Butters

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  1. The Yarmouth chronicles Stranger in a strange land, a land of ice and snow.. The Party headed to the southern portion of the island as it seemed to have a more gently slopping shore scrambling over the last if the ice the Party finally made it onto the island. The beach seemed to be mostly made out of a black gravel but here and there larger blocks of rock gleamed darkly like whales rising out of the ocean depths the skies also seemed different somehow heavy, with dark clouds especially near the islands centre where ominous purple coloured lightning flashed silently. As the light was failing Zeal orders that a hasty camp be made whilst the light still held the soldiers set up a camp fire using some of the wood salvaged from the carrick and a hasty meal was prepared and eaten. The Party then mostly retired to their tents and fell into a troubled sleep those on guard duty nervously scanned the silent darkness. In the mornings pale cold light Zeal ordered the camp struck but there was some unquiet as they found that instead of making camp on the beach as first thought they found ourselves further inland and instead of gravel they were surrounded instead by large ferns and just ahead of the camp large tree like plants swayed in the gentle moist breeze. "By my mothers beard how did we miss all this greenery? I swear there was nought but gravel here when we set up the tents" questioned one of the soldiers "We just didn't notice them in the dark obviously it was a hard slog getting here and everyone was dog tired" replied Ralph hoisting his equipment onto his back. Zeal had been in conference with Sergeant May and a couple of the CL.u.bers and it had been decided to head towards the nearest obvious landmark which was two large pinnacles that seemed to dominate the near horizon. Occasionally dirty white clouds could be seen hissing out of the ground here and there adding to the increasing humidity. It was judged that the pinnacles were a mile or so away through this new jungle. The Doctor was meanwhile studying the ferns and the tree like plants muttering "How is this possible there should be nothing growing here, surely the ground would still be too salty" Zeal's voice called out "Enough chatter there, we move towards those mountains." With one last worried look behind him the Doctor scurried after the column. As they made their way through the odd forest the air became closer and more humid which caused some muttering and then the order to remove the heavy winter clothing was finally given as some of the men were in danger of fainting. Other than the oppressive heat the going was fairly easy, the foliage easily breaking apart and away under our marching feet. So it was a shorter journey to the pinnacles than we had first surmised. As the party approached a rope bridge could be seen swaying high above seemingly linking the glossy glass like pinnacles together. This caused much excitement amongst the Party as this was surely a sign of intelligent life, a sign that we may not be alone. Just then one of the men cried out and pointed out a large grey shape which soared high above chasing the purple flashes which still occasionally flashed across the dark clouds. The nearest pinnacle proved to be broad and high and was of the same black stone that was a feature of this island it also seemed to have a blasted look about it in certain areas, giving it a strange melted look. There was an opening fairly close to the ground and further smaller ones dotted around at different heights a series of worn stone steps also circled the pinnacle. The Party paused to unlimber their weapons and keeping one eye on the skies above scrambled into the seemingly hollow pinnacle. The smell of fishy guano was almost overpowering in the first room it looked to have been carved from the living rock, the floor slightly uneven was covered with seaweed and other flotsam and jetsam. The lanterns were unpacked and lit and in the oddly reflected light a doorway could be seen leading into another room beyond which when entered was filled with crude stone statues. Upon examination the statues remained mysterious, the crude carvings were worn away by the passing of time and the effects of water so all that could be made out was there faintly humanoid appearance. Another empty doorway led out into another stone room this one filled with more rubbish, mostly piles of evil smelling seaweed which fought for space with decaying roots and vines. Ralph cleared away some of the filth with a hatchet and reeled back as he uncovered yellowed bones the Doctor was called over and after a brief examination he looked up and worriedly said "These are not human, close maybe but they are too big" The bones were quickly covered back up apart from one which Ralph kept and the Party continued on through the pinnacles chambers, the next room contained some steps and a rusty iron door which was heavily dented and buckled. Ralph and Guilio looked around and seeing a low black stone wall which crossed the room which seemed almost glass like in its thinness going over to it they decided to break off some pieces, the flakes proving to be deadly sharp. The room also contained some signs of faded grandeur, scraps of rag turned out to made out of fine cloth, the driftwood examined turned out to be the remains of carved furniture and even the walls were carved with a strange fresco of creatures which seemed to warn against the sin of decadence When some soldiers approached the iron door a frenzied scrabbling could be heard just before a heavy thump came from the door as something heavy hit it. Guiluo called over more of the soldiers and getting a ragged firing line ready he then pointed to one of them and told him to get to the side and on his order to pull open the door. There was another loud thump shaking the door in it frame and then Guilio called out "Pull" the soldier lifted the bar and dragged the door open. As soon as a gap appeared the door burst open as an avian like head shot through, the birds beak clacked shut barely missing the startled soldier "Fire. fire you bastards" cried out Guilio firing his own musket into the creature. A ragged volley broke out and the bird like creature screamed out in pain as multiple shots slammed into it one braver soldier thrust his musket forward into the creatures head before puling his trigger and blowing a large hole into the beast. It staggered back with half its head blown away it gave out a strange cry and with a final judder collapsed leaking a sticky black blood. "Phew that was close" said Guilio wiping sweat from his face he shouldered his musket and stepping forward pulled out his telescoping glaive and sliced downwards severing the creatures neck. The room was quickly searched and a crude nest of sorts was found by another door. The Party moved through and found some steps leading upwards as the Doctor headed to the nest and discovering that it contained eggs began to smash them with the butt of his Donderbus and an evil smelling Yolk like substance began to flow out of them. The rest if the Party made their way past and seeing that the steps were worn and somewhat crumbling they decided to send Ralph up first, better one fall than many and if Ralph with his immense bulk could make it up safely then they figured the rest of them would make it up easily. So up Ralph went up and he entered a strange room curved with niches evenly spaced along the wall each niche was backed with a mirror and had the remains of large wax candles placed in front. In the center of the room a stone plinth stood which also had its own mirror which pointed upwards to a hole in the ceiling a tablet was attached to the plinth which had strange glyphs carved into it. A door led into a room which was open to the elements and had been scoured clean by the elements only the faint echo's of complex glass work and metal parts could be seen in the corners and alongside the back wall was a series of stone benches and a set of panels also covered in glyphs were along the other wall, these panels were held in place by a complex wire frame which enabled them to be moved. Ralph lumbered up and moved one and as it pivoted upwards it swung away revealing a small staircase leading up. The party looked around but it looked like this was all designed for whatever was up above. So up we went and entered what turned up to be the final room of this strange pinnacle. This final room had iron shutters along one wall, the rooms ceiling was high above and painted a startling white, an archway led to the rope bridge we saw from below then there was a second plinth in the middle this one had a huge crystal mounted on its top. After some discussion it was decided to send across the bridge some of the soldiers to secure the other side before we attempted anything with the strange device. The soldiers picked began to cross the strange bridge which was suspended not by ropes as first thought but by a strange grey metal though the boards thus suspended were unfortunately still of wooden construction and so rotten and occasionally missing. Whilst the soldiers began their careful crossing some of the CL.u.ber's went back to the candle room and began lighting the candle stumps causing a bright light to fill the room, the mirrors directing it upwards and to the crystal above. There came a terrorizing screech and one of the hideous bird like creatures swooped down and landed on the bridge behind the soldiers snapping at them with its terrible beak. The Doctor who was closest to the bridge immediately yelled out a warning and fired his Donderbus at the birds back but even though he hit most of the shot had spread out too widely so that the bird was only wounded. The men in their panic lost their balance and one slipped through a broken section, the others tried to grab him before he plunged to his death and for a moment it looked like they would all go over but at the last moment they steadied themselves but Cox slipped again and fell back and over and plunging to the jungles floor. A horrified silence descended but soon it was all noise again as the Party called the other soldiers back across whilst aiming their muskets up scanning the skies above trying to provide cover for the now fleeing soldiers. When the men were safely back Zeal organized a party to go back down the pinnacle and see if Cox was alive whilst instructing the CL.u.bers to work on the device. The Doctor volunteered to go with the rescue party as he felt his talents would be more useful there. Guilo returned to the top floor and with light now streaming up from below he moved the gem around and was rewarded with an image appearing on the ceiling, a wondrous night sky with a purple nebula now lit up the room it wasn't a sky that anyone recognized but it was beautiful nonetheless he then moved the gem again the night sky disappeared to be replaced with a scene of an strange jungle with more of those vines and strange tree like things which seemed to almost writhe in a gentle unseen breeze. With one more twist of the now warm gem a series of glyphs appeared on the ceiling and even though they were as alien as the others Guilio thought that given time he could work them out. And time he had as it took awhile for the rescue party to reach Cox, Poor Cox was eventually found his battered body somehow still supporting life but only just and he was thankfully unconscious sparing him from the awful pain. Ribs and bones crushed and in some cases ripping through his flesh, his head was also cracked and leaking a strange grey watery pulp. The Doctor looked at him and with a sad shake of his head informed Zeal that the man would only live for an hour or so more at most and it might be more christian to put him out of his misery. Zeal nods saying that there was no way they could tarry and carrying Cox would be too much of a problem especially if he was going to die anyway so he asked the Doctor to give Cox something to ease his pain and turning back headed back into the pinnacle with a sigh. Meanwhile Guilio deep in thought stood staring at the glowing glyphs and after twenty or so minutes he started somehow to discern a meaning the glyphs started to make sense and he slowly muttered out a phrase bit by bit I am (great idea?) the eternal, the endless, the infinite, the unbounded. I am the thought, I am the idea I live if I am the thought to live I die if I am forgotten my body is divided my mind is distributed but myself is one. I am (great idea?) the eternal, the endless, the infinite, the unbound. As he finished the phrase a slack look entered his face his mouth hanging open a thin line of drool fell from his now slack mouth, his eyes became unfocused but the moment quickly passed and with a slurp and a shake of his head he regained his normal look his eyes once again becoming focused. The others returned and update each other on what they had found and the fate of cox some suspicious glances were shot towards Guilios but a plan is made it seems we need to cross that bridge again but this time in a bounding manoeuvre half covering the other as they cross. The Doctor steps forward looks up to the sky and with his pistol and shield in hand sprints across the bridge screaming out "No guts no glory" just before he slips and stumbles but quickly recovering he manages to make it across. The Doctor staggers into a room on the other side and looking up is somewhat surprised to see a man and a woman standing there dressed in the latest fashions. Ralph stomps across behind him wheezing ever so slightly and seeing the couple gives them a cheery hello noting that the man held a strange grey sphere whilst the lady held an intricately carved tube. "Greetings friends my names is Ralph Norton and you will be?" the strangers smile but say nothing at first merely indicating that they are waiting for everyone to cross. As the rest of the Party made it across a strange conversation took place between the CL.u.bers and the two strange people. It seems that they were very friendly spoke English with a slight accent and appeared to be very vague on certain things but were really keen to discuss Theseus (sp?) who they claimed to be and that they wanted us to listen to his/their word and so come to understand Theseus/them and by understanding him/us become part of him/us. The room meanwhile seemed fairly empty apart from the two strangers and a set of small long wooden chests. The one that was open seemed to contain more of the strange tubes a number of darts and a glowing bottle containing some sort of liquid. The strange man blocked Ralph from looking into the other chest and smiling said it was not to be opened. Continuing their tale It seemed that Theseus had been lured to this place many years ago by the Pale Lady who then using trickery and deceit managed to trap him and only now was he free to influence things again and expand his body but he was somehow still shackled to the island and wanted us to join with him and help him free himself from the last of the Pale ladies chains so that we/him could spread his message. After listening to this blasphemy and heresy for as long as they could and with Zeal becoming more and more confused over the references of Theseus and the Pale Lady the Party finally react with commendable force, Ralph asked the man to quote John 316 to prove that he was holy and the stranger smiled and said For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.and then the Doctor shot him in the chest, the rest of the Party opened fire at the lady and after several shots the strangers both collapsed riddled with lead but unfortunately the strange man had managed to throw the globe which shattered on the stone floor a black gloppy liquid flowed out from the shattered globe and splashed against two of the Troopers it seemed to soak in through their hands before quickly erupting again out of their limbs like some horrid branches. The Strangers dead and confusion reigning as the two infected Troopers panicked and friend turned musket onto friend unsure as to what was happening. The Doctor charged the infected screaming as he went trying to push them back over the edge. May was screaming "What are you doing the are my men , stand down, stand down" but those nearer could clearly see the tendrils writhing out of the men and swung their muskets onto the infected giving fire unfortunately one shot ricocheted of the stone wall and the almost spent ball ended up shattering the leg of James "Unlucky" Bartlett who collapsed with a scream. The infected started to try to flee with the Doctor still trying to knock the nearest one off over the edge he was helped greatly in this task when a bullet smacked into the infected causing him to stagger the Doctor taking full advantage smacked his shield into him finally knocking him over the edge and to the jungle far below. The other infected was now halfway across the bridge and more and more of the strange vines were sprouting out from him but just as it looked like he might make it a final musket barked out and the shot hit hard and knocking him clean over the bridge and joining the other infected smashed onto the ground below. Panting Thomas de Fronsac turned to the others and as he lowered his smoking musket a lopsided smile appeared upon his face "Well that was interesting oui?, I wonder what other adventures these pinnacles hold?" And Ralph wandered over to the closed chest wondering if it contained anything to eat.
