Clockwork-1888

Clockwork 1888 Session 117

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, June 4, through Sunday, June 5, 1892
After seeing the montage, they were all visibly upset. Then, there was a sudden flash that filled the room. Everyone saw the flash of light but Evgenia noticed that it was from the side in the air return grate by the ceiling. Moments later there was a rambling sound through various ventilation ducts. It was impossible to not hear the racket as something clanked and whirred with noise as something moved through the ventilation system.

Evgenia pried the grate off and Bartley put Tumbleweed into the duct to see what was in it. They could see the pan still just behind the grate where the flash powder had created the flash. Tumbleweed followed the miniature railroad type tracks into the ducting and peered over the edge where it turned downward. He could just catch a glimpse of the box-like camera moving downward into the darkness of the ducting.

They could tell the contraption was heading down and decided to make their way down to try and find where its destination was. Taking the charcoal drawings of those that they knew from the walls, they made haste down the stairs following the racket until they noted that the noise came to an abrupt end somewhere in the basement.They went down the stairs and back to the photography studio to go into the basement.

Before opening the door, they used the cord and cross from St. Andrew to heal themselves as much as they could. As they opened the door to the basement and started down the dark stone stairs, Bartley used out of character knowledge and used his cane to turn on the light switch. A sizzling sound came from the switch but the light in the stairwell did not come on.

Dracona lit one of her fire breathing torches to shed some light down the stairwell and noticed a door-less entryway to the left at the bottom. The opening below had a threshold of silver with runes inscribed on it. Bartley and Dracona were able to discern that the runes were a ward to contain undead and Archibald recalled Grimes bragging about some control over the dead.

But what they sought was down there so they proceeded with caution. Crossing the threshold they entered an unlit maze of wood crates and bookcases with Dracona’s torchlight. Bartley led the way in with Dracona, Archibald and Evgenia following, staying within the radius of the torchlight.

Recalling the layout of the building, Archibald figured that the resting place of the camera was in the back corner of the basement. Picking their way carefully over about 80 feet to where the noise had come to a halt, they approached a large furnace. They deduced that the item in the ventilation probably stopped at or near the outside air inlet to the furnace.

Before they could investigate further, a ghastly aberration of a gray haired man, the light glowing eerily against its sickly green translucent flesh, rushed forth from the darkness of the room to attack. Evgenia was nearest to its position and it wasted no time in slashing into her.

Evgenia had heard its noise, stepped away from the ghoul and shot it but it didn’t harm it as much as expected. Archibald fired and missed but Dracona stepped closer and blew fire at it. Shirking off the flaming barrage, the ghoul came after Evgenia again, biting her hard and clawing her.

Bartley cast a spell upon his Winchester and shot the ghoul. That shot the creature felt completely as Evgenia stepped back again and shot at it, but missed. Archibald shot, too, but it shirked the damage off. Dracona blasted it with fire, again, and this time she set the creature alight.

The creature put himself out rather than attacking Evgenia, again. Bartley shot the creature, the magic enhancement of the rifle affecting the ghoul more than regular gunfire. Evgenia backed up and shot it, again, as Archibald did the same.

Dracona set the the ghoul on fire, again, forcing it to spend time putting itself out, again. Bartley shot it again, as did Evgenia but Archibald’s shot hit a crate. Dracona tried to engulf him in fire, again, but the ghoul evaded it and attacked her, only landing a claw before Bartley shot it and it fell to the floor in stillness.

With the ghoul a lifeless husk, Evgenia recognized the creature as Orson Squire Fowler, a man who had developed an octagonal house and was prominently known for his phreneticist theories. She had read that he had died in 1887. As she was informing the others about their re-dead foe, Archibald noticed that her bite wound would probably need some medical attention when they left.

But, first they had to get what they came for. Bartley worked on opening up the ducting while the others searched for the skulls of Mangas and Guiteau. Getting into the duct work, they found where the miniature railroad tracks came to an end. The duct led to the outside, to admit air, and the external grate had been removed, showing that morning had come.

Instead of the camera, though, they found a sealed envelope sealed in red wax with no drip out of place. The typing on the envelope had their names typed in the exact center of the envelope. Inside the envelope was an invitation that read, “Please meet me at Irving Hall immediately regarding your current mission.” The invitation was on white linen paper and meticulously assembled like a wedding invitation with the note exactly centered on the card with no smudges.

They knew that Irving Hall was near Union Square in Manhattan, not far from where they were. It was a large ballroom/dance hall that was usually closed during that hour and operated by the criminal element currently runs the building. Knowing that they’d spent enough time in Grimes’ building, they snuck out and made their way to Irving Hall.

Because they were passing close enough to the Plaza Hotel, they gave Athros the sack with skulls and sent him to drop them on the balcony of their room. They weren’t sure if Fields wanted the skulls for some bizarre purpose or not. But, they thought it best to arrive without them.

When they arrived at the hall, they showed their invitation to the man at the front door who said he would take them in to see the boss. “And who is the boss, so that we may properly address him?” Evgenia inquired politely. “Giuseppe ‘the Clutch Hand’ Morello,” the man answered plainly.

The guard led them into a great room that looked like it housed great parties or concerts and held a good 1,200 people. Tables and chairs were stacked against walls and in corners, elegant drapes were closed to the beautiful day, small piles of swept up debris were seen here and there and a dozen balconies with closed cherry railings overlooked the room where private tables must be setup during the events held there.

Up on the stage, which was a good 7’ off the floor where a band/orchestra was obviously set up for such parties or concerts, was instead a man with dark hair, a large mustache and a string around his neck that supported a deformed hand. Next to him was a man they recognized, Edmund Fields from Gibraltar.

Edmund held a small but sharp knife in one hand pointed at his own heart. Behind those two were 6 other tough looking gangsters. Edmund called for them to come closer to the dais for a “talk”. They moved forward, spreading out a little as they approached until the gangster called, “that’s close enough.”

Then Edmund explained, “I have a spell cast upon me where if you even start to try to harm me, I will be whisked away. So let’s talk instead, eh? I have started my revenge against the problems the meddling of your fellowship caused me in Gibraltar. You see, I have already started eliminating your family and friends for my eviction from Eden.”

“Now I shall remove all of you from my life as well,” Fields promised. “When I am done, I will return to Eve and my two little cherubs.” He cut his own chest and suddenly disappeared in a flash of light.

The crime boss, Guiseppe Morello, spoke up, “What the hell was that?!? Anyways, I dunno what all that nonsense he was talking about wuz, but y’all have been meddling in my business so you gotta go. Now, I don’t want to have to kill you, and now I’m thinking that Edmund guy is nutso. But you can’t be in my business here in New York ever again. Do we agree?”

“Well, it might be helpful to know exactly what your business is,” Bartley answered. Morello looked skeptical that anyone in NYC didn’t know his business, but said, “You know, what the coppers call organized crime. Things the people want. Gambling, booze, prostitutes, that sort of thing but, obviously, I can’t get into specifics.”

“I have no interest in any of that,” Archibald confirmed. “Do you have anything to do with the charnel house at Luther Grimes’ studio?” Evgenia inquired. “That doesn’t sound like anything that would have money in it. I only do stuff that makes me money,” Morello answered.

“How about construction sites?” Archibald inquired. “I’m not into construction,” Morello explained. “I was told you were causing me all kind of problems, that you were responsible for some hits and were trying to elbow in on some of my business.” “Edmund Fields has been lying to you,” Bartley offered. “We have no desire to get involved in your business and Fields expects you to do his dirty work for him.”

“You think he’s playing me, that I’m stupid?” Morello seemed offended. “No, I think you’re too smart to be played by him.,” Bartley tried to smooth things over. “Otherwise we’d not be having this conversation,” Archibald helped.

“You wouldn’t be lying to me, would you?” Morello inquired as he moved his deformed hand. On the balconies, mechanical sounds occurred and mechanical machine guns rose from behind the cherry railings with two men that stood up behind each gun. Several doors in the room opened and men with rifles used the door frames as cover while pointing at them.

“We have no reason to lie to you,” Evgenia spoke up. “But Fields does,” Archibald assured. After a few more soothing words, Morello saw their point but warned them. “If I catch you, or that Fields guy, near my business again, I won’t be so kind.” Then, he had his man escort them out unharmed.

Outside, they stopped at the Plaza Hotel to freshen up before heading to Roland’s to brief him. They explained how Luther Grimes was using the concrete as the material component to summon an elemental creature and produced the items taken from Grimes’ body, including the ring. Roland examined the ring carefully.

“We’ll have this checked but I think this is the Ring of Apuca. You didn’t put this on, did you?” he queried. They assured him that they had not and he carefully wrapped it and promised to turn it over to the proper people.

In addition, they showed the skulls to Roland and he assured them that he’d make sure they got to the appropriate people. But, they insisted on personally delivering the skull of Mangas Coloradas to the Indians. Hearing about their vow to the spirit of Mangas, Roland agreed to arrange their travel.

Finally, Roland noticed the bite mark on Evgenia. “We need to get that looked at,” he informed. “Do you know somebody who could take care of it?” “I’ll have them sent to your hotel,” Roland promised.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 116

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, June 2, through Saturday, June 4, 1892
Because Grimes previously had caused construction damage in the evenings of prior events, they expected him to follow the same pattern. As they watched him that day, Grimes had a visitor in the form of a middle aged gentleman, middle class in his attire, who came to the photography studio. The gentleman went into the studio, apparently met with Grimes, and then shortly afterward left.

Not long after, the same gentleman returned but he had help with him. Grimes came out to meet him as the gentleman stood by and the help removed a wheelchair and a finely dressed woman from the carriage. After the woman was put in the wheelchair, a small bundle was quietly taken from the carriage and placed in her lap.

“Something’s wrong,” Archibald quietly observed to the others, “but I can’t quite put my finger on it.” As Grimes held the door for the procession into the studio, and then followed them inside. “The woman and infant are dead,” Evgenia pointed out. “I’d guess the woman and the infant died in the birthing process and the gentleman is getting a portrait of his recently deceased family.”

