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The Hunt is On- to Catch a Shade Messages in this topic - RSS

Posts: 236

Locke Lockhart’s Lamentable Legwork, Part 1: Lady Lavinia

Somewhere in London…

London teems with scents. The acrid smoke of the manufactories, the stink of the bustling crowds of hairless apes, the subtle splashes from other animals marking this place and that place as mine; they all add up to a cohesive whole, a gauge for the health of the city.

Today, London smells wrong.

The Ninefold Cat has the advantage of perspective. A strange smell in one location could be dismissed as an anomaly, but he can be in nine places at once.

The humans of London are struck by a silent panic. Walking through the streets, it’s scarcely noticeable, but watching and listening from the rooftops it becomes all too apparent. Whispered conversations drift out of windows. Sometimes a faint sob can be heard on the breeze. The city is under siege from within, and the Shadow of London is the culprit.

One of him finds a new victim of the Shade in the crooked alleys of Spite, one that hasn’t shown up in the papers yet. The corpse is not fresh. He smells the rot almost before he smells the blood. The young woman’s head lolls grotesquely, almost separated from her body, hanging on by a stray tendon. Permanently dead, then, like the others. Mortality does not suit these humans.

He is uncomfortably reminded of his own lives. As everyone knows, cats have nine lives. Thanks to Gideon’s experiment, the Ninefold Cat lives all nine at once. He is grateful for it most of the time – it has proved indispensable in his profession – but he does not know what will happen if one of him dies, and has little wish to find out.

The cat pounces down from his perch on a high fence to take a closer look. Rusty dried blood smears the cobbles around the body.

He is dimly aware of his other selves, going about their business of spying and eating and talking and occasionally fighting. The sensations are tightly knotted at the back of his head, ready to be teased out like a ball of wool if he needs to make contact with himself. For now, he shuts them out and focuses on his own surroundings.

There is little to distinguish the woman from the Shade’s other victims. Once you’ve seen enough dead humans, they all start to look the same.

Nevertheless, the cat makes an effort to notice distinguishing features. The gender is obvious from the long hair – why apes choose to differentiate their sexes like that he will never understand – but the clothing is important too. Her dress is drab and threadbare – clearly not a woman of means, then. The Shade may claim not to discriminate in the choice of its prey, but it seems to prefer those who won’t be missed.

From what he has heard, the Shade’s beheadings are usually done in a single stroke. This woman’s neck is a ragged mess; clearly the Shade had to give it a few tries before he got all the way through. Something is off here.

“Well, if it isn’t the Count in Exile himself,” says an arch voice from a nearby rooftop. The Ninefold Cat’s ears prick up and he whirls to face the speaker, an immaculately groomed tortoiseshell cat with a red leather collar.

He lets out a low, threatening growl, baring his teeth at the newcomer. “Lavinia,” he snarls, spitting the name out like a curse. “You seem to be doing well for yourself. Didn’t realise you’d gone native, though – the collar is new. Captivity suits you, apparently. Have you put on weight?”

Lavinia chuckles dryly, and begins making her way to ground level in a series of flowing jumps. “Captivity? Hardly. The Hampton family and I have merely entered a mutually beneficial arrangement. They give me a roof over my head, an exceptionally comfortable bed and an unlimited supply of tuna; in return I take my kills out to the coach-house where they won’t drip blood all over their nice carpets and occasionally sit in their laps and allow them to scratch my ears.”

She hops down to the cobbles and sits carefully out of pouncing distance, licking her paw. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand the benefits of society, though. Your self-imposed exile made that very clear.”

“Is there any particular reason you deigned to talk to me, oh high-and-mighty Baroness,” the Ninefold Cat says, “Or did you just come to gloat?”

Lavinia tilts her head. “Actually, I do have a reason, although the gloating was certainly a perk. Word on the street is that you and that human you adopted – Gideon, was it? – are looking for the Shadow of London. Hence, I assume, why you’re sniffing around that dead human. Well, you should know that the Shade didn’t kill her. It was a nasty-looking tramp. Dreadful business, apparently.”

“A tramp, you say?” The Ninefold Cat has heard of the Shade’s hobo army, but he didn’t realise they were capable of such savagery.

“Indeed,” Lavinia smirks. “We had someone trail the wretch, of course. Secrets are the Council’s business, and this one is worth a pretty penny to the right buyer. You are interested in buying, no?”

He grits his teeth. He thought he’d got away from this sort of intrigue when he renounced his title, but such things always have a way of coming back to nip you in the tail. “Yes. Fine.”

“Come with me, then. The Council will want to oversee the transaction in person, and I’m sure they missed you just as dearly as I did.”

If there’s one thing he can be sure of, it’s that the toffs have a hidden agenda. Nevertheless, the Council doesn’t harm guests; he should be safe in body at least. Little good will come from entering that tangled web, but at least he no longer has a reputation to lose.

Lavinia pads off without another word, tail high in the air, and the Ninefold Cat reluctantly follows.


“I want to die,” groans Locke for the umpteenth time, slouched against a rack of chemicals in Gideon’s wine cellar. The Ninefold Cat regards him silently with what the bandaged bruiser assumes must be amused derision. Damn cats always look like they know something you don’t.

The Cat cocks its head, as if hearing something inaudible to human ears. “Hold that thought. You can die on your own time.”

“Guh?” says Locke eloquently.

“Grab your coat and your gun, and be quick about it. We are no longer safe here, and there’s someone I need you to kill.”
edited by JimmyTMalice on 5/17/2017

Gideon Stormstrider, the Episcopalian Esotericist
Jimmy T. Malice, gone.

A Tale of Two Suns - Meeting Your Maker - A Squid in the Polls
+4 link
John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

(cowritten with Edward Frye, suinicide, Shadowcthulhu, Lord Gazter)

The coach drives away with considerable haste as the police rush into the Sad Spider. A constable spots the cab and demands it to stop, but the driver is in no hurry to be involved in the case, and the officer soon stops giving chase to the speeding cab. Within the carriage, Hamilton is tending to the unconscious Frye, and the others are checking whether they still are in possession of all their teeth.
“I am by no means a professional in information gathering” Noah begins. “However, I feel obliged to point out that we gained precious little information, unless we were after a demonstration on how old zailors fight. Was this the intended result, Erinyes? Or is taking part in a gang fight our official party doctrine by now?” Based on the doctor’s tone, he’s having trouble deciding whether to be annoyed or amused.

Noah’s displeasure does little to rust the glean of Dirae Erinyes pleasure with themselves. “It’s helped us make friends. If we ever need their help if the Shade turns to zee matters, they will be willing to fight by our sides. If we couldn’t learn anything there, I thought it would be a complete waste if our group didn’t make a few friends.”

“...Friends? But you beat them black and blue, why would they… Ah. A zailor thing, then? How… Quaint.” Noah leans back, with the annoyance in his expression replaced by bewilderment, still laced with amusement. “I suppose that’s something, then. I’ll ask you to refrain from such antics in Spite, though - they tend to memorize faces and approach those faces later on dark alleys, with some pointed questions about which appendage one is least attached to.”
“Would it be agreeable to all if we stop by my apartment first? I feel like resupplying on medical equipment shouldn’t wait too long, in light of recent events.”’

“Fine by me. Do you want a lump?” Dirae Erinyes holds out the stolen platter.

“Don’t mind if I do, thank you.” Noah holds out a hand in the direction of Dirae’s voice. “And the rest of you sirs? Did you have something planned for our stop at Spite?”

Henchard stirs from his seat. “No,” he said, cracking one eye open. “I feel we’ve attracted enough attention on our trip. I hope to keep our time in the Spite to a minimum.” He pats the hardtack above his heart, assuring himself it was still keeping him safe.

As the carriage hits a bump in the road Lord Gazter places a hand on his hat to keep it from falling off his head. “May I ask as to what happened?” He asks. “I’m afraid that I am in the dark in that matter.”

Noah responds, smiling. “Ahaha, likewise, I suppose. But from what I could glean from the flying furniture, Erinyes asked the good patrons of the establishment whether they knew something, and the specifics were discussed by an intricate choreography of smashing bottles on people’s heads. I fear nothing of use was learned.” Noah turns towards Gazter, frowning slightly. “Where were you, if you missed all that? It was hardly something one fails to notice, should they be present.”

Lord Gazter moves himself into a more upright position, and rest his hands on the head of his cane. “I’m afraid that I was indisposed at the time meeting with a “friend” of mine to acquire some information as to the current state of affairs in Spite. He did not wish to be seen in this part of London so unfortunately I had no choice but to meet him alone.” Lord Gazter shrugs apologetically. “I was intending to return to the establishment once I had concluded my conversation with the fellow, but then that occurred,” he says as he waves a hand towards the chaos behind them.

“I see. I feel like I should reprimand you for not notifying the rest of us in advance, but honestly it just makes me happy to hear someone managed to do some information gathering. Anything of use?”

“Yes, I’ve learned of a few things that I learned are quite pertinent to our cause,” Lord Gazter responds as he leans back into his seat. “Fortunately it appears that the Shade has not been making any movements in Spite, although I would recommend that we should still be on guard on the rest of our journey. Also the neddy men believe that there are individuals that they deem as troublesome around Flowerdene Street and apparently the neddy men will be “sorting it out” today. So unless we wish to find ourselves in their path, I would suggest that we should avoid Flowerdene Street.”

Edward wakes up, looks around. “I see that the fight at the bar has ended,” he says, “thank you to whoever brought me out of there”. He gets himself in a more comfortable position, “Are we headed to Spite then? If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I have a, er… friend up in the Flit who might be helpful against the hoboes if we, or another group of the party, were to encounter them again. So if none of you have need of me, I shall ascend to the Flit at the next stop. Do any of you know of a good place to meet up?”

“If it’s take to take a few days, you can meet us in the side street that we will be meeting everyone else in.” Dirae Erinyes answers, as they finish their plate of rubbery lumps.

“That sounds good, it may take a few days to find him.” Edward replies “If anyone would care to join me, they would be very welcome to come.” He looks out the window and says “I will be leaving when we get to Spite then.”
Henchard pauses when Frye starts speaking. “I’ll come with you. Can’t leave you alone with your penchant for head wounds.” He wouldn’t forgive himself if something happened to a non-combat member of the team. Something beyond what they all suffered, at any rate.
“Ah good. I will warn you, we will be going through urchin territory, so I would watch your pockets.” Edward replies, “Which reminds me, I am sorry for getting myself knocked unconscious on so many occasions. Thank you Erinyes, Henchard, and whoever carried me out of the tavern, for carrying me out, or, in Henchard’s case, unburying me from bricks.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t a problem,” Henchard says, “If I actually remembered doing so, your thanks would be a bit more warranted.” He paused. “That isn’t to say it wasn’t important, I meant I was not in my best state at the time.” The words trail off, his mouth moving for a few more moments before giving up.

“Oh, I’m sure no one minds, Mr Frye. Just count yourself lucky to still have all your senses and appendages.” Noah opens the window slightly, and hears further off the familiar hustle of a marketplace full of thieves - quiet ones between the stalls, loud ones inside them.
“So Frye and Henchard on the rooftops, and me, Erinyes, Hamilton and Gazter on the ground. We’ll rendezvous at the agreed upon location, this also if something unexpected happens and we end up even more separated. We’ll avoid the fracas on Flowerdene Street, but if we get into another fight, that sounds like a good place to lose pursuers. Let’s begin by replenishing supplies at my place, and afterwards I have a place in Blythenhale where we may be able to purchase some information as well as hear the latest word on the streets. I repeat my request for not picking fights; the people here tend to have an astonishing lack of a sense of humour.”

The cart comes to a halt where a small alley diverges from the street. “Here we are. To our next meeting, gentlemen, and best of luck in your search. ” As the Flit-bound duo departs, Noah turns to the rest. “The small alley, apartment number twenty-six. If you’d lead on, gentlemen.” A short frown. “...Erinyes.”
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John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

Sergeant Driscoll is not a happy man.

He is currently on a night shift. This fact might escape the less vigilant observer, since it happens to be early noon. The truth of the matter is revealed from the dark bags under his eyes, the uniform half-soaked from last night’s light drizzle, the broad shoulders slumped after giving up on appearances and just wanting to get in bed, and the expression on his face that signals the end of patience approaching, barring an intervention by caffeine - or preferably something stronger. All of these telltale signs, however, escape the old widow whose attic he is currently in.

“Ma’am, I understand that they remind you of your husband. It does us, too. As does the crater on Cake Street. That’s rather the point.”

“No ma’am, you really can’t keep them. Because they’re dangerous, ma’am.”

“Ma’am, not to speak ill of the dead, but your husband would go to New Newgate just for possessing these. I’m afraid ‘his little hobby’ doesn’t quite cut it. We won’t press any charges against you, ma’am, but we do have to confiscate these.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, ma’am.”

“I will be sure to let my superior know, ma’am.”

“Good day ma’am, and thank you for your cooperation.”

As he makes his way to the Ministry, Sergeant Driscoll continues not being a happy man.


Sergeant Driscoll enters the office to find it mostly empty. All the other night-shifters have finished their reports and gone home, while the new bunch is already on the streets. As he dumps the leather bag on his table, a dreaded call rings forth from the bowels of hell.

“Driscoll! Excellent! I have a lead someone needs to check as soon as possible, and everyone else is on their rounds. You can finish your paperwork later.”

