1879: The Expendables

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arcomniflash
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:17 am

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by arcomniflash » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:03 am

I arrived back at my office a couple of days ago to find a letter sitting on my desk. Goodness knows how it got there, but it was from someone called Lord Hastings, inviting me to a luncheon the following day. I'll admit I've never heard of a Lord Hastings, and found the idea that someone could sneak into my office to deliver it past a locked door rather alarming. The door showed no sign of forced entry nor tampering so...magic, I presume. In any case, I decided to attend lunch with the man to see what this was all about.

An elf. Of course. Mysterious as they come, asking me to sign myself on for some mission to the Americas. Had a drafted contact all ready to go too. Feh, normally I would have declined such a thing (politely, of course, I'm not a barbarian), but he alluded to knowing something about my...private matters. I'll admit he had my curiosity at that; could it be that he has information about my father's murder? Perhaps, perhaps. So I signed his damnable contract, and I'll scour every scrap of information he has from him once this is done.

Before parting company, the elf handed me a dossier with travel papers, forged identification documents and money. Quite a lot of money, something to the tune of $32...nothing to turn one's nose up at. Apparently I would be travelling to New York, and meeting with a group of...individuals. A rather motley crew by my reckoning. According to the paperwork, while in the US I'll be under the name Paul Cromwell, an inspector from Interpol. Well, well, at least the vocation is similar, and being from Interpol should give me a lot of sway in certain circles.

It was a long flight to America via airship, and the information I was given told me to head directly to the zoo and join in an investigation regarding some sort of winged lion. Very well, it appears sleep will have to wait for later. My new associates were easy enough to find; one could hardly miss such a mixed bunch running around pretending to be the press. The troll, Smythe, according to he notes I was given, made a rather good first impression. He strikes me as a military man. Good stock that.

Meanwhile the scientist, McFly, made it immediately evident as to why I was asked to come along on this endeavour. He seems intelligent enough, but its as if his mind is...fractured, somehow. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much science. I'll admit I didn't speak much to the other two. Lord Bentley seems a nice enough sort, though I'm not sure exactly how he is connected to the aristocracy...perhaps something to find out later. The elvish woman, Erica, was rather too distracted by the winged lion to speak with me. Fair, I suppose, it is an unusual sight after all.

Moreover, it turns out the creature can speak directly into your mind! From what I can tell, it asked each of us a riddle and, on a correct answer, allowed us a question. It has quite an...imperious demeanor, but it's hard to tell if that's because its some kind of magical beast or simply because it's a cat. From our questions, we learned that it answers questions because that is its purpose, that it is extremely old, and that it comes from somewhere called Erisia.

A quick look in the local library told us nothing about the place, leading me to believe that it may be older than recorded history. Most curious, is the lion inhabited by a spirit? Was this some form of Looking Glass Fever, specific to animals? It certainly seems old from the way it speaks, and I resolved to asked the zookeeper a few questions about it.

Posing as Paul Cromwell, I managed to get some information out of the zookeeper. The lion was originally found in Africa, near the Sahara desert; a rather odd climate for a lion to be in. It was then purchased from the African native who caught it and delivered to the zoo by boat. After asking to see the sale receipt, I was directed to the zoo office. Evidently, my associates had been listening in, since they were attempting to gain access to the office under the guise of reporters, and the office clerk was having none of it. Good grief.

I managed to gain access to the office myself; as previously mentioned, you have a lot of clout when you're from Interpol. The receipt was a ragged thing with barely any information on it, but the clerk did tell me where I could find the man who dealt with the sale. Seems she found him somewhat...distasteful. Ah well, at least now we have an address to look into...

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 840
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by ChrisDDickey » Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:08 pm

Lord Bentley Bootles Journal.

Lord Hastings sent us a new colleague, a Paul Griffith, using the identity of Paul Cromwell, an Interpol detective. So far we have not exchanged real histories, but he seems very comfortable calling himself police. He arrived here in NYC on an airship that arrived less than 24 hours after our airship, so went directly to the zoo to meet us. 