  2. YEARNING FOR YARMOUTH THE HERRING CHRONICLES, The Party decided to remain at Badgers Drift for a few days for a much needed rest, the Doctor was kept busy treating his cousin amongst other things as Ralph's stomach wound was very serious and it was touch and go for a day or so as the wound began to fester and rot but after some fairly extreme surgery a paler and much thinner Ralph had recovered enough to continue onto Yarmouth even if he had to make the journey on the back of one of the carts. Zeal meanwhile had sent a runner out soon after his return from the Farm house and they had quickly managed to regain contact with the main part of the convoy with instructions from Zeal to remain in camp until he rejoined them sometime later, a couple of days at most. So after those much needed few days of rest and healing the Party was able to reach the convoy and once more the whole group started heading towards Yarmouth again. The first day passed without to much incident, groups of refugees soon clogged the various roads and trails leading from Yarmouth and when forced by snow banks and fallen trees to use the frozen river to continue our progress the convoy again found half frozen half starved peasants already there, all heading towards the false hope that was Norwich. During the convoys slow progress various groups of peasants were pulled aside and questioned all of them giving roughly the same story Yarmouth was gone, washed clean of sin the city and the sinful now imprisoned beneath a terrible weight of ice just like a modern day Sodom and Gommorah serving to remind man of the wages of sin. Some of the peasants had other darker more fanciful tales but they were dismissed as the ravings of the foolish and half starved. We made a crude camp close but not in a frozen copse of trees the party having learned not to trust the woods after having seen several trees mysteriously explode during the coldest parts of the day showering those nearby with lethal splinters. Zeal had been very thoughtful and distant during the brief break at Badgers Drift he had not even talked whilst receiving treatment from the Doctor but now he sought the Party out and seemed to have reached a decision "Gentleman I am aware that you are one man short and for that I ask your forgiveness but Lord Ireton had other tasks for brother Saul but after seeing what we may be up against I have decided to release one of my men into your care he's French but don't let that cloud your judgement he is a Protestant true enough not some Papal poodle " he turned aside and called out into the gathering gloom "Thomas de Fronsac these are the men I was talking to you about, you have a higher calling now in these days of judgement you are are now released into the service of the Clockwork Underground Bureau" and as he spoke a man slowly appeared from the darkness smiled and doffed his hat and in an outrageous French accent but thankfully in English the well dressed man still smiling said " I see they are indeed as you said my Lord I'm sure it will be an honour to serve" Zeal a slightly odd look now on his face nodded "Well Gentleman I will leave you to get acquainted, I bid you good night and remember we will be starting out before first light" and with that he was gone. Introductions were made tales were told some of which may have been even true, a bottle of wine was produced from somewhere and with the fire throwing off sparks and their frozen breath hanging heavy in the night air a hesitant comradeship was reached. True to his word Zeal got the convoy packed up and started before first light this was a minor miracle as everybody was still tired and half frozen and some had only just managed to drop off after spending most of the night trying to keep warm but he did it with much prodding, prayer and poking and so the convoy headed onwards to Yarmouth. The rising of the sun did little to dispel the mind numbing cold and the convoy was silent for the most part as everybody just concentrated on moving. We didn't even stop to ask any more questions of the columns of peasants which continued to stream eastwards. The CLUB seemed mostly at ease with their newest member though in these dark times there was always be some suspicion but that hopefully would be dispelled after a fight or two where you can really judge a mans character. The landscape started to change slowly at first but the heavy snow started to thin out and be replaced with ice. At first just enough to add an extra crunch underfoot but soon the ice became higher and higher soon high enough to add a slope to the land this slowed the convoy down as more and more men were needed to push the wagons along this slippery slope. By midday it was coming close to violence as most people wanted to leave the wagons behind but Zeal wouldn't hear of it and had to resort to threats of force to keep the men in line and just when it seemed that those threats may have to be carried out a trooper called out that he could make out the spires of the church of St Nicholas a mile or so in the distance. We were almost there Zeal cried out to us all "See Men we are so close, yes we have been tested by the cold and the conditions but have we failed that test? Have we been found wanting in the eyes of the one true God? NO WE HAVE NOT AND WE WILL NOT! come on one last struggle and we will be there, you are no mere men you are warriors of God he has placed his trust in you WILL YOU FAIL HIM? The Troopers and even some of the CLUB members roared back NO! And now prepared to push, drag and if necessary carry those damned wagons into Yarmouth. The wagons restarted their painful and slow journey which after awhile provided a much needed distraction as slowly at first then with more and more horrible frequency things were seen trapped within the rising ice walls. At first it wasn't too bad as one of the outriders called our attention to the matter calling out and pointing at something he had spotted close to the edge of the blue/green ice ridge everybody rushed to see what had caused his excited cry and after some pushing and shoving the Party could see what had caught the mans attention, it was a huge fish in fact a whole shoal of fish and Herrings to boot they were caught in the ice frozen a few meters into the air the men joked and laughed to see such a sight and Zeal was asked if they could try to chip a few loose for lunch Zeal agreed which was a surprise but the ice proved to be too tough and even after a few shots had been fired into it by some of the now frustrated Troopers little if any damage seemed to have been caused to the icy surface so Zeal got the now slightly unhappy again convoy moving. Though this fun was not for long as we continued to gaze into those icy depths as we made our way sideways, forwards and backwards through the icy canyons as it was not only fish that we saw trapped within but soon other animals could be made out cattle mostly but then the true horror was revealed as we realised that some of the strange stories told to us by those refugees were not as far fetched as we first thought as we saw people floating within those icy depths men, women and children caught by the suddenness of the rising floodwater and its almost instant freezing. Some were just shadows amongst the other trapped things whilst others closer to the edges could be clearly seen their twisted bodies falling but never landing a strange mixture of expressions on their faces some looked horrified, eyes wide open and mouths stretched in an endless scream whilst others seemed peaceful some even smiling and the amount of people grew as we struggled onwards towards the now surely accursed port of Yarmouth. The now silent and very downcast convoy continued battling the weather as it had started to snow again which did have the benefit of covering up those haunted depths for which we were grateful. The convoy struggled up another slope the wagons sliding back again and again before finally we crested the rise and to find the first signs of habitation, a church stood on the slight rise light showing clearly through its windows and the sound of a Preacher extolling his flock could also be plainly made out his voice raised and stringent. As well as the Preachers voice we could now hear another sound one all to familiar to us battle scared veterans it was the unmistakable boom of cannon fire those of us who were sharp eyed enough could even make out the foul black smoke trailing across the pristine back drop of ice and snow. Zeal halted the convoy and kept down of his horse Mistress Bessie and after signalling to Sergeant May to remain strode off towards the church. The Party split up and wondered around each with a task of their own. Ralph went towards a huddle of the convoy soldiers and after offering some rough shag around started to ask how they felt about the mission and its leaders. There was one grumbling and one or two of them were still a little shaken up after seeing all those frozen people but overall they were still loyal and firm of purpose they had their orders and for the moment saw no need to make waves. Guilio, Tomas, Craigh and the Doctor headed after Zeal and were just behind him as he threw open the door letting out a pitiful blast of hot air escape, the Preacher stammered to a halt and the poor shivering congregation turn as one fearfully towards the new unwelcome guests, all but two which were noticed leaving out the back. Zeal seemed to have either missed them or didn't care as he instead strode in and raising his voice called out to the worried looking Preacher "Do not fear, we are just poor Puritans far from home seeking a little warmth and spiritual succour. Please continue with your sermon" The Preacher quickly said a few lessons and with a somewhat hasty "Amen" called the service to an end. Just then Sergeant May entered and whispered something to Zeal. "Ah forgive me it seems as if I have another pressing matter to attend to please carry on" and with that both Zeal and May left thankfully closing the doors behind them. Guiluo and Thomas questioned the Preacher Craigh started asking some of the congregation about the island whilst the Doctor also mingled and asked questions of the Preacher and the congregation. They were very fearful and frightful sight as they sported signs of clumsy amputations to their fingers and many had blacked skin in exposed places a few even seemed to be missing parts if their noses and all were very grim. Though with luck and a promise of supplies the Party managed to piece together the following, The cannon fire only started this morning most of it coming from the north of town where a group of Diggers had congregated after the flooding. The North of town was largely gone destroyed by the flooding and ice the Preacher confirmed that strange creatures had been seen crawling over the icy ruins hunting the few peasants who remained. The Eastern association was held up around the castle and a few buildings surrounding it. Food was very scarce as the E.A had gathered a lot of it during the first hours of the disaster claiming it would need to be rationed out, it seems this rationing us very slow and oddly haphazard. Amongst the rapidly dwindling congregation there was a definite air of being let down by the Parliamentary forces and more than a little sympathy for the Diggers. Even the Preacher seemed oddly hesitant to name names. The islands coming had sounded the death knell for the town which was already sorely pressed due to the unnatural weather as it brought huge waves with it which smashed into the town destroying most of the low laying areas and washing far inland killing those who had thought themselves safe. Most believed it was a punishment from God some even whispered that it was because Parliament had killed the King. This was truly worrying as Norfolk had been one of the mist loyal and reliable counties. Zeal called out to us saying that it was time to go the Doctor quickly grabbed the Preacher and a few men and took them to see Zeal. The Doctor was surprised to see Zeal surrounded by a small group of horseman, Zeal made the introductions "Ah about time it is my honour to introduce Martin Storely one if the leaders of the Dawn Legion a loyal militia who are helping us keep order in these trying times. He has agreed to escort us to to the E.A compound by a less direct route that avoids the worst of the traitors cannon fire" The Doctor nodded up to the mounted figure and asked Zeal if he could release some of the extra supplies to the Preacher and his flock on behalf of Parliament to thank them for their loyalty and help. Martin Storely looked oddly displeased about this and was about to say something but Zeal waved him away. Zeal agreed to some supplies being left with the Preacher and made a big show of how kind and caring Parliament was to those who remained loyal. So a few barrels and sacks of food were dragged to the church all under the watchful eyes of Sergeant May. This good task done the convoy left the doomed church behind as the snow began to fall again. The now escorted convoy trundled ever forward the going still tough and nearly everybody had to take a turn helping to drag the wagons onwards but as difficult as it was progress was being made. Thomas asked a member of the Dawn Legion why we were giving the only bridge which linked Yarmouth together such a wide berth the Legionary looked down from his pony and spitting into the snow replied "Its those fucking diggers ain't it they have the bridge covered with canon so its too risky to cross, though if you want to try it be my guest it would be interesting to see a Frenchman try" at that he gave Thomas an evil grin. Thomas unfazed merely asked where did the Diggers get the cannons from in the first place as the nearest depot was in Norwich and none had gone missing from the care of there soldiers. The legionary looked a little embarrassed but railed brilliantly "It was the Army boys fault they had forgotten all about the bloody flotilla hadn't they but those Diggers hadn't oh know soon as they had recovered from the shock of the island of they went and boarded the ships. It was easy mist of them were damaged, inland and frozen solid so up they popped and off came the cannon and shot we reckon they stole around five or six cannons before we mind you not the bloody garrison wised up to their game and put a stop to it" Thomas with a look of pure innocence merely murmured in french "Six you say to lose one is careless to lose six though smacks of incompetence" The legionary looked at him through narrowed eyes said "Whatever Frenchie" and throwing his scarf across his face geed up the pony causing it to almost break out into a canter. After plowing through the ice and snow the convoy reached the river downstream from the bridge the occasional cannon shot still booming out. This part of town seemed to gave been spared much of the destruction brought by the weather and tidal wave but even so it was mostly ruins everything had a thick later if ice over it making even walking a dangerous proposition the few homes we saw intact were filled to over capacity with groups of freezing townsfolk who huddled around blazing bonfires trying to keep the killing cold at bay. Whilst it had been indeed cold in Norwich here by the coast where the wind was free to blow through unblocked by woods or hills it was a different matter entirely even in our specialized winter clothing we were freezing, finding it hard to stay awake or to focus on anything but these poor people were just clad in layers of rags no wonder so many had the blackened skin of frostbite. (Just a quick sidebar the Dawn Legion wore thick warm clothing and had a yellow sun emblem stitched onto their coats shoulder.) We started to encounter crude barricades manned by militia men one of them even had a cannon mounted onto a wagon but what was most telling was the fear of the townsfolk surely they should be happy to see us? But they just shuffled away from us their eyes downcast and only a few men and women would meet our eyes. We also started hearing the rattle of musket fire close by and small groups of militia men could be seen down the dark alleyways running after townsfolk. "What is going on here?" Asked a member of the Party Martin turned around and with a fevered gleam in his eye coughed and answered "We bringing back order of course all looters will be shot" giggling to himself he pulled his scarf back across his face. Another legionary called back "Anyway there are too many mouths to feed and after all its Gods will ain't it" the other legionaries break out into laughter the convoy continued to the river bank somewhat quiet and worried. The Ford was reached and it was an impressive sight various wagons had been sunk alongside the edges if the slightly raised riverbed these acted as barriers slowing down the raging waters and blocking the chunks of ice that flowed along the river. The booming of ice hitting wood was almost constant. A legionary standing guard speaks to Martin and Zeal and shortly afterwards they give us a talk on how to cross, staying within the ropes seemed to be very important. Craigh asked the guard as he passed by hitching up his kilt how often they replaced the carts. He was not to impressed with the smiling guards answer of "Oh that's easy whenever they get smashed apart" Eventually the Party and escort reach a heavily barricaded section of streets and whilst the yellow sun appeared quite often there was a smattering of blessed redcoats. Martin got off his pony and walking towards one wagon in particular cried out "Open the gate in the name of Parliament and Lord Ireton" with a creaking of badly greased axles the wagon slowly moved aside revealing a trio of musketeers with guns leveled. Martin turning to the convoy called out "My noble Scoutmaster welcome to the castle and more importantly the Listing sausage home if the Great Yarmouth garrison" The legionaries move forward past the gun line and words and laughter are exchanged and Zeal motions the convoy forward for the last time the men and wagons had finally made it. Zeal would not us