From the Journal of James Watie: Ye Olde Baite Shoppe

Aug. 29, 1866 (cont’d): We wait around a bit for Emily to get dressed to go home. Dr. Wakefield is still perplexed and seems a bit worried. I can understand this; he seems genuinely concerned for his patient, and though he is happy to see her well(ish), it probably saddens him that he does not know how we did it. He introduces us to a mountainous brute of an orderly (Calvin), and arranges a nice white wagon to take her home. Aldo and I ride in the wagon, with Willy and Sergei getting a nice carriage for the trip.

Mr. Braddock, as one would expect, has quite the living arraignment. While not old money enough to have a true estate this near town, he makes up for it by having a seriously spacious home. He sends the staff into a frenzy of activity to welcome the young miss home; a few servants are old enough to remember her, and bawl a bit at the thought of her being home. I love that kinda stuff; in a world that can so quickly turn horrible it does my heart good to know that love of any kind is still a commonplace commodity.

We tell Emily that it is VERY important for her to stay within sight of one of us at all times; her abduction or termination will be the likely goal of the upcoming attack. We also ponder a bit on what to do about her son; he is presently out gambling, but will be home soon to the surprise of his young life!

As Aldo and I ride back to the CH to procure gear and clothes, Willy and Sergei explore the house a bit. It has the required amount of secret passages, and is made in a bit more modern style. It will be easy to get around in (a blessing and curse) and may be hard to defend.

After dinner (whereupon we learn that Emily has a taste for bread pudding), Dr. Wakefield asks if he can have a consult with his patient in the library. He asks pretty standard questions, but seem to hover a bit on the events that caused her issues. Not so much that I felt it necessary to have a ‘talk’ with him in private (somewhere where witnesses are few and sounds are muffled) but enough to notice. She was evasive in her responses (charmingly so, obviously trained to avoid answering questions that people truly do not need to hear the answers). I go into the next room to tests the waters with Papa Braddock; he is holding up well, but probably needs a good nap. He agrees to supply me with a few arrows for practice, buying my story that it is hard to get arrows as an Indian in civilization. Now that I think of it, that is probably an untested truth, anyway.

Benjamin Braddock gets home, flush from his success while gambling and carousing all night. He is a gangly thing, all smiles and good nature. Sergei and Aldo move over to block his mother from his sight (a good idea, as we want this reunion to be as controlled as possible). As he leaves the room, we usher her off to her room to get freshened up and to prepare herself.

I take a bit of a break here for an observation. Aside from General Jackson, I do not know that I have ever admired another person as much as I do Emily Braddock. I have never met a person with more reasons to be a broken shell of a person. She could have any number of mental issues, and no one would blame her. But instead, she has exhibited what amounts to the jitters. She has every reason to fear EVERYTHING, but seems more anxious with excitement than fear at every thing she sees. She is a rather amazing person; more on this later.

As she withdraws behind a screen to get dressed (and, in another room, her dad gets Benji ready for this moment), she corrects us on a common misconception; she was NOT in any way taken against her will. In fact, her son is the child of her secret fiancee, Jonathan Campbell (of the big-important Campbell of Argyle in Scotland). They were attacked by a 7’6" blue creature with red eyes (she thinks it may be a demon, which Willy and Sergei tentatively identified as perhaps a library demon, Japanese oni, or the demon Eurynomos from Greecian myth. This was the creature that killed her friends, and now owes our house in blood.

Her friends were Jonathan “Jack” Campbell (using the ‘spring-heeled Jack’ costume and myth to prevent him embarrassing his family), Timothy Hobbes (Scotland Yard), and Clive Glover (n’er-do-well). Kit’s mom, Mary, also ran with them on occasion, but was not with them that night. As Emily lost consciousness, she saw her friends dead or dying, and we broke the news to her that they were all indeed dead. If she is ever up to it, we will go to their graves and to the site of the battle to make sure that their souls passed on. This may mean we have to break into a few family cemeteries, but so be it.

