human-like eye. It spoke to Molly in her head, and the others heard its imprint in their unconscious state:
"I appear from the court of Osiris to the one called Katherine, who has gained some note with us. Time is running out. They are even now awakening the Nameless One. London is lost."
After the figure disappeared, a final flash of light illuminated the darkness again and, though Molly didn't dare look into the impossible brightness, she saw that, as it shined, everything in the bathhouse was becoming brighter, sharper, clearer, and more perfect. The lamps ignited again.
Molly was on her way over to check on Gerald when there was a knock at the door. Gerald, who was awakening, yelled in that direction inquiring rather bluntly as to who it was and what they wanted. Robert and Katherine were awakening as well, and began making their way downstairs.
At the door were three of the Bow Street Runners. When the door was answered, they asked to come inside. They rather quickly got to the point: they wanted to know who the four were. They knew that the group had seen and interacted with things that weren't...normal. In doing so, the revealed that they, too, were able to perceive these things that most were unable to see. They called themselves Cerberus. They told the group that they were headed to St. Paul's Cathedral to get to the bottom of what was going on and had come to ask if the group had any useful information for them.
During the conversation, Katherine realized something about the three Runners: they were in every respect normal men. They were sleepwalkers. They didn't really understand the forces they were going up against, though they seemed relatively undaunted by the supernatural horrors they had seen. Katherine suggested that they should all go together, but Robert asked if they could possibly wait for a while. Fredrick, the Runner who seemed to be the leader, told them they'd wait as long as they could before descending into the pit. They would be making ready in the square at its edge. The group spent some time trying to rest and patch themselves up before getting the carriage and driving through the rain-soaked streets to the place where the cathedral had sunk.
The three Runners had not yet gone into the pit, and the group could see them through the downpour, waiting at the edge of the chasm as they pulled up. One of them was tied another rope to one of the trees and group descended into the pit, swan through the water that had flooded the depression, and entered the front doors of the Cathedral, wading through the knee-deep water.
Upon entering, they were immediately waylaid by a pack of formless, shadowy dogs and the woman whom they'd encountered earlier that day. Molly got off a couple of good shots before the woman began shrieking and spewing forth swarms of insects from her open maw. Something about the sound seemed to be exterting a force over the group, making movement very difficult, which Molly alone seemed to shake off. She fired a couple more times at the woman, finally landing a solid hit which caused her to drop the effect, at which point Robert leapt forward and, using Lance's sword, impaled her against the wall. As he pressed his attack, arcs of electricity seemed to shoot across and inside the woman's body and she seemed to sublimate into the air. She was gone, but Robert realized that the blade of Lance's sword had snapped about a foot above the hilt.
The general mood of the bathhouse was coming close to panic and Molly was busy trying to calm down some of the guests and girls. It was nearly an hour before her associate returned with Dr. Galton.
Gerald, he was happy to report, already seemed to be on the mend - moreso even than he would have expected. He praised Molly's first aid actions, which had apparently been quite effective.
Robert, however, was a different story. Dr. Galton reported that Robert was completely unresponsive and that he really needed to be at a hospital. Unfortunately, the Founding Hospital had recently burned to the ground (as they knew all too well) and the doctor doubted Robert would survive the trip to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. If he makes it to morning, Galton said, he might have a chance - but he seemed to doubt that would happen.
After having done what he could, Dr. Galton informed them that he had to get home. Molly and Katherine thought he probably wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't as a personal favor for Gerald's sake.
Some time after the doctor had left, there was a knock on the front door. When Molly answered the door, she found a figure standing there, holding a bloody sabre and clutching an injury at his side. Lance stumbled into the bathhouse, dropping a pack from his shoulders as he did. Leaning on his sword, he made his way to the couch and sat down heavily. Several of the patrons nearby seemed horrified. Molly suggested he let them take him upstairs.
Up in the unconscious Robert's room, they conversed with him. He seemed distant and unconcerned - even saying in so many words that he was only there because he promised he would be. They asked him a number of questions, but he didn't seem to know the answers to many. What they did get was that the Wards on St. Paul's have failed, and that some entities he referred to as "wraiths" were either responsible or precipitatory. He once thought Sophia had something to do with it, but now he's not so sure.
They weren't able to learn much of anything else because as he was talking, he suddenly grimaced, turned to stone, and crumbled into dust.
Katherine and Molly examine Lance's sword (blade etched "Durandell") and the pack he had left downstairs. Inside they found two bronze flintlock pistols (one with a cross "charm" dangling from the handle) and a book entitled "The Witch".
Gerald joined the Molly and Katherine a while later. He seemed to be almost fully healed, and somewhat confused by the state. Checking on Robert, they found him sitting up in bed with no apparent injuries. He mentioned something about Diana.
As they were discussing things in Robert's upstairs room, they heard a scream from elsewhere in the house and the lamps suddenly dimmed drastically. They stood shocked as a glowing, spectral claw reached into the room through the wall. Outside in the hallway, a shadowy amorphous, tentacled, ooze-like mass was climbing up over the walkway rail toward them.
The ensuing combat was brutal, and the group was, overall, in no shape to fight supernatural terrors. Molly had grabbed the cross-bearing pistol and found that it could shoot bolts of light that seared into the spectral monster - but it was massive and seemed to shrug off most of the injuries. The tentacled mass had begun flailing at Katherine and tried to fling Gerald off the balcony, but managed only to drop him. By the time the dust settled, only Molly was left standing.
|Monday December 13, 2010 at 3:00pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
Gerald and Robert had been standing near the back of the crowd when the ground shuddered and the Cathedral disappeared from sight. Almost immediately after these incredible events, they noticed a rather violent disturbance to their right - in the area around where Ludgate street enters the church yard from the west. People where panicked, shoving each other out of the way trying to get away from the area. The two shortly saw the reason why: a massive black dog the size of a large horse was slowly moving into the square. It seemed like it was looking for something. Gerald and Robert decided it was a good time to be somewhere else. Robert tried to support Gerald (who was still quite weak with injury) as best he could as he pushed their way through the crowd toward the center of the square.
The center of the square was clearing out now, as people attempted to flee the area. Robert and Gerald pushed through the crowd to see Molly and George standing near the massive hole. After a moment George turned and began walking toward a shop at the edge of the square.
Katherine was standing in front of the Cathedral near the entrance, staring up through the rain, watching the growing number of swirling shapes in the clouds above. She had advised the others present to take shelter inside the church. There was another tremor and she heard the sound of cracking wood. Across from her, she saw the ornate coffin fall from the platform and split open. Inside, Proteus' lifeless form stared blankly out into the gloom. Katherine noticed something else as well: the staff the Bishop always carried had been buried with him. This struck Katherine as somewhat strange. As she looked at it more closely, she noticed something else: the staff was suspended in the Twilight, not in the material world. Katherine walked over to look more closely.
Molly decided to follow George over to the small shop. George was in search of a rope - something that they could use to help get Katherine out of the hole. As she followed him, she happened to look up and across the square to the east, where she saw and impossibly large, black dog parting the crowd and moving toward the center of the square. They needed to hurry.
George broken the shop window and climbed inside. Molly managed to unlatch the door through the broken window and followed him. It took a few moments for them to find a decent length of sturdy rope. By the time they were leaving the shop, Robert and Gerald had nearly reached their position.
Meanwhile, Katherine was looking at the body of the dead Bishop when she heard a hollow voice behind her. "Why do you come to confess, child? There will be no more forgiveness here!" Katherine turned slowly and only just in time to see the knife point being thrust at her head. She ducked out of the way just in time, emerging with only a small cut across her cheek - though she didn't think the injury had a physical manifestation. The spectral figure of a man floated before her. His skin had a strange discoloration to it. He wore obvious clerical vestments, though they seemed rotted, moth-eaten and very old. He held a knife in one hand and there was a sadistic smile on in face.
Katherine pushed her hand into the Twilight and took up Proteus' staff. Placing it between herself and her assailant, she commanded him, "Go back to where you came from!"
The ghostly being recoiled from the cross and his smile immediately shifted to a hateful scowl. His form seemed to distort and fold in on itself, and seemed to be sucked backward to a single pinpoint a few feet behind where it had floated. Katherine was glad to see the figure gone, but she had a feeling her actions had little to do with its departure.
The square above was all but empty at this point, save for Katherine's 4 companions. The two giant dogs had converged on the far side of the giant hole from them. As their paths crossed and they darted back and forth, a third figure appeared among them: a woman. She wore what would have been at one time a very fancy red dress, but time and decay seemed to have taken their toll on it. It was faded and rotten in many places, having large holes and torn seams. She spoke arrogantly to the nearly empty square. "Who are these few who do not run in terror?"
It was Gerald who turned to face her. "Who are you, woman? What evil lurks here?" The woman did not answer with words. Instead, she violently clenched her fist before her. Gerald pitched forward against his cane as excruciating pain coursed through his body. He gritted his teeth hard, he would not give her the satisfaction of seeing him succumb. When he would not collapse, she threw her hands into the air and shrieked "Kill them!"