So far we have visited the zoo two mornings in a row. We learned from a zookeeper that they had been calling the lion with wings Queene, but since she obtained such remarkable jewelry, many are calling her Cleopatra now instead. She was captured near the Sahara, in a place where lion encounters are almost unheard of. We don't yet have the exact date worked out, but it was several months after the rabbit-hole opened, and at the very leading edge of the cases of looking glass fever in humans. The person who captured her bargained for a quick sale, since he felt the lion looked sickly and he was afraid she would die on  him, and indeed when the lion arrived at the zoo, they thought it looked a bit sickly  also.  "Charlie Newman": Brokered the deal. Zoo office lady doesn’t like him. They estimated the lions age at about 3 years (fully adult, not young adult nor middle aged). Queene continued to display signs of ill-health and discomfort. Then suddenly, 3 months after it arrived, it sprouted wings! After that her apparent health quickly improved, she put on an appropriate weight and became the magnificent specimen she is today. 

As we had been warned might happen, the lion chose to speak to us and ask us riddles. We were fortunate that each of us was asked, and each successfully answered. The question and answer part of the exchanges went as follows::"but I am not Cleopatra.  What shall I call you? that is a very nice question, you may call me Rajah". (or maybe she said Rasha) . "Why are you asking riddles? Because it is what I do.""So good to see your kind (Trolls - this was Smyth) come back. Why did you come back to the zoo after you flew off, Because this place will do.""Why do you exist? Because the world and the passions decree it". "I come from a place called Indrasia, as to where I will go, nobody knows such things."She spoke to me last. Her voice, which was heard solely inside my head, had the characteristics of a low rumbling purr. She asked "If you have me, you want to share me, if you share me, you no longer have me". I was stumped for a good long minute, The riddle seemed familiar, and I was certain it had been included in the book of riddles I read at the library last week. I finally did not so much solve it as recall the answer was "A Secret". I asked: "Tell us about the nature of this jewelry, where it came from and how you acquired it." The reply was "It was always mine, it was made for me. 

On the second visit the Sphinx was silent (to us), except to more or less tell some of us that were apparently thinking at it very loudly to shut up.

I took several photographs, but long to take some closeups, both of her and of her jewelry. I felt strangely safe with her, (but not, of course, the 4 normal lions that share her exhibit). Perhaps we can arrange with the zoo if we might somehow get a private photography session in the early morning hours. No tourists, no other lions. 

Psitanium
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:01 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Post by Psitanium » Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:19 pm

We went bar-hopping under the guise of research. We were looking for an exotic animal dealer who may have found this winged lion and brought it to the States. We found the gentleman in question slouched in a corner, obviously in a very positive mindset. After some fermented bribery, he confirmed that he did indeed bring a lion to the zoo. Inspector Mustache tossed him some coin for his trouble. Although I feel the information given was worth far less, such as nothing. It appeared that our goal of determining if the talking winged lion was a talking winged lion had been completed. It was time to consider moving on to our next outing in the States, meeting a man named Kenneth Tuckey. Apparently he had a massive estate our west and it would take us nearly a full day by train to reach it.

Once at Mr. Tuckey’s estate, we settled in and began our quest: to uncover the truth behind a ghost story that may be real. According to legend, there is a ghost that has been haunting the Licking River. Why you would lick a river is beyond me. Perhaps that is how you become a ghost. Details were scarce at this point.
While the others went on fact-finding missions, I felt it was better to go straight to the source and wandered over to the Licking River. After several minutes of contemplation, I attempted to lick the river, which I regretted instantly. This mission had already put a bad taste in my mouth, literally. As I stood back in a recoiled horror, I glanced around at the surrounding area. For the most part, this river was home to a myriad of farms. Since there was nothing else to observe, I figured peering into the astral would help at this point. But no medium for which I could do so was present.
And then an idea hit me. Farms usually have milk and milk is placed into bottles. So if I could pinch a milk bottle, I could use it as a lens for astral observation. But this seemed an odd farm, with no milk bottles or any other loose glass lying around for strangers to pick up. So I did the only sane thing and imbue a chicken egg with astral sight gel and hurl it at a shed window. While it was masterfully crafted as always, there was nothing in the astral over the river. Also, the smell of this farm reminded me far too much of the taste of that river. It was time to leave before someone with a pitchfork started asking questions. I have been down that road far too many times, I must say.

