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'Lamentations of the Cthulhu & Chivalry' Campaign

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What I got up to on my day off, By Doctor Thomas Norton aged 27 and 3/4

The Doctor staggered on his breath coming in short sharp gasps as he desperately tried to keep the wagon in visual range but as he turns the corner into George street there is no longer any sign of it anymore it seems to have disappeared into one of the myriads of alleyways that branched off from George.
"Curse it, all that effort wasted" the Doctor crumples against a nearby wall trying to regain his breath his lungs burning in the cold winters air. Lost in thought he almost misses his name being called out in a voice he half-remembers looking up he sees a stocky figure waving at him from the third alley down. Standing back up the Doctor starts walking towards the figure avoiding the debris and the occasional frozen figure still trapped in ice as he gets closer the details of the figure start to form from out of the gathering gloom and its someone he remembers "Pon my soul can it be you? by Gods grace it is you................Saul my old comrade in arms" the Doctor begins to jog forward his hand outstretched to grab Saul. "Feck off you dozy fustilarian, the bloody wagon you were so gamely chasing went down this here alley" he pushes back the slightly over-eager Doctor. Seeing the Doctors dismay he almost grins "Its good to see you to old friend but my time is short so if you want to finish this we have to be quick, explanations will have to wait" the Doctor grins "Sorry but its good to see you but you're right we have to finish this quickly" and he quickly fills Saul in and the need to catch this Martyn  fellow"
The two men stride towards the alley way making their way towards the glow of a fire and the smell of something cooking, About halfway down they can make out a smoky fire burning in the middle of the alley the shapes of two figures can be made out hunched over the fire and quietly talking amongst themselves, hard up against the alleys brick wall and just to the side of the men is the wagon it's sheeting no longer covering the crates but just piled up at the back in the glow of the fire it seems to be moving though. Saul gets his musket ready and steps to the side and out of the faint firelight he gestures with his head that the Doctor should go forward and check things out whilst he covers him. 
The Doctors smooths down his coat and heads towards the two figures "Hello gentleman could I warm myself by your fire as its a cold night?" the men turn and welcome him "Sure you can friend its not the weather to be miserly with the heat my name is Sam and this good fellow is Mathew" the Doctor introduces himself as he huddles close to the fire and they begin chatting after being offered a roast potato which the Doctor gratefully accepts and devours slightly burning his mouth in doing so but after all it had been a long day and he had not eaten since morning.  The Doctor steers the conversation to the wagon and Sam tells him that it just pulled into the alley as if the devil himself was chasing it the driver a finely dressed fellow who sounded to be one of those low Dutch folks he leapt of the wagon and pulled back that sheeting to reveal his cargo which he then said we could help ourselves to if we would follow him. Now me and Mathew here are not the following type you understand but Gregory well he was worried about his family and suchlike and seeing the crates all full of food and warm clothing he straight up said he would follow. The Dutchman smiled and grabbing a bag or two-handed us a load of strange pamphlets and then saying something to Gregory they started to jog off, not being able to read that well we just used those pamphlets to start this here fire and taking some off those warm clothes we settled down to the first decent meal we have had since the troubles. The Doctor thanks them and after rummaging around in one of his numerous bags pulls out the bottle of rum given to him by the merchant Quin Lambert as the Doctor hands over the small dark bottle he asks what direction did the Dutchman go and Mathew pointed down the alleyway towards North-quay. The Doctor thanks them again and standing up heads towards the wagon the sheeting is still moving and the Doctor can hear the sounds of low moans coming from underneath feeling somewhat embarrassed he apologizes as he clambers past. Sam calls out "Don't you worry Thomas that's just young Megs way of keeping warm" this comment is accompanied by much lewd laughter and hand gestures. The Doctor laughs along with them but continues to check out the crates and the front of the wagon seeing not much to interest him he gathers up the pamphlets and after a quick examination sees that they are covered in the strange glyphs from the island taking two he takes the rest back to the fire. Laughing he quickly makes a large ball of the pamphlets and places it onto the fire causing it to roar with flame and throw out burning embers Sam and Mathew lean back and begin to complain but the Doctor still laughing explains that its for Megs partner after she finishes with him, Sam suddenly laughs "Ahh so you know of young Meg then? she is an energetic lass and does take it out of you somewhat after a trysting"  Just then Saul makes his presence felt and all humour dies under his sullen glance "You finished here Thomas?" he snarls in a way which seems more of an order than a question. The Doctor pastes on his smile again "Do not fear gentleman this is just my er...bodyguard, yes my bodyguard a sour chap and no mistake. Well we best be off then it seems a pleasure to have met you both and Meg of course" and with that, they left the warmth and friendliness of the small gutter camp and headed back into the cold dark rows in search of a Dutchman and his fisherman follower.

