The Harbinger and the Fountain

A Difficult Case: A Short Fiction
Where Inspector Marsh Travels Across Town to Meet With The Kerberos Club

A stumper of a case, no doubt, and it caused his temples to throb with pain in that special way that denoted a task in front of him that must be done but he really didn’t want to do. He tucked his derby hat tightly on his head and tried to blot out the fetid smell coming in off the Thames. A carriage would have been nice as he wouldn’t have to make his way through the stench of Waterloo and the shadowed buildings of the Borough. He Angled down Kinsington Street to avoid passing by the Bethlem Hospital where the crazies all rattled their chains and shouted toothless obscenities into the night air; a stench to rival the Thames. Alas, no carriage for him. He would have to arrive in hopeful anonymity to the place he was heading.

The Kerberos Club.

“Malus Necessarium, indeed!” Inspector Marsh thought to himself. Ahead a beggar sat on a street corner beneath a lamp. The man appeared to be vomiting in his own hat. “How I weep for my London,” Marsh said under his breath. Passing by the unfortunate man the flickering light above flickered and illuminated the man’s face momentarily. The face, almost aglow with the phosphorescence of insanity, grinned at Marsh as if he was the mark of a great cosmic joke.

“Evenin’ govna!” the man said with a slight nod, spittle dribbling from his lower cheek. Marsh hurried along without speaking. The man made him nervous. As he passed by he thought he saw something move in the greasy black stomach contents within the hat twisting like a snake in filth. He turned away and dismissed it as a trick of the light preying on his overwrought nerves. The man watched Marsh until he was out of sight. The man looked down into his hat, still smiling, and lifted a segmented worm almost twenty centimeters long with a small mouth lined with sharp teeth. “What a beauty!” he cooed, setting the worm down into the gutter and watching it slither across the sidewalk and into a dark alley.

Crossing the Thames, the lifeline of his beloved city, Marsh was taken aback at the fog that had drifted in to obscure the lights on the far side of the bridge which he could see when he had begun his crossing. A carriage rattled loudly on the stones ahead of him appearing like a ghostly shadow out of the soupy fog. A piece of paper flickered out of the side of the carriage as it passed settling into a pot hold filled with murky brown water. Marsh saw several more pages thrown out the carriage window before it disappeared into the fog in the direction he had come. Picking up the page he saw it was a flyer that shouted an advertisement for “DR. SENECA’S WORLD FAIR OF WEIRDNESS!!!”. He threw it away in disgust keeping an eye on the sky knowing that anytime now it would start to rain.

He walked quickly through Trafalgar Square. Every instinct he possessed told him he really should stop off at a pub and have a pint to prepare for his evening’s arduous and somewhat distasteful chore. He knew the feeling for what it was, nothing more than the procrastination of a petulant child. “Better to have a pint after,” he thought approvingly. He was already going to be late and his wife, Eleanor, would give him a hiding anyway so why not tuck a pint away first? Steeled slightly by the prospect of a pint he quickened his pace slightly. The Club was just ahead. He approached, tapped out the contents of his favorite pipe into the gutter, tucked his hat under his arm and without a moment’s pause rapped loudly upon the heavy iron set door underneath that damnable crest of three evil looking dogs that appeared ready to jump down upon him and rend the flesh from his old bones. He repeated what his Captain always said when someone complained when something malodorous (and usually post-mortem) was dredged from the Thames. “It’s a job,” his Captain would say.

The door swung open and standing there was a butler with slicked back hair and a silver monocle over his right eye. The left eye was busy staring off at a most strange angle and would suddenly dart around as if looking for an escape. It was, Marsh concluded, a most unfortunate disorder of the nerves that gave the man such a disturbing mien. After a moment of silence the butler stood resolute in the doorway staring blankly at Marsh through his monocle, his other eye looking anywhere but. The rain, released from the heavens, poured down upon the inspector and instantly soaked him through. Maintaining his cool, Marsh said simply, “Inspector Marsh here to see Dr. Irwin Haimes.” The butler remained still, unmoved by Marsh’s words. Marsh took out the card sent to him by Dr. Haimes, holding it up to where the butler could see it. He saw, written on the back of it were the words “Manu pugno”. Marsh realized he had said them aloud only after he had said them. As soon as the words came out of his mouth the butler stiffened, his roving eye (if one could call it roving, it would have been more apt to call it manic) slightly less baffled and said,
“Right this way, sir.” His voice was shrill, almost to the point of breaking like a teenage boy singing in the church choir. Marsh wondered who on earth thought this man could perform the duties of butler. The odd man motioned the Inspector (now dripping wet from a soaking that could have been prevented) inside and closed the door behind him. Without offering to take his coat or hat he led him down the hallway into the Kerberos Club.

Part 2.

The Strange Butler moved him awkwardly through a sitting room filled to the brim like a circus side show. The butler would navigate a distance and then pause, as if confused, with small jerky movements deciding which way to go then finally lurching off in a direction he deemed suitable. Marsh took advantage of one such pause to look at the underside of a snowglobe that seemed to show a ruined building and raining ash instead of snow. A sticker in bright colors declared, “Hopwood’s World of Wonders”. He knew it to be a junk store off of Fleet Street somewhere. It would explain the tackiness of the room somewhat and the poor presentation of the stuffed trophies around the room. The thing whose head hung between the Ape and the Caribou looked utterly fake because, in all probability it was. He was just about to put the ash globe down when he noticed a mark jutting out slightly from the edge of the Hopwood sticker. Peeling it back he saw a strange symbol, perhaps the mark of the artist who made the dark thing. Marsh thought not. It looked of occult descent and it made Marsh surprisingly uneasy. “Why would anyone cover up an occult symbol with a label from a known dealer in trinkets and junk?” he asked himself. Before he could stop it the answer sprung unbidden into his mind. “When someone wants to hide something genuine as a fraud.” As if a trick of the light the room seemed to grow darker and more ominous. The eyes of the trophy heads, even the ones that seemed fake, suddenly seemed to follow him as he moved behind the robotic butler. The globe he held in his hand began to swirl in a most unnatural way clearing momentarily to show Marsh an inhuman eye. He gasped, setting the thing down and suddenly realizing that the butler was staring at him most intently (with one of his eyes, anyway). Marsh didn’t know how long the man had been staring at him but something told him it was longer than he realized. “Lead on, my good man,” Marsh commanded the butler.

“On good my, lead man,” the butler replied nonsensically but with purpose and emphasis on syllables that made Marsh believe the man thought he was saying something of great importance.

The butler, after a meandering walk up a long hallway, showed Inspector Marsh into a study lit warmly by a fire burning in the fireplace. Motioning for Marsh to sit, the butler stirred the embers and turned to Marsh and presented a small envelope to him.

“Brandy, glass would like you a?”

After puzzling for a moment Marsh shook his head and the butler exited the room after pausing at the doorway as if he had forgotten something. “Look sharp, Inspector Marsh. It will be perilous for you until the dawn. They have your scent now,” the odd voice came out of the butler as if he was repeating it verbatim from memory without knowing its meaning. Without a further word the Butler was gone.

Marsh took out his pocket knife and opened the small envelope swiftly and retrieved the small note inside. “Dear Inspector Marsh, I am very sorry to miss our meeting but I was called away on urgent business that could not wait. I expect to be home swiftly, likely before 10pm. I have instructed the kitchen staff to prepare a small meal for you to tide you over until our meeting. Please accept my most sincere apologies at my delay. I assure you it could not be helped. Sincerely, Dr. Irwin Haimes.”

Marsh looked up at the clock that read half past 10. “An odd business, this,” Marsh thought. Toying with the idea of just heading home Marsh was struck by a profound instinct that there was something amiss here. He re-read the letter again, smelling the paper softly. He rose up and gazed across the desk locating a pencil and the stack of paper that this note was taken from. He drew the pencil softly over the note and smiled slightly when other letters appeared faintly, superimposed over the note’s contents.

“The Bronze Gelding, 109 Rochester Dr. Bring my bag.”

Moments later Marsh was out on the street and, even in the flickering of the gaslights was sure he was being watched. The feeling did not diminish as he headed East and he thought it likely that he was being followed. Walking nonchalantly, belying the haste he felt in his breast, he ducked almost lazily down an alley and quickly sequestered himself away. With a good vantage point he could see a diminutive shape pause at the entrance of the alley then turn and walk away. He caught just a faint trace of perfume and saw a length of ribbon in her hair that fluttered over her shoulder. Bolting from his hiding place and onto the street he cursed his luck as a large group of people letting out from the theater greeted him. His eyes moving carefully across the group he tried to pick out anyone not moving with the rest of the people. He climbed up on a lamp post and surveyed the crowd as best he could. Spotting the flash of a red ribbon bouncing through the group he hopped down and began making his way through the throng. His aim was true and in short order had managed to come up just behind the woman. It was almost as if she knew him to be there for she cast a fearful glance back at him and then bolted off. He gave chase calling out for her to halt and that he was a policeman. A sudden shift in the throngs that surrounded him caused him to get hung up on a young couple who gave him the rudest of looks which did bot diminish after he informed them that he was a police officer. The perfumed woman with a bow was lost to him for the time being but he felt somewhat sure that she would reemerged from the London fog again.

