Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

In Leagues of Adventure the characters are all middle and upper class Victorians who go on wild adventures in response to wagers, handsome payments from rich patrons, invitations from adventuring leagues, or
simply out of sheer boredom. Opportunities abound to thwart dastardly deeds, discover lost cities, mingle with new cultures, and plumb the darkest depths of the globe.

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Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:12 am

Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'


OOC:   For those in search of Attwood.  


The journey from the Kings Head to the Gardens is a relatively short trip through the streets of the thriving capital of the Empire. Through the windows of your cab you see evidence of the true splendour of the Victorian age of science and technology. You also see much evidence of the other side of society, but in true 19th century polite society fashion, simply ignore it.

Shortly you will arrive at the gates of the gardens with its splendid wrought iron sign Proclaiming it as the 'London Zoological Gardens'

OOC:   The London Zoological Gardens, better known simply as The Zoo, was established by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1826. It opened its gates to members of the London Zoological Society, which governs the zoo, in 1828. Only in 1847 was access granted to the public, a move established to secure funding for the keeping and collection of the specimens. Most of the tropical animals are kept indoors, for it is commonly believed they cannot survive outside in London’s temperate climate.
Among its many attractions are the Aquarium, the world’s first, and the Reptile House. The Zoo is located at the north end of Regents Park, some three miles northeast of the Museum.  


Presenting your letter of introduction from Professor Hawthorne gains you immediate access to Professor Isiah Atwood, one of the senior Biologist/Vetinarian’s at the establishment, and a gentleman of impeccable qualifications especially within the study of reptiles.

Tall and thin with the obligatory small, round, thick lensed spectacles Professor Atwood is the stereotypical academic in appearance. He, is of course, dressed in a white lab coat, a strange, ornate looking stethoscope hung offhandedly around his neck with a pair of leather gloves protruding from one of his coats pockets.

He looks you up and down, takes his glasses from his eyes and proceeds to rub them with the bottom edge of his coat, His eyes blinking furiously in their attempts to focus, he nods, “Yyyyyou come with good recommendation from my estemed colleague James Hawthorne”
He replaces his glasses, now sufficiently rubbed, “So, hhhhow may I be of assistance?"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:33 pm

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"Thank you for taking the trouble to see us at such short notice Professor Atwood. Professor Hawthorne has tasked us with a somewhat delicate matter that may have something to do with the disturbing occurrence at the rear of the King's Head the other evening. Professor Hawthorne wrote the introduction in order that we might prevail upon you to let us examine the carcass of the dead horse that was removed from that establishment to your care." Nellie pauses to smile sweetly at the tall bespectacled professor.

"I know that this request is rather strange but my companion and I have just come from the King's Head and we discovered something that may be of help to you in determining the events of that night." Nellie turns to Roxborough "If you would kindly show the Professor here the sample we collected." Turning back to Professor Atwood "If you could identify this sample, it may well aid both of our investigations..."
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:16 pm

"King's Head? Ah the tavern outside of which we found the dead animal in question" He turns and begins to walk towards a door marked 'Laboratory - Access Restricted', "Inside yyyyou will find the remains of the equine beast itself"

Inside a white tiled room that looks in better shape than many medical establishments you have seen, atop a scrubbed oak table, you find the remains of a heavilly muscled horse. Even a person with no vetinary, or indeed human, medical knowledge would not find difficulty in ascribing its death to the obvious wound that extends from the underside of its neck through the length of its chest and into its belly. This wound appears deep and jagged yet straight as though caused by a sharp edged implement.

As if addressing a room of pupils at a seminar, Atwood, once again removing his glasses and polishing them furiously, begins,

“I am convinced the killer was an animal of some sort. Indications are the horse was rearing at the time. Judging by its height at the shoulder, I have deduced the starting point of the injury, the neck, would have been some eight or nine feet above the ground. I thus eliminate a human agent, for the simple fact that there was nothing in the vicinity which could provide a human attacker the height required to plunge a sword or dagger into the beast’s neck.”

He replaces his glasses and moves over to the side of the horse.
“While many carnivores are capable of leaping to such heights, especially big cats, I call yyyyour attention to the wound itself. Whatever beast eviscerated this horse did so not with multiple claws, like those of a tiger or lion, but with a single claw.”

