Red Earth

10 The Cell
A Prisoner in Islington Nick

WIP

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08 The Underworld
A Crossing Point

Sunday 5th September – midnight

Having entered the crypt close to midnight on the Saturday, the group step through the dark archway and down the dark stairs. They realise that Dan McCall is not with them, but trying to ascend the steps again it seems an impossibly long distance away.

They proceed with only George Hartley MP’s lighter and Phineas impossibly good eyesight to guide them and they come out into a sewer somewhere under London.

Faced with a little monkey – dressed like a porter in a suit jacket and hat – and a Labrador harnessed with charity collecting tins, the group followed the screeches of the monkey for some way into the darkness before thinking better of it and turning back. The monkey was irate but left them to pursue the charity Labrador instead.

The dog led them out into a desolate forest, of thin leafless birch trees. A forest that was certainly not in England or even in the same season. The dog bark and refused to go on but they proceeded. In a grove they found a gravestone (which George Hartley steered the group away from, but which he later revealed to read “Dan McCall”) and they turned back as the branches of the trees reached down to snare them.

WIP

2xp awarded

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07 Finder of Lost Things
London by Gaslight

Saturday 4th September 1880 evening

At Wentley Manor, Jones spoke a tale of a fellow in London who learned of some mystic knowledge that may be using in finding where Babu has gone. According to Jones, the man pretends to be Italian and runs a Punchinello puppet show in Covent Garden. He claims he rescued his father when he was lost on a voyage, using a rite to find lost things, learned from his grandmother. A rite of crossing into limbo that any living person can perform but once.

The group took their new train to Waterloo and met Nancy Carter in an oyster bar. She is a friend of Jones and led the group across the Waterloo bridge (shut at night by police constables, they will let people northwards but not out again).
The street people around Strand leered close but the group kept them away and they entered Covent Garden around 10 pm in time to see the puppet show.
Typically Punchinello is scolded by his wife Joan and badly cares for the baby. Then a series of villains appear, first a Foreigner, then Jack Ketch the hangman, then a policeman (all booed by the crowd), lastly a Martian and Punchinello beats them all off with a stick.
Finally as Punchinello utters “That’s the way to do it,” finally, another character walks on, a solemn character in a long ragged robe and dark or wooden crown, and the crowd goes absolutely silent.
“I am your King,” says the last puppet. “And Punchinello you shall not die, but instead come to live with me in my lost kingdom, forever.”
Punchinello screams and the crowd departs in silence.

Afterwards, the collectors in the crowd show the group to the puppeteer, Gino. Once he understands the they come from Jones, he explains what he knows:

“You have to hide your face, in a mask, and it must be made from things that have been lost by their owner. I made mine from hair, and from the clothes of an orphan. I suspect many things would work, I just know you cannot use cats, because they are never lost.
Three times widdershins around the old Actors’ Church by moonlight, proceed in silence to Saint Martins in the Field – in silence I say, speak not to a soul. Pay in silver to enter the crypt and thence you will cross over. Deep under London in the Whisper Labyrinth you will find that which you have lost.”

Lead to Whitehall by George Hartley MP (through the dangerous street people of Trafalgar Square), the group passed the gates and entered the Reform Club, where they procured the lost property box of the club to cut up gentleman’s cloths and make their masks.
They circumvented the Square and returned via the Embankment and crossed Strand where they shot their way through unruly crowds and donned their masks to scare the local muggers.

Then they follow the directions, three times anti-clockwise around the St Peters Church in Covent garden (the Actor’s Church) then silently onwards. An old woman steps out of the mist and stops them, asking for money. Phineas gives her his silver coin and she asks him a question, he struggles but finally does not answer her and she disappears, having failed to trick him into speaking.
At Saint Martin’s in the Field Church, a stone statue stands guards to the cellar, a palm outstretched and the group add coins to it’s palm. The gate is unlocked and they go into a stone cellar lit with low-burning dripping candles. A dark archway leads onwards.

