Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

December 1880. The characters are tasked to assist in the case of a suspected haunting by a recently murdered landowner on Dartmoor. Investigations will drag them into a confrontation with an ancient horror, and a terrible curse.

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Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:56 pm

Wednesday December 15th

Paddington Station, 8am


Paddington.jpg


The train leaves Paddington promptly, bound for the West Country. It is still quite dark and the sky is overcast, threatening snow. The train passes through the west London suburbs and heads out to the countryside. The urban character of the city gradually gives way to the green of fields and meadows, although a light frost lays upon the land, the view sometimes obscured by the steam from the engine.

It is necessary to change several times as the destination is somewhat remote, and the track gauges are different. As the day wears on, the landscape takes on a more somber cast as the train rattles through steepening gradients, and the companions are confronted by the bare, windswept hills and boggy moorland of Dartmoor. There are glimpses of gnarled trees, bleak outcroppings of granite, and the occasional stop at a small, lonely village, but the countryside is largely bare.

Dartmoor.jpg


It is almost dusk as the train’s final destination, the small town of Princetown, is reached. A sign proclaims it to be the highest station in England, at a height of 1427 feet above sea level. The line terminates here, and our investigators disembark with their belongings, as it is from Princetown that they must reach their final destination at the village of Bargrove, and Bargrove Hall. With great gasping sounds, the engine shuts down for the night, and the crew begin to prepare it for the return journey in the morning.

A lone man shuffles out, wearing a station master’s uniform. In a gruff, thickly accented voice, he asks to examine tickets. No other passengers have disembarked. The investigators are quite alone.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Rooter » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:32 pm

Percy already misses the bustle of London, if not the pollution. He shows his ticket to the uniformed man. "Perhaps we should have sent a telegram ahead to have a driver meet here to take us to the Hall," he remarks to the others. "I don't much fancy spending the night here."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Philulhu » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:38 pm

”I should think Mr Shearer would have arranged a carriage,” said Captain FitzWilliam.

”Excuse me, Station Master,” he said to the uniformed official. ”We are visitors of Lady Allingham. Do you know if transport has been arranged for us to get to the hall?”
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:07 am

The man shrugs indifferently. He begins collecting the tickets from the companions, scarcely bothering to examine them.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Raiko » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:27 am

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The highest station in England, 1427 feet above sea level - well I certainly won't be seeing the new pier at Paignton then. Melody looks around at the bleak landscape; beautiful, but desolate and unwelcoming. Primal. She tries to laugh off her own unease.

"Hard to believe that somewhere so beautiful could be cursed."

Hard to believe that anyone would choose to live here, curse or no curse!

"It looks a bit like how my mother describes Inverness," she says to Alexander , smiling sweetly as she hands her ticket to the surly station master.

"If nothing has been arranged, there must be a pub or an inn close by the station where we can ask for help or directions Captain."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:09 am

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Alexander smiles back, absently handing his ticket to the man collecting them. "Ah, yes, Inverness is such a lovely city," he says, "especially with the Loch nearby. This also puts me in mind of the Highlands. I'm an Edinburgh man myself, not a Highlander, but I've been there and seen the beauty of the place. The moors, the mountains...1427 feet may be the highest point in England, but that's nothing in the Scottish Highlands."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Philulhu » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:34 am

Bristling at the obtuse response from the Station Master, Captain FitzWilliam marched out of the station to see if there was a carriage waiting on the road outside.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Rooter » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:17 pm

"Come along now, sir, surely you aren't going to leave a gentle lady and her voluminous luggage out here in the cold," Percy says to the station master, indicating Isolde while naturally neglecting to include Melody as a mere servant. "Be so kind as to send a boy for the next conveyance to Bargrove and have your porters ready to load."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:33 pm

The Station Master sniffs disdainfully at Percy and turns away.

Just as the risk arises of nerves becoming somewhat frayed, there comes the sound of hooves and wheels on gravel. Fitzwilliam spies a coach drawn by two white horses approaching up the lane to the station. The coach stops in front of the station and the driver climbs down. He is of late middle age and his face is heavily-lined, his black hair shot through with grey. Holding his cap in his hands, he approaches the party.

“Ah’m McKenzie he says. His accent is obviously Scottish; perhaps a surprise to those expecting a local man. “If you’re the party for Bargrove Hall, Lady Allingham sent me to fetch ye.”
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Philulhu » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:00 pm

”Well met, Mr McKenzie,” said Captain FitzWilliam. ”I was growing concerned that we might have to walk.”

Returning to the platform, he retrieved his travel trunk and carried it back to the carriage. He didn’t see the Station Master to speak to but determined that he would write a stiff letter of complaint to the railway company in the morning. Such a disagreeable fellow!

Spoiler:
Is the carriage covered or open? Is there enough space for everyone inside, if covered?
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby aine » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:00 pm

Isolde watches the dark clouds scudding over the low sky and shivers, "Isn't this so atmospheric! Cold too! She hurries towards the carriage, "Hello, McKenzie, my trunk and bags are on the platform; there doesn't seem to be a porter here."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Mr. Handy » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:44 am

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"A pleasure to meet ye, Mr. McKenzie," says Alexander with a broad grin, extending his hand. "I'm Dr. Alexander Campbell. It's good to meet a fellow Scot so far from home."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:03 pm

McKenzie seems a little taken aback, but after a moments hesitation he takes Alexander’s hand.

“Aye” he says, trying not to look Alexander in the eye. He then starts loading the luggage onto the carriage.

It is a tight squeeze, but both the bags and the society are able to fit onto the open-topped carriage. As they pass through Princetown, they are able to see a few shops, a post office and a small police station, as well as some simple but well-kept houses.