Driscoll turns around. The Inspector is a large, stocky man with neatly combed hair and a clean-shaven, red face. He’s a veteran from the ‘68 campaign, and unlike most of his old mates, relentlessly optimistic and vigorous. Driscoll has a suspicion that he survived the experience by simply being too dense for the bullets to pierce through. This, and a tendency to work his constables much like a slavedriver might, has secured him a cushy position in the Ministry, ordering younger men and women around to keep London a relatively sane and safe city. No one would dream of promoting him further, but since he believes too firmly in authority to ever dare complain to his superiors, everyone is mostly content with the situation. Except the constables under him.

Driscoll draws a deep breath, and turns towards the Inspector in what he hopes passes for Standing At Attention. “Sir, my shift should have ended five hours ago, and these really do need filing. I think it might be best to wait for one of the morning-shifters to drop by, they’ll be a bit more alert for...”

“Nonsense, Sergeant!” The Inspector puffs out his chest as his brow wrinkles in indignant anger. “Don’t be a ninny, man! If you’d been in the heavy cavalry you’d know a few sleepless hours is nothing! You’ve got a good career ahead of you, Sergeant, don’t ruin it by talking back to superiors!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good man! Now take a look at these.” The Inspector hands Driscoll a thin bundle of papers, with a photograph on top. “Murphy, from Velocipede Squad, asked us to look into this. It’s about that business last night on Seven Devils’ Square.”

“I thought we already had people looking into that, sir?”

“There’s been a new development. Taylor’s lads went to stop a bar fight in Wolfstack this morning, and they recognized at least one person from the reports about Seven Devils’. ”

“Don’t get me wrong sir, but why aren’t they following it? They can question witnesses well enough.”

The Inspector points to the middle of the photo. “This is the one they recognized.”

“...Oh. Unfinished, maybe?”

“You tell me! They caught up to the cabby, who says he left the group on the corner of Beetle Alley, in Spite. So since the Velocipede pansies are too scared, go there, find the giant, and ask what the hell it knows about the business and why it’s trying to tear down my city one bar at a time!”

“Yes, sir.”

Sergeant Driscoll is, as it turns out, truly not a happy man.
edited by John Moose on 8/3/2017
+3 link
Drake Dynamo
Drake Dynamo
Posts: 473

Cowritten with ForScience, Barselaar, JimmyTMalice and Phryne (Sketch, you can join the party when you're able to, no pressure)

Florence wrenches open the door, ready to harangue whatever poor University member interrupted her in the middle of her work. Blueprints are laid out across almost every inch of floor space, and an array of vaguely mind-boggling objects in every color of the Neathbow are casually strewn about the room. For her part, Flo has her mess of what could charitably be described as ‘hair’ pulled roughly back and is dressed in a once-white smock now stained every color imaginable and then some.

So when she opens the door to see her old friend Drake - and company - she can’t help but wish that she had at least washed the multicolored grime off of her face before having so many people over.

No sense worrying now, though.

“Drake! What a pleasure to see you! You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t shake your hand, though. Heh.” She holds up a gloved hand covered in apocyanic ink as her justification.

“And it looks like you’ve brought a few - oh!” She spots the Scorched Sailor and gives a cheery little wave. “Hello, captain! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” The Sailor nods slowly and clears his throat, which she takes for his version of a pleasantry. “Well, come in, and you’ll have to introduce me to everyone. My apologies for the state of the laboratory. Try not to step on anything, please, some of it could probably hurt you.”

She leads the group through the neon-hued lab, idly chattering about her work while ensuring that nobody’s shoes are dyed irrigo. Eventually they reach what could be considered a sitting area, in that somebody resourceful enough could find somewhere to sit. Florence pulls up a stool that has seen better days and better paint jobs and cheerfully announces, “Please, everyone, make yourselves at home!”

With the utmost naivete of somebody who has not left the University grounds in quite some time, she turns to Drake and asks, “So what have you been up to? Nothing too dangerous, I hope?”

Drake nods slowly, before letting out a little sigh.

“Well, to be honest, we are doing something rather dangerous. Back before you joined our journey to Irem, I had an unpleasant experience with the Mountain’s blood, and it created a, uh, shall we say, copy of myself. And - I’ll save you an overly long explanation - it’s here in London, killing people. Permanently. Emma and I have built a little team to hunt it down, and we were hoping you might be able to help us, specifically by creating some way to kill it,” Drake explains. He pauses, and continues after a moment.

“I suppose I should introduce you to my compatriots. You of course already know our scorched friend. This good fellow is Gideon Stormstrider, a fellow inventor, and this… lady… is Phryne Amarantyne, who has some… special abilities,” Drake finishes, pointing at each member of the party in order.

Phryne tentatively shakes the many-coloured scientist’s hand. She is suddenly very much aware that this laboratory is probably not a very good place for her to be. So many things around her must be inflammable!

Just try not to breathe any fire and you’ll be fine.

She notices the woman is looking at her somewhat strangely. Ah, of course - the softly glowing luminescence emanating from within her body would not escape a scientist’s notice.

Distract her.

“So pleased to meet you, ma’am. What an unusual place you have here! I love the colour scheme.”

Florence shakes her hand, though there’s definitely something odd about her. “Thank you. If I ever quit science I’ll become an interior designer. So, what’s your stake in all this?”

“I’m, uh… just along for the ride really. You might rather want to speak to your esteemed colleague here…” She points at Gideon, who seems lost to the world, marveling over the curios on display. “He seems very intrigued by your… ah, stuff,” she finishes lamely.

Well, so much for small talk. Whatever happened to the eloquent salon lady who could chew anyone’s ear off for hours?

-She died.-

Gideon has taken a great interest in the various bizarre artifacts scattered around the lab. He kneels in front of an irrigo-infused cloth stretched out under a searing limelight and stares, transfixed, at the rippling patterns of un-colour through the enhancing power of his clockwork monocle. As always, the monocle looks utterly absurd.

“Extraordinary. Quite extraordinary,” he mutters. As if startled at a sudden noise, he jumps to his feet - “Where are my manners?” - and offers a hand in greeting to Florence. “Such a pleasure to meet a fellow scientist! It seems our fields of study overlap somewhat - I share your interest in optics and Neathy colours. Our current business is urgent, naturally, and I would hate to bore the others with shop talk, but it would be marvellous if we could share some theories when you have the time.”

Florence turns to shake Gideon’s hand, too, though she really has no idea why everyone is so eager to shake hands with her when they’re dripping with colorful pigments that transfer to their own hands.

“Well, it’s lovely to meet you! We really should discuss our work sometime. But, for now, it sounds as though I should start looking into the problem right away. Do you have any knowledge as to how this thing functions, or what its weaknesses might be?”

The Scorched Sailor rouses himself at the question. “We know e’s fast as wind, strong as riptide, and wantin’ to deliver the True Death.” His emphasis is not as dismissive as it might have been a few days ago, and his clay fingers drum against his thigh. “Not much in the way o’ weakness, though. S’pose Drake here knows the most ‘bout ‘im.”

Drake takes a moment to think.

“Well, I suppose brute force seemed to stagger it when we last met. If not that, I wonder if it might have something to do with the Mountain of Light and its vitality?” Drake poses.

Florence raises her eyebrows. “The Mountain of Light? It likely won’t go down easily, then, at least using conventional means… I wonder, do you have any physical samples I could analyze to see what it consists of?”

“Well, we have some people trying to find its lair. I do think we should get moving though, it’s unwise to stay in one place as public as this with the Shade at large,” Drake insists.

Gideon pulls out a handkerchief from his seemingly endless pockets and wipes the pigments from his hand. “Agreed. Do you have anything else planned for today? I have other business I need to attend to at the University, since we’re here. There’s no hurry, though - surely we have time for a cup of tea.”

Phryne absent-mindedly cleans her hand on the cheap second-hand dress she pilfered from Gideon’s stash back at the hideout - curious how many different clothes of all kinds and sizes the inventor has lying about…

“Actually, I don’t. Have time.” Everyone looks at her. “For tea. I have some things to do before our meeting tomorrow that I really should see to. My time is running out--I mean, time is of the essence here, I’m sure you all agree.” She slowly backs towards the door. “And it just so happens that my townhouse address isn’t far from here at all. So, lovely to meet you,” she nods at Florence, “and see you all tomorrow.” With that, she turns and leaves.

Well, that wasn’t conspicuous at all.

-I don’t care. I don’t feel safe around people, I know I can’t hold together much longer. And I’m not one of those mad Conflagrati, I don’t actually enjoy burning up inside. I want to get this over with.-

Outside, a terrified Normal Edgar watches the strange glowing woman walk away, muttering to herself in different voices. “Gids needs to get himself some friends that ain’t bonkers,” Edgar says under his breath.

Florence watches her leave, wondering exactly what her deal is. Though that’s probably a question for a bit later- there seem to be more pressing matters at hand.

“I’ll put the tea on right away!” She busies herself with the nearby kettle for a moment, then turns. “The tea is all blue, though. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just blue. Anyway, yes, I think I might just be able to assist you.”

“Excellent! I think it would be best we leave as soon as possible, though. Could we take that kettle with us?” Drake insists, looking increasingly apprehensive.

“Of course! Oh, wait, somebody will need to carry the teacups.” After a brief period of rummaging about, Florence pulls a tea-tray out of what had previously seemed to be a pile of junk. “I’m sure Murphy won’t mind. Wait! You haven’t met Murphy yet, have you?”

“I don’t believe I have,” Drake replies.

“He’s a great fellow, really. My assistant. I’m sure he would only be an asset to this project,” Florence assures him. Moving towards the door, she peels off her color-streaked gloves and lab coat and hangs them up, donning her overcoat instead. Allowing her to come along on the voyage of the Reck was a great kindness on the part of Drake and the Scorched Sailor, and she intends to repay that any way she can.

Besides… who knows what sorts of new discoveries she can make along the way?

Gideon looks round, startled to see the group making ready to go before tea. He hurriedly puts the biscuit tin back on a nearby shelf loaded with scientific equipment and wipes the crumbs from his mouth. He had been hoping to at least dunk a few of these marvellous digestives in his tea, but clearly the very fabric of polite British society is being unravelled by the Shade’s continued existence. The inventor returns to the rest of the group, ignoring the Scorched Sailor watching placidly from a corner with bandaged arms folded. He leans on a metal table idly, only to yank his hand back with a startled hiss when it proves to be unaccountably hot.


Surreptitiously dipping his scorched hand in a nearby sink, Gideon speaks up. “Your assistant, Murphy - that’s an Irish name, isn’t it? I knew a Murphy once. Probably not the same one, though, unless someone’s managed to coax him out of his old pub on the Surface. Marvellous place, Ireland. Quite a far cry from the grim smoky burgs of old England. The people there still understand the old ways, and if you take a look at the night sky you can see more stars than I ever knew existed. I learned a fair bit there, out spreading the Good Word.”

He frowns, seemingly unsure of what he was saying. “Long time ago, mind you. Perhaps they’ve paved over the whole place now.”

There is a shuffling in a back room, and the sounds of collapsing machinery.

“Perhaps Mr. Murphy can catch up with us,” Drake says, quickly jotting down a note of their plans to reunite at the Bazaar, and leaves it on a table for Murphy to find, “I’ll carry the teacups.”

And so, with a flurry of coats and teacups, the party is out the door and back on the streets of London.
edited by Drake Dynamo on 7/13/2017

Oh no. Another post from that goon who goes on about statistics.

Drake Dynamo -Correspondent, Hesperidean Cider Drinker , Matchmaker, and Paramount Presence
The Antioch - The Coffee God (I do not check this account often)
Mr. Mauvais - A ghostly skullduggerous fellow, chopped up for the time being (Only active during seasonal events)

Guide to becoming a Poet-Laureate
If you need to discuss RP matters, I can typically be found on the IRC in #Argo.
+3 link
Posts: 236

At the appointed time Gideon heads to the Old Quad, munching a still-warm croissant in a paper bag from a nearby French café. Snails may not be to his taste, but the pastries are to die for.

The Quad is a small cobbled space hemmed in between austere stone buildings. The earliest parts of the University are not known for their elegance, and these days the walls are draped with hanging vines and infested with cobwebs. An aged professor’s voice drones from the high windows of a lecture hall. The Quad has served as a clandestine meeting place for centuries before the Fall; the only entrance is a rusty metal gate in a narrow alleyway between two buildings. Edgar has left it unlocked.

The gate squeals on its hinges and Gideon makes his way into the Quad. Left to its own devices, nature has run wild. Every available crack between the cobbles is filled with little red and brown mushrooms. The bushes around the edges have burgeoned into thorny tangles. The roots of the gnarled oak tree in the centre push up the paving stones; its branches stretch out to brush against the windows with spindly fingers.

“Were you followed?” says a bush. Normal Edgar’s face peeks out from it momentarily, looking for imagined pursuers.

Gideon looks behind him. Nothing but the closed gate and the alleyway. “Unless I’m being tailed by someone invisible, I rather think not. And besides, as I’ve told you, I’m incognito.” He taps his luminous Neathglass goggles.

“If I can recognise you, who’s to say that someone else can’t, Gids? They’re everywhere.”

“Incognito isn’t just a disguise, Edgar, it’s a state of mind. Would you mind getting out of that bush? It’s rather off-putting talking to a face surrounded by thorns.”

“Can’t. Stuck.”

FOR GOD’S SAKE, blusters Voice 2.

“What do you mean, stuck?” Gideon knuckles his brow. “Do you want me to get you out?”

Edgar’s face scrunches up. Given its usual wrinkled-prune state, it looks rather like it has collapsed in on itself.

“Fine,” he says, at length.

One extraction later, the vagrant-philosopher stands hunched in the Quad while Gideon picks out the worst of the thorns. Edgar winces at the inventor’s ministrations.

