Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, June 4, through Sunday, June 5, 1892
After seeing the montage, they were all visibly upset. Then, there was a sudden flash that filled the room. Everyone saw the flash of light but Evgenia noticed that it was from the side in the air return grate by the ceiling. Moments later there was a rambling sound through various ventilation ducts. It was impossible to not hear the racket as something clanked and whirred with noise as something moved through the ventilation system.
Evgenia pried the grate off and Bartley put Tumbleweed into the duct to see what was in it. They could see the pan still just behind the grate where the flash powder had created the flash. Tumbleweed followed the miniature railroad type tracks into the ducting and peered over the edge where it turned downward. He could just catch a glimpse of the box-like camera moving downward into the darkness of the ducting.
They could tell the contraption was heading down and decided to make their way down to try and find where its destination was. Taking the charcoal drawings of those that they knew from the walls, they made haste down the stairs following the racket until they noted that the noise came to an abrupt end somewhere in the basement.They went down the stairs and back to the photography studio to go into the basement.
Before opening the door, they used the cord and cross from St. Andrew to heal themselves as much as they could. As they opened the door to the basement and started down the dark stone stairs, Bartley used out of character knowledge and used his cane to turn on the light switch. A sizzling sound came from the switch but the light in the stairwell did not come on.
Dracona lit one of her fire breathing torches to shed some light down the stairwell and noticed a door-less entryway to the left at the bottom. The opening below had a threshold of silver with runes inscribed on it. Bartley and Dracona were able to discern that the runes were a ward to contain undead and Archibald recalled Grimes bragging about some control over the dead.
But what they sought was down there so they proceeded with caution. Crossing the threshold they entered an unlit maze of wood crates and bookcases with Dracona’s torchlight. Bartley led the way in with Dracona, Archibald and Evgenia following, staying within the radius of the torchlight.
Recalling the layout of the building, Archibald figured that the resting place of the camera was in the back corner of the basement. Picking their way carefully over about 80 feet to where the noise had come to a halt, they approached a large furnace. They deduced that the item in the ventilation probably stopped at or near the outside air inlet to the furnace.
Before they could investigate further, a ghastly aberration of a gray haired man, the light glowing eerily against its sickly green translucent flesh, rushed forth from the darkness of the room to attack. Evgenia was nearest to its position and it wasted no time in slashing into her.
Evgenia had heard its noise, stepped away from the ghoul and shot it but it didn’t harm it as much as expected. Archibald fired and missed but Dracona stepped closer and blew fire at it. Shirking off the flaming barrage, the ghoul came after Evgenia again, biting her hard and clawing her.
Bartley cast a spell upon his Winchester and shot the ghoul. That shot the creature felt completely as Evgenia stepped back again and shot at it, but missed. Archibald shot, too, but it shirked the damage off. Dracona blasted it with fire, again, and this time she set the creature alight.
The creature put himself out rather than attacking Evgenia, again. Bartley shot the creature, the magic enhancement of the rifle affecting the ghoul more than regular gunfire. Evgenia backed up and shot it, again, as Archibald did the same.
Dracona set the the ghoul on fire, again, forcing it to spend time putting itself out, again. Bartley shot it again, as did Evgenia but Archibald’s shot hit a crate. Dracona tried to engulf him in fire, again, but the ghoul evaded it and attacked her, only landing a claw before Bartley shot it and it fell to the floor in stillness.
With the ghoul a lifeless husk, Evgenia recognized the creature as Orson Squire Fowler, a man who had developed an octagonal house and was prominently known for his phreneticist theories. She had read that he had died in 1887. As she was informing the others about their re-dead foe, Archibald noticed that her bite wound would probably need some medical attention when they left.
But, first they had to get what they came for. Bartley worked on opening up the ducting while the others searched for the skulls of Mangas and Guiteau. Getting into the duct work, they found where the miniature railroad tracks came to an end. The duct led to the outside, to admit air, and the external grate had been removed, showing that morning had come.
Instead of the camera, though, they found a sealed envelope sealed in red wax with no drip out of place. The typing on the envelope had their names typed in the exact center of the envelope. Inside the envelope was an invitation that read, “Please meet me at Irving Hall immediately regarding your current mission.” The invitation was on white linen paper and meticulously assembled like a wedding invitation with the note exactly centered on the card with no smudges.
They knew that Irving Hall was near Union Square in Manhattan, not far from where they were. It was a large ballroom/dance hall that was usually closed during that hour and operated by the criminal element currently runs the building. Knowing that they’d spent enough time in Grimes’ building, they snuck out and made their way to Irving Hall.
