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Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:10 am
by ChrisDDickey
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. 

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:44 pm
by ChrisDDickey
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.  

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:59 pm
by ChrisDDickey
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. 

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:50 pm
by Slimcreeper

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:42 pm
by ChrisDDickey
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 

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:38 pm
by ChrisDDickey
Old Cusa continues his story

We continued to track the party. Fortunately they did not appear to be in a great hurry, and we took the occasional shortcut where they had gone on the easy route, but we could take a shorter, more difficult route, Within a  few days we could see that we were mere hours behind them. We pushed on after dark, and eventually saw a campfire ahead. We decided to wait until dawn, and made a cold camp. In the middle of the night our watch noticed that their campfire had faded out, so we crept forward to investigate. We found that they had not really stopped for the night. They had simply built a long lasting fire and pushed on into the night. We hurried after them though the night, and shortly after dawn we caught up with them again. 

At dawn I summoned an air spirit which reported that they were two miles ahead, stuck trying to cross a hole in the ground. When we approached we could see them trying to cross a deep ravine. Dr. Bouchet had apparently decided that this was the best place to stage a break for it, and ran across the ravine on a fallen log, the log crumbled and fell, but he saved himself with a gizmo. We attacked at that time which took the focus off of him. Our rifle and pistoliers attacked from long range from the top of a small cliff, and i moved over to the more gradual slope they would have to cross to flank them. Many of us focused our attention upon the Hulk, who actually made it to the top of the cliff, where he was tripped down to the bottom. The buffs had been spooked away, and we were starting to feel good about our odds when we heard, down in the bottom of the ravine, a loud noise that we later learned was a Thornycrab waking up at the bottom of the ravine to start a rampage. Dr Bouchet was only about 2/3 of the way up the ravine wall, and was by far the closest to the huge monster. That guy had lousy luck. 

Caught up with them, goals 300, conflict 350, treasure 50, RP 80 = 820   + 100 journal. 

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:39 am
by ChrisDDickey
Cusa continues his story. 

The fight was a long one, both friends and foes had sweat dripping into their eyes. I got a mighty stun spell off on the Handler and Rambeau, Rambeau ran off, and the handler started dragging the Hulk off (I was amazed at how such a small Saurid was able to drag such a huge hulk. Rowan, Sh'kem Raas and I chased the kidnappers south and confronted riflewoman Jones. Bernhardt eventually managed to push a rock over to bridge the ravine. The others were harassing the giant crab, which was having trouble climbing out of the ravine due to rocks being slid down on it, and  having its legs shot.

Things were looking very good when Alvin Baker unfortunately got too close to the crab, and was quickly crushed by it's huge claws, injuring him unto death. Carnavon and Burnhardt both rushed in to try to drag him off, but both were also savaged by the crab, Carnavon was knocked unconscious, but Burnhardt, despite his own wounds, managed to drag them both across the bridge he had constructed. Sh'kem went over to help pepper the giant crab and keep its attention from the wounded. 

The three of us had almost worn out and captured Jones, but when Rowen decided to also go back towards the others, I reluctantly had to abandon the goal of capturing one of the murders, since there was no point in my continuing to attempt to knock her out unless there was somebody in the area to take her captive, tie her up, and drag her after us. I of course could not do any of that since I would need to spend quite some time if I had any hope of saving the life of Alvin Baker. So with nobody to capture her, there was no longer any point trying to stun her. As Jones and I ran in opposite directions, I noticed that on her backpack she had a red ribbon tied to form an ank, a mystical symbol. 

Meanwhile Dr. Bouchet had purposefully attracted the crabs attention, and lured it away from our wounded. He ran away into the underbrush with the crab pursueing. Sh'kem went to assist him while the rest of us grabbed the unconscious members of the party and hastily carried them a few hundred yards away. I then  did hurried surgery on Alvin Baker, and managed to save his life, though I was forced to amputate a limb. After about a half hour of surgery Sh'kem and Dr. Bouchet returned safely. Carnavon was awake by then, so we loaded Baker (who was in no condition to walk) onto a stretcher and continued forward another few miles away from the crabs lair. 

350, 500, 350 75 = 1275 + journal

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:39 am
by supermooboo
Alvin Baker: from beyond the grave and back again,

Bloody crabs, I've had 'nough' of 'em to last a lifetime I tell you. And sure some might ask why I found myself staring down one the size of a lorry (fearlessly mind you), but I've always thought nothing ventured nothing gained. Right good that one got me aye? You've never quite experienced the jaws of defeat, really, lest you find your face smashed by the pincers of a thorny crab. Nonetheless, here I am; Alvin Baker, conqueror of death, ready to tell the tale of crabs and fate.

The fight was one thing after the next. We got the drop on them sure, but that means little in the face of a protracted battle. Long had our advantage ran its course by this point and I was starting to wonder if we had bit off more than we could chew. I couldn't shake this weird feeling that something was off. I wish I had been wrong. Out of the depths of hell, or wherever the bloody 'ell else a crab out of water comes from, crawls this crab. And at first I thought me eyes were lying, because by the time it made its way out the size of the largest lorry I have ever laid eyes on did this thing tower. I kept my distance (at first) sizing the creature up for pertinent details that may give us the leg up. I concluded we should run.

