Tell me why are we so blind to see, that the ones we hurt are you and me. Been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
[Dr. Norton "Butters" continues the narrative with brand new session reports] enjoy the view from the PC's!
The musket smoke slowly cleared and the CL.U.Ber's were left in a difficult position, they were in a barn full of dead men and each of them who had been awake enough to fight bore injuries of some sort. They didn't have much time to think of a plan as George Middlecott was soon outside with a fowling piece and asking questions along the lines of,
"My Lord, what devilry is this? my barn, these bodies, oh my word isn't that Joshua Poer?"
The CL.U.Ber's had to pull out all the stops to avoid further bloodshed and were able to convince Middlecott that they were the innocent party, that these men had attacked them in their sleep for reasons unknown. Luckily the ill reputation of Poer and his men worked in the CL.U.Ber's favour and Middlecott decided to put away his gun but only if the CL.U.Ber's swore an oath that they would accompany him to Holbeach and to meet with Henry Chiltern the Justice of the Peace. The Doctor agreed readily and asked if they could impose on Middlecotts charity one last time and if he could provide a cart for dead and wounded. Middlecott agreed and called his son over to watch the CL.U.Ber's whilst he went to get the wagon ready.
The CL.U.Ber's got to work searching the bodies and clearing up the mess, the Doctor being the exception as he just very slowly packed away his gear and that done he shuffled over to Ralph's body and sat next to him. With morning rapidly approaching all was ready and after loading the bodies and the gravely wounded Doctor onto the wagon the grim convoy set out for Holbeach leaving the evils of Saracenic hall and the few hovels of Holbeach St. Marks behind. The journey back was filled with muted conversation as questions were asked and answered and final words of friendship were whispered to Ralph. They made good time even though they had to leave the raised road several time to manoeuvre past the holes dug into them by the Poer gang in their search for lost lore and trinkets. So it was mid-morning by the time they reached the outskirts of Holbeach, no one seemed to be around apart from a few figures in the distance who looked to be driving cattle out into the fens. Middlecott pointed out the Tossed blanket and told the party that he had heard that Henry Chiltern was a man of habit and he generally broke his nights fast with a hearty meal at the Blanket, something to do with th size of the meal and raising his eyebrow a little, a certain bar maid by the name of Big Betty!
Due to the early hour and the fact that those who needed to be up were already out on the fields or the rivers the CL.U.Ber's were able to get to the Tossed Blanket without too much trouble, until they met the Inns stable boy whose horrified reaction to the corpse cart did present something of a problem. "Ahhhhh""
"Calm down, there was an.....accident we need this wagon in the stable so as not to cause alarm, think of the ladies" "Sir's no I can't be taking that into the stable, it's unholy, besides all that blood will make a right mess of the straw, and I only replaced it last week"
This went on for awhile until Wilhelm got involved and asked the boy if he knew what a witch hunter was, the boy did and then Wilhelm smiling a very Teutonic smile asked if he had a Mum. The boy being a smart lad quickly put two and two together and faster than you could say Ducking stool he had opened the gates and was taking the gore streaked cart to the stables.
The CL.U.B'ers went into the Inn and after booking rooms at quite exorbitant prices asked the Inn Keeper if Henry Chiltern was still at breakfast, the worried Inn Keeper said yes and pointed them to one of the private rooms at the back. The Party and Middlecott headed over paused when a burst of giggling came from behind the door and after a look towards Middlecott who shrugged politely they knocked. There was a pause a cough and then in a slightly strained voice a mans asked "Is that you dear?" the Party again look at Middlecott who just shrugs with enough style to impress even Thomas who begins to smile like a Cheshire cat and he replies "Non Monsieur, it is us from before the men who carry Rat catchers" the voice from the other side asks for a minute or two as his breakfast dishes need to be cleared away and he needs to find some parchment. The Party waits and soon the door opens allowing a rather buxom lass to leave carrying a large tray heavy with dishes and cutlery, she excuses herself and blushes a very deep red when Giulio looking at the number of plates and then the young lady says as she passes him"I can see why he has such a large breakfast, he needs the energy"
There follows a very tense discussion as the Party give the Justice of the Peace an edited version of events more robbing bandits than evil and possibly undead sorcerers. The Story is like they said when they first met Chiltern in this very same Inn only a few days ago, they were looking for honest work after having been let go from the military. They had heard about the drainage project and thought "Why not?" but were horrified to discover that most of their fellow workers were Irish Catholics. And finding that the drainage work was just a cover for something else they decided to leave. They answer some questions and Chiltern summons men from his staff and sends some of them back out after brief whispered conversations. He then asks the Party to continue. The CL.U.Ber's tell him that Mr Poer was sad to see them leave but he gave them a couple of Shillings for the work they had done and bid them farewell. Giulio steps forwards and adds that there was a strange undercurrent, that as they were leaving Joshua was calling over that a man called Sam was brought over. The Doctor then tells of the journey back where his cousin was badly injured whilst crossing the raised road when a section fell away beneath him, "He almost drowned the soil was like quicksand, "We barely managed to pull Ralph out and then when he was clear of the hole we found out that he was cut up pretty badly" the Doctor tells Chiltern that Ralph's injuries were severe and caused by some kind of wooden framework that had been thrown over the partially filled in hole.
And so with an injured man on their hands and the weather taking a turn for the worse they were desperate to find some shelter, any shelter. Middlecott is questioned over his involvement and he backs up the last part of the CL.U.Ber's tale. He found them in his barn and that they all looked a mess covered in mud and from the smell of things shit, yes he remembers Ralph was injured as he was covered in bandages but even so Middlecott remembers them still being blood soaked. He tells Chiltern that whilst at first he was none to happy to have strangers in his barn after talking to them and seeing their dire straights he agreed to let them stay the night but only if they come to one of his sermons where was pleased to see that they are true puritans like himself. He continues telling Chiltern about how he brought some food over which the Party paid for and saw that they had cleaned up and had their bedrolls out and whilst he knew that had weapons he says they never threaten him or indeed even seemed to be expecting any trouble. And as far as he is concerned they are good people who are just down on their luck, helpfully he also mentions the ill reputation of Saracenic hall and especially of its now former groundskeeper.
Henry Chiltern looks thoughtful and asks a few final questions, clarifying a point here and and an issue there. He even goes out to inspect the corpse cart and upon his return he calls his clerk over who had been writing all this down and gets the CL.U.Ber's to read the parchment back through and sign at the bottom if they agree that its a true statement of what happened. He then requests that they go up to their rooms and stay there until called for, the Party agrees and are escorted up by one of the Parish constables who somewhat nervously asked the CL.U.B.Ber's to hand over their weapons.
There is a tense wait for the CL.U.Ber's as they wait upstairs, they fall into small groups and quietly talk about recent events and if it comes down to it would the Scoutmaster intervene or would they need to start planning an escape. The Doctor just rests, the knife wound to his back bandaged and covered in some foul smelling ungaunts but the injury to his spine would take time to fade into something he could cope with.