The Bronze Gelding was located on the fringe of the East End, mercifully saving him from having to delve farther into the heinous ghetto. He didn’t remember arriving which was normal for those times when he was lost in his thoughts, he just seemingly appeared here, the fog in his brain (getting so much worse the older he got) parting to see the sign of the Bronze Gelding. The soft, raspy coos of the prostitutes warbler out at him like the omnipresent calling of the pigeons. “It is quite possible,” he thought to himself, “there are more prostitutes in the East End than pigeons.” Indeed it did look like a few johns were getting their money’s worth in the alley by the Bronze Gelding, fornicating like animals in the shadows. “Weep for my London,” Marsh thought sadly.
Inside the raucous sounds of drinking were mingled with the smell of cheap cigar smoke and bitter spirits. He looked around the pub for the good doctor and was not overly surprised to see the he was not yet about. Technically off duty he sidled up to the bar and ordered a beer he could have sworn had been pissed in. As he sat there drinking and swatting away the toothless hookers like he swatted away the flies he watched the people around him. One man he knew had been stabbed by a knife recently as there was a bit of bandage material that dangled below the bottom of his trousers and he walked with a limp. The blonde hooker over by the bar trying desperately to land herself some work (and some booze) was pregnant. She tried diligently to hide her bump but Marsh could see it anyway. The man she was trying so unsuccessfully to seduce had hit someone recently as he had three scrapes parallel to each other that trailed back from his fourth knuckle on the right hand, no doubt from an unfortunate’s third upper incisor, the canine behind that and the first premolar behind that. It was a blow that drew blood from both men. He wondered if the man who had been hit by this man’s fist had relished 5he taste of his enemy’s blood swirling around in his mouth and mixing with his own…
A sudden cry drew Marsh out of his reverie, drawing his eyes over to the front door where yet another prostitute. “They breed AND fuck like rabbits,” thought Marsh to himself with a chuckle, wondering suddenly if he hadn’t wandered by accident into a Molly house that was also frequented by the ladies too. He dismissed the thought quickly, returning his attention to the woman at the front door dressed in a pin stripe dress shrieking like a harpy.

He drained the last of his pint before rising and heading over to the group of people gathering around the woman. He casually, almost tiredly, informed everyone that he was a police officer and to kindly let him through. He rested a hand on the woman’s shoulder and calmed her down as he had calmed down so many before her. He was an expert at it even though he really didn’t care about this woman, just what she had to say.

“Please sir,” she said sobbing, “someone killed Wendy. Someone killed her and left her in the alley like…like a sack of potatoes!” Despite her thick Irish accent Marsh was able to discern what she was saying.

“Could you take me to where she is?” Marsh asked her, “Please?” The woman seemed surprised at his politeness and nodded her head as she led him out the front door and turned right. A lightsman was just now getting around to lighting the lamp post outside the Bronze dousing the entire scene in golden light. Marsh approached the man and informed him that his lantern may be necessary. The man gladly conceded when he learned that a mystery was afoot.

“Yes sah! Glad to be of service to His Majesty’s eyes!” the lightsman said, snapping to attention. “The name is Tobias, Tobias Crenshaw.”

“Thank you for your help, Mr. Crenshaw,” said Inspector Marsh noting casually the man had a Freemason pin on his lapel, “Unfortunately, it is a dark business, rumor has it.”

“I have found one should never believe rumor, sah!” Mr. Crenshaw continued falling in line behind Inspector Marsh and the distraught woman he had in his arms. “My father used to say that a man who dealt in rumor dealt in bloodshed. I always thought it was a bit much myself. My wife, Nina, gossips so much I keep thinking she will get a wart on her nose but, God help her, sah, she does enjoy it so! I remember once that she was talking with a friend of hers, Clara, who was going on and on about another woman they both knew named…ergh…”

Mr. Crenshaw trailed off the end of his sentence as a gasp went up through the crowd of gathered people. The woman lay on her back, her arms arranged out from her body slightly as if she were floating daintily on a pool of water. Marsh instantly noted the small blue ribbon tied in her hair, the same ribbon he had trailed through a crowd of people on Haverly street just a little while before. “Clear back, everyone!” Marsh said in a commanding voice, “You are trampling evidence!” There was no doubt this was another one of his murdered women. The Angel Murders the papers called them. The women were all killed, their hair arranged outward like seaweed, their arms in a frozen motion of assent. Marsh could never shake the impression that they were being made to look like they were underwater. In blatant contrast to this whimsical repose the woman’s chest had been split open and her heart removed. As per usual not a drop of blood had been spilled. Marsh was taken aback all over again at the strength necessary to do something like this, ribs split open roughly as if broken open with a crude implement or maybe even by fists. The idea had some merit but it seemed impossible for a man to do something like this unaided by some sort of implement, crude though it may have been. The eyes had also been removed and replaced with a soft, gray ash again without spilling a drop of blood. Two small iron plugs had cauterized the ear canals, obviously having been inserted while red hot. The tongue had been bisected and tied carefully into a knot. Her clothes had been removed, inverted, and put back on. Her undergarments, should she be wearing any, would be undisturbed.

Marsh noted all this within a moment of viewing the body. He had been working the Angel Murders case for over a year now. He practically dreamed about it when he slept. It colored every waking moment of his life. He had hoped that when Dr. Irwin Haimes had contacted him about helping him with this case that he would finally be able to put it behind him. Somehow he doubted it after the evening’s events. Something deep down that these murders were here to stay. He saw a few scraps of flesh and blood under her second, third and fourth digits on her left hand. He knew that she had fought back while her right (and stronger hand) had been held by her attacker. The one thing that he could never figure out about these murders is how the murderer had enough time to do it all. There were never any drag marks and, despite there not being a single drop of blood spilled (the blood always came out a thick, black coagulated snake at the autopsy) the body always seemed to lay where it had been slain. Marsh was sure of it. How then did the killer do all of these intricate things so close to a public place with prostitutes and Johns racing off to all the dark corners to engage in darker behaviors.

“Inspector Marsh,” a deep, resonating (and cold!) voice came from behind him, “I am so pleased you could make our meeting.” Marsh stood and turned to find himself looking into the jaundiced eyes of Dr. Irwin Haimes. Dr. Haimes had a reputation for being an odd bird and Marsh could see why. The man made him distinctly uncomfortable. He had the same look on his face that he saw on surgeons when they were cutting up bodies. It was a look of utter calm and dismissal. It was the look on the face of a man with complete control over his subject. His lean face was turned upward in a smile. Despite being of a more advanced age Marsh noted that the skin did not wrinkle at all. With a pointed nose and a top hat on Dr. Haimes was a most unnerving presence, indeed. From under his overcoat he produced a small silver object and a glass vial. “May I inspect the corpse, Inspector?” Before Marsh could answer Dr. Haimes had swooped down and was investigating the corpse in great detail focusing mostly on the hands. A flash of excitement flashed over the doctor’s face as he found what Marsh had already located, the small amount of blood and flesh under the poor woman’s nails. With the small silver instrument (it looked very much like a tiny spatula that Marsh had seen a chemist use in his laboratory once) he scraped the material out into the glass vial. He was muttering under his breath excitedly the whole time but Marsh could not quite make out what he was saying.

Whirling triumphantly Dr. Haimes held up the vial for Marsh to see. “Voila!” the doctor said in his deep voice standing Marsh’s hair on end.

“I had found that before,” Marsh said patiently, “it indicates a defensive wound. The woman fought back even though the man was far more powerful than she. A valiant and, ultimately, doomed gesture.”

“Too true, my good Inspector Marsh. But there are secrets here too. I suggest you finish your investigation and turn the body over to your associates. I then humbly invite you back to my parlor where we may speak away from all these probing ears. “My stranding you there was most uncivil and I apologize wholeheartedly. Will you hear what I have to say, Inspector?”

Marsh thought about the offer and decided to accept. The evening had been a wash and he was frustrated with this case. Help, even from as dubious a source as the doctor, could not be dismissed out of hand. “I will return with you to your parlor, Doctor Haimes. I must warn you that my patience is wearing thin and that if you abandon me again I will retire home and will not agree to meet with you again. Are we understood?”

The doctor appeared intensely serious when he replied in the affirmative. “Back we shall go then, Inspector Marsh, to the Kerberos Club.”

View
The Bethnal Green Butcher
Where Our Players are Introduced to Murder Most Foul

Our story begins with Jean-Reynard de Souisse in his private chambers contemplating his faith through the cleansing ritual of flagellation. At the peak of the pain a vision comes to him from high above. He is looking down at a woman he has just killed. He turns her over and begins carving a section of the skull out of her head. Mildly shaken, he returns to his room via a secret passage and finds a letter asking him to look into the murder of two parishioners, one a simple man named Joseph Marshall. The other, Daniel Dufrane, is the nephew of the French ambassador. It is this man primarily that the Church wants investigated. Daniel was a known hellraiser and great expense was made keeping his pictures out of the papers. Father Souisse questions Daniel’s widow who claims the last person to see Dufrane alive was his carriage man, Lucian Brielle. She seems obviously distraught at the loss of her husband and, in good wifely fashion, says nothing to discredit his reputation. Souisse converses briefly with Lucien Brielle, a tight-lipped man of service, who in a roundabout fashion mentions that Daniel Dufrane enjoyed frequenting an establishment called the Rocky Knave.

Across London, Stony Joe Smithson is training hard in a gym that teaches boxing to poor kids. He is interrupted in his training by a pale woman, Tabitha Wingate, the widow of Tom Paddock who was killed in the ring by Stony Joe’s fists of slate. She asks him for a favor to look in on a friend of hers, Wilhemina Toffin. She is worried that her husband may be abusing her and wants Joe to check on her. She gives Joe a picture of the husband, Gregory Toffin. He travels to Bethnal Green where the couple lives over in the East End where he grew up. He knocks on the door and Gregory Toffin answers the door. He seems a bit nervous and asks Joe if he would like some Tea, moving hastily to the kitchen. Joe says yes and, upon crossing into the kitchen, sees the mutilated corpse of Wilhemina. Gregory runs for it but is killed dead by a cast iron pan thrown by Joe. Looking upstairs he finds the children all slaughtered save one; young Sarah. Knowing an investigation of this sort is a bit out of his league, Joe returns to the Kerberos Club to solicit aid in his searching. He finds a kindly old man in the sitting room of Indian descent. The man, named Yada, kindly agrees to help him. They return to the scene of the crime and find the police there. Joe saunters up to the police officers guarding the alleyway in the back of the house and, making the first declaration of the game, sees that he knows one of the police officers, a man named Joseph Hennel. Opening his sight, Yada sees a black, snaking tentacle leading into the house but fading rapidly just up the street. He also sees a glowing rune inscribed into the back of Gregory Toffin’s head that looks kind of like an M or a backwards E. Gaining access to the house, Yada sees the spirit of one of the other children, a young boy. He tells Yada that his father was crying the whole time that he was killing the children and that he told Sarah to hide like a game of hide and go seek. They discover that Gregory Toffin spent a lot of time at the Rocky Knave, a pub located elsewhere in Be Bethnal Green. They head there next.