Bartley, Dracona, Archibald, and Evgenia took overlapping shifts throughout the night to keep watch over Grimes’ building. Grimes didn’t leave the first night and Bartley chose different spells for the new day. There were more typical customers on the second day followed by a second uneventful evening.

On the third evening, Grimes left the building through the rear entrance, and came up the alley between the buildings. Instead of heading someplace, he came right across the street to where Archibald was observing his building. “Might I inquire as to why are you watching me?” Grimes inquired.

“Was I watching you?” Archibald answered with feigned innocence. “I remember you from the bar,” Grimes dismissed his answer. “If you are that interested in what I’m doing, I’ll invite you in.” “Well, some strange goings on in the area have piqued our interest and we’re just trying to figure things out,” Archibald countered. “What might such things have to do with me,” Grimes replied.

“I’d say that you know about some kind of magically summoned creature created from the missing concrete at construction sites,” Archibald put forth. Grimes seemed amused at Archibald’s forwardness and knowledge of supernatural things. “I needed the concrete for my experiments,” Grimes admitted, “and I intend to continue my work.”

“What might these experiments entail?” Archibald steered the conversation. “Walk with me,” Grimes offered as he started down the street. Because it was toward where the others were, Archibald obliged Grimes.

“You’ve no doubt noticed that my business has its share of work with the dearly departed,” Grimes continued. “I seem to have … a way with them,” he admitted. Grimes spoke proudly of his command over the dead as he continued walking into an alley with Archibald letting him talk.

“But, I’ve also figured out how to summon creatures,” Grimes continued. “But stay here a moment,” Grimes instructed as he stepped about 30 feet farther down the alley. “Let me show you something.” Turning to face Archibald, Grimes said, “up.”

The concrete creature rose from the cobblestone of the alleyway between them. Archibald was not surprised at Grimes’ next instructions. “Kill him,” Grimes plainly ordered the creature that nearly filled the width of the alley.

Archibald drew his gun and took a wild shot at Grimes. His second shot was not as wild and hit Grimes. The creature moved up and slammed Archibald twice with its fist like appendages. Grimes took note of the wound and cast a spell.

Archibald shot Grimes again but this time it didn’t harm him. That spell was most probably to protect him from gunfire. The creature swung wildly and Archibald managed to avoid the blow and Grimes cast another spell but again Archibald didn’t know what it was.

Evgenia arrived at the alley entrance, moved in and shot the creature with her Winchester but it was not as effective as she would have liked. Dracona moved into the alley and fired the shotgun that she’d purchased during rat hunting at the creature. The spray of the shotgun had no effect on the creature. Bartley cast a spell and ran up to the wall in the alley. There he quickly climbed the wall with magical ease to the roof of the alley buildings.

Archibald fired upon the concrete monster as the thing swung twice at him again, putting a hurting on Archibald. Grimes cast another spell but it seemed to have no effect upon his intended targets. Evgenia moved closer, shooting the creature again as Dracona moved. But, she slipped in a patch of greasy cobblestones, went down and still blasted the creature with a fire breath.

Bartley cast another spell to conceal himself, moved across the alleyway rooftops and came down invisibly behind Grimes. Archibald shot the creature again and it smashed him hard twice, knocking Archibald out as it stepped closer to Dracona on the ground. Grimes was greatly amused by Archibald’s defeat and told the creature to kill the rest of them.

Evgenia shot it again and moved closer to her fallen friend as Dracona stood up and blasted it twice with fire. Bartley took an attack on Grimes who was surprised to find one of them behind him. The creature turned its attention to Dracona, slamming her hard twice in response but Grimes called for the creature to help him.

Evgenia administered one of their healing implements to Archibald and Dracona attacked the creature. Bartley attacked Grimes, again, and stepped back away from the creature. Archibald got up and stepped out of the creature’s reach.

Grimes stepped back to allow the creature to pass him and get at Bartley but the lumbering creature could barely get to Bartley. Dracona swung at the departing creature and harmed it again. Evgenia shot Grimes and although it was not as effective as it should have been, it was still effective against Grimes.

Dracona blasted the two of them with her fire breath twice, setting the creature on fire. Bartley hit the creature with his magically enhanced sword, causing full damage to the creature. In a bold move, Archibald moved up, drawing his rapier and cutting Grimes with it. The creature attacked Bartley and slammed Dracona hard.

Grimes put out the crackling fire on his creature while Evgenia shot her last cartridge at the creature. Dracona swung twice at Grimes but missed him. Bartley sliced into the creature, again, as Archibald attacked Grimes, again.

The creature swung wildly at Dracona but missed and then slammed Bartley as Grimes put out his flaming creature again. Evgenia shot the creature again while Dracona swung twice at the creature, hitting it both times. Bartley’s blow caused the creature to vanish and Archibald hit Grimes, again, inadvertently killing Grimes.

Quickly searching Grimes’ fallen body they took his wallet, the keys in his pocket and the fancy ring on his finger. In the wallet were his home address, a few dollars, miscellaneous papers, a safe combination and a calling card with no name on it. But the calling card had a symbol of a six fingered hand.

Leaving the body in the alley, they left the area and went to Grimes’ building. With the wallet missing it would look like a robbery and it might take police longer to identify the body. Once identification was made, the police would most likely head to Grimes’ place. So, they had to search Grimes’ and be gone before police arrived at the building.

Once inside, they used their other healing implement to help Archibald recover even though most of them had been hurt in the battle. Bartley quickly found the key to open the inner door and they advanced through the foyer to the door with a frosted glass front labeled Grime’s Photography Studio and Quaint Posings to search it.

Inside, they saw that the shop sold cameras and film and took pictures at arranged sittings in back. A half door in the back of the shop swung open to a large back area. There were multiple sitting areas with different staged scenes and costumes to match the scenery. There is a western cowboy bar, an elegant Victorian fireplace scene, an arched mahogany doorway with a fake door that opened to a building wall behind it, a medieval castle scene with king and queen thrones, an outdoor picnic scene, etc.

There were also three doors in the back. The first was unlocked and led to an office with a desk, chair, numerous file cabinets and a safe. While Bartley set about opening the safe with the combination, the others searched the file cabinets.

Among the numerous client files were dozens with names and addresses circled in red. Almost all of those circled seem to be for single person poses, none were families. On the desk were numerous bills and documents addressed to Luther Grimes at the building’s address, but on the 5th floor.

Bartley opened the safe and inside were tons of negatives for a gruesome collection of people with physical deformities in abject poverty, corpses in various states of mutilation, decay and desecration and a number of larger images of just the heads of humans as well as some animals.

The second door was locked with a sturdy lock but it was no match for Bartley’s skill with the right key. It led to another photographic scene, but that one was straight out of the Inquisition. A mind numbing number of torture devices littered the area inside. An enormous rack centered the room and was surrounded by an iron maiden, a guillotine, a Judas cradle, stocks, hanging cages, chains and manacles on the walls, and even authentic blood draining gutters cut into the floor that drain to a corner and then to the sewers. As they looked around, a rat peeked out of the blood tunnel, apparently looking for a meal.

The third door was unlocked and led to stairs going down into darkness. They decided to search the upper floors before heading into the bowels of the madman’s place. Re-closing the door, they went upstairs.

The second to fourth floors were empty. There was a welcome mat in front of each door, but they were eerily empty without so much as a cobweb in them. The majority of the fifth floor apartment was full of the normal accouterments of life you would expect in a large apartment but not much that stood out.

However, one room had a sturdy padlock on the outside as well as a normal door lock, which the keys opened. Inside the padlocked room, taking up all four walls of the 20’ x 20’room was a gruesome collection of photographs and a few charcoal drawings made into a montage. The photos included people with physical deformities in abject poverty, corpses in various states of mutilation, decay and desecration, and a number of larger images of just the heads of humans as well as some animals.

Bartley recognized one of the photos as Mangas Coloradas, the Indian ghost they’d encountered in Arizona. Archibald recognized another as Charles Guiteau, the assassin of U.S. President James A. Garfield. “We will need to search for skulls,” Bartley informed.

A few of the severed head images were charcoal drawings rather than photos. “Oh no,” Evgenia exclaimed as she recognized her Romanian uncle in one of the charcoal drawings. Perusing the macabre photo room, they found charcoal drawings of an infant and yet another drawing of a Grenadier guardsman, Fredryck’s kin.

Ovila, the harper, was depicted, as well as Don Marco Marciano, Dracona’s underworld contact, and Bartley’s uncle Carlos. Archibald recognized the visage of Arthur Goring Thomas, the composer he’d hired who had supposedly committed suicide in March. The final charcoal drawing, had the visage of Brina Adalbjorg, Adoline’s missing bodyguard. Evgenia pulled the edge of a photo back to expose initials on the corner of the drawing, “EF”. Each of them was visibly upset from the imagery of the room.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 115

Clockwork 1888 Date: Wednesday, June 1, to Thursday, June 2, 1892
As they returned to the table that Conklin had vacated in his hasty departure, they discussed options. “One option is to confront him directly and another option is to hire him to do some photography,” Bartley deduced. “He was at the bar when we were there,” Evgenia reminded, “so he’d probably recognize us.”

“We could disguise ourselves,” Archibald offered. “But what could we learn while having a photo taken?” Dracona inquired. “How long do these things last once they are summoned,” Archibald quietly questioned as he changed the topic.

“Summoning spells that I’m familiar with have a fairly short duration,” Bartley informed in a hush. “The summoned creature is only around for only a few minutes.” “Could it be some kind of construct that he created instead of summoned?”

“It was a summoning spell based on what Evgenia showed us of the hand gestures,” Dracona informed with Bartley agreeing. “But, there could be something that I don’t know,” Bartley admitted. “It’s unusual for it to be around for the time span between the concrete thefts and the construction site destruction.”