The next morning they are awoken by the constable banging on their doors, it seems that a couple of riders had arrived from Saracenic hall during the night after Chiltern had sent a letter to Mallebeench. The now extremely worried Party made their way down back to the private room where Chiltern was sat behind its single table, two other people are in the room with him a man dressed in a simple hard wearing outfit patched many times over but clean the other was Lysette who a vile harridan and destined to burn in the fires of hell still looked particularly radiant after her no doubt hurried journey. The CL.U.Ber's expect Lysette to launch into a tirade of accusation and falsehood but she instead just glowers at them and if looks could indeed kill they would all have died under her withering stare. Wilhelm pulls out a strangely marked piece of blue glass which he thoughtfully taps against his still gloved hand as he stares back at her.
Chiltern looks up from the letter he is reading and welcomes the Party in, he tells them that whilst the matter is not closed they are free to leave, its seems that Sir Mallebeench offers his apologises for the actions of a few of his staff who for their own reasons decided to act this way. In fact he had fired these very men just after the Party left as their work had been slipping of late, so maybe they thought that robbery would get them some easy starting money. Chiltern adds with a slightly puzzled expression that Mallebeench has offered a generous amount of money as compensation for the death and injuries caused but he would need several months to acquire the necessary funds.
Chiltern waves over his clerk again and asks the Party to sign a few documents and asks if they wish to take the matter further, he adds that in his legal opinion that this is the best outcome they can get, the robbers are dead, they seem to be in the clear and Sir Mallebeench seems content that his men had fallen into criminality and had even been generous enough to offer them compensation. The Doctor isn't too happy about this but knows their are greater things to worry about and coldly nods and signs the legal papers thrust in front of him the others follow suit. Lysette and the stranger bid Chiltern goodbye and leave to take possession of their dead.
The CL.U.Ber's remain in Holbeach for a few days to bury Ralph and to recover from the last few days.They meet up with the local Preacher whose name was Allison and arrange to get Ralph buried the following day before they return to the Tossed blanket to finally take things easy and prepare numerous letters to be sent to Zeal, Browne and for those with them their loved ones.
The following day breaks cloudy and wet and the afternoon finds the Party standing next to a muddy hole and a cheap coffin. The Preacher reads from Psalm 89 and says a few generally nice words about a man he would never meet. And as the Preacher mumbles to a stop Wilhelm steps forwards and in a strong clear voice he reads from a large leather bound tome, unfortunately he fails to translate it so all the Party hears are some very stern and sinister sounding words in German, then with a thud he closes the tome and replaces it back under his cloak. He nods to the Preacher and steps back, the Preacher looks quizzically at the others and after the Doctor nods he makes one final blessing and gestures for the diggers to approach.
The next few days are spent healing up and dealing with the loss of Ralph and replacing the equipment lost or damaged but finally they have to leave, the letters are left with Chiltern who kindly agrees to send them on to the army at Norwich via the garrison at Castle rising.
So the Party somewhat refreshed in body if not in spirit finally head off towards their mysterious contact Emmanuel Harper at Kings Lynn.
Keep me humours balanced, Doc, Keep me humours balanced. Ah, don't go acting the fool, Doc, Just keep me humours balanced. Altogether now! Cut off me kangaroo tail sport, Cut off me kangaroo tail.
The Party leaves Holbeach at first light heading back towards the harbour at Kings Lynn, a town that the Party avoided on their initial journey to the Wash due to its rumoured Royalist sympathies. The going is good and the Party is only slowed slightly by the Doctors back injury. The general air of the group is pretty low, the absence of Ralph's hulking bulk is still painful but as they wind their way through the lanes of England, the air crisp and dry their spirits do slightly rise and during the break for a quick breakfast of stale bread and cheese the Doctor returns to the topic of the Frenchman's corruption.
The Frenchman is still oddly against the Doctors offer of amputation, claiming that the tail can be barely seen and that he doesn't think that the risk is worth it. The Doctor pushes the point claiming that he is an abomination, it's a corruption of Gods work and upon its discovery and it surely will not only will he be killed but those close to him will also face the wrath of the Witch Hunters and the law. The argument goes back and forth but for now, the Frenchman decides to keep the large tail.
After finishing up their food and getting back onto the trail the Doctor begins whispering in the CL.U.Ber's ears pointing out the Frenchman's deformity, that it can not be hidden especially on a long sea voyage and surely the risk was too great but with a few simple cuts with a bone saw the problem will be gone. The Doctor continued this throughout the rest of the morning building up support for what he had planned.
The weather turned grey and soon everyone was soaked through by the thin drizzle that came with the change. Kings Lynn was still a few hours away though a faint brown stain on the horizon showed its location. The Party found some shelter in a copse just of the road and soon had a fire going, Giulio primed his musket went off on his own and soon the dull report of a musket being fired could be heard. The CL.U.Ber's got out their collection of battered pots and pans and soon had some sort of pottage boiling away in one of the soot-blackened pots. They talked about general things the weather, the rising prices of food and things in general and the current situation regarding the war, the stalemate in the Midlands and what they thought the result of the peace mission to Oxford would be. Giulio returned singing a strange song and carrying a large hare slung over his shoulder. It was quickly skinned and dressed and it's meat added to the pottage, making a meal of the bland pottage.
The Doctor uses his cloak as a crude lean-to and sits down onto his bedroll and declines the meal instead pulling out his pipe and smokes, he also takes a deep sniff of the powder from his snuff tin and with a contented sigh he leans back against a tree winching slightly but is soon asleep. The rest of the Party enjoy the meal and relax for a while. Giulio begins singing the strange song again and tells the others that it's from Dafne written by a fellow countryman by the name of Rinuccini, it tells the story of Apollo who falls in love Daphne. Thomas reveals that he may have some contacts in Kings Lynn he tells the Party that they have unique insights into the types of dark forces that we are fighting against, this is met with some suspicion from the others especially when he names them as The New Mission an organization from across the channel. Thomas explains that all he wants to do is meet up with them and see what information he can uncover, its a resource to be used nothing less nothing more. There is some muttering from the others but they agree that Thomas at least arranges a meeting. The lunch is soon over though and the Doctor is roused, pots cleaned and water bottles refilled from the nearby stream and soon everyone was up and tramping down the road towards Kings Lynn.
About a mile out though the Doctor again brought up the matter of the tail and this time he wouldn't take no for an answer and drawing his pistol and with the others backing him up, he wouldn't take no for an answer this time. Thomas felt backed into a corner and after a spirited argument finally agreed to go under the bloody saw.
They looked around the deserted road and seeing a trackway leading off to the left they followed it down until they reached a small farmhouse. The Farm consisted of a small cottage from which a thin trail of smoke drifted up into the grey sky, a large barn, and a few small outbuildings. The Party seeing no one walked up to the cottage and knocked upon its door and after a few moments, a mans voice calls out asking who is knocking on his door.
The Doctor replies telling the man behind the door that he is Doctor Thomas Norton a soldier in service to Parliament and he and his companions are heading to the garrison at Kings Lynn but unfortunately one of the group has hurt his leg and was now running a fever. The door opened revealing a man who was once stout but was now hollow-faced and whose clothes now hung loosely from him, a woman holding back a couple of children could be seen crouched by the fireplace.