3xp awarded

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06 The Secret in the Garden
Green Thumbs

Saturday 4th September 1880 – afternoon

Sir Basil seems to have had a breakthrough with the Army offering up some of their research. A new train is available for the group to use along with a driver (Corps of Royal Engineers – Transport), and he promises to speak to Mr Hartley about the building of a new power station in Burnley to support the textile industry.
The train runs quietly without any smoke or emissions on some unknown power source and it takes the group to Basingstoke.

Naik Babu encounters some racial prejudice trying to get a cab and then intervening in an argument between the Salvation Army and some determined lower class drinkers.
But the others procure a cab and all arrive at Wentley Manor again.

Hampton greats them and shows them through to the garden where Dr Stanwell is pondering over the burned ground around the graves they have dug.
Phineas digs down and discovers red roots under the surface, a hand moved on one of the bodies and he hacked it apart, the red weeds then retreated.

Just before evening, Mr Hartley took a stroll into the town and visited the Post Office to send a telegram.

The group met Jones in the house, who explained to them about some strange creatures he had fought and killed, while Elizabeth explored upstairs.
Hampton returned to tell Jones that some people had been exploring the barn (see 03 No Doubts ) and might be heading their way, at which Babu and Phineas set out to investigate.

Spotting three people coming their way (a large bearded man in a leather apron and carrying an axe, a small ferrety man in a flat cap and burgundy scarf, a balding man in tweed with bronzed lens over his eyes looking at the ground), they hid in the trees.
The first two seemed to be following the third, who was using the lens to track some unseen trail. A gruff voice said, “Come on hurry up, it’s obvious where they were going.”

Babu stepped out of the trees to engage them with a jovial greeting, at which point he was attacked by the axeman charging at him.
There was a short bloody fight, Phineas let off several shots, once of them taking the balding man through the throat. The axeman wounded Babu while the other threw knives at Phineas.

The axeman saw his colleague die and shouted “Huff it.” to the knife thrower, who then took something from the dead body before fleeing. Phineas shot at the fleeing man until his gun broke, then took up the Ghuka rifle and set after him.
Meanwhile Babu saw the axeman drag the corpse behind a tree and activate something which ate away at the tree and cast a green dome of light that made everything inside vanish. he leapt into the swirling pool of light and vanished.

Phineas tracked the knife thrower back to the barn before seeing him flee and whilst he gave chase he lost him.

1xp awarded

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05 The Condemned Man
And a stay of execution

Saturday 4th September 1880 – morning

At the invitation of Sir Basil, a group travel on an 8am train to London Waterloo from Basingstoke. They decide to borrow clothes from Wentley Manor to make themselves look respectable.

At the Reform Club on Whitehall they are shown into a sitting room and introduced to George Hartley MP for Burnley.

After some conversation and exchange of ideas, Mr Hartley prises from Sir Basil the details of his afternoon trip over which Sir Basil has shown “great concern”. It seems that one of the missing agents has been found, apparently in some confusion and with no memory of the two weeks he was missing.
Since he has been declared absence from this post by the Army (he was a Royal Engineer – Signals, seconded to Sir Basil) he has been found guilty at court-martial and sentenced to execution for desertion.

Mr Hartley is most impassioned and volunteers to accompany Sir Basil to Salisbury camp (inside the secure zone), where Sir Basil was going to witness the execution.

The group travel there and are allowed to see Major Barnett with Sir Basil’s help. Mr Hartley expresses displeasure at the case, and the Major agrees it is less than satisfactory.
Since the Major recognises Elizabeth Trent as a famous medium he allows her to see what she can perceive of the man, Corporal Aldous Bartlebee.

The Corporal is in a stockade* by himself, under guard. Elizabeth Trent asks him questions and despite he reluctance, even absolute resistance to answer he finally bursts out with fearful cries, vomiting and ranting about Martians.

The Major agrees that the man is clearly insane and cannot be executed. Sir Basil agrees to take him into safe custody and have a physician to see him and brings a message that Jones has asked the group to return to Basingstoke, where the Red Weed has re-appeared.

2xp awarded

*the original “Glasshouse” was a military prison at Aldershot with a glazed roof from the 1850’s, over time all permanent military prisons gained this sobriquet.

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04: Tea & Cakes
All's well that ends well...

Thursday 2nd September 1880
Sleeping at the lodge at Wentley Manor in Basingstoke, Elizabeth and Dan woke early to head out to Chineham Post Office.

