Clockwork-1888

Clockwork 1888 Session 107

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, February 5, through Monday, February 8, 1892
“Perhaps we should go aboard the ship, disguise ourselves, and then sneak back off the ship,” Fredryck suggested. “I’m sure we could disguise ourselves again,” Archibald offered. “We can put our disguises into our bags, retrieve our bags once aboard and leave with our regular clothes in our disguise bag,” Evgenia added. “Sailors,” Bartley thought aloud. “Sailors leaving a ship would not be suspicious.”

Taking the tickets from Vensa’s desk drawer, they left, re-locking the door behind them. It was Fredryck that noticed that something seemed to be following them as they left Vensa’s to make their preparations. It was not a person and as everybody quieted, he could tell it was from above. “Yes,” he whispered to the others, “I hear the regular flitting of bat like wings some distance above us.”

“Perhaps your flying friend could investigate this for us,” Bartley nudged Dracona. Athro, Dracona’s fairy dragon, did not have to be asked twice. Flying up, Athro noticed that the creature had spotted it, in spite of Athro being invisible. It began to fly away but that only made the incident a last a moment longer as Athro quickly overtook the bat. The bat met the same fate as a certain chaffinch spy they’d encountered in January.

Athro reported back to Dracona on the outcome – the spy was no more. Still, an arcane, divine or druidic person could have sent such a spy. But, they continued with their plan and about 9:20 pm they arrived at the docks to board the Kuchenvogel for London.

They turned their baggage over to the dockers and observed the purser when they gave him their tickets. The purser took special note of their tickets and them before instructing them on the best route to their cabins. Getting to their cabins, they emptied their bags.

They changed clothes into that of sailors, complete with navy pea coat and cap. Then, they stuffed their carry-on bags and other clothes into a duffel bag that slung across their shoulder and put a ditty box, complete with rope handles, under their arm. Dracona and Evgenia had put their hair up into their caps and Bartley used magic to change his appearance and that of Tumbleweed. Archibald checked their disguises before they made their way to the crew gangplank and disembarked with other sailors.

As they made their way across the docks, Fredryck noticed that Dracona had picked up a tail. A woman of some 30 years was following her. Being military himself, Fredryck knew how sailors could be. As he walked along with the men, he pointed out the woman tailing Dracona.

“Had that one last week,” he said pointing the woman out to the sailors walking around to him. “She said she wasn’t satisfied with only one sailor. Prefers a whole crew if she can get it,” he said. “Aye, I heard that, too, and that she prefers them fresh off the sea,” Bartley added to the group of sailors. “But she plays coy because she likes the sailors to be rough with her,” Fredryck added. “Fresh off the sea,” Bartley reiterated.

It wasn’t long before the tail had a multitude of sailors around her, blocking her path and throwing suggestions at her as only sailors know how to do. With the distraction set, Fredryck and Bartley made their move to duck Dracona down and get away with her. After making sure they’d lost the pursuer and the Kuchenvogel left port, they got tickets to a ship to Aberdeen, Scotland.

With their ship leaving at 8 am the next morning, they made their way to a hotel and got rooms for the night. The ship to Scotland would be about 38 hours and get them to Scotland with time to spare. In Aberdeen they would get a hotel because the ship would not get there in time to make the 8 pm overnight train.

After another night’s rest, they could take the regular 10 am train for the 13 hour trip to London. That would get them into London’s Euston train station about 11 pm on Monday. And, in Aberdeen they could wire James so that he could pick them up and inform the others of their intended arrival.

After an uneventful night, they caught the ship to Aberdeen in the morning. Arriving after another incident-free journey, they got rooms and tickets on the morning train to London. Just before they left on Monday morning, Evgenia wired James to let him know of their expected arrival time and place and to pass the information on to Adoline and Fen.

After almost 13 hours on the train, they got to the Euston train station at almost 11 pm. Adoline spotted them watching out the window of the train and waved gleefully at them. Brina kept up with Adoline as she ran alongside the train until it stopped. James and Peter Auguste, Evgenia’s assistant, and Debbie caught up with the energized Adoline followed by the more reserved Fen.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 106

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, January 29, through Friday, February 5, 1892
It was supper time on the evening of Friday, Jan 29, and less than a week after their return from Bolton. The knock at the door signaled a visitor and the Yermak family butler, James Stalwart, went to answer it. With James in tow, the visitor barged in on their meal. It was Lawrence Marcus Bloom and because he was personally visiting Yermak Investigations, they knew something was up.

“I’m sorry that I don’t have time to offer you hospitality, as before, but we’ve received a communique from a gatherer in northern Germany. The gatherer reported seeing members of the Diamond Cabal boarding a ship crossing the Baltic Straits. Based on reports from some mutual friends in the area, we believe that they are attempting to take an item into a remote location near the Arctic Circle.”

“We want you to travel to Scandinavia, intercept the Cabal members, and retrieve that item. It is believed that the Cabal is trying to smuggle the phylactery of the lich Richthofen. It is a small, ornamental looking box.”
“A lich,” Evgenia remarked. “I’d read about such an undead abomination in the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom’s library.” “And, Richthofen is the surname of a prominent German aristocratic family,” Fredryck informed. “Who is suspected of being a lich?”

“Foreign Minister Baron Ferdinand Von Richthofen is believed to be a lich,” Bloom informed. “There are three cabalists, that we know of, travelling together to transport the phylactery. Two members of the group are twin brothers, Karl and Hans Mann. The third is Pieter Gurnyov.” Bloom gave detailed descriptions of the three men.

“They are boarding a train in Copenhagen which will travel to Stockholm, Östersund and finally Kiruna. We can’t get you there before the train departs, but we can get you to a good place en route to intercept it. We have gotten the train schedule from a source in Scandinavia. There are not many stops along the route which has given us an idea that we feel your team is uniquely suited for.” He looked at Bartley with that statement.

“We would like to have you stage an ‘American style’ train robbery.” Pulling out a map of Scandinavia, Bloom pointed to a remote location of Bracke along the train route east of Östersund. “If you can stop the train here, you should be able to retrieve the phylactery and escape without having to worry about the area’s law authorities.”

“We don’t want you to cause any lasting damage to the rail-lines unless there is no other way,” Bloom emphasized. “I might suggest blocking the tracks somehow. Avalanches and other weather delays are common during this time of year, so it should be fairly easy for you to set-up. But again, we don’t want you to cause any lasting damage to the rail-lines unless there is no other way. Beyond that, we leave it in your capable hands.”

“I have arranged transportation on a freighter headed for Christiania, Norway. Once there,” Bloom informed, “you’ll meet a Gatherer named Bjorn Vensa. He’ll have maps for you and transportation into the mountains of Scandinavia. However, in order to make the freighter, you’ll need to leave on the train to Harwich at 7 am.”

With the plan set, Bloom left them to make their preparations. In the morning, they took the 2.25 hour train trip to Harwich and then board a ship to Christiania, Scandinavia. The journey across the North Sea and into Christiania was about 40 hours and not exactly pleasant because they had to spend the trip in the cargo hold. But, it was the only ship making the trip at that time and they arrived at 2:15 am on Feb. 1.

Waiting for them as the ship docked in Christiania was their Gatherer contact, Bjorn Vensa. He had procured train tickets for the 12 hour journey to the village of Are, some extra horses that were already on the train and he had a map with the route to Are marked. Are was a small village just west of Östersund, which would get them close to the mountain pass near Bracke that Bloom indicated would be a good place to stage the robbery.

From Are it was expected that they would procure more horses, a sled, or whatever transport was required to take them into the mountains near the train passage. There were no trains were running east from Are in time to reach Bracke before the qabalists. Vensa informed them that he would only travel partway with them.

“We know that the qabalists are traveling on the train from Stockholm north to Kiruna,” he told. “There are wide areas that the train will be passing through, between stops, where you will have an opportunity to ambush the train. Bloom and I think that the remote area around Bracke would be the best place for the ambush.”

“When you are done, make your way west to my office in Trondheim.” Vensa passed them the address and a map. “The best route is marked on the map and I’ll have secured your passage back to Bloom in London on a boat leaving February 5. I’ll have the tickets ready for you.”

Vensa then proceeded to tell them about the terrain. There was swampland, frozen wasteland, forested areas, etc. Basically, whatever kind of terrain they needed, he was able to point out the area where the tracks pass through that terrain.

He let them know that they would need to move quickly to Are and then ride hard to the mountain pass by Bracke. Even then, they’d only have a couple hours at most before the train would pass through the mountain pass that Bloom suggested. Vensa also gave them a quick course in the Scandinavian language that they might need in the course of their mission.

At the train stop in Trondheim, Vensa left them and they completed the journey to Are without him. The weather was very cold, rumored to be among the coldest in Scandinavia. Arriving in Are before 2 pm, they procured equipment that they thought they’d need, including extra warm clothes, pack horses, two-man saws, a few sticks of dynamite, a substantial length of fuse, and other items.

The sun set as they rode up into the mountains and it was dark when they arrived at the ambush site about 5 pm on Feb. 1. The narrow slice of the moon made it harder to see and, not wanting to rely on only one plan, while Bartley scoped the area for a good avalanche site, Dracona, Evgenia, Archibald and Fredryck worked to fell trees that could block the tracks. But, Bartley thought he’d found an ideal place for the avalanche, Dracona agreed and soon they were ready to attempt it.

With an extra long fuse so that they could be as far away as possible, Dracona blew a stream of fire and lit the end of the fuse as they heard the sound of the steam engine in the distance. They quickly made their way farther from the site by the time the dynamite blew. The mountainside rained down across the tracks, burying the open line in front of the oncoming train under several feet of snow and debris.

The train crawled to a halt and the unsuspecting engineer hopped down to survey the blockage. The train consisted of the locomotive, a coal car, 2 passenger cars, a luggage car, and the brake car (aka the caboose). They could see that there were several people in each of the passenger cars.

With a whoops and hollers, Bartley and the others rode up to the train, guns drawn with their faces disguised and covered with bandannas. The engineer and the other man in the engine were unarmed and put their hands up to surrender to the masked gun wielders. Dracona, Evgenia and Bartley took the men into the first passenger car and sat them down with a stern warning.

Then they began moving down the narrow aisle through the center of the passenger car, gathering the valuables from the passengers at gunpoint. A few tried to claim nothing of value and one claimed that their ring wouldn’t come off. That prompted a rifle barrel to their forehead and a “blood makes a good lubricant,” from Evgenia for the stuck ring person. Bartley also offered to remove the ring for them with his Bowie knife. Those ideas gave the passengers a sense of urgency so they all were able to locate their valuables and get their rings removed for collection.

Meanwhile, Archibald and Fredryck came in the back of the train. As Archibald threw open the door of the brake car, a shot rang out. The brake man had a rifle and was waiting for them. But, he was apparently so nervous that he totally missed Archibald, the bullet splintering the door frame. “You don’t want to try that again,” Archibald menaced from behind the bandanna as he moved up to the man, brought his revolver up and pointed it at the brake man’s head.

Noticing a second person at the door and fearing for his life, the brake man decided that he was outnumbered and surrendered. Fredryck joined Archibald and they proceeded to convince the brake man to open the safe. At first, the brake man tried to say that he didn’t know the combination to the safe. But Archibald pulling the hammer back on his revolver made the man remember with renewed clarity.

As Archibald worked with the brake man, Fredryck moved up to the door at the other end of the caboose. Opening it, he could tell that the baggage car was their next destination. Taking a moment, he cast a spell to detect magic and turned his attention back to the brake car. Not getting magical impressions from the brake car, Fredryck crossed the threshold into the baggage car.

About that time, Dracona and Evgenia reached the end of the first passenger car and passed their valuables back to Bartley. Dracona opened the rear door and stepped across the threshold to the front of the second passenger car. She could tell that the second car was for the first class passengers. With a smile, Dracona opened the door to the second passenger car.

As Dracona entered the car, a volley of magical missiles struck her square in the chest. Surprised by the audacity of one of the passengers, she looked to see the three men that Bloom had described. Karl and Hans Mann were on the left and Pieter Gurnyov was on the right.

Karl was the mage that had shot her and he was obviously expecting his attack to be a greater deterrent than it was. Dracona took the full force of his attack and continued into the car. She was more amused that the mage had exposed himself so early than angry about the attack. Evgenia moved in behind Dracona and shot Karl with her rifle.

The gunshots sent the regular passengers scrambling away from the battle scene and under the benches for cover. Bartley moved in and also shot the magic wielder. Karl was in trouble so Hans moved up to strike at Dracona and try and block their assault on his brother.

Pieter also moved up and struck but Dracona dodged his blow and continued to block the narrow aisle so that Hans and Pieter couldn’t get around her to get at the others. Then, Dracona blew a stream of fire at the two brothers. Hans was lucky enough to dodge some of it but Karl took the full brunt of her attack and was set aflame. Bartley and Evgenia finished off the mage brother with gunfire before Karl could even consider putting himself out.

Enraged by his brother’s death, Hans continued to strike futilely at Dracona. Pieter backed off and began frantically shooting at them. Hearing the gunfire, Fredryck made haste into the next car, the first class passenger car.

With no place to go, the remaining two fought to the death. It was death for them, anyway, for failing in their mission so at least they would go out in glory, defending the train and its passengers against the bandits. As the passenger car battle raged on, Fredryck moved up and found the box he was looking for. The magic of the phylactery glowed brightly with his detection spell and he moved up to the smoldering Karl and extracted the prize.

After Hans and Pieter were killed, the other passengers had their valuables ready, held out as an offering to not be killed by the marauders. Archibald had tied up the brake man and took his bag with the safe contents out onto the threshold between the brake and baggage car. He left the bag there and made haste through the baggage car and was just coming to the passenger car when the others emerged.

With haste, they gathered the rest of the valuables and made their escape. So hasty was their escape that they left their bags of valuables on the side of the train tracks. All of the valuables were left behind except for one box. They made certain to take the ornamental box that was taken from Karl Mann.

Riding back into the mountains with the same whoops and hollers that they arrived with, they rode until they were out of sight of the train. Examining the box, they found no apparent openings or catches. It was very ornate, about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide and 2 inches high with a very strong magical aura to it.

Covering their exit tracks, they packed up and began the long journey through the Scandinavian mountains to Trondheim. The journey was a long cold four days that got them into Trondheim at 7 pm on February 5. Heading straight to Vensa’s office, they received no answer to their knocks.

Looking through the windows of the office, they could see that the place had been ransacked. Bartley easily unlocked the front door and they entered to find Vensa dead in his office. Documents in Vensa’s office had been scattered and little of value appeared to have been left.

A search of Vensa’s desk turned up five first class tickets on the steamship Kuchenvogel leaving for London on February 5 at 10 pm. They could tell that something of value like the tickets would not have accidentally been left behind when everything else of value was gone. Evgenia decided to do a reading on the office to try and determine what happened.