The two men stalk down the smelly and thankfully dark Row heading roughly north the ground still deep with mud, snow, and other unpleasant substances,  Saul spotted a faint glow which seemed to be coming from just above the ground fearing some sort of sorcerous attack he pointed it out to the Doctor and pulled out a pistol. As they cautiously approached the faint glow resolved into a rusting lantern hanging over a basement doorway, the light shiny sickly down onto the worn steps the sound of muffled singing. The Doctor turns to Saul "So do we check this out or do we continue to the end of the Row?" Saul scratches at his stubble "Might as well see what is going on and besides I don't like leaving potential enemies behind" So the pair climb down the steps and through the unlocked doorway.
The door opens up into a small dark hallway, heavy coats and cloaks hang dripping from pegs alongside both sides a single door leads out and a faint glow can be seen creeping out from under it. The singing whilst still slightly muffled can now be more clearly heard and both the Doctor and Saul relax as the can now identify it as godly music. They open the door and the candlelight basement is revealed beyond. The candles also illuminate the congregation singing along with a stern looking  Minister who was standing on a most wondrous pulpit. This pulpit seemed to be made from the remains of ships, the dark oak beams still had barnacles and the tracery of seaweed upon them and a couple of ancient figureheads could also be made out their details though were blurred and made indistinct through times harsh caress.
The Party makes their way to the back of the congregation and after a moment or two join in with the psalm. 
This seems to be the last psalm of the service as the song winds down the congregation break up into small groups who discuss what they have heard the Party move through the quietly talking groups and head towards the Minister who has gathered up the Bible and is making his way slowly down the pulpits steps. The Doctor reaching the pulpit first calls out to the Minister who is beginning to walk towards his flock, the Minister turns around the candlelight gives him a dark brooding look his pate hairless apart from a few wisps of grey hair above his ears, his skin lays tight across his skull like face and not an ounce of fat seems to be on the elderly man but still he radiates a strange strength. In a surprisingly strong deep voice he turns and looks at the two men "Yes my friends, what can I do for you" as he steps forward he stops seeing the armour and weapon glad Party clearly for the first time "You are not of my flock, if you wish us harm you will not profit much from it" The Doctor drops his arms to his side and open his hands palms forward, "No need to be concerned Minister we are godly folk and loyal to Parliament, no bandits or traitors here, we merely heard the singing and felt the call to join in"  The Minister still a little suspicious asked a few more questions and the Party did their best to put his suspicions to rest they also asked a few questions of their own. The Ministers name was Maple and turned out to be a very intelligent and surprisingly jolly fellow and after talking with him for a little longer he does remember Gregory as a member of his flock though he doesn't remember seeing him today which apparently is unusual for him the Minister explains that like many in Yarmouth he is greatly concerned how he and his family will survive these trying times and so seeks solace in the words of the Lord" the Minister calls out to a young lady "Judith did you see Gregory Croft today?" The young lady shakes her head "I'm afraid not...oh no I almost forgot he did come in briefly with another gentleman but the other man quickly tugged him back outside" Maple tapped his chin "Now that is odd and worrying the only other place open this time of night is that diabolical so-called tea shop, Gregory is desperate to find work and food to help his family so he is easy prey for wicked men" The Party quickly get directions and promise to try to help Gregory if they find him there.
The Teashop is fronted by Apple Johns Barbershop and on Bootless John Row.The Party thank the Minister and follow the last of the congregation back out into the filth and darkness of the Row and towards Apple Johns.
The Barbershop is only a few minutes jog away the Row is dark and quiet apart from a few slightly unnerving sounds coming from a few ruined buildings further down but both the Doctor and Saul decide that it's just going to be rats, big rats maybe but just rats and so safe to ignore. The Barbershop is firmly closed, shuttered windows and locked doors but circling the property they find a short staircase leading down to a recessed door which has another lantern which seems partially shuttered only letting out a pale wane light. They nod prepare themselves and head to the door and then stop, suddenly unsure what the correct protocol is for this kind of thing. After a slightly embarrassing pause, the Doctor with a murmured "Sod it" pushes the door open and steps into a small chamber swiftly followed by Saul. 
The chamber has a door to one side whilst another sits behind a bar which has a skinny pockmarked barman standing behind it cleaning a pewter tankard. He looks up and with a terrible smile and with a short bow he opens his lanky arms wide and in a voice as thick as treacle greets the two newcomers " "Welcome to my humble establishment, come freely,  go safely and leave something of the happiness you bring. I am your ever humble servant Brandon.....and now gents what will it be?" the Doctor smiles and steps up and looks at the chalkboard "Well the house special sounds interesting so... Brandon isn't a house special for me and one of those French lemon drink for my dour friend here" 
The house special appears to be a small snuff-box containing a whitish/green powder and a small glass of gin. The Doctor recognizes the powder as a concoction from the Spanish colonies and eagerly takes a powerful snort and then downs the gin. There is a pause the Doctor coughs, sneezes and then lets out a strange moan then he suddenly lets out a loud cry "Gadzooks this is bloody fantastic" yells the suddenly energised Doctor "I feel like a sexual stone lizard thingy, you know Saul those things they dig out from those sea cliffs" Saul shakes his head and as the Doctor comes down a little and asks the barman some questions he moves towards a dark corner where he can keep an eye on things. The Doctor finds out that two men had recently turned up one of which sounds like Gregory and they had booked a private dining room. The Doctor thanks, Brandon and tries to head into the main room but he is stopped as it appears more money must change hands and there is a strict no weapons rule which is partially enforced due to the reaction of a true Englishman to accordion music. The Doctor jumping around quickly hands over all his weapons apart from a hidden dagger whilst after some heated discussion Saul with some bad grace hands over his visible weapons, keeping his hatchets and some other nasty weaponry under his cloak and voluminous fur coat. After the payment is made and the weapons stored in the cupboard the two men step past a booth and into the main room.
They are greeted by a scene straight out of Dante's Inferno, the room is large, richly appointed and has high thin windows which grace one wall, whilst a monstrously large fireplace dominates another, this provides much of the lighting for the room whilst also generating a huge amount of heat. The rest of the room is filled with large oak tables and accompanying benches which groan under the weight of all the platters of food and tankards which litter there tops. A large group of richly dressed men stands cheering, waving drumsticks around whilst quaffing from tankards at an oddly dressed man who seems to be wearing a hideous mask, this man? is the source of the annoying accordion music and he leads the clientele in a rather rude sea shanty. The Doctor takes a seat next to a group of semi-sober men and after ordering a plate of goose with all the trimmings he starts to ask questions in his usual convivial manner, his play is that he is a friend of Martyn's and that he had arranged to meet him here but due to work commitments had been unfortunately delayed and seems to have missed him. Saul meanwhile peels off to examine the main dining room with its shadowy booths and the corridor leading off from it. The last thing he hears as he walks down the corridor is the Doctor saying somewhat loudly something about how the accordion music doesn't seem too bad now and asking if anyone fancied an arm wrestle.
Saul sighing loudly stalks off exploring the rest of the club he passes a couple of serving women and follows them back to the kitchens his gruff manner keeping the staff from asking too many awkward questions.  He also hastily grabs a jug of gravy off a nearby counter and raises it up with a grin to one of the cooks when she started to walk towards him a question forming on her lips. Seeing the gravy jug she just tuts but turns back to her task of pouring sauces over the pork joints which were turning on the huge spit. 
Saul quickly notes down any other doors and with a final nod and with gravy jug still in hand he heads back out to search the last few rooms. He passes the door leading outside to the privy and then leaving the gravy on a handy side table checks out the rooms at the end of the corridor which are located right at the back and near a discrete staircase which seems to lead to the barber shop above.
The first room is empty and is one of the private dining rooms mentioned by the barman, its rather elegantly decorated with a couple of plush velvet sofas lining the rooms shadowy sides, the polished dining table is surrounded by elegant chairs instead of benches rather risque paintings grace the thickly papered walls these paintings hint at what kind of ungodliness is expected to go on within these rooms. Saul shakes his head sadly gives the room one final quick visual sweep and seeing nothing of note leaves and walks quickly to the last room hoping to find some sign of the missing Dutchman and his salty friend.
The Doctor meanwhile was having a whale of a time and could be now seen running around the main room flicking a rolled and wetted tablecloth at the posteriors of the gaggle of men running ahead of him, there seemed to be a lot of giggling involved. The Doctor had managed to keep some focus though as he had managed to find out that Marytn had been in recently and was accompanied by a rather ragged looking fellow but that Martyn seemed to be more interested in talking to Doctor Brass and they seemed to be hitting it off famously one of the Doctors new chums mentioned that he had tried to join in with the conversation but it had quickly turned to talk about something called a distillation furnace and the like and so he had quickly become bored and made his excuses he also remembered the ragged fellow had looked somewhat lost, to be honest. The Doctor with a final flick of his soggy whip suddenly remembered Saul and overcome with guilt quickly apologized to his new friends and staggered off in search of his less fun but also less forgiving comrade.
Upon entering the final room Saul had seen a figure slumped in one of the padded high backed chairs, fearing that the man was just asleep Saul slowly approached one hand on his hatchet whilst a pithy excuse waited upon his lips if he woke the man. The excuse was unnecessary though as his eyes readjusted to the gloom of the room he could just make out the man's rough clothing and more importantly his lack of movement, the man's chest was still and no eyelids flickered. Saul taking a long sniff of the fishy odour which seemed to hang in the rooms still air murmured  "Well I guess you're the  fisherman everyone's been looking for" He leans over the body and quickly examines it discovering a single stab wound that went through the back of the chair and into Gregory's right side and from the amount of the still warm blood that soaked into the chair it looked like it pierced the poor mans liver. Saul rolled the body back into place and barely had time to step into the shadows at the sound of running feet which could be heard coming from the main room.  
The Doctor skidded into the doorless room took one look at the body slumped in the chair and for some reason yelled "Tag you're it" and then turning attempted to run back out of the room he instead crashed into the armoured form of Saul who had sidestepped into the doorway. "Doctor" growled Saul placing a hand onto his oddly excitable friend "I need you to sober up and fast" this demand was quickly reinforced with a sharp jab to the Doctors stomach which winded the somewhat surprised Doctor, but after vomiting rather copiously and cursing a lot he did seem to be more focused if somewhat resentful.
Saul's apology just consisted of him  pointing to Gregory and growling "I think I've found your missing fisherman but still I can see no sign of any Dutchman" The Doctor still casting a somewhat hurt look towards Saul had started his examination of the body noting down the signs of a life lived hard and at the mercy of the elements. He wiped his hands briefly down the man's shirt and coat, looking at the glittering flecks of silver now coating his palms agrees with Sauls assessment "Yes he does seem to match the description of poor Gregory doesn't he, but why kill him? he seemed to have been an ardent follower of Martyn"  He too now rolls the body onto its side and notes the wound "The poor bastard never saw it coming did he a mercy I suppose straight through the damned chair and into his liver,  it must have been a long thin blade, more of an assassin's tool than a soldiers" The Doctor checking Gregorys clothes finds a little loose change a fee odds and ends twine and the like and somewhat surprisingly a gold pound coin with the head of the fallen King Charles still clearly visible upon one side. Saul reached over the Doctors shoulder "Come on there is nothing you can do for him and the blood is still fresh so the Dutchman can't have gone too far and since he didn't get past us its the stairs to the shop I be thinking"  As they turned to leave they spotted two men watching from the open doorway "Oh shit" said someone and then the fight was on. The two men remained silent as they rushed into the room brandishing cutlery which was somewhat unnerving but Saul wasn't too distracted as he waded into his opponent slamming down his hatchet with frightening force. The fight was a brutal affair the silent men dodged and twisted avoiding the blows of the Party but landing many a slicing cut in return. The Doctor tried to hold off his fork wielding opponent with his smuggled in dagger and he eventually managed to plunge it into the man's shoulder but the man barely acknowledged it and instead stepped forward and grabbed the Doctor in a bear hug. Saul meanwhile had got the measure of his opponent and hacked into him from left to right giving the man no room to manoeuvre and leaving him open to Sauls finishing move which ended up lopping off his head. The Doctor meanwhile was still locked in a deadly wrestling match and from the look on the Doctors increasingly puce looking face, it was a fight he was loosing. Luckily Saul now finding himself free casually spun around the turn ended with a thunk as his hatchet thudded into the Doctors attackers spine ending his life quickly and quietly. The Doctor collapsed rubbing his bruised throat and trying to control his breathing "Come on Doctor someone is bound to have heard the ruckus, we have to leave" barely had these words escaped Saul when a scream split the air, turning the Party saw a serving lady looking into the room but before she could suck in another lungful of air the Party had moved into action and were barrelling past her and into the corridor beyond. 
They quickly pass through the chaos of the main room and after a quick discussion with the barman eased with coin and a lot of luck they had just managed to recover their weapons and had just managed to get back outside before the serving lady had managed to fight her way through the patrons and tell her boss that they were now three clients down.
The Party ran away quickly moved onto the house of Brass hoping to finally catch up with their prey. The Doctor lagged a little behind as he was somewhat busy trying to rub some foul smelling goo onto his bruised and battered throat but due to having to run at the same time most of the goo ended up all over the place.