“You shouldn’t be crouching around in bushes, my friend,” says Gideon. “Not with your knees.”

“Ow! That bloody hurt!”


“I’m sorry too, Gids. You’re my best mate, y’know that?”

“Are you drunk? It’s barely past midday!”

“Drunk?” Edgar waves away the outrageous accusation. “Not on your life! I’ve just been indulging in a little… Libation of Night.”

“Right. Come on, let’s get you sat down.”

Gideon leads Edgar over to a wooden bench. Fortunately, it doesn’t collapse immediately when they sit on it.

“What was it you wanted to tell me, anyway?”

“Oh. That.” Edgar looks around surreptitiously. “Remember our little friend? Word on the street is that he’s back in town.”

Gideon’s heart lurches. In his head, all three Voices speak in unison. Father! Creator! Lord above all! He has returned to stride the streets, to exert his dominion! All shall be one, and he shall look upon his creation and call it good!

“Gids. You don’t look so good. Gids?”

Gideon catches himself before he falls off the bench. “How can he be back? There’s no returning from where he went… where we sent him... isn’t that right? That is right, isn’t it?”

Edgar frowns. “How much do you remember?”

“Not enough. Not enough by far. Why did it have to be now? We’re hunting the most dangerous thing in London, and he just comes back out of the pits of Hell to put the fear of God into me.”

“Gids. I wasn’t there for most of it, but after what he went through – after what you went through, too – he’s not just going to walk up to you in the street and say how-do-you-do. He’ll need time to rest. Time to set his plans in motion. And even though that’ll mean no end of ill for the rest of us, it means you do have time.

“Go and deal with your monster, Gids. I’ll get what’s left of the old crew back together. We’ll make him pay for what he did to us.”

Gideon summons up a careless smile, though his heart isn’t really in it. “Marvellous! When next I see you, I’ll have the Shadow of London’s head mounted on my wall! On second thoughts, that might be a bit macabre. Maybe I’ll just keep a finger or two. Regardless, thank you for the warning!”

Gideon bounces out of his seat and shakes hands with Edgar, then presses the rest of the bag of pastries into his hand.

Edgar accepts the bag with a nod. “Stay safe out there, Gids.”

"You too, Normal Edgar! And maybe lay off the drink, eh?"
edited by JimmyTMalice on 7/15/2017

Gideon Stormstrider, the Episcopalian Esotericist
Jimmy T. Malice, gone.

A Tale of Two Suns - Meeting Your Maker - A Squid in the Polls
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The Atumian Sputum
The Atumian Sputum
Posts: 133

Murphy is jogging across London, old London, to catch up with the gang when suddenly a rabid rat kills him in the blink of an eye.
His mother misses him dearly and his father regrets lending him that money that he's never getting back now.
He had a wife, too, I suppose, but she was rather short, so no one noticed her very often, and the rats got to her soon enough, too.
Eventually, the rat ends up vomiting his remains into the zee after a rowdy night out with the boys, and Murphy finally gets to explore the Neath as a wandering pool of bile and intestines. He makes good friends with the bloated, floating corpse of a dandy, to whose shirt some of Murphy attaches. They have a wonderful un-life together.

Straight outta Dahut.
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Posts: 236

For Gideon, home is a cosy townhouse just off Elderwick. The Shed may be a wonderful place for inventing, but it is no substitute for a real house with walls, windows and soft furniture. He moved there with his wife Vela just after they married; this house holds plenty of warm and comfortable memories.

Right now, it is a little chilly. Gideon hangs his suit jacket on the coat-rack, takes off his shoes and makes his way to the living room. The place is empty, as expected – Vela is still all but living at the office while her big case is going on, and the cleaners aren’t due until Monday.

The living room is more of a library – bookcases cover most of the walls and yet more books are piled on every available surface. The volumes range from pristine to thoroughly devoured – legal tomes for Vela’s work, scientific tomes for Gideon’s work, and varied fiction for the enjoyment of all.

Once the gas-lamps are switched on, Gideon gets down to starting a fire to stave off the Neathy chill. The fireplace is well-stocked with logs – with a bit of poking to stir the embers to life, he soon has a merry blaze going.

Gideon settles into his favourite armchair after evicting a hefty copy of the first volume of the Principia from the seat. Handmade paper tabs mark the most worthy sections – he doesn’t speak a word of Latin, but the diagrams are fun.

The chair’s upholstery is ghastly and the stuffing is leaking, but it has sentimental value. He pours himself half a teaspoon of honey from a glass bottle. The amount is precisely calculated - just enough to sharpen the mind, but not enough to maze him for an inconvenient amount of time. The best inspiration, after all, is found in dreams.

He sits back and watches the fireplace for a time. It burns happily, warming his extremities pleasantly. Then he pops the spoon into his mouth. In an instant, he finds himself –

- elsewhere. A livid orange sun beats down on the murky swamp. Gideon splashes through the knee-deep muddy water in his wading boots, trampling reeds in his wake. Clouds of buzzing midges swarm around him, nipping at exposed flesh. A toad regards the inventor sullenly, belches an accusing croak and dives into the water.

Gideon adjusts his pith helmet and squints off into the distance. The view is obscured by the tall reeds, but it doesn’t feel like wherever he’s going is far away.

The passage eases as he continues, the ground rising until he walks on solid – if muddy – land again. The reeds part before him. Rising from the swamp are the overgrown ruins of a once-mighty ziggurat. Inside, his rendezvous awaits.

He ducks under the hanging vines of the crumbling entranceway and wades through ankle-deep water into a long corridor. To his right and left, stairs lead nowhere; the lower levels of the temple are flooded, the upper levels collapsed. There is only one way to proceed: forward. His dreams are being rather direct today.

The corridor ends in a pair of doors carved with intricate maze-like patterns. They are slightly ajar; a quiet hum of conversation drifts from the chamber within.

“We’re alone. Abandoned. Nobody’s coming,” says a quiet female voice.

“Don’t you worry!” says a cheerful, booming male voice. “If we truly are stuck here, we’ll show those dream-beasties what for! Isn’t that right, old chap?” There is no response. “See, Anna! Nothing to worry about.”

Gideon freezes at the name. He recognises the voices; how could he not? But it’s been too long since he heard Anna’s name spoken aloud.

With a hefty push, the doors creak open. The vast central hall is brightly lit through a hole in the ceiling, but still every table and ledge is covered in lambent candles dripping hot wax. There are three people inside. Two sit on wooden chairs opposite each other with water lapping around their feet: a man with a great ginger beard in a tattered frock-coat and a woman in a sober grey skirt and blouse with pale blonde hair tied back in a bun.

The third person is not a person at all. He dresses the part, in a fine parabola-linen suit and top hat. He sits atop the cold stone slab that served as an altar, dangling his loafer-clad feet in the water. His face is the ghost of someone who was once handsome; now his cheeks are sunken and his flesh is waxy, lit from within by flame. His eyes burn. He is a candle.

“So, mine host, you finally decided to show up. I’ve been so b_____y bored here,” he says acidly. “These two make for frightful company – beardy there won’t shut up about his dratted God, and the woman… she won’t even look me in the eye.” He smiles, baring teeth like a furnace grille.

“What are you here for, Gideon? You woke me up not so long ago, and for what? It’s a crowded place, your little psyche. And you came to me. Do you really need another Voice in your head? What, precisely, is the point?”

Gideon looks upon Malice, upon this mockery of a man, and has no answer.

Gideon Stormstrider, the Episcopalian Esotericist
Jimmy T. Malice, gone.

A Tale of Two Suns - Meeting Your Maker - A Squid in the Polls
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John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

(co-written by Shadowcthulhu, Mr Hamilton, Lord Gazter and myself)

None of the shadowy figures come further than lurking in the corner with Dirae Erinyes in the lead. However, matters were a little troubled when Dirae Erinyes climbed the narrow, and very creaky stairs. Much to the group’s surprise, the stairs held up under the weight of the group.
Dirae Erinyes only releases the lead to let Noah step forward and fumble with his keys. After those long and awkward minutes, the door is opened and everyone is lead inside. Noah disappears into the back of the shabby apartment, while most idle around in the front.

Dirae Erinyes eyes one of the second hand chairs with an appraising look - it would not be good manners to accidentally break one of the hosts furniture. They choose the floor, with the ceiling too low for them to comfortably stand. They sit facing their newly minted brother in arms - Hamilton.

“So,” their words break the dusty silence, “Have you ever been on an adventure like this before?”

“No, not quite like this, I mean, I’ve been on monster hunts here and there, also quite a few expeditions in the forgotten quarters, but nothing so big… only solo missions too.”

“What, no monster-hunting friends?”

“Unfortunately I can’t say that I have much knowledge in the matter of monster hunting,” Lord Gazter answers, “although I do believe Alexander does have experience in the matter.”

Lord Gazter’s stoic companion nods in assent.“I have some experience in the hunting of beasts,” He intones.

The conversation is interrupted by Noah, emerging from the kitchen with a dented pewter teapot and a handful of matching cups. “Some refreshments, if you please. I’m afraid upstairs is a bit of a mess, so it might be best if you wait here while I go fetch the medical equipment. I’ll be a while, so make yourselves comfortable - I’m in need of some freshening up, as well. Call out if you need anything, please.” With that, the doctor lays the tea on the table, takes his cane and bag and climbs up the steep stairs, leaving the rest to resume their chatter.

Sensing the dead end circle of monsters and The Shade from all the conversations from the past several days, Dirae Erinyes changes the conversation. “So, I just realized I know more about this shade fellow then my own companions. So, where are you from if you weren’t born just to hunt monsters?”

The tomb colonist twitches slightly. “Where I’m from is of little importance and nor do I care to speak about it.” He breaks into another fit of raggedy coughing.

Hamilton takes a long sip of his tea. “I’ve only been in the neath for a year or so… and mostly the only interesting part of my life on the surface was the orphanage I lived at. But I guess I should tell you that I have no idea who my parents are, or if they're even alive for that matter. Anyway, I only remember the later years of my life in the orphanage.”

Hamilton drifts off into silence, staring out the window.

“Orphanages are never good places to end up. Was it merely miserable or truly horrific?” Dirae asks Hamilton, the lightness of their tone at odds with the content.

“Erm… actually it wasn’t quite that bad, all the other children were nice enough. Of course the food was disgusting and the beds were terrible but… okay I did sneak out quite a bit and explore the streets of France. Why do you ask, have you lived in one before? Er, sorry if I’m being rude, I realize it’s a quite personal question.”

“No, I never left my family’s home while I was growing up. I think some might find that even more unconventional than an orphanage.”

“Our host is taking rather a long time,” Lord Gazter interrupts. He ponders over the matter for a moment. “I’ll go and find see if Noah requires any assistance. He might be having trouble with some of his things given recent events.” Lord Gazter turns away from the group and begins making his way up the stairs after their absent host.


The bedroom is cluttered with empty wooden boxes, small empty bottles, piles of clothes on the floor and old newspapers. A path leads through the mess to a bed that hasn’t been made, and from there to a bathroom door. The soft smell of old honey clings to the room. Noah makes his way to the bathroom, not bothering to wave his cane around. He’s walked these steps often enough in the dark, with rather more clutter than a doctor’s bag.

In the rather big bathroom, he reaches for the rope that flushes the toilet. He pulls it, and the toilet flushes. Instead of releasing his grasp, he pulls further, until a click can be heard from the wall. Behind him, a trapdoor opens in the roof, and ladders quietly slide down on well-oiled wheels. A police search would hardly miss the attic were they serious about their business, but the entrance would likely elude them long enough for completely honest doctors to disappear without a trace before the officers would find anything that’d make them lose their sense of humour. The renovations may have been done without the landlord’s permission.

Noah is greeted by the frantic buzzing of his little pets, excited from human presence. Half of the attic consists of a cage of wire, tight-eyed enough to keep the bees in. The hives are surrounded by flowerpots containing roses of the brightest hue of blood-red. In the middle of all these is a sturdy wooden chair with shackles for the wrists, ankles and head, a contraption bought from an asylum that no longer had need for it. It is, currently, empty. All of this is lit by a small speck of white light attached to the roof - the source is small, but bright enough that it’s impossible to see just what it is.

The doctor proceeds to a small letterbox-like addition on the cage. He inserts the little box he has been carrying, allowing the bees to return to their kin. A fresh scented box is inserted, and less harrowed bees are eager to enter it, becoming Noah’s new travelling companions. The process is one he has repeated countless times, and brings him some comfort. No matter how horrible things are right now, his garden is still flourishing, and no one has learned of it. Some long term solutions and out-of-the-box thinking are needed, but there’s no reason things can’t go back to how they always were. Noah walks to the wall, pulling a rope that allows water to flow down a set of pipes to nourish the flowers. The garden tended to, he proceeds to a small desk containing a rather comprehensive chemist’s set, and reaches for

A creak of a floorboard cuts off his thoughts completely.

Noah freezes on the spot, feeling the lump of ice in his stomach as everything goes wrong. Someone’s here, someone knows, I wasn’t listening always listen, IDIOT, what do I do kill them with what you idiot stab you’re blind STAB ANYWAY if it’s Erinyes they’ll just laugh shoot you’ll never reach the gun in time but what

“Is, someone, there”, Noah asks, his voice hoarse.

“Well Mister Rache, you are full of surprises,” Lord Gazter answers back as he steps into the entrance of the doctor’s workshop.

