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pendell
2016-06-19, 12:53 PM
Hello and welcome to this Let's Play! of A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight (https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/study-in-steampunk/), by Heather Albano.

This walkthrough is conducted with the express permission of the publisher.



https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/study-in-steampunk/1_title.png

Steam-powered mechs meet forbidden sorcery! Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and Jack the Ripper, "A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight" is an epic 277,000-word interactive mystery novel by Heather Albano, co-author of "Choice of Broadsides," "Choice of Zombies," and "Choice of Romance: Affairs of the Court." Your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based--without graphics or sound effects--and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The game is afoot! In a world of gaslit streets, mysteriously long-lived foreign nobles, and master criminals, will you defend your Empire from spies or overthrow it from within? Advocate science and reason or learn forbidden magic? Romance men, women, both, or neither? End as a healer, a freedom fighter, a vigilante, or a traitor?

The fate of the Empire is in your hands!


Rules

1) Anyone may join , or leave, at any time.
2) We will read one or more passages of the book. At the conclusion of each session, we will vote
on the choices to be made. The winning choices will be used to select the ongoing path as we continue the story. All votes will be highlighted in blue. Please highlight your vote in red to distinguish it from discussion.
3) In the event of a tie , the tie will be resolved via www.random.org using a 1d100 role. Each choice will be rolled against in strict order of the first vote. For instance, if there are three choices (A,B,C), and the first vote is for C while the second is for A, the roll-off will be done in the strict order C, A, B.
4) All votes will be concluded Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 5:30 PM eastern time. Update will be published as soon thereafter as practicable but no later than 11:59PM of the same day.


Character sheet

Name: Dr. John H. Watson
Orientation: Heterosexual
Romantic status: Widowed
Athleticism: 25 (Skill for accomplishing feats of physical strength, endurance, and fighting with fists).
Charisma: 93 (Skill for convincing other people to do what you wish, and for swaying crowds).
Healing: 88(Skill to heal people using "light" -- that is, magic).
Marksmanship: 75 (Skill with a pistol or rifle).
Medicine: 66 (Your skill with scientific medicine, as opposed to magic).
Perception: 82 (Your skill as a detective; the ability to observe things and recognize their importance).
Compassionate: 75 Pragmatic: 25 (Your willingness to act with your heart or your head; the two skills are opposed. An increase in pragmatism means a decrease in compassion and vice versa).
Conventional: 25 Unconventional: 75(Opposed skills; the degree to which you conform to Victorian society's expectations. A conventional player will fit in well with established power structures, while unconventional will fit in better with subversive, magical, or just plain weird groups).
Stealthy: 70 Quick: 30 (Opposed skills: You can be sneaky OR fast ).

All skills are on a range of 0 - 100. Consider your skills when attempting tasks that may test them.

Achievements
One Man's Life / Save the life of an injured comrade. (Saved James Pierce).
Wolf In Sheep's Clothing / Identify the Dirigible Saboteur
Mid-air Repair / Repaired the Sabotaged Dirigible.
Eliminating the Impossible/Identify the saboteur's final target.
A Most Valuable Institution / Used the Press to Capture a Criminal.
Shades of Grey / Allowed Alexandria Townsend to escape.
Daring Escape / Rescued yourself and Finch from Colonel Fernley.
Hearth and Home / Married the love of your life
Fencing Salon / Secured the attention of the Prince's mistress.
Primum Non Nocere / Lost fewer than 200 lives to the cholera epidemic
Uncompromising / Chose to die rather than kill through light-eating
Healer / Became a Sun Temple Healer
Building Bridges / Built a bridge between the Sun Temple and the conventional world.
Taggart's Mythmaker / Used fiction to promote Christopher Taggart's ends.
The Empire's Man / Returned to work for Arthur Woodward.
Steam & Sorcery / Brought down the East End Ripper with no injury to yourself or your companions.
Infiltration / Infiltrated the Resistance.
The Bard's Weapon / Foiled the rising through the power of story.
The Watcher on the Walls / Foiled the Vlaski invasion.
Balance of Power: Balanced the Government and Resistance's excesses.

Decision log:
1. Silver tongue.
2. Split the difference
3-5: John H. Watson
6. crack shot
7. It angers me when light-eating is equated with sun-worship.
8. Yes. It's the best chance I have of saving him. And no one is here to see, after all.
9. I keep trying
9)…I have never been so thankful to receive a telegram.
9a)The sort of challenging work Arthur Woodward provides will surely distract me from the lingering effects of nightmare.
10)I used to be quite the athlete, but the injury to my leg was severe. I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life.
11) Healing magic is well enough for emergencies, but I wouldn't pursue training in this area even if I could. Modern medicine is enough for me.
12) We were not running. We were spilling blood. The brutal waste of it all sickens me.
13)There's no point in trying to hide the signs of sleeplessness. Finch's penetrating eyes see through all attempts at artifice; it's what makes him so valuable to Woodward.
14)"A Sun Temple cultist convinced him"? I look for signs this young man is a Sun Temple cultist himself.
15) Finch, he is standing here in front of us.
16) Sincere compassion.
17) Yes, but the why matters - sincere kindness.
18) 'm not sure this is quite as black and white as Finch thinks it is. Surely Easterly had some responsibility to his fiancée too
19) A tendril of panic slides through my belly.
20) #I speak to Easterly. "Your life has no value to you. What does?"
21) Stealthy pursuit of Dimitri.
22) I aim my revolver at him.
23) For a moment panic rises in my throat, the handprint on Finch's face merging with the remembered handprint on Pierce's3
24) Even knowing I have no time to waste, I spend a few precious seconds listening hard, attempting to gather additional data.
25) I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.
26) I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.
27) As she describes it, I'm starting to hope the same thing.
28)During my time in Woodward's service, I have become accustomed to blending into whatever
29)Yes, I find myself very much wanting to get to know her better. Maybe she's not a blazing beauty, but there's something about her…
30) I offer her my arm
31) I ask Grace to dance.
32)I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.
33)I profusely apologize, explaining about the leg in a few words.
34)As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.
35)The ship's officers are drilled in procedures for accidents of this kind, and it is not my place to speak for them. I immediately begin to work my way down the incline and through the double doors, following Finch in his attempt to find the source of the problem.
36)I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.
36A)"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."
37) "I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."
37A) #I'm a doctor, I can't kill this man, etc..

38) Military stupidity

39) re-attach the regulator
40) #I half-close my eyes and visualize the engineer's head wound. Perhaps I will be able to conclude something about the person who inflicted it–height or dominant hand, for instance.

41) #"Before we waste time here, let's see if the oil droplets continue further on. If not, we can double back."

42) #"If you can help us find the saboteur, everyone aboard including your son will be safe."

43) #The University Student.

44) #"There's nothing to worry about. I've been working with my friend and the ship's officers to find the part taken from the engine, and we've nearly done it."

45)I slip through the crowd to approach him unobtrusively. If he is focused on Finch, he might not notice me flanking.

46) I run after him!
47) Persuade the crewman.

48: #I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."

49B)Alexandra Townsend, backflipping over the rail, then looking back to wave goodbye. I can't help admiring that sort of fearlessness even in an enemy–and what did she mean by "Free Mercia"? Learn more about her.

followed by: 49A)Grace Chandler, steadily loading lifeboats, her left hand clutching nervously at her skirt but her face completely calm.

followed by: 49A)Yes.

50)
#…go to Woodward's office. If something's afoot, he'll know what.

51) # Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.

52) Interview the witnesses.

53) See Mr. Merrill

54) Circle ' round the desk.

55) Waylay a worker.

56) Investigate the Temple

58) Investigate alone.

59) I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them.

60) …and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.

61) I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey.

62) #"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."

63) "But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?"

64) I'm not sure. I need more information. "Through what methods?" I ask.

65) I'm interested in more than the physical health of the children.

66) I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.

67) That first story wasn't quite accurate, was it?

68) Look at the scene of the crime.
69) They had nothing to do with it.
70) Lure them with a false story in the paper.
70A) Choose a door.
71) I have a duty
72) Mouth go but keep revolver trained on her for appearance sake.
73) Home-grown spider
74) Tea with Miss Chandler
75) No, it's not. Modern medicine is the finest advance the new century has brought us; I'm glad you see its value as I do.
76) Finch drawing gentle fingers across my cheek.
76A) Scrapbook (but show both)
77) Convince him he has the wrong man.
78) A laborer injured by machinery.
79) Answer in character.
80) It's difficult to listen to, but perhaps just as well. If Finch draws all the ill treatment, it at least leaves me whole and able to rescue us both


81) I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.

81)I match question for question. "What's the Professor's real name?
"
82)"How'd a—an honorable—soldier—get involved—in this?"

83)I need to take control of this situation. I need to pretend to break before I actually do—but I need to let it go on a little longer so the feigned surrender is believable.

84)If I can delay being restrained until Finch wakes up, it might be closer to a fair fight. I do my best to impersonate a man babbling secrets out of fear, and play for time. [Charisma]

85) The pistol.
86) The pistol again.
87) "I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."

88)I catch at her hands to keep her from going anywhere. "Grace. Oh, love. I thought I was never going to see you again."
89)"Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?"
90) …think that is an excellent point. I fully intend to keep my hand in after my marriage, at least on the information-gathering side.

91)…fulfilling. I feel like I'm taking deep breaths for the first time in a long time.

92) I enthusiastically agree. This is a wonderful idea.

93) Nothing.
94) Neither love of music nor the soprano's notoriety has attracted me. I am here for another reason altogether.
95B) Woodward's making a mountain out of a molehill.
96)That "exotic" style of beauty—the gold and alabaster style common in Vlask—has never appealed to me. But I have to admit she is a compelling actress.
Singing. Meh.
97)Woodward was worried about this? We must have achieved our goals and brought peace to the Empire, if so small a piece of nonsense causes such great concern.
Yeah, last time I checked, wasn't there a hostile foreign nation and a home-grown rebellion going on?
98)Wait a minute–this doesn't make any sense. I know this family, and they've never displayed any signs of being sun-touched.

99) Take Jed and the wine to Christopher Taggert.
100) Use charm to persuade Jed.
101) Have a hospital colleague analyze the wine.
102) I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."
103)
We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it.

104)
Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists."

105)
If the situation were any less dire, I would be annoyed that Woodward still thinks it appropriate to summon me.

106) He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…

107) I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers.

108) The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colOnies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.

109)

She indicated she was singing this song to prove a point. So she is either trying to lull us
into thinking well of her homeland or trying to provoke an argument, and either way, I can't be
bothered humoring her with a response. (69)

109)I feel a slow burn of anger. She seems to have left out the part where the boyar is more or less immortal, and why. Nor does the song tell of the fires burning in captured cities. (45)

110) I challenge her about the morality of using art to manipulate. Surely only that of which one is ashamed must be slipped in unawares; anything honorable can be spoken of openly.

111) Absolutely not. There's no need. Grace has it handled.

112) I have to tone down everything I want to say, because Finch is there, and my enthusiasm would embarrass all three of us. I content myself with, "I am so proud of you."

113) Nervous, but resolute.

114)"You look beautiful," I whisper back. "You always look beautiful, of course, but—"

115
#I automatically catalog the tactical opportunities presented by this combination of shadow and light.

116#Of course they are both light-eaters. I expected this. I note it and move on.

117 #My attention is so entirely consumed by my mission that the surroundings are bothering me much less than I would have thought.

118)I study the body language displayed by the Prince and the opera singer, hoping for further insight regarding their relationship.

119)I intend to dance with my wife once, before embarking upon my investigation.

119A)I cut directly to the heart of the matter and ask Madame Albescu to dance.

120) I just need to keep talking with her. Everything she says or doesn't say gives me more information.


121) A marvelous idea.

122)I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.

124) I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment.

125)The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?

126)Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.

127)"Violence against his person ought to be the last thing we try. Instead let someone explain to him the Vlaski plot as we understand it, and reassure him that the effects can be reversed."

128)"I know what the people of Vlask have made you believe about yourself, but it is false. They have turned you into a light-eater by adding a certain chemical to your wine."

129) "No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo."

130) # I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.

131) #"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock."

132) #I position myself between the Prince and his steward.

133) #At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.

134) I fumble for my revolver. I must have dropped it when I fell.

135) I croak out, "Finch?"—hoping against hope.

136) I am too tired to feel anything approaching anger.

137) It is unimportant how the injury was received. I am known as the doctor to whom anyone can go for help.

138) #I felt sick when I looked at the pictures. Every Mercian should be ashamed of this. But I can't believe Prime Minister Whitefield authorized it.

139) Say nothing 85
say "thank you" 14

140) #Worried about the tensions simmering beneath the surface of the East End.

141) #I must discover where he has spent the last few days, where he could have contracted this. If the source of the infection is not found promptly, Kingsford could be facing an epidemic.

142) "I can see why you would think it a curse, but it isn't. Cholera really does act this way." 96



143) I go with David. His brother's household is a few streets over from the bulk of the cholera cases. If the disease has traveled that far, I need to know.

144) I am coming to understand why they call it a curse.

145) Yes. Determining the origin of the contagion will save the most lives overall. I devote all my attention to the larger problem.

146) I do my best not to listen. The best thing I can do for all of them is complete this map as quickly as possible.

146A)The odds of the baby surviving are low in any case, and there is little I can do to improve them. To benefit the greatest number of people, I have to finish the map.

147) I'm not sure they'll all talk to me. But Alexandra Townsend owes me a favor. I ask for her help in acquiring the data.

148) I'm not sure I can trust Woodward to slice through government bureaucracy fast enough—and each day's delay means more death. I inform Alexandra Townsend, instead.

149)All will be well. There isn't a cure, but nursing matters a great deal, and I know what I'm doing. It will be fine. It will.

150) I send to the hospital, asking my colleagues for assistance.

151) I frantically flip through my medical textbooks, looking for anything that might help.

152) Neither. He's apt to go try to minister to some other patient, and probably kill them. I lock him in my spare bedroom, where he can do no one any harm.

153) It doesn't matter that she would not consent. She never has to know. This situation is so perilous that I must do everything I can, and healing is something I can do.

154) No, I can't do this! I shake off the hideous temptation. Perhaps Taggart can succeed where I have failed.

155 A.) "Would it have worked? The healing. If I'd brought you in time."

156) I feel neither guilt nor fury–nor, for that matter, anything else at all. I feel as though I am encased in ice.

157)] We've broken the back of the epidemic, but it isn't quite over. There are still a few cholera cases to be treated in poor hovels such as this. 89


158) I expect these are desperate rather than evil men. I am certain I can talk them out of this, if I can only stay alive long enough to do so.

159)No. I will not become like them. Not even to save my own life. (What good is my life to me, anyhow?)

160) # Stammering a little from the closeness of that shave, I tell her I was called out to see a patient.

161) #"You saved my life. Thank you."

162) #I decline, but I pull out a matchbox and light hers.

163) Children died under the feet of a mech in Dunleitir. A cholera epidemic just ripped through the laborer quarter because no one could be bothered to properly maintain a cesspool. Yes, it's time I took a hand in ending these horrors.

164) I appreciate Taggart's circumspection. Not one sentence in this letter would compromise my reputation if someone else saw it.
circumspection - 13
craftiness - 12

165) I am tired of my life having so little meaning. I want to feel alive again. Perhaps joining the temple is the way to do that.

166) "I have been attempting to combat it from here, by encouraging peaceful behavior.
encourage peaceful behavior - 95
come into this - 74

167) The idea is unexpected. I will need to spend time getting used to it before I can ever think about seriously entertaining it.


168)
#I accept Taggart's offer and join the healers.

169)
# It all feels dark and empty, within and without.

170)"Are we in a hurry?"

171)"Have I done something to offend you, Healer?"

172) The uniform chant makes me twitch. They all recite by rote, not varying or questioning or thinking for themselves.

173) The expression on the kneeling man's face almost brings tears to my eyes. By giving of himself here, he has become part of the hands that save a life later. He knows he has taken part in something holy.

174) I came here to be part of this. I want to be part of this. I stand.

175) I heal the plant as much as possible.

176) I attempt to obey and drain just a little.

177)"Can I hurt it by giving it too much?"

178)I know how to do this.

Vote 179)
I've grown more comfortable saying the words. It's not the mindless repetition some call it—they serve as a touchstone, a way to achieve a desired mindset.

Vote 180) I go donate.

Vote 181 )"I feel like I'm drowning. They need so much, and we can't possibly provide it…"

Vote 182)
Neither modern medicine nor healing is sufficient on its own to address this need. We should be using a combination of the two


183) "But it could be what we are about. It's a skill I have that I could teach others. Why should it be different for my hands to heal with medicines and bandages instead of directly?""

184) "#Of course, the Labor Reform Bill. I should have guessed it would interest the temple folk. I've been following the articles in The Times for weeks. "

185) #Ah, here we are. Treating the symptoms of the disease is all very well, but I have been eager to attack the underlying cause.

186) # Yes, of course.

187) #He's right—a steady hand on the rudder is the only thing that will ever turn the ship. This is what we can do.

188) #To hell with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I face Morris, answering his questions before Chase can speak.

189) Chase, Elaine, and I can risk capture to heal, but we should get Alice out of here with Barlow to guard her. An old lady has no business in a prison cell.

190:
Easy, lad, easy! I was an officer in the Imperial Army once; I'm not about to undermine your authority—" 73

191: I offer healing, quietly, to the old man and his companion.

192: I ask how in the world he escaped arrest.

193: I find myself impatient with his rhetoric. It's easy to talk about tearing it down and building something better, but Free Mercia doesn't have the leverage to do it.

194: "Yes, of course."

195: At least the irregular hours of the work give me time for my more important responsibilities–and Taggart would say, living the same life as those one seeks to aid is the first step in understanding what they need.

196: I feel as though I have swallowed ice. A light-eater, hunting in Kingsford.

Well, probably. Possibly it could be someone else, disguising him-/herself as a light-eater.


197: "If there's a light-eater roaming around out there, we have to find a way to stop him."

198: I go take a closer look at the most recent scene of the crime. Perhaps I'll spot something.

199: 199)I tell the truth. I used to be a police surgeon, and I thought I might find a clue to the killer

200) I expect Woodward's men are trying very hard, and I know he doesn't recruit fools. That gives me a chilling assessment of the power of this enemy

201) "I want to help," I tell Taggart. "I can't stay quiet while such evil is taking place out there. There must be something I can do."

202) "But there are other ways to kill a light-eater than by light-eating! You may not have skills with other weapons, but I do."

203) I let him do it, reaching back and making it a sort of embrace.

204) "You've been alive all this time. Did Woodward know?"

205) # I say, "You've let me believe you were dead for three years, and you want me to explain myself?"

206) #"Go on. Tell me."

207) #"And then what?

208) #"And I'll wager you enjoyed that, playing hide-and-hunt in a submersible.

209) "What we do here isn't nonsense. I can't leave.
210) # "Yes, 'we.' And it isn't nonsense."

210A) #"Healing can cure what modern medicine cannot. I've been shut off from my talent for too long. Now I can help people in ways I never could before."

211) #"I'm learning to be both. There's no reason one person can't be both."

212) #"This is an enormous decision. I can't make it immediately. I need time to think."
212A) #I need to talk this out with Taggart.
213) "I'm going back.


214) # If I hadn't been assigned, I would have volunteered. I've been wanting to enact this very strategy.

215) #"Come in."

216) #I nod.

217) Friendly, but a little reserved.

218) #"Oh, good thought."


219) #I linger another few moments, trying to gather more information.

220) I pretend that I have fallen for the ruse.

221) I step back again, forcing a chuckle. "Are you so dangerous, then?"

222) I catch hold of his wrists, careful to touch sleeve rather than skin, and hold them as if playfully.

222A) "Stand still," I order in my best parade-ground inflection, adding, "I also like obedience. It's my pennies buying the gin; we do it my way."

222AC) I can't stop instinctively flinching away.


223) I don't need reinforcements! Before the Ripper's hands can touch my bare skin, I pull out my revolver and shoot.

224) # I take over with my revolver, keeping the Ripper off balance while Finch reloads his weapon.

225) #I am certainly grateful to have the assistance, but I am still uncomfortable with the idea of mechs patrolling Kingsford streets.

226) # I wring it hard and bring my other hand to squeeze his shoulder. The gesture will not attract undue attention in a moment like this.

227) "We've always been an effective team. I have no doubt we will be again once we get accustomed to each other once more."

228) "It's too late for that. Choices have consequences. I can't trust you as I once did."


229) Conflicted. I'm certainly not keen to see a Rising, but I have wondered at times if anything less would actually change the dubious practices of the government currently in power…

230) a funeral bell.

231) #…feeling confused. This strategy doesn't seem consistent with what I understand of Free Mercia's principles.

232) #"Yes, of course I'll go."

233) "Atoning for past mistakes."

234) "Less of one than you might think, sir. We've been on the same side for a long time. I've just given up trying to fix things from within."

235) "But I'd heard you were planning a Rising, sir. Is that not a pebble?"

236) I study her more carefully.

237) Calmly.

238) # "Then was it you who invented Alexandra's boots?"

239: # I am on my feet so as not to stand out in the crowd, but my mind is completely clear, my attention sharply focused.

240) Nothing; I'm not about to draw attention to myself.

241) I can't imagine Alexandra Townsend supporting Vlaski troops on Mercian soil. If she knew, she might act to stop it. I talk to Alexandra privately, after the meeting has broken up.

241A) Woodward said the fate of the Empire depends on stopping this rising.

242) Ask Jem.

243) I'll keep watch: she's more agile than I am

244) The stories we tell ourselves shape our perception of the world. And I am a storyteller. I can make them believe this war is already lost.

245) I reassure her that there is nothing to worry about, even though few of Callahan's people were ever trained as soldiers.
246) I ask him if he is worried over that rumor that the other cities do not intend to support the Rising after all.

247 I'm thinking of Grace. I think she would understand.

248 I need to warn Taggart.

The End

BEGIN!


http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn188/Brian_Pendell/4_prologue_zpsb9opcosa.png



The air outside shakes with the sound of cannon, and the ground shakes with the heavy footfalls of steam-powered Vlaski and Mercian mechs. Within the prison walls, you can hear shouting voices and running feet, but none have reached this corridor. Yet.

You stagger toward daylight as fast as you can, Pierce's arm draped heavily over your shoulders. He was the only prisoner still alive to rescue; the other captured soldiers were beyond your help, their handprint-marked bodies left in heaps like so much rubbish.

It is the year 1881, and you are an officer in the Medical Corps of the Mercian Imperial Army, currently stationed at the very edges of the Empire, where you hold the line against encroaching Vlaskesari.

All of Her Majesty's officers are skilled and well-trained men, of course–but only the true elite were assigned to this daring prison camp rescue.



Vote 1: So tell us–why are you among them? What skill do you possess that makes you extraordinary?

* I hold the record in my unit for fast, efficient, effective surgery under fire.

* Though I am part of the Medical Corps, my medical skill is far eclipsed by my marksmanship. I'm a crack shot, if I say it myself.

* I'm quite the athlete–I've played rugby and boxed ever since I was a lad. My unusual endurance and strength serve me well in hand to hand combat, as well as in the often grueling conditions of the warfront.

* I'm known among my colleagues for my silver tongue. I can soothe frightened patients, bluff at the card table, intimidate young soldiers, and weave a good tale with equal ease.


So, that first vote will set some of our initial skills. What else?



There's only a little farther to go now. Your companions retreated (as per orders) when the sounds of combat outside indicated the mission had gone pear-shaped, but you couldn't bear to leave without checking the last row of cells. And a good thing you did, or you never would have found Pierce. (And you'll remember the smell of that room for a long time, the way it brought sickness to the back of your throat; it was a fight to keep your hands steady enough to free him from his restraints–)

You emerge into daylight, and Pierce gives a sob of relief…and then you realize you have walked into the middle of a mech firefight. Thundering metal giants, Vlaski and Mercian, hurl enormous cannonballs at each other.





Vote 2:

#I retreat back into the prison, Pierce's cry of despair notwithstanding. Place of horrors or not, its strong stone walls will protect the two of us from the immediate danger.

#I risk a bold shot, waving to draw the attention of the Mercian mech pilot in the hope that he will move to protect us.

#I try to split the difference, looking about for a place to hide that will keep us safe while the battle rages but still keep us close enough to be easily rescued.



Whatever you decide to do ...



The ground-shaking stomp of a mech foot negates your plan. The ground heaves under your feet, Pierce's arm slips from your shoulders as you fall, and you hear him cry out as he tumbles beside you down a slope you hadn't had time to notice.

Blinking dirt out of your eyes, you catch a blurred, tilted vision of the Vlaski mech stomping along the bank above. Steam pours from its ears like fog–the stokers inside must be working double-time. The head swivels, blank eyes passing over your position, but the gigantic feet do not stop their forward progress. Perhaps the gunner inside can't see you amidst all the boulders.

Or perhaps he has a more attractive target to pursue. Craning your head, you see outlined against the distant mountains the corresponding Mercian mech, the one in which you arrived to execute this smash-and-grab raid and which was intended to be your transportation back to the Mercian lines. Its cannon-arm is up and firing, but it is retreating. As you watch, the Vlaski mech's pursuit quickens into a jog.

Damnation. Your position has just become "behind enemy lines."



Whoops.




You roll over to check on Pierce. His uniform is torn in many places, revealing the livid red handprints and crusted-over knife slashes that mottle otherwise sickly-pale skin. He could hardly stand when you pulled him out of the cell, and the tumble down the slope could have done him no good at all, but amazingly, his eyes blink open. They regard you in an uncertain, unfocused sort of way.

"How many fingers?" you ask, holding up your hand.

"Two…?" he rasps. "…maybe three."

"Remember your name?"

Pierce smiles just a little. "Pierce," he mumbles, "James S." He looks up at you, trying for the old cheeky grin, and it's pretty close to the bravest thing you've ever seen. "Remember yours?"

Of course you remember yours; you haven't been captured and tortured. But you suppose you might as well humor him.





Vote 3: (What is your last name?)

#Parker.
#Dawson.
#Mitchell.
#Watson.
#Tucker
#Murray.
#Something else. [Your choice]


And one more:


Vote 4: (And your given name?)

#Charles.
#David.
#Robert.
#John.
#Hamish.
#Leonard.
#Something else.


Well, that's quite enough votes for now. Get them in and we'll see how we get out of this mess .. on Monday, 19 Jun. Please have your votes in by 5:30PM Eastern daylight time. If less than three votes have been cast by that time voting will be extended to Wednesday, 19 Jul , 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-06-19, 03:22 PM
1) I'm known among my colleagues for my silver tongue. I can soothe frightened patients, bluff at the card table, intimidate young soldiers, and weave a good tale with equal ease.
2) I try to split the difference, looking about for a place to hide that will keep us safe while the battle rages but still keep us close enough to be easily rescued.
3 and 4) David Murray.
Alright! Let's get this steampunk party started!

smuchmuch
2016-06-20, 08:15 AM
I'm known among my colleagues for my silver tongue. I can soothe frightened patients, bluff at the card table, intimidate young soldiers, and weave a good tale with equal ease.

I retreat back into the prison, Pierce's cry of despair notwithstanding. Place of horrors or not, its strong stone walls will protect the two of us from the immediate danger.

Leonard Watson

pendell
2016-06-20, 05:05 PM
We only have two votes, so as promised voting will be extended to Wednesday, June 22, 5:30 PM.

Oh, if anyone's interested, we DO have one more vote which I missed..


Vote 5: And your middle initial?
(Choose one letter from A-Z inclusive).


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-06-20, 05:16 PM
5) R. C'mon people, join in the fun!

smuchmuch
2016-06-22, 11:43 AM
5) D.

(Black Socks, I think it's when Pendell present the choices that the color is blue, your votes in response, you are supposed to color in red)

The-lost-Byte
2016-06-22, 02:06 PM
YAY! Steampunk!

1.
* I'm known among my colleagues for my silver tongue. I can soothe frightened patients, bluff at the card table, intimidate young soldiers, and weave a good tale with equal ease.

2.
#I try to split the difference, looking about for a place to hide that will keep us safe while the battle rages but still keep us close enough to be easily rescued.

3.,4. & 5.
Dr. John H. Watson

(you see what i did there?)

Black Socks
2016-06-22, 02:20 PM
3.,4. & 5.
Dr. John H. Watson

(you see what i did there?)

Oh, I see.... wait a minute, wasn't 'A Study in Scarlet' the title of the first Sherlock Holmes novel?
(one google search later)
Yes it was!

smuchmuch
2016-06-22, 04:55 PM
3.,4. & 5.
Dr. John H. Watson

I'd say it's a name name that hit right holmes
(It was either that or 'no s***, Sherlock.

But let's face it, w totaly going to end making our character a detective no matter what is name en up being, arn't we ? :smalltongue:)

Black Socks
2016-06-22, 05:10 PM
I'd say it's a name name that hit right holmes
(It was either that or 'no s***, Sherlock.

But let's face it, w totaly going to end making our character a detective no matter what is name en up being, arn't we ? :smalltongue:)
Is that a challenge? You shall see the true might of my puns! In, fact here's one right now:
.....ok, I can't think of one. BUT JUST YOU WAIT! I shall prove myself to be the pun-master! :smallamused:

pendell
2016-06-22, 05:39 PM
(Black Socks, I think it's when Pendell present the choices that the color is blue, your votes in response, you are supposed to color in red)
.

Correct. It allows me to easily see what votes are versus discussion. I haven't been really enforcing the rule, because this is supposed to be fun. But I reserve the right to do so in future if it starts becoming a real problem. For now, think of it as a courtesy.

Okay, so our votes are:

* I'm known among my colleagues for my silver tongue. I can soothe frightened patients, bluff at the card table, intimidate young soldiers, and weave a good tale with equal ease.

#I try to split the difference, looking about for a place to hide that will keep us safe while the battle rages but still keep us close enough to be easily rescued.

First names - rolling
David 34
Leonard 4
John 91.

Name selected: John

Last name - Watson

Middle Initial
R. 22
D. 41
H. 98

Middle Initial: H.

Evidently randomella has a sense of humor :smallamused:

So .. we have a silver tongue!



The ability to bluff and intimidate is often useful when inside enemy encampments. Indeed, it has already proven useful once today. Without it, you could never have gotten that light-eater to loose your comrade from the rescue party. You had no other weapon but your voice and your face, and yet you made the Vlaskesar believe there was someone about to attack him from behind. You saved your comrade's life.


Charisma: 75
We attempt to split the difference.



You spot a ravine and stumble toward it. You are almost there when the ground-shaking stomp of a mech foot quickens your pace for you. The ground heaves under your feet, Pierce's arm slips from your shoulders as you fall, and you hear him cry out as he tumbles down the slope beside you.

Blinking dirt out of your eyes, you catch a blurred, tilted vision of the Vlaski mech stomping along the bank above. Steam pours from its ears like fog–the stokers inside must be working double-time. The head swivels, blank eyes passing over your position, but the gigantic feet do not stop their forward progress. Perhaps the gunner inside can't see you amidst all the boulders.

Or perhaps he has a more attractive target to pursue. Craning your head, you see outlined against the distant mountains the corresponding Mercian mech, the one in which you arrived to execute this smash-and-grab raid and which was intended to be your transportation back to the Mercian lines. Its cannon-arm is up and firing, but it is retreating. As you watch, the Vlaski mech's pursuit quickens into a jog.

Damnation. Your position has just become "behind enemy lines."


We give our name.



…you suppose you might as well humor him. "Watson, John H." You crane your head to see over the side of the ravine. It's hard to tell how far away the battle has carried the two mechs. All you can see is barren, rocky wasteland stretching in every direction. Even before the devastation wreaked by the steam-driven war machinery of two empires, the tiny mountain country of Goráska was a place no one in their right mind would want. Your Empire and the Vlaski Empire fight over it only because it is the last barrier between them.

You look back down in time to catch the expression on Pierce's face, and move hastily to reassure him. "The lads will come right back for us."

"'s all right…if they don't." Pierce's eyes drift closed. He looks almost peaceful. "At least I'm…dying out here…instead of in there."

"You're not about to die," you chide him. "You're with me; you've nothing to worry over."

He smiles a little. "Of course. John Watson, silver-tongued rascal–"




Vote 6:
#And crack shot," I interrupt him. It's true; even though it's not my foremost skill, I have often been commended for my marksmanship.

#"And first-class doctor," I interrupt him. "I can easily keep you alive until they come back for us." It's not an idle boast; it may not be my foremost skill, but I did take honors in medicine at university.

#"I'm also stronger than I look," I remind him. "I can carry you a great distance if that's what we have to do." Though it isn't my foremost skill, I am far stronger and fitter than most people expect.


So now that we have a strongest skill (persuasion) we are choosing our SECOND strongest skill.

After we make that choice, it's time for backstory!



Pierce's brief smile fades. "I wasn't…afraid, you know. When they…first came for me. The light-eaters. I…thought I…knew…because we had a healer, you know. In the village…when I was small."

Most villages did back in those days; some do still. The religions of the two empires have the same root, after all, though Mercia broke the power of its Sun Temples centuries ago, and the Vlaskesari allowed theirs to evolve into the current monstrosity, where light-eating is considered the sacred privilege of the sun-touched instead of a perversion and an abomination. (You think of the pile of handprint-stained bodies, and bile rises in the back of your throat.)

Under control of Vlaski aristocrats, Vlaski serfs are still stuck in superstitious dark ages where they are trained to see the sun-touched as blessed and deserving of reverence. Even (especially?) when the sun-touched drain the life from their bodies.

Mercia, in contrast, has entered an age of reason (despite the words for old concepts, like "hell" and "damnation," still lingering in the language as cursewords) and the educated no longer subscribe to the nonsense believed by medieval ancestors.

Still, a form of sun-worship does still flourish in some of the more backward colonies, and can even be found among the lower classes and country folk of Mercia itself. Some people consider it harmless. Others claim it is a smokescreen for the same light-eating horrors that go on in Vlaski lands.

"Some of the villagers said…our healer…was a light-eater…that they…all were," Pierce says. "But that was absurd…she was good and kind…and still they said it…so I wasn't afraid…when the Vlaskesari came to drag me from my cell." He pauses. One hand drifts to touch the blood-red handprint on his chest, where a light-eater sucked his life through his skin to nourish itself. "I should have been afraid."






Vote 7:

#Yes, he should have been. The best thing Mercia ever did was break the power of the Sun Temples. Every sun-touched person has the capacity to become a light-eater.


#It angers me when light-eating is equated with sun-worship. My grandmother was sun-touched, and she was nothing like the monsters who tortured good people to death in the building behind me.


#It sickens me when light-eating is equated with sun-worship. I might have been a sun-worshipper myself, even a healer, in some earlier age.





Before you can decide if you want to share any of these thoughts with Pierce, or how to phrase them, artillery roars almost overhead and you jump nearly out of your skin. You look up in alarm just in time to see a hail of bullets hit the lip of the ravine. Boulders pour down like a waterfall, too fast for you to scramble out of the way or to shield Pierce–and the last thing you see before your vision goes black is the cascade of stone striking his fragile form.

You claw your way back to consciousness in slow, painful stages.

Finally you drag your eyes open.

The rockslide did not bury you. You've been hurt by falling rocks–badly; you can feel blood seeping from your wounds to soak into the hard ground below–but at least you are alive.

So is Pierce, but only just. Blood spurts from a deep wound in his shoulder–damnation, spurts. You scramble drunkenly toward him to apply pressure. Your hand is shaking as you clamp down, your head is spinning from your own blood loss, and "very bad" doesn't even begin to describe this situation.

You stare at your hand, pressing down on Pierce's shoulder with all the force you can muster. It lies tan against Pierce's white skin, surrounded by other handprints of red (but you're nothing like them). Light-eaters draw life from their victims through the palms of their hands, and careless ones leave handprints behind, dark red against Pierce's skin the same way your hand is dark brown–

You whisper to yourself I am nothing like them, but you might be. Your gran said you were. I'm nothing like them beats like a drum in your head. But maybe you are, and maybe that's the way to save something from this disaster.

The same hands that take life can give it–the sun-touched, who can take another person's inner light to sustain themselves, can also give of their own light to one in need.

When you were a lad, all you knew was that some people in the village called your gran witch and worse things, and acted afraid of her, while others brought all their problems to her for solving. You were too young to understand why until the day she took you along when she went to heal a playmate of yours from pneumonia.

She held the child's hands, then had you hold them, telling you that you could feel the fire inside a person if you concentrated hard enough. And that once you felt it, you could fan it into flame even if it was dwindled almost to ash, and once the flame was burning, then the healing would begin.

"You've got the old gift," she told you. "For all your hair's dark like your da's, you've got a bit of my blood, and the gift runs in the blood."

Your friend did indeed begin to recover at that moment, but your father was furious when he learned of your involvement. He warned you that you must never do such a thing again, or let anyone know you could.

You never have. Even the people who know what your gran did in the sickroom don't know you had a hand in it. You've never let on to anyone the secret of the blood that might run in your veins. You've never used it; you've never been tempted to use it.

But…Pierce's face is dead-white, his blood gushing between your fingers. Your friend is dying. You're losing blood fast and are well on the way to unconsciousness yourself. And for the first time since you left home to study medicine, you find yourself tempted to try healing magic. You're nothing like the light-eaters, of course you're not, but you're bleeding to death, and so is Pierce, and this might be the last choice you ever make. Maybe you can use your gran's "old gift" healing to save his life.




Vote 8: Do you?

#Yes. It's the best chance I have of saving him. And no one is here to see, after all.


#Yes. It will balance what was done to him by those who share my inherited talent.


#No. I can't be sure it will work. I will put my faith in modern medicine and make Pierce a tourniquet while I am still conscious.


#No. I am a man of science, and I refuse to rely on that superstitious nonsense. I will make a tourniquet.


#No, no, never. I will not be in any way like my enemies across the battlefield. I fumble to make a tourniquet.


#No. I can hear artillery coming closer, but I don't know whose. I won't save him just so he can be captured again and tormented again. I take my hand away from the wound and let the blood flow.




OPTIONAL: The next paragraph ONLY comes into play if we chose one of the "yes" options in vote 8. If we choose "no", we'll skip this bit. But I'm putting it here anyway because I refuse to take up a whole session on just this one vote. So , here it is!

IF WE CHOOSE TO HEAL HIM...



You look down at your hand clamped over Pierce's bleeding shoulder, and try to remember what it was your gran told you to do. Close your eyes. Reach out not with your hand but with the flame inside yourself–

You feel ridiculous.




Vote 8A:

#That's because this is ridiculous. I'm a doctor. I start looking for a stick to make a tourniquet.

#I keep trying.




So .. that's it for today! Get your vote in by Friday, 24 Jun, 5:30PM EST to see if Pierce and Watson escape with their lives!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-06-22, 05:56 PM
- And crack shot," I interrupt him. It's true; even though it's not my foremost skill, I have often been commended for my marksmanship.
We need some fighting skill.
- It angers me when light-eating is equated with sun-worship. My grandmother was sun-touched, and she was nothing like the monsters who tortured good people to death in the building behind me.
Let's have some internal conflict....
- Yes. It's the best chance I have of saving him. And no one is here to see, after all.
- I keep trying.
Let's do some healing, sun! (see that? I've already started the puns...)

pendell
2016-06-24, 05:31 PM
Very well; these are our choices.

6. crack shot
7. It angers me when light-eating is equated with sun-worship.
8. Yes. It's the best chance I have of saving him. And no one is here to see, after all.
9. I keep trying

Only one vote -- at least it made the counting easy!




And crack shot," I interrupt him. It's true; even though it's not my foremost skill, I have often been commended for my marksmanship.

Marksmanship: 62

Very well, we discuss the fact that he was tortured to death by light eaters, and he equates light-eating with sun worship.



Light-eating is a monstrous practice, loathsome to any decent person no matter their faith or the blood in their veins. It unfairly tarnishes all sun-worshippers by association.

You are not a sun-worshipper yourself, of course; you are a Rationalist, like all educated men. But your own grandmother was a healer, and there is some evidence you might be sun-touched like she was—and you can't tell anyone either of those things, because they will assume you are like the monsters from Vlask. It's as much as your career is worth, to let that secret get out.


Conventional: 43
Unconventional: 57


Next we get buried under a rock slide and we decide to use healing to attempt to save Pierce, and keep trying when we stumble at first.



And with a suddenness that feels like falling off a cliff, you know when you have succeeded. The moment of connection is like nothing you've ever experienced. It makes you think of warm summer rain and throat-catching music and sun-ripened blackberries.

What follows really is a lot like reviving a dying flame in a hearth. You imagine yourself fanning it, coaxing it, feeding it little bits of twigs, though you are physically doing none of these things. It takes a great deal of effort–you feel increasingly lightheaded–but you don't dare stop.


Healing: 62
Conventional: 37
Unconventional: 63



Your vision is darkening around the edges.

With the last of your energy, you try to push Pierce's now-bright inner flame to the direction of his shoulder–maybe that will stop the bleeding from the inside?–but before you know if you have succeeded, artillery roars almost beside you, snapping you back to the real world.

The blank-eyed face of a mech looms over you. You can't tell whose Empire it serves. The mech's cannon-arm swivels, and there's nothing you can do now for Pierce or yourself; you can't even move enough to flinch. Bullets rain all around you and pummel you back into darkness–


Uh-oh.



–and you gasp awake, heart hammering, in your own bed in Kingsford, Mercia's bustling capital city.

Nightmare. It was a nightmare.

Damned bloody nightmares.

Damned, bloody, realistic nightmares. You'd swear your ears are ringing with the sound of cannon. But it's 1885–1885, not 1881–and the cannons have been silent for nearly three years.

You slump against the pillows, sweat running down your back.


Okay, so that was a flash back to our army experiences four years ago. It impacted our stats because, although it was a dream, John Watson really did do those things.


On to ...

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn188/Brian_Pendell/5_partOne_zpsg8f45wfh.png




You slowly become aware that you were awoken by a sound. Your flatmate is knocking at your bedroom door.

It's early for him to be awake, and your stomach knots. He is your friend as well as your colleague, and he knows about your nightmares—but you still hope like hell you weren't shouting in your sleep.

"Watson?" he calls, and his voice sounds perfectly normal, so very likely you weren't, thank mercy for small favors. "The game's afoot!"

The phrase makes you twitch a smile despite the chill sweat drying on your skin. It's not Finch's usual manner of speaking–he can be a proud and arrogant sort when he chooses, but he's not so artificially pretentious as to customarily pepper his casual speech with iambic pentameter from a play three centuries old. But he used the quotation once to describe Woodward's telegrams, and it seemed to fit, and in the intervening two years, it has evolved into something between a standing joke and a code phrase.

It is the year 1885, and you are an honorably discharged veteran of Her Imperial Majesty's Army, working as a police surgeon.

On paper. In practice, your role is far more interesting.

Though the ink of the peace treaty has long since dried, the war between the Empires of Mercia and Vlask continues in subtle ways. And you are a secret soldier for your country, as you were an open one when the war was fought on an open battlefield. You serve on Arthur Woodward's unofficial spy force, tasked with detecting and foiling Vlaski plots before they are able to pose real danger to the Empire or its subjects.

A summons from Woodward, therefore, is no trivial matter. If you're hearing from him, the game is well and truly afoot.

"I've sent the pageboy for a cab," Finch adds through the door. "We should have one in five minutes."

"I'll be ready in ten." You heave yourself out of bed.





You are thinking…

#…I have never been so thankful to receive a telegram.

.....Vote 9A :
.....Why?

..........#The sort of challenging work Arthur Woodward provides will surely distract me from the lingering effects of nightmare.

..........#The Vlaskesari of my memories just bested me in the nightmare realm–but I am about to face them in the real world, and we'll see who comes out on top then.

..........#Protecting the Empire as Woodward's operative is what gives my life meaning. That's enough to offset the occasional bad night.


#…Woodward's timing is terrible.


#…I can't do this today. I can't.





Grumbling at the cold and your aching head, you pull off your nightshirt and reach for your clothing. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, and your wound seems unusually vivid and prominent today–not that it needed to do anything further to call attention to itself; the fierce ache was accomplishing that quite nicely on its own.



Vote 10:

#The injury to my right hand makes it good for most things–even shooting–but I am no longer able to perform delicate procedures.

#I used to be quite the athlete, but the injury to my leg was severe. I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life.



Now that we've selected our greatest strength, now we must select a weakness that we will have to compensate for during the course of the game.



You try to be philosophical about it; philosophy comes easier some mornings than others. You are well aware that it could have been much worse. It's always worse in your dreams.

In your dreams, your final adventure with Pierce usually concludes in a hail of bullets.

At least the real story did not end quite so grimly. You did save his life with your unauthorized healing magic. No one knows that–you were found with your hand clamped over his injured shoulder, and your rescuers assumed you had thereby slowed the bleeding enough to keep him alive until they found the two of you.


Achievement: One Man's Life / Save the life of an injured comrade.

Saved James Pierce.


Vote 11:
#Quite likely, that's all it was. I can't be sure I did anything else.
#In my heart, I know I healed him. The knowledge terrifies me.
#In my heart, I know I healed him, and I so wish I had a mentor to train me in this art.
#Healing magic is well enough for emergencies, but I wouldn't pursue training in this area even if I could. Modern medicine is enough for me.





You and Pierce were both injured severely enough to be invalided home. Nine months later, peace was declared—peace without victory for either side, and a border that scarcely moved from its [i] ante bellum position.




Vote 12: How do you feel about running so hard just to stand still?

#We were not running. We were spilling blood. The brutal waste of it all sickens me.
#At least we prevented the Vlaskesari from encroaching upon our land. I cling to that thought.
#I struggle between pride at what we accomplished and horror at what it cost.
#I work with Woodward to nip the next war in the bud, so no other young men will have to endure what my comrades and I did.




You dress as quickly as you can—trousers, shirt, waistcoat, coat, tie, watch on a chain. You tuck your old service revolver into your pocket; you never leave for a Woodward mission without it.

Your flatmate Garrett Finch is waiting for you by the door. Despite his overcoat's frayed cuffs—his newspaper photographer's income is no more generous than your police surgeon's salary—his tall form somehow manages to look elegant anyhow.




Vote 13:
#I exert myself to betray no sign of my restless night. I hate appearing weak before him.
#There's no point in trying to hide the signs of sleeplessness. Finch's penetrating eyes see through all attempts at artifice; it's what makes him so valuable to Woodward.
#There's no point in trying to hide, and I don't wish to anyhow. We're close friends.




Nine minutes after he knocked on your door, the pair of you are rattling through the just-awakening streets in a hansom cab. You watch the fruit sellers setting up their stands and the newsagents opening their shutters and the serving girls scrubbing their masters's front steps. They don't know it, but Arthur Woodward and his operatives stand between them and harm.

Woodward claims to be nothing more than a minor government official, but that is manifestly untrue. For one thing, no minor government functionary could afford suits so precisely tailored. Moreover, though Woodward's office is at the end of a rabbit warren of passageways in a nondescript building, he somehow rates a polite secretary to receive his visitors.

Today Woodward meets you in his secretary's outer office. He has seated his considerable bulk in the chair in which visitors customarily wait before he summons them to enter, his eyes half-closed in a way that might suggest drowsiness if you didn't know better. His secretary Miss Lawrence, neat in a shirtwaist and dark blue skirt, is already busy at her typewriter. Over their shoulders, in Woodward's inner office, you see an unhappy-looking young man seated in a chair with his hands shackled behind him and his ankles chained to the chair legs. "What do we have here?" you ask Woodward.

"At a guess," Finch drawls from behind you, "the theft of something crucial to national security by the government clerk you see before you. His first foray into treason, if I'm not much mistaken, probably because he was blackmailed, but possibly because a Sun Temple cultist convinced him to do it–it would be hard to say without more information."

You are all accustomed to Finch's deductive leaps, but even for him that's extraordinary. You, Woodward, and Miss Lawrence all stare.

Finch shrugs. "The shiny marks on the cuffs from the pressure of writing declare he works in an office, and his age and shabby attire suggest clerk rather than a more senior position. He is clearly in a great deal of trouble; it is clearly something of national importance or Woodward would not be involved; it might be sabotage, but the position of clerk rather suggests opportunities for theft…"




Vote 14:
#As he talks, I look for the clues he lists. Yes, right, the cuffs, I should have caught that.
#I wince just a little at the cool didactic tone.
#"A Sun Temple cultist convinced him"? I look for signs this young man is a Sun Temple cultist himself.



I think that's a good place to stop for now. A vote or two more than normal, but I wanted to push past the character development and end at a point where the next session would have some action. Come back Monday, June 27, 5:30 PM, as we interrogate this clerk to find out what his crime is, and how we can thwart whatever dastardly plot he is a part of.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-06-24, 06:54 PM
9)…I have never been so thankful to receive a telegram.
9a)The sort of challenging work Arthur Woodward provides will surely distract me from the lingering effects of nightmare.
10)I used to be quite the athlete, but the injury to my leg was severe. I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life.
Who needs athletics when we're a crack shot?
11)In my heart, I know I healed him, and I so wish I had a mentor to train me in this art.
Medicine is lame.... magic is where it's at!
12)I work with Woodward to nip the next war in the bud, so no other young men will have to endure what my comrades and I did.
13)There's no point in trying to hide the signs of sleeplessness. Finch's penetrating eyes see through all attempts at artifice; it's what makes him so valuable to Woodward.
Finch seems like a Sherlock Holmes type of guy.... I don't think it's a coincidence that we could name our character John Watson.
14)As he talks, I look for the clues he lists. Yes, right, the cuffs, I should have caught that.
We are not going to be useless at detective work.

Kind of disappointed to see that I was the only one who voted last time.... wait a minute, if this keeps up, I will have total control over Watson! MUHUHAHAHA!:smallamused::smallbiggrin:

Black Socks
2016-06-25, 01:53 PM
Seriously? No one else is voting?

pendell
2016-06-26, 11:45 AM
It's the weekend; there are fewer people around at that time in any event.

Regardless, so long as there is even one player the game will continue on its schedule. As long as there's even one person enjoying this , I'm going to keep at it. If I cared about popularity I'd be on twitter! :smallamused:

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-06-27, 04:33 AM
9)…I have never been so thankful to receive a telegram.
9a)The sort of challenging work Arthur Woodward provides will surely distract me from the lingering effects of nightmare.

10)I used to be quite the athlete, but the injury to my leg was severe. I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life.
War scarred us in more way than one

11) Healing magic is well enough for emergencies, but I wouldn't pursue training in this area even if I could. Modern medicine is enough for me.
Besides it's way moe intresting.

12) We were not running. We were spilling blood. The brutal waste of it all sickens me.