The night was their friend and the managed to avoid any more entanglements, the cold and darkness having driven most people off the streets. So the slightly out of breath Party following the directions given by the drunken patrons of the club make it to the other doctors house the many and rather gaudy (According to the Thomas at least) signs attesting to this fact.
A low glow from a lantern can just be made out coming from the front upstairs window so after knocking and getting no reply the Party takes time out to have a discussion on the finer points of housebreaking, eventually, they just ended up kicking in the rear door and entering the house that way.
They quickly search the lower floor just to confirm that it's clear and then head upstairs the creaking wooden stairs making a mockery of the Doctors attempt at stealth. When they reached the upper landing there was another timeout as they now discussed marching order and eventually, the Doctor sighed and opened the door into the room where the light was coming from. The Doctor jumped back a little and looked at his hand which seemed to be covered in some kind of sticky white paste "Bugger" said the Doctor before swaying slightly and then throwing up "Saul I think I've been poisoned, and I'm guessing from its effects its arsenic" panicking he rushes into the room and finding it empty immediately started to rummage around on a what appeared to be a worktable. Meanwhile, Saul leaving the Doctor to find an antidote makes his way gingerly into the room and starts to very, very carefully search the room making sure his gloves are tightly on. The room is a bizarre mixture of foundry and apothecary, shelf after shelf groan under the weight of jars and jacks full of powders and chemicals a few have rather unpleasant things floating in them, a stuffed crocodile hangs somewhat forlornly down from the soot-blackened ceiling. The room is dominated by a furnace of some kind  the Doctor looking up from the worktable to Sauls questions pauses long enough to glance at the furnace and snaps "Its a distillation furnace Saul it's used to treat maladies of the mind apparently buts its complete nonsense" he returns to his pouring and shifting of various compounds as he makes a quick emetic.
Saul notes that the desk in the corner seems oddly messy with papers covering its top and spilling down onto the floor beneath. using his dagger to shift through the papers he sees that the drawers are open and it looks like at least one somewhat large book has been removed. Finding nothing else of note he looks at the sweaty and shaking Doctor who is chugging away at a jug with a somewhat manic look in his eyes he checks out the last room. This room seems to have been the bedroom of doctor Brass, it too is messy and shows signs that someone has grabbed a few items and hastily packed them before rushing out. The Doctor staggered in and leaned heavily on the door frame but whatever he was going to say was cut off by loud knocking and shouting it seems the militia wanted a doctor. The Party had to flee once more passing through a slightly shocked clock makers house in the attempt. They managed to avoid the patrols and as the sun was rising palely in the east they finally managed to reach the gated N.M.A compound the Doctor in search of medical help and Saul in search of Zeal to pass on the information that he had collected on Mallebench.

Mallebench was a local Norfolk lad from the Wash (Kings Lynn) and had studied at Cambridge but Saul wasn't able to find much else as Mallebench seems to have made strenuous attempts to muddy the waters concerning his past.

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Edited by Butters
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A five page thread now with over 100,000 words and clocking in shortly with 6,000 views. And no end in sight to this campaign. I've never seen anything like it. Very cool people, very cool.

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Once again please note these session reports are being written by one of the players, specifically the good Dr. Thomas Norton.

Driving back the Darkness with Faith and Fire.