Inadvertently meeting up at the The Rocky Knave, Yada, Stony Joe and Father Souisse recognize each other immediately as members of the club and tentatively pool their resources. They meet a prostitute, Dana Nightingale, who enjoys making Father Souisse uncomfortable with sexual innuendo. Father Souisse is jolted by the recognition that Dana is the woman he saw in his vision. She tells the group that Daniel Dufrane is a regular customer of hers and that on occasion he met with a man named William Barlow who owns a textiles factory out on the northern fringes of Bethnal Green.

They head over to Barlow’s Weaves & Garments to find the factory getting close to closing time. A man named Gerard Couderc, a weaver, directs them to the office of Mr. Barlow. Mr. Barlow is extremely curt and short with the players and is generally not helpful.

As they head out Mr. Gerard Couderc drops a note asking for the players’ help and mentioning that Barlow is meeting someone tonight. The players pull away up the street and watch the factory as the people exit. Everyone seems gone but they did not see Mr. Couderc exit. Sneaking around the back they are accosted by nine unsavory looking gents who are quickly (and bloodily) dispatched by a stone thrown by the diminutive Yada. Stony Joe “knocks” on the side door and they enter into an Arboretum filled with strange plants. Moving through quietly, they see Mr. Couderc suspended over a large pot of soil with something moving in it. As they approach they see a man in a top hat with glowing red eyes who introduces himself as Mr. Scorn. His mere gaze causes waves of fear to wash over you. A large plant in the middle of the room rears up and smacks the living daylights out of Father Souisse. Yada scampers up and rescues Mr. Couderc and moves him to safety. There is still a very large and violent plant that must be dealt with. Father Souisse flings a spell, Chains of the Righteous (“Vinculis justorum”) and binds Mr. Scorn firmly.

View
A Long Night
Where our heroes discover a conspiracy to control people using silk from otherworldly worms

The fight with the giant (apparently carnivorous) plant continues from the last time in the otherwordly Arboretum of William Barlow, located in the rear of Barlow’s Weaves & Garments. Stony Joe flexes his muscles (and rips his shirt) for the first time and uproots the plant, depositing it in a mulcher nearby but not before the infernal plant hits Yada soundly. Yada was distracted by the demon Scorn who pulls back out of the poor person he possesses, Frederick Tomlinson though Yada notices that he still has a leash. He then holds up a cloth that Yada recognizes from a tapestry outside of his temple. Scorn makes a deal with Yada that if he gives him the tapestry that Yada will let him go. Yada agrees and Scorn gives him the tapestry. To Yada’s chagrin it is a piece of Roman pornography and Scorn walks away happily. After the fight the players mulch as many of the plants as possible. Stony Joe dumps the barrel that Couderc was suspended over and whatever was in there was mulched also. Yada investigates some species of silkworms that are in here also. The three species’ names are Tyrranathia perrenia, Tyrranathia somnium (something about nightmares or evil sleep), and Deusomnia textoralis (the roots mean, loosely, divine weaver of dreams). The Deusomnia worm is not present. Yada takes samples of all the worms present. A cursory examination by Yada of the silk shows that it is identical to the fibers embedded into the poor souls who were controlled. Father Souisse recognizes the symbol in the back of Tomlinson’s head as angelic script.

During the fight, Gerard Couderc makes a break for it but Stony Joe catches up with the extremely upset weaver and drags him back to the Arboretum. He tells the plalyers that Barlow had told him that if he ever crossed Barlow that he would have his wife (who also was marked in the back of the head) kill their daughter. The players, Couderc and Tomlinson head quickly to Couderc’s home, a broken down tenement building. In his apartment his wife, Juliet, has a knife to her daughter’s (Cataline) throat. There is a brief moment that Yada tries to enter the room but Juliet begs him to stay back as she will be forced to cut her daughter’s throat. Yada feels a power surge within him and a pure white light flashes momentarily and the scene suddenly changes. Juliet and Cataline are sprawled on the floor in different locations, unconscious and unhurt aside from a broken wrist on Juliuet (the hand she held the knife in). All of the metal objects in the room were moved away from the center and were stuck in the walls. Yada had collapsed, apparently in a trance. He was actually out of body and saw the black tentacle retreating away from Juliet. He chases after it. He neglected to mention that while he was doing this it was very important not to move his body. In his spirit journey, the world turns upside down and he realizes that he can’t find his way back. Flying over the Other London he sees an old woman walking around a fountain singing “London Bridge is Falling Down”. He mutters it in his sleep while in the carriage with Stony Joe, Couderc and Tomlinson (who is fervently praying). He tracks the black tentacle of magical energy back to a large, industrial looking building. There are three trees in front of the building and a total of 10 spirits inside, one extremely black and the others are ambivalent. In the real world, Yada’s robes have been turned pure white. They are spotless.

The carriage, driven by the stoic Mr. Lucien Brielle, stop off at Souisse’s chapel and he gets a change of clothes (two of them, as he is planning to exorcise Tomlinson and exorcisms can get messy). He tries to find clothes for Stony Joe but can’t find anything large enough. After that stop Mr. Brielle gets them to the Kerberos Club. The gas lights on St. James Plaza cast a golden brown light over everything. Entering the front door, the odd butler with the roaming eye phases through the wall and shoots light out of his eyes and mouth, burning away the marks on Juliet Couderc and Frederick Tomlinson’s heads. He then touches their heads and erases the memory of him doing it. He leads them to a quiet room with a large table in the middle. Yada is laid down on the table and another member of the Kerberos Club, an ancient, toothless black man named Hanli Barber is called to help Yada find his way home. Thankfully he does and awakens, telling the other players about the building he saw the evil in on the edge of London. While Yada finds his way back from the other side he receives a dispatch from his Church asking for an update. The man, known as The Courier, has been known to get dispatches as far away as Germany and back in a single day. Souisse exorcises Tomlinson, removing the last of the leash, and then sends Tomlinson on his way. Tomlinson had been ridden by the Demon Scorn for the last 6 months and has no memories of that time. Juliet Couderc was abducted about a year and a half again, though she was taken again several times since then for unknown reasons. Couderc is a master weaver employed by Barlow who was recruited to weave some of the strange threads harvested by the strange silkworms for Barlow and another man, Dr. Sinclair Morgan (the name sounds familiar to Father Souisse but he can’t quite place it).

Yada employs the help from another member of the Club, Vidal Nasseau, a French tobacconist that had been rumored to have made several strange strains of tobacco, one of which transported him to Australia. He begins taking a look at the silkworms that Yada brought.

Souisse, beyond exhausted, tells the players about his vision of him killing Dana Nightingale. After that he heads back to his domicile to pray before retiring to bed. He is instantly accosted by his superior’s men who speak on behalf of the Cardinal Willebrand. They perk up at two things noticeably. The first is the description of Yada’s abilities at Couderc’s apartment. The other is the mention of Dana Nightingale, the prostitute who was a “regular” for Daniel Dufrane, the nephew to the French Ambassador. He retires to his room and prays dutifully before drifting off to sleep. He dreams again of killing the woman, Dana Nightingale. He awakens in the morning to find a letter has been left in his room. He knows what it says before he even opens it. Nightingale must die. They would like it to look like the Bethnal Green Butcher.

View
Barlow Laid Low
Where the Villain Barlow is Brought Low and New Members Join the Story

A small errata: I am, with everyone’s permission, going to rewrite things slightly and make the swath of cloth that Mearcair delivers to Barlow came in addition to the letter, not found in the Arboretum. Sorry!

After the very busy evening everyone had, Father Souisse awakens to find the letter telling him to eliminate Dana Nightingale. He wrestles briefly about how to go about such a task. He prays and heads over to the Kerberos Club. Mearcair Gaoth is prowling along the West India Docks palming some shiny objects (and replacing them elsewhere). A pudgy, merchant-looking fellow comes up to Mearcair and delivers him a letter and a small satchel. The letter instructs him to go to the Ball at the Winston Estate and deliver the cloth to a man named William Barlow.

Yada arrives at the Club just a little after Stony Joe who did his morning constitutional (push ups and smoked a cigar). They see, briefly, a man escorted out by the odd butler who addresses him as Inspector Marsh and welcomes him to the Kerberos Club. The group heads out looking for the building that Yada saw on his astral sojourn. The consummate professional, Lucien Brielle, the coachman who has become the man responsible for transporting Father Souisse around, has looked up the address of William Barlow’s home. They stop in and find the place abandoned but with a snide letter and an invitation to the Winston Ball where Barlow hopes to speak to them on relatively neutral grounds. After confirming that Barlow has not left anything in his home the group headed farther West to the very edge of London where Yada immediately recognizes a small copse of trees outside a large building with a sign that read “London Municipal Water Works”. Yada storms in (in his typical fashion) and begins politely asking about a tour. One of the workers goes and gets a supervisor. The supervisor leans in to Father Souisse and says, “Get the fuck out of here or I will kill all of these people,” before going back to being very polite. Yada sees a large black tentacle going into the back of his head (he had an angelic script inscribed back there too!). Yada actually sees approximately 75 tentacles coming out from the bowels of the water treatment building and going all over London (perhaps beyond?). The supervisor recommends they come back after hours and some arrangements can be made for them. The group decides to leave for the time being to avoid putting so many people in harm’s way. Mr. Brielle recommends a good French restaurant and the party eats and prepares for the Ball that evening (they have a really hard time finding shoes in Stony Joe’s size).