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 840
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:03 am

Lord Bentleys journal. 

We wrapped up our investigation of the Sphinx for now. We went to the abode of Charlie Newman, whom the zoo had told us brokered the sale of the lion in question. We talked to his wife who said he was out drinking the money he had gotten from the sale of a snake. We checked local bars and the others found him and he sold them the name of the dealer he purchased the lion from, a "Hakuhusu" in the port city of Mombasa Kenya. Having decided that we had learned all that we could at present without a trip to Africa, we decided to leave NY for Kentucky. 

The train journey took about 20 hours, and we obtained sleeper berths to Cincinnati, then took local transport to Covington, just across the Licking river from Ft Thomas. In Covington we obtained rooms at the Nice Elm Inn. Ft Thomas and Covington are sleepy bedroom towns just across the Ohio river from Cincinnati, the Ohio is an impressive body of water. 

Our mission was to investigate reports of a ghost haunting a bridge in Ft Thomas, see what the truth of the situation is, and possibly put the ghost to rest if we can, but mostly Hastings just wanted us to figure out what is going on. Apparently there are increasing reports of supernatural activity, and ours is part of a broader effort to get a greater understanding of the phenomenon. Our brief was very unspecific, including not mentioning which of the several bridges in and around Ft Thomas was the one that was haunted. 

The story was hard to investigate because the residents of the area were sick and tired of the notoriety, and to a man and woman refused to say anything which would spread the story. To them it was old news, and they were all more than ready to move on. Our cover stories as reporters turned out to be a very poor choice due to the dislike of reporters the towns had developed.  The local paper, the Covington Post had faced a boycott until it agreed to stop running any more stories referencing the incident, and the whole town was giving the collective cold shoulder to any non-local reporters who dared admit who they were. 
However by circuitous methods we eventually started to piece together the story. Apparently, one year ago Pearl Bryan (pregnant and as yet unmarried) was murdered by her lover. Her lover, Scott Jackson a dental student was arrested, tried, and 6 months ago executed for her murder. Both young people were from fairly good families, but Scott had had run-ins with the law. The version of the story we got was that Pearl and Scott had agreed to elope together, and Pearl had left her family expecting to go to Cincinnati with Scott to be married by a justice of the peace. She met him near the farmhouse one or the other of them lived in, next to the Southern Licking Bridge. There, instead of eloping to Cincinnati, he reportedly most heinously beheaded her alive. This took place on the Ft Thomas side of the Southern Licking Bridge. 

While researching this in a newspaper archive, our investigator Paul Griffith has become convinced that there was something weird that either the coroner or the authorities are trying to cover up, probably something to do with the baby. But he can't figure out what it is without questioning the coroner. 

500 for 2 weeks. + 2 journals. 

Psitanium
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:01 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Post by Psitanium » Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:22 pm

After regrouping and sharing some information, I was informed the ghost was murdered. Now, I feel it is important to note that the ghost was murdered beforehand, not after it was a ghost. This feels like a relevant piece of information considering how our missions typically go. The ghost would typically be seen at night near the bridge by that river I licked. Again, it is not recommended that you lick either the river or bridge. However, we decided to go out late at night to see if we could observe this unfortunate soul for ourselves.