13) I exert myself to betray no sign of my restless night. I hate appearing weak before him.
We have our pride and that's our second deady flaw

14)"A Sun Temple cultist convinced him"? I look for signs this young man is a Sun Temple cultist himself.
Being able to read people is a good skill for a detective to have. (and for that mater for a doctor too). Besides everyone knows these cultist are easy to spot by their ... Suny disposition :smallcool:

pendell
2016-06-27, 06:04 PM
Being able to read people is a good skill for a detective to have. (and for that mater for a doctor too). Besides everyone knows these cultist are easy to spot by their ... Suny disposition


And I appreciate your attempts to ... lighten the mood :smallcool:.

Be advised this will probably be a short update because there are a bunch of branches in the interrogation; still I'll do what I can. Thanks for the votes!

9)…I have never been so thankful to receive a telegram.

9a)The sort of challenging work Arthur Woodward provides will surely distract me from the lingering effects of nightmare.

10)I used to be quite the athlete, but the injury to my leg was severe. I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life.

11)In my heart, I know I healed him, and I so wish I had a mentor to train me in this art.

ROLL ... 54

11) Healing magic is well enough for emergencies, but I wouldn't pursue training in this area even if I could. Modern medicine is enough for me.

ROLL ... 93.

SELECTED: "Healing magic is well enough for in emergencies".

12)I work with Woodward to nip the next war in the bud, so no other young men will have to endure what my comrades and I did.

ROLL... 18

12) We were not running. We were spilling blood. The brutal waste of it all sickens me.

ROLL... 40

SELECTED: The brutal wastes sickens us.

13)There's no point in trying to hide the signs of sleeplessness. Finch's penetrating eyes see through all attempts at artifice; it's what makes him so valuable to Woodward.

ROLL: 38

13) I exert myself to betray no sign of my restless night. I hate appearing weak before him.

ROLL: 2

SELECTED: No point in pretending.

14)As he talks, I look for the clues he lists. Yes, right, the cuffs, I should have caught that.

ROLL: 8

14)"A Sun Temple cultist convinced him"? I look for signs this young man is a Sun Temple cultist himself.

ROLL: 61

So we're going to look for signs the young man is a cultist.


Let's play it out!


First ... we're glad to receive the telegram, it's challenging work and helps us forget the nightmares. And we're wounded in the shoulder.



Despite your determination to approach the day with a positive attitude, your knees shake a little as your feet hit the floor. Your ears are certainly not ringing with the sound of artillery, because that is not medically possible, but it is true that your head aches from sleeplessness and your old injury from the cold air. You grit your teeth and unbutton your nightshirt, tossing one exasperated glare at the wound when you catch sight of it in the mirror.


Once you played rugby and boxed and rode horses and tramped up every hill in northern Mercia–but those days are forever behind you.

You try to be philosophical about it; philosophy comes easier some mornings than others. You are well aware that it could have been much worse. It's always worse in your dreams.

In your dreams, your final adventure with Pierce usually concludes in a hail of bullets.

At least the real story did not end quite so grimly. You did save his life with your unauthorized healing magic. No one knows that–you were found with your hand clamped over his injured shoulder, and your rescuers assumed you had thereby slowed the bleeding enough to keep him alive until they found the two of you.



Athleticism:25

Healing is all very well for emergencies, but I prefer modern medicine.

Medicine: 55



You and Pierce were both injured severely enough to be invalided home. Nine months later, peace was declared—peace without victory for either side, and a border that scarcely moved from its ante bellum position.


We were not running, we were spilling blood, and it sickened me.

Conventional: 34 Unconventional: 66

Okay, we dress in front of Finch, and there's no point in trying to hide our tiredness from him.



He glances at you once, then again more sharply, clearly reading the signs of nightmare from your face despite your attempts to put it behind you.

But that's just Finch's way—you're more than used to it by now—and at least he says nothing of it.

Nine minutes after he knocked on your door, the pair of you are rattling through the just-awakening streets in a hansom cab. You watch the fruit sellers setting up their stands and the newsagents opening their shutters and the serving girls scrubbing their masters's front steps. They don't know it, but Arthur Woodward and his operatives stand between them and harm.


Perception: 57

So we find the clerk shackled hand and foot.



"At a guess," Finch drawls from behind you, "the theft of something crucial to national security by the government clerk you see before you. His first foray into treason, if I'm not much mistaken, probably because he was blackmailed, but possibly because a Sun Temple cultist convinced him to do it–it would be hard to say without more information."

You are all accustomed to Finch's deductive leaps, but even for him that's extraordinary. You, Woodward, and Miss Lawrence all stare.

Finch shrugs. "The shiny marks on the cuffs from the pressure of writing declare he works in an office, and his age and shabby attire suggest clerk rather than a more senior position. He is clearly in a great deal of trouble; it is clearly something of national importance or Woodward would not be involved; it might be sabotage, but the position of clerk rather suggests opportunities for theft…"


We look for clues that he is a sun cultist himself.



Not every gentleman of your class would recognize them, but you have a somewhat unusual background for a gentleman of your class. Because of your grandmother, you are able to recognize several subtle signs of those who worship the Sun.

In this case, the sign is not even all that subtle. The angle is wrong to be able to tell for certain, but you wonder if the medallion that glints on his watch-chain might be sun-shaped.


Conventional: 29 Unconventional: 71


And now we move into new territory.



Finch continues, "If he were a regular informant, paid to act as a mole by the Vlaski government, he would be able to afford a frock coat without frayed cuffs and boots without patches on the soles; so it is more likely this is his maiden voyage into treason. The question of blackmail versus indoctrination is harder to resolve. That charm on his watch-chain indicates he's a secret sun-worshipper–one not very good at keeping secrets, to judge by the visibility of the charm; if I can observe it so can someone else, making blackmail a possibility. On the other hand, most of those temples are hotbeds of sedition, so he may have been convinced rather than coerced. For that matter, we have no way of knowing how many temples are run by actual light-eaters, and we have seen that those upon whom light-eaters routinely feed can develop an odd sort of loyalty not unlike the manner in which prisoners sometimes come to relate to their torturers–"

Finch's parlor trick is abruptly much less amusing. For a moment you feel as though the dark shadows of Pierce's prison cell have settled around you, as though you cannot draw a deep breath.



Vote 15:

#I set my teeth and clench one fist tight enough to drive the nails into the palm. I am not about to let Woodward see how the memories still affect me.

#"Finch," I interrupt with an effort at nonchalance. "You do realize he is sitting right here and we can resolve those questions by more direct means?"

#I can't manage nonchalance. "Finch."


After we resolve that, Woodward speaks up as well.



"Indeed," Woodward agrees, heaves himself to his feet, and turns to lead you into his office.
Behind his back, Finch touches your arm, lightning-quick. When you glance at him, he mouths,
"I apologize."

You have just an instant to give him a little "Don't worry about it" shake of the head.
You know he was only speaking thoughtlessly, too caught up in the mechanics of deduction
to remember the personal part of the equation.


Now that's all right, what will Woodward say?




"Now then," Woodward says with drawling irony, "may I present the 'Honorable' George Easterly."

The youth winces at his tone.

"As Mr. Finch observes," Woodward continues, "Mr. Easterly has been employed as a junior clerk in the
Naval Department of Her Imperial Majesty's War Office–a position of great delicacy and responsibility,
which he has proven himself unfit to hold. Last night he allowed a Vlaski agent working in
Kingsford to examine and copy the plans for the Nigel-Trevelyan Glass."

"The Nigel-Trevelyan–?" Finch repeats. "I have never heard of it."

"Of course you have not," Woodward snaps; "it was among the War Office's most closely-guarded
secrets. This miserable child was entrusted with one of only three keys!"




You study Easterly.

Vote 16:

#I fight down the panic that rises in my chest. If he is a light-eater, chaining his hands
behind his back makes us safe enough.

#For the moment, I am reserving judgment. He might be a light-eater; he might only be a
superstitious fool who follows them.

#A man well-educated enough to be a clerk is hardly the usual sort to become part of the
Sun Temple cult. If he's somehow been duped into joining, it is surely our duty to rescue him.

#A wave of pity washes through me, though I don't dare show it. Not all sun-worshippers are
light-eaters; not all capable of becoming light-eaters harm others with their talent.





Woodward continues, "He apparently intended to return the plans to their safe before the opening of
business this morning, but fortunately for us, the senior clerk had come early to the office and
had already missed the plans, which were promptly found in Easterly's pocket."

Finch turns to Easterly. "Might there be some more complex explanation?"

Easterly licks his lips. "No, sir. It is what it appeared to be. I have already confessed."



Vote 17:

#"Yes," I say gently, "but the 'why' matters." I feel sincere compassion
toward the unfortunate young man.


#"Yes," I say gently, "but the 'why' matters." Feigning compassion is the
best way to get him to talk.


#I speak coldly. "Yes, but I want to know why." I have never been so sincerely outraged in my life.

#I speak coldly. "Yes, but I want to know why." Feigning outrage is the best way to get him to talk.



So going by the book (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_2-22.3_Human_Intelligence_Collector_Operations) we're deciding whether we're going to use Fear Up/Intimidation or Fear Down/Incentive. Which is likely to work better depends, of course, on the individual. So what's your read of Easterly? Will compassion shake his tongue loose, or some gut-wrenching fear? And are we sincere in conveying our emotion, or merely playing a part?

ETA: The next votes are due Wednesday, 30 Jun, 5:30PM Eastern Time

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-06-27, 09:31 PM
#"Finch," I interrupt with an effort at nonchalance. "You do realize he is sitting right here and we can resolve those questions by more direct means?"

#A wave of pity washes through me, though I don't dare show it. Not all sun-worshippers are
light-eaters; not all capable of becoming light-eaters harm others with their talent.

#"Yes," I say gently, "but the 'why' matters." I feel sincere compassion
toward the unfortunate young man.

Normaly I generaly push for more ruthless choices but here given the choices that were made earlier, I think the compassion would be genuine

Black Socks
2016-06-28, 07:07 AM
15)"Finch," I interrupt with an effort at nonchalance. "You do realize he is sitting right here and we can resolve those questions by more direct means?"
This really is just like Sherlock Holmes.
16)A man well-educated enough to be a clerk is hardly the usual sort to become part of the Sun Temple cult. If he's somehow been duped into joining, it is surely our duty to rescue him.
Maybe we can make him.... see the light :smallcool:
17)I speak coldly. "Yes, but I want to know why." Feigning outrage is the best way to get him to talk.
My impression of this guy is that fear would better motivate him, but like smuchmuch said, Watson would be more on the compassion side.

pendell
2016-06-29, 05:06 PM
Thanks for the votes. You might say it illuminates the path we must take. :smallcool:


Unfortunately, I lost the exact random numbers rolled due to a glitch, but here are the result:

15) "Finch, he is standing in front of us".
16) Sincere compassion.
17) "But the why matters" - sincere.

Let's apply those decisions.



"Finch," I interrupt with an effort at nonchalance. "You do realize he is sitting right here
and we can resolve those questions by more direct means?"

Finch's eyes snap to your face, and a barely perceptible wince tightens the corner of his mouth–so subtle that no one but you could have caught it. "Yes, of course," he says at once, sounding embarrassed at having run on so long. "Practical, as always. Let's get on with it."

"Indeed," Woodward agrees, heaves himself to his feet, and turns to lead you into his office.
Behind his back, Finch touches your arm, lightning-quick. When you glance at him, he mouths,
"I apologize."

You have just an instant to give him a little "Don't worry about it" shake of the head.
You know he was only speaking thoughtlessly, too caught up in the mechanics of deduction
to remember the personal part of the equation.


Charisma: 78. (Exercised because we did not show our true emotions).

Next, a wave of pity washes over us for the young man.



A wave of pity washes through me, though I don't dare show it. Not all sun-worshippers are
light-eaters; not all capable of becoming light-eaters harm others with their talent.

You would know, after all.


Conventional: 25 Unconventional: 75

Finally, when he confesses we tell him sincerely that the "why" matters.



You take a chair, swing it around, and sit backwards with your arms crossed over the top. "How about it, lad? What's the rest of the story?"

Easterly looks at you with surprise and faint hope.

Out of the corner of your eye, you catch Finch's look of surprise. "Watson, you cannot possibly pity this traitor?"

"Quiet, Finch," you say without looking away from the boy. "I think there's more going on here."

"There are quicker ways to find out what we need to know," Finch snarls. "If he thinks so little of his country, he doesn't deserve our–"

"It wasn't that," the boy bursts out. He looks from Finch to you, then settles on you. "I…was being blackmailed. I…my fiancée…she…" He swallows. "She's a sun-worshipper. She…persuaded me…I went with her to a meeting…and I…they're good folk, sir. Nothing like what…what people say of them. I…"

Woodward rubs his forehead. "You joined their cult."

"It's not a cult!" Easterly starts to protest, then sighs. "Yes, I did. And…a man with a Vlaski accent stopped me as I walked home from work one night. He said…if I did not help him, he would see to it my superiors discovered my conversion…and sun-worshippers may not hold public office or any other position of responsibility…and there was my fiancée to think of—we'd be ostracized as well as penniless. It was my whole life. What else could I do?"




Compassion: 57 Pragmatic: 43
Conventional: 22 Unconventional: 78


18. "You are a public servant," Finch says in a voice dripping with contempt. "You could have put the welfare of your Empire above your personal affairs."

# I couldn't agree more.

# I don't think Finch spoke strongly enough. I'd lay money on Easterly having stronger connections to Vlask than he admits. He's a sun-worshipper, after all.

# I'm not sure this is quite as black and white as Finch thinks it is. Surely Easterly had some responsibility to his fiancée too?


That's simply a reaction, so the story continues afterwards.



Finch turns to Woodward. "What is this Nigel-Trevelyan Glass?"

"The Nigel-Trevelyan Glass translates human-produced electromagnetic waves into a medium
perceptible by the human eye," Woodward says. "To anyone wearing goggles or spectacles made
from this glass, light-eaters will show up as surrounded by an aura of blood red while the rest
of the population appears to be surrounded by an aura of golden-white."

"It will become possible," Finch concludes slowly, "to see at a glance the light-eaters that walk
among us."

Woodward nods tightly. "As matters stand today, we can't even tell a likely suspect on sight, unless he
happens to have red hair or openly identify with the cult." He tosses a contemptuous look at Easterly.
"This Glass will rewrite all the rules by which this war is fought. You see what is at stake here.
We cannot let those plans into enemy hands, or the Vlaskesari will begin at once to engineer
a defense."




Vote 19: It will become possible to see at a glance the light-eaters that walk among us.

#We'd be safe then. Nothing like that Vlaski prison camp could ever happen within Mercian borders if we knew who they were.

#We'd be able to see the light-eaters who walk among us or the sun-touched who walk among us? It seems unjust to target the latter group before they do something wrong…

#A tendril of panic slides through my belly. Would they be able to tell the blood I bear, or might bear? Would the law apply to someone like me, who carries the blood but isn't a member of the cult?

#I find myself scientifically curious. How would the Vlaskesari go about engineering a defense? How does the Glass work, anyhow?



We'll ask our question and get an answer, then we're going to move on.



"It's too late to keep the plans from enemy hands, surely?" Finch says. "If I understand you
correctly, they are already there."

"They have been seen by one enemy agent, yes," Woodward replies. "But if we move quickly, they
will not be seen by any others." He leans his hands on his desk and looks across at the two of
you intently. "There is no way Easterly's Vlaski contact can know we have arrested him. If Easterly
sends him a message this morning claiming that an important change has been made to the Glass design,
the Vlaskesar will surely desire a second meeting without delay. We have Easterly arrange it for
tonight, and we trap the Vlaskesar then. We'll discuss details once Easterly writes us the message
for the Personals column."

"The what?" you ask.

Woodward waves a copy of The Times. "They were communicating by coded advertisements in the
Personals column. These here, addressed to 'D'—Easterly says he wrote them. He pointed them out
to me earlier this morning, in his hysterical effort to convince me he had performed no act of
treason before this one. I have enough information to reconstruct the code he and his correspondent
'Dmitri' used, but the ruse will be better if Easterly composes the message."

"I will not," Easterly says softly.


Wait, what?




Everyone turns to stare at him.

Woodward is the first to speak. "Not an hour ago, you threw yourself whinging upon my mercy.
That commodity is neither plentiful nor free. If you do all in your power to help us recover the
plans, you may possibly hope for some leniency in your punishment, but otherwise I shall take great
personal pleasure in seeing you hang–"

"You talk as though my life still had value to me," Easterly says. "If I do not hang, they will know
I helped you. How long do you think I will live then? What do you suppose they will do to my fiancée?
If I go to a traitor's death, at least they will have no reason to torment her afterward."

Woodward is for the moment speechless with rage. In the silence, an idea occurs to you.




Vote 20: What do you say?

#I speak to Easterly. "Your life has no value to you. What does?"

#I speak to Woodward privately. "I can prepare you a syringe of something that will relax him and may make him more willing to do as you ask."

#I speak to Woodward in front of the others. "He need not participate at all. I can write it."


Obviously, there are skill checks involved in some of those.

Oh, by the way, if we had chosen the intimidate path we would have an additional option:



#I speak to Woodward over Easterly's head. "Then if you truly wish to punish him, arrange
for him to be imprisoned for life and for the newspapers to report the leniency was in
exchange for his cooperation."



Oooh, that's nasty. We'd also have an additional question whether you were serious or not, which would modify your attributes.

After that last set of questions we'll be done with this interrogation one way or the other, and we can proceed, hopefully, to thwarting the Vlaskeri spy!

Please have votes in by Friday, 1 Jul 2016, 5:30 PM .

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-06-29, 05:42 PM
18)I'm not sure this is quite as black and white as Finch thinks it is. Surely Easterly had some responsibility to his fiancée too?
19)A tendril of panic slides through my belly. Would they be able to tell the blood I bear, or might bear? Would the law apply to someone like me, who carries the blood but isn't a member of the cult?
I mean, we're working with a government agent and a Sherlock Holmes who just demonstrated his lack of mercy for sun-worshippers.
20)I speak to Woodward in front of the others. "He need not participate at all. I can write it."
I believe that we are... in the write (I ran out of light-related puns)

Also, the intimidate option was pretty clever.... Watson has a sadistic streak it would seem

pendell
2016-06-30, 08:17 AM
I would have said "Now that Easterly has shed some light on the code in the Personals, I believe I can carry the torch on myself."

Fear my thesaurus! :smallamused:.



Also, the intimidate option was pretty clever.... Watson has a sadistic streak it would seem


That is one possible interpretation of Watson. So far we've played him as a much gentler person -- it's also possible to play him as 0% compassionate, utterly brutal. In point of fact


One of our storylines has him becoming Jack the Ripper. It's an achievement.


But there's no reason our Watson has to be a conscienceless killer -- it's an optional path to take, not set in stone. About the only thing that is so set is his intelligence (visible on all paths) and his background.

Heavens, we haven't even set his sexual orientation yet -- oops! Giving away a bit too much there, maybe.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-06-30, 03:14 PM
All these puns make me beam with joy but they're sort of stealing the spotlight.

(Oh, you're on.)

18) I couldn't agree more.

Compassion all good and nice but this is treason we're talking about. We were soldiers ourselves and whle the experience was horrific and probably jaded us quite a bit, we still undestand loyalty.

19) I find myself scientifically curious. How would the Vlaskesari go about engineering a defense? How does the Glass work, anyhow?[/COLOR]

The panic definitively make sense but so do a certain curiosity, I feel.

#I speak to Easterly. "Your life has no value to you. What does?"

The question in itself is unessecary, it's cler that what matter to him is his fiancé but i feel asking him may unlock the path to bargain with him in exchange for his cooperation
The idea of writing the code ourselves is interesting but much too risky, there could be a sub-code, so to speak, that wasn't mentioned that might make us fail. besides our greatest talent so far is sweet talking.

The intimidate only option is a very clever threat. I almost regret not having taken it. Even if it is a little ... dark.

pendell
2016-07-01, 05:31 PM
All these puns make me beam with joy but they're sort of stealing the spotlight.

(Oh, you're on.)


Well, puns aren't always brilliant but I will endeavor to rise to the occasion.

Anyway, the votes.


18)I'm not sure this is quite as black and white as Finch thinks it is. Surely Easterly had some responsibility to his fiancée too? - ROLL 95

18) I couldn't agree more. ROLL 27

So we're going to go with "not as black and white" .

19) A tendril of panic slides through my belly. Would they be able to tell the blood I bear? -- ROLL 74
19) I find myself scientifically curious. How would the Vlaskesari go about engineering a defense? How does the Glass work, anyhow? - ROLL 43

Selected: Tendril of panic.

20) I speak to Woodward in front of the others. "He need not participate at all. I can write it." - 59

20) #I speak to Easterly. "Your life has no value to you. What does?" - 85

SELECT: "your life has no value to you. What does? "


Okay, let's play it through.

We react:



I'm not sure this is quite as black and white as Finch thinks it is. Surely Easterly had some responsibility to his fiancée too?

Easterly acted wrongly, of course, but you would hope to be spared such a torturous decision yourself.



Compassionate: 63 Pragmatic: 37
Conventional: 19 Unconventional: 81

Next, for a tendril of panic.



A tendril of panic slides through my belly. Would they be able to tell the blood I bear, or might bear? Would the law apply to someone like me, who carries the blood but isn't a member of the cult?

You manage to find a neutral way of phrasing the question. "How does the Glass go about detecting light-eaters? Or does it detect all sun-touched? How could you do that without drawing blood first?"

"It detects light-eaters specifically," Woodward says. "By studying the electromagnetic emanations produced by a large population of human subjects over period of many years, Nigel and his student Trevelyan determined that certain habitual behaviors create subtle changes in electromagnetic wave frequency. Specifically, the appalling practice of light-eating will, over a long enough period of time, noticeably shorten the frequency of the practioner's emanations."

Relief floods through you. You'd be safe, then.




In other words, heal as many people as you want. But if you start draining people, you'll show up on this glass.

Conventional: 31 Unconventional: 69

Next, Easterly refuses to help because he's afraid they'll kill his fiancee we respond:



I speak to Easterly. "Your life has no value to you. What does?"

"If you do not want a more lenient punishment in exchange for your help in undoing this disaster you have caused, what do you want?"

"I want the last twenty-four hours to do over again, so I could choose to only ruin my career and shame my family." Easterly's breath escapes in almost a sob. "I want a change in the law, so I could practice my faith without becoming susceptible to blackmailers–" He chokes off the words. "I want my fiancée to be safe," he says then, looking at you steadily. "If you promised to ensure her welfare–her and her old aunt's–promised to find them somewhere to live well away from Kingsford, where it would be too much trouble for the light-eaters to seek them out–if you pledged that to me, I would write anything you wanted."

You meet Woodward's eyes over the young man's head. "What about it?"

After a long pause, Woodward nods. "We have done such things before. I can make arrangements for the young lady and her aunt to move to the north. Or perhaps to Loegria, which might be more to a sun-worshipper's taste." He fixes Easterly with his eyes. "I shall embark upon these arrangements once we have captured your friend 'Dmitri.' If he slips through our grasp, the girl gets no protection. It is therefore in your interest to be sure we catch him. Let that dissuade you from including any clever warning in your message."

Easterly promises frantically that he never planned to do any such thing, that he will do everything he can to help capture the Vlaskesar and earn his fiancée's safety.

"Thank you, Doctor," Woodward says to you, and picks up a pen. "Now then. We can get this into the morning editions if we waste no further time.





Compassionate: 68% Pragmatic: 32%
Charisma: 81%
Conventional: 27% Unconventional:[b/] 73%

Now we move on into unknown territory.



That night, you and two other operatives gather at the empty house Easterly and Dmitri have been using to meet, and settle down to wait.

You must, of course, sit without a fire, and the night is bitter cold. Your feet grow numb within your boots, and you shift gently, silently, trying to keep the blood flowing. Finally midnight tolls, and you gratefully rise to your feet.

You know your companions are doing the same, although you cannot see them. Stevenson waits at the end of the darkened corridor. You stand where you can see into the room with the makeshift writing desk, and Morris, the youngest and strongest of the three of you, is stationed within that very room, behind the door, from which position he will hopefully be able to subdue Dmitri the instant the Vlaskesar steps through the doorway.

Down below, the back door creaks open, and a wave of adrenaline whip-cracks through you.


Here we go!



If you did not know the man climbing the stairs was Finch disguised in George Easterly's clothing, you would never be able to guess. The masquerade is perfect; Finch's genius with disguise is second only to his sharp eyes. The dark lantern trembles in his deliberately-shaking hand, making the light dance in a way that obscures rather than illuminates. You cannot really see the Vlaski spy climbing the stairway behind him, but at least you are confident he cannot see you either. Dmitri follows Finch into the room with the desk, and you tense, revolver ready.

Finch unshutters the lantern fully at the same moment Morris springs. Morris tackles the Vlaskesar half to his knees, one arm across his throat–

But Dmitri whirls before Morris can establish the chokehold. He is a big man, but you have never seen anyone move that fast, ever. Morris gives an odd little gasp and crumples, and the Vlaskesar is sprinting for the stairway before your comrade hits the floor.

Finch spits a curse and follows at a dead run.

The flash of Finch's lantern as it goes by shows the knife sticking out of Morris's chest, the blood welling up around the hilt.





Vote 21: What do you do?

# I run to Morris's aid.
# I pause long enough to say, "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out!" before I sprint to help capture Dmitri.
# I pause long enough to whisper, "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out." Then I slip out the door and into the corridor, silent and concealed by shadow.



We must stop there because we have three branches and I cannot move forward until we know which road we've chosen -- whether to help Morris (which may cause problems in the chase), then to take the quick option or the stealthy option.

Don't forget, by the way, that your leg still bothers you and I believe you need a cane to get around.


So let's get those votes in by [b] Monday, July 4, 5:30PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-01, 06:03 PM
Well, capturing the vlaskeri is the top priority. We are 50/50 stealthy and quick, so.... I guess sneaking would be easier on the leg.
21)I pause long enough to whisper, "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out." Then I slip out the door and into the corridor, silent and concealed by shadow.

I was considering the options, and the answer... Snuck up on me

smuchmuch
2016-07-03, 05:57 AM
21)I pause long enough to whisper "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out!" Then I slip out the door and into the corridor, silent and concealed by shadow.


Well, puns aren't always brilliant but I will endeavor to rise to the occasion.

We all need a time to shine. (although it dawns on me we shoule have kept some light puns for later in the story.

... Should probably stop before it overstay it's welcome)

Black Socks
2016-07-03, 04:44 PM
21)I pause long enough to whisper "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out!" Then I slip out the door and into the corridor, silent and concealed by shadow.



We all need a time to shine. (although it dawns on me we shoule have kept some light puns for later in the story.

... Should probably stop before it overstay it's welcome)
What? Puns are always welcome! :smallbiggrin:
Also: We canbecome Jack the Ripper? That's pretty dark.... although I looked at the achievements, and another is saving the prince's life, and we have the option to marry, so.... I guess we'll see how it turns out. In the meantime.... viva les puns!

pendell
2016-07-04, 04:31 PM
What? Puns are always welcome!


They definitely lighten the mood.

So , stealthy pursuit.



I pause long enough to whisper, "Morris, stay still, and don't pull it out." Then I slip out the door and into the corridor, silent and concealed by shadow.


Compassion: 55 Pragmatic: 45
Stealth: 63 Quick: 37




Capturing the enemy spy is your first duty; you have to trust that Morris will survive long enough for you to get back to him.

You slip silently onto the landing to see that Dmitri is already halfway down the stairs, Finch at his heels and Stevenson right behind Finch. Finch throws caution to the wind and flings himself forward, and he and Dmitri clatter and clash down the stairs to the bottom. Stevenson joins the rough-and-tumble. Dmitri hurls Stevenson off, but Finch lunges forward to fill the gap.




Vote 23:

# Right, enough of this. I aim my revolver.

# I'm better at hand-to-hand combat than I would be shooting in this dim light. I run down the stairs and fling myself into the fight.

#I shout to distract Dmitri.



Um... I guess we should stop there?

I don't like one vote updates; but fear not. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-04, 05:15 PM
Yeah, I sense the story will soon..... brighten up
23)Right, enough of this. I aim my revolver.
Marksmanship is our secondary skill, while athletics (which includes hand-to-hand combat) is our weakness.

smuchmuch
2016-07-04, 08:45 PM
Given our marksmanship skills and our bad leg, jumping to hand to hand just wouldn't be very bright. And kinda lame.
(Also: foul ! You already did a lighten the mood pun earlier . Let's wait a few pages before we start repeating ourselves, shall we ? :smalltongue:)

>Same vote: shoot him.

Although will our character atempt to shoot him like, say, in the leg which is risky but has a chance of leaving the man alive for interogation or the more sensible center of mass ?

Black Socks
2016-07-06, 05:06 PM
So very sorry. Here's a new one:
I sense that better things for Watson are..... on the horizon
(seriously, this story needs to take a different direction, that was my last light pun)

pendell
2016-07-06, 05:26 PM
(Also: foul ! You already did a lighten the mood pun earlier . Let's wait a few pages before we start repeating ourselves, shall we ? )


Complaints may go where the sun don't shine :smallbiggrin:.

Still, if we want to take the puns in a different direction, I wouldn't mind setting a new course (using an astrolabe).

In any event, we pull out our revolver.



Dmitri's hand slaps onto Finch's face, and Finch freezes in place…

…directly between you and Dmitri, in your line of fire.


Marksmanship: 67

Fudge, we can't hit him! And Finch is being drained right in front of us!



You can't do anything, and Finch hangs rigid in the Vlaskesar's grasp, but Stevenson stirs.

Dmitri looks over at him, snarls in annoyance, and releases Finch. The Vlaskesar springs to his feet and manages to claw the heavy door open before Stevenson staggers to his feet. Dmitri escapes into the night, and with a choked sound of rage, Stevenson tears off in pursuit.

Finch leans against the wall, as though dizzy. Visible in the poor light of the dark lantern–standing livid against the pale skin of his face–is a red handprint.



Vote 23:

# Fury clouds my vision. So the Vlaskesar is a light-eater as well as a spy–and he had the audacity to lay hands on a friend of mine?

# For a moment panic rises in my throat, the handprint on Finch's face merging with the remembered handprint on Pierce's.

# A sense of despair threatens to overwhelm me. In my city. They're in my city.

# Beneath the worry over Finch, I am conscious of a little thrill of pleasure at the magnitude of this challenge.



After we react ...



Finch raises his head to look at you. "…'s all right," he manages. "I'm all right. He only–touched me
for a moment. It's already fading." With a grimace of attempted humor, he adds, "That bastard–look like a light-eater to you? Nor to me. We need that bloody Glass–in the worst way…" He pushes off the wall, shaking his head to clear it. "Right. Come on. We can't let him get away."


No we can't!



Neither Dmitri nor Stevenson is in sight as you burst through the front door and into the street, but the sound of their running footsteps carry clearly in the frosty night air. You and Finch pause a moment, listening. The footsteps come from dead ahead as the crow flies, but the most direct route is blocked by a building.

Finch goes right, you go left. As you approach the left-hand alleyway, the footsteps somewhere in front of you fade…still without telling you exactly where they were.




Vote 24:

#I run through the alleyway, trusting that my dark lantern will be enough to guide me and my reflexes quick enough to avoid the obstacles within.

#I move slowly, trusting that I am stealthy enough to avoid drawing the notice of anyone lurking within.

#Even knowing I have no time to waste, I spend a few precious seconds listening hard, attempting to gather additional data.


Whichever way we choose ..



From up ahead, you hear a sigh and a shuffle—the shifting of position of someone who has no idea you are in here with him.

Revolver in hand, you continue silently toward the sound…and all at once unshutter your lantern.

It is Stevenson.

Stevenson's face is paper-white, and he sits on the filthy cobblestones, sagging against the brick wall as though he hasn't the energy to hold himself upright. His shirt has been torn open, and the handprint is branded on his chest—not that you needed the confirmation; he is displaying all the symptoms of a man drained dangerously close to death by a light-eater.

"I'm all right," he insists in a voice no louder than a whisper. "Leave me here and go after him–he went that way. Just be warned. He got my pistol away from me."




Vote 25:

#I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.

#I hesitate, looking about for something I can do for him.

#I press my own revolver into his hand. "At least you won't be defenseless."



After we make this decision, we will be off in pursuit of Dmitri and Finch.



You emerge from the alleyway maze to a street where gaslight provides a little illumination–and at once spot Finch, partway down the street, back turned to you, moving with his usual catlike grace and listening hard with his head tilted.

And behind him, a larger, bulkier form looms. Gaslight gleams off the pistol the Vlaskesar is pointing at Finch's back.




Vote 26: You have only an instant. What do you do?

#I draw the Vlaskesar's attention to myself and away from Finch.

#I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.

#I scoop up a convenient chunk of brick and throw it hard. If I can smash the glass of the building opposite, Dmitri may be distracted—and will not be reflexively firing at my position.





Get those votes in by Friday, 8 Jul, 5:30 PM, and let's save Finch's life!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-06, 05:48 PM
Finch! Nooooooooooooooooooo!
23)For a moment panic rises in my throat, the handprint on Finch's face merging with the remembered handprint on Pierce's.
24)Even knowing I have no time to waste, I spend a few precious seconds listening hard, attempting to gather additional data.
This guy is obviously highly dangerous. We need all the info we can get.
25)I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.
We are not letting this guy get away.
26)I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.
Shooting is our secondary skill.

smuchmuch
2016-07-07, 12:48 PM
# Fury clouds my vision. So the Vlaskesar is a light-eater as well as a spy–and he had the audacity to lay hands on a friend of mine?

#I move slowly, trusting that I am stealthy enough to avoid drawing the notice of anyone lurking within.

#I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.





Shooting didn't work last time, and athletics is our weak point.
Which is exactly why i don't think throwing a weighty object is the best solutionhere ?. And firing didn't work because Finch was directly in ur line of sigh way, which is not the case here.

#I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.

Black Socks
2016-07-07, 04:28 PM
# Fury clouds my vision. So the Vlaskesar is a light-eater as well as a spy–and he had the audacity to lay hands on a friend of mine?

#I move slowly, trusting that I am stealthy enough to avoid drawing the notice of anyone lurking within.

#I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.





Which is exactly why i don't think throwing a weighty object is the best solutionhere ?. And firing didn't work because Finch was directly in ur line of sigh way, which is not the case here.

#I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.
Good point. I will change my vote.

pendell
2016-07-08, 04:45 PM
Okay, two votes
panic - 87
fury - 82

We feel a tendril of panic.

Next choice is to use perception or use stealth

perception - 76
stealth - 12

We're going to take a moment to gather information.

Then, having done that, we go after Dmitri and everyone agrees to shoot him.

But ... if we brawl him we could ... punch his lights out :smallcool:


Moving on.



For a moment panic rises in my throat, the handprint on Finch's face merging with the remembered handprint on Pierce's.

But you can't surrender to this now. You push off the imagined screams and rumble of mechs, and stumble down the stairs to your friend.

Finch raises his head to look at you. "…'s all right," he manages. "I'm all right. He only–touched me for a moment. It's already fading." With a grimace of attempted humor, he adds, "That bastard–look like a light-eater to you? Nor to me. We need that bloody Glass–in the worst way…" Hpushes off the wall, shaking his head to clear it. "Right. Come on. We can't let him get away."




Conventional: 37 Unconventional: 63

After him!



Neither Dmitri nor Stevenson is in sight as you burst through the front door and into the street, but the sound of their running footsteps carry clearly in the frosty night air. You and Finch pause a moment, listening. The footsteps come from dead ahead as the crow flies, but the most direct route is blocked by a building.

Finch goes right, you go left. As you approach the left-hand alleyway, the footsteps somewhere in front of you fade…still without telling you exactly where they were.


You pause in the blackness of the alleyway and strain your ears for sounds that would indicate another presence here with you. If the Vlaskesar has planned an ambush, you will not be so foolish as to stumble into it.

Nothing.

You ease forward a few steps and listen again.

From up ahead, you hear a sigh and a shuffle—the shifting of position of someone who has no idea you are in here with him.

Revolver in hand, you continue silently toward the sound…and all at once unshutter your lantern.

It is Stevenson.


So , no stat change for this course of action, but we have found Stevenson.



Stevenson's face is paper-white, and he sits on the filthy cobblestones, sagging against the brick wall as though he hasn't the energy to hold himself upright. His shirt has been torn open, and the handprint is branded on his chest—not that you needed the confirmation; he is displaying all the symptoms of a man drained dangerously close to death by a light-eater.

"I'm all right," he insists in a voice no louder than a whisper. "Leave me here and go after him–he went that way. Just be warned. He got my pistol away from me."

I thank him for the warning, clasp his hand in farewell, and continue my pursuit in the direction he indicated. He'll be all right until I get back.

And even if he is not, the Vlaskesar has to be captured…while there is still an operative left standing to do it. It's a cold decision, but necessary. Your ability to keep your focus on your missions is one of the things Woodward values most about you.



Compassionate: 44 Pragmatic: 56
Woodward Relationship:+




You emerge from the alleyway maze to a street where gaslight provides a little illumination–and at once spot Finch, partway down the street, back turned to you, moving with his usual catlike grace and listening hard with his head tilted.

And behind him, a larger, bulkier form looms. Gaslight gleams off the pistol the Vlaskesar is pointing at Finch's back.


I raise my own revolver and drop him where he stands before he can fire.



A ruthless and eminently practical decision.

The panic you felt earlier snaps out of existence like a pricked bubble. You take the one step that puts you directly behind your Empire's enemy. Your hands are rock steady as you aim the revolver.

Light-eater filth will never have the run of Kingsford. Not while you're there to defend it.


Compassionate: 38 Pragmatic: 62
Marksmanship: 71




Your shot pierces the quiet night, the Vlaskesar drops like a stone, and Finch whirls around.

Neither of you hesitate, he sprinting toward the body from one direction as you pound toward it from the other. By the time you reach him, he has kicked the Vlaskesar's pistol aside and is standing over the prone body with his own weapon drawn. You drop to your knees to check for a pulse, though from the look of the chest and the blood, there is hardly any point.

"Dead? Good." Finch looks shaken. "That was—damned fine shooting. Stupid of me to let him get so close." His hand drops to your shoulder. "Lucky you had my back."


*Phew* That's one problem solved.




I don't know…how happy Woodward will be," Stevenson says, as you and Finch carry him back to the empty house. "He said…'alive if possible.'"

"'Alive if possible, dead if necessary,'" Finch corrects coolly. "It was necessary. I think Woodward will be pleased enough."

And he is. The final remaining step is to recover the copy the Vlaskesar made of the plans, but this is a task better suited to the skills of the Empire's official forces than to Woodward's irregulars. The official forces work backward from the Underground ticket in the Vlaskesar's pocket to compile a list of likely boarding houses, and they are breaking down doors before the sun rises. They find the correct house; they search the dead man's room; they pull from beneath a floorboard the copy of the Nigel-Trevelyan Plans; and the copy proves to contain only the Vlaskesar's fingerprints. Doubtless the dead spy was working as a member of a team, but equally obviously, he had no chance to pass his acquisition up his chain of command before he died.

So efficient are Her Imperial Majesty's investigative forces that Woodward receives the good news while you and Finch are still completing your debriefing in his office.

Shortly afterward comes the news that Morris, brought to the nearest hospital, has been pronounced out of danger. Stevenson, though fearfully weak, is likewise expected to make a full recovery.

"So all's well," Finch says.

"For today," Woodward returns dryly, but he cracks a slight smile. "Yes, it's a good day."


So... all's well that end's well for the moment?



The city is just waking as you and Finch rattle your way home in a hansom, the gaslit dusk brightening into a frosty winter dawn. The day promises to be very cold, but inside are eggs and bacon and coffee and a roaring fire.

"'A good day,'" Finch echoes Woodward's words. "Well, that's one word for it. We recovered the plans, we checkmated the plot, we prevented one Vlaskesar from ever again plying his filthy trade on Mercian soil, we ensured the Nigel-Trevelyan Glass will one day allow us to see the light-eaters that slink among us, and we didn't lose a single man's life in the process. And it's only eight o'clock in the morning. Whatever would Kingsford do without the pair of us, Watson?"

That night, you sleep just fine.


And with that it is on to...



Chapter 2: The Adventure of Her Majesty's Dirigible


Some time later...



You come into the sitting room one morning in early spring to find Finch halfway to the door, drinking a cup of tea with one hand and grabbing for his hat with the other.

"Something of interest?" you ask.

"Not for Woodward." He deposits the mostly-empty teacup on the bookshelf, thankfully without spilling it. "Day job. If I don't catch the eight-thirty train, I won't make it to Farnchester in time to cover the opening of a new school by a member of the Royal Family. No, I can't believe I was assigned it either; my editor has a vicious sense of humor. But at least it pays my share of the rent." He grabs his camera equipment and heads for the door. "You may find something of interest in the post, however."

And indeed you do. Beside your plate at the breakfast table lies a heavy cream-colored envelope with Doctor John Watson emblazoned across it in fine calligraphy. Wondering what in the world it can be, you slit it open.

YOU ARE INVITED
to attend the maiden launch
of Her Imperial Majesty's newest dirigible
the luxury liner HMS COLOSSUS
which will leave the Baincastle airfields
at NOON on Midsummer's Day
and proceed to Loegria
offering wondrous and unequalled views
of land and sea
as well as diverse refreshments
and entertainments for those aboard
and returning to Kingsford
by EIGHT o'clock in the evening–
a voyage of unsurpassed speed and luxury!


Also within the envelope is a note in Woodward's hand: "For services rendered. The maiden voyage is open to both invited dignitaries and 'persons of all persuasions' who entered a lottery drawing offered by The Times. You and Finch are among the former, but for the sake of our security, pretend you're among the latter. –AW."


Well, it appears that being a spy has some perks in addition to being shot at.



You chuck Woodward's note into the fire–for the sake of security–and it has barely collapsed into ash before your landlady Mrs. Larrimer enters with your breakfast.

She smiles at the invitation in your hand. "Mr. Finch told me the news as he went down the stairs–he won two tickets through that lottery! Or maybe his editor arranged for him to win them, but we won't tell anyone that." She winks at you as she lays dishes on the table. "How nice for the both of you, Doctor! A grand party–dancing and fine wine, I shouldn't wonder!–and the view from above the clouds! Not that I'd fancy that last myself, I always get dizzy up high, but it's fine for those with strong heads. And think of all the new people you'll meet! Some of them young ladies, I shouldn't wonder. I always think it's so hard to meet people in Kingsford–so many of us, but we keep to ourselves. When I was a girl, we used to have assemblies, dances, you know, in the village hall, and that was how I met my late husband. Nowadays, only the finest lords and ladies do such things, and as for everyone else–you meet your family's friends, I suppose, but what if you've no family?" To that, you have no answer; Mrs. Larrimer has indeed put her finger on one of the drawbacks of modern urban life. She concludes with genuine warmth, "I do hope you meet a nice girl there, Doctor."



She concludes with genuine warmth, "I do hope you meet a nice girl there, Doctor."

Vote 27:

# As she describes it, I'm starting to hope the same thing.

# She doesn't know I prefer men.

#A nice girl or a nice young man, either would be fine.


So now we decide whether our character is hetero, homo, or bi. This will impact what romantic options are available, should we decide to be married to something other than our job.



On Midsummer's Day, you and Finch arrive at the aerodrome well before the noon departure time.

Morning sun floods through the aerodrome's huge windows and glistens on the marble floor. Exquisitely carved pillars rise to twice your height; the domed ceiling arches much higher. The splendor of this monument to technology dwarfs even the famous Puternic Soare Sun Temple in Vlask (not that you have seen that immense edifice yourself, but you know it from paintings).

Amidst all this grandeur, the guests of Colossus's maiden voyage wander in and out of the sunbeams, refreshing themselves with tea and biscuits as they wait for the call to board.



Vote 28:

#The invited dignitaries are no doubt accustomed to so grand a setting, but I have to believe the lottery winners feel as out of place as I do.

#During my time in Woodward's service, I have become accustomed to blending into whatever social group I must in order to get my job done. I can handle this.

#It's not something I tend to reveal often, but I love elegant nonsense of this sort.





Everyone is garbed more or less the same–summer afternoon dresses and hats for the ladies; light-colored suits for the gentlemen, except for those like yourself who wear military dress uniform–but there is a significant range of quality in materials and tailoring. As you walk toward the tea table, Finch keeps you entertained by describing, sotto voce, the likely occupations of all the people you pass. "That young lady there is a typist. You can always tell a typist by the length of her nails and the creases in her sleeve. The man behind her is either a farmer or a factory worker–I'd have to be nearer to tell for certain–the pattern of callouses on the palm is different, though the musculature is about the same."

At this point you notice a young woman standing a little apart from the crowd, watching the multicolored swirl eddy by. She isn't exactly pretty, but you consider her pleasant to look at, with an interesting face. She has brown hair and is dressed in beige–a self-effacing color with only the barest suspicion of decoration on the gown or feather on the hat. She stands straight, without fidgeting, and with her chin up, but her left hand is holding her reticule very tightly indeed.

"Governess," Finch says. "Here without an escort, and feeling rather out of it."




Vote 29: Do you go over and make her acquaintance?


#Yes, of course, as an act of charity. I feel sorry for the poor girl, being here all alone.

#Yes, I find myself very much wanting to get to know her better. Maybe she's not a blazing beauty, but there's something about her…

#No. She's not the type to interest me.

#No. I would definitely like to get to know her, but it wouldn't be appropriate for me to just approach her with no one to introduce us.




The vote is the same regardless of your actual orientation. Recall that this is the Victorian era, and men with , shall we say, peculiar tastes do not advertise them. Especially not when Watson is already plenty unconventional as it is.

Let's have the votes in by Monday, July 11, 5:30 PM and we'll see how things proceed. A nice peaceful cruise over the clouds ... yeah right.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-08, 05:36 PM
27) As she describes it, I'm starting to hope the same thing.
We went a whole prologue and chapter without setting our orientation.
28)During my time in Woodward's service, I have become accustomed to blending into whatever social group I must in order to get my job done. I can handle this.
We got da charisma and da unconventionality.
29)Yes, I find myself very much wanting to get to know her better. Maybe she's not a blazing beauty, but there's something about her…
Screw etiquette, let's have some romance!
Also: This girl sounds like she's kind of distracted, like she has her.... head in the clouds
And why not go full unconventional? It's not like balanced stats are going to get us anywhere....

smuchmuch
2016-07-11, 06:55 AM
This vote doesn't really interest me so I'll just go with Black Socks' answers

pendell
2016-07-11, 08:41 PM
Well, I'm sorry this vote wasn't ... a ray of sunshine in your day.

Well, at least one vote makes it easy!

27) As she describes it, I'm starting to hope the same thing.

28)During my time in Woodward's service, I have become accustomed to blending into whatever

29)Yes, I find myself very much wanting to get to know her better. Maybe she's not a blazing beauty, but there's something about her…

Let's apply the votes!

As she describes it, I also hope to find a nice girl.



She sees you smile, and dimples in response. "Good luck," she says, and leaves you to enjoy your breakfast.


Ah, there's some interesting things if you'd chosen one of the other options.


Of course she doesn't; it would be as much as your career is worth to have that secret get out. It's not something to be discussed in polite company.

Finch does know, but that's in no small part because Finch shares your preferences. There are discreet places for gentlemen of your tastes to congregate, some of them in nastier parts of town than others. You and Finch have been known to watch each other's backs now and then when on excursions to the more dubious locales.

And some of your Army colleagues suspected as well. (But there are fewer rules out on the edges
of the Empire. What would have gotten you cashiered in Kingsford was winked at on the front.)
In particular, there were rumors circulating about you and Pierce for a time.

Were they true?

#No, as it happens, those were just rumors. It's possible to be good friends with someone and
not want to sleep with him.

#Yes, we had a wartime love affair, but it's over now. [if he lived]
#Yes, but that hardly matters now, years after his death. [if he died]





You're not likely to find out that little fact on the main path. Discretion is the watchword in this society!

So, onto the aerodrome.



On Midsummer's Day, you and Finch arrive at the aerodrome well before the noon departure time.

Morning sun floods through the aerodrome's huge windows and glistens on the marble floor. Exquisitely carved pillars rise to twice your height; the domed ceiling arches much higher. The splendor of this monument to technology dwarfs even the famous Puternic Soare Sun Temple in Vlask (not that you have seen that immense edifice yourself, but you know it from paintings).

Amidst all this grandeur, the guests of Colossus's maiden voyage wander in and out of the sunbeams, refreshing themselves with tea and biscuits as they wait for the call to board.


During my time in Woodward's service, I have become accustomed to blending into whatever social group I must in order to get my job done. I can handle this.

Charisma: 83



Everyone is garbed more or less the same–summer afternoon dresses and hats for the ladies; light-colored suits for the gentlemen, except for those like yourself who wear military dress uniform–but there is a significant range of quality in materials and tailoring. As you walk toward the tea table, Finch keeps you entertained by describing, sotto voce, the likely occupations of all the people you pass. "That young lady there is a typist. You can always tell a typist by the length of her nails and the creases in her sleeve. The man behind her is either a farmer or a factory worker–I'd have to be nearer to tell for certain–the pattern of callouses on the palm is different, though the musculature is about the same."

At this point you notice a young woman standing a little apart from the crowd, watching the multicolored swirl eddy by. She isn't exactly pretty, but you consider her pleasant to look at, with an interesting face. She has brown hair and is dressed in beige–a self-effacing color with only the barest suspicion of decoration on the gown or feather on the hat. She stands straight, without fidgeting, and with her chin up, but her left hand is holding her reticule very tightly indeed.

"Governess," Finch says. "Here without an escort, and feeling rather out of it."

Do you go over and make her acquaintance?


Yes, I find myself very much wanting to get to know her better. Maybe she's not a blazing beauty, but there's something about her…



You secure two cups of tea from the table and edge your way over to the governess. "Excuse me," you say, and she turns with a little start. "Er–I hope I do not impose, but I thought you might–?" You offer one of the teacups to her.

Her face relaxes into a smile, and she takes the cup. "Why, thank you…" Her eyes go to your collar. "…Captain." She sees your surprise and adds in explanation, "My father was military."

"I'm retired now," you say. "It's 'Doctor.' John Watson, at your service."

"Grace Chandler," she says. "It is a pleasure to meet you, sir."

You learn she is indeed a governess, and that she acquired the position upon her father's death some years ago, her mother being many years deceased. From there, you talk a little about your military service and hear about her childhood following the flag as her father's posts transferred the family here and there about the Empire.

Time goes so quickly that you are quite startled to hear the steward's voice boom through the crowd, informing you all that you may now board the dirigible.

