Clockwork-1888

Clockwork 1888 Session 13

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, April 24, 1888
The room was afire as the undead woman clawed and bit at Fredryck and Dracona. Priscilla grabbed the pot of bubbling liquid from the stove and pitched it upon the poor creature, thinking it might have some effect on it. It ignored the blue liquid discoloring it and continued its attack. With the fire growing inside the room, Evgenia decided to look for Jane Culver and went to the door on the other side of the stairs.

Inside, they found Jane Culver, gagged and tied to a wheeled table. Evgenia looked carefully at her to assess whether she was like the undead woman. But the fear in Jane’s eyes told of her remaining humanity. Evgenia started to untie Jane and called for Archibald as an explosion in the adjacent room breached the connecting wall. Archibald arrived and cut Jane’s leg bindings. As fast as they could they exited the room and headed for the stairs.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 12

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, April 24, 1888
The bobbies arrived and, rather than sort it all out there in the street, were intent on just taking the whole lot of them to the Yard to sort it all out. As they moved the people away from the burning place to allow the fire brigade to work, one bobby went for a paddy wagon. A well-dressed gentleman in a fine hat approached and informed the bobbies that he had seen the entire incident from his vantage point across the street. He corroborated the version of the story that matched the PCs and assured that he’d head to the Yard, shortly, to make his report.

With an apparently unbiased witness, the coppers agreed to let the PCs go and started preparing the three men for the paddy wagon. “Shouldn’t you find out where they were taking the women before the coppers take these men away?” the well-dressed gentleman whispered to Dracona. “Wait,” Dracona called as they loaded the first man into the paddy wagon, “we want to talk to this one.” But, she wondered about how the well-dressed man knew of their business in this part of town if he was indeed just a bystander.

Still, they questioned the man and got the address where they were taking the girls. It was the back doors of a place called “Falstaff’s,” in Bayswater. The man also mentioned that “Archer” was not paying them enough. Priscilla recalled the morning paper for a day or so ago that talked about Gregory Archer, an explorer who had returned from the Amazon and was displaying artifacts from the region at the museum.

Still, as the paddy wagon carted the three men off and the fire brigade got the blaze under control, the gentleman introduced himself. “I’m Vernon Culver,” he said, “and I believe we can be of use to each other. Please, join me for tea,” he suggested as he led them a short way to a small but up-scale chippie. “First, I must apologize for my associates’ over-zealous nature. They have mine and my wife’s best interests at heart,” he said with a sly smile. “But, I’m a man that loves his wife and I’d surely make it worth your while if she were returned to me. That would surely be at least twice what my interfering brother-in-law could offer.” Priscilla could tell that in spite of his words, this man loved his wife like he would a prized possession.

But, he offered a sizable sum if they would deliver his wife to him, when they found her. And, he offered to accompany them to the location that the three men were delivering women that were sent to them. Fredryck suggested that a man of Culver’s standing would be best kept out of harm’s way. With their business concluded, Vernon Culver noted that he had a report to make at the police station and excused himself.

They went to the address where the women had been delivered. At the front door way they found the sign for Falstaff’s. Windows on either side of the door showed some kind of manikin, lifelike but motionless. To the left was a man dressed in fine clothes and standing proud with his top hat and cane. To the right was a woman in a fine gown. As they were looking through the window of the door to the interior of the room beyond, Priscilla asked for the police files. The figure of the woman had a considerable resemblance to one of the first women killed. They were not totally sure because the police photo was of a dead woman but the resemblance was certain.

Peering through the door window, they could see a desk, another figure in one corner of the room, and a door leading to a room beyond. They also noticed the bell attached to the door, on a piece of spring steel to bounce it around if anybody entered. Remembering what the artist and cronies had told them about delivering the women to the back doors, they decided to go around the back.

There, they found a large set of doors, a sliding peephole set into one door, and a cord running up and into the wall next to the door. Dracona decided to play bait, again, and the others went to the side of the building. Then, Priscilla decided that it wouldn’t be safe for Dracona to go alone so she ran up to the door, too, just as Dracona pulled the bell cord. She quickly came up with a reason that two of them were there.

After a short while, they heard footsteps approach the door. The peephole slid open and a man peered through. “Closed. What do you want?” “Mr. Sharpe sent us here,” Dracona answered. “Mr. Sharpe doesn’t send people here. He comes with them. Now go away.” “But he’s still interviewing the twins,” Priscilla interjected. “He didn’t want to leave the twins just to escort us here,” she added. After a few more minutes of assurances and convincing, he told them, “Wait there,” and he closed the peephole.

They heard his footsteps leaving and then heard more returning. When the peephole opened, a different man peered at them. They reiterated their story for this man before he closed the peephole and discussed a short time with the other one. When the door opened, they admitted Dracona and Priscilla, peered to both sides outside, closed the door and locked it behind them.

The first man introduced himself as Gregory Archer while the second was Sir Richard Falstaff, the proprietor of the establishment. They showed some of Falstaff’s work shop, the frames and molds for the wax figures that he sculpts, and showed the figure of a man near the door. They pointed out that the rifle the figure held was indeed a real rifle. After all, why mold in wax what one can easily obtain. They also talked about how the wax figures will preserve the beauty and form of the ladies for an eternity. A sort of immortality, they explained.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Archer explained, “immortality. I’m here having my sculpture made. Sir Richard was working it when you arrived. Would you like to see?” With that, they escorted the ladies down the spiral staircase into the cellar work area. Dracona and Priscilla both noticed a slight bumping sound coming from a room to the rear of the stairwell but said nothing of it only giving each other a knowing glance about what possibly was behind the locked door … Jane Culver.

Falstaff commented that he’d not planned to work with a pair of ladies but that he’d try a few quick sketches to see if it inspires him. He cleared a work table asked if the ladies would pose on the table for him. Priscilla suggested that Dracona and her pose together and Falstaff agreed. As he gathered a sketchpad, the ladies climbed onto the table.

Archer went to a table near the back of the room, explaining that he’d be getting his things and making his leave. Falstaff started a sketch and commented on seeing the two with the pyramids of Egypt in the background, or the Taj Mahal of India. Priscilla wondered aloud if there was more than one pyramid in Egypt. Meanwhile, Fredryck was able to quietly ply the peephole open and was working on unlocking the back doors by putting his sword through the peephole and attempting to unlock the bolted doors.

