Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundrums

Romantic Horror, London, circa 1800

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Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundrums

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Fri May 01, 2020 9:49 am

Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundrums; Or, Mysteries Within and Without

Much time passes as Highdark Hall undergoes extensive repairs. The nearly constant sounds of hammers and saws fill the days, accompanied by not a few colorful and blasphemous curses from busy workmen. The months go by, and at long last only a few subtle scars remain upon the edifice to mark the extraordinary events which occurred in these otherwise peaceful surroundings.

Yuletide grows near. The Altumbers, displaying much gratitude for the many services rendered by their guests, makes plans for the approaching twelve days of celebration. The adventurers are invited to make suggestions for each day of festivity, it being Lady Highdark's whim that each daily celebration be of a different nature. It is a simple matter to obtain necessary provisions and gifts from the nearby town of Lowhaven, or, if more elaborate objects be desired, arrangements may be made to have them shipped from London, if enough time be supplied.

During this time of restoration, the infant Artemis delights her parents and grandparents with the healthy nature of her body and spirit. She is fair of skin, blue of eye, and possesses striking tresses of a deep orange color, quite thick for a child of her tender age. She exhibits great facility at crawling about with unusual grace and speed, and great curiosity about everything around her. The twins are fond of throwing bits of crumpled paper, and other such simple toys, to her, which she retrieves with remarkable facility and enthusiasm. Her appetite, much to the delight of Lady Highdark, is powerful, the babe being particularly fond of milk and finely minced fish and meat. Her mother dotes upon her, petting her and cooing at her for hours at a time.

Meanwhile, the challenges of daily life never completely fading away, word comes from the inhabitants of Lowhaven of a plague of thievery, many small farms having been raided by night, resulting in the loss of livestock and produce of the field. The criminal has not been identified, although some claim to have seen a large man skulking about in the darkness. A delegation of farm folk make petition to Lord Highdark for aid with this problem.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby SunlessNick » Fri May 01, 2020 4:47 pm

"I think we may guess who that is," says William of the reported large figure. (He may have privately joked that the babe is taking after the cat in more ways than just her name, though not in the presence of the family).
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby jp1885 » Fri May 01, 2020 9:02 pm

Image

During those months, when he is not pondering the nature of the faerie curse, Lepus contents himself by wandering the grounds (occasionally paying his respects to those strange denizens that lurk unsuspected around the estate) or earning his crust below stairs by mending pots and utensils.

Fortunately he is conversing with his friends above stairs when the lady of the house speaks of seasonal festivities. The wanderer suggests celebrating Yuletide in the same manner of his clan, to wit a nocturnal gathering around a large bonfire, with much feasting and dancing; the music being provided by a Gypsy band.

He also notices the similarity between the child and it's feline namesake - he is glad is not by profession a nursemaid, lest he be employed to look after girl!

As for the thefts, is in agreement with the brave soldier on that score too.

"Aye. Mayhap we should check that yon graveyard be not disturbed, yesno?"
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat May 02, 2020 3:35 am

Image

Henry has spent much of his time in the now otherwise deserted laboratory, continuing his researches into the reanimation of dead tissue, using electricity in his experiments as inspired by the late Luigi Galvani. When asked for a theme for one of the days, he suggests a focus on the Star of Bethlehem, with everyone going outside in the evening so he can show them the wonders of the night sky, give an elementary lesson on astronomy, and discuss the star that the magi had seen, which he suspects may actually have been a comet. The baby's similarity to a cat is concerning, and he wonders if she acts that way because she inherited the tendency from her parents, or if it was because her mother treated her that way, or perhaps a combination of the two. The fur-like hair definitely did not arise from treatment alone, of that he is certain.

"Yes, let us take a look," says Henry. "We can start with Miss Rye's grave. I am fairly certain that Miss Ravenscroft decided upon that one."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sat May 02, 2020 8:43 am

Setting out upon a fog-shrouded, chill evening, lanterns in hand -- for surely one would not wish to draw the attention of the Altumbers or their retainers whilst engaged in such errand -- the adventurers locate the unmarked grave of Miss Rye. There is evidence that it has been recently disturbed, and then covered up again with fresh dirt. It is common knowledge that resurrectionists, being in haste during the performance of their unlawful chores, rarely take such care to conceal their work.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat May 02, 2020 5:18 pm

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"It is as I suspected," says Henry. "Let's look around for tracks and see if we can determine which way they went from here. Miss Ravenscroft will need another laboratory in order to create a female monster."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby jp1885 » Sat May 02, 2020 7:51 pm

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"Aye, 'tis a fine idea."

