Journal of Dr. Clive James No. 2 - Escape from Monkshood - 9 January 1892

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Escape from Monkshood

Scene 5. Monkshood Estate

Before the authorities arrive, party members search through the manor various places that seem to be of concern to them. Dr. James looks through Ms. Herringford's room for any things that might inform us on the inane-sounding cult about which she's been gibbering. He finds nothing there. Curiosity gets him and he looks through the granddaughter Lyla's room. Beneath her mattress, Dr. James finds a book, bound in black leather hide that feels cool and slick to the touch. It's really creepy looking and sort of makes Dr. James feel a bit nauseous. He wraps it in cloth and puts into an inside coat pocket.

R. A. Clark visits the storage room. In it he finds a tub, paintings and children's toys.

Robert Clark next moved to Sir Williams' bedroom. There he finds books on hunting, nature, French art. At the back of a wardrobe, he finds a brown, country-style cloak, an older style worn perhaps 40 years previous to 1892. Upon putting on the cloak (protection) it seems to adjust its size to fit his larger proportions. It bears the Monkshood crest.

Colonel Deasy searches the workers' (Culverson and Gregson) room. In the back of a dresser drawer, he finds a chalk drawing, similar to that on the underside of Ms. Herringford's bed. He notices that his rifle butt will pass through it, as a portal.

The Colonel next goes to the out building where Jevers stayed. It seems that Jevers whittle animals in his spare time. One in particular is a very strange and unnatural-looking serpent.

Dr. Georgina Rukhs goes to the conservatory with Graves. There she sees that opium poppies are being cultivated. Graves comments that "these are a new addition… the Master didn't grow them before." Later, Dr. Rukhs consults her Book of Reflections to detect what may be magicked, as she wanders through several rooms of the manor. She becomes aware of several things as magical, but she loses a couple points of her Wisdom.

She finds the following items of magical interest: a small stoppered silver flask, a box of a dozen shotgun shells in the gun case, the ring on William's hand, and a sword cane in the umbrella stand

The Vicar visits a utility room and finds a box of dynamite, which makes him happy. Together he and the Colonel look in Mrs. Hooper's kitchen. While there, the Vicar notices that there is some curry on the floor, matching the curry container on the shelf, so Mrs. Hooper has been using it recently, probably for the night dinner. Within the cook's room, they see a Bible, opened to the 23rd Psalm (The Lord is my Shepard). They also find a penny dreadful (cheaper novels read by the lower class) called Varney the Vampire.

Dr. James, the Vicar and the Colonel look at the entrance to the upstairs attic, and they notice that the nails holding it shut have been removed/replaced multiple times. Getting a ladder and lantern, they go up into the attic finding cobwebs and crates and evidence of shuffling about around a particular crate. Dr. James makes note of the shoes and boot sizes of the prints. By now Robert Clark has come up the ladder into the attic. The crate is on boards, which have scratch marks, indicating the crate gets moved sideways. The crate is labeled with the words Germany, 1861, in the center of the front side.

Pushing the crate aside reveals a drawn, lacquered gate. Robert walks toward the image of the gate on the wall, and disappears through it. He quickly returns to tell us there are four men with guns who will most likely be visiting us soon. With this notice, Dr. James, Robert, the Vicar, and the Colonel take positions among the other crates and set aim with their pistols.

The gunmen emerge into the room, and one is immediately hurt badly enough that he is told to return through the gate to get more help. On hearing gunfire, Dr. Georgina Rukhs dashes upstairs to go up the ladder and join in the gunfight, suggesting the Mr. Bell entertain the child Lyla (so she doesn't panic or get scared).

Dr. James takes a hit (3 hp but major for him), and manages to down a gunman, but he's bleeding badly. Robert and the Colonel have more success with the other two gunmen, although they take some damage as well. Georgina fires off a couple shots, but her second shot jams her gun. Robert makes an attempt to wrestle down one of the gunmen, and he eventually uses his pickaxe when the wrestling seems to be taking too long. Dr. James and the Vicar push the crate back into place, to prevent further visits from other gunmen.