The Doctor and Saul made it safely back to the Listing Sausage, the current headquarters of the New Model armies Yarmouth relief effort. After making it through several checkpoints and passing the long lines of people queuing up for food and work orders they make it into the taproom and into the busy hive of activity that seems to surround Zeal For the Lord Harrison these days.
They find him almost buried under parchment and having a heated discussion with a somewhat haggard looking engineer. When he sees Saul and the Doctor he silences the engineer with a curt "Just get it done, no more delays you understand" the engineer nods and turns to leave shaking his head a little. Harrison calls out to the man's retreating back "I will instruct Davidson to give you another twenty men and all the skilled metal workers we have, I can do no more we need those facilities up by the end of the week." He turns back to Saul and the Doctor "I was expecting you back sooner" he clears away some paperwork and leans forward "Take a seat and tell me everything" After catching Zeal up with recent events he looks angry and tired "Damnation can't I trust anyone? Must I do everything myself?" He pauses as expecting an answer that doesn't appear to be coming.
With a sigh he takes Saul's written report and hands it to a nervous looking clerk "File this in the orange section" he also hands the clerk a key and turning back to the somewhat chastised Party members he taps a leather book on his desk and after a pause he pulls out a sealed message tube "Saul take this and get yourself a horse you are going on another journey this time to......well the message will tell you where and what you need to do" he pulls out a purse which he tosses onto the table in front of Saul "Here's some travelling money and a chit for resupply, I suggest you say goodbye to the good Doctor now as I want you back on the road within the hour" Saul picks up the purse and the chit nods to the Doctor "Good luck Doctor I hope you catch up with that Dastard Brass, give my regards to the others" and with that he stands and leaves the taproom already calling out for directions to the stables. Zeals hooded eyes now focus fully on the Doctor who shudders a little under Zeals remorseless gaze "I am disappointed to hear that you allowed Master Anholt to escape and make contact with this Doctor Brass. Luckily for you, your comrades were able to pick up his trail and as we speak they should be running him to ground" he turns suddenly and calls out for Jonah "Jonah! bring that blasted fen man here, Clarkson or some such" while waiting for Jonah Zeal tells the Doctor what he wants him to do.
Jonah returns with a lanky elderly man who sported a rather impressive pot belly and after being told what the situation was he thinks for a while "Yes I think I can get this man in front of his mates, the old sawmill should do it" then the Doctor had several sacks thrown at him and was told to meet up with his comrades and to finish the job. He was then bundled down to a jetty and into Jeremy's boat.
Clarkson insisted that the Doctor call him by his first name which was Jeremy saying that Master Clarkson was what people called his dad. He seemed a pleasant enough chap but he was somewhat over-enthusiastic about the new Iron horses and the rumored self-impelled carriage of Sir John Gell and so he kept asking the Doctor if it was true that the Iron horses could get up to twenty-six miles an hour. The Doctor nodded and smiled when it felt right to do so but his mind was on other things the poison seemed to be arsenic and the antidote should have worked, sure he should still be feeling sick, weak and hollowed out but leaking purple fluid? Brass must have added something else to the arsenic something otherworldly. He needed to find the others and hunt this Brass down as time was running out, the Doctor could feel his insides twist and with a polite "Excuse me" to Jeremy he turned and spewed out a bubbling steaming mass of the lord knows what over the side of the boat. Jeremy seemed taken aback by this but only for a moment before asking the Doctor if he thought an Iron horse could go faster if painted red.
Eventually, Jeremy beached the boat near a collection of ramshackle wooden buildings. "Here you go Sir, the Anderson sawmill.....well what's left of it anyhow" he quickly helped the somewhat pale looking Doctor unload the sacks and the other various bags and boxes that the Doctor seemed to carry around with him these days. "Well, there you go Sir this is where most people travelling the fens camp so with any luck you should bump into them, especially if they ran into Crazy Ivan" and with that last odd comment he pushed off and started to row back towards Great Yarmouth and was soon was lost amongst the black reeds.
The Doctor started to set up camp and soon had a small fire happily blazing away the Doctor then arranged his gear around it, he rummaged around in his medical box and eventually pulled out a thin glass tube which had something thick and evil-smelling inside it. The Doctor sighed and pinching his nose closed he downed the contents in one and then rushed to the river bank where he again hurled long and hard and after some spluttering, he could be heard cursing Dr. Brass loudly and at some length. And this is how the other members of the Party eventually found him.
After a surprised but happy reunion they filled each other in on their various adventures, the others were startled to hear that Saul had returned and then disappointed to hear that Zeal had sent him off again but glad that the old bastard was still alive. The Doctor had just got some pottage on the boil so the sober members of the Party decided to grab something warm to eat before pressing on, Giulio excused himself and went for a lie down in the skiff and even Ralph needed a tonic before he was able to settle down to a bowl. Over the meal, they got down to businesses and started to ask Neb (the guide) some questions about the area and what kind of things were out there in the fens. Neb mentioned that the next nearest dry land was fairly close and it supported a house and a bit of farmland. The house seemed a likely destination for Brass and Martyn as the owner had decided that farming wasn't for him and so had moved to Yarmouth and now just rented it out to people who wanted some peace and quiet. Neb vaguely remembered that the last person to live there was some kind of writer, maybe a playwright of some kind.
The Party packed up and the Doctor shared out the extra supplies that he had brought with him and with Neb kicking the fire out they got back into his skiff waking Giulio in the process and waited for Neb to punt them over to this mysterious building.
It was a fairly short journey down a few dark and brown waterways but Giulio was having a bad time of it as it seems he had drunk rather too much in Duns and with an apologetic burp he fell back into a deep slumber. About an hour later the roof of a fairly substantial building could be made out above a ragged tree line and it seemed that someone was home as a thin line of smoke could be seen coming out of the building's chimney.
The skiff was beached and the Party with Neb following closely behind made their way towards the front of the building, the Doctor muttering something about Dr. Brass being a sneaky git peeled off to the left to swing around the back of the building. Suddenly one of the shutters on the upper floor flew open and a shot banged out narrowly missing Ralph. Neb cried out and scurried back to his skiff and the still snoring Italian whilst Wilhelm and Ralph picked up the pace and charged towards the house seeking cover under the building's porch. Wilhelm slamming against the wall started to rummage around in his bag finally pulling out an oil flask and then an empty wine bottle smiling at Ralph's questioning look he quickly poured some of the oil into the wine bottle and the rest onto his handkerchief which he then pushed halfway down the bottles neck. Still grinning madly he started to set spark against it the handkerchief smoldered briefly before bursting alight. He then quickly hurled it up and over into the open window above "See my Englander friend now we have a distraction ja"
As thick black smoke started to pour out of the upstairs window Ralph turned to the German Witchfinder "Hey did you see how many people were up there when you tossed that bottle?" the German replied "Nein" Ralph slowly smiled and rolled his shoulders "Nine you say, well that means you'll only be dealing with three then, that sound's about fair" leaving a slightly confused German in his wake he then kicked the door in and stormed inside.
The ground floor was dusty and had a strong smell of damp, the few pieces of furniture that could seen were covered in heavy sheets. Wilhelm and Ralph quickly checked the few downstairs rooms and met back up at the staircase. Wilhelm, his head cocked to one side turned to Ralph "Our friends seem to be oddly quiet, let's change that shall we" and smiling he thumbed back the hammers on his ornate donderbus and begins to climb upwards.
Just as they made the landing there is a sudden burst of noise and activity which comes from the shooter's room the house is suddenly filled with the sound of heavy furniture being dragged across a wooden floor. Ralph rushes the door but bounces off, the door barely moving. He shakes himself and glancing back to make sure Wilhelm was covering him he calls out to whoever is in the room "Open up in the name of Zeal for the lord Harrison the Scoutmaster general" a shot rings out and zips through the closed door "Right, if that's how you want it" he pulls out his axe and starts to hack away at the door. There is some noise from beyond the door but its only the sounds of movement no demands or pleas are made and Ralph's axe continues to bite into the wooden door wrenching great splinters out of it. It doesn't take him too long to make a large hole in the door and after one final blow they wait and then wait a little longer but no cry or shot rings out so Ralph with a shrug steps up to the side of the door and slowly turns to peek into the room beyond. He can now see the heavy oak chest that is still blocking the door but nothing else as the room is shrouded in darkness and smoke puzzled he turns to Wilhelm but as he turns his head he suddenly notices a faint glow coming from the furthest corner and illuminated by this light a shadowy outline of a figure can now be seen. He tries to duck back but its too late a loud bang rings out as the figure fires his matchlock and the lead ball tears into Ralph's face causing him to yell out in pain and stagger back almost falling down the stairs. His hands clutch his head, his eyes wide in shock and a bloody torrent starts to flow from between his fingers. Wilhelm cried "Leck mich!" and swung around and shoving his Donderbus forward drops the hammers BOOM! the air is rent with a spray of tiny lead balls which smashed into the room ripping apart the walls and causing a spray of plaster powder to obscure almost everything within four meters. Wilhelm ducked back and dropping his Donderbus reached for a pistol "Herr Doctor get your verbrannt up here you fauler Hund".
