An Ancient Evil

Game Master Celestial Healer

The kingdom of Leyland is in the midst of change. New technology and new social structures are taking the place of the old ways. In the midst of this, an ancient evil is awakening and threatening this prosperous nation. It falls upon a band of heroes to face this menace.

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The invitation to Lord Wallingham's estate was not especially remarkable. The rural lords tend to take a protective watch over the lands and peoples in their charge, and some menaces call for adventurers. Still, the request was fairly vague. It stated only that there is a "disturbance" that he would like seen to, with a promise for more details upon your arrival as well as appropriate remuneration for your efforts.

The quickest route to Wallingham Manor is along the Highlands Rail Line, beginning at the capitol and stopping at the villages and small towns along its route. With the wonders of modern technology, one could be to Wallingham in a mere three hours - and for no more than a scant 2 silvers.

The old post road offers a more scenic view of the rolling farmland and wooden cottages that dot the countryside. By carriage, the ride would take 3 days - 2 on horseback if one pressed for speed.

Wallingham Manor sits atop a rise overlooking the village of Markshire. Its tall windows and stone terraces look out upon sprawling gardens, displaying all manner of brightly colored flowers and shrubs. In these waning days of summer, great care has been taken to keep the grounds from drying out. The manor itself is one of the more stately you have seen in the countryside of Leyland, displaying an immaculate state of repair and bustling with household servants.

As each of you arrive, an imperious butler by the name of Longworth greets you at the door.

Please state in your opening post how you made the journey to Wallingham Manor, in additionl to any other details you would like to provide. You can, of course, be coming from wherever you see fit. It need not be the capitol; I only use that as a point of reference.

46/46, AC 11

Jerry brushed the trail-dust from his lapels; the journey had been long and wearisome. He had joined the main carriageway a half-day ago; travelling from his fathers estate both rider and mount had enjoyed the experience. All too often they had been cooped up, at the message the Young Lord had jumped at the chance to help out old Wally. He'd know the Lord since he'd entered Prep college, a good man and potentially a good contact.

Arriving at the manor house, as he dismounts from looking to the impressive estate he confidently nods. 'Oh marvellous, that's a lovely pile. Maybe with some luck, I can have one like it.' he thinks impressed with old bricks and mortar.

Checking Luce's paws', he takes off the thick leather pads that he uses for horseshoes or gloves. Patting her flank with a firm hand, "You're more of a sprinter, ain't thee. But a good constitutional does the body good." Luce looks at him with her big crystal eyes, a sardonic glint amongst the azure. Taking her by the bridle he leads his friend off to the top field, the gravel driveway gently crunching under their feet.

Ensuring that there's no other creatures in the field, he opens the gate, to stable the powerful lioness there. Once she steps into the lush grass, there's a subtle relaxing of her shoulders. Jerry removes the chain shirt and saddle bags from where they have laid heavily for the best part of the last week. Burdening himself with all the baggage he has a greater appreciation for his wild colleagues power. Spending a score of minutes, he brushes travel from her silky fur - easing fatigue of the long journey.

Looking to himself, Jerry makes himself presentable - swapping his topcoat and retrieving his hat from it's box.

Carefully he walks to the grand doors, a confident gait to his stride. Pulling back the brass knocker, he lets the sound reverberate as he waits for the butler. "Greetings, Jeremiah Roberts to see Lord Wallingham." he states simply in his cultured tones. "I've left my mount in the top field."

What time of day is it?

I am going to say that you are all arriving mid to late afternoon. Also, for anyone taking the train, you could hire a carriage from the village to give you a lift to the Manor quite readily; I had meant to add that.

The tidy butler looks at Jeremiah with puzzlement, gazing over his shoulder to ascertain how he arrived. He asks no questions, but says simply, "Welcome to Wallingham. I will show you to your room. My lord has asked that you dine with him at 7 this evening. I am Longworth, should you need anything in the interim." He leads you to a small but well-appointed bed chamber where you can store your things. "If you are in need of a dinner jacket, one can be provided."

46/46, AC 11

"Frightfully good of you, old boy. But a gentleman's always prepared, leant that from the Scouts." he says jovially, enjoying the pleasantries whilst following the manservant. "Perhaps some scraps could be arranged for Luce, she's wearisome after carrying my bones from the estate." he gently requests.

As he walks down the passage with a soft military swagger, he notices the fine condition of the house and compliments Longworth; "Grand condition this place is kept in, a reflection upon both the staff and your Lord. It must be quite demanding work?"

Not wanting to complain, Longworth replies, "We take pride in Wallingham. It is a pleasure to work in such a fine house." At the request for feed, the butler responds, "Certainly. We have plenty of feed for horses."

46/46, AC 11

Jerry takes out his 'kerchief and dabs at his mouth to cover a smile. "Young Luce is a bit of a carnivore, a leg of mutton or pork would do. Don't worry the ride took it out of her, she's as mild as a kitten." he says smoothly.