You take Miss Chandler's cup and set both of them aside for the serving staff to clear away.



Vote 30: Do you offer her your arm as the two of you make your way to the boarding ramp?

# Yes.
# No, I don't wish to.
# No. I'd like to, but I think that would be too bold.


After we make that decision we proceed aboard the airship.



As you reach the boarding plank, the ebb and flow of the crowd brings Finch quite close to you, and you introduce him to Miss Chandler and vice versa.

The boarding ramp reminds you of the sort that belongs to a seaship, even swaying and creaking in the same disconcerting manner. The interior of the dirigible, however, could not be more different. You have never been inside a house of such magnificence, let alone a conveyance. Anything that isn't polished dark wood is covered with rich red velvet. The steward ushers you all into a room large enough to hold a village assembly. All two hundred guests fit into it easily.

You make your way with everyone else over to the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the Observation Deck, and are soon treated to the breathtaking sight of the ground dropping smoothly away. Kingsford's factories and water wheels dwindle to the size of child's toys. Soon even the chimney stacks are far below. The dirigible floats higher yet, actually passing above the fog that drapes the city, into clear air that might belong to the countryside. Now the heavy yellow-brown cloud shrouds the world below from your sight, but at that moment, a dance tune is struck up behind you.



Dancing! Does that mean a chance to ask Grace ...?



You didn't even see the musicians enter, but there they are, set up in the corner–just like a village assembly, again, or a tea-dance such as the gentry might attend. There is a refreshment table in the other corner, for when refreshments might be desired. The musicians are playing a waltz, and the steward encourages everyone inclined to go and dance. You will never see a sight like this again–the lords and ladies of the Empire on the same dance floor as common laborers and country farmers.

You notice Miss Chandler's somewhat wistful face as she watches the dancing. The fingers holding her reticule are moving very slightly in time with the music.



Vote 31: Do you ask her to dance?

#No.

#Yes.

#I swallow a stiff whiskey—liquid courage—and then go ask her.




Regrettably, I think we must stop there because the story branches depending on whether or not we dance with Grace. I imagine smuchmuch is bored to tears by now, but cheer up! I sense dark storm clouds on the horizon.

Votes in by Wednesday, 13 July, 2016, 5:30PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-12, 06:58 AM
Looks like I'm taking over the reins on this romance thing. Don't worry smuchmuch, some action is coming up.
30)No. I'd like to, but I think that would be too bold.
31)Yes.

smuchmuch
2016-07-12, 01:40 PM
I imagine smuchmuch is bored to tears by now

Hardly, I alway enjoy downtime, a time for a charater to be themselves and devellop and show us their personality in 'normal' circumstances, weither it'd be romance, discussion, etc...
I just have no particular opinions as to Watson sexual preferences and romance options. I can go either way.

norman250
2016-07-12, 11:48 PM
Jeez, how did I miss this?

Another excellent choice, this steampunk gem (while its absolutely a series of Sherlock tales re-imagined,) it's pretty great, and has a lot of diversity in the endings. I've been meaning to read/play it. Now I can! Anyway, for the vote:
Yes.

We have good charisma, we may as well use it.

Yes

Same thought process for the second vote.

pendell
2016-07-13, 07:04 PM
Hardly, I alway enjoy downtime, a time for a charater to be themselves and devellop and show us their personality in 'normal' circumstances, weither it'd be romance, discussion, etc...


Cool. It's not always easy to judge silence, especially on a screen!

Welcome, norman250! Glad to have you back.

So, our votes are

30)
Too bold - 13
yes - 65

A good thing, too. "Too bold" would have carried a charisma penalty -- you get points in that score for bluffing through things, and lose them for "knowing your place!"

31) Yes, we ask her to dance.

So .. first we offer her our arm.



She takes it, looking pleased. As you reach the boarding plank, the ebb and flow of the crowd brings Finch quite close to you, and you introduce him to Miss Chandler and vice versa.

The boarding ramp reminds you of the sort that belongs to a seaship, even swaying and creaking in the same disconcerting manner. The interior of the dirigible, however, could not be more different. You have never been inside a house of such magnificence, let alone a conveyance. Anything that isn't polished dark wood is covered with rich red velvet. The steward ushers you all into a room large enough to hold a village assembly. All two hundred guests fit into it easily.

You make your way with everyone else over to the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the Observation Deck, and are soon treated to the breathtaking sight of the ground dropping smoothly away. Kingsford's factories and water wheels dwindle to the size of child's toys. Soon even the chimney stacks are far below. The dirigible floats higher yet, actually passing above the fog that drapes the city, into clear air that might belong to the countryside. Now the heavy yellow-brown cloud shrouds the world below from your sight, but at that moment, a dance tune is struck up behind you.


She took our arm. So.. .first base? Let's ask her to dance.



You didn't even see the musicians enter, but there they are, set up in the corner–just like a village assembly, again, or a tea-dance such as the gentry might attend. There is a refreshment table in the other corner, for when refreshments might be desired. The musicians are playing a waltz, and the steward encourages everyone inclined to go and dance. You will never see a sight like this again–the lords and ladies of the Empire on the same dance floor as common laborers and country farmers.

You notice Miss Chandler's somewhat wistful face as she watches the dancing. The fingers holding her reticule are moving very slightly in time with the music.

A delighted smile flashes over her face. "Oh, yes! Yes, thank you!"

It seems Miss Chandler loves to dance.

"I attended two or three officers' balls before my father's death," she explains as you lead her to the dance floor. "I never have the opportunity nowadays, but I did love it so when I was a girl."

The musicians strike up another waltz, and you take Miss Chandler into your arms. It has been a good few years since your own officers' balls, but you trust you can still remember the steps.

Indeed, you can remember them. The problem is, your injured leg is no longer able to execute them. You stumble a little, and then you stumble badly, knee buckling, pulling Miss Chandler off balance. You are only barely able to keep the both of you upright, and your leg throbs sharply with the effort.



D'oh! We forgot about the injured leg!


Vote 32:
She looks at you suspiciously, as though wondering if that were a ploy to make her collapse into your arms.

#I'm not saying I'm above it, but that wasn't what I was doing this time.

#An officer might play that sort of game with a barmaid, but a gentleman does not so insult a lady.

#I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.

#There is no conceivable circumstance in which I would deliberately draw attention to my weak leg. Especially not when I am trying to impress a young lady.


So ... now that we have the reaction, we have to deal with this somehow.


Vote 33: How are you going to handle this?

#I profusely apologize, explaining about the leg in a few words.

#I make a self-deprecating joke about being a terrible dancer.

#I am so angry at myself for ruining this opportunity that I don't clearly know what I say.



After we decide what to do about it, we break up and the journey continues.



The afternoon wears away. The dirigible circles the coast of Loegria, looking down from a hunting bird's height on the green and quiet island. Despite being so close to Mercia, Loegria is infamous as being one of its most backward possessions.





Vote 34: Two competing theories vie for prominence whenever the subject of Loegria's unsophistication comes up in the newspapers. To which one do you subscribe?


#It's the fault of the still-flourishing sun-worship that plagues the island. Strangled by it, the Loegrian people have no interest in mastering technology.

#Loegria's history of armed rebellion makes it an unattractive place, from the point of view of business owners, to build factories.

#As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.


#Honestly, I never give it much thought. The lack of industry does have a silver lining, though–no black smoke clouds the sky, and I can clearly see the green hills and fields stretching below.

#It almost doesn't matter how it started; the problem is self-perpetuating now. The Loegrian maidservants and grooms I have encountered in Kingsford talk of leaving home because there is simply no work.



Note: If you choose the last option, ("The maidservants and grooms I have encountered talk..") you will be immediately hit with a followup question.


Vote 34A (if the last option is chosen):
You chat with maidservants and grooms? That's unusual for a gentleman of your class.

#I find these notions of class wearisome. They are people with virtues and faults and interesting stories to tell, so of course I get to know them.

#I find these notions of class wearisome. Sometimes I deliberately befriend those I should not, just for the pleasure of shocking the conventional.

#It's strictly for business reasons. Maidservants and grooms are founts of information very useful to a man in my profession.




After we have pondered the problems of Loegria, the story continues:



Leaving the island behind, Colossus begins the voyage home. The dancing has stopped, the guests being more interested in refreshments at the current time, but two violinists and a cellist play a soft and elegant piece.

Then the horrible sound of squealing metal pierces your ears, and the dirigible lurches violently.

One side of the room drops like a suddenly-unbalanced teeter-totter, dishes and furniture and screaming people sliding down the incline. The deck starts to straighten–then plunges hard again, the angle even steeper than before. You fall hard, striking your head on something, and you only just manage to grab hold of a pillar and stop yourself sliding.


Uh-oh. The vessel is in serious trouble!



You stagger to your feet, head aching and old injury throbbing, clinging to the pillar for balance. You are looking down the sharp angle of the once-luxurious dance floor.

At the bottom of the incline, a tangle of hurt and frightened people are pinned by broken furniture and smashed musical instruments. Above them, other hurt and frightened people struggle up the slope, making blindly for the doors behind you that lead to the Observation Deck. Through the glass doors at the bottom of the incline, a few figures in uniform try ineffectually to calm the panicking passengers there. Behind you, the steward is bellowing, but cannot make himself heard.

You cannot see Miss Chandler anywhere.



This is bad. Very bad.



Far below, you see a familiar figure kick free of the pile of injured people, drag himself to his feet, and look around. As soon as his eyes meet yours and he sees you are reasonably unhurt, Finch starts pushing his way toward the double doors and the downward staircase. At a guess, he is heading for the engine room–a logical place to look for the cause of this disaster.




Vote 35: What are you going to do?

#I immediately start struggling down the incline to the people at the bottom. We've got to get them freed from the wreckage and the hurt ones treated.

#The injured are only part of the problem. There are a number of things we need to do, without delay, and none of the dirigible officers seem capable of taking command of the situation. I raise my voice to be heard above the bedlam of terrified civilians.

#The ship's officers are drilled in procedures for accidents of this kind, and it is not my place to speak for them. I immediately begin to work my way down the incline and through the double doors, following Finch in his attempt to find the source of the problem.



The story branches depending on your choice, so we will stop there for now.

Bear in mind there is an achievement if no lives are lost in this disaster. That requires more than just keeping the airship from crashing -- it also requires keeping the passengers calm. Otherwise they may panic and people will be killed in the rush even if , by some miracle, the airship doesn't perish.

Of course, if the ship crashes we're ALL dead anyway.

Have your votes in by Friday, 13 Jul 2016, 5:30 PM . See you then! And grab a life jacket!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-13, 07:09 PM
Knowing our place gives a charisma penalty? Good to know....
32)I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.
Stupid injured leg....
33)I profusely apologize, explaining about the leg in a few words.
Honesty is the best policy.
34)As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.
You skipped 33, labeling the second vote as #34.... Also, this place sounds a lot like Ireland... potato famine, anyone?
35)The ship's officers are drilled in procedures for accidents of this kind, and it is not my place to speak for them. I immediately begin to work my way down the incline and through the double doors, following Finch in his attempt to find the source of the problem.
This must be sabotage. No way it's just a machine error. Getting the ship functioning is more important- like pendell said, if it crashes we all die.
We saved a McGuffin, now let's save an airship (and our potential love)!

pendell
2016-07-13, 07:10 PM
You skipped 33, labeling the second vote as #34.... Also, this place sounds a lot like Ireland... potato famine, anyone?


Ah, Black Socks, I love your enthuisiasm!

In any event, I noticed that as well and have corrected it.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-07-14, 11:23 PM
32)I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.

33)I profusely apologize, explaining about the leg in a few words.

Watson's an injured veteran who was wounded saving a fellow countrymen from a prison, not running away or doing anything in bad taste, there's no shame in that.

34)As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.

Once again, I concur with Black Socks. We are a doctor, after all.

35)The injured are only part of the problem. There are a number of things we need to do, without delay, and none of the dirigible officers seem capable of taking command of the situation. I raise my voice to be heard above the bedlam of terrified civilians.

We have good charisma, let's see if we can spare a moment trying to calm the panic.

Black Socks
2016-07-15, 05:24 PM
I will be away on vacation until the 24th. Don't ruin Watson's shot at love while I'm gone :smallwink:

norman250
2016-07-15, 05:54 PM
Oh, I won't... *maniacal laughter*

pendell
2016-07-15, 07:19 PM
Oh dear, there seem to be storm clouds on the horizon for Watson's love life :smallcool:.

So, the votes are:

32)I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.

33)I profusely apologize, explaining about the leg in a few words.


34)As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.

Roll off:

35)The ship's officers are drilled in procedures for accidents of this kind, and it is not my place to speak for them. I immediately begin to work my way down the incline and through the double doors, following Finch in his attempt to find the source of the problem.
Random = 62

35)The injured are only part of the problem. There are a number of things we need to do, without delay, and none of the dirigible officers seem capable of taking command of the situation. I raise my voice to be heard above the bedlam of terrified civilians.
Random = 36

So we're going to follow Finch down into the bowels of the airship.

At any rate:



I personally have never employed such a cheap tactic even with a barmaid; it would be inappropriate and unkind. I am certainly not doing it now.


Compassionate: 50 [Pragmatic: 50
Conventional: 30 Unconventional: 70

Next, we apologize.


"Oh, no, no," Miss Chandler says at once. "I'm sure it's at least half my fault–it's been such an age since I was anywhere near a dance floor. It's very good of you to take all the blame like that. And…and I've never really cared for waltzes anyhow. I'd much rather watch." She gives you a shy sort of smile. "Perhaps you wouldn't mind keeping me company?"

You smile back, and the two of you watch the waltzing. Later, you try a country dance, and that goes much better.


No stat change. Very well.



The afternoon wears away. The dirigible circles the coast of Loegria, looking down from a hunting bird's height on the green and quiet island. Despite being so close to Mercia, Loegria is infamous as being one of its most backward possessions.

Two competing theories vie for prominence whenever the subject of Loegria's unsophistication comes up in the newspapers. To which one do you subscribe?

As a medical man, I think both theories overlook an important factor. The severe famine two generations ago is still impacting the country's ability to function.


Response:



An insightful point. Not many realize this, but then, not many have been trained to think like a physician.


Medicine: 61



Leaving the island behind, Colossus begins the voyage home. The dancing has stopped, the guests being more interested in refreshments at the current time, but two violinists and a cellist play a soft and elegant piece.

Then the horrible sound of squealing metal pierces your ears, and the dirigible lurches violently.

One side of the room drops like a suddenly-unbalanced teeter-totter, dishes and furniture and screaming people sliding down the incline. The deck starts to straighten–then plunges hard again, the angle even steeper than before. You fall hard, striking your head on something, and you only just manage to grab hold of a pillar and stop yourself sliding.

You stagger to your feet, head aching and old injury throbbing, clinging to the pillar for balance. You are looking down the sharp angle of the once-luxurious dance floor.

At the bottom of the incline, a tangle of hurt and frightened people are pinned by broken furniture and smashed musical instruments. Above them, other hurt and frightened people struggle up the slope, making blindly for the doors behind you that lead to the Observation Deck. Through the glass doors at the bottom of the incline, a few figures in uniform try ineffectually to calm the panicking passengers there. Behind you, the steward is bellowing, but cannot make himself heard. You cannot see Miss Chandler anywhere.

Far below, you see a familiar figure kick free of the pile of injured people, drag himself to his feet, and look around. As soon as his eyes meet yours and he sees you are reasonably unhurt, Finch starts pushing his way toward the double doors and the downward staircase. At a guess, he is heading for the engine room–a logical place to look for the cause of this disaster.


We chase after Finch!



The ship's officers are drilled in procedures for accidents of this kind, and it is not my place to speak for them. I immediately begin to work my way down the incline and through the double doors, following Finch in his attempt to find the source of the problem.


And ...



The stairway is crowded with panicked people trying to get below–to collect lifejackets, at a guess–and panicked people trying to get up to the top deck from which the parachute-lifeboats will be launched. A wide-eyed older woman grabs at your arm, perhaps confusing your Army dress uniform with the uniform of the dirigible crew. "What are we to do? Tell me what to do!"




Vote 36:

1 # I haven't time to spend soothing her. I have to get below.

2#I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.

3# I stop and give her my full attention. Of course she is panicking. The officers of the ship should be doing more to calm her, but they are not.

4# I stop and devote my full attention to soothing her. Her panic could further agitate the crowd, and a greater level of panic is the last thing we need.


There is a follow up question as well


Vote 36A:

How do you brush her off / soothe her?

#[only available if 1# selected above] I say nothing and push on by.

#"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."

#"You'd better get up to the top deck, as quick as you can. They'll be launching the parachute-lifeboats from there."

#"I'm afraid I'm only a passenger like you–you'll have to ask the steward."



So now that we've dealt with the frightened passenger, let's hustle to the engine room!



When you reach the engine room, you find a small group including Finch and the ship's captain, Royce, clustered around the limp form of the ship's engineer, who is bleeding profusely from the scalp.

Upon examination, you discover that the injury seems to be two separate wounds. One is minor–would have caused unconsciousness, but not severe injury–but the other is serious indeed.

"I don't think this could have been caused by falling," you say slowly. "I think someone hit him from behind with a length of pipe or something similar."



Uh-oh. Assault. Sabotage!



"Will his memory be affected?" Captain Royce asks.

"There's no way to tell until he wakes up."

"Can you hurry that along, Doctor?" says the captain. "We badly need to talk with him."

You have an abbreviated medical kit tucked into your pocket, and it does in fact contain a small amount of a stimulant.


Vote 37:
#"I could," you say briskly, and pull out the syringe. The medical risks don't trouble me.
#"I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."
#"It is technically possible, but I won't do it. It will cause him too much harm."


If you choose any option save the first, we're going to have a quick dialog on this ethical dilemma.



"Sir, I understand your medical scruples," the captain says, "but we're in dire straits here."

Finch moves aside so you have a clear view of the gaping-open panel behind his head. Something has been ripped out of it, leaving wires and cables dangling.

"This was no malfunction, sir," Royce says. "This was sabotage. Someone has carried off the regulator–and the engineer is the only one who might have any idea who."



Now that we've had that little discussion we must make our final choice.


Vote 37A:

#More lives are at risk than the engineer's alone. I prepare the injection.

#I am a doctor. I cannot kill this man with a stimulant for the slim chance he may know something. I lock eyes with the captain and refuse.


They can't force you to make the injection. If you refuse they'll have to think of something else, and fast. Of course, if the engineer was hit from behind it may be he won't know anything anyway, and we'll waste precious seconds trying to wake him.

I have to stop here because the story branches depending on whether the engineer is injected or not.

So I'll see you Monday, 18 Jul, 5:30PM . And happy vacation to those of you taking it! May you have fair winds, following seas ... and sunny skies.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-07-17, 03:01 PM
2#I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.

That woman causing a panic wouldn't help.

#"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."

We should have the charisma to sell that.

#"I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."

I'm .. really not sure for the next part.
Tbh, it's not the risk to the engineer I'mworrying bout so much (I mean it's true, such a thing can cause some brain damage but unless we give him a horse's dose, it's unlikely we'd kill or cripple him for good) and besides the situation warrants it, it's more loosing time if he knows nothing.

... On the other hand it's not like we have a better lead.

...

#More lives are at risk than the engineer's alone. I prepare the injection.

Alea jacta est.

norman250
2016-07-18, 09:57 AM
2#I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.

Same logic as smuchmuch

#"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."

and again, same logic.

#"I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."

we are a doctor.

#I'm a doctor, I can't kill this man, etc..
I don't think we'll get much useful information, he was hit from behind, after all.

pendell
2016-07-18, 05:20 PM
*Phew* Just got in from digging up lawn that had been encroaching on my local road. It's 32.78C here, so you might say I was ... baked in a solar oven :smallcool:.

At any rate, we have decided to:

2#I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.

#"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."

#"I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."

Then we roll:

#More lives are at risk than the engineer's alone. I prepare the injection.
12
#I'm a doctor, I can't kill this man, etc..
80

...

Man, what a wuss randomella is. Here we go. I hope it doesn't kill us!

Let's play it out!



I try to pause long enough to answer, because she deserves kindness, but I dare not stay too long. I have to get to the engine room.


Compassionate: 52 Pragmatic: 48



"Stay calm, madam. This is frightening, but I'm sure we're in no real danger. Do what the stewards tell you, and all should be well."

Some of the panic drains from her face, and she turns from you to look for a steward.


Charisma: 84



When you reach the engine room, you find a small group including Finch and the ship's captain, Royce, clustered around the limp form of the ship's engineer, who is bleeding profusely from the scalp.

Upon examination, you discover that the injury seems to be two separate wounds. One is minor–would have caused unconsciousness, but not severe injury–but the other is serious indeed.

"I don't think this could have been caused by falling," you say slowly. "I think someone hit him from behind with a length of pipe or something similar."

"Will his memory be affected?" Captain Royce asks.

"There's no way to tell until he wakes up."

"Can you hurry that along, Doctor?" says the captain. "We badly need to talk with him."

You have an abbreviated medical kit tucked into your pocket, and it does in fact contain a small amount of a stimulant.

I could," you say slowly, "but the risk to his health makes it extremely inadvisable."


The Captain doesn't want to here that.



"Sir, I understand your medical scruples," the captain says, "but we're in dire straits here."

Finch moves aside so you have a clear view of the gaping-open panel behind his head. Something has been ripped out of it, leaving wires and cables dangling.

"This was no malfunction, sir," Royce says. "This was sabotage. Someone has carried off the regulator–and the engineer is the only one who might have any idea who."


At this point we refuse pointblank.



I am a doctor. I cannot kill this man with a stimulant for the slim chance he may know something. I lock eyes with the captain and refuse.


Compassionate: 59 Pragmatic: 41

Now onto new territory.



The captain's face turns red and he opens his mouth, but Finch touches his arm.

Royce glares at him. "I would appreciate your assistance in pursuing this argument!"

"You've already lost the argument," Finch tells the captain, with a sidelong glance at you. "I'm saving you some time. If the man is confused when he wakes, he'll be no help to us in any case. We must do the best we can without him." He turns to the engineer's assistant. "Straighten up, lad, we need you. You know this ship's engines as well as your senior, surely. How much trouble are we in?"

"Q-quite a lot, sir," the boy stammers. "Th-the–the regulator that was stolen, that's what controls the coal for the boiler. It–it used to be, sir, it still is on seaships, there's a whole gang of men shoveling coal into the boiler, all the time, or the ship doesn't go, you see? For the airships, we've got something better. That there–" He points to the panel. "It keeps track of how hot the boiler's got to. When the pressure's too low, it dumps in coal. No muss, no fuss, all orderly. One day it'll be like that on all ships, air and sea, that's what they tell me."




Vote 38:

#And a good thing, too. I've seen the horrific conditions in which the coal gangs of the steamships labor. This is exactly what modern technology is good for–freeing human workers from unsafe and unsanitary jobs.

#I feel some unease. Coal shoveling is a dangerous job with many health risks, but…what will those men do for work, if all Her Imperial Majesty's ships automate the process?

#I see where this is going, and it has military stupidity written all over it. Did it not occur to anyone that the automated system could malfunction, and that it would be necessary to have the ability to perform the task manually?


*Sigh* .

After we react, we must decide what to do.



"So the regulator, that's what checks to see do we have enough coal, and when we don't, it dumps more into the boiler, and then the boiler keeps the air in the envelope hot, so we stay aloft, you see? If there's ever a breakdown in the regulator, it automatically shuts off the system–puts no more coal into the boiler–because too much coal makes the boiler run too hot, and that's terribly dangerous, that could set you on fire or blow you up."

"With the regulator missing," Finch concludes slowly, "the system is not adding coal to the boiler. Because of the design, there is no way to add it manually. Without the boiler, the hot air in the envelope is cooling."

The engineer's assistant nods miserably.

Finch looks at the captain. "We're going down. Where are we?"

"Halfway across the Channel." The captain looks ill.

"Can you get the ship to land before we hit the water?"

"No."




Vote 39:

#"Then we'd best start loading lifeboats."

#"Then we'd best find the regulator and reattach it."


The story branches here -- if we select loading lifeboats, Dr. Watson will head on deck and oversee the ship's evacuation. Otherwise, we'll do all we can to recover the regulator and prevent that from happening.

if it aids in your decision, Finch will probably pursue the regulator in any event regardless of what you, Dr. Watson, do. It is a gamble, however. The most logical thing for the saboteur to do would be to throw the regulator into the sea, in which case the lifeboats are the only way anyone is going to live through this.

So let's have those votes in by Wednesday, 18 Jul, 2016 5:30PM . Bring your swimming gear!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-18, 07:53 PM
Rare moment of Internet access! Quick quick quick!
38) I feel some unease, etc.
39) Lifeboat route.
It makes more sense for Finch and Watson to split up. If he finds the regulator, great. If he doesn't, we've loaded the lifeboats.
As for the injection: I did the demo a few times, trying different routes, and the engineer couldn't tell us anything anyway.
Thought: that last vote is where the free demo ends. We are now moving into paid territory!
(Goes to look for pool noodle in case regulator is not found)

smuchmuch
2016-07-18, 08:10 PM
#And a good thing, too. I've seen the horrific conditions in which the coal gangs of the steamships labor. This is exactly what modern technology is good for–freeing human workers from unsafe and unsanitary jobs.

#I feel some unease. Coal shoveling is a dangerous job with many health risks, but…what will those men do for work, if all Her Imperial Majesty's ships automate the process?

#I see where this is going, and it has military stupidity written all over it. Did it not occur to anyone that the automated system could malfunction, and that it would be necessary to have the ability to perform the task manually?

... Answer D: All three.

with special emphasis on the third one, I see where this is going..

Seriously this seems like a weird oversight, I mean error and overconfidence happens sure, but this not exactly small thing to miss.

#"Then we'd best find the regulator and reattach it."

More exciting this way

norman250
2016-07-20, 12:01 PM
I see where this is going..



#"Then we'd best find the regulator and reattach it."

I really appreciate that Smuchmuch made the same choices I wanted to, because it made it so I could just quote them and still get red even though I'm posting on my phone.

pendell
2016-07-20, 05:28 PM
We have some clear-cut and undisputed votes, the outcome is as clear and bright as the morning sun. I like it that way!

38) #I see where this is going..


39) #"Then we'd best find the regulator and reattach it."


Let's play it out!



I see where this is going, and it has military stupidity written all over it. Did it not occur to anyone that the automated system could malfunction, and that it would be necessary to have the ability to perform the task manually?


Perception: 68

Outstanding! Be advised perception is a critical skill for any detective work we need to do, so the higher it is the better.



Apparently not.

"So the regulator, that's what checks to see do we have enough coal, and when we don't, it dumps more into the boiler, and then the boiler keeps the air in the envelope hot, so we stay aloft, you see? If there's ever a breakdown in the regulator, it automatically shuts off the system–puts no more coal into the boiler–because too much coal makes the boiler run too hot, and that's terribly dangerous, that could set you on fire or blow you up."

"With the regulator missing," Finch concludes slowly, "the system is not adding coal to the boiler. Because of the design, there is no way to add it manually. Without the boiler, the hot air in the envelope is cooling."

The engineer's assistant nods miserably.

Finch looks at the captain. "We're going down. Where are we?"

"Halfway across the Channel." The captain looks ill.

"Can you get the ship to land before we hit the water?"

"No."


Our response: ""Then we'd best find the regulator and reattach it."



"But–" the captain says. "Whoever took it might have just chucked it over the side!"

"In which case, it will be as well to have the lifeboats loaded," Finch says, and draws you aside with a hand on your arm, effectively turning both your backs to the captain.

Behind you, Royce sighs, then strides out into the corridor and starts bellowing orders. Crewmen come to carry the engineer to a place where he can be tended. Other crewmen come with instructions to stand guard and let no one else enter the engine room (though it's a little late for such a precaution).

Hopefully somewhere in this room is a clue that will tell you–without delay–who ripped the regulator out of its panel.



Vote 40:

# I search the floor and the gaping hole where the regulator used to be, hoping to discover physical clues.

#I half-close my eyes and visualize the engineer's head wound. Perhaps I will be able to conclude something about the person who inflicted it–height or dominant hand, for instance.

# I half-close my eyes and review what we know about the saboteur so far.



Okay, the following will occur regardless, but the choice you make, depending on your skills, may yield critical clues to the identity of the saboteur. That will impact Friday's vote.

At any rate, we push on for the moment, but we'll be coming back to this!




"Oh, here we are," Finch says in a tone of satisfaction. You look up to see him standing before the ripped-apart regulator panel, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together. "There are little splatters of clear oil in the cabinet. If the regulator continued to drip oil as it was carted away, we might have an actual trail to follow.

We just need something that will adhere to the oil splashes–now what's to hand that will suit…?" He does a brisk circuit of the engine room and returns carrying a bowl full of what you eventually realize is cigar ash. He sprinkles some in the cabinet, and you can see how it clings to the oil spots.

Finch hastens for the corridor, scattering ash.


Let's hurry down that trail!



Oil droplets do indeed lead away from the engine room. You fear they will terminate at a porthole, but instead they bring you to the door of the main storeroom.

In the distance, you can hear panicked shouts from passengers and—unacceptably—crewmen:

"The lifeboats aren't being launched! Why aren't the lifeboats being launched?"

"I heard the lines are fouled!"

"Where are we to get lifejackets? The steward said to put them on, but not where they were—"

You refocus your attention to the task at hand. A storeroom on a vessel of this kind should be plenty large enough for the saboteur to hide in. The door is locked from the outside, which seems to argue against the saboteur being currently in residence. Still, the regulator might be hidden here.




Vote 41: What course of action do you propose?

#"I'll send someone for the steward–or the captain. One or the other should have a key."

#"I don't think I can get that lock open, but I expect you can."

#"We don't have time to fiddle with the lock. We'd better break down the door."

#"Before we waste time here, let's see if the oil droplets continue further on. If not, we can double back."


Okay, we're going to skip ahead a bit even though the story branches depending on whether we enter the storeroom or not. just accept it as given that their may be something of interest in either way. But to make our Friday deadline, let's move ahead a bit in the story to the point where we leave the storeroom and arrive at the galley.



The oil drips peter out just before the entrance to the galley.

One of the ship's officers is there, explaining to a terrified-looking cook that she must come with him and be put aboard a parachute-lifeboat. "But what about my son?" the cook protests. "There aren't enough lifeboats even for the gentlemen passengers, let alone the workmen of the crew!"

"Shhh!" the officer hisses, waving at the two of you, but it's too late; you heard her.

Finch looks back at you with tightened lips, and you can guess what he is visualizing. The dirigible is going down over the ocean. It won't hit gently, and the water is icy cold. Even if there are enough lifejackets to go around, anyone not in a boat will die of exposure long before a ship comes looking for survivors.




Vote 42: What do you say to the cook?

#"Your son is in no danger. We're minutes away from finding the saboteur, and everyone aboard will be safe then."

#"If you can help us find the saboteur, everyone aboard including your son will be safe."

#"I can see to it your son gets a place on a boat, but I want something in exchange."


Okay, one last thing -- I'm going to give you a quick preview of the Friday vote.




Chill wind whips your breath away as you emerge onto the top deck, which is open to the air. The scene before you is one of utter chaos.

The deck is tilted at a sharp angle, and both the starboard and port sides are crowded with frightened passengers pushing to get into the slowly-lowering lifeboats. Officers push them back, shouting instructions about how to board, how to steer on the way down, how to fasten a lifejacket in case the boat overturns in the roiling water below. But between the wind and the crowd's clamor, no one except those standing right beside the officers could possibly have heard a word.

As you escort the cook through the crowd, she is able to point out the steward–a big, heavy man–the university student, and the young couple. She is less certain about the lost lady.

As she looks about the top deck, your eye falls on a figure in a beige gown and a plain hat helping to load the lifeboats.

Miss Chandler.


"You need to take your coat off," she is telling an older lady in a flower-decked hat. "I know it's cold, but the lifejacket won't fit otherwise, you see? It will only be for a little while before they send a ship out to get us. Here we are, let me do up the straps for you…" You know that technique; you've used it yourself in medical situations. Act calm and cheerful, and you can inspire calm cheer in frightened people. The old lady accepts the offered help, and moves toward the boats with a more relaxed expression.

Miss Chandler turns away from her, and in the moment when she thinks no one is watching and no one needs her to be calm, she looks terrified.

You know about that, too.

"There," the cook says. "That lady there, in the heavy black veil."

"Right," Finch says to you as he hands the cook off to an officer.




Future vote 43: "We'll split up. Who do you want to question?"

#The young couple.

#The lady with the veil.

#The steward.

#The university student.

#Before I go question anyone, I need to warn that courageous young woman to get on a lifeboat without delay.




Hmmm ... how much do you want to bet that the last option will bring us back to our list of suspects after a short subplot?

So this is a who dunnit. Your mission for this update is to use votes 40-42 to gather as much information about the sabotage as possible. Then you review that information, as well as the preceding story.

Then, on Friday, we will have a single vote: Vote 43. We will finger a suspect. Then we will find out if we've caught a saboteur ...

... or if we're going to plummet to our deaths in the Not-Irish Loegrian Sea.

Have your votes in by Friday, July 22, 2016, 5:30PM EST. See you then! Don't forget your lifejackets!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-07-20, 10:46 PM
#I half-close my eyes and visualize the engineer's head wound. Perhaps I will be able to conclude something about the person who inflicted it–height or dominant hand, for instance.

(Here is a small instance where the format of the LP is a little spoilery, since I know Finch will find the oil drop anyway, I feel confirmed that looking at the place of the ripped regulator would be somewhat redundant.
That said even without that knowlege, I would have voted for the head wound option anyway.
-I figure the main thing we'd learn from the cabinet is weither the suspct is strong or not (if the thing is heavy and was ripped brutaly) and if it would leave some mark ont he suspect
-From looking at the wound, we could determine the height of the suspect, possibly the strength and dominant hand
-Reviewing info would be better if we were trying to establish some kind of motive and profile, but thing is, we don't have a lot of information at the moment.
Both choice one and two seem pretty valid, honnestly but we're a doctor, I feel the second option is where our medical knowlege might help us, if that makes sense.)

interestingly, the fact that the culprit apparently didn't drop the regulator n the sea coud hint at a few thing, they could be either trying to /steal/ the regulator (it is an advanced piece of machinery, it's gotta be worth something). The steward and the univrsity students are the two favorite suspects here, even if sjut because they're the two suspect who would be more likely /know/ what the regulator exists (it's supposed to be exxperimental) and looks like (if the student is an engineering student)

I notice the pannel was 'ripped apart' which, even with some kind of lever, hint as a pretty good strength. So once, again, Steward. then gain, we dodn't know how strong the student is.
There is however the fact that the steward was on the observation deck behind us when the ship started to loose height which would rather innocent him if the egulator was ripped at that moment. (or shortly before)

#"Before we waste time here, let's see if the oil droplets continue further on. If not, we can double back."

alternatvely ask for the steward or captain

(If the steward or the captain still have the key and the room contain something, since it's closed from the outside, it seems the steward would be a good suspect then.)

#"If you can help us find the saboteur, everyone aboard including your son will be safe."

Once again, playing on our charisma should work

Black Socks
2016-07-21, 06:03 AM
:smalleek: $#@% has hit the fan.
40) I visualize the head wound.
If this is a whodunnit, more information about the culprit is the best way to go. We have 61 Medicine, will that be enough?
41)Let's see if the droplets continue further on...
42)If you can help us find the saboteur, etc.
4 heads are better than 3.
Alright, here we go... If we get out of this alive, I wonder what Lestrade Woodward will say about this!
And sorry for not putting the exact words of my votes, but I'm typing from an IPad so copy/pasting doesn't really work.

pendell
2016-07-21, 09:30 AM
And sorry for not putting the exact words of my votes, but I'm typing from an IPad so copy/pasting doesn't really work.


Not a problem, you put down enough I understood what you meant.

BTW, I believe ipad allows copy-paste (http://www.imore.com/edit-text-define-words-ipad). I know that Android does, though it took me two years to discover the functionality!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-07-21, 12:24 PM
For 41: We can't risk something important being in that room and us not finding it. Sending for a key would take too long, and we don't have the Athletics to break down the door.

However the droplets are our one and solid trail to the culprit, should we waste time trying to open a door in the way because it might contain something ?
More importantly thinking again, I'm pretty sure the Steward bellowing behind us when the accident started to happen is meant to be a clue as to his innocence. And only him or the captain should have the key and the door was obviously forced open (we'd see it) nor was the lock picked in the meantime so it's unlikely the room has something in it.

Black Socks
2016-07-21, 03:09 PM
However the droplets are our one and solid trail to the culprit, should we waste time trying to open a door in the way because it might contain something ?
More importantly thinking again, I'm pretty sure the Steward bellowing behind us when the accident started to happen is meant to be a clue as to his innocence. And only him or the captain should have the key and the door was obviously forced open (we'd see it) nor was the lock picked in the meantime so it's unlikely the room has something in it.
Good point. I will change my vote. Also, if we find the culprit, what will it do? The ship will still crash....

pendell
2016-07-21, 03:54 PM
Good point. I will change my vote. Also, if we find the culprit, what will it do? The ship will still crash....

If the culprit still has the regulator , why you can take it back.

And if the culprit has thrown it into the sea, why that opens up some entertaining options for spending our last minutes alive. :smallamused:

If you don't think the time wouldn't be better spent making peace with whatever is on the other side ,that is.


Tongue-in-cheek,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-07-22, 11:36 AM
40) I visualize the head wound.

41)Let's see if the droplets continue further on...
42)If you can help us find the saboteur, etc.
I find myself agreeing with everyone else's reasoning.

pendell
2016-07-22, 06:17 PM
Looks like we have a unanimous decision. Excellent!

40) #I half-close my eyes and visualize the engineer's head wound. Perhaps I will be able to conclude something about the person who inflicted it–height or dominant hand, for instance.

41) #"Before we waste time here, let's see if the oil droplets continue further on. If not, we can double back."

42) #"If you can help us find the saboteur, everyone aboard including your son will be safe."


Commence!



There were two wounds, one caused by falling and one by an attack with a length of pipe. The position of the latter suggests a left-handed assailant. Well, that's rare enough that it might be useful to know. The engineer is tallish, which might mean the assailant is tall as well—unless the engineer was crouched down when struck from behind.

"Oh, here we are," Finch says in a tone of satisfaction. You look up to see him standing before the ripped-apart regulator panel, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together. "There are little splatters of clear oil in the cabinet. If the regulator continued to drip oil as it was carted away, we might have an actual trail to follow. We just need something that will adhere to the oil splashes–now what's to hand that will suit…?" He does a brisk circuit of the engine room and returns carrying a bowl full of what you eventually realize is cigar ash. He sprinkles some in the cabinet, and you can see how it clings to the oil spots.

Finch hastens for the corridor, scattering ash.


Okay. No stat change but some clues because we passed our medical check.




the droplets bring you to the door of the main storeroom.

In the distance, you can hear panicked shouts from passengers and—unacceptably—crewmen:

"The lifeboats aren't being launched! Why aren't the lifeboats being launched?"

"I heard the lines are fouled!"

"Where are we to get lifejackets? The steward said to put them on, but not where they were—"

You refocus your attention to the task at hand. A storeroom on a vessel of this kind should be plenty large enough for the saboteur to hide in. The door is locked from the outside, which seems to argue against the saboteur being currently in residence. Still, the regulator might be hidden here.

"Before we waste time here, let's see if the oil droplets continue further on. If not, we can double back."

"Agreed," Finch says, and you continue.

The oil droplets do indeed continue further on.



Stealthy: 68 Quick: 32

So we're going to bypass the store room.



The oil drips peter out just before the entrance to the galley.

One of the ship's officers is there, explaining to a terrified-looking cook that she must come with him and be put aboard a parachute-lifeboat. "But what about my son?" the cook protests. "There aren't enough lifeboats even for the gentlemen passengers, let alone the workmen of the crew!"

"Shhh!" the officer hisses, waving at the two of you, but it's too late; you heard her.

Finch looks back at you with tightened lips, and you can guess what he is visualizing. The dirigible is going down over the ocean. It won't hit gently, and the water is icy cold. Even if there are enough lifejackets to go around, anyone not in a boat will die of exposure long before a ship comes looking for survivors.


We tell her ""If you can help us find the saboteur, everyone aboard including your son will be safe."



She swallows. "I'll do whatever I can. How can I help?"

"The person who took a piece of the engine came through here within the last half hour. Can you tell us who you saw during that time?"

She is almost too frightened to think, but she screws up her face in the effort to remember.

"The…the last half hour? I…Well, the head steward came through. And…there was a young lady and a young gentleman who seemed to be looking for a quiet place to…behave improperly. And there was a middle-aged lady who said she was lost but then wanted to see the kitchen, and a university student who asked me what sort of work I did and if I was well-treated–as if I had time to chatter on, with all these people to feed!"

"Did you happen to notice if any of them were left-handed?" you ask.

She stares at you. "Um…the student held out a pamphlet to me with his left hand?"


Okay, go ahead and parse that. Meanwhile

Charisma: 86



Finch nods. "We'll need you to come upstairs and point all these people out to us if you can, on your way to the lifeboat."

The cook lets Finch shepherd her up the stairs.

Chill wind whips your breath away as you emerge onto the top deck, which is open to the air. The scene before you is one of utter chaos.

The deck is tilted at a sharp angle, and both the starboard and port sides are crowded with frightened passengers pushing to get into the slowly-lowering lifeboats. Officers push them back, shouting instructions about how to board, how to steer on the way down, how to fasten a lifejacket in case the boat overturns in the roiling water below. But between the wind and the crowd's clamor, no one except those standing right beside the officers could possibly have heard a word.

As you escort the cook through the crowd, she is able to point out the steward–a big, heavy man–the university student, and the young couple. She is less certain about the lost lady.

As she looks about the top deck, your eye falls on a figure in a beige gown and a plain hat helping to load the lifeboats. Miss Chandler.

"You need to take your coat off," she is telling an older lady in a flower-decked hat. "I know it's cold, but the lifejacket won't fit otherwise, you see? It will only be for a little while before they send a ship out to get us. Here we are, let me do up the straps for you…" You know that technique; you've used it yourself in medical situations. Act calm and cheerful, and you can inspire calm cheer in frightened people. The old lady accepts the offered help, and moves toward the boats with a more relaxed expression.

Miss Chandler turns away from her, and in the moment when she thinks no one is watching and no one needs her to be calm, she looks terrified.

You know about that, too.

"There," the cook says. "That lady there, in the heavy black veil."

"Right," Finch says to you as he hands the cook off to an officer. "We'll split up."



Vote 43: "Who do you want to question?"

* The young couple.
* The lady with the veil.
* The steward.
* The university student.
* Before I go question anyone, I need to warn that courageous young woman to get on a lifeboat without delay.


This is it. What shall it be?

See you folks on Monday, 25 Jul , 2016, 5:30PM as this chapter reaches its climax!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-22, 06:27 PM
43) The university student.
He's left handed. The cook said he handed her the pamphlet with his left hand, and in my experience people usually use their dominant hand whenever they can. As well, a university student would be tall, and our analysis said the attacker was tall.
On a more speculative note, the student asking about how well treated she was could be related to the Vlaskeri thinking the Empire treats sun-worshippers badly.
:smallcool: Let's do this.

smuchmuch
2016-07-22, 06:53 PM
let us point at the University student
(Well unless we decide to indulge in our romatic subplot first by warning the good miss Chandler first ?)

Left handed people are pretty rare enough.
Also rereading the text, i think the big, heavy description actualy appliees to the student, not the steward (although the way it's written is ambiguous) so if that's the case, he fits the bill in more than one way. And he was the last person to go in the galley.

norman250
2016-07-25, 10:19 AM
The University Student is the only one to match up with the clues we have.

pendell
2016-07-25, 06:37 PM
The university student with the lead pipe in the boiler room. Let's pull out the cards and see if you're right!



After all, the student is best match of all the suspects. You make your way across the crowded deck in the direction of the young student.

You are stopped by a hand on your sleeve.

"Captain?" It is Miss Chandler. She lowers her voice to speak to you. "I need you to tell me something. Truthfully. The officers won't give me a straight answer, but–but I've counted, and–I can't see how there could be enough lifeboats. There aren't, are there?"



Vote 44: What do you say?

#"There's nothing to worry about. I've been working with my friend and the ship's officers to find the part taken from the engine, and we've nearly done it."
"
#It…might be as well for you to be assured of a place."

#"No, there aren't. Don't frighten the rest of them, but get yourself a place without delay."


Remember we were asked not to let on, lest it cause a panic.

After we finish with this diversion, let's chase the student!



Movement at the corner of your vision catches your attention, and you turn your head to see Finch prowling step by deliberate step in the direction of the young university student.

The student really should have aroused everyone's suspicions much earlier. He wears
old-fashioned high-topped boots that would be more appropriate to a horse than a ballroom,
and his suit and cap both seem somewhat shabby for the gathering, as well as too loosely
cut for his frame. He could be hiding anything at all, up to and including a piece of the
ship's engine, under his overlarge coat.

The student is not facing Finch, but he edges away as Finch approaches anyhow, as though
knowing he is pursued.


Vote 45: How do you help?

#I plow through the crowd to cut off the student's avenue of escape.

#I slip through the crowd to approach him unobtrusively. If he is focused on Finch, he might not notice me flanking.

#Sometimes the correct decision is to delegate what you are too far away to do yourself. In a voice that cuts through the clamor, I shout for ship's officers to stop that young man.


Unfortunately, the student reacts too quickly for us to put our plan into effect, but it does affect our stats.



Before your tactic can succeed or fail, the student makes it to the prow,
where there is a relatively clear piece of deck. He turns all at once to face the crowd,
whipping out a pistol and pointing it upward. "Nobody move!"

Everyone nearby freezes as if turned to stone. A stray shot from a firearm could penetrate
the dirigible's envelope, and then the ship will shoot into the sea like a meteor, instead
of sinking like a pricked balloon.

"I don't want to kill you!" the young man says in a clear, ringing voice. He keeps his back
pressed against the railing, so no one could flank him even if someone were foolish enough to try. "This piece of obscene luxury is an insult to every man, woman, and child slaving half-fed in Mercia's factories, and I want to see it plunge into the sea, but my associates and I never intended to kill innocents who paid a penny for a lottery ticket. It's not our fault Her Majesty's finest dirigible doesn't have lifeboats enough for its passengers!"

A gasp runs through the crowd–presumably from everyone who was too agitated to count
lifeboats earlier.



Dear oh dear. So much for preventing panic.



The student continues, "Let everyone here see that we who resist the depredations of the
Empire place a greater value on human life than do the pennypinchers who commissioned this ship!"

To the deck at his feet, he throws down a mass of steel and wire that he had indeed
been hiding under his coat. Then he pulls off his cap and tosses it on top of the regulator–

–correction, he pulls off his cap and wig. The hair beneath the wig is black, and shining, and pulled back into a tight coil pinned to the top of the head.

No man ever had hair like that.

The line of cheek and jaw, now easier to see in the absence of the cap, likewise could never belong to a man. And when she drops her coat as well, the outline of her body removes any doubt.

"Free Mercia!" she says, and backflips over the railing.



A revolutionary unwilling to shed blood? Lenin would laugh. Revolution is not a game or a child's story. A revolutionary unwilling to shed oceans of blood had better turn in her gun and pick up a protest sign instead, hope for peaceful reform.

Not only hesitant but unwise as well. Or did she truly believe that a liner this size could be evacuated without a casualty or two?



You are among the first to reach the rail. She falls like a stone, but only for an instant–then fire shoots out of her boots. She rocks backward slightly, steadies herself, then looks up to give you all a cheeky wave goodbye. The boots carry her in what appears to be a controlled fall down a moderate incline, toward the ocean and out of reach and sight.

You swing around from the rail to find Finch and Captain Royce converging on the regulator.

"Who was that?" Royce demands.

"Never mind!" Finch says, grabs the regulator, and sprints for the engine room.



Vote 46: What do you do?
#I run after him!
#I stay here. If the piece can't be reinstalled, it will still be necessary to get as many people as possible into the lifeboats.


Hrm. Tough choice. It's not like Finch is incapable, after all. So the question is, are you needed more there or here?

Oh, by the way:

Achievement Unlocked: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Identified the Dirigible Saboteur

Congratulations! She got away, unfortunately, but there's still time to save the ship!

Have your votes in by Wednesday, 25 Jul, 2016, 5:30PM

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-07-25, 06:48 PM
Yes! We were right! Oh yeah, uh huh, whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop! CHEW ON IT VLASKERI!!!!:smallbiggrin::smalltongue::smallcool:
Now we just have to catch them.......
44)"No, there aren't. Don't frighten the rest of them, but get yourself a place without delay."
Truthful, but hopefully she'll be smart enough not to cause panic.
45)I slip through the crowd to approach him unobtrusively. If he is focused on Finch, he might not notice me flanking.
It doesn't actually matter whether we succeed or not, but we are 68 stealthy.
46)I run after him!
See my post below.
Also, the revolutionary may not be willing to spill blood, but she has rocket boots! I want a pair of those....:smallfrown:

smuchmuch
2016-07-26, 12:29 PM
Not only hesitant but unwise as well. Or did she truly believe that a liner this size could be evacuated without a casualty or two?

I'd say 'she likely deluded herself' but actualy given the way she speak she seems genuinely both that self righteous and naive. It's rarely a good combination.

To be fair, tho, "a casualty or two", would be.. well, horrible, but still rather limited. Here, thankfully it's an airship so can't have that much people in it, we'll be probably closer to the Hindenburg than the Titanic* but still lucky if the number of victims doesn't get over a couple of dozens.

*(35 victims to around 1500 respectively for reference. Of course the Hidenburg was over land and it is notriously miraculous two third of the people on board survived)

#"There's nothing to worry about. I've been working with my friend and the ship's officers to find the part taken from the engine, and we've nearly done it."

Well, we have.

#Sometimes the correct decision is to delegate what you are too far away to do yourself. In a voice that cuts through the clamor, I shout for ship's officers to stop that young man.

46)I stay here. If the piece can't be reinstalled, it will still be necessary to get as many people as possible into the lifeboats.

At this point most of our chips are on the 'reinstall the pieces' gambit, everything we can do to help is welcome.

edit: Vote changed, see below.

norman250
2016-07-27, 03:31 PM
#"There's nothing to worry about. I've been working with my friend and the ship's officers to find the part taken from the engine, and we've nearly done it."
Honesty is the best policy.

45)I slip through the crowd to approach him unobtrusively. If he is focused on Finch, he might not notice me flanking.
I concur with Black Socks, even if it won't work, we should still look for opportunities to maximize our strengths when available.