From the depths of the hole, Katherine heard the shriek and looked up. She saw the dark shapes that had been gathering above in the clouds suddenly streak away in all directions. Above, Robert saw them descend into the street, causing screams to echo through the alleys and leaving dozens of people inexplicably collapsed in their wake.
The dogs leapt forward in order to tear the companions apart. One of the dogs barreled into Gerald, knocking him to the ground. Robert ran forward and began to stab at the huge beast with his knife. The other dog was also about to charge forward, but Molly reacted by sending a strong impulse of fear toward it, causing it to balk.
The woman held out her hands and spoke in some strange voice. As she did so, hundreds of the cobblestones around her feet became massive spiders that began crawling toward the group - but then something unexpected happened. The woman suddenly recoiled as if stung by something. Several of the spiders turned back and began moving toward her. A few others broke off and began leaping onto the dogs' legs.
Below, Katherine had affixed the spectral cross to herself and had been attempting to find a way out of the hole. George had tied off the rope and thrown it down to her, but its length didn't reach all the way to the ground. She was finally able to get a hold of it, but climbing was slow. Looking down, she noticed something else: the pouring rain seemed to be filling the basin the cathedral now occupied. There was already nearly a foot of standing water on the ground.
Robert was having a difficult time fighting off the dog, being driven backward as its vicious bites tore into his arms and legs. He was trying his best to return the injuries with his knife, but the thickness of the beast's hide made doing much real harm to it difficult. The massive dog finally managed to trip him, and, standing over him, dug its teeth into his shoulder. It was only then that Robert was able to jam his knife into the monster's underside, causing it to collapse atop him. Unfortunately, this final exertion was all he had left, and he too lost consciousness.
The other dog had begun to charge forward several times, but Molly had managed to keep it just unsure enough such that it stayed out of reach and only partially inclined to attack. The spiders, however, had begun swarming around them and it was virtually impossible to keep them all at bay.
Gerald looked up at the woman who was fighting off spiders herself. The woman shrieked again. An icy wind cut through the empty square, and all of the spiders withered and died. "Go away!" Gerald yelled at her, and watched in shock as her form folded in upon itself and was drawn backward into nothingness.
Almost immediately after her disappearance, there was a loud BLAM!, followed shortly by another, The dog that was still standing staggered slightly, turned and ran off toward a pair of figures standing near an alleyway across the square. There was another BLAM, and the beast staggered more, and then changed course and darted out into the fog of the city.
Molly ran over to Robert's motionless form and called for Gerald who hobbled over and, using some scraps of cloth torn from his own clothing managed to stop the bleeding. By this time, Katherine had managed to climb out of the hole. The group decided they needed to get back to the bathhouse.
The trip back was long, cold and painful. Gerald was able to tell Molly to call for a doctor before he collapsed himself. Katherine went up to her room and placed the spectral cross she was still carrying under the mattress of her bed.
|Monday November 29, 2010 at 5:30pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
The crumpled scrap of paper Hannington had left on the bar contained only a few words which Robert was able to piece together as an address somewhere on the east end of the city. He and Gerald puzzled over this for a few minutes but they were certainly in no shape to go investigating anytime soon. They asked the bartender if they could have a place to stay on the premises. He responded that The Mitre generally didn't have rooms to let but that Hannington had been staying upstairs and his room was now obviously unoccupied. A little annoyed at the man's sudden departure, he told them that they could stay the night there given the circumstances.
Molly and Katherine stood still as the woman who had appeared glided down the stairway toward them. Ignoring her chastising, Lance began shouting at her: "Sophia! Have you lost your mind!?"
Sophia's response was elusive. "An interesting turn of phrase, Lancelot..." she began, but Lance cut across her again "I have no time for games, Sophia. Where is your consort? Where are your puppets? Don't you know what their actions have done to your city?".
"This city rejected me long ago, Lancelot." Sophia responded, her tone icy, then she added something to Lance that was too quiet for Katherine and Molly to hear clearly - but it seemed to have some effect on him. Raising her voice, she continued, "You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I appeared her upon your request..." Sophia turned toward the doorway where Katherine and Molly were standing and began floating idly in their direction, adding quietly, "I am much more interested in these....newly awakened..."
Lance stood stunned for only a moment as the woman passed him, but he seemed to recover his composure rather quickly. Reaching into his large coat, he produced a pistol which he pointed at her back. "No, I'm sorry Sophie, I'm quiet serious."
Sophia froze, a slight fear shot across her face for just a moment. "You are powerless against me, Lancelot..." She trailed off. Her words may have been strong, but her voice quivered with a slight uncertainty.
"Quite sure of that?" Lance said, a sly smile crossing his face as he pulled the flintlock back, letting it's click echo in empty room.
Sophia turned around to face him again. After a brief moment of deliberation, she spoke. "Proteus is dead, Lancelot." she stated firmly, as if this commonly-known fact would answer any questions he may have.
Lance's posture shifted slightly. He hesitated for a moment before suddenly striding swiftly toward the door. Upon reaching the threshold he stopped. Still holding his weapon, he spoke over his shoulder. "And where is your consort, Sophia?"
"Speaking with some old friends, Lancelot."
Lance then strode out into the pouring rain once more. After his departure, Sophia turned back to the two girls, seeming to examine them carefully. She had been about to speak to them directly when they decided further encounters with this ghostly woman would be unwise. They turned and hurried out through the rain after Lance.
Katherine and Molly caught up with him near St. Paul's square as he was watching for signs of Runners enforcing the curfew. When all was clear, he hurried across the square to the main entrance of the Cathedral but found it locked. He then hurried around the north side of the building toward a lower back entrance which was also locked. Producing something form his pocket which he uses to open the lock and proceeds inside, telling the two to remain silent.
Proceeding just inside, the three were stopped by the sound of voices echoing from somewhere above them. Three voices; two male, one female, discussing something. Something that had gone awry or contrary to some plan or expectation. The two male voices seemed to believe that the deviation was well within acceptable bounds, but the female voice was agitated and insistent that actions must be taken less all be lost. After the voices faded into the darkness, Lance ventured further inside, Molly and Katherine following him. He searched any room that was unlocked and also spent some time carefully examining several of the statues and carvings in the main hall. About an hour later, he told the girls that he was going home - there were some things he needed to see to. When Katherine and Molly demanded further explanation, he told them that he would return to their Bathhouse the next day. Molly and Katherine made their way back through the rain.
The following day, Robert and Gerald return to meed them at the bathhouse and George returns as well - bearing the swordcane Gerald had wanted. Apparently he won it in a game of chance from a strange peddler he'd not seen before. He also mentioned he'd been working a bit over the last couple of days and that a new ship had just arrived in port - a ship called the Great Maw. This was a legendary pirate ship, but strangely, no one around the docks seemed bothered. Perhaps they didn't buy into the legend. Apparently it checked out with the harbor master as George had seen him speaking rather sociably with the captain as a large number of crewmen disembarked.
It was now friday morning. The Bishop's funeral was to be held at noon in St. Paul's square. After discussing recent events and waiting a few hours to see if Lance would show up at the bathhouse that morning, they had the carriage brought around and they made their way to the square. The rain still poured down.
St. Paul's square was completely packed. Their carriage was only able to make it to a street about 3 blocks away before passage was impossible. Across the sea of people, they could see a raised platform in front of the Cathedral entrance on which stood the Archbishop of Canterbury and a few other officials. The clattering rain would make hearing difficult even at close range, so katherine and Molly decided to try to get as close as they could. After they'd left, George decided he would follow them. Robert and Gerald (both still quite injured) lingered near the back.
The service began in a usual and expected way. John Moore spoke at length about Beilby Proteus' service to the Anglican Church in London and how his tragic and sudden death would surely be a blow to the local congregations. He then of course proceeded to admonish his listeners to live up to the legacy the Bishop had left behind by keeping the faith, etc.
While this eulogy was being delivered, a new sound began to surface above the crowd - a high-pitched whistling sound which began very quiet, but grew in intensity. Katherine and Molly exchanged looks. The area around the square seemed to be getting darker. The clouds above were thick and dark - and something seemed to be moving within them.
A loud and sudden crash of thunder silenced the square. Even the Archbishop stopped and looked around for a moment. Katherine looked around in the Twilight. There seemed to be some discord or inconsistency between the spiritual aspects of the people around them and their physical forms. She could also see dozens of ghost-like shapes swirling in the air above the crowd. Molly began to sense a growing agitation in the emotional collective of those gathered.
They had little time to reflect on these impressions as another crash shook the ground around them. dozens of people around them lost their balance and began toppling into one another. Molly and Katherine managed to keep their feet, but the ground beneath them split open and created a widening gap between the rest of the square and the area around the stage and cathedral.