Lord Gazter inspect the strange makeshift garden. He looks around at the buzzing bees, blood red flowers, and all the rest. He opens his mouth to continue speaking when his eyes fall upon a lone jar filled with a crimson substance. As he recognizes that substance, a hunger fills his eyes, and a light chuckle escapes his lips. Lord Gazter turns his gaze back towards the blind doctor in front of him with a pleased smile.

“What interesting discovery I have made here. If I’m not mistaken this rose garden is used in the production of the substance known as red honey. Am I not mistaken dear friend?”

“I… May have heard such a name used of it, yes. Purely academic interest, you understand. Trying to avoid unnecessary fuss. I hope I can trust on your… Discretion. My lord.”

“No need to be so cautious dear friend,” Lord Gazter answers amusedly. “I have no interest in hindering your production of the substance far from it dear friend.”

“Oh. I… See.” Junkie? Does he want to buy some? Noah frowns. This is sounding better than I thought… “I’m glad to find you’re so understanding of the more fringe areas of science. I suppose you wouldn’t mind extending your generosity to forgetting you ever saw this, would you, my lord?”

“Oh, I have a better idea than that.” He chuckles. “I have an interest in the procurement of the substance. I have friends of mine who would be overjoyed if they were able to acquire some red honey. Of course if you were to assist me in this endeavour, it would be remiss of me to not reward you in some way, for example helping you fund your ‘research.’”

“Well. That sounds… Reasonable.” Noah allows himself to relax slightly, and walks over to where he knows a small stool is waiting. “I have my own, well, friends, to account, but I think I could up the production to fill your acquaintances’, ahem, scientific curiosity.” The blind man turns towards the grinning figure. “To be frank, you know what this stuff is, and what is done to those who dabble in it. If I jeopardize my current arrangement to add another party to the market, I have to know it won’t end up with a loose-tongued customer and the Specials knocking my doors down. Have a lot of experience in black market dealings, do you, my lord?”

“You need not worry about this. I understand the niceties of the matter. I know how to keep the knowledge of this matter out of others hands. And of course I know how keep their tongues from wagging should they get that idea get into their heads.”

Noah remains quiet for a time, considering the words. Finally, he nods. “Good, then. We’ll agree on the specifics after this hunting affair is done with. I will reserve what I can of the next batch for you, and we can agree upon a fair price then. You know where to find me. Unfortunately,” he adds, with a wry smile.

“Oh one thing I would like to mention,” Lord Gazter’s tone changes to something more cautionary. “I do not like it when people spread vile lies about me, and as would happen lies tend create more lies. Of course certain lies can be quite dangerous in the wrong hands. These lies can be dangerous at the best of times, but they are especially dangerous to those, who are in your current state,” he says menacingly. “But of course you would never consider such thing would you dear friend?” he finishes in his usual mercurial manner.

“Ah?” Noah leans back, with a look of mild bewilderment on his face. “Well, yes, quite, a very reasonable stance. I’m sure I wouldn’t dream of such behaviour.” He stands up in the slow and careful manner he has lately adopted. “I’ll be sure to let you know of any vile rumours should I hear them. Now, let us return to the others, before they - ”

A sharp and loud knocking from downstairs interrupts him before he can finish his sentence.

“Ministry of Public Decency! Open up!”

Noah fights down the urge to scream and leap out of a window. Lord Gazter places a hand on Noah’s shoulder.

“No need to worry friend, I will handle this matter.”

Although Noah cannot see it, he can tell that Lord Gazter’s ever present smile is still there. The nobleman removes his hand from Noah’s shoulder and calmly exits the garden. His footsteps can be heard below as he walks over to the staircase. The wood creaks underfoot as he begins his descent. Step by creaking step can be heard until Noah is left alone.
edited by John Moose on 8/4/2017
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Posts: 999

The Investigation—Part 5 of 5: Death in the Forgotten Quarter
(co-written with Drake Dynamo, Shadowcthuhlu and Wikipedia)

Smoke clears from the pistols. The fleeing homeless sentry lies dead at Emma’s feet. She nods at Timmel: “You get the next one.”

The Obstinate Nidahrian looks even more obstinate than usual. “Maybe try not to make so much noise,” he suggests. He points to a derelict building. “That’s the Shadowed Dome over there. Devils like to start their hunts around this place.”

“I’m sure we could negotiate with a few devils,” Lady Orosenn says absent-mindedly. “I’m more worried about running into the Waker of Snakes, or something like that.” She is in the process of examining a small reddish splotch on the ground, almost sniffing at it like a bloodhound, harpoon vibrating in her hand. “Mountain blood!” she says. “Just the slightest whiff, but there’s no mistaking that. The Shade came through here after that last battle. And now, we’ll follow its track.” She points ahead, past the Dome.

Their guide looks thoughtful. “The Holy Chasm… could it be? Anything past the Shadowed Dome was forbidden to foreigners and ordinary citizens in the time of the Khan—maybe for good reasons, maybe not. Still, I’ve never seen any proof for the rumours…” He goes on muttering darkly to himself. Timmel and Emma exchange a look. “Rumours about...?” asks Lady Orosenn.

Emma raises an eyebrow. “I hope this isn’t some silly superstition. Everything in the Neath can be explained by science. Strange science at times, yes, but science nonetheless,” Emma declares.

The Nidahrian shoots her a dark look. “Science, superstition… when you’ve lived as long as I have, it all kind of blurs together.” He stiffens. “There, did you see that?”

“No,” says Timmel Orosenn, “but I sure felt something.” She unslings her harpoon. “What did you say about a Chasm?”

“The Holy Chasm. It was rumoured to be the central place of worship of the Motherlings,” he answers.

“Motherlings,” Timmel sighs. “That means spiders. Big ones, probably.” She points to another small bloodstain on the ground, all but invisible to the others.

And all of a sudden, they’re standing at the edge of the Chasm. Emma immediately backs up and takes aim. “But,” she tries to reason, “this was several hundred years ago, right? I mean, even if they worshipped spiders here then, why should there still be spiders around now?”

After a few seconds, there is a gasp for an answer. Both women, who’ve been staring down the abyss almost hypnotized, look up to see the Nidahrian caught between the fangs of a very large sorrow-spider. “Behind you!” Timmel shouts at Emma, while going after the spider that attacked their guide.

“Oh f__k,” Emma exclaims, before darting to the side and firing at the approaching horde of small spiders, glad for the two cartridge belts slung around her waist. She won’t run out of bullets so fast this time!

The old man is putting up a brave fight, but already he is weakening. While the chelicerae of spiders are not particularly powerful, the venom dripping from their fangs is. Of course it would be going after him first! His eyes, with all they had seen, offered an irresistible prize for the cunning beast. “Help!” he manages to cry out weakly.

In quick pursuit, Lady Orosenn takes a wild swing at the sorrow-spider’s sensitive spinnerets with one of her long knives. That gets the beast’s attention! Immediately, it drops the Nidahrian and turns around to face its attacker. Despite its size, it is apparently not very experienced: it does not seem to regard the monster-hunter as a serious threat…

With the practiced calm vital to her profession, the huntress sidesteps waving pedipalps and jabbing front legs, taking a moment to size up her quarry. (All the time, Emma can be heard shooting and cursing in the background. When there is only cursing, she must be reloading.)

Without a warning or any prior hint as to what’s about to happen, Lady Orosenn springs into action. Neatly cutting off the front leg presently jabbing in her direction at the patella, she moves in close and, with knives in both hands, hacks off both palps, then jumps back just in time to be out of reach of the beast’s fangs. In a ballet-like move, she turns aside, severing another leg, and then uses that one’s stump to swing herself onto the spider’s carapace. Not wasting time, she plants one well-aimed knife into the beast’s brain, and then uses the other to sever its aorta right next to the pedicel. For a few seconds, she has to hold on for dear life as the poor spider convulses in its death-throes, and then it’s all over. Emma, surrounded by little spider-corpses, and very white in the face, looks at her companion with a mixture of terror and awe. When her gaze wanders to their guide lying on the ground a few yards away, his skin turned a sickly green, her shoulders slump. “He’s dead, isn’t he? Think he’s coming back?”

The huntress, retrieving her knives from the corpse, takes a look in the direction of the Nidahrian. “He’s still breathing. Sorrow-spider venom isn’t the deadliest around, but he’s had a heavy dose. Then again, I’m certain he survived worse. There might still be time to prepare an antidote…” Taking a large swig from her flask, she then spills the rest onto the ground and uses it to gather the faintly bluish liquid seeping from the dead spider’s body.

“Spiders have an open circulatory system, which means they do not have actual blood, or veins either,” she absent-mindedly begins lecturing. “Their bodies are filled with something called hemolymph, which also happens to act as a natural antidote to their own venom—conveniently preventing the spider from accidentally poisoning itself.” When the flask is filled, she takes it to the old man and, propping him up, begins feeding the liquid to him in small sips. “Might make the difference between a visit to the Slow Boat and the Far Shore,” she says when she is finished.

Emma looks quite horrified when her companion seems to prepare herself for resuming the hunt. “We… won’t just leave him here, won’t we?”

“He’ll understand. And if he does survive, I’ll pay him a significant danger bonus.” Her stoic features soften shortly when she sees Emma’s mien. “Listen, we’re already very late to the Side-Streets meeting. We need to get this over with.” Her face closing again, she points at the ground. “We have a spoor. I never turn away from a spoor.”

Painfully slow, the two women traverse the desolate emptiness of the Forgotten Quarter. Rationally, they know it can’t be this big—it’s just a small part of London, after all—but they know just as well that reason has no sway over geography in the Neath. “Treachery of Maps,” Emma murmurs once.

She soon notices that Lady Orosenn is hardly looking at the spoor, but is rather letting her harpoon swing slowly close to the ground, sometimes pointing at a spot that, to Emma, looks no different than any other—almost as if she were using the half-sentient weapon like a bloodhound, something Emma finds incredibly creepy. They turn right at every crossing, which seems to indicate the Shade definitely knew were it was going… until finally they are standing before the Shuddering Stones. And right behind them, a ruined, nameless temple.

The Stones—great, upright monoliths—aren’t shuddering at the moment, which is probably a good thing. Emma peeks around them at the temple ruin. “Doesn’t look like much. Where in there is anyone supposed to be hiding?”

“Maybe not in, but under it,” Lady Orosenn suggests. “Hey! Someone’s coming out!”

“Looks like another hobo,” Emma observes. “In particularly bad shape.”

Evensong is not faking her limp, thanks to unreliable masonry and heavy horsehead sculptures, as she hurries out of the temple. Cousins may be fast, faster than most, but right now Evensong does not find her speed sufficient. Not when there are mildly vampiric minions that could be still lurking about, or devils looking for a good hunt. Or in her case, one paranoid monster-hunter and one mildly manic American lurking around the same ruins.

“We should take her in for questioning!” Emma proposes excitedly. Timmel snorts. “Oh, why not? Since we’re already late anyway, we might as well make it count.”

Evensong squints at the source of the barely-heard whispers disturbing the entombed air of the Forgotten Quarter... whispers not heard in time for her to escape the ambush.

Aware of the hobos’ supernatural strength, Timmel and Emma aren’t going to take chances. Lady Orosenn remains behind the cover of the Shuddering Stones, while Emma stealthily moves around them, both pistols drawn. Only when her companion has a clear shot does Lady Orosenn step out in full view, harpoon raised.

“Stop right where you are! No matter how much of his blood you’ve drunk, this would hurt you. And I rarely miss.”

Evensong meets many strange people in their line of work; being threatened with a harpoon is not as unusual as one might think. However, that contralto voice combined with the profile in the ever-present low light prevents any mistake.

“Orosenn! What are you doing here?” Evensong hisses, dropping their accent for the first time in days (weeks?). Remembering their current face, she raises her arms in a peaceful gesture. “Agent Evensong.”

Lady Orosenn is surprised, which probably counts for something after the events of recent days. “Well… hello there. What are you doing here, if I may ask? We thought we’d found the Shade’s lair.” She lowers the harpoon a little, but not yet completely.

“I am putting my skills of a Foreign Office clerk to use, investigating his little cult. My intel confirms that the Shade’s lair is in fact this very temple. However, we have more pressing matters. The Shade has learned of our plans as well. He may be ambushing our companions as we speak.”

“What?” shouts Emma, who had remained hidden until now. “Oh my god, Drake…!”

After this revelation, they leave the Quarter as quickly as possible. While they have lost their original guide, Agent Evensong is able to lead them out of the maze well enough. After a while, Lady Orosenn asks her: “So, forgive my curiosity, but what exactly is it a Foreign Office clerk does?”

“A Foreign Office clerk represents London’s interests in the matters of other powers… formally and informally.”

Lady Orosenn shoots the small woman an amused look. “Say, have you ever considered running for mayor?”

“My spouse has, but they keep losing their paperwork. Myself, no. I prefer working in the backrooms. My family traditionally dislikes attention.”

A native of the Elder Continent herself, the huntress is quite aware of the nature of Agent Evensong’s “family” but chooses to remain discreet at this time. Since she’s also quite sure that the other woman knows more or less everything about her, she refrains from asking further questions. They hurry on, all of them painfully aware that they will probably be too late to make a difference...
edited by phryne on 8/7/2017

I'm not participating in the Election season.
a Scarlet Sainta Monster-Huntera Memorya Raven?
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Malice’s imprecations echo around the shadowed depths of the temple. Gideon wilts, but stands his ground.

“ENOUGH!” booms the bearded man. “I’ve had it up to here with your whinging, Jim-lad!”

Malice snarls, his eyes flaring, but the other man continues undaunted. “If we’re to share this mind, the least we can do is get along! You’ve got nowhere else to go, in case you’d forgotten. Your real body is in the North, and God knows whatever happened to you there isn’t something you can come back from! You’re just a shadow. A ghost.”