Archer moved over to behind the ladies as they looked toward the artist. Archer explained that he had to go and he’d leave the ladies in the hands of Falstaff. But, then he thrust his hands around them and tried put rags over their faces. Dracona dodged the maneuver but he grabbed Priscilla who held her breath and struggled to get free. Dracona had been posing with her cane and slipped off the table, drawing the sword from the cane and screaming a threat at them.

Fredryck finally got the doors unlocked and he withdrew his arm from the peephole as Evgenia pulled the doors open. Falstaff pulled a revolver and told Dracona to not bring a sword to a gun fight. Priscilla managed to escape Archer’s grasp without succumbing to the chloroformed rags. Archer spotted Fredryck and the others coming down the stairs, drew a pistol, pointed it at Priscilla and suggested they stop or he’d shoot her. Evgenia and Archibald stopped on the stairs but Fredryck continued his advance. Archer fired at Priscilla … but missed. Fredryck came up behind Falstaff, put his sword up around him to his throat and asked Falstaff about bringing a sword to a gunfight.

After a short scuffle, Falstaff was injured and unconscious on the floor while Archer was disarmed. While they tied his hands and those of Falstaff, Archer informed them that they didn’t know what they were interfering with. They were on the verge of a breakthrough in immortality, itself. The dark blue flower that he brought back from the Amazon jungles of South America was the key to immortality and Falstaff had almost arrived at the correct formula. If they let them continue, Archer said that they could share in immortality when it was fully developed. With Archer’s hands tied behind his back, they questioned him about the missing women.

Dracona and Priscilla pointed to the locked door by the stairwell and asked if the women were in there. Archer told them not to open that door but they reiterated their question about the missing women. The bumping noise was still there, sporadic, but still audible from outside the bolted door. Finally, Archer smiled, “Yes, one of the women is in locked there. Go, let her out, you fools.” Dracona and Fredryck moved to the door while Priscilla, Evgenia and Archibald kept their weapons trained on Archer and the unconscious Falstaff.

Dracona unbolted the door and swung it open. The storage room was unlit but the light streaming in revealed a female form that turned and approached the open door. As the light played over the woman, they could see that it was the woman that the Veiled Lady had described that was sent to Mr. Sharpe before Jane Culver.

But, the woman’s eyes were rolled back in their sockets, a gray haze of death upon them. Her mouth was agape with a deep blue stain within it and her skin looked as if she’d been dead for a week. There was no grace in her gait, no breath from her lips, no life in her eyes … only some insatiable need to kill and feed. Archer laughed, “I told you! Do you see how close we are? She died a week ago but moves, again! We were just about to take her body for dumping when she started moving, again! We’re so close! She lives!” But, life was not what was in this woman.

The figure of the woman struck at Fredtyck with surprising strength for her small frame … the strength of undeath. Priscilla fired at it, hit the creature in the chest and it didn’t even flinch. Fredryck struck it hard with his sword but the thick dead skin of the corpse resisted the wounds he imparted. Dracona took a swig from her flask and blew fire upon it. That seemed to do damage it but it ignored that it was on fire, its need to kill and feed greater than its own survival as it struck, again, slamming Fredryck with its fist and biting him.

Archer started laughing at their efforts. “You can’t kill her! She’s immortal! All we need to do is figure out how to reduce the ill effects and we can all be immortal! Don’t you see? We need to complete our work!” Indeed, the creature seemed to almost regenerate the damage that Fredryck imparted to it. But the burns … perhaps that was how to put the poor woman’s spirit to rest …

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Clockwork 1888 Session 11
Clockwork 1888 Session 11

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, April 24, 1888
The Veiled Lady was visibly upset when she learned of the demise of the ladies that she had sent to the artist, Mr. Sharpe. She has a reputation as a quality brothel and asked that they find who has been murdering the women. She gave them the address for the place she was to send the next prospective young lady. And, she informed them that there was another young lady, not in their files, that was sent the week before Miss Coyle.

With the address in hand, they made their way to the address in Bayswater, a wealthy mercantile district. The streets were bustling with carts and people, even at the late hour, with businesses cleaning up, taking deliveries and preparing for the next day. Dracona decided to pose as the next prospective model and approached the door alone while Archibald made his way around to the back. Dracona was met at the door by a man that appeared to be the butler. He closed the door and showed her to the parlor before excusing himself to fetch Mr. Sharpe. The parlor had many paintings of place of note around Europe.

Soon, a short balding man entered and introduced himself as Mr. Caleb Sharpe. He was friendly and unassuming as he interviewed Dracona, asking about her family and explaining the quite generous terms of their agreement. At first he seemed to be taking notes but Dracona soon realized that he was actually doing a quick sketch of her throughout their conversation.

The butler arrived with tea and he sipped his while Dracona pretended to do so, too. Still, as he concluded the interview with a, “it will be a pleasure working with you,” he rose to lead her into a back room. Before leaving the parlor, Dracona slipped her hand between the curtains and tapped the window.

In the back room, she saw more paintings and a sketch on an easel. Retrieving an outift, he asked if she would mind changing into it for another, more detailed sketch. As he escorted her to and opened the door of a small changing room, there was a knock at the front door. The butler tended to the door as Mr. Sharpe apologized for the interruption.

The butler opened the door to find Evgenia. “Yes,” she began, “I’m looking for a friend of mine. She’s got red hair and is about this tall.” “There’s nobody here that matches that description,” the butler informed as he tried to close the door. But, Evgenia got her foot in the door and pulled her gun for the butler to see. “I said that my friend is here and I’m not leaving without her,” she pressed. “Mr. Sharpe,” the butler called, annoyed.

Mr. Sharpe rolled his eyes and excused himself to go to the front door. Dracona, still standing in the doorway of the changing room, noted the comfortable chair and clothing hooks on the wall of the small dressing room. She also noticed a door in the corner of the small room. Perhaps a wardrobe closet or a restroom?