George had managed to push his way up to where the girls were standing. Katherine didn't completely realize it, but she needed to make a split-second decision. She could see the ground on the other side of the crack shifting - and she decided that the cathedral side was where she wanted to be. George tried to grab her to hold her back, but she managed to slip away from him, falling to the ground on the other side of the emerging chasm just before the cathedral and the ground around its base suddenly dropped perhaps 75 or more feet into the earth. Molly looked across what was now a massive pit. Near its center, the copper cross which crowned the Cathedral was now at ground level.
|Monday November 15, 2010 at 5:30pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
Molly and Katherine were still standing in the burned clearing when Katherine noticed a massive humanoid-bird, demon-like creature trying to enter the material world from the Shadow where they'd rescued Lance. It took Katherine a few seconds to shake off the terror that enveloped her before she was able to force the doorway closed, banishing the beat back into the shadow.
Robert and Gerald were in a room of a run-down apartment building adjacent to the clearing where they discovered a strange sculpture of a four-armed human figure with a canine head. While they were examining it, a massive, deformed figure burst in and began attacking them. In the insuing fight, Gerald was severely injured.
Molly was able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Gerald's injuries, but he would need hospital care. Meanwhile, Diana had appeared outside where Lance was and had asked Katherine what had happened. Katherine called for Elston and asked him to carry Lance's incorporeal form back to the bathhouse.
The group was able to get Gerald to the hospital where he and Robert would spend the night. Molly and Katherine returned to the bathhouse and spent some time talking to Diana and attempting to discover what was wrong with Lance. They learned that he was not actually dead, but rather somehow stuck in the Twilight. By touching his thoughts, Molly was also horrified to learn that his mind was locked in some kind of mental torture. It took her some time, but she was finally able to pull him free of it.
At the hospital, Robert was dozing in a chair next to Gerald's bed when he was startled by a loud slam which came from the far side of the room near the entrance. The lamps in the room began to flicker and go out and he noticed a sharp drop in temperature. He asked Gerald for candle and Gerald, half asleep, pulled a lit candle from the bag next to his bed. Before Robert had much time to inquire as to how or why he had a lit candle in his bag, he heard footsteps approaching. A figure stopped at the edge of the illuminated area and told Robert that he had something for him. The figure dropped something which clattered to the floor inside the lit area - it was a bone-handled knife still dripping with fresh blood. Robert looked up to ask what this meant, but the figure was already walking away. The sound of the footsteps continued until it reached the doorway and then stopped. Robert made his was to the doorway where he thought he saw some shadowy movement, but no one was there. The hallways were also dark and the building was utterly silent. On his way back to Gerald's bed, he noticed something else - the other beds in the ward, which had previously held other patients were empty.
Robert woke Gerald, told him about the situation, and, after finding a wheelchair for Gerald, the two decided they should leave. As they exited the building, the heard the sounds of breaking glass and found that several of the rooms had been set on fire. The two headed outside into the pouring rain and, shouting for someone and eventually encountered a couple of the Runners, whom they informed about the situation at the hospital. The two headed toward the Mitre, a pub which happened to be nearby.
The bartender was surprised to see two patrons enter, doubly so because there was currently a curfew in effect, and triply so because one of them seemed to be in need of hospital care. He was shocked to hear of the situation at the hospital. As they were talking, they saw a familiar man in a booth across the room slide out and begin skulking toward them. It was Hannington. Placing a crumpled paper on the bar next to Robert he whispered "I think someone was looking for you". He then walked out into the rain, despite the bartender's warnings about the curfew.
Back at the bathhouse, Lance finally woke up and stepped out of the Twilight. Seeming confused by his surroundings, he asked a few questions and then hurried out. Katherine and Molly tried to convince him to stay for a few minutes and managed to do so briefly by showing him the statues of Arthur, Gavin and Gwen, but ultimately he would not be detained. He told them if they had any other questions they'd have to come with him. Deciding the ignore the curfew, they did so.
They followed Lance to the Foley Manor, where he began shouting for someone called Sophia as he paced intensely around the entrance hall. When he got no response, he instead called for Diana, who appeared in a small wooden chair in the corner of the room. Without hesitating, he asked her where her grandmother was. She informed him that she hadn't seen her for at least a few weeks. He was about to storm out of the house when a tall, cold woman appeared from nowhere at the top of the stairway above them. "Lancelot, when will you stop meddling in matters which are so far above you?"
The group sat in the kitchen as the rains continued the afternoon of Thursday, April 19th. The group had been talking about the the murdered Bishop and had decided to attend the public funeral which was to be held in square of St. Paul's Cathedral the following morning when Robert returned to the bathhouse with some other news. He told them he'd spoken with Diana again, and that she was upset. Apparently the person called Lance was being held prisoner on the Isle of Dogs. She had tried to go to him, but had been driven away somehow. Despite the pouring rain, they decided they needed to return to the Isle, an action they'd been discussing for some time.
The group took the carraige as far as they could manage, but the east side was in shambles. Robert had also reported a significant increase in inter-gang conflicts that were remaining just below the public's consciousness due to certain factors. Carefully, they made their way through the docks.
There were very few people on the street. Recent events, the poor weather and the general sense of fear that permeated the city seemed to have caused certain aspects of city life to grind to a halt. Gerald noted several people peering suspiciously out their windows as they passed.
The Isle of Dogs itself was all but destroyed. Never a "nice" area of town, the fires and rampant crime had left it ravaged. It wasn't until they'd nearly reached the center of the Isle that they saw anything truly unusual.
At the very heart of the district there was a broad area that had been burned completely - to the point that it was nothing but ash and loose rubble. Even the cobblestones and foundations of now-destroyed buildings bore signs of melting by extreme heat. Katherine immediately got the sense that there was something else present.
Focusing her eyes into the twilight, Katherine beheld a massive stone obilisk and around it, some sort of swirling spiritual ephemera. Chained to the bottom of it was an unconscious man. She tried to approach it, but it seemed to always be some distance away. It was then that she remembered Elston mentioning something about a place called the Shadow - a world that was completely distinct from this one. Katherine closed her eyes and willed herself through the gap and into the realm of Shadow. Her companions were shocked to see her completely disappear.
It was dark on the other side, but less hazy and Katherine was able to see details much more clearly. She approached the man, who seemed to be faintly struggling in whatever state of unconsciousness he was in. She tried to rouse him, but he did not respond. Deciding this must be Lance, she tried to consider some way of freeing him, eventually deciding tor try pick the locks on the manacles that bound him there.
Back in the material world, something was happening. The other three watched as dozens of dogs began emerging from the alleys into the burned clearing. Apart from just their numbers, there was something else strange about their behavior that they couldn't quite quantify. As another group of dogs approached from the alleyway behind them, they discovered that the dogs seemed unnaturally aggressive and they did not hesitate to attack.
The resultant combat was chaotic The three attempted to batter or stab the dogs to keep them at bay. Gerald felt a strange muscle spasm that caused him to drop the medicine bag he'd been using to bludgeon a nearby dog whereupon several objects scattered out of it - a few of which Gerald didn't remember putting into his bag. Molly felt a strange piercing in her mind and the world became hazy and indistinct. Looking around, she saw Katherine at the base of a massive obilisk. She had only just thought that she wanted to be over where her friend was when she was suddenly there. Gerald and Robert were once again astounded to see their other friend vanish.
At this point, many of the other dogs, having wandered into the clearing and not finding anything, turned there attention to Robert and Gerald. Gerald looked around and noted the cracked door on the building next to which they stood. Bashing it open, the two dashed inside, scattering whatever furniture they encountered behind them in an attempt to block the way for the crazed dogs as they clamoured upstairs.
Katherine had managed to pick the locks and she and Molly attempted to extract Lance. When they were successful, the howling wind-like sound they'd heard stopped suddenly and it was eerily quiet. The two then willed themselves back across the Gauntlet.
By the time they reappeared in the clearing, the dogs had left. Gerald and Robert were looking out the window of the second floor of the shack into which they had fled. Katherine and Molly re-materialized but Lance, whom they'd been carrying, was not with them. Katherine peered once more into the Twilight and saw his translucent form lying on the ground.
The rains continued as the group went about their day, more than a little bewildered by the events of the previous 24 hours. Robert told the others that he had some things he needed to take care of and headed out into the city just after noon. Molly was busy taking care of some housekeeping after the previous night's disturbance. Gerald had received word of some additional "strange cases" at the hospital and he decided he should go check on them. Katherine wanted to visit the cemetery on the north side of town. George decided he would go with them.
The three hired a coach to drive them to the area of town. Gerald and George got out near the hospital and let it take Katherine the rest of the way to the cemetery. Shortly after their parting, George decided they shouldn't have left Katherine alone with all the crime that'd been happening, so he split up with Gerald and began walking toward the cemetery to meet Katherine.
When Katherine arrived, she found a quiet spot under a couple of trees (which partially sheltered her from the rain), spread out an old blanket Molly had given her, and sat down. Closing her eyes and reaching out into the Twilight, Katherine called for Elston.