rest just yet and we were put to work unloading the wagons, seeing to the horses and after Zeal had made his introductions to the garrisons Captain we were put to work clearing space to use as our barracks in the areas indicated. It seemed we had the option of a couple of buildings within the make shift compound there was the three Inns (The Listing Sausage which was also used by the garrison, The Yellow gardens and finally the Hangman's daughter) the men split themselves out amongst the Garden and the Daughter whilst we CL.U.B members got rooms at the Sausage as it seemed to be ideally suited to picking up any useful gossip. Zeal and May meanwhile were soon in a variety of huddled conversations with Yarmouth's great and not so good exchanging reports and assessing how bad things really in Yarmouth. The Sausage was a scene of constant activity as messengers rushed in and out bringing news and sending out orders the Sausage did have one fine feature in particular a huge stone fire place which dominated the tap room. And the garrison and militia commanders were making full use of it as it seemed like whole gangs of urchins were tasked in keeping a constant stream of fire wood and basically anything else that could be burnt to keep that monstrous fire blazing away in fact whilst at first it was indeed a blessing to finally drive the cold away from our bones it soon became too much it was too oppressive and soon everyone in that tap room was down to their shirts and drenched in sweat. The Doctor took a dim view about all this as he thought it would cause shock to the humours with people plunging from one extreme of temperature to another but for the moment he kept his thoughts to himself and just got out a few sheaves of paper to make some observations. When everyone was sorted Zeal called a meeting which was attended by us, members of the Eastern association, The Dawn legion and the few remaining Aldermen of Yarmouth. There was definitively a mix of options from the men gathered, Storely from the Legion was sarcastic and took every chance to disparage Zeal and the rest of us, the Association seemed mildly pleased to see us but still seemed worried and the Aldermen where overjoyed to see us finally believing that their prayers for deliverance had been heard. There was a lot of questions to as they had heard nothing about conditions in the rest of the county, Was everyone experiencing such low temperatures? How far had the flooding reached etc. We answered as best we could but we had questions of our own but first it was down to Parliamentarian business it had to be made clear that Zeal wasn't here to help with disaster relief or rebuilding but he was the most senior representative of Parliament so he had a duty to listen and make suggestions on how to help and to explain how much real help could be provided in the short term The Yarmouth men were disappointed to hear how little help Norwich and Norfolk could offer immediately as all were suffering from this strange weather and due to this strange blight food resources were stretched to the limit. The CL.U.B'ers seeing that they could bring nothing to the discussion and with the mood becoming more morose they made their excuses and made their own plans on how to complete their task. The Doctor though decided to stay offering medical advice and trying to understand what rationing procedures have been started. The others donned their thick winter outfits again and leaving the heat of the Sausage behind them they headed back into the frozen hell of Yarmouth. Skirting the river and keeping cover between them and the north the party which included May and a few soldiers made their way to where the shore used to be again from time to time they could hear the boom of cannon fire but more disturbingly they could hear and see the work of the Dawn Legion as they found frozen bodies stacked against walls killed by musket fire and in one corner a large tree sported strange frozen fruit as around ten towns folk men, women and children were hanging from the sturdier branches a crude wooden sign was nailed to the trees trunk claiming that this was the fate of all looters. The bodies made a horrid clinking sound in the wind and the party moved past quickly. After making their way past ice blocked lanes and clambering over frozen ruins in some cases walking over ice bound houses and streets which seemed perfectly preserved like some lost city under the waves. They finally after much effort and tears see the brooding Island locked in the seas icy embrace. The shore itself was just a nightmare of massive chunks of ice as if some giants castle ramparts had fallen scattering masonry all around. The frozen sea did seem to smooth out a little further out but of the Island itself not much could be seen as is just loomed dark and forbidding about twelve miles off shore under strangely foul black clouds. Thomas thought he saw briefly a purple flash deep within these clouds but the others having not just shrugged their shoulders and after taking in the completely sterile landscape for a few minutes more finally Craigh said "Och this is going to be a right bastard yee ken?" Guilio, Thomas and Ralph all share a confused look and Guilio coughs a hesitant reply "Si it isa very colda here brrr" the others smiling nod whilst Craigh just looks on very confused and mutters something about bloody foreigners at least that's what Ralph thought he heard muttered by the now dour Scotsman. The party seeing all that can be seen starts to retrace their steps back towards the warmth and safety of the Association. Meanwhile the Doctor after listening in and with mounting anger to what the Association had done or in his eyes failed to do, the Legion seemed to be calling the shots here and even though after such death and destruction in such a short amount of time would have surely overwhelmed most civic leaderships and as such some failures could be excused but instead here the opposite had happened this local Militia instead had seemingly taken over the smaller and weaker led garrison and quickly set about fortifying their position whilst sending patrols out to gather supplies and provisions and whilst this made a lot of sense the part that filled the Doctor with such anger was that instead of doing their Christian duty and rationing out the food to make sure that the townsfolk got at least a little food and other supplies they had instead horded everything that they had requisitioned and then driven off the townsfolk who had come seeking aid claiming that they were looters and dissidents. Instead of addressing this the council were more concerned about this growing threat to their influence from the Diggers not seeing that they were driving people to them and making it easier for the Diggers to gain converts by denying their fellow townsfolk help. The identity of the Diggers leaders was confirmed as William Thomson and Robert Costner. Martin Shorely kept moving the meeting towards what they were going to do about them and the new threat of the cannons. These cannons had been retrieved from the small Parliamentarian fleet that had become trapped in the flooding and ice and in all the initial confusion they had been forgotten until the Diggers started firing shot at them. The Legion wanted to go out onto the ice, search the few remaining ships and retrieve any cannons which may still be on them. Zeal agree, the Diggers whilst erstwhile allies but now they were the clear and present threat, security came first before aid. After the meeting the Doctor spoke to Zeal and after a somewhat heated argument managed to convince him to at least order the set up of a soup kitchen as the Doctor warned him that if they did nothing the townsfolk would be in danger of losing their faith in Parliament and possibly becoming a source of further dissent in the all ready strained county as the changed landscape now made it the perfect place to hide and raid from. The others returned to be met by May and a couple of Legionaries it seemed that the council had agreed to Storelys plan to ambush a group of Diggers as they went for the last cannons on the ship the Lords Lament which was laying crushed at anchor about quarter of a mile out. Storely had told Zeal that his patrols had seen activity out there as recently as last night and as it was the furthest of the ships there was a good chance it still had cannon on board as well as other military supplies powder, shot and the like. And it seems as May was looking for volunteers to join the legion in springing their trap. Most of the party seemed more than willing to engage in some combat, the long trip through the ice had sapped some of their spirit and a chance to fight back seemed just what the Doctor ordered, but not this Doctor as he instead decided to go out and see what help he could provide for the few remaining townsfolk of the once Great Yarmouth. He went out with a few men and set up a small tent and began to treat the sick and injured it felt good to get back to his true calling and experimenting with slightly different doses of chemicals to see if they were an improvement or not. As he treated more and more people he started to get an understanding of the view from the street, the people were still just about loyal but they were starting to grumble and complain nothing directly against Parliament but the Association was not held in great esteem whilst the Diggers on the other hand were seen as heroes as they had organised and were helping the survivors with food and supplies. He also heard many townsfolk whose skin was black with frostbite and with growling stomachs talk about the warehouses full of food and fuel that were within the Associations compound and darker rumours of the Legions activities the disappearances, the shootings and the hanging's. The Doctor decided to try to get a message through to the Diggers to try and arrange a parley of sorts. Yarmouth had suffered a serious blow and maybe it would never recover but the Doctor thought that there was still a little hope, that if they found out what Mallebench was up to and stopped him then there was a chance that all could be rebuilt the dead would inspire those left alive to finally build Gods paradise on earth. He remained beyond the compounds wall for as long as he could and returned deep in thought. As the darkness started to creep across the icy landscape and the Doctor leaving what he could before making his way back to the barricades of the compound the others were preparing for a night on the ice. They ambush party was made up of a mixed bag, Association men in their soot darkened breast plates and once scarlet coats, Dawn legionnaires wrapped up in their thick coats and furs and then the CL.U.Bers in their mis-mash of armour, buff coats and furs never had such a strange looking group stalked the Yarmouth streets before. The party made its way before full darkness across the frozen sea using the trapped wrecks for cover, pausing every so often to listen and warily check for any shadows they might have picked up but soon they had crossed the unnerving frozen sea with all its pops and groans as the ice though thick still reacted to their crossing. They reached the Lords Lament a small ship of the line that whilst locked within the seas frozen embrace still seemed to be in fairly good condition apart from some buckling by the water line it was also clear in the last fading echoes of twilight that many of it cannons were still mounted. The party quickly climbed aboard and a small group scurried down onto the gun deck to see what could be recovered whilst the CL.U.B'ers found themselves hiding places with good sight lines. Soon a cannon was being dragged up from the gun deck and then hastily lashed to a sledge that had been brought along for that purpose. The cannon was almost secured when the alarm was raised shapes were moving in from the north and the gleam of metal had been seen. The Party made ready muskets loaded and aimed whilst charged pistols and swords lay close by Thomas silently moved into a more covered position as Guilio somewhat loudly whispered "Make ready the dastards are here" Ralph looked at his many hatchets and wished he had a pistol. Soon a shot rang out and battle was joined amongst the frozen waves and the heart stopping cold. The Party made out a group of men who had sneaked up to one of the closest ice blocks and had begun firing into the ship from the amount of shots it seemed that at least one of that group was just furiously reloading the others spent muskets. Where they were going for volume our veterans were quietly placing their shots, picking their targets and after a brief volley three were dead, one was injured a huge hole where his guts used to be and one was running away back towards the shore. Craigh skulked towards the Diggers and began to check that they were in fact dead so was able to block a weak dagger thrust from the injured man who was playing possum with his musket before clubbing the man back down. The wounded were interrogated somewhat brutally they told the party the names of the leaders Thomson and Coster and that the church of St Nicholas was there main meeting place. The Party tied them up and left them on the ice to either freeze or be rescued by their comrades. The fighting had died down a few bodies from both sides lay sprawled on the ice and it the flickering light of candles they were almost beautiful surrounded by a crimson circle already sparkling with ice crystals. The fighting done and a couple of cannons recovered the party destroyed the rest leaving nothing for the enemy and returned to the compound. Zeal asked them a lot of questions after their return to the Listing Sausage and after hearing about the terrible conditions he decided to leave the wagons behind and that everything would have to be carried by us onto the island Zeal turns to us all and tells us that we march for the island at first light, the task would continue. At first light the convoy gathers in the courtyard loaded down with heavy clothing and kit including numerous bags of supplies which hung from various belts and bits of string. Their muskets loaded, wound and shouldered ready to use at a moments notice (If they didn't get tangled up in all that string) The Doctor again tried to reason with Zeal reminding him about the soup kitchens and that many a once loyal town had fallen due to hunger and disease. Zeal nodded and said "Don't you worry Doctor I have mentioned it to the Association and Aldermen and something will be done but security is still their concern and as such mine the streets will be cleared, the curfew will be maintained and the Diggers will be brought to heel and then and only then will the food be spread out fairly. The twenty four men of the convoy clashed their boots together and Zeal addressed them "Men as much as it pains me to do so some of you must remain here and assist your brothers in the Association in bringing order to these streets Yarmouth must have order and discipline before they can receive aid and you will bring order" he takes a breath and continues " myself and Sergeant May will be taking nine men and with the CL.U.B'ers will be investigating the Island. The much smaller party march out avoiding the sporadic cannon fire that still came from the North and headed onto the frozen sea and towards the mountainous smoke wreathed island. After several hours of gruelling marching over, under and around huge ice cliffs formed from crashing waves and chunks of ice the party were about halfway to the Island which still loomed darkly ahead of us it seemed to be a lot bigger than we had first thought as it brooded on the horizon. A call went out a carrack had been spotted and even though we tried to avoid it Zeal wanted us to investigate he was like a man possessed the carrack was so close to the Island it could have vital information he needed to KNOW. So off we went searching the ships cracked and mustering hull, pawing through the debris of both the ship and its dead crew some items were interesting and tucked away for later examination one of which was a strange note which mentioned the painting from Nutley's the False Chanterelle but for the most part the search didn't seem to have been worth the extra delay on that freezing expanse but the ships carcass did provide a much needed wind break and wood for a later bonfire. The Doctor made his rounds checking for signs of frost damage and getting the men to reapply any missing Goose fat from a huge evil smelling jar that he carried at his side, if anyone complained about this foul smelling concoction the Doctor merely snapped "You never see any frozen Geese do you? Well do you? No you don't so shut up and spread it on thickly you big girls shirt" Rested warmed and fed the party continue on and just as darkness descends they reach the shore of the Island the air strangely warmer the closer we got the dark rolling clouds lit occasionally with clearly seen purple flashes (We heard a "Told you so from someone in the back which sounded very smug" the shore reached a quick look found an ideal place to get up onto the main landmass and after a scramble and a lot of shoving the Convoy had made it the Island had been reached. The area close by seemed to be made up of dark shiny gravel which spread off into the distance either side but beyond this there seemed to be flora of some kind Zeal called a halt and with the light fading it was decided to make camp and begin exploring anew in the morning fresh and rested. Camp fires were lit and tents put up and as the light faded and the rain began to fall the party prepared to get some sleep and explore the new disturbingly quiet landmass in the morning some of the party prepared for sleep whilst others looked into the rising mist checked their powder and nervously held their muskets close.
  3. We are having a small break but hope to be back this coming Sunday.
  4. So how do you think our brave Puritans are doing, will they ever make it to great Yarmouth and discover the islands secret? and will learning it help them to catch that slippery devil Mallebeench?