At the front door, Evgenia was adamant about seeing her friend and threatened to shoot them if they didn’t let her in. “Very well, then,” Mr. Sharpe told the butler. The butler nodded and stepped back as if to allow Evgenia entry. Instead, he pulled a revolver and fired at her. The gunshot startled a number of passersby and was an obvious signal for Fredryck, Archibald and the others that foul play was afoot. Evgenia was missed by the shot but returned fire.

In the dressing room, Dracona heard the shots, took a swig from her flask and prepared a matchstick before jerking the other door open. Another man was there, somewhat surprised that the door had been open, with a rag in one hand and an open bottle of some clear liquid in the other hand. Archibald had found a small window through the drapes which he could just see Dracona in the dressing room. The man in the room lunged at Dracona but failed to clamp the rag over her mouth and nose. Dracona struck a match and Archibald called out, “No!” But, she spit the liquid across the match at the man.

The entire room went up in flames as the ether exploded with her fire breath. The small window that Archibald was peering through blew out and he tried to cover himself from the glass shards and flames that spewed forth. The man caught fire and fled the room, running past Dracona and into the other room toward the front.

Out front, Fredryck had joined Evgenia and stepped into the front door to assault the gunman. The blast from the rear of the place got Mr. Sharpe’s attention as he cried out, “What the bloody hell! Who are you people?” The flaming man burst through the door, trying to put himself out. Through the door they could see that the place was catching fire quickly.

Archibald reached through the window and grabbed Dracona, pulling her through the once draped window opening and out of the inferno. “Fire,” Mr. Sharpe called out, “Fire!” He looked at Fredryck and Evgenia, “Are you going to burn up in here, too, or can we get out of here?” Fredryck and Evgenia backed up to allow egress as the one fellow got the flames out and they went out of the burning house. “Who are you people,” Mr. Sharpe demanded.

“We’ve been investigating some disappearances and murders for the police,” Fredryck explained accusingly. “What?” Mr. Sharpe exclaimed, “I’m a bloody artist and you barge into my place and start shooting. Are you bloody mad?” “You shot first,” Evgenia accused. “My butler and I both saw that you pulled your gun and shot first! We were only defending ourselves from the lot of you!” Fredryck wasn’t sure who fired the first shot. But, with a high police presence in Bayswater, the bobby whistles were fast approaching.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 10
Clockwork 1888 Session 10

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, April 24, 1888
… In a short time, the Veiled Lady, Mrs. Roth, entered the parlor.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 9
Clockwork 1888 Session 9

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, April 23, 1888
Dealing with the thugs was little trouble for them and they quickly had the thugs unconscious or fleeing. When the bobbies showed up, they explained that the thugs were apparently hired to “convince” them to drop the case they were on. The thugs were hauled away and the party continued their search for Jane Campbell/Culver.

Searching all of the sweatshops of London was tedious work but they finally arrived at a small tailoring place, Bermond’s Tailors, in Bermondsey, one of the less desirable neighborhoods of London. The portly owner, Sir Addison Reeve, invited them in, showed them around and offered them tea. When they asked about Jane Campbell/Culver, he had no knowledge of the woman. When they showed him her picture, he recognized her as Jennifer Coyle but she left his employment two days prior. She was, however, staying with another of his employees, Mrs. McCord, and she might know more.

Talking to Natalie McCord was arduous as she was focused on her work. But, she assured them that if they’d wait until her shift ended at 5 pm. that she’s talk with them in depth. They returned to Addison and listened to his war stories over tea for the short time before 5 pm. When Natalie was done, she met them in Addison’s office, exchanged pleasant goodbye’s with Addison and asked if they could talk while they walked. Agreeing, they fell in step with her.

Evgenia offered to buy her supper but Natalie insisted that she get home to cook supper for her husband, Peter. Natalie informed them that it was Peter who was responsible for getting Jennifer a new job and that Jennifer was probably off traveling with the artist who hired her.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 8
Clockwork 1888 Session 8

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, April 23, 1888
Having received complimentary tickets from Rupert and Finnegan to the opening of their new comic opera, the PCs find themselves sharing the same box they had before. After enjoying The Price of Fame, a play about a playwright that sold his soul to the devil to end his writer’s block, they were making their way through St. Clement’s Theater when Martin Dykstra approaches to make small talk and get their opinion on the production. Exiting the theater doors, a scream erupts from the nearby alley.

Dracona and Archibald head down the alley but Fredryck, Pricilla and Evgenia spot a man hastily leaving the alley and decide to accost him. The man is disheveled and nervous as Fredryck inquires about his alley activities. The man is anxious at being stopped and explains that he’d just had a dolly mop, Nettie, in the alley and he figures her scream meant she was out to frame him for something. He explains that he didn’t want a scandal because he has a fiance and will gladly comply with a reasonable request.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 7
Clockwork 1888 Session 7

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, April 6, 1888
After all the research at the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom, there was just enough time to still make the theater for the 8 o’clock show. Accompanied by Sir Marc d’Locque, they grabbed hansoms and made the theater with little time to spare. Their tickets were waiting for them at will call and they asked for an additional one for Sir Marc. The ticket salesman said to wait a moment as he consulted somebody that apparently approved the extra ticket for their box.

As they entered the theater, Anne greeted them. It was not difficult to see that, try as she did, she could not conceal her surprise at seeing Evgenia. Still, Anne smiled and escorted them to the center box of the theater. The play started promptly and they watched, looking for where the ritual would start.

Finally, Marc spied what looked like the makings of a ritual in the actions and words in the play and pointed it out to the others. It was a very emotional part in the performance and Fredryck whispered that they should probably not allow the ritual to occur, yet again. “I can breathe fire out over the audience,” Dracona offered, “that could prove a suitable distraction to interrupt the ritual.” “I don’t think we want people to think the theater is on fire,” Evgenia noted, “that could cause more death then the ritual.”

“All we need to do is disrupt the lead,” Marc noted. “Knowing it or not, they’re the one leading the ritual and causing some kind of disruption to the lead actor will probably be enough to disrupt it.” “A gunshot would cause a disruption,” Archibald noted. Fredryck looked around the floor and found a small stone. “Right idea but with a little less bang,” Evgenia mentioned as Fredryck presented his weapon of choice.

The ritual was continuing while the tried to figure out how to disrupt it. Marc pointed out that time was running out. They decided that Fredryck would try to distract the lead actor with a subtle pebble attack. If that didn’t work, then Dracona and others could start some kind of disruption with fire or gunfire. They held their breath as Fredryck pitched the small stone from their box to the stage.