"Lord Wallington's not re-married has he?" the chevalier changes the subject slightly as he feels the chafe of his riding boots. "This place has a softer touch here and there." he nods to s cabinet of porcelain.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

She was never much for trains. She had an appreciation for the engineering of them, and the aesthetics were certainly improving, moving from the clunky earliest designs to more and more streamlined models as the age of invention rolled on. She certainly had nothing against them, in a general sense. It was the passengers she had issue with. Or more accurately, being trapped on a fast-moving vehicle with no safe exits until it stopped with a crowd of people who, if properly motivated, might react to a danger, fear, or threat by tossing it out of a window well before the vehicle had reached a safe disembarking velocity.

She wasn't much interested in that aspect, so to avoid causing a panic, she'd just taken a horse. She'd also left a day earlier than absolutely necessary, to have time to arrive, situate herself somewhere out of the way, and clean up before reaching the meeting place.

Trina had mixed feelings about small rural towns. On the one hand, they tended not to have the thronging crowds and overly-suspicious watchmen on the lookout for the slightest bit of crime and eager to make an arrest for any perceived suspicion. On the other, they tended not to be too welcoming toward things that broached their acceptance of the weird, and often reacted with swift violence toward what they thought was a threat. She'd done all she could to attempt making herself look inconspicuous, but it was a tall order from someone of her nature. Thankfully the voices weren't too active today. Otherwise would make things awkward, for certain.

Once cleaned, dressed, and arranged, and her unnecessary belongings safely secured in a lockbox in her inn room, she'd set the horse to the stables - the poor thing was so skittish in her presence, it was a miracle she'd made it here without being bucked off and left to walk the rest of the way in the wilderness - and took a carriage to the manor itself. She did her best to ignore the looks the driver gave her, and simply concentrated on composing herself for the upcoming meeting. The last thing she needed was to make a poor impression; she'd been in need of work for some time now, her funds beginning to run low, on top of simply wanting to assist out of good will and a curiosity as to what was going on that required adventuresome aid.

It appeared, at her arrival, that she wasn't the first to answer the call; a gentleman was already speaking with a man she presumed to be the escort or doorman. She began making her way up the walk, but skidded to a sudden halt when her eyes caught movement in the fields and the silhouette of a cat larger than a man stood out against the green. Is... that a lion? Why is there a...? She shook her head dismissively. Nobles and their exotic pets. Gods above. She watched the creature warily, ensuring it wasn't following her, as she resumed her walk toward the manor doors, checking to make sure her cloak and hood are still in place - after being forced off twice on the ride here - before she arrives.

Trina certainly strikes an unusual picture as she ascends the stairs: her slightly-hunched posture reduces her normal 5-and-a-half-foot height by a few inches, and her ghostly-pale blue-white skin and ice-white hair are in stark contrast to the dark grey of her hooded cloak and darker blue of tunic and skirt. Her holy symbol hangs visible over her breast, a silver diamond with Shelyn's peacock embossed into the metal, polished of its latest coat of tarnish just this morning and thankfully not yet fogging over once more. Despite appearing for all her oddities to only be in her late twenties, she leans slightly on a wooden cane, hand-carved with intricate floral designs, though it shows far more wear than an object only lightly used for a few days should present.

"Good day. This is the home of Lord Wallingham, correct?" she inquires once she reaches the last stair, bowing her head to the doorman and holding her hood in place with her free hand, her calm voice in likely visible dissonance with much of her appearance. "I have come in answer to his summons for aid."

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

A stretch, a yawn, and then a quick look about told Rhodes that the train had finally come to a stop. He didn't know how long the ride had been, he really didn't care. Staying with the luggage, and most importantly not paying a single pence for his travel, suited Rhodes just fine. Its not like anybody was going to miss a piece of luggage anyway. Except this time, there was no way he wanted to get himself in trouble just after reaching the place he'd been summoned.

He slid the car door ajar and hopped down. He could see the ticketman still helping passengers off of the train and baggage handlers heading in his direction. I'd rather not deal with them now.

Rhodes heaved his shoulders back into perfect posture, letting a air of aristocratic self-confidence, almost smugness, wash over him. Despite his disheveled clothing, despite the fact that he'd not bathed in two days while riding in a smelly train car, Rhodes walked confidently up onto the platform and past the ticketman without a thought and out the front of the station with his bags.

He followed after several people in a group, thinning down in number as they approached Wallingham's estate. Soon, only two were left ahead of him. Now who might they be? For that matter, why did he summon me at all? I played cards with him once. Once! Surely he can't have held a grudge for this long after a single card game. He could've come after me that night.

Rhodes inhales deeply and up the walk behind a strange looking woman. He stands to the side of the walk as he begins to notice others arriving. He stands and waits, unsure of what to say as his paranoia begins to leak from his mind and into his bobbing leg and shifting eyes.