George happened upon Katherine as she was meditating there. He attempted to talk to her, but she repetatively told him she was concentrating and not to disturb her. At that, he took a few nips from his flask and settled down to nap.
Elston eventually responded to Katherine's summons. He seemed somehow less "healthy" than before - looking somewhat emaciated - and his ghostly clothing bore marks and tears where before it looked neat and well-groomed. During their conversation, Elston told Katherine that the city was becoming more dangerous - both in her world and his. He also told her that there was some malevolence inhabiting the far east side of the city. Katherine asked him directly about a name she'd heard - a person called Sophia. Elston told her he was unable to tell her much about this entity, but he did caution her saying - "What you must understand, Katherine, is that some spirits are very old, and very bitter."
At the hospital, Gerald was observing the 8 new patients. While they seemd "less far along" than the original 4, there was little different about them. All of the patients had some skin discoloration, a rather slow heartrate, and were inexplicably catatonic.
Back at the bathhouse, Molly was visited by one of the Bow Street Runners. The man seemed obviously exhausted. He informed Molly that there had been a rash of break-ins the previous night and he understood her establishment was one of the targets. He asked her a few questions about the incident. As he left, she noticed another man standing just inside the door. He was a nobleman, but the look of him. He was looking around the room with an expression of disgust. To noone in particular, but obviously intending Molly to hear it, he said "I can remember a time when the Malloy family was possessed of much more honor and dignity." He then turned to walk away. As he was in the doorway, he said to Molly over his shoulder: "You need to remember your name, Miss Malloy" Indignant, she demanded his name. He replied he was called Lord Caspar.
It was a few hours later when the group got back together at the bathhouse. They spent some time discussing their respective experiences that day and more about the day before. George, of course, continued to think that they were either putting him on about certain things, or potentially going mad.
The following day, George set out on an errand for something Gerald had requested, while the other three went to the hospital. Gerald wanted Katherine to look at the sick patients. Since she seemed to have some kind of second sight, he hoped perhaps she might be able to perceive something he could not. Unfortunately, however, apart from the fact that their souls seemed somehow fainter than normal, she could determine very little. Molly, however, decided to try something else.
Sitting down beside one of the beds, Molly took the hand of one of the patients - a young man. Stroking his hair, she began speaking to him very lowly - asking him to tell her what happened to him. Suddenly, jarringly, she began to see flashes of memories through his eyes. She saw unnatural shadows, glimpses of spirits and monsters, and scenes of dark terrors this individual had encountered. The suddenness of the images flooding into her mind from this man strained her physically. Katherine who had been watching through the Twilight saw her spirit shudder as she broke the connection with the man. Shaking, she turned to Gerald, "I know what happened to him."
The following day, the group was still trying to formulate some sort of plan of action. They all felt inextricably linked to the events of late, but the clues they had gathered seemed to link only to ghosts in the fog. One fact seemed sure: things were getting worse. As if further proof was needed, Molly dropped the day's print of the Register on the table. The headline read: "Bishop of London Murdered"!
|Wednesday October 6, 2010 at 5:30pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
Robert and Katherine moved forward to sit beside the girl on the sofa. Molly began closing curtains around the room while George escorted the other guests toward the kitchen. Gerald simply stared in frustrated confusion.
The girl continued to engage Robert in conversation while Katherine listened closely, trying to pick up any sound from the girl, but she was completely silent. The girl asked again where Lance might be and seemed surprised when Robert indicated that he didn't know this person. She mentioned that he hadn't called for her in several days. She then asked Robert about himself and how he'd been lately, inching closer to him on the sofa. Katherine, who'd finally managed to hear her, thought she was fairly obviously flirting with him. The girl was about to leave when Katherine addressed her. She seemed startled, almost as if she hadn't noticed anyone else in the room. She also seemed surprised the others could hear or even see her. Katherine asked her her name, and she replied that she was called Diana. They talked briefly about the strange happenings in the city, and Diana seemed to know something was wrong as well. She told them that there was something lurking in the east side of the city, driving other things away. She told them the east side didn't "feel" right anymore. They asked her how they could reach her if they heard from Lance, and she told them to go back to Allens Street. She then put a flower in Robert's hand, smiled, and stood up - vanishing as she did so. The flower Robert held wilted and dried immediately.
The group was still quite exhausted after their day spent on the fire brigades and, as they welcomed the guests back into the main area of the house, decided they would clean up and have a brief discussion before bed. The guests present seemed to have all but forgotten the events that had just transpired.
Katherine was awakened suddenly in the middle of the night to the sound of breaking glass. She roused Molly and the two of them crept down the hallway, hearin the sounds of someone moving about downstairs. Molly had grabbed a knife and Katherine had an unloaded pistol which, she thought, might be useful for bluffing if necessary. Robert had heard someone walking past and had emerged quietly from his room as well, also holding a knife. The three of them heard another crash come from the direction of Gerlad's room - it seemed as though more intruders were coming. The group ran down the stairs.
They found the intruders to be rather sloppy burlars, uncoordinated and thuggish. The fought with the brutes, Molly and Robert giving two of them rather significant knife wounds and Gerald knocking one out with his medicine bag. The encounter was nearing its end when Katherine felt a prickle creep up the back of her neck. Peering past the material realm into the twilight, she saw the hideous form of the spirit creature that had been possessing the large sailor they'd fought earlier in the day. She screamed. Robert came back around the corner and asked what was wrong, but he was unable to see anything. Katherine pushed her arm into the twilight and took a swing at the creature with the butt of her pistol, but it seemed to have little effect. It was at this moment that Robert felt something wash over him, and his eyes seemed to pierce the darkness as he saw the hideous beast before him. "What is that!?", he exclaimed. Katherine was moving backward up the stairs and was just about to bash its head again when it disappeared. Katherine and Robert looked at each other, relieved but still shaken.
After binding the unconscious intruder, calming some of the others in the house who were awakened by the commotion and making sure the house was relatively in order, they returned to their beds, still more exhausted than before.
The next morning was spent around the bathhouse. The rains continued to pour outside, and it was particularly cold for this time of year. There were an abnormally large number of chimney's spewing particularly dark smoke - especially from the east side of town - as well, adding to the fog and smog that seemed thick around the city. There were very few people on the streets.
The thug they'd subdued didn't seem to remember much about the previous night's activities. The Register reported that there'd been a large number of such break-ins and random crimes around the city and the source of the fires that had ravaged parts of the east side the day before was still to be determined. Parliament was scheduled to discuss these matters in a special session that day, and some governmental action was expected.
|Monday September 13, 2010 at 5:30pm||world of darkness, london 1802, game session notes||Comments (0) »|
The group spent the rest of the evening discussing what Katherine may or may not have "seen" in the alleyway on the Isle of Dogs. Afterward, they all decided to call it a night.
The next morning, they discussed what they should do next. Eventually, they decided to revisit the site in daylight. When they walked out the front door, however, their plans were amended.
Looking eastward across the city, they saw several large columns of smoke rising from the vague area of the docks district into the overcast sky. Deciding time was now of the essence, they called for Molly's carriage and drove quickly toward the source of the problem.
As they made their way further east, the chaos in the streets became more and more intense and the driver had some difficulty maneuvering the carriage through some intersections. At last, it could go no further with any degree of safety, so the group decided to continue on foot.
They were hurrying through a narrow street when they saw a large, burly sailor run up to a shop window and heave a large chunk of cobblestone through its front window. Two other sailors were running up the street behind him. All three of them looked completely maddened, their bloodshot eyes wide but largely un-seeing. Shouts rang out from inside the shop and there was a loud CRACK as a musket shot blew a hole in the large man's side. He stumbled backward momentarily, but the grievous wound did not seem to deter him and he smashed through the front door and into the shop.
George, Gerald and Robert all moved forward, pulling weapons and trying to get the sailors' attention. As the others engaged, Katherine sensed something odd about the sailors. She unfocused her eyes to peer into the realm of the spirit and what she saw startled her. Grotesque, demon-like, ephemeral beings were clinging to the sailors, wrapping their skeletal arms around the sailors' chests while their mouths of sharp, jagged teeth whispered incomprehensible horrors into the sailors' ears.
Katherine shouted to Gerald that the sailors were possessed. After a further moment's thought, she took the pistol Molly had pulled from her purse. Concentrating hard, she "pushed" her arm into the spirit realm. Molly gasped and the sailor's eyes momentarily widened with incredulity: Katherine's forearm - and the pistol she held - had become and eerie skeletal green.
Katherine pulled the trigger. There was a bright green flash and a muted popping sound, but only Katherine could see the bright streak which hit the demon-like spirit, blasting it backward off the sailor's back - a gaping wound in its shoulder now oozing a thick, silvery liquid. The being stared coldly at Katherine.
Inside the shop, George had run up on the large man, leaped onto his back and pulled a crowbar backward into his neck. The large man struggled briefly, but began to give in very quickly. Rage had overcome George and even as the man collapsed, George took his crowbar and began bashing the unconscious man's head into a bloody mess.