As Evgenia went into a trance, she saw that a group of four men and one woman attacked Vensa and ransacked his office. But they didn’t just kill Vensa. Vensa was tortured before he was killed. The attackers obviously knew that they planned to return to London on February 5, and on which ship.

They considered skipping the boat trip and trying to escape the ambush by planning a new route home. One such route was to take a train south to Christiania, cross the sea to Frederikshavn, travel to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and then cross to London. Another route was to go back and travel while disguised to Kobenhavn and plan a route through Europe.

They were leaning toward boarding the ship, anyway, to meet the challenge head on. They understood that they had no idea how powerful their opponents would be and that a much stronger adversary might be present if they took that route. They knew what their attackers might look like from Evgenia’s visions in Vensa’s office, if indeed those would be their attackers.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 105

Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, January 19, through Saturday, January 23, 1892

“What are these Dark Riders you said about?” the woman inquired as they surrounded her. “Allow me to explain about how this is going to work,” Bartley said tersely, “we’re going to be asking the questions. Who are you?”

“I’m Lucile Olson, a respected member of the community and I run the Olson cloth mill for my father. The mill employs many of the local people. Over thirty of the local children, ranging in age from 8 to 15, earn a fair day’s wage, unlike other places of employ,” she proudly informed.

“My father, Frank Ryan Olson, owns one of many cotton mills in Bolton. He got ill shortly after the death of his wife 7 years ago. I oversee the day to day activities of the mill. As a matter of fact, this man’s daughter is my assistant. I was discussing his daughter’s progress with him when suddenly we were attacked by … who are you people?”

“Let’s back up a minute,” Bartley said, refusing to answer her question. “Where were you the nights of December 29th and January 9th?” “Well, in addition to running the mill, I also take care of my ill father. With the stress of taking care of all that, I’d taken to walking in the woods alone to calm down and relax. Some years ago, I befriended some of the local wolves and so I have some sway over them and can get them to do things. But I was simply here to meet with my employee’s father.”

“I don’t believe that for a minute,” Bartley informed. “Mr. Stewart was well respected by his family and peers,” Lucile informed. “Mr. Stewart told me that there were dangerous people about that were after us for some unknown reason.” She eyed Victor Popov and Steven Miller.

“And what was dangerous about these people?” “He didn’t tell me. They could be unscrupulous businessmen, for all I know,” Lucile lied. “We’re not getting anywhere so how about we just turn you over to these two that want you dead,” Bartley threatened as he indicated Victor and Steven. “No,” Lucile defended, “I heard him. He said not to hurt me.” She indicated Steven. “If Henry was involved in something illicit then I was just a pawn.”

“Tell us about your activity as a pawn,” Bartley inquired, “and exactly what did he have you do?” “He said there were dangerous people after us so I had to protect myself and had the befriended wolves attack them.” “But I heard you tell him that your wolves had not failed you. Can one of you ladies search Miss Olson?”

Evgenia and Dracona stepped forward and searched her. Other than the dagger and pistol that she had dropped as she surrendered, the only other items they found was spell components. They didn’t find a Dark Riders pin or other symbol on her. “As I said,” Lucile reiterated, “I used the wolves that I could influence to protect me.”

“So you are admitting to the crown that you sent wolves to kill people?” Bartley inquired. “I see no judge and jury, here,” Lucile stated. “That man is a representative of the crown,” Bartley indicated Fredryck.

“The town will not be happy about his death and I’m sure they’ll thoroughly investigate it.” She looked carefully at them. “I could bring more wolves to make this look like a wolf attack. That would explain a lot and keep the investigation to a minimum. You could then claim to have come upon the killer wolves and slain them.” She indicated the large dead wolf. “You’d be heroes,” she promised.

They could tell that she was ready to offer anything to save herself. “And you still haven’t told me what this Dark Riders is,” Lucile lied. They could tell that she not only knew about the Dark Riders but was most probably one. Archibald convinced her to come clean. “If I can speak with you alone,” Lucile whispered that she’d prefer to talk without Victor and Steven present.

Bartley called Victor, Steven and Fredryck aside. “We need to check her home for proof of Dark Rider affiliation,” Victor told them. “You know where it is and I can vouch for any evidence found,” Fredryck said. “We’ll take her to town and meet you there,” Bartley agreed. Fredryck, Victor and Steven left, headed toward Lucile’s residence.

With the Order of the Dragon people gone, Lucile opened up more. “Look, I’ve been with the Dark Riders for 7 years. Henry Stewart brought me into the organization as an informant. This kind of combat is not what I signed up for.”

They could tell that she still was not being forthright with them. “Are you with them? Are you part of the Order of the Dragon?” Lucile inquired. “No, we are not part of the Order,” Dracona informed.

“Are you from some other organization?” Lucile inquired. “We are not with the Order of the Dragon,” Bartley interjected. “That is all we are willing to share about that,” he said.

“I don’t know what you know about the Order but from what Henry told me they were out to kill us,” she told. Mentally, they recalled that they’ve worked jointly with the Order before. They also knew that the Dark Rider leaders were purportedly lycanthropes.

“If you are not from the Order of the Dragon, I could maintain my involvement in the Dark Riders and work as an informant for your organization, not the Order. “We’re not in a position to stay here and protect you,” Bartley informed. “As soon as we’re gone the Order will try to eliminate you, again.”

“If they trust you and you can convince them that I was just duped, they might leave me alone,” Lucile offered. “What about Henry Stewart’s children, his family? Would you have his wife and 12 children starve now, without him? I’d take care of them if you’d allow me to remain.

“But my business would not survive without me,” Lucile told. “My father is a drunk and the business would close, putting Henry’s children out of a job. I could promise to give my share of the business to Henry’s girl if I should die in the future. That could ensure their livelihood. You can’t leave them without a father and an employer.”

“And what would you have? Your story would be that he was killed by the wolves,” Bartley inquired. “You could dig out the slugs and I could have wolves bite the areas to cover the gunshot wounds,” Lucile offered. “I’m tired of her lies. I’m done talking with her,” Evgenia informed politely.

“I was to keep tabs on Dark Rider enemies in Great Britain,” Lucile informed. “I had recruited Henry Stewart as my local body guard and second in case something happened to me. “What tipped you off that the Order was after you?” Archibald questioned.

“In late 1888, Aleksander Matl, a known member of the Order, traveled to London in search of a magical amulet. He reportedly gained the amulet but hid it. The Riders believe it to be hidden somewhere in Greater Manchester. Henry and I have been looking for some trace of it ever since.”

“While we have not found the amulet,” she confided, “or who might be guarding it, we did identify members of the Order of the Dragon. Some had traveled to Bolton over the course of the last few months and some have been here the entire time. We work diligently to further the Rider’s goals and one of those goals is to oppose the Order of the Dragon at every turn. We began disposing of the Order a few weeks ago.”

Archibald, Bartley, Dracona and Evgenia whispered among themselves. “I’d suggest we walk her back to the Stewart house to break the news to his family that he was killed by wolves,” Bartley suggested. “If we run into Stewart’s son, we can tell him the news and that we were too late to save him.”

“I don’t believe that she’ll go along with this,” Evgenia offered. “She’d prefer we were dead,” Bartley agreed, “but that’s not how it is. So, she won’t have much choice.”

“But what will stop her from telling whatever story she wants once we’re among people who feel she’s a respected member of the community?” Evgenia inquired. “Well, first we need to make this scene match the story,” Bartley explained. “I’d prefer she not summon any more wolves because she wants us dead,” Bartley added. “I can do it without her wolves,” Evgenia figured.

Agreed on the plan, they bound Lucile while they set up the wolf attack scene. Evgenia removed the bullets from Stewart and used the dead wolf to rip the bullet wounds with claw and bite marks while others cleared away footprints from the paths and helped in other ways. Lucile again offered to call wolves but Bartley and Archibald warned her not to.

“We’ll walk to Stewart’s homestead,” Bartley informed Lucile after they had gotten their story straight. “We want you to tell Stewart’s wife that we found you and Stewart as the wolves were attacking the two of you,” Bartley explained to Lucile. “Why don’t you just go and tell her that you happened upon Henry and just leave me out of it?” Lucile inquired.

“It is better if a respected member of the community, like you, explains how things went,” Bartley countered. Resigned to go along with their version of the events, and the scene already set to support it, Lucile started back to the Stewart homestead with Dracona and Evgenia leading the way with Archibald and Bartley in pace behind her.

Lucile noticed that they were not going exactly the way that Henry had come. They seemed set on not getting to Henry’s son that was left with the flock. In addition, the people from the Order had headed off in the direction of her home. If they searched it, the Order would surely find her Rider brooch and want her dead. So, Lucile had another idea.

Suddenly, Lucile let out a long wailing howl. Dracona blasted her with fire, setting her ablaze. Bartley stepped away and shot her. Evgenia stepped away, turned and shot Lucile while Archibald took a swing but missed her.

And then Lucile bolted. Archibald and Bartley took swings at her but were unable to stop her from dashing away. Then her howling brought the wolves. The pack closed quickly as Lucile’s howling continued to call them to her aid.

Bartley stood his ground and shot Lucile, striking her again. Evgenia shot, again, twisting the howling Lucile to face them. Archibald shot, dropping Lucile and abruptly stopping her howling call.

Immediately, the forest around them erupted with dozens of mournful howls as the wolves realized Lucile’s demise. The four of them readied their guns for the wolf attack. After shooting a few of the wolves, the other wolves simply howled as they left the area.

With due diligence, they set up the area to resemble another wolf pack attack. Evgenia extracted the slugs from Lucile’s lifeless body and used the dead wolves to appropriately mask the bullet wounds. Once they had completed the task, they made their way back to town.

Victor, Steven and Fredryck had made haste to the Olson home. They found Lucile’s father there. He was drunk but was conscious enough that they had to sneak into the home. Locating Lucile’s room, they went through her things until they found a brooch with the howling wolf symbol of the Dark Riders.

Along with the brooch was a document giving Lucile’s share of the Olson Mills to her secretary, Marlene Stewart, if anything should happen to Lucile. Satisfied with her involvement in the attacks, they left the place as they found it and returned to Bolton without Lucile’s father ever knowing they were there. All the way back to Bolton, Victor and Steven reinforced that Lucile now had to be dealt with.

When Fredryck, Victor and Steven met with the others, they learned that Lucile had already been killed. Satisfied that the Dark Rider threat had been dealt with, Steven and Victor prepared to visit their friend and associate, Jamie VanArtsdalen, at Dr. Carter’s home. They wanted to get the news to him that he was not attacked by a werewolf, after all, and thus had no worries about the coming full moon.

It was then that Evgenia broached the topic. “Steven,” she began, “are you related to Katherine Miller in Kilburn?” “Why, yes,” Steven answered, “Katherine and Stanley Miller are my parents. Do you know her?”

“We met her in late November of 1888 about a matter of some documents that your father had,” Evgenia informed. “That was you?” Steven inquired excitedly. “Mother told me that some guests had paid her handsomely for some of my father’s old papers. That was how she was able to visit my family in America for Christmas that year.”

“It would seem I owe you Fellowship people another thanks for that,” Steven smiled broadly. “I had lost touch with Mum. My father and she worked for the Knightsbridge Orphan Asylum for almost ten years. After my father disappeared, she continued to work at the asylum while I went to America to find out what happened to my father. While I was away, she moved to Kilburn to help my grandmother but I didn’t know where to find her.”

“It was in America that I met my wife and settled in Pennsylvania. I work in the The Free Library of Philadelphia and it was there that the Order of the Dragon recruited me,” Steven informed. “I was planning to surprise Mum with a visit once my business in Bolton was completed,” he said. “If you wanted to join me, I’m sure she’d like to see you again,” he offered.

Although they considered it, eventually they declined the offer to visit Kilburn, again, in favor of returning to London. Steven, Victor and Jamie were going to stay in Bolton until the bodies of Henry and Lucile were discovered. At that point, Steven was going to send word to them in London before visiting his mother in Kilburn.

Before returning to London, Archibald went to visit a cobbler. Discretely, Archibald informed Desmond Harris that the danger had passed and that his cover as a Fellowship Guardian was intact. Not needing to know what Desmond was guarding, Archibald left it at that and departed with his repaired shoes.

Boarding the train, Evgenia could sense something with Fredryck. Fredryck seemed concerned and Evgenia whispered to him if it was because of the 12 new orphans created by the Order of the Dragon, with their help. But, Fredryck was not concerned with that. After all, Lucile had already made provisions for their future in case of her demise.

He was concerned with other things. “My uncle, George Patrick Hyde Villiers, died on January 10, 1892, a little over a week ago, at age 44,” Fredryck informed. “He had gained the rank of Colonel in the service of the Grenadier Guards. He was invested as a Companion, Order of the Bath, and as a Companion, Order of St. Michael and St. George. He was Military Attache to St. Petersburg, Berlin and Paris and Military Secretary to the Governor-General of India.”

“He was the son of George William Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon and Lady Katherine Grimston,” Fredryck continued. “He married Louisa Maria Maquay, daughter of George Disney Maquay, on October 9, 1884. They had four children, Katharine Alice Villiers (8/16/1885), Constance Barbara Villiers (8/2/1886), Beryl Emily Edith Villiers (12/18/1888) and George John Theodore Hyde Villiers (10/1/1891).”

“Beryl died in March of 1889 at the age of three and the family doctor said it was influenza,” Fredryck seriously informed. “But now, my uncle is dead, too. In addition, my uncle on my father’s side, Edward Henry Stanley, had a bout with influenza in 1891 and he’d never seemed to fully recover.” Fredryck’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not sure if Edmund Fields, who had sworn vengeance upon us and our families in October of 1888, had some hand in the deaths of Beryl and George and in my other uncle’s illness,” he confided.

A chill ran down Evgenia’s spine with the news. “Adoline?” she quietly inquired. “Brina has not reported any incidents but I’ve put her on alert.” “That’s about all that can be done unless you plan to stay with her yourself,” Evgenia assured. Fredryck nodded acknowledgement and returned to silent contemplation for the rest of the journey home to London.

Several days later, a newspaper arrived in the post at Yermak Investigations. “Wolf attacks kill two more!” announced the headline of the Bolton Evening News. After Josh Stewart, eldest son of local farmer and shepherd Henry Stewart, reported that his father had not returned after going off after a lost sheep, the unsuspecting constables swept the countryside.