Upon visiting the bridge in the dark of night, we quickly came upon a headless woman, semi-transparent and moving towards us. A quick amount of deduction led me to conclude this was the ghost. Although we initially tried to reason with this spirit, it was far more interested in attacking us. While bullets and punches seemed to do virtually nothing, I tried shooting it with The Fires of St. Elmo, thinking an energy weapon would be more effective. It did not appear to work, nor did my attempts to talk with or intimidate the specter. Around this time, I felt it best to shuffle off from the battlefield after Inspector Mustache, who was the first to retreat. Once down the road a bit, we looked back to see the Trolldier but no sign of Spell Lady and Photo Hunter. Since there was still some apparent fight left in the team, we resigned ourselves to join the fray yet again, although I would notably be joining at a distance.
The ghost was much worse for wear from the time we retreated and it now seemed that spells and energy attacks were proving effective. With renewed confidence the F.O.S.E. would damage the spirit, I took aim again. This time, my attack seemed to make visible progress against her. Better yet, I failed to hit any of my teammates, I rare thing in my experience. Although the hunter took some wounds and Spell Lady nearly dropped from the continued assault of stun attacks she was doing, we were finally able to kill the ghost. Now, I feel it is important to note that the ghost was murdered after it was already a ghost, a unique distinction from the first example. You see how important these facts are now, don’t you?
A wave of crippling energy burst forth from this spectral being before it seemingly evaporated, leaving the inspector and lady reeling. I remained perfectly fine. In fact, the worst part of my evening so far was having a couple rounds of tickle fighting with the ghost, which was more a confusing experience than an outright negative one.
Examining the ground where it fell, we found no trace of what was once a formidable opponent. This was a good time to return to our quarters, so we are well-rested when we inevitably return tomorrow night. Will the ghost be there anew? Will it be banished forever? Is it afraid of commitment? These and many more questions awaited answers.

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 840
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:14 pm

Lord Bently's journal continues.

After comparing notes, there was a lot we still did not know. Nobody in town had mentioned a ghost to us. Hastings had not even mentioned if the ghost was male or female. Was the supposed ghost poor murdered Pearl Byren? or of executed Scott Jackson? We had no clue. We did however think that it was most likely the Southern Licking bridge that was most likely to be the site of the haunt. After a late dinner we all walked to the bridge. I figured that if the two met here, the nearby farm might be the home to one or the other of the young dead people, the name on the farm's mailbox said "Pendlington". 

I had scarcely returned to the bridge when we all saw a feminine figure without a head come up from the embankment. It silently but rapidly approached, filling me with a sense of dread. Miss Withakay stepped forth to attempt to greet it, but it wordlessly stalked past her and struck at me with clawed fingers. The fingers disappeared into my chest like knives of ice. I fired my revolver twice, without effect. In fact once I clearly saw the bullet strike a tree on the far side of the translucent figure, the bullet clearly having passed through the figure without the slightest impediment or effect. Everybody else was also doing what they could, which was not much. Griffiths called for a retreat, and McFly followed him. but then I noticed that Miss Withakays' spells did in fact seem to be having some sort of effect upon the spector, and that its spectral clothing was showing signs of bleeding wounds. I stepped back into the fray hoping to distract the ghost, so that it would attack me instead of Miss Withakay. This I was somewhat successful in, in that I attracted several vicious swipes from the things claws, and managed to dodge a few more. My punches were as ineffective at dealing actual damage as my bullets were, but I did successfully draw blows away from Miss Withakay. 

