Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

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ChrisDDickey
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:10 am

It was a cold winter evening, the sun had set hours ago after a day barely 6 hours long. Old Cusa addressed the children that had gathered in the barabara. 

When I changed from human to Elf, all those many long centuries ago, it was a huge shock. The physical changes were draining, but the mental ones were more so. I remember how much I was learning back in those days. I really enjoyed the Gruv, it was all so new. New animals. New plants. New peoples with new languages! Sure London had been full of new things, but London was new and dirty, with air barely fit to breath. The Gruv was new and sparkling clean. 

I still did jobs for the Faraday Firm, they were mostly a law firm, but they also did investigations, and had found a rather eclectic selection of people to pull in for cases. They had recently opened a branch office in Ft Alice of the Gruv. Mr. Burn headed the Ft. Alice Faraday office and called us in. He introduced us to Mr. Harrold Nuegaut of Broombacker Industries. They had a small research outpost on Mt Somerville about 20 from Burlington. The research outpost had one eminent scientist, a black American Physics PhD by the name of Dr. Bouchet, 2 research assistants, and 4 guards and camp keepers. They had been there for about 3 weeks and were researching a strange phenomenon that had been discovered, it was a Stepwell fountain with water that ran uphill! The fountain was part of some ruins that belonged to the alien race that predated both the Samsuit and the Sarids. I think I have described before that the ceilings are unusually high, and the doors have an odd shape

They had been sending progress reports every day, but they had not heard from them in 3 days. We were hired to take the train to Burligton and hike up St Somerville to the outpost and sort out whatever trouble we might find there. We resupplied and packed our bags. We intended to hire harpies to carry our excess baggage, so we packed more than we could carry. We had dinner with the Geologist Paris Vance, whom I am sure I will tell you more about some other time. 

The next train to Burlington did not depart until early the next morning, In the afternoon we heard an explosion, and since the train was on a curve we were able to look out the window and back to see that there had been an explosion in the caboose and there was now a gaping hole in the side, and a fire inside. We quickly informed the others in the car, one of which said he would go forward and inform the engineer, we hurried to the back of the train. Entering the caboose we saw a dwarf with an odd cackling laugh that shot a pistol at us, and a troll woman who was a very excellent fighter. I concentrated upon putting out the fire (summoned a fire elemental and asked it to remove all the fire in the carriage. The two attackers traded a few blows and shots with us, and then they both jumped off the train just as a third shadowy figure decoupled the caboose from the rest of the train. The incline the train was laboring up caused our car to slow, stop, then reverse. Fortunately the others figured out how to apply the brakes and stop us before we gathered too much downward speed. 

740 AP, plus journal. 

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:44 pm

Old Cusa continues his tale. 

I hopped off the train and checked the area. The fire was out and the spirit I had summoned departed. When we searched downhill we found the spots where the two who had jumped from the train had landed, but tracking revealed that they had joined up and headed away from the tracks into the bush. There was no sign of the shadowy figure who had disconnected the car, and we concluded that he most probably had continued on the train. I learned later that the train Engineer had noticed that the caboose had been disconnected, but did not want to stop on the steep uphill grade because of the difficulty of getting the train moving again. 

We found some red flags in the caboose, and set them up about a quarter mile behind and ahead of the caboose, then started walking uphill. Several hours later a small speeder car came racing down the tracks, presumably to retrieve the caboose and take it to a siding. It took us by surprise, and we had to scramble off the embankment. We were more wary after that, and got off the tracks in plenty of time when the train passed us. In all it took us over 8 hours to make the hike.and we arrived at Burlington late that night. The mountain air got very chilly after sunset. We spoke to Captain Redway who was in charge of security at the camp, we gave the description of the people we fought on the train, and a description of what happened. After a cold meal from the cook tent we were given cots in the bunkhouse and we all slept soundly. 

At breakfast we talked to the residents of the camp. I got a much better idea of what had been happening. The research outpost at the stepwell (which has 6 guards or camp keepers) would send one or two guards with a status report almost every day. The guard would post the letter, stay for lunch, and often carry a pack of supplies back to the outpost. The guards had not been arriving for 4 or 5 days, and Burlington had not sent anybody to check, though they had reported to Ft. Alice that the guards were  not coming. One of the others had talked to some eminent scientists. The most useful interview was with a baggage handler, who remembered somebody as specifically the most unremarkable person they had ever seen. Average looking human male, medium height and build, brown hair. 