The Vicar then intimidates the wounded gunman who is left alive, who answers with, "I will always serve the Master… you are going to die." Upon searching him and the other bodies, we note that they have no IDs or wallets.

After some quick cleaning up and binding of wounds, Dr. James, Robert and Mr. Bell slip out the back to go down the road to the pub, not wanting to hang around when the authorities arrive.

Scene 6. Monkshood Estate

Authorities arrive. They are: Inspector James Smythe (sporting a lovely scar from a sword along his face), Sergeant Garside, Constable Humphries (country lout), Constable Henry Wickham (a thin country man).

The Inspector asks about the tied-up Ms. Herringford, so Georgina speaks of her complicity in the murder of Sir William Monkshood. The Inspector then asks Dr. Rukhs to show the body to Sergeant Garside, in the game room.

Then the Inspector asks Colonel Deats what's been happening. The colonel tells him only about the people in the attic. Suddenly the Inspector shouts, "Wickham! Attic!" And the constable goes upstairs to check on the scene there. When the Inspector calls for Humphries, he doesn't answer, so a quick search is done for the constable. He's found passed out in the kitchen, his lips stained with the lamb curry he tasted.

It seems he was poisoned and Dr. James was able to slow or neutralize it. The Inspector has Constable Wickham take prisoner Herringford and Mrs. Hooper (suspected poisoner) to the jail, along with the poisoned Humphries, so Wickham can bring back more authorities.

After more than 40 minutes, nobody has returned, so the Inspector Smythe goes with the Colonel to get more help, leaving Sergeant Garside with Dr. Rukhs and the Vicar. The Sergeant begins to ask them questions about books and keys. The Vicar, with sense motive, determines the sergeant is looking for information that he wouldn't ask in front of the Inspector. Dr. Rukhs, with detect lie, senses that the sergeant is lying about not having seen Ms. Herringford before, but he's lying on his own accord to appear innocent.

The Sergeant says he wants to check the out building, and he wants the witnesses to remain in the manor. Dr. Rukhs and the Vicar watch from windows as Sergeant Garside goes into the stables and then rides out and away on one of the six horses inside. Georgina and the Vicar, believing the Sergeant is up to no good, decide to also leave the manor (bringing Graves and Lyla with them), heading to the pub where Dr. James, Mr. Bell, and Robert Clark have started a tab.

To the chagrin of Inspector Smythe, Constable Wickham and prisoners and the poisoned Humphries never got to the jail. He returns with the Colonel and more trusted authorities to a now-empty Monkshood Manor. The Inspector wants names and events from the Colonel, who tells a lot of the tale but not about the grisly scene in the graveyard. The inspector lets the celebrated hero Colonel Deats leave the premises, trusting in his reputation.

Scene 7. A Pub Near the Monkshood Estate

Now the group is rejoined together again in the pub. It is noted that nobody seems to be concerned or alarmed that some of the party is wearing blood stained clothing. After locating some nearby rooms under false names, three of the party (Robert Clark, Colonel Deats, and Vicar Moore) seek the services of one Dr. Theo L. Vine, All Night Services, at approximately 2:00 am. For a donation of a quid each, he gets them healed up nicely. Dr. James has managed to mend himself.

After resting in their rooms, the next day they gather together to examine some of the things they took from the manor. We learn: The shotgun pellets are made of very hard alloy (from the Inventor's ability to carefully open and close a shotgun shell). William's ring with the Monkshood crest has some protection to it. The sword cane is made of the same hard alloy as the shot gun pellets. The flask is filled with the Queen's Scotch, which restores hit points.

Robert, Monsignor Moore, and the Inventor split the dozen shotgun shells, 4 each. Dr. James, due to knowing how to use the Queen's Scotch medicinally, receives that flask.