I must say that Miss Withakay was quite ferocious. She took several mighty hits and also exhausted herself channeling her arcane energies. McFly returned to the fray at a distance, and it turned out that his weird lightning gun could also affect the ghost, the problem is that mcFly could rarely hit the thing. I wish he had simply handed the one gun that actually worked to me so that I could have shot the thing. The others were singularly unhelpful, nether contributing, nor even attempting to draw attacks away from those who could effectively fight. I was sorely afraid that the thing would overwhelm Miss Withakay and myself while Griffiths and Smyth simply stood there watching. Eventually, on her last legs, Miss Withakay summoned a last mighty blast of eldritch energy which caused the ghost to falter, fall, and dissipate, fading from sight even as it struck the ground. At this I felt a creepy feeling wash over me, but some of the others described a feeling as if feeling their head being chopped off. Miss Withakay (once she woke up, because she fell unconscious) described feeling not only her head chopped off, but her uterus being ripped out. 

We examined the area where the ghost fell quite carefully, but we found no residue, sign, or token. I examined my flesh where the icy claws had ripped into me, and am amazed to find unbroken flesh and no bloody wounds.

LexiLiegh
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed May 29, 2019 10:53 am

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by LexiLiegh » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:24 am

[CW: Gruesome, body parts]

We figured out that the heinous murder happened at the Southern Licking bridge. We set out shortly after a late supper to investigate the area to see if a ghost showed itself.

The ghost was feminine in form, and attacked as soon as I acknowledged her. She attacked Lord Bentley almost immediately.

The battle seemed to stretch on for eternity, but in the end we managed to banish it. That is when the worst happened...

[Graphic part]
Her energy dissipated hit us. I could feel what happened, my womb being torn out. Shortly after pain across my neck. Oh Gods, this is horrid. Then blissful darkness.
Minion of GMAndi

Hey all, if you really enjoy these journals come check us out live or recorded. www.twitch.tv/gamemasterandij

Be warned, we are rated A+, for Andi(she trained me). We are also very educational.

Psitanium
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:01 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Post by Psitanium » Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:02 pm

Our investigation took us to a doctor. Note that this is a different doctor than myself. Despite popular reports, there are many others. This one, for example, was a medical doctor. Scratch that, he was apparently a coroner. Apparently anyone can get a doctorate these days. Well, I should not judge others, but I most definitely will be regardless.
Upon entering his office, I prepared the mighty quip of “The inspector mustache you some questions”, but was cut off by the inspector beginning to ask said questions. Annoying. The coroner was very proud of his book of butterflies. Perhaps these were used to frame the deceased in a more flattering light. Personally, if I were a decaying corpse, being surrounded by butterflies would make me feel slightly better. True, I would still be dead, but fabulously adorned.
After a bit of pressing, the coroner revealed that cocaine was involved in an attempt to terminate the ghost lady’s unborn child. However, the culprit then removed her head, so things definitely escalated quickly. The baby was then stolen for unknown reasons. I am starting to understand why a coroner would want to look at lovely pictures of butterflies in their off hours.
The coroner tried to calm Spell Lady’s nerves with laudanum, thus confirming that anyone can get a doctorate these days. I really should have called him out on this, but was thrown by the previous conversation. Missed opportunities all around today.

Our next stop would take us to Cincinnati, to meet the steamcoach driver from the night of the murder. According to the driver, he picked up killer and victim around 11 pm and dropped them off at midnight near the meat packing plant. The body was found around 5 am. This information may be useful, although I tend to believe time is a flat circle and this is all arbitrary. I place it here in my journal simply to prove I was listening. Technically, someone is paying me for this.
While we were investigating, Photo Hunter learned more about the meat packing plant and helpfully gave me more times I can log in this journal. They open at 6 am and close at 7 pm. There is also no night guard as no one think to steal from a meat packing plant. However, the people here have never met us. Our plans to investigate the plant tonight are already underway. Perhaps we can liberate some cows. I suddenly have the inspiration to weaponize a herd with gatling guns and plate mail. I shall call it The Moolitia. Oh yes, this shall be a wonderful night indeed!

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 840
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:12 pm

An excerpt from Lord Bentley Bootle's confidential report to the ministry. 

On the morning following our (first) encounter with the ghost, we called upon the county Coroner at his surgery which is attached to his home at (address).  Doctor Henry Conley is soft spoken to the point of tweedyness. A mild mannered Snark with glasses. He filled us in on many details. 