The lead actor made an audible “ow” and stumbled back a step or two grasping his forehead. “What the bloody…” escaped his lips before he regained his composure and resumed his place on the stage, trying to resume as if nothing had happened. Fredryck was quietly congratulated on his skillful shot and Marc confirmed that the ritual had been disrupted.

Evgenia heard somebody hurriedly making their way past the box and down the stairs. Fredryck, Evgenia, Dracona and Pricilla got up to investigate. Opening the door to their box they could just see the strawberry hair turn the corner on the stairs. They almost caught up with Anne Finnegan as she was making her way toward backstage. “May I help you?” she inquired with a smile as she suddenly stopped and turned to confront them. “We were wondering where you were going,” Fredryck answered.

“I have duties to attend to backstage,” she answered matter-of-factly. “You should return to your box or you’ll miss the end of the play,” she instructed as she turned to continue on her way. They followed her and Fredryck began to imply something about a ritual in the play and the death of Lady Philomena. Anne denied his charge and claimed no knowledge of what he spoke. They could tell she was lying and continued to follow her.

Coming to her room backstage, she turned and asked, “I have to change so I trust you’ll at least allow me the privacy of my own changing room.” But, they insisted that Dracona accompany Anne and help her change. Dracona noted the lovely tapestries in the room and helped to speed up Anne’s wardrobe change. Anne picked up her notebook and they exited the room to find the others still waiting. “If you insist on following me everywhere,” Anne snapped, “you’d best stay out of the way of my duties.”

She made her way to the stage exit stairs and then stood there waiting. The play had just finished so she flipped open her notebook, called actors forward and sent them up the stairs to take their bows. As the company was taking their bows, she started whispering something. Dracona stepped up right behind Anne to try to listen to her mutterings. As she did, Anne turned around and the notebook lit up with flames that consumed pages of the book.

Evgenia and Pricilla slipped to the floor, in a deep slumber from her spell. But, Fredryck and Dracona resisted the urge to sleep. Anne tried to run off but Dracona grabbed her and kicked Pricilla to awaken her. Fredryck stepped up to Anne, kicking Evgenia in the process to awaken her, and menacingly drew his sword. “Put the notebook down,” Fredryck demanded. Anne looked up the stairs to where her brother, Ronald Finnegan, was taking his last bows. “Ron, help me!” she cried as she escaped Dracona’s grasp and tried to flee. But Fredryck was prepared and knocked her out with the flat of his blade.

Marc and Archibald had started making their way backstage as soon as the play ended and had just joined the others when Ronald Finnegan left the stage. “What’s the meaning of this!” Ronald Finnegan roared as he stormed down the steps to his sister’s rescue. Fredryck did his best to calm Ron, explaining that they were investigating murders for Scotland Yard. They explained that apparently, his sister, Anne, was dabbling in the dark arts.

Ron refused to believe such nonsense until they presented him with her notebook where the last pages included a dazing ritual, some charred page remnants from a sleep spell and the vengeance demon summoning ritual. Pricilla and Evgenia searched Anne and found a revolver in her pocket. This added to the suspicions and evidence of Anne’s dangerous nature.

Rupert noted the gathering and joined them. He was appalled to learn of Anne’s practicing in the dark arts and rejected her totally after learning that Anne was responsible for Lady Philomena’s death. Anne was devastated by his rejection and confessed to planting the ritual in the play as well as ghostwriting the last four plays for her brother. Ron defended his actions by noting that the plays were still made by Rupert and Finnegan … just Anne Finnegan instead of Ronald Finnegan. A search of Anne’s backstage room also found some English translations of some Babylonian and Arabian magical texts.

With Anne in tow, they went to see Chief Inspector Norrington, explained their findings and presented the evidence. Norrington eyed them carefully for a long moment. “Now, let me get this straight,” he said finally, “you want me to go in front of a judge, tell them that this woman used magic to kill seven people and that she should be locked up because of it?” He paused for another long moment.

“You’d have me start another round of witch hunts? 300 years of that balderdash wasn’t enough? We’re civilized people and haven’t had such mass hysteria since the 18th century,” he answered. “I’d be the laughing stock of the Yard if I brought this evidence to the courts! And, she’d be back on the street before the day’s done!” He went to the door of the meeting room, “Now, I’m going to go and when I come back you’ll have a proper explanation for how this little lady killed somebody or I’ll have you all thrown out of here!” He stormed out of the room.

Fredryck turned to Marc. “A lot of help you were,” he accused Marc, who had been silent during all the discussions with Norrington. “The police are ignorant fools where the dark arts and anything not explainable by mundane means are concerned,” he explained. “I knew that trying to convince them of such fantastical things would lead to a dead end but I let you try, just in case I was mistaken. But, alas, they’re as closed minded as a stone.”

Defeated and rejected by the person of her affection, Anne agreed to confess to having hired nameless thugs from St. Giles to kill each of the people. They even convinced her to admit to a reason for each murder: Lady Philomena was obvious as competition for Rupert’s affections; Rumbold because he got too close to the truth; Stark because Anne saw how he mistreated his wife; Gwendolyn Jones for betraying her friend, Jennifer Todd; and Justin Lew for choosing his maid over his wife. Norrington, satisfied with a written confession from Anne, took her away for trial and incarceration.

To the Lew family, they explained that a psychotic Anne had overheard Margaret talking quietly about her husband’s divorce request and Anne decided to resolve the problem for her by having Justin killed. They explained that Anne hired an unknown assassin in St. Giles who carried out the deed with stunning efficiency. They explained that if they ever find out who the killer is, they’ll learn how he got in and out without a trace. Margaret doesn’t remember talking to Anne at all and is upset by the implication that her words caused her husband’s death. But, she’s convinced by Gordon Lew that she could not have known that there was a psychotic person overhearing her every word and so she’s not to blame herself.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 6
Clockwork 1888 Session 6

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, April 6, 1888
After passing themselves off as a visiting noble and his entourage, they continued their tour with the theater owner. Finally, they were taken to meet Alec Rupert, the composer and conductor for the current and past four plays. He was pleased to meet them and, although he put up a good facade, they could tell that he was still upset by the recent demise of his patron, and lover, Lady Philomena Reed.

