The Hunt is On- to Catch a Shade

Dirae Erinyes gives a too familiar slap on Emma’s back.
“Lass, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m here for the challenge rather then the payment,” they add with a laugh.
“Not that we give up our payment,” Evensong added quickly. “But other parties wish to see the Shade dealt with a permanent solution.”

Gideon’s mind reels. Forty-five hundred pieces of Rostygold! Imagine all the lenses that could be ground with that money!

excellent. excellent. marvellous magnification shall be upon us, and the prisms shall shine with the light of rainbows!

Voice 1 has perked up a bit. It’s always pleased when he thinks about optics. On the day he found a battered microscope in the skip outside Benthic College’s biology wing, it was practically catatonic with joy.

When the signing begins, Gideon hangs back, observing the procession of dour-faced hunters shuffling forth to scribble their signatures before melting back into the shadows of their various dark corners. The geometry of this room must be decidedly odd to afford so many corners; this merits further examination at a later time.

The darkness of the corners is no barrier to the cosmogone-infused enhancing lens, naturally! Gideon surreptitiously flips it into place in the apparatus of his clockwork monocle, and takes a good look at the brooding corner-dwellers. When he thinks nobody is looking, his jovial smile fades into a calculating frown.

Lady Orosenn, Monster-Hunter. Awfully gauche of her to bring the harpoon into the drawing room, but when one’s enemy could phase through the wall and strike without warning, perhaps it is wise to be wary. After her little outburst, Gideon decides to steer well clear of her temper.

The bandage-shrouded man stands closest to the Dynamos, and seems familiar with them of old. He’s taciturn, but the gentle seasoning of nautical ‘z’s in his speech suggests a zailor. Gideon dials up the enhancing power, attempting to catch a glimpse beneath the bandages. What little skin he can see looks red and raw, but perhaps if he increases the intensity –

B____Y HELL, Voice 2 mutters. A small fire appears to have started in the apparatus. Gideon calmly removes the monocle and smothers it in a ragged handkerchief. Perhaps the rest of the meeting can be conducted without visual aids. Some secrets are too inflammatory for polite company.

When his turn comes, he signs the paper without complaint, dipping the pen in his personal well of violant ink (this undoubtedly counts as a desperate treaty). Perhaps the Monster-Hunter rakes in the cash when she brings home spiny horrors from the depths, but for Gideon this is a generous addition to his dwindling research fund.
edited by JimmyTMalice on 3/6/2017

There is a glint under Dirae Erinye’s mask, enough to tell that they have grinned. This if further proven from their body language as they happily beam. Evensong’s face is calm during the explanation, a mask of quiet concentration that is broken when they raise their hand.

&quotExcuse me-before you two start fighting like palace cats-I do know of a place. It’s called The Imaginary Hunt. While such wares are too. . .exotic for my wardrobe, one cannot avoid their name.&quot Anyone who has seen her on the days that Dirae Erinyes picks out her clothes know that this is a lie. &quotThey are located on a side street of the Bazaar, rather unfashionably close to Spite territory. That piece of territory is controlled by the Widow, which leads credence to the claim that Imaginary Hunt has been in business since the fourth city fell. It would be best to approach with some measure of discretion - I doubt the Widow would appreciate us marching, knives blazing.&quot

Lady Orosenn waved away Mr Dynamo’s apology. &quotIt is perfectly alright. Should it turn out that the Shade can be killed by being exposed to abominable style, I’ll be only too happy to oblige,&quot she said, as usual completely expressionless and without the slightest inflection.

Make no mistake: even though her haughtiness alone could kill lesser beings on a bad day, she was not above admitting an error. Already she was re-evaluating certain individuals of the present company. Not that she thought any of them worth something in a fight—except maybe for that taciturn sergeant who very successfully kept himself almost invisible; and that towering presence called Dirae Erinyes—though they would be significantly hindered by concern for their fragile wife (whose nature was no secret to Lady Orosenn).
No, it was something else she had forgotten: that people, as ridiculous and silly as they often seemed, might be something more than they seemed. Yes, this was new territory for her. She had not seen Mr Dynamo’s offer to reward her with a portion of his Cider coming at all, for example. She wondered whether he realized how close she had been to actually walking out? She did not care the least for his rostygold—she could build a b----y castle made of rostygold if she were so inclined—but the Cider: that was a worthy reward indeed.
Or his silly sister: American, was she? Maybe she could actually shoot straight with that derringer strapped to her leg then. Not that it would make her any less silly.

