Clockwork-1888

Clockwork 1888 Session 87

Clockwork 1888 Friday, June 14, 1889
Preparing for their entry, Dracona cast a magical shield upon herself. Fredryck cast magic weapon upon his sword and Archibald inspired them before going through the doors. Archibald burst through the stone doors, first, moving 30 feet into the room. “All right, where’s the statue that we’re here to pick up?” Archibald exclaimed in French, bluffing that they were the expected recipients of the statue.

The room was 75 feet long by 50 feet wide with its 12 foot high ceiling being natural and having crevasses that made for natural ventilation of the smoke in the room coming from the cooking fire. There were cots and a few footlockers on the north end of the room with two French men asleep in two of the cots. A table and chairs with a small fire and a barrel was in the northwest corner. A dozen torches in sconces lit the room.

A crypt occupied the northeast corner. The southwest corner had a well and a Frenchman sat near that. Another Frenchman stood there with a tray as the seated man sipped brandy. The southeast corner had stacks of crates, which appeared to be of considerable weight, reaching near to the ceiling.

An alcove on the west wall had metal rungs that led up from what was most probably the sewer. The statue was on the floor near the east wall, just opposite the metal rung alcove. Two Frenchmen stood next to the statue, one to each side.

Three dark complexion barefoot men knelt before the statue. They were in turbans, loose pants and a robe-like garment over that. Each had a large curved sword. Thuggee, or Thugs, from India.

Dracona moved up to Archibald’s right. The others moved in, readying weapons if there was resistance to their request. Bartley went to the right of Dracona, Fredryck next to the French brandy waiter, and Evgenia to the left of Archibald, behind Fredryck.

Something assaulted Evgenia’s mind, tried to influence her actions. But, she resisted its influence. “I’ve been mentally attacked,” she called out. Bartley was watching but he could not see that anybody had cast a spell.

Archibald inspired his allies as Dracona moved and blew fire upon the waiter and the brandy drinker. The brandy drinker evaded the blast but seemed quite upset at the intrusion as he got up from his chair and complained in French about interrupting his drink. Still, he blew out his drink and took another sip. The French waiter was not so lucky as he caught fire.

Bartley’s armadillo, Tumbleweed, leapt to ground and scurried behind crates while Bartley moved up to the center of the room and cast a spell to detect magic. There were magical auras in the room. Fredryck stepped forward and struck the brandy drinker, hard. The brandy drinker seemed surprised at the impact of Fredryck’s blow.

The three Thugs got up off their knees. Two of the Thugs moved behind the crates, drawing blowguns as they went, while the third stayed to protect the statue. Evgenia decided to fight fire with fire and tried to charm the Thug that remained by the statue. But, the Thug resisted her mental control.

Near the statue, the two Frenchmen moved toward the crate cover and fired their pistols. One stayed at the entrance to the crate wall to stop unwanted incursions. The two sleeping Frenchmen woke up and the burning French waiter put himself out.

Bartley understood why he couldn’t see spells being cast when five magical missiles flew from the statue, around Archibald, and hit Dracona and Fredryck. “The statue,” he said aloud as it apparently didn’t need verbal, somatic or material components to cast spells. Archibald moved up to the lone Thug near the statue and struck him with his sword cane.

Dracona blasted the pair with the brandy, again, and the French waiter succumbed to the fire. But, again, the brandy drinker avoided harm from her fiery breath. Then, he dropped his brandy glass and quickly withdrew from them, exiting down the wire rung ladder into the sewers below.

Tumbleweed dug into the ground behind the crates to conceal itself from the opponents who had arrived there. Bartley moved toward the statue and threw his coat over the three foot tall statue, figuring that most spells required the caster to see their target. Fredryck dashed after the Frenchman that fled down into the sewers. With a heroic effort, he easily bull rushed the Frenchman across the wooden planks spanning the sewer and into the alcove across the way.

The two Thugs behind the crates blew poisoned darts at Evgenia and Bartley while the one by the statue drew his large curved sword and struck Archibald. Evgenia moved up to the crates, drew her pistol and shot one of the Thugs hiding behind.

The Frenchman at the crate opening moved up to the statue and removed Bartley’s coat from it. The two that had been sleeping were awake and shot at Archibald. The Frenchman behind the crates took a shot at Evgenia.

Bartley could tell that the statue had cast something because the magical emanations flared for a moment when it happened. But there were no missile attacks this time and he couldn’t tell what exactly was cast because of the lack of indicators. Archibald said something in French to the Thug, who understood nothing, so he struck the Thug with his sword cane.

“I’m going to help Fredryck,” Dracona informed as she followed Fredryck down into the sewer, after the escaping Frenchman. Dracona blasted the alcove with fire, setting one of the creatures on fire and harming the other. But the Frenchman in the sewer alcove smiled as he avoided her blast, changed into a half-rat, half-man, beast and clawed Fredryck. Then, he bit Fredryck’s arm and a sharp pain ran through Fredryck’s arm and up his side as the vile creature’s saliva mixed with his blood.

In the dim light coming from the room above, Fredryck could see that there were two creatures in the alcove behind the Frenchman. They were four-legged creatures with long antennae. The laughing noise from the rat-man confirmed that the two creatures were probably not a good thing.

Bartley shot the Frenchman by the statue who had removed the coat, mostly for thwarting his plan. The Frenchman went down and Bartley tossed the coat over the statue, again. Fredryck struck the rat-man and stepped aside to let Dracona into the alcove opening.

The Thugs behind the crate blew darts at Evgenia and Bartley, again. The Thug by the statue continued the sword fight with Archibald. Evgenia continued to shoot the Thug behind the crate and the Frenchmen continued to shoot at her, Bartley and Archibald.

Bartley’s coat was flung from the statue by an unseen force and landed atop the nearby crates. Archibald stepped to the statue and pulled it forward to the ground on its face. Dracona shot a magic missile at the rat-man and moved into the alcove opening. The rat-man struck at her but missed.

Bartley decided to start shooting and shot the Thug in combat with Archibald. Fredryck struck the rat-man and the Thugs continued their blowgun and falchion assaults on Evgenia, Bartley and Archibald. Evgenia shot the Thug, again, and the Frenchmen continued shooting. One of the creatures in the alcove swung its antennae at Dracona but missed. It seemed to be going after the metallic flask in her hand.

Evgenia heard a voice in her mind. “A play hahm lay rook! Ruko! Roknuhos! Voysaw! Goo-ro nang!” She could tell that it was probably Hindi, or some other language from around India, but she didn’t know what it meant. Then, suddenly it came through in French, “arrêter votre assaut!” “Stop your assault,” she called out. “Somebody is telepathically telling me to stop the fighting,” she announced.

Archibald paused, ready to strike if the Thug struck at him. Dracona, in the sewer, was out of earshot and filled the alcove with fire, again. The rat-man continued to attack but missed. Bartley, in the room above, readied his weapon, too, just in case.

Fredryck continued to attack the rat-man, calling out that there were two creatures there, as well. The Thugs, as if telepathically commanded, obediently put down their weapons. “Call off your sewer minions,” Evgenia demanded aloud as the Frenchmen in the room also obediently laid down their weapons.

“I cannot command them. They serve another,” the statue mentally informed. “Not with these,” Evgenia called out to Dracona and Fredryck. “Who are you and what do you want,” Evgenia said as she returned her attention to the statue.

“I was a dedicated priest of Shiva,” the statue continued. “I died in the service of Shiva and was rewarded upon death by having my soul put into the statue,” the voice informed her. “I was active for many years until a rival priest of Vishnu decided that I gave too much power to Shiva. That priest gave his life in a ritual to make the statue inert.”

“Why are you here, now?” Evgenia inquired. “I could only be reawakened with a special ritualistic dance, known only to Shiva the Destroyer’s other side, Shiva the Dancer. I awoke in the Guimet museum as the dancer was completing her performance. Her dance must have been close enough to the ritual dance to awaken me.”

“I did not wish to harm others but I must return to my home in India,” the statue informed. “You’ve controlled people, forced them to your will,” Evgenia argued. “I’ve only commanded those that I thought could help me to return to my home,” the statue answered. “I did not want harm to come to them,” it answered. “I will release them if you will help me.”

Meanwhile, the rat-man transformed, once again, this time into a rat. Then, being tiny, he scurried from the alcove and jumped into the sewer water. Dracona and Fredryck took swings at the fleeing rat, but both missed it.

However, the remaining two creatures in the alcove seemed intent on getting their antennae on what metal they could from Dracona and Fredryck. Try as they did, Dracona’s magical protections kept the beasts from attaining their heart’s desire. Thus, the beasts were destroyed without ever sating their metallic desire.

“Do you know what those were,” Dracona inquired. “Well, I did notice the caustic substance on their antennae and figured it not good,” Fredryck answered. “Rust monsters,” Dracona educated.

“Well, my breastplate would be fine because it’s aluminum,” Fredryck answered. “No. They’ll devour any metal you have if they can get at it with their antennae,” Dracona informed, “gold, iron, silver, aluminum, steel … any metal.” “Then it’s good they didn’t hit us, isn’t it?” Fredryck mentioned as they returned up the metal rungs to the others.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 86

Clockwork 1888 Friday, June 14, 1889
Fredryck whispered, “Put that away,” to Bartley. “If the Gendarmes find out that you used a sword, they’ll most likely confiscate it until you leave the country,” he informed. Bartley quickly put the sword back into the cane sheath. But with the confrontation at an end, the murmurs from the crowd had already started.

Evgenia decided to start patching the stab wounds. The German ambassador barely had a nick in his arm and the hole in his uniform could be made nearly invisible by a good seamstress. Fredryck on the other hand had taken a more serious swat from the now apologetic English diplomat.

Archibald, Bartley, and Dracona gathered around as Evgenia patched up Fredryck. Evgenia whispered about what she had observed before the altercation. Bartley was taking a head count and noticed that some of the guests were not present. Then, the chocolatier, Gaston Menier, returned to the audience area via doors to the backstage area.

They whispered to each other about what business the chocolate magnate would have backstage. As Evgenia finished patching up Fredryck, the front door of the greenhouse opened. The one known as Bete Enclairage came back into the party area, closing the door behind him.

Gaston was one that Bartley had detected a magical aura on. This peaked Bartley’s interest in what business, exactly, the chocolatier had backstage. They considered approaching the chocolatier to discuss his backstage business. But, the Gendarmes had arrived and he had some explaining to do.

About 10 minutes after the pistol waving started, twelve Gendarmes led by a Lieutenant arrived in a prisoner carriage. They decided to detain everyone comfortably in the greenhouse until they could figure out what happened. Gendarmes were better trained for certain diplomatic tasks so the Gendarmerie were summoned rather than the civilian police because the incident reported involved ambassadors and occurred at Sarah Bernhardt’s home. It was thought that the Gendarmerie would be more skilled at handling the situation tactfully.

The Gendarmes immediately confiscated the weapons used during the fight, including the two pistols, the two sabers and Bartley’s sword cane. The Lieutenant first went to the home owner, Sarah Bernhardt. She first described her version of exactly what she had seen occur. Then, in a quieter conversation with the Lieutenant, they could tell that she was informing the Lieutenant that she did not invite certain people in the audience that were also involved in the altercation.

The Lieutenant next spoke with Charles Hardinge, Baron Von Schoen and La Belle Otero, the three who were involved when the confrontation began. The Lieutenant was confused by the fact that the two diplomats were admittedly and known to be good friends. To compound it, even the two assailants didn’t seem to know what came over them.

The English diplomat claimed that a verbal offense to the dancer set him off, quite uncharacteristically. But, he could not recall, even remotely, what was said to offend. The dancer confirmed the German ambassador’s view that he had said nothing offensive. But the German admitted to being unexpectedly quick to anger at the suggested offense. Both diplomats were now amicable to each other and neither wished to press charges or carry the event any farther.

The other Gendarmes had gotten reports from other guests, less involved in the incident. There were conflicting reports as to whether Bartley had used the cane, or the sword concealed within, to disarm the English diplomat. But, it was clear that it was only the English diplomat that had, in the end, done the only physical damage.

Finally they came to Fredryck, Bartley, Archibald, Evgenia and Dracona. The Gendarmes were aloofly appreciative that they kept the diplomats from killing each other. They commended Fredryck on wisely not using his rifle or sword. But, they warned all of them that it was a police affair and that they should not have become involved.

Lastly, they came to the issue that Sarah Bernhardt had with their presence. “Madame Bernhardt says that she doesn’t know you nor how you were invited to this event,” the Lieutenant informed. “How did you procure your invitations?” Before they could speak he said, “You are the fiance of Monsieur Clemenceau’s daughter,” he indicated Fredryck.

“Yes,” Fredryck said in harmony with Archibald as Archibald began, “we’re friends of Monsieur Clemenceau’s daughter and her fiance.” Fredryck let Archibald continue. “We’ve been visiting, staying at their home, and your gracious statesman’s daughter procured our invitations. She felt it would be rude to attend without inviting their guests to join her and her father. A consummate gentleman, the statesman is, wouldn’t you say?”

Apparently, that was good enough for the Lieutenant. “Could I get my cane back?” Bartley politely asked. The Lieutenant looked at him. “Do you have an infirmity that you need a cane?” the Lieutenant inquired.

“Yes,” Archibald agreed. “When his gout flares up he can’t walk without it. We’d so be obliged if he could have it back. Exertion like this tends to cause it to flare up.” Bartley leaned on one leg and winced. “It does,” he agreed.

The Lieutenant looked at him. “Well,” he said, “there are conflicting reports as to whether you had used the cane or the sword to disarm the English diplomat. It’s possible what some thought was the sword was the metal tip of the cane. You’ll keep the pointy part inside, I trust?”

“My word as a gentleman,” Bartley answered, wincing again as he leaned on his foot. “I’ll make sure of it,” Archibald promised on Bartley’s behalf. The Lieutenant reluctantly yielded and returned to Bartley his sword cane. “I’ll report that it was the cane,” he informed, “and that the cane was returned to the ‘old’ American because he needed it for walking.”

The Gendarmes finally finished their duties and left. Bartley had decided to sneak backstage and see what he could determine there. As he left through the front door to head to the outside backstage doors, he spotted Tumbleweed, his armadillo familiar. Inside, Evgenia and Archibald noticed that Bete Enclairage left shortly after Bartley. Pausing to not draw suspicions, they soon followed Bete. Fredryck stayed behind to cover for them.