They decided to postpone any confrontation and do some research on Grimes. Dracona, Archibald and Evgenia checked what they could find out on the street while Bartley did some research at various places. Their initial investigation learned that Grimes was 32 years old. He lives on the 5th floor of the 5 story brick office building where he rents the first floor as his photographic studio.

The entryway had a foyer with five large mailboxes embedded into the wall. The first floor box was listed as Grime’s Photography Studio and Quaint Posings while the second floor was for Meijers Advertising Studio. The third floor mail box listed Brian and Joan McGinnis and the forth was Fred Merlin.

The fifth floor was simply listed as residence. From the foyer, the door ahead had a frosted glass front labeled Grime’s Photography Studio and Quaint Posings. To the left was a staircase leading up to the other floors.
Bartley learned that Grimes’ father died when he was a child but Grimes became a pretty good photographer.

He was the expedition photographer on an expedition in the Brazilian rain forest. In the investigations, Bartley was able to piece together a complex shell game of aliases and false businesses that led to one conclusion. The other three floors were also rented by Grimes under false names and he even occasionally had fake mail sent to them.

After debating their options for confronting Grimes about the missing concrete and the apparent summoning, they decided to observe him before taking any actions. They were hoping to catch him as he went to unleash the summoned creature on some construction site. They decided to take watches while people tried to get some rest from their previous night’s rat hunting.

Bartley agreed to take the first watch so that he could rest up later and choose different spells for the next day. Dracona took the next, Archibald the third and Evgenia the last watch. They got a temporary room nearer to Grimes’ studio so that they could plan their next steps and stay close in case Grimes did something.

So far, Grimes was only guilty of the theft of the concrete and that was not a death sentence offense.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 114

Clockwork 1888 Date: Wednesday, June 1, 1892
As the last of the kills were being weighed at the sewer rat catcher’s weigh station, they noticed a young man who seemed to be going about to the different offices. The wiry young man was probably only about 18 years old and eventually somebody pointed him to them. He wore a red bandana on his head that bore a white star.

Finding them, the young man introduced himself as Ehrich Weisz and spoke his rehearsed speech. “Your New York contact wishes to see you immediately,” he informed with stress on the last word. Inquiring if they could clean up first, the young man repeated the last word, again. So, after just finishing a mission that involved heading into the sewers of Manhattan and finally, the exterminating of a rat larger than a man that was the source of the problem, they went, in reeking clothes, back to the nondescript office on the top story of the six story brick office building in Manhattan.

They finished reporting to their contact, Roland Molineux, and were looking forward to getting back to the Plaza hotel to clean up. Roland then informed that he had received a telegram. “Ehrich, please read the telegram to them,” he requested. Ehrich unfolded a telegram and read, “Browns building construction site, Manhattan, tons of wet concrete stolen last night. Remit $1 Box 15. – T”

“Hmm, a regular contact of mine reports that the concrete didn’t set up properly on a construction project where concrete was poured just the night before,” Roland informed. “Only water with sand at the bottom was left. This is the third such occurrence I’ve heard of in the last year or so and, as I recall, each coincided within a few days of some damage to a nearby construction site.”

“You’d have to check the papers for the dates of those other incidents,” Roland continued, “I don’t recall them. It certainly might be nothing we deal with, but it is very odd. Who steals tons of wet concrete, how in the world could you do so, what would you do with it, and is it connected to the damage at the nearby construction sites? Since you are already here, would you look into this for me?”

“Like this?” Evgenia questioned. “Oh, yes, I agree that maybe you should clean up before starting. I’ll extend the rooms at the Plaza hotel for an additional week so that you can look into this oddity. Each of the other occurrences has been in the paper as a construction delay not mentioning the concrete issue. You should be able to find the dates at one of the local papers,” Roland suggested.

“Who is ‘T’?” Evgenia inquired. “I have a dozen or so people that scan the papers and keep their ears to the street, listening for odd events. They report everything they hear and I pay them well, but they are not part of the Fellowship and don’t know why I want the information. If my contact knew anything else, they’d have sent that along as they know I pay for the amount of information.”

“I label my information gatherers with letters and send their payments to delivery boxes in various bars. Many bars and small businesses today have boxes for mail delivery and charge a small price for customers to pick up their mail there. ‘T’ is just the code for the contact that sent the letter,” Roland explained.

“Can I see the telegram,” Bartley inquired. “Of course,” Roland said as Ehrich handed it to him. It read exactly as Ehrich had read it and there was nothing unique or disconcerting about it. “I think we’ll be on our way, then,” Archibald suggested.

They returned to the Plaza hotel and cleaned up before going to one of the newspaper offices to check on the previous incidents. There were numerous major papers in town and they all had archives with several of their competitor’s papers on file as well. After researching the topic, they found three concrete construction delays of note. The addresses for all the incidents were listed in the articles, but they determined that there would be no clues at them, because it has been months since those incidents.

The first concrete issue was on Thursday, June 18, 1891, a six story tenement house. Construction was delayed two days. Also on that Thursday, damages were noted at the construction site that was ascribed to vandals. Construction at that site was not delayed.

The second concrete delay was on Wednesday, July 15, 1891, a small warehouse. Construction was delayed two days and on Friday, July 17, 1891 there was considerable damage at a construction site that were so severe that work was expected to halt for at least two weeks. Speculation was that the damages were done by either labor union organizers or anarchists.

The damage was described as severe and that the amount of explosives that would have been needed would have been significant. It was speculated that it would have been more likely that one of the heavy equipment machines must have been used, but inspections of those devices showed no tampering. A photo of the damaged site with a crowd of people looking on was included and showed that the damage was indeed quite extensive. Construction was delayed two weeks.

The third concrete event was on Monday, September 28, 1891, for an 18 story office tower. Construction was delayed two days and the ancillary incidents occurred on Tuesday, September 26, 1905. Damages noted at the construction site and were ascribed to vandals. Construction was delayed one day. For the first and third previous “construction delays” due to concrete issues included colorful quotes from a Mr. Conklin who poured the concrete at both sites. The second incident was at a much smaller project and Conklin wasn’t mentioned or quoted in that article.

Each site was in a relatively lightly populated area. Articles on the first and third incidents described the damage as vandalism and said it appeared that some drunks had broken into the sites at night, thrown equipment all over and used trenching equipment or dynamite to damage walls and tunnels. Authorities interviewed discounted the use of dynamite as it would likely have been heard by people residing nearby and canvassing for witnesses at the time produced no such reports. None of the articles link each other or any connection between the “construction delays” due to concrete problems and the vandalism at the other construction sites.

Conklin’s address wasn’t in the articles so they decided to investigate Brown’s Building, the scene of last night’s latest concrete issue. They approached the construction site which was surrounded by a solid wood slat fence. Noise came from behind it and a gated area with men meandering about was just up the street.

They were not dressed as laborers so they developed their story before they strolled up to the entrance. Bartley recalled stories about New York construction workers being in some kind of organization called Tammany Hall. And unless the big boss, “Croker” Bartley seemed to recall, sent new workers, he expected the workers were supposed to scare off would be job applicants.

The construction workers gave them dirty looks as they walked toward the site entrance. As they entered, a dozen or so congregated toward them and indicated that this was a construction area and non workers were not allowed. “For your own safety, you see.”

Archibald took control of the situation and explained that they were working for the city, there to inspect the site of the missing concrete. “The city and Boss Croker aren’t happy about this so you’d best lead us to the foreman,” he instructed in a commanding but polite manner. With that, two of the men were happy to walk them to the foreman as the others returned to work. The foreman easily agreed to show them the area where the concrete was disturbed.

But first, he insisted that they all put on leather protective helmets. Then he led them to the area the concrete was poured and said, “All of the building footers were laid just yesterday and they were to be left to cure for a couple weeks, before significant work was to continue. When I arrived early this morning, a couple workers who were checking the concrete progress alerted me that the concrete hadn’t set right, just like at those other sites. I checked it out and found what looked like pools of water with sand at the bottom. Every bit of the gravel and apparently the Portland cement was missing.”

It was Dracona that noticed what looked like blood was also present in large quantities. Asking about it, the foreman looked nervous and said, “That’s crazy.” But they could tell that he was lying so they pressed him. Then, he admitted that, yes, there was blood in there as well.

Horse blood was added in large quantities to make the concrete more frost resistant. It was a common additive to industrial concrete, but it wasn’t made public as the public might frown on it, thinking it somewhat grizzly. Evgenia had heard that, too, and informed them that it was most likely. When they questioned him about where the blood was bought, the foreman had no idea. “Old Conklin buys it. Ted Conklin,” he informed.

“We’ll need some time to search the area,” Evgenia informed Archibald. “Alone,” she added. “We’ll need you to leave this area while we work. Make sure that we aren’t disturbed by anybody, including you and your men,” Archibald informed the foreman. The foreman understood and implemented their request. Evgenia informed them that concrete was normally measured in cubic yards, each weighing about 3,000 pounds. A concrete foundation for a home would use about 40 yards of concrete so 320 yards was quite a bit of concrete.

Once alone, they searched the area. There were no discernible footprints to track as there had been literally dozens of other people in and out of the area. Bartley cast a spell to detect magic but it showed nothing because the aura power of the magic probably wasn’t strong enough to linger longer than an hour or so.

Turning up no clues that way, Evgenia decided to try to get a reading on the area and entered a trance. “The cement was mixed yesterday and was disturbed late last night,” she informed. “The cement was fine until about 1 am, when it suddenly lost all of the gravel and Portland cement, leaving only the water, sand and horse blood.”

She pulled the vision backward in time a bit. “A dark cloaked man approached the area where the concrete was hardening. He waves his hands about,” she duplicated the motions with her hands, “and chants in an arcane tongue.” Bartley and Dracona both recognized the casting of an arcane summoning spell.

“Suddenly, a giant smooth skinned creature appears in the middle of the area forming from the concrete and draining the gravel and cement into itself. After a few moments,” she continued, “the man turns and leaves and the creature sinks into the ground.” Evgenia left the trance, opened her eyes and said, “He had a matchbook for a place called Burgers Bar.”