Katherine saw the spirit detach itself from the massive sailor's back and reach its incorporeal, clawed hands into George's chest, closing them around his heart. George sudden grabbed his chest, gasped, and collapsed on the shop floor next to the dead sailor. Katherine saw the demon-spirits disappear. The shop-keeper was horrified. Gerald hurriedly approached George's unconscious form. He turned him over and began trying to ascertain his condition. Gerald reflexively began shouting demands for medical equipment, none of which was available. Finally, he looked up at the others. "He's dead."
The others of the group stared at him in disbelief. The shopkeeper gave a little whimper. Time seemed to slow a little as they each looked to one another for what they should do next. Then, George sat up. He didn't gasp for breath, nor did he seem particularly agitated - in fact, he was quite calm. He looked around at the group staring at him questioningly.
"You...you were dead, George.", Katherine said, "I saw...it reach into you and crush your heart..."
George chuckled, "You are quite the story-teller, miss Katherine..."
As they were re-composing themselves, one of the Bow Street Runners appeared in the shop doorway. "Is everything alright in here?" Even as he was asking, he was able to see the answer to his question. The Runner grimaced. "Ok," he continued, "You, you and you - come with me." He pointed to George, Robert and Gerald, "The fires are spreading..." The group hurried on toward the east with the Runner.
The men were conscripted into the various fire brigades attempting to contain the unexplained blazes. Molly and Katherine were asked to return to their homes and let the men take care of the problem several times, but in the chaos, the gender separation was somewhat trumped by necessity.
The rest of the day was spent trying with little success to fight the blazes. Much of the effort was simply to keep it from spreading to new areas. In the early evening, the slate sky finally decided to begin to rain and it was only then that the fire-fighting efforts began to succeed.
It was after nightfall when the group finally walked back toward the bathhouse in the pouring rain. As they opened they entered the front door, they noted an eerie silence. Moving into the large living area of the house, they found all of the occupants crowded against the walls at the edges of the room, staring with a mix of horror and curiosity at the center of the room.
On one of the couches near the middle of the room sat a young girl with dark hair wearing a long, simple white dress. She was exceptionally pale - in fact, it seemed as though her form contained no color at all. except for a brilliant red flower in her hair above her right ear. She was holding a saucer and sipping a small cup of tea.
When the group cautiously moved into the room, the girl looked up. Seeing, Robert, she smiled. She seemed to speak, but her mouth moved without creating any sound. Several of the others in the room gasped. Robert, however, heard her voice clearly: "Oh, you're back. They told me I'd find you here. I was wondering, have you seen Lance?"
A few days passed, and the group members focused on some personal pursuits.
Kathrine, Gerald and Molly discussed what recently transpired and what they might do about it. Gerald and Kathrine had spent some considerable time in the library. There, Gerald was reminded of where he'd seen the word "Excalibur" before - it was a the name of a sword belonging to a legendary English king called Arthur.
It was the following monday when George finally met up with them again. He'd been busy at the docks for quite some time, but work was drying up. He told the others that a lot of ships had been coming into port lately, but that almost none were leaving. The dispositions of a lot of the sailors and captains were inexplicably edgy and defiant. Many of the ships in the London and India docks were marked as being "in violation" by the harbor masters, but the captains still refuse to sail out - to that point that there are a large number of boats anchored in the Pool. George had also seen more than the usual number of fist fights, and they tend to get brutally violent much more quickly. There have been a number of gruesome murders on the Isle of Dogs, and the docks district as a whole has a desperate and dangerous feel to it. The others exchanged looks and some short comments and then decided to tell George about what had occurred the previous week.
George, predictably, didn't really believe them. He seemed to assume that they were either telling him a good story, trying to pull some sort of prank, or they were losing their grip on their sanity. They showed him the statues they had covered in a locked room, but he wasn't impressed by much more than their artistry.
The others weren't entirely surprised by the difficulty in convincing him, but it was still a bit frustrating. They asked George if he knew any of the locations of the strange murders and he told them he did know where one of them happened. Sure of what they'd witnessed so far and confident that these strange new events at the docks must be somehow related, they decided they would go take a look around the scene. Tonight. And George was coming with them.
The Isle of Dogs is a peninsula in the far east of London made into an "island" by the canals that run into the India docks near where its base. Being on the far east side of the city, it is also about the seediest area in London. It is all but a shanty-town, composed of one and two-story, wooden buildings - run down inns, taverns and apartments - crowded along narrow, winding streets - and the further inland one gets, the worse it is. As George guided them through the docks district, they noticed a lot of people in the area, mostly sailors, and the social atmosphere was very tense.
They arrived at the narrow alleyway where George had heard one of the murders had occurred. About halfway down the alley, there was a step up to a broken door. On the wall next to it, there seemed to be some scrapes through something that might have once been a drawing or writing of some kind. On the ground next to the steps, a splotchy, dark discoloration that was probably a large quantity of blood.
The group was still looking around the area when Kathrine felt a strange chill descend upon the area. Kathrine defocused her eyes. She'd found that, with some concentration, she was able to see things that were there, but intangible - spirits and ghosts. When she did this, she saw a very tall, translucent man standing over Gerald's shoulder.
When she spoke to him, he seemed startled. Her friends who were examining the scene also seemed somewhat taken aback, as she was staring into space, talking to herself. Kathrine asked the man, who was called Elston, about what was going on here. He told her that a few days ago, he'd seen two men murdered here, and the strangeness of their deaths kept him here. They had come down this alleyway and banged on the door. It was answered by a woman. They exchanged some heated words, and then the woman did something which caused two monstrous dog-like creatures to appear which proceeded to tear the two men apart and then disappear. The woman smirked and closed the door. Kathrine also asked him about the mark on the wall. He told her he remembered seeing it. He traced the outline of a symbol on the wall where Gerald and George were looking, but he told her there was more to it than that.
Kathrine's conversation with an imperceptible entity was beginning unnerve her companions before she "snapped out of it". When her senses returned to the material realm, she found them all staring at her. Gerald said "When we get back, we need to talk."
It was after nightfall on Tuesday, April 13th, 1802 before the group reached London Bridge. They were planning to meet an associate of Sir Barnabas who was to give them a kind of relic that was to help their intended purge of the demonic forces haunting the crypts beneath Southwark Cathedral.
The lamps had been lit, but as they crossed toward south shore they noticed an area near the middle of the bridge where the lamps were out. Beneath a lit lamp on the other side of the darkened area was a figure leaning up against its post. As they approached he moved out to the middle of the bridge, held up his hand, palm out, and told them "Sorry, friends, this end of the bridge is closed tonight."
In truth, the man was stalling as 5 of his buddies attempted to creep up into position behind the group. Unfortunately (for them), they were spotted. When the man saw that the intended sneak attack had failed, he raised a pistol, pointed it at them, and continued with a smirk. "Of course, we'd be willing to let you pass for a toll..."
Gerald took a step or two forward toward the man, checking his watch and saying "There's no toll on the bridge at this hour". The man took a couple steps back and told him to stop and drop his bag. A couple of the others tried to keep a couple of the other thugs distracted. Robert simply stood by, but his size and presence was making the thugs uneasy.
Gerald set his bag down, opened it and began rummaging around in it saying he was looking for money. The man, not buying his reasoning threatened him further to step away and, when he didn't, moved a step forward and kicked Gerald back. When he did so, however, Gerald had managed to grab one of his pistols from the bag and brought it up to point at his assailant. Then he narrowed his eyes and said "Boy, these medical supplies were intended for others' injuries, but if I have to treat you, I will." Despite the Doctor's usual social bumbling, his presence and intimidation were impressive.
The young man began backing away, somewhat frightened. A couple of the thugs tried to grab the ladies' purses, but failed and, between Gerald's pistol and Robert's menacing stance, decided the situation was no longer worth it and ran. The young man who was the lead turned and fled as well.
After recovering their composure from this brief altercation, they continued on to the south shore of the Thames. There they met man in dark clothing wearing a thick blindfold. He didn't look very old, but he was hunched over and his movements were slow and methodical. "You must be the ones Balthazar told me about."
The man handed them a large iron cross. It was about 2 feet long, and a foot and a half across. When Gerald took it, he found that it weighed considerably more even than it looked. With some labor, he handed it over to Robert. After handing it to them, the man simply turned and walked away.
The party continued on to Southwark Cathedral and, after some searching, found a small sub-street-level back door which probably led down to the crypts. As they were examining the door, Robert happened to look up into the bushes where he made eye contact with a startled young boy, who immediately took off running down the street into the dark. The group looked at each other, shrugged, and returned to their task.
Kathrine pulled the key they were given from her purse, put it into the lock and turned it. When she did, the golden key momentarily glowed. It was a dim effect, but it was definitely there. After another moment, she turned it back, removed it, and opened the door.
On the other side of the door the stairway continued downward and, to their surprise, they could see lamplight and could hear voices in quiet conversation.