Outside, Bete approached as Bartley picked up his armadillo. “Pardon me, Monsieur,” Bete said as he approached. “You work with Monsieur Stanley,” he stated rather than inquired. “Sir Stanley,” Bartley corrected. “Of course,” Bete accepted before he continued.

Evgenia, Dracona and Archibald joined them. “I know who you work for,” Bete said addressing them all. “I was a member of Illumines before it fell to evil.” Evgenia searched her memories of obscure information. She’d heard of the Illumines. “A small group of us still exist,” Bete continued, “but we are so few and so far strung that we are ineffective at this point. I would like to help you though.”

“After the dance, I took a smoke to the side of the stage and overheard Gaston Menier talking to a couple of stage hands, directing them to move the statue of Shiva to the location on a map he handed them. He spoke in an odd manner as though distracted and the workers responded in a like manner. When he left, I followed the workers and quietly stole the map from the pocket of one of them. Here it is.”

Bete handed them the folded paper. The map showed a route from a remote sewer grate entrance about four miles from the Bernhardt mansion. The map showed the route through the sewers from that entrance via a series of twisting and winding tunnels. That entrance had nothing near it that was noteworthy. The map was just a long route through the tunnels with lots of turns and ending with an “x” to mark the end place.

“I know you may not trust me after what some of our number did a few years ago. I know I likely wouldn’t. To prove to you my honesty, I offer you my life, to take if you so deem.” He held a silver knife out to them and looked to the night sky, baring his throat.

Evgenia had been paying attention to the man as he spoke. She could tell that Bete was not deceiving them and she nodded to Bartley to indicate so. “Thank you, no. That won’t be necessary. We have no reason,” Bartley answered pushing Bete’s hand back.

“I appreciate that,” Bete answered as he returned his face to them. “But, know that I cannot accompany you. I was not part of the betrayal that that cabal committed. I was hunted for a while by evil cabal members but I’ve managed to relocate to Paris and started to reform the good side of the Illuminus cabal. It is much more important for me to continue to try to reclaim the Illumines’ former prominence. ”

He thought a moment more. “However, I have heard that Slayrit minions have been active in Paris recently. Slayrit is a wererat prince and it was he that worked with the turned Illumines members in coordinating strikes against good.” “Oh, I hate rats,” Bartley whispered.

So, Bete left them and returned to the greenhouse to say his adieus and thank the hostess. “We need to make a stop at the hotel,” Bartley insisted. The others agreed. If there was a chance they’d run into were-creatures, they wanted their silvered weapons and ammunition with them. But, they had to get their dates home, first.

When they returned to the greenhouse, the other guests were making their formal adieus and leaving for the evening. The English and German diplomats approached her together, both profusely apologetic for the disturbance they’d caused and gracious for Sarah not having them hauled away by the Gendarmes. Ever the gracious hostess, she thanked them for the added excitement they brought to the evening.

Fredryck agreed that the safety of Adoline, Brina and Fen was a priority. So, they planned how to best get people to where they needed to be – Adoline, Brina and Fen back to the Clemenceau household and them to the Grand hotel – in the least time. Adoline suggested they return home with her father, the statesman Clemenceau.

Suddenly, a man burst through the greenhouse door with a servant quickly behind him. It was Jacques Damala, as he was known on the stage, Sarah’s 34 year old husband. “You been lax in your duty to your husband,” the man slurred in French as he pointed at the hostess, Sarah. “Where’s the money you owe me? I didn’t get any last week.”

“Pardon,” the servant said apologetically in French, “he would not take ‘no’ for an answer and he refused to wait.” “You can go,” Sarah excused the servant in French as she apparently mentally chastised herself for forgetting it. Archibald had heard rumors that Jacques was a morphine addict. He’d heard that Jacques lived in a hotel on the outskirts of Paris and that Sarah actually paid him to leave her alone.

After helping to diffuse one situation that night, Archibald felt bold. “Excuse me,” Archibald said as he approached the hostess’s estranged husband. “I believe that I can help you with this,” he feigned taking the husband’s side as he put an arm around Jacques. Evgenia joined Archibald in attempting to persuade the inebriated man to leave for the moment.

“We’ll make sure you have your money before you leave,” Evgenia joined in. “She didn’t pay me,” Jacques slurred. “I know,” Archibald whispered, “let’s discuss this privately.” Archibald and Evgenia convinced Jacques to go outside with them.

That allowed Sarah to finish seeing off her guests before dealing with her inebriated husband. Leaving the dancer and getting money from her home, Sarah paid the disgruntled actor and the carriage man that brought him, to take him back to his hotel. With the estranged husband gone, Otero sought out Archibald’s arm, again.

Making it obvious to him but hidden from others, she placed a small paper in his coat pocket. “My room number, if I can see you,” she seductively whispered in his ear. “I’d love to see you, again, before my next performance,” she added before returning to the others.

As Sarah returned, she commented on not knowing how she forgot to pay her estranged husband and that it must have been just preparing for the evening’s party. She made sure to get Archibald’s name and promised to pay his theater a visit the next time she was in London. Perhaps they could even collaborate on something. But, she’d recently committed to playing Cleopatra for Victorien Sardou so that would take most of her time in the near future.

The last guests to leave other than the dancer and museum owners, they made their way to the Grand hotel. On the way, they examined the map. They decided that rather than track through the sewer system at night, they could probably enter the sewers closer to the final destination.

“Place D’Enfer,” Evgenia announced with a look of knowing as they determined the above ground location. Bartley didn’t know what it meant, though. “Hell’s Gate,” Archibald translated. “More correctly, Place of Hell,” Evgenia corrected. “It’s an entrance to the Paris catacombs.”

Summoning a carriage, they informed the driver of their destination. He made sure he heard them correctly before taking them to that area of Paris. They passed through the tollgates, which haven’t functioned as tollgates for generations, from the Farmer’s General Wall of 1784. Above the gates was inscribed “Arrete! C’est ici L’Empire de la Mort” or “This is the Empire of Death”. They were near the catacombs of Paris, which opened in 1768, and was formed using part of the Carrieres deParis or the quarries of Paris.

At some point the catacombs connected to abandoned mines. The catacombs were used as an ossuary (underground burial chambers). It became a popular tourist attraction and was open to the public by 1867. Their driver took them to the train station. There they said that they wanted to go to the catacomb entrance. The driver hesitated.

“Do you know where it is?” Archibald inquired. “I know where it is. It is near to here,” the driver told them. The man seemed afraid to take them there. “Can you take us there?” Archibald pushed.

“10 francs,” the driver informed. “I can take you to the catacomb entrance for another 10 francs.” They could tell that fear was the motivation for the driver’s price of so they agreed. Arriving at the catacomb entrance, there was no amount of money they could offer to make him wait for them.

As the carriage left, Fredryck started looking around. There was an obvious trail of two men carrying a very heavy burden, maybe 400 pounds, of some sort. They followed that trail into and through the catacombs. As they made their way, it was Bartley’s armadillo that noticed a thin string across the passageway.

They surmised it was attached to some kind of warning bell. Carefully, Bartley disabled the device and they continued to the end of the passage. About 20 feet after the line, they reached a dead end at a blank wall. The tracks led all the way up to the blank wall.

Searching, Evgenia found the blank stone wall to be a secret set of double doors. Fredryck, Dracona and Archibald stood back as Bartley and Evgenia quietly tried to determine how to unlock the doors from their side. Evgenia thought she almost had it so Bartley inserted one of his tools where she was working and quietly tripped the lock.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 85

Clockwork 1888 Monday, April 22, through Friday, June 14, 1889
Julia Vautrain and Lerwick Shrewsbury met them in New York. The Fellowship had informed them of the team’s pending departure and Julia wanted to spend a little time with her step-father/uncle before he returned to England. They had a few days before their ship, left on April 25. They went over to Manhattan and then Staten Island to see the sights there.

As they walked around, they saw a young woman taking photographs. They asked if she could photograph them. The young woman introduced herself as Alice Austen as she set up her tripod and camera equipment. With them placed as directed, she proceeded to take the photograph. She’d send them prints when she developed it.

They asked what she was photographing. Austen said that her subject was daily life of the people of New York. She documented upper middle-class society on Staten Island and lower-class people living in New York’s Lower East Side. Archibald appreciated the artistic aspect and others the historical value of her work.

They returned to the United Kingdom in saloon class of the SS Celtic, another ship in the White Star line. Archibald spent a lot of the sea journey writing his next theatrical production. Although there was some concern from his shipmates, he was out and about enough to belay their concerns. He really was working on his next production for the theater and wasn’t just under the spell of some fairy creature. The others used the week-long trip to relax after an eventful visit across the pond.

The Celtic arrived at Liverpool on Friday, May 3. Of course, Priscilla was waiting there with Adoline, Brina Adalbjorg, and Fen Chin. As they disembarked, Fredryck heard his name excitedly called out. Nobody was ever more excited to see Fredryck than Adoline. She ran up to Fredryck as he cleared the gangway and threw her arms around him.

Not concerned with formalities, Adoline planted a long kiss upon his lips before whispering how much she missed him. Fen, on the other hand, waited patiently for Bartley to walk from the gangplank to their location before shyly, formally greeting him and the others. To respect her father and herself, she dared not act the unruly schoolgirl like Adoline. But Fen smiled broadly when Bartley gave her the sketch of himself from the Britannic.

Taking carriages to the train station, they made their way to London via train. They chatted about their travels to America until they arrived in London. Resolving to get together soon, Archibald, Evgenia, Dracona and Priscilla boarded the carriage and left with James Stalwart, the Yermak family butler, who met them at the train station.

Fredryck got in the Benz Patent Motowagen with Adoline and Brina, insisting he drive after having not being able to for over three months. Adoline insisted on sitting next to Fredryck. Zhang was at the train station with a carriage to pick up Fen and take Bartley to his residence.

Arriving home, Evgenia found that Priscilla had been able to maintain the appearance that Yermak Investigations was still open for business. As she’d learned in telegrams, the French detective, Remy Louisel, had come in for about 6 weeks to help handle the building case load. They cases were the usual suspecting wife or girlfriend wanting their husband or prospective husband watched and reported on.

Archibald’s theater had made a good run of the last production schedule and was ready for his latest guidance on what shows they would produce next. The play he’d written on his journey still needed some polish but might be ready for the next season. Otherwise, things were in order and the staff had performed well in his absence.

Dracona returned to find her typical public performance spot taken by a young boy that played the harp. The instrument was as tall as the boy but he played with definitive talent. The mime, a block up the road, had apparently joined her routine with a man that performed illusions. She acted as his mute assistant. As Dracona watched the performance, it did have some tricks with fire.

The boy playing the harp seemed to have a natural talent for the instrument. So, Dracona approached him about a possible deal. They could work together, share the spot and time and split the income. “Well, you know that the music can make or break a show,” the young entrepreneur informed.

“I have a fire breathing act,” she informed. “I’ll have to split what I get with you,” he confirmed. “I’ll tell you what,” Dracona said. “I’ll take 20% of the income.” She could tell that the young entrepreneur was surprised by her offer. But, he tried to hide it as he seemed to think.

“Well, the magician down there seems to get a good reaction from the crowd with the little fire things he does.” He seemed to think more. “All right, but if we start drawing more I’ll probably have to increase your share. That would only be fair,” he concluded. “And you only get paid when you perform,” he added.

“And, one more thing,” the boy said. “I have to tell people about the harp shop on High Street.” “Do you have a name,” she inquired. “Ovila,” he stated. “Dracona,” she introduced. “Do you have a surname?” she inquired. He thought a moment. “Do you?” “Good enough,” she smiled as they shook hands on their deal.

Fredryck had plenty to report to his superior, the Duke of Cambridge. By the time he reported in, the Duke had received word that Deputy Sheriff-Coroner Fabian Williams had been recruited into the Fellowship. As Fredryck had been on “official” business in America, he was due for some time off. But, with Fredryck knowing how anxious Adoline was to attend the World Fair in Paris, he opted to take his leave when she’d be on holiday from Oxford. The Duke agreed and Fredryck returned to his usual Grenadier Guard duties.

Oxford’s summer holiday began on May 31 and Adoline was free from her studies. After seeing the Eiffel Tower under construction, she was anxious to go to the World Fair to see the completed structure. They planned their trip to France and Fredryck’s leave. Adoline’s mother invited them all to stay at the Clemenceau residence while they were in France.

With everything back under normal operations, Evgenia and Archibald decided that they could take a couple weeks off, too. Dracona had decided to move her street performance and it proved painless. So, if somebody took her latest spot while she was gone for two weeks, she’d have no problem moving, again.

Bartley inquired about Zhang and Fen going, too. Zhang insisted that somebody had to stay to take care of the shop. But, he allowed Bartley to take Fen. He would go later, when Fen would take care of the shop.

They arrived on June 8 and got settled in. Adoline’s mother spent time catching up with Adoline and the other women. Adoline’s father, the French statesman George Clemenceau, encouraged the men to visit a cabaret with him. After an adequate amount of formal chit chat with their hosting family, they went to the fair for their first day on Monday, June 10.

They spent the entire first day at the Eiffel Tower. The Clemenceau political pull allowed them to visit Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in his tower top suite. They were surprised to see the Prince of Wales and five members of his family there at the same time. At noon they visited the Figaro Printing House on level 2 where they each signed the register. They took their meals in the first floor restaurants.

The Central Dome was like a huge cathedral with fantastic paintings and architecture throughout. The History of Habitation display featured sample homes from a multitude of cultures including Romanesque, medieval, and Renaissance periods. Countries from all over the world had streets devoted to them.

Various villages and streets represented numerous countries from around the world. This included Argentina, an African village, a Canadian Indian village and a Javanese village, to name only a few. The African village alone used about 400 people. Of special interest were the regional costumes of the indigenous peoples who were brought in to participate in the cultural exhibits. And, native dancing was part of the cultural exhibits, too.

A central attraction in the French section was the Imperial Diamond, the largest brilliant in the world. But, especially popular was Cairo Street. Adoline spent some time on Cairo Street watching the scandalous “la danse du ventre” (belly dancing) by the “almees” and listening to the music which, to some, sounded more like noise. That evening, she whispered to Fredryck as they parted ways for the evening, “Once we’re wed, I’ll do “la danse du ventre” privately for you.”

Conspicuously absent were the English and Germans. They surmised that because England and Germany still had monarchs, and the 1889 exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French revolution, those two chose not to participate. Perhaps it was because England and Germany didn’t see the wisdom in celebrating the decapitation of royalty.