46)I stay here. If the piece can't be reinstalled, it will still be necessary to get as many people as possible into the lifeboats.
If we're going to try and get there "have no deaths" outcome, this seems like the best chance to do so.

Black Socks
2016-07-27, 04:18 PM
Actually.... I just realized something. These people probably won't listen to reason. They'll panic and act like animals, desperate to get a lifeboat. So, I'm changing my vote.

norman250
2016-07-27, 04:37 PM
I think they'd panic and act like animals, stampeding all around each other... UNLESS a bastion of Charisma such as Watson can calm then.

smuchmuch
2016-07-27, 04:42 PM
If we're going to try and get there "have no deaths" outcome, this seems like the best chance to do so.

Maybe but I suspect we already missed the mark for that one, if a panic already started, so did the trampling. Besides it's possible Finch might need help to reinstate the piece and should he fail because there was no one to help him then we get the lifeboat anyway but with the least preparation for it.

Stil ltha'st a valid point and our character is a doctor not an engineer. So I'll change my vote too.

pendell
2016-07-27, 04:52 PM
I want rocket boots too!

Very well , our votes are :

44) #"There's nothing to worry about. I've been working with my friend and the ship's officers to find the part taken from the engine, and we've nearly done it."

45)I slip through the crowd to approach him unobtrusively. If he is focused on Finch, he might not notice me flanking.

46) I run after him!

Let's play it out.

We tell Grace we've nearly solved the case.



The hand on your sleeve tightens. "Truly?" She searches your face, then releases your arm, stepping back. "Go–I won't keep you an instant longer."


Charisma: 88

We pursue the student stealthily!

Stealthy: 72 Quick: 28

Now quick! To the engine room!

Um.. Guys? I messed up there are actually THREE choices here. I suppose the online version is later than the source code I am reading. The choices are:

#I run after him!

#I stay here. If the piece can't be reinstalled, it will still be necessary to get as many people as possible into the lifeboats.

#I gesture for Miss Chandler to join me as I run after Finch.
#I catch Miss Chandler's eye and charge her with continuing to shepherd people to lifeboats, before I run after Finch.

Rather than hold up the voting for another two days, I'm just going to go with the last option. It makes sense to get SOMEONE looking after the civvies if it isn't us, and what good is she going to do in the engine room?

Sorry. I shall rip off an arm in supplication.

AIEEEEE

There. Satisfied? :)

Moving on.



"Yes, I can do that." She bites her lip. "Good luck, Captain."



Quick! To the engine room, Robin!



n the engine room, the engineer's assistant is waiting for you with a frightened young crewman.

"Right then, sir," the engineer's assistant says in a quavering voice, looking down at the manual held between his shaking hands. "There's—there's two things that must be done. The regulator's got to be reinstalled and all the cables and wiring connected up again."

"Is that something you know how to do?" Finch demands.

"Um–" The assistant looks at the manual. "Well, not exactly know, sir, but the diagrams, they seem to be saying–"

"So that's a two-man job," Finch says, "you to read and interpret, and someone else to follow your instructions. And the other task?"

The engineer's assistant gestures overhead. "The saboteur did another bit of harm we didn't have the chance to notice until now. He wrapped a bit of metal round the main drive chain. Someone's got to climb up into the frame and untwist the metal before the propeller will go again. Should be Mickey, but–" And he casts a sour look at the frightened crewman.

"Let me do something else," Mickey mumbles. "I can't climb up there–I can't!"

"How did you get to be crew of a dirigible if you're afraid of heights?" Finch asks, then cuts himself off. "Never mind. Right. Two tasks to be completed." He looks at you.




Vote 47:

# Perhaps the mass of cables to be reconnected intimidates the engineer's assistant, but I used to be a battle surgeon.

# Perhaps that climb frightens the crewman, but it doesn't frighten me. And even with my old injury hampering me, surely I can manage it.

# I look from the ladder to the terrified crewman. I've convinced men to do harder things; I can get him to do this.


And .. the story branches depending on just how we're going to fix this. So I'm afraid we have to stop here. Quick! How are we going to repair this thing? We have two jobs: Repairing the propeller or re-attaching the regulator. Finch will take the one we don't do, so decide quickly!

ERm... well, by Friday, 29 Jul, 2016, 5:30PM anyway.

ETA: Sorry, Smuchmuch. I started on the update at 5:35PM and I didn't see your changed vote until 5:46PM, byh which time the votes had already been tallied and the course of action taken. If I had started a little later, I'd have put your last vote into account, but them's the breaks.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-07-27, 05:00 PM
Climbing the ladder with our leg injury is jsut asking for it
I'd be tempted to say convince the crewman because of our masive charisma but I'm not sure about sending someone with a phobia to do something so critical.
Reconecting the wires might be in our skillset but we aren't that great a surgeon, not to lousy either, average stat if memory serves.
Hmm.

# Perhaps the mass of cables to be reconnected intimidates the engineer's assistant, but I used to be a battle surgeon.

Black Socks
2016-07-27, 05:06 PM
I think this is Medicine vs Athletics vs Charisma. Charisma is our highest, so....
47)I look from the ladder to the terrified crewman. I've convinced men to do harder things; I can get him to do this.

norman250
2016-07-27, 05:11 PM
47)I look from the ladder to the terrified crewman. I've convinced men to do harder things; I can get him to do this.

As is the general rule of CoG playbooks, always play to your strengths. In this case, CHA. Although I think we have medicine in the 60's, right? We might be able to pull that option off anyway. Still, better safe than sorry.

pendell
2016-07-29, 08:47 PM
All right, we'll try to persuade the crewman.

I look from the ladder to the terrified crewman. I've convinced men to do harder things; I can get him to do this.



Finch nods once, and moves immediately toward the cabinet. "All right," he says to the engineer's assistant, "talk me through it."


You sit beside the frightened crewman.

It's been a little while since you've done this, but the techniques for soothing and inspiring terrified soldiers come back to you within a few words. Eventually you coax the young man into standing up and going to do what has to be done. His face is dead white, but he doesn't hesitate.

Halfway up, a lurch almost has the poor lad off the frame. "Easy does it," you soothe him. "You're all right. Keep moving, don't look down."

Your voice gets him up the ladder, through the intricacies of pulling the metal strip away from the propeller chain, and back down again.

His knees buckle when he's safe back on deck, but you've got hold of him, and you ease him down to sit, telling him the whole time what a magnificent performance that was.



Capital, young man! And well done you, for getting him through it!

Charisma: 89 (Skill for convincing other people to do what you wish, and for swaying crowds).

Only a single point of charisma gain. It seems that the higher your score is, the progressively lower the gains are. Still, we might want it a bit higher; that's your decision.

So does it help...?





"Done," Finch says behind you.

"Here too," you say.

Finch says to the engineer's assistant, "Now what? Just pull the lever?"

"Pull the lever," the assistant confirms. "It'll re-engage the propeller's clutch, and then soon as the regulator gets the boiler hot enough, the propeller will turn and the envelope'll got hot again."

Pull the lever! PULL THE LEVER!



Finch reaches out, and pulls the lever. The regulator makes a whirring sound, and lights embedded in its front flash briefly. The clockwork pieces around it creak into motion. You hear a hiss as though the mechanical contraption that dispenses the coal is about to open…but no clatter of falling coal follows, and the hiss dies into silence.

Finch reaches to try the lever again, but before he can touch it, the clockwork whirrs a second time…and for a second time, nothing happens.

You'd almost swear the ship is falling faster. The engineer's assistant whimpers.


Oh da- nuts. Nuts nuts nuts.


Vote 48:


#I speak steadily. "Let's talk through the diagram again and see if we can find the fault."

#I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."

#For a moment I can't speak at all.


Unfortunately, it's a false choice. Choose whatever you like , there's just no time left .

... Ready to go swimming? Oh. Right. Engine room. There's nothing to do but wait for the water to fill up and drown us all.

*takes a deep breath*



"If the clockwork doesn't engage in time, we're going to hit the water hard," Finch says, whirling into motion.
He looks all around, settles on a corner, and hurries to clear it of debris. "We need to be shielded from the impact and from flying equipment. And then the instant we're no longer falling, we'll get out of the engine room and as high up as possible."


Good man, Finch. He's not one to give up no matter what the situation. Let's follow his lead!




The corner is small enough for a few people to crouch against the bulkhead and be protected by the dirigible's own structure from shocks or flying debris.

You and Finch wedge yourselves into it, backs braced on one wall and feet against the other, trusting the position will keep you secure against the jostling of the deck.

Out in the engine room, you hear the regulator whirr, the clockwork gears creak…and a slight sighing sound instead of the clatter of coal.

"Damn," Finch says.

You look up. He probably appears calm to everyone else, but you know him too well to be fooled. He tries to smile. "Well. We had a damn good try, didn't we?"

You close your eyes, trying not to visualize the water rushing to meet you.



Right, head tucked in , braced for crash...



And then, with a roar that half-deafens you, coal cascades into the boiler, and the deck jerks under your feet as the propeller engages.

The ship will take time to regain altitude–the air that fills the envelope cannot be re-heated all at once–but meanwhile the propeller is once more driving Colossus to shore and safety. The engineer's assistant gives a choked, disbelieving cheer, and Finch's hand tightens exultantly on your arm before he leans back, limp.



Oh, praise be , we're alive! We're still alive!

Achievement: Mid-air Repair
Repaired the sabotaged dirigible.


*Wipes brow*

Music cue (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHQrcyerVQQ#t=8m7s)



In the end, the casualties prove to be mercifully light. Many people are hurt, some of them severely, but only three people die. (All three, depressingly, of injuries received during the
panic on the boat deck rather than injuries caused by the sabotage itself.)


:(. Still, three people is better than the entire ship.



The Colossus affair causes significant embarrassment to the dirigible's manufacturers and to Her Imperial Majesty's government. Before the week is out, you are fairly certain every man, woman, and child in the Empire has heard about the lack of lifeboats, the lack of officer training, the general incompetence with which the evacuation was handled, and the fact that a saboteur walked right through the ship's shameful excuse for security and into the engine room. The political cartoons in The Times are numerous and biting. Woodward stalks about looking dyspeptic with fury.


Much like the Titanic incident, which had almost the same situation. thankfully, our outcome is better.

Wait a minute ... Colossus ... Titanic ... hmm, is the author trying to tell us something?

Meanwhile, Woodword is furious.



"Look familiar?" he asks you abruptly one day about a week after the incident, dropping a sketch on the desk in front of you.

Her face is younger and her thick black hair dressed in elaborate feminine elegance rather than being severely pulled back, but the insolent grin is immediately recognizable. "Yes," you say, and Finch, looking over your shoulder, confirms it. "That's the saboteur. You know who she is?"

"We do now." Woodward drops a thick file folder on the desk beside the sketch. "And the police have known for some time. Alexandra Townsend, actress. Not her real name, by the way; she was born Mildred Broom; but I can see how she might have thought such an appellation would limit her options. Worked as a singer, dancer, and male impersonator at what appears to be every third-rate theater in the East End…up until about five years ago, when she put her theatrical and acrobatic skills to use in a series of quite innovative and lucrative burglaries. That's what this is all from–" Woodward taps the folder. "–but she was never actually arrested; they couldn't find her. Eighteen months ago, the burglaries stopped, and she dropped out of sight altogether."

"And now she's sabotaging dirigibles?" Finch shakes his head. "So what's to be done?"

"By you? Nothing until we find her, and I have others working on that. There's nothing either of you can do for me right now, so go home and get some sleep. While you can, before the pace picks up again."



Right. Sleepy time.



That night, you dream of rising water. Before you can decide it is a nightmare, the image morphs into one you find more pleasant.




Vote 49:

A#Grace Chandler, steadily loading lifeboats, her left hand clutching nervously at her skirt but her face completely calm.

B#Alexandra Townsend, backflipping over the rail, then looking back to wave goodbye. I can't help admiring that sort of fearlessness even in an enemy–and what did she mean by "Free Mercia"?

C#Finch, cool as well-water even in desperate circumstances, working hard to save the lives of everyone aboard, meeting my eyes with a momentarily vulnerable expression on his face.



Okay, let's talk about votes here.

if you select option B , you will be thrown back to choose from the first two again, or to simply exit this set of votes. You can't court a known criminal currently in hiding if you want to .. not yet, at any rate.


Vote 49B:
So if you select option B , give me a followup vote indicating whether you wish to pursue one of the other choices, or just go on.


If you select option A, you will have the following choices:


You lie in bed watching the square of window lighten from black to gray, thinking about her. Mrs.
Larrimer said she hoped you would meet a young lady on the dirigible, and so you did.

It would be easy enough to find out where Miss Chandler lives, and well within the boundaries of respectable behavior to call upon her. Do you wish to do so?

Vote 49A:
#Yes.
#No.




Yes will take us into a short interlude wherein we call upon her, which I can pick up in the next part. "No" ends the sequence.

Now for the last one, 49C:


He is your dearest friend, your brother in arms, the man who has your back…and for the first time, you examine the idea that he might have become something more.

Vote 49C:

C.1#I never expected to entertain such feelings, but…yes, I think somewhere along the line I fell in love with Garret Finch.

C.2#No, of course not. Not every relationship has to be based on sexual desire, you know.



Vote 49C.1 has one additional follow up question:


And now that you realize it, are you going to do anything about it?

Vote 49C.1:

#No, I have no reason to believe he is romantically interested in me.

#No, our working relationship is too important. I have never known Finch to mix carnal pleasure and love, and introducing the idea could be the ruin of our friendship.

#…but by the time the sun is fully up, the notion has retreated back to the dreamworld where it belongs.

#Yes. Our lives are so dangerous that it seems criminal to waste any time in unfulfilled longing.



If you choose the "yes" vote. There are a bunch of followup options , but they all collapse into one path. I'll take you through all of them in the next section if that is what you choose.

So here are your options: Court Grace, Court Finch, Be interested in Alexandra, Be interested in Alexandra AND court Grace or Finch, or continue being single.

Due to the brevity of this work, if you want Watson to be in a romantic relationship, now's the time.

Get your votes in and we'll see what happens on Monday, 1 Aug 2016, 5:30 PM.

And congrats on saving the airship!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-07-30, 02:49 PM
>#For a moment I can't speak at all.

Let's allow Watson another human moment of weakness, (especiay if that isn'tgoing to change anything.)

>B then whatever
Sorta reilnquish vote on the 49.
Even if I am curious in Alexandra Townsend, even if just to see if her character has more depth than what we saw in a brief encounter (also i feel a strabge feeking, like a tingle in my heart, a strange ..amorous ... languishing feeling ...for those rocket boots :smalltongue: Rocket boots cat burglar, way better than some proper borring governess, I say !), or want to know more about Finch, it'd make no sense for Watson to, think fo her that way given how smiten he has been with Miss chandler so far, so I expect other people will take A on 49 then Yes on 49A

(And yeesh Woodword can be mad at us all he want but for cryin out loud, we saved the damn dirigeable, while falling mid flight. And only three people in such a panic is very low. All thing's considered, we pretty much pulled a damn miracle out of our a..rears here.)

norman250
2016-08-01, 12:46 PM
48: #I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."
We already know this is what Finch wants, let's impress him.


Vote 49B#Alexandra Townsend, backflipping over the rail, then looking back to wave goodbye. I can't help admiring that sort of fearlessness even in an enemy–and what did she mean by "Free Mercia"?

followed by: 49A#Grace Chandler, steadily loading lifeboats, her left hand clutching nervously at her skirt but her face completely calm.

followed by: Vote 49A: #Yes.

Picking Townsend because we're currently playing an unconventional/compassionate Watson, and keeping Townsend open will go well if we decide to pursue her ending's path later.
Chose Grace because, while I really enjoy the though of a self-professed heterosexual Watson realizing he's in love with his closest male friend, I ultimately don't super care about our romantic option. I know smuchmuch doesn't either, but Black Socks expressed an interest in pursuing Chandler, so I'll do him a solid.

Black Socks
2016-08-01, 02:21 PM
48: #I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."

49B)Alexandra Townsend, backflipping over the rail, then looking back to wave goodbye. I can't help admiring that sort of fearlessness even in an enemy–and what did she mean by "Free Mercia"?

followed by: 49A)Grace Chandler, steadily loading lifeboats, her left hand clutching nervously at her skirt but her face completely calm.

followed by: 49A)Yes.
Let's romance Grace, but keep our Alexandra option open. Also, thanks norman!

pendell
2016-08-01, 08:31 PM
Okay, the votes are :

48: #I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."

49B)Alexandra Townsend, backflipping over the rail, then looking back to wave goodbye. I can't help admiring that sort of fearlessness even in an enemy–and what did she mean by "Free Mercia"?

followed by: 49A)Grace Chandler, steadily loading lifeboats, her left hand clutching nervously at her skirt but her face completely calm.

followed by: 49A)Yes.


All right, let's play those through.




I shift gears fast. "We're about to hit the water hard. We need to construct a shelter."

"Yes, at once," Finch says. He looks all around, settles on a corner, and hurries to clear it of debris. "We need to be shielded from the impact and from flying equipment. And then the instant we're no longer falling, we'll get out of the engine room and as high up as possible."


Very good. The propeller catches at the last minute and we waft back into the sky. Woodward debriefs us and we dream ...

first, of Miss Townsend.




She is intriguing, no doubt about it. Do you want to find out more about her?

Yes I do.



BACKSTORY INCOMING! WARNING!



You are able to persuade Woodward to give you a look at the file, from which you glean more sordid details about the theaters she worked in, as well as some truly impressive stories of the stunts she pulled when stealing jewels. You do not, however, find any mention of anything like "Free Mercia." Woodward, tight-lipped, says he is still gathering information on that point as well, and would you kindly go about your day job?

You find it difficult to get Alexandra Townsend out of your mind. But on the other hand… There are daydreams and there is reality, and an actress from the East End who sabotages dirigibles can have no part in any reality of yours.

Reality looks more like Grace Chandler, who is an altogether admirable woman. It would be easy enough to find her, and well within the boundaries of respectable behavior to call upon her. Do you wish to do so?



Conventional: 34 Unconventional: 66

Liking Miss Townsend is unconventional, but liking Grace is conventional. Since we're so far to the unconventional end, the conventional choice weighs more heavily.




She is delighted to see you, her face lighting up in a smile that is surely no
conventional social nicety. The two of you have tea on her next half-day out, and it is a genuinely pleasant afternoon. You talk about your military adventures, her childhood following the flag during her father's service, her work as a governess, the non-gruesome bits of your work as a police surgeon. She turns out to be unusually well-read in history, though less familiar than you are yourself with current foreign affairs, which makes for especially interesting conversational fodder.

At the end of the afternoon, you escort her back to her employer's house.


Um.. fudge..



Do you ask if you may call upon her again?


This was supposed to be a vote, but I accidentally hit the button and answered "yes". If you want, I'll have to redo the entire game up to this point, which is why I kept a log of our decisions. Otherwise , the decision stands and we are officially in a relationship with Grace Chandler.




"Of course you may." She fiddles with one glove, eyes cast down and cheeks rather pink, but you think she is pleased. "I, um…" She darts a look up, definitely smiling now. "I shall look forward to it, Captain."



And that moves us on to...



Chapter 3: The Adventure of the Steelwork Saboteur



A new chapter, a new adventure! What awaits?



A low boom breaks the city's sleeping silence, and you jerk awake, heart pounding.

That could not possibly have been cannon-fire, because cannon-fire is not something one experiences in Kingsford, no matter how precisely the noise matches your memory of distant artillery. You listen hard, but no second boom follows; nor is there shouting and screaming in the streets outside. The city still seems to be sleeping.

The scratched pocket watch on your bedside table shows the time to be thirty-five minutes past two.



Early morning, then. What was that horrid noise?



The flat is silent. Finch is away, sent by his editor on a tour of small country villages to the north, there to take photographs to accompany a series of travel articles.

You had an entirely ordinary day. Worked your usual shift. Came home to your usual meal. Spent the evening with Grace Chandler, in the small parlor her employer kindly allows her to use when you come to call. A typical day in Kingsford. And cannon-fire is not something one hears in Kingsford.

But that really sounded like cannon-fire.




Vote 50:

You get up and dress, intending to…

#…go to Woodward's office. If something's afoot, he'll know what.
#…go to police headquarters. I might be needed in a professional capacity.
#…investigate for myself what has occurred.



Unfortunately, whatever you intend to do, something else will happen instead.




You are still knotting your tie when a messenger comes pounding at Mrs. Larrimer's door. A gas main blew in a factory on the river, he says, and Mr. Woodward wishes to see you at once.


A 'gas main blew'? Really? Then why is the head of MI5 or the equivalent calling us to his room? Eh?



Woodward's building is dark and silent, but Woodward and Miss Lawrence are both as neat and alert as if it were nine o'clock in the morning instead of five. Woodward indicates you should help yourself to tea.

"You're familiar with Merrill Steamworks?" he asks. It's a rhetorical question. Everyone is familiar with Merrill Steamworks. They make the mechs used to defend the borders of the Empire. "They have a new line of mechanical soldiers forthcoming. Built along the same lines as the Army model, but shrunken down to fit through city streets—they've finally managed to make the boiler efficient enough to require only a three-man team, pilot and two stokers. We field-tested the prototypes in Loegria, and the Kingsford police were to be outfitted with them later this year."

That's the first you've heard of such a plan.



Vote 51: You contemplate the image of police officers patrolling the streets inside miniaturized mechs.

#Wonderful! The constabulary deserves the best protection we can give them, and perhaps this will enable a meaningful patrol in the dangerous East End.

#Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.

#I find it a little troubling that I have heard nothing of this up until now. They field-tested the prototypes in Loegria? How, exactly? It sounds ominous.


After we react to this news, let us find out what is going on at the steam works.



"At least," Woodward amends with a grimace, "that was the plan. A few hours ago, saboteurs planted an explosive device in Merrill's secondary factory." He waits for your reaction.


Okay, we have a stack of conversations here that continually loop. Rather than voting on each one at a time, I'll simply take them in order.



"So it wasn't a gas main explosion."

Woodward lifts his eyes briefly to the ceiling, apparently finding your question insipid. "No."


Well, that was pointless. Continue!



"Secondary factory?"

"Merrill bought out his next-door neighbor, and intended the manufacture of the smaller mechanical soldiers to take place in this new second factory. His original factory was untouched; the smaller one was effectively destroyed."




Good to know. What else?



"Were there fatalities?"

"No–fortunately no one was in the building."



No one was in the building? Who do we know who is willing to commit acts of terror but is extremely loath to shed blood...?




"What clues do we have so far as to the culprits?"

"The type of device is similar to what the Loegrian bombers were using three years ago, before we shut down their operations. Other than that–" Woodward shrugs. "–one imagines the culprits to be those who do not want to see an increased police presence in the East End. Criminals, in other words."



So the only concrete clue is that it's similar to Loegrian bombers. We'll ignore his speculation for the moment, though it may be a possible motive. Still, Woodward is awfully conventional -- a bit too conventional, I think, to get inside the mind of a terrorist.



There is a tap at the door. "Mr. Woodward?" calls Miss Lawrence's voice.

"Yes?" Woodward says, and the opportunity to ask him anything else is gone. You suppose it is a useful lesson to always secure the most crucial pieces of information first. In this investigation, time will be of the essence, and it may not always be possible to be completely thorough.

Miss Lawrence comes in. "Excuse me, sir, but there is an urgent communication–" She waves an envelope.

"One moment." Woodward turns back to you. "Briefly, then, here's the rest of the situation. Two men were seen leaving the building at a run just as it exploded behind them. We caught one; he's unconscious in hospital. I need you to find the other. Your cover as a police surgeon will get you in the door–I've arranged for you to be assigned to the case. There's no crying need for a surgeon, I admit, but that can be glossed over. With any luck, they'll all be too busy to ask. Now–" Woodward pushes himself out of his chair. "–you to your work, I to mine."



Vote 52: Right. Where do you want to start?

#I look at the scene of the explosion.
#I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.
#I interview the men who reported seeing the saboteurs flee the scene.


Choose ONE of the options above. Each choice opens up a small mini-adventure as we investigate the bombing. In addition, the clues you find may open up other options as well. We will continually return to this list and choose investigative actions until time runs out or you are ready to report to Woodward. You have time for a total of FIVE actions.

We are on action #1.

Take careful note of all the clues you find; this is a tougher case than the one we just solved; so watch for the details and plan your moves carefully!

Godspeed, Watson! I shall see you all on Wednesday, 3 Aug, 2016, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-08-02, 12:08 PM
#…go to Woodward's office. If something's afoot, he'll know what.



#Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.

War is sometimes necessary, but this is a little too close to policing your nation with an army in lieu of civilian police force.

#I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.
Seems an appropriate response as any.

I do not contest the "Yes" to seeing Chandler again, its probably what we would have voted on anyway and it saves us some time, just as I appreciate you not making us vote on the line of questions that Woodward has.

Black Socks
2016-08-03, 07:05 AM
From a flying ship to a factory, and one mystery to another! Wonder what Lestrade Woodward will be doing....
Don't really have much time this morning, but I will not contest the 'yes' either, since I would have voted that way anyways.
50)…go to Woodward's office. If something's afoot, he'll know what.
51)Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.
:smalleek: Sounds like the beginnings of a police state to me.... but maybe I'm just paranoid.
52)I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.
Seems like a good place to start.


No one was in the building? Who do we know who is willing to commit acts of terror but is extremely loath to shed blood...
Wonder if she brought her rocket boots..... :smalltongue:

Mister Tom
2016-08-03, 11:25 AM
50. Go to the Police HQ.If Woodward wants me, he will surely let me know....
51 Wonderful news! I am not going to admit to any misgivings about police states to mr Woodward.
52. Interview the witnesses. if they've seen anything informative I want to talk to them while the incident's fresh in their minds. If not I can talk to the owner and ask him not to disturb the scene.

norman250
2016-08-03, 11:47 AM
I believe, if I'm reading correctly, that vote 51 is Watson's own internal reflection, not what he's saying out-loud to Woodward.

smuchmuch
2016-08-03, 05:03 PM
#…go to Woodward's office. If something's afoot, he'll know what.

# Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.

This is one of those choices where I feel Watson feelings would be somewhat divided betwen all three answers, I think.
There's no denying there are sabotages and tensions brewing in Mercia and I doubt Watson would like to see policemen doing their job injured but at the same time, he'd certainly be warry of seeing equipement of the war in the stret, too many bad memories and he knows what these things can do (also eing unconventional and compassionate he's probably nto fan or really armed police response) and while answer 3 is a little bit paranoid, his detective instincts probably keep him on edge a little.


Sounds like the beginnings of a police state to me.... but maybe I'm just paranoid.

(Pretty sure it was already sort of the case, but it's certainly not a good evolution when they start unpacking the heavy millitary equipement in the streets.)

#I interview the men who reported seeing the saboteurs flee the scene.
Better to interview witnesses while it's still fresh. Occular testimonies are pretty unreliable in any case, true, but the longer you wait, the more there's chance they might forget or deform details.
I'd also like to talk to Mr Merril but I figure he's not going anywhere, so the option to do so should still be present later (at least I hope).

(... Also, anyone feel like playing a detective game with steam and or diesel punk robots or is it jsut me ?)

pendell
2016-08-03, 06:13 PM
I believe, if I'm reading correctly, that vote 51 is Watson's own internal reflection, not what he's saying out-loud to Woodward.

Correct.




(... Also, anyone feel like playing a detective game with steam and or diesel punk robots or is it jsut me ?)


Does sound cool. Details in PM?



Sounds like the beginnings of a police state to me.... but maybe I'm just paranoid.


:smallwink:


ANYWAY, I'm going to include smuchmuch's vote out of grace even though it's technically a few minutes past the deadline -- it's still before I started prepping the post, so it's good with me. If anyone objects, however, the time deadline will henceforth be enforced stringently. Please let me know your thoughts.

Pushing on...

we're going to Woodward's office, we aren't entirely happy about mechs in the streets of Kingsford, and we're going to roll to see whether we question the witnesses or visit Mr. Merrill.

#I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill. - roll: 78
#Interview the witnesses - 80

So we'll interview the witnesses.


So ... let's play it through!

We are summoned by a messenger , travel to Woodwards' office, and react to the news that constables will be patrolling in walker mechs.



Using mechs on a battlefield is all well and good, but I dislike the idea of battlefield equipment marching through my city.


The response:



Wasn't the point of the battlefield to make these things unnecessary at home?


Quite. No stat change, apparently. It's a neutral response.

Once we've done that, we will press on to the investigation.

We interview the men who saw the saboteurs fleeing the scene.



Their names are Frank and David Brown–brothers, both middle-aged. Frank drives a hansom cab, and David is a seaman with a merchant marine ship. You locate them in Frank's cramped domicile, which houses Frank, his wife, his three children, and David whenever David's ship is in port. David's ship came in to port late last night, and he and Frank went to the home of one of David's old chums for a drink. Their way back to Frank's home led them past Merrill's.

"We heard a boom," Frank says. "And so we stop and we look over, and then there's footsteps, and we see two men running lickety-split away from the factory. And then there was a flash of light and a big boom, and the whole street lit up–"

"–and one of the men, he just went flying," David says. "Lifted off his feet and thrown. He hit the ground and didn't move, and I saw the other one look back and hesitate, but then I think he saw me coming up to his friend, and he took off."

"Had you ever seen them before?" you ask.

"I couldn't swear to the one who ran," Frank says. "Too far away to see his face. The one who's in hospital–no, I don't think I ever have."




Vote 53: Now what?

#I look at the scene of the explosion.
# I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.
# I visit the hospital for a look at the first saboteur.



We are starting action 2. You have time for five actions.

Have your votes in and we will proceed on Friday, 5 Aug 2016, 5:30PM. Let's catch a saboteur!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-03, 07:02 PM
Well, that gave us a whole lot of nothing. Maybe the owner has more useful information?
53)I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.

And as for the deadline, I am in favor of votes past the deadline still getting in.

smuchmuch
2016-08-04, 05:43 AM
Well, that gave us a whole lot of nothing. Maybe the owner has more useful information?

We know one of them is in the hospiatl and we could go see them. I'd say it's hardly 'a whole lot of nothing', it's a pretty solid piece of info.

But yes, # let's talk with Mr Merril
then we'll go see our sleeping beauty.

norman250
2016-08-05, 10:42 AM
# I talk with the factory owner, Mr. Merrill.

EDIT: Oh, right, deadline stuff. It does not bother me at all. As long as YOU see it before your update and YOU'RE okay with tallying the votes for it, I don't care.

pendell
2016-08-05, 07:54 PM
Okay, we're going to see Mr. Merrill.



Despite the mess next door, Merrill's main factory has opened for business as usual, and you seek him out there.

The front office is empty except for a single clerk at a desk. Behind him are two doors, which he guards with the air of a cynical dragon. He greets you politely, asks your business, looks at your police credentials, and says he will take your card to Mr. Merrill. Waving you to a straight-backed chair opposite his desk, he vanishes through the left-hand door. You can hear his footsteps receding up a flight of stairs.

From behind the other door comes a babble of voices, and then the thump and creak of heavy machinery–so the right-hand door must lead into the factory proper.



Vote 54:


#I take the straight-backed chair and await Mr. Merrill's attention.
#I circle around the desk to examine the clerk's paperwork.
#I open the right-hand door to take a look at the factory.


There are a number of branches here, each of which will reveal different information. So we must stop here while we decide exactly what it is we want to find out, and how.

Votes in by Monday, 8 August, 2016, 5:30PM . Sorry for the short update, but that's the way it goes.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-07, 04:35 PM
54)I take the straight-backed chair and await Mr. Merrill's attention.
Don't really know what kind of information will be revealed here, so... might as well wait for Mr. Merrill.

norman250
2016-08-08, 09:17 AM
#I circle around the desk to examine the clerk's paperwork.

We're a spy, let's spy.

Mister Tom
2016-08-08, 02:02 PM
i look at the factory. . This seems a less risky course of action if challenged- I can explain my interest using my military past- and if there's no one near the door I also know it is safe to look at the papers, as the clerk's return will be audible.

pendell
2016-08-08, 08:07 PM
We have a three way tie:
- Wait for Mr. Merrill 23
- Circle round the desk 52
- visit the factory 4

So we're going to circle 'round the desk and see what we can learn from the paperwork. Good, I think. We should make every effort to collect as much information as possible.



The clerk has been working on ledgers of business expenses. You flip through them quickly. They note the wages of the workers–which are not terribly high, since Merrill employs more women and children than men–and the cost of raw materials, which represents a substantially higher percentage of the expenditures. The profits for each quarter seem healthy–or at least, they were until Merrill started funneling them all into the preparations for opening a new factory. This quarter's results will not be so pleasant.

Footsteps on the left-hand stairway warn you of the clerk's return. You nip back to the straight-backed chair, and are sitting there as calm and polite as you please when Mr. Merrill follows his clerk through the door.


Perception: 72
Conventional: 29 Unconventional: 71





Mr. Merrill is a solidly-built man, well-dressed, but his clothing has the rumpled appearance of having been hastily donned, and his eyes have the look of one routed out of his bed in the middle of the night. He looks from your card to you. "Dr. Watson? I think there must have been some mistake, sir. No one was injured in last night's…incident."



Vote 55:
# "Oh, I am sorry, there must have been a miscommunication at the station. Would you mind if we just went through the formalities anyhow?"

# "Actually, there were one or two points the Inspector wished me to clarify."

# "Shock alone can cause injury, sir, so I wanted to see that you were quite well. I served in the Army, you see; I owe you and your mechs quite a lot."


After you've decided how to answer him, let's move to the meat of the interview.


There are five questions. I'm going to allow you to ask all five in the interest of time.

First question: "Who do you think was behind this outrage, Mr. Merrill?"



Mr. Merrill supposes the culprit to be some criminal who does not want to see the police have proper protection in the East End. "Despite what the Inspector said, I do not think it could have been Vlaski agents," he adds. "They would have attacked the factory that makes mechs for the Army, surely? Why should they care what happens in the East End?"



Next question: "Can you think of anyone who might have wished you harm?"



"Not personally–I haven't seduced anyone's wife or stolen anyone's patent. But now you mention it…" Merrill's eyes narrow. "Someone ought to look into that nest of meddlesome healers three streets over."

"Pardon me?"

"There's a Temple of the Sun on Juniper Street. They have had the audacity to invade my place of business, wishing to discuss with me the 'conditions of my factory'! The conditions here are no worse than anywhere else–you'd think to hear them talk I used slave labor!–but they've singled me out for a campaign of harassment. Written letters about me to The Times and walked before the factory with signs and generally disturbed the peace."

"Recently?"

"Last year. I reported them to the police each time, and the nonsense finally stopped. But they might be at it again."




Third question: "Do you have any particular business rivals?"



"Not any longer. The government prefers my firm to Jones & Sedgewick because we use a higher grade of material–of course we do, I wouldn't shortchange the Army lads, not when my own brother died serving the Empire–but we have lower costs overall, so we can charge a bit less."



Ye-ess. You can charge lower costs because you don't pay the help anything; you hire women and childrend and you work them like dogs.

Oh, sorry for the commentary :smallamused:. We had a fourth question.

"Tell me how the new factory was to be organized, Mr. Merrill."



"Well, mostly as the old one was. We break the manufacture of the mechs–standard or miniature–into the smallest possible components. This removes the requirement for great physical strength–or intelligence, for that matter. All the worker must do is his or her tiny bit, over and over again."


Oh. Mass production. Assembly lines. Makes sense.


Final question: "You seem to employ an unusual number of women and children."




"The factory is organized to remove the need for great physical strength, and smaller hands can do more delicate work." And women are less costly than men to employ, and children the least costly of all. Mr. Merrill does not mention this part, but you saw the books; it has to be part of the calculation.



So that's all our questions.




A knock on the door cuts off the next question you were about to ask, and the clerk from the outer office enters. "I apologize for interrupting, sir, but the gentleman from the insurance agency—"

"Yes, of course, I will see him at once." Mr. Merrill rises, forcing you to do the same and effectively ending your interview. "I hope I have given you enough information to be getting on with, Doctor."




Vote 56: Now what?

# I look at the scene of the explosion.
# I visit the hospital for a look at the first saboteur.
# I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.
#I waylay one of Merrill's workers to find out more about the factory.
# I am ready to go report to Woodward.


We are starting action THREE. We have time for FIVE actions. We have two new options: To investigate the Sun Temple Mr. Merrill mentioned, or to report to Woodward. Reporting to Woodward ends the investigation and moves us on to the next phase.

Have your votes in by Wednesday, Aug 10, 2016, 5:30 PM The mystery is not yet solved, and the game is afoot!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-09, 06:59 AM
Ok, I should have listened to norman. I thought that snooping would have made us unable to talk to Mr. Merrill.

56)I look at the scene of the explosion.

Maybe we can find some clue- weapon, something the saboteurs dropped, etc.- with our newly raised perception skill.
Also, I like your comments! It reminds me of when I go to a movie and everyone hated me because I make little comments under my breath. I regret nothing. :smallamused::smalltongue:

smuchmuch
2016-08-09, 09:17 PM
# I visit the hospital for a look at the first saboteur.

# Visiting the sun temple

#I waylay one of Merrill's workers to find out more about the factory.

Are the two options that interest me here.

norman250
2016-08-10, 10:14 AM
#I waylay one of Merrill's workers to find out more about the factory.

Seems like the option to capitalize on while we're here. Maybe one of the workers saw something.

pendell
2016-08-10, 05:22 PM
I'm going to interpret smuchmuch as giving his preferences in order. Since he listed a worker but not the scene of the explosion, I'm going to interpret that as two votes (his and Norman's) to waylay a worker. Let us do it!



You waylay one of the women as she leaves the factory gates at shift change. She is willing enough to speak with you when you explain you are looking into the explosion, though she is so weary she sways on her feet. Her shoulders are stooped, her head thrust slightly forward. Her eyes are red-rimmed and water slightly as she blinks at you.



""What do you think happened?"



"The foreman said it was the gas boiler, but–" She leans forward confidentially. "–Dana did say she heard it was on purpose. Somebody put a device, like." Behind the woman, a child shuffles through the gate. He–you think it is a he–can surely be no more than ten. His eyes are as red-rimmed as the woman's, his hands as red and swollen, but even more disturbingly, his jaw is distended by huge lumps and hair clings to his skull only in patches. The skin of his face seems to glow green in the evening light.

It takes you only a moment to put those symptoms together. Phosphorus poisoning—or "phossy jaw," to use East End slang.

The woman glances back at him, then returns her attention to you, inquiringly.


Hmm, that child doesn't look in good shape at all. Next question.

"Can you think of anyone who wanted to destroy the factory or hurt Mr. Merrill?"



She looks uncomfortable. "Well, there were the sun-worshippers who were all up-in-arms about Old Merrill taking on children, last year. Enormous fuss they made, in the papers and everything, it was. Maybe them?


That's the second time the Sun Temple in the neighborhood has been mentioned.

Next question.

"What is it like to work here?"



She looks uncomfortable. "You sound like…like those healers, and the others. It's hard work. Hard on the eyes, mostly, and it makes your back hurt. But I'm grateful to have a job."


Next question.

"Where do the children come from, the ones who work here?"



"The work-house, of course, sir."

"So they are orphans?"

"Or left there by parents who can't care for them, yes sir. At least they've food to eat this way, right?"


Last question. Ooh! This is good -- it gives us one of our other investigation options for free!

"Will you come with me to the hospital? We think we caught one of the men who planted the device, and I wonder if you've ever seen him loitering about the factory."



She agrees.

The saboteur is still unconscious, but a wave of your police credentials gets you past his guards to take a look at him.

He is younger than you were assuming–not much over twenty, at a guess. Light brown hair. The hands of a scholar rather than a laborer: no callouses, ink under the nails. Nasty bruising and some broken ribs from the collision with the cobblestones, but the real trouble is the head injury. He might wake soon, or never.

His personal effects have been stowed in a cubbyhole nearby. No identifying information. No watch or jewelry or anything else of value. No letters. A set of lockpicks. A map of the factory interior.

So it's a good bet neither of the men were members of the construction crew, if they needed a map showing them where to go. The presence of the lockpicks may suggest that this member of the partnership was responsible for the burglary that got them inside, while the other was responsible for the device itself.


And what does our worker think about this?



The factory worker stares down at the saboteur, brows furrowed. "He is familiar," she says.

"Is he from the temple?"

"No…not one of them. I saw him more recently than that. He and another lad about the same age, they hung about the factory gate during the mornings. They talked great big words and tried to give us all pamphlets they had printed."

"Do you have the pamphlet?"

"Maybe somewhere…"


She digs ...



She is able to find it in her boarding-house room, and is more than willing that you should take it. "I can't read it," she confesses.

The pamphlet earnestly promotes the benefits of trade unions for all laborers, despite the unequivocal laws that prohibit workers from so organizing. The author declares the threatened punishments for breaking this law to be insignificant in comparison to the possible benefits—and further points out that if all laborers across all industries truly stood together, it would be impossible for the law to be enforced. The machinery of the Empire would collapse without labor to run it.

Printed across the bottom in huge letters are the words, "FREE MERCIA."

You've heard that phrase before.





Vote 57: Now what?

You glance up, and are surprised to see the day so far advanced. You'll have time for only one or two more stops today.

# I look at the scene of the explosion.
# I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.
# I am ready to go report to Woodward.


We are starting action FOUR. We have a total of FIVE actions. There seem to have been a fair number of clues in this update. Note that the last option ends our investigation and proceeds to the next phase of the operation.

Have your vote in by Friday, 12 Aug 2016, 5:30PM. The game is afoot!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-08-11, 01:08 PM
So wait, did we get to do two actions for the price of one ?
Awesome

Well I think we had all a gut feelng our favorite robber/rebel or at least whatever group she's part off anyway was involved but we recieved confirmation in case we had doubts.
We can also pretty mch eliminate an inside job (since they needed to brek in)
I think we're starting to a pattern to these saboteur, a small movement of inteletuals (likely ome genuine university students in it, ho wanna bet) and idealists, likely unafiliated, no military training, likely a small crew, likely a single cell who work in solos or small teams, good technology (rocket boots, bombs, knew about the coal regulator), sabotage and propaganda. Motives are, once again, political. (they remind me of a a nicer (as far as we know), more naive and definitively less murderous red brigades or early 20th centry anarchist (once agains much less violent and murderous))

While going at the scene of the explosion would have been a logical thing to do at the start of the investigation (I voted against it because I don't think we're a good enogh explosive expert to learn much, but I do admit it was a logical action), the only information it might learn us now would be:
-What kind of engine was used (unlikely and a somewhat moot point)
-Why they targeted this spot

It's pretty clear that those who did it are not sun worshiper but the temple people may have been acomplices or gave support. The saboteurs had to run somewhere after the fact, and the temple had a motive against the factory to want to shelter them

# I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.

If it gives nothing of substance, we still can investigate the explosion scene with our last action before reporting to Woodward

pendell
2016-08-11, 02:24 PM
(they remind me of a a nicer (as far as we know), more naive and definitively less murderous red brigades or early 20th centry anarchist (once agains much less violent and murderous))


Definitely naive. Notice they were handing out tracts to people who can't read :smallamused:.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-11, 05:15 PM
57)I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.
:smallconfused: What happened to the choice of visiting the guy in the hospital? Did he get taken to the police station or something?

Also, I thought this would be a good time to review all the connections we've made so far:
PC= Watson
Finch= Sherlock Holmes
Woodward= Lestrade
Colossus= Titanic
Loegria= Ireland
Mercia= England
Sun-Worshippers= Tsarist Russians

smuchmuch
2016-08-11, 07:03 PM
What happened to the choice of visiting the guy in the hospital? Did he get taken to the police station or something?

Someone hasn't read the update before posting :smalltongue:

(While talking to the factory worker, (probably because we asked the witness and knew there was one of the saboteur in the hospital, told you it'd be usefull) one of the question we could ask her was to acompagny us to the hospital so she could identify him. (that what Pendel mean by we getting an action for free).

And the guy is still out of it from his injury so we couldn't talk to him. An examination show him to be probably a schlar and he had lockpicks on him. We learned from the fctory workr he was handling pamphlet sayinf "free Mrcia' to the worker earlier

Black Socks
2016-08-11, 07:08 PM
Oops. :smallredface:

norman250
2016-08-12, 01:53 PM
57)I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.
:smallconfused: What happened to the choice of visiting the guy in the hospital? Did he get taken to the police station or something?

Also, I thought this would be a good time to review all the connections we've made so far:
PC= Watson
Finch= Sherlock Holmes
Woodward= Lestrade
Colossus= Titanic
Loegria= Ireland
Mercia= England
Sun-Worshippers= Tsarist Russians
It's more like the Vlask are Tsarist Russians, not Sun-Worshippers in general.



57)I investigate the Sun Temple three streets away.

Might as well cross it off the list, even though I think it's pretty clear that they aren't the culprits, but I bet Woodward would want us to check it out.

Mister Tom
2016-08-12, 02:36 PM
Investigate the scene of the explosion. . We can always tell the boss to investigate the temple; it's not.going anywhere.

Of more interest is whether we want to!

pendell
2016-08-12, 05:29 PM
All right, so we investigate the Sun Temple.



A potentially dangerous thing to do, if it is indeed a nest of light-eaters or at least a nest of saboteurs. Even more dangerous if the sun-worshippers have a way of seeing your…hidden talent. But it must be done.



Vote 57: How do you intend to launch your investigation?

* I convince the Inspector in charge of the Merrill investigation that there is reason to suspect the people at the temple, then tag along when his team kicks their door down.

* I go by myself, quietly and politely. I have no reason to believe that I am actually entering a light-eater nest, just a Temple of the Sun.

* I wish I could just go myself, but I don't dare let my superiors suspect I have any sun-worship sympathies. I convince the Inspector to break down the door, instead.


So the question here is whether we're going to just stroll in and ask, or if we're going to bring the Heavy Mob and do the equivalent of a drug raid. Men with weapons, possibly dogs being shot, all the rest of it.

It really comes down to what you're expecting to find there. If they really are harmless people , you're going to get a lot more information and you also won't ruin the lives of harmless people. Remember that the only thing we know for a fact that they've done is protest the working conditions.

On the other hand, if it's a light-eater nest you could be risking your life alone.

The first and third options do the same thing but they have different impacts on your stats.

I have to stop here because which method you choose is going to have a significant impact on the outcome of events.

So ... I'll see you on Monday, 15 Aug, 2016, 5:30 PM Eastern, and we will continue our investigation.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-12, 06:47 PM
Ok, I think that actual light-eaters wouldn't hang out in a sun temple, just as actual spies wouldn't have their meeting in the foreign embassy.

57)I go by myself, quietly and politely. I have no reason to believe that I am actually entering a light-eater nest, just a Temple of the Sun.

smuchmuch
2016-08-12, 09:20 PM
I agree

* I go by myself, quietly and politely. I have no reason to believe that I am actually entering a light-eater nest, just a Temple of the Sun.

We're pretty charismatic and stealthy and there's no reason to suspect light eaters involvement in this sabotage anyway. (un worshipers might have helped, maybe, and even that is usure)


just as actual spies wouldn't have their meeting in the foreign embassy

(uh pretty sure spying in ambassadies personal is still pretty darn common (just because it's an obvious place for a spy to be doesn't mean it's not a good one. there's still pretty important info being exchanged in those places.) so i'm not sure jut how good the analogy might be. Just sayin')

norman250
2016-08-15, 11:40 AM
* I go by myself, quietly and politely. I have no reason to believe that I am actually entering a light-eater nest, just a Temple of the Sun.

Like I said, evidence points to Free Mercia, not Sun-Worshippers, we're just here to dot the is and cross the ts, no need to escalate things.

Mister Tom
2016-08-15, 02:29 PM
Agree about the method of entry with everyone else.

Not 100% convinced by the evidence of Mercian involvement though. Why would you give out a pamphlet to someone who can't read? The sabotage of the factory would have been planned- the saboteur would have likely been handing them out as a cover for reconnaissance. A foreign intelligence agency might well lay this sort of false trail. We must be on our guard...

smuchmuch
2016-08-15, 03:56 PM
Not 100% convinced by the evidence of Mercian involvement though. Why would you give out a pamphlet to someone who can't read? The sabotage of the factory would have been planned- the saboteur would have likely been handing them out as a cover for reconnaissance.

Which in itself would lead me to put the idea of a trained saboteur aside. Don't you think trained spies/ saboteurs would have came up with a less conspicuous cover for scouting the factory or at least one were people wouldn't remember their face so well ?

Besides the very same saboteur is currently lying in the hospital, still alive (meaning he might be susceptible to be interogatted if he ever wakes up), yet imobilised and hurt from the exposion of his very own bomb

I'm gonna say this reeks of amateurism.

Similar to say, thinking you can sink a giant zepllin full of people and there wont be a single victim.
(As for hangling pamphlet to illiterate .. it's something I actualy find depressingly beleivable, particulary from someone sheltered tryng to do something in a social milieu they know nothing about)

(Now is a fair possibility that a small group of political activist could be supported or manipulated by a foreign agency, but that's something more down the line)

pendell
2016-08-15, 06:17 PM
All right, to the sun temple we go! Quietly and alone.



You walk to the temple.

Three hundred years ago it would have stood alone, gleaming white stone rising out of green and golden fields. The Sun Temples once owned a huge percentage of the land of Mercia. In the Vlaski Empire, they still do today.

But the Mercian government confiscated the land when it broke the power of the Sun Temples, and in the past three hundred years, the city of Kingsford has crept farther and farther east. Now the temple is penned in on all sides by the factories that make the Empire run and the tenements of the people who work in them.



Vote 58:

# For a moment, the dingy white tower looks like a flower choked by brown weeds.

# It was probably a prettier scene in times past, but that is a small price to pay. By breaking the power of the Temples, the government freed the serfs to choose their own destinies.

# I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them.



After you've had that reaction, let's proceed.



A slit in the door slides open, and a man with flaming red hair and a truculent expression looks out at you. You identify yourself as belonging to the police, and explain you need to see the man in charge of the temple. The guard's lips press together, but he lets you in.

It is like stepping three centuries back in time.

The only light comes from torches guttering in wall sconces. The walls and floor are stone. The narrow hallway traps you as effectively as any moat-bridge. The guard calls through the inner doorway, and a boy of perhaps ten runs off with the message, exactly like a medieval castle page.

Well, to be fair, like a modern page-boy as well. But modern page-boys have other options when they are grown, and this child is being groomed for a life within the temple, as once pages were groomed for knighthood. You remember hearing about a bill currently before Parliament that would prohibit the sun-worshippers from running orphanages and thus from indoctrinating the children they take in.