Mearcair, another resident of the Kerberos Club, accidently meets up with the other players on his way to the Ball. He shows them the strip of cloth he was supposed to deliver to Barlow. Yada realizes that he is the one in the picture laughing (and crying) over the burning London below. Heading to the Ball at the Winston Estate the group rapidly finds Barlow chatting with a group of a few people, Lady Lancastor and Lord Harland Crossan. While Crossan is very interested in the players, Lady Lancastor excuses them from Barlow understanding intuitively that they are there on business. After flashing a menacing stare at Barlow, the group ushers him outside to have a slightly more privacy. Mearcair engages in some thievery, planting the pearl necklace on Barlow. Yada mixes with the higher society of London and they are very patronizing. They talk with Barlow before Mearcair hands over the scrap of cloth with the picture of London and it strikes fear into Barlow’s heart. Yada, watching the exchange with his sight, is suddenly looking through the veil of time and he is standing in a courtyard near a fountain with a group of about 30 children bowing in front of him. He knows they were sent to beg for his mercy and he is about to wipe them away like a bunch of leaves. The sting of the vision in front of him shook him to his very core and he realized that his vision was locked on. With a supreme effort he closed off his vision with the guiding faith of Father Souisse. Mearcair induces a horrific hallucination of flames jumping from the scroll to Barlow who tried to scratch his eyes out (he succeeded in scratching out his right eye). Gathering up Barlow and Yada the group slips away after Father Souisse says that they are going to take Mr. Barlow home because he had drank too much. Souisse finds that when he calls upon the Word of God he becomes euphoric afterward. He has another glass of port before leaving.

The group takes Barlow to a doctor, Larry Leeches, a trauma doctor that Stony Joe knew who was really good at patching up boxers. After that the group heads back to the Club where they hope to leave Barlow under the care of a physician. An old man, Arcabius Wren, who reads his newspapers, had a stack of newspapers with an invoice on the top saying they had come from the Morning Star. Mearcair notices this and Wren just chuckles and recommends in very curt terms that he not try and follow it. Another member, Dr. Arthur Addington Cavindish, mentions that he has techniques that will allow one to question a man without the “blocks” that he develops through life. He takes back Barlow and the group to his laboratory that, in the front, looks very much like a doctor’s office. Dr. Cavindish, through the use of modern science, manages to transplant a 5-year-old’s heart into Barlow to revert him back to the innocence of that age (and inability to lie or deceive).

Barlow, in the eerie voice of a 5-year-old girl, tells a great amount of information to the players. He began his partnership with Dr. Morgan Sinclair (whom Father Souisse recognizes as a man exorcised by the Catholic Church) approximately 3 years ago. He received samples of pollen and seeds from another place (Mearcair recognizes them from the Faeland). He began developing different strains of silkworms that produced the kind of fibers that Dr. Sinclair needed. They had experimented on people in horrific ways for several months until they realized that implantation on the back of the skull was the best way for the people to receive the signal. Barlow was not involved in the signaling, only the production of the thread itself. He said that Dr. Sinclair would pick up the thread and some of the thread was sent overseas, but again Barlow was not involved in the export aspect. He and Dr. Sinclair had found a purchaser for this technology and had begun doing demonstrations for the buyers. Gregory Toffin, the man killed by a cast iron pot by Stony Joe, was an example of just what horrible things they could get people to do with one of these implants. Dr. Sinclair told Barlow one time about some early experiments that suggested the technology could be used to communicate instantaneously across the globe. He found that when the distance between sender and receiver got to a certain point that occasionally “things” could come along with the signal when it popped out on the other end. Barlow called them demons but Dr. Sinclair thought that was oversimplified.

After he answers these questions, Dr. Sinclair transplants Barlow’s head onto the body of an octopus. He saves the little 5-year-old girl too although she mentions that Dr. Sinclair had promised him much more cash than that. Obviously, there are side effects.

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Turncoat and Templar
Where a letter is planted in a left-behind coat and the mysteries deepen

Later that night after William Barlow is settling nicely into his octopus tank, Father Souisse decides to head back to his chapel and get some rest but is struck with guilt at not fulfilling the task his Church has set before him. He has Mr. Brielle take him to The Rocky Knave again. Father Souisse borrows a cloak that Mr. Brielle has in the back of his coach for cold nights and enters the den of sin. He inquires from a barmaid where Dana Nightingale could be found and the barmaid says she will get her for him and that “she’s popular with all the boys.” Asking the barmaid if there is any port wine she replies to the negative but informs him, “All of our beer comes through ports!”

Souisse sits quietly in the corner, avoiding eye contact and eventually Nightingale sits down and Father Souisse tells her that he is a man with needs and she agrees to tend to them. She suggests her quarters which are around back and offers to meet him in the alleyway. Meeting her there, Father Souisse drops his coin purse “accidentally” and, when she bends to retrieve it he drives a dagger deep into her neck and she drops like a stone. The knife stroke is masterful and is almost painless. He bends next to the nasty work of mimicking the Bethnal Green Butcher, trimming away a piece of her hair and carving out a chunk of her skull. He returns to his quarters at the French Ambassador’s Estate and sleeps the sleep of the righteous.

Meanwhile, Mercair and Yada stake out the London Municipal Water Works. Mercair talks briefly with an Irish worker coming out of the night shift at the Water Works. He doesn’t report that anything strange is going on but that he does have strange dreams of a dark octopus in the cellar of the Water Works. He tells Mercair his wife says that it is a result of him not working hard enough. The man heads off to grab a pint at a pub. The 10 people in the basement do not move. Mercair turns into a rat and enters the building for some snooping. He sees a man, dressed in a manner befitting a doctor, reading a bedtime story to nine young girls who gather around him listening rapturously. There are metal catwalks over channels of filthy water. Large vats of sewage water sit, stewing and decontaminating as much as is possible in such a dank cellar. Yada, through astral traveling, sees the man has a symbol in the back of his head also. The man and his flock of small children seem to live there, rarely venturing forth.

Mercair heads back to the Kerberos Club, dons a Faerie Glamour to look exactly like the man he saw with the children and visits what is left of Mr. William Barlow. Barlow recognizes him instantly as Dr. Morgan Sinclair. Barlow repeats that he does not know about the distribution of the supernatural silk but does mention that the Desusomnia textoralis worm (the missing one from the Arboretum) was freed by him and Dr. Sinclair and they put it down the drain. The group quickly realizes that the worm should, theoretically, circulate through the Municipal Water Works. Barlow states that when it is mature enough it will “make itself known”. Mercairand Yada retire for the evening.

The next morning Father Souisse awakens to find a card awaiting him from a police Inspector downstairs who wishes to speak to him about his coat. Debating quickly about the pros and cons, Father Souisse decides to go downstairs and see what the Inspector wants. The Inspector, a man named Mr. Fleming, is flanked by three constables and wants to know if the coat he has belongs to Father Souisse. Father Souisse nods to the affirmative and thanks the Inspector for returning it. The inspector presents Father Souisse with a letter apparently written to him by a Lord Wadsworth Kenslington, a man that Father Souisse has never heard of. It outlines a plot to kill Queen Victoria, amongst other things. Father Souisse accompanies the man to the police station after dispatching a message to the Kerberos Club and is held, most inappropriately, in an interrogation room. A smart man by the name of Inspector Lionel Fenton interrogates Father Souisse and rapidly determines that Father Souisse is a patsy. He does reveal another item found in Father Souisse’s coat pocket. A drafting compass.

After being released Father Souisse makes his way to the Club and meets up with Mercair and Yada. The accusation has, inexplicably, found its way into the newspapers with the ridiculous headline, “Jesuit Priest Implicated in Assassination Plot to Slay Queen!!!” They decide to use the afternoon to look into the strange letter that appeared in the good Father’s pocket. They find in short order that Lord Wadsworth Kenslington fell ill and died the previous week so they make a journey North to the country estate where his body is lain to rest in a mausoleum. A light rain has begun to fall on the quaint English countryside as they arrive. The graveyard is around the back of the house and nestled in a cradle of trees at the edge of a forest. Some ground keepers are working but rapidly head inside when Mercair Glamours a fog into being. YadYadaa and Mercair investigate the Kenslington mausoleum while Father Souisse speaks with the wife and investigates the house.

Turning to a mist, Mercair enters the mausoleum and, after much squeezing, the tomb that holds Lord Wadsworth Kenslington’s coffin and body. As was the custom with some, a crowbar was left in the tomb in case Kenslington arose from a deep slumber and was not completely dead. Opening the coffin Mercair finds the coffin completely empty.

Father Souisse gains entry to the house and awaits Lady Caroline Kenslington to come down. When she does, she readily speaks of her husband and how vital he was engaging in many athletic and manly pursuits including riding and hunting. She remarks that he fell ill and became very cranky and withdrawn. While she asked him repeatedly to call the doctor he claimed he was on the mend despite his hands being quite cold. Father Souisse, with Lady Kenslington’s permission, gains access to where Kenslington died and finds some peculiar things. Upon the table by the bed are three books, all in French. One, “A Current History of France” (Une histoire actuelle de la France) written by Evrard Pouchard is a book of the history of France that is very unpopular in France for its heavy anti-France sentiment (and therefore a popular read among the English). One of the pages has been ripped out and thrown into the trash. He exits the house, convinced that there is plenty of evidence here of foul play. The butler who escorts him back to the front door informs him that Lady Josephine Lancastor has called upon Lady Kenslington and is downstairs. Not wishing to interrupt, he exits the house discreetly, convinced that there is plenty of evidence here of foul play.

Mercair decides to investigate the office upstairs and sends his two companions back to London. He flies to the roof then turns to a rat and scurries quickly into the house. Reaching the office of Lord Kenslington his eyes immediately fall upon an elegantly bejeweled bible that looks like a genuine antique from the medieval period. He also finds the safe and opens it easily finding several papers. One is a very old paper deeding his family a tract of land in 1327 signed by both the King of England and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church. Another correspondence is from a Lord Henry Tavlin wishing to purchase the exact same tract of land (dated a few months prior). Mercair feels compelled to take the Bible with him and creeps up the hallway to listen to the conversation between Lady Kenslington and Lady Lancastor. Lady Lancastor prods Lady Kenslington gently for information concerning the last few days of her husband’s life. She inquires about the priest that was here (Souisse gave a false name) and asks that she give him her card if he stops by again. With the aid of a Glamour Mercair exits the house and rifles through Lady Lancastor’s belongings (a travel case in the carriage and a suitcase in the back with things necessary to stay overnight in case of inclement weather). He finds a picture of a man named Matthew amidst the clothing. He begins walking back to England and winds up hitchhiking back to London on the back of Lady Lancastor’s coach, again with the aid of Glamour.