When Trina speaks, he tosses in a "Me too!" and leaves it at that, glancing away from what he is beginning to fear is a trap. Wallingham better have a lot of silverware, I'd hate to come all this way for a trap, just to leave empty handed.

The butler raises an eyebrow when Jerry describes his mount's diet, but then says with a nod, "That can be arranged, I am sure."

"My lord married Lady Belinda Chilton two winters past," the butler goes on. Jerry recalls the name, and if memory serves she is easily 20 years Lord Wallingham's junior and scarcely older than his oldest daughter. "She is the lady of Wallingham Manor now." If Longworth has an opinion on the matter, you cannot read it.

When Trina arrives at the front door, Longworth greets her cordially. If he is in any way alarmed by her appearance, he does not let on. You wonder if he was briefed on the nature of the manor's guests. "Welcome to Wallingham Manor," he says. "I can show you to your room. My lord has asked that his guests come to dine with him at 7 this evening."

When Rhodes chimes in, Longworth asks with a puzzled expression, "Did you arrive together?" He regards Rhodes and Trina with an appraising gaze.

46/46, AC 11

"Good on him and 'Lindy" Jerry says to the departing Butler. As he closes the solid door of his room, the chevalier remembers fondly last time he saw her. 'Good on ol' Lindy'

Slowly he strips off, it becoming apparent that he was armoured and fully armed on his journey over here. Despite the civility of the lands, 'Winterbloom' isn't without the sense to know a lone rich rider might be ambushed - especially on the back roads. In a ritual cleansing, meticulously he prepares for the evening meal. All apprehension of the upcoming meeting drains away, just glad to meet his old friend, Lord Wallingham.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Trina manages not to jump when Rhodes pops up behind her, though a sudden twitch of her tail does betray some of the unexpected nature of his arrival. "No, no we did not sir," she replies after a few moments. "I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the gentleman. But if we are here both to see to your master's problem, I'm sure that will be short-lived." She offers Rhodes a small smile, then allows the butler to lead her into the manor.

Once inside, she doesn't catch a glimpse of the man she'd seen on her approach before getting distracted by the lion, so she's not certain if that was Wallingham himself or another guest. She does however find herself studying the various pieces of decor and art hanging or placed around the mansion en route to her chamber, though she makes sure to stick to the center of walkways and otherwise prevent some troublesome part of her body she doesn't fully control from lashing out and damaging something of the owner's.

"Does the lord mind if we have a look around in the interim?" she asks after Longworth leads her to a room. The route to her room had been short and direct, leaving her little time to observe the offerings of the manor, and she was fairly certain Wallingham didn't plan on them spending the next five hours or so in their rooms.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Rotten... rotten... mule," Sylvia grunts through gritted teeth, trying to tug Chanticleer from where he stood, legs splayed and hooves dug in, staring in fascination at the chickenyard. "This is your revenge, isn't it? Come on, you idiot. We're already late!" The mule had taken a similar stance when she tried to show the conductor that the beast would be fine in the baggage car, head low and ears back as she tugged on his bridle and tried to get him in. The man had shaken his head and jerked a thumb in the direction of the road. It had taken an hour or two after that to find a decent pony and saddle and get directions to the estate through country roads. Now, two days later, the sun was well past its zenith and Wallingham's estate was over an hour away, according to the friendly farmer who'd given directions in exchange for a couple of silver coins.

Sylvia directs the pony between the mule and the henhouse, breaking Chaticleer's line of sight to the fowl. The abysmally stupid beast immediately forgets his fascination and trots obediently next to the docile little pony, who she hadn't bothered to name yet. Sylvia wipes the dust from her goggles and surveys her little caravan with dismay. All are the dun color of the road as high summer dwindles to autumn and rain rarely appears to dampen the roads and lay the dust. "Yeah, Lord Wallingham will be impressed."

Markshire seems pleasant enough and she pauses for a bit to dust off herself and her menagerie before starting up the road to Wallingham Manor. Intent on the imposing building rising at the end, she fails to notice the pastures until the pony, more observant and intent on self-preservation, suddenly rears and screams, dumping Sylvia into the road. Chanticleer dances and brays defiance at the great cat whose level, golden-eyed stare skewers the pair. Sylvia rises painfully, grabs Chanticleer's reins, and looks ruefully at the rapidly-dwindling form of the pony. "He'll probably stop in Markshire. Look, stupid, the lion is behind a fence. It's fine," she reassures Chanticleer, trying to believe it herself. The ass seems happy enough to be tugged into motion and she leads him to a post near the front of the house, looping his reins into the iron ring.

Sylvia dusts herself off yet again and limps to the door, painfully aware that the sun is nearing the horizon. As the door opens in response to the sharp tap of the door knocker, she regards the stoic butler with some alarm. "Um. Sylvia Pari. I got this." She shoves the summons at the man, its heavy cream-colored paper smudged with dust, standing straighter at the proof of her legitimacy in such an imposing place.