He points to the long, deep slash to emphasise his words
“My early findings indicate the claw would have to be more curved than that of a cat, and far longer; perhaps as much as three to five inches in total length. Nothing I know of has such claws, and to that end I am at a loss to give you a definitive suspect.”

Having made his point, Atwood steps away from the carcass, removes his spectacles again and polishes them once more,
“However before you ask, I can categorically state that no creature has escaped from the Zoological Gardens.”

"Now yyyyou said you have something to show me?"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Papa Gateau » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:50 pm

OOC:   Sorry - I just need to rewind a little to when Nellie and I are sharing a Hackney Carriage to the zoo:  


Ms. Bly please forgive my rather forthright and unsavoury characterisation of your professional colleagues earlier. I by no means meant to insult you or your colleagues, I merely was trying to prod the good man Jacob's into telling his tale by assuring him that we were no friends of the press.

I assure you that your reputation as a seeker and reporter of the truth precedes you and I hold our acquaintance, such as it is, in the highest regard. I truly meant no offence and I hope that you saw my subterfuge for what it was.


OOC:   Ok,now back to the zoo...  


Professor Attwood, I would certainly agree with your investigations - it is my experience that big cats do not kill their prey with talon and claw but rather by suffocation. Indeed they may grasp the creatures with their claws but the actual kill is by suffocation. Roxborough reaches into his pocket and pulls out the carefully folded handkerchief

I have here some spoor found close to where the horse was slain. I am confident that it is from a carnivore but I am unable to identify which kind. The size of the sample would also indicate a creature smaller than the one you describe but I will not necessarily be misled by that - after all a Basset hound, though short of leg, is long of body and as such is a tall dog when it stands on it's hind legs. So whatever did for the poor horse may also have been in a rampant pose and may not necessarily be 7 or 8' tall at the shoulder. he pauses, obviously in thought yes, rather like a bear I suppose - maybe 4' at the shoulder when on all fours but easily 8' tall when rearing on it's hind legs.

It would be of great help to us if you were able to identify what creature left this behind.
he passes the handkerchief over.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:42 pm

For a moment Atwood observes you as he might a specimen, his brow furrows as he observes your epicurian girth, keeness of eye and out of place safari jacket (complete with bulllet loops of such size that they are clearly meant for a large calibre hunting weapon). With a satisfied nod of his head, he replies,

"Of course these are all things I have considered but the creatures yyyou describe with obvious knowledge and expertise, do not have the 'acoutrements' necessary to inflict such a wound. A bear for instance, even the largest North American Grizzly, would have caused multiple wounds that would have been simple to identify. However this was a single cut to the animals neck with enough force to continue downward into the stomach area."

He coughs, gently, and takes the offered handkerchief, "I am convinced the attack was indeed carried out by an animal, but of what species I have yet to determine. Now what hhhave we hhhere?"

It takes him moments to transfer the sample of dung onto the glass slide of a nearby microscope. Pushing his glasses onto his head like some mad airship captain, he proceeds to stoop and peer into the eyepiece of the device. For the next few minutes, accompanied by much 'oohing and aahing' he gently manipulates the optical device.

"Hmm, it would seem that the fecal matter yyyou have here bears remarkeable similarities to reptile feces. However it is no species of the reptillioid order that I hhhave knowledge of. The odd white particles would appear to be bone, probably from small animals such as rat, mouse, cat or small dog" he stands up, removes his glasses from his head and starts the process of polishing them once more.

"May I enquire where yyyou came upon it?"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Papa Gateau » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:24 pm

I agree with you entirely professor, I was just postulating that whatever killed the horse didn't have to be 7' tall at the shoulder. In fact the only thing that springs to mind that might cause such a grievous injury at such a height is the tusk of a bull elephant and I'm fairly sure we would know if there was a rogue male roaming the streets of London! Roxborough gives a little chuckle.

As to where we found the sample, it was within the vicinity of where the horse was killed, which I think I had already mentioned.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:15 pm

"Ahh, it seems that my investigation of the site was not thorough enough. However this sample would indicate an assailant of a size inconsistent with that large enough to carry out such an attack. Plus it's diet seems to have been of small animals as I have said, and the idea of a leap in size of victim from small rodents to a fully grown horse seems utterly outrageous"

He turns an looks at Nellie, expectantly, "And you miss, I can see you are digesting the details as they appear. Is there anything you would care to ask, or may I return to my work?"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:25 pm

Image

Nellie writes down details as Atwood relates them, trying not to stare at he dead beast with its terrible wound. She almost gasps at the graphic level of detail in Atwood's disclosure, the revelations about the size of the creature and the nature of the claw, claw singular that made the gash on the horse. She notes the professors mannerisms and slight stammer, are they symptoms of unease or something that he has always been afflicted with? Nellie carefully looks around the laboratory, trying to discern if anything is amiss.

