Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cthulhu Gaslight: Best Served Cold

Dramatis personae:
Daffyd (Dai) Iffans, retired soldier of the British Indian Army (Rifle Brigade), now part-time writer for a Socialist newspaper, with an interest in the East End
Catherine (Cat) Kincaid, journalist and daughter of a well-known scientist

The place: London
The time: April 1890
Part 1

Cat notices that her cab is going in the wrong direction and at high speed at that. When the driver doesn't stop (and apart from that is also not the driver she hailed), she starts whacking him with her umbrella. The man brings the cab to a sudden stop and Cat is thrown from her seat, right at the feet of two other men. All thoughts of flight are squashed by the fact that the cab has stopped in a dark courtyard, with the men blocking the exit.

Cat is told by a well-dressed gentleman that she has the choice of either being his guest or his prisoner. He makes it very clear that he couldn't care less whether she lives or dies as long as she serves her purpose as bait for Dai. So she chooses to accompany the men on her own volition and is brought to some store room and tied to a chair. The driver, his name is Ed, and another man stay behind to guard her, the gentleman leaves.

click for adventure

Dai climbs down from the roof and returns to his flat to pack some things together. When he picks up the silver bullet, he notices that it's lighter than before, that there's something inside and he also find a symbol etched into the bottom, a pentagram with an eye in the middle. He manages to break the bullet open and some fiddling produces a small roll of parchment, with writing he cannot read on one side and a diagram on the other. The symbol on the bullet has vanished.

Before Dai has time to really think about this, the doorbell rings and he is delivered a letter by a messenger boy who describes Ambrose Grant, the brother of the man Dai shot. The letter tells him that he is expected to appear at the Savile Club tonight with the parchment and that he can exchange it for Cat then. He leaves his flat via the roof again, climbs down to ground level a few blocks away and take a cab to Cat's house where he's told by her housemaid that Cat is indeed missing.

Cat has been trying to loosen her bonds, but with no success. The men guarding her are not letting her out of their sight, not even when she asks to be allowed to relieve herself. She's offered a bucket and turned backs and she declines. Ed, who is considerable more intelligent that he appears, tells her that it's nothing personal, that he's only in it for the money, just like she's working for a living as a reporter. Cat offers to buy them off, but cannot match the price Ambrose is paying them. As the hours pass, she finally manages to free herself, but keeps still, she knows she doesn't have a chance against the two men.

Dai pays the British Museum a visit and finds someone who can read the parchment. The writing is Aramaic and it means "only he who acts will be successful". He's also told that the scribbles on the back might be a circuit diagram, but with added occult symbols, one of them the Eye of Providence.

On his way to the club he takes a detour to the Dravot's Head and asks Tom, the owner and a personal friend of both Dai and Cat, to stash the parchment for him. He arrives at the club at the arranged time and is met by Ambrose, who tells him that nothing could be further from his thoughts than revenge, he considers his brother Malcolm a fool. He just wants to get his hands on the parchment. When Dai tells him that he doesn't have it with him, Ambrose is not pleased, but agrees to collect the parchment when they have Cat with them.

The storeroom turns out to be directly under the club. Dai is relieved to find Cat unhurt, but he's careful not to show any feelings to Ambrose, not his relieve and certainly not his rage at being used and seeing Cat used like that. They leave and make their way to the Dravot's Head, Ed and the other man come along. On the way there, Dai uses the time to ask Ambrose why he took the trouble of sending him the bullet with the parchment inside when he wanted the parchment all along. It turns out that Malcolm was the one who scratched Dai's name into the bullet and Dai was also the only person to be able to open it.

When they enter the pub, Tom notices right away that something is wrong. He shows Dai that he has a revolver at the ready and asks whether his services will be required. Not at the moment, says Dai and hands Ambrose the parchment. When the three men turns to leave, Cat calls out to Tom, who fires a warning shot over Ambrose's head. Dai has his revolver leveled at Ambross head and other patrons of the Dravot's Head have pulled their weapons as well. Both Ed and the other man have revolvers, so for a moment it looks like a stand-off. Then Ambrose drops the parchment, saying that it seems they have lost. As the parchment falls, Dai sees Ed pulling the trigger and shoots, killing him with a shot to the head. Tom misses Ambrose who is trying to get out of the door and the third man is killed by one of the patrons. Dai shoots Ambrose before he can run out and Ambrose goes down, coughing up blood and dying slowly. He calls Dai a fool and promises that he will return.

Tom starts to clean up his pub, the 1000 pounds Ambrose was carrying will certainly help with that. Dai finds a business card in Ambrose's pocket with the name of a very high-end gentlemen's club as well as a report on some mechanical device, written by Malcolm and addressed to one Sir Reginald. He offers to take Cat home and she gladly accepts the offer. On the way, Dai tells her what she has missed and he mentions that he fears that he may have called some kind of curse upon himself by opening the bullet. A notion Cat scoffs at, but Dai is not convinced, especially since he finds himself unable to judge Malcolm's motives. When they arrive at Cat's house, he apologises that his past has gotten her into trouble and says that he is glad nothing happened to her. She smiles and tells him that at least she didn't misjudge him...something for Dai to ponder while he drives home.

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Okay, that went in a different direction that I expected and Dai seriously wonders whether he shot the wrong brother back in Burma. And the thing with the bullet only he could open. Call me paranoid, but that doesn't bode well.

You may or may not have picked up on the fact that Dai has fallen in love with Cat. He'd rather cut off his hand than tell her or act upon it, but how successful he really is at hiding it... We talked about it after the game and the player told me that Cat did indeed notice (I'm not surprised), but is unsure what if anything to do about it. It's something that has been part of the game without ever being spoken about or acted upon for a while now and we intend to keep it that way. Let's see what happens.

Part 3

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