"My lord is proud of his collection," the butler responds to Trina. "Feel free to look about, and be certain to view the trophy room, just through the small door off the main hall, to the left."

At Sylvia's arrival, Longworth seems somewhat taken aback by her direct manner. "Of course, madam. You are expected," he says. "You are invited to dine at seven. Ample time to rest from the road and change into something suitable."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Thank you," Trina replies, bowing her head to the manservant once more and then taking what little supplies she brought with her - mostly her chirurgeon's bag, complete with magical and mundane healing supplies, a few alchemical objects, and the like - and storing them in the provided room. She considers keeping her pistol on her person, hidden under her coat, but eventually decides she doesn't expect trouble in the mansion and it seems uncouth to carry a weapon about in a place like this, especially under the hospitality of its owner. Worst comes to worst, that's what magic is for.

She didn't see where the man who followed her in was taken, or where the other fellow she'd seen went yet. So she figured she was on her own for the time being. After taking a few minutes to clean up and change into a less road-worn skirt, tunic, and cloak, she let herself back out and followed Longworth's directions toward the trophy hall.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"More... suitable... ah, right. Of course. My mule is here with my baggage. If somebody could take it to my room, maybe? And show me where it is? And is there a place for him to stay? The mule, I mean. Away from the lion, maybe? He doesn't seem to like the lion. Lord Wallingham has some exotic pets." Sylvia peppers poor Longworth with clipped, rapid-fire questions and comments, dusting herself off a bit more before stepping into the foyer.

Sylvia follows the guide to her room, looking about curiously at the sumptuous mansion while her bouncy steps sprinkle a trail of dust in her wake onto the plush carpeting. "Dry weather we're having, isn't it," she remarks idly to her guide, the weather being among her few topics of 'normal conversation' - others being 'how are the kids?' and 'how are you feeling?'. The guest room is certainly stare-worthy to her unsophisticated eyes, and she nearly forgets to stop her guide before they leave. "I'm going to bathe now, get this dust off. They can put my stuff in the room here and... can my road gear be washed or something? I'll leave it out."

Once alone, she shimmies out of her dusty outerwear, leaving it in a heap near the door. She closes the door of the luxiurious bath securely behind her and jams a boot toe under it to prevent unwanted intrusion. This... wow, this is the life! Wouldn't it be great if everyone could live this way? And for that, we do science. I bet I could make their boiler better.... Musing, she slips into the steaming water and starts to scrub.

46/46, AC 11

Checking himself in the mirror one last time, he pushes a loose lock of ebony hair beneath his ear. Checks each cuff-link in turn to make sure they are perfectly placed, though it was hours until dinner it wouldn't hurt to have a look around the manor house.

'Luce will be happy outside, that meadow looked nice.' he thinks optimistically, knowing how lazy his companion is especially if there's the hint of a clear sky.

Leaving his room, he has a look down the plush corridors lined with nice oil painting. In a rare perceptive moment, he just catches a glimpse of some dust on the floor in a trail. It takes him a moment to realise it's not from his clothes.

A meandering stride and examinations of the painting, gives him pause for thought. 'Lovely, I wonder where the Billiards Room is?'

Cheetah AC 20, Perception: +13, Speed 50

An eagle soars through the sky. It glances down at the landscape as it passes by. An amusing scene catches its eye and it makes a slow circle to take another look. It spies some humanoid creature tugging vainly on a pack animal of some sort. The eagle makes one more circle and then continues on its journey.

An hour later, it arrives at Lord Wallingham's estate. The eagle makes a few circles and then starts a slow spiral down until it finally alights on the ground a hundred yards from the entrance. It stares intently at the large mansion for a moment and then glances for any threats that may be lurking. Once satisfied all is clear, the eagle shakes its head. In the flash of an eye, its body begins to grow and it forms into a...

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

...medium height male elf. He stands 5 foot 10 inches tall, with black hair, green eyes and pale skin. A long flowing cloak made of animal skin covers his shoulders and he carries a quarterstaff in one hand and backpack slung across the other shoulder. Dark ink tattoos form unknown characters on his face.

He takes a moment to straighten his belongings and then strides confidently across the front lawn to the entrance. He raps once on the door with his staff and waits patiently for the door to be opened.

When Longworth opens the door, the elf bows slightly and introduces himself. "My name is Caladrel Inthesial. Rhaelnnine, Supreme Shepard of the Keepers, has received Lord Wallingham's request and has sent me to assist."

Trina: The Trophy room is indeed something of a museum for rare treasures. The walls are adorned with the heads of many beasts. Some are relatively ordinary: an elk, a water buffalo, an elephant. But as you inspect, you notice some more unusual specimens: including the heads of a dire wolf and a griffon. In the center of the chamber, the full figure of a manticore is stuffed and on display. This is indeed an impressive collection.