The Doctor had been hiding behind the outhouse his pistol aimed squarely at the back door whilst the others had stormed the front. Hearing the boom of Wilhelms gun he had started to curse "Damn sausage smelling besbawler, I need Brass alive" he then hears the German call out for him and so he curses a bit more but moves around to the front and cautiously enters and after calling out heads upstairs.
He sees Ralph on the floor moaning quietly to himself in a pool of ever-expanding blood and Wilhelm hard up against the wall next to a severely damaged door. The Doctor hisses out a few questions and the German fills him in as the Doctor drags the heavy bulk of Ralph towards him and away from the ruined door. The Doctor begins to treat Ralph's wreaked face the lead ball had pierced his right cheek and exited out the left, taking a few teeth with it. The force of the shot had also caused his lower jaw to become badly dislocated and even as tough as Ralph was his injuries meant he was out of the fight.
The Doctor after tidying away his instruments and giving Ralph a little bottle of opium mixed with wine turned to Wilhelm "Well what are you waiting for? If that's Doctor Brass in there and you've killed him there will be hell to pay" the Doctors threat hangs heavy in the air much like the thick black smoke which continues to billow out of the room. Wilhelm shrugging busied himself with placing his hat on top of his pistols barrel he then raised it slowly up past the splintered hole in the door, nothing happened no shot or cry rang out so he carefully lowered the pistol and peeked in. He finally saw the shooter he was slumped back against the wall under the smoke and he was clearly dead as Wilhelm's Donderbus had done terrible damage to the man at such close quarters. He quickly scanned the room and seeing only the one person begins to clamber into the room after replacing his hat and tying a cloth over his face "Herr Norton was this Doctor Brass like you? the Doctor coughing loudly now angrily calls back "What are you on about man?... yes Doctor Brass is a follower of the great Paracelsus like myself, why?" the German having kicked away the shooters matchlock and throwing his cloak over the smouldering oil called back over his shoulder "No I meant did he dress like a colour blind peacock, but never mind I doubt this man is your Doctor Brass" the Doctor finally making his way past the blocked door and into the room straightens himself up and looks down to the body and lets out a huge breath "Oh thank the Lord its just some peasant" Wilhelm having done his best to clear the smoke had started to search the body, finding only a few pennies and some general tat in the mans pockets he looks up and into the Doctors obviously relieved face "Nothing to say who this man was or why he decided to shoot us. And I thought you were supposed to be the caring type Herr Doctor?" The Doctor was still struggling to regain his composure and snapped back "I tell you what Herr Wilhelm I will poison you and then we shall see how blasted jolly you are, if you had killed Brass with your reckless behavior then you would have done for me as well." Wilhelm apologizes but then spoils it by reminding the Doctor that they are at war with the forces of Satan himself and that sacrifices need to be made.
After finishing their check of the room which appeared to be a writers study of some sort and clearing away the last of the burning paper and oil the Party were at something of a loss of what to do next, so Ralph was taken downstairs and into the kitchen where the Doctor made him as comfortable as possible whilst Wilhelm went outside to check on Giulio and to ask Neb if he knew the stranger upstairs.
Giulio was still fast asleep in the bottom of the skiff his thumb wedged firmly between his lips whilst Neb was found huddled behind one of the scrawny trees. Wilhelm called out to him "Hello Neb it is quite safe now I assure you, can you come into the house now and have a look at this man as he seems to be dressed much like you?" Neb gripping his knife tightly in one hand slowly walked towards the house keeping a wary eye on the windows.
There then followed for Neb a horrifying encounter with a now late friend as he was able to identify the shooter as one Steven Dunlap a fellow guide who had recently been employed to take a couple of gentleman out into the Fens to look at some property. Neb couldn't answer the Parties question as to why Steven had decided to hole up in this house and fire upon them, especially since he should have recognized him at least, this fact understandably irked Neb somewhat.
The Party rested and the Doctor wasted a few minutes searching through the remaining scorched paperwork in the room but it all seemed to be pre-war plays and rather risque ones at that, this matched up with what Neb had said earlier about the last renter being a playwright of some kind. The trail had gone dead, it seemed that Steven had been left behind as a means of slowing down any pursuit he had been cast aside much like the fisherman Coster.
Wilhelm wasn't to be dissuaded though and asking Neb a few more probing questions went back outside and started to go over the sparse grass at the back paying particular attention to the area where Neb said a small skiff was normally tied up, Ralph his head tightly bandaged and awkwardly sipping on the wine given to him by the Doctor was feeling oddly contented as he walked outside to see what the Witchfinder was up to. "Mmmumph" went Ralph which somewhat startled the concentrating Witchfinder who quickly realised that Ralph was perhaps a little poppy happy and smiling patted him on the back "You should not try to speak my friend, Herr Doctor will be most upset with you I'm thinking if you redislocate your jaw nien" pointing to a small patch of flattened grass and then to a few faint marks in the muddy bank near the high water mark he continued "It seems we are after a most clever of foes but they are not clever enough to escape one such as I" he paused and tapped his nose thoughtfully before continuing "See those marks Ralph they have tried to obscure their actions but always something is left for those who who have eyes to see and I am thinking that are quarry has doubled back to the hamlet of Duns or even back to Yarmouth, quickly get the Doctor and Neb we must press on while there is still a chance"
So soon the Party was packed up and back together in Nebs somewhat overcrowded skiff (The Italian was still fast asleep and even worse was now occasionally sleep singing some terrible opera of some kind and even a few none too gentle kicks could stop him for long) Neb realising the need for urgency told the Party of another more direct way back to the hamlet of Duns. It was a lot more dangerous though as the waterway was constricted in places which caused the current to change speed suddenly and sometimes dramatically there was also a couple of nasty eddies that could easily tip a skiff over if you were unwary but if they had gone that way it would explain why they hadn't seen Anholt or Brass. With the Party forewarned Neb punts along heading westwards before sharply turning into an inlet and heading back towards Dun. The water is as Neb had said treacherous and deadly, the Party has to clear a path through dense overgrowth whilst Neb fought the current keeping the skiff moving and avoiding the numerous black oily stumps that reared out of the river threatening to smash the skiff to pieces. Wilhelm pointed out a few torn pieces of cloth snagged by one of the numerous thorny vines which covered the banks on both sides "It seems I was right gentleman it looks like someone has indeed been this way recently, well done Neb"
After an hour of hard work the sweating Party came out into a fairly tranquil pool, the watercourse flowed into and around it continuing onwards towards the hamlet. Neb breathing heavily pointed up to the nearby bank "Strange I would have thought we would be seeing Van Cosser by now he has a farm over yonder" Ralph mumbled something and Neb not missing a beat replies "Well no I didn't expect him to be waiting for us but you see he has a couple of pretty decent working dogs and they bark up a storm when anyone's around normally, and I can't hear nothing can you?" Neb lands the skiff onto the nearby bank "What are you doing Neb the hamlets still a ways off we haven't time to make any house calls" asked the Doctor as Neb jumped into the shallow water and began to climb up the bank. Neb now on firmer ground turned back and said "I think you better come with me as you see Van Cosser owns that old Inn at Duns and I remember hearing that those two friends of yours were asking questions about it, so I am thinking that they may have paid him a visit since they were passing anyhow." with little option the Party minus the still sleeping Italian jump out and scrabble up after Neb.
The small farmstead is quiet and deserted looking, the front door is open and there is a faint lingering smell of cooked food coming from within. The Party draw their weapons and slowly circle the building and when ready Ralph gives Neb the nod and he calls out to the house, minutes pass and there is still no reply so the Party move into the house watching and ready for an ambush but nothing the house is empty and the table has been set a now cold plate of food sits on the table half eaten it seems as Van Cosser had been interrupted by something and had gone out to investigate. The odd thing was there was no sign of a struggle anywhere everything was in its place and intact. The two dogs were found tied up around the back and they seemed to be in a deep sleep and it was only with some difficulty that Neb was able to rouse them. There was a brief discussion on what to do next as Ralph and the Doctor (Mainly the Doctor) explained to Neb and Wilhelm that this indeed seemed to be the work of Anholt as he seemed to have the power to control people and bend them to his will this would explain the lack of struggle and indeed the strange behaviour of the dogs, time was running out they needed to get to Dun as soon as possible. Wilhelm thought it would be handy to take the dogs along as they would know their master's scent and be able to find him and surely wherever Van Cosser was Anholt and Brass couldn't be that far behind. So the dogs were thrown on top of Italian and it was back into the skiff and off back to Dun hopefully in time to catch up with the accursed pair.
The last part of the journey passed quietly each Party member hoping that they would finally catch up with Anholt and stop whatever he was up to before it was too late but they were all tired, cold, injured and hungry and did not relish having to chase Anholt again. Ralph and Wilhelm after initially suffering from a few nasty bites seemed to have become fast friends with the dogs, especially Ralph who seemed to be more or less lucid now even though he was still taking the occasional sip from the laudanum bottle.