The group cautiously began making their way down the stairs when a familiar voice called out "Lance? Is that you? What kept you so long?"
Kathrine, believing the small boy they saw might be "Lance", she tried to imitate a young boy's voice, "Yes, It's me." Gerald, who was right behind her, didn't think she sounded convincing. The voices stopped and they heard steps approaching. Gerald decided it was time to act and barreled down the stairs and into the room. Robert immediately followed him.
The crypt below looked anything like but what they could have expected. The most prominent feature of the room was a large, circular table which was surrounded by chairs. Around this, between columns of the arches of the crypt were large bookcases full of books, scrolls, glassware and other eclectic, strange and sometimes unidentifiable objects. In addition, there were several free-standing doors - in frames only, not set into any wall, simply standing between the bookcases.
Standing about 15 feet in front of Gerald was a tall man with long brown hair. Behind him, on the right side of the table was the woman they had seen speaking with Hannington in the Mitre, and across the table from her, now getting to his feet, was Gavin.
The man in front of them spoke, clearly bewildered "What...Who...", but before he was able to say much more, the iron cross Robert was carrying seemed to somehow activate, instantly tripling in weight. In addition, the lower portion of the cross lengthened a few feet, made a sharp, downward point, and jammed it self into the stone floor of the crypt. The man who had approached them took a couple steps back, looking horrified. "Is that... No... It can't be...", but before anyone could react further, blue bolts of electricity burst forth from it, blasting at the three of them as well as the bookcases, the table, and the doors.
The man in front, who had been pushed backward by the blast of lightening, drew a silver sword, and the electricity seemed to arc directly to it. "Gwen!", he shouted, "It's an Axis - get out of here!". He arched his sword forward and a couple of the bolts of electricity redirected from his sword and leapt out toward Gerald and Kathrine, but missed.
"No! I'm not leaving!", the woman shouted back in earnest. She seemed to be somehow "catching" the lightening that was arcing toward her and, with some great effort, was keeping it at bay.
Gavin had drawn a pistol but then was hit with a lightening bolt and stumbled backward off his feet behind the table. The bolt that had been linked to him, tracked downward across one of the large chairs which splintered instantly. Taking this to be a symbol that these were the demons they were supposed to purge, the four moved into the room and opened fire on the three.
Their bullets found their marks and, with the help of the lightening artifact, the fight seemed to be going decidedly in their favor when something unexpected happened. The man with the sword stumbled forward, raised his sword, there was a flash of light and he had turned to stone. The woman began waving her arms and flames erupted around her form, but then burned out in a puff of smoke and she, too, had been turned to stone. Gavin had just managed to get up from behind the table at this point, saw the two statues and, full of rage raised his pistol and pulled the trigger. The sparks from the the power pan turned to stone as they ignited and fell to the ground. The bullet never made it out of the gun, and Gavin made the third statue in the room. The lightening then blasted out at the furnishings in earnest and splintered nearly everything in the room before the electricity stopped, the iron cross itself turned to stone, and then crumbled to the floor. The room was eerily silent.
The party took a look around the room, but found very little. Gerald did find a couple of the strange books that were partially intact and put them in his bag. They were still looking around when they heard another, nervous voice from the top of the stairs. "Who...Who's down there?"
It was a priest, father Garrus, associated with the cathedral, along with the boy who'd run away earlier. The group told him that they found trespassers in the crypt, but they kept their details vague. Father Garrus didn't seem to ask too many questions; he just really seemed to want them to leave. They did arrange to return the next day to talk.
The party then returned to Foley Manor to talk to Barnabas. On their arrival, however, they found the manor completely empty. Well, most of them did. Gerald, Molly and Robert walked in and began looking around bewildered, searching for some clue as to what happened to Barnabas - but Kathrine had stopped in the doorway. She had suddenly been hit with the sensation that there were people present - many people. She couldn't see anyone, but she could hear whispered voices coming from the corners of the room and from behind the walls. Eventually, she was able to make out some of the bit of the conversations:
[male voice, blase]
"The Pawns have returned to the Queen’s Bishop row"
[female voice, blase]
"Yes, but the Bishop is not here, he has moved to his next position."
[2nd female voice, interested]
"Balthazar was more successful than even he had hoped, but it has proved to be his undoing."
[2nd male voice, uncertain]
"Circumstances were fortunate....for some"
[2nd female voice, disdainful]
"Indeed, there are no Heretics left to profane this cursed city"
[2nd male voice, uncertain]
"Sophia... some would say there are darker beings than the Heretics"
[2nd female voice, darkly]
"Yes, Philip - things against which the city now has no remaining defense..."
[2nd female voice, closer / moving past, prophetic]
"The last of the candles have burned out and night approaches"
[separate collective of voices (not previous entities), indistinguishable gender, rises from the underlying babble]
"London will fall to the darkness"
The voices then fell silent.
Kathrine shared this with the others. They didn't really understand what she was talking about, but it didn't sound good.
The following day, the group returned to the Cathedral to speak with Father Garrus. He tells them that Ralph, the boy, claimed to have seen someone entering the crypt some nights before, but no one really believed him because they found no evidence. He had been camping out near the crypt entrance in hopes of catching the trespassers at it again.
They talked with Father Garrus for a while about what might have happened and how they did or did not fit into it. Molly asked if they could take the statues and, since Garrus knew they weren't part of the crypt, he agreed to let them. As they further investigated the aftermath of the previous night in the crypt that night, they noticed something etched into the sword held by the first statue, a single word, "Excalibur".
The group sat on the bathhouse veranda having afternoon tea for a while before Gerald finally decided he'd better go to the hospital to have his burns treated. As he was leaving, another figure came wandering in - a man called George, a harbor pilot and friend of Molly's. He took a seat at the table and began telling them about how busy the docks have been lately. After some hesitation and some exchanged looks between the other three, they began filling him in on their recent...adventures.
This conversation hadn't been underway too long when they were interrupted by another visitor. A somewhat oddly-dressed young man was shown in and offered Molly a proposition. He wanted to buy the bathhouse property and was willing to pay an amount which was probably three times what it was actually worth. They had a brief conversation about why he would want to buy the property, but none of his answers seemed to fully explain his exorbitant offer. By the time Gerald returned from the hospital, Kathrine had returned to her aunt's house, and Molly and Robert were searching the bathhouse inside and out for any clue as to what the man, called Gavin, would have wanted with it.
The following day (Monday, April 12th, 1802) the group decided to return to Allens Street - this time in daylight. They were able to find the alleyway they had wandered down two nights past rather easily, where they found a couple of things out-of-place.
First, there was a large, leafless tree which seemed to be growing up out of the cobblestone street directly in front of the doorway with the smashed wooden door leading into the basement room they had ventured into previously.
Second, the inside of that room *did* bear scorch marks, ash and other expected evidence of fire, but there was still a large amount of living, growing vegetation. Also, a mostly-intact skeleton buried among the vegetation which they had seen in the room the first time was still present and untouched.
Gerald entered the room and began taking some samples of the vegetation, the ash, some chips of bone from the skeleton and anything else that seemed removable. Kathrine climbed up the tree looking for the gaping maw she and Molly had seen in the large tree-like shadow that had chased them away, but she was unable to find it.
After a while, the group decided they had seen all that was there to observe. After a moments thought and discussion, the decided the only one who could give them more answers was Sir Barnabas.
The group returned to Foley Manor. It was dark and the door was closed, but, after no one answered their knocks, they found that it was unlocked.
They cautiously entered the darkened entryway - which was lit only by the evening light streaming in from the now-open door. Gerald walked over to the door to the West Parlor and opened it. Inside he could see a dark room with a large table, some chairs and couches and a fireplace. Robert walked over to the small table which contained a now-bent candelabra and lit it. Molly walked over to the stairway.
It was Kathrine, however, that returned to the door of the East Parlor, found it unlocked and cracked it open. Inside she saw the room - which seemed a little unnaturally dark - with its fireplace lit. Sitting in a high-backed chair next to it was Sir Barnabas. "Come in.", he said "I knew you would be the first..."
The group gathered in the East Parlor; Gerald wasted very little time before demanding answers. Sir Barnabas didn't answer right away, instead asking his own questions about what they found and what they saw. Once they had told him what they knew, he began to explain.
He told them that what they had seen where echoes of a banished evil. That he (and some organization or society he alluded to) were tasked with ridding the world of the supernatural evils that dwell in the shadows unbeknownst to the Sleeping world. He also told them that, now that they were aware of this world - of what lurks out of site - not only would they be unable to "go back", but they had now made themselves targets by virtue of this knowledge. He told them that if they were not one of the warriors on his side, they would certainly become victims of evil. It was then that they asked him what his motives were - why he had obviously led them along so that they might reach this end - and he told them. There was something he wanted them to do.