The carriage continues down the road towards Bargrove. McKenzie concentrates on his driving, not seeking to engage in conversation. He shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders if any questions are asked.

“The Mistress will tell ye aboot it” is the only information he will commit to. “Ah wouldnae know anythin’”.

As the coach rattles down the lane, the companions have a view of the valley, now bathed in the gentle glow of dusk. It seems almost serene, and it is hard to believe that an act of such shocking violence occurred near here recently. After about twenty minutes, they begin to ascend the hill on which Bargrove Hall stands, and can see the small village about a mile away.

The Hall is a magnificent Manor House dating from the Fifteenth Century. It has obviously been expanded and modernized over the years, but retains its essential character as the seat of a noble land-owning family, commanding impressive views of the surrounding countryside. Its façade is overgrown with ivy, and as the carriage draws closer, small lead-lined windows and an ornamental façade dotted with leering gargoyles can be seen. It is a two-storied building with an attic, and clearly observable east and west wings. A variety of outbuildings can be seen around the grounds; there is no wall or gate to enter.

As the carriage pulls up the door is opened, and welcoming light issues forth. Despite the age of the building, it is obvious that modern gas lighting has been installed. The staff, which numbers around ten individuals, is lined up to greet the guests. The most commanding member is of course the butler.

This individual introduces himself as Howard, a tall man with a slight stoop, who appears to be in his early sixties. The staff begin to unload the luggage while Howard ushers the companions through arched double doors of aged oak into the entrance hall, which rises the full height of the manor from floor to roof. Suits of armour stand in niches either side of the entrance, and medieval tapestries bearing coats of arms hang above them. A broad staircase sweeps up to the first floor.

The staff begin carrying the visitor’s bags up the stairs.

Lady Allingham would like you to refresh yourselves after your long journey before greeting you” Howard says politely. “She urges you not to rush on her account. After introductions have been made, dinner will be served. The entire staff, including myself, are at your disposal.”

Spoiler:
This is a big house and the investigators will end up exploring it, so please begin to get a sense of the layout. I’ll try to give you as much detail as I can.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Rooter » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:29 pm

Percy nods his approval. "Capital. I must say the lady has a nice little abode here." He gives the nearest suit of armor a tap. "Charles the Second, isn't it? I can see myself living in a place like this once fame and fortune come my way. Mind if I inspect the facilities?" Without waiting for a reply he heads upstairs, following the baggage, perhaps hoping to catch their host in an unguarded moment.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby aine » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:18 pm

Isolde waits to be shown her room and then goes to the window to look out at the darkening landscape. Having been both 'above and below stairs' she is unsure whether she'll be allotted a lady's maid or not. Either way, she is excited about the evening's prospects and prepares to change for dinner.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Philulhu » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:15 pm

Captain FitzWilliam walked across the hall slowly, leaning on his cane. His leg bothered him as a result of the travel, but not as much as he was letting on. It did give him the opportunity to examine the hall before he ascended the stairs and followed his trunk in the direction of the room he had been allocated.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Mr. Handy » Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:42 am

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Alexander takes a good look around as he heads up to his room, following his bags.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:28 pm

The guests are directed to the right of the stairs and can follow the servants to their rooms. There does seem to be a large number of rooms on the first floor, but all the doors are closed. Nothing seems out of the ordinary so far.

The companions are introduced to Mrs Beddowes, a plump and red-cheeked woman in her late thirties, and who must be the housekeeper. She shows the guests to their rooms, where steaming ewers of hot water await them. It is announced that after they are refreshed, Lady Allingham awaits them in the Parlour. The rooms are simple and clean, and generally unremarkable

Melody however is directed up a further flight of stairs to the attic, where a spare bed is provided for her. She is sharing with a young scullery maid named Mary, who is agog at the dark hue of Melody'sskin, such a sight being quite unusual in these parts.

Shortly everybody, including Melody, is asked to come to the Parlour.

The guests descend the stairs and turn right down a corridor. After turning left, they are directed into the Parlour. It is a large room, facing the front and side of the house. Overstuffed chairs are drawn around the fireplace, as the evening cold is drawing in. High, narrow windows display the dusk and the evening stars can be seen. The room is decorated with paintings of what presumably are family members, as well as small statuettes, trophies, and other objets d'art. A large canvas of an arrogant, fierce-looking man hangs over the fireplace, drape in black crepe.

A woman dressed in black sits in one of the chairs, facing the companions. She might be attractive, but her thin face is so drawn and exhausted-looking it is hard to tell. She is very slight in build. She doesn't rise, but in a polite and cultured voice announces herself as Lady Amanda Allingham, and bids the guests to sit down. Servants help direct our friends to these seats. Melody of course is left standing.

"I must express my sincere thanks for answering my summons" begins Lady Amanda. "I hope that our accomodations are adequate for your needs. I'd like to get to the point and explain why you have been asked here, and then we shall dine. Have you been made aware of the fate of my husband?" Her eyes are involuntarily drawn to the picture over the fireplace.
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:14 am

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"Thank you for your hospitality, m'lady," says Alexander with a bow before sitting, "The accommodations are excellent. We've heard the basic facts, though we know little more about it than what was in the newspapers."
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Re: Chapter 3: Heart of Dartmoor

Postby HoneyDog » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:47 am

Lady Amanda shudders. William had gone on his regular walk before dinner. He liked to stroll the fields where work was taking place. When he didn’t return some of the servants went to look for him. They…they found his body…” She covers her face with her hands.

After a moment, she is able to continue. “The police have been useless” she says, her face screwing up in dislike. “They pretend to have leads, but they have made no progress. The killers are right here! I’m sure of it!”
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