Rupert told how he and Finnegan have known each other since school and they’ve had wonderful success with their last five plays. He explained that he’s the musical composer of the duo and the conductor during the play. He seems to be a bit of a perfectionist, and explains that he does get a bit angry if his music is misplayed. A short, slim woman with strawberry hair seemed to be doting on him. It was obvious to them that she has an attraction to Rupert, although it seemed unreturned.

At the prodding of the owner, they moved to the other half of the theatrical duo, Ronald Finnegan. As they talked with Finnegan, Evgenia noticed the short, slim woman watching them, listening to their conversation. After some pleasant conversation, Finnegan offered them tickets to the show. When they accepted, he called out for a woman named Anne. The short, slim strawberry-haired woman answered the call; apparently she’s Anne.

Finnegan introduced her as his little sister and explained that she handles arrangements for their special guests. He asked her to take care of tickets for Sir Fredryck and his entourage. Extracting a notebook, she glanced through it and finally spoke directly to them, “We can get you a nice box at the 8 o’clock show. If I can have your names,” she said looking to each of them. She wrote their names in her notebook, smiled, said, “tickets will be waiting for you at will call,” assured they’d be ready and left with a curtsey. Fredryck asked if there would be a reception after the show and Finnegan soured a moment. “We were doing so but, with Lady Reed’s demise, we haven’t had one since. She was quite the theatrical supporter and she’ll be missed,” he frowned. Evgenia noticed that Anne continued to hover and listen.

Again, the theater owner prodded them to move on because show preparations had to be made. They met with some of the actors and found that apparently Ronald Finnegan is as particular about his production as Rupert is about the music. The performers told how they had to make certain they made their marks, said things exactly right, timed things with exactitude and performed flawlessly. Finnegan had not been so demanding in the other plays but For Love or Duty seems to demand it, although they can’t see why.

Evgenia whispered to Fredryck. “Oh,” Fredryck began, “We’ve not had the pleasure of seeing the previous plays. Could we see the scripts for Rupert and Finnegan’s prior works?” “But of course,” Dykstra answered. “They were all very popular and we have been considering having repeat performances in the future.” He showed them to a room where sheet music and scripts filled the shelves and directed them to where each production was. They took some time browsing through the scripts before Evgenia spoke.

“Look at this,” she whispered. “It almost seems as if the first play that Rupert and Finnegan did was written in a different style from the last four.” Fredryck suggested that they take another visit to Finnegan. Archibald and Pricilla volunteered to keep the owner occupied while the others sought Finnegan for a few more questions. Slipping out, Fredryck, Evgenia and Dracona made their way back to Finnegan’s room.

Finnegan greeted them warmly, again. They made a bit of small talk before bringing up the past Rupert and Finnegan plays. Finnegan seemed quite proud of his work, on all the plays. Evgenia pointed out that she noticed a different style in the first play from the other four. Finnegan quickly got defensive. “My contribution to the success of Rupert and Finnegan is in writing the plays … and I’ve written them all,” he responded angrily. Fredryck and Evgenia glanced at each other. They could tell that he was either outright lying or was hiding something. They smoothed it over a bit and then they made their departure. As they left, Evgenia noticed that Anne had been eavesdropping, again.

Rejoining Pricilla and Archibald, they meandered a bit more before departing the theater. Being almost 2 pm., they stopped at a chippie for tea before heading back to Evgenia’s where they discussed the case. Most suspected Anne of having something to do with it. After all, Anne seemed to have amorous feelings for Rupert that were not returned. The first victim, Lady Philomena, was Rupert’s lover. And, for Anne, that wouldn’t be in her plans – but, why the others?

It was almost 4 pm. when James, the Yermak butler, got Evgenia’s attention and then met her in the kitchen. “How many for dinner, tonight, milady,” he inquired. “Probably all,” she answered. “And who’ll be staying the evening?” “Probably Dracona, at least. I’ll inquire,” she answered. “Very well, I’ll make up the guest room,” he answered as he turned and left her.

Evgenia paused for a moment and when she looked up, Anne Finnegan was approaching her. For some reason, her first thought was to inquire with James about admitting Anne to the residence. So, Evgenia called out, “James.” But the figure of Anne was upon her, reached out and grabbed her by the throat. It felt as if a large snake had entwined itself about her throat and was squeezing. Evgenia felt weaker, somehow, but pulled her pistol and fired.

That brought the others quickly to her aid. However, when they opened the door to the kitchen, they saw a strange being with a death’s head skull for a head and a pair of tentacles for each arm. And, it had Evgenia around the neck with its one tentacle. “What manner of beast,” Fredryck exclaimed as he stepped up and attacked it. He struck hard but the creature seemed to resist damage.

The others joined the fray but soon the creature had more than just Evgenia in its grasp. With it being difficult to hit and resisting the gun and sword wounds, it was looking quite desperate. That’s when Dracona remembered the necklace they found in Rumbold’s office. Sir Marc, from the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom, had said that it was for protection. Dracona held the pendant up to the creature. “I can’t remember the word,” she called to anybody.

Archibald noticed the pendant that Dracona held and, with his penchant for memorizing lines, was able to tell her the oriental word that Sir Marc had said to use with the pendant. Dracona raised the pendant to the creature and spoke the word. The creature sneered and recoiled from the pendant but then vanished without a trace, except for the bruises to Evgenia’s neck and the injuries the others had sustained.

At that point, James entered the kitchen. “You called, milady,” he asked plainly as Evgenia massaged her throat. “I don’t think we’ll be staying for dinner,” she answered hoarsely. “Arrange immediate transportation for us.” If James noticed the everybody’s disarray, he didn’t seem to acknowledge it. Or, perhaps he’s seen enough in his years that he simply doesn’t question anything anymore. Whatever the reason, he simply acknowledged her request and went to handle it.

After battling the tentacled being that tried to strangle Evgenia, the party was pretty sure where to go to find the murderer or murderers. They had a few theories that ranged from a devil worshiping cult to a single person who has somehow snuck a demon summoning ritual into the latest Rupert and Finnegan play.