They went to the foreman and asked about the other sites. The foreman answered, “I didn’t work at any of the other sites that supposedly had the same problem. But, according to the rumors I heard, there were indeed three other incidents in the last year. I don’t know any details about them.” When asked about what company ran the other projects, he said, “All three, plus this one, were different companies. Many of us construction guys work for whatever project is under way.”

When asked about the construction site vandalisms he said, “I know nothing at all about that. What vandalism? What’s that got to do with cement being stolen? Who the hell would want to steal 320 yards of wet concrete and leave the water and sand anyway? How the hell could you take it?” He shook his head in confusion and looked like he had a headache coming on.

They then inquired about Conklin and which workers had worked at the sites that had issues. The foreman and workers agreed that Old Ted Conklin had worked at all four sites, but he specialized in mixing and pouring concrete. So, he wasn’t there today. They could probably find him at his apartment or the bar down the street from it.

Finished at the site, they decided to make their way to the mentioned bar and check out Mr. Conklin. Inquiring with the foreman, they learned that Conklin had taken many of them to the bar for a burger at lunch. The foreman gave them the address and directions to Ted Conklin’s residence and the bar not far from it. It was close to lunch so they decided to head for the bar.

Burgers Bar was not difficult to find. As they walked in, they saw a very large and intimidating Irish bartender who looked at them like an old horse he didn’t want to buy. Still, he introduced himself as Timothy Burger, the first owner’s son, and said, “Whattaya have?” Glancing around, there were about eight patrons in the bar, who all looked like fixtures to the place.

“My place is for eating and drinking,” Burger informed. “Those not doing those two things can let the door hit them in the arse as they leave. We’ve been serving beer exclusively from George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery since 1867. We also carry a variety of harder liquors and also have really good burgers and fried cabbage for 25 cents a meal.”

Agreeing to have the luncheon selection for their meal, they took a seat at one of the tables. When the bartender brought it over, they asked about Ted Conklin. The bartender nodded his head toward an old man in a booth, drinking a beer alone. “Old Ted Conklin has been eating here for a good 30 years,” he told. “The other seven are all regular patrons, too.

After their meal, they decided that Evgenia and Archibald would stay to chat up Conklin while Bartley and Dracona went to search Conklin’s residence. Athros was to stay with Archibald and Evgenia. If Conklin left the bar, Athros would fly over and warn them. So, Bartley and Dracona paid for their meals and left.

Archibald and Evgenia approached and asked if he were Ted Conklin. Affirming his identity, he waved for them to sit down and inquired as to how he could help them. Archibald played as if he were a foreign businessman interested in bringing to England some of the American concrete work.

When asked about the concrete mix, Old Ted Conklin explained its mixture in detail as only a skilled laborer could. ”Yup, gravel, sand, water, cement, and horse blood.” Then he went into agonizing details about the proportions of each and the proper mixing and curing on the concrete.

Meanwhile, Bartley and Dracona headed to Conklin’s apartment. Conklin had a battered old apartment in Manhattan in a brick building. Dracona went to the front door as Bartley made his way around back.

Knocking at the front door, an old man who introduced himself as the landlord looked out into the hall and then came to the door. She inquired about which place was Ted Conklin’s and he told her the apartment number. “But,” he added, “Ted Conklin is likely down at Burgers Bar if that’s who you’re looking for.”

“Oh,” Dracona feigned, “what can you tell me about Ted?” She began her task of distracting the landlord while Bartley stealthily made his way to the designated apartment. The landlord said, “Ted has lived here for about 30 years, about when this apartment building was first built. I’ve been the landlord the entire time,” the old man beamed with pride, “and Ted’s never left. He seems to go to his job regular and always pays his rent on time.”

“Other than sleeping here, he always seems to be down the street at Burgers bar. He has no wife or family and seems happy that way, not bitter. He seems to enjoy his job and his days drinking beer at Burgers. I play cards with him now and again, but since I don’t drink, I don’t go down to Burgers with him.”

By that time, Bartley was through the mediocre locked door, into the apartment and had relocked the door behind him. Searching the apartment produced little of interest and actually, Bartley didn’t find much at all. The apartment was sparsely furnished with an old bed with a nightstand and oil lamp in the bedroom. The closet had about 12 changes of clothes, all mostly the same, and a warm winter jacket and snow boots that had seen better days.

The kitchenette had a small round table and two wood chairs. The stove looked like it had hardly ever been used but the coffee pot looked like it got daily use and was never cleaned. A wastebasket sat in the corner filled with old coffee grinds and several empty cans of beans. The sink had two coffee mugs in it and two spoons, which Bartley figured was probably twice the number of dishes that Conklin thinks he needs.

The cupboards were bare except for 4 bags of coffee, about 50 cans of pork and beans and a can opener. Under the wall heat register, Bartley found a discarded empty pack of matches labeled as being from Burgers Bar. He left it there and stealthily made his exit, relocking the door behind him.

As Bartley came around the corner, Dracona completed her distraction and inquired about when Conklin might return. “Well, if he isn’t working he’ll likely be found at the local bar, just half a block from here,” the landlord pointed the direction, “from 9 am in the morning to 1 am at night he’s drinking entire days away.”

Back at the bar, Archibald asked where he buys the horse blood and Conklin honestly responded, “Bought it at various places. Usually from peoples whose horse is very old and don’t charge much. Sometimes I’ve gotten lucky and heard about a horse going lame and get it free. I can’t recall ever buying it from the same person twice.”

They inquired about the three incidents of missing concrete from the past year and about who else worked at the construction sites who would know when the concrete was poured. He said, “Maybe a laborer or two, but I can’t recall anyone off hand. I’ll think on it. Each project was a different builder. Hmm, I guess the only folks who knew when I was doing a pour at them would be myself and my pals here at the bar.”

“So what do you think about the fourth incident?” Evgenia inquired. Conklin squinted at her and said, “Four? I thought there were only three.” “There was a fourth incident last night at the Browns building,” Archibald informed.

Conklin cursed and made ready to leave to go see for himself. He was irate about it and wanted to know who has been messing with his life work. “Who the hell would want to steal wet concrete?” he questioned as he gathered his things. “What in the world would you do with it? And why do they pour sand and water back into the holes? There’s no effective or quick way to separate it after it’s mixed. It just don’t make no sense. If I catch the fool that’s doing it, I’ll throttle him!”

That was when Evgenia noticed that a man in the bar who had been listening to the stories was actually chuckling about the conversation he just heard. Evgenia remembered the chuckling man’s face from the newspaper picture about the damaged construction site. He looked like one of the guys in the front of the crowd at the construction site that was damaged on July 17, 1891.

Knowing that Conklin was genuinely surprised by the news, and finding another person connected to the incidents, Archibald and Evgenia decided to let Conklin leave to go to the construction site. Instead of following Conklin, they approached the chuckling man. “You found something humorous,” Archibald noted to the man. “I was just listening,” the man said, “nothing else much to do in a bar but listen.” They could both tell that he was not being honest.

Sensing that they were suspicious of him, he informed Burger that he’d be going out the back. He left a tip on his table and retreated behind the bar to the kitchen and then out to the back door of the bar. “Athros,” Evgenia whispered before receiving a small tap that acknowledged that Dracona’s invisible fairy dragon familiar knew what to do.

The back door didn’t close immediately. The man walked almost to the end of the eight foot wide alley before looking behind him to see if he was being followed by anybody. He paused for a moment and then quietly said, “Follow,” before making his way out of the back alley.

Athros noticed a slight movement in a pile of garbage at the man’s request and then tailed the man from above. He walked through the back alleys and across streets for about three blocks before going into a brick office building. Athros made a mental note of the address and then flew back to the bar.

Archibald inquired with the bartender about who the man was. “Luther Grimes. He’s a relative newcomer, only been coming here about three years but he’s terse and unfriendly with the others, keeps to himself and isn’t considered to be one of the boys. If he’s upset you folks, that’s his problem.”

“Would you have his address,” Archibald inquired. “Not proper but I hear he lives about three blocks away from here.” Burger answered. “If you’ve got unpleasant dealings with him, I’d appreciate if you kept them outside my bar, though.”

“Rest assured, Mr. Burger, if our conversations with Mr. Grimes come to anything unpleasant, we’ll be certain to keep them away from your fine establishment,” Archibald assured. About that time, Dracona and Bartley returned to the bar and Dracona informed that Athros had information.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 113

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, May 28, through Wednesday, June 1, 1892
Turning a corner, Mickey paused. “This is where we were the last time,” he whispered, “me and Jackie.” The memories wrinkled his face in the lantern light. “We’d gone farther, just around the corner, and I’d decided we should leave when I saw all the big ones. We got to here when the rats seemed to think we shouldn’t leave and came after us.”

“Jackie,” he whispered. “He lagged behind me in the retreat. I noticed and looked back. He saw me and then charged the rats, took on the whole hoard of them, to give me time to get away.” Mickey’s eyes glistened. “I haven’t seen him since.” His jaw tightened as he spoke, “I’m here to make them rats pay for killing Jackie.”

“I think you’ll get the chance,” Evgenia whispered as she pointed her gun down the sewer tunnel. Bartley, who was ahead in the darkness, could see them, too. At least five of the man-sized rats, and as many swarms, had gathered at the junction up ahead, waiting for them.

Dracona didn’t see them in the darkness but Evgenia raised her rifle and shot at one of the rats as they began their charge forward. The rats were the man-sized ones and they didn’t seem to notice Bartley hidden in the tunnel as they charged past him to the others. Bartley let them pass him because he was after bigger game and he could feel it was near.

Mickey was on the one side of the tunnel and Archibald on the other side as the rats attacked them. Archibald fired at the man-sized rat that was charging him but it was not enough to stop it from biting him. The swarms moved closer and Bartley readied his elephant gun as he heard the sound of something big coming from around the corner.

The rat that came around the corner was probably the size of a horse. As it came into his sight, Bartley raised the level of his gun to compensate for its size and fired. His position given away by the blast from his rifle the beast charged and bit him.