Sylvia: Longworth inclines his head at Sylvia and answers her questions in the order in which they were asked. "One of the footmen can fetch your things. We have a stable in the back where the groom can look after the mule. The lion is not my lord's. Yes, the weather has been rather dry. We will see to your traveling gear." When Sylvia returns to her bed chamber after her bath, she finds her things stacked neatly and cleaned of all dust and road grime. The contents of any bags are undisturbed; only the exterior was attended to.

If Jerry continues his wandering, he will find the billiard room readily enough.

Caladrel: When Caladrel arrives, Longworth bows with some reverence. "You are most welcome, Master Inthesial. My lord will be honored to know that the Keepers have responded to his invitation. A room has been prepared for you, which we hope will be suitable. My lord has requested the honor of your presence at dinner this evening at 7." He shows Caladrel inside.

46/46, AC 11

Jerry simply addresses one of the above stair servants and finds out where the billiards room is, just down the passage he was progressing through.

With a languid confidence that comes with the self-assurance of good-breeding, he starts to play billiards. Removing his firm, dark jacket and wrapping it around the back of a honey-wooded chair, revealing a cream silk shirt that clings to his broad torso.

Soon a delicate clack of balls fills the room as the noble gently taps the trio.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes ears perk up at the sounds of a billiard table. He heads instinctively toward the sound. He chides Longworth, "Why did nobody tell me there was a billiards parlor? A gentleman must be told such things." He shakes his head and finger at the butler, not giving him time to respond as he rushes off.

He walks into the parlor, still carrying all of his belongings in his pair of carpet bags, nodding to Jeremiah when he enters and placing his belongings on a nearby chair. He makes a quick appraisal of Jeremiah, Not much jewelry, non-native swagger... probably not much worth robbing off of this guy.

"I have next game."

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Some of these creatures she's only read of, or heard of from second- or third-hand sources. For the more mundane, she can match description to life easily enough - long tusks and long nose, that must be an elephant; large nostril horn, a rhinoceros; cat with massive fangs, smilodon - but for the more exotic or bizarre she finds herself at a loss. Part of her mind wonders whether Lord Wallingham had these beasts felled personally or as part of a hunting troupe, or if he simply observed and placed the creatures on display afterward. She spends some time searching for plaques or other notes, perhaps displaying identification for the creatures, who killed them, and where they were found.

Her musings are interrupted by an echoing sound from somewhere nearby, a soft clack! noise. Marking the location of the trophy hall in memory just in case she wishes to return, Trina follows the sound to its source, weaving carefully through rooms and halls, taking note of forks and directions and landmarks of decor with which to find her way back - either to the trophy room or her own dormitory. She eventually emerges into a room dominated by a large table scattered with fist-sized spheres painted with designs unfamiliar to her - though a few have numbers she can read, she has no idea of their meaning. A gentleman is in the room, tapping some of the balls with a long rod, appearing to be in deep concentration; a second man stands not far off, over a chair with a few things set in it, looking as he likewise had only recently arrived. Wait, isn't that the fellow who followed me in? The tiefling halts at the door, quietly watching the men as one plays the game and the other waits, hoping to learn the basics by observation without interrupting.

Her body, of course, has other ideas. A few moments after her arrival, one of her tendrils decides that this is an excellent time for a stretch. The cranial limb suddenly extends backwards, yanking the hood of her cloak off her head and slamming into the doorframe behind her with an audible thunk. Trina reflexively slaps the wayward tentacle down with one hand and snatches her hood back into place with the other, blushing a slight tinge of purple at the spectacle she's made of herself.

Trina: You did not notice any plaques or descriptors in the trophy room.

I spoke with Taig. He was just finishing up a writing assignment and should be checking into the thread in short order to introduce the final PC.

46/46, AC 11

Pausing in his shot, he looks up at the newcomer. Noticing the bags, he stands up straight; 'Well that shot wasn't going to work. Who's this.'

Holding the cue in a hand loosely, he pushes the abacus on the wall - resetting the scores. "Hello I'm Jeremiah Roberts, I take it you're here for the dinner tonight?" he says knowingly with an incline of his head.

"Unless you are part of Wally's family." he asks, using the cue to push the balls into position. With a bearing that shows he's used to command as well as a reserve of strength, just from the grip upon the staff.

With a simple thrust of his arm he knocks the balls, "I'm gold, you'll be red?" with a simple statement. However his confidence is short lived as he soon slips out of position and is forced to pot a ball.

Silently he moves back from the table allowing Rhodes free reign.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

"Mister Rhomaino, at your service." He says with a nod. He steps over to the cue rack and takes a look through the choices, frowning at each selection. "Hmmmph, how's a fellow to win a game with these? Dumb luck?" He holds one down the length of his arm, unhappy with the curve. He moves on to a second cue, then a third. Finally, he goes back to the second cue. "What game does Mister Roberts play? Carom? Nine-ball? Ten-Ball? No wait, don't tell me. You're a snooker man, aren't you?"