In the expansive Gallery of Machines, they each took home a wax drum recording from Thomas Edison’s booth. They also saw the practical electric lights and took turns turning the hand crank to view the moving pictures through the eyepiece at “The Wizard of Menlo Park” area. And they made sure to travel above all the machinery on the electric powered moving platform around the perimeter.

Bartley insisted on seeing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show with Annie Oakley. He also marveled that only the Canadians had an American Indian display. Archibald wouldn’t miss Jules Massenet’s comic opera, Esclarmonde, and the art displays. Adoline noticed the work of Berthe Morisot, the woman impressionist, which was shown at the Fair. There seemed to be a fascination with ‘l’art du nu’ (the art of the nude or ‘naked art’), too, although the French found it less appalling than most.

It was Thursday when they returned from the fair and a sealed envelope was waiting for them at the Clemenceau household. The Clemenceau butler said that it was delivered by a woman who identified herself as Remy Louisel. Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, Evgenia, and Fredryck excused themselves from the company of the others to examine the contents.

Opening the envelope, Fredryck peered at the letter. “Read this for us, Dracona,” he said holding it out to her. “Oh, wait, you can’t,” he chastised. “That’s why you should go to school.” Evgenia snatched the letter from him and scowled at his chastising Dracona.

“Enclosed is an invitation to a private dance performance at famed actress Sarah Bernhardt’s home at 6 pm on Friday, June 14, 1889,” the she read the enclosed letter. “The performer is a relatively unknown novice, Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otero. That is her stage name.”

“Her real name appears to be Agustina Otero Iglesias,” she continued. “She is performing some sort of eastern spiritualist dancing. We are suspect of this woman’s activities as some of the people that have attended her past performances have started to act strangely in their public affairs afterwards.”

“Look into the matter to see if she is doing something supernatural to her audiences and report back to me at the Grand hotel in downtown Paris on Tuesday, June 18. I have booked you rooms at that same hotel for the entire week.” It was signed, “Dr. Bernard Olivert.”

After discussing it, they decided to take Adoline, Brina and Fen to the event. According to Archibald, it wouldn’t be fair to deny them meeting Sarah Bernhardt, “the most famous actress the world has ever known.” When they told Adoline, her father chimed in that he was going to that event, too. So, on Friday they checked into the Grand hotel in Paris and got ready for the formal party at Sarah Bernhardt’s.

When they arrived, they were shown into the enormous greenhouse area out back. There were about 30 guests milling about talking and drinking champagne with more arriving. They had a good hour to talk to the other guests. All of the guests were in formal wear with some, like Fredryck, wearing military uniforms with sabers and side arms.

With their knowledge of various topics and a little listening, they were able to come up with a list of the guests. There was the young literary critic, Rene Boylesve, who was soon to finish law school. The reporter George du Parcq was there as well as Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who ran a daily paper and a French monarchist.

Emile Guimet and his wife, Marthe were there. They opened Musee Guimet in Paris with co-founder Louis-Emile Bertin in 1888. Other guests included Ernst Molier of the French circus, Cirque Molier, Gaston Menier, a chocolate magnate, Maitre Edouard Clunet, a famous lawyer, and Bete Enclairage, a gentleman of 45 years of age who dressed impeccably in the fashion of the day.

Artists included the French Impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his girlfriend, Aline Victorine Charigot, Emilio Sala y Francés, a Spanish painter with art displayed at the fair, Rene Jules Lalique, a French glass artist, and the French opera singer, Emma Calve. Baron Wilhelm Eduard Freiherr Von Schoen, the German ambassador to Russia, was attending as was his friend representing British diplomacy, Charles Hardinge. Baron Etienne van Zuylen and his wife Helene were there. He was a banker who married into the Rothschild family by marrying Helene Rothschild. But then her parents disowned her for marrying a Roman Catholic.

The hostess, Sarah Bernhardt, arrived just before 6 pm. A servant rang a triangle near the front of the seating where she stood. She was dressed in an elegant black gown with long ropes of expensive pearls, a chrysanthemum pinned to her chest and a red hat with tall feathers.

“Thank you all for coming,” she said in French. “I have the pleasure of bringing to you a performance by a lady who I’m sure will captivate Paris. I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform at the Musee Guimet and was most impressed, as I’m sure you will be. Please take your seats and I will present to you, Madam La Belle Otero.”

The guests all filed into the seating and a few minutes later, the lights dimmed. The curtains surrounding the stage area were about to be opened when music started playing from behind the curtains. The music had an Asian flair to it and started softly with a slow tempo featuring flutes, light strings, brass triangles, bells and cymbals. The curtains parted and a woman dressed in brightly colored veils was revealed.

Around her was a realistic recreation of a Hindu jungle temple complete with live vines, archaeological antique pillars, a three foot tall statue of four armed Shiva the Destroyer, and a lit brass candelabrum with a bowl of burning oil below it. To the each side of the woman are two other dancers dressed in black saris. The other dancers were obviously chosen for their facial plainness so as not to compete with La Belle Otero.

Otero was collapsed upon herself on the floor and started moving gently to the music, slowly rising from the floor with the music as a guide. The dance was filled with sensuous movements and the veils twirled with her. Her hypnotizing dance personified the mystic nature of India.

Slowly she discarded veils and eventually revealed a sensuous and curvaceous woman. She was strikingly beautiful and statuesque. Her dance was directed toward the statue. Occasionally the other dancers tried to appeal to Shiva as well, only to be rebuffed by Otero who then intensified her attention on the statue.

While the outfit Otero wore was revealing, it still covered her at that point. The dance continued with a dreamlike quality and they felt a bit tired from watching the movements. Eventually, as she continued to toss away veils, she was nude with the exception of her bejeweled metal brassiere, armbands, headband and a body stocking covering her private area.

Their knowledge of spell craft told them that Otero was not casting a spell. And, while she wasn’t casting a spell, many of the dance movements and hand gestures were certainly very similar to spell casting. Fredryck could tell that the dance movements, music, and hand gestures had been taken from numerous authentic Hindu and other eastern religious dances and rituals, especially the holy asparas from the Hindu scriptures. Those had been cobbled together into a fluid dance that Otero was performing. However, the parts where she slowly discarded her clothes were not part of any credible religious or spell casting ritual.

In spite of all that, Evgenia could sense that something on the stage was going on. She sensed that some kind of charm was being used. So, Bartley secretly cast a spell to detect magical auras.

The spell initially revealed the presence of magic, then the presence of numerous magical auras and that it was overwhelming. Continuing to concentrate, he noticed auras among the attendees. But, when he focused on the stage he could only detect the overwhelming magic as being from the stage in general. Perhaps that was due to the overwhelming and unusual nature of the magic.

So, he made a mental note about who in the audience had a magical aura. The circus man Ernst Molier, the chocolatier Gaston Menier, and the van Zuylen couple seemed affected. Emma Calve, Baron Meyer and the lawyer Clunet were also affected. So were the reporter George du Parcq, the glass artist Lalique and their hostess, The Divine Sarah.

Observing the audience, some of the men in the group had never seen such an arousing dance and some of the women seemed slightly aghast at the boldness of her dance. Yet some of those same women seemed simultaneously envious. Gasps of pleasure escaped from many of the people in the audience and it was clear why Otero might take Paris by storm.

After the dance, there was much applause as the stage curtains were drawn. The hostess invited everyone to stay in the jungle atmosphere for refreshments and La Belle Otero would join them soon. Almost everyone stayed, hoping to talk to the lady for a few moments and to see if her popularity would rub off on them.

The refreshments and light snacks were served by Sumatran servant girls dressed in traditional Indian saris. People milled about in the strange surroundings for a while. Some left when La Belle Otero didn’t show up right away.

About 30 minutes after the performance, La Belle Otero finally showed up wearing an elegant white dress that was quite risque in the bodice region. She was led around by her hostess, The Divine Sarah, and talked to several people before making her way to your group. Sarah Bernhardt introduced them to La Belle Otero and then looked at them expectantly.

They could tell that Sarah didn’t know them to introduce them to Otero. They could tell that she probably wondered who invited them because she should know everyone there. They also sensed that she was too graceful a hostess to cause a scene because of it.

“Sir Fredryck Stanley of England, son of Lord Stanley of Preston, the 16th Earl of Derby, 6th Governor General of Canada,” Fredryck began. Otero took obvious note of him and his family station. “And my fiance Miss Adoline Clemenceau,” he quickly emphasized as he saw Otero’s reaction. Evgenia, Bartley and Dracona introduced themselves to their hostess and Otero. “Archibald Barisol, owner and manager of the Barisol Theatre in London, playwright, consummate actor, servant to the arts, modest devotee of our hostess, The Divine Sarah, and appreciative admirer of our enchanting dancer, at your service,” Archibald eloquently introduced himself.

Evgenia noticed that Otero politely seemed to ignore them as her attention shifted to and focused on Archibald. Otero introduced herself as “Caroline Otero.” She fawned over Archibald, listening to his every word, taking his arm and holding herself close to him. She was extremely well versed with the upper social class and fit in beautifully with conversation taken along that tact.

She talked to Archibald claiming she was born in India. They could tell that was a fabrication but she must have read about the country extensively. She claimed that her mother was a dancer in a temple dedicated to Shiva the dancer. But, again, she most probably studied the dances and temple diagrams extensively.

Otero claimed to be consecrated to Shiva’s service. Even Dracona knew that claim was not to be believed. Then Otero claimed to be distantly related to royalty. Evgenia recalled hearing that Otero had reportedly married an Italian nobleman, Count Guglielmo, when she was 14.

“My dance is a Hindu poem based on Hindu spirituality and has been performed for over two thousand years in Shiva’s name,” Otero explained to Archibald. “The movements represent the sacred texts of Shiva. The temple that The Divine Sarah has recreated with the help of Monsieur Guimet is a fair representation of the temple I danced in.”

“Monsieur Guimet most graciously provided the authentic columns, candelabra, statue, costumes, jewelry and sarongs for the stage and dancers,” Sarah confirmed. “But, the true temple of Shiva is my body,” Otero informed as she pressed her body against Archibald. “So, my dance can be performed anywhere and it is still as spiritual as it would be in an original temple.”

“The dance movements, music, and hand gestures were from numerous authentic Hindu and Asian dances,” Fredryck informed, “that you’ve cobbled together. But I don’t think disrobing was part of any credible religious ritual.” Adoline squeezed Fredryck’s arm slightly, hoping his words would not offend the dancer or their hostess.

Otero seemed to ignore Fredryck’s comments. “I’ve been invited to perform at the garden of a villa in Neuilly in three weeks for a group of women who call themselves Amazons,” she told. Archibald could tell that Otero was very excited about that. “At my premiere at the Musee Guimet last month, I met many interesting people who are here tonight as well.”

Maintaining her grip on Archibald, she ran through the list of those in her prior audience. “Ernst Molier, from Cirque Molier, a very successful circus, Gaston Menier the chocolate magnate, Baron van Zuylen, he’s in banking and his wife Helene, she’s … interesting. Emma Calve the opera singer; Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who runs a daily newspaper and a French monarchist; George du Parcq, a reporter, not very famous, but very nice; Maitre Clunet, a very talented lawyer; Rene Lalique, a glass artist, and of course, our hostess Sarah Bernhardt.”

Eventually, Otero reluctantly excused herself from Archibald’s arm. “It looks like there are many more important people here tonight. I’d best keep mingling, but I’d love to see you again!” “I’d be delighted for your company afterwards,” she said. “I’m staying at the Grand hotel,” she whispered as she left Archibald.

Otero sauntered over to where the two ambassador types were conversing. Archibald rejoined the others to discuss what they’d observed so far. Some of the people from Otero’s prior performance were being influenced in an unusual way.

After a minute or so, Charles Hardinge started yelling at the German ambassador to Russia. “You will apologize this instant,” Hardinge demanded. “How dare you speak so inappropriate to Lady Otero!” he shouted in indignation.

Fredryck and the others quickly made their way over to the two ambassadors. Adoline, Brina and Fen encouraged other guests to go in the opposite direction, intent on taking cover if shooting started. Otero seemed genuinely surprised and took a step back. They could tell that she had no idea what was going on.

The two men traded barbs for barely a moment before they both pulled pistols and pointed them at one another. “Gentlemen, this is not the place for this,” Fredryck said as he moved up next to the two men and tried to diplomatically diffuse the situation. “We can settle this properly outside, away from our hostess and her guests, if you really must do this now.”

It was enough to delay their shooting each other for the moment he needed. He quickly snatched the pistol away from the German and then the Englishman before they could react. In outraged frustration, the German pulled his saber. “You will rue the day you insulted me,” he claimed as he wildly waved the saber at the Englishman.

Archibald tried his best to diplomatically calm the two men. If it were a normal situation, he was sure they’d have ceased their hostilities. But, things were far from usual. The Englishman drew his saber and stabbed the German in the shoulder.

As the stabbing occurred, Emilio Sala y Francés, the Spanish painter, was no longer able to contain his excitement. He gesticulated with his hands and yelled in French, “Maintenant ce est un parti (Now it’s a party)!” Dracona moved in to protect and shield Otero and Bernhardt as Bartley got close enough and readied his sword cane to parry future blows.

Fredryck dropped the pistols behind him and Evgenia quickly kicked them away and into the corner of the greenhouse. Then, he attempted the same feat he’d accomplished with the pistols. Striking German’s grip, he snatched the saber from him. But the Englishman had seen the trick and stabbed Fredryck in the arm as he attempted to snatch the second saber.

The German readied to start fisticuffs against his sword wielding opponent. The Englishman went to stab at the German but Bartley parried the blow with his sword cane and disarmed him. With diplomacy, civility and reason clearly lost on the two crazed diplomats, Archibald roughly bull rushed the German, shoving him away from the Englishman, out of the way of further harm and to the ground.

“The Gendarmes have been summoned,” Sarah informed as one of her servants made haste away from the greenhouse. The German sat up, apparently confused as to why he was on the ground. The Englishman, too, looked disoriented and confused. “Monsieur von Shoen, are you all right?” the Englishman said with utmost concern and civility toward his friend. The two seemed to have little recollection of the prior moments.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 84

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, April 18, through Monday, April 22, 1889
As is usual, most patients attend meals and other events in white bathrobes, unless they have a sporting or other activity that requires other dress. So, Evgenia, Fredryck, Archibald and Bartley arrived at the dining room in their white bathrobes. As with her nurse duties, Dracona wore her nurse’s uniform, with “Pat” printed ID badge pinned on and was in the breakfast area to assist any that needed.