Dracona blew fire upon the rats between Archibald and Mickey, setting one of them on fire. Evgenia changed her target to the behemoth that had turned the corner and shot it. The man-sized rats moved forward between them, attacking Archibald and Mickey again as the one on fire dove into the sewer water to douse itself.

Archibald took a step back around the corner and fired at the rat attacking him as the swarms got closer. Two of the swarms moved to Bartley to attack him and help their obvious pack leader. Bitten by the swarm, Bartley stepped back out of the swarm and fired again at the behemoth that continued to pursue and bite at him.

Dracona blasted the rats again, setting another ablaze as Evgenia continued to shoot the beast rat. One of the man-sized rats charged up to Evgenia to bite her while the others continued to attack Archibald, Mickey and Dracona. Archibald continued to back up and shoot the man-sized rat attacking him, finally killing it.

Then the swarms got to them, swarming Dracona, Mickey and Archibald, initially as one of the swarms on Bartley left and headed for Evgenia. Bartley quickly reloaded, stepped back toward his allies and fired at the beast rat that attacked him again. Dracona caught some of the swarms in her fiery breath and it seemed most effective against them.

Another of the man-sized rats died in the fire blast while Evgenia stepped away from the man-sized rat on her and shot the beast rat, again. Another man-sized rat doused itself in sewer water while the last three continued to attack Mickey, Dracona and Archibald. Archibald shot another man-sized rat dead and then switched to his shotgun as the swarms attacked them again.

Bartley backed off again, blasting the beast as it tried to bite him again. Dracona turned her fire breath to the swarm and man-sized rat attacking Evgenia, killing the man-sized rat. Evgenia evaded the rat swarm pursuing her and shot the beast rat again.

The man-sized rats continued to attack Mickey and Dracona as Archibald blasted the swarm with his shotgun. With the burning that Dracona had put on it, the shotgun blast was enough to kill that swarm. The remaining swarms continued to attack Mickey, Dracona, Evgenia and Bartley.

Bartley again took a step back toward his allies and shot the beast. It attacked him again but missed. The one man-sized rat had been in mortal combat with a vengeful Mickey and Mickey finally killed that rat. Bartley had gotten close enough that Dracona stepped up near him and blasted two rat swarms and the monster rat, killing the two swarms and setting the beast alight.

Evgenia stepped out of, literally ignoring, the rat swarm biting her and shot the beast again. Archibald blasted another swarm with the shotgun, killing that swarm before the other swarms attacked again. Bartley shot the monster rat and it slumped over in the tunnel, finally dead.

They wiped out the last of the swarms and man-sized rats with relative ease after the beast died. “We got ‘em for you, Jackie!” Mickey called out after the last rat died. It was Dracona who heard it then, a quiet noise at first but then louder and more persistent.

Following the noise around the corner and closer to the lair of the monster rat, they found a metal door that concealed a set of valves. Inside was a rat bitten, thin and mangy Jack Russell terrier. “Jackie!” Mickey called excitedly as he grabbed the dog and the two were reunited.

Bartley, in the meantime was examining the largest rat. It was the size of a horse and had six legs instead of the typical four. He could tell that such mutations were most likely due to magical manipulations. When she returned, Dracona confirmed his finding.

Bartley got his photograph with the biggest rat and he debated on whether to get the monstrosity stuffed or not. They helped Mickey take the rats out of the sewer so he’d get the credit at his job for them. He informed them that the city had decided to report the larger rats as smaller ones to avoid creating bad publicity for the city. And besides, they had taken care of the problem so it was handled.

Bartley and the others agreed to return to help search for more of the unusually large rats. Over the next couple of days, they continued to root out the last of the man-sized sewer rats. Another of the very large six-legged rats was not found and their first encounter with it was apparently at its lair.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 112

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, May 27, through Saturday, May 28, 1892
In New York they met with their Fellowship contact, Roland Molineux, in a nondescript office on the top story of a six story brick office building in Manhattan. Roland appeared about 24 years old, a dapper and athletic looking gentleman dressed in the most current fashion. His coat, with kidskin gloves showing from the pocket, top hat and ornate cane were on the coat tree and he told them that he had rooms for them at the Plaza Hotel (opened Oct. 1890) on 5th Avenue at 58th to 59th streets.

In New York it was not difficult to track down the sewer workers that claimed to see sewer rats as big as a man. The sewer workers and rat catchers were all employed by the city and tended to frequent the same hangouts. They purchased a city map and as they made their way to the main tavern, they got their story straight.

Entering, they got the usual cool welcome that most strangers would get. But, when they said they were interested in the man-sized rats, the interest perked up. People love to tell their stories and point out where they had seen a large rat. So, they were able to learn where the rats of unusual size had been seen around the city sewers as Evgenia diligently made notes representing the sightings and when they occurred on the map.

Bartley paid attention to each story, looking for clues that might indicate an upright standing rat or lycanthrope. He didn’t hear any reports of upright standing rats, walking rats or people among the rats. But, he made his first round lead and was ready to make his next rounds silver.

After getting all the stories they examined the marks on their city map and noticed an almost circular pattern that started a while ago and had been gradually expanding out from a central area. They also noticed that there were probably multiple large rats as some were seen within minutes of each other and could not physically cover the distance so quickly. So, rather than drop into the middle of the probable nest, they decided to make their way to the center from safer environs, just in case they needed a retreat.

Then, Archibald explained that Bartley was a big game hunter looking to add at least one of the man-sized rats to his list of kills. And, they wanted to hire somebody to act as their guide through the sewers. None of the men was readily interested in going down into that area, again.

Archibald offered to pay an exorbitant amount to whoever would guide them through the sewers. Some said they wouldn’t go for any amount of money but others started listing prices, well above what he’d offered. But before one of them could be hired, a grizzled older man, who had been silently observing throughout the night, spoke up.

“You all know that I know those sewers better than anybody.” The room fell silent as the grizzled man got up from his table and walked to Archibald and Bartley. “You’re planning to kill the big rats?”

“The bigger the better,” Bartley smiled, “and a photo with the dead beast. You see, a rat or the head of a rat, regardless of the size, is generally repulsive to people. I don’t want the carcass, just a photo with my kill rather than a taxidermy, wall hung mantelpiece.” As evidence of the statement, Evgenia produced her Kodak camera.

“You get to kill them and all I want is the credit with my boss. It’s my job. I’ll do it for free,” he said directly to the two men. “Well, whatever rats we get are yours,” Bartley agreed.

It seemed as if the grizzled man was going to say something else but instead he said, “I’m Michael O’Brien,” he said as they shook on the deal. “My friends call me Mickey but my coworkers call me ‘the mouser.’ I’ll answer to any of those and we can start first thing in the morning.”

There was some whispering from the other sewer workers and rat catchers as they left for the night. But, they couldn’t discern what the murmuring was about. In the morning, Mickey led them to where they could enter the sewers and in they went.

Mickey bagged several of the vermin as they traveled along. Then, they spotted some movement in the darkness, the glint of black eyes shining.

Archibald shot the rat but it kept coming and bit at him as a swarm of rodents attacked Mickey. Bartley shot the big rat, killing it, even though it was not as big as he had hoped. Evgenia was surprised and Dracona waited for Mickey to step away from the swarm before she blasted it with fire breath.

The swarm of rats attacked Bartley so he stepped away and shot them, dispersing the rat swarm. That was when they noticed that Mickey had an odor about him, an odor of food stuff that was apparently intended to attract the rats. Mickey mentioned that he has a family to feed as he marked the wall with what must have been his symbol to indicate the rat was his to claim.

As they traveled farther, Mickey occasionally slammed his bag of rats against the wall of the sewers. “Was that a big rat?” Bartley inquired with a disappointed air. “That’s one of the big ones but not the biggest,” Mickey promised as he continued on.

It was a larger rat that charged forth from the darkness of a side tunnel at a surprised Dracona. But, it could not penetrate her magical defenses and Archibald shot it. Evgenia, too, was surprised as a bunch of rats swarmed Bartley, biting him.

Bartley shot the larger rat in spite of the swarm as Dracona was futilely attacked by the big rat, again. Archibald shot the rat, killing it, and Evgenia shot the rat swarm. But the swarm of rats fled forward into the darkness at the fall of the big rat, many of them escaping through the sewers ahead.

Mickey looked back at them with squinted eyes. “Well, normally that means that they’re headed back to their nest,” he informed. “I followed them one time and this is a big one,” he said poking the dead rat that indeed was man-sized.

“I didn’t get a look at the one but the eyes were bigger than this one, as wide apart as a man’s shoulders. Seeing that I thought, ‘maybe I don’t want to go here,’ to myself.” “That’s what we’re looking for,” Archibald said. “I thought it might be,” Mickey smiled a toothy grin.

“Now, even though I saw the big eyes, I noticed it wasn’t alone,” he whispered cautiously. “There were others, probably the size of this one, but how many I didn’t take the time to count, you understand. It was a few months ago and I haven’t been this way since. It is a ways up this way and we may not see any more until we get there.”

“I assume that there are swarms there, too, because that’s the way the swarm of rats went. We might need to rethink this,” Bartley suggested. “If we go out and pick up some shot guns, they work better against the rat swarms,” he advised. “I’ve heard that to be true,” Mickey agreed.

“If this is where they were a month ago, I’d guess they’ll be here when we return. So, I’d suggest we leave, pick up some nice shotguns and shells, and return fully prepared for what lies ahead,” Bartley recommended. “Would you like a photo with this one,” Evgenia suggested as she feigned getting out the camera and flash powder. “It may be the last photo they take of you,” Archibald quipped. “I’ll wait for the really big one,” Bartley answered.

They exited the sewer, helping Mickey to retrieve the two larger rats for turning in at work. Before Mickey took the catch in for his quota, they inquired about a gun shop in the city. Mickey could not offer advice on where to buy a shotgun in the city.

