Monday 1st May, 1893 - The Doctor is In.
Belladonna spends time in the Ripper Lab, first of all removing Rig's hands, in the hopes that doing so will also remove the compulsion to gamble that came with them. Leaving him with his stumps bandaged she moves on to taking the requisite components to make Moon Claws (including the hands) from the Werewolf corpse brought in by Carmen.
Tuesday 2nd May, 1893
Rig undergoes surgery to give him Moon Claws. The Surgery is a success, but only just, though Rig takes no further damage from the implant.
Saturday 6th May, 1893
Garvin's foot is fully healed and he undergoes surgery to have the Werewolf's eyes implanted. The Retinal graft is a complete success, granting him perfect vision, even in the dark, and somehow also enhancing his sense of 'danger' somewhat. While Belladonna attempts to harvest more parts from the werewolf, there is not enough remaining to be of any real use.
Saturday 13th May, 1893
Garvin is fully recovered from his surgery and takes the boys out camping.
Wednesday 17th May, 1893 - Of Renovations, Researchers and Rituals
Carstairs recieves this telegram.
Thursday 18th May, 1893
Carstairs shares the contents of the telegram he received with the rest of the lodge. Stating that since they have joined the Rippers all of their contact with the outside world has been more than a little dangerous, he requests that others travel with him, and if he is wrong, at least they can have a pleasant stay in the south of France. He has already taken the liberty of booking a train carriage and passage on a steamer from Southampton. Fortunately for him, the others agree to accompany him.
En Route to France
- Rig nearly gets himself arrested in an altercation with some travelling soldiers.
- Mrs MacTannon arranges for some brief lessons in French for the travellers, enabling them to at least identify themselves and ask for basic directions and needs.
- Carstairs acquires a weapon with an interesting provenance. (Drew an Ace on the Dramatic Interlude!)
- Belladonna attends an Alienist seminar aboard the steamer, and recruits a fellow Alienist to the Rippers Cause (Drew a Joker on the Dramatic Interlude)
- Garvin remenisces about his last visit to the south of France, and Marseilles, in particular.
Wednesday 24th May, 1893
The group arrives in Arques, Garvin secures 4 rooms a M. Gilbert's guest house, and while Sir. Robert and the Reverend move in, the rest head to Dr. White's villa.
Arriving there, they find the house empty, and make a search finding these items, along with a series of drawings of human sacrifice and interaction with demonic forces in the local area.
That evening, while the others prepare a meal, Carstairs peruses the Journal, and resolves to investigate the Church dig-site that evening, after dinner.
Dinner is interrupted by two Gendarmes, who have seen the lights in Dr. White's house and have come to investigate in the hopes of finding someone who could identify a body, found hanged with their own belt, in a hotel in Marseilles. Documents found on the body identify it as Dr. White, but a formal identification is required by law. Carstairs, keen to investigate Arques, reluctantly agrees to go to Marseilles, but refuses Belladonna's request to travel with him to view the body.
After Dinner, Carstairs leaves the house to head for the Church dig site, followed by the others. They meet together and resolve to explore as a group. They find the Dr. White's excavation tools, and investigate the crypt, finding the original images that the sketches found in Dr. White's house were made from, along with what appears to be a hidden tunnel. As the tunnel will require excavation, they resolve to deal with it on the morrow.
Thursday 25th May, 1893
Heads to Marseilles, where he identifies the body of Dr. White. He also discovers that while the room in which Dr. White died has been cleaned, as the Gendarmes are certain that it was suicide and there is no further need for investigation, that one of the attending Gendarmes is an amature photographer, and has taken pictures of the room. With a generous bribe (mostly using the dead Doctors money from his personal effects!) Carstairs is allowed to look at the pictures, and realises that the death can't have been suicide, as there was no way that Dr. White could have hung himself in that position. The Gendarmes, however, are not convinced, preferring the simple explanation of suicide and no need for further investigation.