After introductions are made and shillings exchanged and bizarrely a promise made to look into the farmers (whose name was Christopher Garnett) complaint of a thieving neighbour who might hold to Catholic practices they were allowed into the barn. The Farmers good lady wife even agreed to boil up some water. The CL.U.Ber's get to work inside the barn, a stall is prepared, bedrolls are used to provide privacy as the children when released from their Mothers embrace had started to run around the CL.U.Ber's asking questions and yapping like over-excited puppies and no one wanted tales of a funny sounding man with a tail getting around the nervous countryside. The barn had a small workshop for making basic repairs and the CL.U.Ber's soon got the small furnace blazing away and the Farmers Iron shit shovel glowing away nicely. Thomas was tied up and gagged in a bent over position a block of wood placed under the tail and the Doctor got to work. The knives went in first parring away the flesh and then the saw got to work biting through the cartilage and meat. Tomas had to be held up but he remained conscious throughout. The tail was cut off leaving only a small bump at the base of his spine from which now copious amounts of blood and gore flowed the Doctor called out to Wilhelm "Get the shovel and place it firmly hear till it sizzles.
Hours later with the Frenchman laying down propped up on his side and deep in a laudanum-induced sleep his body wrapped tightly in the Doctors new bandages and there was a strong smell of various chemicals wafting from various poultices placed onto the Frenchman's posterior.
Several days later the CL.U.Ber's were still at the farm, the Frenchman was now awake and healing nicely, the others busied themselves with various chores helping around the farm mainly because Mrs. Garnett was one hell of a cook, the amazing meals she could rustle up with the meanest of ingredients. Talking of food there was a couple of odd things that happened concerning food, one the Doctor seemed to be eating less and less and when questioned he just replied that he was fine but that he still missed his cousin, though they also noticed that he also had some trouble sleeping. The other weird thing was that Wilhelm lost a whole days worth of rations from his bag, he checked the bag several times and it was intact, no holes or rips to be found anywhere and for some reason the loss really bothered the Bavarian who spent some time stalking the farmyard, asking questions and suspiciously eyeing up various people.
Once Thomas was well enough to travel if slow and needing a stick to help him the Party said their goodbyes to the Garnetts and the Doctor again promised to bring their difficulties with Teddy Cook, the land grabbing Catholic insurgent of a neighbour to the attention of the authorities in Kings Lynn.
The last mile or so was taken at a gentle pace but the painful journey at least for Thomas was eased somewhat by the herbal biscuits provided by Mrs. Garnett. And as with all towns, the Party could smell Kings Lynn before they could see it, a mix of fish, shit, and rot but soon they were able to see the patched city walls and the soot-blackened roofs of the buildings nearest to the wall.
They approach the new seeming open gates of the town where a queue of carts, heavily laden wagons and people is forming, waiting their turn through the open gateway and into the town beyond. The Party waits their turn and after twenty or so minutes they finally reach the gateway and discover the cause of the delays. The gateway is flanked by several soldiers, to one side a large wooden noticeboard has been placed festooned with Parliamentary posters listing rules and regulations, Wanted posters and most terrorizing of all a long, long lists of all the new taxes. The Gate guards shuffle nervously seeing the Party approach armoured and armed as they were and there was a nervous moment or two before a Sergeant arrived who brusquely demand to know their business. The Party explains that they are from the garrison based at the Castle and needed to speak to an officer, the sergeant not easily swayed demanded paperwork and when the Party produced a letter bearing the seal of the N.M.A the sergeant agreed to allow entry but the Party would be a provided with an escort until the Captain makes his decision, for their own safety.
The Party were escorted to a nearby building, past another set of guards and finally into the presence of one Captain Andrew Ridley of Cromwell's Regiment of Horse, left behind with a small core of troopers after the capture of the town in 43 to remind the locals who now was in charge. He seems harried but efficient, he closely examines the letter and its seal and then asks why the CL.U.B'ers were in his town, he warned them that whilst things were running smoothly now it wasn't that long ago that he had to ride down a bunch of royalists trying to stir things up again for the Kings cause, he didn't want any hotheads upsetting things. The CL.U.Ber's explain that they are not here to cause any problems, they have been sent on a detached duty from their units which are currently in Yarmouth to find out what the conditions of the roads from there to here are and if there was any spare shipping capacity. As Great Yarmouth needed a lot of materials and supplies in general if it was ever to be a useful port again. Parliament wanted the Essex and the surrounding counties secure and the recruits flowing so they needed to sort out the food problem as quickly as possible and the Yarmouth Herring fleets were a vital part of that strategy. The Captain looks at the bizarre group of men currently smiling in front of him, a one-eyed man with a hunted look, a Frenchman in expensive clothing who lent on a staff who wiggled around seemingly finding it a little uncomfortable to stand, a dark and brooding German who looked more like a hunter than a soldier and a brightly dressed Italian who kept flexing one of his hands and carried a strange short hafted glaive which seemed to defeat the purpose of having a glaive in the first place. He sighed and said "Look whatever it is you men are really up to just don't upset the locals the last thing I need is another bloody riot, understand" he hands back the letter before continuing "Bloody M.P's they all think just because you are a soldier it means you must be an idiot as well" he looks at the Party and asks if they have any questions. He is unsurprised to find out that they do, they ask about the current situation if anything is known about a man called Emmanuel Harper and the Three Sisters trading company and a host of other questions about berth spaces, availability of wagons and where could they find reasonable quarters whilst in town. The Captain answers as best he can, calling for a clerk to help out with some of the logistical questions but no he hasn't heard of a man by that name or indeed that company, it's not one that has any military contracts that's for sure he does recommend the Full Jug Inn over on High street, it has clean sheets, good ale and there is only a slight chance of being kidnapped by royalist sympathisers.
That takes up most of the day and its early evening before the CL.U.Ber's finally reach the Inn finding it as described. They manage to get a couple of rooms and after a quick wash they meet up in the tap room to grab a much-needed meal, all that is apart from Thomas who winks and tells them he has to see a man about a dog.
Leaving the Party behind ordering dinner Thomas asks a man armed with a cudgel who was sat by the Inns front door if he knew where the towns foundling home was, the doorman looks at the Frenchman who pauses sighs and pulls out a handful of pennies which he drops into the mans suddenly outstretched hand. Smiling a gap-toothed smile the man gives him directions to Station road on the north end of town. He tells the Frenchman that the home is next to what was once the chapel of St. Nicholas. Thomas thanks the man and head off in the direction indicated and a meeting with the New mission contact for the area, a man currently known as Brother Bowman.
Thomas makes his way through the town which unlike many of the towns and villages he had been through recently was still busy with people mostly enjoying themselves, sure there was a damaged building here and there but most had been repaired and whilst there were patrols of soldiers they seemed to be more or less tolerated by the locals. So apart from a brief stop where he had to escape from some boisterous drunken sailors he made good time across the town and soon found himself stood outside the iron gates of Second House.
Second house was a three-story building which loomed darkly in the fading light it sulked behind its high stone walls the bars on its small windows hinting at its current use. By the locked gate a large bell hung from a chain and written underneath it was a single word ring.