The child returns to lead you down one of the four long corridors that surround the inner quadrangle. Very like a page of the old days bringing a humble petitioner before the lord of the castle…



Vote 59:

#…which I find most irritating. Once the Temple healers lived as grandly as the lords of the land, but those days are long gone.

#…which is probably due to the archaic and inconvenient layout of the temple. Old-fashioned architecture begets old-fashioned customs.

#…and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.



Reaction done, we meet the priest.




The walls and floor are stone, of course, but the papers and ledgers piled on the desk are mundane enough. The man sitting behind them is balding, tired-looking, and well into middle age, dressed in everyday clothing such as a shopkeeper might wear but with an obvious sun medallion around his neck. His hands are smudged with ink, and he must have been rubbing his forehead, because there is also a smudge just above his left eye.

He rises as you enter, dismissing the page with a smiled thanks, then turning the smile to you. "Police Surgeon Watson?" he inquires in a faintly Loegrian-accented baritone. "Christopher Taggart." He does not offer his hand, perhaps thinking you would not wish to take it, but only gestures you to the room's other straight-backed chair. It creaks as you sit. "What may I do for you?"



Vote 60:

#I speak in a simple and friendly manner. This man is no doubt harrassed by law officials on an everyday basis; I would like him to know he has at least one friend.

#I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey.

#I speak in a cool, professional manner. No need to be too cozy before I have a better sense of the terrain.

#I speak in a distant, antagonistic manner. They are probably only sun-worshippers rather than light-eaters, but I don't want to betray any weakness or too much familiarity, just in case.





He meets your eyes. "Dr. Watson, I give you my word–for what it may be worth to you–that none of my people had anything to do with this morning's sabotage. It is true that we have been involved many times in protests against unjust laws and unsafe working conditions. It is true that we recently attempted to educate the public as to precisely what goes on in Merrill Steelworks; those who have never seen a child die of phosphorus poisoning ought to be educated on the subject. But our protests and campaigns have always been peaceful."

"You do not preach violence to your people?"

"I do not permit violence to be done by my people," Taggart says, unexpected steel in his voice. More mildly, he continues, "And I would be more than happy to prove that to you. Suppose I take you on a tour of the temple, Doctor, and then you may search with more attention any part of it you wish? We have nothing to hide, and you will see we have no tools for violent acts. With any luck, you will so inform your superiors, and they will not consider it necessary to break down my door this time. Repairs are costly."


Seems they've had trouble with the police before. Very well, so it's time for a tour.

Here's what we're going to do: I'm going to explore every option that doesn't change stats. If an option DOES change stats, we'll vote on it. Mostly. Some we'll just go through.

So, step one:

"I want to know more about those herbs."



"Ah." Taggart smiles a little. "Trick of the trade." He raises one hand–careful to keep it well away from you–and wiggles the fingers. "Healing is beneficial to plants as well as people."



We have a vote to know more or not, and "knowing more" doesn't change our stats, so we'll push on with that.



"The same light of the Sun," he begins, in a tone that makes you think these are words he says often, perhaps when teaching children, "is found in every living creature. It is the spark that makes life possible–without it, there is no life, even if the heart beats and the blood pumps a while longer. Some people have been blessed with the ability to give of their own light to others." He pauses, perhaps waiting for your reaction.




Vote 61: Do you have anything to say?

#"My grandmother was one such."
#"I know this part."
#"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."




Afterwards Taggart continues:



"When light is given to a human or animal, it increases their physical health. It enables the recipient's body to heal rapidly of wounds inflicted upon it–"

In your mind's eye, you see the flesh beneath your fingers knitting together–

"–
and to fight off disease. Plants are much simpler creatures, so light given to plants merely makes them grow."


I'm going to follow up with an additional question because , again, it changes no stats.

"Those 'blessed' people you mention also take the light of others, do they not?"



Taggart replies evenly, "Yes, we who have this talent can take as well as give." He regards you for a moment. "I venture to guess you were on the Vlaski front, Doctor? Let me say first thank you for your service; and second, that I am sure you have seen horrible things, things that would engender a very natural mistrust of anyone who could possibly be a light-eater. I can understand that. All I can ask is that you judge me by the work of my hands, instead of what is done by the hands of others.

"We who are able to give light weaken ourselves when we do it–that which goes to sustain another no longer sustains us. But it is possible for us to take in portions of light from others, and husband it against the next moment of need. So there are ceremonies in which the fideles–the members of the community that worships at the temple—allow their healer to take from them a bit of their light. In this way, the entire community participates in the healing of its sick and injured.

"So, yes, I personally can and do take the light of others. When they consent, only. Those pictures you have doubtless seen, of the Vlaski court? of 'healers' battening on the lives of kneeling serfs, corpulent with stolen light they never see fit to return through healing? That is repulsive. It is blasphemous. And the way the ritual is twisted into torture in the prison camps is worse." Taggart pauses for breath.

Then he rubs a hand over his forehead, leaving another ink smudge. He smiles a little. "Forgive me, Doctor, I got rather heated. It's a sensitive subject. Perhaps I can show you something else of the way we live here?"



"I ask Taggart if his temple eschews modern technology on principle, or is only unable to afford it."



"We eschew anything that replaces the work of our hands. Hands are important, theologically." Taggart lifts his own in illustration. "As you might imagine."

For a moment you can see the handprint on Pierce's skin
–flesh knitting back together under your own hands


"For everyone of the faith, not just for the healers. We have a saying–worship is done with one's hands. The hands that till the field, that care for the child, that tend the sick, that protect the helpless, serve the Sun with their actions. The hands that take what is not theirs, or do violence against another for any reason but to stop violence being done, are poor servants. These modern conveniences you mention would separate my hands from their rightful work, were I to use them."




Vote 62: How do you respond?


#I don't. The topic doesn't interest me, so I change the subject.

#"You can't till fields in the center of Kingsford."

#"But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?"



Next question:

"The newspapers and books on government have a somewhat sinister appearance. I want to know more about those."



"Old-fashioned appearances to the contrary," Taggart says, indicating the stone walls and the guttering torches, "my order lives in this world, not in the ideal world we wish we had. We need to understand not only the ideals of our faith–" He taps a ancient-looking cloth-bound tome. "–but also the way it is to be practiced here, now, within modern life." He nods to the newspapers. "When we understand what is needed, we can then determine what we must do." He takes a breath, and turns to meet your eyes, unflinching. "And our world, here and now, includes laws and practices actively harmful to the subjects of the Empire. Therefore, one part of the work undertaken by my temple is the attempt to change those laws and those practices."



Vote 63:
Is that a partial admission of guilt?

#No, I don't think it is. The words sound sincere to me.

#I think it is. I look at Taggart and wait.

#I'm not sure. I need more information. "Through what methods?" I ask.

#Of course it is. I pounce. "So that's your justification for planting the bomb."



Next question:

"I'd like to observe the schoolroom, to see what lessons they are teaching these children. (And whether the poor things show any signs of having been drained by a light-eater.)"



You stand with Taggart in the back of the room while the schoolmistress, eyeing you occasionally, goes on with the lesson.

The children range from quite little to mostly-grown. They look healthy enough. Certainly they display no sign of having been drained by a light-eater: no pallor or lethargy, no fingerprint marks marring their skin.




Vote 64: Have you seen enough, or do you want to settle in for a longer observation session?

#I've seen what I came to see.

#I'm interested in more than the physical health of the children.



The second option will expand a bit more and we will observe more closely.

And then we move on to the next question:

"I want to know how in the world Taggart is managing to feed and clothe all these people."




"At one time, all temples were self-sufficient," Taggart replies, "growing their own food, making their own tools and candles, weaving their own cloth, and so forth. Obviously, the model no longer works–not in the modern era in the middle of a city. We are mandated to live in this world as it is now, not in the ideal world we wish we had, and so we have changed with the times. Each member of this temple still has a vital role to play in keeping the community alive–but now many of those who live here work elsewhere during the day, for the coin we need to keep the wheels turning. What else would you like to know, Doctor?"



Now that we've done all that, let's look at our last options. These options change stats , so we have to decide whether to pursue them or not:



Vote 65: (Vote for as many as you wish, including zero).

#I am sure incriminating materials would not be present anywhere Taggart willingly takes me. I insist on examining every closet, back room, and loose floorboard we come across.

#I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.


Decide whether you want to do that, choose your reactions above, and we'll continue our temple visit on Wednesday, August 17, 5:30 PM Eastern.

There's a lot to take in here, and gives us a lot of exposition, but I'm not sure how much of it has anything to do with the case ... not unless we pursue those last two options.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-08-16, 08:52 AM
# I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them.

#…and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.


(I feel a very subbtle message behind those options :smalltongue:)

#I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey.

N need being too confrontational of the bat.

#"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."

#"But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?"

Let's be a little argumentative for the sake of seeng how he reacts to having his beliefs proded.

#I think it is. I look at Taggart and wait.

the words are sincere but they are vague enough they could be an amission of guilt or not.

#I'm interested in more than the physical health of the children.

(That's pretty much me indulging in my curiosity reguardless of the case or stats here)

#I am sure incriminating materials would not be present anywhere Taggart willingly takes me. I insist on examining every closet, back room, and loose floorboard we come across.

#I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.

(Same.
I am curious how hell react to these)

norman250
2016-08-17, 02:11 PM
# I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them.

#…and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.


#I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey.


#"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."


#"But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?"

#I'm not sure. I need more information. "Through what methods?" I ask.

#I'm interested in more than the physical health of the children.


#I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.


I think these options play a good balance between our unconventional beliefs and our duty to Mercia to get thorough information. I think the "floor board" option treads a little too far into the aggressive police behavior we're attempting to avoid.

Black Socks
2016-08-17, 06:15 PM
58)For a moment, the dingy white tower looks like a flower choked by brown weeds.

59)…and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.

60)I speak in a simple and friendly manner. This man is no doubt harrassed by law officials on an everyday basis; I would like him to know he has at least one friend.

61)"My grandmother was one such."

62)"You can't till fields in the center of Kingsford."

63)I'm not sure. I need more information. "Through what methods?" I ask.

64)I've seen what I came to see.

65)I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.

I sympathize with these sun-worshippers, so I'm choosing the options that reflect such an attitude.

pendell
2016-08-17, 06:58 PM
59) I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them.

60) …and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room.

61) I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey.

62) #"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."

63) "But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?"

64) I'm not sure. I need more information. "Through what methods?" I ask.

65) I'm interested in more than the physical health of the children.

66) I want to see their inner temple, the place where they perform their rituals.


So we shan't be prying into closets or loose floorboards. So be it! Let's roll through this.


"I look from the temple that once caged the serfs to the factories that cage their workers now. I'm not sure there's a halfpenny worth of difference between them."



Shaking off the thought, you mount the steps and pull the bell.


Conventional: 19 Unconventional: 81


"…and very like my landlady's pageboy conducting visitors up the stairs to my sitting-room."


Conventional: 17 Unconventional: 83


" I speak in a simple and friendly manner. I may not exactly be a friend, but I am open to the possibility (or I would not have come alone), and in the meantime, one catches more flies with honey."



"I come upon a somewhat delicate errand, Mr. Taggart. You are aware of the explosion that took place at Merrill Steelworks in the small hours of this morning?"

"I am."

"Are you also aware that it was due to a deliberately planted device, rather than accident or gas main fault?"

The smile has faded completely from Taggart's face, but he continues to meet your eyes steadily. "Rumor to that effect has reached my door, yes."

"It is only a matter of time before the police note your proximity to the factory and speculate as to your involvement."

"I have been expecting them since first light. To be honest, I am somewhat surprised they sent only one police surgeon." He meets your eyes. "Dr. Watson, I give you my word–for what it may be worth to you–that none of my people had anything to do with this morning's sabotage.


Charisma: 90 .

Afterwards, we begin our discussion of the herbs. He explains quite a bit about healing, and comments on the "blessing" of the light.

We respond:

"It's not a blessing. It's been scientifically proven to be a hereditary trait–like height, or hair color, or susceptibility to some diseases. It runs in bloodlines."



Taggart inclines his head. "A hereditary trait, a blessing, or both at once," he says in a voice of agreement. "When light is given to a human or animal, it increases their physical health. It enables the recipient's body to heal rapidly of wounds inflicted upon it –"

In your mind's eye, you see the flesh beneath your fingers knitting together–

"– and to fight off disease. Plants are much simpler creatures, so light given to plants merely makes them grow."



We learn also that they must take light in order to keep giving it out, since it is not inexhaustible. The Vlaskari pervert this -- their sun-touched form an immortal aristocracy, drinking in much of the serfs' light to lengthen their own, and they never give it back.

We ask about the temple, and he tells us of the importance of hands. We respond:

"But healers don't till their own fields or defend their own borders or bake their own bread. Their followers do those things for them. Aren't your hands taking what is not yours, then?""



"It is true," Taggart says evenly, "that there was a time when the faith drifted rather far from its central tenet. Before Mercia broke the power of the Sun Temples, there were far too many healers who sat with their hands folded, owning land they did not work, being served rather than living lives of service. It was just as well the Crown broke our temporal power. I am not proud of my ancestors in this matter." After a beat, he adds, "I do not think you can justly accuse my temple here and now of that particular sacrilege. What else can I show you of the work we do here, Doctor?"


We discuss the newspapers and books. He tells us of 'actively harmful' practices. Is that a partial admission of guilt? We draw him out:

"Through what methods?"



Taggart meets your eyes without flinching. "Protests. Letters to the editors of The Times. Lectures. Attempts to interest influential people in the problems to be solved. Not violence. Not ever."



We examine the schoolchildren, and we press forward to learn more than just their physical health.




The schoolmistress hesitates. Beside you, Taggart speaks quietly. "Go on with your usual routine. We have nothing to hide from our visitor."

The lessons follow the same sort of pattern one sees in village schools everywhere–spelling recitation, arithmetic done at the blackboard, little voices stumbling through reading lessons. The books used for the latter are not the readers you remember from your schooldays, but morality tales set in times gone by, in which all the heroes seem to be healers. While the children are reading, you pick up one of the books and flip through it. Definitely all healers, all supported by a populace honored to allow the healer to drain light from them. The story read by the children today is of a wandering holy man, who travels the land helping all those in need—never mind that in those days, healers actually stayed stationary at a temple, which meant that anyone who could not reach the temple could not benefit from their healing.

After the younger children complete their reading, the older ones have a history lesson. The lesson focuses on Mercia four hundred years ago, before the power of the Sun Temples was broken. It describes a simpler, happier time in which the common folk worked the land and ate the food they grew, before the rise of industry poisoned the air and the water. This is true as far as it goes, but the lesson neglects to mention what else was going on during that time. During the late 1400s, the Sun Temples were at the peak of their power. They ate more of the food grown by their serfs than the serfs ever kept for themselves. And they violently suppressed the beginnings of scientific thought, declaring it blasphemous. For some reason, these facts don't make it into the lesson.

After this, the children are dismissed for recess, and you and Taggart resume your walk.




Vote 67:What do you say to him?

# "I thought the stories in the reader were very nice. I like the ideals they present, even if they do not accurately reflect the time period in which they are set."

#"That first story wasn't quite accurate, was it? It seems to me it would be more honest to teach both the benefits and drawbacks of the days when healers stayed in temples and those who needed healing had to come to them."

# "Do any of the stories you use for reading lessons feature ordinary men as heroes? Or show problems being solved by scientific methods rather than healing?"

# "That was an amusing fairytale your schoolmistress was presenting as a history lesson. Unless tomorrow she'll be telling them about the Inquisition and what it did to the early Rationalist Movement?"

# "I feel sorry for those poor children. You're stuffing their heads full of all sorts of nonsense. They'll never learn to think for themselves."



After we've had that reaction, let's go see the inner temple.



Taggart leads you to a heavy wooden door under a stone arch, and you both pause in the shadows while he fumbles the correct key out of his pocket. You are reminded for a moment of the dark shadows that overlaid the entrance to Pierce's prison cell, though of course that air was dry rather than damp.

Taggart turns a concerned look upon you–though you didn't think you physically shivered or flinched–then returns his attention to the lock. The door creaks open, revealing a room about the size of the library.

Within, candles wait in wall sconces and candelabras, and straight-backed chairs are arranged in a double semi-circle. That is all there is to be seen, except for a trunk pushed against the wall.



Hm. There's a vote here but I'm going to press on.

I ask him to open the trunk, if it is permissible to show the contents to an outsider.



He does so without a change in expression. Inside is a plain, thick woollen rug, and two masks.

You've seen masks like this before–in paintings, and in cities that were occupied by the Vlaskesari. But those masks were beautifully made, glazed with gold and studded with gems, and these have been cut out of cloth and decorated only with ribbon.

"Two important rituals are enacted in our faith," Taggart says. "In one, light is gathered by a healer from a willing donor. For that ceremony, the healer wears the mask with the green design, and the donor wears the one with the gold. In the other, when the healer heals one injured or ill, the healer wears gold and the recipient green."

"And the rugs?"

"The floor is cold, and kneeling is uncomfortable for any length of time. The ceremonies can take quite a while, if there are many willing to donate or many in need." He replaces the masks and rug and turns the key. "What else may I show you, Doctor?"



After that, we're done so it's back to our investigation.



Taggart walks you to the postern gate and the truculent red-haird guard sees you out.




Vote 68: Now what?

#I look at the scene of the explosion.

#I ask Frank and David Brown about the Sun Temple. David spoke so vehemently about it–does he know of something evil going on there?

#I am ready to report to Woodward.


Frank and David are the first responders we met at the scene. Now that we've talked to them and have investigated the temple, we have followup options. This is our last option of the day.


That mostly finishes up the temple, have your votes in by Friday, 19 Aug, 2016, 5:30PM, and we will most likely finish up our investigation and move onto the next phase. Let's catch us a saboteur!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-08-18, 06:44 AM
67)"That first story wasn't quite accurate, was it? It seems to me it would be more honest to teach both the benefits and drawbacks of the days when healers stayed in temples and those who needed healing had to come to them."
The last three options are too confrontational, and the first one just accepts the stories.

68)I look at the scene of the explosion.
Let's see if we can find some clues.

smuchmuch
2016-08-18, 12:27 PM
# "That was an amusing fairytale your schoolmistress was presenting as a history lesson. Unless tomorrow she'll be telling them about the Inquisition and what it did to the early Rationalist Movement?"


As much as I'd like to ask that one, no need to be rude:

# "I thought the stories in the reader were very nice. I like the ideals they present, even if they do not accurately reflect the time period in which they are set."

#I ask Frank and David Brown about the Sun Temple. David spoke so vehemently about it–does he know of something evil going on there?

Though i doubt we'll get more than rumors, he might know of suspicious venues there.

norman250
2016-08-19, 10:27 AM
#"That first story wasn't quite accurate, was it? It seems to me it would be more honest to teach both the benefits and drawbacks of the days when healers stayed in temples and those who needed healing had to come to them."

Pokes a little, without being too confrontational.


#I look at the scene of the explosion.

I'm not sure what information we'll find, but might as well.

pendell
2016-08-19, 05:34 PM
Looks like we're going with gentle confrontation -- that first story wasn't quite accurate, was it? -- and to look at the scene of the crime.

So let's do it.

"That first story wasn't quite accurate, was it? It seems to me it would be more honest to teach both the benefits and drawbacks of the days when healers stayed in temples and those who needed healing had to come to them."



"The stories communicate an ideal rather than strive to be an accurate reflection of the time period," Taggart says. " The idea is to communicate the ideal while they are young. And…whenever they leave the temple grounds, they are bombarded on all sides with stories that tell them we are evil–or at least foolish. I don't have many years in which to try to counteract that." After a moment, he adds, "The truth of that era is complicated. We were true to our ideals in some ways and terribly false in others. Two things can be true at once, but children are not skilled at handling nuance. They'll have many years to struggle with it all as adults. Now, what else can I show you, Doctor?"


I bolded that bit because, in the comments, it's at the heading of the chapter so it may be important.

So, we see the inner chamber and then we move on to the scene of the explosion.



The constables at the remains of the factory assure you there are no injured inside. The factory's grand opening was planned for this morning, and the explosive was placed in the very brief time between the departure of the construction crew and the expected arrival of the factory laborers. However, the constables allow you to go and check for yourself.

You note the infernal device was placed in the bowels of the building, where the actual manufacture of small mechs would take place (and where it will certainly not be taking place now).

A further chat with the constables outside elicits the information that the explosive was made using lignine dynamite–"just like those Loegrian bombers three years ago," one volunteers. "Mark my words, sir, it's them again."

"No doubt of it," his partner confirms. "There's a lot of them in this neighborhood. The light-eater temple three streets over attracts them."



Seems like suspicion just hovers over the temple, doesn't it? Is it mere prejudice -- or is there fire in that smoke? We just investigated the temple ourselves, so form your own conclusions on that score.



While trying to determine your next move, you find your head swimming. Only then do you realize you haven't stopped for food or rest since early this morning, and it's nearly dark. You can't do any more today. You stumble home, eat something, and fall asleep.


We're done investigating today. Let's dream of the war front again, shall we? Nothing like a little PTSD to round out the day.



You are woken in the small hours of the morning by a messenger from Woodward, bringing the news that there has been another explosion. Also clearly sabotage, also in a factory making armament for the Empire.

Cleary & Sons, located only a short distance from Merrill Steelworks, is famous for two things: one, the manufacture of the miniaturized cannons strapped to the arms of Merrill's mechs; and two, the unusual number of fatal accidents that have befallen its workers. You knew about the latter in a vague sort of way, from the papers. Now you discover that fatalities were so numerous that Cleary's workers had all sorts of jokes and superstitions about them. Fortunately, none of them were injured in this particular explosion; the device was once again planted when no one was inside.

This time a pamphlet is found amidst the ruins. It decries the conditions at Cleary's and everywhere like it, exhorting workers to strikes and sabotage until the owners of these factories mend their ways. Printed across the bottom in huge letters are the words FREE MERCIA.


The bolding, in this case, is in the original text, not added by me.



Woodward calls you in, and you and he and two other of his operatives sit down in his office for a council of war.

"This is suggestive," says Albert Stoker, tapping the bedraggled FREE MERCIA pamphlet. "But not conclusive. We know the Free Mercia group was there, handing out literature to the factory workers. This could have been dropped by one of the workers as easily as by the man who planted the device."

"My money's on the device coming from 'Free Mercia,'" Woodward says, articulating the name as though it tastes unpleasant. "Not that it matters; it's not as though they've written down an address to raid."

"I'd wager on the temple," James Morris counters. "Blood-sucking bastards."




Vote 69:

"What do you think, Watson?" Woodward asks. "Are the sun-worshippers involved?"

What do you say?

# "I don't think they had anything to do with it, sir. There's no evidence linking them to the bombings at all. They may be disturbing the peace with their protests, but they're not doing anything worse."

# "Even if there's no direct evidence, they're a corrupting influence on the neighborhood. You probably want to pull some of them in–charge them with disturbing the peace, then see what else they know."

# "I'm certain if one went through that temple very carefully, one would…discover evidence linking the light-eaters to the crime. Evidence that was…carelessly missed during our previous visit. Should I see to that, sir?"


That third option is a thinly-disguised offer to plant evidence at the temple, framing them for the crime, and using that as an excuse to shut it down or at least cripple its operations.

The nicest gloss I can possibly put on that is that an unscrupulous policeman who seriously believed they were guilty, lack of evidence notwithstanding, and was not above framing them for the crime they actually committed , in the hope of stopping another bombing. For the Greater Good and all.

Every other explanation gets progressively worse; bigotry, prejudice , irrational hatred, a belief that sun-worshippers are a problem regardless of whether they are guilty of this particular crime. But even with the best of intentions, it is a decidedly ungentlemanly thing to do.

After we've decided what to do about that, the next step is to see if we can't stop the culprits, whoever they are.



"It really is time we stopped reacting and took the initiative, sir," Stoker says urgently. "They've struck twice in two nights; we should assume there will be another explosion tomorrow, and we should be lying in wait for them."

"Lying in wait exactly where?" Morris scoffs. "It's a big city!"

"No, Stoker's quite right," Woodward says, reaching for the case dossier. "The two targets had many similarities." Woodward is very good at spotting patterns. "Here, Stoker, take note for me: located on the river, empty at night, doors secured with McMaster locks…"

By the time Woodward leans back again, Stoker has an impressive list. Woodward runs an eye over it, eliminates a few factors that he declares are "obviously trivial," then sets about discovering what other factories share the remaining traits.

There are two: Williams & Wilson Meatpacking, which supplies tinned food to Imperial troops; and the East River Match Company, which makes matchsticks for household use.

You've heard of Williams & Wilson Meatpacking, of course; you ate quite a bit of their food while you were in the service. You do not exactly remember the taste fondly, but at least Williams & Wilson deals honestly with its customers and workers, providing tinned beef of a quality that will not sicken soldiers and working conditions that are actually unusually good.

Its prices were consequently higher than its competitor Alger & Swift, which caused the Army to prefer Alger & Swift's products…until the scandal some five years before you joined the service, where a great many soldiers sickened and died because of Alger & Swift's improperly preserved food. Since then, Her Majesty's Imperial Army has been willing to pay Williams & Wilson what it costs for a quality product–and if Williams & Wilson's production were to be disrupted, you shudder to think how the Army would be fed.

Come to think of it, speaking of scandals, you've heard of the East River Match Company as well. You can't recall the details, but you seem to remember something about a record number of fatalities from phosphorus poisoning.





Vote 70:
"You've been handling the legwork of the investigation, Watson," Woodward says. "Which do you think is more likely?"


#"Williams & Wilson." [supplier of food to the military]

#"The East River Match Company." [supplier of matches to civilians; noted for poisoning its own workers]

#"I'm not sure…but we don't have to be constrained to those two choices. By creatively using the press, we might be able to lure the criminals to us." [Charisma skill check]




Right , so we have three choices. The third choice is to bypass the guesswork and lure the criminals to our target by planting a false story in the papers. Is our charisma high enough for that?

If you want to take the first two options, you're going to have to put everything you've learned so far to work.

Who do you believe is behind these bombings ?

If it's an organization that wants to liberate Loegria or is related to the Vlaski, they'll hit Wilson and Wilson's , the military plant which treats its workers well.

If it really IS Free Mercia -- and that isn't just a clever ploy -- then they'll hit the match company. The match company is of no military value but it exploits its workers terribly. So if the perp really is someone who's doing this to protest working conditions, they'll bomb the match company and ignore the foodmakers, since the military food plant treats its workers well.

Put your heads together, cast your vote by Monday, 22 Aug, 2016, 5:30PM -- and let's find out if you're right or not.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-08-19, 05:56 PM
# "I don't think they had anything to do with it, sir. There's no evidence linking them to the bombings at all. They may be disturbing the peace with their protests, but they're not doing anything worse."

Just being honest, I DON'T think they had anything to do with it.

As for the factory, the two factories have three things in common, 1. They service the military. 2. They treat their workers poorly. 3. They appear to have been attacked by members of "Free Mercia."
With that in mind, I believe the target is:
#"The East River Match Company."

If Free Mercia is behind the bombings, and I believe they are, then I think it isn't actually the military they were targeting, but things that were harmful to Mercian civilians. They didn't attack the Mech factory that build the large, WARFARE Mechs, they attacked the secondary one that built the smaller, law enforcement, police state ones. Their second target was the factory that built the mini-canons for said mechs. So for their third target, I bet they will continue to attack the factory that brings the most detriment to the common folk, not one of the only factories that actually pays them a decent wage.

smuchmuch
2016-08-19, 11:21 PM
# "Even if there's no direct evidence, they're a corrupting influence on the neighborhood. You probably want to pull some of them in–charge them with disturbing the peace, then see what else they know."

Might be good to remember that we shouldn't appear too sympathetic to sub worshipers.

While I think norman250's analysis above is probably right, I'm going to go for the third option here:

#"I'm not sure…but we don't have to be constrained to those two choices. By creatively using the press, we might be able to lure the criminals to us." [Charisma skill check]

Black Socks
2016-08-20, 08:54 AM
69)"I don't think they had anything to do with it, sir. There's no evidence linking them to the bombings at all. They may be disturbing the peace with their protests, but they're not doing anything worse."
70)"The East River Match Company."
To be honest, norman has said everything I was going to say.

Also, I will be in the land of no internet access from the 21st-31st. Choose wisely, and remember that the government isn't always right.

Mister Tom
2016-08-20, 04:48 PM
# I don't think they had anything to do with it...

#"I'm not sure…but we don't have to be constrained to those two choices. By creatively using the press, we might be able to lure the criminals to us." [Charisma skill check]

... Someone, I'm sure, is helping Free Mercia here.

pendell
2016-08-22, 05:01 PM
We have a consensus to report that the temple had nothing to do with the bombings, and a split decision as to whether to finger the East River Match company OR to try to steer the terrorists to a target of our choosing.

East River - 73
Steer - 83

All right, we'll try to put a story in the paper.

Here goes!




"Hmph." It's not what Woodward wants to hear.


Tough cookies; it's the truth as we know it.

Conventional: 14 Unconventional: 86

Next, we debate our choices. We respond:

""I'm not sure…but we don't have to be constrained to those two choices. By creatively using the press, we might be able to lure the criminals to us.""



Woodward starts to smile. "Very clever indeed, Watson. How quickly can you write me an appropriate article?"

Your article appears in the evening edition of The Times. It having proved implausible to report either Merrill's or Cleary's factory undamaged enough to return to normal operations, the article instead reports that Jones & Sedgewick, on the other side of the river, is loaning factory space to Merrill to get the latter's miniaturized mech program started.

The article quotes Mr. Jones as declaring his firm must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its erstwhile rival to get the better of the hooligans who threaten all Mercian patriots. Mr. Sedgewick is similarly quoted as declaring the brave constables who patrol dangerous streets should not have to wait a day longer than necessary for their protection.

Privately, Mr. Sedgewick and Mr. Jones both told Woodward that they agree to this only because their factory might otherwise be targeted when no ambush team is present to defuse the device. And because Her Imperial Majesty's government pledged to underwrite all costs of rebuilding and lost business should Woodward's team bungle the matter.

"So I expect you all to take great care not to bungle it," Woodward tells your team in a growl, and sends you off to await the bomber.


Cheerful, isn't he? Well, let's not bungle it.



You shift as quietly as possible, trying to give some ease to your cramped muscles without betraying your hiding place behind a stack of crates. Elsewhere in the room, you know Stoker, Stevenson, and Morris are doing the same. You rather wish Finch were there to make a fifth.

Your ears just catch the tinkle of broken glass, followed by a single set of quick footsteps.


The game is afoot!



A slim, black-clad form steps into the square of sickly light that falls through the window. It stops in the middle of the factory floor, bends over to set down a box–you catch a glimpse of its face, hidden by a black domino mask–and carefully unscrews the top. It straightens at once, and leaves the way it came–not running, but walking briskly.

Stevenson lunges for the device, and the rest of you lunge for the culprit.

The black-clad figure gasps in shock, but recovers almost at once. It dodges Stoker's grasping hand, and sprints.


Achievement: Eliminating the Impossible : Identified the bomber's final target.



The three of you pound after it, through the obstacle course of the factory floor, dodging tables and machines. Morris knocks something over and curses. You step wrong, and agony shoots up your bad leg. The black-clad figure pulls ahead, vanishing into the darkness. You chase the sound of its footsteps.

A clatter tells you that the figure has reached the catwalk, and the direction of the clatter tells you it is racing up rather than down the stairs. You follow it up one flight, two, all the way to the top level. But that level has multiple offices and storage rooms, most of them with windows, and you can hardly see anything–the culprit vanished into one room, but which?

"Split up," Stoker hisses, and you do. Stoker heads in one direction, Morris in another, and you find yourself facing three doors.


False choice; whatever you choose, you find yourself confronting the perp and there is no stat change, so we'll go directly to our confrontation.

Achievement: A Most Valuable Institution: Used the press to catch a criminal.



Clearly outlined by the outdoor gaslight, a slim dark figure is forcing open a window.

"Stop!" you say, and the dark-clad figure freezes, one leg over the sill, eyes on the light glinting off your revolver.

"Take off your cap and mask," you order. "Slowly."

An infinitesimal pause. Then the figure inclines its head–a salute? mockery?–reaches up, and lets cap and mask fall to the floor.

It is Alexandra Townsend, the woman from the dirigible. Even in the mediocre light, you recognize the angle of her cheekbones and the gloss of her severely-coiled hair. (That hair must look magnificent when she lets it down.)

"Let me go," she says, her eyes on your face. "You want to. You know I'm right."


So it WAS her.


Vote 71: How do you respond to that?

# "The hell you are! You are destroying factories that make protection for soldiers of the Empire!"

# "I have a duty."

# "Your principles may be defensible, but your tactics are abhorent."


After you say this, she will have a response, and then we move on to the meat of the matter:



"Have you ever seen a child with phossy-jaw, Doctor? Their hair falls out in clumps,
their skin glows green, by the end their faces are so swollen they can't chew. Have you seen
the men who die coughing out their lungs, drowning in their own blood, or the women who
go blind after a lifetime working in the bowels of these places? This is wrong.
You know this is wrong. As a doctor and a patriot, how can you let your country
do this?" She pauses a beat, then says, "I'm on the right side. You know I am. Let me go."

You don't answer immediately, and she sighs. "Let me go," she says, "and in exchange I pledge
that my organization will set off no more bombs. We already have a branch working toward
improving the labor laws; we'll focus all our attention there instead."

Footsteps thunder down the corridor that stretches behind you. "Watson?" someone calls.

Alexandra's eyes flick to look past you, anxious.



Vote 72: Then her gaze returns to your face.

#I lower the weapon.

#I nod once and mouth "Go," but keep the weapon trained on her, for appearances.

#I shoot to wound.

#I shoot to kill.



Why would we let her go? There are two reasons:
1) Is she the mastermind behind Free Mercia? If not, locking up their most effective proponent of bloodless bombings might cause more trouble than it solves, especially if she can keep her word about stopping the bombings. If she is arrested here, that promise is null and void -- if she'll keep it in the first place.

2) Might it be useful to have someone in the underground who owes us a favor? Say, if there was ever any possibility we might ourselves want to infiltrate the underground?

Of course, neither of those are what real police would do; she's a criminal and she will not surrender . We will have to shoot her if we want to stop her escape.

So what's it going to be?

Come back Wednesday, 24 AUG, 2017, 5:30PM for the dramatic conclusion to this chapter of the story!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-08-24, 11:23 AM
# "I have a duty."

We do, after all.

#I nod once and mouth "Go," but keep the weapon trained on her, for appearances.

As a Watson that is both Unconventional and Compassionate, I think he'd actually not be so terribly opposed to a group that works for the common man, to improve their lot, especially if their leader, which for now appears to be Townsend, actually sticks to her word and stops their violent acts.

Though I am not opposed to a wounding shot, if needed. We are a member of law enforcement, and we do have a duty, regardless of our personal philosophies.

pendell
2016-08-24, 06:14 PM
So the vote is for:
71) I have a duty
72) Mouth go but keep revolver trained on her for appearance sake.


Let's play it out.


"I have a duty".



"To serve your country–yes." There's no mockery in her voice. "You think you're serving it by protecting those who make protection for soldiers of the Empire. But they wear it when they raid the tenements of people who have no defense against them. The temples of those who are only trying to help. And have you seen the price paid?


We mouth "go" but keep the revolver trained on her for appearance sake.



She hesitates, but then the running feet reach the doorway behind you, and she backflips out of the window at the same time you press the trigger. Your bullet hits the brick to the side of the window, shattering it.

Your colleagues rush into the room. The ones in front see her fall, and run forward, shouting. You all reach the window in time to see her land in a neat crouch on the soft ground of the riverbank, then instantly spring up and run.

Woodward's agents pound down the hallways and stairways to the street, but Alexandra has too great a headstart, and even without her mask and cap she is expert at the art of disguise. You and your colleagues don't catch her.


Conventional: 23 Unconventional: 77
Huh. I guess "I have a duty" was a conventional remark.

Marksmanship: 75


Achievement: Shades of Gray Allowed Alexandria Townsend to escape.




No further devices are planted in Kingsford factories–or anywhere else in the city.


So she kept her word. Excellent.



The trial of the captured saboteur (whose name proves to be John Tobias) is miscarriage of justice by anyone's standards. He somehow manages to acquire the services of Sir Godfrey Norton, one of Kingsford's most brilliant barristers, and Sir Godfrey's arguments are so convincing the jury acquits Tobias of everything. Afterwards, you and some of the others meet in Woodward's office for a gloomy drink. Finch is there, having returned from his country jaunt before the trial, as are Stoker and Morris.

"How could someone from that walk of life possibly afford Sir Godfrey's services?" Stoker asks the room at large, disgruntled.

"That was the most interesting aspect of this entire case," Finch muses, settling back in his chair. "I think someone else arranged that on his behalf. That means Tobias is the emissary of someone more powerful. Someone pulling the strings." He swirls the amber liquid in his glass as he lists the points. "Someone who obtained detailed information regarding the interiors of both factories. Who learned the construction schedule and the work schedules. Who acquired lignine dynamite and either possessed the skill to use it or was able to find someone who did. Who ensures that his operatives carry nothing that can be traced back to him if they are captured, and who arranges the city's most brilliant barrister to speak in their defense if they are arrested.

"These are not the actions of an amateur. This is an intelligent, deliberate, careful, and skilled criminal at work. There is a spider in the web of the East End."

"A Vlaski agent," Woodward mutters.

"Or one of those light-eaters in that temple," Morris counters.



73: "Splitting hairs, aren't you, Morris?" says Stoker. "No difference between a light-eater and a Vlaski agent that I can see."


# I clink my glass to his in agreement.

# I object. "There are plenty of sun-worshippers who do the Empire no greater harm than to believe in superstitious nonsense."

#"No," I say slowly, "it's not splitting hairs. I think this spider is home-grown, not Vlaski or light-eater at all."



After you have that reaction, we wrap up.



"No matter who the spider is," Woodward says, "we have to find him."


And so now we move to ...



Chapter 4: Hunting the Spider

The air outside shakes with the sound of cannon, and the ground shakes with the heavy footfalls of steam-powered Vlaski and Mercian mechs. Within the prison walls, you can hear shouting voices and running feet, but none have reached this corridor. Yet.

You stagger toward daylight as fast as you can, Pierce's arm draped heavily over your shoulders.

But you don't make it. The blank-eyed face of a mech looms over you, and Pierce's arm slips from your shoulders as you tumble down the ravine, and darkness rises up to swallow you—

And you come back to yourself, bound and gagged and lying face down on a cold damp stone floor.

Somewhere outside your pounding skull, someone is screaming.

Pierce?


Happy day , another nightmare.



It has to be. You tried to rescue him, but the mech blocked your way and you both were recaptured. Now Pierce is being tormented by the light-eaters, and—

No. No, wait, that's not right.


We're groggy... starting to come too...



The air is clammy. When the screamer in the other room pauses for breath, you think you can hear the far-off murmur of water. You can't possibly be in the Goráskan mountains, where the air is thin and sharp and the soil thin and dry.

And the mission to rescue Pierce was over long ago. You remember how it ended. You made it out of the prison and you brought him with you. You were badly injured almost immediately afterward and invalided home—

And with that, it all comes crashing back. Kingsford. Woodward. Finch. It is the year 1886—1886, not 1881—and you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Mercian Imperial Army. You work (officially) as a police surgeon and (unofficially) as part of Arthur Woodward's irregulars, foiling Vlaskesari spies, saving falling dirigibles, hunting down factory saboteurs.

And doing—doing—doing something—that has ended with you bound and gagged on a cold stone floor, your head throbbing like a locomotive engine.

In the next room, the screaming starts again, and adrenaline jolts through you despite your splitting headache.

You may not be a Vlaskesar's prisoner, but you are someone's prisoner, and you need to quickly determine how you came to be here.




Vote 74: What's the last thing you remember?
#An afternoon tea with Miss Chandler.

#Walking through a narrow street where the cobblestones were broken and treacherous and the street-lamps nonexistent, past taverns where the roar of those within sounded animal-wild.

#Sitting across from a man with a badly scarred face, in a tavern where the smoking lamps obscured rather than illuminated his expression.

#Finch drawing gentle fingers along my cheek.


We stop here because there are some actions that take place even in the flashback sequence. I did mention something about "infiltrating Free Mercia" in the last chapter, didn't I? That doesn't seem to have worked out well. Anyways, what do you remember, while you are tied to a chair and Finch is being beaten to within an inch of his life in the next room?


Come back Friday, 26 Aug, 2016, 5:30PM as we determine how to get our friends out of this jam. Don't give up hope!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-08-25, 02:23 PM
Yay to us and thanks to Brian!

object. "There are plenty of sun-worshippers who do the Empire no greater harm than to believe in superstitious nonsense."

Sitting across from a man with a badly scarred face.



Let's go find a spider.
Why do I get the feeling I'm the fly?

norman250
2016-08-26, 10:19 AM
#"No," I say slowly, "it's not splitting hairs. I think this spider is home-grown, not Vlaski or light-eater at all."

Doesn't out us as a radical unconventional in front of our boss, while also not disparaging sun-worshippers, necessarily.

#An afternoon tea with Miss Chandler.

Any option here is probably fine to start with, but its been a while since we've seen our love interest.

pendell
2016-08-26, 06:11 PM
We have two two-way splits.

I experienced a BSOD; however, the outcome of the first vote was that the spider was home grown. It is so noted.

The next question is whether we last remember a scarred man or tea with Miss Chandler.

Scarred Man - 5

Miss Chandler - 79

Very well, we recall having Tea with Miss Chandler.


So let's play it out!

"No," I say slowly, "it's not splitting hairs. I think this spider is home-grown, not Vlaski or light-eater at all."



So do I," Finch says. "And that makes it even more interesting, doesn't it?"


Indeed it does.

Perception: 76

All right, we go through that to waking up as a captive while Finch is being pummelled in the next room. The last thing we remember is tea with Miss Chandler.



Yes, that was…earlier today, you think.

You remember she seemed troubled by something.

"Oh, it's nothing important," she sighed when you asked. "Mr. and Mrs. Forrester are away from home, leaving Mr. Forrester's sister to supervise the household. And old Miss Forrester objected to the practical lessons I was teaching my charges. It was only a bit of simple nursing, nothing at all inappropriate–but she said her brother's children were to be ladies with their own establishments, and would have no need of menial skills. She said I should teach them drawing and embroidery and languages and the like. As though there was no chance they'd ever be on a dirigible full of injured people–or sitting at their child's sickbed, for that matter! Old Miss Forrester seems to want us to go back to the dark days when everyone was dependent upon what scraps of healing the Sun Temples chose to bestow. Now we have treatments and medicines that anyone can learn to use, but the old lady wants her nieces to be as incapable of helping themselves as any medieval village girl. It's not right."



Vote 75: How do you respond?

# "No, it's not. Modern medicine is the finest advance the new century has brought us; I'm glad you see its value as I do."

# "You won't always have to defer to foolish old women. Someday you'll be mistress of your own establishment and you'll be able to make those decisions as you see fit."

#"I agree with your main point, but I am not certain we should consider modern medicine as a complete replacement for healing. Perhaps the most effective war on illness would be waged by using both weapons."



I must stop here because this conversation, while seemingly innocuous, can have a great impact on your relationship with Miss Chandler, and therefore what story branches are available later in the game.

While considering your response, note that Miss Chandler is quite conventional in her attitudes; Dr. Watson would certainly know that if he's been calling on her for some time. I would recommend balancing the goals of honesty and not offending her sensibilities. Exactly where that breakpoint occurs is your choice, of course!

Have your vote in by Monday, 29 Aug, 2016, 5:30 PM EDT as we attempt to navigate the seas of romance while avoiding the shoals which lurk underneath the seemingly innocent waters.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-08-29, 07:25 AM
#"I agree with your main point, but I am not certain we should consider modern medicine as a complete replacement for healing. Perhaps the most effective war on illness would be waged by using both weapons."

It feels true to our Watson, unconventional, (a little wshy washy sometime too). Even if it is probably not exacctly what miss chndler whishes to hear.

norman250
2016-08-29, 01:42 PM
# "You won't always have to defer to foolish old women. Someday you'll be mistress of your own establishment and you'll be able to make those decisions as you see fit."

I get the sense that Chandler doesn't like unconventionality. This option lets us sit on the fence, while also paying her a compliment of sorts.

Mister Tom
2016-08-29, 02:02 PM
Just to make life easy...

No, it's not. Modern medicine is the finest advance the new century has brought us; I'm glad you see its value as I do.


I suspect miss Chandler has some small affection for Miss Forrester; there is no need to be rude. And regardless of our knowledge of the practical value of the old ways, she is right; it is not right. we are after all a doctor of modern medicine, and it's prowess can only advance into the glorious new century. Mercia Prevails! Sorry, got carried away there.

pendell
2016-08-29, 07:09 PM
We have one vote for each of the three options.

Two strategies - 66
In charge of own building - 77
modern medicine wonderful - 89


So we tell her:
"No, it's not. Modern medicine is the finest advance the new century has brought us; I'm glad you see its value as I do.
"



"Of course I do." She hesitated. "Do you ever think of giving up the police work and going into practice?"



:drops mic:




Alone now in the pitch-black, the question echoes like a tolling bell.

Giving up the police work and opening your own practice would be a necessary first step if you wished to marry and have the ability to support your own household.

And while you wouldn't need to entirely give up your work for Woodward, a bachelor police surgeon obviously has more freedom to chase criminals through the East End than does a respectable physician and householder.

You remember sitting across from Miss Chandler, thinking that very soon now, you would have to decide what you want—pick one path or the other and walk down it without a look back.

Now you can't help wondering if you will get the chance.


Conventional: 30 Unconventional: 70

I'll just lay this out: At some point you will have the option of marrying Miss Chandler, and she will require that you give up police work. This is an alternate path but it will not be the end of your adventure; you don't really think Woodward and Finch are going to just let you go, do you? :smallamused:

So you will have two choices: The path of the married surgeon (which will be a lot less boring than you might think) or the path of the single counterintelligence operative (which won't be boring either). Both paths, however, will join together again later back into the main story.

So think about it.



But you have more urgent matters to attend to right now.

That teatime conversation did happen today—you're fairly sure—but it didn't lead to this. You try to dredge up something else, and come up with an image of…



Vote 76:

# Walking through a narrow street where the cobblestones were broken and treacherous and the street-lamps nonexistent, past taverns where the roar of those within sounded animal-wild.

# Sitting across from a man with a badly scarred face, in a tavern where the smoking lamps obscured rather than illuminated his expression.

# Finch drawing gentle fingers along my cheek.


And that will take us to our next branch. What do you remember next?

Tune in Wednesday, 31 Aug, 2016, 5:30PM to see what happens next!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-08-31, 10:03 AM
# Finch drawing gentle fingers along my cheek.

This sounds interestingly... charged, shall we say?

...but I bet I'll be disappointed.

Black Socks
2016-08-31, 11:04 AM
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!! :smallamused:
76)Walking through a narrow street where the cobblestones were broken and treacherous and the street-lamps nonexistent, past taverns where the roar of those within sounded animal-wild.
I want to know what we were doing in a place like that. Maybe a mission for Woodward?

pendell
2016-08-31, 06:41 PM
Welcome back, BlackSocks! :) Good to see you!

So we have a tie

Gentle fingers - 74
rough neighborhood - 22

Looks like norman250 is going to get his wish!




The gas-lamp shone bright in your eyes, so you kept them half-closed. But you could still see Finch turning for his box of greasepaints, then reaching to smear something thick and cool and repulsive-smelling along the line of your jaw.

"Hold still," he murmured, but his mouth twitched in amusement at your instinctive flinch. "Do you want to go walking through the East End in an unevenly-applied disguise?"

Right. Right, you were assuming a disguise to…a disguise to…

You cudgel your brains, trying to remember.


Okay, they give us a choice of two memories to remember. It doesn't seem to have any effect whatsoever on the game play which we choose, so I'm going to simply print out both blocks of text and push on. For the record though, we're choosing the 'scrapbook' option.

So .. our next memory is...

A briefing in Woodward's office—his voice sharp and annoyed, but not holding the urgency of a true emergency.



You remember now. You, Finch, and Woodward were discussing the possibility of a spider in the web of the East End, a master criminal controlling and organizing crime.

"Now that we're looking, I see him everywhere," Finch said. He had begun compiling a scrapbook of newspaper articles, and he turned the pages over as he spoke. "The theft of the painting Lost Sailor, which would certainly bring enough from an unscrupulous private collector to justify the risk of stealing it. Hardwicke's resignation from Parliament—he was as industry-minded as they come, and suddenly he wishes to retire to the country? It smells like blackmail to me." He looked up at Woodward. "These aren't Vlaski plots."

"No," Woodward admitted. "This spider is home-grown. And is using his control to further the ends of the rebels and rabble-rousers who call themselves 'Free Mercia.' We must discover who he is."


We also remember
Finch sitting cross-legged on the carpet in our flat, surrounded by newspapers, pasting entries into a scrapbook.



Finch sat in the glow of the firelight with his deft fingers flicking through the pages of the scrapbook in which he had compiled newspaper articles that seemed to prove the existence of a spider in the web of the East End.

"A master criminal controlling and organizing crime," he murmured. "Something completely new. Once you start looking, you can see the hand everywhere. The theft of the painting Lost Sailor, which would certainly bring enough from an unscrupulous private collector to justify the risk of stealing it. The resignation of a particularly industry-minded Member of Parliament, under circumstances that carry the odor of blackmail. These aren't Vlaski plots; this spider is home-grown. Someone has taken charge of, if not all the crime in the East End, certainly a large percentage of it. And is using his control to further the ends of the rebels and rabble-rousers who call themselves 'Free Mercia'."

Woodward agreed with this assessment, and…

Right. Right! And so you and Finch assumed disguises and went to trawl the East End.

And then…and then…


And then what?



You can't remember what happened next. Try as you might, the last image you can summon is that of you and Finch walking side by side through the most dangerous part of the city.

H*ll and d*mnation. Where's Finch?

Next door, the screaming trails off into a gurgle.

You strain your ears, but can hear nothing over your beating heart.

Then behind you, the door clangs open.


Hoo boy. Time to meet our inquisitor. Is he Spanish? Because no one expects ...



A little fitful light filters into the blackness, and your eyes tear. Loud footsteps cross the stone with an unhurried tread, bringing more light with them—a candle, you're fairly sure, set on a table behind you. A boot nudges itself under your ribcage and flips you over.