Carstairs also realises the following.
- No suicide note has been left - it is rare for a suicide to not leave some kind of explanation for their friends and loved ones.
- It is curious that Dr. White would travel to Marseilles to commit suicide shortly after sending a Telegram to Carstairs to meet him in Arques.
- Dr. White's journal states that a strange man was dogging his footsteps - perhaps there is a connection between this man and Dr. White's death?
He spends the afternoon, while waiting for his train back to Arques, researching the area around Arques in the Marseilles library. Of particular interest are two local families, the Blancheforts and the de Hautpouls, two Templar lines.
Visit Livre's D'Arcanum and enjoy a cup of tea with Madame Edith. They tell her they are friends of Dr. White's, but not that he is dead, and are able to secure a look at a book that Dr. White had ordered "The True History of the Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon".
Mrs MacTannon, Garvin and Rig
Visit the Arques Museum and manage, due to misunderstandings of language, to get themselves thrown out of the museum. They spend the rest of the day exploring the town with Sir Robert, before returning to Dr. White's house.
Beneath the Church
As a group they return to the Church dig, and re-excavate the crypt, opening up the tunnel that was discovered the previous evening. Following it, Carstairs realises that it must be heading towards the tower further up the hill. It terminates in a solid stone wall, which Garvin and Rig are able to move. Beyond they discover a circular room, with five exits, other than the one they have created to enter. A set of stairs rises to the ceiling, where a broken trap door reveals that the entrance has been covered over with concrete. In the centre of the room is a plinth, on which is enscribed, in latin, the words "Seat of the Head". There is also a Chest in the room, which Carstairs examines, and then opens, finding a book, a long robe and a Silver Dagger, all of which he begins to pack away as sounds can be heard approaching from the corridors the group did not enter by.
Finding themselves attacked by Ghouls the group defend themselves, Mrs MacTannon and Sir Robert being badly hurt and paralysed by the beasts attacks. Rig takes one of the bodies in the hopes that Belladonna can use parts for some further Rippertech enhancements, and, battered as they are, they return to Dr. White's house to recover from their experiences.
Returning to Dr. White's House
Wondering where his associates have been, having not seen them for some time, the Reverend and the Men of Brasov walk up to Dr. White's House, to find it locked and unlit. They do, however, see some lights moving about on the hillside above, and decide to lay in wait for whoever it might be approaching.
As the others make their way down the hillside, Mrs MacTannon and Rig are swept up into the air by some curious single-winged creatures, who take them quite high, then let them drop. Rig breaks his foot, but Mrs. MacTannon's fall is broken by some tree branches and she escapes relatively unharmed. A battle ensues in which several of the group find themselves lifted high into the air, before being dropped to the ground again, the Men of Brasov find themselves cowed by the foul fiends of the air, until the Reverend instills the fear of God (and the Reverend himself) into them, bringing them back into the battle.
With the fiends defeated, the group repair to their beds, but not before Carstairs has taken time to read the book that he recovered from the room presumed to be beneath the tower - which turns out to be the diary of Raymond de Blanchforte, a templar from the 13th Century - who details the preperation for a ritual to summon a dark god, along with other templars named de Hautpoul and Steele.
Friday 26th May, 1893
Much of the day is spent visiting either Madame Edith's book shop, or the Arques Museum, researching the local families and their histories. It is discovered that the Blancheforte family were rumoured to be Vampires and their bodies are said to lie in their family crypt, awaiting an awakening, though the line died out some 100 years ago. The de Houtpouls were a family of much less temporal power than the Blanchefortes, but were afforded the same level of respect, as they were rumoured to be practicioners of black magic, and none wished to cross them. The family still exists, and it is M. Houtpoul and Sons, a local builder, that is responsible for the renovations currently being performed at the Blanchforte tower, up in the hills above Arques.
M. Houtpoul is visited that afternoon, and it is decided that he is hiding something, though none can be sure quite what.