“So are you, Arnold,” Malice spits. Sparks drift from his mouth.

Arnold gives a sad smile. “Yes. And I’ve accepted that. The man I used to be is with God now. The least this sad shade can do is try to help those left behind under the earth, like our friend here.” He nods to Gideon.

For once, the inventor has trouble finding words. Anna watches the conversation silently from her chair, lips pursed tightly, seemingly rattled by the shouting. Arnold crouches beside her and whispers soothing words into her ear.

She always was anxious, thinks Gideon. Then, when was the last time I had a thought that was entirely my own? This is certainly novel.

“Anna, Arnold… I’ve missed you. I never felt complete without you and the others. They may truly be gone now, but at least we still have each other.” says Gideon. He does not cry. The tears trickling down his face are simply an allergic reaction to the pollen in the swamp.

“And you…” he rounds on Malice. “I can’t forgive you for what you did to me. Some things should stain a man’s soul forever, and you have made more than your fair share of stains. But you’re stuck here now, and this time I hold all the cards.” Gideon advances and gives the candle-man a hard shove in the chest. Malice stumbles backwards and lands heavily on the stone floor. Hot wax drips onto his pristine suit from a candle far above.

“You think you command this place, little man?” says Malice as he sits up, his ruined face twisted in a leer. “The Drowned Man’s songs thrum in my bones! He walked Parabola before Babylon fell, and I am his avatar! It is you who have no power here!”

Twin knives flash from Malice’s sleeves and Arnold shouts wordlessly in warning. The first flies wide, thudding into a wall and clattering to the ground. The second flies true and hits Gideon in the heart.

There is no blood, nor does he keel over in that gratifying way Malice has become used to. Gideon looks down at the knife jutting out of his chest and laughs, opening his suit to reveal a copy of the Bible in which the blade is solidly lodged.

“You fell for the old Bible-in-the-pocket trick! Even by my standards, that’s ridiculous!”

Malice is speechless. “You… that’s impossible!”

“And that, my dear monster, is rather the point. This is the realm of all things impossible, and I know a damn sight more about being impossible than you ever will. Anna! The lever!”

Anna looks at him, bewildered, then notices a lever on the floor in front of her which was notably absent a few seconds ago. She pulls it. A section of the floor gives way underneath Malice and he falls howling into a dark pit.

Gideon crouches at the edge of the pit and shouts down, “You can have some time to cool down in there, and I’ll let you back up here when you’re sufficiently reformed!” He is met by a yell of pure frustration echoing from the bottom.

He stands up and addresses Anna and Arnold. “I’m afraid I may have dallied too long here, pleasant as it is to see you both again. There are monsters in the realm of the waking too, and the one I’m hunting is rather more frightening than our Lord Malice here. I will return, though – you can count on that. We’ll see each other in pleasant dreams.”

“Goodbye,” says Anna quietly.

“Aye, and good luck, Gideon,” says Arnold.

“Goodbye to you too, but not farewell!” Gideon says with a bow. “I leave this villain in your capable hands.”

And with that, he vanishes from the temple and returns to the Neath.

Gideon Stormstrider, the Episcopalian Esotericist
Jimmy T. Malice, gone.

A Tale of Two Suns - Meeting Your Maker - A Squid in the Polls
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John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

(co-written with Shadowcthulhu and Lord Gazter)

Dirae Erinyes gives an annoyed grunt and opens the door. “What’s the matter, officer?”

Behind the door stands a tall man with a buzz cut, cold blue eyes and an expression that signals utter lack of a sense of humour. He is holding his black hat at his side, the emblem of a burning book visible.

“Citizen, I am Sergeant Driscoll from the Ministry of Public Decency. I am looking for a group recently spotted on several crime scenes, and you match a description given by reliable witnesses. Could you describe your whereabouts last night, as well as this morning.” Neither a question mark or a ‘please’ is added to the end of the sentence, and this is not likely to be an oversight.

“Sergeant Driscoll. . .I don’t think I have met you before.” Dirae Erinyes adds after a thoughtful silence as they searched their memories. “Dirae Erinyes, professional Correspondent, unprofessional troubleshooter. I’ve done some work with your department as both.” They offer him a gloved hand.

Lord Gazter enters the room unperturbed by the current scenario. “Good evening, Sergeant Driscoll. How might we be of assistance to you this fine evening?”

The officer holds in a sigh. The hand goes ignored. “Citizens, I do not enjoy repeating myself. If I could come in, and you could recount to me your perspective on the events from last night to this morning.”

“Come in Officer, let’s discuss that matter where we don’t have all the Spite listening in.” Dirae Erinyes steps aside, letting Driscoll enter under their watchful eyes.

The sergeant enters the room, glancing around at those still seated. He places himself with his back to the empty kitchen. “Thank you for your cooperation. Now, I would very much like to hear where all of you were last evening, as well as this morning.”

“Oh, hunting the so-called Shade. I assume your ministry has taken notice of his particular murder spree?” Dirae Erinyes asks as they close the door.

Driscoll takes out a small notepad and a stub of a pencil, scribbling down the word shade. “We could hardly not. I’d be very interested in hearing what your involvement is, and why you haven’t shared any knowledge you may have with officers of the law.”

“Out of the public good mostly. Drake, learning of the creature’s existence performed a socially responsible action and gathered gifted individuals to deal with the matter. A hunt of sorts if you will. As for not alerting the police, I figured I enough sense to alert the Special Constables if we couldn’t handle it.”

Lord Gazter silences Dirae with a hand. “Sergeant Driscoll, we understand your position as an officer of the Ministry of Public Decency, and the responsibilities that entails. It is a difficult and dreary line of work, and one that is sadly a thankless one,” Lord Gazter adds sympathetically. “But as a friend of the Ministry of Public Decency, I can give you my personal assurance that we will do our best to assist you in understanding, these recent events.”

The officer stares with a blank expression at the notepad he’s been scribbling on. He draws a deep breath, and sets it down, looking from Lord Gazter to Dirae. “I wonder if you understand, I really do. This is no snuffer or Jack. We’re dealing with a rising death toll - almost exclusively permanent deaths, for heaven’s sake. I’m sorely tempted to simply arrest all of you and have you share what you know with actual professionals, and stay out of the way. What, exactly, did you sic on that creature on Seven Devils’ Square? So far, I’m having trouble seeing you lot as allies in a hunt, rather than thrill-seekers just making matters worse.”

“What you saw in the Seven Devil’s Square was a London citizen who just happened to spend too long in the Iron Republic. I’m not going to say she’s not a threat, but right now she’s more of a threat to this Shade fellow than to the honest citizens of London. Has very strong views on murder, that lass. As for professionals,” Dirae Erinyes stops their defense of their reckless actions with a quick search through the myriad pockets. Finding one of their many business cards (all with a different profession and title of address of course), they hand it to Driscoll. The card simply says “Dirae Erinyes. Troubleshooter of the Unusual.” “You can double check that with hunter’s guild and your own department if you like. I know many of them remember the affair with the Venus Person-Trap, the Devil Hunter, or that whole affair with the Spider-Parliament. I know that my political leanings don’t make many friends to your comrades that. . .work closely with the Masters, but nobody in your department should have a bad word to say about me.”

“And I, Lord Barnabas Gazter, can attest to the validity of my companions statements,”

Driscoll raises an eyebrow at this. ‘Gazter’ has shown up in more than one report that’s passed his desk, and with a small ‘R’ next to it. “My lord. It is an honour to meet you.” This would certainly complicate an arrest; a Reliable involved means there being a small chance the whole thing is some private plot of Pages. And… “Hold on… Venus Person-Trap? You don’t mean the mess at Hanged Man’s Hand?” Some of the older constables still use that story to scare the rookies into being properly paranoid...

“Yep, that would be the one. It’s a prime reason why drunk zailors shouldn’t take up gardening and mechanical engineering at the same time.” Dirae Erinyes will chuckle a bit, as if remembering a mishap from a party or a childhood prank.

“That is… Impressive. I suppose I have to take back my earlier comments about you not being professionals.” Driscoll is sorely tempted to just walk out, and leave the matter to those not on their seventh hour of overtime. He’s come here to check up on possible monsters and troublemakers, and found people willing to put themselves in harm’s way before any more coppers die on the case, with both the experience to possibly succeed as well as the fame to get away with blowing up a bar or two in the process. Of course, it’s not what he’s supposed to do… He rubs his eyes, feeling the exhaustion. “This is, still, a police operation. An officer can’t really just leave it to civilians without express permission from above, and I have my orders. I’m not particularly looking forward to being sacked for, say, pretending I never found you lot...” A meaningful glance is directed at Lord Gazter.

“Of course you won’t have to do that Sergeant Driscoll,” Lord Gazter reassures him. “I am sure that your superiors will understand the situation, after I explain the matter to them in greater detail after we have handled the matter.” Lord Gazter pulls out a card from his pocket, and hands it to Sergeant Driscoll. “And of course I will have to commend your dedication and hard work to Mr. Pages the next time I see him.”

The officer regards the nobleman suspiciously. He’s never appreciated toffs, having soirées in comfort as those that keep them fed and safe are being hunted by every kind of horror, when not too busy starving. On the other hand, a good word from a Reliable might make the old bugger think twice the next time he felt like piling all the overwork on Driscoll…

“Tell you what, gentlemen. Since you are clearly citizens of great standing and good reputation, on a secret mission to help the poor and the wretched of London, I will inform my superior as such, as well as advice him against wasting any manpower on chasing what are clearly allies of ours. However” The Sergeant’s gaze goes from Gazter to Dirae, and back “You will inform the constables of any future calamities in advance. You will keep the calamities to a minimum. And, should you require the assistance of law, or manage to capture the creature, you will contact me personally, instead of shoving this all on some unwitting officer unaware of the situation. Here is my address. Are we clear?”

“We do understand Sergeant Driscoll,” Lord Gazter assures him, “and we will be looking forward working in tandem with you to end this menace to the people of London.”

“Expect my report on your desk by tomorrow morning!” Dirae Erinyes tone is so cheerful, it’s quite scary.

Taking one last glance at the people in the room, the Sergeant walks over to the door. “Very well. Then I will look forward to cooperation, and wish you all the luck in your hunt.” Stepping over the scaffold, he places his hat on his head, giving Gazter and Dirae one last nod. “Citizens.”

After the door closes, a quiet ‘thud’ can be heard upstairs, as if someone slumping on the floor in relief.
edited by John Moose on 8/8/2017
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Edward Frye
Edward Frye
Posts: 263

(co-written with Suincide)
Frye leads Henchard down a dark alley with a makeshift ladder, which looks very unsafe. Edward starts to climb the ladder and beckons for Henchard to follow. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but this ladder sometimes does break” Frye says as they climb, “If a rung breaks loose all you need to do is grab a window sill, hopefully no one will notice”. He says all this quite cheerily despite what he’s saying. After a few more minutes of climbing in silence, Edward looks down at Henchard and asks “So what brought you to the Neath?”.
“Family. Both siblings gave a reason to come here. A death. And a new life.” Henchard’s eyes flit around while he debated about saying more. “I suppose,” he hesitated, “I suppose I owe my sister something more. But she’s gone, so I am left helping the place she loved.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that” Edward says, then continues to climb in an awkward silence.
“No, no, don’t be sorry. She was not a good person.” Henchard pauses, “But I would like to know why you are here. And I don’t mean in London. No offense, but you don’t seem like the adventuring type.”
“No offense taken, I don’t my public appearance seem very adventurous, not sure many high society folks would approve of my hobbies”. He hesitates for a moment before saying, “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I do enjoy a good bit of thievery every now and then”. Edward pauses as they reach the top of the building they’re climbing, “A few minutes then we’ll be to urchin territory. Anyway as I was saying, I enjoy thieving. I don’t mean to brag, but a month or so ago, I took a few illegal street signs from The Bazaar. That’s pretty adventurous if you ask me, of course, I’m the one who did it. Anyway, I’m getting off topic, another reason is because this is no Jack, it’s permanently murdering people, I want to stop this monstrosity before it gets out of hand.”

As the two approach urchin territory, Edward gives Henchard a brief history of the urchin gang the roofs here have been claimed by, The Rod and Cannons. “They’re a group of outcasts, mainly from The Fisher Kings and The Regiment. That’s where they’re name comes from, as you may know, The Fisher Kings use fishing rods to snatch handkerchiefs from passing spite traveler, and The Regiment has cannons. I helped organize the group, a few months back, so they are a very new group.”
“Did they manage to keep any of the canons?” Henchard asks, his eyes lighting up with ideas for dealing with the shade. To which Edward replies, “Only one, which they smuggled as they were leaving The Regiment”.
As they approach the camp, whistles and shouts can be heard, and tiny figures can be seen running and climbing. When they come close enough to distinguish more details, the children seem to calm down. Then a group of three urchins approach Frye and Henchard. “‘Ello guv!” shouts one of them “Who's that chap following you?”. Edward replies “Don’t worry William, he’s a friend. Me and him are coming for George.” As Edward says the name, William visibly shudders. “Jus’ don’ let em’ get yer weasels. Ee got one of mine a week ago.” he shudders again. Edward chuckles and says “Don’t worry, I didn’t bring any of my weasels”. “Well, sorry, we can’t stay long fellows. Me and Henchard here better be going”, the urchins groan and one asks “did you not even bring the lil’ kitten?” to which Edward replies “sorry, not this time”. Then they continue towards the Urchin camp.
Only one cannon. Henchard shakes his head. It wouldn’t be right to take their only cannon, and if the shade was following them even more so. Still, the idea was tempting, even if it would only delay the shade.
Drifting in and out of thoughts, Henchard watches the stream of urchins flowing past them. No uniform, no distinguishing markings, too many people to remember. Henchard rests his hand on his knife, eyes watching each urchin as they approached. But he follows Frye through the crowd, his unease growing with every step, his impassive expression trying to mask it.
The camp is a village of makeshift tents and children. There doesn't appear to be any system for the layout, but none of urchins never seem to be lost. The members of the gang can be seen laughing and running, as well as “fishing” for handkerchiefs, and hauling crates standing guard by the entrances to The Flit. They wear rags and over half of them don’t have shoes. Most are very thin, but still seem to be in good spirits.
Edward notices Henchard’s hand on his knife, but doesn't say anything. As an attempt to distract Henchard from any unpleasant thoughts he might have, Edward suddenly brings up the topic of clay men rights, and begins to rant about how the Masters are corrupt and evil to clay men. Henchard stays silent, giving Edward an occasional nod or slight smile at agreeable points.