Just as the cook tent was finishing breakfast, there was a huge kerfuffle. An alarm bell was rung, and the palisade gates were closed. The rumor quickly spread that a "Lady Hathaway" had been killed. She was a rich lady who had invested much money in various research projects, and had been in Burlington for months inspecting progress. She was well liked. More ominously, Bernhardt found that his favorite hammer was missing. She was found lying dead, bludgeoned to death, next to her cabin. Burnhardt's favorite carpenter's hammer covered in her blood lying next to her. We were initially suspects, but we showed that the hammer was clearly wielded by a man much shorter than Burnheadt, and found footprints and a bloody handprint much smaller than his. I summoned her spirit and learned that she had talked with a "nice young man" who told her that the cook tent was serving scones that day, As she left her cabin for the cook tent she was struck from behind and killed instantly.

Session Goals 400, Conflict 350, RP 300/6 = 800 plus journal.  
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:59 pm

Old Cusa continues his story.

After supper we set out marching into the dark. The night was not starless, so with one or two of us using heat sight monocles, we did not need to have a lantern that would give our position away. This was the first time we had been hiking at night in the Gruv, and we were concerned about the unknown dangers. Our point man almost touched a caterpillar-like creature that we later learned was a Crawling Wig, but fortunately Lord Carnovon spotted the needle-shaped spines, and we arrived at the camp without untoward incident. 

It was almost midnight when we quietly approached the site of the camp. Everything was cold and quiet except for three Gultures that were arguing over some carrion. Bernhardt chased them a short distance away, and we learned that the carrion that they were arguing over were 7 humanoid bodies, tied hand and foot with primitive rope, and killed with short bladed weapons (spears and short-swords most likely). 4 were dressed as frontermen, and were probably the guards and camp-keepers. 3 were wearing the sort of expedition field-wear favored by British and American professionals. These we determined were the scientific assistants. Dr. Bouchet's body (middle aged black man) was not among them. It looked as if the 7 had been held captive and mistreated for a period of several days. We found footprints of Saurid Natives. The footprints showed approximately a half dozen Saurids leaving with a human wearing boots (Dr Bouchet I presume). 

The camp had been ransacked, but not in a way I would have expected Saurids to do. They left the food, and the contents of the mess tent (with its metal pots and good steel knives and axes and shovels that command such high prices at the trading post), and instead took all the notebooks and scientific gear. 

I determined that the bodies had been dead for 2 or 3 days. Our timeline as we reconstructed it then, was that the camp was attacked sometime between the evening of 6 days prior when somebody wrote their journal entry and the morning of 5 days prior when the next guard was scheduled to go to Burlington. They captured the camp with no casualties among the expedition. They held the expedition captive for 2 to 4 days, Then slew them all except for Dr Bouchet, and left with him. Our best guess is that this had probably been the day that we had been hired give or take a day. So if the attack upon the caboose or the murder of Lady Hathaway was meant to slow us down, the expedition had already been murdered before either of those things happened. 

The stepwell was impressive even in the dark (the next morning it was revealed to be magnificent). It was a large well, 15 yards across, with steps leading down along the sides. The idea is that no matter how high or low the water table is, you can just walk down to the edge of the water. At this time the water surface was about 10 yards down from ground level. Some movement was spotted down in it's depths, and some of the team went down to investigate. They were attacked by 3 Gruv Lancer snails, each the size of a full grown wolf. These had very, very hard armor, and they would shoot a dart into their victims to deliver a large dose of paralyzing poison. Bernhardt got paralyzed almost instantly. One snail got thrown into the water, but I regret that we killed the other two. In fact this very scrimshawed story knife that I am using to draw this sketch of the Lancer Snail is made from the dart that I extracted from one of my companions. In addition to the two darts, we also extracted the poison sacks. 