“Anne was trying to strangle me,” Evgenia told. We didn’t see Anne, at all,” the others informed. “It was a being with a death’s head skull and four tentacles that was strangling you,” Archibald informed. “Something quite out of the ordinary,” Fredryck chimed in, “and I’d say that we’re not dealing with something normal, here.” “So,” Dracona summarized, “we’re heading to another visit with Sir Marc.”

At the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom, they avoided the doorman and went straight to Sir Marc d’Locque. Marc let the attendant know that it was all right and then they explained what happened. He was a bit dismayed at the beast they’d encountered, remarking, “it’s worse than I’d have guessed.” Still, he directed them to numerous books and instructed them to look through the books for a sketch of the creature they saw.

After a while, they came upon a representative drawing. “A vengeance demon,” Marc announced with a bit of trepidation in his voice. Then he went to another set of books in the library, flipping through pages until he found what he sought. “It’s not an easy task to summon a vengeance demon,” he told them. “It requires a lot of emotional energy.” “So,” Fredryck deduced, “it must be a coven of witches and all the women related to the murders, Margaret Lew, Anne Finnegan, all of them, must be in on it.”

“Not necessarily,” Marc corrected. “It could be that some of them didn’t know what they were participating in. But, there are exact movements and words that must be made to perform the ritual. And, the target of the demon must not be present at the ritual.” “The play,” Dracona summarized what they all thought. “Somebody wrote the summoning ritual into the play.” “And anybody who wishes ill on somebody not present names the target of the demon,” Archibald said. “It would seem so,” Marc acknowledged.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 5
Clockwork 1888 Session 5

Clockwork 1888 Date: Wednesday, April 4, 1888 to Friday, April 6, 1888
After the visit to the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom and Sir Marc, they made their way to their respective homes for the evening, still pondering what all the cases had in common. Dracona was offered to spend the evening at Evgenia’s, just to make certain all was healing nicely.

Thursday, April 5, 1888
In the morning they reconvened at Evgenia’s, intent on checking the cases that were in Rumbold’s file for something that linked them all together. They started with Lady Philomena Reed. A search of her home established that she was rather fond of the arts, and theater, specifically. The maid informed that Lady Reed contributed significantly to Rupert and Finnegan productions, the writers and producers of For Love or Duty, and attended opening night. She had a party the following evening for the producers and cast but developed a headache and retired early. With a little pressing, the maid revealed that the headache was simply a discreet way for her to retire and wait for her lover to join her. It seems Lady Reed was having a discreet affair with Alec Rupert. Her son, who stays in the country estate, and her husband, on travel with his mistress in India, know of the affair and were fine with it as long as she was discreet.

Having gathered all the information there, they went to talk with Howard Silver, the partner of the murdered money lender, Jonas Stark, and his wife, Matilda. They learned that Jonas loved money more than his wife, Matilda. Starved for attention, Matilda got attention from Jonas’s partner, Howard, although it had not gone beyond flirtation. Still, on the evening of the murder, Howard, Jonas and Matilda were to attend the theatrical production For Love or Duty. Jonas saw an associate who owed money and skipped out just as they got to the theater. Matilda was fuming about Jonas during the performance and both she and Howard joked about Jonas’s whereabouts as they left. Matilda feels a bit guilty for wishing bad upon Jonas and they were horrified to learn he was dead.

In the Timms murder, they found that Marian Parsons, Mr. Timms’s fiancé, loved another barrister, Maurice Porter. But, she gave in to the wishes of her father to marry the future titled gentleman, Mr. Timms. She kept her true feelings from the pleasant-looking, aloof Timms, but secretly desired a way to be able to marry Porter. Timms had little time for romance. It was socially beneficial for him to have a wife, so he toured the coming-out parties and found a candidate. Parsons seemed acceptable, so Timms dutifully asked her father for his blessing. The bond being struck, Timms returned to his cases until the wedding. Parsons was feeling particularly vulnerable that day, and she asked Timms to take her to the theater but he couldn’t fit it into his schedule. On the afternoon of his death, Timms was in the law library while his fiancé went with some friends to see the play, For Love or Duty.

Rumbold’s notes mentioned that the next deceased person had shouted “Jenny” so they checked out Jennifer Todd. Jennifer planned to have future Viscount John Rathbone’s hand in marriage. When one of her best friends, Gwendolyn Jones, finally came out, Rathbone officially informed Jennifer that he would no longer be seeing her and turned his attention to Gwendolyn. When Jennifer protested, Rathbone admitted that he’d been pursuing Jones for some time, but waited until it was socially acceptable to announce it. Jennifer was furious. Her friends and acquaintances tried to cheer her up and took her to see a play. Gwendolyn was killed just as Rathbone was arranging to marry her. They sensed that Jennifer was a vain but religious woman. Playing to that, Jennifer confessed during an emotional scene in the performance of For Love or Duty, she cursed Jones to die. They deduced that Gwendolyn’s maid, caught the killer murdering Gwendolyn and was killed, too.

Fredryck recalled that the Scotland Yard receptionist had said that on the morning he was murdered, Rumbold went to Piccadilly on a hunch. The receptionist said that Rumbold returned, resigned that it was a dead end. So, with another day well near its end, they stopped by the theater that was playing For Love or Duty … the St. Clement’s Theater, near Piccadilly Circus. Closed for the evening, they resigned to get some sleep and meet there at noon, well before the matinee showing at 2 pm.

Friday, April 6, 1888
With a knock on the door of the theater, they were met by the theater owner, Martin Dykstra. A small, portly man that attempts to present himself as a gentleman. Evgenia recalled that Dykstra’s father won the theater in a card game. Archibald recalled that Dykstra was fortunate to offer Rupert and Finnegan their first contract, and the surprising success of The Jury is Out has repaired the reputation and glory of St. Clement’s Theater … and made Dykstra a fortune. Dykstra, overprotective of the theater and his meal ticket, mentioned that he will not condone any misbehaving as he eyed Dracona and others. He threatened that if they get out of hand, he will order them out of the theater and send for the police if they don’t comply. Fredryck frowned at the implication, sensing that Dykstra’s really a coward who’d back down from any confrontation. Feigning offense at the implication, Fredryck suggested that he was visiting and simply wanted to tour the fine theater. With that, they were admitted and Dykstra personally began conducting their tour.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 4
Clockwork 1888 Session 4

Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, April 3, 1888 to Wednesday, April 4, 1888
After the Lew coach returned to Dearford Manor, Lord Hubert Lew informed them that they had to leave to get Gordon from the train station. When Gordon came in, Margaret Lew, Justin’s widow was with him. Fredryck greeted her properly and it was obvious that she’d spent her recent hours in tears. Evgenia noticed that Gordon seemed to have a genuine affection for his sister-in-law.