As they exit the camp, Edward finishes his speech and they continue toward their destination. After a few more minutes of walking, a tiny shack appears in the distance, so small it looks as though it would only fit one or two people inside. When they reach it, Edward produces a set of keys on large brass ring from one of his inside pockets. He finds the key he’s looking for, and unlocks the door. The inside turns out to just be a hole in the floor with a ladder, leading down to a much bigger abode. Henchard raises an eyebrow. As the two descend the ladder, Edward explains that this was his first home in The Neath’, but now his formerly urchin friend lives there. Once they reach the bottom, Edward calls out “George! Come here! I am in need of your assistance!”.
Suddenly, Edward feels a tap on his back and he whirls around to see a small child, standing there. He appears normal at first glance, but there is something strange about him. Henchard, still on the ladder, gestures for them to move.
The child says, “Sorry sir, I didn’t mean to startle you”, but he doesn't sound very apologetic.
Edward asks the child “No need to apologize George, how much progress have you made?”
“I’ve killed about a dozen.”
“Permanent?” Lacking in patience, Henchard flips around to the other side of the ladder, and hops down, landing with a slight stumble.
“Of course not sir, just as you asked”, but the way he says it indicates that he very much wished it could have been permanent. Edward turns to Henchard and explains “The killings we are referring to, are the deaths of the Neddy Men rampaging in Spite. It’s quite awful, they take so much from people who already have so little. Anyway back on topic”, he turns back to George and says “I have a new job for you though, have heard of the Shade?”
To which George responds “Can’t say I have sir.”
“Well anyway, there’s a Shade creature thing that’s rampaging through London and killing people, and he has a group of hypnotized hobos who are trying to kill the group I joined who are trying to kill the Shade. What I want you to do, is track down those hobos, and do what you can with them”. George looks confused for a moment, as he takes in all the information, then smiles at the prospect of killing things and nods, “yes sir, I will go immediately.”
“Good, also remember, do NOT kill anyone who is not a hobo. Specifically do not kill a very tall woman with a harpoon, and a shorter woman with red hair, those are the ones tracking the hobos right? Well anyway just don’t kill anyone who isn’t acting like an evil possessed hobo. Good, we must be going now, so farewell George!” And with that they the descend a different ladder that leads to the streets of spite.

“Who was that?” Henchard asks the moment his foot touches the ground.
“He was an urchin of The Regiment, but he was quite troublesome, so as soon as I became a trickster they kicked him out and made him come with me. When I became a conjurer, some quite strange things happened to him, but he’s quite effective at killing neddy men.”
Henchard hesitates a moment, “I hope he doesn’t attract more attention to us.” A nice, neutral statement. “Oh I don’t think he will. Only a few people know his connection to me, and those who do are in no position to contact any authorities” Edward replies. The two continue to chat on their way to the designated Bazaar side street, with mainly Edward speaking and Henchard listening, which tends to be the way things are with Edward.

My profile, http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Edward~Frye
Edward Frye's Appearance http://community.failbettergames.com/topic9363-your-characters-appearances.aspx?Page=7
My alt http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Ulysses~Beechworth
My Mr. Eaten profile http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/profile/Laurens~Haymore
Edward Frye is currently open to pretty much any social options except loitering.
+1 link
Posts: 999

Hammond wrote:
I have seen what lies on the far shore of the River (...) I have a fear of death once again. I can wander as far into shadowed places as I wish, but I must always have a body to return to... a nightmare awaits those who don't.

Feel the worm-fates crawling under your skin. Hear the chanting grow louder. See the expectation in their golden, shining eyes. Feel yourself blazing, raging, pining. Release. Let go. L—

Coming to with a start. No heavy breathing, no sweat upon her brow. Only glowing, pulsing light. Coming from her. No! Not yet!

With remarkable force of will, Phryne Amarantyne reigns in the powers surging through the empty husk that was once her body—one more time. Probably the last time. Isn't it nice how everybody wants a piece of me.

Looking around. Dining room. Empty, of course. A pang of remorse. She does remember food, remembers it well. What have I been doing in here? What brought on this episode? Not hard to guess. Melancholy, her old nemesis, come for one last strike. And failed again. I salute you, old enemy. But it had been close, too close for comfort. It was time to set the stage for the last act. Imagine this would've happened in Professor Garrison's lab...

An hour in a bathtub with ice-cold water and the pulsing glow subsides. On a spur, she decides to dress in a flashy riding-outfit, as if she were going on a foxhunt on the Surface. Jacket, trousers, boots, gloves, hat tilted daringly to cover the missing ear. Studying her reflection in the large walk-in closet's mirror. Reflection pouting back at her defiantly. I hardly recognize myself. I seem... smaller, as if I'm shrinking. Is that possible? And the short hair... reminds me of my Spite days. Hardly more than a waif then. Chimney-sweep. Always watching, listening, memorizing. Finding my feet in the Game. She allows herself a smile at the memory.

"Huntsman." The word barely above a whisper, but all the summoning that is needed. Reflection's surroundings no longer mirroring the closet but dark forest, jungle-like. Reflection moving aside, reluctant, sulking.

"I'm here." Khaganian woman. Facial scar. Sardonic smile, like that of her friend, her confidante, her would-be rescuer. "Is it time, then?"

"Yes." Maintaining eye contact for another second. A barely perceptible nod. Then, suddenly, turning to Reflection, smiling brightly.

Slitted pupils widening in surprise. Hope. A step forward. A mistake. Cudgel coming down against the side of her (its?) head. Crumpling to the ground. The Huntsman bends down, rope in hand.

"Make sure the knots are tight. You got a place to hide the body?" Rubbing her temple, though she can't possibly be sharing the pain.

"Of course." Finishing her work, she rises. "If your plan fails—"

"It won't. It's not based on reason, after all, so there's no reason why it shouldn't work."

A sigh. "Well, it's done. I can't go back from this. I've been insubordinate before, but this is high treason. If your plan fails, we're both done for."


"Countless. But not this, no. I can't stand this place any longer."

A smile. "And I can't wait to get back there."

A shrug. "You're welcome to it. So... what's the next step?"

"The Shade needs to know about our hunting party's meeting in the Side-Streets. Visit a few members of his shabby army in dreams and tell them about it."

"A few?"

"He might not believe just a single source."

"He'll still think it a trap."

"So what. He'll come. If he comes looking for a trap that isn't there, all the better. All I need is for the others to distract him long enough that I can move in close."

"Some of them might not fare well..."

"I don't plan to let anyone get killed permanently. If a few people go on a Boat Trip—shit happens. They all knew what to expect when they signed up for this."

That wry smile. "You know what's funny? How I can't even be certain it's you I'm talking to. After all, anything might have returned from the Iron Republic in your shape."

"That's a distinct possibility."

Horror. "You are not sure of this yourself?"

"I am. I have my memories, though they're far from complete. I look slightly differently. And I'm dead, I'm sure you noticed. But all that hasn't stopped me. And I think I know why."

"Because you're possessed by some hellish creature?"

"I think not. Possessed, yes, obviously, but I've got that under control. Just." Smirking. "Really, I do."

"If you say so."

"Have you ever heard of a place called Anthe?"

"Faintly, I think. People do weird things to themselves there, don't they? Why?"

"They call it 'going sharp'. I think what happened to me is somewhat related. Only I haven't gone sharp in the lungs, or the tongue (that one was always sharp enough, after all)... I've gone sharp in the soul, so to speak."

"Is that even possible?"

"Of course not. That's why it could only happen in the Republic."

"Then I guess your search for your Self proved successful after all. Though you had to die to find it."

"I was a bit mad about the death part for a while—in fact, I went actually mad, the real thing, not some woozy Mirror-Marches episode—until I realized how it absolutely didn't matter at all. This body—this shell, this carcass—doesn't matter. The soul is the only thing that matters, and I'm going to damn well hold on to mine—forever, or as close to that as possible."

"Not feeling honoured by the prospect of becoming fuel for some high-ass Judgement? How dare you!" Chuckling. "But if it's immortality you're looking for, why didn't you take the Cider your friend Mr Dynamo offered to you?"

"Cider—what poor excuse for immortality is that? Oh, you don't understand anything!" Angry now. "I pity those fools, those slaves to Hesperidean Cider. All they achieve is keep looking young while growing old and tired and bitter, and then older and tireder and bitterer. Look at the Duchess or the Widow, do they seem happy? Does the Manager of the Royal Beth look like a happy man? No, they've got it all wrong. Keeping your body immortal is a waste of effort. The soul is the only thing that matters! And souls can grow only a finite amount in one vessel. The number of vessels is irrelevant—the journey is the destination! Imagine, if you always had a body readily available to pass it on to whenever you grow bored of your current existence—preferably without any unsavoury Frankenstein-like science involved or whatever—imagine what your soul could become! Of course, nobody has found out how to do that. Yet."

"But you think you do."

"Well, I didn't bother finding a way—I just made one up. Because that's how it works down here, you know. I can't believe so few people realize that. It's what the Iron Republic taught me. The Neath is maybe the most lawless place in the universe right now! But humans can't seem to wrap their brains around that. They keep looking at things with their reason, their logic, their science—it's ridiculous. All you need is imagination—make something up, and then follow through with it! Easy as pie, especially with Parabola around the corner. You of all people should understand that."

Considering. "When our ship capsized, all I wanted was to avoid becoming a Drownie. I didn't really know what I was doing—"

"And it worked! That's my point exactly. You made something up on the spot, and saved your life." Seeing her friend wince, she amends, "Well, kind of. Halfway there. And I promised I'd provide the other half. I'm only sorry it took me so long."

"Don't mention it. Alright. You said it wouldn't have to make sense anyway. But why involve yourself in this Shade-Hunt business?"

"Well, you know me—I can never resist a grand entrance, or a grand exit. It seemed like a good opportunity for going out with a bang."

A long pause. Slowly, a smile spreads over the Huntsman's face. "Do you remember the night you first opened your salon?"

"Of course. I'd risen far in the Game and decided it was time to have some fun: make a splash in society, be the talk of the town." Smiling too, now.

"The evening's motto was: If you can Dream it, it is Real. And you called yourself..."

"... Phryne Amarantyne, the Once and Future Queen of Parabola. Yes. I put that on the invitations. Pulled every trick I've learnt from the Glass and the Shroud and had those gullible high society types gasping for air all night. It was hilarious. The tale grew in the telling and soon London's esoteric set was at least half-convinced I really was some kind of avatar from Beyond."

"Exactly. And, you know..."

Smirking at each other across the mirror-threshold. No need to finish the sentence when each knows exactly what the other is thinking.

After a long pause, the Huntsman says, "Well, good luck to you then. I have to visit some hobos' dreams."

"Good luck to us both, Apsalar. See you on the other side... or nevermore."

"... or nevermore. Damn, we should be drinking to that!"

"I'm not sure alcohol would be a good idea in my condition. It might serve as a combustive agent."

They share another chuckle, then the Huntsman leaves, dragging the bound and muffled Reflection after her. The jungle disappears, the mirror once again showing a woman's closet—but no reflection of the woman herself standing before it.

She enjoys this experience for a moment or two—gazing into a looking-glass without the distraction of your own damnable reflection: quite like having eyes in the back of your head—then shatters the mirror with one kick of a booted foot.


I'm not participating in the Election season.
a Scarlet Sainta Monster-Huntera Memorya Raven?
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Drake Dynamo
Drake Dynamo
Posts: 473

The streets are quiet. The Shade is quiet. This is not Parabola, or any place known to the dreams of Londoners. A vast empty city, all the buildings made of black stone, but no entrances in any of them. In the occasional periods where the Shade approaches something similar to sleep, it comes here.

The Shade has received word of the gathering to be had in the Side Streets.

The city is ringed by walls. Try as it may, the Shade cannot scale them. There are two gates, one on either side of the city. One is ivory, and one is horn. The Shade does not dare approach them, and so walks the city every time it visits.

The Shade will meet them in the Side Streets.

The sky over the city is black. This is not the roof of the Neath, or the void above the surface. It is cold and empty. In the center of the city, there is a statue. Its face tilts upwards. The Shade cannot make out who it is, and so does not think on it.

The Shade knows the end is near.

This will be the last time it visits the city. It is time to decide. It may live, and let the citizens of London live the lie. Or it may bring the sword of truth to bear upon the city, and die. The gates await. It is time to decide.

The Shade makes its way across the city.