Upon inspecting the strange, dark book, Dr. James feels oddly about it. When he opens the book, the pages seem to be made of dried skin. As he thumbs through the pages, they are all blank, except for a page around the middle, which has two different scripts upon it. The first seems to be written on January 8, 1892, by Julia Herringford, although the initials are J. G. It mentions that Sir William had consulted a psychic, one Quentin Watson, to read some artifacts he had and that Sir William had summoned a party, one of whom was thought to be a relic-bearer. In response to the note follows another, short note, in another hand, initialed R. G.

The second script seemed to be a reply to the first, written January 9, 1892. The note is short, reading: "Artifact confirmed. Discard 4 when mate arrives. Burn estate after summoning. Meet back at Gaylords. R. G."

As strange as it seemed, Dr. James believed the arcane book provided a method of communicating between writers. He decided to write a note onto the next page: January 10, 1892 Police and authorities all over property. Herringford wounded and taken by police. Please advise. Culverson"

Immediately, the page returned a script, written in the hand previously signed by R. G.: "Return the relic. If you do not, Rukhs, James, Moore, Clark, Deasy, Bell… dead."

So weird was the experience of using a book as a medium for immediate communication that Dr. James suffered a loss of 4 sanity points. He finished the night resting in his hotel room under a false name.

In the morning, everyone heard a clamor up the street, in the direction of the Monkshood Manor. Word was out that the cook was found in the gutter with her throat slashed, and the Manor was ablaze. We quickly purchased a copy of that morning's London Times, which headlined with Mayhem at Monkshood! Further reading revealed that there were six other fires all across London last night… the residential addresses of each of us.

Ever one to spot patterns, the Inventor/Tinkerer Bell noted that there were three references to Gaylords in the newspaper: The Gaylord Club in Kensington, Live music tonight, 10 £ admission; Gaylord & Bright, Solictors, Tower Bridge; Gaylord's Auction, 89 New Bond Street, Mayfair Begins Noon, January 10"

The firm Gaylord & Bright and their principal the Honorable Peter Gaylord are often mentioned in the Times as representing the Crown on matters of public safety. They recently worked against the Dock strike of 1889. Although their offices are nearby - adjacent to London Bridge, they seem unlikely as suspects. The group made a plan to visit the auction at noon. Meanwhile, that morning, the Colonel "Freelance" decided to go to visit the police station on his own, wearing a disguise. There, he learns that Sergeant Garside has not been in into work in a couple days, Inspector Smythe can see through his disguise, and so can Constable Wyckham.

Scene 8. In the Cards

With a few hours to spare before the auction, Dr. James believe there might be something to be gained from finding and perhaps giving a warning to Mr. Quentin Watson, the psychic named within the creepifying Book of Messages. Within a London directory, Dr. James finds him listed as the proprietor of a tarot card reading business named In The Cards.

Together with Georgina Rukhs, the Monsignor, Bell, and Mr. Clark, Dr. James heads over to Mr. Watson's establishment... to get a reading.

In The Cards is a modest two-story shop on Hawkins Street off the Mile End Road - wedged between a butcher’s shop and green grocer. A gaudy sign out front shows two lovers embracing. The exterior is brightly colored in orange, green and gold. A single picture window and a small door invite visitors into what must have been a private residence. It is rumored that Quentin can tell the future once per day. Quentin is a red-faced man, overweight with bright curly red hair and a fair complexion. His teeth are a mess, and he squints as if he needs glasses. Slightly disheveled, he has dark stains on his fingers.

Upon entering the small, street-front business with living quarters above, Mr. Watson quickly receives them, wishing to gain business. We quickly dispense with too prolonged niceties, and Dr. James states that we, the party, had an appointment with the late Sir William, and we know about his previous meeting with Mr. Quentin, involving certain relics… "and we think your life is in jeopardy… have you seen this morning's London Times?"