Although Evgenia and Dracona wanted to dive into interrogating Margaret. The Baron asked if it was really necessary to interview Margaret as she was not at the scene and could not be a suspect. Being everybody had already finished their supper, Fredryck suggested polite conversation over tea. Gordon insisted on staying with Margaret through any questioning.

Margaret explained that she and Justin had hit a rough spot in their marriage. He was a kind husband, but he made it quite clear that she was not the object of his affection. Yes, Margaret discovered Justin’s affair. But, she was willing to overlook it providing he kept his obligations to her. Justin’s father, Lord Hubert, was not so forgiving when he learned of the affair and he tossed Beatrice out on the street without reference.

Margaret was staying in their London residence while they worked things out and give Justin time to clear his head. She revealed that she thought their marriage was on the mend as things seemed to be improving between them. Then, Justin came to her last week with the news that he was going to divorce her so that he could marry the maid. She did admit to being quite hurt, even angry, and saying some quite unladylike things before he got on the train, but she really didn’t want him dead. He insisted that he would formalize it once he returned next week.

Margaret stressed that she still loved and cared for Justin, even if she was angry with him. She admitted to wishing some horrible things on him since he told her of his plan to divorce her. But, now she wished she could take it all back. She never wanted it to end like this and she hoped that the criminal that killed him gets what he deserves!

She has not confided in her social circle for fear of spreading rumors. But, she has cursed his name recently. Concerning that, she mentions that she cursed his name during a private ball when the musicians inadvertently played their favorite song. Then again she had such wrongful thoughts when her friend was gushing about some pleasant surprise that her husband had sprung on her.

As far as her alibi, Margaret explained that she went to the theater in London the evening that Justin died. She and some of her friends went to see the latest Rupert and Finnegan theatrical production, For Love or Duty, at the St. Clement’s Theater in Piccadilly Circus. She supplied the names of those friends so that her story could be verified. The play ended less than an hour before Justin was killed and with a 3 hour train ride to Dearford, there was no way she could have done it. Being already into the evening, Lord Lew invited you to spend the evening at the manor.

Wednesday, April 4, 1888
The evening passed uneventfully and Dracona was well on the road to recovery in the morning. Shortly after breakfast, a man arrived from Dearford with a telegram for “Private Investigator Yermak, c/o Dearford Manor.” Evgenia informed him that she could take it and then told the others of its contents.

Detective Rumbold urgently wanted to meet at Scotland Yard, today at 3 pm, concerning some cases that he felt could be related to the murder of Justin Lew. Checking the train schedule they found that they could catch the next train and get back to London just in time to meet with Detective Rumbold at Scotland Yard. Lord Lew reminded them to keep him informed of their progress in the search for his son’s killer and had the Lew carriage take them to the train station when they were ready.

After the three hour train ride back to London, they had just enough time to drop their things at Evgenia’s residence and catch a carriage to Scotland Yard. When they arrived, they showed their telegraph to the clerk and were ushered to a small meeting room, not far from Rumbold’s office. They were told he’d be with them momentarily. As they waited patiently, they were surprised when officers came running down the hall. They noticed that the officers and staff were running to Rumbold’s office. One of them got a quick glance into the office before the door was closed and saw Rumbold lying in his chair with his eyes open. A couple staffers were tending to him as if he were dead and there were fresh bruises on his neck.

Rumbold’s office door was closed and an officer politely but firmly showed them to the door. As they exited, they noticed a tall man with short hair and a monocle watching them. They starting making inquiries with their escorting officer and the tall man came over to them. “I’ll handle this,” the tall man told the officer. “Outside, please,” he requested as the officer dutifully relinquished them to him and he motioned for them all to go outside.

Once outside, the tall man introduced himself as Chief Inspector Norrington. He made sure that they were the ones that Rumbold had hired and informed them that, indeed, Rumbold was just killed in his office. As you probably suspect as well, he believes that Detective Rumbold’s murder is connected to these other murders he’s been looking into. He understands that you were investigating the most recent of these similar murders and wanted to engage you to look into this matter.

He hesitated to assign Scotland Yard investigators to investigate Rumbold’s murder because he fears that the assailant may have a contact within the Yard. There was simply no way someone could have walked into Rumbold’s office, strangled him to death, and escaped without assistance. This was obviously well-planned and well-executed and he hates to think that one of his own is responsible. He wants those concerns kept quiet and expects your findings to come to him before anybody else.

If you accepted, he said that he would put his resources at your disposal. He had Rumbold’s office locked and guarded by outside policemen and nobody was to enter without his approval. He figures that perhaps you may find his notes useful in ferreting out this criminal so that he will pay for his crimes. He also offered to pay you a fee (a +1 Wealth bonus) for your efforts.

After you agreed, Norrington took you back inside where he had the guards stand aside and admitted you to Rumbold’s office. The office is a small room (practically a closet) with barely enough room for a desk and a shelf behind it. Rumbold’s hat and cloak still hung on the coat rack next to the desk. Rumbold had a folder on his desk that contains newspaper clippings and his notes on several murders that have taken place over the last month.

While Dracona looked at the décor, Fredryck opened the desk drawers to find a strange necklace. It’s made of slim leather, with an oddly painted red quartz pendant. Archibald noticed that the symbols seemed oriental and Evgenia indicated that they were indeed Chinese and that it had something to do with protecting from evil spirits.

Looking through the case file on Rumbold’s desk revealed that each murder has a newspaper obituary/article as well as Rumbold’s notes (while there are many more notes on each case, only immediately relevant clues are given). In order of death:
Lady Philomena Reed – was strangled in her house in Mayfair on March 12. Her husband, Lord Amos Reed, Baron of South Kent, was away in India and her son was at the country estate. Rumbold has written a number of notes on Lady Reed:
Complained of headache; retired early. Servants suspect waiting for lover. Housemaid Kate heard her exclaim “What are you doing here?” Thought lover had arrived. Rushed in when she heard a crash and a thump. Lady next to bed, strangled dead, Gas lamp on floor, broken.
Lover accounted for at time of death. Not a suspect.