The description of the Shade worried her too, a little. Preternaturally fast and wielding a scimitar, was It? A close-in fight was out of the question then. She could wield a blade, of course, but no doubt It would be faster than her. No, the best plan would be to use someone else as distraction, until she could pin It down with her harpoon coming in as a surprise.
Which still did not address the one detail nobody in this company was happy to talk about, apparently: the most important detail of all. How could the Shade be killed, in the end? She suspected that the task of finding this out would fall to her. She also suspected that the longer she took with it, the smaller their company would become. That was not her problem though.
edited by phryne on 3/7/2017

Too fast? Henchard smiled, he would like to see how fast that was. But no, not when there were other lives at risk. A volley of rifle shots from a medium distance, that was a safer idea.

But something still bothered him, he thought back on what Drake had said, “The Shade was born of the blood of the mountain, hesperidian cider, and flint.” Hesperidian Cider. The shade was born of immortality.

“Do you have a plan?” he asked, “Know of any weaknesses? You have described what the Shade has done in detail, but not enough on its characteristics.”

Noah considers what he has learned. The party members seem experienced enough, and there seem to be a sufficient number of people who’d be eager to go head first into the fray. The calmer ones should make for proper cover to hide behind when the scimitars would start swinging.

Cider, then. Oh my. That would certainly do wonders for his next clinic’s reputation, applied unknowingly to the right sort of toff with a seemingly incurable ailment. Maybe it is time to start contributing a bit, and gaining points in the Drake couple’s mind.

&quotI’m not sure what exactly is meant here by ‘immortal’, but I would assume a sufficiently creative solution would prevail. If stopping its pulse is challenging, then I imagine we’d be best off concentrating on stopping its movement first, and worrying about finishing the job later. If it can be separated into pieces, those pieces can be locked up where they won’t do damage. If it’s too hard to be broken, or superior in combat… I’d assume it has a nest, or a hideout, for when it’s not running on the rooves. A hideout can be torched and collapsed on it, a cave can be flooded.&quot A wry grin creeps on Noah’s face. &quotWith cement, if we’re feeling particularly nasty.&quot
edited by John Moose on 3/7/2017

Lyndon moved back to one of the room’s corners after signing, where he has been listening to the last developments while finishing his cigarette. One of the other applicants has raised a good point, but most of them were generally beating around the bush. There’s no need to drag that conversation for too long. He steps away from the corner, moving a bit towards the center of the room. He would have preferred to remain unnoticed a while longer, but he had to speak up sooner or later anyway. He might as well do that now.
“It’s all good and nice, really, but I, for one, wouldn’t count my chickens until they’re hatched. We have to catch our foe before we can dispose of it.” says Lyndon, glancing at the last man who has spoken – a doctor, judging from his bag. His eyes move to Henchard. “That fellow over there is right. We don’t know enough about the creature we’re going to face. Besides, only a few of us seem to be able to handle themselves in a real fight.” He looks at the tall monster-hunter and the hulking masked man whose body sounds like spinning gears. “If that… thing is as dangerous as you say, we’ll either need a very good plan or more stopping power to pin it down.” He walks up to the Dynamo girl with a lopsided grin painted on his face and his hand on the sabre dangling from his side. “Otherwise, I hope you’re prepared to share that cider of yours generously.”
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/7/2017
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/7/2017
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/7/2017

“Catch it? With quarry this dangerous, catching and disposal must be the same step. There are too many risks otherwise.”

Lyndon raises an eyebrow. &quotWhat you say changes nothing. We still have to catch this being, no matter for how long; and to catch it, we have to stop it first: an endeavor we seem ill-prepared for at the moment.&quot Lyndon pulls his cap down a bit more and moves back to his corner. &quotHowever, I do think we should have a plan to contain this being, in the case we can’t find a quick way to destroy it. It’s a better alternative than having it roam London.&quot
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/7/2017

The Sailor sits forward at this. &quotAt zee, you either kill the beast or you let it go. Harpooning a Behemoustache and holding onto it, keeping it &quotcontained&quot, is only goin’ta pull your ship to ruin. We need a plan, aye. But I’ve seen this thing. If we go after it and we can’t kill it, then we’re the dead ones. Nothin’ in between.&quot What was the name on the contract? Ah, yes - that was it. &quotHenchard is right.&quot

Azoth considered the situation, seeing the discussion before her. Her fellow hunters were an interesting cross-section of the Neath’s inhabitants - there was a breadth of experience and knowledge so rarely gathered in one place - but were they trustworthy? This was life and death, and she wasn’t going to put hers in the hands of a stranger. She’d have to learn more, find who she could trust, who she’d need to keep an eye on. But that was neither here nor there. First, she had to find her place among them.

This &quotShade&quot was dangerous; that was clear. They said it (he?) wielded a scimitar: a light blade, built for deadly slashing. If it truly was inhumanly quick, close combat would be suicide. A well-aimed rifle shot, or a harpoon perhaps - she cast a glance at Lady Orosenn - might be able to harm it, but the creature reeked of immortality. In all her research and dueling, she’d found nothing that could end Feducci; what vitality might this product of the Cider, of all things, have? She looked over at the Dynamos, trying to read them. Was this everything they knew?