Spoiler:
carnage_lee rolled 8d6:
1, 5, 5, 2, 4, 6, 2, 3


As Atwood stops to inspect the dung sample that they had brought to the Zoo, she thinks to herself.

Nellie thinking:   A single claw.. what creature only has one claw? And the height, that confirms Jacobs' story, so he must have glimpsed the ... the creature. Judging by the state of the horse he was very lucky not to have been badly assaulted or even worse.  


Once again Nellie writes down Atwood's observations, the page fast filing with the odd hieroglyphics of shorthand.

Nellie thinking:   .. similarities to reptile dung, full of bones. If anything this investigation seems to be getting more baffling. So the size of the 'sample' we found doesn't match up to the 'size' of the attacker. Maybe the hypothesis of an adult and young is plausible.  


Atwood's words as he addresses her directly, snaps her from her thoughts. "Well yes, I have been making diligent notes. To me the whole thing seems baffling; both you and Mr Roxborough are experts in your respective fields and neither of you can make a positive identification of the creature that so cruelly felled the horse. Neither can either of you be certain which animal produced the sample we found, in the vicinity of the attack behind the tavern." Nellie pauses and looks at both men in turn. "Then there is the very nature of the wound itself, made by a single claw; a claw that seems to me to be rather larger than is normal for a mundane carnivore." Nellie shakes her head in exasperation. "On top of all that, we have the added puzzle of the means of escape, and probable entry into that alleyway... I ask you both... what beast can use a ladder, open a manhole cover and all but eviscerate a horse in one swipe.. then half replace the manhole cover as it makes its way back down into the sewers?"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:08 pm

Spoiler:
your womanly intuition (perception) leads you to conclude that Atwood's stammer and habitual cleaning of his glasses are personality defects not signs of nervous attempts to disguise any subterfuge. Looking around the room, you can tell from its state of cleanliness and tidyness that Professor Atwood is a person suffering from some form of compulsive behavioural addiction.


At your questions Atwood nods in agreement, "Yyyyes, it is a matter most perplexing. I wish I could suggest a likely culprit, but any beast capable of such an attack is not, to my knowledge, possible. To accomplish the feats that you describe it would have to have an IQ almost of hhhuman levels, and a dexterity to match."

Once again he removes his spectacles and begins his cleaning ritual, "To be able to remove a sewer grating, climb a ladder, then replace the sewer grating. Would seem to indicate a animal displaying the dexterity of... say the ape species, but the manner and method of attack is not one that would be consistent with any member of that grouping. Plus to carry out the mode of of attack shows a level of planning and intelligence that is not found amongst that species. Then of course there is the evidence of the feces. I recognise reptile traits in the makeup of the fecal matter, but am unable to place it with any known member of the reptilian family."

He replaces his spectacles, and pushes his hands deep within his jackets pockets, "Were I not a man of science, and given to such childish beliefs, I would suggest making further enquries amongst the ocult fraternity, as perhaps your horse slayer is some creature from a nightmare" The smile that suddenly breaks across his otherwise serious features, shows the seriousness of his statement.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:06 pm

Image

Nellie cocks an eyebrow in surprise that Atwood makes his startling admission that a creature would have to have considerably more brain-power and manual dexterity than anything so far ascribed to anything in the animal kingdom... except perhaps the apes. Something else nags at her thoughts.

Atwood stops talking, after making his statement that the attacker may not be of mundane origins and Nellie turns back the to examination table and the carcass of the horse.

"You say that there's only one wound, albeit a rather large gash. There's no evidence of any feeding, no pieces bitten off, no bites.. not even small ones?" Nellie asks, her face thoughtful.

Nellie thinking:   we've been attributing the reason for the attack as one of 'feeding' but if there's no evidence of that... and come to think of it what on earth was a cad doing there in that alley?  