Their search found the bodies of two of Bolton’s upstanding citizens, Henry Stewart and Lucile Olson, operator of the Olson Mills. Each had apparently put up a substantial fight for their life because dead wolves were found near each of them. People were warned against going into the forested areas after the shepherd and the mill operator were found dead in the nearby forests.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 104

Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, January 19, 1892
Archibald moved up and hid behind a tree while Evgenia moved through the trees to near Bartley’s position and Dracona ran along the path to hide behind a tree. The large wolf came into the clearing, past the woman and to the trail’s entrance to the small clearing. As it reached the trail, the woman cast a spell upon it. Suddenly the wolf grew to even larger in size.

The man began casting a spell and Bartley recognized the motions. The man was summoning a shadow creature. Fredryck moved up behind a tree but was able to shoot at the spell casting man. The man’s spell failed and he quickly began casting another. Bartley cast a magical armor spell for himself.

Steven and Victor moved forward along the trail while Archibald shot at the enlarged wolf but his shot splintered a tree branch in the way. Evgenia moved up and shot the wolf with her Winchester’s silver bullets while Dracona moved up to the huge wolf and blasted fire upon it. But it shunned her fiery blast and bit her hard.

Then the woman cast another spell that caused driving sleet to fill a large area where most of them were and she moved into the woods for cover. In the woods she began casting another spell. The sleet blocked sight and iced the ground but Dracona was luckily just outside of the sleet area.

The man cast a spell and Dracona noticed that it was to protect him from projectile weapons. Fredryck guessed that if the sleet spell had a limited area of effect, he might be near the edge of it. Fortunately, he’d guessed correctly so he was able to move out of the heavy sleet and around the perimeter.

Bartley cast a spell to improve his dexterity so he could better move across the slippery ground. With his improved dexterity, he moved out of the sleet area, out of reach of the wolf and shot it. Victor moved carefully along the path through the sleet but Steven had trouble staying on his feet.

Archibald was able to move but could not get out of the sleet area. Evgenia shot blindly to where the wolf was but it missed the target. Dracona blasted the huge wolf, again, and looked desperately for a place to get away from the massive wolf’s bite.

With Dracona not finding a place to duck away, the wolf bit her hard, again. The woman completed her summoning spell to call three swarms of killer bees. One of the swarms attacked Dracona and the other two went after Bartley. The man cast a spell to increase his abilities and then another to make his gun magical before moving into the trees.

Fredryck moved around the sleet storm and could just see the huge wolf. He shot but missed his target from the tree interference. Bartley moved away from the bee swarms and shot the woman with a shot that definitely got her attention. Steven was having plenty of problems moving in the sleet storm but Victor was gradually making his way forward through it.

“I need protection, Stewart,” the woman angrily called to the man for aid. Archibald got out of the sleet storm and shot the wizard. It was a good shot but the wizard’s protections reduced the damage considerably. Evgenia made her way through the sleet storm and shot where she had last seen the wolf, luckily hitting it.

Dracona shaped her blast of fire to engulf the swarm and the wolf. The wolf again resisted the bulk of it but the swarm was surely affected by the fiery blast as the wings of many bees burned. It worked well enough that she did it again. But the wolf bit Dracona quite hard and she worried about her mortality in this combat.

The druid woman cast a spell to hold Bartley but he resisted it and she cast another spell that cured her wounds before moving away from him. The one swarm attacked Dracona, again, while the other two swarms moved after Bartley even though he’d outpaced them for the moment. The man began casting another high level creature summons.

Fredryck moved and took a shot at the man with the first missing its mark. The third shot, however, hit well enough but the man’s protections allowed him to continue his summoning. Bartley cast a spell upon his rifle and shot the summoner, disrupting his second summoning spell. Steven and Victor continued their efforts to leave the sleet storm.

Archibald, against his better judgement, drew his rapier and moved up to the druid woman. Evgenia was able to make her way out of the sleet storm and shot the wizard. Dracona presumed that she could not live through another wolf attack and decided to take advantage of her surroundings. She stepped back a step onto the trail and disappeared into the sleet storm where she slipped and fell.

With his original target out of sight, the huge wolf crashed through the trees and bit the next nearest opponent, Fredryck. The swarm near Dracona chased her into the sleet storm and surprisingly continued to sting her inside the sleet storm. The other swarms continued to follow Bartley and the druid woman cast a spell that held Archibald in place.

The wizard cast a spell on his gun and then shot at Bartley with it, missing miserably. But after, he moved up to the druid woman. Fredryck dropped his rifle, drew his sword, cast a spell to make his sword magical and then adequately hit the enlarged wolf. Bartley shot the wizard, again, while Victor got closer to the perimeter and Steven continued to fumble in the sleet.

Archibald remained held, to his dismay, while Evgenia looked to Fredryck. “Get the casters,” Fredryck called to her. So, Evgenia shot the wizard. Dracona was in dire straits and crawled away from the bees, hoping they’d not find her in the storm. The wolf bit Fredryck and the druid woman cast healing upon the wizard. In return, the wizard finally cast a protection spell on the druid woman and then moved away from her, again.

Fredryck hit the wolf, quite hard, and then struck, again. The huge wolf yelped as the second blow killed it and it fell to the ground, returning to its regular size. Bartley moved up past the druid woman, who missed her swing, to shoot at the wizard between a pair of evergreens. Victor finally made his way out of the sleet storm and could see what was going on.

Archibald finally resisted the druid’s spell and freed himself from her hold. Evgenia moved up, got a clear shot through an opening in the trees, and shot the druid woman. The wizard’s spell protected the druid woman from the bulk of the damage. Dracona moved out of the sleet area and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that the wolf was down.

The druid woman cast a spell to heal herself, again, provoking an attack from Archibald, but, the wizard’s protective spell on her negated Archibald’s attack. The wizard shot at Bartley, again, missing, again. Fredryck moved up so that he could soon be in the fray. Bartley, knowing that the wizard had protected himself from gunfire, moved up to the wizard and struck him with his rifle butt. Victor shot at the wizard but missed.

Archibald struck her, but again it merely served to reduce her protections. Evgenia stepped up a step and shot the druid woman while Dracona slung a magical missile at the druid woman before stepping up next to Fredryck. The druid woman stepped back and tried to hold Archibald, again. The wizard slipped out a dagger and struck at Bartley three times but couldn’t draw blood from any attack.

Fredryck finally made it up to the wizard and struck hard, killing him. Bartley turned his shots to the druid woman, diminishing her resistance while still getting some damage upon her. Victor moved into the clearing to get a shot and shot the druid woman, too.

To the druid’s dismay, Archibald moved to block her exit and struck her. Evgenia shot the druid and Dracona breathed fire onto the druid woman, setting her alight. The druid woman put herself out as her bees went blindly in the sleet storm and the other two bee swarms attacked Victor, stinging him effectively.

Fredryck moved to the druid and hit the druid, who felt it all too much. Bartley shot the druid again and Victor ran away from the swarms, calling out. “Don’t kill her! We’ve not confirmed her as a Dark Rider.”

Archibald heeded Victor’s call and offered the druid woman a chance to surrender. Evgenia moved up and struck the druid woman in an attempt to knock her out. Dracona moved up and blasted the pair of swarms with fire, twice, killing them. The other swarm had found its way out of the sleet and made a bee line toward Dracona.

The druid woman called out, so that all could hear, for the bees to cease attacking as she raised her gun and dagger in surrender. And, the sleet storm subsided, exposing Steven Miller still in almost the same location as when it had started, albeit considerably more cold and soggy. Fredryck moved up and told her to drop her weapons, which she dutifully did.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 103

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, January 18, through Tuesday, January 19, 1892
“Steven Miller,” Steven introduced as he approached. “I appreciate your helping Victor,” he said with a nod to Popov. “How’s your man?” “I think he’ll pull through,” Evgenia offered as she moved up and bound Fredryck’s wounds. “He’s been down before and recovered.” “It seems there were no werewolves in that lot,” Victor deduced as he looked around.

“Regardless,” Steven offered, “has Victor told you what we’re up against?” “Suspected Dark Rider murderer in the area,” Bartley answered. “So you know about the Dark Riders,” Steven confirmed. “They are White Star Fellowship,” Victor informed.

“Good. We were sent to Bolton to seek out and destroy a Dark Rider. I was investigating Lucile Olson the night that VanArtsdalen was attacked. I was observing her home that night, and she never left. She could not possibly have been responsible. I suspect Henry Stewart could be the Rider. He is a local farmer whose whereabouts are mostly only confirmed by his family.”

“Victor said that Henry Stewart had alibis for the first two murders so he suspected Lucile Olson,” Archibald informed. “So, there could be two Dark Riders in the area, possibly working together,” Bartley surmised. “That’s possible,” Victor and Steven agreed. “But one could simply be an unwitting pawn. We must make certain that they are both Riders before we use deadly force,” Victor reminded.

“But first, it’s late and we need some rest. We’ll follow up on Henry Stewart and Lucile Olson first thing in the morning,” a partly recovered Fredryck suggested. “We could hold up in my farmhouse,” Steven Miller offered. “We’ll board up the window and door and should be safe until morning. Plus it has all the conveniences of home.” They used the cord and cross to heal as much as they could, knowing that the items would recharge with the morning light.

With an uneventful evening, they were rested and recovered enough to investigate the two suspects. They decided to investigate Henry Stewart, first, and left about 8 am. But, Bartley wanted to be quick about it because he thought that if the Dark Rider was Lucile that she would flee on the next train out of Bolton. As they went, Steven filled them in on what he had learned about Lucile.

Some of the Bolton locals said that Lucile was an uncomfortable woman because circumstances forced her to take control of her father’s business. Frank Ryan Olson, owner one of many cotton mills in Bolton, was a lazy man who took to drink shortly after the death of his wife 7 years ago. His daughter, Lucile, oversaw the day to day activities of the mill but she did not seem to enjoy it.

To the Bolton locals, Lucile seemed a good woman to care for her father like she did. With the way he drank, he would have passed away years ago without her support. The Olson Mill manufactured a cotton and wool cloth blend and it was a good, family owned business that employed over thirty of the local children, ages ranging from 8 to 15. Many factories would not let young men earn a fair day’s wage like that.

Lucile often went to London to deliver cloth, or to pick up cotton imports. Lucile avoided meeting people, either personally or professionally. She surrounded herself with aids to talk to people in her stead. Her current secretary was 12-year old Marlene Stewart, one of Henry Stewart’s daughters.

They arrived at the Stewart farmstead about 9 am and Victor and Steven decided to stay out of sight, just in case. Knocking on the door, it was not hard to hear the sounds of many children within. A red-haired Irish woman of sturdy stock answered the door and introduced herself as Annabella, Henry’s wife. She invited them in with a smile as Archibald took over conversing with her.

Henry and Annabella had 12 children aged between 2 and 15. Henry and his two oldest tend to his flocks of sheep that roam the countryside to the northwest. Their eldest daughter, Marlene, had already gone to work at the local mill. So, Annabella was at home with 9 of their 12 children.

“I met Henry while vacationing in the Mediterranean,” she said. “He was vacationing there, too. Isn’t that funny? We’ve been together for almost 16 years, now. Henry is a loving husband and devoted father.” There were more generic non-incriminating statements.

Henry was very smart and well respected by his family and peers. Archibald inquired on Henry’s thoughts about the recent wolf attacks and her husband’s safety. She offered that Henry was out late on Sunday, January 17. “He and Josh, our oldest, were out looking for some lost sheep. There have been some local concerns about wild wolves.”

While Archibald kept Annabella’s attention, Fredryck, Evgenia, Bartley and Dracona amused the children. They played games with the children which allowed them into parts of the house that might not normally be appropriate for new guests. That included the bedroom of the children’s parents.

It was Fredryck who found the howling wolf lapel pin, the symbol for the Dark Riders. Silently indicating to Evgenia that he’d found something in the bedroom, she maneuvered her child’s game into the room. She spotted a secret compartment in the wardrobe as she found the hide-and-go-seek child hiding there. Unable to open it, she covertly indicated to Bartley to check it out.

Bartley was able to find and open the secret panel in the wardrobe. Behind it was a spell book which he skillfully slipped out of its hiding place and hid on his person. Then, he took a moment in private and cast a spell to quickly skim the book.

The spell book contained a variety of wizardly spells, many above Bartley’s capabilities. He noted that one dealt with changing the spell caster’s shape into that of an animal. Other spells dealt with summoning a variety of creatures from the shadows. With the complexity of the spells, he could tell that they were dealing with a high level caster.

With all the proof of his affiliation that they needed, they signaled Archibald to conclude their conversation. Unaware of the manipulation, the children were sorry to see them leave. And, Annabella pointed them in the direction that her husband and son, Josh, had left with the sheep that morning.

They followed along the path that Annabella had sent them. It wasn’t difficult to track a herd of sheep. After almost two hours, the sound of sheep clued them that they neared their destination. Bartley stealthily went forward to see what they were up against. From his vantage point, he only saw one shepherd with the herd, a boy of about 15 and obviously not Henry.

Archibald and Dracona went forward to make contact with the boy, Josh. They conversed and learned that the boy’s father had gone after a stray. They inquired if he was afraid because of the wolf attacks. But the boy boldly informed them that he could take care of any wolf that might attack. His father had told him that he didn’t have to fear the local wolves because they’d want a sheep instead.

Then, they convinced Josh to tell them the direction his father had gone. They thanked him for his information and left to find the elder Stewart. Bartley noted Archibald and Dracona’s departure and they circled around the grazing clearing to meet up with them out of sight. Evgenia noted that the Olson mill lay in the direction that they were headed.

They continued on for at least another hour before they heard a voice. Again, Bartley tried to stealthily get closer to survey the area. Dracona sent Athros invisibly flying above to see what he could see. Bartley could tell that it was a woman conversing with a man but wanted to hear their conversation. The man stood a little less than six feet tall and was a wiry 195 pounds. He had dark hair and full sideburns with a look about him that spoke of knowledge and experience.

“Unlike your bungled attempt on Sunday night, the wolves have never failed me,” she chastised the man. “If had orchestrated the attack, VanArtsdalen would be dead,” she snipped. “But my wolves are not back yet,” she angrily informed as she concluded with, “something is wrong.”

Stewart started a verbal defense of his actions. Bartley crept closer to the small clearing where they stood. Suddenly, the woman turned in Bartley’s direction. “Quiet,” the woman said as she looked around. The man quieted himself. “I heard something,” she informed quietly.

Bartley had been heard. He was still but sent his armadillo, Tumbleweed, in to act as an excuse for the noise she’d heard. The woman obviously saw the armadillo but also recognized that it was not indigenous to England. As Tumbleweed scurried through the underbrush, it noticed another creature just outside of the small clearing – a large wolf.

The woman cast some kind of spell and a chaffinch with a brown head and a yellowy brown chest came to her. With a whistle from the woman the bird flew off. It was apparently scouting for her.