Miss Pearl Bryan was 5 to 6 months pregent at the time of her murder. Her condition was getting impossible to conceal, and she told her family she was going to spend some months visiting friends in another state. Unknown to her family however, she got off the train in Cincinnati and checked into a tawdry hotel (name and address), where she had arranged to meet once again with her lover Scott Jackson. There are indications that she still had hope that he would marry her. On that day, Jackson is known to have obtained a large amount of cocaine from his dental school, but he did not visit her until the following day, when it is believed that he laced her food with the cocaine in the hopes that it would kill the fetus. He returned the following day, and seeing that the cocaine had not worked, apparently attempted to surgically abort the baby, but was unable to. 

Jackson called a steam Taxi driven by George Dennison (Taxi Company name) whom we also interrogated. Mr Dennison described Miss Bryan as looking extremely intoxicated and incoherent. She was dressed in "streetwalker clothing". Mr Dennison said that he stopped the coach when he heard her moaning in distress, but when Jackson became angry and threatening he continued on for a while, but kicked them both out of the coach a short while before their final destination the (meat packing plant, name and address). Miss Bryan was moaning loudly, and in visible distress, but still practically unconscious. Dr Conley said that cocaine in her stomach was all that he could definitely detect, but at this point it seems clear that she was under the influence of other drugs as well. Mr Dennison said that her face was unmarked (no bruises) but when she got out of the coach she was bleeding heavily from the nether regions.  Dennison dropped them off about midnight a few blocks from the meat packing plant that was to have been their destination. The meat packing plant that Jackson told the driver their destination was closed at the time, it has staff from 6am to 7pm, and no night guard.  Jackson had a medium sized case with him. The weather was fine (a bit cloudy) and the moon was full. 

Her body was discovered at 5am a little above a block away from where it was dropped off. It did not have a head. The head had been removed with a bone saw while she was still alive. We feel that she must have been drugged heavily, or at least one other person held her down. Jackson never admitted to co-conspirators. The uterus had been removed with evidence of surgical attempts made the day before death, and immediately before death.  Due to the head being missing, it was very difficult to identify the body. It was finally identified a week later by a Pinkerton Agent Anthony Lowery, who managed to track down every regional purchaser of a certain unusual brand/size of shoe the corpse was wearing. 

Neither Dr Conley nor Mr Dennison saw any signs that Jackson was attempting black magic, voodoo or any other sort of dark art. Neither saw any signs of anything other than a particularly gruesom attempted abortion and murder. However it is speculated that taking a womb could be part of a ritual to extend life, create it, or raise the dead. 

To Do: Check out seedy hotel. Find out what happened the three days there. Find out what became of Perils things and where she got the "streetwalker dress"
Talk to Pinkerton agent.
Every night check if ghost is gone for good, or has reformed.
Check out meat packing plant.
Check for other missing girls.

LexiLiegh
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed May 29, 2019 10:53 am

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Post by LexiLiegh » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:35 pm

After recovering from the nights activities, we went to speak with the coroner about the autopsy. He was reluctant to speak about the matters in front of a Lady such as myself. Really quite annoying, but understandable. He put me up in his office, where I promptly snooped through his equipment. Checking first his scalpels, I got a good read on who he is as a person. The depth of sorrow I felt from the autopsy, I at least removed him as being a possible cohort to this heinous act.

After leaving the group confirmed the bits that I had gleaned from the ghost. The heinous things done to her. That the head and womb were not recovered. I desperately hope that we can lay her to rest properly. So many awful things happened to her. Poor child, mislead by a monstrous human being.
Minion of GMAndi

Hey all, if you really enjoy these journals come check us out live or recorded. www.twitch.tv/gamemasterandij

Be warned, we are rated A+, for Andi(she trained me). We are also very educational.

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