Lepus takes a good look around.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby SunlessNick » Sun May 03, 2020 12:37 am

"Agreed," says William, doing the same.
OOC:   Ithink we agreed earlier that William is trained tracker when it comes to horses, but not otherwise.  


(If William is asked to select a theme for a day, he will suggest the hardship and endurance of the journey to Bethlehem).
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Sun May 03, 2020 8:26 am

Spoiler:
Tracking for those not specifically trained in the art reduces WIS by 10 (!) but I'll add 2 for an area with little traffic and another 2 for muddy ground, so total of minus 6. WIS rolls for each present = 5, 4, and 5, in that order
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 3d20:
18, 16, 20


Despite careful inspection of the surrounding area, all that can be determined is that one or more persons were present at this place recently, judging by vague footprints, much obliterated by recent storms. It is impossible to tell which way said person or persons may have gone.

The next morning is the twenty-fifth of December, the first of twelve days of celebration. A proposal comes from Lady Highdark, fitting her somewhat eccentric nature, that there be a contest of equestrian skill, to wit; that the riders, after selecting the steed that they prefer from the stables, proceed from the horse paddock on the westernmost side of the estate through the Moorland Gate, and out onto the expanse of wilderness for which that egress is named. From thence, the contestants to ride after Lady Highdark in a game of Follow-My-Leader, the winner to be the person who is the last to lose sight of her whilst in pursuit. (Lady Highdark has, of course, selected the most spirited animal for herself.) The prize for this victory is to be announced upon completion of the game.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby jp1885 » Sun May 03, 2020 12:07 pm

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Lepus is the first to admit he’s no equestrian, preferring his own two feet, but nonetheless throws himself into the competition with relish.

Rather than choose a horse, he shambles into the paddock and waits for a horse to come to him, reasoning that he’d rather a willing partner in the adventure.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun May 03, 2020 4:11 pm

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While Henry is not as skilled an equestrian as William (and few are), as a nobleman he has a lot of experience riding horses. He examines the horses in the stables, selecting first for surefootedness and second for speed.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby SunlessNick » Sun May 03, 2020 4:12 pm

William is more than willing to enter the competition - he has his own horse, so he will ride that one for the event.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby SunlessNick » Sun May 03, 2020 10:29 pm

Before the competion, begins, William will tell Lord Dunwich that he means to surruptitiously bring his brace of pistols on the excursion, and suggests that his Lordship does the same. "Whilst it appears that someone has indeed taken Miss Rye's body, we cannot know for certain that it was Miss Ravenscroft, or whether she harbours other intentions. The last words we heard heard her speak to her creation bespoke a grudge against the women of the house, and this ride of Lady Highdark's would afford her an opportunity. It may also be well to set your man Ivan on guard over Georgina during a time when many of the other men will be away from the house."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby Mr. Handy » Sun May 03, 2020 11:11 pm

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"I shall do as you suggest," says Henry, with a nod. "That is an excellent point. While Lady Highdark is more than capable of taking care of herself from what you told me, she is not invulnerable, and her daughter has shown no such capabilities."
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Mon May 04, 2020 9:47 am

Spoiler:
for future reference, the basic characteristics of a riding horse are cha = 5, int = 2, wis = 15, str = 80, dex = 15, con = 12, speed = 13. Lepus, due to the natural attraction between those of Gypsy blood and horses, has a steed with wis = 17. Based on Doctor North's choice of traits to select, his will have dex = 16 and speed = 14. Assuming that William's steed is used to battle, or at least trained by a soldier, it has con = 14, and the horse's dex is raised to 18 and speed to 15 when ridden at full speed, due to his Asset of Expert Equestrian. Lady Highdark having chosen the finest animal for herself, has a mount with with dex = 17 and speed = 15. The other male members of the households have horses with the basic characteristics.