As Archibald and Bartley came into the breakfast room, they heard somebody call out, “Arch! Drew!” It was Daniel McFarlaine and he wanted them to join him at his table. Archibald and Drew (Bartley) brought their friends, Fredryck and Evgenia, over as well. Formal introductions were made.

At the table with Daniel were two men that he introduced as Steven Baker and David Miller. They, too, were interested in seeing the flaking process, for historical purposes, of course. “We’ve been trying to get a look at the process for the cereal they serve. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Baker mentioned.

“Daniel said we could tag along on the tour. I presume that’s acceptable,” Miller inquired. Fredryck and Evgenia sensed that Baker and Miller weren’t being completely honest about their motivation. But they kept their reservations to themselves and decided to keep an eye on the two. “I don’t see a problem with that,” Archibald informed.

Steven Baker was 5’ 9”, 145 lbs, neatly trimmed brown hair with a mustache and goatee (equally well groomed) and hazel eyes. He was a salesman for a company that sells timber, Aurora Timber in northwestern Michigan. David Miller was 6’ 2”, 275 lbs, overweight, blond hair and blue eyes with a cherubic fat face with red splotches from bad circulation. He was currently a granary foreman at Spades Imports in Oregon, Ohio, a Toledo suburb founded 1838.

As the breakfast time was nearing completion, Dr. Kellogg entered and approached nurse Pat (Dracona). “Do you remember Archibald Barisol,” he inquired. “Yes, Doctor,” Dracona answered. “He came the same day that I did.” “As soon as they’ve finished breakfast, discretely fetch Archibald Barisol and his small tour group,” Kellogg instructed. “I’ll be waiting in the hall,” he informed as he left the dining area.

Dutifully, Dracona sought out Archibald and whispered that Dr. Kellogg wanted him and his small group to meet him right after breakfast for the flaking tour. Archibald informed the others at the table and they excitedly finished their breakfasts. As the breakfast time concluded, they made their way out to the hall.

Bartley excused himself for a moment and secretly signaled Archibald that he was going to “change.” Bartley slipped into an unobservable location and cast a quick spell to make him look like somebody else. He’d chosen a man that had come in with them on Sunday. If he recalled correctly, the man was named Thomas Corgis. With everybody in white bath robes, he didn’t need to change clothes.

Then Bartley rejoined the group as Mr. Corgis, signaling to Dracona and Archibald so they knew he was actually Bartley. With the tour group assembled, Dracona escorted them to the hall. Dr. Kellogg got up to greet them and Bartley could tell he was a bit dismayed with the size of the group. As introductions were made, Archibald tried to assure Dr. Kellogg that all would be fine with the group the size it was.

Dr. Kellogg hesitated. “Nurse, Pat,” he addressed Dracona, “I’ll need you to come along, help keep the group together for this tour,” he instructed. “Of course, Doctor,” Dracona answered. “Take down their names as we walk to the facility,” he instructed her.

Fredryck smirked as he spelled his name aloud for Dracona and she struggled to write it on her clipboard pad. But then, with the other people, she seemed to have no problem writing their names on her pad. Still, by the time they arrived at the flaking location, she had the names written down.

Dr. Kellogg unlocked the door and opened it. Dracona stepped up to hold the door open for the group and then let it close behind her when everybody was inside. Dr. Kellogg started his tour speech and was going through the process as he started moving along the line of machines. Dracona and Bartley noticed that Daniel McFarlaine’s friends from breakfast, David Miller and Steven Baker, had almost immediately started lagging behind.

Dracona went up to the closest one, Miller, and asked him to rejoin the group. Then she saw Baker struggling to uncork a vial of strange liquid. “Mr. Baker,” she called quietly to him. That was when she felt a pistol barrel to her side. “Just go back to the group, be quiet and you’ll live,” Miller whispered menacingly as he nudged her with the gun barrel.

But as Baker struggled to uncork the vial over the mixing machine, Bartley had seen him, too. As Baker got the vial uncorked, Bartley charged Baker. Baker took a swing to try and stop him but Bartley succeeded in shoving Baker away from the machine. The vial contents spilled out and the vial broke as it hit the floor.

Dracona dodged Miller’s gunshot as she drew her flask, struck a match and inflamed him. Then Fredryck charged Miller and grappled with the obese man. Evgenia and Archibald rushed Dr. Kellogg and Daniel McFarlaine away from the gunfire to protect them.

Steven struck at Bartley who could see the flash of brass knuckles as he missed dodging the swing. Bartley struck back with his walking stick. Dracona decided to not inflame the two grappling but took advantage of Miller’s predicament and stabbed him with her Institute-issued fountain pen. Miller tried unsuccessfully to escape Fredryck’s grapple but Fredryck was able to get some punches in on him.

Bartley and Baker continued to spar but soon the saboteurs were subdued and defeated. It was just in time for Will Kellogg to arrive with a pair of husky aides. “What’s the meaning of this,” he angrily inquired. “That’s what I’d like to know,” Dr. Kellogg called from beyond the machinery.

Will Kellogg with his two aides and John Kellogg with Archibald, Evgenia and McFarlaine converged on the conflict area. “Sabotage,” Bartley informed as they disarmed David Miller and Steven Baker. “These two were trying to put something into the flaking machinery,” Dracona added as she retrieved another vial from the pinned David Miller’s robe pocket. Miller was grumbling something about the “children of Ceres.”

“They almost succeeded,” Bartley pointed out as he examined the stained floor where the first vial had spilled and broken. “What is that, Mr. Corgis?” Dr. Kellogg inquired of Bartley. “It’s probably a type of poison,” Bartley said as Will bent down to examine the stain, “I wouldn’t touch it.”

“The Children of Ceres will destroy the States by destroying you upper class aristocrats,” Steven Baker hissed. “We targeted the rich and influential that came here. This would discredit the idea of a health camp and help to bring about the demise of the upper class.”

“Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain in particular,” McFarlaine explained. “She was one of the few gods who had regular contact with mankind and was seen as a benevolent and nurturing goddess. Worship of the goddess evolved around the story of the abduction of her daughter, Proserpina, Persephone in Greek mythology, by Pluto, the evil god of the underworld.”

“Before she could be freed, Pluto fed her which linked her to the underworld forever,” Archibald continued. “So, Proserpina must return to the underworld each year. This results in winter for mankind. The Greek equivalent to Ceres is Demeter and her story was much the same.”

“It’s rumored that through the ages,” Evgenia added, “Ceres has tried numerous schemes and plans to remove her daughter’s link to the underworld. I’d guess she’s likely to do anything to sever that link permanently.” “I’m going to need help just keeping track of all these secret organizations,” Fredryck murmured.

Will told one of the husky aides to fetch the police. In the robes of Baker and Miller they found well concealed pockets where their weapons and vials had been stashed. “Well, Lord Stanley, Mr. Corgis, Archibald, Evgenia and Pat … what was your last name, nurse,” Dr. Kellogg inquired. “Birbiglia,” Dracona remembered. “Yes,” Kellogg continued without attempting to pronounce it, “it seems we owe you a debt of gratitude for your fast thinking.”

He paused for a moment as he noticed Miller more carefully. “How did this man get scorched?” “Um, he had a gun to me,” Dracona hesitated before she got an idea. “I think it was grain dust,” she announced, “and his gunshot ignited it.”

The Kellogg brothers looked strangely at her. But, Archibald convinced them that it was plausible for the grain dust to burn. With a sample of the liquid still in the corked vial, Dr. Kellogg was interested in examining the contents in his lab.

“Could we finish the tour, first?” McFarlaine asked. “There isn’t much left to see,” Dr. Kellogg answered. But, Dr. Kellogg finished the tour of the flaking facility. It was against Will’s protests but Will followed along to make sure nothing else went awry and the others agreed to keep watch over the saboteurs.

With the arrival of the police, statements were taken and the two saboteurs were arrested on various charges. The Kellogg brothers insisted that both the patients and the police keep the incident quiet. The police allowed Kellogg to take a sample of the vial before they confiscated it as evidence. An officer was left to accompany them during lab testing.

Mr. Corgis informed Dr. Kellogg that his close friend, Drew McIntyre, would join them in the lab because he had more experience in lab procedures. Exiting, Mr. Corgis found a secluded hall and ended his disguise spell to return to looking like Drew McIntyre (Bartley Vautrain). Bartley found them in the lab.

The liquid was tested in the institute’s state of the art chemical laboratory. It was found to contain several common poisons and several rare poisons. Dracona and Bartley also detected a supernatural component to the mixture. But, they kept that aspect to themselves so as not to alarm those not familiar with such things. The officer was given a copy of the report on the vial contents for the police records.

Afterward, McFarlaine met with Archibald and Drew. He promised to deliver on his end of the bargain. He wanted to know if they wanted the copy in its original French, or, if it would be more useful to them, he could have the letters translated into English for their copy. They decided that the original French would be best, to capture any nuances that might get lost in the translation.

In private discussions, Bartley and Dracona revealed to their Fellowship members that the mixture in the vial, if poured onto the machinery, would have ingrained itself into the metal. It would have continued to taint the machines that create the flakes. So, it would have affected not just the existing batch but all future batches, too, even after the machine had been cleaned.

It was Saturday when Nurse Pat was sent to bring Archibald, Drew, Evgenia, Fredryck and herself to Dr. Kellogg’s office. A befuddled Thomas Corgis was already outside the office when they arrived. Thomas seemed a bit confused but kept his reservations to himself. After all, the only contact he’d had with most of the others was just that they were in the same tour and speech on the first day.

Ushered into the doctor’s office, the door was closed behind them. Dr. Kellogg finished signing some papers and got up from his desk with them. “As a reward for your help and your continued discretion, I offer you a discount on a future visit to the Western Health Reform Institute. And, if so desired, you could use this for our 120 day advanced program.”

Thomas Corgis noticed that everybody else seemed to know what was going on. As Corgis received the special certificate he whispered to Kellogg, “What did I do?” Dr. Kellogg smiled and answered, “Why, nothing, of course.” Kellogg apparently misread Corgis’ question as him keeping the secret of the attempted sabotage.

Thomas and the others thanked Kellogg for his generosity before they were free to go about the rest of their day. The foreigners, Fredryck, Evgenia and Archibald would get a 20% discount, the same afforded American patients. The Americans, Pat Birbiglia (Dracona), Drew McIntyre (Bartley) and Thomas Corgis, were given an additional 20% discount on top of their American citizen discount.

On Sunday, they left Battle Creek and returned to Detroit. They checked in at the Russell House and received a note inviting them to a private breakfast on Monday morning, April 22. At breakfast, Oldfield was pleased that they didn’t kill the saboteurs. He was happy to not have to bail anybody out of jail and that there was enough evidence to convict the pair of zealots.

Oldfield had not heard of the Children of Ceres, before. So, he was quite interested in what they had gleaned from the two members. He planned to distribute the information on this cabal to Fellowship members. And, he had tickets for them, too. Most were headed to New York where they would board a ship for home. Bartley had the choice of joining them or returning to Texas to spend time with his family there.

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 83

Clockwork 1888: Friday, April 12, through Wednesday, April 17, 1889
Boarding the northbound train, they arrived in Detroit, late and got rooms in the Russell House hotel. In the morning, they went to the private room for the meeting with Henry Oldfield. He was already there when they arrived and invited them to join him for breakfast.

Oldfield had information for them. "Last month, letters from Leroy Dubois were sold to a Gome Romero in Montacada, Spain.” “Who’s Gome Romero?” Bartley inquired. “We don’t think he’s important to the investigation. He’s a well known European procuring agent, buying items at auctions and such per the orders of his clients. We had agents in Europe thoroughly check him out and he’s a completely average businessman, who just happened to be the agent used in this case. Actually, the Fellowship has used him and many other such procurers to buy objects of interest throughout the years. We honestly believe that’s a dead end.”

“Is Leroy Dubois the Parisian from the last century?” Evgenia inquired. “Yes,” Oldfield confirmed. “Leroy Dubois was excommunicated and banished from Paris for crimes against nature in the early 1790s. It’s known that he was a practitioner of magic, specifically necromancy. Letters of his have circulated in the art and underground communities for decades.”

“It’s known that Romero sent the letters to someone named McFarlaine in London, Ontario. We know of an art collector from Windsor who is named Daniel McFarlaine. We don’t know if he has any connections to the McFarlaine who received the letters, but he’s the best lead we have. Daniel McFarlaine is currently staying at the Western Health Reform Institute.”

“What’s in the letters?” Dracona asked. "I don’t know the content of the letters. I’ve been told that the Oracles discovered that Dubois had some connection to the Scrolls Pulviae. You retrieved five of the Scrolls Pulviae for us not long ago. They concern a set of magical amulets and a hidden use for them.”

“So, they’re searching for any and all letters from Dubois that they can find. The Oracles are concerned about these amulets because both rival and allied organizations have been seeking them out. So, the Oracles are trying to find any information on the amulets and the scrolls that they can."

“We’ve been able to secure a way for two of you to get into the Institute,” Oldfield revealed. “The rest of you will have to find your own way in. If you wanted to go as a patient, the basic program is $20 per week. The more prominent citizens choose the deluxe program for $50. We’d heard that there always seems room for last minute patients.”

“We’ve established cover for someone to pose as a nurse on loan from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We don’t have anyone inside the Western Health Reform Institute so that’s all we could get. The nurse’s name is Pat Birbiglia.” “I’ll pose as the nurse,” Dracona informed. Oldfield acknowledged that and handed her papers.

“We also have the ability to pay for one of you to go as a patient. The fake patient is an advertising designer from Connecticut named Drew McIntyre. I understand you investigated his death but the owner of Titan Amusements has agreed to vouch for him if needed.” “I’ll be the patient,” Bartley indicated and received papers from Oldfield.

“Once you’re in, we need you to approach McFarlaine, find out if he knows of the letters and if so where they might be. It would be ideal if you could get a copy of them. At this time we don’t even know if the letters will be of any use. Do not do anything to compromise yourself or the Fellowship. At most, a copy is all we need."

“I’ve procured train tickets for you to get to Battle Creek. It’s about 2 hours from Detroit,” Oldfield concluded as he handed them an envelope with train tickets. “On Sunday, at 8am the Institute is expecting the new patients and staff. There are already a dozen new patients and two new staff.”