The Shade approaches the Gate of Horn. It is open. Abyss awaits. The Shade has made its peace. It steps across the threshold. The streets are quiet. The Shade is quiet.

The Shade is ready.

Oh no. Another post from that goon who goes on about statistics.

Drake Dynamo -Correspondent, Hesperidean Cider Drinker , Matchmaker, and Paramount Presence
The Antioch - The Coffee God (I do not check this account often)
Mr. Mauvais - A ghostly skullduggerous fellow, chopped up for the time being (Only active during seasonal events)

Guide to becoming a Poet-Laureate
If you need to discuss RP matters, I can typically be found on the IRC in #Argo.
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John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

Noah shakes the cup, estimating how much he’s made today. Less than around this time yesterday, he thinks. Oh well.

Passers-by ignore him without a second thought. Whereas in Spite he’d have been stabbed in the throat by now for encroaching on someone else’s territory, the wealthy people of the Side-streets wouldn’t be caught dead interacting with a blind beggar in rags. All that do notice him simply wonder why the police hasn’t removed this vagrant already from darkening the facade of their beautiful city. If the officers’ standard issue boots wouldn’t strike against the cobblestones quite so characteristically and loudly, they might have.

As things stand, Noah has now a day and a half of experience on how this street sounds, what kind of people walk on it and who and when use the alley on the corner of which he’s sitting. He’s learned a thing or two about the baker keeping store next to the meeting place, and yesterday a passing cat told him all kinds of useful tales in return for some fish. Whether the tales were true or not, they were very informative.

Noah pulls his cane closer to himself, and adjusts his hood - so that it covers his hair to make recognition difficult, yet shows the bandage covering his eyes. No reason not to fill the cup with as many pity-pennies as possible, after all, and people here will be less likely to harass a poor cripple than someone capable of self defence. Noah smirks at this, thinking of the arsenal of small and easy-to-conceal weaponry he gained at Stormstrider’s hideout. Blind, yes. Helpless? We shall see.

He takes a sip from a pocket flask, and leans back against the wall. They should be here soon enough. Hope they found something useful.
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Posts: 236

Locke Lockhart’s Lamentable Legwork, Part 2: Loathsome Leeches

Locke trudges through the fungal swamps of Bugsby’s Marshes, cursing the string of poor decisions that led him to this wretched place. Scarcely an hour out on the fringes of London and his trousers are soaked through, his borrowed wellington boots filled to the brim with fetid water. His passenger, the accursed Ninefold Cat, squirms irritably in his rucksack.

“You sure this is the right way, cat?”

“How should I know?” The Cat scrabbles his way up Locke’s back to rest his paws on the man’s shoulder. Locke winces at the claws digging into him. “You’re supposed to be the expert tracker, Mister Lockhart. I can’t see a thing from your rucksack.”

“Tracking a single bloody tramp through a swamp is easier said than done, even for a fearless monster-hunter like yours truly,” says Locke. He stops on a muddy island rising from the ankle-deep water and surveys the landscape. The cat peers over his shoulder. Bugsby’s Marshes stretch before them, the muddy landscape shrouded in rolling mist. Ahead is a thick copse of tree-sized grey mushrooms enclosed on both sides by rocky cliffs. The wide fungal caps obscure the marsh ahead in gloom. An ideal place for an ambush, if you’re feeling paranoid.

Before moving on, Locke tries to get the worst of the mud and water out of his clothes, shaking like a wet dog. The Ninefold Cat hisses and clings onto his rucksack as he bends over to extract the fat leeches stuck to his thigh, tossing them into the reeds.

“If I didn’t know better,” says Locke, “I’d think you sent me out here just to get soaked. If this tramp is working for the Shade, what’s he doing out in the arse-end of nowhere? Nothing here but mushrooms and marsh-wolves.

“Bloke down at the Bomb With Two Necks said he caught a blemmigan in Bugsby’s Marshes once, but when he showed us it was just a sorrow-spider with a mushroom glued to its back. That’s how One-Eyed Phil got his name, you know. The bugger would have done for me too – no weapons allowed in that joint for health and safety reasons – but I had a knife in my boot for just such an occasion.” He mimes throwing a knife.

The Cat gives him a desultory scratch on the back with one of his claws and slumps back into the rucksack to sulk while Locke squelches his way into the mushroom forest.

“So are you the one of yourself that gets all the rubbish jobs, then? Do the other eight pick on you, or is it more of a drew-the-short-straw sort of scenario? I can get behind that line of thinking. Proper democracy, that’s what I’d like to see in this city - or failing that, a lottery. Fat chance of that with the Masters around, though. The whole Mayor job is a sham. As far as I can tell – the view from the streets, as it were – the only thing Jenny managed to achieve all year was starting up a posh school. It’s nonsense, I tell you.”

Locke’s squelching continues. The fungal stalks close in around him, the air heavy with drifting spores. It quickly becomes dark under the shade of the tower-caps. Locke stops to light his lantern, fiddling with damp matches in the dark; he continues on with a dim aura of candlelight casting deep shadows in the tangled undergrowth.

Under the shade of the mushrooms, all is quiet and still apart from Locke’s own footsteps and ragged breathing. The silence is deafening after the lively sounds of frogs and crickets in the marsh.

A soft voice speaks from just behind him. “I have the scent now.” Locke practically jumps out of his skin before he realises that it is the Ninefold Cat.

“Jesus, cat, you scared the living daylights out of me!” he whispers.

“I’m sorry, I thought you were supposed to be a fearless monster-hunter,” says the Cat sardonically. If it were a human, it would have cocked an eyebrow. Perhaps it’s doing it anyway, just to spite me.

“Well… just get on with it, okay? There’s a time and a place for sarcasm. Can you point me in the right direction or not?”

“I can smell the man we’re looking for about three hundred yards ahead. Stale sweat and staler wine; there’s no doubt. He probably doesn’t know we’re here yet, but don’t push your luck – the light’s a dead giveaway.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something? It’s bloody dark!”

“Pah. I sometimes forget you humans have worse senses than a new-born kitten. You can’t see in the dark, but neither can he. I’ll be your eyes.”

“Brilliant. Do you want to go on ahead, Your Highness, or should I carry you on my shoulders so you don’t get your fur all muddy?”

Without answering, the Ninefold Cat scratches his way up Locke’s back again and curls around his neck. Despite his irritation at the wretched mog, he can’t help but appreciate how fluffy the Cat is. Like a living neck-warmer.

Locke shutters his lantern and creeps forward, wincing at every little twig snapping in the brambly undergrowth. The Cat directs him with whispered instructions. Before long, a dim orange glow can be seen ahead, tell-tale smoke rising past the fungal canopy – a campfire.

The Ninefold Cat and Locke look at each other. The Cat’s hungry eyes glow with reflected firelight. “The hunt,” he purrs, “is on.”

Locke nods and checks the weapons strapped to his belt. Debate at swordpoint is his speciality, but for tougher arguments he carries a revolver. The worst disagreements require a certain amount of overwhelming force, so he also carries a few spare grenades. Judging by what the Cat told him of the vagrants’ unnatural vitality, they may come in handy.

He parts the brambles ahead with a rustle and spies the tramp sitting at his campfire, a lone point of light in the dark clearing. The mushrooms loom low here; the campsite would be impossible to find if not for the Cat’s nose.

The vagrant would not look out of place on the streets of London. He has a long beard and ragged clothes which are covered in grime and still wet from trudging through the marshes. He is muttering to himself, also not an atypical feature.

Despite his wild and deranged appearance, he is not the most concerning aspect of the camp at present. It seems he is not the only one encamped in the arse-end of nowhere; there are a good dozen tents pitched behind him in the clearing. Boxes of weapons and supplies – and overflowing gunpowder kegs – are stacked all around. Not just a lone fugitive, then, but a whole gang of them on the warpath.

Locke ducks back behind the brambles. “This is bad. Properly bad. If they’re all as bonkers as the one that sawed off that poor woman’s head, there’s no telling what they could get up to in London. I’m all for a bit of rough-and-tumble, but these people are sick.”

“Indeed,” says the Cat. “This sort of thing is bad for business. This may be our only chance to deal with them. I can only smell the one man in there – the others must have gone off somewhere. If you’re half the fighter you say you are, you should be able to incapacitate the guard – preferably in a permanent fashion. Do you still have any matches left in that book of yours?”

“I’m not sure I like where this is going, cat…”

“Come on now. What sort of anarchist is put out by a few explosions?”

“Quite the opposite! It’s just a shame that I won’t be the one causing them for once.” Locke flashes a brilliant grin and passes the matchbook up to the Cat, who holds it in his mouth.

He pushes through the brambles and surveys the approach more closely, the Cat still draped on his shoulders. The clearing is raised slightly above the surrounding forest, with a reed-filled stretch of knee-deep water in the way. The tramp has his back turned to Locke, still babbling gibberish to himself.

Without further ado, Locke strides bravely forwards. Immediately before entering the water, his foot catches on something. A trip-wire! And so, bravely, he trips and falls with a yelp into the mucky swamp water, the Ninefold Cat following him into the trench as a yowling airborne ball of claws.

Once he claws his spluttering way out of the water, he is thoroughly drenched and dripping with cold, wet mud. Something is causing a great commotion beneath the surface, splashing and bubbling vigorously – he gingerly reaches in and extracts the sodden Cat. Fur plastered to his body, flailing and scratching with the most outraged look Locke has ever on an animal, the Ninefold Cat is thoroughly unamused.

“Do you think he heard that?” says Locke to the dripping Cat.

An incoherent cry bursts forth from the camp.

Locke chucks the cat off into the safety of the shadows of the camp – thoroughly appreciating the further caterwauling – and attempts to compose himself following his undignified fall. His weapons are, fortunately, still where he left them. He has just drawn his sword from its sheath when the shrieking tramp charges towards him, his hair and beard flying wildly and his mouth trailing spittle.

“Now listen here…” he begins, and then thrusts his outstretched blade into the vagrant’s stomach as the man collides with him, knocking him to the ground.

“I think there’s been some sort of terrible misunderstanding!” says Locke.

“For the Shade!” roars the tramp, seemingly oblivious to the blade stuck through his torso and jutting out of his back.

Locke rolls to one side, shifting the tramp’s weight off him, and stands upright while the man struggles on his back.

“Could you point me to the way out, my dear fellow? I fear I’ve become rather lost.” Locke’s hilarious banter fails to elicit a response from the vagrant besides a growl, so he tugs at his sword’s hilt and extracts it from the man’s stomach with a squelch. The blade comes free reluctantly, trailing gold-flecked blood.

The sword-wound is hard to make out in the deep shadows of the firelight, but its edges are wide and ragged. Not something that you can just walk away from, even in the Neath.

The tramp, however, does not seem to be aware of that. He merely stands up and roars again, utterly unimpeded. As Locke watches in growing horror, the sides of the wound creep together until the man’s body is whole again. Out of the corner of his eye, he catches a silhouette padding towards the fire – the Ninefold Cat, still thoroughly bedraggled, with a match in his mouth.

“Nice trick, that,” he says, forcing himself to smile nonchalantly and keep the tramp’s attention. “Fancy teaching me? Might come in handy down at the Bomb on Friday nights.”

Behind the tramp, the Ninefold Cat has lit the match from the fire and is now making his way towards the tents, where a bright orange light glints inside some sort of small frame. How is that blasted cat supposed to blow up the barrels without scorching off his own hide?

The tramp stares blankly at him and chokes out the words: “Funny man, eh? You’ll not stop us. You’re too late. We found the shed where your friends fled after our Lord scattered them. The others went to burn it down. You… you’re the only one left. Now die!”

The tramp pulls a rusty dagger out of his belt and swipes at Locke. In the glow of the campfire, the shifting shadows of the men move in a deadly dance. The tramp is faster than his dishevelled appearance suggests – he is almost too fast for Locke to keep up a defence, even with the greater reach of his sword. He laughs, exulting in the challenge. This might turn out to be an excellent night after all!

The vagrant is relentless, jabbing and slashing with his dagger whenever Locke lets his guard down. The dagger may not have reach, but its wielder knows how to take advantage of underhanded tactics. Locke can barely keep up with the frantic stabbing, and he soon takes some skin-deep slashes. Any wounds he inflicts on his opponent soon close up. This is a losing battle, he realises. He hazards a glance over to the rows of tents and sees no sign of the cat.

“You’ve died before, haven’t you? You don’t deserve another life,” says the tramp. “The Shade is almighty, and he has but one life. This he told us when we drank of his blood. When I kill you, I’ll take your head.” He grins maniacally.

Locke’s arms are tired. The vagrant refuses to let him catch a breath. Every parry is slower. The feverish, hollow face of the tramp grins wider, and he misses a sharp jab of the dagger. It sinks into his right arm, severing tendons, deadening nerves. The arm hangs useless and his blade drops into the grass. Pain shoots through him and he sinks to the ground. The tramp walks around behind him and holds Locke’s head up by the hair. The pain scarcely registers compared to his arm.

The dagger glints in front of his eyes. I’m done for, then. This wretched tramp will slice me from ear to ear, and there is nothing left to be said.


The barrels of gunpowder erupt in a thunderous explosion. The sudden brightness of the fireball is eye-searing, spectacular. The whole camp goes up, and the tramp forgets all about slitting Locke’s throat. He gawps. He howls in anger and shock.

Then he does it all again when Locke stands up and kicks him between the legs.

It seems that even for undying nutjobs, there are some reactions that are universal. The tramp yelps and doubles over, clutching the affected area with both hands.

Sword? No time. Gun? Won’t do a thing against him. Only one thing for it, then. Locke plucks a grenade from his belt with his left hand, pulls the pin and slips it into the wailing hobo’s top pocket.