"Finally awake? That took long enough. They must be recruiting weaklings for the Army these days." The man looming over you is tall and burly, and wears slightly out-of-date side-whiskers. He's older than you are, but strongly built and fit, and he paces with the barely-restrained energy of a prowling tiger.

Is this the spider you've been hunting? Has he hunted down and captured you instead?

He reaches down and rips the gag out of your mouth, and you catch a glimpse of the pistol holstered at his belt. He stands over you, menacing. "Now then. Let us have a conversation. Who do you work for?"

Hell.



Vote 77:

# I refuse to answer and keep my face blank. I have the self-control to avoid giving anything away, and the more he talks, the more he'll reveal. [check vs. stealth]

# I have to make him think he's captured the wrong man, someone useless, so he will be more likely to let his guard down. [Will require you to specify the role you're playing; different checks depending on which cover story you're using]

# The best way to handle an interrogation like this is to speak first, ask questions of my own, do everything possible to take control of the situation. [Perception check]



While we're at it, I suppose we should find out what role we're playing now, for future reference.


#A factory laborer injured by improperly maintained machinery.

#A factory laborer dismissed for drunkenness. There are, after all, far more of those than the few injured on the job.

#A former soldier whose life lacks excitement since he left the service.

#A convict recently released from prison, sullen at the "injustice" of his sentence.


So that's what the greasepaints were about ; you and Finch are hunting the spider mentioned in the last chapter, so you've each adopted a disguise and went into the East End to look for Free Mercia. And here you are; presumably more details will be filled in.

In the meantime , we have a torturer to answer. What do you say?

Have your vote in and we will return on Friday, 2 Sep, 2016, 5:30PM Eastern .

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-09-02, 10:19 AM
# I have to make him think he's captured the wrong man, someone useless, so he will be more likely to let his guard down. [Will require you to specify the role you're playing; different checks depending on which cover story you're using]

I doubt Woodward has a mole in the operation, so I bet our capture is based on speculation on part of our captor. Let's press our chances.

#A factory laborer injured by improperly maintained machinery.

While I've played this particular book before, I wasn't aware the check was based on your chosen cover story, which intrigues me.
I think this disguise should be simple enough to pull off with our Charisma. We're unconventional enough to know the plight of a laborer, and we actually do have an injury, which should help make it more believable.

Black Socks
2016-09-02, 10:42 AM
77)I have to make him think he's captured the wrong man, someone useless, so he will be more likely to let his guard down. [Will require you to specify the role you're playing; different checks depending on which cover story you're using]

77A)A factory laborer injured by improperly maintained machinery.
Our Charisma is higher than our Stealth or Perception, and with our actual leg injury, we should be able to pull this off. Hopefully.

Also: A genius, described as a spider in a web, controlling a network of criminals. That reminds of someone.... *cough cough* Moriaty *cough cough*

pendell
2016-09-02, 05:19 PM
Looks like we have a consensus!

77) Wrong man.
78) Laborer injured by machinery.

Yes; that requires a medicine skill check to know how to convincingly portray an injury of that sort; or really high charisma. Let's see what happens.



(Though that will return his attention to—to whomever's in that other room. To Finch? You hope like hell it isn't Finch.)

In the candlelight, you can see you are dressed in rough laborer's clothing. Your best tactic is to speak in a manner befitting the disguise you wore to the East End…if you can only remember what that was.

You strain after a memory. When you and Finch each took on a persona, you decided to play…

A factory laborer injured by improperly maintained machinery.

You remember deciding that a justifiably bitter factory laborer would be exactly the sort of person who would be recruited by an organization like Free Mercia.

If you recall correctly, Finch took on the role of a safecracker recently released from prison, sullen at the "injustice" of his sentence. He decided his character would be Loegrian, and did a masterful job with the lilting accent.



Here we go ...



Now you answer your captor as befits your assumed persona rather than tell the truth.

To your relief, the man with the side-whiskers hesitates. Your portrayal seems to be good enough to make him doubt he caught the right man.

You dimly remember that it worked when in the East End taverns, too. The regulars seemed to accept you as an injured laborer and Finch as a man with a dubious past including prison.

Now your captor paces, furious. "So what were you doing asking about the Professor all over the East End?" he demands. "Think you can just join for the asking? I'll wager you think you can replace me, but you can't. I'm going to make him take me back, differences in philosophy be damned."


Okay, he bought it. And we picked up some interesting details as well...

1) He is NOT "the professor".
2) He's on the outs with the professor but wants back in.
3) They have 'philosophical differences', whatever those are. Perhaps he's a Cartesian but the Professor follows Plato's Republic? :smalltongue:




he man with the side-whiskers circles you, menacing. "Were there only the two of you?"

You know why he's asking. He wants to know if he should expect reinforcements to come and attempt your rescue.

Unfortunately, as far as you can remember, you and Finch were indeed the only ones trawling for information on the master criminal. You were watching each other's backs; there was no third man to run and advise Woodward of your capture.

Obviously you don't wish this man to know that.



Vote 79:
# I refuse to answer and attempt to keep my face expressionless.

# I answer as befits my assumed persona. Yes, I was drinking with a friend, just the two of us, but I otherwise don't know what he's talking about.

#I respond with a question of my own, watching him carefully for a reaction. "Did the Professor discharge you?"


Sorry it's going so slowly, but an interrogation is a verry tricky thing to manage. How do you respond? Again, the question is "Were there only two of you?"

Have your votes in by Monday, 5 September, 5:30PM as we see if we can get ourselves and Finch out of this one alive.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-02, 05:46 PM
Ha! It worked! Watson 1, Interrogator 0!
Since it worked the first time, let's continue the Charisma checks.

79)I answer as befits my assumed persona. Yes, I was drinking with a friend, just the two of us, but I otherwise don't know what he's talking about.

If this ends up not working, we may have to switch to Perception next round. It's 76 as opposed to Stealth's 72.... I hope that's enough.

pendell
2016-09-05, 05:06 PM
Let's find out! We answer in character.



The man with the side-whiskers looks uncertain. Good. Anything you can do to keep him off-balance will benefit you.

He runs a hand through his hair.

The movement reveals a tattoo on his wrist, previously hidden beneath the cuff of his shirtsleeve—an arrow done in blue ink.

You've seen that tattoo before. They are sported by the Riflemen, an elite corps of sharpshooters in the Mercian Imperial Army. So your captor was once a well-respected soldier.


So there's a clue for us. He's not the professor, he has philosophical differences with him, and he's a former elite soldier.




"To hell with this," your captor mutters. "You're more trouble than you're worth. I'll get my answers from your friend instead. He seems to be willing to do almost anything if it keeps me away from you."

It takes iron control, but you manage not to react. The man with the side-whiskers seems disappointed. "And that doesn't trouble you? I'll have to make sure he knows that. What a one-sided friendship you have."

Your captor smiles and turns on his heel. He takes the candle with him, leaving you in utter blackness after the door slams.

And from the next room, Finch's screams resume.


:smalleek: :smallfrown: :smallmad:



Vote 80:
# No. Oh hell and damnation, no, no, no. I should have handled that better—I should have kept him here—

# "He'll do anything if it keeps me away from you"? That can't be true, can it? What in hell is Finch doing?

# Perhaps it's on purpose, deliberately giving me space in which to act? In that case, I must move quickly, or his sacrifice will be for nothing.

# It's difficult to listen to, but perhaps just as well. If Finch draws all the ill treatment, it at least leaves me whole and able to rescue us both.


That's a reaction which impacts our stats, so we continue.



You take a breath and let it out. You try to focus on your thoughts rather than on Finch's screams. You have to think. What do you know?

What did you learn when you were scouring the East End in disguise with Finch?

...

Some of the laborers with whom you spoke talked of the Professor with awed respect. Apparently this Professor has promised that someday, Free Mercia will succeed in its aims, and the lot of all laborers (and Loegrians, and sun-worshippers, and so forth) will be much improved.

But other laborers spoke of him with fear. They whispered of sabotage compelled by blackmail, of ruthlessness toward any who cross him—and then they looked quickly over their shoulders and changed the subject.


Huh. So the professor talks a good game but he's pretty ruthless. Good to know. And evidently this brute isn't him -- perhaps he was once his strongman?



Finch's screams cut off, and the silence is far worse than the howls of pain.

You try to breathe.

The man with the side-whiskers indicated he didn't plan to kill Finch—at least, not right away—so likely your friend is only unconscious.



Vote 81:

#I have to stop this. I have to stop it now. I have to get the man with the side-whiskers back in here and away from Finch.

#I have to stop this. I have to get in there and stop this now. Despite my injuries, I struggle to free myself from the ropes.

#I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.



The first option will require you to create some sort of distraction or noise to bring the Colonel back into the room. Since you're still tied up, this will probably mean pain for you.

Option #2 allows you to attempt to break your ropes -- if your athleticism is high enough. If it isn't, you'll have wasted an action.

Option #3 uses perception to gather information. While you may not act on it immediately, it may come in handy in the very near future.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-05, 05:31 PM
:smalleek:
*inner tactician takes over*

80)Perhaps it's on purpose, deliberately giving me space in which to act? In that case, I must move quickly, or his sacrifice will be for nothing.
81)I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.

We need info. Any info.

smuchmuch
2016-09-05, 07:12 PM
The man is an ex soldier. Possibly a mercenary of sort ?

# It's difficult to listen to, but perhaps just as well. If Finch draws all the ill treatment, it at least leaves me whole and able to rescue us both

Cold perhaps but true.

#I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.

Pretty sure our atlethicism isn't that great what with our injury and dragging the man back in wouldn't serve much purpsose unless we were biding time until rescue (we have no reaso to think any is comming) or he was willing to talk and we had some kind of bluff to distract him or turn things around (which he clearly isn't and we don't). Otherwise he'll just beat us up and get back to Finch (after possibly making sure our confinement is tighter, if he dosn't even feel like jsut putting us out of comition.)
We need to look around, be it for some kind of object to get rid of our bond, (fiction classic include the traditional glass shard or rusty nail (classic of fiction) or anything, really.

norman250
2016-09-07, 02:09 AM
Sorry I missed a day! Labour day got the best of me!

# It's difficult to listen to, but perhaps just as well. If Finch draws all the ill treatment, it at least leaves me whole and able to rescue us both.


Pretty sure this might hurt our ideal stats, as I think it'll up our perception but lower our compassion, which I think currently outweighs our pragmatic, but come on, this is easily the most practical choice.


#I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.

Same reasoning,.

pendell
2016-09-07, 06:21 PM
Very well, Doctor Watson, you shall:

80) It's difficult to listen to, but perhaps just as well. If Finch draws all the ill treatment, it at least leaves me whole and able to rescue us both


81) I need more information before I can form a plan. I use all my senses in an effort to discover something about this prison.

So let's play it through!


It's difficult to listen to, but just as well.



You take a breath and let it out. You try to focus on your thoughts rather than on Finch's screams. You have to think. What do you know?


Compassionate: 51 Pragmatic: 49

Now they tell us a bit we've seen before:



You remember sipping truly horrid beverages in extremely dubious surroundings, listening to whispers of a powerful new figure in the Kingsford Underground—a charismatic and well-educated Loegrian, known as "the Professor." He's the man running the group that calls itself "Free Mercia."

Some of the laborers with whom you spoke talked of the Professor with awed respect. Apparently this Professor has promised that someday, Free Mercia will succeed in its aims, and the lot of all laborers (and Loegrians, and sun-worshippers, and so forth) will be much improved.

But other laborers spoke of him with fear. They whispered of sabotage compelled by blackmail, of ruthlessness toward any who cross him—and then they looked quickly over their shoulders and changed the subject.

Finch's screams cut off, and the silence is far worse than the howls of pain.

You try to breathe.

The man with the side-whiskers indicated he didn't plan to kill Finch—at least, not right away—so likely your friend is only unconscious.

Likely.


We use all our senses to gather information to form a plan.



You take a breath, let it out, and go still.

From what you could see when you had a light, the room is small and windowless. Your skin touches cold damp stone, suggesting a cellar of some sort. You cannot smell anything—so a disused cellar?

You lie still and listen.

On the other side of the door, feet tramp up and down the corridor. You hear five distinct voices, and a possible sixth—none belonging to the man with the side-whiskers, and none belonging to Finch.

So the man with the side-whiskers has at least five—maybe six—associates whose presence will make escape more difficult.

That's not good, but it's good to know.


Some useful information ...



The door slams open.

You blink in the weak light.

The man with the side-whiskers looms over you.

He walks in a slow circle around you. You know he is doing it deliberately. You know it is an interrogation technique, meant to be intimidating.

You feel intimidated anyhow.


Uh-oh.



At last he crouches down, just out of reach, and draws a long wicked-looking knife from an inner pocket.

"Your friend," he purrs, "has given me to understand that you are, indeed, government spies."

You go cold. Hell, hell, how bad must it have been for Finch to break and give this away? Finch, of all people?

Is he even still alive?

"Now," your captor continues, "you will give me the name of the man you work for."



Vote 81:

# No, I really won't. I close my eyes and prepare myself to expressionlessly refuse to answer.

# I speak as befits my persona, disclaiming all knowledge.

# I match question for question. "What's the Professor's real name?"


We don't have the option of giving him the information he wants, so that moves us on to the next point.



Then he reaches out, takes hold of your shoulder, and slashes the knife through coat and shirt and skin. "Who do you work for?"



Vote 82:
#I gasp with pain, but I refuse to say a word.

#"I—I—already told you, I'm just—just a laborer…"

#"How'd a—an honorable—soldier—get involved—in this?"



Once again, whatever we choose he still doesn't have what he wants, so here it comes again.



The next slash bites through the muscle of your back. "Who do you work for?"



Vote 83:

#I say nothing. I can wait this out. At least he's not hurting Finch.

#I need to take control of this situation. I need to pretend to break before I actually do—but I need to let it go on a little longer so the feigned surrender is believable.

#It's past time for games. I choose defiance instead. "Go to hell."



Whatever we choose, he decides the next point is to take us into Finch's room, either to motivate us or to see if watching Finch suffer will cause us to crack. And that's our chance!



Your head spins and your ribs pain you with each rasped breath.

You stumble as you are towed along, as weak and disoriented as Pierce was
after being fed on by light-eaters. You remember, with odd clarity, that his skin was as white
as death except where their handprints stood out lividly. Bare hands of different sizes, the
marks of many torturers. Handprint-marked bodies left in heaps like so much rubbish.


Terrible memories. Will they ever stop?



The room next door has better light. Finch is unconscious—but alive—and lashed down on what looks uncomfortably like a doctor's examining table. On a tray nearby rest a number of blood-stained surgical tools. Blood and burn marks mar his bare torso. A second man stands guard over him.

The man with the side-whiskers holds you upright while the other man loosens Finch's restraints and shoves him off the table. Your captor cuts the ropes that bind your hands.

Between your dizzy head and your cramped leg muscles, you can hardly stand–but if you are ever going to move against them, it has to be now. Once they get you to that table, it will be too late.




Vote 84:

#I feign a stumble, grab the pistol from the belt of the man with the side-whiskers, and hope I can get off two shots fast enough. [Marksmanship]

#I feign a stumble, grab a scalpel from the tray, and use it. One doesn't need a long blade if one's knowledge of anatomy is precise enough. [Medicine]

#If I can delay being restrained until Finch wakes up, it might be closer to a fair fight. I do my best to impersonate a man babbling secrets out of fear, and play for time. [Charisma]

#I don't have time for anything fancy. I feign a stumble, then put all my strength behind an uppercut to the jaw of the man with the side-whiskers. [Athletics]



This is it. Perhaps your only chance to get out of this alive. Choose quickly, and choose well!


Have the votes in by Friday, 9 Sep, 2016, 5:30PM Eastern, and let's see if we can turn the table on our torturers!


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-07, 07:13 PM
:eek:
:annoyed:
:mad:
:furious:

*Inner tactician is in full control*

81)I match question for question. "What's the Professor's real name?"
If he already knows we're spies, the middle option won't work. The others are Stealth vs. Perception, and our perception is higher.
82)"How'd a—an honorable—soldier—get involved—in this?"
Same situation.
83)I need to take control of this situation. I need to pretend to break before I actually do—but I need to let it go on a little longer so the feigned surrender is believable.
Now we can use our Charisma.
84)If I can delay being restrained until Finch wakes up, it might be closer to a fair fight. I do my best to impersonate a man babbling secrets out of fear, and play for time. [Charisma]
Charisma is our highest out of the four stat options.

Let's do this.

smuchmuch
2016-09-07, 08:35 PM
My vote is pretty much exatly similar to the one above, for pretty much the same reasons
(Only thing is that I consider the shooting option a valid second choice, if it comes to breaking a tie.)

pendell
2016-09-09, 04:46 PM
Very well, our votes are:
81)I match question for question. "What's the Professor's real name?
"
82)"How'd a—an honorable—soldier—get involved—in this?"

83)I need to take control of this situation. I need to pretend to break before I actually do—but I need to let it go on a little longer so the feigned surrender is believable.

84)If I can delay being restrained until Finch wakes up, it might be closer to a fair fight. I do my best to impersonate a man babbling secrets out of fear, and play for time. [Charisma]


So here we go!

"What's the Professor's real name"?



He hits you hard enough that you see double for a few moments.

Then he reaches out, takes hold of your shoulder, and slashes the knife through coat and shirt and skin. "Who do you work for?"


How'd an -- honorable soldier -- get mixed up in this?



He checks only for an instant.

The next slash bites through the muscle of your back. "Who do you work for?"



I need to take control of this situation. I need to pretend to break before I actually do—but I need to let it go on a little longer so the feigned surrender is believable.



The next time the knife bites into you, you cry out.

The time after that, you go limp. "Stop. I'll tell you. I'll tell you. Just—just let me see my friend."

The man with the side-whiskers smiles. "Might be motivating," he agrees.

He uses the knife to slash the rope that binds your ankles. "Up you get."


So here we are going to see Finch.



Your head spins and your ribs pain you with each rasped breath.

You stumble as you are towed along, as weak and disoriented as Pierce was after being fed on by light-eaters. You remember, with odd clarity, that his skin was as white as death except where their handprints stood out lividly. Bare hands of different sizes, the marks of many torturers. Handprint-marked bodies left in heaps like so much rubbish.

The room next door has better light. Finch is unconscious—but alive—and lashed down on what looks uncomfortably like a doctor's examining table. On a tray nearby rest a number of blood-stained surgical tools. Blood and burn marks mar his bare torso. A second man stands guard over him.

The man with the side-whiskers holds you upright while the other man loosens Finch's restraints and shoves him off the table. Your captor cuts the ropes that bind your hands.

Between your dizzy head and your cramped leg muscles, you can hardly stand–but if you are ever going to move against them, it has to be now. Once they get you to that table, it will be too late.


If I can delay being restrained until Finch wakes up, it might be closer to a fair fight. I do my best to impersonate a man babbling secrets out of fear, and play for time.



It's beyond a doubt the finest performance you have ever given–an elaborate tale invented in the moment, delivered believably enough to make them keep listening. You play for one more moment, and then one more, and finally you see Finch lift a dizzy head from the other side of the table.

You don't pause in your explanation of how your employer Jonathan West has organized a vigilante force of former soldiers to take down the Professor. The guard and the man with the side-whiskers are still watching you as Finch rises very carefully to his knees.

He slams the table hard into the guard, knocking him off-balance and into the man with the side-whiskers.



Vote 85: This is the moment—do you lunge for the pistol or the scalpel?


# The pistol [Marksmanship].
# The blade [Medicine].
# Neither. I put all my strength behind an uppercut to the jaw of the man with the side-whiskers. [Athletics]


Tune in on Monday, 12 Sep, 2017 , 5:30 PM as we fight for our lives!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-09, 05:04 PM
85)The pistol [Marksmanship].

Marksmanship is our highest stat out of those three options, so....yeah.

smuchmuch
2016-09-09, 09:40 PM
besides, it's been a while si,ce we got to shoot something (although the same could be said so for medecine)

Pistol

Mister Tom
2016-09-10, 05:29 AM
The blade.. It's a) loaded, b) extreme close quarters, and c) quiet.

norman250
2016-09-12, 02:19 AM
Pistol

Blade makes more sense, practically speaking, but this is a game of rules and numbers, and our gun stat is higher.

smuchmuch
2016-09-12, 07:08 AM
(Actualy, in this particular situation, even independently of numbers considerations, it does seem the gun would be a pretty viable option, no ?

-The gun was one of those being carred by the guys threatening us, it's most certainly loaded.
-The whole idea is to get the shots they are distracted by Finch and therefore before they can react, so even if it is close quarters, it isn't a situation where, say, the 21 foot rule would be relevant.
-Finch already thrown a table, which tends to be noisy in itself. And I doubt we'd be able to knife two people without some noise, so anyway the goons nearby will probably be allerted.)

pendell
2016-09-12, 05:24 PM
Very well, the pistol it is.



You squeeze the trigger even as you are pulling the pistol free, and your captor howls as the bullet rips through his knee. You stumble away from him and bring the firearm up as the guard charges you.

You don't have time to aim, not really. But you still manage to drop him with two bullets through the chest at point blank range.

You turn back in time to see the man with the side-whiskers lunging for you with a scalpel grabbed from the tray. Your final bullet takes him through the head.

"Here's to the unstoppable team," Finch manages, "of Finch and Watson."

You stand for a moment, swaying slightly–but if there is anyone else in this building, they will have heard the gunfire. You have to hurry.


Quite. We heard six voices, so there are four other people here. Time to make an exit!

FYI , Finch's distraction makes any of the three an auto-success, since you've already rolled your skill check vs. charisma. The skill check only really comes into play if you try an unaided action without Finch's help.



"We have to get out of here."

"Yes," Finch says, a little vaguely.

His injuries are not immediately life-threatening, though they are certainly painful and borderline-incapacitating. You tear strips from your shirt to bandage the worst of the blade wounds and burns. You appropriate your captor's revolver and hand Finch the largest of the bloodstained medical knives. His hands shake, but it's better than nothing.

Then you pull his arm across your shoulders and the two of you stagger for the corridor.


Oh, we are not moving fast at all...



You emerge into what seems to be the cellar of a dockside warehouse. You can clearly hear lapping water–in that direction lies the river and probably an exit.

But boots thunder on the floor above your head, and men shout. They heard the gunshots. They are calling to ask the man with the side-whiskers if all is well.

You and Finch hasten, stumbling, for the stairs. Your only chance now is to find an exit before the men up there cut you off–

You almost make it.

But when you reach the echoing empty ground floor of the warehouse, three beefy men stand between you and the nearest egress–a trapdoor through which the warehouse's refuse is deposited into the river. They are blocking you, and closing fast.



Vote 86:
* There are three more bullets in the pistol I hold. It will be hard–but I can do this.

* I can't make that shot, but I still trust the strength of my arm. I look around for something to throw.

* The situation is desperate enough to justify it–I close with the lead man and plant one hand on my attacker's face to drain his life. Hopefully it will look to Finch as though I am just pushing him off…


The first two are marksmanship and athletics, respectively. The third requires no skill check but might have other drawbacks. You've never drained a man's life before , after all, and this is in front of Finch. Are you sure you can beat his perception? And if you don't, how will he react?

We'll find out ... Wednesday, 14 Sep, 2016, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-12, 05:49 PM
If he's disoriented, weak, and almost incapacitated with pain, I don't think he'll notice.

86)The situation is desperate enough to justify it–I close with the lead man and plant one hand on my attacker's face to drain his life. Hopefully it will look to Finch as though I am just pushing him off…

From Finch's perspective, I think it will look like we're pushing him off. And it's not like he'll look down at the man's body as we run past, so he'll never see the handprint....

smuchmuch
2016-09-13, 08:46 PM
* There are three more bullets in the pistol I hold. It will be hard–but I can do this.

We are a pretty good marksman. Though I'll grant draining someone life would be appropriately very dramatic.

norman250
2016-09-14, 12:31 AM
* There are three more bullets in the pistol I hold. It will be hard–but I can do this.


While I'm not opposed to healing if needed, using life-magic to kill men seems like a heinous act that we should reserve only for the most desperate of situations.

smuchmuch
2016-09-14, 02:51 PM
While I'm not opposed to healing if needed, using life-magic to kill men seems like a heinous act that we should reserve only for the most desperate of situations.

We've been beaten andd weakened and so js our partner, someone is trying to kill us with more comming on the way, I'd say it count as a pretty darn desesperate situation

pendell
2016-09-14, 07:14 PM
I kind of agree with smuchmuch; if this isn't a desperate situation, what is? The planet exploding?

Still, I think you guys made the right choice not to resort to light-eating. It's not just the risk of being caught .. its ... well... remember this exchange from chapter one?



"It detects light-eaters specifically," Woodward says. "By studying the electromagnetic emanations produced by a large population of human subjects over period of many years, Nigel and his student Trevelyan determined that certain habitual behaviors create subtle changes in electromagnetic wave frequency. Specifically, the appalling practice of light-eating will, over a long enough period of time, noticeably shorten the frequency of the practitioner's emanations."

Oh, well, that's good. Those who are sun-touched but do not use their talent to hurt other people are safe.


To put it simply, Dr. Watson doesn't yet know what Light-eating does to a person, but he ought to know that habitual light-eating produces irreversible physiological effects on a person. What those are , and whether they are worth the cost, is something he doesn't know yet.

At any rate, we're going to try to shoot them.



You squeeze off three rounds, and the three men drop one after the other.

Finch pauses a moment in open-mouthed awe.


Nice!



You and Finch scramble for the trapdoor. You know there is at least one more guard you have not yet encountered, and so you are somewhat prepared for the ambush. You manage to fight him off without suffering any severe injury.

Then you and Finch reach the chute, and hurtle and bounce into foul-smelling blackness. You remind yourself to hold your breath, to kick upward as soon as you hit the river–

The water strikes you like a club.


Because we used our perception , we knew there was one more man and were able to guard against him. If we hadn't done that, he'd have got a pound of flesh from us.

So here we are, swimming in the not-Thames. Yuck.



It pummels you both mercilessly as it drags you downstream, and your numb hands nearly lose your grip on Finch more than once. At last, well downriver of the warehouse you escaped, you manage to drag him onto the mud of the opposite bank.

But it takes a long, long time before he opens his eyes.

"We're all right," you whisper. "We're on the far bank. No pursuit."


Achievement: Daring Escape Rescued yourself and Finch from Colonel Fernley.



Finch nods and tries to rise, then falls back with a groan.




Vote 87: What do you say?

# "I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."

#"Stay hidden." I fumble the revolver into his hand. "I'll be back with reinforcements in no time."

# The best way to clear his head is to pretend I need his aid. I tell him I'm going for reinforcements, then feign dizziness when I try to rise.




*Looks ahead*

The next bit has quite a bit of computation, so I don't want to try to guess what the game will throw at us. So I'm going to stop it here and we're going to pick it up next Friday, 19 Jul, 2016, 5:30 PM as we stumble our way away from Free Mercia and Colonel Fernley.

...

In some ways it's too bad we escaped on our own


Because Alexandra Townsend owes us one, remember? We'd have seen her again.



But I suspect we haven't seen the end of that subplot by a long shot.

See you Friday!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-14, 07:21 PM
:smalleek:
I'll admit, I did not think our Marksmanship was high enough to pull that off.
Also, would one incident of light-eating really made us detectable in the N-T Glass? Best not to risk it, I suppose....
87)"I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."
This is no time to leave him or to feign weakness.

pendell
2016-09-14, 07:30 PM
Probably not. It's habitual light-eating that is the problem. The only issue is, habits have to start somewhere.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-09-15, 01:29 AM
* There are three more bullets in the pistol I hold. It will be hard–but I can do this.


While I'm not opposed to healing if needed, using life-magic to kill men seems like a heinous act that we should reserve only for the most desperate of situations.

By "desperate situation," I really meant "all alternate reasonable options are exhausted."

# "I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."

smuchmuch
2016-09-15, 08:49 AM
I suspect light eating might get a teensy bit addictive for certain kind of personalities (I mean, you're tking someone life to add to your own, it must feel like one hell of a rush)
I don't think Watson would be the type but he /does/ live a dangerous live, so desesperate situations might pop up again and from there...


# "I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."

pendell
2016-09-16, 05:25 PM
Psychologically addicting or Physically addictive. It would be most unfortunate if withdrawal from light-eating was like withdrawal from heroin, say.

Anyway,

"I can't leave you here; it isn't safe. We need to get word of this to Woodward as soon as possible. On your feet, soldier."

Let's see what happens!



Finch groans again, but not in disagreement. He allows you to drag his arm over your shoulders and haul him to his feet. You are not altogether steady yourself, and the two of you stand for a moment, keeping each other balanced.

The walk that follows is a nightmare–slipping on the riverbank mud, stumbling over rocks and refuse and sometimes only your own feet, Finch a dragging weight on your shoulders.

You are exhausted long before you and Finch reach Woodward's front door.


Compassionate: 44 Pragmatic: 56
Conventional: 40 Unconventional: 60



Woodward whirls at once into motion—metaphorically speaking; he is too bulky for it to be literal. He has one of the new telephones installed in his home, and uses it to coordinate a raid on the warehouse without changing out of his bedroom slippers. Then he sends a servant for his own physician and pours both of you brandy.

"Now," he says, not unkindly. "The rest of the report. Before the doctor gets here. What intelligence did you buy with a night of suffering and courage?"

You fight to pull your thoughts together. One more effort, and then the pair of you can collapse.

"We learned that our 'spider' is known as 'the Professor,'" you manage. "He is a charismatic and well-educated Loegrian, and he is recruiting from the lower classes with promises that his crimes will improve their lives. ] I think that's all we learned from the streets…"

"Long-term," Finch murmurs without opening his eyes, "they are talking about an armed revolt—a 'Rising'. But they're years away from it, so our informants said."

Woodward nods with approval at the two of you. "What else?"

"The man who captured us," you say, struggling to form coherent sentences, "wasn't the Professor. A former underling, dismissed and unstable."

Woodward nods with approval at you. "What else?"

"The man who captured us was a military officer," you dredge out of your aching head. "Imperial Riflemen."

Woodward looks impressed.

"I think his men were former military too, from the way they fought."

Woodward nods. "Excellent work, Watson."

"That's all," you mumble. "I can't remember anything else."

"You've done very well," Woodward praises. "And here's the doctor. He'll see you home to rest."


*Phew* So we picked up some useful intelligence along with our bruises. Excellent.



You watch as the physician tends the knife wounds and burn marks that mar your flatmate's skin. There will be scarring, but if Finch can avoid infection and pneumonia, there will be no graver long-term consequences.

The physician then turns his attention to your injuries, and departs soon afterward, leaving the two of you sitting limp and bandaged in chairs on either side of the hearth. You close your eyes, grateful for the fire's warmth.


Oh...?



It turns from warmth to heat–knife blades of heat that sear your skin even as they plunge into your flesh.

You can't breathe. You can't move. You are strapped to the table in the warehouse, and you would answer the questions if you could hear them, but you can't hear above the screaming.

And then the heat turns icy cold. You are floundering through foul-smelling icy water, sinking, weighed down by all the things you should have done, all the words you should have said. Too late now, it's too late, the current has swept you away and it's too late to seize the chances you should have seized–

–and then warm hands touch yours, and you jump awake with a gasp.


Watson seems to be getting pretty bad PTSD. How long can he keep this up?



"It's all right," Grace Chandler says. "You were dreaming. It's all right." You are in your armchair by the fire. You must have fallen asleep. Her hands lie warm over yours–and as you realize it, she draws self-consciously away.




Vote 88:
#I catch at her hands to keep her from going anywhere. "Grace. Oh, love. I thought I was never going to see you again."

#I blink at her confusedly as she resumes her seat on the couch. "Miss Chandler, what in the world…? How do you come to be here?"

#I flinch back. I can't bear to be touched just now.



Regardless of what we vote , we push on after this initial reaction. How did Miss Chandler come to be here?



"I've had the scare of my life too," she whispers, trying to smile and failing. "When I opened Mr. Finch's telegram, I felt as though the floor had dropped out from under my feet."

"Mr. Finch's telegram?"

"He said he thought I ought to know that you'd been hurt. He didn't tell me much–just that you and he had been pursuing police business in the East End and were set upon. That both of you were hurt, not dangerously, but not trivially. Mrs. Forrester saw my face and gave me leave to absent myself from my duties today." Her eyes have filled with tears, and she tries to blink them away. "I suppose a knock on the head was bound to happen eventually, during one of your East End adventures–but the idea that you could be kidnapped and ill-used by madmen with a special grudge against the police force hadn't yet invaded my nightmares."

There's one thing to be said for being kidnapped and ill-used and nearly dying while attempting to escape: it clarifies one's perceptions wonderfully. For a while there, you weren't at all sure you were going to have a future. Now that it seems one has been gifted to you, you know what you want it to look like.




Vote 89:

# "Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?"

# "I was scared too. I was terrified that I was never going to get back to you, and I'd never have the chance to tell you I love you. Grace—you asked me if I ever thought of giving up the police work. I'll give it up if you will marry me."

# "It's scary, but it's…the work I am meant to be doing. I can't stop running risks like this–even for you. I don't think I can ever settle down and be the kind of husband you need."


So this is a major breakpoint; if you take either of the first two options, you will marry Grace Chandler. If the third option, you will break up and you won't hear from her again, I'm afraid.

Some things of which you ought to be aware:

1) Marrying Miss Chandler does not end the adventure; it will take you down the married path as opposed to the police path.

2) Regardless of which you choose, the next section is going to be a break from active police work. You don't think your nightmares, trembling hands, and all the rest have escaped notice, do you?

At any rate, go ahead and make your choice ... and I'll see you on Monday, 19 Sep, 2016, 5:30 PM . Have a great weekend!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-16, 06:55 PM
*Inner tactician goes away*
Good thing, too; he was going on about how people you love are just potential hostages.

Well.... this is it. To marry or not to marry. And I say.... a toast to the bride and groom!
88)I catch at her hands to keep her from going anywhere. "Grace. Oh, love. I thought I was never going to see you again."
89)"Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?"

And pendell, you accidentally labelled 89 as 88.

smuchmuch
2016-09-16, 10:16 PM
Psychologically addicting or Physically addictive. It would be most unfortunate if withdrawal from light-eating was like withdrawal from heroin, say.

(I was clearly talking from the assumption that we're talking about a "psychological" addiction here.

In my knowlege of neurophysio and neuropsycho and what i've been taught, a 'physical' addiction (as in, somethignthat cause actual physical symptom from withdrawal) an be easier to fight of at least shift to another product with the proper support and replacement drugs, even if simply because it's easier to make the addict admit they trully have a problem.

(So I guess Watson could get off light eating by turning to Opium, like a proper Victorian gentleman junkie :smalltongue:)

Ultimately, though, both aren't as clear cut than previously though as a long standing psychological addiction still has some lasting effects (though epigenetic regulation, changing certin genes expression for example), while physical addiction drugs (mostly opoids), on top of the pain and discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms can still be habbit forming.

Eventualy a good part of an addiction problem, weither it'd be to search a pleasrable sensation or starve a painfull withdrawal, (which doesn't even have to involve drugs.) will boil down to a learning. Once someone is conditioned, it's /very/ hard to break off)

-----------------------------------------------------------

#I blink at her confusedly as she resumes her seat on the couch. "Miss Chandler, what in the world…? How do you come to be here?"

# "It's scary, but it's…the work I am meant to be doing. I can't stop running risks like this–even for you. I don't think I can ever settle down and be the kind of husband you need."


(I ddon't think i'm suprising anyone here)

pendell
2016-09-17, 09:54 AM
And pendell, you accidentally labelled 89 as 88.


Noted and fixed. Good catch!

Interesting, smuchmuch. I didn't know that physical addictions were technically easier to kick, and that's how it's done.

Hopefully we can avoid addicting Dr. Watson to either draining others' lives OR opium, but we'll see. :smallamused:

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-09-18, 04:18 AM
88)I catch at her hands to keep her from going anywhere. "Grace. Oh, love. I thought I was never going to see you again."
89)"Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?"


Aaw.

pendell
2016-09-19, 05:46 PM
All right, here we go:

88)I catch at her hands to keep her from going anywhere. "Grace. Oh, love. I thought I was never going to see you again."

89)"Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?"
"

Her response to 88:



"I've had the scare of my life too," she whispers, trying to smile and failing. "When I opened Mr. Finch's telegram, I felt as though the floor had dropped out from under my feet."



You respond:

""Oddly enough, those East End adventures seem much less appealing than they once did. I was thinking it might be time to give up the police work, settle down and open a practice. If I did that…how might you feel about being a doctor's wife?""

And ...



She stares at you. "Oh. Oh, I should like that very much."

"Then will you marry me?"

"Oh, yes," she says, eyes shining, and you lift her hands to your lips.

Finch smiles when you tell him the news, but there's something melancholic in his eyes. "I'm glad for you," he says. "I am, truly. Nothing will be the same any more…but change is the way of life, of course. Congratulations to you both!"


Finch. As we learned in the alternate route.


He is homosexual, and has a bit of a thing for Watson himself. But he dare not reveal himself that way to someone not of the fraternity. That hint of melancholy is the only clue he can give us to his true feelings.


So .. .we are now officially engaged!

Conventional: 52 Unconventional: 48



inch's injuries heal rapidly. Though he's been left with scars and residual weakness, no permanent damage was done.

You learn that when Woodward's team raided the warehouse—not long after you and Finch fled it—they found nothing. The place had been swept clear of the quick, the dead, and their instruments of torture.

Your old service revolver was recovered, however.

And chalked on the flagstone floor was this message: "FREE MERCIA DISAVOWS COLONEL FEARNLEY."

Woodward, researching the name, discovers that the Colonel was born the son of an old and distinguished family. He was well-educated; he served with distinction in the Army; he was mentioned in dispatches during the Goráska campaign.

The ending of the war seemed to leave him at loose ends. For a time he hunted big game in the colonies at the edge of the Empire—there is a story that he crawled down a drain after a wounded tiger, which you would find fanciful if you hadn't seen the Colonel's eyes. When he returned to Kingsford, he found no game big enough to satisfy him…until Free Mercia provided an outlet for his violent tendencies.

And then his tendencies became so violent that even Free Mercia cast him aside.



So... that was his story then. A mad dog, which Free Mercia found useful for a time.



A dangerous man," Finch observes.

"A dangerous organization," Woodward counters.

"Not an organization composed entirely of homicidal lunatics, though," Finch counters. "The saboteurs have been thoughtful, well-organized, and reluctant to waste life. I don't think the late unlamented Colonel represents the Professor's organization."

When Woodward is gone, Finch adds, "I think the Professor is dangerous in an entirely different way."


Really? How so?



Chapter Five : The Adventure of the Opera Singer

Nothing further is heard of the men who served as guards for the Colonel's warehouse. They disappear so completely that if it were not for Finch's scars, and your recurrent headaches, there would be no proof the events of that night ever happened. You might start to wonder if your nightmares were only generated by an overactive imagination.

You might, except that Finch has the same nightmares. You encounter each other in the sitting room more than once at three o'clock in the morning. He greets you with a wry smile, you pour out two glasses of brandy, and neither of you talk about it.


You may not be lovers, but you are developing a real friendship.



During this time, you resign from the police force and use your small savings (plus a loan discreetly arranged by Arthur Woodward) to purchase a practice.

It is, after all, what one does when one is preparing to support a wife.

So what if the nights are difficult and nightmare-ridden–the days are wonderful. Grace is wonderful. Together you explore the little house that adjoins your new practice, and discuss how it might be furnished and decorated–eventually, someday, once there are funds enough to replace the somewhat appalling furniture that came with it. The house and practice are in the respectable part of town, but only barely. Your patients will be factory workers and shopkeepers rather than high-society ladies and gentlemen.

Arthur Woodward, upon learning this, offers his opinion that establishing yourself as a friend to that sort of neighborhood will give you the chance to learn more about the Professor, Free Mercia, and their schemes.



Vote 90:
In response, you…

# …roll my eyes once his back is turned. I'm marrying, settling down, and getting out of the adventuring business, thank you.

# …roll my eyes once his back is turned. Some people respond to a letter of resignation with dismay and to an engagement with congratulations, but that's apparently too much to expect from Woodward.

# …worry that I am backing away from front-line work just when I am needed most. Maybe I am even running away.

# …think that is an excellent point. I fully intend to keep my hand in after my marriage, at least on the information-gathering side.




Grace, with whom you may now be frank regarding your former profession, is relieved you will be henceforth confining your activities to the comparatively safe activity of information gathering.

When you've gotten the practice up to a stable point, you and Grace quietly set a date and quietly marry. The intimate little ceremony goes off perfectly, your best man presses your hand hard and kisses your wife on the cheek, and after a small but still joyful wedding breakfast, you and Grace drive in a hired carriage to your new home. It's hardly a wedding tour worthy of the name–you can't afford anything so grand–but when the subject first came up and you tried to apologize and explain, Grace only laughed at you. "Did you mistake me for a grand lady? I'd rather drive across town with you than journey to the edges of the Empire with anyone else."


Achievement: Hearth And Home: Married the love of your life.



You hang out your shingle and settle in to the daily routine of rickets, consumption, measles, phosphorus poisoning, childbed fever, miner's cough, fingers crushed by machinery, and so on in a never-ending procession.


Medicine: 66


Vote 91:
It is ..

# …fulfilling. I feel like I'm taking deep breaths for the first time in a long time.

# …depressing. There is so much here I can do nothing about, but I have to keep trying.

# …maddening. I fight against the feeling as hard as I can, but the truth is I feel trapped.




You have been living in the house and running the practice for three or four months when Grace comes to you with a look of determination on her face.

"Living with you is wonderful," she says, "I don't want you to think anything else, but I am accustomed to being…busier than this. I
feel–I
want to do something that matters."
She lifts her chin. "So. I have found something. We are not very far from the Loegrian quarter, and you know many of the people there were raised by sun-worshipping parents, and fear scientific medicine in consequence. They won't come here, not even for something simple you could easily cure–but Dr. Anstruther's wife tells me that they are not so resistant to scientific medicine brought to them. Especially not by women, since it was wise women who dealt with herbs and prayers and trinkets back in the dark days.

"There is a group of women, led by Mrs. Anstruther, who go through the poorer streets like a doctor on his rounds. I mean to be one of them. I know enough of nursing to be great help, and if there was something beyond my skill, I could perhaps persuade them to come to you if they knew me well."




Vote 92:

#I enthusiastically agree. This is a wonderful idea.

[Only available if trapped was selected in 91] #I agree–with deliberately augmented enthusiasm, exaggerated with an eye for the future.

#I hesitate. It's a good idea, but those streets are dangerous.

#I strongly discourage her from doing any such thing. It's far too dangerous.

#I flatly refuse to allow her to do such a thing unaccompanied. I will make time to do the rounds with her, but she must not go alone.



So we've got a couple of votes this time, and then we'll decide whether Grace is going to go act as medical professional, whether we will accompany her, or whether we're going to keep her in the house.

Speaking as a veteran of 22 years of marriage, I would say that last option could become difficult. An unhappy wife in the house has a way of making everyone else miserable.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-19, 05:58 PM
*Sniff* I promised myself I wouldn't cry.... it's just so romantic! :frown: boohoohoohoohoohoo!

Anyways, looks like there's no cure for the government-service blues. We're getting married, but apparently we're still expected to be part of the spy team. :smallsigh:

90)…roll my eyes once his back is turned. Some people respond to a letter of resignation with dismay and to an engagement with congratulations, but that's apparently too much to expect from Woodward.
91)…fulfilling. I feel like I'm taking deep breaths for the first time in a long time.
92)I hesitate. It's a good idea, but those streets are dangerous.
I mean, in the slums of Victorian England Mercia, there's all sorts of predators.

Also: Achievement Get! New Sherlock Holmes parallels: Colonel Fearnley=Colonel Moran, the Professor=Moriaty!

norman250
2016-09-20, 01:52 AM
# …think that is an excellent point. I fully intend to keep my hand in after my marriage, at least on the information-gathering side.


Just because we've retired doesn't mean we have to be boring.

# …fulfilling. I feel like I'm taking deep breaths for the first time in a long time.

I doubt this choice is for stats, let's just be a happy Watson, eh?

#I enthusiastically agree. This is a wonderful idea.

We like being unconventional, and medicine. A good combo here.

Two additional points:

1.

Speaking as a veteran of 22 years of marriage,

Congratulations, honestly, as someone who will be marrying his partner of 8 years next July, I hope we last even half as long.

2. "[Only available if trapped was selected in 91] #I agree–with deliberately augmented enthusiasm, exaggerated with an eye for the future.

I know these are done at your discretion, but could we maybe get a spoiler read here if it doesn't get the vote? I'm genuinely curious as to what it brings about.

Black Socks
2016-09-20, 06:04 AM
Congratulations, honestly, as someone who will be marrying his partner of 8 years next July, I hope we last even half as long.
Congratulations to you, too. I'm at that age where my parents continuously ask me why I don't have a girlfriend yet.

pendell
2016-09-20, 08:41 AM
Congratulations to you, too. I'm at that age where my parents continuously ask me why I don't have a girlfriend yet.

Eh, parents. I wouldn't worry too much about the time just yet; After all, there are worse things than rushing into a relationship and being stuck in a bad marriage ,but I can't think of many.




2. "[Only available if trapped was selected in 91] #I agree–with deliberately augmented enthusiasm, exaggerated with an eye for the future.

I know these are done at your discretion, but could we maybe get a spoiler read here if it doesn't get the vote? I'm genuinely curious as to what it brings about.


I'll see what I can do.



Congratulations, honestly, as someone who will be marrying his partner of 8 years next July, I hope we last even half as long.


Congratulations, and I hope so too! Here are the things that worked for us:

1) Ensure the number of times you make up equals the number of fights.

2) After the romance is done, it's all about sheer willingness to stick it out.

The problem I found is that most human beings really don't show much of their true selves to other people, even their romantic partners. When you're married and living in the same house, that's a lot less of an option. You start getting under the other person's skin and you start seeing all the stuff they carefully hide from the outside world -- all their fears, all their insecurities, all their troubles. All the different ways that they aren't as good as they pretend to be to the outside world.

If you can make up your mind to accept the other person , both good points and the bad, and to stick with them anyway, you've got a good chance of making it. In point of fact, though, *both* people need to make that decision. It takes two to make a marriage, but only one to make a divorce.

It can be done. It's just not easy.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2016-09-21, 08:55 PM
Vote 90 is a tie between:
90)…roll my eyes once his back is turned. Some people respond to a letter of resignation with dismay and to an engagement with congratulations, but that's apparently too much to expect from Woodward.

# …think that is an excellent point. I fully intend to keep my hand in after my marriage, at least on the information-gathering side.

Rolling ...

roll my eyes = 44
excellent point = 66

So he thinks its an excellent point.

We agree on :
91)…fulfilling. I feel like I'm taking deep breaths for the first time in a long time.

92 is a tie between

hesitate .. dangerous
and enthusiastically agree .. wonderful idea.

Rolling ..

hesitate - 17
enthusiastic - 85.

Our die roller is enthuisiastic, eh? Good to know!

92) I agree enthuisiastically. This is a wonderful idea.

So let's play it out!

We choose the two choices above and see all the text we've already seen, but we get a stat change:

Conventional: 69 Unconventional: 31

Then we push on and Grace pitches her wish to help out the Loegrians as a medical person. We enthusiastically agree. It's a wonderful idea.



"Of course you should put your nursing skills to use. Just take care, please."

Grace smiles. "I'll go and write to Mrs. Anstruther now and tell her I can begin tomorrow."

Every night over the dinner table, you and Grace regale each other with successes and console each other over failures. Sometimes she describes symptoms to you and you are able to suggest a more effective course of treatment. It's a good partnership. One of the best you could hope for, in fact.


Since it was asked, what happens if we agree because we feel trapped?


Perhaps she wouldn't mind so much if you were to resume a more active role in Woodward's organization, if you first demonstrate that you understand the similar restless feelings she is experiencing.

"Of course you should put your nursing skills to use. Just take care, please."

"I wouldn't go alone," Grace explains. "The women Mrs. Anstruther leads go in groups, and they are known and liked. On the rare occasion that someone offers them insult, someone else always appears from a doorway or around a corner and prevents the offender from doing harm. The sensible people all like having us come to help them; they don't want to drive us away. There really isn't any danger. Mrs. Anstruther has been doing this for years, and no one has ever gotten hurt."

You nod. "Take care anyhow, love."

Every night over the dinner table, you and Grace regale each other with successes and console each other over failures. Sometimes she describes symptoms to you and you are able to suggest a more effective course of treatment. It's a good partnership. One of the best you could hope for, in fact.




So we get a little more information but the two are very similar. I wonder what would happen if we put our foot down and tried to stop Grace from doing what she wanted?

In any case, we continue.



As the months wear on, your regular patients become more open with you. You are, after all, very good at persuading people to talk to you.

Grizzled old Tom Brown speaks of teamster plans to organize into a highly illegal union. Cocky young Jed Baker winks and tells you that he and his fellow dockworkers often help themselves to goods left unattended, to supplement their pay.

When you treat Kitty Winters for an injury received at the shirtwaist factory, she confides that the young women working there have a plan to "strike" until their demands for a shorter working day are met. When asked, she admits they got the idea from a pamphlet handed out by some university students. Perhaps of greatest concern, Mrs. O'Connor talks of a Loegrian culture club that serves as a venue for Loegrian political agitators to recruit newcomers to their cause.



Vote 93: What, if anything, do you pass along to Woodward?

#All of it, of course. Woodward needs to know about these incipient threats.

#Some things, but not others.

.....Vote 93A: What, specifically, do you tell Woodward?

.....#Everything except the thefts of the dockworkers. Strikes, unions, and potential Loegrian bombers are serious threats to the city, but a few missing trifles are not.

.....#Everything except the Loegrian culture club. It is illegal to form unions and steal from shipping crates, but it is not illegal to exchange ideas.

.....#Only the nascent teamster union. Should they organize country-wide, they could seriously impact the flow of food into cities like Kingsford.

.....#Only the goings-on at the Loegrian culture club. Everything else risks only property damage at worst; but Loegrian uprisings or bombs risk lives.

.....#Only the potential teamster union and the Loegrian culture club. The dockworker thefts are too petty, and after seeing Kitty's injuries, I rather think the girls have a point.

#None of it. These people are only using what small leverage they have to improve their miserable lot in life. They do not deserve Woodward's men kicking in their doors.


#Not only do I keep their secrets from Woodward, I try to make Woodward understand what drives them. If we could fix some of the problems from the top, there would be no need for this agitation.


#I tell Woodward everything, but I also try to make him understand what drives them. If we could fix some of the problems from the top, there would be no need for this agitation.