As the bird went out from her, it sang back as it circled over Bartley’s location. As it approached where the others were, the invisible Athro attacked it, midair. A muffled tweet accompanied the burst of feathers and blood that suddenly and permanently silenced the fowl spy. Still, there would be no surprising those two.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 102

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, January 18, 1892
They arrived on Monday, at the appointed time, at Lawrence “Marcus” Bloom’s residence. Bloom had his house rebuilt, but he was taking the opportunity to build in some improvements to his house. He has electrified it, and connected a telephone. He was working on attaching a generator so that he would not be dependent on the city supply.

As they walked through the house with him, he explained the mission. “The Fellowship has a Guardian named Desmond Harris in Bolton, Greater Manchester,” he began. “The mission involves investigating wolf attacks in an area near Bolton and Desmond wants to make sure that the attacks don’t have anything to do with the information he is guarding.”

Bloom handed them train tickets and continued. “Desmond Harris has asked for help regarding a series of wolf attacks in the Bolton area that began on Dec 19th. Desmond is a cobbler so if he’s not at home, he may be in the market selling shoes. Desmond has noticed an increase in wolf attacks near the moors, and has noted that the wolves have attacked men as well as sheep.”

“After the decision was made to send Hunters to the area,” he continued as he indicated them, “I looked for recent visitors to Bolton. I noticed that an American scholar named Steven Miller traveled to Bolton but I was not able to determine when he left London for Bolton. He arrived in London from America I presume on Dec 20th.”

Then he became extremely serious. “It’s believed that Jack Griffin, a dangerous assassin I need not tell you, is in Greater Manchester looking for our Guardian. It’s imperative that Desmond’s cover not be compromised. Furthermore, do not alert Desmond to this danger. If he believes his family to be threatened, he may harm his own cover.”

Fredryck looked suspiciously at him. “You won’t tell the guardian that he could be in danger?” he questioned. Bloom handed them Desmond Harris’ address. “I don’t not know what Desmond is guarding but Griffin might be watching for somebody to pack up and leave. It’d be a sure clue that they were warned of him and Desmond has shown the propensity for doing that before. No, it was decided that it was best he not know.”

With their mission, they left for the train station. The trip to Bolton was uneventful and the address was easy to find. They arrived in the early evening and Desmond was at home with his wife and two children. The family left the father and his guests alone while they discussed “business.”

After establishing their affiliation with the Fellowship, Desmond had more detailed information for them. “An American scholar named Steven Miller came to Bolton on Dec 22nd. On Dec 29th, a local resident named Mark Summerfield was attacked and killed by wolves while tending to his father’s flock of sheep.”

“On Jan 9th, a tourist named Antonio Batali was found dead, mauled by wolves during the night. Antonio was not far out of town and wolves very rarely attack humans, so I did some research. I found that Antonio was visiting from Walachalia, with no relatives in the area. I thought this strange and dug a bit deeper to find that Mark Summerfield lived with his uncle, not his father.”

“Summerfield’s parents are from Linz, a city on the Danube River bordering Romania and Hungary. Batali and Summerfield were often seen together in a local bar. This further connection prompted me to request Fellowship Hunters, you.”

Then Desmond seemed to grow fearful. “Last night, on Jan 17th, Jamie VanArtsdalen was attacked by a small pack of wolves. He’s currently under the care of Doctor Oliver Carter. I’ve not had the opportunity to speak to him.”

“Have you inquired with the local authorities?” Evgenia inquired. “I have no contacts with the local authorities,” Desmond informed. “I keep my head down and my nose clean so that I don’t draw any attention to myself.” “But you can tell us where Doctor Oliver is,” Dracona assumed aloud. “Of course,” Desmond said as he wrote the address and directions down for them. “Then we’ll be on our way,” Evgenia answered as she took the paper.

Doctor Carter lived in a large home on the outskirts of Bolton. Knocking, the door was answered by a butler, who admitted them. Apparently, the doctor had a full staff and a nurse who lived with him. Archibald spoke with Doctor Carter and learned that Jamie VanArtsdalen was under constant watch. Carter explained that he was feverish and delirious.

Archibald inquired if they might speak with VanArtsdalen in private. The doctor was reluctant at first but Archibald explained that he and his companions were associated with an asylum outside of London. They happened to be in the area and thought they could interview and observe VanArtsdalen. Carter agreed but explained that if VanArtsdalen got agitated, the interview would be cut short.

Doctor Carter led them to the room and told VanArtsdalen that he had some people who wanted to talk to him. VanArtsdalen agreed to talk with them and Carter left them alone. “We’d like to hear about what happened,” Archibald told VanArtsdalen.
“Last night I was walking north of town,” VanArtsdalen began in a stable tone. “The amber glow from the moon diffused through the mist on the moor in a way that was beautiful. But, the aurora distracted me to the point that I never realized that I was being followed.”

“By the time I detected my danger, the creature was upon me. It was two hundred pounds of snarling canine that pushed me to the ground. It gripped my arm in its maw and shook me like a rag doll,” he said as he indicated his splinted and bandaged arm. “I’m lucky to be alive.”

VanArtsdalen grabbed Archibald’s arm. “You need to find my friend, Victor Popov. He will understand what happened and what needs to be done. I was not bitten by a random wolf from the forest.”

VanArtsdalen hushed his voice as he continued. “Victor and I have been hunting for a werewolf. We believe it to be Henry Stewart. Stewart must have discovered we were on his trail and tried to kill me. In a few days the curse of the werewolf will overtake me.”

Evgenia quietly informed that the first night of the full moon would be Friday, Jan 22, and that moon rise would be at 7:15 PM. “You think me mad,” VanArtsdalen half inquired. “Not at all,” Evgenia answered. “When the full moon shines on me,” he started, “I will transform into a wolf, myself.” He was getting louder. “This cannot be allowed to happen. If the werewolf isn’t killed by then, Victor will have to kill me,” he shouted.

Doctor Carter had heard his patient’s rant and came in. “I think that’s enough for now,” he insisted. As Doctor Carter ushered them out of the room, they assured VanArtsdalen that they would try to find Popov that night. After his patient was behind closed doors again, Carter explained that something in the infection had clearly driven the poor man mad. They patronized the doctor’s assessment and said they’d return at a later time.

Leaving the doctor, they went to find Victor Popov. Inquiring about town, they learned that Victor Popov was a Russian detective, vacationing in England and visiting his good friend, Jamie VanArtsdalen. He was staying at a local hotel and they found him there.

“I have been in this country for five months,” Victor Popov told them. “I am looking for my daughter, Liza, who ran away from her mother and brothers almost a year ago. I have followed my daughter through many cities. She was seen in London during Christmas but I am not sure where she went after that.”

The story of his daughter was practiced and delivered with sufficient believability. But, they discerned that it was a complete fabrication. “Jamie VanArtsdalen wanted us to find you,” Archibald informed. “He spoke of werewolves.” “So, VanArtsdalen has taken you into his confidence,” Popov smiled as he made a point to show that he noticed Evgenia’s white star pin. “You are White Star Fellowship, yes?” Evgenia nodded.

“Let me tell you the real story. I am a member of the Order of the Dragon,” Popov informed. “It is my understanding that our two organizations have worked together in the past so I will confide in you. I was sent to Bolton by one of the leaders of my Order to seek out and destroy a Dark Rider.”

“The Dark Riders are a European secret society that worships the old Egyptian pharaohs. Many of them are shape changers or lycanthropes who use their powers to further the cause of evil. Using my credentials as a foreign detective, and appealing for help in the personal mission, I interrogated two possible suspects named Summerfield and Batali. I believe that they were attacked because the Dark Rider mistook them for my own contacts.”

“My associates and I had narrowed down the possible suspects to two people,” he continued. “It was while investigating one of them, a mister Henry Stewart, that Jamie VanArtsdalen was attacked. But, that does not prove that Stewart was behind the attack.”

“I was investigating Henry Stewart the night that VanArtsdalen was attacked. Since that night, I have talked to people who could account for Stewart’s whereabouts on the nights of both previous murders. I now suspect that Lucile Olson could be the Rider. She is the daughter of Frank and Catherine Olson and is a local weaver who lives three miles north of town on her parent’s farm.”

“My enemy is also your enemy so we should combine efforts,” Victor suggested. He offered to assist in combat, introduce them to his other associate, Steven Miller, and even share up to 19 silver bullets with them. “We’ve dealt with lycanthropes, before,” Evgenia assured as she showed Popov one of her silver bullets. Victor smiled.

“But,” Victor Popov became very serious, “the Order is not willing to kill an innocent. We must confirm that either Stewart or Olson is the Dark Rider before using lethal combat. And if there is any doubt, we will not take the opponent’s life until such proof can be discovered. This we agree upon?”

They all agreed. “Good,” Popov said. “Now, it is getting late and if we were planning to meet with Steven then we should leave now.” As they went, Victor informed them that Steven Miller was a member of the Order of the Dragon, in England to assist in finding the Dark Rider. Apparently, Steven Miller grew up in England and had a farm on the outskirts of Bolton.

As they approached the farm, they heard snarling, howling and clawing. As they rushed forward and got within sight, the moonlight revealed that Miller’s farm house was under attack from a pack of wolves. Five of the eight wolves were of unusually large size.

Fredryck moved up, drawing his sword as he went. Archibald and Evgenia moved up and opened fire on one of the large wolves. The gunshots alerted the wolves to their presence and one of the large wolves seemed to be the alpha as it had the others attack the intruders while it continued working on the door of the farm house. Three of the large wolves charged toward them, with one getting close enough to snap at Fredryck while the other two closed on Archibald and Evgenia.

Dracona moved up to the pair near Archibald and Evgenia and blasted fire upon them. Then the normal sized wolves moved in with two going after Fredryck and one going after Archibald and Evgenia. Bartley stepped up and fired at the pair. Victor Popov started shooting and, with the windows clear, the farmhouse occupant, presumed to be Steven Miller, opened a window and began shooting his pistol at the large wolf by Fredryck.

Fredryck swung the Stanley great sword and connected well with the large wolf on him. Archibald and Evgenia stepped back and continued shooting. The alpha wolf continued its clawing at the door and another large wolf came around the corner of the house to join the attack on Fredryck.

Dracona breathed fire on the three wolves by Archibald and Evgenia while the wolves continued their attacks. Bartley continued to shoot the wolves, finally killing the first one by Fredryck. As the large wolf died, it shrunk to the size of a normal wolf. Victor and Steven continued to shoot at the wolves.

Fredryck continued to swing at the largest wolf on him, landed a critical blow and cleaved into the normal wolf, killing it. One of the wolves by Archibald and Evgenia died, too, becoming smaller as it did. But the other large wolves continued their frenzied attacks while the alpha wolf broke through the farmhouse door and moved inside.

Dracona breathed on the wolves, setting the normal one alight and catching the large one in it. The regular sized wolves had been eliminated by that time so Bartley and Victor turned their attention to the remaining larger ones. Steven Miller came out of the farmhouse through the window he’d been shooting through as a loud crash indicated that the alpha wolf had smashed in an interior door. Turning back to the window, he shot into the house as he backed away.

Fredryck finally dropped the last large wolf that had been attacking him and moved up to beside the window where Steven Miller had hastily exited. Archibald and Evgenia were still shooting the large wolf by them when the alpha wolf came, snarling viciously, as it blasted through the window frame after Miller. Fredryck swung and hit the wolf. He could see wisps of shadow around it, saw the cold blackness in its eyes and felt a chill as he struck it coming out of the window.

The alpha wolf turned and attacked Fredryck as Dracona, Bartley and Victor moved up and shot to help Fredryck fight the alpha wolf. “It’s after you, back off,” Bartley called to Miller, who dutifully withdrew from the combat with the supernatural wolf. Fredryck hit the supernatural wolf with his sword as Archibald and Evgenia killed the last large wolf by them and moved closer.

The alpha wolf, its entire form and eyes glinted with shadowy evil, bit hard into Fredryck. Struggle as he did to remain conscious and alive, Fredryck slumped to the ground from the attack. Dracona moved up and blasted fire on it. But the shadows over it seemed to reduce the damage from her flames. Bartley shot it and moved up to keep the wolf’s attention while Victor and Steven shot it, too.

Archibald moved up to Fredryck and administered the Cord of St. Andrew. But his close proximity to the unearthly beast must have shaken his faith because, although stable, Fredryck was still unconscious. Evgenia shot the beast with her Winchester as the alpha wolf attacked Dracona. But, Dracona’s magic protected her from the vicious beast’s attack and she blasted it with fire, again, although to little effect. Bartley shot it, too, and wished he’d had his elephant gun. Victor’s shot staggered the unnatural beast and then Steven Miller’s pistol shot killed the alpha wolf.

The shadowy aspect of the creature dissipated as the wolf collapsed and died. Its coat was darker than any of the other wolves but, unlike the other large wolves of the pack, this one remained large when it died. If it wasn’t for the evil shadow it had, it would have been a magnificent canine specimen.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 101

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, August 10, 1891, through Sunday, January 17, 1892
Entering the questionable structure, they found that it was indeed a drinking establishment for miners. The interior had a dirt floor, was dimly lit, and contained an uninviting clientele. Shortly after they entered, a huge man approached them. It was hard to determine if his hair and beard were naturally black or if the soot he was caked with had made it that way. And, if his clothes were once a color other than black, it was hard to imagine them returning to that shade.

Smelling of alcohol, the burly man proclaimed, "Y’all ain’t members of this place. You either gotta leave or apply fer membership.” “And how might we apply for such membership,” Archibald inquired, almost afraid of the answer. The big man broke into a gap-toothed grin and said, “One of ya have ta fight me an’ win.”

The others patrons began to laugh, hoot and holler. Fredryck stepped up to the man. The man was more than six inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier than Fredryck. “I’ll oblige you,” he offered.

The patrons cheered the man and called him Jeremiah as grinned, he took off his shirt and put up his dukes. The other patrons started making bets, but they all seem to be on how quickly it would take Jeremiah to win, not if he would win. Bartley, Archibald, Dracona and Evgenia decided to get involved in the betting. But, they were taking straight bets on Fredryck beating Jeremiah. The miners were all over that action, some of them betting up to $2 on Jeremiah. The barkeep agreed to hold the bet money as the two squared off.

“I’ll give you the first swing,” Fredryck said as he put up his fists, not absolutely certain he could take Jeremiah. Jeremiah came in swinging and landed a few bruising blows by the time Fredryck reacted with his own volley. Again, Jeremiah beat his fists into Fredryck but Fredryck was able to get some to glance off of him.

Then Fredryck landed a punch that caused Jeremiah to stagger back. Jeremiah stood there for a moment and Fredryck waited for him to come in for another series of fists. But Jeremiah collapsed onto the dirt floor. A silence fell over the bar as the big man fell.