As soon as he is back in London Father Souisse checks in at his Chapel, fearful of what his elders will say about him being framed in the murder of the Queen. The Cardinal asks him simply if he has any plans to kill the Queen. Father Souisse replies with a simple “no”. The Cardinal praises him for the work he has done for the Church and says that the power of the Church is behind him always and that he walks in the footsteps of God and that he should fear not the evil words of evil men. Father Souisse thanks the Cardinal and leaves.

Giving the jewel encrusted bible to Father Souisse, he begins flipping through the book and suddenly begins looking for something on the covers. Snapping the red jewel out of place on the front cover he finds the seal of the Templar Knights underneath.

Mercair hunts around down by the East India Docks for any mention of Lord Henry Tavlin’s name. The name is remembered by a dockworker who saw a boat of decidedly Middle Eastern make and crew who brought him a parcel approximately a month ago.

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The Downfall of Dr. Morgan Sinclair?
Where our Investigators Strike at the Heart of Evil That is Dr. Morgan Sinclair But they Are Deceived!

Our characters started out at (where else?) the Kerberos Club. They were discussing the best way to go and confront Dr. Morgan Sinclair. Convinced (and compelled!) that the best way to take out this evil is to attack it head on, Yada and Stony Joe are both firmly in the “break down the door” and bring this evil abomination to justice.

While the deliberations continue, Mercair ducks out the window and takes flight on the wings of a raven. He heads to the Water Works and easily infiltrates as a rat. Using a Glamour he attempts to make off with one of the nine little girls. He finds eight girls playing hopscotch and skipping rope and a single girl cowering in her bed, apparently in trouble. He Glamours smoke and heat, robbing her of breath. In the shape of a little girl himself, Mercair leads her out of a small tunnel after being smacked in the face by an iron trap that burns him severely. The two girls drop into a small waterway and they both wash out of the Water Works building and are deposited in a pile of muck. The little girl is stunned but Mercair leads her back to the Kerberos Club where she is violently evicted from the premises by the wild-eyed Rupert. Yada rushes out and finds the little girl sobbing in the middle of the way. When interrogated as to why he evicted the girl, Rupert replies nonsense. Dr. Cavindish examines the girl and determines she is suffering from Psychosomatic Spiritual Transmigration (PST) and offers several ways that he could ameliorate her condition. This begins an interesting discussion with Father Souisse concerning the best way to extricate a spirit from a corporeal body. While the two are discussing, Stony Joe appears and the girl wraps her arms around his neck and begins to cry. Stony Joe, upon speaking with the girl realizes that there are 8 other girls being held captive where she was. In a rage, he storms off down the street, plucking a gas lamp to use as a mighty club.

Desperate to catch up with Stony Joe the rest of the party seek a safe place to drop the girl off and head to the Water Works with all possible dispatch. They take the girl to the chapel at the embassy and, as Father Souisse ascends the stairs to his chapel the girl twists and turns into a huge demonic looking dog. Startled, Souisse releases the evil thing that lets out a blood curdling roar that is half demonic dog and half crying little girl. The evil thing has twisted teeth that lacerate the tongue every time the mouth closes without a hunk of flesh caught between them. Yada has but a moment but charges a rock and hurls it at the terrible thing, clipping it upon the hip but it escapes. Mercair turns again into the raven and follows the dog, trying to clip it with a Glamour. The dog is mildly inconvenienced but after rolling head over tail through the front of a store seems to disappear. Mercair returns to his companions in the carriage driven by the consummate professional, Lucien Brielle.

During the journey the devil dog circles back around and ambushes the carriage horses, nearly decapitating one of the horses before disappearing again into the shadows. The other horse is dispatched by Yada before the good Dr. Cavindish can revitalize the poor beast. Mr. Brielle is dispatched home to be safe. Cavindish spots a nearby stable and quickly purchases three swift black steeds. Upon horseback the three companions, Yada, Father Souisse and Dr. Arthur Cavindish make their way through the dark streets of London’s West Side lit only by the golden brown gaslights being lit by the lamplighters, hissing slightly as the three raced to the aid of Stony Joe whose passage they see marked in the large footprints that cracked the cobblestone with their passing.

Arriving at the entrance to the Water Works they see a single man standing next to the large front door that has been smashed inward by the earlier arriving Stony Joe. The man by the door chuckles darkly and is summarily damned to hell and stabbed through the neck by the hidden blade of Father Souisse, who his compatriots note is handy with a blade.

Making their way through the dark and hushed interior of the London Municipal Water Works they hear a great shout from the bowels of the place. Descending rapidly (the stairs also show telltale signs of Stony Joe’s rapid passing) they see Joe on his knees before the man and his little girls. The dog kidnapped by Mercair has returned and resumed the form of a little girl. Dr. Morgan Sinclair welcomes everyone and is answered by the divine condemnation of Father Souisse who is likewise answered by the large gauntlet that is Stony Joe’s mammoth fist which he notices glows a slight blue color. Dr. Sinclair has a deadman’s switch in his hand that will condemn all the little girls to an untimely death in hellish turmoil (the evil brute!). Dr. Sinclair offers to dine with everyone and has a formal dinner table set for just the occasion. Yada refuses to sit at the table and Mercair arrives and subtly begins making his way around the back of Dr. Sinclair’s adolescent retinue. Dr. Cavindish begins to engage the fiend in polite discourse, the kind between great minds. In reality he is subtly maneuvering to discover the frequency of the signal that Sinclair is using to broadcast the signals that control people. Sinclair begins to espouse on the wonders of his technological developments. He started out long ago trying to figure out a way to transmit words and voices vast distances. He was wildly successful and developed an instantaneous form of communication using metallic dysphoric resonance cycling. He found that the signals transmitted through an “in-between space” that he discovered to be another dimension. He made contact with an entity there which gave him guidance and financial backing to continue his work. He explained that each of the symbols he inserted into people’s scalps (just over 100 of them) are each conduits to this other dark place that he hopes will leak into this world and smother it dead. He believes he will rule from the ashes of the new world. Amidst his espousing of great and terrible things, Dr. Cavindish interjects with a nitpicky detail concerning a polite suggestion for a different blend of metal that may help with Dr. Sinclair’s mental control signal. Rebuffed, Sinclair becomes enraged and distracted, ranting at Dr. Cavindish allowing Yada to throw a concentrated chi rock at the bank of machine along wall in back of Dr. Sinclair which detonates causing the doctor to flail and fall backward into the waiting arms of Mercair who grabs the deadman’s switch. Instantly the polite dinner turns to a melee as the angelic little girls are replaced with nine demonic dogs, all ravenously leaping over the table at our intrepid Kerberans. Dr. Cavindish steals away momentarily to deposit his Kudzu/Hag Fish hybrid into the nearest vat of sewage. Stony Joe lets out a tortured scream of rage, catches one of the dog things with one fist and the other he rears back as it blazes with a blue energy. He punches with enough force to move mountains and manages to strike the demon within the little girl and leave the girl untouched. Father Suisse rises to his feet as a wave of demonic slavering beasts fly over the table at him. Raising his crucifix and calling out with a sonorous voice, buoyant with the wrath of divinity, strikes the fear of God into these evil creatures riding upon the backs of innocent little girls. They part like an ocean before the wrath of Father Souisse. Dr. Cavindish approaches the remaining machines on the back wall and, utilizing a pendulum and several other reverberant elements, manages to disrupt the signal coming through controlling the devilish dogs and forces them to all begin heinously convulsing. Dr. Cavindish is, for a moment, the ground for this immense signal that leads to over one hundred separate people’s minds. Overwhelmed by the flood of information into his head he is brought low but somehow survives the ordeal with the knowledge that his salvation comes at a price as yet to be discovered.

Father Souisse walks around, his voice softer now and forceful like a true prophet of God, setting his hand upon the heads of the demons and one by one dispels them to the hell from whence they came. His spirit swollen with the rapture of divine providence he speaks a small sentence before lapsing into a blissful unconsciousness, “I killed Dana Nightengale.”