Another expedition to the Blanchforte Crypt is undertaken, this time to open the sarcophagi and lay the vampires within to rest. To at least a small level of disappoinment, the legend of the Blanchfortes as Vampires proves to be unfounded, though it is discovered that one of the line was buried with a Greatsword made of Cold Iron! The blade is left with its former owner.
The tunnels from which the group were attacked by ghouls are explored further, and prove to open out, after some time, onto the hills above Arques. Seeing that dawn will soon come, the group resolve to investigate Houtpoul and Son's building yard and offices before returning home.
Entering the office by the 'unlocked' door, Garvin is stealthy enough to avoid awakening a guard dog, that he slays with a thrown knife. Only upon retrieving the knife does he discover the steely texture of the hound's fur - revealing the beast to be a Devil Dog!
Searching through Houtpoul's office discovers notes that suggest he has recently purchased a metal head, dated to the 13th century from an antique dealer in Marseille - though no note of delivery has been found.
Also found is a page torn from an old book, detailing that a certain planetary conjunction will occur in two night's time (Sunday night), which leads the group to believe that a ritual to summon the Horned God will occur on that evening!
Burning down the builder's yard to cover their tracks the group buy pastries for breakfast and catch a couple of hours sleep, before travelling to Marseille to investigate the antique dealer.
Saturday 27th May, 1893
Leaving Carstairs behind to finish his researches, the rest of the group head to Marseilles, to the antiques shop that Houtpoul dealt with. Sir Robert arranges the purchase of a rather nice antique sideboard, while the others look for items that might link the dealer to the Templars. There is a 13th century statuette of a templar knight, but little else. Garvin decided that questioning the dealer elsewhere would be wise, to moves to knock him out with a sap, but as he goes to do so, a shot rings out and the dealer's head explodes! Outside, Mrs MacTannon and Rig give chase to the man that fired the shot, but lose him in the crowds. The Gendarmes soon arrive and arrest everyone in the antique shop. Their involvement in the shooting incident is soon cleared up, but the issue of the large number of knives that Garvin is carrying, along with the pistols held by the Menof Brasov prove a sore point with the Gendarmes. A generous 'donation' to the Police Retirement Fund from Sir Robert ensures that they are freed, though their weapons are confiscate.
Belladonna telegrams the Paris lodge, asking for assistance, and then they group leave Marseilles, to return to Arques that evening.
Sunday 28th May, 1893
After a night plagued with dark dreams that leaves some of the group out of sorts, it is realised that a ritual to summon a Horned Deamon, perhaps the Baphomet, is likely to occur this evening. The most probable location for this to occur is decided as being the Tower, built in years gone by by the Blancheforte family, and now being renovated by M. Hautpoul and Sons.
A case arrives by courier from the Paris Lodge, delivered to Belladonna, containing some weapons and armour to replace those confiscated by the Marseilles Gendarmerie. Reverend Steele hires a carriage, and after the morning service rides with all haste to Toulouse, where a retired Werewolf hunter, and former acquaintance of his, resides. He is able to acquire a pair of Rifles and an Elephant gun, on loan for the next few days, which will bolster the armoury available to the Rippers.
Garvin and Carstairs head up the hill to scout out the area around the tower, discovering that the tree line ends some 300' before the tower, meaning that any closer scouting will be difficult. There are a large number of folk on the hillside, who appear to be building bonfires around the tower, approximately 100' away from the tower itself. Four can be seen, at roughly equal intervals, and it can be surmised that a fifth fire is also being built, out of sight on the other side of the tower.
Hoping that their workaday clothes will provide an adequate disguise, the duo move closer to the tower, but back away when they see a guard leading a pair of large, dark-haired dogs.
There is much talk of how to go about disrupting the ritual to summon the Baphomet. The Reverend makes oblique references to the likelihood of a sacrifice, and the possibility that should the sacrifice occur 'too early' or 'not at all' then the summoning is likely to fail.
