Clockwork-1888

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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Clockwork 1888 Session 107

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clockwork 1888 Session 106

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 105

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View
Clockwork 1888 Session 104

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clockwork 1888 Session 103

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clockwork 1888 Session 102

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clockwork 1888 Session 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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