Yada slices the arm holding the deadman’s switch cleaving it in twain and yanking the arm bone out at the shoulder leaving a fleshy sleeve where the man’s right arm once was. The man, white from shock and pain, looks upward at the Kerberans who have bested him and he asks in a voice full of fright, “Where am I?” He is but another puppet of Dr. Sinclair’s, but obviously a long term one. A loud and wet gurgle from the vat of sewage behind everyone alerts them to the rapid growth of Dr. Cavindish’s strange mutation, part Kudzu and part Hag Fish, complete with sheets of mucous. Rapidly rigging the Water Works to explode, our group retreats from the structure that is rapidly filling with a vegetable creature that stretches its neonatal stalks to the evening sky for one cry of desperate freedom before being consumed in a white blast of coal and phosphorus exploding. Chunks of wet, steaming Kudzu rain down upon the group as they are ushered into the carriage waiting for them by the always present Lucien Brielle. They make their way back to the Kerberos Club where Rupert removes the controlling symbols from the little girls’ scalps and they fall asleep in rapid order. Mercair turns toward the man who was thought to be Dr. Morgan Sinclair and calls forth a glamour to make the man tell them everything. Yada makes use of his sight to ensure the girls are free from demonic possession and lays eyes upon the darkness that is Dr. Cavindish. Within a deep, dark pit of roiling blackness he sees the Doctor as a small boy alternatively grinning and crying…

Epilogue
Back at the Municipal Water Works the carriage bearing our characters and the small girls away to the relative safety of the Kerberos Club and before the fire department shows to make hollow attempts to control the blaze the wet slushy ground bubbles and spews forth a cluster of white, anemic worms that pause slightly at their ascent from deep underground to the surface. While they are silkworms they have long ago lost the taste for Mulberry leaves. They weave and bob in almost a mockery of grass in a breeze before they as one begin slithering toward the edge of the great city of London. They are so very hungry and must feed…

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Pieces in Motion
Where our investigators find an army of dead making their way south and a great darkness within the Church

Kerberos Club Mission Recap 10/16/13

Back at the club after the rousing explosion at the Municipal Water Works, the group interrogates the poor soul, Barnaby Grieves, who bore the intelligence of Dr. Morgan Sinclair for the last two years. He remembers fragmented memories: three shadowy, cloaked people who keep their faces covered, a man bent over a workbench screaming in frustration, a man being implanted brutally with the angelic mark with gray thread, a man convulsing on the floor, his eyes the deepest black with black tendrils shooting out of his eyes as he screams in horrendous pain, Bethany (his sweetheart) picking out produce at a market, her new man beside her. After much discussion and attempts to pull a face from his fragmented memories, he suddenly remembers seeing the face of Dr. Morgan Sinclair himself! After a composite sketch is glamoured by Mercair, Mercair remembers the face he saw in a picture found in Lady Lancastor’s luggage. The man’s name was Michael. Dr. Cavindish mentions that he has several ways to help people remember things that they would rather not but is called away rather suddenly by a letter delivered to him by Rupert

Father Souisse returns to his domicile to pray and retire for the evening. Just on the edge of falling into slumber, he has a vision: It is a simple room, a room you know instantly to be that of a Catholic priest. You see an old man, a strong man, busily moving about his room with a purpose guided by time, or a lack thereof. He throws some papers hastily into the fire and then pauses momentarily to listen out his window before making his way back to the table in the center of the room. A small glass vial awaits him. He takes the top off, smelling the contents and wrinkling his nose slightly. He slams the vial back, choking slightly, chasing it with a little wine. There is a stern knock at the door. Without hesitating he opens the door and lets the men in, men dressed in Church raiments. “Where is it?” the men ask the priest. “I could tell you I don’t know where it is but I am moments from death and I shall not imperil my soul by lying to you. The Phylactery is as empty as this vial of poison that I have drank.” The Church men make a move toward the priest who stills them when the ring he wears springs a small blade to which he holds to his throat. “Ecclesia fortis caro autem infirma” (The Church is strong but the flesh is weak), the priest says, and the Chuchmen scoff at him. “Be reasonable, Herschel,” the lead Churchman says, a voice vaguely familiar to you. The priest replies, “And to think that merely last week you called me Father Gloeckner. To what do I owe this newfound friendship?” The lead Churchman changes tone as he approaches, his voice stern, the voice of command, the voice of the Church, “What you do endangers your soul far more than a lie, Father. Why did you stay here if you know we were coming for you?” The priest wilts slightly, the poison running its course, “Why did our Lord remain in Gethsemane?” The Churchmen lunge for him at the first sight of weakness and a blade appears. Father Gloeckner thrusts himself forward upon the blade and a stillness comes over his face. His body slumps to the floor and as your vision fades you see the Churchmen lunge for the fireplace in hopes of recovering something…

Keeping his vision a secret, the next morning the group decides to check out the Lancastor estate. Posing as delivery men bearing fresh water (Lady Lancastor insists on exceptionally clean water), Mercair enters the house easily and finds a sculpture of a three headed dog cut into the bookcase behind the desk that was terribly defaced from a blunt object. He finds a leaf of paper with mild depressions signifying a note written on top of it. He also steals a ruby bedecked decanter. Heading downstairs, he pretends to be a clumsy common man and spills water upon Lady Lancastor causing quite a scene as she entertains Lord and Lady Donally and their daughter with a game of bridge. He also manages to steal her necklace.

A snap decision from the group is made to head north to check out the Old Kenslington Priory, the allotment of land that was gifted to the Kenslington family from the King of England and the Catholic Church and once owned by the Order of the Templar. They reach the small town of Hoffarth near the Priory. A vague feeling of being watched washes over everyone but nothing untoward is seen. Checking into the inn with the intent to look over the land in the much more forgiving light of day, Yada focuses upon the pebble in front of him and snoops around in spirit form. He finds a glimmering trail of the dead heading South for, no doubt, a nefarious purpose. Heading North he finds the trail begins in an ancient church located in the Priory with a virtual honeycomb of the dead below its ancient floors. Heading back he sees three forms glowing like small suns and heads back to his body spotting them as the same creatures that Barnaby Grieves saw in a fragment of his memory (he said they moved as if they were one). Heading out into the street the characters cannot see them, though Yada activates his sight again and sees one directly behind Mearcair but no one can see them in plain sight. Father Souisse becomes very French and invites the creatures for breakfast (if there indeed is anything edible at this establishment, which he doubts). Heading back into the room there is a note stuck to the wall with a dagger, driven with great strength (Stony Joe needs to remove it). There is a note saying that Scorn would like to meet them. The group writes back to give a time and a place, stapling the dagger back to the wall again. Before they can even turn around the note is taken and soon comes back from under the door. Scorn will meet them at 3am at the old church out at the Priory. Yada meditates, Souisse sleeps, Stony Joe falls asleep in a chair and crushes it and Mearcair sleeps as a raven on the roof of the inn.

Come 3am, Lucien Brielle steadfastly refuses to allow them to go without his help. He drives the group out to the old church passing over the line of dead tunneling under the ground southward. Reaching the Church they walk in and Scorn is bowed, as if in prayer, at the altar. He then pitches them an insane and yet, oddly compelling, mission to rescue a child. The parents, despairing at the loss of their son, called out to any supernatural ears that would be listening and Scorn responded. Entering into an agreement with Scorn, the demon realized that he would be unable to complete the contract but that he could make an enemy of his, Lord Orinth, the Pinekiller, look foolish if he could get the child back away from him. He offers the party the option of rescuing the child (who he insists is not evil) and sweetens the deal by dangling information that would allow Mercair to draw closer to exacting vengeance against the Demon of the Air. Mearcair asks Scorn to prove his veracity and Scorn produces a snow globe depicting the brutal dispatching of three beautiful little swans who perish with the horrific screams of terrified children. Stony Joe, a heart as big as his hands, also decides to stubbornly pursue the child’s rescue despite the logical arguments to the contrary. Scorn relates the tale of his misfortune at the hands of Lord Orinth that involved a young romantic couple that he was to split up, allowing his employer to slip in with the little princess (this happened somewhere in the east). Orinth kidnapped Scorn’s employer and took him back to the Fae invalidating the contract. Scorn told everyone that he was living then on “credit” and really needed the payoff. It cost him lots of time. A brief fight breaks out as Yada strikes Scorn across the brow with his staff. Mearcair places himself in front of the Demon and prevents Yada from continuing to beat the sneaky thing. A tentative agreement is arrived concerning the return of the child to his parents in return for his help with Mearcair’s quest of vengeance (one part of three, Scorn says).

The group heads back to London and retires that night. Souisse convinces Yada to come with him to mass on that Sunday. Yada agrees politely. The Cardinal makes a rare appearance this morning to speak briefly. As he speaks in the light of day Souisse recognizes him from his vision with the German priest, Herschel Gloeckner. Yada decides to idly switch over his vision in this most holy of places and is greeted with the most horrific sight he has ever seen. Something horrible…something terrible…something that knows him.

Declarations of the Fairie Lands:

1) Merciless Ming, an opium dealer known by Stony Joe (given his propensity to protect the innocent I would imagine the relationship is slightly antagonistic!)
2) The Fairie Carnival is here in 5 days! The Fae all drop their roles for a little and become another. It is this that will allow the players to step into the Fay without being instantly detected and consumed.
3) Lord Orinth, the Pinekiller, has a lieutenant that has been plotting his overthrow for many centuries and has decided to use humans in his dastardly plans.
4) Mercair has a contact that specializes in ferrying people and things across the Veil that separates their world from ours.

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The Shadows Depeen
Where our investigators puzzle over the death of a noblewoman and a note reveals a still deeper plot.

Yada turns his sight on in the church and sees the Cardinal standing in front of a great, shadowy form that locks eyes with Yada and welcomes him to London and thanks him for accepting his invitation. The evil thing laughs so loud it sends Yada’s ears to ringing. He awakens in the gutter with his ears bleeding. He runs off down the street with the church looming ominously over him.

Father Souisse requests a private meeting with the Cardinal after the morning mass and it is granted. Souisse tells the Cardinal he is going on a personal mission to dispatch evil. The Cardinal grants him his blessing and requests (a compel!) that Father Souisse keep him informed of what transpires so that the Cardinal can continue to give him spiritual guidance. Father Souisse agrees and leaves with the Cardinal pledging the full support of the Church to Souisse .

Mearcair spends his Sunday morning teaching street children how to pick pockets. Stony Joe begins the day with his morning constitutional. Dr. Cavindish spends the bulk of Sunday with his family. Everyone meets early Sunday at the Kerberos Club.

The first stop is to visit Vidal Nasseau, the French tobacconist who is examining the silkworms from the Arboretum. He talks about two species of the silkworms, Tyrranathia perrenia, a species that somehow affects time, and Tyrranathia somnium, a species that allows the transfer of thought over a distance. Mearcair steals a bit of Nasseau’s tobacco. Nasseau and Souisse talk much in French about France. Nasseau gives Souissethe best tobacco he has ever tasted.