As the hamlet of Duns finally came into view the weather was becoming cold and the dark clouds hinted of a coming storm, the skiff bumped into the jetty and a worried looking Neb quickly tied it up as the Party climbed out and onto the wooden jetty. Wilhelm looked around slowly and swung his Donderbus into the ready position "This place has changed, there is evil here" everybody could feel the ominous presence of something monstrous and inhuman. The fact that apart from a strange low buzz that was almost at the edge of hearing nothing else could be heard coming from the hamlet, no children crying, no people talking nothing apart from this buzzing that seemed to worm its way into the brain and put peoples teeth on edge. The Party quickly moved along the jetty trying to get onto the firmer ground and as Wilhelm stepped onto the bank a small group of villagers suddenly appeared from around the corner of a nearby building. The villagers all shared the same blank expression and moved as one they also seemed to be armed with a variety of makeshift weapons. The Doctor called out to them mentioning Anholt and Xaxus they responded to his questions by crying out in one voice "Those who do not share the ideas of the one should not mention his name" their voices weirdly overlapping each other and with a strange echo as if they were merely repeating the words said by another mere seconds beforehand.
The fight is brutal and bloody but the result is a foregone conclusion the villagers display a unusual tolerance to pain but they are not soldiers and they are facing brutal men who are armed and armoured for war. The Villagers are soon cut down and in one particular case cut apart the last one standing was finally brought down by the dogs and Ralph's axe . The Party catch their breath and tend to the few cuts and bruises picked up in the skirmish and are somewhat shocked when an anguished cry rings out spinning around with weapons drawn they see Neb on his knees cradling the head of one of the dead villagers, he looks up at the Party his face pale and he sobs "Why did they have to die? why did my friends attack us?" he suddenly leaps up a knife gripped in his hand. He points the shaking blade at the Party and screams "You, tell me now why are my friends dead, why are they attacking us?" The Doctor lowers his sword and slowly walks towards the trembling Neb"I am sorry that this had to happen but there is evil afoot and we are here to stop it." the Doctor reaches out a steadying hand "The Devil himself is here Neb, you can see that can't you?.......he has corrupted your friends as hard as it is to understand now we have granted them peace and they are now safe with the Lord" he places his hand onto Nebs and slowly pushes down the knife. They stand there for some moments in an awkward silence, then Neb asks "Can you hear that?..... a buzzing.....a humming? an Idea!" his eyes roll back into his head and he starts to stumble of towards the abandoned Inn the Doctor shocked steps back but then he to hears the previously low buzz much louder and he then finally understands EVERYTHING and he too stumbles after Neb. The other members of the Party look questioning at each other and then they to hear the buzzing grow in volume but it stays as a buzzing noise for them, they shake their heads as if trying to clear them and thin trickles of blood begin to flow from their eyes and noses but they resist and remain in control of themselves. Wilhelm smiles and spits onto the floor "It seems the Devil is singing for our souls Ralph but he sings out of tune, too low I think, I suggest we make him a Castrato" and with that he heads towards the old Inn swiftly followed by Ralph and the yelping dogs. They walk slowly through the large double doors and are confronted by a strange vista, the room is largely empty a few broken pieces of furniture and barrels have been pushed to the rooms edges Neb and the Doctor are sitting down in the middle of the room facing a
strange and wondrous contraption. Resting awkwardly upon stacked chairs sat a large copper bell which sprouted a variety of clockwork gears and sweating pipework which belched steam and strange coloured vapours. Sitting underneath this unholy thing was Martyn Anholt his face partially obscured by whirring cogs and gears. The buzzing seemed to be coming from Martyn and somehow amplified and strengthened by the bell. Ralph and Wilhelm crossed over the room their eyes everywhere and weapons drawn. Suddenly a figure appeared from behind the device he was muttering to himself and adjusting various clockwork parts "Yes, yes I understand I need to add a valve here and a Measunder and Meabul there" he completely ignores the approaching men so engrossed is he in his task. Ralph walks past the sitting figures of the Doctor and Neb and approaches the bell for a moment the buzzing reaches a terrible volume and Ralph and Wilhelm stagger and scream out in agony, blood begins pouring from their eyes, ears and noses Ralph screams a cry of pure rage and brings his deadly axe down cleaving through the thin copper of the bell and down into the head of Martyn.
There is a pause and then an explosion of sorts as a great pressure wave shoots out from the rent in the bell throwing Ralph across the room and knocking everybody else down. After several moments people begin to stir Wilhelm is one of the first up and he quickly checks Neb and the Doctor and seeing that they are still alive quickly manacles them muttering something about it better to be safe than sorry Ralph staggers up swaying slightly his terrible axe still gripped tightly in his meaty fists he coughs and starts to move behind the ruined bell, kicking aside piles of now broken cogs and gears he pulls a twisted sheet of copper aside revealing the stirring body of Doctor Brass. Brass opens one bloodshot eye and seeing Ralph begins to wail "You fool don't you understand the Idea was perfect and we would have been made perfect in his image" the last words echoed by the now conscious Doctor and Neb but from them it is staggered and trails off as if they are unsure what they were talking about. Ralph leans into Brass and pokes him sharply in the chest and says "Mynbgsdhnph" which shuts Brass up but leaves him looking somewhat confused. Wilhelm coming up behind Ralph leans around his bulk and smiling translates for Ralph "I think he says you're buggered mate"
The Doctor still manacled suddenly leaps up and barges past the two stunned men, grabbing Brass by the throat spraying spittle into his face as he screams "Give me the antidote you fucker" he starts to bounce Brass's head of the floor to reinforce the depth of his feeling. The other two have to pull him off and restrain him. Brass groggily reaches into a pocket and pulls out a thin glass tube which is sealed with a wax bung "The antidote is in here Martyn made a wondrous concoction it was arsenic based but oh so much more he was a gifted apothecary." the Doctor snatched the vial from Brass and with a muttered curse downed it in one coughing loudly as the liquid burned its way down. Brass continued "You must understand you are a Doctor a man like myself, a follower of Von Hohenheim you must understand it was all done for science, Xaxus could have told me everything that I needed to make my distillation furnace work and allowed me to drive away the demons that cause madness, say you understand Doctor? it was nothing personal you simply could not be allowed to interfere" The Doctor appearing calm now shrugs off Ralph's grip and walks towards the kneeling Brass "I see Doctor but I do not understand what was Xaxus doing under your contraption? " Brass looks relieved "It was amazing he saw me at that.....well lets just say club and knew all about my work he revealed to me the idea and how I could play my part in spreading the good news, you see my design with some adjustments could not only drive away the miasmas of madness but also boost his call bringing more and more people into his loving embrace, the more people who came to know the Idea the stronger the call would become and soon the whole commonwealth would be united as one in his name." as he talked he became more energised more strident Wilhelm cut him off "Ah good Doctor Brass please be telling me did you meet up with anybody else on your travels? I believe we have met Mr Dunlap and I'm guessing one of the cooling bodies outside is Mr Von Cosser" Brass stumbled at this interruption but answered the with finder "No we had work to do and time was pressing, when the furnace was ready we would soon have all the companions we would need, why do you ask?" the Witchfinder merely nodded and said rather cryptically "Oh just a matter of book keeping" the Doctor pulled out his reloaded pistol and placed its barrel between Brass's eyes the now shocked Brass struggled to move away but he had no where to go Doctor Norton asked one final odd question "Oh by the way do you know a man called Mallebeench by any chance?" Brass a look of desperate hope in his eyes looks around at the others but seeing no clue there stutters a drawn out Nooooo and dies as his brains are blown across the wall of the abandoned Inn. The Doctor lowering his pistol merely says "Pity" and walks away to see what he could do for Nep.
The Party are now left with a terrible decision they are under orders to keep this whole affair quiet the new Commonwealth can't afford yet to make enemies of their fellow Protestants the Dutch. So everything must disappear, the Anholts never made it off that ship and no one can be in a position to say otherwise. So they collect all the bodies and place them into the Black Rooster and then they start to fill it with brushwood and any other flammables they can find. The Distillation furnace is further smashed apart, Brass and Martyn are also added to the pile of villagers in the Rooster. And when all is done they stand by the shore and Nebs skiff as darkness descends they light their crude torches and cast them into the prepared buildings and slowly oh so slowly the fires grow and spread finally engulfing the whole squalid hamlet of Duns. Neb with tears in his eyes and still struggling to cope with recent events turns to the Party as his home and friends burns around him "What now? what will b...." he never gets to finish his question as Giulio suddenly appears from out of the skiff and thrusts his sword into Nebs throat yelling "I got the bastard, think you can outwit me do you?" he then bows at the shocked Party farts and then falls into the water. Neb meanwhile with a look of shocked betrayal upon his face gurgles, falls to the floor and dies.
Wilhelm finally turns to the others and with a shrug says "Well we were told no witness after all. Now lets get the Italian out of the water before he drowns, Neb into the fire before it cools and then gentleman let us get out of the thrice damned marsh.