“Hold onto this for me, would you?” he says. Then he runs like hell in the opposite direction.

As he dives onto the muddy ground, a second explosion echoes round the clearing. The tramp is abruptly silenced as he disappears in a ball of flame. When the smoke clears, he is widely distributed across the campsite, and profoundly dead.

That takes care of that then. Locke picks himself up and considers brushing off the mud, but at this point he is so thoroughly sodden it doesn’t matter. Then a thought occurs to him. The Cat!

He combs the wreckage for a few tense minutes. All the tents and supplies are obliterated, leaving little but charred debris and drifting ashes. The campfire still gives him enough light to search by, but there is no way anything could have survived such a monumental detonation. Wait – what’s that? Something glints orange among the cinders. He bends down and picks it up. It is a triangular shard of a mirror – this must be the light he saw earlier, reflecting the campfire.

As he holds it up to his face, he does not see his reflection. Instead he sees a view looking upwards into a verdant jungle under a livid orange sun. Something peeks into view – a cat’s eye! Something seems oddly familiar about it. The eye draws back to reveal the face of a leopard.

“Good,” says the leopard in the voice of the Ninefold Cat. “You survived. And, as you can see, so did I, although I look a bit different on this side of the mirror. I’m afraid it’s too fragmented for me to come back this way, but I can make my way back to London from Parabola.”

“You travelled through a mirror… and now you’re a leopard? You know what; I’m not even going to question it. This is a mad day all round. Listen, cat – the tramp’s friends aren’t here because they’re going to burn down Gideon’s Shed! Can you get one of your other selves to warn him? He’ll get roasted alive, and that’s something I’d prefer to avoid if possible.”

The Ninefold Cat nods – “Consider it done, human.” – and withdraws.

Locke puts down the mirror shard and looks around the dark fungal forest. I suppose I’ll have to walk back by myself, then. This is simply not my day.

Gideon Stormstrider, the Episcopalian Esotericist
Jimmy T. Malice, gone.

A Tale of Two Suns - Meeting Your Maker - A Squid in the Polls
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Lord Gazter
Lord Gazter
Posts: 636

Lord Gazter owned a few pieces of property one of which was the building that he and Alexander now found themselves in. The building itself was used as place to store away items Lord Gazter deemed unimportant enough to keep in his dwelling at the Brass Embassy, and not useless enough to be rid of. A few under his employ used the place from time to time, but other than that the building remained uninhabited most of the time. A layer of dust had settled on all but a few parts of the building. Alexander searches for any other implements or weapons that would help in dealing with the Shade among the stored belongings below, while his employer waits in the empty room above.

Lord Gazter is dressed in the best equipment that he could buy, his favorite blade at his side, a pistol on the other, and a glass in his hand to soothe his nerves. He knew that pursuing this venture was a fool’s errand since he first heard of it, and his interactions with this “hunting party” did nothing to alleviate his doubts. Once again Lord Gazter ponders the wisdom of dropping out of this venture all together. No, he had already put too much effort in now to let this opportunity pass him up. Lord Gazter drains the last of his glass. If he could not rely on the others he would have to rely on his own efforts. Preparedness and strategy were the best way to ensure that he would get out of this folly of an endeavour unscathed.

A rather large rattus faber with countless scars running down her the sides of her face scurries up to Lord Gazter. “What do yah’ want tus’ tah do boss?” she asks him.

“I plan on meeting with my colleagues near in the Bazaar’s side streets, and as such I’ll need you and the others to keep watch.” Lord Gazter turns and looks down at the rattus faber. “I don’t want to have an encounter any with any surprises. I will need you to scout out the area, and keep a lookout for anything suspicious, as we hunt the Shade. This creature is dangerous and the last thing it needs is the element of surprise on its side as well.”

“Should’n be a problem,” she answers back. “We’ve been able tah’ keep an eye on yer’ friends so far, and we’ve done a fine job at that.”

“Well see to it that no problems occur today then,” Lord Gazter returns icily. The rattus faber shrugs and leaves Lord Gazter’s presence to get the others together. After some time Lord Gazter hears Alexander making his way up to him, and prepares himself. The door now closed behind them Alexander and Lord Gazter leave the building to be uninhabited once more, and begin making their way to meet with the rest.

Lord Gazter: a genial and charming gentleman of noble birth.

Victoria Crow: a spirited la.. young woman and an expert troublemaker.

Get a copy of the Phlegethonian Gazette for pertinent and trustworthy news! Only five pence!
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Posts: 999

Phryne Amarantyne was assessing the situation, and as assessments went, this one didn't particularly please her.

The lady in the striking outfit—dressed as if she was about to go fox-hunting—is not showing any outward signs of agitation. She has been sitting at her small corner table in the Boiled Toad for the better part of a day now, hardly moving at all. Every hour or so, one of the waiters—whose discretion borders on invisibilty—exchanges her cold and untouched cup of coffee for a new one. None of this raises any eyebrows. Firstly, the lady is considered a regular—though her presence hasn't graced this establishment in some time. Secondly, all the Toad's customers are so outrageously well-off that eccentricity is not only tolerated, but expected. The staff, one and all hired via the Triple Orpheus, are of unimpeachable discretion.

Few among the commonry have ever heard of the Boiled Toad, and the number of those who've actually been inside is even lower. As the saying goes, it's not enough to have money in the bank to reserve a table at the Toad; you need to own the bank.

The locale's popularity among those few who can actually afford its patronage is not down to its menu—though all the comestibles and quaffables on offer are of good quality, it is not usually counted among the Fifth City's most exceptional places dedicated to the joys of the palate. No, the Toad's singular specialty is its long full-length windowed front, which is mirrored on the out- but not the inside. Indeed, from the inside the glass is of a clearness rarely found in the Neath, allowing those inside to take detailed notice of all the comings and goings in busy and well-lit Dyett Street—without being seen themselves.

She had been amused by Edward Frye's cringeworthy encounter with the blind beggar a little more than an hour ago. He had been standing there with his outstretched hand for several seconds before realizing that he really had no business greeting beggars in public. After recovering his wits—such as they were—he then fished a coin out of his pocket and, while dropping it in the beggar's cup, mouthed something in his ear—again, painfully obvious—before moving on.

She did not think unkindly of Noah Rache. Here was a brave little guy—how many others in his place would have gone screaming mad after what happened to him? What exactly he was trying to accomplish with this blind vigil though, she couldn't tell. Maybe just trying to feel useful, to feel at least a little bit in control of the situation. She could relate. She knew all about wanting to be in control, had been obsessed by it. Maybe—let's be honest here—still was.

But something was wrong here. Or—and she grudgingly allowed this possibility—it was just that things were going on of which she was unaware. After all, if she had her own plans, why shouldn't any of the others? Why assume she was the only rogue element in this group?

The list of those missing was growing more and more suspicious with every passing minute. Where was Emma Dynamo, their supposed leader? Where the fierce monster-hunter, Lady Orosenn—next to Dirae Erinyes probably the only one who would actually stand a chance in a fight with the Shade? Where was that great curmudgeon, soldier-turned-spymaster Sgt Lyndon? Where his colleague Azoth, and the Foreign Office clerk Evensong? Especially the absence of all their party's professional spies was a niggling worry in the back of her mind.

Dirae Erinyes and the Scorched Sailor were impossible to miss, of course. They had arrived together, probably a coincidence, and were now standing before a row of shopfronts, engaged in halting conversation. She crooked a smile thinking of that conversation's probable awkwardness, and how it would be completely lost on Dirae. Messieurs Frye and Hamilton had not yet joined them, but kept loitering somewhere nearby.

Lord Gazter and his tomb-colonist bodyguard had arrived by hansom a few minutes earlier. They had surely seen the others, but apparently wanted to remain apartwhich plan was quickly thwarted when they were joined by Mr Henchard.

It was quite obvious that everyone was waiting for some kind of leader figure to arrive. She had almost made up her mind to take on that role herself when Drake Dynamo alighted from another hansomalone. Prof. Garrison had apparently decided not to join them after all, which only proved what a smart woman she was. But what had happened to Mr Stormstrider? She cursed inwardly. He was the one she most needed to keep an eye on! Any one of his contraptions could prove her undoing.

The lady in the riding suit calmly leaves her table and approaches the head waiter. After a quiet conversation, he fetches a large ledger, where he runs a finger down a long list of items, and stops at an eye-watering sum. Without blinking an eye the lady writes out a check, paying her whole long-running tab in full, including a generous tip which she advises the head waiter to distribute evenly among the staff. He bows and sees her out.

"Let the massacre begin, then. I've got nothing more to live forI just emptied my last bank account."

edited by phryne on 9/23/2017

I'm not participating in the Election season.
a Scarlet Sainta Monster-Huntera Memorya Raven?
List of useful thingsFavours & Renown GuideDestiny Guide
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Drake Dynamo
Drake Dynamo
Posts: 473

Drake keeps his head down. No sense in being recognized and giving himself away before rendezvousing with the others. It was impossible to tell who could be watching. Things had to go exactly as planned if the mission was to be redeemed.

The last day had passed in a bit of a rush. After departing the University, the group had split up, so as to better avoid detection, all agreeing to meet with the others at the appointed time. However, what the others had not known, was that Drake had arranged another meeting with Florence beforehand; she would design a device capable of capturing the Shade, and possibly killing it in the process. This was to be kept a secret from the others though; someone would have to be bait for the trap, and no one would knowingly agree to such a suicidal task. Still, if it succeeded in killing the Shade, Drake and Florence could claim to have succeeded where the others had failed. It would certainly teach them for doubting him.

Of course, Drake still has to get through the meeting ahead. It was simple enough: get the others off the street, find out where the lair is, send a runner ahead to Florence, delay long enough for her to get everything in place, and then lead the others there post haste.

Drake approaches the cluster of his colleagues that has begun to form. He gives a hesitant wave to them.

What can go wrong?


The Shade looks down on his prey from a nearby roof. The End has come.

Oh no. Another post from that goon who goes on about statistics.

Drake Dynamo -Correspondent, Hesperidean Cider Drinker , Matchmaker, and Paramount Presence
The Antioch - The Coffee God (I do not check this account often)
Mr. Mauvais - A ghostly skullduggerous fellow, chopped up for the time being (Only active during seasonal events)

Guide to becoming a Poet-Laureate
If you need to discuss RP matters, I can typically be found on the IRC in #Argo.
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John Moose
John Moose
Posts: 275

(co-written w/ Drake)

The group has moved to an alley off the major thoroughfare, large enough to hold them, but with no traffic going through it, save the periodic honey-mazed bohemian. This allows Dirae and the Sailor to keep an eye on the narrow corner the alley leads to, while the other way, opening to the busy street, is likely to provide a timely warning of screams and shouts should the enemy approach from there. The rest of the group has more or less converged into a number of small clusters around Drake, who is using a commanding voice and detailed instructions to regain control of the group, taking advantage of his sister’s absence.

As Drake begins giving out commands to the group’s guardians, Noah falls into conversation with Lord Gazter and Henchard. The three exchange news of what they found out since they separated in Spite - Noah having significantly less to share, besides a tidbit or two on the local comings and goings. As the two others talk, Noah finds himself distracted, frowning with his face downcast. There’s something out of place, nagging at the back of his mind.

Someone missing? Well, yes, many someones, but that’s just to be expected, whether because of difficulty arriving on time or people being too sane to turn up. No, that’s not it.

Something wrong with one of those present? Well, yes, It/Her is present… But it honestly seems less disturbing, not more. The difference in its unnatural presence to earlier is like a mad dog that’s been leashed and trained - still terrifying, but now calm and controlled, knowing it’ll get its quarry eventually, compared to the wild curiosity and restlessness of before. No, that’s not it.

Something outside the group? The sound of the traffic? No, all is as it should be, the hastened clatter of the carriages speeding up as the rush eases up, the interruption in the noise from a passing pedestrian every few seconds. No, that’s not it.

Something about the Urchin on the roof? Heavier than usual? No, it’s like last evening, when the raggedy man chased them away to have the spot for him and a bottle of gin. No, that’s not it.

What else can it be? The bat swarms above? But they’re always like that, with little rhyme or reason that Noah could discern. Chaos in the squeaks and flaps shouldn’t unnerve him. No, th-

Noah feels his blood turn to ice.

Raggedy man on the roof?

Raggedy man because the steps had been heavier than an urchin’s, and that’s it?

Raggedy man who doesn’t swear, belch, fart, or mutter to himself?

Not a raggedy man - someone adult-sized, then, who had been keeping a silent, unmoving vigil, as a Fisher-King on lookout for wallets would, for the past few minutes.

We’re all dead aren-

A roof-tile slides, and the sounds of bat-swarms die down above them, as if something was now in their way-

Unseen to Noah, Henchard’s eyes widen as Noah shoves his cane to Henchard’s chest, not knowing himself whether he tries to save Henchard or use him to gain as much distance to this doomed spot as he can-

Henchard falls down, and the falling shape changes targets-

A razor-sharp blade cuts through Noah’s clothes and skin, cracking his ribs, opening a wound in his leg and finally splitting his foot in half, as the Shade already scans the area for the next target for its sword-

Blood spurts from the wound, Lord Gazter and Henchard feel adrenaline rush into their blood-

Noah screams from the top of his lungs, from fear, or pain, or trying to warn the others-

The battle has begun, and the first blood sprays over Shade and the cobbles.

Life and death will be decided now, for everyone.

Ready or not.

“Time to die.”

edited by John Moose on 10/22/2017
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