“The two of you are Drew McIntyre,” he indicated Bartley, “a patient on the basic track, and Pat Birbiglia,” he indicated Dracona, “a new staff nurse.” Finishing his breakfast, he wiped his mouth and mustache with his napkin. “Best of luck to you,” he offered as he stood up. “I have other things to attend so have a pleasant breakfast,” he said as he said his proper adieus and left them.

“I’ll get in on the deluxe program,” Archibald informed. “I could us a little rejuvenation after climbing around in the Virginia caves.” “I’ll see if I can upgrade Drew’s program,” Bartley indicated. “I’ll get in on the deluxe program and you’ll be a nurse,” Fredryck said as he looked inquisitively at Dracona. “A nurse needs to know how to read and write,” he informed.

“I’ll get by,” Dracona answered confidently. “I’d believe you posing as a nurse,” Fredryck said looking at Evgenia. “I know the duties of a nurse,” Evgenia shrugged it off. “I’ll let her go as the nurse and I’ll go for the deluxe program, too.” Fredryck still had his doubts, however.

They took the train to Battle Creek and on Sunday, April 14, gathered at the main building at 8 am. The first day at the Institute involved a tour and they immediately noticed a high ratio of staff to patients. And, most of the patients wore comfortable white robes when they were not engaging in physical activities.

The new patients received a tour of the elaborate grounds, common areas and extensive facilities with in depth descriptions of each area. The tour followed a normal day’s regimen. The morning started with organized calisthenics and breathing exercises. Breakfast involved grains such as porridge, farina, gruel, polenta, grits, etc. Those who paid extra for the expanded meal option could get eggs, meat and fruit as well.

After breakfast there were three rotating classes of nutrition, hygiene and wellness. Lunch involved fish and vegetables sauteed in olive oil. Those who paid extra for the expanded meal option could get more extravagant seafood instead of just fish. The afternoon was filled with exercise regimens including track, obstacle courses and weight lifting.

At 4 pm, a snack of grain flakes was served. Those who paid for the expanded meal option received poultry, in addition. Before dinner, sports were engaged in by the patients with baseball being a particular favorite. But the sports also include fencing, boxing, wrestling, volleyball, etc. Dinner involved nuts, a significant portion of vegetables and yogurt from the creamery.

Liquids were discouraged from being taken with meals. But, patients were encouraged to drink lots of warm water an hour before and after meals and to rest for a good hour without sleeping after meals. The portions for all of the meals was carefully calibrated based on sex, age, build, height and weight, exercise regimen, as well as the current diagnosis of the patient.

Dracona, the new nurse named Pat, got a tour of most of the facility. She was instructed that the patients at the facility would receive the numerous examinations upon arrival, all of which had to then be transcribed into the patients “book.” The book was a detailed interview with the patient describing their ailment and exam details of everything Dracona could imagine including urine and fecal analysis and a psychological exam.

Only the most current and state of the art methods were used in examination and analysis and all laboratories were located on site. “You are responsible for making sure the patients have all the tools needed for them to heal themselves,” the head nurse informed. “After the analysis, the patient will be prescribed a proper diet, good posture, a regular sleep routine, daily exercise, clean air access and regular enemas. In addition, various forms of therapy are also offered such as mechanical and human massages, vibrotherapy, electric therapy and many others.”

Dracona cringed at what she saw offered as “therapy.” She’d seen, and even experienced, some of it in the Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. It caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up. She hoped, perhaps, that these were more humane versions of the equipment.

During their initial training, the staff was shown the proper operation of each piece of diagnostic and exercise equipment, regardless of whether they would be assigned to that area. They would be given even more extensive instructions on the equipment particular to the area they would be assigned.

Before assignments were made, the head nurse gave a small verbal test to the new nurses. Dracona listened intently and tried to reiterate what Athro whispered to her mind, trying to bluff her way through. But, the head nurse saw her uncertainty and made a note of Dracona.

As the tour day was concluding, they were all, patients and nurses, ushered into a great hall where a man spoke to them all. “Thank you all for coming to the Western Health Reform Institute. I’m Dr. John Harvey Kellogg,” he introduced himself. “We hope to help you help yourselves. Here, we apply the physiological or natural method. That is it starts with the cause of the problem and applies natural, physical and physiological treatments in a scientific manner. To wit you will find that we stress a good diet, low on fat and protein but high on nuts, grains and fiber.”

“Vegetarianism would be best, but I know that some of you are not quite ready for that step. Next is the way you move throughout life. We will wean you away from the bad habits that you have collected over the years and replace them with a proper sleeping regimen, clean air and exercise, a proper posture,” he eyed a man slouching in the front row. The gentleman noticed and sat upright.

“The physiological process cures not the disease, but rather the patient in which the disease has manifested. Now, you should have a card with either your room assignments and from there to your first of many visits to a physician assigned to your case or, in the case of the new employees here, your first duty assignment.” Dracona looked at her card. “Fecal lab,” it said. “Crap,” she murmured.

“Please proceed to those areas. If you don’t know the way, there are gentlemen in white coats throughout the halls who will be happy to direct you to the correct area. Remember that the success of your treatment is up to you, we can only provide you with the information and opportunity. It is you who must seize those tools and heal thyself. Good health to you all,” he concluded.

Dr. Kellogg waited in the front, reviewing his notes. He looked like a friendly man so Archibald and Bartley approached him. Making intelligent conversation, they both seemed to impress the doctor enough that he offered “If you need anything, anything at all, just let me know.” Once they are about done talking to Dr. Kellogg, his brother Will happened by and good naturedly joined in the conversation. Bartley and Archibald seemed to garner his favor, as well.

As their first full day at the Institute ended, they turned in for the evening, exhausted. The next day was extremely busy for both the patients and the staff. The myriad of testing and analysis completed filled the entire Monday. It was not until Tuesday, April 16, that they were able to even think about looking for Daniel McFarlaine.

With some free time on their hands, they began casual inquiries to try and locate him. It wasn’t hard for Dracona to find out that the privacy of the patients was of paramount importance to the institution and not really her business who the patients were except as required in the course of her duties. Somebody thought that Daniel McFarlaine was in the tennis league. Somebody else thought that he avoided the sports programs.

Bartley’s inquiries yielded that he should ask Steven Baker, who has a good memory for names and faces. He was told that Steven Baker and David Miller seemed to know a lot of people there and he should ask them. Bartley also learned that Steven and David were both on the deluxe meal plans and he might be able to talk to them after one of the meals.

Meanwhile, Archibald had talked to somebody else. “McFarlaine? He’s on the volleyball team,” the man informed. “He’s got a decent serve, but no return.” When they had a moment, they gathered together in the soft white robes of the patients. Archibald made an inquiry of a passing nurse named Pat. “How can I help you,” Dracona loudly feigned as she gathered with the others.

Quietly they discussed their findings. Dracona acted like she was pointing out where particular activities were occurring. Finally, they decided to try and get into the volleyball league. Fortunately, there were a few teams that needed additional players. So, after proving some level of athletic capability, Bartley and Archibald were put on a volleyball team for the evening matches.

As they played through the matches, they made a point of being good sportsmen, shaking the hand of each opposing team member, and introducing themselves. Knowing that Daniel McFarlaine was an art collector, Bartley and Archibald made sure to have a continuous conversation between matches concerning a variety of art pieces. Their hope was to catch the attention of the art collector.

After a difficult match, which their team won, they made their usual post-match handshake introductions and came across Daniel McFarlaine. He was about 50 years old, very plain looking with an average build, brown hair and brown eyes. He dressed in much the same manner as everyone around him. Once they had located him, they continued their little bantering over art.

After the matches were over, Bartley and Archibald feigned a heated argument over the Venus de Milo. Having already captured Daniel’s attention with their in-game banter, he was drawn to listen to their post-volleyball argument. After a few moments of listening to both side, he interrupted. “I don’t mean to interfere,” Daniel interrupted, “but I believe that Archibald is correct on this point.”

With his attention, they won his friendship and he was happy to speak to them after he had showered, and before dinner. In his room, they maneuvered the conversation to French art and history. Daniel smiled at the mention.

“I’ve been studying French history for nearly ten years now. I find that there are two ways to research history. You can read the history books, the official documents, and the so-called facts. Or, you can read the legends, the private letters, and the so-called rumors. I hired a man to travel to France and seek out old documents. I don’t know if he has found anything for me, but I’m sure he will. I gave him $1,000.00 to spend.”

Expressing an interest in his research, he shared snippets of it with them. But, he danced around it as if he was trying to find out something from them. He was apparently not going to admit to having the letters, just yet.

“What exactly are you after?” McFarlaine inquired. “Books, letters, artwork, etc. Is there a particular author or artist you’re looking for?” McFarlaine wanted to know why they wanted to share in his research, why France, why this particular artist or even work. He wanted to know why they sought him out, of all the people in the world who buy objects of historical or artistic interest.

“Well,” Archibald admitted, “Leroy Dubois is of interest to us. He was a heretical ‘necromancer’ from the 1700s. We think he may be linked to some scrolls that some of our associates have.”

Apparently satisfied with their answers, McFarlaine admitted that he had the letters they were looking for. “I don’t have them in my room. All of my valuable papers are in paid storage with no receipts or notes indicating where they are. Only I know where they are. I hate to disappoint you but I’ll not part with them for any price. They’re a prized new addition to my collection.”

“We’re only interested in their contents,” Archibald informed. McFarlaine thought for a moment before he spoke, “I could arrange for a translated copy to be given to you for research purposes.” They could tell there was to be a catch.

“If you will help me gain access to the area where the grain flakes are made, I’m interested in the process for multiple reasons. From an intellectual standpoint, it is quite interesting. I have already gone to the creamery and observed the entire yogurt making process, which is based on Bulgarian process. Fascinating. This same yogurt recipe was developed separately in Turkey where it’s known as madzoon and also in Egypt where it’s called leben. Fascinating that it was developed in three different places with no sharing of the process ideas, isn’t it! I see parallels between the rate of food innovations in America and the same rate of innovation in some of the European and Middle Eastern countries in the 1700’s. If you get me in to see the flaking process, I will get you a copy of the letters. That seems fair now, hmm?”

They could tell that he was being completely forthcoming about his motives to see the process. He continued to talk about the intellectual details of various food innovations. “We’ll see if we can’t arrange a tour of the flaking process,” Archibald promised as they made their exit.

They initially went to Will Kellogg. He adamantly said that no one was allowed to know the secret of the grain flakes and the flaking process. Try as they did to persuade him, he flatly refused. Striking out there, they approached his brother, John.

His brother John was more proud of the process than he was careful. With proper schmoozing, John offered to let them observe the process. He said that it had to be a small group and that he would be conducting it himself. “You’ll attend, I presume?” “Of course,” Archibald answered. “I wouldn’t miss it,” Bartley chimed in. John promised to let them know in the morning about when the tour would be.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 82

Clockwork 1888: Thursday, April 11, 1889 through Friday, April 12, 1889
Meanwhile, Evgenia decided to quietly examine one of the larger diamonds that the Germans had discovered. Taking it in her hands, she performed a psychic reading upon it. The present owners to come to her mind were the Germans. Concentrating, she focused on the previous owner. A smiling woman’s visage came to Evgenia’s mind.

Focusing more on the woman she started to hear something. It was laughter. The woman’s visage became transparent and it was laughing; not humorous laughter but wicked laughter. Then the wicked laughter turned to evil maniacal screams. Evgenia quickly let go of the diamond, breaking her psychic connection and dropping the diamond back into the sack.

Moving to the others, she whispered to Dracona, “I sense something … wrong about the diamonds. Where was that haunted cave you had heard about?” “Northeast. Do you think this is the haunted cave?” Dracona inquired glancing about. “Maybe,” Evgenia murmured. “If there were a ghost of a woman that died, lost in these caves, she may try to get others lost here, too.”

Evgenia quietly passed the information she’d gleaned to Archibald. With Archibald convincing them, Fredryck, Bartley and the spelunkers prepared to get everybody out of the caves. The Order of the Dragon seemed convinced that taking the Germans in for the diamond theft would be appropriate and it would keep them from interfering with the Order’s searching. So, with the Fellowship people leading the long crawl to the surface, the Germans followed and the Order followed in last place.

Bar was waiting for them and helped as Dracona got to the opening in the ground. As she emerged, gunshots rang out. Bar fell to the ground, more from being in a gunfight without a gun than from being hit. “Ambush!” Dracona called back as she finished climbing out of the hole and took cover by a tree. Bartley’s armadillo crawled out of the hole and charged into the forest.

Fredryck crawled the rest of the way out and moved up to one of the shooters by where the armadillo had gone. Evgenia was next out of the hole and took cover among the trees. Bartley came out next and hit the ground near the hole as he pulled his rifle. Archibald called back for others to stay in the tunnel as he climbed up to the opening.

The ambushers shot again but found it difficult to hit with the tree cover. Bartley and Dracona got hit but not felled and the one stepped back from Fredryck and shot at him. Dracona moved up to one and blasted him with fire, setting him ablaze. Fredryck stepped up to the one near him and struck him. Evgenia shot but the tree cover worked against her as well as the ambushers. Bartley shot from his prone position, hitting one of the ambushers, and Archibald shot, too.

Dracona punched the flaming ambusher near her, downing him. Then she moved to another that she’d spotted, taking a swig as she moved. Fredryck downed his ambusher and then heroically charged another that he’d spotted nearby. Bartley, Archibald and Evgenia fired against their attackers, downing two.

In a short time, there was only one ambusher and they suggested he surrender. They could tell that flight was more on his mind as he shot wildly at the nearest of them. Fredryck slammed the last one with the pommel of his sword and the man crumpled to the ground, unconscious. They tied the man up and Bar got up off the ground. “Ya don’t bring a knife to a gun fight,” he commented.

Then he informed the people in the cave tunnel that the ambush was over and it was safe to continue out. While Bar was helping the others out of the hole, they searched the prisoner and other ambushers. Each of the ambushers had a hidden symbol of the Six-Fingered Hand concealed on them. None of them had a hematite disk.

The Germans were next out of the hole, visually surveying the dead bodies, and finally the Order of the Dragon. The Order’s spelunker was last out as he collected his gear along the way. The Fellowship members patched themselves up after the gunfight and then awoke the unconscious man for interrogation.

Of course, the man confirmed that he was working for “The Hand,” or, the Six-Fingered-Hand. They were sent to retrieve the Jefferson Amulet, at any cost. They’d been assigned to watch the cave entrance and make sure that if anybody exited with the amulet, that they were relieved of it.