So, they did some asking around and found a gun shop where they could buy Winchester Model 1887 lever action 10 gauge shotguns and cartridges. Bartley leaned over to the proprietor and quietly asked, “Would you have something a little shorter with less of a stock, something more like a shotgun pistol?”

The man smiled wryly as he bent down and retrieved a sawed off shotgun from under the display counter. “Might this be what you’re looking for? It’s had a few modifications to make it smaller.” Bartley bought the sawed off shotgun while others got regular shotguns. Armed with weapons useful against the smaller vermin and their other weapons, they rejoined their guide and returned to the sewers.

As Mickey led the way into the sewers, again, Archibald followed. Bartley had Evgenia wait so he could cast a spell upon the two of them to allow them to see in the dark. Dracona again cast her protections before entering. As they followed their guide, they moved past the previous position and further toward the nest.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 111

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, March 3, through Friday, May 27, 1892
On January 10, 1892, Fredryck’s Grenadier Guard uncle on his mother’s side, George Patrick Hyde Villiers, died at age 44. In addition, Fredryck’s uncle on his father’s side, Edward Henry Stanley (15th Earl of Derby), contracted influenza in 1891 that still plagued him. Fredryck’s cousin Beryl died March 31, 1889, at only three months old and the family doctor said it was influenza. Fredrcyk was not sure if Edmund Fields, who had sworn vengeance upon them and their families in October of 1888, had some hand in the deaths of Beryl and George and in his uncle Edward’s illness.

But after the death of his uncle, Fredryck had alerted Adoline’s hired bodyguard, Adoline’s best friend Brina, that Edmund Fields may be pursuing Adoline. So, it was Adoline’s “friend” Brina that caught Fredryck’s interest when Brina changed her hair to the same style as Adoline, began wearing strikingly similar clothes to those of Adoline, and even colored her hair to match Adoline’s. She’d giggle girlishly about it with Adoline, claiming that best friends sometimes just have the same tastes.

Fredryck, as Brina’s employer, knew her true purpose. If Edmund Fields was indeed making good on his threat to murder their families, Brina was the first line of defense for his betrothed Adoline. Bringing confusion to a potential assailant was Brina’s motive behind the similarities.

In mid March, Bartley received a telegram from Julia that his Uncle Carlos recently died after a bout with influenza. On March 20 at only the age of 41, Aurthor Goring Thomas, who Archibald hired last year to compose music for his theatrical production, apparently committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. In early April, Evgenia received a telegram indicating that an uncle of hers in Romania had passed away from influenza.

With spring in the air, Dracona’s street corner performances with the harp playing Ovila were drawing much attention. Dracona had not seen Don Marco Marciano for some time and honestly didn’t know why when one of Don Marco’s “associates” quietly came to inquire about the last time she’d seen him. But, with her occasional performances at Archibald’s theater, she and Ovila were drumming up business for the theater, the harp shop and themselves.

So it was unusual when Ovila simply failed to show up the Sunday morning of April 17. Investigating, they learned that Ovila left the night before with a plain looking average man, and he hadn’t been seen since. Ovila’s harp was still in the room he rented with his street corner earnings.

As the summer grew nearer, Adoline was excited because her medical studies at Oxford were coming to an end. She had been accepted to continue her medical studies at King’s College Hospital, in London, a top surgical hospital in Europe and a lot closer to Fredryck than Oxford. In 1877, Joseph Lister performed the first major elective surgery under aseptic conditions and Adoline was intent on extending her medical knowledge into the field of surgery. She was scheduled to start at King’s in August.

It was May 12 when Evgenia received a frantic call from Adoline. Adoline had returned from class to find their dormitory room in a shambles. Brina was missing and Adoline was using the Oxford University Press telephone to call for help. Evgenia requested the crime scene be sealed until they arrived, contacted Fredryck and the others, and the group quickly made their way to Oxford.

Arriving at Oxford, Adoline met them and described what she knew. She and Brina had stopped by the dorm before class. Brina seemed to get excited once they entered the dorm, she grabbed the books and insisted they leave immediately, citing that they didn’t want to be late for class. They nearly ran to class where they took seats for a little bit before Brina insisted on going back to their dorm for some notes she’d left behind. She promised she’d be back before the lecture ended and asked Adoline to take thorough notes.

But Brina never returned. When the lecture ended, Adoline quickly went to their dormitory, expecting to find Brina there. Instead, she found the place trashed. Adoline was afraid that Brina may have startled a burglar and that something dreadful had happened to her.

The house mother of the dorm allowed them passage into the dormitory and one could tell that there had been a struggle in the room. Searching, they found an open bottle of chloroform in the wardrobe. Evgenia went into a trance to see what had occurred.

Evgenia‘s vision went back to when Adoline and Brina first entered the dorm as she verbalized what she was seeing. She saw Brina notice something out of place. “The framed photograph of you and Brina on the dresser,” she called aloud, “It was out of place.”

They looked at the dresser but the photograph was not there. Evgenia watched Adoline and Brina leave and her vision moved forward. “There was somebody else in the room,” she announced. Adoline gasped. “He came out after you left, picked up the photograph again.”

She put out her hand as if to touch something. “Fields,” Evgenia gasped as she suddenly withdrew her hand. “He saw her returning from the window, hid in the wardrobe, prepared the chloroform.” Evgenia cringed as she watched Fields surprise his prey, witnessed their struggle, saw Brina succumb to the chloroform and finally saw Edmund Fields leave with Brina in a canvas bag slung over his shoulder.

Then Evgenia was out of the vision. “I think I found that photograph,” Bartley said as they pushed aside the dresser and retrieved a framed photograph, its glass shattered and on the floor behind the dresser. Handing it to Evgenia, she put out her hand and touched the photograph of Brina. “I saw his reflection in the glass,” she informed.

“It says Adoline on this side,” they observed. “So,” Adoline said, “we know who we are.” “This is how he determined who was Adoline,” Evgenia said as she looked to Adoline. “You were the target and this photograph made him think he had you.”

“Who is he?” Adoline questioned. Evgenia looked to Fredryck and he requested some time alone with Adoline so that he could explain about Edmund Fields. The others obliged and waited outside.

Not wanting to dally, they began questioning people in and around the dorm. Nobody saw anything unusual. The laundry service came to pick up the laundry and left as they always did on that day of the week.

It didn’t take long for them to locate the laundry cart. It had been left at a hansom stop and eventually was reported as abandoned. Inside the laundry cart they found the normal bags of laundry an the regular laundry man, quite dead and missing his uniform.

Bartley found scrape marks on the floor inside the cart. Laundry sacks don’t usually leave marks and the marks indicated that something was dragged across it. They surmised that Brina had been put in a trunk when she was put in the laundry cart. Any witnesses they could find indicated that the cart driver loaded a trunk onto his hansom and drove off leaving the cart.

Norrington was waiting for them at Yermak Investigations when they returned. He’d gotten word of the attack and thought that it might be good for them to leave the country. He also thought it might be best to split them up for a time. Fredryck agreed so he and Adoline were going to leave.

For safety, they didn’t tell anybody when or where they were going but Fredryck would depart with Adoline, to protect her. Bloom had gotten the others a Fellowship assignment to get them out of the country and neither was be told where the others were going.

So, Archibald, Bartley, Dracona and Evgenia were sent to the USA for a mission in the sewers of New York. There had been strange reports in Manhattan, New York, concerning rats and he wanted them to investigate. It was suspected that a were-rat may be involved because a “rat the size of a man” had been reported.

Bartley griped a bit about always going to Yankee locations. Archibald mused that all of the Americans were Yankees, as far as the British were concerned. But with little resistance, they boarded the Germanic in Liverpool on May 18 and arrived in New York on May 27, 1892.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 110

Clockwork 1888 Date: Wednesday, March 2, 1892
The address from Mori Qian, the note in Mori Chun’s apartment and the police led to Thorn’s apartment. Dracona sent Athro up to listen at the door. Voices inside seemed to be convincing a person that their help was needed to save Britain. Because Athro had spied on one of the people in the room before, he recognized the one voice as Nero.

Reporting back, they decided to approach the door. Bartley used a spell to look like Mori Chun’s sergeant from the police station while the others went just down the hall from the door. Then Bartley knocked on the door at 9 Kensington Garden Apartments and announced himself as Mori Chun’s Sergeant.

They could hear some shuffling beyond the door. Then, the person that answered the door was not the same Kevin Thorn that they met in March of 1889. Because the person they knew as Kevin Thron was dead, it was not unexpected.

“May I come in,” Bartley inquired in his best Sergeant voice. The man who answered the door looked back to somebody else in the room, apparently gaining approval to admit them. Stepping away to admit them, Thorn commented, “Did you bring the whole squad?”

As they moved in, Archibald stayed back as they noticed Nero standing by Mori Chun. “Please, all of you come in,” Nero suggested, “so we can close the door and discuss thing.” Archibald moved in but Evgenia stayed in the doorway. Expecting to close the door, Thorn looked to Nero, again. “Please, let us close the door so we can talk privately,” Nero suggested.

“No need to talk, I just need Officer Mori to come with me,” Bartley insisted. “But,” Nero surmised, “you are not who you appear to be and Mori is needed by his country.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” Bartley continued to insist. “I need you to come to the yard with me,” he said stepping closer to Mori Chun. “Let’s go, Mori,” he said.

“Mori, your country needs you,” Nero rebutted. “That’s what I’m here for,” Bartley answered. “I’ll explain back at the station.” “Honestly, Sergeant, I believe that I need to help this man and his associates for the sake of Britain,” Mori decided.

They could tell that Mori was not under a spell. He was totally convinced that he needed to help Nero and that it was for Britain. But, Mori seemed to have decided as he reached into his pocket and handed his badge to Bartley. “I’m sorry sir, but I really must do this.”

“What do you have to do?” Bartley questioned. “I don’t know but I’m convinced I must help them for Britain,” Mori answered. “Come with me,” Bartley insisted. “You give me no choice but to take you in,” Bartley tried to grab Mori’s arm.