AP, Completing goal, 350, Conflict 350, treasure 350, 50,    = 1100 + 100 Journal. 
To Do:  Examine for signs of torture.   Summon spirit of letter writer. Maybe have priest standing by. 
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Slimcreeper
Posts: 949
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:50 pm

Excellent!

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:42 pm

Old Cusa continues his story.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully. As we each took our turn on night watch, we also dug a grave large enough for the 7 bodies. I had the middle watch, and after the sun came up I examined the bodies, and found that there were no signs of torure or other forms of questioning. The parson said some words over the bodies during his watch, and the last watch was Alvin who finished filling in the grave before fixing breakfast for us all. He mixed the meat of the giant snails with the large eggs, and then accidentally burned the mixture. The result was foul tasting, but did not make anybody sick. We got out of the camp and started following the tracks an hour or two before noon. 

We followed the tracks through a sequence of game trails. At one point we had to avoid what we were fairly sure were some carnivorous plants that we later learned were named Grinning Monkey Orchids, that did indeed ambush animals of human size. Later, at a place where the path passed by a small waterfall, we were accosted by 4 Saurids, one of which was as large as a troll. A voice boomed out in Mountain Saurid "Why have you come this way, fools". The Saurid's seemed to want to talk, or rather they seemed to prefer to shake us down for our treasure without taking the risk and trouble of attempting to kill us first. The others seemed willing to negotiate, but I decided to be rude and belligerent to the warriors, which I like to think had the effect of making the others seem more reasonable by comparison. A deal was almost struck wherein we would give them certain valuables we were carrying in exchange for the kidnapped doctor, this was when the Saurids admitted that they did not have the doctor any more, but that all they were offering was to tell us was more about the kidnapping, and who has the doctor now and where they were going. This was considerably less than my party had been bargaining for, but eventually a new deal was struck, We offered the 2 poison sacks we had gotten from the Snails, and copies of navigation charts and photorealistic drawings made with magic ink in exchange for what they would tell us. 

The Saurid leader told us that they were hired by two human women (neither of whose names he knew). One had curly hair and an unusual set of armor made from a Cheshire (a lizardlike creature that attacked by leaping down from trees upon their targets. The other woman was only described as smaller than the first. They both carried guns and rode buffs (which he said would not be able to get through the mountains on the route that they were traveling. He had led the attack against the camp, which had more guards than he had been led to expect, and he lost some warriors, which he was still quite upset about. The two women had forced the doctor to keep researching the stepwell fountain for a few days, then decided that it was time to retreat, taking the doctor with them. The women ordered this group of Saurids to stay in the camp and attack us, but they decided not to, instead leaving the camp a few hours after the women left with the doctor. We somehow missed the tracks of the women's buffs.. 

The Saurid leader did not mention whether the women ordered the murder of the other 7 expedition members, nor whether it it happened while the women were still present or not. I susspect the women did not want Dr Bouchet to witness the murder (and thus realize how likely his own probable fate was), and ordered them to slay the helpless prisoners after they had left. 

The Saurids, rather than attack us as they were hired to do, instead sold us the above information and pointed out the route we should take to follow them. The party we were following was the two human woman on buffs, the Dr on foot, and 1 hulk, and 1 normal saurid (from a different tribe than the ones who sold us the information). 

We resolved to push hard to catch up with our quarry, Taking one normal night's rest, then force marching for a day with a short night rest, before repeating. The first night of the chase we camped by a stream, as I hoped to do some fishing while on watch, but in the dimness, I did not at first notice the patches of Grinning Monkey Orchids along the streambank, and I got bit a few times before I got out. I had to do some wading in the stream to retrieve my fishing kit, and since there was not a safe place from which to both fish and keep watch on camp, I abandoned my plans to fish and simply kept watch. 

By the mid afternoon of the 2nd day of the chase we came upon a gully that we had great difficulty maneuvering, and there were a few scrapes and bumps. I still don't know how they got the buffs down that slope. It was there we found the campsite that they had abandoned the morning of the previous day. We still had several hours of daylight at that point and were less than 2 days behind, so we felt we were catching up fast. 

Session goal, 350, conflicts 400, 75 individ, 825 + journal 

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