After a while, the deputy sheriff-coroner, Fabian Williams, showed up. “I hear there was gunfire about these parts,” he said as he approached the camp of over a dozen people. “What happened here?” the deputy sheriff inquired. “A picnic accident gone horribly wrong,” Fredryck joked.

That was when Fredryck noticed the deputy’s badge. It looked like a standard tin star badge but the background was all black. Focusing a little, he could see that the tin star was actually painted onto a black disk. He decided to say nothing of it at the time.

“They ambushed us,” Bar explained honestly, “shot at us from the trees as they came out a the cave,” he motioned to Dracona. “Is this true,” Williams inquired of others. It was freely confirmed by numerous people. “Well, all right then,” he said as he made note of their wounds.

“You folks took them on, huh?” “Evgenia, Dracona and Archibald confirmed it. “We were coming out of the cave with these folks after finding these three,” Archibald indicated the Germans, “stealing property from the caves.” “Oh, they were, were they,” the deputy sheriff noted. “What were you three trying to take from the caves?”

“Diamonds,” Leon admitted, “in the sack there.” Evgenia brought the sack to the deputy sheriff but it seemed too light. Fabian reached into the sack and withdrew a hematite rock. “Were you stealing this too?” he inquired with a smirk of knowing. “Ya,” Leon admitted. The deputy sheriff turned the sack over and shook it out. It was empty.

“Did anybody else take the diamonds that these men supposedly stole from the caves?” Nobody knew what had happened to the diamonds. The deputy sheriff smiled with a hint of knowing. “Well, all right then,” he said.

“If you kind folks would accompany me to the sheriff office, I’ll need to take statements and fill out some paperwork. Bar, if you can stay and watch these bodies, I’ll send some folks to help you pick them up.” Bar agreed and the rest of them hiked back to the sheriff’s office.

On the way back, Archibald espoused the fact that with so many people in the area looking for the amulet, it must not really exist. And, if it does exist, it must not be here. Fredryck encouraged that thinking. They also told the deputy sheriff about the snake man in the saltpeter cave. As they traveled, Bartley got the feeling that he recognized the deputy sheriff from somewhere. But, he couldn’t place it at the time.

When all was done, the Germans were reprimanded but released, without the hematite stone, because their theft was of little real value. The ambusher was jailed to await a proper trial and he identified the bodies of his co-conspirators so that their next of kin could be contacted. The people from the Order of the Dragon were sent on their way after their statements were signed.

When they were alone with the deputy sheriff-coroner, they opened discussions. “Are you aware that the Shepherds were destroyed?” Fredryck informed. “The leaders were killed in a battle against some great evil.” “That might explain why I haven’t heard anything for years,” the deputy contemplated.

“The Fellowship could use people like you,” Fredryck informed. “It’s my intent to speak with our Fellowship contact on your behalf.” “Well, all right then,” Fabian said with the country bumpkin grin. Fredryck leaned in and quietly said to him, “your badge is the amulet, isn’t it?”

“You’re mighty observant people,” the deputy said. “I trust that’ll be our little secret?” They all agreed to keep the secret. “Well, all right then,” he said again. Bartley had been trying to place where he’d seen the deputy before and it finally came to him. “You said you’ve been here for five years,” Bartley started. “What did you do before that?”

“Ah, I moved around a bit,” Williams answered with a grin, “nothing much to tell.” “The initials on the Bridge,” Bartley said, “G. W.” The deputy looked at him, “that was George Washington, our first president.”

“There was a gunfighter in the southwest named Glenn Wilson,” Bartley recalled. “Nobody’s seen him in years. I think you look an awful lot like him,” Bartley indicated the deputy sheriff-coroner.

“Mighty smart,” Fabian Williams said as the country bumpkin facade faded and he looked Bartley square in the eyes. “I’m Fabian Williams, country deputy sheriff-coroner for this fine American tourist attraction,” he said sternly. “I heard that the gunfighter, Glenn Wilson, died several years ago. He caught a bullet and was buried in an unmarked grave.”

“Didn’t you hear that?” the deputy sheriff asked. “I believe I did here that,” Bartley said as he noticed that the deputy sheriff’s hand had moved to his holster. “Well, all right then,” Fabian said with a grin as the country bumpkin deputy sheriff facade reemerged and he folded his arms.

“And those initials on the Bridge, why they were carved there by this here country’s first president, George Washington, don’t ya know.” “That’s what we heard, too,” Archibald and the others agreed. “Now, you folks have your kin contact me and I’m sure we’ll get along just fine,” Fabian smiled.

“Ya’ll keep that private stuff private and we’ll see you again some time. I do hope you enjoy your stay at the Natural Bridge, now,” he said. Saying proper adieus, they decided to return to Roanoke for the evening so that they could make their meeting with the Fisherman the next day. With any luck, the deputy sheriff, and the amulet, would become part of the Fellowship.

The Fisherman was true to his word and was fishing at Loch Haven, at noon, on Friday, April 12. He accepted their report and, inquired about the amulet. They reported that the Deputy Sheriff-Coroner of the Natural Bridge, Fabian Williams, had the amulet and that he was a member of the Shepherds. They also mentioned that in their conversations, he indicated interest in becoming associated with the Fellowship.

The Fisherman promised that a follow up team would be called to officially recruit Fabian. After the fall of the Shepherds, many of them became founders of the Fellowship. So, by sending some long time veterans, they may know the old secret signals to establish a better connection.

He congratulated them and then handed them an envelope. “I hope you don’t find this too forward but I’ve booked your passage on the northbound train. Mr. Oldfield wishes to meet with you in Detroit, tomorrow morning at 8 am. It’s my understanding that you know the hotel.”

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Clockwork 1888 Session 81

Clockwork 1888: Thursday, April 11, 1889
Julian Varga was about 5’ 10", maybe 235 pounds, about 30 years old with stern blue eyes and blonde hair. He informed that he speaks German and English. “As the leader of this group of Order of the Dragon agents, the success or failure of the mission falls on my shoulders. My master, Snisky, wants control of the amulets. I think that others have been too aggressive and subtlety will work better. But, let me introduce the team.”

“Mark Simon,” he indicated a man with blue eyes and brown hair, “is my second in command. He’s an expert in American history and speaks German and English. He convinced me to focus the search by the Lost River.”

Indicating a 5’ 9", 200 pound man with short curly blonde hair and brown eyes, Julian continued. “Noah Gruber is a devoted member of the Order of the Dragon. He speaks German and English.”

“David Muller,” a 5’ 2", 155 pound, probably 25 year old man introduced himself with a strong Austrian accent. “I speak German, Hungarian, Croatian and English. I was,” he hesitated as if looking for the right word, “recruited,” he said as he looked at Julian, “as an expert spelunker.” He shook each of their hands.

A beautiful young woman with straight blonde hair and blue eyes, 5’ 4" tall and 105 pounds, stepped up and introduced herself as Anna Kovacs. “I speak English and French and I’m studying speleology at Yale,” she mentioned. “David and I organized the missions along the Lost River to look for the Amulet.” Then she inquired, “Have you ever heard of Edouard-Alfred Martel? He’s a French cave explorer and he’s writing a book about caves. I think this expedition could be similar to Martel’s exploration of the underground river of the Abime deBramabiau in France in 1888.”

With proper introductions out of the way, they proceeded into the cave. The hole was in the ground, not in a cliff wall. It was also in the middle of the dense overgrown forest. The tunnel was rough and hard stone and David led the way into the hole.

As others traversed the opening into the tunnel, Dracona nudged Evgenia. “I remembered something I’d heard in Lexington,” she whispered. “Some years ago, miners explored the local caverns to remove the semi-precious stones for profit. The miners abruptly abandoned the gems in the walls to escape the tortured screams of a woman lost in the caverns. They never revisited and locals believed it was a cavern north east of the Bridge to be haunted. I wonder if this could be the cavern.”

They had to crawl on their bellies through a narrow 250 foot tunnel sloping downward. It was not for the claustrophobic, to be certain. But after about thirty minutes, they all stood where the cave system opened so that they could walk upright, although still at a steep slope.

In the caverns, they traveled a short distance before they heard a voice. It seemed to be grumbling to itself in a foreign language. “German,” Fredryck whispered to the others as he recognized the language. “He’s upset that they have abandoned their mission to mine diamonds,” he murmured the man’s grumblings.

Dracona sent Athro invisibly forward to scout. Returning, Athro reported that there was a lone man, short, thin and probably about 45 years old, in a large cavern room. He was at a camp that seemed be for three people. A few of them decided to sneak forward to take a look. But, a slip on the slope sent a flurry of tiny rocks tumbling down like a rainfall.

The German grumbling stopped. They heard the sound of movement and then the unmistakable sound of a rifle being cocked. “I heard you. Come out where I can see you,” the German called in a strong accent. Bartley joined the group from the rear. He had been trailing them since they went into the tunnel and had taken a stable position up slope from the Order of the Dragon team.

Dracona decided to move forward into the cavern room. Coming into view she moved to the right of the opening and tried to convince him that she was alone. But he didn’t believe her. So, Fredryck moved out into the cavern room, to the left of the opening. As he took his position, the German blew a whistle that echoed throughout the cave system.

“My friends will be here soon,” he said. They tried to convince him that Dracona had fallen in and that it was only those two. When another noise came from the tunnel, he raised his gun, pointed it at the tunnel. “You’re lying,” he said as he called for others to come out from the tunnel.

But Dracona and Fredryck were upon him before he could react. Dracona blasted him with fiery breath and then Fredryck knocked the man unconscious with the pommel of his sword. By the time the man regained consciousness, there were 10 strangers in camp and he was tied up and gagged.

Questioning him, they learned that he was David Meyer. He spoke English but his German and Dutch were much better, and preferred. With some coaxing from Dracona, he told them, “I am a follower of the Death’s Head Qabal. I go where I am told and do what I am told. We were sent to retrieve the Amulet of Jefferson. I don’t ask why. But when we could not locate the amulet, our leader diverted the mission to digging for diamonds. That was not what we were told to do. But, I follow my mission leader, Leon.”

Searching sacks in the camp, there was enough food to last until the end of the week and small digging tools but no real mining tools. It appeared that the Germans didn’t actually know what they were doing. There was a small hematite rock, less than one inch in diameter. In one of the sacks there were indeed diamonds.

Bartley quietly noted that he really didn’t believe that these caves were the type where one would normally find diamonds. But, the bags had diamonds in them, nonetheless. “Perhaps the diamonds were planted here to fool the foolhardy,” he whispered to his comrades.

But about that time, the other Germans arrived from a different tunnel. Seeing themselves outnumbered, they immediately went to negotiations. “Hello, fellow cave explorers,” the 5’ 2" tall, 115 pound man with short dark hair said with t thick German accent. “I’m Leon Miller, the leader of this expedition.”

He eyed each of the 10 people in his camp and then seemed to be addressing those not of the Order. “We came to Virginia as tourists. Timothy Weber, here,” he indicated the 5’ 6" tall and 130 pound man that arrived with him, “found a treasure map. It led us to these caverns. We brought in enough supplies to live down here for another week. Then we’ll return to Germany with the treasure we’ve collected.”

They noticed that the Germans seemed very suspicious of the people from the Order of the Dragon. “These diamonds are not your property,” Bartley pointed out. “They’re the property of the people who own this land.” “We’ve arranged to give part of the diamonds to the owners,” Leon lied. “Oh, please,” Bartley chided, “then show us the written agreement.”

“Look,” Leon whispered. “If I could speak with you privately,” he whispered as he looked at the Order of the Dragon people, “I’m sure we can come to some arrangement. You see, we are members of a secret society working for the Death’s Head in Germany. Our primary mission was to find the hidden Jefferson Amulet. When we could not find it, we decided not to return home empty handed.”

He eyed the Order of the Dragon members cautiously as he whispered. “We found out about the diamonds in these caverns and knew that other agents were sent to other locations to collect diamonds. We hope that taking diamonds back to our superiors will make up for our failure to locate the Amulet.”

He nodded at the Order of the Dragon people, “One of our enemies, the Order of the Dragon, is searching for a set of Amulets. We do not yet know what they want them for. But, our leaders have determined that if the Order wants them, then we don’t want the Order to have them.”

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Clockwork 1888 Session 80

Clockwork 1888: Thursday, April 11, 1889
Bar was leading the way through the trail from his place to Cedar Creek, chatting as they went about the plant and animal life of the area. He was apparently so absorbed in the information that he didn’t notice an observer. It was Evgenia, Fredryck and Dracona that noticed the black bear. And then it charged at them to attack.

Dracona took a swig of her fire oil and struck a match that she cupped in her hand to shield it from wind. Evgenia had the presence of mind to be hiking through the trail with her Winchester at rest in her arms. As the bear charged, she fired and hit it squarely. Fredryck charged, drawing his sword and struck the bear hard.

Dracona advanced and let loose her fire upon the bear. Bar grunted a battle cry, drew his bowie knife as he charged, and drove it deep into the bear. The bear toppled and Bar went down with it. Getting up, Bar commented, “most folk’d run from a bear.” “I’ll mark this area so we can come get it on our way back. You ain’t typical tourists, are ya,” he commented with a respectful smile of admiration.

Bartley heard something. It was the mewling of young bears. Bartley checked the unconscious bear and it was female. “Can we track the bear back to its den?” he inquired. “I can track it,” Bar answered.

Following the tracks back they came to the den. A pair of newborn cubs was there. “If their mother dies, they won’t survive,” Bartley informed. “Could their mother be revived,” Dracona inquired. “She was out cold when we left her,” Bar informed. “We might be able to make sure she survives, then,” Evgenia suggested.

So, back to the downed bear they went. Indeed, the bear had stabilized while they were checking on her cubs but it was not yet conscious. Evgenia administered first aid to its wounds and wondered if they should revive it completely. “That’d put us right back into fighting it,” Bartley surmised. “She’ll wake up in an hour or two and get back to her cubs,” Evgenia guessed. “And we don’t want to be anywhere near her when she wakes up,” Dracona agreed.

Continuing on, Bar suggested a side trip. They were there to see things, after all. A bit off the main trail, he took them to a heavily wooded area. There was a very large tree. “Rumor is this tree’s hundreds of years old,” Bar mentioned. Evgenia placed her hands upon the tree and focused her mental energies on it.

“When it was young, there were no men,” she said of the images she got. “It was 800 years old before it met its first human. It has watched the birth and death of everything in this valley, save the rocks and the water. The creek and the Bridge were both here before it was.”

