Wyvern and Westminster

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Game Date: 18 Sep 2010
Present: Cindy, Kim, Maer, Andy, and Jim

August 15, 1867, Thursday
Temple Bar and Westminster Abbey
London, England
4:00 A.M.

We are given our marching orders to find Rembecki and recover the abductees. Before we can leave Bow Street, Bertram and Flora show up in their evening finery, ostensibly to bail Lady Katherine out of jail. He’s rather surprised and somewhat deflated that no such assistance is necessary. He does have the carriage with him, however, and we commandeer it and him to drive us to the Temple Bar.

When we get there we present a sealed letter to the desk attendant. He in turn produces a key and a ladder for Beignet to use. Beignet has a strapping employee assist him up the ladder to the gryphon statue in the courtyard. The key is inserted and turned, it starts to glow and comes to life, and Beignet offers it Rembecki’s dinner napkin. The animated statue sniffs mightily and inhales the cloth. Beignet and the employee slide very quickly down the ladder and the gryphon flies off to Rembecki’s current location. We pile back into the open carriage. The gryphon leaves a glowing trail discernible to anyone with magical ability and we follow it to Westminster Abbey. The gryphon flies mightily and is unexpectedly shot down. It falls into the Thames before the Abbey and the sharp-eyed in our party spots movement on one of the Abbey towers.

Mindful of Ezekiel’s vision of the Russian flag flying over the Abbey, we quickly disembark and run inside the cathedral, looking to find a way to the tower. It’s dark inside. There are no guards. We are not stopped and questioned and this is strange—the cathedral is a national treasure and an important holy site. Surely there would be guards. We realize things must be worst than we thought and we start up the stairs to the tower Rembecki is on. Halfway there we encounter three small creatures—somewhat cute for their size, ferocious in temper, and very fast and hard to kill. They are imps, a first level demon, and summoned from Hell by human sacrifice. It’s highly likely that the Abbey guards were sacrificed to bring the imps over. We engage imps, all of us: Ezekiel, Bertram, Josephine, Lady Katherine, Flora, and Beignet. Within seconds it’s very clear that the imps are too fast for us to fight effectively and after the first few passes, we’re rapidly getting cut to ribbons. Beignet casts a confusion spell on the imps to slow them down and the tide turns in our favor. We take out the imp on Lady Katherine first, then the one on Josephine and lastly, the remaining one. Beignet runs ahead to the tower roof while the rest of us take stock. Josephine is the most hurt, as she has nothing in the way of armor, not even a ladies’ corset. Lady Katherine heals her with her magic, well enough that the other woman can go on to the roof to help Beignet.

Meanwhile, Beignet has engaged Rembecki on the roof, interfering with her plans. It’s apparent that she is casting a spell to animate the double-headed eagle on the Russian flag, whereupon to fly away with her kidnapped charges. Beignet sets the flag on fire, ending her plans. Both Mortimer and his fiancée Dashwood are standing off to the side, catatonic, but alive throughout the magical battle that ensues.

We just manage to haul ourselves through the hatch in the tower roof to help Beignet when Rembecki throws her Darkness spell. It’s a petty magic but highly effective to disguise her escape. Josephine barrels ahead on her hands and knees, hoping to catch hold of Mortimer much like she’d captured Nicolai earlier that evening. Her hand lands on a small foot—she’s caught Beignet. He demands she release him. She demands he point her in the direction of Mortimer. Beignet fumbles in the dark, unable to see exactly where Josephine is, and after an inappropriately placed hand lands on her person, he manages to push her toward her target. Josephine goes forward and finds Mortimer in the inky blackness but cannot find Selene Dashwood. The darkness disappears without warning and we’re chagrined to discover Rembecki gone with Dashwood likewise missing. The roof of the Abbey is also in danger of catching fire from the bits of burning flag. We quickly stamp it out as Josephine takes a still catatonic Mortimer in hand.

We look over the roof for clues as to Rembecki’s plans or whereabouts and find a notebook. Inside are many pages of handwritten notes and two curious things. First is a page of handwritten manuscript in an old Medieval style, in a language that is neither Latin or Greek or any recognizable western European language. There are a few Latin words mixed in with what appears to be Slavic writing. Second, a diagram in red and white is found, with sunbursts and arrows and some sort of two by two array arranged on the page. Very curious. We take the notebook with us.