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel follows the butler into the house, and continues behind him to his room. Once inside, he removes his cloak and armor. He then proceeds with stacking his things neatly in a corner of the room, unsure what to make of the wardrobe and chest of drawers in his room.

After many years in the wilderness or at most, mud huts, he cannot shake the uneasy feeling of being confined in this solid structure. Feeling the walls closing in on him, he decides to leave his room, and move about the house.

As he walks along the hallway, he catches a glimpse of fur through one of the doors. Intrigued by the thought of animals living inside of the house, he is startled when he sees the deceased heads mounted on the wall. He gazes with sadness at the once majestic animals staring lifelessly across the room.

What manner of civilization kills animals simply for display he wonders to himself. He takes a seat and murmurs a prayer of mourning and hope for the fallen beasts. He continues to meditate in the trophy room while he waits for the appointed dinner hour.

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

The lab would have to remain packed until Sylvia knew more about what was going on. Most of what she needed to get in a hurry was in the chest, along with spare clothing. She ruefully eyed the long duster, cap, goggles, and scarf in which she generally traveled and pulled out the dress the woman at the shop had recommended. "It'll work for any fancy dinner, even at a high lord's house," she had sworn, giggling her way back to the counter to ring up the outfit.

It certainly fit fine, gauze and lace skirt dropping to near the top of her dress boots, and the self-lacing features of the satin corset comprising the body of the garment made the lack of a ladies' maid no problem at all. But why did it show so much skin just above her... er... so impractical for labs, corrosive acid might splash and eat away at the tender white flesh of her shoulders. Sylvia sighed and put up her long, black hair into a topknot twist, loosely styled to drape over her pointed ears, then stood back to survey the results.

I look a common floozy, not like a scientist, she thought, disappointed, I can't even wear a hat? She tried on a bandolier or two, but the resulting look was odd even to her unpracticed eye. Now I look like a floozy about to storm a competing cathouse. Finally she settled on draping her scarf loosely around her neck, letting it cover part of her exposed shoulders and bust, then straightened her hair over the escaping point of her left ear. With a deep breath, she left the room, closing the door quietly behind her and walking softly down the hall towards the sound of voices and clicking with only an occasional teeter signaling her unfamiliarity with high heels.

Then she spotted a magnificent specimen of a manticore mounted in a room nearby, and couldn't help but meander in to the trophy room to gaze at the inanimate menagerie. It was a moment or two before she noticed that one immobile figure could be a kinsman. Her eyes widened.

"Lord Wallingham stuffed an elf!" she cries in alarm, pointing at Caladrel.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes turns and peers toward the trophy room, "Oh, that sounds like fun...". He wanders off, cue still in hand, "Rain check on that snooker, Mister Roberts." Now this I have to see.

He walks into the next room and looks about for the source of the distress, only to catch his eye on the strangely dressed elf woman looking up at... Oh my, this might actually be a trap.

When he sees that it's not an elf that is stuff, he frowns deeply. Then begins to chuckle, trying not to be spotted by the pair of pointy eared individuals.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel opens his eyes startled by the shriek of a female voice. He looks up at the figure staring at him with alarm and rises. His stern look softens when catches the hint of an elven ear poking through the black locks.

"Madam" he says as he bows slightly. "I do not mean to cause an alarm. It is good to see a kindred sister. You must be as uncomfortable as I in this unnatural abode." Caladrel is too intent on the elven women to notice another man enter the room.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

The two men are apparently so intent on their game that Trina's odd little outburst went completely unnoticed. She observed silently for a few moments, trying to figure the meaning of the terms used, only for her contemplations and their game to be interrupted by a shriek back the way she'd come. One of the men, who'd introduced himself as Rhomaino, walked right past her without a word in her direction and departed toward the trophy room, from whence it sounded as if the scream had come.

She understood the passiveness to her appearance from Longworth: the butler likely had some forewarning of her nature from his master. But to be completely ignored by the other guest was, quite honestly, beyond anything in the tiefling's experience. Still, it certainly beat out some of the less civil responses she'd received in the past, so she wasn't going to look the gift horse in the mouth, not today.

She stared off after Mister Rhomaino for several moments, then after tugging her hood back into place yet again turned to Jeremiah instead. "Perhaps this should be looked into, or do you think the gentleman has it handled?"

46/46, AC 11

"Billiards..." Jeremiah's words are cut off by the shriek and Rhomaino excusing himself to investigate.

Jerry takes half a step back at suddenly noticing Alastriona, he turns this into a bow with a flourish of the cue like a conductors' baton. "I did not notice you there, miss. How remiss." At a glance he takes in her unusual visage, but would not be so uncouth as to stare. Keeping a light contact, whilst casually leaning upon the cue showing the lean curves of his torso.