Jonas Stark – a moneylender that operated in the City of London. He died on March 18 in a hansom. Rumbold noted similarities between Reed and Stark:
Victim was about to attend play with wife, Matilda, and associate Howard Silver. Left at last minute when he spotted client—Arthur Greenfield. Chased Greenfield into Whitechapel. Hired hansom to take him back to theater.
Cab driver, Jason Filmore, said victim was talking to himself, spitting out excuses for not paying and other nonsense. He heard victim say “What are you doing here? Why aren’t you with Howard?” Horses spooked; took Filmore several minutes to regain control. Victim alone in hansom, strangled to death.

Frederick Timms – a barrister and heir to a baronet title. He was killed March 25th, mid-afternoon. He was researching a case in the law library when he was strangled behind a book rack. Rumbold noted the odd timing but similar method of death.
Victim died in library. Librarian assured me that no one could enter or leave without being seen, but only four other men in library at time of death—-all within librarian’s sight. Same manner of death, strangled. Why afternoon this time? Victim engaged to Marian Parsons. Miss Parsons seemed little disturbed. Sir Marc is friend of victim’s father. Nothing useful to add.

Gwendolyn Jones and Martha Collins – Gwendolyn Jones was an upper class woman from Marylebone that had recently come out. She was choked to death in her own bedroom on April 2. Her lady’s maid, Martha Collins, was also found strangled just inside Jones’ room.
Victims choked to death as Gwen’s suitor (John Rathbone) and father discussed marriage proposal. Maid must have surprised attacker. Father sent butler up after a few minutes. Butler discovered bodies. Father, Butler and Rathbone thought they heard Gwen shout ‘Jenny!’ Jennifer Todd is long time friend of Gwen’s and formerly acquainted with Rathbone.

Justin Lew – Beyond the newspaper article, Rumbold had little to add (he hoped to get information from the PI).
Victim’s death seems to follow previous pattern; why outside London?

Of particular interest are two letters sitting at the back of the file. The envelopes are gone, but the stationary letterhead is from the ‘Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom.’ The first reads as follows:
March 27
Dear Detective Rumbold,
I understand that you are looking into the possibility of a serial murderer. I believe that there may be a connection to the murders beyond the conventional. Please see me at your earliest convenience; perhaps together we may put a stop to this nightmare before another victim is taken.
Yours,
Sir Marc du Locque

As interesting as this letter is, the back of it is even more interesting. Rumbold has written ‘*bloody lunatic*!’ on it. The second letter is written in the same hand.
April 4
Dear Detective Rumbold,
How many more must fall to this monstrosity before you believe me? Please see me at your earliest convenience.
Yours,
Sir Marc du Locque

They unanimously decided to start their investigation with the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom. Fredryck recalled that it is a gentleman’s club on Pall Mall and they headed out. On their way out, Fredryck asked if Rumbold went anyplace this morning. The receptionist (an eager young man) mentioned that he took a stroll up to Piccadilly “on a hunch.” When he returned, he was melancholy, calling the hunch another “dead end.”

Outwardly, the Temple does not look at all “oriental,” but, once one enters, the interior can only be described as Egyptian and Asian eclectic. Persian rugs adorn the floors, while pedestals and alcoves display laughing Buddhas, Egyptian and Indian deities, and other sculptures and artifacts from around the world. Chinese tapestries adorn the walls and Dracona took pleasure in examining them at length. A library is in the center and there is the smoking room, a comfortable area of pillows and chairs. Members casually smoke their pipes, cigars, and opium while wearing fez caps and smoking jackets embroidered with Chinese dragons and symbols.

The receptionist, Akhil Joshay, a gentleman of Indian descent wearing a sherwani (Indian dress coat) and fez cap asked if he could help them. Fredryck said that they wanted to speak with Sir Marc du Locque. Joshay nodded and escorted them to Sir Marc, sitting in the smoking room reading a mystical book while enjoying his pipe. He is a deceptively youthful-looking man with sharp features and a long moustache. Like most of the club members, he is wearing a fez cap and Chinese-inspired smoking jacket, and he also has an ankh necklace. He greeted you all warmly by standing and offering the traditional Hindu greeting, “Namaste.”

He informed that he’s been expecting your arrival since he heard about Rumbold’s murder. News travels fast in his circles. He wished that Rumbold had listened or at least taken his warning seriously. He went on to explain that he first contacted Rumbold because he’s well acquainted with the Timms family; the late Frederick Timms’ maternal uncle and he have been friends for over a decade. When his nephew died under mysterious circumstances, Nathan Reynolds asked him if there could be any preternatural involvement.

Assessing the situation, he believed that a preternatural force is involved and he shared his concern with Detective Rumbold. Unfortunately, Rumbold didn’t believe a single word and only took the protection as a courtesy. He noted that Rumbold never responded to his second letter and doubted that Rumbold used the pendant as proscribed. But, if Rumbold did, then he really is mistaken in his judgment.

Archibald brought forth the pendant, and Sir Marc verified that it’s the one he gave Rumbold. Sir Marc believes that the murders are either being committed by a “warlock” (his term for an evil spellcaster) or summoned creature. While Sir Marc is certain that mundane methods can handle most warlocks, handling spirits and demons is another matter. To combat such a threat, Sir Marc procured an “ancient Chinese solution,” the pendant. He explains that it has to be held up and the power word (something he said in Chinese) must be uttered until the spirit or demon is expelled from this world.

When asked about a motive, Sir Marc shrugged and thought that, sometimes, serial deaths are part of a dark ritual, but nothing seems to have been taken from the victims. He is unaware of any enemies Frederick may have had, certainly none that use magic. He did offer to help out if you wanted to pursue “spiritual inquiries.”

Sir Marc also offered any information that he can help with, but his abilities are limited. As more information is being gathered he might recognize similarities but may also be unaware on any underlying commonality. He closed with, “summoning is a nasty business and requires exact care when performing rituals.”

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