Now that we've decided what to tell Woodward, Woodward and others will react to us. After that we press on ...



And so it goes—life in a well-understood pattern—for some months.

While you are running a practice and investigating the rabble-rousing side of Free Mercia, Finch is engaged in a series of duels with its criminal side. The criminal side manifests in two ways: daring robberies of extremely valuable items, executed with clockwork precision; and the "influencing" of prominent members of government or industry, usually through blackmail.

Finch and Woodward's other operatives have a reasonable degree of success in tracking down stolen paintings and jewelry and in stealing back incriminating letters. Sometimes they manage to arrest and imprison the criminal immediately responsible–but they have no success at all in tracing any of the crimes back to the elusive Professor. No one even knows his name.

At least there isn't any Vlaski nonsense to foil during this time.


That's helpful.



You are sitting in the dress circle of the Royal Opera House between Finch and Grace, watching the jewels worn by the nearby ladies sparkle in the gaslight. Finch is entertaining you with his usual murmured commentary regarding the people nearby, which prevents you from feeling overly embarrassed about the contrast between your perfectly-appropriate frock coat and the glittering elegance of your neighbors.



Vote 94: What are you doing here?

#I've always loved the opera. Usually I must content myself with the cheap seats up high, but once a year or so I scrape up the money for the dress circle.

#My wife loves the opera. Usually we must content ourselves with the cheap seats up high, but Finch and I pooled resources to surprise Grace with dress circle seats as a birthday treat.

#This is not my preferred form of entertainment. I am primarily here due to shameless curiosity about the lead soprano.


#Neither love of music nor the soprano's notoriety has attracted me. I am here for another reason altogether.



After we set that stage, we press forward for just a bit into the opera.



Grace seems to now be delighted by the glittering spectacle that surrounds you. She is as pretty—prettier—in her plain brown silk as any of the other nearby ladies are in their elaborate gowns, her eyes sparkling as she looks all about.

"I can't help wondering," she murmurs to you behind her fan, "how many people are here for the opera, and how many are here to catch a glimpse of Madame Albescu?"

"Some may be intending to do both," you point out. Since the Kingsford Royal Opera House opened for the season, the fashionable world has been utterly enamored of the half-Vlaski half-Gorask soprano who has joined the company temporarily as part of her foreign tour—and that was before Madame was observed on the arm of Mercia's Crown Prince on numerous occasions.

You understand from Finch that Woodward is in fact somewhat worried about the friendship between the heir and the opera singer.



Is he indeed? An opera singer and the heir, eh?



Just below you, there is a stir in the Royal Box as the young Crown Prince emerges. His curly golden-brown hair and his large eyes make him look younger than his years, putting you in mind of a boy allowed to stay up past his bedtime. The crowd stands and applauds, and His Royal Highness waves a hand before taking his seat.




Vote 94:
Do you have any feelings about the Prince's infatuation for the opera singer?


#I have a hard time concealing my disgust. Not very long ago, her people were slaughtering his loyal subjects.

#I don't like it, but I do understand it. His Royal Highness isn't much over twenty, and no doubt the war seems longer ago to him than it does to me.

#I see nothing wrong with it. Some warmth between one Empire's Crown Prince and the other's national treasure can only aid in maintaining the peace, and she returns home at the end of the season.

#I think Woodward is making a mountain out of a molehill. His Royal Highness is hardly more than a boy, and it is commonplace for boys to have infatuations for theater girls.



That's three votes, and I think that's enough progress for now. Get your votes in and we will decide just how much of a spy we are ... and we will continue this opera. What will happen here, I wonder?

Votes in by Friday, 23 Sep, 2016, 5:30PM to continue the story!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2016-09-23, 05:22 PM
Hello, ? No one voted?

I will extend voting to Monday, 26 Sep, 2016, 5:30 PM

I see my previous vote call was mis-written as 23 November. That was an error. I meant today. Shall we try again three days from now?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-23, 05:56 PM
Sorry sorry sorry! I forgot and I didn't vote and now I'm typing from an IPad! Augh!
93) Nothing.
Screw Woodward and this rapidly-approaching-a-police-state country! Free Mercia is looking more and more appealing....
94)I've always loved the opera.
I'm hoping this can get a bonus to CHA due to 'classiness' or something.
95)Woodward's making a mountain out of a molehill.
Seriously. Pretty much everyone has, sometime in their life, had a 'crush' on a celebrity. But because he's the prince, he gets the totally-not-M16 monitoring him.

Also, 95 was labelled as 94.

Mister Tom
2016-09-24, 02:20 PM
.....Vote 93A: What, specifically, do you tell
.....#Only the potential teamster union and the Loegrian culture club. The dockworker thefts are too petty, and after seeing Kitty's injuries, I rather think the girls have a point.

94a:My wife loves the opera. Usually we must content ourselves with the cheap seats up high, but Finch and I pooled resources to surprise Grace with dress circle seats as a birthday treat.

94b: don't like it, but I do understand it. His Royal Highness isn't much over twenty, and no doubt the war seems longer ago to him than it does to me.

norman250
2016-09-25, 11:23 AM
#Some things, but not others.

.#Everything except the Loegrian culture club. It is illegal to form unions and steal from shipping crates, but it is not illegal to exchange ideas.


#Neither love of music nor the soprano's notoriety has attracted me. I am here for another reason altogether.

#I think Woodward is making a mountain out of a molehill. His Royal Highness is hardly more than a boy, and it is commonplace for boys to have infatuations for theater girls.

norman250
2016-09-26, 02:33 AM
Also, that "trapped" path was so similar I wonder what went behind the decision to have it be triggered by a previous dialogue option.

pendell
2016-09-27, 05:44 AM
Abject apologies, guys. Yesterday was my very first day at my new job and it was full of incident.

I'll have the update tonight. Meanwhile, what do you want to do about the next one? Hold it on schedule tomorrow or skip till Friday to get more time?

Again, really sorry.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-09-27, 02:44 PM
I could probably have a vote in by Wednesday, but I am uncertain of the other viewers time zones and ability to do so.

Mister Tom
2016-09-27, 03:12 PM
No rush! I would say wait for friday

Black Socks
2016-09-27, 04:27 PM
I'd prefer to wait. No big hurry.

pendell
2016-09-27, 07:19 PM
Friday it is. In the meantime I must walk the walk of shame (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ7vkmUNTPA)

So votes... votes...

93 is a three way tie between ...

# Nothing. [87]

# Only the potential teamster union and the Loegrian culture club. The dockworker thefts are too petty, and after seeing Kitty's injuries, I rather think the girls have a point. [63]

#Everything except the Loegrian culture club. It is illegal to form unions and steal from shipping crates, but it is not illegal to exchange ideas. [29]

We aren't telling Woodward jack. That'll irritate him greatly, I suspect, so we'd better not ask him for any favors.

...

but it might make other people more inclined to do us favors.

94 is another three way tie:

I've always loved the opera. 54

My wife loves the opera. Usually we must content ourselves with the cheap seats up high, but Finch and I pooled resources to surprise Grace with dress circle seats as a birthday treat. 10

Neither love of music nor the soprano's notoriety has attracted me. I am here for another reason altogether. 92

So it's neither love of music nor notoriety.


95 :
Woodward's making a mountain out of a molehill.

So let's play it through!

First, we tell Woodward:

None of it. These people are only using what small leverage they have to improve their miserable lot in life. They do not deserve Woodward's men kicking in their doors.





Your patients come to speak of you as a safe person to confide in.

Compassionate: 58 Pragmatic: 42
Conventional: 52 Unconventional: 48


Next we go to the opera.

Neither love of music nor the soprano's notoriety has attracted me. I am here for another reason altogether.



You are here because the soprano's notoriety stems from her friendship with Mercia's Crown Prince, and said friendship has Arthur Woodward rather worried.

From the moment the Kingsford Royal Opera House opened for the season, the fashionable world has been utterly enamored of the half-Vlaski half-Gorask soprano who has joined the company temporarily as part of her foreign tour. Her voice has been compared to crystal, her skin to alabaster, her hair to spun gold—all the usual clichés—and that was before Madame Adela Albescu was observed on the arm of Mercia's Crown Prince on numerous occasions.

You estimate that no more than half the audience is attending the Opera for the purpose of hearing Madame's extraordinary voice. The rest are present to catch a glimpse of the woman who has caught His Royal Highness's eye. Finch is here because Woodward wants him to observe Madame, and Finch finagled two extra tickets so that you and Grace could come along.


No stat change.



Just below you, there is a stir in the Royal Box as the young Crown Prince emerges. His curly golden-brown hair and his large eyes make him look younger than his years, putting you in mind of a boy allowed to stay up past his bedtime. The crowd stands and applauds, and His Royal Highness waves a hand before taking his seat.


I think Woodward is making a mountain out of a molehill. His Royal Highness is hardly more than a boy, and it is commonplace for boys to have infatuations for theater girls.



You rolled your eyes when you first heard of Woodward's concern. You roll them again now, and lean back in your seat.


No stat change.



The gaslight lowers into darkness. The chatter around you dies down to expectant whispers and rustling.

The curtain rises, and Madame Albescu stands in a spotlight in the middle of the stage.




Vote 96:
# For once the clichés seem justified. I have never heard such a beautiful voice.

# I am not musically knowledgeable enough to pass judgment on her voice, but I have rarely seen so beautiful a woman.

# That "exotic" style of beauty—the gold and alabaster style common in Vlask—has never appealed to me. But I have to admit she is a compelling actress.


That's a reaction. Afterwards, we continue:



When the opera crescendos to its end, the audience leaps to its feet with wild applause. Madame Albescu takes bow after bow. A red rose lands at her feet, then another, then a shower of them. Everyone's eyes follow the cascade to the Royal Box. The Crown Prince himself is throwing the flowers. Madame curtsies to him, and he kisses his hand to her and actually bows back.




Vote 97:

#Woodward was right to be worried. The heir to the throne should not bow his head to a commoner, especially not a commoner from Vlask.

#It's harmless. A bit undignified, perhaps, not ideal behavior for a Prince, but understandable behavior from a young man enjoying an infatuation.

#Woodward was worried about this? We must have achieved our goals and brought peace to the Empire, if so small a piece of nonsense causes such great concern.


After that reaction we push on.



The three of you emerge from the opera house into a jostling crowd all struggling toward the same cabs. Further off, your neighbors from the dress circle board private carriages in a far more dignified fashion.

Finch motions you and Grace to wait and eels through the mob to the curb. Barely a moment later, he is waving the two of you over. "This is a hansom," you point out when you reach him. "Where are you going to sit?"

"I'll walk." Finch waves off your protest and Grace's concern. "No, no, I'm fine, it's not far and it's a pleasant night. And my footwear is actually suited to it." He has a point; you'd consider walking too if it were not for Grace's long skirts and delicate shoes. Finch gives your wife his hand to help her into the cab. "Happy birthday," he adds.

"Thank you." She is glowing. "We will see you soon, I hope? Come by for dinner sometime this week."

"I would if I could, but I have a premonition I'll be working late for the foreseeable future." Finch turns to you. "I'll drop in and tell you all about it once it's over, shall I?"

"I look forward to it." You shake hands goodnight and go your separate ways.



That was ... a touch disturbing , I think . Still, how much trouble can a prince get into? Surely he has guards and his family to keep him out of too much trouble?



A few days later, on the morning of Armistice Day, you are roused very early by a frantic knocking at the front door. Looking down, you see two men supporting a third, who is well-wrapped in blankets and leans limply against his companions. The fourth, hammering on your door, is a patient of yours, the dockside laborer Jed Baker. You've never seen him look this scared.

You signal that you will be right down, manage to throw on some clothes without waking Grace, and hurry to open your surgery door.


"All right, Jed," you say once they're all inside, "what's happened?"

"Better take a look for yourself, Doctor," he says hoarsely. "You tell me."


Okay, diagnosis powers: Activate!



Frowning, you turn to the bundled man and begin loosening the blankets.

He looks ill rather than injured. His skin is milk-white, his eyes half-closed, his breathing labored. As you weigh the relative likelihood of head injury, consumption, heart trouble, and pneumonia, your hands keep unwinding the blankets.

The torso beneath is bare–and two large handprints stand out lividly against the skin of the upper arms.

You whisper an oath. "Light-eating."

Behind you, Jed Baker swallows audibly. "That's what I was afraid you'd say."

You twist around to look at him. "Do you know who did this?"

"Yeah." Jed swallows again. "I did."




Vote 98:


#He's a light-eater? I spin to face him, ready to defend myself.

#With an effort, I keep still. This situation is going to be much easier to handle if everyone stays calm.

#He looks terrified. If he did do this, he didn't mean to. I don't think I'm in danger from him.

#Wait a minute–this doesn't make any sense. I know this family, and they've never displayed any signs of being sun-touched.


Okay, come back on Friday, 30 Sep, 2016 , 5:30PM . We may have a light-eater standing right next to us!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-09-27, 07:57 PM
Pendell, it's ok if you miss something occasionally. No one's perfect, and frankly, you're doing a better job than I would.
Anyways.... to the votes!

96)That "exotic" style of beauty—the gold and alabaster style common in Vlask—has never appealed to me. But I have to admit she is a compelling actress.
Singing. Meh.
97)Woodward was worried about this? We must have achieved our goals and brought peace to the Empire, if so small a piece of nonsense causes such great concern.
Yeah, last time I checked, wasn't there a hostile foreign nation and a home-grown rebellion going on?
98)Wait a minute–this doesn't make any sense. I know this family, and they've never displayed any signs of being sun-touched.
Inner detective, I choose you!

pendell
2016-09-30, 05:05 PM
Only one vote. That makes it easy :smallamused:.
Let's play it through!

96)That "exotic" style of beauty—the gold and alabaster style common in Vlask—has never appealed to me. But I have to admit she is a compelling actress.

No stat change.

The lady performs, and the prince bows to her.

97)Woodward was worried about this? We must have achieved our goals and brought peace to the Empire, if so small a piece of nonsense causes such great concern.



Indeed.


No stat change. So we return home and confront Jed, with his suspicious symptoms.

98)Wait a minute–this doesn't make any sense. I know this family, and they've never displayed any signs of being sun-touched.



You've known Jed and his family a while now, and you've never seen any sign of sun-touched blood in any of them–not even red hair. Is it possible he only thinks he was responsible?

Jed raises his hands. "I didn't mean to. It just happened–I had no idea I even could–"

"Why don't you tell me from the beginning," you say.

Jed exchanges looks with the other two men. "Last night we—er—acquired a couple bottles of wine. Fancy stuff, the sort the toffs drink–none of us had ever had the like. We went back to Bill's lodging house–" He nods at one of the other men. "–to drink it."

Jed shifts his feet. "And, er, after a bit, Sam over there lost control of his tongue and that's how I found out he'd been making time with my best girl, on the sly. I was that angry, I grabbed his arms and shoved him up against a wall, and then it was like–like being with a woman, Doc, you know what I mean, it was warm and good like that. And then–" He looks at Sam, swallowing hard again.

"Is there some kind of sickness turns you into a light-eater all at once?" Bill asks. "And what's the medicine for it?"

A sickness, no. But having the latent hereditary condition and losing control for the first time during an alcohol-fueled rage seems distressingly plausible…


So ... he's one of the laborers who have been helping themselves to some of the supplies, eh? And this suddenly started happening? Interesting...



"That's not the worst part," Jed mumbles. "When we were getting Sam wrapped up to come here, I reached past Charlie for something and brushed his arm–"

"–and it felt like I was bleeding," confirms the fourth man. "Only for a second, but I couldn't pull away–then Jed realized and pulled away himself."

"I wasn't angry that time," Jed whispers. "I wasn't trying to hurt Charlie. And it still happened. I–what have I turned into?"

And that doesn't make sense. Everything you've ever heard about light-eating indicates the light-eater makes a conscious choice to do it. It develops into a compulsion, but in the same way a drunkard can't help himself from drinking but still must use the muscles of his hand to uncork the bottle, the light-eater may not be able to help himself but still doesn't drain people without knowing he is going to do it. What on earth is going on here?



What are you going to do?
Vote 99:

# Jed is obviously too dangerous to be allowed to roam the streets. I will contact Woodward and have him deal with this.

# I am a little concerned how Woodward might choose to deal with it. I have friends at the local hospital; we could place Jed in the quarantine facility there so he can't accidentally harm anyone else.

# I am a little concerned how Woodward might choose to deal with it. I need a specialist's advice, and the only sun-worshipper specialist I know is Christopher Taggart.

# I suspect that bottle of wine had something to do with it. I turn it and Jed over to Woodward.

# I suspect that bottle of wine had something to do with it. I turn it and Jed over to friends at the local hospital.

# I take Jed and the wine to Christopher Taggart.



This is where we stop because we have a bunch of different mutually exclusive branches here: Either to see our contact at the local Temple (Christopher Taggart, with whom we have a good relationship), take it up with our superiors (Woodward, whom we refused to feed intelligence) or try to deal with it ourselves, quietly. What shall it be?

Let me know and we will resume Monday, Oct 3, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-09-30, 06:06 PM
# I take Jed and the wine to Christopher Taggart.


I'd like to tell Woodward without mentioning names, too- but Taggart seems a good first port of call.

Black Socks
2016-09-30, 07:44 PM
99)I take Jed and the wine to Christopher Taggart.
Woodward will just lock him up/execute him. Besides, we already refused to give Woodward info. Taggart would have more knowledge on matters like this.
I have a feeling that the wine is key to all this....
Also, these dockworkers sure have some colourful euphemisms!

pendell
2016-10-03, 07:46 PM
All right, Jed and the wine go to Christopher Taggert.



You explain the nursing Sam will need to Charlie, and Charlie takes Sam home.

You send Bill to get the remains of the wine. It proves to be an expensive red, Château Gerard 1790, shipped from a famous vineyard that lies within the Vlaski Empire and clearly destined for the most exclusive sort of wine merchant. "Do you remember where the label on the crate said this was headed?"

Jed frowns. "Er…Debenham and…Debenham and something. Posh name."


Hrm.. that name means nothing to me. Maybe we should look it up?



Taggart listens to the entire story with a look of concern. "Odd doesn't even begin to describe it," he says. "This is not how a healer's nature manifests. One must spend a good long while playing about without a mentor to oversee proper training, in order to get anywhere near the sort of uncontrollable draining you describe. We are dealing with a situation unprecedented in my experience, and my experience is considerable."

"I was wondering if it might not be the wine," you suggest. "It's the only out-of-the-ordinary experience the four of them had. Perhaps some chemical…?"

"A chemical that could turn an ordinary man into a monster?" Taggart says, gently mocking. "That's closer to magic than anything I can do." After a moment he adds, "But I admittedly know nothing of chemistry. I think that's your department, Doctor."

"Am I going to be like this always?" Jed whimpers.

"No." Taggart looks right at Jed. "Either it goes away as mysteriously as it came, or I teach you how to control it. In no case does this end with you at the mercy of your impulses and no one to help you. Understand?"

Jed eyes him uncertainly.

"I wish I could give you answers, but I don't have any," Taggart goes on, looking at you now. "The only thing I can offer is sanctuary. Well–of a sort. If the authorities come for Mr. Baker, I have no power to stop them–not like the old days. But other than that, I can provide a safe place for him to stay–out of the way, where he can't accidentally hurt anyone–until we better understand the nature of this situation."

Jed jumps to his feet. "Doctor, you're not going to leave me here with them!"

Taggart looks at you. It would seem it is up to you to change Jed's mind.



Vote 100:

# I exercise every iota of charm at my command, soothing his fears and coaxing him into compliance.

# I don't have time for that. I remind Jed curtly that the choice is between staying with the healers and being turned over to the authorities—and who knows what they'll do to him.

# Taking a reasonable tone, I use evidence and logic to persuade Jed that I know what I'm talking about and I can attest the healers are safe.


It doesn't appear there's any branch regardless of whether we persuade or not. If we fail.. Woodward for him, maybe?

At any rate, there's one more question.



Vote 101: That's Jed settled. What are you going to do about the wine?

#I take it to a friend at the local hospital, saying only that it caused some "odd effects" on a patient.

#I intend to analyze it myself.



I guess it all depends on how high our medicine stat is, how much time we have, and the risk of the secret leaking.

Get your votes in and I'll see you Wednesday, Oct 5, 2016, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-10-04, 04:35 AM
(Man almost completly forgot about that thread)

# I exercise every iota of charm at my command, soothing his fears and coaxing him into compliance.

#I intend to analyze it myself.

As usual, charm's our best and most consistent option

While our medecine stat is not exceptional, I feel the less people get ivolved in this, the better.


Hrm.. that name means nothing to me. Maybe we should look it up?

(A quick search indicates it's actually a store brand that exists in real life UK since the 18th century)

Black Socks
2016-10-04, 06:04 AM
Debenhams is a retailer in the UK. They sell wine, among their other products.


100)I exercise every iota of charm at my command, soothing his fears and coaxing him into compliance.
With 90 Charisma, I think we can pull this off.
101)I take it to a friend at the local hospital, saying only that it caused some "odd effects" on a patient.
66 Medicine, on the other hand, isn't something I think we trust.

Mister Tom
2016-10-04, 01:54 PM
100)I exercise every iota of charm at my command, soothing his fears and coaxing him into compliance.
as you say,90 Charisma, and also, in character.


101)I take it to a friend at the local hospital, saying only that it caused some "odd effects" on a patient.

I'd feel happier telling them a bit more than this, but I feel even happier about not accidentally reawakening my own highly addictive light-eating tendencies and winding up wandering the gaslit streets as steampunk's version of Mister Hyde. Still, time for that later.

norman250
2016-10-05, 07:07 PM
(Man almost completly forgot about that thread)

# I exercise every iota of charm at my command, soothing his fears and coaxing him into compliance.

#I intend to analyze it myself.

As usual, charm's our best and most consistent option

While our medecine stat is not exceptional, I feel the less people get ivolved in this, the better.



(A quick search indicates it's actually a store brand that exists in real life UK since the 18th century)

I was going to type it out long and roughly on my phone, but copying smuchmuch 's works too. I second this set of votes.

pendell
2016-10-05, 09:58 PM
Very well, we're going to try to persuade Jed with charm, and then we have an even tie between

-- analyzing ourselves 48
-- taking the wine to a friend 58

So we'll take the wine to our friend and see what comes up.

Here we go!



He's really quite frightened–it takes all your persuasive powers and a good long time before he mumbles, "Fine. Fine, I'll take the bleeding stank–the bleeding–what did you call it?"

"Sanctuary," Taggart says.

"That. I'll take it. Happy?"

Taggart rubs his forehead. "You're meant to actually say the word, in order to invoke the– Never mind. Sanctuary is granted, and I am, I suppose, happy to learn you think you can endure my company after all."

Taggart looks at you. "I'll keep you updated on his condition. And…let me know if you learn anything more, will you? This business is deeply troublesome."



Next we take the wine for analysis.



Your friend Joseph Bell promises it shall be looked into.


Very well. On to the next thing!



You hurry back home to change. Armistice Day is a working day like any other, of course, but there is a ceremony at midday in Constance Park.

On the first anniversary of the treaty signing, it featured the unveiling of a statue honoring those who lost their lives defending the Empire. Since then, the occasion has mostly been marked with speeches by high-ranking members of the military and low-ranking members of the Royal Family. It has all the excitement of the very worst sort of barracks dinner—but you go anyhow, every year. And you go in uniform, like every other veteran you know.

About half the crowd is uniformed men. You expect most of the other half are (like Grace) accompanying a man in uniform, or are there because they lost someone in the conflict. On the first anniversary, the crowd overflowed the park and the streets beyond…but life has moved on. The war undoubtedly seems longer ago to most people than it does to you.




Vote 102: Grace squeezes your arm, looking up at you questioningly.

# I squeeze back. "I'm fine, love."

# I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."

# I smile. "It's nice to see such a turnout, after all this time."




Before an answer can be made, a master of ceremonies in full dress uniform appears. Constance Park boasts a museum in its center, and the museum conveniently features a balcony from which speeches can be made. The speeches begin.

They are all very much like each other, all praising the courage and sacrifice that allowed Mercia to emerge triumphant from the war. We defended our borders from the enemy; we defended our culture from the light-eaters who would destroy it; we defended innocent nations from falling to the Vlaski onslaught.



Vote 103:
#Damned right we did, and Woodward's people do it still.

#We did…something. We tried, at least. And it warms my heart that the attempt is so honored.

#We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it.





"And now, ladies and gentlemen," announces the master of ceremonies, "His Royal Highness the Crown Prince!"

The Crown Prince steps onto the balcony, spreads his arms in acknowledgment of the applause, rests his hands on the rail before him, and starts the fifth and last speech of the afternoon.



Ah, the Crown Prince! He whom we saw infatuated with the Vlaski opera singer! Maybe this will be less tedious than normal..



It is a very confused speech. It begins well—clear phrases and clean rhythms—but a few sentences in, it starts to disintegrate.

Within moments, it is appallingly obvious both that the Prince's speeches are usually written by someone else, and that he is improvising this one. Clutching the railing with a death grip, he fumbles on.

He moves clumsily from the subject of war to the subject of peace. He talks at length about the benefits of peace, about enemies who become brothers, about what a blessing it is to have the time and opportunity to learn about one's former adversary.

He actually uses the word "blessing," and some around you shift a little in discomfort.

He talks about the art and theater of Vlask, different in many ways from that of Mercia, and he makes a reference to Madame Albescu, thanking Vlask for being willing to share their treasure.

No one has actually started murmuring yet, but the crowd is uncomfortable.



Oh dear.



The Prince concludes, "Now that the guns are silent, we may have the pleasure of discovering our former enemy to be a worthy teacher. Just as Vlask may learn much from our inventors and our industrialists, Mercia may find that it lost something when it abandoned faith, and that Vlask can teach us to reclaim that part of ourselves. In the coming years, with the help of our friends, I hope to see Mercia become an Empire of artists as well as inventors, of philosophers as well as industrialists, of the sun-blessed as well as the Rationalists."

The master of ceremonies, taking the stage once the Prince has left it, attempts to conclude on a patriotic note, but very few in the crowd are listening. Most people are asking their neighbors what on earth they just heard.


...


Vote 103:

#I'm not about to say this out loud, but I agree with His Royal Highness. Nothing would please me more than to see Mercia embrace its sun-worshippers.

#Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists."

#What could His Royal Highness possibly have been thinking, to select this gathering to express that sentiment? Praising Vlask to the people who bled keeping Vlask at bay—how could he?

#Is this what Woodward is worried about? Is that woman influencing the Prince to this great an extent? Is she here?




Please let there not be a riot .. .please let there not be a riot ...



Most of the veterans you pass on your way out of the park appear, judging from tone of voice and body language, to feel betrayed and insulted. The rest are attempting to excuse and defend the scion of the Empire for which they wear the uniform. No one looks happy.



I should think not.



If the reaction of the crowd were to be summed up in one sentence, it might well be, "What the hell was that?"

Woodward expresses interest in obtaining an answer to the same question, when you and Finch respond to his summons the following afternoon.


Yes, I'll just bet he does.


Vote 104: How do you feel about being summoned?

#I'm trying to hide how very pleased I am that Woodward thinks me valuable enough to call out of retirement.

#I'm both pleased and relieved. My safe domestic life has begun to chafe.


#If the situation were any less dire, I would be annoyed that Woodward still thinks it appropriate to summon me.


#I'm annoyed right now. "I don't know if you've forgotten," I greet him, "but I don't actually work for you any longer."



Hrm.. that's four votes. So we'll stop there and we'll pick up Friday, 7 Oct, 2016, 5:30PM EDT to see what we're going to do about our prince.

Thanks for playing and see you then! I want to get to the bottom of this.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-10-06, 01:48 AM
# I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."


#We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it.

(Last time we had to choose feelings about the war, it was deepy negative. It was a while ago, though.But I see no particular reason he's feeling would have changed on the matter.)

#Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists."

#I'm both pleased and relieved. My safe domestic life has begun to chafe.

Black Socks
2016-10-06, 06:08 AM
102)I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."
I don't know how it is in other places, but in my country, you're expected to be sad on Remembrance Day. Sadness is the point.
103)We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it.
IIRC, neither side actually gained any territory in the conflict.
104)What could His Royal Highness possibly have been thinking, to select this gathering to express that sentiment? Praising Vlask to the people who bled keeping Vlask at bay—how could he?
I actually like his sentiment, but this is the worst possible place to express it. Seriously, in front of a crowd of people who fought light-eaters? (Also, this question was labeled as 103).
105)If the situation were any less dire, I would be annoyed that Woodward still thinks it appropriate to summon me.
Hey, Woodward? Did you get the memo, it was taped to our wedding ring? We're not working for you anymore. :smallannoyed::smallsigh: (This was labeled as 104 due to the previous mislabelling).

Mister Tom
2016-10-06, 01:13 PM
102)I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."
A bit patronising but I think close enough to the truth, and Grace deserves nothing less.

103)We did... something. We tried, at least.

104) oh, my paws and whiskers. Is that what Woodward was worried about?... Is she here?
105) I'm trying to hide how very pleased I am. married life does not grate and I trust Woodward will remember I am a married man, but Mercia needs what I can give as much as it ever did.

norman250
2016-10-06, 11:15 PM
# I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."

A neutral, and respectful answer.

#We did…something. We tried, at least. And it warms my heart that the attempt is so honored.

Once again, I think this won't tip the stats scales too drastically.


#Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists."

Religious freedom is good, tyrannical theocracy not so much.


#If the situation were any less dire, I would be annoyed that Woodward still thinks it appropriate to summon me.

It's a little presumptuous, but nothing to confront him over; it is a sign that he respects our skill, after all.

pendell
2016-10-07, 09:20 PM
All right, the votes are :

102) I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."

103)
We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it. (71)

We did... something. We tried, at least. (26)

104)
Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists."

105)
If the situation were any less dire, I would be annoyed that Woodward still thinks it appropriate to summon me.

Let's go through it!

" I shrug a little. "At an assembly like this, one cannot help but think of the faces not present. A bit of melancholy is part of the day."



Before an answer can be made, a master of ceremonies in full dress uniform appears. Constance Park boasts a museum in its center, and the museum conveniently features a balcony from which speeches can be made. The speeches begin.


No stat change.

"We spilled oceans of blood, and I still don't know what we bought with it. "

No stat change.

"Nothing would please me more—but Vlask is not the model we should be using. "Allowing light-eater aristocrats to feast upon helpless serfs" is not the same thing as "becoming an Empire of both sun-worshippers and Rationalists.""

I concur with this sentiment, by the way.

Compassionate: 64 Pragmatic: 36

Finally, we are a bit annoyed with Woodward.

Conventional: 59 Unconventional: 41

Now, new territory!



He rises from his desk and starts to pace the office. "You both saw that little display yesterday. We've muzzled the newspapers, but of course we cannot prevent those who heard the speech from telling whomever they choose. Before His Royal Highness stands in front of another crowd, we need to rid him of Madame's influence. The Empress herself has tasked me with detaching the heir from the opera singer. I need you two to find me a sufficiently effective prybar."



Vote 106:

# He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…

# Are we certain Madame Albescu's influence is to blame? Is it not remotely possible that a well-educated young man of twenty might develop opinions of his own that do not match those of his elders?

# I still think Woodward is overreacting. Even if Madame has some negative influence upon His Royal Highness, she returns home at the end of the season, does she not?

# I agree her influence is likely to blame for His Royal Highness's unwholesome infatuation with the culture of Vlask—but find a means of souring the romance? Neither my medical nor my military training prepared me for such a task.




Madame is giving a salon the day after tomorrow. You will both attend."

A salon? Such cultural gatherings are reserved for the elite of Mercian society. There is simply no chance a general practitioner and a newspaper photographer would be admitted—and Woodward has already thought of that, of course, because he has identities prepared for you. Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Westlake, wealthy industrialist investors from the colonies, would be welcome almost anywhere. "We'll reserve a suite for you at the Sanderson-Everett Hotel," he says. "Appropriate clothing will be delivered by the morning of the event, and I'll arrange for a carriage."

Without waiting for a response, Woodward continues,



Vote 107: "Do you think Mrs. Watson capable of playing the part, Doctor? For obvious reasons, it is essential we obtain a woman's perspective of Madame and her motivations, so I should like her to attend."


#"Yes, I see the importance—and there's no one whose opinion I trust so much as my wife's. I'll convince her."

#"I'll embark upon one more mission, for the sake of the Royal Family, but under no circumstances am I involving my wife in this."

#"I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers."

#"I don't work for you any longer, Woodward!"


Hmm... the next section is different, depending on whether Grace joins us at the so. So let's stop it there for now. How shall it be? Shall Grace accompany Finch and Watson, or shall Finch and Watson go it alone?

Any ideas on how to mess up this romance? It's been a loooong time since high school for me. About the only thing I can think of is to seduce her myself.

Votes in by Monday, 10 Oct , 2016, 5:30 PM . And let's go attend this ... function.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-08, 07:35 AM
106)He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…

Restriction of the press..... that's another check on the Police State List. I feel like I'm reading 'Animal Farm' or something....

107)"I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers."

Didn't we marry to, like, get away from this police stuff?

As for messing up the romance: We need to make them trust each other less. Rumours, fake secrets... that sort of stuff. That's how it worked in my high school years, anyway.

Mister Tom
2016-10-08, 11:06 AM
Are we certain Madame Albescu's influence is to blame? Is it not remotely possible that a well-educated young man of twenty might develop opinions of his own that do not match those of his elders?

I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers.

pendell
2016-10-09, 01:46 PM
Be advised Monday's update may be delayed, on account of a hurricane hit my house yesterday. We have no power, phone , or internet connection. The technician will be coming by on Tuesday to have a look ... but that still won't help if we don't have power.

Do not ask what devious and underhanded means I am using to get this post out; suffice to say it won't do for a full game post :smallamused:.

Anyway, if I can't do Monday night, don't be surprised and we'll carry over till Wednesday. If I'm STILL out wednesday, we'll do it Friday. But unless I am physically prevented, we WILL continue this game as soon as reasonably possible!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2016-10-10, 02:20 AM
# He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…


#"Yes, I see the importance—and there's no one whose opinion I trust so much as my wife's. I'll convince her."



Sorry to hear about that, Pen, hope everything turns out okay.

pendell
2016-10-10, 06:48 PM
Here I am at the local library playing wifi hobo. And our votes are:

106) He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…

107) I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers.


Let's make it happen!

"He did what to the newspapers? I'm a little taken aback by the offhand way he uttered those words. I mean, we customarily hide details of Vlaski plots, but this seems a little different…"




You don't say this out loud, of course, and perhaps fortunately, Woodward misinterprets the creasing of your brows.


Conventional: 51 Unconventional: 49



"You're concerned you don't know enough about her?" he interprets. "That's fair, so I'm sending you on an information-gathering mission first of all. Madame is giving a salon the day after tomorrow. You will both attend."

A salon? Such cultural gatherings are reserved for the elite of Mercian society. There is simply no chance a general practitioner and a newspaper photographer would be admitted—and Woodward has already thought of that, of course, because he has identities prepared for you. Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. Westlake, wealthy industrialist investors from the colonies, would be welcome almost anywhere. "We'll reserve a suite for you at the Sanderson-Everett Hotel," he says. "Appropriate clothing will be delivered by the morning of the event, and I'll arrange for a carriage."

Without waiting for a response, Woodward continues, "Do you think Mrs. Watson capable of playing the part, Doctor? For obvious reasons, it is essential we obtain a woman's perspective of Madame and her motivations, so I should like her to attend."


"I'll ask her if she is willing, but the decision is entirely hers."



"Thank you." Woodward nods dismissal to you both.


"You both" being the unstoppable team of Finch and Watson, I think.



"The Crown Prince?" Grace says, a little pale but perfectly composed. "Yes, of course I'll help. I don't seek out falling dirigibles, not like some people, but of course I'll help save the ones already falling. But I—" She bites her lip. "I haven't done anything of this sort before, and I'm not sure how I'm meant to act."

"It's only for an afternoon," you reassure her. "Just remember to answer to the name Mary Westlake."

"But I mean—are we to keep quiet and only listen, or are we to try to become friends with her, or—"

"One thing I've learned from doing this," you say, "is that you can't plan everything beforehand. Our goal is to learn as much as possible. Do what seems most effective in the moment. And otherwise, just be yourself."


Okay, so Mr and Mrs. Westlake (and friend) attend this gay event!



On the day of the salon, a heavy fog blankets the city—thick, gray-brown, holding the exhalations of a city's worth of belching smokestacks, and clammy against the skin. You descend from the carriage more focused on getting inside out of the chill than on the reasons for entering the ornate house Madame Albescu has taken for the season.

It is as elegant inside as out—wide corridors decorated with mirrors and vases of flowers, a sweeping staircase leading to the upper floors, a drawing room of at least twice the normal size. Vases of flowers adorn this room as well, and in between sit tables of cucumber sandwiches and tiny pastries. Women in elaborate hats perch on the edges of chairs, holding teacups, while men stand talking in small groups. While you've never attended a Mercian lady's salon, it looks exactly like the drawings you have seen. Almost absurdly so, a painting come to life.

And then the smell hits you like a blow to the back of the head—a heavy, spicy incense you haven't encountered since your days freeing captured cities from Vlaski occupation.


Something ... funny?



Now you can see the little bits of Vlask slipped into the interstices of the scene.

The tea is served from an ornate enamel samovar. The men hold tiny glasses of vodka. The instrument in the corner is not a piano, but one of those hammer-dulcimer things the Vlaskesari call a cimbalom. Most of the ladies are dressed in Mercian fashions, but a few wear clothing that is unmistakably Vlaski.

It's like a Mercian painting come to life…with a thousand tiny deliberately-wrought errors. The fog pushes against the windowpanes, and for a moment it seems as though you have entered another world, a different Mercia where Vlaski influence is seeping through the cracks like incense insinuating itself under a door, and everything is just a little wrong.



Vote 108:

# What a perfect metaphor for this entire situation. It's a new kind of battlefield, but the same fight to preserve Mercian culture in the face of Vlask's encroachment. I eye my enemy across the drawing room.

# The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colonies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.

# I shake my head at myself, disgusted by my overreaction. Of course a lady spending a year abroad would decorate her drawing room with mementos of her homeland.


After that reaction, the scene unfolds...



The salon proceeds as you understand they customarily do, conversations about music or art or philosophy punctuated by a reading from one of the Mercian poets present. Madame Albescu moves easily about the room, joining in this conversation or that, her manners those of a perfect hostess.

At one point, the conversation of a group at the far end of the room turns passionate, then heated, drawing everyone else's eye. Madame Albescu, right in the middle of it, throws back her head and laughs. "Here," she says, "I shall show you." She gestures imperiously to someone you cannot see, and makes her way gracefully to stand by the cimbalom. As though out of nowhere, a trio of musicians arrange themselves behind her, one at the cimbalom, the second with a violin, and the third with a flute.


So That's a cimbalom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimbalom). It reminds me of the autoharps I played in elementary school. What shall they play for us?



You've heard Vlaski music before. It tends toward wild breakneck rhythms or wild lonely skirling, and this is one of the latter. Madame's voice blends with the keen of the flute, and it is a moment before you realize she is singing in Mercian.

The song is unmistakably Vlaski, however. She must have had it translated. It is about a shepherd looking for a lost sheep, searching diligently up and down green sloping hills, through orchards carpeted with apple blossoms, to the very foot of the mighty mountains that tower blue and purple over the valleys—whereupon he finds the animal, then takes it home, down into the valley where the farmhouses dot the green, where the late afternoon sun slants golden, where he tends the land and his wife tends her loom and all rest safely beneath the shadow of the boyar's castle.




Vote 109:

#I feel a little ache of longing. A simpler life, clean air and sunlight, working with one's hands—of course I see the appeal.

#I feel a slow burn of anger. She seems to have left out the part where the boyar is more or less immortal, and why. Nor does the song tell of the fires burning in captured cities.

#She indicated she was singing this song to prove a point. So she is either trying to lull us
into thinking well of her homeland or trying to provoke an argument, and either way, I can't be
bothered humoring her with a response.



The music concludes.



"You see?" Madame says when the applause has died away. "That is the purpose of music, to tease open the door of the heart, to insinuate the ideas that cannot be spoken bluntly. I do still think it so sad that I may not speak of my faith without offending—but at least I may sing of it, and perhaps that teaches those who hear me more about its sweet power than mere words could do."

Her tone rings with simple sincerity, and the little hesitating accent that mars her otherwise perfect Mercian somehow only makes her seem more genuine.

But her azure eyes are clear and hard, carefully watching the assembled company for its reaction.





Vote 110: You came to this salon to better understand her, and she has just given you a glimpse of herself. How best to press your advantage?

#I agree with her as to the appeal of sun-worship, thereby positioning myself as her ally against a room that is bound to disagree.

#I agree with her as to the uses of art, hoping to start at least a civil dialogue that might begin to forge a bond between us.

#I challenge her about sun-worship as it is practiced in Vlask, to the extent that I can without revealing myself as a veteran.

#I challenge her about the morality of using art to manipulate. Surely only that of which one is ashamed must be slipped in unawares; anything honorable can be spoken of openly.



The two things to look for here are your persuasion skill and whether you are conventional or unconventional. Even a high persuasion skill is not enough here; if you express a conventional opinion, you must yourself be a rather conventional person to pull it off. Likewise , if you go for an unconventional opinion, you should already be pretty unconventional in order for it to be "in character", regardless of your charisma score!

En garde! God willing, the next move will be Wednesday, 10 Oct, 2016, 5:30 PM. If circumstances force me to delay, the vote will be Friday instead.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-10-12, 01:44 PM
Impressive dedication!



# The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colOnies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.


probably not being a very good actor here, but this is the right sort of thought to have.

She indicated she was singing this song to prove a point. So she is either trying to lull us
into thinking well of her homeland or trying to provoke an argument, and either way, I can't be
bothered humoring her with a response.

And

#I challenge her about the morality of using art to manipulate. Surely only that of which one is ashamed must be slipped in unawares; anything honorable can be spoken of openly.

In character I am belligerent behind a veneer of polite civility, and my character's opinions mirror my own.

Black Socks
2016-10-12, 02:24 PM
51 Conventionality and 49 Unconventionality. :smallsigh: Stupid balanced stats. At least we have good Charisma.

108)The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colonies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.
Well, it is.
109)I feel a slow burn of anger. She seems to have left out the part where the boyar is more or less immortal, and why. Nor does the song tell of the fires burning in captured cities.
History is usually.... shall we say.... edited, in songs and poems. This is no different.
110)I challenge her about the morality of using art to manipulate. Surely only that of which one is ashamed must be slipped in unawares; anything honorable can be spoken of openly.
A conventional opinion, for someone with slightly greater Conventionality.

pendell
2016-10-12, 06:32 PM
Power's back! :)

And our votes are:

108) The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colonies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.

109)

She indicated she was singing this song to prove a point. So she is either trying to lull us
into thinking well of her homeland or trying to provoke an argument, and either way, I can't be
bothered humoring her with a response. (69)

109)I feel a slow burn of anger. She seems to have left out the part where the boyar is more or less immortal, and why. Nor does the song tell of the fires burning in captured cities. (45)

110) I challenge her about the morality of using art to manipulate. Surely only that of which one is ashamed must be slipped in unawares; anything honorable can be spoken of openly.

Honestly, I understand about art being used to make a point that people will consciously reject; sometimes they have to be primed on a subconscious level before they are willing to even consider an idea on a rational level. It would be wonderful if humans were logical creatures, but the fact is even good, rational ideas can be rejected for totally irrational reasons. Proper emotional work can counter that "gut instinct" that so many humans live by and allow them to at least consider a new idea rather than reject it out of hand.

But enough personal philosophy. On to the story!


"108) The reaction I am having to the incense is a perfectly natural one for a veteran. But Mr. Westlake of the colonies never served on the warfront, so I have to grit my teeth and push the reaction away.
"



You take a breath, let it go, and walk into the drawing room.


In the drawing room, we listen to her music and respond thus:

"She indicated she was singing this song to prove a point. So she is either trying to lull us into thinking well of her homeland or trying to provoke an argument, and either way, I can't be bothered humoring her with a response."

Perception: 79

Next, we challenge her on the use of art as a tool for manipulating people. Surely anything honest can be spoken openly?




You have her complete attention. Her slender neck turns, and her cool blue eyes fix on you.

For a moment you think you may have betrayed yourself by speaking too hotly. Then you worry you have offended her and lost all chance to learn more about her.

But she smiles, eyes glinting. This woman enjoys a challenge.

"Goodness," she says. "A man of decided opinions. What is your name, sir?"

"Westlake, ma'am."

Madame stays focused on you for some time, engaging you in debate while much of the rest of the room watches.

She seems to be enjoying herself—an interesting point to note. Not everyone responds favorably to being challenged, but it seems this woman does.


Looks like we've scored a point! So she likes a man with spirit, eh?



A drawling voice rises over the murmur of the crowd. It belongs to a long-haired Mercian poet, a young man who looks like a caricature of the breed.

Looking over, you see he is talking to Grace.

"I am writing a novel," he explains, "set in the days of the old Ljós Empire. It is the story of a young explorer who sets off to see what lies on the other side of the icy seas, with nothing to guide or guard him but the sunstone left to him by his late father. The journey he takes is a metaphor, you see, for his inner journey of self-discovery."

"Indeed?" Grace says politely.


"Indeed"? Why do I hear knives coming out when she says something like that...?



"I am particularly enjoying writing about the sunstone," the poet confides. "I have never seen one, of course, but only imagine what it must be like to look through it and even on a cloudy day at once see the sun. Imagine how it must have been, navigating a ship through the ancient waters with nothing more than the sacred stone. No maps and calculations and mechanisms, nothing between you and the rest of the world, the stone in your hand making you one with sun and sea and land. I think my book might prove a great public service," he adds. "The people of Mercia ought to see there is an alternative to our machinery-driven modern world."

You could have told him he had chosen the wrong listener. But you don't need to; Grace is quite capable of telling him herself. "Indeed they ought," she agrees cordially. "We are too prone to take for granted the wonders of the modern world. A novel set in the time when the mastery of the sea was restricted to those fortunate enough to possess one of a few sunstones will surely prompt appropriate appreciation for the Mercian invention of the chronometer."

Madame Albescu turns.




Vote 111:

Do you want to involve yourself in this conversation?

# Absolutely not. There's no need. Grace has it handled.

# Yes. I argue with Grace's position.

# Yes. I agree with Grace's position, continuing to challenge Madame.



Regardless of how you stick in your oar, Grace and Madame are going to start sparring.



"Indeed not," Madame says, with equal cordiality. "I only feel sorry for you. You do not see how the way you live here crushes the soul. You have distanced yourself from the sea, the sun, the food you eat, even the touch of another person's hand." She indicates the fashionable elbow-length gloves she wears. "Our ways are simpler, but infinitely more rewarding."

"Only for those of you born into power," Grace says quietly. "The mastery of the seas used to be only for those whose families owned a sunstone. The ability to heal a fellow creature used to be only for those born with a certain hereditary trait. Chronometers and medicine are for everyone."

There is a pause.

Then Madame laughs. "Oh, but this is wonderful. I haven't enjoyed such marvelous conversation in far too long. Mrs. Westlake, is it? Mrs. Westlake, you and your party simply must come to the ball the Embassy is giving in my honor at the end of the week. I won't take no for an answer—it is the least I can do, given the entertainment you have provided me this afternoon."



Vote 112: What do you say to Grace once you, she, and Finch are safely back in the carriage?

#I have to tone down everything I want to say, because Finch is there, and my enthusiasm would embarrass all three of us. I content myself with, "I am so proud of you."


#"If Woodward finds out what a flair you have for this sort of thing, poor Finch will be out of a job."

#"That was very effective, and very nicely done—but I really wish you had kept quiet and not made yourself a target."


After you've had your words, Finch has something to say as well!



"It was a thing of beauty," Finch says, grinning. "And as a tactic, it wasn't bad either, considering it netted us an invitation to a ball. We can learn more there."




"We've learned quite a bit here," you say slowly. "We've learned she is an educated women who enjoys intellectual debate and likes being challenged."


Achievement: Fencing Salon : Some battles are fought with words and innuendo instead of blades.

Secured the attention of the Prince's mistress.




"So what is she doing with His Royal Highness?" Finch murmurs.

"Yes. And we've learned that she believes in using subtle manipulation to slowly influence the people around her. She said herself that's what art is for."

Finch nods. "I think we can dismiss the idea that her manipulation of the Prince is unintentional."




Two very useful facts. And well done, Grace, for landing us an invitation to a ball!



The following day, while Woodward's people rush to create formal wear for Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. and Mrs. Westlake, you go to check on Jed Baker.


Jed's at Taggert's place. What do we find?



It's a grim sight. Taggart has him confined in a small chamber that is nevertheless furnished more like a room in a private hospital than a prison cell. It has a comfortable enough bed, an attached washroom, even a bookshelf.

Jed strides up and down it, tugging at his hair, seeming unable to keep still. He reports a raging thirst, an uncontrollable desire for more of the wine he stole at the dockside. He begs you to find him some.

"The touch of the Sun has nearly faded from him," Taggart reports quietly. "He is no longer draining light with every touch."

"A good thing, too," you say. "It would have been hard for you to control a light-eater this agitated."

"I can handle myself. But neither of us would have enjoyed it." Taggart hesitates. "I have seen behavior like this, from light-eaters attempting to redeem themselves. They thirst for the light from living beings, and rage when they are kept from obtaining it. I would think it the same addiction…except that Mr. Baker has made it clear his thirst is for the wine. And the craving grew stronger as his abilities faded. The less light-eater he is, the more he craves the drink.

So, Doctor…have you been able to discover anything about the wine?"

"Not yet," you admit. "I hope it will not be more than another day or so."


Hmm .. so the wine seems to have done something to him. And I find it interesting that light-eating has such effects on people. If we are ever in a position to do so, we should bear in mind the possibility of addiction and winding up like this.



The night of the Embassy Ball arrives. And the knowledge that you have somehow been holding off can no longer be avoided: you will be spending the evening in the Vlaski Embassy. Surrounded by Vlaskesari. Behind enemy lines.

You pull on your formal white gloves, covering your hands to the wrist. (For a moment you can hear the echo of Sergeant Thippe's voice, getting the lads ready for a raid, back on the warfront. Cover every inch of skin. All they need is one touch.)

Not that a ball at the Vlaski Embassy, with the Mercian elite and the Crown Prince himself in attendance, is the same thing as a Goráska prison camp raid. Of course it's not.



Vote 113: How do you feel?

#Nervous, but resolute.