"I wouldn't deprive the gentleman of a chance to rescue a damsel in distress." he says laconically; "I am Sir Roberts, but my friends call me Jerry." 'With that attire she isn't a servant here, maybe a ward of the Lord? Or an advisor.' he thinks trying to work out who the lady is.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Alastríona Eichmann," she replies, bowing her head slightly in return. Another twitch of her additional headgear tugs the hood free once more; she, again in a movement appearing to be of long-honed reflex, swats the offending extremity back down under her hair, but for the moment declines to put the covering back in place. "Those who don't prefer something less pleasant call me Trina for short. You are here at Lord Wallingham's summons as well, I presume?"

46/46, AC 11

Raising an eyebrow at the fidgeting, he makes no overt comment. Instead he replies to her query.

"Oh, Trina - a lovely name. Yes, to your query. Lord Wallington is a member of The Club, too. A fine chap, a friend of Paters'." he adds in his loquacious manner. "Invited me and Luce out here, some business proposition I do believe."

'Don't say this is a joint venture...' he puzzles, with a touch of despondency.

"Have you been requested for the same purpose or are you a benefactor?" he asks with cultured tones, resting his cue upon the baize.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"I'm a requested guest, yes," she answers. "I've little knowledge of the nature of the problem though, or where he heard of me to send the invitation, unless perhaps he knows my old mentor." She smiles a little, looking around the room somewhat. "I'm not exactly familiar with the higher society. Among other obvious reasons, I travel too much. I'm a sort of itinerant healer and physician."

Longworth the butler appears in a hurry at the doorway to the trophy room. "I heard a commotion. Is everything quite alright?" he asks.

46/46, AC 11

"That's a splendid occupation, healing those less fortunate than your self. If only I had the skill..." he says genuinely pleased at Trina's words and sorry that he can be of little help.

"You travel, so you don't have a clinic? Or do you just set up shop in the hamlets?" he wonders.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

She shakes her head, the gentle motion stirring the tendrils out from beneath her hair; they curl up against her skull, as if trying to hide from the light. "I do not. I stay wherever there is room - inns, common houses, town halls. Most of my work is in small villages, as you say the cities usually have doctors and clinics. What places don't chase me out are generally happy to spare a room for the time while I stay and tend the ill."

She glances around, looking for sign of another person besides Rhomaino. "You said you came with a companion, Luce? Where is he or she?"

46/46, AC 11

"Frightful. Chase you out!" his knuckles whiten upon the end of the cue; "Which terrible cur would do that? Especially to such a benevolent a herbalist." passions inflamed as imagination runs away, he stands up straighter.

However fortunately the query to his favourite topic stops his indignation. Eyes misting over slightly; "Oh, the young girl is outside - enjoying the sun. The journey was awfully tiring, how was yours?" he asks in his cultured tones.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

She manages a broader smile at that. The gentleman was being considerate, she surmised, more than simply ignorant; he didn't seem unintelligent or oblivious, so the only option remaining was that he was being deliberately insulted by the idea that, despite her heritage, anyone would dare reject her. It was an unusual reaction - even the places that tolerated her presence still had people who would give her suspicious, wary looks. Frankly, most days she couldn't blame them, and simply went about her business, doing what she could not to misstep and risk abusing their trust. This was the first time she'd seen someone other than Beverly get riled by mistreatment dealt her.

Still, the distraction was somewhat a relief; she didn't enjoy too much dwelling on the subject of her heritage, or anything tangentially related to it. Outside, so not a companion, but more a mount or pet. One of the horses in the stable, most likely. "Well enough, though long and admittedly weary, yes. I came by horse up to the village from the west, then by foot the rest of the way. About three days' journey, all told."

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

"Er, no... um, yes. I mean, uh. I was startled by this fine specimen of martyaxwar sacre, isn't it? The manticore? It's so lifelike. And look! Lupus dirus, or I miss my guess. What a fabulous collection!" Sylvia tries to recover gracefully, answering both Caladrel and Longworth simultaneously, though a flush suffuses her neck and face as Caladrel rises and addresses her. What is an elf doing here?

She glances around the room to see who all witnessed her embarrassing faux pas and notes the haughty, rumpled man near Longworth, who remains in the doorway. Clearing her throat, she forges onward.

"I'm Sylvia. Did you also receive invitations from Lord Wallingham about the 'situation'? And is Lord Wallingham from the same family that the Wallingham Hall at the University is named for?" Nervous fingers straighten her coif to ensure her ears tucked under the hair.

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes tries to ignore the two, finding himself drawn to whatever is on the walls behind the heads. He places his face against the wall and tries to see what is behind one of them. A safe? Perhaps an eyehole to watch us through?

