Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishings

Romantic Horror, London, circa 1800

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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby SunlessNick » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:33 am

"Do I recall correctly that you have already seen Miss Ravenscroft's writing in laboratory?" asks William of Lord Dunwich. "If so, that is one party at least we have covered. The schoolroom will most likely give us the writing of all the children, Henry included."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:05 am

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"Yes, I've been in the laboratory," says Henry, examining the writing to see if it matches hers. "The author may have been spying on us at the time, and why should she want to spy on her own laboratory? Still, the more people we can eliminate as suspects, the better. A woman's handwriting is different than a man's, in any event, so it should not be too hard to determine if the writer is male or female."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby jp1885 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:35 am

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"Aye, and if the young mistress and the foundling are writing to each other, mayhap we can obtain letters hm?"

Lepus squints into the peephole.

"'twill be worth remembering what we have said in yonder room..."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:49 am

Time passes as these stratagems are undertaken with much subtlety. Meanwhile, Lord Highdark's heir remains in his diminutive state. Efforts to communicate with him fail, and it becomes apparent that his weirdly altered condition has reduced his intelligence to that of an infant, congruent with his size. There is much to-do within Highdark Hall as to the continuing absence of the young fellow, with his parents determined to inform the Law and begin an extended search for the lad. Georgina is, of course, quite distraught, and spends time alone in her chamber, weeping. The twins express concern, but, if truth be told, are easily distracted from distress over the loss of their brother by their usual amusements. One questions whether it be wiser to keep the diminished Harold hidden, or to break the frightening news to his family.

By hook and by crook, the adventurers obtain all of the samples of writing they have discussed. Careful study -- graphology being, in these modern times, as exact a science as phrenology -- reveals that the writing is that of a female, past the first blush of girlhood, but her exact age impossible to determine within the limits of natural philosophy. Notable is the fact that it does not match with any of the examples of handwriting which the party have procured.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby jp1885 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:04 am

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Lepus harumphs as he reviews the samples of handwriting laid before him.

"Have you still the letters that brought you hence? Mayhap one of them may match? Of course there be also another woman in the house..."

He points up to the attic.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby SunlessNick » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:20 pm

"We might also turn our attention to the staff," adds William. "Some of them must be able to write."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:45 pm

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"Yes, that is a thought," says Henry. "There is also Lady Highdark to consider. She would have cause to be jealous of Miss Ravenscroft."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:45 am

jp1885 wrote:
Lepus harumphs as he reviews the samples of handwriting laid before him.

"Have you still the letters that brought you hence? Mayhap one of them may match? Of course there be also another woman in the house..."

He points up to the attic.


As more time goes by, the letters from Lord Highdark, Georgina, and Miss Ravenscroft are all obtained and examined. Even if the sex of the unknown writer were mistaken, it is clear than Lord Highdark's plain, firm hand bears no resemblance to that of the scrawled notes. Nor does the elegantly simple, somehow charming hand of Georgina, nor the frenzied, heavily inked hand of Miss Ravenscroft (although, perhaps, that one is the closest.)

A return visit to the madwoman in the attic yields only more ravings. When presented with a quill, she seems not to recognize the use of it, instead stroking it upon her skin and attempting to bite it.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:50 am

SunlessNick wrote:"We might also turn our attention to the staff," adds William. "Some of them must be able to write."


Such inquiry, if it is to remain discreet and not alarm the servants, who would no doubt make some excuse to avoid cooperating with the adventurers, would have to go through Jasper, the Butler, who directs all the staff in one way or another.

"May I inquire as to the reason for this curious request for information, gentlemen?"
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:54 am

Mr. Handy wrote:
"Yes, that is a thought," says Henry. "There is also Lady Highdark to consider. She would have cause to be jealous of Miss Ravenscroft."


Lady Highdark having become an intimate acquaintance of William, the bold soldier is in possession of a billet-doux, unsigned of course, and full of witty double entendres, in her hand. It is clear that the elaborate, highly decorative writing bears no resemblance to that found on papers in the secret room.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:58 am

While all of this is going on, the continuing failure of Harold to make an appearance has led to the arrival of an investigating officer from the nearest constabulary. A bluff fellow of plain appearance and plain speech, he makes inquiry of all, particularly the adventurers, seeing as they are not part of the family nor staff, when they last laid eyes upon the fellow.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby jp1885 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:57 am

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Lepus avoids the investigator whenever possible - gypsies are always the first to be blamed when a crime is committed. When questioned he will play the idiot savant, muttering vaguely how he always kept a deferential distance from the young master and knew not his habits or whereabouts.

Keeping the young master comfortable but hidden for now, if pressed he we put forth a number of helpful theories, from a pretty girl in the village to the dashing recruiting sergeant in the nearest town. Hopefully this will buy some time.

When alone with his friends, he expounds a number of stategems, to wit:-

Does Henry still have the writing produced by the twins during his experiment? The word 'ardello' or somesuch? Does this match?

Could Henry begin work on an enlargement potion using samples from the badger and the spider? Maybe assisted by Miss Ravenscroft if she is able?

No doubt they would be watched, so perhaps the peephole could be coated with some kind of indelible ink? This might mark the watcher, who is presumably the same as the author of the scribblings.