  5. THE BADGER CHRONICLES PART 3 Shouldn't there be a red cloak somewhere? Oh wait let's make our own The advance party slowed down by their recent battle and having to plough through two foot of virgin snow were soon caught up to by Guilio and Craigh just as the wood thinned out enough to see the signs of tilled and cleared land and there in the distance a hint of a grey wood smoke. The snow finally stopped which was nice unfortunately it was soon replaced with freezing drizzle which put a slight dampener on the parties reunion but information was exchanged, Craigh told Zeal that the rest of the troopers and the supply carts were marching towards Yarmouth via the frozen river Yarr and Zeal in turn filled them in on the battle of the flaming axe and his pivotal role in defeating the tree spirits. He ignored the sniggering from the advance party. Soon the party reached a slight rise and were able to look down into the farm yard of the Haines family. Servitor Cotton points down and confirms to Zeal that we had reached our destination he seemed relieved to see the chimney smoke "Oh thank the Lord they must be in and my child will soon be back with me" The party march to the low fence which surrounds the property and take note of the various buildings, A two story farmhouse of stone which strangely seemed to have all it's shutters closed, there was a large barn to its right its double doors tightly closed and a few low outbuildings again they all looked secured which was strange as it was fast approaching early afternoon and the farm even in winter should be a hive of activity. Zeal split the group he and the troopers would circle around to the other side whilst we would as approach from the back. There was a hesitant pause as we were slightly spooked by the lack of...well anything the countryside quiet and still apart from a few ominous flocks of crows. The Doctor swore and then headed towards the single door he could see and as he stepped into the yard there was a mighty snap as a hidden bear trap went off trapping the Doctor firmly. "Ahhhh Gadzooks ware traps" cries out the Doctor between cursing. Craigh grinning a little carefully makes his way towards the Doctor and bending down tries to get the trap open "Any excuse not to make a house call hey Doc" The Doctor cursing the Scot was about to comment on the Scotsman's struggling efforts to unclamp him when he was stopped by a whispered curses from Guilio and Ralph which was swiftly covered up by a low growl in fact it seemed to be several low growls as a pack of wolves appeared ghost like out of the freezing mist. "For fecks sake you Scottish tit get this thing off of me" screamed the Doctor helpfully. The party back up nervously checking the ground for any more traps whilst trying to keep an eye on the wolves. Gunfire erupted from the other side of the house as well as the sound of growling and the metallic sound of a trap snapping closed. The battle was on the wolves leaping at the party their fanged mouths snapping open and breathing sweet foulness onto the shocked party. The Doctor still trapped managed to bring up his shield just in time to fend off one wolf as Craigh fired a bolt into its mangy flank. The others readied their weapons but they to were soon sorely pressed by their own attacking wolves. The fight was a close run thing the wolves fought as if possessed shrugging of the most hideous of wounds but inflicting terrible injuries in return as they ripped mouthfuls of flesh from the panicking party. The Doctor took several deadly wounds before he was able to get out of the bear traps bite. Guilio, Ralph and Craigh took some nasty injuries but they were able to eventually cut down many of the frenzied wolves using a combination of bolt, shot, blade and in Craigh's case blunt force trauma. Ralph managed to drive the last wolf off and it fled back into the freezing mist. Breathing heavily and bleeding from their numerous wounds the party let out a relieved sigh there were a few dicey moments there the Doctor especially seemed almost faint with relief. The sound of gunfire had also stopped from the front to be replaced with the sound of Zeal shouting out orders. The party made their way into the house Craigh's saw blade making short work of the stout door and what appeared to be the kitchen a wave if heat rolling out if the ruined door. The kitchen was a mess carrion and rotting vegetables lay everywhere a quartered deer lay upon a heavy marble chopping block a gore smeared cleaver nearby. The heat was coming from a roaring fire over which hung a large cauldron if bubbling brown stew. The room was given a quick search but nothing really of note was found. The Doctor remained outside drinking a foul concoction of his own devising and pawing through his snapchance for some bandages.  Craigh decided to check out the nearby privy saying something about an old Scottish tale about witch poo being beneficial? He did pick up a few candles which the party suspected would be of more practical use. As they cleared the ground floor they started to hear a soft singing coming from upstairs? The Doctor meanwhile headed over to the front to see how Zeal and his men were doing. They seemed to have managed to fight off the wolves attacking them but at a greater cost a couple of the troopers had injuries and trooper Molant had died, his throat torn out. The ground floor checked and the strange singing becoming louder the party decide that now would be a good time to let in the troopers. Zeal demanded a report and Craigh filled him in and offered up a plan which was basically "We can hear weird singin frae abune, ah hunk we shood burn th place doon ye ken" Zeal slowly nodded and turning to Ralph asked for a translation. Servitor Cotton on hearing the translated plan cried out "Noooo you can't burn the place down you haven't found my child are you not Christians? Would you really send an innocent to hell? The party looked a little glum and somewhat sheepish and agreed to check out the singing. Slowly climbing up the stairs the party headed up only the Doctor remaining below to treat a wounded trooper. Reaching the landing they paused before a door from where the singing seemed to be coming from. Craigh looks back to the others nods and taking a deep breath flings open the door to reveal a room from the seventh level of hell itself, an elderly woman stands hunched over a loom which dominates the whole room. She sings as she works the warp and weft bizarrely every time she works the loom it seems to cry out mewling and meeping. The party including Zeal and a couple of troopers recoil in horror as the woman turns around her eyelids stitched closed her ponderous figure barely covered by a foully stained and smelling tunic. She continues to sing though the tunes changes subtly she grins think reddish bands of saliva dripping from her toothless maw. The party seem frozen by this horrific sight but then the bulk of them scream pull out various blades and begin to stab and hack at themselves. Those few unaffected desperately trying to stop them. Ralph gouging lumps of flesh from his stomach crying out "They are in me get them out, get them out" his own blood soon soaking into his hatchet. Guilio meanwhile was laughing and slicing thin steaks from his torso crying out "Me bistecche fresche sono una vers delizia per tutti" whilst Craigh was stabbing over and over into himself saying something about haggis. The hag her smile now hideously larger bent down and picked up a pair of shears her splintered nails leaving jagged lines in the wooden handles. She then waddled towards Ralph a grey rotting tongue flickering out like she was some sort of obscene snake. Somehow the song still ringing in ears their ears Craigh and Guilio shake of its effects. Craigh the pain giving him focus attacks the loom and though horrified to see that it was not thread upon it but flesh, eyes and most hideous of all mewling mouths he remained pure of purpose and screaming a Celtic war cry and with tears flowing down his face he begins to chop away causing the song to stop and be replaced with child like screams, Guilio had staggered back his front awash with blood but with groan he managed to raise his clockwork arm and sent a blade into the hag causing her to stumble and fall narrowly missing Ralph who had become entangled with the loom and who was still hacking away at himself with his hatchet. Craigh finished with the loom pushed past Sergeant May and the weeping, bloody Zeal and standing over the hag who was struggling to get to her feet he pushed his clockwork blade into the fat of her neck and with a click released the mainspring sending the blade powering through and embedding it into the floor boards. The thwack of the blade hitting the floor was soon joined by the wet thump of the hags head hitting the floor next to it and then gently rolling away. The Doctor Donderbus in hand appears at the top of the stars panting somewhat he looks at the gore streaked room and his friends who all seemed to be sporting egregious chest and stomach wounds says fecking hell and begins to pull out needle, thread and a variety of evil smelling salves and begins to patch his friends up as best he could. The party was sorely wounded Ralph in particular was in a bad way, he had managed to crack several ribs and cut into his guts causing a few to spill out like some sort of obscene curtain. The more lightly injured troopers spread out and cleared the rest of the upper floor they failed to find anything living but in one of the bedrooms they did find two corpses spooning in a bed and from the grim soup like mush surrounding them they had been there a long time. A slightly crazed Servitor was dragged up to identify them which with some retching he managed to they were Master and Mistress Haine's Veronica's parents. After making Ralph as comfortable as possible and leaving him fever ranting to Sergeant May something about clockwork ribs or some such the Doctor and a trooper went back up to clear away the parents bodies by lifting up the sheets and throwing them out of the nearest window the bodies releasing a foul miasma as they were moved. Craigh wrapped up tightly around the waist was searching the ground floor again knocking on wood and tapping the floor his previous experience as a bandit paying off as he managed to find a entrance to the root cellar. Seeing the Doctor limping down the stairs he points to the nearly open hatch. "Hey Doc I found something you wanna looksie?" The Doctor warily said yes and headed over to the grinning Scot. They made their way down a flight of damp wooden steps and almost had a laundry accident when Guilio stomped down behind them. At the bottom of the steps and barely visible in the weak candlelight they could just make out several bowls of stew some containing rotten food and maggot filled whilst others seemed fairly fresh and bizarrely several shallow holes some might say these holes were somewhat grave like they all seemed open and empty apart from one which was covered in muddy sacking, and this one moved. Craigh went back up ready to slam the hatch closed, the Doctor aimed his Donderbus at the wriggling shape and Guilio reaching out with his glave hooked the sheet away exposing a filthy Veronica. The Doctor made an attempt to talk to her but she hissed something which caused roots to pop through the cellars dirt floor and then clutching a blooded knife she charged towards them. The Doctor fired his Donderbus but somehow missed the shrieking girl and then turning back to the others he shouted "RUN!" pushing Guilio ahead of him they charged through the hatch and almost knocking two troopers over they both screamed close it at Craigh. The hatch was barricaded closed the barn checked and it was decided to burn the whole place down and bury Veronica and the hag beneath a blazing pyre, Servitor Cotton was about to protest but Giulio sadly placed his arm across the mans shoulders and told him what he had seen in a steaming bowl as he had fled, a small hand and foot as if from a baby. This broke Servitor and he had to be restrained but he did not try to stop the party from preparing the buildings to be fired. Curtains were ripped down, blankets torn into strips the kindling from the oven spread out and covered in the little lamp oil and everything given a light dusting of black powder. Veronica continued to hammer and scream at the hatch but was unable to break out. The party regrouped outside and Zeal lighting a torch said a few words and threw the flaming torch into the farm house there was a moments pause then woof it went up with a bang. Some of the troopers later claimed to have heard laughter as they left. The party made their ragged way back to Badgers Drift some of them leaving a bloody trail behind them. It was a despondent group which returned to the Fenced Fox the Doctor got Ralph into bed and changed his bandages he also worked on the injury cleaning and cutting away any diseased flesh. Zeal to was busy he sent out riders to contact the column and telling them to make camp and wait for further orders he also made a decision regarding the prisoners he ordered all but the one who squealed to be lined up along the barns wall and shot. He turned to the squealer "Take note of this if you fail to show me the grave of Cronkie I will make you wish you had died here with the rest of these scum, Is that understood?" And that is where we must leave them injured and writhed in gun gun smoke licking their wounds and thinking of the journey they still have to make.
  6. PART TWO OF THE BADGER CHRONICLES If you go into the woods today you're sure of a big surprise It was a very sombre and grim morning as the party awoke to find that their friend Saul Goodman had left in the night for parts unknown, Zeal tried to explain that the good Lord above had other plans for the former Witch finder and his leaving did not change the current task before us. So with heavy hearts the party made ready to proceed onto Yarmouth when the door to the Fenced Fox slammed open and Servitor Cotton the husband of the recently deceased mother burst in, tears streaming down his face and upon seeing Zeal he rushes towards him crying out "Help me Lord, oh help me please I beg of you my child my poor child has been stolen by one of the midwives!" he collapses at Zeal's feet crying and groaning. "What are you on about man?" said Zeal as he desperately tried to untangle himself from Servitors grasp. "Veronica Haines my Lord she has taken my child and fled into the woods and no doubt back to her families farm, she means to do him harm I just know it. My lord the Witch finder was right please my Lord you must stop her and save my son I beg you" Zeal slightly taken aback responded quickly and began shouting out orders. "Craigh and Guilio you will stay with the main body of men your task is to get them up and ready to march towards Yarmouth, when they have started out you will re-join us at the Haines farm understood?" They nod and grabbing their gear head out to rouse the men Zeal was still shouting orders he calls out for four of his men to join him. Soon Anthony May the sections Sergeant and Troopers Bartlett, Williamson and Molant were to join Zeal, Ralph and the Doctor in hot pursuit of this Haines girl. Servitor who was now a little calmer was questioned about Veronica and her family. In a shaky voice Servitor told us that Veronica was a gentle girl of some seventeen summers who had turned up at Badgers Drift a few months ago and volunteered to help his wife through her pregnancy. She was a great help and seemed to be really excited over the little ones birth especially these last few days. She lived at the Haines farm previously with her parents and five other siblings but he didn't know much about them to be honest as they seemed to keep to themselves only coming into Badgers Drift at harvest time. By this time the Doctor and Ralph had picked up their equipment and were waiting with the troopers by the door the Doctor failing to hide his slightly smug expression he turned and whispered to Ralph "I knew she was a witch" Servitor gladly volunteered to act as a guide and before long the small group was heading out of the hamlet and along Badgers creek the days promised snow already starting to fall from the grey overcast skies and obscuring the faint set of tracks we had picked up. After travelling for about a mile and a half the party start to leave the toiled fields behind them and start to trudge through a more rugged landscape. Servitor points to some brooding woods ahead and tells the party that they are known as Golden woods and that the Haines farm lies just beyond them. "We will need to use the woodcutters trail to get through and it will be hard going but its the only way this time of year and we should come across one of the smaller logging camps, oh they might have news of my child" a look of desperate hope entering his eyes. The party make their way through the heavily overgrown trail but soon a worried look replaces the previously hopeful one upon Servitors face. After thirty minutes or so of sliding and tripping over muddy roots and barely visible badger sets they finally make it into a clearing, Servitor looks around but before he can ask the obvious question Zeal does "So where is everyone shouldn't there be someone chopping wood or whatever it is peasants do? The rest of the party somewhat quicker on the uptake had already started to spread out with weapons drawn they had already noticed the odd stillness to the place, no noise no people not even a wisp of smoke from the rude hut that stood at the clearings edge on this cold and bleak morning. The camp itself consisted of a roughly cleared circle of ground surrounded by trees and thick bushes a basic hut stood towards the Northern edge and a large fire pit dominated the centre. "I don't know where they are my Lord there should be a few woodsmen here most times, maybe they are deeper in the woods helping the others or something?" answered Servitor. The Doctor who was not happy with standing around in the cold unlimbered his Donderbus and aiming it low headed of towards the hut, the others slowly advanced into the clearing the soldiers keeping to the edges whilst Ralph headed towards the fire pit. Clearing away the freshly fallen snow to reveal the ashes beneath Ralph could easily tell that this pit hadn't held a fire for several weeks at least and using a long stick he searched through the pile of ash but didn't find anything of any real note. Meanwhile the Doctor had kicked in the huts door and made a very dramatic entrance, which was somewhat wasted as the only person there to see it was unable to appreciate the Doctors heroic manliness due to an unfortunate case of deadness. Whilst the Doctor tried to get over his disappointment Ralph had noticed something odd amongst the expected debris of a logging camp there lay wondrously carved pieces of wood scattered about an arm