ChapterHouse

From the Journal of James Watie: March 1st, 1867

The Winter Passed Uneventfully

Nov. 1866 – Feb. 1867: As we were all but snowed in for these months, I have little to report. We closed a few cases (mostly missing persons), and Emily and I started formally courting. As much as the formality of this may chafe, I do not mind going to the operas and fancy dinners. Culture has it’s uses, I suppose!

March 1, 1867: Our nightly dinner is interrupted by our friend Tom from Scotland Yard. He looks as if he has been in a fight that he may have won. He goes on to say that there was a tremendous fire at a local brownstone, which is not that strange. But, as the fire was green in coloration and reluctant to die off, this piqued his interest. When he rattles off the name of the resident, my blood chills a bit.

Samantha Thayer: the last know holder of The Song Thief.

Dinner is over! Emily and Jenny go to get ready for a patrol with the other House folks, and we kit out for work. Tom is right; the house is a mess. We start our investigations, ready for the inevitable traps someone like Samantha would leave. Her desk is mostly intact, especially the secret compartment we find. Inside is a journal and… hrm. How to explain? How about a sentient green cloud of unknown origin? It envelops each of us in turn, and decides we are good enough to be here.

As we investigate further, we find a functional portal to… somewhere. Cyrus, being a true paragon of bravado and derring-do (read as: needs a leash) walks on though, followed by an exasperated Elizabeth. We pile in, readying ourselves for a murderhole…

…and, thank goodness, are not disappointed. the room we walk into is a dome, seemingly underground, with no obvious exits. Before we decide to dismantle the whole place, Samantha strolls in, no worse for wear.

The story unfolds. Her house was assaulted by a well-trained group of mercenaries (or troops) led by a demon of some sort. She handled her business, blasting the mercs and besting the demon, who was screaming that all he wanted was the Book and he would let her live. She replied by shredding him like a slow-cooked roast.

Samantha is good people.

Sam decided that it was time to relocate, so she got her important people and things through the portal, and will soon be heading off to parts unknown (by us). She left us mentioning that she would be back in touch when she gets settled, and the cane that the demon was using. The can has some kind of giant injection spike in the base, and a reservoir of foul, fish-smelling goop inside.

OF NOTE: VERY few people could possibly have known that she had what she had. Someone told, simply put. A few members of the other House, several from ours, and several of Sams ‘siblings.’ Other than that, I cannot think of anyone else. Short list that will need to be reviewed and perhaps trimmed.

We head home. Patti takes a look at the cane, and identifies the goop. She believes it is Oil of Shuggloth; used in rituals to transform people into fish-demon things. We figure that Erasmus might know either who can make the goop or who can make such an interesting cane. Also, Cyrus and I are both nearing the end of our tobacco stores. Priorities and whatnot!

ED looks it all over, and agrees with Patti’s assessment. Moreso, he knows people who deal in exotic canes in the area. One maker is in Cardiff and the other in Dover. ED believes the Cardiff crafter the more likely, so we thank him, stock up on tobacco, and head home. Cardiff in the morning it is!

March 2: We meet up with the Cullens for a bite of breakfast, then head to Cardiff. The concierge of the very nice hotel the Cullens choose states that any crafter worth his salt would be in the artisan district. As good an idea as we had, we head out to look around.

A woodcarver in the artisan district checks out the cane, and identifies the work as likely by a Riddick of Riddick and Sons. Heading over there, he checks out the work and admits he crafted it, and several other just like it, for one Abraham Morgan. We head back to the hotel, and mention to the doorman that we are looking for one Abe Morgan. He knows of one, a local coal merchant of some renown and wealth.

DID SOMEONE SAY WEALTH!?! Man, it is good to have Cyrus around for this kind of stuff; it opens up dialogue options that used to be filled with blood, screams, and high laundry bills! Cyrus sends a message to Morgan’s local gentleman’s club with a request to visit, which is replied to in the affirmative in less than an hour.

Cyrus and Aldo (our two most normal non-Russian white guys) get ready to socialize, while the rest of us get read for war. They have Aldo go in the servant’s entrance, allowing him to get a head count on the goons in there and analyze the area, just in case. Cyrus mentioned after that they gave him the tour, then schmoozed over him for a while. The standard treatment.

Meanwhile, outside, we attempt the most comically doomed attempt at stealth in history. But, it was either that or release the krinkle-crackum; and NO ONE wants that! We recoup, regroup, and follow a hastily leaving Morgan to a local, dingy apothecary’s shop. We decide that it is no coincidence that this is the shop in town that ED said could make Essence du Shuggerloff.

We enter the establishment, and I try to explain to the clerk up front that his counter has a spot on it. He is perplexed, then concussed, then Marcus’d into unconsciousness. Hearing conspiratory nonsense being blurbled in the adjacent room, we line up, Sergei drops the lights, and we go to work. The shopkeeper being accosted by Morgan is terrified, and also pukes up a nascent Shotgolf. Morgan and his goons fight, then die. It would have been nice to get some information from him, but he was too dangerous to let live. The shopkeeper admits to summoning Sharpclocks, but does not want to; Morgan knew the shopkeeper’s family had old ties to fish-people, and used his Sugerloaf grease to curse the poor guy.

Did someone say, “Poor, moderately innocent person with a permanent and crippling affliction?” That sounds like a task for the Electric Cossack! And, even better, it worked! The shopkeeper is left happier, still creepy as hell and needing to move, and happy we did not kill his whole family. It looks like this ‘dark water’ was less a curse and more a poison, and Sergei has a good track record with that kind of thing! The shopkeeper is going to grab what is left of his family (Morgan had been using them as shock troops) and get out of town that very night.

As we prepare to leave, I have a bit of an idea. I retrieve the ring we took off of Herr Bechner’s assassin and, after a bit of creative corpse-modification, leave the ring clutched in Morgan’s hand.

Let them figure that one out. Anything to ice our trail a bit. Also, this guy was a monster, and sometimes you have to leave a display to the other monsters.

Darnit. Now I need another Teutonic’s ring. The Hunt continues…

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