The next stop is to speak with the unfortunate wretch that was once William Barlow. He pleads with Dr. Cavindish for someone else to be put in with him as he is very lonely. He further informs Dr. Cavindish that the Tyrranathia perrenia fibers, when woven into cloth, allow what is depicted to come true. Yada recoils momentarily recalling the strip of cloth that showed him destroying London. Barlow used several of these to secure funding for further experiments in his nefarious plans. He also mentions that there were several commissions that he and Dr. Sinclair also used these depictions to complete. The other species, Tyrranathia somnium, was the fiber inserted into the heads of people that allowed them to be controlled. He waxes nostalgically about the third species of silkworm, Deusomnia textoralis. He says that the initial species of silkworm, the T. perrenia, was originally thought to be a failure, led to the discovery of the D. textoralis, the first species of silkworm that achieved sentience. Barlow maintains that his fate upon this world was to make and free the D. textoralis.

They adjourn to the sitting room with the omnipresent Wren reading his newspapers from all over the world. Yada prods Souisse slightly about the Cardinal while they all decide which direction to go. A few options seem to stick out: trying to investigate Lord Matthew Lancastor, begin preparations into the Twilight Lands, and speaking with Lord Henry Tavlin (the fellow residing at the Masonic Lodge who attempted to buy the Priory from Lord Wadsworth Kenslington). While they are debating a letter from Lady Josephine Lancastor arrives requesting the presence of the Kerberans at her estate later in the day. Dr. Cavindish launches into a long scientific diatribe on principles obscure and verbose before rubbing the piece of paper retrieved by Mearcair from the office of Lord Matthew Kenslington with carbon revealing the following message:

Dear JW

Our plans move forward with our business with the Templar. They are positively ecstatic with the results I have achieved thus far. The Apocalypse Switch works well, I have tried it on a Carriage that was under someone else’s control. We are moving up production of silk and will have another thirty implanted by the end of the month. I do believe that there is another player out there who is monitoring your actions and I urge discretion in all of your dealings. The Templar will fall at long last. You promised me something in return and I now demand payment. The Phylactery, the Ragnarok Equation, is necessary to take my work to the next level. I simply ask you to honor your promise.

Sincerely,
Dr. Morgan Sinclair

Who could JW be? Could there be a person mentioned so far that has those initials? Father Souisse might recognize them…

Mearcair heads over to the horrific squalor and despair that is known as Jacob’s Island. Populated by the destitute and hopeless, one man wails out his despair when Mearcair gives him some coin. Being of the Fae, Mearcair knows the way to summon the creature known as The Wick, another Fae creature. He lights a candle and places it in the window of a squalid building populated by about 18 people. The people, upon realizing what he is doing move out quickly and silently. Soon there is a knock on the door and The Wick enters, top hat sitting upon a crown of greasy red hair framing a face as cold and bloodless as an alabaster statue. They exchange pleasantries and then get down to business ( The Wick’s face gains some color back as they discuss trade). There are several deals discussed:

  1. The cigarettes taken from Nasseau’s lab at the Kerberos Club for a shovel full of manure from the Twilight Lands (although initially he requests a clock upon the mantle in one of the many rooms of the Kerberos Club).
  2. A drop of Stony Joe Smithson’s blood in exchange for the 3 names of people who have gone to and returned from the Twilight Lands.
  3. A sample of writing from Management in return for a book about the silkworms bred by Barlow and utilized by Dr. Sinclair.

Mearcair secures a shovel full of the Fae manure with which to feed to the mulberry trees upon which the strange silkworms feed. He accepts the deal to bring a drop of blood from Stony Joe back to him in return for the names of those humans who travelled to the Twilight Lands and back. He meets the rest of the players on their way to the Lancastor Estate to meet with Lady Josephine Lancastor.

Lady Lancastor meets with the players and tells them that she is concerned about a large number of people within her circle having succumbed to a similar disease to Lord Kenslington. She has a list of eight other people scattered around London that have died under similar circumstances. They all fall into a malaise with clammy hands and then, after refusing a doctor’s care, die suddenly. She worries about another friend of hers, Lady Emily Hoight, that has fallen ill three days ago and is currently convalescing at her home in London. She is also refusing medical attention. Souisse and Lancastor verbally spar a bit, Souisse mildly insulting the people she associates with and she implies that she knows Cardinal Jurgen Willebrandt and thinks that the idea of Souisse killing the Queen is preposterous with manners as bad as his. She speaks of her husband Matthew and has harsh things to say when the Kerberos Club is mentioned. Her main point is that the Club refuses to discuss her husband’s death with her. Yada bites his tongue about the information that her husband may still be alive and is a heartless monster.

The party moves on to the Hoight Estate within the confines of London proper to follow up on Lady Lancastor’s concerns after stopping at a Barber’s. Dr. Cavindish purchases leaches and Mearcair buys a set of needles. Arriving at the Estate the serving lady is expecting them and shows them in to the Sitting Room and heads upstairs to alert her Lady that they have arrived. Yada sees a flash of spiritual energy abating upstairs but nothing else. The serving lady shows them upstairs to speak with her Lady. The party finds an extremely warm room adequately furnished but lacking any sign of Lady Hoight. The depression in the bed is cool to the touch, the sheets slightly messed as if someone had just been there. There are several books in French (the history book has some derogatory notes in the margins, also written in French). The serving lady is quite taken aback at the lack of her Lady in bed and is instructed to head downstairs and notify Lord Hoight and to put on some tea. The good doctor then leaves some leaches in bed in the hopes that they could collect a blood sample from Lady Hoight when (if) she returned to bed. Yada uses his sight and, much to his discomfort, finds nothing of use. A scream from downstairs sets everyone into a mad dash downstairs. Mearcair manages to slip a leach on Stony Joe prior to heading downstairs. The body of Lady Hoight is found on the floor sprawled out as if she had run down the stairs and tripped. Her body is cold and without a pulse. By all accounts she is dead. Dr. Cavindish sends for a mortician friend of his, Horace Bean, to come retrieve the remains and secret her away for a proper post-mortem examination. A Strange examination by Mearcair manages to retrieve a substance from the neck of Lady Hoight that paralyzes his arm. Mearcair is saved by the speedy ministrations of Dr. Cavindish and Yada. Leaches placed on Mearcair’s arm are retrieved after they fall to the floor apparently paralyzed. Mearcair manages to retrieve the leach placed on Stony Joe. The leach itself has turned to stone. Lord Nathan Hoight returns home and bids the players to let him adjourn. He reiterates the story of his wife falling ill (and becoming slightly distant, though he attributes this to her not wanting him to see her in such disarray) and refusing a doctor’s care. He cannot recall any particular place that she might have caught the illness from but her hands were very clammy.

Horace Bean, Yada and Dr. Cavindish bundle up the remains and place them in a locked coffin and head to the lab where the good doctor aims to plan a covert autopsy to determine a cause of death. The carriage rocks suddenly with a splintering of pine and the back doors of the carriage bust open. The coffin containing the body of Lady Hoight is empty.

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Still More Fires

The first stop is to the Masonic Lodge to see if the characters can get an audience with Lord Henry Tavlin. Getting all of his societal ducks in a row, Dr. Cavindish arranges for an entry into the Brotherhood of the Masons. Yada accompanies him and finds a disturbing number of spirits hanging out in the area but also a number of flesh husks that are being ridden by spirits. A man standing in the middle of the room checks his watch, counting the seconds as they pass suddenly explodes and turns the well appointed waiting area into a nightmare. Yada awakens from his dream vision as he sees Dr. Cavindish heading into the front of the building again, the man with the watch heading in right behind him. Yada feels the tugging of fate at his heels and knows that the explosion is supposed to happen but despite this he tries to save as many people as he can. As he does so he feels the tweaking of fate changing. As he attends to victims of the bombing he rolls over one man with a leg completely blown off and he stares up at Yada in horror, “You knew this would happen! You are the dark one! You are the one that comes every 1,000 years!” The man whose name and affiliation remains a mystery is quickly silenced by a whopping dose of pain medication administered rapidly by Dr. Cavindish. The man is quickly taken back to the good doctor’s Island room and his wounds are tended. Though it is possible to rouse the man, medically it is risky and so Dr. Cavindish and Yada both decide to let the man convalesce. Upon his back is tattooed the stone from the cavern back at the monastery where Yada grew up. Mearcair picks up the watch the man was holding that appears untouched in the explosion. It feels a little lighter than it should be…

Heading next to Bethlam Hospital, Dr. Cavindish meets up with some of his colleagues to hob knob about cases and to catch up on current events. Noticing that there was a lot of security there that day the other doctors respond to Cavindish and say that there was a man who escaped the hospital and has set everyone on edge. One of the doctors has a newspaper article about the escape and Cavindish recognizes one of his concoctions that will help zombify a corpse but can also be used to induce a violent fugue state when aerosolized. The mad man that escaped, Walter Lyons, used the diversion to enact his escape.

The group then goes to meet Timothy Edgehill, a man who had survived a trip to the Twilight Lands and returned to tell about it. Timothy had been undergoing Hydrotherapy and his feet were badly ulcerated from being wet constantly. Aside from being quite mad, Timothy mentioned that his brother, Edgar, was now Captain of Lord Orinth’s guard and that he tortured Timothy badly. Timothy knows something that will be helpful to the players but wants a promise that they will kill him. Despite Timothy’s pleas that Edgar is a “bad person” now, no one really takes up the offer to kill Edgar in cold blood. Mearcair hears about the location of Timothy’s home and sets out there to collect the visage of Edgar in an attempt to trick him into giving up his information. Stony Joe, to everyone’s shock, clears up the mystery in one go. When Cavandish was the ground feed for Dr. Morgan Sinclair’s infernal machine he received the thoughts of all those hundreds of people who were implanted with an angelic symbol he also managed to project his thoughts into those people as well. As a result, Walter Lyons was able to glean large quantities of information from Dr. Cavindish and the simpleton Lyons became a genius overnight.

Stony Joe puts the fright down on Merciless Ming and, after a long string of heavily accented English, Ming agrees to part with a vial of purple fluid that he maintains will get them through the veil into the Twilight Lands.