Thomas looked around for a striker but seeing none he pulled out one of his pistols and used the grip to hammer the bell after several minutes a chink of light could be seen as a door was opened and a small wall-eyed boy wearing just a grey smock belted at the waist and a pair of overly large clogs appeared by the gate, he was leaning slightly to the left due to a huge ring of keys that hung from his belt asking who Thomas was and what business he had with the Master of Second house. Thomas told the boy that his name was Nouvelle commande and that the Master would know what he wanted. The boy nodded and returned to the house closing the main door behind him with a thud. Thomas waited another ten minutes before the boy returned and unlocking the gate bids him to enter. Thomas followed the boy across the small courtyard and into the house, the boy closed the main door again and spent several minutes locking it closed using the numerous keys from his ring. Finally all secure the boy picks up a handful of tapers which he lights and beckons Thomas to follow him through the buildings cold and sadly plain corridors.
The boy led Thomas deeper and deeper into the dark building, past several small narrow doors some of which were open and revealed small rooms beyond which reminded Thomas of monks cells from a Monastery. Eventually the boy stopped at a larger door and in with the dying light of the tappers thrown up all kinds of strange shadows behind him the boy turned to Thomas and said "We are here the Master waits for you within" he knocks lightlly and begins to walk away, Thomas calls after him "Wait, where are you going? at least leave me a light" the boy turns and with a bone thin finger merely points at the door and repeats "The Master waits within" and turns back and walks away taking the only light with him, his clogs clack against the stone floor for a minute and then that to fades away leaving Thomas alone and very much in the dark. Thomas is about to open the door himself but as he stumbles to where he thinks it is in the dark the door opens at his approach and he staggers back a little against the sudden glare of light. As his eyes adjust he see that the room beyond is small but comfortably laid out a rag rug covers the floor, a small fire blazes away in a small fireplace, the rest of the room is filled with a cot, a desk and a few chairs. sat by the fire is a large seemingly flabby man whose full face is turned towards Thomas a great grin upon it "Ah Nouvelle it is good to see again Mon ami, I forget,how do you take your chocolate?
After Thomas gets over his initial shock he recovers quickly and with a quick glance back at he cold dark corridors he steps into the homely warmth of Brother Bowman's quarters. The two men quickly catch each other up on Mission gossip before Thomas brings up the point of his visit. He tells the Brother about their current plans to travel to the new world where they hope to track down and stop Mallebeench the Sorcerer but that he is worried that they are ill equipped to undertake such a task especially after recent events showed that they were unable to stop a Witch or her sorcerers brother and they will be as nothing to what he fears he may encounter in the new world. Brother Bowman sighs deeply and placing his tiny cup now sadly empty of the luxury chocolate. He tells Thomas that he finds the Missions supplies in this soggy god forsaken country sadly low but he stands and walks over to the corner of the room and pulls aside the rag rug, he then tells Thomas that he can have all that he has and then he pushes his fingers down between the stone slabs and with a soft grunt lifts one of the huge slabs up and with a careful grace places it down next to the now revealed hole. He kneels down and after moving some items aside he pulls out a rather plain wooden box, he places it to one side then reseals the hole and places the rug back over. He hands Thomas the box and takes his seat. Thomas finishes up the last of his drink looks at Bowman "A single box?" Bowman nods "It is like I say my friend we are sadly supplied and yet we have many enemies to face" Thomas opens the box carefully exposing its contents, a single thin flask containing an amber liquid which sloshes thickly around inside when Thomas takes out the flask to look more closely at it "What is this? it's not some of the holy oil from the chapel of Saint Hubertus is it?" seeing Bowman shake his head Thomas looks disappointed but then asks hopefully in a whisper"No it can't be, its not the Oleum Incendium" Bowman laughs "My friend would I look so careworn if I was entrusted with such treasures, no this is a just something produced by mortal means" seeing the look of disappointment again he added "Have heart Thomas this potion is deceptive as it will fortify a mans mind giving them the strength to resist the effects of seeing the true form of an evil one and their whispered temptations, It is all we have at the moment but I'm expecting another shipment of supplies soon if you can wait a week or so?" Thomas places the flask back into its box and smiles "I'm afraid not I'm fairly sure we will need to sail to the new world as soon as possible" he stands and thanks Brother Bowman before asking "Now not wishing to appear rude but how do I get out this place?"
"Where he that shot at a foe might send, His pistol ball through the skull of a friend, But “Shoot Thomas, Shoot” gasped out Wilhelm Teufel “Shoot! Or damn it we both shall swing! Shoot and chance it!” Thomas leaped back, He drew, He fired and at the pistols crack an Associate fell"
Thomas returned to the Full Jug in and finds that the CL.U.Ber's still in the snug and they seem to be having an intense discussion with a stranger. The stranger is well dressed, of undefinable age, but he looks healthy and well fed which means he must have access to funds so no mere beer fop. Thomas walks up and introduces himself to the others greet him warmly and ask if he found what he was looking for? he nods but merely points to the stranger "And who might this fine fellow be?"
The fine fellow turns out to be Cuthbert Sharp, a cold man and he's a fellow CL.U.Ber it seems, in fact, he claims to be a member of Zeal's inner circle no less. He has letters from Zeal proving his loyalty and there is an added note requesting an update which is worrying. Cuthbert seems to be a little vague on certain details but he comes across as an academic of sorts, he certainly comes across as a person of high birth no yokel thug this one. He tells the Party that he has been sent by Zeal to monitor their activities, to make sure that they are still committed to the task set before them, understandably this ruffles some feathers and causes more than one CL.U.Ber to look a little worried. He does though hint that Zeal has a higher calling and that as an officer in the Clockwork Underground Bureau he understands all too well that sometimes loyalties may become a little......unclear.