“I have already explained it to Mori and he is convinced that we need his help to protect Britain. If you will just let me explain everything to you then we won’t have to do any of this,” Nero insisted, “in private, of course.” Thorn motioned that Evgenia could control the door and she closed it.

“I am saving people. I am reuniting children with their parents, reuniting orphans with their families. Is that so bad? The value of family cannot be measured by money or faith. It is something that transcends morality. It is a calling that I can only hope to live up to,” Nero explained.

“Many years ago, the children of the Knightsbridge Orphan Asylum were tricked into consuming the flesh of a demon,” Nero paused to let that sink in. “I have to gather those children together in order to destroy the creature once and for all. Otherwise, it will release itself little by little as they die.”

“The death of Drew McIntyre was unfortunate. He refused to join me. Of course, someone who is not my ally is a potential enemy. I regret that I had to kill McIntyre but,” he stressed, “I wouldn’t have killed him without good reason. If I killed him without cause, I’d be insane.”

“If you will join me,” he concluded his pitch, “I will promise to contact you to help me deliver the final blow to the demon.” Nero seemed pleased with himself, as if that were enough to convince them of the purity of his intentions. “Will you join me, like Chun has?”

They could tell that Nero was absolutely telling the truth. He was trying to find all the orphans and use them to permanently kill the demon. He did intend to kill the demon, not imprison or use it. And he doesn’t want to kill any of the children he seeks, although he has no morals and would do so with no hesitation if they refuse to cooperate.

Chun began, “Nero told me his life story and we have reached an understanding. Britain needs us for an upcoming challenge. I don’t particularly like the way he operates, but saving Britain has narrowly edged out attacking Nero for his misdeeds. Narrowly,” Chun added as he stepped closer to Nero.

As silence fell upon the room, Nero drew Mori closer to him. Apparently, their thinking about his offer was taking too long for Nero to wait because he ushered Mori into the bedroom. “I’ll wait for your answer in here,” Nero indicated as he signaled something to Kevin Thorn.

But, they knew he wouldn’t be back when skeletons came pouring out of the bedroom.

Archibald rushed Thorn and shoved him back 10 feet. Bartley cast a spell and moved as the skeletons moved in and attacked. They could hear Morbius ask Nero, “You don’t really need me for this, do you?” Nero responded, “As a matter of fact, I don’t need me for this either.”

Thorn attacked Archibald but missed. Archibald inspired his allies as Evgenia shot a skeleton and Dracona blasted a line of fire upon four of the skeletons wiping out two of them. Within a short time, the skeletons and Kevin Thorn were destroyed.

Reporting back, Lawrence Bloom was interested in Nero’s claim about a demon. He promised to turn that information over to the Oracles to see if it was even possible that Nero’s claim was true.

They told Bloom about Kevin Thorn and that he was a different Kevin Thorn back in America. He was very interested because Bloom also knew about a Kevin Thorn in Ipswich who claimed to be a reporter for the London Times, but whose credentials turned out to be forged. That man turned up dead in the Thames last February. But, so far as Bloom knows, no one named Nero was involved.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 109

Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, March 1, through Wednesday, March 2, 1892
After a visit to “Uncle” Bloom’s for dinner, the PCs were sent to investigate the links between Thomas Hill, Drew McIntyre and ties to the Knightsbridge Orphan Asylum. They began their visit at the Pentonville prison in Islington.

Mary Whitaker, who was imprisoned after the London Fires, 9/21/1888, was once a ward of the Orphan Asylum and was in jail for arson and serving a 7 year prison term, which started September of 1888. She still expects that her self-proclaimed lover, Trystan, will come to rescue her. Speaking with the prison guards, they were granted ten minutes of observed visitation.

Of course, Mary recognized them as the ones who put her in prison and wanted to know what they wanted. Archibald convinced her that if she cooperated, they would do what they could to get her an early release from prison. Mary knew that although he was not with them, they were in league with an aristocrat who might be able to pull some political strings. So, she told them whatever they wanted to know. After all, she needs to get back home so that she can re-ignite a beacon for her soul mate so that he can find her.

Mary entered the orphanage in 1871 as a baby and left in 1887. When she was 6, Trystan saved her from a ghost that was menacing the orphanage. In 1879, he returned to London to investigate some fires so in 1888, she decided to start some fires, thinking that her love Trystan would return again. Instead, she was arrested for committing multiple arsons (including Blooms home).

They could tell that Mary was not entirely sane. Although she knows that the fires were wrong, she is certain that it was the right thing to do to attract Trystan. She continued to try to “reason” with them, explaining that once Trystan comes for her everything will be ok. However, she has also decided that if Trystan doesn’t return by the time she gets out of prison, she will settle for marrying Thomas Jacobs, who is a nice boy.

When asked about Thomas Jacobs, she told them that he visited her shortly after she was sentenced for several arsons, back in 1888. He claimed that this was all his fault and promised her that he was going to turn his life around and wait for her. She values his devotion to her, and she wonders if he is willing to be second place in her heart. She can’t wait for Trystan forever and needs to start thinking about family. Thomas said he was going to work for someone named Hyde.

Mary doesn’t remember Thomas McAllister (Hill). Mary and Drew McIntyre got along ok. She remembers him as an optimistic attractive young man with strong values. Not as beautiful as Trystan, but cute. She hasn’t seen him since she left the asylum and hooked up with Thomas Jacobs. A reporter from New York named Kevin Thorn asked her about Drew in about 1888.

Kevin Thorn returned two weeks ago to ask her about Mori Chun. She remembers Mori as grateful to the asylum for caring for him after his mother’s death in 1879. But, she never really “knew” him. He was Chinese, and so she didn’t talk to him much.

With their questions answered, they headed to visit Edwin Hyde at the gambling establishment. As usual, Hyde was pleased to see them and looked forward to playing 38 Special with some real card players, even if he did lose the last time. But, Archibald, Dracona and Evgenia managed to win enough to get useful information from him.

Michael McAllister worked for Hyde back when he was a humble spice merchant. McAllister was his agent in Istanbul. He died in a horrible accident in 1883, shortly after the baby’s birth. McAllister’s wife went to live with her mother, but they couldn’t afford to care for their newborn son, Thomas. Hyde promised the mother that the boy would be well cared for and made arrangements for the orphan asylum to take the infant.

Thomas Jacobs came to work for Hyde after Mary Whittaker went to Pentonville Prison for arson in 1888. Sometimes Thomas goes back to the opium den. He is a hard worker, but is not at all reliable. So Hyde only uses him for manual labor.

Jacobs is so bad at poker, that it makes Hyde physically sick. He has told Jacobs that he will kill him if he ever gambles again (and Jacobs correctly believed him). Currently, Thomas works at one of Hyde’s warehouses.

A reporter from New York, Kevin Thorn, asked Hyde about Drew McIntyre back in 1888. But, he was not a good poker player, so Hyde told him little to nothing.

Kevin Thorn is currently looking for Mori Chun. He says that he has information regarding his mother’s murder. He came to see Hyde a few weeks ago.

Mori Chun was five when his father went to prison for the murder of his mother back in 1879. Today, Chun is a police constable. One of the few who doesn’t work for Hyde, but then again, Chun is still young.

Mori has strong patriotic feelings and values British culture. He appreciates the orphan asylum for caring for him after his mother’s murder. He adores the country for supporting him when his parents could not. And with Hyde’s information, they sought Thomas Jacobs.

Thomas Jacobs was not at the opium den where they found him in 1888. So they got Hyde to call ahead and went to the warehouse. Thomas was currently clean and working at the warehouse, although that could change at the drop of a hat. He confessed the following:

He doesn’t remember Thomas (McAllister) Hill at all. He does recall Drew McIntyre as a good looking fellow that the girls fawned over. He didn’t remember anything noteworthy about Drew though.

He hasn’t been back to see Mary since 1888. He is sad about that as she was the only woman who ever loved him and he is trying to save enough money to marry her when she is released from prison. He remembers Stanley Miller, but he doesn’t know about his disappearance or where Katherine Miller was. He remembers Katherine Miller as a very nice lady and an excellent cook.

He also mentioned that Hyde says that Jacobs is such a terrible poker player that he won’t let him play in his establishment any more. While Thomas hasn’t given up opium completely, he has given up gambling.

With their recent visit to Katherine Miller after the Bolton incident, they recalled the following. Her husband, Stanley, was a vicar for the Church of England. Miller ministered to the spiritual needs of children in Knightsbridge’s orphan asylum from 1875 until around 1883. He also helped run the orphanage.

Katherine was a cook at the orphanage at the same time. Sometime around 1884, Stanley Miller disappeared. After his disappearance, Katherine stayed at the asylum for a while, trying to help the children in his absence. But, by late 1885 she gave up hope and moved home to Kilburn. Her father died in 1886. Her mother passed away in 1888.

Stanley used to travel a lot to promote a social club he was in. He used to bring home wonderful souvenirs for her and for the children. She shared some of Stanley’s things with the orphans, but kept most of them for herself. The PCs came to visit her in 1888 and took all of Stanley’s things.

In exchange, they paid for her to take a trip to America to visit her son Steven, his wife Beth and her grandson Robin. It was a wonderful trip and breathed life into her old body. They had even seen a picture of her grandson that was sent to her a couple months ago. He is four now.

Her son, Steven, works for The Free Library of Philadelphia and everyone there seems to respect him very much. Katherine doesn’t specifically remember any children from the orphanage by name. She does remember that she cooked them treats and sometimes misses them.

Well into the night, they decided to check the police station for Mori Chun. Constable Mori Chun didn’t report for duty that morning. He had requested some time off from the Sergeant to pursue a personal investigation. The other officers know the following.

Constable Mori is a good cop. Very idealistic, there are some things that they just don’t talk about around him. Things like premarital sex, side jobs (bribes), and the sanctity of marriage. There are no shades of gray in Mori’s world.

Mori is devoted to Britain. He thought about going into the army, but decided that he could do the people of Britain a better service by working here rather than abroad. When Mori was six years old, his father murdered his mother and he was taken in by the orphan asylum. The other officers think it is a tribute to the asylum that he has such a good character and strong values.