Much talk on the matter ends with the following plan.
Belladonna and Mrs. MacTannon will make their way through the trees and set a blaze that might distract, or even draw away, some of the men seen building the bonfires. They will then make their way back to the Villa, and safety.
Sir Robert, armed with the Elephant Gun, and two of the Men of Brasov, equipped with Rifles, will wait in the Treeline, their task to target anyone climbing the tower or around the bonfires. This will give cover for others to advance accross the 100 yards of open ground between the trees and the Tower.
Arriving at the tower, Garvin, Carstairs, The Reverend and his men will disable any that have not already been felled by the riflemen, and thwart the ritual before it can be completed.
Belladonna and Mrs. MacTannon perform their part of the plan with no hitches.
The remainder of the lodge travel towards the tower, and in the light of the setting sun they realise that the place is deserted. Carstairs strides up the hill, eager to see what is within the tower while there are no foes present. Garvin follows after him, and the two are set upon by guardian hounds, which Carstairs shotgun makes short work of.
Hearing the single blast, but no other sounds f battle, Belladonna and Mrs. MacTannon head to the Tower, rather than returning to the Villa.
By the time they have arrived, the Tower has been fully explored. The first two levels are accessible from within, and there is a trap in the ground floor that has been filled in with concrete, suggesting that the ghoul infested basement found days before is indeed below the tower.
The Third floor can only be accessed by squeezing through the arrow slits on the outside of the tower, having first climbed the scaffold surrounding it.
The Fourth floor has been destroyed, many years ago, but a wooden platform has been erected over the top, which is carved with arcane symbols.
When the ladies arrive, a new plan is hastily formed.
Sir Robert and the Riflemen will perform much the same task as in the earlier plan, save that they will not begin shooting until they see someone climb the scaffold. The rest of the group will secrete themselves within the Tower on the First Floor - the sound of a gunshot their signal to leave the tower and attack. Being the smallest, and thus best suited to wriggling through the arrow slits, Belladonna will use the scaffold to hide on the Third Floor, and deny the higher portions of the scaffold to any who attempt to move higher.
To prevent anyone climbing to the platform on the top level, several rungs of the ladder are sawn through by Garvin, who informs Belladonna that he has done this.
Time passes, and night falls. Belladonna becomes very cold and uncomfortable as she waits.
As the distant church clock in Arques strikes 10, several groups of folk carrying torches can be seen making their way through the trees. Fortunately Sir Robert and the Riflemen are well concealed. The torch-bearing men break into groups of five, with one group moving towards each pre-prepared bonfire. They can be overheard talking about many inconsequential things.
As the clock strikes 11, they set the bonfires ablaze, throwing handfuls of powder into the flames that makes them burn un-natural colours. Still, the rifle-shot does not ring out, as no-one attempts to climb the tower.
As the clock nears 12, Belladonna hears movement on the roof above her, and is surprised that no rifle shot has alerted those in the tower to the cultists ascent. Whispering to those below, a hushed discussion recalls with some dread that they were attacked by flying creatures that could carry a man into the air, but a few days ago - perhaps the leaders of the ritual have ascended the tower in this manner!
A charge out of the tower alerts the cultists to their presence, and Carsairs shotgun fells over half a dozen with a single blast. At this, Sir Robert and the Riflemen also let fly, while Rig Charges to the attack, protected by the Magics of Mrs. MacTannon.
Belladonna can hear chanting coming from above, so moves to climb the damaged ladder, but a combination of her lack of sleep from the previous night, and stiff bones from so long waiting on a cold stone floor prevent her form climbing to the summit.