here a leg there all done with a breath-taking attention to detail. Zeal stood to one side and seemed to be berating poor Servitor the troopers standing nearby and looking somewhat awkward. Ralph walked towards the nearest carved piece of wood but before he had taken more than a couple of steps towards it he had to stagger back as the limb lifted off the ground before him under a gust of sudden wind and it was soon joined by the other carvings, all of them swirling into a cloud of dust, dirt and snow which soon obscured them from his sight. Ralph stood transfixed but looking over his shoulder he did manage to give a warning, if you can call saying oh bugger very quietly a warning that is. The Doctor went over to the body and began his examination he fairly quickly discovered that the cause of death was murder, the axe embedded in the mans chest was a bit of giveaway to be honest but he also discovered that this was no recent killing as the man had obviously been killed a month or so ago this was not a happy thought as surely the villagers at Badgers Drift should have noticed something. Ralph meanwhile was slowly backing away as from out of the swirling dust the figure of a tall man stepped out and then proceeded just to stand there it was something of an anti-climax to be honest. Ralph looked puzzled and then behind him to see two of the soldiers screaming in fear whilst Zeal and the other two looked on with horror but still seemed to be in control of their emotions. Ralph slowly reached down for one of his hatchets but the tree man then started to sway as if in some storm tossed wind then with a mighty crack it split into two a slightly smaller twin now standing beside the original. Then with a dark light burning in place of their eyes they both advanced one towards the now extremely worried Ralph whilst the other headed of towards Zeal and his troopers. The Doctor who was still examining the dead body paused briefly and wondered what all the noise was about but with a shake of his head continued his examination thinking that no doubt Ralph would shout out if he needed anything. The Tree man heading towards Ralph seemed somehow to be grinning and well that just set Ralph off and with a curse he pulled out the hatchet and charged the tree man his speed lending his blow extra power as it landed with a hefty thwack in fact the hatchet cut so deeply he was worried that it would get stuck but with a strong tug and a little twist he was able to wrench it back out. The tree man now spewing green sap from the grievous wound tried to batter Ralph away but the blow was clumsy and it was slow enough for the nimble Ralph to avoid easily. The troopers that were still in control of themselves readied their muskets and gave fire but unfortunately for them only one managed to hit the now charging tree man the shot causing visible damage but doing nothing to stop the rampaging creature and as it swung its hand out it just managed to catch one of the soldiers causing him to stagger back with a groan. The soldiers realising that the tree man was now too close for muskets reached for their short swords and prepared to meet the monsters charge. Zeal was still trying to get through to the two other soldiers who had frozen in fear and at last his pleas seem to be having some effect as they slowly started to gather their wits and finally bring their muskets to bare. All this noise does finally make the Doctor look out of the huts door and seeing the rampaging tree creatures he wisely decides to close that self same door he looks around and then thoughtfully looks at the axe which is still embedded in the man's chest and then at the bedding. Ralph meanwhile seems to be dancing around the lumbering tree man attacking him, effortlessly dodging its clumsy blows. He then pulls out his second favourite hatchet and with a whirling attack that would put a dervish to shame hacks his way almost through the tree man spraying sickly green sap and sawdust everywhere. There is a moment of total silence with Ralph stepping back to catch his breath, his chest heaving with exertion the tree man drops to its knees and then slowly ever so slowly breaks apart the various carved parts just falling away. The troopers though were not having as much luck with their tree man even though they had wounded it several times quite badly it seemed their short swords did not have the same effect on its tough bark like skin as Ralph's hatchets did and even with the other two soldiers now having joined the fight they to seemed to be having little effect on the towering figure. The tree man again swiped out at the troopers in front of him and caught Williamson a punishing blow sending him flying high into the woods with the sound of cracking ribs. It was at this point that the Doctor reappeared his plan now obvious to all as he held aloft the woodsman axe, rags tightly wrapped around it and blazing with cleansing fire. The Doctor cried out Ralphs name who with a nod started to jog towards the remaining tree man a look of understanding passed between the cousins and with a mighty heave the Doctor sent the blazing axe towards Ralph. Ralph then started to run and leaping into the air somehow managed to catch the axe and with a cheeky mid air twist he brought it slamming down into the remaining tree mans back. The tree man staggered, turned and then burst into flames. Then with the sound of a kettle coming to boil it exploded sending out viciously sharp and deadly splinters out in all directions luckily none of them managed to hit anyone mainly due to the fact that anyone close by had sensibly dropped to the ground as soon as the tree man had started to do boiling kettle impressions. After a moment or two the party picked themselves off the floor and looked on with horrified amazement as what was left of the last tree man collapsed into the now boiling mud beneath it. The battle now won there followed a tense period of patching up the wounded, carefully dragging the remaining bewitched wood into the fire pit and making damn sure they were all reduced to ash, locating Servitor Cotton and coaxing him out of the bush he was hiding in, The Doctor revealing what he had found in the hut and everyone briefly wondering what fate had befallen the other woodsmen, giving the woodsman a Christian burial if in an unfortunately shallow grave but hey time was pressing, watching as Zeal had words with his men something about growing a pair and finally one last somewhat nerve wracking search of the area just in case we had missed anything. When all that was done Zeal brought us together said a few inspiring words on the nature of our fight against the darkness and how we as godly folk will resist and win through in the Lords name but then seeing everyone's reaction to his speech he then just ended up shouting angrily at us and for us to just bloody well follow him out of these accursed woods and onto the Haines farm and whatever fate awaited us there. So the party started to march on again, led by Servitor Cotton but before too long Ralph paused, swore then headed back to the hut. The Doctor was forced to yell hang on which didn't go down to well with Zeal who immediately stormed back down the line and started shouting at the confused Doctor but after a moment or two Ralph reappeared and the reason for his brief absence was made clear to all as he stabbed a note onto the huts door and turning to us yelled out "Well the others need to know what to look out for don't they Sir" and with a somewhat smug look on his face he jogged back to the column. Slightly testily Zeal asked if anyone else wanted to do anything? and receiving only silence in reply finally called out "Mr Cotton the Haines farm if you would be so kind"
  7. This may sound creepy (I need those Hero points damn it) but I thought it looked a bit odd if no one replied, So I would just like to thank everybody involved in this crazy game as its lasted longer than many others and is still a blast to play. Thanks especially to the Americans for getting up so damn early and on a Sunday no less! thanks to Andrew for getting the band together at the start and introducing us to this gritty, scary alternative 1645 and to Jay for bringing it back and keeping the beast going whilst building it into the crazy, deadly and fun universe that it is has become and to all the other cool people who I've had the good fortune to roll dice with through playing in this game. Here's looking forward to another year of desperate doings in Norfolk and Doctor Thomas promises that one day he will get the doses right and make that first aid roll. So Jay does this mean you will let me out of this box now........Jay?
  8. PART ONE OF THE BADGER CHRONICLES. A Matter of faith After the dust settles and with the suspect Witch finder swinging in the afternoon breeze it was time to decide what to do with his henchmen and Zeal wanted some answers. The men were tied up and escorted to the hamlets single shared barn which seemed to worry Ralph as that was also where our supply wagons were being kept and he thought the prisoners might be tempted to meddle with the equipment and even thoughts of escape might enter their minds if they found the gunpowder and shot which was stored on them. Ralph left the others arranging rooms for the night and headed over to the village green where it seemed that the Doctor and Zeal were engaged in a heated argument. As Ralph approached he could hear that the Doctor seemed unhappy with the killing of Witch finder Cronkie. "Look Sir I'm just saying that there could be signs of witchcraft here and that Cronkie was correct to try and hang those women, they were meddling in things best left to professionals". Zeal looked tired and was about to reply to the Doctor when seeing Ralph's approach cried out a warm welcome no doubt happy for the interruption, this though was somewhat short lived as Ralph with a brief nod to his cousin apologised for the interruption and then began telling Zeal about his concerns over the Prisoners. Zeal looking more and more tired by the minute finally snapped "Shut up both of you! if just for a moment you are just as bad as each other with your blasted nagging, look just follow me to the barn and you shall both see that everything is in hand and all your fears are unfounded." he then called over Sergeant May and told him to arrange quarters for the night for him at the Fenced Fox tap room he was also to arrange a meeting with some of the local worthies and to use some of our supplies to provide the food needed. Turning back to the Norton's he explained with a smile "Well it wouldn't do any harm to remind people who really is in charge around here and we do need to find out what is happening in Yarmouth, now Sergeant you have your orders and gentleman we have a barn to inspect." he then strode off towards the looming structure of the hamlets barn, the bickering cousins trailing behind. When they reached the barn a well wrapped trooper stood outside by the gates his musket already aimed at the party but when he saw Zeal he hastily shouldered it. Zeal nodded to the trooper and asked if there had been any trouble. "No Sir they have been as quiet as a lamb so they have sir" Slightly smug Zeal turned to Ralph "See I told you" and with that he walked into the barn. After a brief pause to adjust to the barns gloom he swept his hand across the interior "See Ralph I have two further men in here and the prisoners are all safely over there far away from the supplies." Just then two further troopers walked in and headed to the supply wagon and started to rummage through the various bags and barrels. Ralph went over to the area where the prisoners were being kept a look of disgust crosses his face as he catches a whiff of something unpleasant. It seems the prisoners are being kept in the same area where the villages normally keep their pigs. Ralph examined the pen that the prisoners were in closely. taking note of the crude latch the secured its gate and then strolled back. "Okay you have placed them as far as possible from the wagons which is good but they are not secure and these are desperate men." Zeal bit down a curse "What are you going on about man of course they are secure" Ralph shook his head "No they are not the gate is secured by a wooden peg and whilst they are tied up they are not in fact tied to anything else so can move around freely and given time they could easily untie each other. Look we can't take them with us and you can't spare the men to escort them back to Norwich, so lets be done with it you have the authority they are murders, bandits and worse no doubt so just have them shot. Zeal gave this some thought but replied "No they must face a public trail in Norwich the people must see and know that the N.M.A is in charge now and we will not tolerate any lawlessness. I will have them tied up better and chained to a pillar or something that should stop them moving too far" Ralph in desperation turns to the Doctor "Look can't you make him see reason? these men are a danger we can ill afford" The Doctor was still looking a bit pale and shook his head as if to clear it "No cousin I will not, I believe that these men were doing the Lords work and we have committed a terrible sin in stopping that Witch finder" It was Ralphs turn to look shocked (There was a lot of it about it seems) "Cousin are you mad? these men are nothing but common scum" there followed a long heated and somewhat twisty argument which occasionally dragged in an innocent bystander. "ENOUGH" yelled Zeal after ten minutes or so "I am in charge here or do you forget yourselves? My decision is this, tonight we shall rest and prepare to continue onto Yarmouth in the afternoon" The Norton's stop bickering for a moment and at the same time they both turn towards Zeal and say "What do you mean in the Afternoon?" "Yes afternoon" replied Zeal a cruel glint appearing in his eyes "As we will be busy in the morning putting these men through a trail by ordeal that should solve the question of their guilt nicely and stop you two from nagging me to death" The Doctor a look of alarm on his face pauses and then walks off towards the prisoners shrugging off Ralph's restraining hand. "Men you are under suspicion of being bandits and murderers and worse Scoutmaster General Zeal for the Lord Harrison has decided that the only way to judge your guilt is through trail by Ordeal and you know what that means. I believe you are honest men who were doing the Lords work so I beg you now speak up if you know something or if there is any truth to the story that you killed the real Cronkie, speak up now or place your faith in God tomorrow". The prisoners grumble and mutter and after a minute or so one or two of them stand up and admit they were deserters before hooking up with the Witch finder not because they were cowards or Royalists but because they were starving and hadn't received a penny in pay for months and an honest man deserves something for his labors doesn't he? most of the men mutter in agreement but one sweaty individual jumped up and screamed "No no my Lords they done it, they did him in not me, I will tell you everything just spare me , they killed that Cronkie fellow not I" this was met with howls of protest and anger by the rest of the men. Three troopers had to wade in and using their musket butts clubbed the men back into silence. The sweaty man was dragged out battered and bruised but still alive and able to talk (though with the swollen lips and missing teeth he wasn't so easy to understand this time round. The Doctor gave him the once over and declared him fit to talk. "Here you go Scoutmaster General maybe this man is telling the truth but he looks like a worm to me" and he shoves the man towards Zeal. Zeal noticing the difference in the Doctors attitude raises an eyebrow "Something's changed Doctor?" the Doctor spins around his eyes blazing "Yes of course it has man, I still believe that the Witch finder was doing his godly duty but these dastards have just openly admitted to being deserters they have saved themselves from a firing squad only to meet the hangman's noose, You can hang these oath breakers in the morrow and we can be on our way" with that the Doctor stormed out of the barn and headed towards the tap room. The prisoners again started to protest and had to be clubbed back into order, Zeal sends out panicked orders for more troopers fearing the men would continue to riot and some may use it as a cover to escape. Just then amongst the shouting and screaming Ralph jumps up from one of the wagons previously commandeered from the Witchfinder and shouts "Blasphemy! I have proof of these men's....." then seeing the riot he carefully brakes something behind his back and drops it down back into the wagon "Er never mind I'll just be popping off to that dinner then" and he silently slips out of the barn passing more troopers on the way. The rest of the night passes fairly quietly the dinner was passable and Ralph went to give some pointers to the cook something about spices and gravy? the Doctor stewed in a dark corner muttering about betrayal and lost brotherhood whilst the others questioned the local worthies about conditions and what they had heard from Yarmouth. The locals talked about the strange weather and their fears for the spring planting they also mentioned that a lot of people came through from Yarmouth several days back fleeing the flooding and ice. They claimed that the weather was even colder in the Port town and that many had died due to it and the tidal wave their bodies still encased in ice even now. One old man who was sat smoking a pipe said that he had met a refugee who claimed to have worked on the herring boats and that he had spoken of a great island surging up from beneath the waves but the old man hadn't really believed him until now. Much to Zeal's disappointment no one seemed to remember seeing any troopers or officials, there just seemed to be ordinary folk fleeing and he was unsure what this meant was the garrison still there keeping order and if so why no word? Guilio played cards with a few locals and seemed to be holding his own whilst Craigh entertained the children with tales of his days as a brave Haggis miner in the haunted Glaswegian mines. Saul brooded by the tap rooms bar nursing a water sweetened with a foul mixture of lemon and honey his bloody and battered Armour keeping most of the locals away. He looked to be deep in thought wrestling with some mighty problem but then he seemed to make a decision and walking slowly headed towards Zeal a thoughtful look now upon his face there followed a brief but intense conversation a handshake and then Saul was gathering his gear and striding out into the snow filled night, he turned back once to look upon the Fenced Fox and his comrades within he briefly touched two fingers to the brim of his hat then turned away and stalked off into the storm the darkness quickly swallowing him up. 