The sound of the door opening brought her back to reality, and she looked up just barely in time to see Drake Dynamo walking out the door.

&quotOh, good,&quot Bastet whispered. &quotHere I was thinking you’d fallen asleep, and I’m the one who’s supposed to be napping half the day.&quot She purred, knowing that appearing adorable would help keep her on good terms with the human. Azoth only shook her head and left the room. The Imaginary Hunt was a familiar name; it wasn’t her tailor, per se, but she’d known agents who frequented it. All the better if the Shade went there for its fabrics; maybe it’d hurt a few networks while it was there.

Walking quickly, she caught up to Drake and tapped his shoulder, trying to catch his attention. &quotSo I take it that we can’t quite stab the Shade to death or anything like that,&quot she began, &quotbut do you know if it could survive more … dangerous options? Drowning in the zee, perhaps, or if necessary, Cantigaster venom?&quot

Timmel Orosenn and Sergeant Lyndon are already dropping back from the group. They won’t be entering the shop anyway. Both are not social, and happy to leave the detective work to others.

Mr. Hamilton walks up to Drake and pats the monkey on the head, then tests his blade, twirling it around and nearly cutting himself once or twice.

Lyndon comments the rather poor proofs of swordsmanship offered by the other hunters with a low, disheartened sigh. He’s hunting a deadly – possibly immortal – creature with a bunch of friendly amateurs. Not an ideal arrangement at all.

He starts to fall to the back of the group slowly but steadily, as he usually does. He won’t follow a bunch of fools armed with swords in a small enclosed space if he can help it. He notices that the monster-hunter – Lady Orosenn – is doing the same. He acknowledges her with a nod and a tip of his hat. If he couldn’t remain alone, he wouldn’t mind to spend that time with her. She’s one of the few people he’d actually like to know better.

(OOC: phryne had already said everything that matters, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of writing this small bit.)

The Imaginary Hunt is a structure of decayed glory. The faded blue lacquer roof is decorated with statues of horses scarred by urchin misadventures. However, the locks are update and an unbroken shopfront shows off their wares. Then inside is clean and orderly, but the clocks are nowhere in sight.

The mismatched group is met by the two immaculately clad salespeople. They give practiced smiles-as if this was a gaggle of society ladies-not a group of hunters.

“What can we do for-“

“you today?” The other one answers. They look at the group for some reasonable answer. An answer that may not exist.

OOC: For those interested, there is more information that can be found on the google docs. Let me know if you have an questions about this location.
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 3/8/2017
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 3/8/2017

Outside, Lady Orosenn and Sgt. Lyndon have taken up positions near the door, watching the streets. You can’t be too careful this close to Spite.

Sgt. Lyndon is smoking. Lady Orosenn is watching. Both are not talking.

They could do this all day.

Lyndon finishes his cigarette and stomps its butt under his boot. He immediately takes out another one and lights it. He could go for a good glass of port, but that isn’t the right time to go looking for a tavern: the others should be back soon enough. How long could it take them to interrogate a few clerks? Even without resorting to physical threats, it should be a quick business.

He glances at Lady Orosenn. She hasn’t talked yet, which is a good thing: he can’t stand blabbermouths. However, there is a topic they should discuss since they are alone. No need to beat about the bush, though.
“Most of them are hopeless. How many fighters do we really have, including us two?” says Lyndon, keeping his eyes fixed on the street. “Three? Four, maybe?”
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/8/2017
edited by Bertrand Lyndon on 3/8/2017

Lady Orosenn hesitates a moment, then answers: &quotMaybe. If we’re being optimistic.&quot

Lyndon stifles a chuckle. Of course, he agrees. He takes a deep drag from his cigarette and lets out a small cloud of smoke. “There’s at least that masked fellow, the one that makes weird mechanical sounds. He looks like he can take care of himself. I wouldn’t vouch for the others.” Lyndon makes a long pause. The street is eerily quiet. “Well, they might be useful as decoys, if needs be.”

Lady Orosenn has some doubts whether &quothe&quot is the best way to refer to &quotthe masked fellow&quot—she’s not even sure what’s under that mask is precisely human—but keeps her thoughts to herself.

Actually, her thoughts are not with Sgt Lyndon anymore right now. There are movements in the shadows. Nothing particularly obvious, and probably no one but an experienced hunter would have taken notice. It seems to be just a bunch of homeless people shambling about. Nothing unusual for the streets of London, especially this close to Spite. But something about them seems… off. All her instincts have kicked in. Her harpoon quivers.

&quotSergeant, draw your guns. I think we might be the decoy here.&quot

(OOC: Now you guys can do your thing inside the shop. When you’re done, just mention gunshots being fired outside, and maybe come to our help ;) )