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On 01/03/2018 at 1:10 AM, jagerfury said:

Once again please note these session reports are being written by one of the players, specifically the good Dr. Thomas Norton.

You forgot to add this at the end,

Dr. Thomas Norton, A ruggedly handsome and heroic chirurgeon, a man of towering intellect and yet still so incredibly modest and humble. Surgery hours 11:00 am to 4 pm reasonable rates and a 5% discount to member of the N.M.A.


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For the wages of sin is death
Part One

The Party spends several days resting and catching up with the news from Yarmouth and beyond, the peace treaty seems to be holding and more and more people are reporting to the N.M.A compound to sign up for work details. And there was even more good news as it seems that a few more supply convoys had made it into the town in the Parties absence. The largest has arrived only hours before and had been sent from London by Cromwell himself. Food was still sparse but at least most people now got at least one hot meal a day and the extra troops helped with the issue of security, not only in the town itself but also the surrounding countryside where some people had turned to brigandship to survive, robbing and killing their neighbours just for a little extra food. There were also hard to diminish rumors of cannibalism in some of the more remote villages, it was said that Cantley has a lot fewer residents now and not all of them died in the ice or in that last desperate search for the rumored pot of gold that's guarded by the Gnomes at Callow pit. So with the increase in security and food the town of Great Yarmouth was slowly returning, it may never be the same again but homes were being rebuilt and the first few fishing boats had been patched up and were almost ready to head out and start bringing in that much needed extra source of food.
Far to quickly the break was over and the still-battered Party began to assemble their equipment, blades were sharpened, pistols and muskets cleaned and tested and stores ordered and assembled into the two hastily converted row boats which now sported crude skis attached to the sides of their hulls. These skies lifted the boats just off the ground so they could be dragged over the ice and snow, if with some difficulty. The Party were also introduced to the men that would be assisting them in their destructive endeavors, they were from Sir Bernard de Gommes Companie of Pioneers & Fireworkers so not only were they skilled in explosives but also well used to the backbreaking demands of a Pioneer. The twenty-nine men were led by a tall gaunt man whose face on the left side was a mess of red scar tissue and the eye whilst still, there was just a milky orb. Noticing the stunned expressions of the Party and Giulio's more worried one the man nodded slightly and with a wet rasp of a voice introduced himself as Sergeant Francis Sherfield "Do not be fretting Sirs" he gestured to his face "This was no fault of mine, my hands are steady and my work is true" he coughs and spits onto the floor then raises his hands "See I've all my fingers still, the face is down to some dastard who threw a grenade at me during the siege of Bristol" he smiles a gap toothed grin and continued "He won't be doing that again as he accidentally impaled himself on my sword shortly afterwards, so rest assured I knows my business, Now these fine men with me might be rogues and rascals but they are solid and dependable and will serve you well.......in whatever it is that needs doing" he coughs and again spits onto the floor then almost as if remembering that he was a red coat straightens up and salutes.
The Party is somewhat staggered by the whole thing but they must admit the men do look to be in good health and well provisioned for the task ahead. The Doctor turns to Ralph and makes his excuses to leave as it seems he had something to pick up from the Mechanical Preacher that had accompanied the recently repaired Charity and the company from the Clockwork Regiment.
Zeal for the lord Harrison stepped out of the Listing Sausage and with his gaggle of advisers, runners, and local bigwigs already in tow like some kind of slightly confused flock of sheep and walked across the courtyard towards the Party and the pioneers. Seeing Sergeant Sherfield he sighs a little but maintains his stern expression, he quickly scans the yard and noticing the Doctors absence makes a brief inquiry and then nodding steps back and addresses the men. "I am glad that Sir Bernard de Gomme was able to spare some of his best men for I am sure you will be tested during the course of this mission but keep true to your faith and follow the orders of these men and you will do yourself and your country proud. Know this, you will be doing the Lords work in these next few days and in doing so you will be an integral part of his plan, Sergeant Sherfield will lead the first section of men whilst the newly promoted Sergeant Ralph Norton," he points to a horrifically gurning Ralph his chest swelling with pride (Doctor Owen “Hacksaw” French had worked wonders but Ralph's face was still a purple and black mess of scar tissue and bruising) "Here will lead the other fifteen men, and as you can see he is already keeping up the noble tradition of Sergeants in the service of Sir Bernard de Gomme" the men smile and a few even laugh, a slight smile briefly flutters across Zeal's normally stern features "I know some of you are curious to know why we are sending you with these men and to the island that has so recently appeared off the coast but for operational reasons all I can tell you is this, you will be taken to several locations on the island where you will assist these gentlemen in the destruction of certain objects. These objects must be completely removed by fire or powder and afterwards you will report back to me and only me and if successful you will be rewarded for your service, it just remains for me to wish you well and to remind you that you are doing Gods work" he then clicks his fingers and one of his clerks rushes forwards and hands Sherfield a bundle of orders. Another clerk heads over to Ralph and hands him yet another bundle of orders these closed with the personal wax seal of Harrison. The clerk takes a few steps away mutters something and then walks back to Ralph and fishes out of a pocket a length of orange fabric and handing it over explains that it's his sash he also hands over a length of lace and pointing to Ralph's somewhat battered hat says "Erm the lace is meant to go on your hat sir to denote that you are a man of rank, but you might want to get a slightly less........ crap looking hat first, otherwise this lace is going to look pretty silly
Once all is ready and the Doctor has returned from his errand carrying yet another bag this one strangle thin the group heads out onto the frozen sea and the creaking ice. They make pretty good progress at first but the further they get from the shore the Ice becomes more unstable and their path becomes less direct as they have to sweep around the weaker sections. After several hours they pass the Juliana, The Spanish ship is being slowly crushed by the now moving ice and it's no longer a safe place to rest so giving it a wide berth they pass by, keeping a wary eye on the below. The group continues to travel onwards towards the island tired and cold but too scared to make camp on the thinning ice.
They almost make it to the islands sandy black beach without any further incident but one of the columns point man cries out "Sergeant Norton, riders approaching" Ralph halts the column and telling the others that they should leave things to him he strides out to the front to intercept the riders.
As they get closer Ralph recognizes them as Paladins of the Fall he hails them and takes a step back looking up he squints and gasps as he notices that high above the Paladins and their strange mounts a strange box somehow floated above them crackling with a strange low growl as it twisted and turned in unseen winds.
Ralph took a deep breath to steady his nerves and hailed the Paladins again the Paladins ride closer before they reign in their strange riding beasts and looking down at Ralph tell him to let them pass as their weary vigil is over.
Ralph swiftly spins on his heels and gives Sergeant Sherfield the signal to fire, Sherfield shrugs and looks a little confused but then in a loud strong voice bellows "Attention! Column will form line " and the men begin the maneuver into line with much stamping of feet which was a bit of a worry considering the ice. Seeing the armed men spreading out in front of them the Paladins speak to Ralph again in their strange crackling monotone "Will you not let us pass? our long weary vigil is over and we only seek somewhere to live out the last of our days in peace" Ralph looking a little embarrassed and worried replies as he reaches for his hatchets "You can not leave the Island there is no rest for you anywhere else" The Paladins look at each other and start to sing a weird high pitched and undulating song which causes those who hear it discomfort, the Paladin nearest Ralph speaks for the final time "Our brother was right we were foolish to hope we could trust these pale beings" and pulling out his double bladed pole-arm spurs his mount into a charge closely followed by the other rider who also pulls out a similarly deadly blade.
Hurtling towards Ralph with surprising speed who with a choked scream throws his hatchets at the oncoming riders determined to sell his life dearly, one hatchet thunks into one of the beasts causing it to swerve to the left with a grunt of pain thus narrowly avoiding it from riding Ralph down and then the Paladins are past a stunned Ralph and into the men beyond who desperately bring their just loaded muskets to bare, Sherfield cries out Aim and Fire all in one breath and twenty nine muskets bang out and the increasingly small gap between them and the riders is filled with lead and the occasional ramrod. The Paladins continue to sing as the musket balls slam into them and their beasts, their ornate armour crumpling and splitting asunder from the sheer violence of the volley. One Paladin is thrown by his beast as with an oddly human scream it collapses a yellowish liquid flowing from its numerous wound's the Paladin rolls and with a leap he sweeps his blade in a wide deadly arc which luckily misses the men, only slicing into the air but causing the nearest men to take a step back. The Other Paladin was about to slam into the line but Sherfield proved he was no fool and had placed himself just in front of the line and in the Paladins way and with a grim smile on his scarred face he lowers his symbol of rank and his Spontoon plunges into the last beasts breast killing it instantly causing the last Paladin to be hurled from its back to land with crushing force onto the ice. The men nearest don't give him a chance and without orders flip their still smoking muskets over and then down go the heavy musket stocks into the body of the still struggling Paladin, smashing into him over and over again cracking armour and bone.
Sherfield pauses lights his pipe and then walks slowly over to the men "Enough" he then drags off one of the men "I said ENOUGH! Salter you break that fecking musket and it's coming out of your wages" the men with deep ragged breaths step back forming a loose circle which has a smashed and somewhat flat Paladin in its center.
The Party leaves Ralph to explain to the men what the hell had just happened and from what little was overheard it seemed he was going down the tried and trusted devil/demon route. The Doctor and Guilio started to examine the Paladins, carefully removing their rent and bloody armour to expose their strange greyish flesh beneath. It was clear that they were far from human their eyes were golden globes, their fingers ended with golden nails, and their skin was tightly drawn across their gaunt bodies the Doctor also found evidence of surgery pointing out to Guilio the stitch marks which faintly crisscrossed the Paladins bodies.
Whilst the Doctor and Guilio tried to figure out what the Paladins really were Ralph and Sherfield had managed to calm the men down and was letting the demon and the Mongolian (Don't ask) explanations sink in.
Wilhelm meanwhile was also busy he had grabbed a small cask of black powder from the boat and had headed off to the islands black volcanic beach where he started sprinkling a healthy amount of the powder onto the islands sandy beach. Nodding to himself he then walks back over to the chatting men and has a quick chat with a couple of them, he makes some strange bird noises and flaps his arms weirdly and two of the men finally push past him and head off towards the beasts with a grinning Wilhelm following swiftly behind. All three then start to drag the strange beasts towards the beach and onto the black powder, the beasts are piled together and Wilhelm then tips a lot more powder onto them and then ordering the men back he continues to pour a thin line of powder out as he walks back towards the ice, Looking around and judging that the distance was good enough he replaces the casks cork and making sure it was clear of any loose powder replaces it back into the boat.
With a large grin he then places his unloaded Donderbus down close to the line of powder and gives spark, the powder hisses a bit as it becomes damp from the ice but it then suddenly it takes and with a spluttering fizz a flame races towards the beach and the pile of beasts. When it strikes the greater quantity of powder there is a mighty whoosh as the powder ignites and very quickly the beasts are engulfed in a raging inferno.
Wilhelm then turns and calls out to the Doctor and Guilio "Gentleman if you would be so kind to finish your examinations and let us return these demons to the fires of hell where they belong" The Doctor stands up and nods, the Paladins are swiftly dragged to the now blazing pyre and with a great cheer and with the singing of Psalm 91 the Paladins are thrown into the fire to rejoin their mounts for the final journey. With the strange Paladins blazing away and with things looking quiet for the moment Ralph left Sherfield to get the men back into column for the march inland and he went off to collect his other hatchet from the ice having already pulled his other one out of the beast. The others fell into a somewhat heated discussion about the recent events, the Doctor, in particular, seemed upset saying that the Paladins could have been pointed in the direction of France at least after all the original one had seemed a decent enough chap. The men were hustled into a marching column and Private William Frank who had suffered a nasty cut to the chest was called out by the now returned Ralph "Son, I need you to go back to the Listing Sausage and tell the Scoutmaster that he needs to send patrols out along the coast, tell him that er.....people are leaving the island and heading to England. Tell him we have stopped a couple of Paladins from making the crossing but there is no way of telling what has already made it over.