The crypts beneath Southwark Cathedral have a reputation for being haunted. He told them a powerful evil resides there and he wants them to destroy it. He possesses a weapon capable of severely weakening or possibly destroying this presence entirely, but he is unable to wield it. Something about himself - which he described as a "taint" - makes it toxic to him in the same way it will affect the evil he wishes to vanquish. He would have one of his contacts meet them on the south side of London Bridge at nightfall the next day to give it to them. It was for this purpose alone that Sir Barnabas had led them here.
The moments immediately following Robert's disappearance were filled with chaos. Kathrine screamed and Gerald reached into his bag for a pistol. As he did so, a gunshot rang out from the room, accompanied by the expected flash of light. Gerald leapt into the doorway and immediately that end of the room erupted into flames. This was followed by a loud cracking/splitting sound which echoed down the alleyway in the direction from which they'd come, which was followed by a steady, loud pounding/crumbling sound which shook the ground as it got closer. The rain and wind picked up and began blowing with increasing force down the alleyway toward them.
Disregarding the flames, Gerald jumped into the room, burning himself and igniting his coat in the process. On the other side of the fire, which was burning the vegetation which had somehow been growing around the room, he saw Robert collapsed on the far side of the room. Kneeling over him was a young girl, perhaps in her mid teens, who looked up at Gerald's entrance with an expression of pure contempt. She was very pale and dressed in grayish men's clothing which was noticeably too large for her slight frame. The only obvious sign of color on her came from a deep red flower which had been placed in her hair above her right ear.
There was a third figure in the room as well - a darkly dressed man who immediately leapt onto the rickety wooden stairway and scrambled up to the floor above, breaking a couple of the rotted wooden steps in the process. Noticing he was on fire, Gerald dropped to the ground to try to extinguish himself and managed to do so - and then immediately approached Robert.
Robert seemed to be severely dazed and showed signs of a mild concussion, but he was regaining a sense of his surroundings and trying to get to his feet. Gerald stood up and addressed the girl, asking her what had happened. The girl began replying to him, but no sound came from her lips as she spoke. It was then that Gerald noticed something painted on the floor in the center of the room - a circular symbol composed of a curved-bladed sword through a ring with a stylized splatter pattern, probably meant to be blood. Gerald was sure he'd seen this symbol somewhere before, but couldn't quite place it.
The pounding was continuing outside - and getting louder. Kathrine and Molly had scrambled to the top of the 8ft wall at the end of the alleyway and called in to Gerald, asking if they were alright and telling them that something big was approaching the end of the alleyway.
Robert had managed to find his feet by this time, and looked up to see Gerald in the center of the room, but the girl with the flower was mysteriously gone. He looked up to the broken staircase at the darkness of the landing above. Gerald called back to Molly that Robert was ok and that they were going to try to get upstairs.
Just as Molly and Kathrine were hearing these words, a large, looming being emerged from the darkness. A bipedal tree, perhaps 15 feet tall, was lumbering down the alleyway - bringing with it a whipping wind and driving rain. It had no further discernible features but for a gaping hole in its trunk near the top which resembled nothing so much as a massive, toothed maw.
Kathrine screamed again and, in a panic jumped down from the wall on the other side and began moving quickly down the alley on the other side - only barely restraining herself from a full run so as not to lose Molly in the darkness. Molly climbed down the other side of the wall as quickly as she could and followed Kathrine down the alley. By the time the two reached a point 50 or so feet away where the alley made a right-angle turn to the east, the pounding had stopped, but they were too far away to see if the walking tree was still there.
After finally managing to reach the top of the rotten stairway, Robert and Gerald made their way through what seemed to be an abandoned tenant building of some sort. They found the main entrance, but the wooden stairways that once provided entrance and exit were long gone. The two half jumped, half fell to the stone ground in the alley below and decided to head back to Allens Street.
Meanwhile, Kathrine and Molly were attempting the same thing. Having made it back to the lit street, they had calmed a little. Looking ahead to a point just beyond the entrance to the alley they had originally gone down, they saw a man in a dark coat speaking with a young girl with a red flower in her hair. They were too far away to hear anything that may have been said however, and very shortly afterward, the young girl went skipping down Allens street away from them, and the man crossed the street to an alley on the other side and disappeared from view.
Shortly thereafter, the four met up with each other again and they all decided they wanted nothing more than to be home. The group returned to Molly's bathhouse and arranged for a carriage to return Kathrine to her aunt's residence. The next day they met again - which seemed to be becoming a habit - and began to discuss aspects of the previous night's adventure.
Gerald, Robert, Molly and Kathrine made their way to The Mitre around 6 o'clock on the evening of Saturday, April the 10th. Their plan was to talk to a man called Hannington.
By the time they arrived at the pub, it was starting to cool a bit and the overcast sky was beginning to drizzle. The other patrons of the establishment were somewhat surprised to see the two women enter with Gerald and Robert, but, apart from some occasional glances - particularly at Molly - nothing seemed to come of it.
The group took seats at the only empty table - which happened to be near the center of the room. They spent some time discussing what they should do, looking around for anyone who stood out or who may get inebriated to the point of spouting nonsense. They also spoke to the bartender who said he knew the man they were looking for, but at the time said he wasn't present. Some time later, and after pressing the point a bit Molly was able to learn that the man known as Hannington was seated in a booth on the far side of the room.
When Molly walked over to where he was sitting, she interrupted a conversation he was having with another person - a woman in a hooded cloak whom, unlike herself and Kathrine, the room had not seemed to notice. She gave Molly an icy stare before sliding out of the booth and walking out of the establishment. Hannington seemed somewhat relieved by her departure, but quickly became wary of this overly outspoken new woman who'd joined him.
Molly talked with him for a while, trying to subtly prompt him into volunteering some of the information they had come for, but he didn't seem to take the bait, and anytime she became too direct, he seemed to get very uncomfortable. She did learn that he lived on Allens Street, but he wouldn't say anything about his area of town beyond the fact that he didn't like to walk around it at night.
After a while, they were joined by Robert who slipped a sedative provided by Gerald into Hannington's drink and he passed out. They were about to carry him out when the bartender told them he'd take care of it and he and some friends took the unconscious man to a room upstairs.
Having been unsuccessful in their attempt to get Hannington to talk about his experiences, they had a brief discussions as to what they should do next. Kathrine said she probably needed to be heading back to her aunt's house before too long, but the group decided to take a look around Allens Street since the note had referred to that area.
Allens Street was not a major thoroughfare, but it was lit - which was good because the overcast sky was letting almost no moon or starlight through. The area contained a fair number of trees and bushes along the houses and sides of the streets. This was a little uncommon, but not unheard of. They decided to take a quick look around some of the darker alleyways looking for anything unusual.
After 10 or 20 minutes of wandering, they happened upon an alleyway which seemed to have still more trees and bushes up against the buildings. Gerald decided that someone must have planted them there because it seemed unlikely for them to have grown there on their own.
They followed this alleyway until Gerald, who had been leading the group in the dark, ran into a wall at its end. When this sudden stop occurred, Molly lost her balance and fell into a small hole to her left and her right foot stuck into something very sticky on the floor.
Gerald fished around in his bag and eventually found a candle and some matches while Robert helped Molly out of the hole. Once Gerald got the candle lit, they examined the area. Molly had fallen into a small, partial stairwell that provided access to a door that was sunk slightly below street level. The floor of the stairwell was covered with some sticky, golden substance which Gerald eventually identified as sap.
Robert decided he was going to take a look. He stepped down part way into the stairwell and kicked in the door where Molly had cracked it. Trying to avoid stepping in the sap as much as possible, he took the candle from Gerald and leaned inside.
The cellar-like lower floor into which he looked was overgrown with bushes, vines and grass. There was some sort of red mark painted on the floor, but it was obscured by the vegetation. The sap "stream" continued to the middle of the room. Once or twice he thought he saw something move but closer examination revealed nothing.
Robert turned back around to the other three and stated rather matter-of-factly "the room's full of plants". He had barely finished this statement when he was suddenly yanked backward into the darkness...
The group stood in the dimly-lit entrance hall of Foley Manor. There was light coming from beneath the doors to the left and right but the stairway ahead of them was darkened. Figuring that the room on the left - the one to which they had been directed - was where the "other guests" were gathered, they decided to investigate the door on the right - the one to the East Parlor.
The door to the East Parlor, however, was locked. The entrance hall in which they stood was rather bare of furniture, containing only a small table on which a candelabra stood. The table contained a small drawer in which they found a tarnished gold key, but it did not fit the lock on the East Parlor door. The key had been wrapped in a fragment of old parchment which contained a few line fragments from a letter:
est fear is
discovery would shatter
more important. nothing
my love, Sophia
After a few moments consideration, Robert pulled out a lockpick, which he was able to use to force the lock open.
Upon opening the door, whatever light had been shining from inside was suddenly gone. The room inside was dark, illuminated only by the candelabra they had retrieved from the small table in the hall and a faint bluish glow coming from the two windows in the room. The sheer curtain in front of the window on the left fluttered a little in a gentle breeze coming through the window which must have been open.
