Monday, February 18, 2013

Cthulhu Gaslight: Return to England

After their last adventure, Cat had left for Florence House, the house her father owns in the Yorkshire Dales, and Dai has stayed behind in London. He receives a letter from a former lover of his, Rashmi, and she asks him to come to India. She knows she has not much longer to live and she wants to see him. Dai has to leave on the day he received the letter, so he has no time to explain everything to Cat. He writes her a long letter and explains why he had to leave so suddenly, but can only post it a week later from Aden. Cat meanwhile, with only a short note that Dai has left for India which doesn't mention if he's coming back, blames herself and is angry at Dai for just leaving.

They continue to write to each other and slowly, they make up. It helps that Dai finally admits just how important Cat is to him. By the time he is ready to return, Cat will soon be leaving London for the next weeks to visit a friend. So instead of waiting for her in London, Dai decides to take the long way back: he takes a steamer from Bombay to Bushehr in Persia and then he crosses Persia and Turkey by camel and mule. He arrives in Constantinople in November 1890 and from there, it's only a comparatively short train ride back to London.

When he arrives there, he find a letter from Cat: her father has been abducted and she herself has been hurt while investigating his disappearance. She moved to Florence House to recuperate. Dai more or less turns on his heels and takes the next train to Manchester. There, he rents a horse and braves sleet and snow on his way to Florence House, where he arrives a couple of hours later, cold and tired. Cat had not been expecting him and she scrambles to find the right dress and to master her feelings. It takes just a quarter of an hour or so, but Dai, who is more than a bit scared of seeing her again, feels like he has been waiting for hours when the butler finally admits him into the reading room.

It takes them a while to get over the awkwardness of the moment, but it's obvious that they are happy to see each other again. Cat tells Dai about her father's disappearance and that an expedition has left for Egypt to find him. Dai feels guilty because he wasn't there, but he makes it very clear that he doesn't intend to leave any time soon. After dinner, Cat takes him on a tour of the house and in the (extremely impressive) library Dai finally does what he wanted to do since he arrived: he pulls Cat into an embrace. He wishes he didn't have to let her go ever again and Cat is not at all surprised or reluctant to find herself in such a situation.

They spend a couple of very relaxed days at Florence House. Cat is only too glad to forget her worries for a while and Dai does his best to help her with that. Nothing much happens between them except the occasional touch, but it's enough to make it very clear how Dai feels. He has also given Cat a journal he kept during his travels, with sketches of the things he has seen. Reading it, Cat gets some insight into Dai's feelings and thoughts, Dai finds it a lot easier to express himself in writing than in conversation.

The day after the first Sunday in Advent, Cat receives a letter from her editor: would she mind returning to London, the newspaper is short-staffed due to sickness. Also, her brother has arrived in London and is eager to see her. It's news to Cat that she has a brother. So of course they prepare to return to London, but they also decide to enjoy their last evening at Florence House without worrying about any mysteries.

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This summary is the result of countless conversations, letters written in-character and one evening of free-form roleplaying. The relationship between Cat and Dai is one of the most interesting and intense experiences I've ever had in my roleplaying career and I'm enjoying myself immensely. If everything goes as planned, we will have one last Cthulhu adventure with the characters and then we'll retire them. Cthulhu is so very deadly and we both decided that we did not have the heart to let them die or go insane. It's very possible that we will continue to play them in some sort of free-form roleplaying, they are too interesting to just put them back into the character sheet folder. And Cat and Dai have so many plans where they want to travel and what they want to do, so it would be a shame to refuse them.

I actually made the journal Dai gives to Cat. I wrote about it here and you can read the whole thing on Flickr here.

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