#Every nerve is singing with exhilarated anticipation.

#Sick to my stomach. I should never have gotten Grace involved in all of this. What was I thinking?

#Grateful that I will have Grace with me. It will be easier to stay focused with her by my side.




So have your votes in , and we'll attend a ball on Friday, 14 Oct, 2016, 5:30 PM. Wear white gloves and your best clothes!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-10-14, 03:16 PM
# Absolutely not. There's no need. Grace has it handled.


#I have to tone down everything I want to say, because Finch is there, and my enthusiasm would embarrass all three of us. I content myself with, "I am so proud of you."


#Grateful that I will have Grace with me. It will be easier to stay focused with her by my side.


D'aaaw.
Trouble with these sorts of adventure books is what I'd like to do, but apparently can't, is go tell Woodward about the wine qright now, because I'm expecting to find it at the embassy do.

Black Socks
2016-10-14, 03:34 PM
Our wife is awesome! We could be one of those husband-and-wife spy teams!
Now, then let's put that Charisma and Conventionality to good use.
111)Yes. I argue with Grace's position.
She's being unconventional, so let's be conventional.
112)I have to tone down everything I want to say, because Finch is there, and my enthusiasm would embarrass all three of us. I content myself with, "I am so proud of you."
Did I mention that our wife is awesome?
113)Nervous, but resolute.
Pretty much how I feel before a big event.

pendell
2016-10-14, 06:05 PM
And we have votes! 111:

# Absolutely not. There's no need. Grace has it handled. 76

#Yes. I argue with Grace's position. 36

We'll allow Grace to handle it.

112) #I have to tone down everything I want to say, because Finch is there, and my enthusiasm would embarrass all three of us. I content myself with, "I am so proud of you."


113)
#Grateful that I will have Grace with me. It will be easier to stay focused with her by my side. 47

# Nervous, but resolute. 50

Let's see how this works!

We don't intervene because Grace has it handled.



"That is the most wonderful aspect of our modern world, is it not?" Grace continues earnestly. "We ensure that opportunities are available to anyone capable of rising to the challenge, not only a fortunate few…Oh, I do apologize, Madame. I hope no offense is caused by my profession of…er, the facts?"


Oh! Such mastery of sarcasm. I swear I see drops of blood on the floor!



"Indeed not," Madame says, with equal cordiality. "I only feel sorry for you. You do not see how the way you live here crushes the soul. You have distanced yourself from the sea, the sun, the food you eat, even the touch of another person's hand." She indicates the fashionable elbow-length gloves she wears. "Our ways are simpler, but infinitely more rewarding."

"Only for those of you born into power," Grace says quietly. "The mastery of the seas used to be only for those whose families owned a sunstone. The ability to heal a fellow creature used to be only for those born with a certain hereditary trait. Chronometers and medicine are for everyone."

There is a pause.

Then Madame laughs. "Oh, but this is wonderful. I haven't enjoyed such marvelous conversation in far too long. Mrs. Westlake, is it? Mrs. Westlake, you and your party simply must come to the ball the Embassy is giving in my honor at the end of the week. I won't take no for an answer—it is the least I can do, given the entertainment you have provided me this afternoon."


Back in the carriage... we have to tone it down and say "I'm so proud of you" as opposed to , say, sweeping her into a giant hug.



"It was all right, then?" Grace leans back into the cushions, pink-cheeked but looking pleased with herself. "You said that the right tool would become obvious in the moment, and I should be myself. I suppose it was a rather discourteous version of myself, but I honestly couldn't stand another second of that drivel."

"It was a thing of beauty," Finch says, grinning. "And as a tactic, it wasn't bad either, considering it netted us an invitation to a ball. We can learn more there."

"We've learned quite a bit here," you say slowly. "We've learned she is an educated women who enjoys intellectual debate and likes being challenged."

"So what is she doing with His Royal Highness?" Finch murmurs.

"Yes. And we've learned that she believes in using subtle manipulation to slowly influence the people around her. She said herself that's what art is for."

Finch nods. "I think we can dismiss the idea that her manipulation of the Prince is unintentional."


Quite, Finch. Quite.

We see Jed, and next travel to the ball, at which we are nervous, but resolute.



There is a job to be done.

You and Finch, in your roles as Hawthorne and Westlake, wait for Grace in the hotel lobby.

You hear a footstep on the stairway, and both of you turn.

And your mouth falls open. She looks like a portrait stepped out of its frame. Her gown is pale blue, made of some light, silken material that seems to float above the floor instead of sweeping or dragging along it. It has an overskirt of lace and the barest suspicion of a train, not enough to trip her up as she comes smoothly down the stairs. Her soft brown hair is piled elegantly atop her head, dressed with little white flowers, and her eyes are shining like stars.

Only in one particular is the gown not the height of fashion. Fashion in the last few years has called for women in evening dress to leave an increasingly immodest display of arm, bosom, and shoulder–but Grace has a lovely silken jacket covering her skin to the throat. It is a fashion more appropriate for a dowager than a young woman–but it is also, when combined with gloves, the best possible protection against casual light-eating.

"I feel like a princess," she whispers as you escort her to the ornate private carriage Woodward provided. "Everyone should get to do this once!"



Vote 114:

# "Or, in our case, twice," I point out as I help her inside.

# "You look beautiful," I whisper back. "You always look beautiful, of course, but—"

# "You're not afraid?" I murmur, under cover of the rustling as I help her inside.


After that heartwarming dialog, we'll press on to the building itself.



The Vlaski Embassy is a sedate brick building, indistinguishable from the others on the street except for the green and gold flags flying out front. Eminently ordinary carriages pause out front to disgorge eminently ordinary Mercians in formal dress.

But stepping through the heavily-shadowed doorway feels like stepping into another world. The windows of the entry hall are draped with heavy velvet curtains, of so dark a red they seem almost black. The hall is lit by candles–thousands of them, arranged in antique candelabra and an enormous overhead chandelier. The light flickers weirdly as eddies of air disturb one set of candleflames or another. Behind the rim of candlelight lie heavily shadowed corners.



Vote 115:

#A chill rises up my back. Absolutely anything could be lurking in those corners.

#I mentally roll my eyes at the dramatic absurdity. Surely the Embassy has the gas laid in.

#I automatically catalog the tactical opportunities presented by this combination of shadow and light.


After this reaction, we press on.



Obsequious servants relieve you of your coats, and bow you down a shadowed hallway and toward the ballroom.

The scent of that unmistakable incense hangs heavily in the air, an almost tangible presence, stronger with every step you take toward the ballroom doorway.

"Welcome!" says a man's voice, deep and rich, speaking Vlaski-accented Mercian. "Enter freely and of your own will!"



Erm... what?

:smalleek:

Ah well, if you don't get the reference I shan't spoil it for you.



The Vlaski Ambassador and his wife stand just inside the doorway, receiving their guests.

Like most Vlaski aristocrats, the Ambassador and his wife are fair-skinned, with hair of a shade between red and gold. The Ambassador wears the typical Vlaski ridiculously-pompous dress uniform, with its profusion of lace at the collar and cuffs. His wife wears a gown that seems equally old-fashioned to your eyes, a relic from the same era when men wore lace and chandeliers held real wax-dripping candles. It boasts a full rigid skirt, a low-cut square neck, and a headdress festooned with pearls.

It is a beautiful gown, and she is a beautiful woman—unblemished skin and unstreaked hair. But her eyes are hard, older than the rest of her face. The Ambassador, too, seems young for his position until you look into his eyes.

(You faced down a Vlaskesar with eyes like that, on a battlefield long ago. A bullet from your revolver brought him down before he could touch you, and you dragged the injured soldier away from him and back to Mercian lines—)

While it is, you suppose, possible for two Vlaski aristocrats to look younger than their years and yet not be light-eaters, that's not where a gambling man would place his money.



Vote 116:

#I make no attempt to hide the curl of my lip as I realize this.

#I am here to observe and learn, and that is more easily accomplished if I do not antagonize my hosts. I attempt to keep my reaction to myself.

#I hardly know how I react. I have moved at once to searching the crowd for other possible light-eaters.

#Of course they are both light-eaters. I expected this. I note it and move on.



After the host's welcome I have no doubt whatsoever what we're dealing with.



In the ballroom beyond, Mercian guests and Vlaski Embassy officials stand in small groups, chatting. The groups are pretty thoroughly mingled, but you can still tell who is who.

The Vlaski women all wear voluminous old-fashioned gowns made of heavy draped fabrics in rich colors, and all are tall, stately, and red- or golden-haired.

The Mercian women are a more diverse group, hair color ranging from fair to dark, gowns a rainbow of soft pastels, soft clinging trains looped easily over the wrist for dancing. As a group, they look less uniform than the Vlaski ladies, less elegant, less tidy–and infinitely more human.

Servants scurry about, offering small glasses of vodka. You wonder how many of them are serfs bound to this service, unable to choose any other life for themselves. You wonder how many are customarily drained to provide sustenance for light-eaters. Some of them don't look well.






The pressure of Grace's fingers on your arm recalls you from your thoughts. "Are you all right?" she asks.

Vote 117:

#No, not really, but I can manage. I make a small noncommittal noise.

#I have shoved any inconvenient reactions well to the back of my mind. I nod firmly.

#My attention is so entirely consumed by my mission that the surroundings are bothering me much less than I would have thought.

#I am not troubled at all. It's not the first time I've gone up against these adversaries, and it won't be the last. I welcome the challenge.



Let's push on just a little further ...



"Ladies and gentlemen!" a servant announces in heavily-accented Mercian. "His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Mercia, and our treasure, Madame Albescu!"

The Prince and his mistress enter arm in arm. She is dressed in the same ostentatious old-fashioned gown as the other ladies, her gleaming golden hair surmounted by a pearl-encrusted headdress. They are attended by a servant in the livery of a Mercian palace steward, walking respectfully behind.



Vote 118:


#I study the body language displayed by the Prince and the opera singer, hoping for further insight regarding their relationship.

#I keep my eyes on the Ambassador's face, to assess his reaction as the Prince and his mistress enter.

#I keep my eyes on the Prince's steward, to assess his reaction to the situation.



Just one more!



The steward's face is formally blank, but his posture does not appear unnaturally tense. He, at least, does not seem concerned about His Royal Highness's well-being.

The Prince and Madame take their positions in the center of the dance floor; the Ambassador and his wife join them; the musicians strike up a tune you do not recognize; and the ball is thereby considered opened.

You notice that the two lead couples, and all the others who join them, dance in a medieval manner, rather than closely in the modern style. But then, very little else would be possible given the women's stiff and voluminous skirts. Some of the Mercian couples join them and try to mimic the movements; others just watch.

The next song is an unquestionable waltz, and though the Vlaskesari still dance in a medieval style, the Mercians flood to the floor and dance the steps they know.




It's time to get to work.

Vote 119:

#I intend to dance with my wife once, before embarking upon my investigation.

#I approach the Ambassador's wife and ask her for a dance.

#I cut directly to the heart of the matter and ask Madame Albescu to dance.

#I wander the edge of the dance floor, hoping to overhear something valuable.

#I find a position where I can keep my eyes on the Prince.

#I slip away to see if I can discover anything of a tangible nature.


I believe we have time for FOUR actions. If you choose to dance with Grace first, follow up with the action you take immediately afterwards.

See you on Monday, 17 Oct, 2016, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-14, 08:13 PM
Fashion in the last few years has called for women in evening dress to leave an increasingly immodest display of arm, bosom, and shoulder
Which, in those days, meant something like 'collar of dress not going all the way up to neck'. Times sure have a-changed. :smallbiggrin:

114)"You look beautiful," I whisper back. "You always look beautiful, of course, but—"
Dat subtle Twilight reference. By the way, I hate Twilight

115)I mentally roll my eyes at the dramatic absurdity. Surely the Embassy has the gas laid in.
Dun dun daaaaaaa....

116)I am here to observe and learn, and that is more easily accomplished if I do not antagonize my hosts. I attempt to keep my reaction to myself.
Pretty much what was said in the vote.


As a group, they look less uniform than the Vlaski ladies, less elegant, less tidy–and infinitely more human.
[/biasedopinion]:smallwink:

117)I have shoved any inconvenient reactions well to the back of my mind. I nod firmly.
The middle of Light-Eaters-R-Us really isn't the place for 'inconvenient reactions'.

118)I study the body language displayed by the Prince and the opera singer, hoping for further insight regarding their relationship.
We already know the two of them are a thing, but more info is always good.

119)I intend to dance with my wife once, before embarking upon my investigation.
Relationship first....

119A)I cut directly to the heart of the matter and ask Madame Albescu to dance.
....and hard-core spy work second.

Mister Tom
2016-10-17, 01:14 PM
114# "Or, in our case, twice," I point out as I help her inside

Let's start with a bit of levity. She's earned it ;-)

115
#I automatically catalog the tactical opportunities presented by this combination of shadow and light.


Apparently we have to be invited in...

116#Of course they are both light-eaters. I expected this. I note it and move on.

117 #My attention is so entirely consumed by my mission that the surroundings are bothering me much less than I would have thought.

Subconscious colour change...

118 #I keep my eyes on the Ambassador's face, to assess his reaction as the Prince and his mistress enter.


Slightly risky, as if anyone is watching us then in character we would be expected to be watching the Prince. So we need to have an excuse. He looks familiar, but I can't think from where. ( That'll do... I can ask what he's been up to)

119 #I approach the Ambassador's wife and ask her for a dance.

Tactical reasons: first, to speak with her while I can still stand to, and second, grace and I can meet up after the next dance and compare notes.

pendell
2016-10-17, 08:11 PM
It looks like we have some ties so I'll have randomella start resolving them.

114)"You look beautiful," I whisper back. "You always look beautiful, of course, but—"
66

114# "Or, in our case, twice," I point out as I help her inside
59

115)I mentally roll my eyes at the dramatic absurdity. Surely the Embassy has the gas laid in.
9

115
#I automatically catalog the tactical opportunities presented by this combination of shadow and light.
85

116)I am here to observe and learn, and that is more easily accomplished if I do not antagonize my hosts. I attempt to keep my reaction to myself.

10

116#Of course they are both light-eaters. I expected this. I note it and move on.
37


117)I have shoved any inconvenient reactions well to the back of my mind. I nod firmly.
6

117 #My attention is so entirely consumed by my mission that the surroundings are bothering me much less than I would have thought.
26


118)I study the body language displayed by the Prince and the opera singer, hoping for further insight regarding their relationship.
57

118 #I keep my eyes on the Ambassador's face, to assess his reaction as the Prince and his mistress enter.
18

119)I intend to dance with my wife once, before embarking upon my investigation.
Relationship first....

119A)I cut directly to the heart of the matter and ask Madame Albescu to dance.
94

119 #I approach the Ambassador's wife and ask her for a dance.
67

So we'll play it through!

"You look beautiful... you always look beautiful, but..."



She blushes and beams. "Thank you. And you look very dashing yourself. It's—rather fun to—to pretend, isn't it? I love my real life, of course I do, but—isn't this a marvelous game to play?"

You hand her into Woodward's carriage and sit close beside her. "You're not afraid?" you ask quietly.

"Of course I am," Grace says evenly, "a little, but this is important, and it has to be done."


Good for her! A courageous woman.

We travel to the ball and catalog the opportunities presented by the combination of shadow and light.



One might plan an ambush from that corner, or station a sharp-shooter on that gallery… An old soldier's instincts die hard.


We are then invited in "of our own free will". Heh.

"While it is, you suppose, possible for two Vlaski aristocrats to look younger than their years and yet not be light-eaters, that's not where a gambling man would place his money. "

Of course they are both light-eaters. I expected this. I note it and move on.


No particular response to that. The Prince's party enters.

We are consumed with the mission so the surroundings bother us much less than we though.

We study the body language of the Prince and his par amour.



The Prince looks admiringly at the lovely woman on his arm. It's hard to tell from this angle, but you think the gaze Madame returns to him is cooler.

The Prince and Madame take their positions in the center of the dance floor; the Ambassador and his wife join them; the musicians strike up a tune you do not recognize; and the ball is thereby considered opened.

You notice that the two lead couples, and all the others who join them, dance in a medieval manner, rather than closely in the modern style. But then, very little else would be possible given the women's stiff and voluminous skirts. Some of the Mercian couples join them and try to mimic the movements; others just watch.

The next song is an unquestionable waltz, and though the Vlaskesari still dance in a medieval style, the Mercians flood to the floor and dance the steps they know.


Hrm.. that would make sense if winning the Prince's affection was a job, not something truly undertaken out of passion. So now let's get to work. Grace gets the first dance!



You hold out a hand to Grace, and the next moment you are gliding through candle-smoke and among floating fabric. For a breath or two, it is like something out of a fairytale.

But after that, you cannot ignore the weak, pinched look of the servants, or the youthful faces and incongruously hard eyes of the Vlaskesari who surround you on all sides.

And who, more importantly, surround the Crown Prince on all sides.

Right. You are here to find a way to rescue the Prince from their influence. Time to get to work, indeed.

"Will you be all right?" you murmur to Grace. You know full well that her feelings about light-eating are even stronger than your own.

She lifts her chin. "We're all wearing gloves, aren't we? I'll be fine."


So , next target : Madame Albescu



"Mr. Westlake! You accepted my invitation. How marvelous. Yes, of course I would like to dance."

You hold back any desire to shudder as you take her hand. Both of you are wearing gloves, after all.



Vote 120: What are you hoping to accomplish by dancing with her?

# If I can engage her in debate again, perhaps I can induce her to reveal her true colors. If the Prince overhears, it might sour his affections.

# She likes a challenge. She is certainly not indifferent to me. Seductions have started with less. Perhaps I can draw her eye from the Prince.

# I just need to keep talking with her. Everything she says or doesn't say gives me more information.


Hrm ... it looks as if the story changes a bit based on our decisions. So we'll stop there and we will find out what will happen in our dance on Wednesday, 10 Oct, 2016, 5:30PM. Don't let her touch you without gloves!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2016-10-19, 05:53 PM
Since there has been no votes, the next move will occur on Friday, 21 Oct, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-19, 06:04 PM
:smallsigh::smallsigh::smallsigh::smallsigh::small sigh: *bangs head against wall for being so forgetful*
120)I just need to keep talking with her. Everything she says or doesn't say gives me more information.
Pure Charisma.

pendell
2016-10-21, 08:10 PM
Hooray! I have a vote! Thank you , Black Socks!

120)I just need to keep talking with her. Everything she says or doesn't say gives me more information.



She seems amused by the idea that a nouveau riche gentleman such as yourself could find her intriguing at the same time he disapproves of her.

She is more than willing to engage in a repeat of your arguments from the salon, and seems to enjoy it.

"Perhaps I can change your mind about both sun-worship and the uses of art," she says after a time. "The Embassy has on display a very fine tapestry brought from the homeland. We could slip away long enough for me to show it to you."

Was that innuendo, or does she truly intend to show you a tapestry? It's hard to read her tone.


This oughta be interesting ...



A Vlaski woman—who may or may not actually be a light-eater, whose manipulation of the Crown Prince may or may not be deliberate, whose motives are completely obscure, and whose demonstrated interest in you may or may not be feigned—has just invited you to go with her deeper into the cavernous candlelit darkness of what is technically Vlaski home soil.

You take a deep breath.



Vote 121:

# "I couldn't possibly do that, ma'am. It might harm your reputation. You are here with His Royal Highness, after all."

# "I had better not, ma'am. It might…give the wrong impression. I am married, after all."

# "I couldn't do that here and now, ma'am, it would not be appropriate, but should the invitation be renewed one day, I would accept."

# "What a marvelous idea. Yes, I would like to see this tapestry very much."


Something to think about. For one, there may or may not be useful information and possibly a seduction scene as well. While Grace would be most definitely angry if you actually slept with her it occurs to me that a little gossip might be just the thing to spoil the burgeoning romance with the prince -- if he's not like your typical lovestruck adolescent thinking with his hormones who just simply ignores any adverse information until it's too late.

Land sakes, getting old isn't much fun, but at least I can go for days, weeks at a time without my hormones making me want to bang my head into a true or do something amazingly stupid.

Since the story obviously changes whether we accompany or not, we must stop here and resume on Monday, 25 Oct, 2016, 5:30PM. What shall we do?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-22, 08:00 AM
Land sakes, getting old isn't much fun, but at least I can go for days, weeks at a time without my hormones making me want to bang my head into a true or do something amazingly stupid.

Like misspelling 'tree' as 'true'. :smalltongue:

121)"What a marvelous idea. Yes, I would like to see this tapestry very much."
- Previous CoG games haven't been graphic about $3x. My guess is that here, we'll have an interrupted kiss (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AlmostKiss)* or something similar.
- Perfect thing to break up the romance between princey and the opera singer.**
- I don't think Grace will be upset if we do it in the line of duty. If she is, then oh well. Fate of the Empire > Our love life.

*WARNING TVTROPES LINK
**That sounds like a band name.

pendell
2016-10-24, 07:15 PM
Lie back and think of Mercia, eh? :smallamused: All right, let's go see a tapestry.




She gives you a brilliant smile, tucks her hand through your arm, and guides you toward the doorway at the far end of the ballroom.




Vote 122:

Why are you doing this?

# I am here to learn whatever I can.

# I intend to actually try to seduce her once we are alone.

# I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

# How could I refuse this challenge? I can't possibly back down now.


That question doesn't change the action (though it does affect our stats) so we press on together to the tapestry.



The Vlaskesari have done their best to arrange the furnishings to evoke a medieval castle. Flickering torches jut from the wall in the place of gas lamps, animal-skin rugs adorn the floor in the place of woven carpets, tapestries hang on the wall in the place of oil paintings.

The nearest tapestry features—predictably—a rendition of that bit of mythology usually referred to as "The Coming of the Sun." During your time on the Vlaski border, you saw so many variants of the scene that now you can easily pick out the salient features: the curved prows of the longboats, the curved horns of the helmets, the flowing red locks of the chieftain disembarking from the boat.

The sun has been positioned behind him, as it usually is in these pictures, so that it surrounds him in a halo—and flows from him, along his outstretched arm, to begin to illuminate the land on which he has just set foot, a land otherwise shrouded in darkness.

It's not a particularly subtle message.




Vote 123:

#But it is a striking piece of art. What a shame there are few comparable tapestries left in Mercia.

#It is an untruthful message, conveniently ignoring the violence perpetrated by the warriors of the old Ljós Empire.

#It is an offensive message. We of Mercia have generated plenty of light, through rational rather than supernatural means.

#It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.






"A sacred duty is laid upon all of us who believe," Madame Albescu muses, standing behind you. "To bring light to dark places. Sometimes the methods required are…crude, but there is no helping it."

You feel the warmth of her hand on your back. She is still wearing gloves, isn't she?

But you remind yourself there is nothing to fear. Even if she has taken off her gloves, there are layers of cloth between you.



Vote 124:

#I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment.


#I turn and kiss her hard, as though our arguments only masked a different passion on my part.

#I keep my eyes on the tapestry and say something complimentary about it.

#I keep my eyes on the tapestry and deliberately criticize it as offensively as I can manage.



Well, now. Things are starting to heat up. Bear in mind that physical contact with a light-eater may carry it's own dangers, even on the lips -- on the other hand, it just might be glorious, too.

Make your decision and I'll see you Wednesday, 26 Oct, 2016, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-24, 07:37 PM
Lie back and think of Mercia, eh?
Well, I didn't necessarily say that we wouldn't enjoy it as well....:smallamused:
122)I intend to actually try to seduce her once we are alone.
Case in point.
123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.
Not much else to say here.
124)I turn and kiss her hard, as though our arguments only masked a different passion on my part.
Let's take the initiative, shall we?

Alandra
2016-10-25, 08:06 AM
Do you mind, if I join? :smallsmile:

122)I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.

124)I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment.

pendell
2016-10-25, 08:14 AM
Do you mind, if I join? :smallsmile:

122)I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.

124)I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment.

By all means, you may join. The rules specifically say anyone may join -- or leave -- at any time. So welcome aboard!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-10-25, 06:22 PM
122)I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.

124)I keep my eyes on the tapestry and say something complementary?

pendell
2016-10-26, 06:19 PM
122)I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.

123)It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story.

For the third we have a three way tie:

124)I turn and kiss her hard, as though our arguments only masked a different passion on my part. 36

124)I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment. 43

124)I keep my eyes on the tapestry and say something complementary? 26

So those are our choices. Let's play it out!


Step 1:
I don't plan to touch her, but I very likely won't have to. With any luck, she'll be observed stealing away with me and her reputation will suffer for it.



The Vlaskesari have done their best to arrange the furnishings to evoke a medieval castle. Flickering torches jut from the wall in the place of gas lamps, animal-skin rugs adorn the floor in the place of woven carpets, tapestries hang on the wall in the place of oil paintings.

The nearest tapestry features—predictably—a rendition of that bit of mythology usually referred to as "The Coming of the Sun." During your time on the Vlaski border, you saw so many variants of the scene that now you can easily pick out the salient features: the curved prows of the longboats, the curved horns of the helmets, the flowing red locks of the chieftain disembarking from the boat.

The sun has been positioned behind him, as it usually is in these pictures, so that it surrounds him in a halo—and flows from him, along his outstretched arm, to begin to illuminate the land on which he has just set foot, a land otherwise shrouded in darkness.

It's not a particularly subtle message.


Compassionate: 55 Pragmatic: 45

Game thinks that's a bit of a tough choice, it seems.

"It has always frustrated me that Vlaskesari artists tend to fixate upon this one small part of the story."



Indeed. The warriors of Ljós came to the lands that are now Mercia and Vlask; they raped and pillaged; they brought with them learning and culture that would have taken some time to develop without their influence; they founded sun-worship in both countries. All of this is true.

But religion and culture in both lands have evolved since the red-haired sun-touched stepped from their boats. The chieftain with his sunstone is part of the story, yes. But so is the glittering, gold-encrusted medieval Sun Temple; so are the mild village healers who decried the excesses of those Temples; so are the early Rationalist Movement and the resulting Inquisition; so is the breaking of the Mercian Temples.

All the Vlaskesari want to talk about is the sun-touched chieftain. It seems more relevant to talk about what his descendants choose to do with their inherited power. Do they heal the sick or drain the helpless?


Excellent points. But no stat change.

Now she lays her hand on our back.

"I turn to face her, dislodging her hand, and pay her a compliment."



"You bring light to dark places, without doubt. You enrich the life of anyone who hears you sing."

"Why, thank you." She closes the distance between you again, raising a gloved hand to smooth something imaginary off your shoulder. The torchlight catches her eyes, and you see that she is watching you carefully, assessing your reaction. "Singing is not enough, though."

Quick, light footsteps interrupt you.


Footsteps? But this was just getting interesting!



They prove to belong to a pale, harried-looking servant, whose eyes widen when he recognizes Madame. He says something swift and cringing to her in rapid Vlaski. You catch a reference to "the Prince's favorite wine."

Madame turns to answer the servant, and you take advantage of her distraction to return to the dance.


Really.



After a time, the musicians begin the tune for some kind of raucous folk dance that involves loud clapping and elbows and knees thrown every which way. All the Vlaskesari dance to it, but the only Mercian to attempt it is the Prince.

It is somewhat disconcerting how very well he executes the feat. If it were not for his unmistakably Mercian clothing, one might almost be unable to distinguish him from the others on the dance floor.

The stomping dance ends. The Prince tosses his split and ruined gloves to his servant and tromps off in search of a drink. "Something quieter!" he calls over his shoulder to the Ambassador, half command and half request.


Well, *I* for one am impressed at how well he did.



The musicians begin a light melody that seems to float on air–perfect music for waltzing. Relieved-looking Mercian couples take the floor again. The Prince asks a well-dressed Mercian lady to dance. The Ambassador asks Madame Albescu. You and Grace find each other in the crowd.


Some more dancing, perhaps?



Couples swirl about the floor. The Vlaskesari circle each other with deliberate steps that avoid crushing the women's skirts. The Mercians move together in a flutter of softer fabric. At the ballroom's outer edges, the servants move in patterns of their own.

Through the crowd, you see Prince and his partner pause.

Then the young woman stumbles forward and collapses against the Prince's chest.


Collapsed...? Uh-oh.



By the time you get there, the Prince has her in a chair and is assiduously fanning her, and her eyes are open. "Poor lady," the Prince says, "the dancing was too much for her. I shall leave her to her husband's care."

"I have some smelling salts," Grace offers. "Perhaps they would be of help?"

"What happened?" the woman's husband asks her anxiously.

She looks embarrassed. "I felt so weak—all of a sudden, like the floor giving way underfoot. Though he may have thought I was shamming. He was–was flirting with me–not in a very appropriate manner–and I–"

"Flirting how?"

"Oh, he said–some things–and then he stopped dancing–in a dramatic way, as one sees on the stage. He cupped my cheek in his hand and said he wanted one kiss, and then my knees buckled."



Vote 125:

# I cast a look of disgust at the Prince's retreating back. How dare he take advantage of his position to force his attentions on a woman who did not seek them?

# There is a larger problem here than the Prince's ill manners. I try to remember which Vlaskesari were near this lady just before she stumbled.

# The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?


...



The Prince is met by Madame Albescu, who is followed by the silent steward carrying a tray with a wine bottle and two glasses. "Since I know you do not care for vodka," says Madame Albescu to the Prince, "I told the Ambassador he must send to Debenham & Lord's for a bottle of your favorite Château Gerard 1790. He has acquired it this evening just for you."

Perhaps it is just a trick of the flickering candlelight, but for a moment the Prince's brown curls seem to gleam with a reddish sheen.



Vote 126:

#Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.

#Light is beginning to break through the darkness. I can see the general outlines of the plot, but the details are still murky.

#I am as perplexed as I ever was.


I think... I think it's about time we left this place. What about you?

At any rate, make your decision and we'll make our next move on Friday, 28 Oct 2016, 5:30PM EDT. I hope it's leaving!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-26, 07:51 PM
:eek:
:eek:
:eek:
:eek:
:eek:
:eek:

Dear sweet potatoes, it's obvious now.
The Debenham's wine causes light-eating powers! Madame A gave it to the prince in the hopes that it would damage his reputation. The prince's favourite wine.... light-eating is addictive!
....dang, Madame A's good.

125)The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?
126)Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.
Let's move, move, moooooove!

Mister Tom
2016-10-27, 01:22 PM
125)The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?
126)Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.

Ditto

Alandra
2016-10-28, 02:56 PM
You are right. I'm not sure if it is really about damaging his reputation, though. Maybe she's trying to get him to the throne as her puppet? Either way, we probably should get going as fast as possible. She certainly won't tell us if we stay here.

125)The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?
126)Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.

pendell
2016-10-28, 06:44 PM
Every body agrees!

125)The Prince touched her bare skin with his bare hand. Surely…surely it's not possible that he…?

126)Suddenly, I see the entire plot. We must get a warning to Woodward—and we must leave as casually as possible, so the Vlaskesari don't realize we know.



We have to get out of here," you breathe to Finch.

Grace turns from her attempts to comfort the fainting woman and mouths, "Light-eating?" at you.

You nod, and she swallows.


Exit, stage right!



"I've done some nursing," Grace says to the pale woman. "Back, er, back in the old days, before my husband made his fortune. Come back to the hotel with us, and I can look after you."

The pale woman tries to struggle upright. "I couldn't possibly impose, Mrs—"

"Westlake," Grace says, catching the woman as she almost falls. "My dear, it's no imposition, and of course you must come, you can't stay here…" You and Finch and the anxious husband between you help the lady to your carriage.

Grace murmurs to you, "It's treated like any other strength-draining illness. I can see to her." She raises her voice a little to be heard by the couple in the carriage. "You've that, er, late business meeting, don't you, dearest? I won't look for you and Mr. Hawthorne before morning." She bites her lip and adds in a whisper, "Be careful."


Grace is an amazing woman. Good for her!



that turns people into light-eaters?"

"No," you say, looking down at the telegram you found waiting for you when you stopped back home for your revolver. "They appear to have invented a chemical compound that activates latent inherited traits. Hair color, eye color, certain weaknesses or illnesses. And what was once known as 'the touch of the Sun.'"

Woodward turns pale.

"So," Finch drawls, "is there something you would like to tell us about the Royal Family?"

"Would I like to tell you?" Woodward mutters. "No, but we appear to be past that point. You can see why the Royal Family would be disinclined for the news to reach the public. In fact, the Prince has an excellent incentive to conceal his…situation even from his own family. It has been some generations since a prince was born sun-touched, but the precedent for dealing with the situation is admittedly…unpleasant. Which would naturally make the boy more likely to cleave to a Vlaski mistress." He shakes his head. "A brilliant plot on many levels. If you hadn't discovered it, Mercia might have been destroyed from within by a pro-Vlask Emperor. Or by a civil war."


So. Like you, the family has sun-touched in the genes. Not surprising, really; I suspect all the major kingdoms in this world can say the same.

So, how do we foil this plot?



Woodward decrees that action must be taken without delay. Jed Baker's light-eating abilities ("And trust me, we will be discussing your decision to keep that from me," Woodward growls at you) faded once he stopped drinking the substance. But there's no way to know what the Prince's longer exposure might mean, or even if there is a tipping point past which the effects cannot be reversed.

Woodward informs Her Imperial Majesty, obtains her consent, and assembles a team of men in full light-eater gear to go and detain His Royal Highness.



Vote 127: How do you respond when you learn this?

A: "I want to be one of them."
...... Follow up vote:
......127A: Why are you so eager to join?
...........#It is my duty. Woodward needs as many men as possible, and I already know the secret.

...........#The Crown Prince is not a villain, just a boy caught in someone else's web. I'd like to be there to ensure the others don't treat him too roughly.

...........#It has been too long since I was in the thick of the fight.

...........#A light-eater on Mercia's throne? Over my dead body.

B: "Violence against his person ought to be the last thing we try. Instead let someone explain to him the Vlaski plot as we understand it, and reassure him that the effects can be reversed."

C: "Let someone go and explain about the chemical compound in the wine, and let His Royal Highness draw his own conclusions."

D: "A frontal assault seems like it could go badly in so many ways. It would be better instead to lure the Prince to an ambush."


So here is where our story branches: We have two options to talk him down (B and C, two different approaches), an old-fashioned police raid in which we kick in the door, grab him, and drag him off (choice A), or shooting him with a tranquilizer dart (D).

Each of these options have a followup "Are you sure"? Question which I will take as read that we are, in fact, going to do that course of action.

So what shall we do? What is the course of action most likely to capture the prince alive?

Let me know and we'll find out on Monday, 31 Oct, 2016, 5:30PM. Happy All Hallows Eve!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-10-28, 07:38 PM
127)"Violence against his person ought to be the last thing we try. Instead let someone explain to him the Vlaski plot as we understand it, and reassure him that the effects can be reversed."
We've got 90 Charisma, let's use it.

smuchmuch
2016-10-31, 09:34 AM
Okay so they fed the prince some wine that trigger his light eating abilities, but if ti has been going on for a while, I have a hard time buyin he hasn't realised peoples he touches are growing fainter. I fear he knows and just enjoys it which would be... bad. I feel we should have try to find more clues before calling Woodward.


Jed Baker's light-eating abilities ("And trust me, we will be discussing your decision to keep that from me," Woodward growls at you)

Yep well...


Woodward informs Her Imperial Majesty, obtains her consent, and assembles a team of men in full light-eater gear to go and detain His Royal Highness.

I'm very curious how exactly that discussion went.
And a frontal assault, really, over our own crown prince ? This sounds like something that should be handled wth a bit of subtlety.

>B: "Violence against his person ought to be the last thing we try. Instead let someone explain to him the Vlaski plot as we understand it, and reassure him that the effects can be reversed."

Alandra
2016-10-31, 11:52 AM
It's probably best to try and talk about it first.

127)"Violence against his person ought to be the last thing we try. Instead let someone explain to him the Vlaski plot as we understand it, and reassure him that the effects can be reversed."

Mister Tom
2016-10-31, 04:21 PM
Same as everyone else, apparently :-)

pendell
2016-10-31, 07:42 PM
Okay so they fed the prince some wine that trigger his light eating abilities, but if ti has been going on for a while, I have a hard time buyin he hasn't realised peoples he touches are growing fainter.


I suspect this is the first time it's ever happened to him, and the first time he's actually been exposed to this wine. They've probably been roping him in gradually, hinting, and this is the moment when they spring their trap on him.

No Guy Fawkes wannabes in this crowd? :smallamused: Very well, we'll try to talk him down.



At least this way, the Prince has the chance to choose to allow his retainers to help him. If he chooses otherwise, necessitating a physical altercation, so be it.

Woodward eyes you. "Are you volunteering, Watson?"


Yes, as a matter of fact I am.



"More courage than sense, but all right." Woodward gets up. "We'll give you first crack at him, and my team will be standing by in case you fail."

And so you find yourself, in full dress uniform and with a hammering heart, being conducted by the Prince's steward to His Royal Highness's apartments.

The Prince frowns, unaccustomed to seeing people he did not send for, but his brow clears when you identify yourself as working for Arthur Woodward. He looks at you expectantly.

It's all up to you now. The very future of the Empire could hinge on what you say next.



Vote 128:

# "Your Royal Highness, we have uncovered a Vlaski plot that has temporarily turned one of your subjects into a light-eater."

# "I know what the people of Vlask have made you believe about yourself, but it is false. They have turned you into a light-eater by adding a certain chemical to your wine."

# "I saw what you did at the ball."


Make your choice. And then we'll go down one leg of the trousers of time ... on Wednesday, 2 November, 2016, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2016-10-31, 07:49 PM
Oh boy, hell of a choice there.

"I saw what you did at the ball" seems way too confrontational an opening
and i'm not sure he may have realised if it's the first time.

The second seems to go directly to accusation about Madame without build up.

I'm going to go with
# "Your Royal Highness, we have uncovered a Vlaski plot that has temporarily turned one of your subjects into a light-eater."
and hope he'll be interested enough to let us continue.

Mister Tom
2016-11-01, 02:15 AM
I'm going to go with I saw what you did at the ball.

He knows what he did, too.

Granted it isn't normally our approach, but aristocrats expect deference; this will get a genuine reaction. And that reaction can tell us a lot about how to proceed.

Black Socks
2016-11-01, 09:01 AM
The fate of the Empire hinges on what we're about to say, eh?
*cue basketball music*
"Hey prince. Y'all ready for this?"
I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist.

128)"I know what the people of Vlask have made you believe about yourself, but it is false. They have turned you into a light-eater by adding a certain chemical to your wine."
The first step should be to calm him down.

Alandra
2016-11-02, 05:30 PM
It's probably better to take the direct route. I hope. On the other hand, the "temporary" part is pretty important, and maybe it is better to be non-confrontational. I'm really not sure. Sorry, if I still can, I'm going back to my earlier vote:


128)"I know what the people of Vlask have made you believe about yourself, but it is false. They have turned you into a light-eater by adding a certain chemical to your wine."

pendell
2016-11-02, 06:55 PM
Very well, our vote is:

"128)"I know what the people of Vlask have made you believe about yourself, but it is false. They have turned you into a light-eater by adding a certain chemical to your wine.""



The Prince's face drains of color.

You keep talking, explaining the dockhand's symptoms, explaining about the wine, explaining the advantage to Vlask in enacting such a plot. You emphasize that recovery is possible, that the dockhand's abilities faded once he stopped drinking the wine, though the withdrawal was unpleasant.

Then you wait for his reaction.

"If," His Royal Highness says with difficulty, "if a Crown Prince of Mercia were to be under the affliction you describe, it would be impossible for him to ask for help. No light-eater can ever sit the throne of Mercia."



Vote 129: How do you respond?

# "No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo."

# "We believe that once you stop drinking the wine, your ability will fade. But even if it does not, even if you stay sun-touched, you are not a light-eater unless you choose to be."

# "Even if it means he loses his throne, the duty of a Crown Prince is to protect his people. From himself, if need be."



This is it, the big pitch! You've done well so far ... seal the deal, if you can, on Friday, 4 November, 2016, 5:30 PM

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Mister Tom
2016-11-03, 03:24 AM
# "No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo."


Oleaginous twerp, so I am

Black Socks
2016-11-03, 06:24 AM
I will never complain about our stats again if Charisma gets us through this.
129)"No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo."
One stat to rule them all!

Alandra
2016-11-04, 04:31 PM
I just hope that we are right with this statement ...

129)"No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo."

pendell
2016-11-04, 07:37 PM
""No light-eater stands before me, Your Royal Highness. This is something they did to you, and it is something we can undo.""




Cautious hope comes into the Prince's eyes. He straightens his shoulders. "The dockhand put his trust in you and he is free of it, living his life again. Very well. I will submit to whatever treatment you have devised."

"Your Royal Highness—" the steward bleats anxiously as you conduct the Prince from his apartments, to where Woodward awaits him.

"It's all right," the Prince reassures him. "Your fears were groundless. I am not to disappear or be confined or be exiled. I'm not really a light-eater at all. It was a Vlaski plot, and we of Mercia know how to undo it."

You feel your knees go weak with relief of tension, as they might upon leaving a battlefield. You've just saved the Crown Prince of Mercia.


*Wipes my brow*. He's coming willingly, praise be. Strong work , guys!



You rejoin Woodward just as he is receiving the news that the team sent to retrieve Madame Albescu found that she had vanished. He curses briefly.

"Well," he says, refocusing, "we've rescued His Royal Highness, which is the most important thing. Learning the details of the plot would have been preferable, but we may catch up with Madame in time.

"Meanwhile, we shall put it about that His Royal Highness has pneumonia, and take him to Caisleán, the royal residence in Dunleitir, by Her Imperial Majesty's private dirigible."


So we are whisking the prince away. If they're making it part of the story, perhaps it will be full of incident.



The trip to Dunleitir is grim indeed. The Prince spends the entirety of the black and surreal night howling abuse at Woodward and any of Woodward's hastily-improvised security force (cobbled together of men who already knew the secret) who happen to cross his field of vision. The agony of withdrawal has swamped his previous willingness to be helped.

Woodward sits with him in the luxuriant main cabin for the entire night. The rest of you rotate in and out, serving as Woodward's second pair of eyes and pair of hands for as long as you can tolerate your someday-sovereign's vitriol. The rest of the time, you sip tea provided by the Prince's steward, try not to listen, and look forward to the brief intervals when the Prince falls silent.

"At some point," Finch says during one of these, "we ought to consider how the Vlaskesari managed to maneuver Madame Albescu so close. Someone else had to have been involved."

"Of course," you sigh. "Because what we needed was another uncaught villain lurking in the background like the Professor, one more unresolved-and-possibly-recurring threat looming over our heads."

Finch exhales a breath that isn't quite laughter. His eyes are red-rimmed with exhaustion, but he refuses the mug you nudge toward him. You and he both stopped drinking the tea hours ago; it wasn't helping.

"What I think we actually need is a holiday," he says. "Spend a fortnight fishing or something, then come back to all the unsolved problems with clear heads."

"You hate holidays."

"Which should tell you something."

The dirigible sails on through the black night.


The Prince must be going through withdrawal. Still, things seem to be going well for the moment.



From the Prince's cabin behind you, a smooth, silken voice speaks. "Don't move, Mr. Woodward."

Beside you, Finch goes rigid.

"Come, Your Royal Highness," the voice goes on. "I have a lifeboat prepared for us, and the others safely disabled. Your allies will keep you safe in Vlask until we can devise a way for you to wrest your throne from your lady mother."

"Your Royal Highness," Woodward begins in the deliberately reasonable tone of a man trying not to panic, "you are ill and cannot know what you are doing. Surely you can see that these so-called allies do not have your best interests—"

"And I have a bottle of wine waiting for you," the silken voice speaks over him.



Vote 130:

# I scramble to my feet, leading the charge through the cabin door.

# I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.


It exercises our stats, but regardless of our choice the next thing happens ...



Some enemy is in there with Woodward and the helpless Prince. How could he have possibly gotten aboard? Did he stow away somehow, or could he have somehow disguised himself as one of Woodward's operatives, or—horrific thought—is Woodward's organization compromised? That would explain how Madame Albescu knew to tidy up loose ends and flee.

You reach the cabin door and see—




Deep breath..



—the Prince's steward.

His hand is plastered over Woodward's face and his head thrown back in a light-eater's feeding ecstasy.



Vote 131: What do you do?

#I fling myself forward to Woodward's defense.

#I position myself between the Prince and his steward.

#I fade back into the shadows.

#I draw my revolver. I don't have a clear shot now, but perhaps if the steward moves a little to the left…



The story continues , but our actions here might have an impact on how prepared we are to take further actions.



The steward whips around. (Woodward collapses bonelessly at his feet.) One elegant, well-kept hand holds a large and very serious-looking pistol.

Which he jams into the back of the Crown Prince's skull.


Oh dear. He has the prince at gunpoint!



"Over there," he says softly, in a tone as rich and cloying as velvet, and motions you and Finch to join Woodward in the corner.

It's pretty much the only threat that would have induced you to comply. You and Finch both hesitate—then move where you are directed.

The steward reaches down with his free hand and uses a knife to sever the Prince's bonds. "Come, Your Royal Highness." The Prince shuffles mutely ahead of him out of the room, a white pawn herded by a black knight.

The key turns in the lock.

Almost before it is done turning, Finch has thrown himself at the door, fumbling the lockpicks out of his pocket.


Quick! We've got to get that lock open!


Vote 131:

#"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock.

#"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap. "It's faster to break it!"

#Finch can get that door open quicker than anything I can do. I turn my attention to Woodward.



We're through the door, somehow! And ...



Bursting out of the cabin, you see two pairs of legs belonging to the Prince and his servant–or, more accurately, to the steward and his prize–leaving the last step of the stairway for the boat deck.

The stairway is littered with the bodies of Woodward's operatives. Some appear to be injured, others merely somnolent. You wonder what was in that tea.

You emerge onto the boat deck to see the Crown Prince untying a lifeboat. The steward now holds his pistol pointing straight up. If he pierces the envelope, the ship will plummet into the sea. He probably intends to do just that, as soon as he and the Prince have disembarked. His eyes sweep the deck, the stairways, the shadowed corners. Every muscle in his body is tensed, ready to jump at whatever danger presents itself.

You have no more than an instant in which to choose a plan of attack. Never before have you played for such high stakes. The life of Mercia's Crown Prince hangs in the balance, and you have to get this right the first time.



Not just for the Crown Prince, but for us as well. He'll shoot the envelope and doom us all!


Vote 132:

#Even at this distance and in bad light, I am confident I can kill the steward in one shot.

#I can't make the shot from here. But if Finch distracts the pair of them, I know I am quiet enough to sneak through the shadows for a better angle.

#I can't risk using the revolver from here or relying on my ability to move silently. It's time for a bold move: I throw myself at the steward in a rugby tackle.

#At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.



This is your only chance. Make it count!

See you Monday, 7 Nov, 2016 , 5:30 PM to see whether we save the Prince and ourselves ... or plummet in a fiery ball to a horrible, watery death.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Black Socks
2016-11-05, 08:59 AM
:smalleek:
:smallannoyed:
:smallmad:
:smallfurious:
Seriously? We just finished saving the prince and now he's gone and gotten us in another sticky situation and because Woodward is useless Finch and us are going to have to clean up this mess again and somehow I don't think Charisma will work and all our other stats suck and I know I said I'd never complain about our stats again but OH WELL! Princie-poo is addicted and his freaking steward is a light-eater and now we're going to have to save the freaking CROWN PRINCE on a freaking BLIMP because whenever something goes wrong it has to be US that cleans it up!!!!! Never mind that we're married and our wife's probably pregnant, no we have to gallivant around in notRussian plots! This is all freaking Woodward's fault! And eh got served by the freaking STEWARD!! And now my inner pragmatist is back in control and he's arguing with my inner gamer and I am SICK AND TIRED of saving the prince! It's like a gender-flipped MARIO GAME!!!!!! All we need now is "Thank you, but your prince is in another airship"!
RAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!:smallfurious::smallfurious::sma llfurious::smallfurious:
:smallsigh: Deep breaths.... deep breaths. :smalltongue:

Alright. Looks like we've gotten ourselves into another fine mess.
130)I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.
Stealth > Quickness.
131)Finch can get that door open quicker than anything I can do. I turn my attention to Woodward.
I don't trust our marksmanship (option 1) or athletics (option 2).
132)I can't make the shot from here. But if Finch distracts the pair of them, I know I am quiet enough to sneak through the shadows for a better angle.
Charisma is a great stat. But I don't think it would work here. So let's try our second best, Stealth.

smuchmuch
2016-11-05, 12:22 PM
Now now then. It may be Steampunk but it doesn't mean you have to get so steamed about it

"Our other skills sucks" ? Hardly. We have 75 markmanship, and some pretty darn decent observation and stealth around 72. Just because they aren't as absurdly high as our charisma doesn't mean they're bad by a long shot.

Besides we do have an opening to use our charisma, I see no reason the adventure would deny using it, not for a big 'you have one chance' choice like that.

And of course we're the one who will have to take care of the mess, wouldn't be much of a game otherwise now wouldn't it ? 'You have a peacefull evening with grace" is nice and an appreciated breather but doesn't make that fascinating a story. Well at least not without seriously shifting genre.

#"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock.

We're still a marskman. 75 out of 100 is pretty darn good. Especialy against an unmoving lock, i should think.

# I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.

#I draw my revolver. I don't have a clear shot now, but perhaps if the steward moves a little to the left…

#At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.
with Shooting as my second prefered option if it comes to tie a break with another.

Alandra
2016-11-05, 04:26 PM
We should have investigated the plot when we had the chance. :smallsigh:

Well, we are stealthy, aren't we?

I get up as quietly as possible and edge step by step toward the cabin door, Finch at my side.

I position myself between the Prince and his steward.

And we have good markmanship.

"Never mind the lockpicks!" I snap to Finch, and take aim at the lock.

I think we should use the charisma option in the last question. Every option looks like it needs a different stat and it doesn't look like any is a fake option. If we distract the steward, Finch can sneak up on him.
Even if the charisma option was more difficult than the other one (and I'm not convinced that it is), our high charisma should give us an edge.

At this distance, the only weapon worth using is words. If I can taunt the steward sufficiently to make him forget himself, he might give us an opening.

Sorry, I forgot to add the statement. :smallredface:

smuchmuch
2016-11-05, 10:54 PM
We should have investigated the plot when we had the chance.

Yes, definitively.

Though to be fair, it is possible that taking the extra time to investigate could have made things worst somewhere else, such as talking the prince down or have a bigger fight, rater than one measly steward on a blimp. So no point getting too bothered about it.

(And if you want to vote for the charisma option then please do so with a nice colored in red statement)