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Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:00 pm
by ChrisDDickey
Journal of Lord Bentley Bootle. 

I have been keeping myself very busy. I have been spending a lot of time at Uncle Berties. I learned a great deal during my South American safari, and he has been helping me put it into perspective and learning new skills. 

Mother is very keen on my attending the upcoming ball, and has been drilling me in Etiquette unmercifully. 

Erika Withakay dropped by unexpectedly tonight. It seems that she has been asked to attend the ball by Lord Marcus Areliums Sters, Head of the Cartography Guild, and on the board of the Royal Geographic Society. In addition he is very involved in politics, especially as it relates to magic. His wife died a few years ago, and Mother was very keen to learn that he was finally courting again. Anyway, Erika was apparently a bit taken aback to be asked to such a prestigious event by such a distinguished older gentleman. She mentioned something about Lord Sters encouraging people with special magical talents to go out more, be seen, make friends, and in general act normal and not like a weird and frightening people who are not the sort of people one knows. She wanted a few tips about what she could expect at such a high society event.  

We discussed tactics of blending in and standing out at a ball, and Mother and I taught her some some of the more current dances. I passed on a few of the Etiquette tips that Mother has been teaching me. 

(Note: Bentley does not write what Erika said about somebody attempting to spy on the party in his journal)

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:48 am
by LexiLiegh
Effie sent a sealed note back to Lord Marcus Aurulies Sters today. It was quite nerve wracking bringing this to him, and I've faced down such monsters like Mummies, Arocknids, and worse of all societal rules like having to wear clothes! Oh Gods, I hope that I am not in trouble. Who else am I going to learn these important skills from?

It turns out that it was just politics, and Lord Sters wants me to attend him at this hoity toity ball thing. Something about showing that talented people are not dangerous, and maybe keeping an eye on this Lord of the [s]Pervy[/s]Privy council. It's really a lot of tedious politics. I sorely wish someone else could deal with this part.

Oh but this is charted territory, who do I know that can help me navigate it? Lord Bently! Yes, it shouldn't be so late to call on him. I mean we spent many nights together already right? I am most certain he will be able to help me, even if he can be long winded and focused on the entirely wrong things in life.

His map room is full of mounted animals, but the two maps he has of Africa and Asia are gorgeous. The globe is little more than a show piece. Really, who would believe France is that big? How is this a proper map room? He only has two maps in it!

But he, and mostly his Mother gave me wonderful tips on how to navigate this marsh of Nobility. Most notably leave the poets while they are talking, they are used to it. I wonder which other groups it is considered polite to leave mid conversation with?

I wonder how Rachel Roth is doing? I should stop by that park and feed her some more on the way back. Oh Gods, Bently is so persistent in trying to get me a carriage or an escort, or to escort me himself. How do I tell him that I want to stop by the park and feed Rachel Roth and her murder? They are beautiful ravens, and they have brought me shinies! I know, I am going to see if I can wear some of the shinies to the ball! I am sure it will be alright!

[note, this is just going through Erica's head, not being written down.]

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:20 pm
by ChrisDDickey
From the Journal of Bentley Bootle. 

I went to the gala at Aspley house. Hosted by Captain Lord Charles William Brudinel Bruce and Lady Augusta Bruce, and their lovely daughter Lady Julia. Aspley house is impressive, as is appropriate for the London residence of the Vice Chancellor of the house of lords and a member of the Privy council. After paying my compliments to the Host and Hostess, I had a nice chat with Jady Julia. I quickly discovered that she was less than enthused by my stories of hunting and trophies taken, but she seemed very interested in photography. 

I, of course, knew that Erika Withakay was going to be there, and indeed she eventually showed up escorted by Lord Marcus Areliums Sters, but I was very surprised to see Private Smyth there dressed in the household livery and serving drinks. He was deadpan and did not indicate he knew me, even when I went over and took some drinks from his tray and quietly acknowledged him. I had barely recovered from my surprise at seeing Smyth, when Dr McFly came in! He is the last person in the world I would expect at a social event such as this. He was escorting a lady who was referred to as Professor someone or another (she was not introduced to me and I did not catch the name)

Notes not mentioned in journal. 
Erika had said, "Might be someone out of place". 
Smyth overheard Lady Augusta, "Paperwork...  make sure desk is locked, keep an eye on."
Withdrawing, then banquette 9 to 18 course meal, then drawing rooms, then ball. 