“A round of drinks on us!” Bartley called out, breaking the stunned silence. Fredryck helped to revive Jeremiah and they were allowed to stay and conduct their business. The miners had tales to tell of the Rutledge family

“Before the accident, Ginny was a headstrong girl,” one confided, “Obadiah and Ginny did not get along.” “Ginny didn’t get the way she is by falling from a tree; Obadiah beat the tar out of her.” “When Ginny started making money, Obadiah quit his job at the mine, but he still makes his two oldest sons work there.” “Obadiah has only spent the money Ginny has made on himself.”

Of course there were those that had other opinions like, “Ginny is possessed by the Devil, who tricks people into believing he is their dead relative,” or “The whole thing is a hoax, including Ginny’s illness.” Still, they got what information they could and left the bar with their limbs intact.

As they headed back to the inn, they noticed Garrett McBride walking about. Archibald, Bartley and Fredryck decided to stealthily follow him while Evgenia and Dracona went to the inn to decipher the coded note. They discovered that McBride went to a general store and purchased new clothes, including a nice dress, for a young adult. After that, he visited the local doctor and remained in his office for about twenty minutes. Finally, he visited a boat moored on the Kanawha River, where he dined on the deck with the captain.

Archibald had slipped away at the doctor’s office and inquired on the purpose of McBride’s visit. Dr. Aaron Kincaid initially hid behind the right of privacy but Archibald diplomatically got him to open up. The doctor explained that McBride wanted to know about Ginny Rutledge’s medical history.

Like most families in Glen Ferris, the Rutledges did not visit Dr. Kincaid’s office very often, but even so he did not recall Ginny having any serious medical problems before her accident. The doctor did examine her shortly after she became unresponsive, and while he was unable to do anything for her, he could tell by the marks all over her body that the damage was not caused by a fall from a tree. Archibald thanked him for his time and left to rejoin Bartley.

After McBride left the ship, they talked to the boat captain, whose name was Joseph Perkins. He, too, required Archibald’s delicate diplomatic handling to provide his information. But, he explained that he was hired to take McBride and another unknown passenger to Charleston at first light the next morning. Fredryck tried to book passage, too, but Perkins refused because McBride insisted, and paid, to be the only passengers.

Meanwhile, Evgenia and Dracona took to deciphering their copy of the coded message found on the wall at the Rutledge home. It was good that Evgenia could read German and she successfully deciphered the script after about two hours. She sat back and read the message with Dracona.

“This is Charles Guiteau. I am currently able to communicate through the body of Virginia Rutledge of Glen Ferris West Virginia. Although the Fellowship of the White Star destroyed my body following the mission for Tirpitz my skull was sent to Clinton Hall in New York City. It was stolen and taken to a dark basement in that same city by an undead creature. Either procure my skull or the girl so I can confer with you. I have much information concerning the organization’s future plans.”

“Ginny Rutledge was channeling Charles Julius Guiteau,” Evgenia told. “He assassinated the United States President, James A. Garfield, in Washington, D.C., at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, 1881. Guiteau shot him twice, once in his right arm and the other in his back, with a .442 Webley British Bulldog revolver. As Guiteau surrendered to authorities, he said, ‘I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts. Arthur is president now!’”

“Garfield died 11 weeks later, on September 19, 1881, of complications caused by infections. Once Garfield died, the government officially charged Guiteau with murder. He was formally indicted on October 14, 1881, for murder, which was previously attempted murder after his arrest. Guiteau pleaded not guilty to the charge but after a high profile trial he was found guilty on January 25, 1882. Guiteau died on June 30, 1882, via a gallows hanging.”

“With tiny pieces of the hanging rope soon being sold as souvenirs to a fascinated public, rumors immediately began to swirl that jail guards planned to dig up Guiteau’s corpse to meet demands of the burgeoning new market. Fearing scandal, the decision was made to disinter the corpse. The body was sent to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland, which preserved Guiteau’s brain as well as his enlarged spleen discovered at autopsy and bleached the skeleton. These were placed in storage by the museum.” “But, according to his message, his skull was stolen,” Dracona reasoned.

“True,” Evgenia continued. “I think the Tirpitz he refers to is Alfred Tirpitz, a Prussian who speaks fluent English and was sufficiently at home in Great Britain that he sent his two daughters to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, an independent boarding and day school in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Tirpitz was in his thirties when Guiteau killed US President Garfield.”

“Then in 1887,” she went on, “Tirpitz was on the torpedo boats that escorted Prince Wilhelm to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of his grandmother, Queen Victoria. This was the first time Tirpitz met Wilhelm. In 1888 Tirpitz was commanding the cruisers SMS Preussen and then SMS Württemberg. In 1890 Tirpitz became chief of staff of the Baltic Squadron. Tirpitz was rumored to be in Berlin, working on a new strategy for creating a high seas fleet. Rumors say that he’s conducting exercises to test out tactics and has gained the ear and considerable favor of the German Kaiser.”

About the time that the others returned, Clara was announcing that dinner would be ready soon, for those interested. Evgenia and Dracona exchanged information with the others and they decided to investigate the two men, McBride and Wessels, after dinner. And, dinner was probably already being served so they headed to the dining room.

The Glen Ferris Inn represented their only hope for dinner, which was served between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. When they showed up for a meal, Eric Wessels had just been seated. He invited them to join him and, after they were seated, he asked them to bow their head as he recited grace before the meal was started.

The dinner conversation turned to Ginny and Wessels admitted to them that he asked Mr. Rutledge for permission to take his daughter to Pittsburgh for study and medical treatment. He related the conversation exactly as it played out when they overheard it. Wessels concluded, “I fear that Mr. McBride has charmed Mr. Rutledge and will soon wrest that poor girl from her father. Can anything be done to save Ginny from a future as an exploited spectacle?”

Wessels listened with interest to any suggestions on how to keep McBride from obtaining Ginny, and he also pointed out that the University of Pittsburgh had excellent medical facilities. Even with Wessels’ expressed concern, they felt that he was not being entirely honest with them.

The dinner remained cordial throughout and Wessels finally excused himself, “I believe I’ll retire to the front porch and watch the sunset.” “That sounds like an excellent idea,” Fredryck announced as he got up, too. “Perhaps I’ll keep you company, maybe share some religious conversation,” Fredryck suggested. “Well, I’ll meet you there shortly, then,” Wessels informed.

“We’re turning in,” Evgenia informed as she got up with Dracona. Wessels returned to his room as Evgenia and Dracona went to theirs. He retrieved his Bible and pipe, after which he went back downstairs and sat on a rocking chair on the front porch of the inn. He silently read the Bible until sunset, at which point he smoked his pipe and stared into the night sky.

About 8:20, shortly after they retired, McBride left the inn. Bartley and Archibald again secretly followed McBride as he returned to the Rutledge home. After 30 minutes of haggling, he and Obadiah left with Ginny in her father’s arms.

The rooms of McBride and Wessels were both on the second floor of the inn, down the hall from one another. Evgenia and Dracona had decided to search their rooms. So, shortly after they “retired,” they heard McBride leave his room. Fredryck knew to keep Wessels busy on the front porch and would signal if McBride returned. In addition, Dracona had the invisible Athro stationed out in the T-shaped hall to keep watch, too.

The door locks of the inn were quite good and it took Evgenia a few tries before she could open McBride’s door. Apart from blank contracts and nice clothes, they initially found nothing of interest. But, a large sum of money was stashed in a satchel under the one dresser. Not being thieves, they decided to hide the funds in a different place in the room. Searching around, they had found a new place to stash it when Evgenia noticed a figure at the door.

Startled, they stopped in their tracks. “Why didn’t Athro warn us,” Dracona wondered. But the chill in the room and the translucent nature of their observer clued them in. “The Colonel,” Evgenia whispered as she noticed that the apparition was only visible from the waist up. The Colonel pointed at them, as if what they were doing was deceitful and seemed to mouth the words, “damn Yankees” before he dissipated.

Breathing again, the two women finished hiding the satchel and quietly left the room, relocking it. They hastened down the hall to Wessels room. It, too, was difficult to unlock and took Evgenia a few tries before it opened with a quiet click.

Wessels’ copy of the coded page he bought at the Rutledge home was on a small desk, along with a German translation on a separate piece of paper. “He’s already solved it,” Dracona whispered. They searched for other items in Wessels’ room and came upon a note in his baggage. It was also in German and Evgenia quietly translated it for Dracona.

“Brother,” the note began, “Glen Ferris, West Virginia, United States. Ginny Rutledge: Medium – automatic Writing. Confirm and Acquire.” The note ended with a drawing that Dracona didn’t need interpreted. “The Death’s Head cabal,” she whispered as she recognized the skull symbol of the German cabal. That was enough information for them so they quickly put everything back, left and locked Wessels’ room.

About 9:15 pm, Obadiah and McBride showed up with Ginny. They went to McBride’s room at the Glen Ferris Inn, where Obadiah received a substantial amount of cash from McBride and left his daughter in the talent scout’s care. Evgenia and Dracona were surprised when they didn’t hear any commotion from McBride over his misplaced funds. What had happened, they weren’t sure but their hiding place must not have been unusual enough.

After Obadiah left the inn, Wessels stayed outside for a few more minutes before removing the dottle from his pipe. “It appears as if Ginny will become the property of a circus,” he said with an air of defeat to Fredryck as he got up and returned to his room. Knowing that the Death’s Head cabal was not so easily defeated, Fredryck decided to wander the halls of the inn, in case Wessels decided to act that evening. Around 11:30 PM, Wessels emerged from his room, carrying his suitcase.

He was surprised to see Fredryck up at that hour and seemed annoyed that Fredryck stopped him. “Where you going,” Fredryck inquired. “It’s obvious that McBride will have the poor girl circused around the world so I’m just going to leave. I can’t stop it, I can’t sleep and my room is paid so I’m leaving,” Wessels answered.

“But it’s dangerous traveling at night,” Fredryck replied. “You should stay until morning.” “I’m leaving,” Wessels answered sternly. “And what has you up at this hour?” “Sleeplessness,” Fredryck answered. “I find that walking helps to relax me so I walk the halls when I can’t sleep.” Fredryck tried to stall more but Wessels left, anyway.

As soon as Wessels started down the back stairs, Fredryck got Bartley to follow him. A few blocks away, Wessels donned the disguise of a local miner. Procuring a horse and wagon he’d apparently acquired earlier, Wessels returned to the inn and parked it in the back.

Aware of Fredryck patrolling the halls upstairs, Wessels snuck back up to the second floor. Skillfully avoiding Fredryck, Wessels went to McBride’s room, easily picked the lock, went in and quietly closed the door behind him. He snuck up to the snoring McBride and killed him with a vicious blow to the windpipe using a set of brass knuckles.

Fredryck noticed that a toothpick that he’d wedged in the bottom half of McBride’s door was on the floor. Somebody had opened the door without his knowing. He rushed to the door and it was locked but McBride was no longer snoring. He threw his weight at the door.

McBride was still in his bed but he was apparently dead, his throat crushed. A grizzled miner was wrapping the helpless Ginny in a blanket when the door burst open. “You’re not taking the girl,” Fredryck informed as he drew his sword.

Fredryck struck twice at the miner but the miner was wily and dodged both blows. The miner attacked Fredryck, striking him with a brass knuckled fist but missing with his second swing. The sound of the door bursting open got the attention of the others.

Evgenia rushed out of her room, drawing her gun and arrived at the door prepared to shoot. If Fredryck attacked him, that would be good enough for her and she’d fire. Archibald came out of his room, next, and began inspiring words.

Bartley heard the commotion upstairs and moved to beneath the balcony outside McBride’s room, in case Wessels tried to escape that way. Dracona moved up and blasted the miner, setting him afire. Then, Fredryck struck at the burning miner, landing a hefty blow that killed him.

Evgenia holstered her gun and helped to put out the burning miner before he set the inn on fire. The flames revealed that the grizzled miner was actually a disguised Wessels. Of course, Bartley confirmed such when he joined them because he’d watched Wessels put on the disguise. Evgenia noticed the satchel of McBride’s remaining money and the contract that McBride had made with Obadiah Rutledge. Obadiah got quite a large sum for Ginny, no doubt partly due to their bidding for Ginny.

The commotion brought Clara, the innkeeper. She was appalled to see two of her guests dead and she sent somebody to fetch the authorities. There was no sheriff in Glen Falls but Nathan Johnston acted as a deputy for the mining company.

When Johnston arrived, they explained that Wessels had killed McBride and was trying steal away with Ginny. Johnston was not happy about being involved in a murder case but had Clara open Wessels’ room. The room had been hastily cleared out but Bartley informed the deputy of the wagon that Wessles had out back.

As they went to the wagon, they tried to express their concerns about Obadiah beating his daughter. But Johnston just shrugged his shoulders and said, “A man is master of his domain. That’s just the way it is. Now if he had killed her, that’d be different.” With that line of thinking not working, they went about it differently.

In the wagon, Johnston found the Wessels’ luggage, including the note telling Wessels to acquire Ginny and his notes on Ginny. There was also the disguise kit and identification that listed the man as Georg Truxa as well as Eric Wessels. With the translated writing from Ginny amongst his belongings, they convinced Johnston that Wessels was part of a group of crazy people that would not stop trying to get Ginny.

Obadiah had already been paid for Ginny and they convinced Johnston that it would be best if Ginny did not return to the Rutledge household. There were more people like Wessels out there and, although they didn’t claim to be representatives of the circus, they did promise to make sure that the circus was informed of McBride’s demise. But the circus would not be able to protect Ginny from people like Wessels.

So, Archibald convinced the deputy that they could make sure Ginny was safe, cared for, and kept away from the crazies like Wessels. In addition, Fredryck intended that the circus would get all of the money back that McBride had used to purchase Ginny. He was going to add enough to cover the price McBride had paid to Obadiah for Ginny from his own wealth. The circus would not be out a cent and Ginny would be properly taken care of by the Fellowship or at the asylum in England.

After clearing themselves of any wrongdoing and convincing others of what best to do with Ginny, they were permitted to take Ginny, and the contract that Obadiah had signed with McBride, when they left Glen Ferris. They traveled by wagon and horseback past Deepwater and arrived in Charleston on Wednesday, August 12.

They set their meeting with Raven Thorne and guardedly brought Ginny with them to the debriefing. When they turned her over, Raven was quite pleased with their report. They also turned over the coded message and their translation. As they suspected, the Fellowship was more than happy to send her some place for proper care, treatment and observation.

At Thorne’s request, they stayed in Charleston until the Fellowship could send appropriate personnel to take over the care and protection of Ginny. Bartley decided to telegraph Julia that he was in the States and she wired back that she’d meet him in Charleston. He was glad to get in a visit with her before he left the States again.