  9. Leaving is such sweet sorrow We discusses what to do next and after a while a list of sorts is agreed on, first things first we needed to get Inky Pete out of Cow Hill Asylum and get him working on translating that Greek book as we really needed to find out what was contained in that Grimoire . So off we went back to that grim and decaying building which held the mentally ill of Norfolk. We managed to get Inky Pete out but it took mix of persuasion, bare-faced lying and when those failed a huge amount of cash as Bob the orderly double crossed us and even Dr Alan Melrose the asylums administrator demanded a "Donation" So after a large financial outlay a much healed Inky was free but strangely enough the ungrateful swine was still somewhat annoyed with us and didn't want to help us so it was up to the Doctor to persuade him which he managed by appealing to Pete's Parliamentary loyalty and the fact that it would be unfortunate if he was mistaken for say a Royalist spy. Pete was further mollified when he realised his destination was the Nelson mansion and that he could help himself to all that the mansion had to offer including its well stocked cellar. So with Inky Pete safely ensconced in the mansions library and already working on translating the grimoire we moved onto number two on the list the meeting with Doctor Browne. The Party decided that the meeting was important enough for a wash and brush up and the maids had a hell of a time getting all the mud, blood and demon ichor out of various items of clothing they even found enough wood god bless them to heat up several cauldrons of water which were used to fill the large wooden bathing tub (But only once!) The Party was well rested and for a change relatively clean so they wrapped up warmly and headed out into the snow-covered streets of Norwich heading for Denmark Street and the house of Browne. The journey to Dr Browne's was relatively uneventful most of the refugees staying away from such an obviously well armed group. We reached Denmark street and finally saw Browne's house, it was set slightly back from the street and surrounded by a solid stone wall which formed a small courtyard at the front and rear even though the wrought iron gates were open a squad of troopers stood guard nearby. The Party slowed and became slightly hesitant especially certain members who had recently been guests at the castle. Two troopers marched forward covered by the remaining troops who had levelled their muskets at us. The troopers who approached demanded to know what our businesses was after a brief pause and some painful nudging the Doctor stepped forward and stated that they were here to see Doctor Browne on a medical matter, the Doctor also mentioned that it was Guild business and handed over some official looking paperwork. The trooper seemed slightly worried and unsure what to do as this didn't seem to be how things normally worked out so he asked us to wait as he went to get someone of a higher pay grade. After a slightly worrying delay as the Party shuffled around in the cold under the muskets of the remaining guards a Sergeant finally came out led by the trooper the Sergeant was about to say something when the Doctor interrupted him "Is that you sergeant Craig? why Pon my soul it is I haven't seen you since Naseby, how is the leg? I nearly lost you twice on that table you know. It's good to see you up and about and still serving I see" This flummoxed the sergeant somewhat but he recovered quickly "Why its good to see you Doctor Thomas I didn't know you had arrived back home if I had you can be sure I would have called around with the family, but that will have to wait I'm afraid as duty is always first and foremost. Now you say you need to see Dr Browne about an urgent medical matter?" "Yes I know we haven't an appointment and Dr Browne is a very busy man but yes its an urgent matter" Sergeant Craig tugged at his whiskers "Huh normally I would say no and you would have to make an appointment with one of the clerks up at the castle but since it's you......come on then let's see if the Dr is up." The Party are allowed through but they notice that they are still closely escorted and as they enter the impressive hallway they are relieved of any weaponry this takes some time in the case of certain party members. With a final pat down we are finally led into a study and into the presence of Dr Browne himself. Dr Browne was a healthy fellow smartly if soberly dressed and he appeared to be in his early forties he greeted the Party warmly his hand outstretched to shake ours but his brown eyes seemed to suggest a hidden melancholy. "Welcome, welcome you seem to have managed to get past Cerberus here which is no mean feat" he said smiling towards the somewhat embarrassed looking Sergeant. After introductions had been made he bids us to take a seat and explain the purpose of our visit. The Doctor is again pushed forward and he explains that they have a book that whilst in cipher could contain vital information that could help in an urgent medical matter and since we know he is a very learned man and with an interest in puzzles we hoped he could help. Dr Browne asks to see the book and after its handed over to him he glances at the small unadorned book briefly then looks up "I'm afraid gentlemen I will not be able to give this book the attention it deserves but don't look too downhearted I will pass it onto one of my clerks and they will no doubt be able to crack the cipher in no time." This presented a bit of a problem for us and after a pregnant pause the Doctor takes a leap of faith and says "Ah that is a shame my lord as we believe it may contain information about the treatment of alchemical injuries but very well we thank you for your help in this matter, we know you are a very busy man" At the mention of alchemy a change comes over him he leans forward and asks "Alchemical you say? Well in that case maybe I could find the time, leave the book with me for now and can you be contacted at your family home?" The Doctor much relieved replies yes. The Party are hustled out and are escorted to a low building at the back of the property. They had been told that their weapons and equipment had been stored there, the Sergeant chatting happily away with Saul and the Doctor reliving the more happy type of war stories it seems he had even heard of Uncle Norton's petting zoo. As the Party entered the building the troopers who were laying in wait slammed the doors closed behind them and then leapt onto them. Fists flew and kicks landed but the Party were outnumbered and they were soon thrown into two cells. Sergeant Craig looked sheepishly into the Doctors cell "Sorry Sir but we have our orders, Zeal wants a word with you all and I daren't refuse him.........look I can get you a hot meal later so just wait okay Browne's not a bad sort and he will have you out in no time I'm sure" The wait was not too long as Zeal and the other Proctors arrived, Zeal a fierce look upon his narrow face began to question us again it became obvious that he still believed that we were Royalist spies.The Craigh/Saul interrogation was particularly nasty as Saul was most aggrieved by Zeal's foul slanders and it almost ended in blows. We spend three days in those cells and apart from the lengthy interrogations it was quite pleasant it was warm, dry and no one was shooting at us for a change also Sergeant Craig was good to his word and provided more than passable meals instead of the gruel we were expecting. On the morning of the fourth day we were dragged out and after having a cold bucket of water thrown over us we were led back into the house. We were taken into a larger room where a large table took up one end and seated around it were various civil worthies from Councillors to Guild masters. Sat at the middle was Browne, Zeal and looking weak but determined Sir Henry Ireton himself. The Party are lined up in front of this august group and then the questioning began again everything from Mallebeench to Norton was questioned and discussed there was a worried air in the room and weirdly it was coming from some of those sat behind the table and not the slightly soggy men arranged before them. After awhile even Inky Pete was brought in to hand over the Greek book and he too had to answer some questions. Finally Ireton called the meeting to order as it seemed he had almost reached a decision.In a firm strong voice he said,"I've listened to many people today and read many reports over the last three all of which concerns you Gentleman. Some people believe you have served Parliament well after stumbling into a mortal threat, whilst others believe you are Royalist spies or worse who have been sent here to spread enemy propaganda, poison and to offer aid to the man known as Mallebench I believe its time I heard from your lips what you believe is going on and not just your replies to questions and more importantly what you believe your part in all this is. I recommend that you think very carefully about what you are about to say as you are still very much under the shadow of the gallows" One by one the Party explain their actions and what they had accomplished and by silent agreement all of them kept it to the mundane there was no mention of Pale Goddess, Rabbit men or especially *no mention was made of demons made of corpses*.The great and the good listened mostly in silence only occasionally would one would ask for some clarification on a point. After we had finished we were led out into the hallway to await Ireton's judgement. An hour or so passed and finally we were led back into the room which only contained a few people now mainly N.M.A and clerks. Ireton was seemingly in a heated discussion with Zeal but when he noticed we had been brought in he firmly said "Enough Zeal this discussion is at an end you have your orders" whatever the discussion was it was obvious that it had not gone the way Zeal had hoped for Ireton stood shakily up and said "Gentleman we have discussed all that you have told us and compared it to what we all ready knew, the books you have provided have been examined as well as the various buildings and tunnels that you mentioned including the tunnels under the ruined church in Tinker town. Speaking of which we discovered much of interest in those tunnels including demonic creatures which were finally banished at a terrible cost and a chamber filled with damaged Roman urns we believe that Mallebeench was looking for these urns and after taking the ones he wanted tried to destroy those he had to leave behind. We believe he did this to disguise that he had removed some. At the moment we have no idea what these urns may have contained but we have sent to Cambridge for assistance though they may prove reluctant to give it. Now whilst others believe we should place you before the nearest wall and shoot you as Royalist spies or worse......... I on the other hand believe you to have proven your loyalty to the cause if in a somewhat misguided way and so to be of some use yet. And that brings me to your fate, we are hearing worrying reports coming out of Great Yarmouth you may have been aware that the town suffered greatly in the recent storms but now we hear that the harbour and much of the town is frozen over and most disconcertingly it seems that a new landmass has been thrown up from the seas floor causing more flooding and destruction interestingly we also believe that Mallebeench has fled towards Yarmouth and we do not think this is a coincidence" pausing to drink something handed to him by Dr Browne he continued " I task you to continue your hunt for Mallebeench, that you find him and end his plans whatever they may prove to be, but this time you will be working under Parliamentarian control which brings me to your new commanding officer Zeal for the lord Harrison" Zeal stands up and bows slightly to Ireton and gives the Party a strangely sinister smile he then addresses the slightly shocked Party "I look forward to commanding you gentleman and seeing how truly loyal you are" he then returns to his seat still smiling oddly. Ireton coughs "You could of course refuse to serve your country and your god but that will of course lend credence to the theory that you may be indeed enemies and that we would be best served by executing you before you can get up to any more mischief. So gentleman do you accept this singular honour, will you work for the Clockwork underground bureau?" The Party somewhat unsteadily mutter their willingness to do so but with a somewhat mixed enthusiasm. Saul takes a step forward "My Lord Ireton I of course accept this task, I am a loyal soldier to the Parliamentarian cause as I have always been. I had hoped my previous service would have shown you that and that instead of all this suspicion and coercion you could have just asked me to serve once more" "Unfortunately Sir trust is in short supply during these strange days and we had to be sure that the men picked for this important task were men not only blessed with a strong faith but that they were also capable enough to see this task through to the bitter end no matter what they meet, Mallebeench must be stopped for the good of all" There was some more discussion afterwards but the audience was clearly over the Party were taken to some less cell like chambers where they found all the equipment laid up even the items that they had left at Nutleys. Their weapons had been sharpened and oiled and those who had apostles and horns found them full of shot and powder. Doctor Thomas was delighted to see that even his spare clothes had been washed and repaired, his hat was again a thing of wondrous awe. "Well it seems there are some benefits to being back in the army" whispered the Doctor as he placed his hat upon his head "We have been through much you and I" as he adjusted it to fit snugly over his hair. The others were also inspecting their equipment and in the case of Guilio and Craigh they checked over their clockwork arms and began the laborious task of winding the various attachments up. After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast of porridge the Party assembled in the courtyard soon to be joined by some slightly sinister Troopers one of which carried the personal banner of Zeal for the lord Harrison. They were well armed with muskets, pistols and swords there also seemed to be more equipment and supplies contained in the carts behind them soon Dr Browne and Zeal appeared and again they were deep into a hushed conversation which ended as they drew near. "Good morning gentleman your papers of service and of passage are in the safe hands of Harrison just as a precaution and guarantor of your continued loyal service you understand" Browne explained "Now you know what you must do, Find out what is happening in Yarmouth and send word back to us here so we can decide what resources will need to be redeployed, discover what Mallebeench is up to and stop him and finally what does this new island have to do with everything" looking up at the grey clouds forming above the ever-present haze of smoke he finishes "Zeal for the lord Harrison will give you support if he deems it necessary and you should listen to his suggestions he is in command of the soldiers not you, so I wish you well with your labours......now be off with you whilst you still have the weather on your side" and with a final warm wave Dr Browne leaves us with Zeal and the long journey to Great Yarmouth . Leaving Norwich was a lot easier than expected it's amazing what a heavily armed group of soldiers can deter especially this particular group as it seems they carried a fearful reputation before them. Initial progress was good the road cleared by the tramp of hundreds of refugees who had headed for the dubious safety of Norwich as the Blight and floods spread occasionally we had to use the frozen river to bypass certain areas where trees or flooding had blocked or swept away the road but all in all it was a pleasant journey it was still cold but we were wrapped up well and the threatened rain had yet to appear.  We started to meet more and more people on the roads all of them looking fearful and harried we didn't think much of it at first as we had already met plenty of refugees making their sorrowful way to Norwich but this lot soon appeared to be different they appeared more soot stained than normal and more than a few of them seemed to be carrying injuries of various sorts. Zeal a cold look upon his face kept the column moving though the peasants quickly moving to the ditches which ran along the side of the road to avoid our passing. We saw thick black smoke on the horizon and soon discovered the source, a hamlet with a few if its houses well ablaze and on the village green a rough gallows had been thrown up a man dressed in the apparel of a Witch finder stood preaching to a small crowd as three women were led to the gallows by six roughly dressed men. Zeal ordered the column to stop he then ordered the Party and four soldiers to go with him into the hamlet of Badgers drift whilst the rest of the soldiers were left to guard the wagons.Zeal rode into Badgers drift and reigned up before the Witch finder his men close behind.The Witch finders sermon trailed of in the suddenly odd quiet and turned to look up into a horses nostrils he then stepped back and was able to look up to Zeal. Zeal looking straight ahead asked "What are you and your men doing here?" "My lord I am doing Gods work there my men and I have come here to this Gods forsaken place to investigate rumours of witchcraft. And as you see the rumours were true these women have sacrificed a pregnant woman in trying to bring forth the demon she was carrying" Zeal at last looks down "Really and what proof do you have?" We caught them red-handed my Lord the blood you see upon them is not from the pricking but from the woman they killed" Saul then approached after talking to the accused "Sir before you make a judgement may I ask if the Doctor look at the deceased first just to be sure" There was a pause and then Zeal nods "Yes we must be sure that devilry was involved especially given our current task, you don't mind do you?" This last remark was directed at the Witch finder. The Witch finder didn't look to happy but didn't stop the Doctor and Craigh from heading to one if the hovels. The two came across a sad scene a woman lay dead in the front room a large pool of blood on the floor under her waist whilst a man knelt sobbing clutching a bloody bundle to his chest. Between them Craigh and the Doctor managed to piece things together the man was the dead woman's husband and the bloody child was his. The child was examined and appeared to bear no signs of the daemonic it was just so very small. It appears the woman was not due for another three months and the so-called witches were just neighbours trying to help one was known as a midwife which didn't make the Doctor happy but it was not enough of a reason to hang her. The others outside were still questioning the Witch finder as Saul had grown more suspicious after spying several wagons loaded down with what looked like loot and plunder Saul demanded that he hand over his warrants.The Witch finder appeared to lose his patience or maybe he had run out of lies as he went to pull something out of his doublet whilst saying "Look here is my authority, all the authority I need" Saul already suspecting treachery already had his hands resting on his pistols grips and as soon as the Witch finder moved he also pulled out his pistols. Shots were exchanged the Witch finder was hit but so was Saul his breastplate absorbing some of the blow. Even the slightly shocked Zeal pulled out his pistol and fired at the Witch finder but fumbled it the shot striking the gallows much to the concern of the accused stood close by. A whirling combat broke out as Ralph and Craigh rushed forward to back up Saul but they ran into some of the Witch finders men who seemed to have had a similar idea. The mêlée was brutal the henchmen coming off worst as again the Party ended up being covered in gore again Ralph carving a red ruin through anyone foolish enough to approach him. The four soldiers moved to protect Zeal their muskets levelled at anybody who came close. The Doctor meanwhile after awkwardly patting the mourning husband on the back as he handed back the crying child and fast walked (It was icy after all) back towards the main body of soldiers to see if he could get them to help. The Witch finder seeing how things were likely to end ran towards his horse and after avoiding the numerous shots aimed at him managed to mount and began to canter away. Saul calmly took out his last pistol and took aim at the horse he took a breath and fired striking the horse in the flank causing it to stagger and slow. Zeal somewhat panicked ordered the four soldiers to move up and arrest the henchmen by the wagons. Most of them raise their hands but one decides to make a run for it, he doesn't get far as Craigh shoots him in the leg. Ralph meanwhile takes a minor cut to the chest before dispatching his opponent with his return blow he then pulled out one of his hatchets spat at it and threw it at the Witch finder. It sailed straight and true but the since the horse staggered the hatchet ended up missing flying off into the nearby undergrowth. He curses and faces off against another henchman this one wounded but still armed with a dagger. Saul out of pistols unslings his musket fires and hit the Witch finder in the leg causing him to lose control of the already injured horse. He is quickly dragged back to face Zeal's judgement. When the henchman fighting Ralph saw this he turned and starting running Ralph grinned "Oh no you fecking don't" and with a flip threw his hatchet into the back of the mans head, dropping him to the floor he pulled his last hatchet out from his belt and attempted to finish him off but missed the hatchet hitting some plunder that the henchman had stuffed under his jacket the shock causing Ralph to drop the hatchet. "No this won't do" complained Ralph as he shook his hand and he reached down to pull out his previous hatchet which was still stuck in the mans head causing him to cry out. "Here let me ease your pain" and with that Ralph brought the hatchet back down this time striking true. By the time he had collected his hatchets and made his way back to the hamlets green the others had strung up the false Witch finder and were watching him turn an interesting shade of purple whilst voiding his bowels. We leave the Party preparing to head back onto the road to Yarmouth and their date with a frozen island.