He quickly scribbles out a note and hands it to Franks explaining that it would get him past any patrols and into the Listing Sausage but placing a meaty paw onto Private Franks shoulder he growls "Now lad you are only to report to the Scoutmaster himself the report is for his ears only, understand?" Private Frank nods and taking a deep breath turns and starts to walk towards Great Yarmouth. The men are brought back into marching columns and the slack is taken up on the sled boats "The men are ready and awaiting orders" Ralph casting one last look at Franks nods and orders the men forward past the still blazing pyre and towards the island's jungle.
It seems that things have changed since they were last here the weather was no longer wet and humid but much like the weather in Great Yarmouth and the cold seems to have had a detrimental effect on the foliage as it was no longer lush and vibrant but grey and brittle and whilst this made clearing a path through the jungle easier it was still an ill omen. It was several hours of back-breaking work to drag the sled boats over the uneven ground towards the Pinnacles the men having to take regular water breaks to catch their breath all the while the CL.U.Ber's kept a wary eye on the jungle and the darkness beyond watching for any signs of an ambush or worse but soon enough the two towers could be seen looming through the trees ahead.
With one last effort the sledge boats were dragged to the base of the tower and Ralph gave the order to halt and to make camp and with an audible sigh of relief the men dropped the ropes and started to build a basic camp and soon the smell of bacon and peas was wafting around the nearby jungle from the men's small cooking fires.
Ralph and the CL.U.Ber's maintained a loose guard around the camp and allowed the men to rest for soon they would need their strength again both their physical and spiritual. After half an hour had past Sergeant Sherfield was called over and spent the next fifteen minutes with the CL.U.Ber's getting a plan of action nailed down, the men would be split into small working groups and tasked with the jobs that needed doing from guarding the camp to bringing the supplies up to where they were needed as well as the men needed to actually demolish the heathen lies that adorned the towers. Sergeant Sherfield and his chosen men would be in charge of destroying the monolith via blasting so all that it remained to do was for someone to scout the towers before the work could begin. So two soldiers were called out and told to get their light kit together as they were the lucky ones who would be going in first. The men armed with several Wheelock pistols which hung down from a wide leather belt and with sword and dagger in hand stepped into the tower of the monolith and were soon lost to the darkness within. The men left behind were kept busy though as supplies needed to be unloaded from the boats and soon plates were cleared away all but one fire was put out and the men were back in line in uniform and armed with the tools they would need for the tasks ahead. After a somewhat tense thirty minutes the scouts reappeared and reported that the towers were clear, the bodies of a man and a woman had been found and there were signs that someone had set a large fire on the ground floor recently but there was no sign of life. Ralph asked about the monolith whilst the others carefully watched the scouts reactions, the monolith was still there but from their report, it didn't seem to have done anything weird. The CL.U.Ber's were happy that all seemed well and the order was given to start work. It was early evening by the time work started and the shadows were drawing in as the sounds of pick and hammer rang out across the still silent jungle there was even the occasional bang as several charges boomed out destroying any particularly hard to demolish murals.
The work continued through the early part of the night until all but the monolith was naught but rubble and dust, the CL.UBer's kept a close eye on the men as they worked looking for any sign of possession or deviancy the Doctor, in fact, got the men singing as he thought it would not only help with the work but act as some kind of early warning as if a man suddenly stopped singing and seemed a little confused he could be whisked away and if necessary dealt with before he started to spread blasphemy. So soon the once quiet jungle rang to not only the sounds of demolition but to the strains of the Collier rant,
As me an' me marra was gannin' to wark, We met wi' the devil, it was I' the dark; Aw up wi' mi pick, it being I' the neet, Aw knock't off his horns, likewise his club-feet.
Foller the horses, Johnny me laddie, Foller them through, me canny lad, oh! Foller the horses, Johnny me laddie, Oh lad lye away, me canny lad, oh!
The work continued till all but the monolith was naught but rubble and dust and that would have to wait till morning, the weary men crawled into their blankets after a hasty meal of cheese and biscuit were soon fast asleep. They had done Sir Bernard de Gomme proud and shown why they were rated the best men in the company. As the pale sunlight crested the horizon it found the somewhat grumbling men already up and dragging the sled boats to the next destination. So far the Paladins were the only other living thing encountered by the group unless you counted the huge flocks of seagulls which now suddenly seemed to be everywhere rending the air with their strange cawing that sounded like demonic laughter as if mocking the efforts of the men below. The only ones left at the monolith tower were Sherfields chosen men and the C.L.U.Ber's who were several hundred meters away in a hastily dug pit and watching as Sergeant Sherfield backed out of the tower spoiling out a length of match cord from where it was wrapped around a wooden wheel. Carefully making his way into the pit he cut the match cord from the wheel and muttering a few calculations he finally turned to the other "Ready men? you may want to duck into the pit itself and plug your ears this might be a bit on the loud side what with the explosion being contained by so much stone and what have you" getting a nod from everyone he laid the end of the match cord down and with a grin said "Lets see how special number 5 works out" and with a spark of flint sets the match cord alight and after watching it burn its way to the towers entrance way he uses the flint once more to light his pipe and seeing the others already with their fingers in their ears sighs and shouts "Should be about ten minutes yet" Nine and a half minutes later there is an almighty boom which showers the Party in dust, debris and the occasional stunned seagull, climbing out of the pit the Party waits for the dust to settle and to look upon the damage done. Several moments pass before the dust clears enough and whilst the main body of the tower still stands the floor that held the monolith and the floor below are gone blasted back into whatever infernal realm they came from. Sergeant Sherfield coughs and turning to the awestruck C.L.U.Ber's shrugs and in a loud voice says "I may have slightly overestimated the powder in those charges, but hey jobs a good un, right lads?"
After everybody had dug themselves out of the pit and could finally hear again they quickly did a quick search of the area just to make sure that nothing larger than a shilling remained intact of those strange carvings, nothing but grit and dust was found it looked like the monolith and the strange carvings had been destroyed completely. There was nothing now left to corrupt anyone else who happened to stumble upon these unholy towers.
The column continued to plough through the jungle and its strange dying vegetation and finally made it to the shore of the bay and still, nothing, no further signs of the Paladins or any rogue Crystal children even the strange lights from beneath the waters had faded away leaving the waters still and at least looking peaceful.
The boats were set up for a water crossing and soon the cries of "Stroke, stroke" were ringing out as the Party made the crossing in style this time.
The journey across was uneventful much to everyone's relief and the boats were soon dragged up onto the opposite shore and pegged down. The Palace was only a short walk away from here so there was no real need to drag them any further. The supplies needed were unloaded, the barrels of oil, pitch, and powder were divided amongst those going to the great corpse logged marsh that surrounded the Pale ladies Palace.
Four soldiers were instructed to remain with the boats and to set up a camp they were also handed over a message tube that contained their orders if the main group failed to return by the next morning. The remaining men and the C.L.U.Ber's then headed out towards the Palace the Doctor again had his new bag strapped to the rest of his gear and was smiling as he whistled a somewhat jaunty sea shanty.
They made good time through the jungle unburdened as they were from the necessity of dragging the sled boats any longer and soon the Palace towers could be glimpsed up ahead and before they knew it the jungle began to thin out and they were soon traveling over scrubland and with the Palace causeway just ahead.
Wilhelm was on point and just as he was about to crest the final hillock before the marsh and causeway came into view he suddenly stopped and threw himself down onto the ground, the column which was about thirty meters behind him halted and the men gripped their swords tightly. Guilio came up to the front and quickly spoke to Ralph and Sherfield a decision was made and Guilio went ahead keeping low to the ground at first but dropping down to the ground and crawling the last few meters until he reached Wilhelm. Tapping Wilhelm's boot gently to let him know he was there the Italian whispered "Whats the hold-up?" Wilhelm pulled back a little bit without taking his gaze off whatever he could see up ahead and in a low whisper he filled in the Italian "There is a sorcery up ahead, one of those Paladins is floating in the air surrounded by Crystal children oh and that strange box thing is back" Guilio asks how many er.......things are ahead of them and Wilhelm crawls forward again and taking off his gloves begins to count, "It looks like there are around thirty Crystal children in groups of three surrounding the floating Paladin, the box thing is floating above them all, the children seem to be tied? to the Paladin by a strange fleshy rope?"
Guilio nods slightly wide-eyed but whispers"Let's go back we need to tell Ralph and the others"
The two make it back safely and gathering the C.L.U.Ber's and Sherfield together they inform them of what lies ahead there is some heated discussion but Ralph angrily crushes the other options seeing them as too cowardly and instead stomps off and orders the men into a loose firing line and orders them to make ready. When everyone was loaded and ready the Doctor stepped forward and gave a rousing if slightly long-winded speech in an attempt to prepare the men for what they were about to see. Ralph shakes his head and interrupts the Doctor "Enough, men there is evil ahead and it's our task to cleanse it obey your orders and you will make it through. Shoulder your muskets, prepare for combat and forward march"
The men walk forward in line the CL.U.Ber's take position on the flanks and they walk forwards to the crest of the hill. There is an audible gasp from the men as they lay eyes on the Paladin and the strange children "Steady men" growls Ralph "Make ready I want a good volley to clear this causeway" The Doctor steps out "Wait! its the Paladin we met earlier, Claymon's friend remember? let me try to talk to him at least" he starts to walk towards the Paladin his hands raised as he calls out "It's me the Doctor you remember from earlier, can we talk?" the Paladin slowly spins to face the Doctor and tilts his head to one side as from the box floating above him a loud crackling voice booms out "Truly have been betrayed our vigil has ended and all for naught, I told my brothers that they would find no help from you fiends, it is the end"
The Doctor starts waving his hands desperately from side to side "We come in peace" he tries to say something more but whatever it was is drowned out by the sound of muskets firing from behind him.
Groups of children fall from the causeway ripped asunder by the murderous volley the order to reload goes out as from beyond the musket smoke the children can be seen turning to look at the group.The strange rope that links the Paladin to the children suddenly pulses with a light that hurts the eyes and the children begin to scream out as beams of blazing blue light leap out from their now glowing eyes and whatever the lights hits immediately bursts into flames. Five men are killed in the first attack before the others run to cover, Ralph meanwhile screams an oath and instead runs forwards, across the scrub and onto the causeway itself beams shoot out but he manages to avoid them by desperately jinking left and then to the right. He slams into the children and starts striking out left and right with his hatchets aiming for the central child in each group. He slashes throats and crushes heads and it seems to be working as the other children in the cluster collapse as soon as the central child is killed. And Ralph seems to be too close to them now for him to be targeted by the blazing light.
The other C.L.U.Ber's having taken cover behind some fallen masonry which is already starting to bubble and shatter under the beams desperately prepare a cask of black powder as a makeshift petard "Will this work?" asks the Doctor as Sherfield attaches a short length of match cord to the cask he shrugs "Maybe, at least it should give us some time to pull back at least" the
match cord is lit and with a hasty shouted warning to Ralph of "Jump!" the cask is rolled down towards the causeway.
The cask rolls down bouncing up and down over the uneven ground but it was aimed well and with the cord still smoking behind it eventually rolls to a halt under the floating Paladin. Ralph looks down as it passes him and with a curse of "You Bastards", leaps off the causeway and down into the swamp below. The explosion is somewhat disappointing but it's enough, as with a crackled screech the Paladin and the strange box fall from the sky and land wetly and in several pieces onto the causeway beneath. The remaining children look up and scream as their glowing crystal infused heads suddenly explode.



Edited by Butters

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