Nellie taps the end of her pencil on her lips as she waits for Atwood to respond.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:59 pm

carnage_lee wrote:"You say that there's only one wound, albeit a rather large gash. There's no evidence of any feeding, no pieces bitten off, no bites.. not even small ones?"


Atwood purses his lips in momentary contemplation of Nellies's question, "Quite so, just the one wound, and no, no signs of feeding as can be ascertained"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:08 pm

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Nellie turns to Roxborough "No signs of feeding, Jacobs may have disturbed the creature, making it panic and seek refuge from whence it came. Does that sound plausible? Or was the cab driver taken, back to the lair? her face pales a little at this dreadful possibility.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Papa Gateau » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:52 pm

Indeed yes, the very same thought had crossed my mind, a rather unfortunate end for the poor fellow if that is the case.

I'm hypothesising aloud so bear with me. We have a missing cab driver, his dead horse and a soak of a witness. Let's see if we can put some of the jigsaw pieces together.

I'm not prepared to rule out that the creature was not hunting for sustenance - I think that it is exactly what it was doing. I think that the horse was spooked by the predator and reacted in a defensive manner by rearing up and the creature eviscerated the horse with one swipe. At this point we have no idea about the cabbie but it is my guess that he is already incapacitated - either frozen by fear or knocked to the ground by the struggle between horse and predator.

I think Miss Bly that you are correct and that our creature was disturbed when Jacobs heard it in the alley and went to investigate. The tap, tap, tapping that he attributes to old Nick's pitchfork may well be the click-clack of large talons on cobbles - the type of talon that can rip a draft horse's throat open. The creature flees into the sewers, the horse is too large for it to carry but the cabbie is not and is taken to be consumed, undisturbed in the safety of its lair.

I admit that there is some conjecture and guess work in this hypothesis and none of us here present can identify the creature.

What do you think Miss Bly?
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:58 pm

Image

Nellie listens to Roxborough as he speaks, working out his own thoughts about the investigation that they'd been tasked with.

"That broadly concurs with my current hypothesis, Mr. Roxborough." Nellie makes a sidelong glance at Atwood "However, I am suspicious of how or why the cabbie came to be located in that alley-way at the precise time and location that the attacker, whatever it is, decided to pop up from the manhole..."
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Papa Gateau » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:12 pm

Damned bad luck I'd say. Maybe the cabbie saw the gate open and was about to investigate the yard for anything worth taking, as Jacob's alluded to. Maybe the creature was waiting in hiding, ready to ambush any prey that walked by and the poor cabbie found more than he bargained for. Until we know exactly what creature we're hunting and its hunting methods, it's all conjecture.

Personally, I feel a hunting trip may be in order! Time to track the creature through the tunnels to its lair!
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:47 pm

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Nellie rolls her eyes at the last remark, shaking her head as she closes her notebook then putting it back into her bag.

"I think there are some other things that we need to address before we consider such a drastic option!" she says before turning to Professor Atwood "Thank you for your time; you have been most helpful." Nellie extends her hand to the professor.
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Priest » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:33 pm

Atwood takes the proffered hand, "Ah...Um...If you should happen to uncover the creature responsible for this attack the Zoologogical Gardens would be extremely interested in the future presentation of such a specimen. Alive and..." For a brief moment his eyes flick towards the hunter, "...untouched, if possible"
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:45 pm

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"Goodness! Don't encourage Mr. Roxborough he is already chomping at the bit! Nellie's eyes narrow "However, should it prove necessary to track this creature it would be most agreeable to have the backing of your department, Professor."
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby Papa Gateau » Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:38 pm

Fear not professor, I will do my utmost to bring back this creature alive, you have my word on that!

Thank you very much for your time, I am sure that we may meet again soon, a very good day to you sir!


Roxborough turns to Nellie his hand unconsciously lightly tapping his girth Miss Bly, I do believe we have another appointment to keep
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Re: Act III (a): 'At the Zoological Gardens'

Postby carnage_lee » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:53 pm

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Nellie thinking:   Goodness! He can't be hungry already, the man ate enough for three at luncheon and that was barely and hour and a half* ago.  


With a roll of her eyes Nellie nods to Roxborough "Indeed, thank you again Professor Atwood you've been very helpful and we may well be in touch at a later date.... should we have need to hunt this.... this... whatever it is."

OOC:   * a guess - but this can't have taken too long.  
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