Bertram, meanwhile, has chickened out of the battle on the roof, shouting he’s getting the constabulary. As we come down, the constabulary show up and we spend precious time explaining ourselves and the situation. Josephine also spends a minute going through the clothing donations left for the poor to find suitable coverhing: her shirtwaist and skirt are literally hanging off her in ribbons. She finds a sturdy soldier’s great coat in red and dons it. Thus covered from prying eyes, if not properly attired, she and the others take Mortimer back to Bow Street to deliver our reports to Sir John. Josephine and Beignet put aside their differences and deliver their report on the events at Westminster ably and concisely. He verifies that Selene Dashwood is the inventor of the device and we’re tasked to go to her residence to find any clues as to her whereabouts. Rembecki has the inventor of the steam innovation and our journey to the Continent is assured.

Sir John arranges an account with funds for our use and Beignet takes control of it. Any purchases for the expedition will have to go through him. Plans are quickly made to travel. Flora is included in our party as a Lady in Waiting to Katherine while Josephine plays her personal maid. The menfolk need no cover to preserve their reputations and after we’re dismissed, we turn for home—home being in this case, Lady Katherine’s. Josephine asks for a detour to retrieve her trunk from the Guilford Hotel where she’d stashed it upon arrival in London. Beignet assures her he will dispatch a footman of Katherine’s for it. Her possessions thus assured, Josephine climbs back into the carriage with the others.

What is also assured is some fallout on the personal front. In the inevitable declaration of sleeping arrangements once returned to Lady Katherine’s townhouse, Bertram is denied a room with his lover Flora. Beignet will not allow such openly scandalous behavior under his employer’s roof. Josephine is put up for the night in servants’ quarters in the attic. Despite Lady Katherine’s invitation, Ezekiel insists on leaving for his own home, there to sleep and prepare for departure. Beignet tells him to return early—they two have an appointment to see Col. Fleming at the Diogenes Club at 9:30 AM to explain the night’s events and the marriage proposal to his only child and daughter. Ezekiel agrees and bids us all a good night.

Lady Katherine takes Flora upstairs with her and they ready for bed. Katherine leaves orders not to be disturbed until 11:30 AM, intending to catch up on her sleep. Josephine is shown to her room in the attic and falls asleep on her bed fully clothed. Beignet stays awake to write the Pre-Nuptial Agreement to present to Col. Fleming.

Ezekiel shows up at the time specified and they’re taken to the Club. They are met at the door by a silent footman and shown to the Strangers’ Room. The Club is very strange, quite possibly the strangest gentlemen’s club in London, perhaps the Empire. No speaking is allowed outside the Strangers’ Room. No member speaks to or even acknowledges another member. The club is furnished throughout with comfortable chairs, newspapers, books, and cigars and it is redolent with the aromas of leather, tobacco and fine brandy. Ezekiel takes all of this in without a word and follows Beignet into the Colonel’s presence. The footman closes the Strangers’ Room door and the conversation begins.

What have you to say for yourself, Beignet?

Beignet tells his employer, in his own convoluted and detailed way, of the events of the previous evening, finishing his recitation by presenting the Pre-Nuptial agreement. The Colonel glances at it, asks Ezekiel if he’s sincere in his proposal and Ezekiel says yes. Can he support his daughter in the manner to which she is accustomed? Well, sir, on that matter ….

The Colonel orders Beignet to the next room to copy the pre-nup by hand. No, now. Go. Beignet leaves and the Colonel and Ezekiel are left alone to discuss things frankly. To whit: Ezekiel is not rich enough to support Katherine in the standard she now enjoys. While normally this would be a deal breaker in any marriage proposal, the Colonel is somewhat anxious to see his daughter married off. Amongst the Eldren, red hair is seen as a curse and red hair in a female Eldren makes her fair undesirable. Getting her married off to a human might be lowering herself by some standards, but at least she’ll be married. Marrying into the Eldren, on the other hand, is a step up in status for a human, so Ezekiel may yet come out ahead. Not that social climbing matters one jot to him—he’s smitten with Katherine and desires to marry her regardless.

The Colonel arranges for Ezekiel to work for his company to keep up appearances. Ezekiel accepts the employment, having little choice, and resolves to work out a way to keep his obligations to his old commitments even as he takes on his new ones. Beignet is called back in and the men wrap things up. Beignet and Ezekiel thank the Colonel for his time and return to Katherine’s townhouse, there to greet the ladies and have a late breakfast.

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