They got to New York in time to catch the the Germanic, the Britannic’s sister ship, home to England on August 19. On the Germanic they encountered no evil fey but Archibald still took the ship board time to pen another theatrical production. Having wired ahead, Adoline, Fen and Brina were waiting for them at the docks when they arrived in Liverpool on August 27.

In addition, the raven-haired Jewish girl, Deborah Silberstein from St. Louis, had joined the ladies. Deborah had been helping out at the theater since parting ways with the Amazing Anthony four years ago in June of 1888. Deborahʼs main impediment to acting success was her natural shyness. She’d dropped the “Sensuous Sophia” persona but some of the boldness that role had given her was gradually reappearing.

Archibald presumed that Deborah accepted his offer to join him at the theater in the hopes of winning more exposure. After some time, he got the impression that Debbie was hanging around for more than just theatrical production roles. But, as with the Sensuous Sophia, Debbie was not one to initiate advances. She seemed to hope that Archibald would fawn over her before she consented to a date. So far she was disappointed in that. Still, she appeared at the docks to greet them on their return.

Things returned to normal for a while. As the holidays came and went, Debbie was cloaking her advances toward Archibald less and less. The added business that Peter Auguste brought to Yermak Investigations meant that they started having more business discussions together at meals. And, Evgenia was getting the impression that her assistant’s interest was becoming more than simply business.

On Sunday, January 17, 1892, a young lad knocked on the door of Yermak Investigations. The butler, James, was in the kitchen so Peter answered the door and, upon answering, the lad started into his rehearsed speech. “Your Uncle Bloom invites you to his new home on Monday, January 18, tomorrow. Please visit him at 8:00AM for a tour of his nearly completed home. Please invite the entire family.”

The lad then held out a sealed envelope to him with one hand and waited for his tip in the other hand. “One moment, please,” Peter instructed the lad. “Evgenia, I believe it’s for you,” he called. Evgenia and James came into the foyer and Peter instructed the lad to repeat his monologue. Evgenia took the envelope from the lad and Peter tipped him generously.

“I didn’t know you had an Uncle Bloom,” Peter informed. “I’m just glad that Uncle Sam isn’t calling again,” Evgenia quipped to Peter’s still puzzled look. “I’ll contact the others,” James informed as if he knew things that Peter did not. “And fetch Dracona from her usual place of performance,” Evgenia instructed.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 100

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, Sep. 25, 1890, through Monday, August 10, 1891
Evgenia returned to her family investigation business to find her new employee, Peter Auguste, hired to help out while she was away on business. He was the son of one of her father’s friends. He was a few years older than her but they were friends when they were younger. He had just returned from serving England’s military in the Mahdist War. He was more than willing to work and helped bring more of the male business in, too.

Bartley observed that he’d be turning 40 in late August. He wanted to get a birthday bash together because Julia had not yet met Zhang and Fen. He figured it would be a good time for them to meet so he was making preparations for that event.

Archibald’s theater had gotten a reputation. Sarah Bernhardt and La Belle Otero had been encouraging other performers to stop while they were in London and take on a surprise role in one of the theater’s shows. Word had gotten around and attendance was up simply because people didn’t want to miss some big name performer in an impromptu role one evening. Of course, when either lady was in England, they always stopped in to play an evening at Archibald’s theater.

Dracona still had not gotten a visit from Don Marco Marciano, her usual organized crime contact. Probably more relieved than concerned, she continued her street performing with Ovila, the harp player. Ovila had noticed a drop in income when Dracona was gone. So, he offered to increase her share of their take.

Dracona, with her Fellowship related income and income from doing stage performances at Archibald’s theater, thanked him but declined his offer as she did it more for pleasure than pounds. And, taking a hint from Ovila, she even had Archibald’s theater business cards at the performances, to promote her shows there and in case anybody was interested in more formal entertainment.

Brina continued to be Adoline’s steadfast friend at Oxford. At Adoline’s request, Fredryck posed for a new photograph that Adoline promised to keep at her bedside. The last three years in the Grenadier Guards service had helped him to shed his boyish looks for those of a fine young man. As usual, Adoline was unabashedly pleased to see Fredryck whenever she could.

It was quiet on the Fellowship front for almost a year. That gave them almost a full year to focus on their businesses and personal lives. But, on Friday, July24, 1891, Inspector Norrington visited Evgenia’s establishment.

“Arrangements have been made to transport you to Charleston, West Virginia. There you will meet Mr. Raven Thorne in his office on Bream St. at 8:00AM on August 8th. Mr. Thorne will provide further instructions.” Norrington distributed their tickets. They were to leave from Liverpool on the White Star’s latest flagship, Majestic, on Wednesday, July 29.

Before boarding the Majestic on Wednesday morning, Adoline made her usual adieu to Fredryck and Fen her reserved farewell to Bartley, accompanied by Adoline’s friend, Brina, and Fen’s father, Zhang. Peter assured Evgenia that the investigation business was in good hands and Priscilla promised Archibald to make sure the theater ran smoothly.

The stop in Queenstown, Ireland, went efficiently and they were on their way. The captain kept the saloon class passenger informed of their progress and the ship was ahead of schedule. The day before the ship might arrive, the captain announced that they might take the Blue Riband, the prize for the fastest east to west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. They’d beat the Inman Line’s City of Paris record by over an hour.

As they arrived in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, it was clear that they had beat the previous record. They had traveled 2,777 nautical miles (5,143 km) in 5 days, 18 hours and 8 minutes. That meant that they had sped along a t 20.1 knots (37.23 km/h), a new world record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. But, the fanfare at the docks didn’t detain them in their travels.

Catching a train, their record crossing gave them a leisurely trip to Charleston, West Virginia. Arriving, they secured accommodations up to their meeting with Raven Thorne. Inquiring, they learned that Mr. Thorne was a no-nonsense private investigator in his normal life outside of the Fellowship. Of course, they would approach their meeting as potential clients so as to not expose his Fellowship involvement.

At their 8 am meeting, they noticed Thorne’s detached demeanor. But Mr. Thorne wasted no time getting down to business once they arrived at his office and their identities had been confirmed. “The Fellowship has sent you here to investigate the claims of one Ginny Rutledge of Glen Ferris. A girl of just 13 years, she was left catatonic following an accident. But, reports say she can channel the dead when a writing utensil is placed in her hand. The phenomenon is sometimes known as automatic writing.”

“Your mission is to travel to Glen Ferris and ascertain whether young Ginny possesses a legitimate supernatural ability or is just another huckster. Make sure to learn as much relevant information about Miss Rutledge as possible. Observing the girl firsthand should not be a problem, as it is my understanding that Ginny’s parents have turned her into a paying attraction. Once your research is complete, return here with your recommendation as to what steps the Fellowship should take with regard to Miss Rutledge.”

“I have made provisions for you with a nearby stable to provide you with whatever horse or carriage needs you might have to get from here to Glen Ferris. The primary trails will take you through Deepwater. Once you reach Glen Ferris, there should be a hotel that suits your needs. The region is full of proud, hard-drinking, gun-toting folk, so think before doing something stupid.” Thorne glanced at his office clock before handing them the stable information. “That’s all I know so it’s time to go.”

Heading to the stable, they ordered horses and a suitable wagon and by 9 am were on their way. They reached Deepwater by nightfall and spent the evening there to rest the horses. Inquiring in Deepwater about Ginny Rutledge, they learned that she had been heard of there.

“I heard about her. Ain’t she the girl that writes down things dead spirits tell her?” one person said. “I know somebody who went to see her,” another offered. “He said she was floating and things were flying around the room.” They got the impression that the teller of that was embellishing the experience. “I have a cousin in Glen Ferris who knows her,” yet another told. “She says that girl sits like a sack of potatoes while she writes, lookin’ at nothin’ and droolin’ like an idiot.”

As they socialized, they noticed a large, rough-looking man, dressed all in black. His angular face expressed serious concern, yet he radiated an aura of peace and calm. When approached, he introduced himself as Reverend Mr. Black.

After introducing himself, the reverend asked how they were and then mentioned, “The Lord’s work is never done. The mountains are dotted with two kinds of townships: Those with too many sinners and those where the faithful have nowhere to worship. Perhaps you’d be interested in making a contribution that would go towards saving the former and erecting churches for the latter?”

When asked about Ginny Rutledge, he answered, “She has become quite a local sensation in the last few weeks, although I can’t admit to having seen her. No, my path lies in a different direction from hers. I’m not sure I can believe the claims made about her, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.”

Turning in, they left for Glen Ferris in the morning. It wasn’t far, probably three miles as the crow flies. But the topography made the physical journey closer to five miles. Arriving in Glen Ferris, they noted that it was more of a village than a town.

Glen Ferris consisted of houses scattered along and above the Kanawha River. While some of the structures in the river valley were presentable, as one looked higher into the hills and mountains, the houses became the ramshackle and sooty constructions of poor mining families. The nicest building in town was one of the first they encountered, the two-story Glen Ferris Inn.

At that time of day, the inn was practically deserted. But, the middle-aged proprietress Clara Shandy could rent rooms to them for $1 a day, breakfast included. The inn was the only quality place in town that served lunch and dinner, but each was an extra 50 cents.

In a cheery voice, she expressed pride in the history of the building, "You know, the Glen Ferris Inn was the first permanent structure built in the town, back in 1810, when it was a private residence. It was only in 1839 that Aaron Stockton converted into a hotel. Presidents Andrew Jackson and John Tyler have stayed here and the inn hosted generals from both sides during the Civil War. The Glen Ferris Inn was a stagecoach stop and served as a Union quartermaster’s depot during the American Civil War.”

“If you’re interested in unusual things, some say the Inn has the ghost of a Confederate soldier with a long beard, nicknamed The Colonel,” she said with pride. “Don’t worry though, he’s a friendly and playful ghost, known to close doors behind people, make the birdbath water bubbly and frothy, and walk around with audible footsteps. His apparition has been seen from the waist up. Now that coal mining is such a big business in these parts, most of our guests are mining officers touring the camps. What brings you to Glen Ferris?"

They mentioned interest in Ginny Rutledge and Clara started up again. “I swear folks are coming in from all over to see that girl. I had a couple from Albany, New York, just last week, and now a Midwestern gentleman is here to see if the stories are true. I don’t know if Ginny can actually contact spirits, but I sure do appreciate the business.”

When asked about the Midwestern gentleman, she answered, "His name is Garrett McBride. I asked him where he was from, but he said he traveled so much that he didn’t really have a home. He works for a circus, but I can’t remember the name of it.”

“He’s a tall, well-dressed, charming man that you wouldn’t miss if you passed him. Mr. McBride’s been here two days. He left the inn right after breakfast, but I didn’t inquire as to where he was going. Perhaps he’s at Miss Rutledge’s house," she finished with a dreamy look in her eyes. After a moment, Clara returned from her thoughts and was happy to give them general directions to the Rutledge home. She was not aware of any other lodgers being there to visit Ginny, but had assumed the rest of her guests were mining officers.

With Clara’s directions to the Rutledge residence, they made their way up the mountains of Glen Ferris. Going up, the houses became ramshackle plywood affairs, built by the coal companies and leased to miners and their families. At that hour, most able-bodies males above the age of ten were toiling in the mines, so most of the people present were women and little children. Most of those were dressed in dirty clothes and had an unhealthy look about them. Those people eyed them with mistrust but gave them accurate directions to Ginny’s when asked.

Outside the Rutledge home, a young boy and girl played in the mud. Leaning against the side of the house was a sandwich board, on which “Child Medium 25 Cents” had been painted in bold white strokes. They tried to talk to the children that played in the mud. “What can you tell us about your sister, Ginny?” Evgenia inquired.

“She fell out of a tree,” they said as they looked away, an obvious look of fear inadvertently coming to their little faces. “Can you show me the tree?” The two stared at them, the fear still in their eyes. “It’s all right,” Evgenia said, “we’ll talk to your mother,” she assured them, “so go back to playing.”

The children didn’t have to be told that twice. Knocking, the door was opened by a woman holding an infant. “Y’all here to see mah Ginny?” she asked proudly. “Why, yes,” Archibald informed, “we are.”

She nodded at each person as if doing a mental count of them. “Y’all a big group, but we should be able to fit ya.” She opened the door all the way and backed up so they could enter. “Mah name’s Beth. Welcome to mah home.”

The room inside was a cramped space intended to be a combination sitting room, dining room, and kitchen. Dominating the room was a table with several chairs. On the table was a stack of blank paper and a cheap fountain pen. The walls were plastered with hundreds of sheets of paper, all containing script. The room had one other door, which is closed.

Besides Beth, two other people were present. The first was a man in his late twenties or early thirties, who was studying the papers on the walls. He sported a passable suit, spectacles, and wore his short blond hair parted down the middle. The second was a young man who smelled of musk and dirt in his unwashed farmer’s clothes. He sat silently in one of the chairs. “Mah husband should be out with Ginny shortly, so if y’all want to look around or take a seat, go right ahead.”

Evgenia struck up a conversation with the blond-haired man, who introduced himself as Eric Wessels, Professor of Theology at the University of Pittsburgh. He explained that he heard about Miss Rutledge from a colleague. His current area of research was proving the existence of the human soul, and he was interested to know if Ginny truly could channel dead spirits.

Fredryck, Evgenia and Archibald took to looking at the papers on the walls and Beth took note of their interest. “Mah Ginny made those, every single one. Some of ‘em are from payin’ shows, but sometimes I jus’ put a pen in her hand an’ let her do what she wants.” Almost every page, however, was done in distinctly different handwriting, and several were written in languages other than English.

“Ginny did these,” Fredryck expressed in disbelief at Beth’s earlier statement. But, Beth shook her head with a knowing smile. “I know what yer thinkin’, but it’s true. Mah Ginny almost never writes the same way twice, and sometimes she writes stuff nobody ‘round Glen Ferris can read. Geez, mah Ginny couldn’t read or write none before the accident anyhow.”

Inquiring about what accident befell Ginny, Beth answered, “Back in May, she was climbin’ a tree and fell on her head. Since then she’s… well, y’all see…” Something told them that Beth was hiding something.

Many of the papers dealt with issues one might expect the deceased to have: how former possessions should be distributed, where objects could be found, final statements of love and forgiveness, what survivors should do with their lives, et cetera. Several took the form of a conversation where only half of it was documented. There were also several poems and musings, some quite clever, others banal. Drawings were also present, probably from the spirits of young children.

Fredryck found a page that was partially covered by others. It was entirely covered in block letters, contained no spaces, and made no sense. It was easy to come to the conclusion that it was in some kind of code. About that time, Wessels found another one exactly like it on the wall he had been perusing.