The room contained some large pieces of furniture which were covered by canvas cloths as well as a number of smaller end-tables, chairs and stools which were scattered haphazardly around the room. The north wall contained some displays of archaic weaponry and some free-standing suits of plate armor on display. Opposite the door between the two windows was a large fireplace with a mantle which contained a long, rectangular display case. A coffee table in the center of the room contained a single large book.
The group hesitated a moment before entering the room, examining its contents. They found the display case on the mantle housed a long, glass rod with a ball at one end. The book turned out to have been hollowed and contained a wilted flower and a scrap of newsprint. The newsprint had a printed address, next to which were handwritten words which read "Miss Diana is no longer there". The silence of the room was broken when Kathrine screamed - having seen a large rat near a corner of the room. It was only a moment later when a strong gust of wind blew in through the open window, extinguishing the candles and causing the door across the room to slam shut. Molly screamed. The chair on which Kathrine had been standing after seeing the rat was suddenly jerked from beneath her and she fell backwards, hitting her head on the floor. Gerald felt something slam into the side of his knee, sending pain shooting through his leg.
What ensued can be looked back upon only as chaos and confusion. There was some malevolent force present in the room - and more than a single hostile entity - but for some reason, the four were unable to perceive exactly what it was. For a few dramatic moments, the group alternately took cover from and lashed out at their shadowy assailants, continuing until the door to the entrance hall suddenly opened.
In the doorway stood a well-dressed man with a curious and confused look on his face. He introduced himself as Sir Barnabas and recommended that the group proceed over to the West Parlor, suggesting that plenty of food from the banquet would be left still. When the group hesitated, he began walking around the room - examining it and making idle conversation with the group until one of them mentioned the hidden message and the "secrets" he seemed to wish to discuss. At that point, he invited them all into the and addressed them.
The next morning, the group awoke in their own beds. Their memories of the past evening were curiously fragmented. They remembered discussions of strange histories and mythologies taking place - often including as facts things they would have chalked up to legend or superstition - but they couldn't remember exactly what was said. They also felt that they had witnessed inexplicable things - even things that shouldn't have been possible - but they couldn't remember any real specifics on those either. At some point during the evening's discussions, Sir Barnabas had seemed to become more sullen and disappointed. He had suggested that the group return to the Manor at a later time and had handed them each an invitation envelope, similar to the first one they'd been given, then showed them out of the manor.
The group met up at Molly's bathhouse over breakfast. The "invitations" they had been given contained a rather strange message:
Perhaps your dreams are not as lucid as I suspected. You should see this as a merciful blessing - your eyes being closed to the darkness as tightly as they are.
If you are still intent on prying them open, I've heard a man called Hannington can tell some interesting stories about the streets near his residence. Most evenings he can be found in The Mitre. I would be very interested to know what you find.
In addition, Robert pointed out that the address they'd found on the newsprint in the hollow book was that of an old cemetery in the north of town near the Foundling Hospital. The doctor was deep in thought over what chemical effect they must have been under to account for the previous evening's hallucinations and fogginess, but the other three decided to travel to the cemetery and have a look around, planning to meet up and head to The Mitre that evening.
The cemetery in question was old, disused and only occasionally cared for. There were a few people in the general area, but it was fairly deserted. After some time wandering amongst the scattered stones, they were able to determine that the cemetery was probably around 100 years old, but had been in regular use up until the last 5 or 10 years. They also happened upon a particular stone which caught their attention as relevant to the message they'd found:
1775 - 1791
As they were looking at this stone, a young boy (perhaps 14 years) wandered up to them with a handful of wilted flowers, which he placed carefully on Diana's grave. Then, he looked up and asked them "Were you friends of Diana's?" When they admitted they hadn't known Diana, he mumbled "I was her friend, I miss her...". His voice trailed off and he began to wander away toward a small copse of trees. They called after him, but he didn't seem to pay any attention and slipped into the grove before they could catch him.
Robert followed him into the trees and shortly called for the others to join him. There was no sign of the boy, but within the trees there was an odd clearing overgrown with red and yellow flowers. After looking around for a few moments, they found a simple well-worn gravestone buried in the grass:
1675 - 1689
Game: World Of Darkness
Characters: George [Curtis], Gerald [Robb], Katherine [Sheri], Molly [Edie], Robert [Chuck]
Kathrine, Robert, Molly and Gerald had met before, but - apart from Gerald and Molly - were not well-acquainted. However, they all happened to be in Saint Paul's Churchyard on the evening of April 7th 1802, just after the last service of the day.
The square was crowded and people were beginning to disperse to their respective residences for the evening when an unnatural stillness settled over the square. The people all seemed to turn to look as two figures entered from the east - a well dressed man who was briskly walking through the churchyard and was being pursued by an overweight, staggering and obviously intoxicated sailor spouting slurred curses and threats.
The altercation between the two escalated when the sailor, obviously consumed with a burning rage, shoved the man into an unattended cart hauling barrels of pickles - sending one of the barrels through a nearby shop window and caused another to fall to the cobblestone street beside them. The distraction of the pickle barrels allowed the gentleman to escape to a reasonable distance, he pulled a pistol from his jacket and pointed threateningly at the his assailant. The sailor balked for a moment, but ultimately decided the man was bluffing and lunged at his target. The gentleman then shot him and the large sailor fell limply to the ground, unmoving.
The crowd didn't seem to respond to these events in any way apart from simply looking on, and the man did nothing further beyond looking around the square until a few of the Runners arrived and took the man and the body from the square. After they left the scene, the people in the square slowly began talking, moving and going about their daily lives again.
The four went back to their respective residences, finished their evening rituals and went to bed - falling into a hard, dreamless sleep.
When they awakened, they had one thought at the forefront of their minds - the events that transpired outside St. Paul's the night before. Something was wrong with what they had witnessed. None of them could put a finger on it, but something didn't add up. They each felt absolutely compelled to find out why. As they pulled on clothes and headed out they noticed something else - it was dusk. They had slept through an entire day. The concerns about commitments they may have missed, however, faded strangely into the backs of their minds almost immediately - there was something inexplicably more important.
They each made their way back to St. Paul's square independently, but on arriving they noticed each other. Apart from them however, there were unusually few people in the square that evening. As they took in their surroundings and thought back on what they had witnessed 24 hours before, a few strange inconsistencies started to bubble into their thoughts. They didn't remember hearing a rage-filled shriek and yet they got the feeling it was there - and that it filled the square. Conversely, they remembered seeing the gentleman shoot the sailor - and hearing the crack of the shot - and yet, they felt convinced that the pistol made no sound. In addition, some recalled seeing some odd, moving shadows cast about the square as the events unfolded. None of them could make any sense of this, however.
Their investigation of the scene only turned up more mysteries. They took a look at the area around the shop where the cart had been and where the sailor was shot. They found no evidence of blood or vinegar solution from the pickles on the ground. What they did find was some blood on the broken glass outside the now-boarded shop window and some strange white shell fragments scattered in a vague line in the square some distance away.
As they were discussing these oddities, they were approached by a well-dressed man who had the bearing and manner of a butler in every way. He approached them, bowed, reached into the satchel he was carrying and produced 4 heavy parchment envelopes. As he distributed them to the group, he told them "Sir Barnabas would be honored if you would accept his invitation".
The envelopes contained a letter written in fine, neat script which read:
To the Bearer,
You are formally invited to 1 Queen Ann Street for a delicious evening meal and polite conversation tomorrow, the 9th of April. Present this letter to the doorman at the entrance to the manor. Arrive at dusk.
Sincerely, Sir Barnabas
After a few moments, they noticed something else to the letter. Beneath the handwritten script, there was a watermark that contained something written in what looked like Latin or Greek. It took some time to locate appropriate reference materials to translate the strange message, but by lunchtime the following day, the group reconvened and Gerald read to them what the hidden message contained:
So, you like secrets then - and you have the wit to find them. If pleasant ignorance is not enough for you, you must dig deeper. I would caution you in this pursuit, however, as few survive such dark curiosity. I advise you to join the other guests and forget you found this message. If you are deaf to my warnings however, arrive at nightfall. The doorman will not enforce his instructions.
The group discussed for a while what they should do, but ultimately decided that accepting the bizarre invitation may be informative. Following the second set of instructions, they arrived just after nightfall. The doorman - who was the man who had delivered the letters - took their invitations and directed them to the west parlor on the left side of the entry hall.
The hall was dark apart from the dim light afforded by a candelabra sitting on a small stand opposite the doorway. Directly ahead of them was a dark stairway going up to a balcony overlooking the entrance hall. There was no light coming from the second floor and the chandeliers overhead were unlit.
The door to which they were directed, that lead to the west parlor, had closed about the time they were walking in, and they could now only hear muffled conversation coming from the other side and could see only a small strip of golden light issuing from the crack beneath it. Directly opposite the west parlor was another closed door, the gap beneath which also leaked a strip of light. No obvious sounds came from the other side of this door...