“The first humans it knew called themselves the Monacans. They claimed that their god gave them the Bridge as a gift. But, it knows it had been here before them. Other humans calling themselves French, English, and American have since visited the valley. None of them have stayed.”

Then she winced. “Three nights ago there was a corruption in the valley. It started north of here, but did not reach close enough for the tree to determine what it was.” “That Mexican,” Bar said as it coincided with his confrontation with the snake man. Evgenia removed her hands from the tree. “I think so,” she confirmed.

Returning to Cedar Creek, they followed it until they came to the Bridge. At the bridge were the three people that were in the tavern last night. They greeted them and seemed to be interested in the rock of the bridge on the other side of the creek. The woman walked over to Bartley. “It is so serene here,” she said with a warm smile as she looked at the rock across the creek. “Like being in Church, it makes me feel closer to God.”

“Bartley Vautrain, miss,” Bartley properly introduced. “Sophia Kristoff,” she responded. “Where you folks from,” he inquired gently. “We’re visiting from Greece,” she informed. “My first time visiting this place, too,” Bartley answered to give them common grounds for conversation.

“We’re tourists from Greece. Chris Dimitriadis,” she said pointing to the bald man, “is a politician, in America to meet with people in Washington DC. He’s the Chief Administrative Officer of Lavipharm Corporation, a company in Peania, Greece. He’s on a business trip to New York and I’m his personal secretary.

Stephen Michadorakis,” she said pointing to the man in thick glasses, “is an Executive Purchaser with Lavipharm. We came to America to meet with different American shipping companies so that we can export to America. Mr. Dimitriadis hopes to make Lavipharm international within the next several years.”

“While in America, Mr. Dimitriadis scheduled two weeks to tour the country. He planned to see the Natural Bridge last weekend and to take a train to see the Grand Canyon next weekend. When he discovered that the trains in America weren’t capable of taking them to the Grand Canyon and back in a weekend, he decided to spend the additional time here.”

“The stories and legends of this place reach all through Europe. Seeing it in person does not disappoint,” she offered. “Have you heard the tale of the Amulet of Jefferson? Supposedly it was buried somewhere on the property. I wonder if the inscription on the southeast wall is a clue.”

Bartley wanted to get a rubbing of the inscription so he climbed up the wall with a little help from Evgenia and Dracona. Returning with the rubbing, it clearly spelled out “GW” but there wasn’t any real clue about an amulet other than that. “There was a rumor that this was carved in the rock by the first president of the country,” Sophia mentioned. “Do you think that’s the clue?” “I’d heard that rumor,” Bartley answered. “He’s been dead for 90 years so it’d be difficult to verify it for sure.”

“You ready to move on?” Bar inquired. “The saltpeter cave is about 500 yards north of here, if you want to see that. It’s on the east side of Cedar Creek.” Moving to the saltpeter cave they could see a man sitting hunched by the cave wall in the darkness. The man’s clothing seemed to move about of its own accord.

As they started to enter the cave he shouted, “Ausentarse!” Pausing, Evgenia whispered, “that’ Spanish for ‘stay away’.” Still they continued to move in with Fredryck drawing his sword. “Stay away,” he shouted in English.

Moving closer, their light revealed snakes of many species crawling across the man’s skin. Black snakes twisted between his fingers and a rattlesnake curled around his bicep, hiding its face in his armpit while its tail shook at them. “What do you want?” he demanded.

“The Mexican,” Bar informed as he recognized the man. It was the Servant of the Serpent, Hugo Martinez, the man that Bar Tolley had shot a few days ago. Hugo turned his head to look directly at them. He was covered in snakes and the upper left quarter of his head, just above his eye and ear, was missing. Writhing snakes filled in the open space in his head where his skull had been fragmented.

Fredryck lunged at the snake man and struck. The battle was short and soon the snake man lay dying. “I felt a great need here in Virginia. I was compelled to come here,” he said in broken English. “The Great Serpent revealed itself to me and commanded me to stand beneath the Bridge and perform its ritual."

“The ritual was to merge both me and my guide with the native snakes to allow the Great Serpent to use us to its divine design. But it was interrupted, incomplete. The Great Serpent was unable to reveal to me my divine mission.”

The Great Eagle is the good side of a duality myth in several southwestern Native American tribes, most notably The Cherokee. “I never expected to see him alive, again,” Bar mentioned. “If ya’ll are ready to move on,” he suggested.

Bar led them toward the Lost River. As they approached, they heard voices. Bartley snuck up into the wooded areas and observed from there while he sent his armadillo ahead. Dracona sent Athro invisibly forward, too. There were five people near the lost river preparing to enter the cave mouth from which it flowed. They had caving gear and seemed well prepared for the task.

Evgenia and the others decided to approach while Bartley stayed hidden amongst the trees. Bar led the way, purposefully looking like he was guiding tourists. “This is the beginning of the Lost River he announced as they got within eyesight of the strangers. His voice got the attention of the strangers. “Well, hello,” he said as he feigned noticing them for the first time.

The strangers seemed friendly enough. They explained that they were geologists and cartographers who were working for Yale. “We are working for Professor Varga,” the apparent leader informed. “He’s a history teacher at Yale. The Professor has a theory that the reason Thomas Jefferson bought this property exactly two years before the Declaration of Independence was drafted was so that he would have a place to hide certain treasures. We’re looking for any sign of these treasures.”

“I’m the team leader, Julian Varga,” he said as he reached out to shake hands. Fredryck noticed that he wore a ring that was carved to look like a dragon wrapped around the finger with its tail in its mouth. He pointed it out and inquired if they were associated with the Order of the Dragon.

“How do you know the Order,” Julian inquired. “We’ve worked with the Order before. Perhaps you know of our prior associate, Alexander Matl?” “Matl,” Julian said with an arched eyebrow. “He failed to retrieve an amulet in England for the Order. Our superior is not so pleased with him.”

“Well, we’ve worked with the Order before so we thought you might prefer to work together, again,” Archibald took over the negotiations. “Well, the amulet that Matl was looking for was kept out of the wrong hands even though the Servants of the Serpent, the Six-fingered-hand, and even Jack Griffin tried to get it. I presume you’re looking for an amulet, here, too.”

“One of the treasures we believe to be hidden along the Lost River is the legendary Amulet of Jefferson. The amulet is a black and silver hematite disk, passed down for three generations before disappearing completely during the American Revolutionary War. We studied the area for months before determining that this was the most likely hiding place for Jefferson’s treasure. If you get the proper spelunking gear, we’d be happy to cooperate with you. Our experts can tell you what you need,” he said referring to a man and woman of theirs.

“If you already have the gear, then we don’t need to get it, do we?” Archibald countered. “The delay could let the amulet fall into the wrong hands. There’s various factions here looking for it right now. If we just cooperate, now, we’d be better off.”

“Our master, Snisky, has determined that a set of Amulets is being sought by the Dark Riders,” Julian confided. “According to our texts, these amulets can be used to either summon a great hero or a great destroyer. Snisky says that this means that if the Riders get the amulets, it could mean the destruction of the world. But, if we get them, we can summon a great hero to tip the balance of power in our favor against the Riders.”

“We’ve worked together to keep these amulets out of their hands, before,” Archibald explained. “I’d say we can just start now and repeat our past success here.” Julian questioned to his spelunkers. “We could probably accommodate them,” the man said. “Very well, then,” Julian finally agreed.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 79

Clockwork 1888: Monday, April 8, through Wednesday, April 10, 1889
They decided to do some local research in Roanoke, first. They found that tourists from all over the American and European continents pass through Roanoke on their way to view the Natural Bridge. Many Americans like the rustic accommodations of the Rockbridge Hotel and Cottages, but most either stay in Roanoke or north in Lexington. A lot of Europeans come to Virginia. Mostly English and French, but a few Germans did come through a couple of weeks ago.

About two weeks ago, Leon Miller and David Meyer asked for directions to Cedar Creek. They had German accents. Some Germans came through a few days ago. They were on their way to Lexington, but they chose to take the road instead of the train. It’s a common decision. Their names were David Muller and Noah Gruber and they asked for directions to Cedar Creek.

After an hour of asking about, they figured that they’d gotten all the information they could and decided to travel north to Lexington. They got lunch and then rented a carriage and horses rather than taking the train. Word was that the Natural Bridge was on the way.

As they traveled north along the road to Lexington, maybe 30 miles from Roanoke, it was Fredryck who noticed something different about the area they were passing through. He called for everybody to stop for a moment to investigate. The road was 30 feet wide, with ten feet of grass, ten feet of bushes and other foliage and then about ten feet of trees. The area was about 100 feet wide from side to side and it went a total of about 90 feet in length. They had come to the Natural Bridge.

They had expected to see the Bridge from a distance rather than to actually cross it. To the eastern side of the road, concealed by the trees, there was a considerable drop. Approaching the precipice they saw two great masses or chains of rocks forming the walls of a ravine. They found themselves staring into an immense abyss. Evgenia, standing cautiously at the edge of the cliff, could see that the two walls came together under their feet. They formed an arch, the height of which was imperceptible.

To the western side of the road, beyond the seemingly normal tree line, there was an imposing picturesque sight. There was a deep solitude of ancient pines and masses of rocks with an astonishingly wild symmetry through rough design. A display of rude and formless nature striving to achieve artistic level beset their senses and mind. At the foot of the crags, hundreds of feet below, a little stream flowed under the immense arch.

Having seen the bridge, they continued on toward Lexington. They could see a tavern, Jack Martin’s, on the right not long after the bridge and then the newly expanded Rockbridge Hotel farther away on the left. After another 20 miles, they got to Lexington.

Asking around, they found Sam Hunter’s chicken farm. Sam was about 30 with three children and a homemaker wife. He was friendly and open and seemed to have a knack with getting people to talk to him. As a businessman who sells chicken and eggs at the market, he obviously recognized the importance of repeat customers and developing personal relationships with existing and potential customers.

Conversing with Sam, he told them that he remembered Timothy Weber. “He showed me a treasure map,” Sam informed. “It was all wrong. The proportions were all out of scale. It looked like a child drew it. I could try to recreate it, if you want.”

Taking Sam up on his mapping skills, he sketched a crude but apparently reasonably accurate map. Handing it to them, he bid them good travels and returned to his work. Having ridden most of the day, they stabled the horses and spent the evening in Lexington.
Around the inn where they took their supper, they learned of local attractions. Apparently, Stonewall Jackson, a Civil War Confederate general, had a home in Lexington. Rumor had it there was going to be a statue commissioned of Jackson for a local cemetery.

Bartley asked around about getting a guide for their trip to the Bridge the following day. Most local guides were from the Monacan Indians so he went to where he was told he could find an Indian guide. When speaking with the local leader, he was told that all the Indian guides were busy. It seemed unusual to him but he sensed that there was more going on than just a busy guide season.

Eventually, though, he resigned to not getting a Monacan guide. He was told however, that he could find one closer to the Bridge. A mountain man named Bar Tolley sometimes took guide jobs. So, they spent the night in Lexington, resting themselves and their rented horses. They left in the morning to go back to the Natural Bridge with the map they’d gotten from Sam.

The 20 miles to the bridge was certainly shorter than the 50 mile ride they’d had the day before. They arrived at the Rockbridge Inn to secure rooms and stabling for the evening and inquire about a guide. The inn had recently been renovated and it even had some cabins that could fit a family of six. Hungry from their ride, they decided to eat, first.

They went over to Jack Martin’s tavern. The place had open windows, spacious tables, and a thin layer of sawdust and peanut shells on the floor. Three of the eight tables had people at them.

One table seated six men who were playing a version of poker and drinking beer. Another table had two men and a woman enjoying dinner. The third had an old man sitting alone, contemplating his steak and corn on the cob. A piano player filled the air with the sounds of Christian hymns, but didn’t drown out the voices of the poker players.

Surveying the place while they ate, they realized that the version of poker being played was the version developed by Mr. Hyde in England. Inquiring, three of the poker players decided that they’d about lost enough so there was room for up to three new players. Fredryck, Evgenia and Archibald decided to join the game. Noting the British accent, the poker players mentioned that the variation they were playing came from England.

After politely listening to the explanation of how the poker variation was played and when wagers occurred, the cards were dealt. Evgenia seemed to have a good sense of when the players were bluffing and she took a reasonable share of the first pot. Fredryck got a small portion and Archibald just barely broke even. At the same time, they conversed to learn information about what had been happening in the area.

“Tourists come to the Natural Bridge every day,” the one player commented. “It was heavily advertised in Europe by Thomas Jefferson centuries ago,” said another. “Captain Lackland used to lower people off the bridge in a great iron cage for $1 per ride,” said the third. “That was before the safe path was found,” a former player chimed in. “There are lots of hidden places in Rockbridge. No one ever did find out where the Lost River came from. Or went, for that matter.”

Fredryck won a large share of the next pot while Evgenia and Archibald won a share, too. Guiding the conversation to foreigners, Evgenia brought up other foreigners and specifically Germans. “Men with German accents came two weeks ago. Leon Miller was their leader. I don’t remember the other’s names,” the first said.

“One of them was Timothy Weber. He showed me a treasure map he had. Something buried near the creek that he and his friends were after. Who was that guy looking for Mister Weber a few days ago?” said the second. “Julian Varga, I think his name was. What happened to him?” said a third.

“Might of got a guide,” surmised the observer. “Most foreigners view the Bridge from above, but some hire guides to show them the sight from below. Some of the Indians that returned to the area sometimes guide tourists all the way to Lacy Falls for a price.” “Sometimes Bar Tolley shows tourists around, don’cha Bar?” said the first. “Who was that foreigner you took to the saltpeter caves?”

The old man sitting alone looked up at the mention of his name and corrected the speaker, “He twern’t no foreigner. He were a Mexican.” His voice was loud and heavily accented. “Twere three nights ago. Hugo Martinez, that were his name.” He was telling the rest of the tavern the story just as much as he was telling them.

“He paid me five dollars to take him to the saltpeter caves.” Bartley mentally recalled hearing that the saltpeter caves of the area were used during the Civil War to make gunpowder for the South. “I took him down the Injin path to Cedar Crick. We passed under the Bridge, following the crick when he asked for a moment to pray. He put candles on the path and set between them.”

“He chanted a strange gibber whilst throwing sand at the candles, causing great flashes of colored lights and smoke to rise up inta the aire. Snakes crawled out of the undergrowth and slithered up out of the very earth. They came from the water with numbers greater than I could imagine. Hugo said that the snakes would take me as mah reward for helping ’im." Bar took a long drink of his beer before continuing, “So, I shot him in the haid and went home.”