Because they were passing close enough to the Plaza Hotel, they gave Athros the sack with skulls and sent him to drop them on the balcony of their room. They weren’t sure if Fields wanted the skulls for some bizarre purpose or not. But, they thought it best to arrive without them.
When they arrived at the hall, they showed their invitation to the man at the front door who said he would take them in to see the boss. “And who is the boss, so that we may properly address him?” Evgenia inquired politely. “Giuseppe ‘the Clutch Hand’ Morello,” the man answered plainly.
The guard led them into a great room that looked like it housed great parties or concerts and held a good 1,200 people. Tables and chairs were stacked against walls and in corners, elegant drapes were closed to the beautiful day, small piles of swept up debris were seen here and there and a dozen balconies with closed cherry railings overlooked the room where private tables must be setup during the events held there.
Up on the stage, which was a good 7’ off the floor where a band/orchestra was obviously set up for such parties or concerts, was instead a man with dark hair, a large mustache and a string around his neck that supported a deformed hand. Next to him was a man they recognized, Edmund Fields from Gibraltar.
Edmund held a small but sharp knife in one hand pointed at his own heart. Behind those two were 6 other tough looking gangsters. Edmund called for them to come closer to the dais for a “talk”. They moved forward, spreading out a little as they approached until the gangster called, “that’s close enough.”
Then Edmund explained, “I have a spell cast upon me where if you even start to try to harm me, I will be whisked away. So let’s talk instead, eh? I have started my revenge against the problems the meddling of your fellowship caused me in Gibraltar. You see, I have already started eliminating your family and friends for my eviction from Eden.”
“Now I shall remove all of you from my life as well,” Fields promised. “When I am done, I will return to Eve and my two little cherubs.” He cut his own chest and suddenly disappeared in a flash of light.
The crime boss, Guiseppe Morello, spoke up, “What the hell was that?!? Anyways, I dunno what all that nonsense he was talking about wuz, but y’all have been meddling in my business so you gotta go. Now, I don’t want to have to kill you, and now I’m thinking that Edmund guy is nutso. But you can’t be in my business here in New York ever again. Do we agree?”
“Well, it might be helpful to know exactly what your business is,” Bartley answered. Morello looked skeptical that anyone in NYC didn’t know his business, but said, “You know, what the coppers call organized crime. Things the people want. Gambling, booze, prostitutes, that sort of thing but, obviously, I can’t get into specifics.”
“I have no interest in any of that,” Archibald confirmed. “Do you have anything to do with the charnel house at Luther Grimes’ studio?” Evgenia inquired. “That doesn’t sound like anything that would have money in it. I only do stuff that makes me money,” Morello answered.
“How about construction sites?” Archibald inquired. “I’m not into construction,” Morello explained. “I was told you were causing me all kind of problems, that you were responsible for some hits and were trying to elbow in on some of my business.” “Edmund Fields has been lying to you,” Bartley offered. “We have no desire to get involved in your business and Fields expects you to do his dirty work for him.”
“You think he’s playing me, that I’m stupid?” Morello seemed offended. “No, I think you’re too smart to be played by him.,” Bartley tried to smooth things over. “Otherwise we’d not be having this conversation,” Archibald helped.
“You wouldn’t be lying to me, would you?” Morello inquired as he moved his deformed hand. On the balconies, mechanical sounds occurred and mechanical machine guns rose from behind the cherry railings with two men that stood up behind each gun. Several doors in the room opened and men with rifles used the door frames as cover while pointing at them.
“We have no reason to lie to you,” Evgenia spoke up. “But Fields does,” Archibald assured. After a few more soothing words, Morello saw their point but warned them. “If I catch you, or that Fields guy, near my business again, I won’t be so kind.” Then, he had his man escort them out unharmed.
Outside, they stopped at the Plaza Hotel to freshen up before heading to Roland’s to brief him. They explained how Luther Grimes was using the concrete as the material component to summon an elemental creature and produced the items taken from Grimes’ body, including the ring. Roland examined the ring carefully.
“We’ll have this checked but I think this is the Ring of Apuca. You didn’t put this on, did you?” he queried. They assured him that they had not and he carefully wrapped it and promised to turn it over to the proper people.
In addition, they showed the skulls to Roland and he assured them that he’d make sure they got to the appropriate people. But, they insisted on personally delivering the skull of Mangas Coloradas to the Indians. Hearing about their vow to the spirit of Mangas, Roland agreed to arrange their travel.
Finally, Roland noticed the bite mark on Evgenia. “We need to get that looked at,” he informed. “Do you know somebody who could take care of it?” “I’ll have them sent to your hotel,” Roland promised.