As the battle continues at the base of the tower, the fallen cultists begin to rise, heedless of their wounds, and attack once more. Several of the group are shaken to the core by this cadaverous assault and stand dumbfounded for a moment, as the corpses move in. Something dark gives way in Rig's mind and he shouts out the names of the beast. As he does so, shadowy figures rise from the ground around him and send the risen dead that surround him flying in all directions! Garvin and the men of Brasov do their best to fight their way to the ladders on the scaffold so that they might ascend to the aid of Belladonna, but are hemmed in by the animated corpses until the Reverend, calling on the powers of the most high to banish these "Abominations of God" from his sight, sends a pulse of holy light from his crucifix that stuns, and in some cases disintigrates, the undead.
Belladonna, summoning up reserves of strength she did not know she had, finally makes it onto the roof, to find five chanting cultists in robes, one of whom has a drugged Madame Edith in his arms, with a knife to her chest! She throws herself accross the tower to the rescue of the old woman, but finds herself grasped from behind by one of the other cultists.
Three Battles now rage, one on the ground against the cultists, both risen and unrisen, another on the scaffold itself as Garvin tries, persued and hindered by cultists, to climb to Belladonna's aid, and a third on the top of the tower as Belladonna does her utmost fo disrupt the ritual and keep her life. Her life is not forfeit, but her dress suffers the blows of the enemy, and she finds herself scandalously unclad from the waist up as the cultists knives divulge her dress and corsets of their fastening. This proves, in a most uncanny way, to be her salvation, as the distraction provided by her nudity allows her to throw one of the cultists from the top of the tower, as Garvin finally reaches the summit.
Garvin, somewhat distracted by Belladonna's state of undress himself, nevertheless resolves to stop the ritual, diving upon the bronze head in the centre of the tower, but finds himself locked in a battle of wills with the almost-summoned Baphomet. Belladonna, stunned momentarily, can but watch as M. Houtpoul, revealed as the leader of the cultists, advances on Garvin, bringing his knife down just as the Sailor is able to wrench his mind free of Baphomet and his hands free of the Bronze Skull.
The two men engage in a duel either side of the bronze skull as the three remaining cultists on the roof reach a triumpant finish to their chant, and two of them grab the third, keen to make the required sacrifice, no matter who! Seizing her opportunity, Belladonna attacks the group of three, and is able to send a second cultist falling to their doom.
Meanwhile, below, the few remaining cultists begin to flee, but the risen dead prove to care not for their losses. The riflemen and Sir Robert cease their firing, Sir Robert drawing his blade and charging towards the tower, slicing a Zombie in two en route. The Reverend begins to pray for the salvation of Igor McQueen, felled by one of the undead during the battle, as Rig pushes the corpses that he has sent back to death from him.
The knife fight between M. Hautpoul and Garvin continues, with both nearing the end, but neither willing to give up. A cry from Belladonna distracts Garvin momentarily, giving Hautpoul the opening he needs. Hautpoul's knife strikes true and Garvin is felled, and can feel his life-blood ebbing, and can only lie on the tower roof watching his animus vitae flow towards the bronze skull at its centre, while Belladonna faces M. Hautpoul.
Carstairs finally makes it to the top of the tower, and as he climbs over the ruined battlements he lets fire with his pistol, blowing Hautpoul away, he is swiftly followed by Sir Robert and Rig, who make short work of the remaining cultists.
With Rig's coat about her shoulders to protect her decency, Belladonna rushes to Garvin's side, and is relieved to find that he still lives, even though his wounds will require surgery - a double blessing, as his blood has pooled around the bronze head, and who is to say what would have happened had the sailor passed on ...
Monday 29th May, 1893
Carstairs makes explanations to the police in Arques that the Hautpoul family were devil worshipers who had built up a cult in the area - and it was fortunate that he and his companions were able to put an end to their unholy practices. o mention is made of the summoning or of the raising of the dead. The Gendarmerie promise that they will hunt down any of the remaining satanists.
The lodge travel to Toulouse and after some strings are pulled, are given access to the operating theatre at the hospital there. Belladonna is able to preserve Garvin's strength, repairing the damage done by the Cultists knife the previous night. The group then return to Arques to gain some rest before their journey home.