Cuthbert pulls out a writing kit and begins taking notes as he asks questions of the Parties recent activities. No diplomat this man but he seems to be logical and yet still passionate about the cause, he finishes up his notes and with a smile says "Well everything seems in order, though these dispatches you mention these are worrying as they had not appeared before I set out, in fact the lack of reports was one of the reason Zeal sent me out here in the first place" The Doctor excuses himself and heads back to his room he mentions that his back is hurting again and needs to make up something for the pain and he might as well rewrite those missing dispatches. And as he mounts the stairs he hears Cuthbert offering a tincture that he claims will be of great benefit to Thomas and the Party as a hole the Doctor smiles "Ahh the poltroon is a damned Galenist I knew it"
The Doctor enters his room crossing over to close the window before heading over to the rooms small desk where he pulls out parchment and ink he leaves them on the desktop and he heads towards his medical chest and after a quick rummage he pulls out a clay bottle with a red wax stopper. The Doctor swirls it around before removing the seal and downing whatever was in there, he licks his lips clear of the white liquid and slowly moves his back "Ahh that's better" he closes his medical chest and briefly something floating in a cloudy jar can be seen in the reflected candlelight but its quickly lost to view as the Doctor snaps and locks the chest closed. He returns to the writing instruments on the desk and sits down on the stool in front, he yawns and before he knew it he had fallen asleep, his head resting on the desk his breathing deep and slow. He woke with a start to feel a cold hand caressing his face, his eye adjusts to the dim light and he starts back nearly falling off the stool as he sees Elizabeth looking down on him "Shhh time to wake up sleepyheads she coos softly at him a look of concern written across her beautiful flawless skin which seems to almost be glowing in its paleness. The Doctor looks around confused and though he would never admit it very much afraid. He stands up and splutters questions to the pale lady and she again comes in close to smooth his brow "Don't be afraid my love, can I not visit my special boy?" the Doctor takes a deep breath and slowly calms himself "Ah you just startled me my Lady I apologise for any perceived insult I may have given you" Elizabeth cooed and her hand slipped to the Doctors throat, tracing his jugular she leans forwards as if to kiss him but suddenly her mood changes, her face twisting into something feral with sudden rage her hand once softly teasing now grips his throat painfully her sharp nails drawing blood "You lie like all men!" she screams and throws the Doctor to the floor and before he can catch his breath she is straddling him raining blow after blow onto him "You betray my brother, you send messages of hate to your friends at the castle saying that we are dangerous, that we are evil!" the blows ease off and suddenly Elizabeth is softly asking "Why are you on the floor you silly billy" she picks up the sobbing Doctor and sits him on the bed she sits next to him and placing a cold pale hand onto his and asks her voice full of concern "Why do you cry my love?" the Doctor tilts his head towards her a look of wary confusion in his eyes "It's my back, a man tried to rob me and I ended up with a blade in my back" She brushes his hair back and coos "Oh my poor soldier let me see" and before he can do anything she has slit his shirt open with one of her finger nails and pushed him forwards. The Doctor cannot move even though he really, really wants to and feeling her hands upon his back softly whimpers then he feels something cold and wet softly and slowly moving up from the base of the knife wound up to the top and as it moves across the injury a sudden explosion of heat washes across the Doctor from the wound to across his whole body filling him with a feeling of warmth and peace, the constant pain eases just leaving a dull ache behind. The Doctor moans softly caught in an almost orgasmic feeling of happiness, Elizabeth kisses him gently on his lips her lips were as cold, no colder than ice so cold that they burned the Doctor didn't care, she whispers to him "You are mine now, do not betray us again, I like you but my brother will burn you if you fail him" The doctor begins to mumble an explanation "We needed to look like we were still loyal to the Scoutmaster otherwise he will call us back, we need to pretend that all was well. I knew he wouldn't act against you as you are too powerful and Zeal may yet need to call upon that power" Elizabeth still kissing the Doctor stops to look deeply into his eye "How do you come to this thought?" the Doctor in a state of bliss smiles "Easy, he already knew where we could find you and when we first met him he was scouring the countryside for witches and those he judged disloyal. He could have sent a regiment to Saracenic hall months ago if he just wanted you and your brother hanging from a tree" She pulls away her face unreadable for the moment "Clever boy" she whispers and then in a flash her face twists again into a dark fearful aspect filled with anger she again comes close but this time she plants her head not her lips onto the Doctor face knocking him unconscious with the force of the blow she snarls into his glazed and suddenly vacant expression "You better not be lying to me lover boy I don't want to break my new plaything so soon" she then smiles again her face again smooths and is beautiful again "Oh sleepy head, I'm sorry I know you've been working hard so I better leave now and let you rest" she blows him a kiss and she glides across to the closed window which she opens and climbs out.
Several minutes pass and slowly the Doctor regains consciousness and seeing that he again alone staggers up and makes a run for it, though if someone had seen him they might have noticed a slightly odd smile on his bruised face. The Doctor finds the others gone so he finds a comfy spot by the glowing embers of the fire and huddles up in a corner and slowly drifts asleep. And no one notices the Inns Irish setter slowly backing away from his sleeping form quietly whimpering to itself.
Wilhelm, after washing and getting into his sleeping gown, places his cap on his head and is soon asleep his dreams full of hooting owls which chase him, swooping down at him. He awakes covered in sweat and is surprised to find the room filled with the dawns early light. He gets up and splashes some cold water on his face checks the room for any signs of owls and finding none closes the shutters and gets dressed. The others seem to have slept the sleep of the innocent and unlike the Doctor and the Witchhunter arrive at breakfast looking well rested. The others ask what happened to the pair, the Doctor looks like he had been in a fight whilst the witch hunter looks tired and hollowed eyed. The pair looks slightly guilty but Wilhelm blames the lice whilst the Doctor points to his missing eye and mumbles something about darkness and unexpected furniture.
The others shrug but after a breakfast of suspicious sausage and small beer and explaining to Cuthbert what their plans for the day were they head out into the drizzle and towards the dock district and the Purbright road where they had heard that many of the smaller trading companies were based. They reach the general area easily enough but it takes some time and money to finally find the location of the Three Sisters Trading company. The building is a narrow structure at the end of a rubbish-filled alleyway a stream of shit and piss flows down the alleyway pooling up by the building's doorway before gurgling slowly down the semi-blocked drain. By the double doors a lantern hangs and above the door itself a large crude wooden figurehead of a woman with three faces hangs down from an iron bracket. Guilio looks around and nudges Cuthbert "See its not all glamour and excitement in the CL.U.B" The Doctor trying to avoid the worst of the shit approaches the door and pushes them open calling out loudly "Hello, shop"
A voice calls out "Over here and don't forget to wipe your bloody boots first" the Party make their way through piles of dusty of boxes and rolls of general Bric-a-Brac until they find a small mouse of a man sat on a tall stool behind a lectern a large ledger spilling across its top which he snaps closed as the Party approaches. He climbs off the stool giving the CL.U.Ber's their first good look at the man, he is small of build and constantly twitches, he has a huge beard as if compensating for his lack of hair as his bald head gleamed in the light of the three lanterns surrounding his office area. His clothing was patched and he wore several layers and they could swear that he had straw popping out of his faded grey trousers. He rubbed his woolen fingerless gloves together "Well cat got your tongue eh, boys? what do you want I have work to do you know" he looks at Giulio and Thomas "Ah no speaky the lingo" he points at himself "Me Emanuel Harper" he points at Wilhelm "You?" the Doctor sighs and throws his golden coin onto the table where it spins for a second or two before falling flat on top of the ledger. Harper is suddenly all business his voice and character far less obsequious more confident "Oh its Association business is it, why didn't you say?" Part two
Harper points to the various piles of boxes which circled his lectern "Take a seat gents, you will find a rather nice Muscat in that cupboard over there" he said pointing to a cupboard set high on the wall, he continues walking off in the direction of the doors before continuing "I'll just make sure we aren't disturbed" The Party settle themselves down and the Thomas tries to have a peek at the ledger but finds its solidly locked with a couple of smokehouse locks. He wonders back over to Giulio who is admiring the drinks cabinet Thomas asks the Italian in a low whisper "This association that we are members of, do you know anything about them? Giulio finding a wooden tray and some glasses and an empty begins to decant some wine into a bottle, he shakes his head "No it's all new to me, I guess we better be ready for trouble when we trip over a lie" Thomas nods and makes sure his rapier is loose in its scabbard. Emmanuel Harper returns and seeing the wine pours himself a generous measure which he sniffs appreciatively, swills it around and then takes a small sip before smacking his lips and sighing. He returns to his high stool and looking at the Doctor asks "Well now that we are all comfy what can the Three Sisters do for you?" The Doctor sitting on his box shifts uncomfortably his back still flaring with a dull ice like pain every so often. The Doctor coughs and sweeping his arms to encompass his fellow CL.U.B'ers "We are looking for a ship to take us to the new world, to the area known as Honduras, and a mutual friend said you were the man to see" Harper laughs and takes another sip from his glass "A mutual friend, ha I know where you get these particular coins from, if his lordship wants you over in the new world then fine I can arrange passage for you on the Peony. The Sisters have charted it for the next couple of months and" he pulls out a small book from under the lectern and quickly pages through it "You're in luck it's set to sail in three days time, and its got a drop off at Roatan and from there you should be able to make your own way to the mainland" The CL.U.Ber's raise their glasses and finish off whatever remains in them as a form of toast. The Doctor looks for the first time in days happy as if a weight has left him "Excellent, excellent thank you very much, Master Harper. Harper coughs loudly "Don't get too carried away I owe the lord but I can't pull money and supplies out of thin air and as you can see times haven't been great recently, plenty of one-off jobs but nothing long-term and that's where the money is" Wilhelm asks him what does he mean and he tells them that he has enough pull to get them on the ship as passengers but there is no money to buy them any supplies nor to get them back home, the journey is one way. The room explodes into noisy chaos shouts off "What do you mean one way" and "You know who we work for" can be heard but eventually everything dies down and Harper smirking a little raises his hands "Look I was going to keep this to myself but seeing your reaction I guess I could let you in to the caper" Cuthbert asks "What caper?" and slowly their seats again and Harper refills their glasses and tells them off the job.