Earlier this week a reporter named Kevin Thorn came looking for Mori. It was a family matter and the other officers don’t know what it was about. Thorn said that Mori could contact him at Kensington Gardens apartments (#9). In addition, they also found an officer that knew that Thorn also visited the Pentonville Prison to talk to Mori Qian, Chun’s father.

Kevin Thorn visited two people at the Pentonville Prison in Islington. He visited Mary Whittaker in 1888 and again this year, and also Mori Qian just this year. The two don’t know about each other.

Thorn told Qian that if his son asked, to tell him that Thorn and his employer were under his (Qian’s) employ at one point in time and to trust them. Thorn said that doing this would help ensure that his son served a higher purpose in life than Qian could ever give him and that Chun should at least listen to their offer.

Thorn’s employer is Nero Rose, a wealthy hunter who only recently returned from India. Qian was told that Thorn is staying at Kensington Gardens apartments (#9) in London so that he could tell his son, Chun.

Qian and his wife owned a small restaurant in Chelsea. When Chun was born in 1874, it created a financial hardship that the couple never overcame. Disgraced at his inability to care for his family, Chun left his wife. When the police told him she had been murdered, he knew that she had taken her own life because of his failings. It was his fault. He didn’t want her to be known to have died shamefully by taking her own life, so he told the police that he did it.

Qian knows that even if he could reunite with his son after his release from prison, he will never redeem himself for his failure as a father. Thorn made Qian feel that Thorn and Nero would be better for his son than he, himself would be if he ever got out of jail. Now that Qian thinks about it, while he truly believed Thorn when they were talking he now doesn’t think it was a good decision to trust the man.

They wanted to search Mori Chun’s apartment. It is a small unit in a complex where all of the residents are Chinese. There is no evidence of foul play at the apartment. Two police uniforms are in the closet. Several dressers and such have spaces in them which might indicate that some clothes have been packed. A dust outline of a suitcase sized object can be found on the hardwood floor in the back of the closet.

There are a three legal letters, two are five years and one is three years old. They indicate that Mori Chun’s father, Mori Qian, is incarcerated at Pentonville prison in Islington. There are no details about the charges. The first letter (1887) is a notification of severe illness of Mori Qian, the second about a month later is about his recovery, and the third (1888) is a court notification that ten years of the twenty year sentence have been served and that he is now eligible for early release and further says that if early release is ever approved, advance notice will be sent to Mori Chun.

A scrap of waded up paper in the kitchen trash can says “Kensington Gardens Apartments #9. Comparing that to other papers in the apartment shows that it is in the same handwriting.

In the morning they talked to the asylum caretaker. Thomas McAllister (Hill) was born in 1883 and adopted by Steven and Margaret Hill of Boston, Massachusetts in 1884. Thomas came to the asylum by way of one of the local supporters, Edwin Hyde. The documentation doesn’t specify how Hyde came to have the child.

Drew McIntyre left the asylum when he turned 15, 4 years ago. When Drew was ten (1882), he sometimes helped care for the infants. This would have included Thomas McAllister (Hill).

Mori Chun was left in the care of the orphan asylum when his mother died in 1879. He turned 15 in 1888 and left the asylum. Mary Whittaker and Thomas Jacobs left the asylum when they turned 15.

A reporter from New York named Kevin Thorn was also asking about Drew McIntyre in about February of 1888, I remember the date because it was just after I started working here. Drew was murdered in March of 1888. The same reporter visited the asylum again last month, asking about Mori Chun.

With all the information they could gather, they decided to visit the Kensington Gardens, apartment #9, in London.

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Clockwork 1888 Session 108

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, February 8, 1892
Disembarking from the train, Fredryck was emphatically greeted by Adoline as Evgenia and Dracona followed. Anticipating the delay, Archibald and Bartley had made their way to exit from the front of the car. But as the others were getting off the train, a gunshot broke through the night air as a man appeared out of nowhere.
Another man appeared out of nowhere, charged up to Fredryck and pounded him with brass knuckles. A woman also appeared as she fired at them. Then the area went silent as another man appeared from thin air. And, finally, a fifth person appeared and fired at them.

From the mental images she had gotten, Evgenia recognized the assailants as the five that had killed Vensa in Trondheim. Fredryck moved up, drawing his sword and attacking, as the others exited the train with most taking up firing positions. Evgenia drew a pistol and fired but Archibald was feeling bold and moved in to flank the brute with Fredryck.

The brute struck at Fredryck, again, as the other man and woman fired and the mage cast protections upon himself. Bartley fired as did the other opponent. Then Dracona moved into position and magically protected herself.

The gunfire scattered people while Brina, Peter and James took Adoline, Fenn and Debbie from the immediate scene and to cover behind one of the support posts near the carriages on the street. Brina, Adoline, Peter and Debbie drew pistols to defend their position. Peter and Debbie were the only two firing, though, because Brina insisted that Adoline not make herself a target by shooting. “Fredryck needs to focus on the enemy so we shouldn’t worry him by joining the fight,” Brina insisted.

Fredryck struck at the brute thrice, hitting hard with two of the blows. Evgenia shot the brute while Archibald swung his sword cane but barely grazed the brute. Enraged, the brute swung wildly at Fredryck and then shifted out of being flanked by stepping next to Fredryck. The man and woman shot again, missing Evgenia but hitting Archibald solidly.

Then the mage saw an opportunity. Bartley recognized the spell but it was too late to warn anybody as the lightning bolt tore through Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, and Fredryck. Archibald was able to dodge it completely but the others got caught in it as the mage moved up and unleashed his next barrage. A semicircular burst of fire sprayed from the mage’s hands to engulf Bartley and Archibald. Bartley cast a spell to increase his strength in preparation for melee combat as he moved into melee.

The acolyte said a prayer for his allies and then moved up to the brute and touched him, healing him. But, Dracona too caught an opportunity to use her own fire as she blasted the brute, the acolyte and the mage. The mage was not as agile as the other two so Dracona’s fiery breath set him on fire.

But, the acolyte seemed unfazed by her blast. So, Dracona blasted the three of them, again. Shots came from Peter and Debbie as Brina ushered Adoline and James toward their carriage and farther away from the fight.
Fredryck moved up and swung at the mage, who had gotten a little too close when he used his burning hands. The blow was silenced by the effect in the area but his sword ripped through the flaming mage’s body, practically cutting him in two. Before the acolyte could even react, Fredryck cleaved into the acolyte, slaying him too.

The two deaths signaled a definite turn in the combat and Evgenia shot the brute as Archibald, with the brute not next to him, drew a gun and fired at one of the assassins but missed. The brute stepped up to Fredryck, enraged at the deaths of the others, punched Fredryck twice. The female switched from using her gun and almost gleefully drew a large knife. But her attack missed Bartley and the other assassin shot at Bartley, still missing due to Bartley’s magical protections.

Bartley stepped up to the female assassin and struck her as Dracona stepped up to the brute and breathed fire upon him, setting him aflame, too. After tearing the mage and acolyte apart with his sword, Fredryck was in a rhythm as he sliced heavily into the enraged brute, killing him, too.

Evgenia shot the female assassin and Peter, who had moved closer, shot her too. Archibald joined in the attacks upon the woman assassin. The assassins withdrew from the combat, the woman trailing the man. Bartley decided to put out the burning body of the mage as Dracona did the same to the brute. Fredryck ran around to cut off the fleeing assassins.

Evgenia, Peter and Archibald shot at the fleeing assassins as they ran up and got into their carriage. Bartley tried to stabilize the acolyte but it was too late to save him. Dracona ran up to the carriage and blasted it with fire but the assassins avoided it. By this time, James, the Yermak butler, and Adoline had gotten to their Mercedes’ and were starting them.

Fredryck moved up to the carriage horse and grabbed the reins of the horse to keep the signals from moving the horse. Evgenia moved up and shot at the figures in the carriage, hitting the woman. Peter shot too but missed and Archibald advanced and shot the female assassin, dropping her.

To live to fight another day, the male assassin dropped the reins and dashed across the street, fleeing into the night to escape capture. With the battle over, the whistles of the bobbies filled the night. Peter got close enough to the femal assassin to recognize that she had come to Yermak Investigations the prior day.

“She explained that she was seeking Evgenia’s help in having her husband followed to see where he had been going of late,” Peter explained. “I offered to start the investigation but she insisted that it had to be Evgenia,” he continued. “We had gotten your telegram from Aberdeen so I told her that we expected you back tomorrow. I didn’t know she was…” his voice trailed off.

“You’re fired,” Evgenia told Peter bluntly. Peter was shocked at the finality of her statement and couldn’t even speak to defend himself. “He was hired to take care of your business while you were away. This isn’t his fault,” Archibald defended the befuddled Peter.

“I was joking,” Evgenia softened. “There was no way for you to know that she was after us. Even if I had told you to be on the lookout, all they had to do is watch the business and follow you when you left. There was nothing you could have done.”

The arriving bobbies recognized Evgenia and the others. They inquired with Fredryck if he would cooperate with their investigations into the events of the evening as other bobbies were gathering witnesses to the train station attack. Bartley had stabilized the captured female assassin so that they could to turn her over for later questioning by the detectives.

With the mass of confusion, the bobbies were holding everybody at the train station until it was all sorted out. Luckily, Norrington arrived on short order and released them to go check out the hotel key found on the one person. Getting to the hotel, they found that the one room had been hastily vacated. Descriptions were provided to the police to be on the lookout for the escaped male assassin.

The phylactery was still safely in Fredryck’s possession and they went as soon as they could to meet with Bloom. Back in Bloom’s well-appointed study, Bloom was pleased that they had succeeded. He also advised them that it would be a good idea to stay out of Sweden until some of the Fellowship’s Ambassadors can smooth things over with the authorities. As they turned over the phylactery to Bloom for destruction or whatever the Fellowship had planned for it, they also informed him of the grave news that their contact in Sweden had been murdered.

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