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:16 pm
by Psitanium
Spell lady has been haunting The Danger Zone this past week as she works on something chemistry related. I had a bad experience with chemistry once, so I have a healthy distrust of flasks. Naturally, I told her she could utilize as many glass vessels as she could scrounge from my scrap pile. It was nice knowing her.
Her continued presence reminded me to fulfill a promise I had made in the jungle, likely while I was delirious from an unnamed tropical disease. Those leather bracers I fashioned must be upgraded with shield technology. After the better part of the week, I would call the results a rousing success. She seemed grateful and compensated me for the expense, before I could even hand her the invoice. That awkward conversation had been mercifully avoided.

And thus, it had come to this. A night of socialization that could only end in disaster. I reluctantly poured myself into the suit Professor Tyrell had picked and awaited her carriage’s arrival. When it appeared, she stepped out in a dress not suitable for archeological digs. I remarked how troubling this must be for her. She replied by handing me a top hat so we could look stupid together.
Then an idea. I had thought to pack my Electric Bugaboo at the base of my spine, albeit uncomfortable when I leaned back in the carriage. But it would fit perfectly in the underside of my new top hat. She insisted this was a very bad idea and I should leave the grenade in the carriage. Some troubling questions followed, relating to the sensitivity of the trigger mechanism. Unfortunately I never got the chance to test it, so it might just go off at the slightest touch. A premature explosion would be embarrassing for all involved. I swear such things have never happened to me before. It’s just that no one felt comfortable touching it.
I almost found willing volunteers the other day. A couple ladies on the street asked me if there was anything they could do to make me feel better. I told them I had an item in my pants that was ready to explode if they could activate it for me. I admitted it was an odd shape and the trigger leaned to the left, but I swore the results would be stunning. Apparently, they had heard that line from other gentlemen and were left thoroughly unimpressed. I am concerned there are so many others working on a similar device and must make haste to patent the Bugaboo. The demand appears quite high. By the exorbitant prices they quoted just to test such a thing, I could only imagine what the market would be. Of course, the expense was also a deal-breaker, so I was left playing with it myself. Inevitably, I just ended up fiddling with the trigger for an unnaturally long time while muttering “be a man, be a man” under my breath, while Goose, Maverick and Iceman looked on in wordless encouragement. They suggested I seek professional help, but provided no further context for the statement.

Once we entered the manor, with a notable lack of stun grenades, a man at the front insisted on taking my coat and hat. I tried to ask Rachel why she even bothered to give me a hat if they were just going to take it when I walked through the door, but she was already engaged in small talk. I chose to play the strong, silent type for the evening, well outside my wheelhouse.
A troll holding a tray of drinks wandered through the crowd and I gladly jumped at the opportunity to acquire free alcohol. You know, I’ve met all but two trolls in the past year and I swear they could have been identical twins. Granted, this one was far more attractive, but an uncanny resemblance nonetheless. What a delightful anecdote I will have for the trolldier next time I see him. Can you imagine him as a fancy boy? Oh, such a hilarious notion!

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:35 pm
by LexiLiegh
Uhg, why did I agree to doing this? It's bad enough wearing the one layer of clothes society typically demands, and this event requires you to wear like fifty! At least the dress is long enough that people won't see that I'm barefoot. Those shoes are simply torture devices! And do not get me started on this corset. How do you breathe, or even move? Of course they wouldn't let me have a knife of any sort. Do they not know that I am supposed to be ready for trouble? Then these ladies spent hours on applying these powders and doing stuff to my hair. I hope that I can remember the steps and do them for the dances.

What time is it? What time were we supposed to be there? Oh, Lord Sters planned on us being half an hour late. That seems rather rude, but he knows the rules. Oh, yes I am supposed to behave like a dutiful daughter, right? I remember something about dates are either courting or the daughter. Wait, does this make me a debutante? Oh gods, what has he gotten me into?

Why is he being so affectionate? Is this how we are supposed to act? Smile, laugh, don't be awkward, curtsy, why is this stranger taking my hand and kissing it? Cuddle into the crook of Lord Sters arm. What did my eldest sister say to get fathers attention? Oh yes, Daddy! Wait, was that wrong? Why did he look like that? Gods below, why are all these rules changing?