  10. Thanks for the reply its helped to clear things up, its s till an awesome option and now feels more in keeping with the weapons and style of the setting if now a little less too handy tactically.
  11. Thank you, that does help a lot I had missed the 100+ skill entry. It hasn't been a problem yet it just seemed a little vague and I didn't want to have any potential arguments about it later.
  12. Any ideas on this guys?
  13. Just a quick one, during an All out Attack can you split the attack? for example if the player is holding a dagger in one hand whilst the other holds his sword could he stab N.P.C 1 with the dagger whilst slashing N.P.C 2 with the sword? The description says its a frenzied attack so I'm thinking its both attacks on one target but just to make sure. Many thanks
  14. The Moppet Show The party decide to briefly return to the nearby house of Nutley to wash up and get a bite to eat before confronting Dr Browne as they realised that turning up at his house covered in gore and demon ichor whilst dragging a half eaten corpse might make Dr Browne jump to the wrong conclusion. So a fire was lit and water boiled and the party began to do some intense laundry. So as the suds began to fly the Doctor meanwhile was answering some intense questions posed by Lesley Smeton the Norton family lawyer as he gathered details in preparation of trying to get a bond of release for the Norton's as it seems that Thomas's father had also been arrested and the lawyer revealed that he feared for Mr Norton's sanity as he was thinking of admitting to being a Satanist which as a long time family friend he knew was plainly insane he added that he thought Nelson was being blackmailed by someone into making this false confession. Thomas agreed and told Leslie that he believed he knew who was pressuring his Father and after further discussion the lawyer said he would arrange another meeting with Nelson and pass on his sons concerns and convince him to remain quiet. The lawyer soon left and worked his magic on Zeal for the lord and managed to get both the Norton's out on bond, there were some restrictions placed onto them though the main one being that they could not go anywhere near the Iron works as it was now under military control. The meeting of the Norton menfolk was brief and bittersweet, Nelson admitted to his son that Mallebench was blackmailing him making him confess to being a Satanist or he would harm Mother in some way and with a shudder he said "Son the man is evil, a sorcerer and he has Mother under his control" Thomas hugged his Father and whispered "I believe you that's why I need you to not confess, we are close to ending this we just need a little more time" his Father broke the hug and looked at his son strangely but with something like hope in his eyes. During the carriage ride back to Nelson mansion there were several hushed conversations and whilst not all were smooth an agreement was reached. The last revelation was that Nelson had given a large share of the families ready finances to Katrina and Jane as they had convinced him that the family had a responsibility to the villagers at Keswick and that he should finance their relief mission, Thomas was not too happy to hear this as he believed that the family needed all the money they could get that hands on to fight any legal challenges that Zeal might attempt. So as the carriage pulled away from Nelson mansion it was agreed that Nelson would delay for as long as he could, a Puritan versed in exorcism would be discreetly sent for and that Mother would be locked into her room for her own safety.....of course. Thomas left leaving his Father to make the arrangements and headed back to Nutleys in an attempt to find the others. After making his way through the narrow snow filled streets averting his eyes from the occasional small snow covered figures which lay across the street every few paces. He also avoided the pleading look of the many starving refugees who looked up from the few pitiful fires they had to warm themselves with. He reaches the house and after entering it finds cousin Ralph stripped to the waist, luckily it was the top half that was missing as he stood in a wooden tub trying to wash demon ichor out of his hair. Cousin Ralph fills in Thomas with the events that took place in the tunnels under the ruined church but Thomas did have to shake him from time to time as Ralph would start to repeat over and over again "The slurping the terrible slurping" every so often. Meeting up with the others and sitting down together for a late lunch it was discovered that the book which detailed the Moppet spell was no longer in our possession as it had been left with Rimehart. So after finishing off the last of the cheese and crackers it was off to Rimeharts to recover the accursed book. The snow was still falling but luckily the wind had dropped somewhat so they made pretty good time possibly due to fact that soldiers were now out in force by this time and they were keeping the main streets clear, the sound of a gun shot in the distance could be heard occasionally in the distance It seemed if Zeal was starting to stamp his authority onto Norwich again. Rimeharts shop was in darkness not even a puff of smoke could be seen coming from his chimney but the party knew he must still be in there for where else would he go. After a lot of knocking and shouting a very nervous Rimehart finally opened the door "Oh its you lot again, for fucks sake get in and stop your shouting I'm a marked man remember" so with that cheerful greeting the party quickly piled in. Rimehart immediately asked if we had brought him any food and after seeing our expressions explained that he hadn't eaten anything since discovering that Mallebench wanted him dead. And that any food he had in his larder may in fact now be poisoned so he dared not touch it but nor did he dare risk leaving the safety of his home to bring in new supplies. What little we had was shared out mainly trail rations but it was better than starving and and Rimehart his mouth full of jerked badger finally asked what we wanted. We explained that we had left a book behind and if we could retrieve it we would be most grateful and wouldn't be forced to chop his head off. A rather hurt Rimehart disappeared round the counter and after a brief search produced the now oddly wrapped book. He did make one demand though before handing it over, he wanted to go with us when we left as he no longer felt safe alone and he also convinced that he was going to starve if he stayed in the shop. We were somewhat hesitant but since Rimehart knew so much about Mallebench he would still prove to be useful so we agreed that he could hang out with us. The book was handed over and examined by the whole group, questions asked, spelling checked and drawings looked at intensely. It was a magic book of sorts but more of a journal of collected rituals that someone thought might be useful one of the spells detailed the making and use of a Moppet made from the victims hair and used to control them. It seemed that the Moppet needed to be fairly close to the intended victim to work fully and that the Moppet could be used to overhear what the cursed person could hear and it could even be used to put words into the victims mouth. Rimehart then mentioned that Mallebench owned a house near the Nelson mansion which seemed to be the perfect place to store and use this abominable doll. Saul then broaches the subject of Ireton and how he to may be under a similar spell especially since all the reports have Ireton as being ill and thus unable to venture out into public this started the others debating again the debate spinning round and around. Thomas though was feeling more and more worried about his mother so decided to mention the rare encyclopedia of St Wikki and what it said about the great Dr Browne about how he seemed to be the perfect ally in our quest to thwart Mallebench and as Iretons doctor wouldn't he also be ideally placed to know about the possibility of Ireton being under a spell or if he really was ill and recovering from wounds received as was the common explanation. The party paused briefly to mull this over and then the debate started all over again various theories and options were discussed and tossed aside, Rimehart was dragged forward and questioned once again about Mallebench and how he acted and more importantly who he knew he was repeatedly asked if Mallebench knew or if he had even mentioned Zeal for the Lord Harrison and it seemed that Mallebench had only mentioned him briefly in passing. Also during this questioning the sexual deviancy of Leven was weirdly brought up. The party broke out into arguing again could Harrison be trusted, was he a dangerous ally or just another catspaw of Mallebench? Thomas and Ralph though had reached the limit of their patience after all they had a Mother to save on one hand whilst the other had an Auntie to protect they finally got off their seats and telling the others what they intended to do made for the door, the others somewhat shocked gathered their equipment and made to follow Rimehart included. Again they made good progress through the snow filled streets of Norwich and only once had to make a slight detour to avoid a particularly hungry looking pack of refugees. The house of Mallebench in his guise of the respectable engineer was a small but well appointed town house near the Norton mansion the doors and windows were well shuttered and no smoke was seen escaping from the chimney. Whilst the others scouted round Thomas knocked at a neighbours and spoke to the servant who answered the door. The Doctor in an amazing display of acting said he was a doctor who had been called out at no great expense to treat a man called Mallebench who he was told lived next door but he had been unable to get a response from his polite knocking and wondered if the servant had seen him. The servant admitted to knowing of Mallebench if only by sight but that he had not seen him for sometime nor had he heard anything from next door. The Doctor then asked somewhat hopefully if Mallebench had perhaps left a spare key here with his master maybe in case of an accident? the servant unfortunately replied "No" The rest of the party had walked around the rest of the property and found out the house had a small walled off yard that backed up onto a small alleyway but again the rear gate was locked. Since time was possibly short Guilio was brought forward and up to the front door the others formed a cordon blocking him from view and started to cough and stamp their feet as if trying to keep warm Guilio then got to work drilling the lock out his clockwork arm making short work of the job. They then entered the cold and darkened house closing the door behind them they paused briefly on the threshold but hearing nothing continued further in. The party spent the next two hours searching the somewhat bleak and spartan home of Mallebench they did eventually find the hair Moppet hidden away in a cupboard it was slightly unnerving finally seeing a baby sized Moppet made of hair to be honest. The Moppet was checked and luckily was still dry so it had only been used for under a week Thomas was still worried about what effect destroying the Moppetnwould have on his Mother so he wanted to go and see his Mother first with the cursed Moppet and run some basic tests. The search also brought to light various plans and books on clockwork engineering but were fairly harmless and just seemed to be part of Mallebench's cover story. When they went to see Mother in her darkened, and oddly warm boudoir they found her laying in bed half buried under a pile of blankets disturbingly she did not acknowledge their presence, she just stared blankly at them and just drooled slightly. After some experimentation it was discovered that she would mouth back whatever was said to the Moppet and that we could hear what was said near her by listening to the Moppet as well just as the book had said. Thomas then brought a candle near to the Moppet to see how his Mother would react and as the candle was brought closer a rash was seen to spread rapidly across her face pustules erupted and started to leak a black milky fluid , Thomas quickly pulled the candle away and the rash settled down and spread no further. The Doctor was very worried and horrified at what this Moppet could do to his Mother and family and decided that both the book and the Moppet needed to be destroyed and the sooner the better. He grabbed up both and told the rest of the party that he was heading out of Norwich to destroy these foul abominations as soon as possible and he would brook no argument even though the others tried to dissuade him claiming that he was destroying evidence but the Doctor would not listen he would not risk his family for anything so he left the others in the Mansion to have a well deserved rest and hiding the Moppet and book under his coat he headed out to the nearest town gate. He walked out of the gate and had no problem leaving as the guards were more concerned with people trying to enter, long lines of refugees still clogged the roads nearest the gates and various temporary campsites also littered the nearby fields. He walked until he could no longer see or smell Norwich he walked until he could no longer see the grey soot filled smudge that hung above the town and then he left the road to make camp, a fire was soon blazing away and with a short prayer he tossed the Hair Moppet into the fires heart where it soon burst into flames a strange meaty smell mixing with the horrible smell of burning hair. After watching the flames for awhile he kicked the fire out and buried the whole lot under the earth. Whilst the Doctor was on this horrifying and emotional journey the others meanwhile were living the high life in Norwich, enjoying all the comforts that the Norton Mansion had to offer. There were tales told long after of strange and disgusting behaviour involving white fluffy bathrobes and we won't talk about what happened to the mug with No 1 Son written on it. During a meal they were deep in their cups when Saul let out a mighty burp and slapped his forehead "What a fool I have been I knew I had come across a mention of this blasted Brotherhood before I bet its the blasted offshoot of the Order" "What are you talking about Saul?" asked a bleary eyed Ralph, Saul stood up and began pacing around the room "Its something I heard of during a job I did a few years back and well lets just say this group calling themselves The Order of Esoteric Discoverie were mentioned a couple of times and like all of these stupid so called secret societies they soon started infighting and so they ended up having a rival offshoot soon enough which called itself The Ptonik Brotherhood or some such, I just know that its these bastards they were all for digging up ancient crap" "Well that's something I guess but where does it leave us, that's what I want to know" said Guilio. "It leaves us where we usually are up a shit creek" said Saul in reply and sat down heavily onto his chair causing it to groan somewhat alarmingly. Ralph also groaned alarmingly as he lifted his head up from a plate of half eaten Jumballs "Hey did you say Ptonik? that sounds Greek don't it and don't we have that Grimoire thingy written in that heathen lingo?" And so a new plan was agreed upon over the detritus of dinner, Inky Pete would be collected from the Asylum and convinced to read and translate the Greek book whilst a meeting with Browne would be arranged and hopefully he then would be asked to work upon the cipher book if the meeting went well that was. Meanwhile out in the dark countryside the other Doctor dusted himself off and made his way back to Norwich the strangely brittle trees playing a eerie tune as the cold wind from the blighted lands blew through them.