The job seems the solution to all their problems and they can do it maintain their cover, get a lot of cash and yet seemingly keep their hands clean. Harper tells them that he had been approached a couple of days ago by an Association fixer by the name of Gint she was looking for some extra muscle for a team that was planning a robbery. It seems that there were still a lot of Royalist sympathizers who whilst cowed still wanted to help the cause and some of them set up some fund or something. And the Royalists were going to smuggle the raised money out of King's Lynn sometime soon. And since he feels like he owes the lord he will give them a crack at it. The Party somewhat suspicious about this sudden change of luck get into a huddle and have a quick whispered conversation. There seems to be some disagreement but Thomas leaves the huddle and tells Harper that they will do it but will need an invite to his connection. Harper makes some fuss about his percentage claiming he would usually charge ten percent of the take but since it's his lordship he will settle for two percent and that's cutting his own throat. So after some haggling and more wine is decanted the Party finally leave the Three Sisters Harper warmly patting them on the backs as they leave "Don't forget two percent my friends and good luck" as the Party stagger back down the noisome alleyway, if they had looked behind them they might have wondered why Harper who was closing the doors suddenly looked a lot soberer than he did when he gave a soot blacked coin to Thomas as well as directions to a hole in a wall ale house just moments earlier but they didn't and with the thud of the door closing they no longer could.
The Party decided to split up since Cuthbert and the Doctor was at best only lukewarm supporters of the robbery plan, The Doctor thought the risk too great after all they now had passage to Honduras and the return journey, well it was a bridge that whoever survived could cross later when Mallebeench was killed. And Cuthbert was still trying to find his feet and had been caught somewhat by surprise how this particular bureau team worked. The others Giulio, Wilhelm, and Thomas meanwhile followed Harper's directions which led them into even rougher parts of Kings Lynn. They journeyed through narrow alleyways also alert to the cry of "Ware below!" as the inhabitants emptied their chamber pots into the alleyways below. Even staying close into the walls of the ally was no guarantee of safety and they all got at least a good splashing of piss and shit as they made their way through. Small children some in rags whilst others only had muck and dirt to protect their modesty seeing the well-dressed trio immediately began to swarm them begging for alms and offering all sorts of services for just a little coin or something to eat. They had to use the back of their swords at one point just to clear enough room to continue on and had to suffer mud and other less wholesome things being thrown at them from the now unhappy children. They eventually made it to an alleyway which had a green moldering plate nailed to one side announcing to any that would care that this was indeed Grey Lady Hall. "Well it seems that this is the place," said an irate Giulio whose tight purple breeches were somewhat soiled looking by now. They headed down the long alleyway heading through the gloom and shit towards the glow of a lantern and the sounds of voices. The alleyway was fairly wide, the walls of the buildings that formed its sides were of rotting red brick the constant flow of water? coming from somewhere high above was slowly washing the bricks away. Now whilst the smell of fish, human waste and sweat still lingered it now had the added stench of rotten meat and sour ale the gloom thickened as they approached the brewhouse itself as someone in the past had nailed various bits of scrap wood high up on the walls to keep the worst of the wastewater off the patrons, dim figures of men and the occasional woman could be seen now standing up and moving slowly around towards the end of the alley which narrowed further until it presumably opened up again onto another street. Sloshing forwards with Giulio muttering all the while about the cost of new shoes and breeches whilst Wilhelm and Thomas strode along quite smugly in their high leather boots which they had rolled up to cover their thighs it made walking a little tricky but the extra protection was proving well worth it.
They had almost got to the first of the standing groups who seemed to be using wooden boards pinned to the walls as crude tables when they were blocked by a bent over crone. She wore layer upon layer of rags and scraps of cloth making her appear weirdly round and bumpy, the mix of fabrics and colours again only added to her air of strangeness. She wore a harness of leather and fabric from which a pair of much repaired wooden buckets hung each had a ladle attached to them via a length of rusted chain. "Hello dearies, you must be lost I think, a dangerous place for ones such as you this is...Hrmmm? Wilhelm reaches for his book but Thomas steps forwards "Hello madame we are not lost, just looking for someone" the old crone shuffles closer bringing with her a smell of piss and wet dog "Looking for someone? maybe old Granny knows them yes? but first, you buy a drink, only a penny a cup. The Party looks down into her buckets where a dark yellow liquid sloshes around under a layer of froth and foam. Wilhelm taps one of the buckets with a gloved hand "A cup of this is only a penny?" his tap sends the liquid sloshing around and for a brief second he swears he sees a dark furry body at the bottom "Yes we at Grey lady believe in only serving the best ale but only at reasonable cost. Our customers deserve a fair drink for a fair price" Thomas backs away "You're not a Leveller are you" the old lady laughs wetly "Lawks no just an honest businesswoman trying to keep home and hearth together, now buy a drink or feck off" Wilhelm being Bavarian refuses claiming that his family would never talk to him again if they found out that he had drunk such slop. Thomas sighed and handing over a penny asked the crone for a cup, she produced a wooden cup from somewhere under her clothing and into which she ladled a generous measure of the contents of the bucket. Thomas paused but then swiftly knocked back the drink and almost immediately brought it back up again along with most of his breakfast to the cheers of his fellow patrons. The old crone laughing wheezily fills her own battered cup from the bucket and greedily guzzles it down "Ahhhhh a pint of forty day rat is an acquired taste, some just can't handle it I guess" she replaces her cup and continues "Right we've had some fun, and it looks like you came alone so where's your marker?" The Job
After certain gold coins are examined very closely by Gint she finally nods and beckons them to follow her deeper down into the alley. She leads them to a gloomy spot almost devoid of light four men are standing near one of the crude tables, three of them are crouched low to the noisome floor throwing dice whilst an older man stands just to one side watching them sipping slowly from a clay bottle. He turns to look at the group approaching his eyes squinting and his hand slipping down to the dagger at his waist "Calm yourself Captain it's just little old me" Gint calls out, the older man removes his hand from his dagger and instead strokes his iron-grey goatee beard his narrow face twists into something that may have been called a smile if sharks could smile. He welcomes Gint as the other men stop their banter and begin to stand up taking a position just behind the older man. Gint shuffles forwards and begins to make the introductions and soon the air of violence ebbs away a little and after Gint whispers something into the older man's ear she wishes them the best of luck and with a lewd wink shuffle back to the top of the alley.