Aldo and I head downstairs to check on Benji. He has fortified himself with a bit of ‘liquid courage,’ and is as ready as he can be. We help Emily down and let them chat a bit. Benji is exceedingly bright and works for granddad’s bank. An established amount of awkwardness follows, but both of them handle it well. They hug and cry it out a bit, and then we help Emily back to her room. She insists on not being alone (VERY good instincts), and Sergei and Aldo decide to trap her window to fortify against the surely upcoming assault. I give her the case containing the Minoian Axe (the only weapon we have she can swing, due to its enchantment), and tell her to swing away on anything that threatens her (and hoping she does not have nightmares, or she might hurt someone, probably Aldo). Willy and I head down to tell Mr. Braddock what we have learned (Benji’s parentage specifically). He is relieved; MUCH better a happy bastard than some unholy spawn!

Wow… there is a LOT of good, happy energy in this place! QUEUE THE ASSAULT! (Sheesh)

This is a SERIOUS assault. Four hit Willy, Mr. Braddock, and I downstairs. Aldo later estimated that they got 7 in Emily’s room (the principal target), with two other rooms getting 3-4 apiece. As it happens, Emily’s more-cramped room has our two least-savvy melee combatants in it, while the big, open room downstairs has our two melee combatants. Good timing, bad people.

Of note, they seem to be there specifically to kidnap, Emily; nothing else. The ones upstairs move with purpose, right until Sergei opens up with frost lances through the sternums of a few guys. Immediately afterwards he uses his new mind-push to shove one out the window and off the balcony (catching another as he falls, two down). Aldo gets wrapped up in melee combat, Emily pulls out an axe that should weigh as much as she does (no fear in this lady, at least not tonight), and Sergei gets shot. He lucks out and it misses anything crucial, but being that he is in front of the window, he gets smacked a few more times, being all but removed from the combat. He manages to shove a armoire in front of the window with his mind, and Emily sinks an axe into the last room-combatant in the head. Aldo and Emily pull Sergei into the hall, defense up, and begin wrapping his wounds.

Downstairs, we get jumped by three guards and their boss, some form of caster. Braddock, defending his home, pulls a loaded revolver from a nearby chest and begins introducing his new guests to a distinctly American version of hospitality. These guards are armored (I find to my chagrin), but being partially armored does not help them much against Willy’s more precision-based attacks. Or, for that matter, Braddock’s .44. As I modify my attacks (using Hrunting, the supposed sword of Beowulf), we start thinning the herd, and the caster (after trying to stun us and blind us with magical attacks), decides to run.

Not so fast, Mr. Home Invader! I give chase, impress upon him my superior wit (“Welcome to the Happy HRUNTING Grounds!”), and land a particularly vicious hit on him. The cold iron composition of Hrunting did NOT react well with him, his visage of a human barely held, twisting for a second before re-stabilizing. Showing the wisdom of the ages, this non-melee critter decided to turn invisible and run like a coyote with his tail on fire. I sadly could not connect before he fled, so he got away from us. This makes me sad, but no time to frown! Willy and I move to the alley between houses to intercept the ones fleeing Sergei, Aldo, and Emily. Upon Sergei’s polite request, I introduce the one who shot him to Mr. Winchester’s newest invention (in the face), and the other two (hired goons who did not want to die) surrender rather than be shot. Willy, Braddock, and Benji (who had been merrily clearing the other rooms of assailants with his somehow empty pistols) finish cleaning house.

Scotland Yard show up and are graciously accepted by Mr. Braddock. Being that these are the night shift guys who already know us, they ask few questions and take the hostages (and bodies) into custody. Aldo wisely requests that they be held in as high security as possible, as they may be linked to the other issue that happened at the Yard. Sergei inspects the corpse of the man who shot him, noticing the tattoo of entwined snakes on his neck. Aldo pockets a magical doo-dad from another, upon testing, it seems to allow a caster to use entangling magic as if they knew the spell.

All told, Sergei almost died (he was in a room with Aldo, so these things happen). Emily showed that she was not going to be victimized again, especially not in her house. The Braddocks and their household proved themselves brave (and accurate!). And we now have not one, but two possible candidates for our CH. Actually, and I have not got to talk to the Braddock’s on this, but Emily all but certainly needs to live with us, as we cannot protect her adequately at her home. And we’ll have to speak to Mr. Braddock about our bill…

Of note… I think Aldo is getting better. He acted with much more focus tonight, and never got shot a single time. VAST improvement!



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