Of course there's Lord Bentley! And Doctor McFly was invited to this party too. Wait, that's Smythe! I haven't seen him since Lord Hastings! I hope he is doing well. Am I allowed to approach him? I should let Lord Sters know. *pout* Why are only guys allowed to approach Smythe? And they always leave with one or two drinks. I wonder what's in them? Would they make a good base for a salve? I wonder if it helps them like those potions those embarrassed gentlemen ask Effie for.

Oh look! They have fruit trays! At least I won't starve here. Wait, why are numbers like 15 and 18 and 12 being talked about with courses? How can anyone eat that much? And the poor ladies! I am having trouble eating this apple slice. How are we going to handle a plate of food? Oh Gods, they plan to starve us tonight!

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Posted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:27 pm
by Psitanium
After being herded into a drawing room, I hugged the wall next to the door as it was the best position to be antisocial and escape in case of a talking emergency. However Lord Charles, who is apparently a very important person, addressed me directly. He asked about the brandy in my hand, which was the same point at which I discovered it was brandy. I had not tried the brownish liquid in the glass, fearing it was not whiskey, the national beverage of Ireland. I did inquire briefly about the importance of taking my hat to an undisclosed location, although he needed to excuse himself at that point.

Another gentleman approached me to ask about the Silver Jubilee. I explained that I could not make it as I was practicing “avante guarde sciencing” at the time. In truth, I was not there because I did not know what it was, but assumed it must be the kind of children’s science fair for adults that upper-crust society enjoys discussing. I did suggest they call it a Diamond Jubilee instead to make it sound more important, which bemused him. I also suggested that magic is a new and intriguing thing to study, which caused him to walk away after refusing to tell me his name. This was still my most successful conversation of the evening.

At dinner, I was served a large meal, or rather one doled out in twelve easy installments. I stared motionless at the first few, wondering how effective a laser would be at heating these lukewarm dishes. I shot a forlorn look at Rachel, with an expression noting my dismay. She seemed to acknowledge this was a bad idea all around and I resigned myself to this fate. By the time a fish crossed my plate and stared up at me in a similarly forlorn manner, I decided to excuse myself for an unknown period of time.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:12 am
by ChrisDDickey
Excerpts from the Journal of Lord Bentley Bootle.
Everybody was acting strangely. Smyth was there as a servant, and acting like he does not know us. He kept staring at people in a most non-servile manor (except Erika, McFly, and myself, with whom he never lets his gaze cross ours). I got the feeling he has been tasked to search for something. I also keep thinking about Erika's strange words "might be someone out of place". There are about 28 guests. At first glance, the guests all seem about normal for these sorts of affairs. There is one gentleman whose clothes are a number of years out of fashion, and another whose clothes are of a markedly inferior cut, but of course not everybody has a tailor as fine as mine. Nether had a funny accent nor said anything inappropriate. 

The banquet was as exquisite as you would expect, One event caught my attention, about the fish course, a woman whom I assumed was Lady Augustus's ladies maid came in and said something urgently to her. A few moments later Lady A excused herself and retired. I also excused myself and wandered in the general direction of the water closet. On my way to the WC I glanced into the Drawing Rooms on the North side of the Hall, on the way back, I glanced into the morning rooms on the South side. As I approached the ladies morning room I heard KA using some very unladylike language. She calmed down and gave some quick instructions to somebody and I heard a door open and close. Assuming the servant that LA had been addressing had left, I made bold to enter the room disclaiming that I had heard signs of distress, and wondering aloud if I might be of any assistance. I was surprised too, halfway though my greeting, to find myself addressing, not Lady A, but her maid. I finished with my offer of assistance anyway, as my eyes quickly took in the condition of the room. 

The morning room had contained a lovely secretaries desk, which had been obliterated. It was mostly small pieces with scorch marks. The pieces had all come to rest in a clearly defined circle, as if an explosion had been somehow contained. There were some pieces of paper, or the scorched remains of papers scattered around. The maid very firmly said that my help was not needed or desired, and started to herd me out of the room, when my eye fell upon a bit of white pearl outside the circle of destruction, almost, but not quite under a couch. It was very far away, but my first thought when I spied it was of the pearl buttons of the gentleman with the poorly cut outfit.  I chirpily announced that I might have found a clue as to whom had done this, and tried to dodge around the maid to get a closer look at the small white object near the couch. 