The older man introduces himself as the Captain and points to the others "That handsome devil is Muskrat" a badly pox marked youth nods "That there is Collie, a good man in a fight if he stays off the drink and that streak of piss is Pigeon" Collie appears to be an average man dressed in the current town fashion whilst Pigeon was indeed a lanky youth who for some reason seemed to like dressing in somewhat garish outfits and sported a large gold and pearl earring in his right ear like some Elizabethan gentleman of old. The Party introduce themselves and tell the Captain that they had been sent by Mr. Harper from the Sisters as he believed they might looking for an extra body or two. The Captain asks a few questions testing their story and with a final "Well if Gint's passed you over I guess you'll do" orders some slightly better tasting ale and gets to telling them the job.
"Look it's an easy smash and grab job, a few of the great and good haven't figured out that there is a new wind blowing now and have been somewhat foolishly collecting money for the Royalist cause, they have been sneaky though claiming that its to help those widows and orphans caused by the war. And now that they have raised a substantial amount its time to ship it off but not to those poor widowed wives or their mewling brats as they promised as they rattled the tin. No instead its instead going straight into Rupert's lacy pockets. We know the couriers route how many of them are guarding the money and best of all we know they ain't going to bloody report it" he smiles "So we have the plan, we just need a few extra men to make it work." he looks at the Party noting their appearance and expressions "So you have access to guns I'm guessing yes? some of those Dutch Thunderguns would be handy as it's a bugger of a job to shoot a musket at a fleeing horseman and hit and these couriers will be mounted so the sooner we get them off their nags the better" Wilhelm nods "I can lay my hands on a Thunder gun" he smiles a cold smile "Given to me by my dear old Sergeant as he lay dying" the cutthroats all smile.
Arrangements are discussed and pay is haggled over but after twenty or so minutes the two parties break and the CL.U.Ber's agree to meet up later that day at a disused mill on the river Ouse where they will get their final instructions and be punted across to the other side and their final destination. As the CL.U.Ber's leave they nod thanks to Gint and quickly leave the Grey Lady heading back to the less rank environs of the Full Jug and already they are thinking about the haul and whilst the Captain had been careful not to mention any numbers he had hinted that it would be in the hundreds of pounds, so more than enough to cover the fares for the voyage home and any other little incidentals, they just needed to be the ones left standing with the loot after the ambush.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Cuthbert are having their own tense conversation over at the Full Jug, Cuthbert is brought up to speed and after looking somewhat uncomfortable he takes a long pull on his tankard and nods "That matches up with what the Scoutmaster told me, though the incidents at Saracenic hall have me worried" he places a dagger onto the table drains the last of his ale and wiping the froth clear from his face he leans forwards "Now Doctor can you explain why you seem to be working for Edgar Mallebeench?" The Doctor notices that the dagger is now resting under Cuthbert's hand, the Doctor stares into Cuthbert's eyes and also leaning forward whispers his answer which basically is that they really had no choice and since the mission is the same the capture of Constantine Mallebeench is seemed prudent to use whatever sources they could get. The Doctor explained that he fears he may have damned them all but that is a small price to pay to stop Mallebeench before he can complete whatever dark rituals he intends. The Doctor folds back into his chair his one eye taking on a haunted look "Master Sharp you may know a little of what we have seen so far and I tell you we are prepared to do almost anything to stop the madman before he dooms us all to a living Hell" Cuthbert seems to be far from convinced but the dagger is replaced and with a sigh he tells the Doctor that the plan to British Honduras seems to be the logical one for the moment but he warns the Doctor that he will be making a report and will do what needs to be done if he feels that the CL.U.Ber's are straying from the path of light. They are still not comrades but at least now they have a clearer understanding of where the other is coming from.
The others return and seeing the Doctor and Cuthbert at the backorder another round and a couple of bowls of pottage and head over they can still feel the suspicion in the air but after seeing the Doctor nod sit down and when the bowls and mugs arrive begin telling them the job. Both the Doctor and Cuthbert seem dubious the Doctor flatly refusing to become involved arguing that they had passage there already, there was no need to expose themselves to any more unnecessary risk. the others pushed the point that the money would cover the passage back and they could do with some sort of financial safety net and besides it's money going to the Royalists. The Doctor remained unconvinced arguing that the information should be passed onto Captain Ridley and his men. Cuthbert seemed to be deep in thought and then he placed his bowl down and licking his lips said "No Doctor I think we will deal with this nest of treacherous vipers" he raises his hand to stop any further argument from the Doctor "The money is needed and as you said you would do almost anything to stop Mallebeench, you do not have to be involved but this needs to happen, can you not say this opportunity coming now as it does is not Gods plan?"
So the others fill in Cuthbert, the Doctor goes upstairs to finish off another set of dispatches promising to delay passing on the information of the Royalist sympathizers until they have completed their task. The others have a final drink and grabbing their gear they head out towards the meeting at the Mill.
They arrive at the Mill only a little late after Giulio got them a little trouble with the men guarding the South gate but they were soon enough back in the shady company of the Captain and his men. The Captain checks the weapons and smiles appreciably commentating that they look both well used and well cared for and he then tells them of the potential take "I'm not a greedy man and we are all doing this together so we split the money evenly between us......but since it's my idea and I'm the Captain I get an extra ten pounds but since I'm expecting that those bastards to be carrying somewhere in the region of six hundred pounds I don't think any of you will be begrudging me that now?" The CL.U.Ber's look at each other and nodding agree "You're the boss Captain and from the sounds of things you're about to make us all rich" They get aboard a skiff moored at the back and Collie punts them down to the big bend just past old Lyn and then he beaches it onto the muddy shore opposite the Captain looks at a map and then points off into the distance "Right we need to head that way for a spell, there is a lovely spot on the road between Elms and Hill farm, it's a lovely slow bend going uphill with small woods on either side and plenty of cover for us near the road" so with one final look he hoists up his small pack and starts to march off "Come on we do need to get there before them you know" Smiling they all follow the grizzled veteran across the muddy fields towards the network of small roads which surrounded the port town.