The patrons all laughed at Tolley’s tale. One commented, “That gets funnier every time you tell it, Bar.” “It’s all true ‘nough,” Bar defended. “For five dollars I’ll take you to the same place.”

Bartley walked over to Bar to inquire about seeing the place he’d taken Hugo Martinez. He learned that for $5 per person, Bar would let them sleep at his house and he would take them to the cave in the morning.” Fredryck, Evgenia and Archibald split the largest pot, yet.

“I can tell you folks done played this before,” the one poker player announced. “I did find it a might familiar once we had started,” Archibald smoothed over. “But I’m sure we’ll spend any meager winnings here on our vacation, anyway,” Fredryck chimed in. “But I do regret we must make our leave,” Evgenia announced as she noticed Bar talking with Bartley.

Gathering their funds, they bought a round for the table to smooth any ruffled feathers and went to talk to Bar. Not having committed to staying in the Rockbridge Inn, they agreed to stay with Bar Tolley. It was getting late so they turned in.

He showed them where the Mexican had summoned the snakes. Although three days had passed, there were still numerous snake trails, of all sizes throughout the area. “I heard about an inscription on the side of this,” Bartley inquired. But, it was getting late and shadows had already started to cover the area of the inscription. So, they decided to return in the morning and went to Bar’s place to turn in for the night.

They awoke early in the morning to the smell of fresh breakfast cooking. Arriving at the table, they found that Bar had a visitor. Bar introduced him and invited everybody to have breakfast with Deputy Sheriff-Coroner Fabian Williams. Fabian was 5’ 6" and 175 lbs. with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. The Deputy asked what Tolley was doing and Tolley explained, “I’m planning on guiding these fine tourists about.”

“Well, all right then,” the Deputy said with a smile. Introductions were made and they sat down for morning breakfast. As they ate breakfast, the Deputy asked Tolley not to shoot anyone while guiding. Tolley pointed out that the Deputy, “Done took mah gun.” To which the Deputy again said, “Well, all right then.”

Bartley quickly finished his breakfast and excused himself. “I have to go get some things ready for our day,” he abruptly said as he got up from the table and headed for out of the room. When he was out of earshot, he mumbled something about not wanting to be around any kind of lawmen.

During the breakfast conversations, the Deputy came across as someone who knew Tolley and knew what went on in the area. But, he didn’t seem to care all that much. Turning his conversation to Bar’s guests, he told them, “Tourists come through the area every day. A few stay, but most just pass through between Roanoke and Lexington. I’ve been the Deputy here for five years. Never had any serious trouble. So why are you folks here?”

“Just happened to have some time in the States and decided to see some of the sights,” Fredryck answered after he resisted the urge to blurt out their mission. “There is concern that the Germans in Rockbridge County may have been looking for a hidden amulet,” Archibald answered without thinking. “Our mission is to find out who the Germans were, what they were looking for, where they went, and, if possible, to acquire the amulet for the Fellowship of the White Star,” Evgenia continued.

Evgenia seemed disturbed that she’d revealed such information. “That’s right,” Dracona happily chimed in. “We only have about two days left to complete this and report to our Fellowship contact at the loch in Roanoke.”

“Well, all right then,” the smiling Deputy Williams answered. “There were some Germans here about a week ago. Weber, one of their names was. I don’t know where they went when they left.” “If the Germans are associated with some other Germans here in the States, they could be dangerous,” Fredryck tried to diplomatically gloss over the disclosures.

“Well, all right then,” the Deputy added. “I tend to discourage violence here. In the entire time I’ve been in this jurisdiction, there’s been no serious trouble. What’s this Fellowship of the White Star you mentioned?”

“The Fellowship of the White Star is a force for good in the world,” Dracona answered mindlessly. “The Fellowship stands against the obvious evils in the world as well as the not so obvious ones,” Evgenia added as she seemed to mentally chastise herself for doing so. “It’s dedicated to the extermination of all supernatural evil forces on the earth,” Archibald concluded.

The deputy absorbed that information and paused a moment before continuing. “I’m a member of an organization called The Shepherds. We help guide the less observant sheep of humanity and protect them from the wolves of evil. I don’t have the authority to make an alliance, but we have made such arrangements in the past. If you think your society leaders would be interested, I could ask mine,” he offered.

Fredryck noticed that the Deputy Sheriff-Coroner spoke openly about these things in front of Bar Tolley. And, Tolley wasn’t fazed by any of the revelations. It was almost as if such things were as commonplace as season change or natural hazards. “I think we could work toward a common goal,” Fredryck answered.

“Well, all right then,” the Deputy smiled. “If you fine people need something that you think I could help you with, you just let me know.” Saying his polite goodbyes, the Deputy left them to their touring.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 78

Clockwork 1888: Tuesday, March 26, through Monday, April 8, 1889
Arriving at the Metro North Railroad station, they made their way into the train yard. Ariel led them to the series of parked train cars and counted to track three. “Seven cars back on this track is the one, an old sleeper car,” she informed.

Bartley and Dracona sent scouts – their familiars. Athro, Dracona’s fairy dragon familiar, had the advantage over Bartley’s armadillo because it could fly. With the floor of the train car being three to four feet off the ground, the fairy dragon had a better chance of seeing something. Plus, it was able to do so invisibly.

It was difficult for either of them to see anything because the blinds on the car had all been lowered. Still, they could tell that there were more than four moving people inside the train car. The reconnaissance also told them that there was a door on each end of the train car with a small platform to stand on. So, they planned to attack the car from both ends.

Dracona would be at the one end with Evgenia and Bartley flanking her while Fredryck and Archibald would attack from the other end. As soon as the door on Dracona’s side was opened, that would signal Fredryck to commence his attacks from the other side. With everybody in position, Evgenia swung open the door.

Dracona started with a blast of fire into the things just in the aisle of the sleeper car. A corpse in a white coat turned to grab at them, a female corpse in an apron right behind him. Archibald thrust the door open on the other side of the train car. Fredryck stepped in to cut a swath through the animated corpses. Bartley, Evgenia, and Archibald used gunfire to help stop the haunting corpses. They could see a bloodied man tied to a chair in the middle of the aisle.

The man on Dracona’s side, Matt Kaye, was commanding the zombie hoard. He also cast a spell at Dracona. But, she resisted the magic and continued to burn through the zombies. On the other side was Kevin Thorn, the one who had attacked Bartley. He took gunshots at Fredryck as he cut down the zombies. Nero seemed to be amused. “See how confident he is?” he said aloud to himself. “Have you always known your parents?” he asked of Fredryck, “Isn’t that a source of comfort for you?”

Fredryck ignored Nero’s questions, intent on cutting his way to Levesque. As they continued, Nero continued his monologue. “Do you know the horrible life that the parentless have to live? You don’t do you? I wish I could see the world through your eyes.”

“Sir, you know that didn’t work the last time,” Kaye said as he pointed at Levesque. Levesque was missing his left eye. “Yes, that was … disappointing,” Nero admitted with a hand-wave before continuing. “I’m saving people. I’m reuniting orphans with their parents, with their families. I’m reuniting the orphans of Knightsbridge with their loved ones.”

As Fredryck and Dracona seemed to be making progress, Morbius leaned down to Nero. “You don’t really need me for this,” Morbius suggested, “I should go.” Nero agreed but added, “Come to think of it, I don’t need me for this. I’ll come with you.”

Then Nero shot Levesque with his pistol. Levesque slumped in the chair. Nero grabbed a bowling bag off the bench behind him as Morbius put a hand on Nero’s shoulder. In the next moment they were both gone. “Coward,” Fredryck shouted after Morbius.

It didn’t take long for them to fight their way up to the living enemies. Kevin Thorn seemed eager to face Fredryck as he pulled his daggers. He soon learned that he was no match for Fredryck’s sword. Mattie continued to try and stop Dracona in her tracks. But, she resisted his magic each time. He was finally turned into a smoldering mass as they got to Levesque.

Fredryck withdrew the cross of St. Andrew and said a prayer as he touched Levesque with it. Regaining consciousness, Levesque thanked them for rescuing him and praised them for their bravery. They could tell that he was embarrassed at having to be rescued. But, he told them what he knew as they freed him from the chair.

“Nero and Morbius are deadly in their own right. But, they had powerful allies when they ambushed me. Nero’s men who you fought weren’t the ones that subdued me. He had much more powerful allies at the outset. The creature, Morbius, took his allies elsewhere while I was being interrogated. I don’t know where.”

“Nero is looking for a scientist, someone that Drew used to know back in London. He thought that I was connected to him. I was afraid that this scientist may be a Fellowship member that I don’t know. So, I refused to give any information. Even false information may have jeopardized someone’s life somewhere.

“I don’t know what Nero’s game is regarding Knightsbridge. But, I know it’s something we need to keep checking on to stop him. If one of you catch up to either of them before I do, let them know that I sent you,” he concluded.

“Let me try something,” Fredryck said as he prayed over the cross of St. Andrew. Touching it to Levesque seemed to not have the effect Fredryck wanted, however. “That seems a mighty powerful artifact you have there,” Levesque noted. “I was hoping to help with your missing eye,” Fredryck admitted.

“If I can get back to my place, I have the components to take care of it myself,” Levesque informed. “But I appreciate the effort.” “Did you know that Randy Irvine was involved in this?” Evgenia inquired. That turned Levesque’s head.

“Randy Irvine? That would explain a few things,” Levesque reasoned. “Is he dead?” “He’s tied up and unconscious back at the pharmacy,” Dracona informed. “Your plan for him?” “We figured he’d be a good person to pin the murders on,” Evgenia answered.

“Good,” Levesque answered, “I’ll make sure he can’t refute those charges, too. He knows too much about my Fellowship activities and he’s already proved he can’t be trusted.” They could tell that Levesque would kill Randy Irvine. Surveying the scene in the train car, Dracona suggested, “a flaming necrophilia maniac, I’d say.”

They spent the next several days setting up the clues for police to find that would point to Randy Irvine as the crazed killer of Drew McIntyre, the pharmacist and his family, and the others in the train car. Levesque was able to regenerate his lost eye with powerful divinations and returned to his work at Titan Amusements as if nothing happened. They arrived at his office a couple days afterward to report on the results of their “investigations” into Drew McIntyre’s death.

Things were neatly wrapped up when a telegram came in. “Please book passage to Roanoke, VA. There is a fisherman who has a story to tell. He has agreed to meet you at Loch Haven. He will be there at noon on April 8 to speak with you.” Levesque had Torrie book them on the next train and close out their expenses in Greenwich before they left.

The Roanoke railway station was the largest in the area. Baggage porters patrolled the planks to help people with their luggage for tips. Asking about, they got directions to Loch Haven, a man-made lake approximately one mile north of Roanoke, and hired a carriage to take them.

The landscape around Loch Haven was lush grass with strategically placed oak trees to provide shade and cobblestone paths. There was a wooden pier at the end of which was a group of children and teenagers playing in the water. A line of buoys separated the eastern quarter from the rest of the loch, separating the swimmers from the fishermen.

One of the fishermen had a red tackle box with the symbol of the White Star on it. They approached and asked him a coded Fellowship question. Giving the correct answer, he greeted them with the Fellowship’s secret handshake and asked them to have a seat and join him for a beer. He had extra rod and reel sets, and plenty of crawdads and night crawlers if anyone wanted to fish with him. He started with a warning, ”voices carry on the loch,” before he spoke to them in whispers.

“There’s talk of buried treasure in Rockbridge County, north of here. A trio of Germans was spotted digging at the Northeast corner of the Bridge two weeks ago. They claimed that they were looking for a surveyor’s cornerstone.”

“One of the men, Timothy Weber, told Sam Hunter that they knew that there wasn’t a cornerstone. But, they had a treasure map. I heard that Weber showed Hunter this map, but I haven’t spoken to Hunter. Sam Hunter owns a chicken farm west of Lexington. He sells eggs and sometimes also sells butchered chickens at the Lexington market.”
“The three treasure hunters were staying in one of the cottages by the Bridge. They disappeared three days ago. Rumor claims that they left with heavy provisions and a guarded satchel through the fog early Friday morning.”

“There’s more. Years ago, before the Fellowship was formed, there was an organization called the Shepherds. The Shepherds and their allies, The Order of the Dragon, came into possession of a set of magical amulets. The Shepherds and the Order each took four amulets and hid them. The purpose for the amulets was lost when the Shepherds were destroyed.”

“One of the amulets was hidden in England. Last year a man claiming to represent the Order attempted to take it. But members of the Fellowship, whom he seemed to think were another organization, maintained control of the amulet. He did warn us, however, that there were other organizations looking for the amulets.”

Dracona whispered to Evgenia, “Didn’t we let Matl take the amulet for the Order?” “We did,” Evgenia reminded. “There must be something we don’t know,” Evgenia surmised as they returned their attention to the fisherman.

“One of the amulets was hidden in the American west, in Arizona. A pair of creatures calling themselves Servants of the Serpent attempted to take it. They were destroyed by members of the Fellowship. There’s concern that the Germans in Rockbridge County may have been looking for a hidden amulet.” Evgenia and Dracona exchanged glances, again.

“Your mission is to find out who the Germans were,” the fisherman continued. “What were they were looking for? Where did they go? And, if possible, acquire the amulet for us. I’ll be back here, on this same spot, in four days to receive your report and, hopefully, the amulet.”

“What Bridge are you talking about?” Evgenia inquired. “A little over halfway between here and Lexington, the County Seat of Rockbridge County, is the world’s largest naturally occurring bridge. It crosses Cedar Creek. A naturally occurring bridge is a span of rock crossing a chasm, created by God. They’re very rare, most are very fragile and only a few feet long.”

“Col Peter Jefferson surveyed the Bridge in 1750. His assistant climbed twenty three feet up the south wall and carved his own initials into the cliff. This mark has been preserved, but is no cornerstone. We have no records as to what the amulet looks like, what it is called, or what it does.” They realized that if their assessment of the two amulets they’d seen was correct, while the amulets didn’t look alike at all, they did fit the locale they were hidden in.

The Fisherman recommended that they stay in Roanoke, as the Germans must have come through on their arrival and departure. But, he recognized that they may wish to stay in Lexington, about 10 miles closer to the Bridge than Roanoke. And, if they wanted, they could even stay at the Rockbridge Hotel and cottages to be even closer. But, he warned them that that would put them far away from any real gatherings of people to talk to.

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