  15. Sinister Spelunking The party has made their way back to the shop of Rimehart the dealer in all things fun and festive which is how Mallebench had gotten his claws into him by threatening to expose him to the Puritan authorities if he failed to do as he was instructed. At the moment though Rimehart was still somewhat shell shocked after learning that Mallebench had just tried to have him murdered, poisoned in fact along with the rest of the Collectors as Mallebench obviously considered them a loose end now and so a potential threat to his plans but luckily he had met us. As Rimehart was considering his somewhat bleak future the rest of the party spent their time trying to get warm and dry the Doctor though briefly went outside again to get a bucket of snow in a vain attempt to clean his clothes of some of the rather smelly fluids which were splashed across them. After getting a fire started and helping themselves to Rimeharts cheese collection the party finally get down to discussing what to do next. Turning aside for a moment his mouth full of cheddar Ralph looks around for Rimehart and seeing him crouched in a corner calls out merrily to him " Hey Rimehart you old buzzard have you got something I can stick this in?" and shows Rimehart his new sword Rimehart looks up and is about to say something rude but then seeing what Ralph held in his hands he instead immediately perks up a cold calculating gleam appearing in his eyes. " Ah I see you found that rusty old sword then, you know I could take it off your hands....for a fair price if you liked" his hands extending out as if to caress the blade. Ralph quickly jerks the sword away and firmly tells him that the sword is not for sale and that he just wanted a box or some such to store it in. Rimehart slinking back to his darkened corner throws Ralph a thin wooden box and almost growling says "Here this should do for now.............until your ready to sell that is" The Doctor finally despairing of ever having a clean shirt again decided that enough was enough and they should at least check out the nearby Dangling Slattern especially since it was close by and most of its somewhat troublesome clientele were now either dead, missing or arrested. (There is no evidence to the rumours that the Doctor just wanted a pint) "Right I'm off to the pub the serving wenches might know something about the German, back in a minute" and with that he strides back out into the storm and crosses the courtyard heading towards the inn. The others watched him go and after the briefest of pauses to check that he had closed the back door they returned to discussing plans and strategies. The Doctor makes his way to the inn and finds himself unable to see into the tap room due to a unfortunate lack of windows, he decides to go in anyway as surely there would be only a few drunks left at this early hour and begins to open the door. Unfortunately the Doctors recent run of bad luck continues as the inn seems to have plenty of customers some of which are still very much awake as it seems that this is where all those army patrols had ended up after the incident at Blatters. So the door opens and the Doctor is suddenly aware of a terrible silence as every awake soldier turns to look at him the silence hangs heavy until a large sergeant staggers upright and bellows "In the name of Sir Ireton I demand that you state your name and business Sir' the Doctor being an honest sort if a little prideful replies "Why I'm Doctor Norton of course, how may I be of service?" This was completely the wrong thing to say apparently as some of the more sober soldiers all leap up and start running towards him, the sergeant yelling "Its a Norton grab him" so after a brief and somewhat one sided struggle the Doctor finds himself tied to a chair and guarded by a couple of Redcoats "What is the meaning of this? unhand me you knaves" demanded the somewhat bruised and shocked Doctor. The sergeant walks behind the Doctor and leans forward his beery breath hot upon the Doctors cheek "Demands does one? Huh all you Norton's are the same, its you who will be answering questions my boy not I and your questions will be asked by the very Lord himself" standing upright again he tells some of his men to form an escort and to take the Doctor to the castle. Whilst all this was going on the rest of the party were still at Rimeharts discussing things, luckily Craigh the canny Scot had decided that he needed some fresh air and a good pipe to help clear his head so lighting his pipe he stands up and wonders away from the rest of the party to find somewhere quiet. Finding himself outside under the shops porch he is just in time to see a group of men cross over and head towards the stable. The figures are hard to make out through the driving rain and mist but one does seem to be wearing a very familiar hat which causes Craigh to squint in an attempt to make out who the others are he is just about able to see a bit of uniform here and there and the gleam of a musket and sword. "Och the fool has only gotten himself arrested" He takes one last mournful puff on his pipe before tapping it empty and heads back into the shop to inform the others. The party hearing the news are at a loss to explain why the N.M.A would want to arrest the Doctor as if they were worried about how many patients he had lost they would have arrested him a lot sooner. "Well I've an idea how to find out the inn staff should know you ken? So why don't I just pop over and ask around sneaky like?" Craigh asks (Again there is no truth to the vicious rumors that Craigh only wanted to go to the inn as it was now breakfast time and having missed his tea due to the fight at Blatters he was feeling in the mood for an exotic meat pie with extra wobbly bits) Saul tipping back his hat looks up from the bench which he laid sprawled to the oddly salivating Scot "You sure? that's what the Doctor said as well you know" Craigh laughs "Och nae bother man I know a few tricks, I'll be back in a jiffy" and with a last crooked smile he wraps himself up in a cloak and heads out towards the inn the rest of the party sigh and start to gather their things. So stealing out the back the Scot merges with the shadows and skulks towards the Dangling Slattern the effect is only slightly spoiled by the rumbling of his stomach but to be fair it had been a long night. Reaching the inns door Craigh wraps up his clockwork arm as best he could takes a deep breath and opens the door to the inn. It was much the same as the Doctor had left it just a little emptier, the few soldiers remaining turn to see this new person who had foolishly dared to intrude upon their revelry. The same sergeant looks up with bloodshot eyes from his tankard and yells out "Hey you! you bespawler have ye a name?" Craigh replies as smooth as you like that he is called McAdder and is in Norwich to collect a shipment of fish from Yarmouth but due to the flooding has been somewhat delayed. The sergeant staggers up "What are you going on about I only asked for your bloody name not your whole life story, your in luck my kilted barbarian friend we're not looking for any poxy fish salesman. Though before you go and I think I would like to know how a Scotsman got himself such a fine looking arm?" It seems the sergeant wasn't as drunk as he acted. Craigh smiles "Oh this old thing I got it mining for Haggis in the Highlands" The inn goes silent and apart from a young soldiers whispered question "What's a Haggis?" You could hear s pin drop........then the sergeant let's out a mighty belly laugh " You cheeky bugger not all us English are idiots, Haggis mines indeed. Now get yourself out of here this inn has been commandeered for use by members of the N.M.A which you ain't so shove off now, there's a good gentlemen" Realizing that he could do no more and had already pushed his luck Craigh laughs along with the sergeant and backs out the way he had come "Here's tae ye bonnie men in redcoats" and with a final jaunty wave he leaves and as soon as the door shuts he mutters "Fuck that was a wee bit close" and with a quick glance back recrosses the courtyard and back to the others. "Hullo I'm back but I dinnae ken what happened to the Doctor.....nor dinnae I get a wobbly meat pie" the last he adds under his breath. He leans on one of the pillars by the fire and tells the others what had happened. Saul thinks for a moment then shrugs "The Doctor is on his own for now we have to get Gahwon and those books or we all may end up swinging before the nights over" "So where do we go Saul if not after my cousin?" asked a slightly peevish Ralph. "Where else but back to Tinker town and the ruins, come on let's go daylights burning" and after grabbing their gear they finally leave Rimeharts and head back out into the muddy refugee choked streets of Norwich. The Doctor after a somewhat uncomfortable journey tied to the side of a cart finally reaches the grim castle gates where he is somewhat roughly dragged off the cart and dumped onto the cobbled floor. He is then quickly dragged past the hastily repaired cracked wall and is escorted to the cells beneath. The others reach the Tinker town area and head back into Nutleys house to retrieve the cypher book from where the Doctor hid it and the rest of their gear. After a quick search and finding the house empty of any unwelcome guests Saul finally heads down into the basement only to find that the false wall had been pulled down and the book missing. Storming back up the stairs his face pinched in anger he hisses "That mammering beef witted arse has been here, the book is gone" The others step back in the face of his anger "Look Saul we knew it was always going to be a slim hope that the book would still be here, look he must be in the ruins come on we can still get him" Ralph says pouring calming water onto Sauls blazing anger Saul thrusting his sword back into its sheath with some force wrenches the door open and stomps toward the ruins the others sharing a knowing glance follow closely behind. Back in his cold cell the Doctor receives an unwelcome visitor in the form of Zeal for the Lord Harrison who without much preamble begins his interrogation but the Doctor was at the end of his tether and staggering upright stood up to the screaming madman and calmly said "My name is Doctor Thomas Norton I'm a member of the Medical Guild of Norwich and was a serving soldier on that bloody day at Naseby where I saw a King die and I demand a lawyer as is my right" Zeal looked somewhat shocked stopped shouting and after a menacing pause nodded and said "Well if you insist" and turning swiftly stalks out of the cell the door slamming shut behind him. "Well that went better than expected" said the Doctor just as his legs buckled beneath him and he collapsed back onto the earthen floor in a heap. The others following Saul catch up with him at the ruins "Well let's start looking for that wee skunner Gahwon eh?" Craigh says and so they did. Some of the church though was still standing its broken roof causing weird shadows to twist and twirl onto its few remaining walls as the sun cast its weak rays onto the ruins below. The search didn't uncover much but some tracks were found which led to a shadowy area by the altar poking around they find a hole dug under the few remaining paving slabs. Saul gathering the others together gives a brief speech "Here it is then lads the gates of hell itself and we must go down it seems to face old Nick himself if needed" and with a curt nod starts to climb down, the others loosing their weapons swiftly follow him down. The hole slopes quickly downwards leading under the main body of the church and leads into a network of tunnels the party passes earth and stone which seem to have been melted away as if by a great heat and in some places the stone had been turned into a strange glass like substance. Passing through the narrow confines of the tunnels their armour leaving deep metallic scratches in the walls as they struggle through. After some time the narrow tunnels open up into a larger cavern allowing them to stretch out but only briefly as they were soon interrupted by a familiar chittering sound which echoed strangely in the confines of the cavern. Ralph and Craigh shared a worried glance, could that be the demon Imp again? their answer was soon forthcoming as the cursed creature popped up from behind a stalagmite and began chittering and squeaking loudly at them pointing its tiny furry finger at them and blowing any chance of the party being able to sneak any further. Saul shrugs takes aim and with a crooked smile which threatened to break out on his craggy face as he takes aim and fires just as the Imp pops up again from behind a closer stalagmite to begin screeching again but instead it meets head first Sauls hurtling balls of lead which only slightly slow down as they fly through whatever the Imp was using for a brain spraying tiny Imp brains and pulpy eye bits against the caverns wall. "Come on that blasted creature was the pet of Gahwon so he must be close by" shouted Craigh crossing quickly he heads towards another tunnel on the caverns opposite side the others swiftly following. They plunge back into the narrow confines of the tunnels and struggle through but only for a short time as it opens out again into a wider cavern and they were faced by something that might as well had come from hell itself. Several figures of unwholesome and unnatural aspect were crouched low over what looked like a figure of a man they were gnawing unwholesomely on the figures arms and legs, ripping chunks of red wet flesh away from the figures face, a face that they barely recognized from the fight at Blatters....the figure was the Gahwon! Ralph and of Craigh stopped frozen unable to take in what was before them. Saul the old soldier that he was merely spat on the floor and seeing the signs that his comrades were about to crack and do something foolish swiftly punches them both unconscious and drags them back around the corner and out of sight. After awhile they struggle back to consciousness and rubbing their painful jaws look angrily towards Saul, "Wait! remember what you saw before you do anything rash" this was enough to stop them "What was those things?" whispers Ralph tears springing unbidden from his eyes. "I dinnae noo but they are due a right kicking" replies Craigh readying a pistol Saul nods and gives Ralph a friendly slap on his back "You ready for this?" Ralph pauses wipes the tears from his face and draws his hatchet "Yes! lets purge the unclean in the Lords name" They made their way back to the unwholesome feast and drawing their muskets made ready they find the creatures still eating and so they make their way around the side of the cavern finding a good position behind a stalagmite they raise their guns and on Sauls command let rip the musket balls smashing into the abominations tearing grey corrupted flesh away from them. The creatures let out howls of pain? and turning away from Gahwon begin to lumber toward them leaving a slimy trail of grey pus in their wake the parties muskets spent they are quickly dropped and instead pistols, clockwork powered blades and hatchets are pulled out and made ready and again they let fly a ragged volley, this closer volley does much more damage causing black ichor to spray everywhere and one of the creatures begin to stagger and then falls to the floor Ralph throws his hatchet with all his strength at the last creature just as it rears up in front of him the hatchet hits with a powerful meaty thunk and the creature wavers for a moment lets out a tremendous fart and collapses at Ralphs suspiciously wet boots. Not wanting to risk meeting any more of these foul creatures and not quite believing their luck the party quickly searches the area close by and find the missing books cast onto the cavern floor near the body of Gahwon. They were somewhat damp and covered in a strange salavia type goo but still seemed to be in a good condition so they were quickly thrown into haversacks.They also find another body which whilst partly eaten seemed to match the general description of Tobias the tailor, it seemed we had finally met the party planner. Unfortunately before they could investigate any further the creatures started to writhe and boil as thousands of white maggots appeared and began crawling out of the tainted flesh. The party now began rushing trying to get to get clear but Saul tarried and then decides that the body of Gahwon will provide more evidence of foul sorcery or at least evidence of flesh eating creatures and so begins to drag the corpse back through the tunnels and caverns and after a lot of effort on his part and a few helpful kicks from the others he does manage to get most of it back up to the surface. The party after resting, praying and in one case vomiting decide that the best cause of action after seeing those creatures is to get Henry Iretons doctor involved and on their side so off they head to the home of the great Doctor Thomas Browne to challenge his theories of how the world is really governed in the hope that with all their proof that he will join them in fighting against the foul machinations of Mallebench, oh and to get that other doctor out of the clink.