Then the most extraordinary thing happened. A funny look of concentration passed over the maids face, and she made some weird gestures, the next thing I know, I am overcome with an overwhelming desire to get back to the dining room before the beef course was cleared away. All thoughts of the strange events and my desire for clues was swept away in my desire to return to the banquet. So I did. I must say the beef truly was excellent. 

Additional Notes: Troll Lady, uncomfortable with anything about magic, rabbit hole, etc. 
Another, negative about RH and government. Some lady asking probing questions about lord and lady Bruce. (Spy? Journalist?)

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:19 pm
by LexiLiegh
Okay, they said down this hall take a right and a door on the right, right? Ooooo, that's pretty! I wonder what is in it. Huh, locked. This should be easy! Wait, what's that pushing back? It's warded somehow. Did the spy do this? I wonder who is behind this ward. I better get to the bathroom before someone thinks I am up to something. I mean, I kind of am being snoopy. That would be a great name for a dog. What kind of puppy would fit a name like Snoopy? I know! A cute little wolfie! Yeah, perfect. I wonder if Snoopy will get along with Thorin? I hope so, because the crow is adorable too. I wonder how people will react to them?

Wait, I didn't think this far. Oh good, a watcher. What kind of person stands around in this private space when there are lots of people to use it? I wonder if they'll help at least.

Oh goody, I thought I missed the meat courses. Is it rude to not eat the food? Is it terrible to point out that my body just doesn't seem to like meat? I mean, I do love the taste. I just don't get anything but pleasure from eating it. Wait, what's with the serious looking lady? What is she saying to Lady Augustus? Wait, does this have to do with the ward? I should check. Well I am marked somehow. I wonder if this is related? Wait, serious lady is a mage? Is anyone else marked? It's just me...

I really need to relay this to Lord Sters. How do I do that? Wait, is that Bentley coming back from the loo? Why is he walking like that? Wait, serious lady is not far behind him, and she is glaring at him. How do you politely disengage here? I think I am in trouble.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:22 pm
by LexiLiegh
Well the maid is a mage, and a good one. I wonder how she did the thing to make the desk lock and mark people? How can I get Lord Sters out to talk with? Is getting air a thing? I hope it is. Why did he insist on me wearing this torture device if he knows it makes people ill? Such language, I never heard him talk like that before.

Neither of us could do anything about the mark though. Pity. Well at least I got help in the problem, I hope he can solve it.

What did Smythe need? Oh, he's here for the same reason I am, I think? Odd is it not? Hey, Doctor McFly has some good ideas. We think it's a coalition of a brassman and mage with someone having insider knowledge. It has been a long time, should we go back? Apparently we have a bit of time. So I take a look at the coat rooms for magic stuff, to no avail.

Re: 1879: The Expendables - McFly's Journal

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:27 pm
by Psitanium
An opportunity to remove myself from the table arose when a mysterious figure dropped a napkin at my plate. Fortuitously, it had a message on it asking me to head toward the library. I explained to Rachel that the fish had disagreed with me, mostly about the current policies around pork subsidies, and I must be excused to the lavatory, or “crapper” in the parlance of our times. Apparently, few at the table were aware of this new vernacular. And these are supposed to be the upper crust of society!
Upon reaching the hallway, the fancy troll grabbed my attention near the water closet. To my great surprise, it was the trolldier this whole time. Well that’s yet another uncomfortable conversation avoided.
We moved toward the library, where it became evident someone hates desks. An unknown device had exploded inside, rendering it unable to hold the most basic of letters. Upon further examination, I speculated this could be the work of a brassman or brassman-curious individual. Someone at this manor was utilizing technology for nefarious purposes and we were the ones who needed to flush out the rogue. This proved to be a refreshing change of pace and ironically came while the palate cleanser was likely being served in the dining room.
We located a pearl button, which our keen investigation skills concluded must mean someone was missing... a pearl button. And thus our quest was set before us. If only there were more variation between such buttons besides attached and unattached, this would be much easier.
While the others made their way back to the dining hall to find the button-poor guest, I made a very subtle detour to the coat room, grabbed my top hat, ran out to to carriage, grabbed the Bugaboo, stuck it to the inside top of my hat, ran back to the coat room, placed my hat back in it’s assigned location and worked my way back to the dining room. As I said, this was very subtle and raised absolutely no alarms and I arrived back with barely a hitch. Thus I became, for a brief moment at least, a true master of shadows.