Mr. Watson asks whether we came into contact with other pieces, such as a disc, a cube, and a key. The party denies knowing anything about any of these relics, as Sir William was killt dead before we got to meet him. Mr. Watson affects an understandable and believable leaning towards fear, and we agree to send word to him, via an agreed to code, sent through the London Times. In the meanwhile, he'll go to live with his sister, he says.

After delivering our warning to Quentin Watson, Dr. James queries Mr. Watson for a tarot reading, which is apparently his specialty. The monsignor steps outside to wait for Dr. James, and Dr. Rukhs and Mr. Bell make to leave similarly, but when Watson falls for the decoy and takes Dr. James into his study for tarot readings, the two sneak upstairs to investigate the home.

In a main room upstairs, they find tools of an artist: paints, brushes, canvas. But the paintings they see are of a highly bizarre variety: three interlocking rings, in front of a tree-like creature; cubes in front of a strange serpent; a very odd-looking bird; two joined keys; standing stones, strange, unnatural serpent in front of a cave.

There is evidence that Mr. Watson has been painting recently, that very day even. The subject for the latest painting is another tree-like creature.

Dr. Rukhs and Mr. Bell make it down the stairs quietly enough, and Dr. James' reading is completed shortly afterwards. The next plan is to head to Gaylord's Auction.

Scene 9. Gaylord's Auction House

Most of the party walk into the auction house, in pairs, so as not to draw too much attention. Georgina Rukhs is escorted within by Mr. Robert Clark. In the first room, a young woman named Emily hands out programs. The auctioneer is a man by the name of Crabtree, with friendly, intelligent eyes. His assistants are Cavendish and Peel.

Being intrigued by Egyptian antiques and relics, Georgina makes a rather pricey purchase of a piece she recognizes from her archeology work, some years before. She knows many of the pieces have been stolen and brought to London for sale; and some she knows to be fakes. She bids 15 £ on an Eqyptian cartouche from the El Ab Darhi Valley. After purchasing and collecting her piece, she and Robert are greeted by the Vicar. He notices three people who look rather thuggish, watching the rest of the crowd. From other auction workers' behavior towards them, it is clear that they work in the auction warehouse regularly.

Eventually the thuggish men come over to Georgina and her escort, to invite her to a private viewing, upstairs, open to invitation only. Interested, they consent to see the private viewing. The Vicar follows. Dr. James tries to follow, but he is prevented by the claim that the upstairs viewing is private only. He manages to make enough of a scene to interest the police without being arrested, claiming he merely misunderstood. But now the police are alert, which is what Dr. James wanted. Georgina, Robert, and the Lester are led to a little office upstairs.

When they get to the office, guns are drawn on Robert and Georgina. Georgina feints a fainting spell and grabs her dagger from her boot and throws it at one of the thugs. The man in charge doesn't shoot and prevents the others from shooting, so it's clear they don't want to make a scene. Georgina is grabbed from behind, with a knife to her throat, the wielder demanding to have the relic… and not the cartouche she just purchased. They are cultists! She hands her assailant the cartouche; he drops it onto the floor and crushes it with his boot. Then he clubs Georgina in the head with his pistol butt and tosses her away from him. Georgina, dressed in Violet, wilts. The Vicar downs a thug quickly, and attempts to lay hands on Georgina, who is now losing blood quickly for her head wound.

Two more thugs move through the crowd to move up the stairs. Dr. James notices this and rallies two police officers. When they follow the suspicious activity, Dr. James follows them, essentially bringing two extra guns with him to the activity upstairs. Meanwhile, Vicar Lester Moore, while trying to heal Georgina gets pistol whipped to the head also, so he cannot heal her. She continues to lose blood at an alarming rate. In an attempt to steady Georgina, the Vicar notices a large metal door behind a large tapestry.

As the police enter the scene at the second floor, Colonel Freelance rushes into the room as well and grapples one of the thugs. From the right, more people can be heard approaching, so one policeman looks to the side of the hall, along with Mr. Bell.

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