And before anyone goes and calls the brave Alvin Baker a coward I did test the waters. Bullet after bullet did I pelt this thing with and the most I could do was earn this things ire. Bernhard (my Trollish companion) was quick to take the initiative in securing a pathway for our escape. My plan was simple: run! But alas, running only gets you so far in life and before I could cross through the escape route the crab found me. Most would find it difficult to stand before such a beast but I did not waver. First of the claws found their mark and although I was quite wobbly I still stood strong. It was only til the second blow did all turn to black. I can only presume I went down standing, staring the crab down with my icy stare.

And so I died (or so I'm told). Well, somewhere between life and deaths edges to be exact. Fortunately, I did not dream of crabs. In fact, most of the time I was unconscious I did not dream of much of anything. Drifting across the deep darkness that was my fading existence, I found nothing. If I were to attempt to describe where I was it would be as a vast pool of emptiness. There were pieces here and there that were recognizable as memories or myself, but even that was fading. It was as if all that was myself was slowly disappearing, shifting from my thoughts to somewhere else.

I learned that day even the best of us can't escape death. I've always thought myself a fighter (still do) but in those final moments of my unconsciousness death's embrace never sounded sweeter. It was upon this realization that I was dead (or going to be soon) that the overwhelming void began to melt. In its place formed bearded angels no larger than myself playing a strangely nostalgic symphony. In the background older men beat drums and sang in a tongue both foreign and familiar. Confused at my situation I turned to speak, but no words left my lips as consciousness returned to my body.

I escaped death. I find myself repeating that a lot these days to remind myself it's true. Sometimes I wonder if it really is. And perhaps I would start doubting myself if not on account of my newly missing right hand. It aches mind you. Apparently it was a necessary part of the operation to save my life. I'm not complaining but I can't help but wonder if the pain will ever go away. Cusa, the doctor, insists it will. Speaking of that, I owe Cusa (the doctor), Rowan (the magic healer), and Bernhard (the one who lugged my body) a great debt. I've also heard Lord Carnavon did me a service and went down in the process of trying to save me. I get the feeling most of them are so far above my station that my thanks would be no more than a bother to them however. I should at least do something for Bernhard. Boojums need to stick together after all.

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:30 am
by ChrisDDickey
Old Cusa continues his story.

After I finished working on Alvin's arm, we all rested for a while. We talked to Dr Brouchet, He told us a bit about his work, what I understood was that he had no idea yet how the fountain works. He is confident that there are no electrical or magnetic fields involved. He knows nothing of magic, but had been told that some expert had already ruled magical effects out. He suspected the fountain may operate on some obscure chemical or physics effect. He said it might take a lifetime or more of study to understand how the water flows as it does. 

He confirmed what we suspected about the attack, that the bad guys attacked suddenly, several of the guards were killed in the attack, and the rest were captured. They forced the science team to continue working, then after a few days lined everybody else up and executed them (we had not been sure that he had still been there when killed, or even if he knew that they had been slaughtered). They destroyed some of the equipment, and stole some of the rest. And then, as we knew, forced him to march with them for days. He had made a break as we came up by using some equipment he had hidden in his prosthetic arm. 

He was able to tell us very little about the kidnappers. The kidnappers seemed to want to know how the fountain works, or at least they badgered poor dr Bouchet about it constantly. He did learn their names (or at least the names they were using) Dr. Rambeau and Ms Jones.  He was also able to provide much better descriptions of them than we could. Dr Ramboue might have been a physician or dr of Biology. Probably a weird scientist. She had a device that repelled bugs, and had apparently.made her own hide armor. They spoke to each other in some language that sounded middle eastern, he thought it might have been ether Egyption or Arabic. He did not know where they were taking him, but thought that they were within a day or two of their destination (they only had a day or two of rations left, and did not seem concerned about running out). 

We discussed where to go, and decided to head directly back to Burlington. I circled around and approached the ravine far from the stone bridging it, and made a lot of noise. The crab took the bait (I was the bait) and came after me. I hid among some huge boulders, while the others snuck across the bridge. Safe on the other side, they sent a few fire arrows over to attempt to distract the giant crab away from me. I managed to sneak away and then sprinted back to the bridge. Once I was across we all hightailed it out of there. 

I took us 3 days to march back to Burlington, but thanks to my fishing we had enough food to make it back. We reported everything we knew to Captain Redway, and sent a short telegraph message to the home office. The next day we escorted Dr Bouchet back to ft Alice on the train. We debriefed and got paid. We had a few days off and did a bit of training. A Saurid at Ft Alice taught me the "Soothe the Savage Beast" spell, which is, among other things, useful for making friends with giant crabs. 

However trouble followed us to Ft Alice, in that as we were having a celebratory meal, Father Rowan noticed our waiter putting some poison into our soup. Unfortunatly he did not realize it was poison until after we had all taken several sipps, which was enough to almost kill some of us. 
1480 + journal

Re: Dr. Bouchet, I Presume

Posted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:15 am
by Slimcreeper
dun dun DUN!