Dr. Cavindish, excited by the idea that his thoughts had transferred to another person, was very intent on finding the Mr. Lyons. Always macabre, Cavandish fused together two dogs and a shark to create a chymical sniffing device which led the group to the dock district. Finding the warehouse empty, a trap is set off and a teratomatic gel is leaked from the ceiling that creates tumors of various shapes and sizes. Stony Joe smashes several of the glass concoctions and the combination of acids and reagents crystalizes his hands up to the elbows, turning them almost a dark, ruby red. Dr. Cavandish injects a solution into his sniffing device causing it to go insane and become incredibly strong. As Mearcair sets fire to the warehouse the horrific creation of dog and shark runs through the warehouse and dives through the wall into the Thames. Everyone beats a hasty retreat. Cavindish realizes that he will be unable to underestimate this Mr. Lyons as he has all the cunning that he himself possesses. Cavindish sends out letters to all those he does business with and entreats them not to allow purchase on credit in his name.

The major threads going on right now:
1) The missing noblewoman, feeds into a larger conspiracy. Investigating Holehaven next is likely.
2) The Missing Boy, Desmond Mooney, who was kidnapped and taken to the Twilight lands. Drugs anyone?
3) The slippery Mr. Lyons

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Giants Walk Among Us
Where the players realize there are very large things on the move out there that can hurt them badly

Minor Edit: The Cult of the Munnarivippalanaka’s name is being changed to the Cult of the Maranam for simplicity’s sake.

Our story begins this evening with the revival of Bishan Sitha, a man rescued by Yada in the explosion that rocked the Masonic Lodge. Mr. Sitha has some very interesting things to say. He mentions the existence of another temple, similar but distant to the temple Yada was raised in “at the other end of the stream”. Sitha reluctantly talks to Yada and tells him about the prophecy that has brought him and his brothers to London. There are four parts:
1) “The Veil Shall Be Pierced”. Sitha and the Cult of the Maranum (“Harbinger”) believe that Dr. Morgan Sinclair’s implants act as conduits to the other side and have thus pierced the vel.
2) “A Portal Opens to the Past”. He had very little information on this one.
3) “Leviathan Shall Return”. Before being released he mentioned offhand that this part of the prophecy has also come true.
4) “Vengeance Shall Blind the Eyes of God”. He didn’t know what this one meant either.

Sitha mentions that the “Sand Seers” directed him and his brothers to London where these things would take place. Sitha seems polite enough but reaffirms his intent to kill Yada. Despite these warnings Yada releases him. He fades into the early morning fog.

Father Souisse returns to his church and begins researching about the Twilight Lands. He is frustratingly unsuccessful and decides to confront the Cardinal directly. Frustrated at what he sees as a hole in the faith, the Cardinal calmly tells Father Souisse that there are some things deemed inappropriate to share with the flock. Despite attempting to keep the doubt off his face the Cardinal readily picks up on it (through a compel) and admonishes him to “wrap himself in his faith, not cling to it.” After Souisse tells the Cardinal that he plans on rescuing a child, Desmond Mooney, from the Twilight Lands and was given this task by a demon, the Cardinal opens a bookshelf containing forbidden references. He tells Souisse that Demons work many times through poisoned tongues and that the demon Scorn should not achieve his goals. The Cardinal tasks Souisse with determining if this child is a demon and says that most demons will bear a mark of their heritage and this mark will usually be revealed during a baptism. The Cardinal then directs Souisse to burn out the mark with holy fire, the only language the demons truly understand. He then lends Souisse an ancient copper crucifix that has tarnished a deep green color and a book about the Fae lands. He recommends having an anchor when travelling abroad and having a person of deep faith to bear the responsibility of that anchor. Souisse is calmed by the Cardinal’s words. The Cardinal speaks to the Father one more time about the simplicity of his words and states that the true nature of faith is simplicity itself usually only found after a lifetime of study. He tells Souisse that faith could be learned, in some instances, better from a child than a priest.

Stony Joe, with his morning constitutional, becomes aware that his ruby hands, when used to punch, will set things on fire. Even frozen slabs of beef.

The group meets up briefly at the Club, absent a Dr. Cavindish who was called away suddenly because numerous lines of credit have already been opened in his name. The group travels to Holehaven with Yada periodically checking the surroundings with his sight. He sees a glowing article upon Lucien Brielle’s chest that is quickly covered up. In Yada’s spirit sight, Lucien appears to be made of stone and stands unblinking against a mighty wind. A mortal to be sure, but one with a steadfast heart.

Reaching Holehaven, Yada is about to turn his vision on when he spots a familiar face. It is the man who exploded in the Masonic lodge. He is casually striding along the streets of Holehaven with a container of toffee. Upon speaking with the man (who introduces himself as Soloman Boothe), he appears to have no idea what Mearcair is talking about in reference to a bombing at the Masonic Lodge. The man is polite, if a little odd, and heads along his way. Yada’s sight reveals him to be filled with whirling, glowing clockwork gears. The group follows him back to the watchmaker’s store, Yada taking point this time. He walks in with the watch case discovered at the scene of the explosion at the Masonic Lodge (it has no parts inside). Mr. Boothe, looking at the watch and confronted with the explosion at the Masonic Lodge, replies that “we” (he never expands on who “we” is) have to look at you and your companions’ movement since reaching London, implying that they have the capacity to track all of their movements through time. He replies that they will not speak with the players at this time, but will meet them that evening at Kismet Park.

Walking around Holehaven, the players notice that most of the clocks around Kismet Park are just a little slow (approximately 3 minutes). The farther away that players get from Kismet Park the clocks all synchronize. It is at this point that Yada recognizes the three figures that were stalking them in Hoffarth. Homing in with his sight, Yada and the group manage to pick out a group of four people walking. Father Souisse approaches them and sprays them with holy water. The group of people consist of:
1) A well dressed, regal bearing woman (who Souisse maneuvers out of the way)
2) A well dressed man, also with a noble bearing. He wipes his face with a monogrammed handkerchief bearing the initials “AC”.
3) A well dressed man who bears himself as a commoner, likely raised as a commoner and brought into the noble fold. He has, somehow, managed to snatch the holy water out of the air and remains quite dry aside from his glove.
4) A commoner, dressed as such.

Yada approaches the group and demands they convince him of their good intentions. The woman raises an eyebrow and asks him if he really wants to fight here. Yada strikes! The well dressed, noble bearing gentleman ducks out of the way of Yada’s strike with unbelievable alacrity, drawing a rapier and pinning Yada’s staff to the ground. The other man flings a bit of cloth into Yada’s face, momentarily blinding him. Finally, the woman steps forward, rapier drawn, and brings down a blow of such force it threatens Yada’s very life! Feeling his chi energy rising in his chest, the blow is tilted downward into the ground where Yada drives his staff. The resulting explosion flings Yada high into the air and about a half mile away. When the dust clears there is a crater in the middle of Holehaven just off High street. Buildings tilt and many people are wounded from the shock wave. Yada lands with a buffeting roll with little more than his pride damaged.

As the blow is deflected by the chi shield hastily erected by Yada a brief flash of these three giants masquerading as people is revealed. His sight reveals the power that they have is all shared. Spiritually, they are all joined by the same force.

Epilogue
The clattering of a cane upon the cobblestone comes nearer and then there is a knock on the door. There is a tense moment when everyone looks to the door. Blades are grasped. One of the men goes to the door and peers through a small hole. “It is Sitha!” The door opens and the one legged man is welcomed warmly into the group that was, only moments ago, ready to kill. One man, cloaked in shadow, steps away from the other men and approaches Sitha. “Were you followed?” the man in the shadows asks. “Most certainly not,” Sitha replies to him. “Have you heard about Holehaven?” he asks back to the shadowed man and the rest of the men gathered there. The silence in the room is answer enough. One of the other men, a younger one, pipes up suddenly, “Mr. Sitha, you spoke to the Harbinger?”
“Yes, I did,” replied Sitha, sitting down with a wince of pain. The wound where his leg used to be was still fresh even if it had been tended professionally. “It is a sad thing,” he continues, “for I believe the Harbinger believes deep in his heart that he is a good man. That he strives to do good. Yet we now see the fruits of his works before us. Twenty seven dead and over forty wounded. He must be stopped.”
“How will we persevere against such power?” the young man asks, fear creeping into his voice.
“With our faith,” the man in shadow says, “with our faith alone.” Turning toward Sitha he continues, “Begin the preparations, Mr. Sitha. It is time.”
With another groan Bishan Sitha raises himself up off the bench and steps to the center of the room. “Nabih,” he says to the younger man, “come here. I have need of you.” The young man springs up and stops by Sitha’s side.
“What do you require of me?” Nabih replies, eager. For a moment a shadow of sadness crosses Bishan Sitha’s face,
“Only your life, young Nabih.” With a flash Sitha slices the young man across the throat and the young man falls to the floor, clutching his throat. Then, realizing that this is his task, he releases his hand and his blood spills even faster onto the ground as he chokes out, “Munne maranam” as gobs of blood trickle from his lips. He falls into the center of the floor as the rest of the men gather around him, placing their hands in the blood of their companion. Sitha begins a chant:

“Tēvatūtarkaḷ iratta nām uṅkaḷukku utavum. Eṅkaḷ narampukaḷil iratta nām uṅkaḷ viruppattai ceyalpaṭutta. Calātīṉ hārṭ eṅkaḷukku vaḻikāṭṭa maṭṭumē uṅkaḷ kaṇkaḷ iruṇṭa nuḻaiya vēṇṭum. Muṉṉē maraṇam. Muṉṉē maraṇam. Muṉṉē maraṇam.”

(“With the blood of angels we serve you. With the blood of our veins we enforce your will. With the heart of Saladin we will enter into the dark with only your eyes to guide us. Death to the Harbinger. Death to the Harbinger. Death to the Harbinger. “)

A crimson light flashes, extinguishing all but a single candle. Out of the darkness Bishan Sitha comes, walking on two legs now. “Are we ready?” asks the voice of the shadow man. Sitha stares out into the darkness, his face saddened and weary but his words are filled with strength.

“We are.”

He blows out the candle leaving all in darkness.

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