F Elf Alchemist 4 {Init +3; Perception +8 (llv); HP 25/35}

Sylvia waves Longworth away absent-mindedly, answering Caladrel before anyone gets a chance to answer her questions. "Not really, this is the most comfortable place I've ever seen, frankly. I'd love to get a look at the boiler and control rooms here. I didn't get to take the train because of that darned mule." A thought occurs suddenly and visibly and she frowns as she drifts across the room, approaching Rhodes tangentially. "If that lion is yours, Mister Elf, you owe me 40 gold or can find my pony. It scared the poor thing off."

Unable to restrain her curiosity further, she taps the investigator on the shoulder. "What are you looking for? Are these heads mechanical or something?" She tries to see as well, face to the wall.

46/46, AC 11

"Wow, three days? And been walking all morning! Here have a seat..." he pulls a chair across to Trina for her to sit in, there's a slight apprehensive glance at her skirt.

"So is your family from the capital?" he politely inquires, recovering the billiard balls and placing them back on the baise.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Thank you." She takes the offered seat, despite not being exceptionally tired; she's used to long days of walking, being a traveler by trade as well as by nature, but no sense in complaining.

"I don't have a family, as such," she explains simply, speaking rather matter-of-factly, with little emotional overtone. "My mother died in childbirth, I'm told, and my father had little desire for my presence afterward, for obvious reasons. I was raised by a nurse who later became my mentor, a priestess named Beverly Applegate. She's a wanderer and a traveling healer likewise, so I can't estimate where she'd be now."

She watches him rearrange the table for a few moments before returning the favor. "What of yourself?"

46/46, AC 11

Jerry smiles consolingly, he can see the affection between Trine and her nurse, even if they have been parted by fate. With the tip of the cue he taps the yellow ball, rolling it slightly and absently.

He drifts off into a reverie slightly, eyes misting over; "My Father's estate is to the North West, the beautiful rolling hills cascade into the roiling sea." he speaks of home.

Changing the topic subtly away from family to the future; "I plan on creating a new town. Marrying the people and the Land; the old ways and the new ways. Utilising industry and crafting a place for the people. To give them stability, sating their intellectual needs as well as their bellies whilst not denying their souls. And maybe even make a little profit, thus showing industrialists the way forward." his dream is a bold one and his passion for it obvious.

"Anyway I was hoping to meet with some financiers. Get it off the ground." the words are infused with zeal, which he reins in quickly. "Well we'll see what the evening has to bring."

Male Human Rogue 4 (HP 23)

Rhodes keeps looking, then notices an eyeball looking back at him. "Gah!" He shouts and hops away, raising his pool cue. It takes him a moment to realize it was just Sylvia.

"Lords of Mercy!" He balances himself against the cue, "I thought I saw... nevermind. Hey, did you say there was a lion?" He looks up at the two elves, thoughts of Wallingham feeding the lion with bits of Rhodes' chunks going through his brain.

M Elf Druid 4 {AC 19, T 13, FF 17, HP 28/28}

Caladrel finds himself slightly taken aback by the swift pace of Sylvia's questions. He answers in slow, methodical manner to bring the pace of the conversation back to his comfort level. "My name is Caladrel Inthesial. It is comforting to meet a fellow elf. Lord Wallingham solicited the help of our Supreme Shepard. The council has responded favorably by sending me to assist. I do not know anything more about this man, Lord Wallingham."

Caladrel pauses for moment considering Sylvia's words. "I do not understand, boilers? control rooms? trains? What are these things of which you speak? As far as the lion, I saw it as I arrived as well, but it is not mine." Caladrel watches as Sylvia moves towards Rhodes, but does not move to join them.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

"Sounds like a noble goal," Trina replied. She wasn't sure how realistic it was, but towns had been founded by equally well-meaning people in the past, in addition to those of more ambitious or self-serving nature. It could be done, the question that remained was if this man would have the resources and the persistence to see it through. It was too early for her to make that judgement, just yet.

"If it isn't too much to pry, what inspired this particular dedication? As far as my limited awareness, people don't generally decide to found new cities as a passing fancy, and it's obviously something you've devoted a lot of time and energy into planning."

46/46, AC 11

"Oh no reason." he says with a crack off the balls as a pair connect, obviously using the shot to hide the truth. "Just spent some time at a mill, not a nice place - as you may know." there is a deep well of emotion behind the words, but it's blocked in by his reserve and stiff-upper lip.

"Nice place here, isn't it. I may have a little constitutional later..." he adds.

Female Tiefling (Motherless) Inquisitor [Sin Eater, Preacher] 4 [HP: 25/28] [AC: 16 | T: 11 | FF: 15]

Trina nods, not pressing the issue. She certainly understands not wanting to talk about a subject, and while she knows little about mill work, she gets the gist that there is more to the story than a simple unpleasant work experience.

Unless presented with another question or comment, she goes back to examining the game, trying to learn the rules as he plays. She's managed to figure out that only the white ball is struck, and used to push the others into the holes, but that's it so far. She wonders mainly if the numbers are a scoring system or an order of progression.

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