After an hour or so they reached the ambush site the Captain told them the plan again he had been told that there would be six riders each lightly armed and the money would be split between their saddlebags. "We shoot the horses and those riders who still live afterward get their throats cut, easiest money you'll ever make boys"
The ambush started badly the Gang let the first couple of riders past and then Pigeon stepped out from his hiding position further up the road and fired his Thunder gun but it failed to fire probably due to the damp conditions but instead of spraying the horses with a lead and forming a roadblock of screaming horse flesh Pigeon was just left there in the middle of the road in full view. The Couriers reacted quickly obviously these were no mere civilian riders but Royalist Dragoons of some sort. They wheel their horse around unhooking carbines from their shoulder belts and shouting warnings to the men following, Wilhelm seeing Pigeons misfire curses and steps out into the road aiming his own Thunder gun low he braces himself and fires hitting several of the horses who rear up throwing a couple of their riders to the floor "Now lads now!" shouts the Captain and everyone fires into the now stunned Couriers who do their best to calm their horses whilst at the same time trying to defend themselves, the clearing is soon filled with the obscuring clouds of musket smoke and the screams of man and beast.
The fight is deadly and swift as the Gang fire multiple shots into the stunned Couriers who weather the first volley fairly well only a couple get hit and then its mainly flesh wounds but blood is starting to flow. Pigeon struggles to pull out his pistol and the delay costs him as one of the Couriers lowers his carbine and blasts a hole into his side, Pigeon screams briefly before the shock drops him, only seconds into the ambush and already the Gang is one man down.
The others redouble their efforts with firearms spent they charge into the wheeling mass of horses and Dragoons who are now starting to regain some of their former cohesion. One man, in particular, seems to be bringing order to the chaos and Cuthbert tries to take him out he is one of the few men to still have a loaded weapon left and he aims his musket squarely at this mans chest and breathing slowly out he fires only to see the shot go wide the Courier seeing the flash swings a horse pistol in Cuthbert's general direction and fires. Cuthbert's world goes very bright suddenly as the shot hits him in the head, knocking his hat to the floor and ploughing a bloody furrow across his scalp, he staggers but quickly regains his sight though its still blurry its enough for him to see a boulder nearby which he staggers towards in a desperate attempt to save himself. The clash of steel now rings out louder as numerous small duels are fought on the road and then there is a cry from one of the Gang either the Captain or Collie as some of the Couriers manage to fight their way clear of the melee and spur their horse into a gallop heading out of the hollow and towards the main London road. There are no shots fired after them as the Gang has had no time to reload and besides are all (Apart from Pigeon and Cuthbert who have other things on their minds) fully engaged with the remaining riders.
Though with those Couriers gone those left behind were sorely pressed and soon the Gang had brought them down through the weight of numbers and savagery, the last Courier cut down by Wilhelm in a welter of blood and gore as his rapier slices almost through the man's neck. In the distance the sounds of the galloping horses can still be heard "Fuck how many got away?" the Captain snarls as he looks down onto the bleeding figure of Pigeon who feebly tries to talk Muskrat looks sheepishly at the brooding Captain and replies "Three" the Captain still blankly looking into Pigeons eyes slowly places his booted foot onto the mans neck and pushes down, Pigeon writhes around and tries to push the foot off but he doesn't have the strength and then there is a wet crack and the light fades from his eyes and his struggles stop. He looks back up and turns to the Gang and quietly says "He fucked up and now we have only...." he looks around "Three riders and more importantly only three FUCKING BAGS!" he takes a deep breath "Well get to it and you lot better pray we got one of the riders who had a share of the money in his bags" the Gang quickly race to the dead Couriers, though one of them showing a little life is run through by Giulio. Discarded weapons and personal items are left in their desperate search for the saddlebags but soon the hollow is filled with a happy cry "FOUND ONE" the CL.U.Ber's find one and so does Collie the Captain calls everyone together and looking at the sun tells everyone to follow him into the woods they have been here too long. The Gang follow him into the woods for about thirty yards or so until he calls a halt in a small clearing "Okay change of plan we divide whatever loot we got now and go our separate ways I don't like the fact that those riders got away so I'm keeping clear of Kings for a while and I suggest you lot do the same", he points to a spot on the floor "Right drop the bags and lets ee if we got lucky" the bags thud onto the soft loam everyone knows they got something but would it be enough?
The CL.U.Ber's find themselves in a little group behind the Gang and a strange atmosphere fills the clearing, everyone is tense, everyone expects a double cross it's just a matter of which group stabs the other first. The Captain stands up and moves to the side "Not bad, not bad Pigeon dying will make up a little for the loss. By my count, we have close to two hundred pounds in these bags, so its a seven-way split" he pauses and wiggles his fingers for a moment "That's what? just over twenty pounds less my cut and some expenses, not too shabby lads" The other two gang members still remain crouched by the bags their hands hidden from the CL.U.Ber's. Cuthbert still bleeding from his head wound is slightly behind the others his hands covered by his coats oddly long sleeves, the clouds overhead darkening and there is a distant rumble of a gathering storm. The Captain steps forward a smile upon his face but stops as a few heavy raindrops splash down onto him causing him to look up just as Cuthbert mutters "Ante oculos micare nunc in tempore suo mori possum sentire cerebrum meum ardere flamma" and the heavens are split asunder as a lightning bolts cracks down from the dark clouds above and earths itself into the Captain who bursts into flames and screams for a minute before his voice is taken from him by the bolts of lightning heat. He staggers around scattering the other two Gang men who stumble back away from this horrific sight.
The CL.U.Ber's never one to look a gift horse in the mouth launches themselves at the Gang members, firing reloaded pistols and slashing with glaives they take a few hits back but soon they have the wounded Gang members on the ropes, Thomas and Wilhelm attack Collie who manages a brave fight back but is killed by a shot from Cuthbert. Muskrat meanwhile stands up and pulls out a wicked looking dagger and faces off against Giulio who smiles and with a casual flick of his wrist extends his glaive and with a yell performs a fierce uppercut which slices Muskrats head clean off with such force that his head fly's clear across the clearing an expression of hurt betrayal on his face. Thomas approaches the smoldering figure of the Captain and slashes at him his blow seems true but somehow the wreck of a man manages to parry the blow, cooked flesh falling from the Captain hands and arms from the force of the swords strike. Wilhelm slashes at the Captain cutting a steaming chunk from his chest, the man collapses to the ground and seems to be surrendering but Giulio steps up and standing in front of the man looks down and suddenly lunges forwards with his mechanical hand and easily crushes the man neck grinding his spine into dust. He steps back and with a thud lets the charred body hit the floor with a disturbing splash.
The CL.U.Ber's look around bleeding and breathing heavily Wilhelm gasps "Well that was interesting.... let's see how much we have got" Giulio looks up and the clearing sky above "Mmm odd that lightning, awfully handy though"
The charred bangs are emptied and the gold pounds are counted, well at least some of them are as a lot seem to have become somewhat melted together but even so the Party had enough money to buy passage back and a little left over to go towards Zeal's coffers.
Thomas cleans of his rapier and goes "right let's get away from here, shall we? the last one back to the Jug gets the drinks in" and with that he shoves a startled Cuthbert over and laughing jogs off back in the direction of Kings Lynn.