The appropriate precautions being made to protect Georgina and those of tender age from harm, the race begins at dawn. The newborn sun casts shadows that reach far across the wild landscape of the moors. Lady Highdark raises a handkerchief, allows a proper amount of time to pass to instill a sense of anticipation in the contestants, then drops it and cries "Now!"

Spoiler:
based on the DEX noted above, dice rolls for Lady Highdark, Lord Highdark, Henry (the foundling), Harold, Lepus, Doctor North, and William, in that order. (the horses' DEX, not the riders.)
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 7d20:
9, 2, 8, 19, 11, 18, 3


It is a well known truism that the rough ground found on the moors makes for difficult riding, particularly when speed is of the essence. It is not very surprising, therefore, that there have already been minor mishaps at the very start. The beasts bearing Harold and Doctor North stumble upon the uneven earth. Harold chooses to withdraw from the contest, crying out that he shall return to the manor home to keep watch over Georgina and the babe.

Spoiler:
Doctor North's horse now has DEX = 15 and and SPEED = 13.


At the present time, only William is able to keep up with Lady Highdark, the others falling slightly behind. That gentlewoman offers her closest competitor a knowing wink.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby SunlessNick » Mon May 04, 2020 10:16 am

William laughs to himself and redoubles his efforts to keep up with his quarry.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby jp1885 » Mon May 04, 2020 8:38 pm

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Whistling some jaunty tune, Lepus trots along at a reasonably steady pace, seemingly more interested in his surroundings than winning the competition. Occasionally he stops whistling to answer some imagined question from his steed, before chuckling to himself and urging the horse onwards.

Now and then his stops to examine some interesting pool, tree or rock, before carrying on as if he has all the time in the world.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue May 05, 2020 2:40 am

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Not one to give up, Henry stays in the race and tries to catch up with the others.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Tue May 05, 2020 9:30 am

SunlessNick wrote:William laughs to himself and redoubles his efforts to keep up with his quarry.


Apparently more intent in enjoying her present company than escaping from it, Lady Highdark maintains a swift pace across the moors, but not one that causes her to pull ahead of William.

Spoiler:
as before, Equine DEX of 17 and 18
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 2d20:
20, 20


Perhaps because both of them keep an eye on each other rather than upon the rough ground they are traversing, Lady Highdark and William fail to recognize that they have ridden close to a nest of adders. Their steeds, possessing the dumb wisdom of such brutes, shy away from the half-hidden serpents, the only venomous snakes which Providence has seen fit to curse England with.

Spoiler:
human DEX now, 9 and 12 + 3 for Equestrian = 15
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 2d20:
17, 5


It is no great surprise that William, accustomed to maintaining his seat whilst engaged in the heat of battle, is able to remain in his saddle and steady his steed, but that the less experienced Lady Highdark, unable to control her mount, is thrown to the ground by the panicked beast. She is not seriously hurt, but lies far too near the adders for comfort.

Spoiler:
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 1d6:
5


It is quickly evident that there are as many of the deadly creatures as fingers on a human hand, and that they are in an aggressive mood, having been disturbed by intruders.
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Re: Book the Second, Chapter the Eighth: A Brace of Conundr

Postby VictoriaSilverwolf » Tue May 05, 2020 10:08 am

jp1885 wrote:
Whistling some jaunty tune, Lepus trots along at a reasonably steady pace, seemingly more interested in his surroundings than winning the competition. Occasionally he stops whistling to answer some imagined question from his steed, before chuckling to himself and urging the horse onwards.

Now and then his stops to examine some interesting pool, tree or rock, before carrying on as if he has all the time in the world.


Spoiler:
horses's WIS = 17
VictoriaSilverwolf rolled 1d20:
12


During a particularly idle moment when Lepus is engaged in watching a hare bound across the moors as if engaged on some important errand, the horse pulls away from the half-hearted grip of the rider upon its reins. Some whim or fancy leads it to turn away from the others, and head in a southerly direction. At no great distance ahead lies the ancient tower of stones known to locals as Duncan's Cairn.
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