Wessels plucked the page from the wall and showed it to everyone and asked if anybody had found any more like it. Fredryck kept silent but noted that the two seemed identical. “I have no idea what it is,” Wessels confessed, “but I do love an intellectual challenge.” There was something about Wessels that Fredryck just didn’t trust. So he struck up a religious conversation with him. Something just wasn’t right with Wessels and, although he couldn’t put his finger on it, he was certain he was hiding something.

Dracona tried to engage the farmer in conversation and found out, through one-word answers, that his name was Elijah and he was there to talk to his dead brother Zeke. But before much more could be accomplished, a rough-looking man in his thirties entered from the back room, carrying a girl in his arms. Beth introduced the black-haired, bearded man as her husband, Obadiah. Unlike the rest of his family, Obadiah was wearing clean, new clothes. “Y’all’re here to see my daughter?” he asked in a polite but gruff tone, smiling as he set Ginny in a long-backed chair.

Ginny was slight for her age, with wispy brown hair. Dead cobalt blue eyes stared blankly above a crooked nose. Her mouth was open, and a long rivulet of drool fell down onto a calico dress stained by food and saliva. She was completely unresponsive to stimuli, and Evgenia easily determined that Ginny was in a catatonic state.

Once Ginny was settled, the baby in Beth’s arms started to wail. “How many times I gotta tell ya? Git that damn kid outta here!” raged Obadiah. Beth quickly exited into the next room, and as Obadiah turned back to his audience, his fury was replaced by the polite smile from before. “If ya don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if ya paid the quarter in advance.” Once the money was collected, he asked everybody to have a seat.

He turned to Elijah. “Now if I understand right, you want us to contact yer dead brother?” When Elijah nodded, Obadiah said, “That’ll be an additional five dollars.” Elijah grudgingly handed over the crumpled notes as if he were parting with a family heirloom. “You got something that belonged to yer brother that we can use to call his spirit to us?” asked Obadiah as he counted the bills to be sure.

Elijah took a small, well-worn object and placed it on the table. “This here is Zeke’s lucky hare’s foot. Shot it hisself.” Obadiah glanced at it, then looked back at Elijah before adding, “You know this only works if yer brother knew how to write, don’t ya?” “Yes, sir. Man from the gov’ment made me an’ Zeke go to school. I didn’t have no way with letters, but Zeke picked it up easy.”

Satisfied, Obadiah smiled as he prepared the ritual. He took a sheet of blank paper from the stack and placed it in front of Ginny. Moving both of her arms upon the table, he put the pen in her right hand and the rabbit’s foot in her left. Ginny seemed to be oblivious of her surroundings as Obadiah finally placed her right hand gently upon the page.

Bartley quietly cast a spell to detect magical effects. Evgenia focused her mind to determine if psychic powers were in use. “Prepare to be amazed,” promised Obadiah, standing behind his daughter. Nothing happened for several moments, and a scowl began to form on Elijah’s face.

“Elijah,” said Obadiah, “did yer brother write with his left hand by any chance?” After a short moment to reflect, he responded, “Yeah, he did. Teacher beat him fer it, said he was usin’ the Devil’s hand.” With that, Obadiah switched the objects in his daughter’s hands.

Two seconds after Ginny’s left hand was placed on the paper, it began writing. Ginny herself was staring at the ground, a blank expression on her face. As the poorly-spelled chicken scratches were produced, Obadiah narrated for the entire table.
“Eli, what you spendin’ hard-earned money for?” Obadiah announced. “How exactly did you die?” Elijah inquired. “I was running after a stag when Argus got underfoot. I tripped and shot myself. What did Gabe say?” Obadiah read.

“About the same,” Elijah answered. “So what’s wrong? I can hear it in yer voice,” Obadiah announced. “Gabe went an’ married Annabelle a month after you died,” Elijah added. “Belle needs someone to take care of her. It could have been you if you told her how you felt,” Obadiah read aloud. “Sorry to bother yer rest. I needed to know the truth,” Elijah said. “Bye brother,” Obadiah concluded.

Once the final sentence was penned, Ginny dropped both the pen and the rabbit’s foot, and her arms slumped off the table. “I guess that’s it then,” said Elijah, who picked up the rabbit’s foot and exited without a word of goodbye. Bartley signaled the others that he did not sense any magical effects or deceptions. But, Evgenia silently indicated that she sensed psionic energies in Ginny. Evgenia was certain that Ginny possessed a supernatural power.

“I hope y’all were dazzled and entertained here today,” said Obadiah with a smile. “Is there anything else we can do?” Eric Wessels immediately asked to purchase the coded paper he’d found on the wall. Obadiah announced that he was willing to part with it, and any other page off the wall, for $2. Wessels immediately paid the $2 and pocketed the page.

Fredryck moved to the wall where he’d spied another copy of the coded page. “I’d like to purchase all of these,” he said as he indicated a group of about a dozen pages which included the coded page. “With my buying that many, how about two for the price of one,” Fredryck suggested.

Obadiah thought a moment and then answered, “Well, the lowest I can go is $1 per page so if you want them for that, that’s what it’ll cost.” Fredryck looked at Bartley, who raised an eyebrow at Obadiah’s suggestion. “You drive a hard bargain, sir,” Fredryck smiled as he handed twelve American dollars to Obadiah and carefully removed twelve pages from the wall.

“How did Ginny get these powers,” Evgenia inquired of Obadiah. Obadiah said that Ginny fell out of a tree, the same story as his wife. Again, they could tell that he was not being forthright.

While they were keeping Obadiah’s attention, Dracona slipped over to the door to the back room and went inside. It was a cramped room with one nice brass bed and three filthy mattresses on the ground. Beth was sitting on the edge of the bed, rocking the baby to pacify it. “You don’t have to take his abuse,” Dracona whispered to Beth. "You don’t know mah Obie. He loves us. He provides fer us and he only hits us when we git out a line,” Beth staunchly defended her husband.

Dracona could tell that Beth wasn’t stupid. She was simply acting as her nature told her was right. She was sufficiently indoctrinated and accepting of the way things were. Sensing a dead end with Bet, Dracona slipped back into the main room where the others were exchanging money for wall papers.

“Now if y’all can excuse us,” explained Obadiah as he looked at a shiny new pocket watch. “We have someone comin’ over fer an appointment. It was a pleasure havin’ yer company and we hope to see y’all come back.” “Can we get another writing done?” Fredryck inquired. Obadiah said that he might be able to schedule one for the following afternoon. His daughter was too tired to do another one today.

Evgenia decided to get psychic impressions from the area. Just in case it really was a tree fall accident, she stood in the doorway so that she could view the outside, as well. As she focused her energy, a vision came to her.

Ginny was standing in the room. While the younger children were crying, a drunken Obadiah was repeatedly punching Ginny in the face and chest. Beth tugged on Obadiah’s arm and asked him to stop, but he threw his wife against the wall and continued to savage his daughter. Evgenia could hear Ginny’s ribs crack as the vision receded.

As they exited the Rutledge home, they saw a man talking to the muddy children in the front yard, who were currently giggling. He was a tall, middle-aged man dressed in a bright blue suit and matching bow tie. A bit portly, his graying hair was heavily pomaded, and he had bushy mutton chop sideburns. Seeing them, he patted the kids on the head before straightening up to introduce himself.

“Good afternoon,” said the man with a warm smile, “Garrett McBride at your service.” Introductions were made and McBride politely asked after their occupations. After confirming that they had just seen Ginny in action, McBride asked if they were entertained, if they would pay to see her again, and how much they would pay to contact one of their own relatives.

When Archibald inquired about the reason for the questions, he flashed a big grin. “I’m a recruiter for the Ringling Brothers’ Circus. I travel extensively looking for unique talent that will enthrall audiences across America, and I think Miss Ginny will do just that. In fact, I have an appointment with Mr. Rutledge right now to discuss that very proposition.” McBride would not get into any details, but he did conclude his conversation before knocking on the door and going inside.

Dracona had Athro invisibly slip back in the house when McBride went in. With McBride in the house, they noticed that Eric Wessels was still there. Fredryck asked why and Wessels explained that he made an appointment to see Mr. Rutledge following Mr. McBride’s appointment. Wessels didn’t object to their staying, also, but they could tell that he was slightly annoyed if they talked to him. He was trying to listen to the conversation inside. It seemed like a good idea and they listened, too.

McBride explained to Obadiah that Ginny had a special talent the whole nation should see. Obadiah shrewdly countered that McBride just wanted to make money from her. McBride acted hurt and said he had no intention of leaving Obadiah empty-handed after giving up his eldest child. Furthermore, once Ginny joined the circus, she would be well cared for. Obadiah asked what kind of offer McBride had in mind for Ginny.

The following silence suggested that something was written down. Obadiah said he would think it over, and when McBride stated he would have to leave the area soon, Obadiah told him to come back in the evening after dinner. With their negotiation apparently completed, McBride exited the house and gave them a knowing look. “Best of luck, and have a pleasant day.”

Evgenia asked McBride if she could walk with him a little as he was leaving. He didn’t mind and she inquired about how Ginny would be treated in the circus. “There’s nothing to worry about there,” McBride answered. “You certainly don’t let your main attraction die on you, so she’d be cared for and fed. And let’s not forget the young miss will be much cleaner and look every bit the pretty belle.”

She inquired about where McBride intended to go if he obtained Ginny. “I will rendezvous with the Ringling Brothers in Philadelphia,” he informed. And she inquired about what would happen to Ginny if she lost her ability. “I’m sure the Ringling Brothers would find a place for her in an institution,” McBride said confidently. “They’re not animals, you know.” Evgenia could tell that McBride was not being deceptive.

It was Wessels’ turn to go in for an appointment. Dracona had Athro stay inside and they listened outside. Wessels started by saying that he believed that Ginny’s powers were genuine and he would like to take her back to the University of Pittsburgh to study them further. Obadiah immediately asked how much Wessels was offering to take his daughter. The professor stammered that he had a couple hundred dollars of his own, and that the department may be able to approve one hundred or so more.

When Obadiah responded that he already had a higher offer, Wessels’ voice grew sharp as he guessed McBride. He asked whether Obadiah really wanted his daughter to be paraded around America as a circus freak or to reside where doctors could possibly improve her condition. Obadiah said that Ginny was never useful when she was healthy and he needed to think about the good of his remaining family. At that point, Wessels excused himself.

As Wessels came out, the invisible Athro flew out to Dracona and informed her of what he’d observed. The note that McBride had given to Obadiah had promised to beat any other offer by at least $1000. With offers being put on the table, Fredryck decided to enter the bidding. Before Obadiah left the doorway from Wessels’ exit, they asked to meet and he admitted them.

Fredryck told Obadiah of the asylum that he is involved with and talked about the best medical care available for Ginny. But Obadiah’s answer showed them that all he cared about was getting the most money for Ginny, and getting it up front. He had a pretty nice offer already, one where he and his kin wouldn’t have to worry for a long time, and it was in cash.

Fredryck and the others didn’t have that kind of cash on them. They would have to return to Charleston to retrieve large sums of money from a bank. They informed Obadiah that they could get it, and more, though.

“Do you know who I am?” Fredryck inquired in frustration. “My father is Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, the Governor General of Canada!” Obadiah didn’t say anything to that information. But, the look on his face told that he had no idea of who Fredryck spoke and possibly even where or what Canada was. Frustrated, but staying polite and pleasant just in case, they parted with Obadiah.

Walking back toward town but still in the hills where the miners live, they noticed a questionable structure that apparently served as a drinking establishment for miners. They thought they’d see if they could get any additional information there.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 99

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, August 22, through Wednesday, September 24, 1890
Awaale and Abasi were making their way down the mountain when they spotted the German that they had left behind, crouched behind a large rock with his pistol in hand. Luckily, they both dodged as the shot went off and the gunshot missed them both. Abasi was upon the German before he could shoot again and mercy was not his intent. Within moments, the German was dead and the two continued down the mountain.

During the eighth hour of climbing, Bartley figured out how to make the climb easier by shuffling along in the screed and shared his finding with the others. But approaching a passage through the top of the mountain, they could hear that they were catching up to the Chaga shaman. Gunshots rang through the air like cannons and they rushed forward to the passage.

The battle was in progress and they were able to hear it for minutes before getting within 100 feet, where they had a clear view of what was going on. The Chaga shaman, Vendra, and her black puma, Veela, were in battle with the group of Germans that were shooting from behind rocks. There were six Germans still alive and two of their men had already fallen.

As they approached, one of the Germans called out in their native tongue, “Tim and Martin are down. Other people approach, Baron. What do we do?” From behind a large rock in the rear a gruff German voice called back, “If they are enemies, kill them Christoph!”

The puma finished mauling one man and Vendra was moving on to the next combatant. Both the shaman and her cat were already injured. Rushing to cover behind a large rock, Evgenia drew her rifle, shot one of the Germans (6) and called for them to surrender.

A voice from the rear shouted, “Surrender means death, Martin!” Evgenia’s request for surrender was met with a flurry of gunfire, mostly aimed at Veela, the cat. It was obvious that the Germans considered the cat the greater threat. Bartley moved up and cast a spell upon his rifle as another German shot twice and split the screed near Vendra.

Vendra attacked a German brute nearest her as his comrades called out to him in German. But it was enough to learn his name was Hans. Archibald moved up as fast as he could. The cat pounced upon another attacker, brutally biting and clawing one of the Germans as two more fired upon it. Fredryck rushed forward, drawing his rifle and shooting cover fire as he got closer. Dracona, too, rushed forward, drawing her flask and matches as she went.

Evgenia moved closer and shot the same man that she had shot before. The Germans continued to ignore the incoming fire and shot the puma, dropping it, but continuing to miss the evasive Vendra. Vendra cried out as Veela dropped to the ground but continued to strike at the brutish Hans with her staff. Archibald moved out of cover and fired, dropping the man that Evgenia had been focused on.

Fredryck dropped his rifle, drew his sword and charged up to the brute attacking Vendra. His swing missed but it gave Hans somebody else to contend with other than Vendra. The Germans fired at the shaman but again missed and Dracona moved up strategically close enough to breathe fire upon Hans. But he dodged her blast.

Evgenia shot but hit the rock one of the Germans was using for cover. The Germans fired but their shots were starting to show a hint of concern as none of them hit their target. Bartley moved up and fired, drawing attention away from Vendra.

The rearmost German, who’d been barking out orders to the others, fired his pistol at the exposed Archibald and hit well in spite of the distance. Vendra seemed to understand that Fredryck was on her side and withdrew from the melee to go to her cat. Archibald returned fire on the leader but struck the rocky cover.

Fredryck swung twice at the brutish German, hitting once with his sword. A German shot at Dracona but missed and she stepped across from Fredryck and blew fire on the brute. Evgenia continued to move up to cover and shot another target. One of the Germans shot Archibald and the other shot at the fire breathing Dracona. The melee brute swung twice at Fredryck but met the resistance of his breastplate. Bartley shot his target.