Failing this, he will again suggest that the evil books be burned. Perhaps this will smoke out the mysterious voyeur?
Last edited by jp1885 on Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby Rooter » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:51 pm

"It has been several days since we saw Monsieur Harold healthy," Vincent tells the police inspector. "I am sure none of us would wish to see him harmed." Under his breath he mutters an incantation to Beguile the officer into accepting their innocence.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby SunlessNick » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:06 pm

"Quite," adds William. "No other strangers have come and gone - it may be that the lad simply desires some time alone."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:47 am

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Henry had thought it might be a good idea to tell the inspector the truth, showing him the little young man as proof, but now that the others have established their story, he doesn't contradict them. He is eager to reproduce Miss Ravenscroft's concoction so that Harold can be restored to full size, working with her if needed, though he has reservations about that. When alone with his companions, he shares a hypothesis with them. "The writing is much like Miss Ravenscroft's," he says. "Perhaps she has two distinct personas, working at cross purposes. Who else would have access to her laboratory and have the scientific skills necessary? They could exchange control of her body, neither one aware that they are both sharing it. She could be split into two halves, a good half and a wicked half. Remember how she changed when we fought the spider? Perhaps one of her inventions is responsible."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:19 am

Rooter wrote:"It has been several days since we saw Monsieur Harold healthy," Vincent tells the police inspector. "I am sure none of us would wish to see him harmed." Under his breath he mutters an incantation to Beguile the officer into accepting their innocence.


Spoiler:
Beguile acts to increase CHA by + 3 = 12
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 1d20:
17


Perhaps because his profession has made him overly suspicious of all persons with whom he comes in contact, the investigating officer does not seem to be persuaded. However, as he has no evidence of guilt on the part of any particular person, he also refrains from making any sort of accusation.

"So you say, Frenchman," the officer -- his name, by the by, is Dopple, Christian name unknown at the moment -- remarks, using a form of address not the most polite, "and so it may be. Still, I shall have to ask you and your companions to report your daily activities to me on a regular basis. Lord Highdark has kindly offered to allow me to remain in residence while I continue my investigation."

It is obvious that this will prove something of a nuisance, as it renders discreet activities more difficult to conceal than usual.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:29 am

It is a simple matter to cover up the peephole.

Spoiler:
Just for fun, whenever an activity like this occurs, which, I assume, you will want to keep away from prying eyes, I will have Dopple become aware of it, due to his prying into things around Highdark Hall, if I roll a 20 on 1d20.
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 1d20:
17
So far he is busy elsewhere.


Burning the wicked books, which are quite numerous, would be much more difficult, given the need to remove them to an area where the fire would not threaten the manor home. Transporting them to such a place would, of course, itself entail the risk of drawing unwanted attention.

Doctor North does indeed still possess the papers written by the twins whilst in a state of unspoken communication. The writing does not differ in any way from that of their normal hand, and certainly does not look, in its childish form, anything like that found in the hidden room.

The theory concerning Miss Ravenscroft is an intriguing one. It brings to mind a term invented by the writer Jean Paul -- despite his name, a German -- in his curious and droll novel Siebenkäs, published a score of years ago, more or less. This term -- Doppeltgänger -- refers to a double of one's self. Whether or not Miss Ravenscroft contains a sort of Doppeltgänger within her soul is an intriguing question, and one which would require much ingenuity to answer.

Be that as it may, it is quite obvious that recreating the Elixir of Augmentation without the aid of Miss Ravenscroft's experience -- to produce such an extraordinary substance de novo -- will be an extremely difficult task, even for one of Doctor North's great intelligence and knowledge of natural philosophy. Working with her would render the task much less arduous, although it will still not be easy; but can one trust her?
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby jp1885 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:16 pm

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Lepus smokes him noxious pipe thoughtfully, weaving a mental picture of him and his friends wheeling barrowfulls of forbidden tomes out to a bonfire under the astonished gaze of Dopple.

"An unusual name, yesno? Considering what we suspect of the fine mistress... Mayhap we could set a watch on the laboratory, the mistresses chamber and the hidden room?"
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby SunlessNick » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:11 pm

"If we recreate Miss Ravenscroft's concoction and restore Harold, he may know who did this to him," says William. "And it would allow a watch to be kept on Miss Ravenscroft at the same time."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Third: A Plague of Vanishi

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:47 am

This plan being acceptable to all, Doctor North and Miss Ravenscroft work together on the difficult process of producing another dose of the Elixir of Augmentation. The others are useful in keeping an eye on Miss Ravenscroft, who so far appears cooperative, although at times working in a frenzy, and at other times so languid that she is of no assistance at all. They also aid Doctor North by procuring certain herbs from places not far from Highdark Hall where they grow.

Spoiler:
1d20 for Dopple.
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 1d20:
6
Nowhere near.


After a few days the elixir is ready. Administered to the diminished heir, before the astonished eyes of all he grows to normal size in a matter of minutes, not without much evident pain on the part of the lad, his clothing and other accouterments also regaining their normal dimensions. He appears that he has regained his wits as well, but evidently has no memory of his remarkable transformation.

With some heat, he stands and addresses the witnesses to his recovery.

"What is the meaning of this? What have you done to me? The last thing I remember, I was alone in my room, when I suddenly felt very sleepy. Come, come, confess your intentions, or I shall be forced to take action."
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