The farthest two Germans continued to shoot at Archibald and the shaman cast some kind of healing spell on her cat. Archibald moved to cover and shot the man in melee with Fredryck. The cat awoke but quickly ran to the nearest opponent before the shaman could administer to it more.

Fredryck struck the melee adversary twice, dropping him and took a step next to another adversary. The German took a step back, called out in German, “Friedrich will kill you miserable cat,” and shot the cat point blank, dropping it again. Dracona stepped up and blasted the cat killer with fire. Evgenia stepped out from behind cover and shot the cat attacker.

Some of the Germans seemed to start panicking as their shots missed miserably. Bartley shot the cat attacker, too. Vendra charged the cat attacker. Archibald shot the cat shooter and Fredryck stepped up to the cat shooter, striking him twice.

The German Friedrich stepped back and blasted his shotgun at Dracona. But he winged her and Dracona retaliated with a blast of fire that engulfed him, felling him in a blazing inferno. Evgenia shot at the rearmost Germans but missed due to their cover.

The rearmost German shot but missed as he moved back further. Bartley fired upon one of the remaining Germans and they returned fire, hitting Vendra. Vendra retaliated by stepping up to another German and attacking him. Archibald shot the rearmost German female and Fredryck charged the apparent leader, resisting the frightful presence of the man and striking him hard.

One of the remaining Germans fired upon Vendra and she fell by her cat. Dracona moved up and blasted the German woman with fire, enflaming her. Evgenia moved up and shot while the German woman put herself out. Bartley shot and missed while his porter reloaded for him.

With Fredryck in his face, the Baron stepped back and shot Fredryck with his pistol and called out “Friedrich! Fisher!” Archibald shot the German woman (Alice), while Fredryck swung at the leader. Friedrich shot Fredryck to defend his leader. Dracona stepped up and blasted a German man (Friedrich) and woman (Alice) with one breath.

Evgenia called for them to surrender, again, and fired over their leader’s head. Alice shot at Dracona twice, hitting once. Bartley swapped guns with his gun porter and shot Friedrich. The leader shot Fredryck, again, but missed on his second shot. Archibald shot at Alice, dropping her. Fredryck swung at the leader and hit him squarely twice, cutting him down. Fredryck then moved up to Friedrich. Friedrich put himself out and surrendered in German and English. “You will guarantee my safety, yes?” Dracona held her fire to see if they accepted his surrender.

“You are out of your jurisdiction, here,” Friedrich Fisher antagonized. “You’re on property of Germany and you are in the wrong.” “Where is the amulet you stole,” Evgenia inquired with her gun trained on him. Bartley stabilized the fallen cat while Archibald moved to Vendra, drawing the healing salve that her tribe had given them. Suddenly, Fisher spun away from the sword wielder, pulled a pistol and fired. Fisher missed and Fredryck swung at the child killer, striking him twice. Evgenia and Bartley opened fire and killed him.

They took care of healing first, including Vendra and her cat. With Vendra conscious, again, she introduced herself and her cat with the aid of a spell from Fredryck that allowed him to comprehend her language. Vendra found the body of the child killer, Friedrich Fisher. She drew a knife, cut through Fisher’s neck and retrieved the head of the child killer. “Abasi mahitaji,” she informed as she put the head in a crude sack. “Abasi needs,” Fredryck translated.

Searching the bodies they found that each of the Germans had identification and a symbol for the Death’s Head cult. The leader had Vendra’s amulet and Fisher had a token he’d taken from the girl he murdered. They returned the amulet to Vendra and she thanked them for their aid.

Fredryck and Bartley searched the area and found some rusted and useless service rifles and one shattered sporting rifle. The sporting rifle seemed as if it was stomped upon by an elephant but it was impossible to determine where the elephant came from or where it went. As a matter of fact, a number of animal tracks were present on the battlefield, including apes, boars, an elephant, snakes, and rhinoceros. But, it could not be determined where they went or where they came from.

With business completed, Bartley insisted on climbing up to the highest point that they could see, in spite of his splitting headache. He didn’t want to have come all this way and not summit the mountain. His gun porter agreed to go with him and the others waited while Bartley and his porter climbed to the summit of the mountain. It took a half hour from the pass to the highest point and they returned just as dusk was arriving.

It would be a burden to return the bodies of the defeated Death’s Head agents. So, they decided to leave them behind for whatever animals would eat them. Vendra insisted on carrying the head of Fisher with her and suggested that they descend the way they came.

Going downhill was much easier and faster than going uphill. They returned to the base of the mountain to find Awaale and Abasi waiting for them there. Vendra presented Abasi with the proof of the murderer’s death and he thanked them for avenging his daughter. They made their way to the village via the half moon and arrived during the tenth hour.

There was food and water for them and the Chaga were quite pleased with the outcome of the hunt. They could tell that both Vendra and her cat were weakened by the incident. She told them that she could feel the darkness closing in around her and feared for all the people of Africa.

She also feared for the mountain. Without her full powers as protector, the life giving waters of the mountain might someday be gone. She also felt that she was not strong enough to protect the Amulet of Marangu anymore. So, she gave it to them to entrust the Fellowship for safekeeping.

In the morning they left for the seven day walk to Voi with Awaale, the askari and their porters. There were no incidents along the way and both Mabruki and Rashidi greeted them in Voi on August 29, pleased with the outcome. Patterson’s men were waiting for their return and the caravan left the next day for Mombasa where they arrived on Sunday, August 31.

Even Mombasa seemed like saloon class compared to the bush. The next ship to England would arrive on Saturday, September 6, so they had time to rest and recuperate. Namau, Bartley’s gun porter, insisted on having Bartley meet his family. Bartley awarded him with one of the Reichsrevolvers and ammunition that was taken from the dead Germans, and promised to telegram him personally the next time he would be in Africa.

After a relaxing shipboard journey, they arrived back in England on Wednesday, September 24, 1890.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 98

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, August 22, 1890
Healing was the topic of immediate interest. They used all of their mundane means and spent all of their magical means of healing. Fredryck, Evgenia, Bartley and Dracona were still injured but were healed enough to be able to continue the journey. The three porters were totally healed from their hippo injuries and nobody had died so it.

Awaale made sure that when they rested for the evening that the porters helped to care for the injured throughout the night so that they could get proper rest. Still healing they broke camp in the morning and continued the journey. Luckily, there were no more major incidents in the three more days it took to get to the Marangu village at the base of Kilimanjaro.

As they entered the Marangu Village, the natives looked at them with suspicion in their eyes. A short, elderly, heavily built tribesman came forward. It was not at all difficult to see that he was angry about something as he came up to Awaale and demanded something in the native tongue. Awaale seemed caught off guard by the reception as half a dozen young men, armed with spears, fell in behind the angry man.

Fredryck cast a spell to allow him to understand the language. “What is the meaning of this?” the man demanded. “Why have you brought white murderers and thieves into our midst, Awaale?” Fredryck translated the conversation to the others as Awaale futilely tried to explain, “I don’t know what you’re talking about Mangi Yasini.”

“Did they threaten your men in order to find the village,” Yasini implied. They could tell that the entire tribe was on the brink of attacking them. It took the efforts of Archibald, Bartley, Evgenia and Fredryck to convince Yasini, the Mangi or chief, that they were there to help at the request of the Chaga shaman, Vendra, and the Maasai shaman, Kutata.

After some tense minutes, they were able to convince the tribe that they weren’t enemies. Yasini seemed to realize his mistake and invited them to sit with him while he explained what happened. He dismissed the spearmen and as they sat down to talk peacefully, Yasini said that he also had information to give them.

“A dozen white men visited the village,” he told. “Their leader’s name was Maximillian von Schlieffen. At first they were friendly and many of the tribe opened up to them, sharing their food, shelter and knowledge.”

“In return, the whites presented gifts to the Chaga and taught them things to help with their day to day work, like improvements to the way they farmed or preserved food. One of our strongest warriors, Abasi,” Yasini indicated the man in the hut with him, “felt that in order for our tribe to survive we must learn the ways of the whites. He and his daughter, Adimu, spent many hours with the whites.”

“Somehow the whites discovered that our wise woman Vendra was keeper of an amulet of great power. Last night, Maximillian’s associate, Alice Hoffburg, stole the amulet from shaman Vendra’s hut. The thieves were noticed by Abasi’s daughter, Adimu, who had followed Alice because she was especially fond of her. Adimu tried to warn the rest of the village of the theft, but was killed by Friedrich Fisher.”

“Before our warriors could give chase the whites ran into the surrounding jungle. Our warriors were able to track the whites and, in an attack, Michael Becker was killed and many other white men wounded before Maximillian led them up into the sacred lands on Mount Kilima N’jaro. Four of our warriors were killed by the guns of the white men.” “We can track them down and bring them to justice,” Evgenia offered.

“We wanted to follow them and punish them for what they have done, but it is taboo to trespass on the mountain. We have recently discovered that Vendra has gone after the white men alone. Abasi, who has recovered from the initial grief of finding his daughter murdered, is willing to lead you onto the mountain after the whites. He wants revenge on the men who killed his daughter and is willing to risk the curse of the mountain, but not willing to risk dying in vain by facing 11 adversaries alone.”

“Your willingness to go after the murderers is proof that not all white people are evil,” Yasini considered. “Then allow me to offer you this paste.” He held out a small clay jar. “Vendra had given me this to heal wounds if she was out. She said that when applied to a wound it could cure it.”

“Will you need me along?” Awaale inquired. “This wasn’t included in our agreement with Patterson. But, me and one of my askari will accompany you in the hunt if you’ll agree to pay us $75 and a bounty of $10 for every man we kill.” “Three hundred dollars, just you, Awaale, no bounty and you don’t shoot to kill unless we tell you to,” Fredryck countered. “You have a deal,” Awaale answered.

With arrangements made, Abasi led them up Mount Kilima N’jaro after the men who killed his daughter. Abasi confessed that he was afraid of the spirits of the mountain. But, he was more concerned with revenge. And, in order to overtake them, they would need to travel at a fast pace.

Abasi led along a game trail through lush vegetation. The air in the forest was heavy and wet and the dense vegetation blocked sound from traveling very far. Abasi confidently strode along through and they found it difficult to keep up with him. The further along the path they went, the harder it seemed to get a full breath. Soon they were lagging behind him and he waited for them to catch up with a barely concealed look of impatience.

After traveling for about 3 hours, the forest abruptly ended and the dominant vegetation became stunted brush and heather-like shrubs. As he crossed that, Abasi’s step faltered and he visibly squared his shoulders before striding onward. It could only mean that they had entered the sacred area where the curse of the mountain brought all low.

After the first hour traveling in the sacred area, they could tell that it was harder to breathe. The air was thinning as they ascended but Abasi seemed intent on keeping up the pace. After the second hour, they came across the corpse of a German man. Evgenia examined the body and revealed that he was torn apart by some sort of wild beast. The marks seemed to indicate a large cat of some sort.

“Puma,” Abasi informed. “Vendra has a puma named Veela.” Searching the body, they found identification that gave his name as Balthasar Bloedel. Among his possessions was a pin that they recognized depicting a skull over crossed bones. “The Death’s Head cabal,” Evgenia informed as she showed the other the pin.

During the third hour, they were climbing and Fredryck noticed a man hiding himself behind a large rock above. “If you’re thinking of ambushing us, I think you’ll find we’re quite ready for you,” Fredryck informed as he drew his sword and the others drew pistols and rifles. The man dashed perpendicular to their movement but to behind another large outcropping.

They could see that he had a pistol but had not yet fired upon them so they continued their sloped hike. “How about you put your weapon down and we just take you into custody,” Fredryck offered. “You can pass,” the man called with a tremble in his voice.

“How about you throw out your gun and we let you go,” Fredryck offered. “Then I’d have no protection against the wild animals,” the man shouted before he ran to another outcropping even farther away. “If we leave him here he could come up behind us,” Evgenia observed.

“I’d suggest you leave this mountain and go as far away as you can,” Fredryck advised loudly as they continued their climb past his position. They were far enough away that he’d have to have been a pretty good shot with his pistol to hit them. So, they ignored him and continued their pace up the mountain to catch the others.

During the fourth hour, Fredryck and Evgenia noticed a camouflaged pit trap. Examining the trap, they found that it would have caused multiple people to fall into it. But, Bartley was able to disable it and they passed safely to beyond it.

During the fifth hour, it was obvious that Abasi was not well. He constantly squinted as if he had a splitting headache and it seemed as if he was having trouble thinking. Abasi wanted to continue, regardless of how sick he was.

They suggested that he turn back. But, his concern was only in surviving long enough to exact revenge on Friedrich Fisher. Without his daughter to welcome him, surviving long enough to get back home wasn’t even a thought in his mind. After considerable convincing, Abasi agreed to return down the mountain.

But, they had to promise to return with the head of Friedrich Fisher, the man who killed his daughter. Fredryck had no intention of using his family sword for a beheading but did agree that if Fisher was alive, he’d be brought back for the Chaga justice.

Convinced of their sincerity, Abasi began walking back down the mountain. “The other man may see him as prey,” Evgenia pointed out. “Awaale,” Fredryck said, “you’ll get your full pay if you make sure he gets safely down the mountain and back to the Marangu village. “I’ll guarantee his safety,” Awaale smiled and agreed. “See you at the bottom,” he said as he caught up with Abasi.

During the sixth hour, they followed a rocky path and came across the remains of a net trap. Searching they found expended ammunition from a medium revolver. Tracks showed that a battle took place there between three humans and a puma. As Fredryck examined the tracks, they located the corpse of a woman whose body was hidden under some rocks.

Identification on the woman’s body listed her as Carmen Waggoner and her wounds were from a wild animal but she had also been burned. “Was that you, Dracona,” Fredryck jokingly inquired through thin breaths. But, it was Bartley who seemed to be succumbing to the curse of the mountain.

Rubbing his forehead, Bartley informed that he’d gotten a massive headache but he thought he could continue. Fredryck and Evgenia examined him. Medically, there was nothing Evgenia could come up with to help. Fredryck tried the reliquary cross to no avail and they determined that spells within their abilities were probably not adequate to help him, either.

But, Bratley insisted on continuing. As they continued their brisk hike up the mountain, well into the seventh hour, he didn’t seem to worsen. The path zigzagged up the mountain past a cave that Evgenia recalled was probably the cave mentioned by Hans Meyer when he climbed the mountain less than a year prior. They could see that what lie ahead would be the most demanding part of their climb.

The section was very steep with a lot of stone screed, requiring a great physical and mental effort. It was the most demanding section of the entire route. And they saw that above that was snow the rest of the way up to the peak.

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