After having tea and cakes, enquiries at the post office suggested the mid-morning delivery would prove fruitful and indeed it did, an elderly man in the queue asking for any “parcels for Uncle Gladstone” and was given a package.

The investigators followed him to a public house outside of the charming village where the lower labourers dined, and Elizabeth questioned the old man cautiously. Her crystals gleamed and sparkled in the summer mid-day sun, and though he was reluctant to answer more, she determined his parcel contained opium.

The old man left swiftly as the two investigators dined and ambled off towards what seemed to be his simple homestead. But while determining how to confront him they instead noticed a man had followed them from the public house and even now observed them.

They considered playing a game of cat and mouse but in the end Dan called the man out and the two drew pistols. Closing the range on each other they fired shots repeatedly, one putting a hole in Dan’s new leather duster and then Dan’s brace of shot taking the villain down.
He cried out with his last breath, “Tell them, Jugs died for England!” and expired. Dan disposed of the corpse in the well.

They confronted the elderly man who had heard the confrontation and he quickly gave up the parcel, telling them he had taken coins from Toby Jugs (he had army discharge papers giving his name and service record of 15 years in Gambia) for 6 deliveries over the course of the summer, which he believed that Mr. Jugs was taking on to St. Augustine’s Hospice and Home for Convalescence, a private hospital for “rich old men.”

Hitching a ride on a linen cart back to Basingstoke by 2pm, the investigators arrived at Wentley Manor and found that Royal Engineers from the Army had been to pick up the Martian Artefact. They talked to Doctor Stanwell about his observations of the Martian machine and his theories about the strange happenings and he confirmed the strange materials and metal used, that there was no obvious life inside, but he did produce a theory on “bio-electricity” referring to frog legs’ experiments to exaplin the possible animation of deceased bodies.
Dr. Stanwell refers to Wentley Manor as ‘The Lodge’ and expresses surprise that Jones had not told them more about their ‘association’.
In the evening a telegram arrived from Basil Cambridge thanking the group for the delivery of the Martian machine and inviting them to the Reform Club in London to meet with a potential sponsor.

2xp awarded

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03 No Doubts
Were they men... or beasts?

Wednesday 1st September 1880 cont.d
Back in the Green Man Public House*, Jones introduced two more investigators, Elizabeth and Phineas. Just as they became acquainted and began to relate their experiences, the door burst open and a chubby man with large moustaches burst in (Bunny Manders). He saw Jones and the group and exclaimed that Raffles was cornered by ruffians in another pub.

In fact, it was more a case that Ruffles had cornered a group of five men, belligerently standing over them and demanding they surrender. They denied any knowledge of the farmer he accused them of wounding (Aaron Weaverdale), and then Raffles ran off to the farm with Bunny in chase.

After a moment the investigators followed, overtaking the rotund Bunny Manders and finding Raffles looking over the barn from up in a tree by a pond, they paused, observing a green light coming from within.

Sneaking up cautiously at first, Dan and Phineas decided to burst in when they heard strange noises. They report seeing four men writhing on the floor in the barn, flooded with the green light coming from a metal disk in a corner.
The men seemed in pain, and after a few seconds they contorted into the form of ferocious hounds. Three leaped to attack but one remained still. Dan and Phineas dispatched the three dogs with gun shots, the fourth was dead of some unknown cause.

Outside the men hastily explained to the others, but then Elizabeth spotted a moving shape. The thing lumbered closer and the group recognised it as a pumpkin headed scarecrow and peppered it with gun shots. It came on and on until it could swipe at the group with large wooden claws and it seemed invulnerable until one shot hit it’s head and another finally exploded it, covering them all with pumpkin flesh, and leaving behind a simple wooden pole upright in the ground.

The group retreated to Wentley Manor and told Jones of the events. The Welshmen nodded, undisturbed by the strange things and suggested they remove the bodies to prevent them being murder suspects. With carts they took several runs to recover the bodies and the strange metal disk in the barn. With it’s strange metal claws and appendages it was smaller but not unlike the stories of Martian Walkers, especially with it’s single large green glass eye.

They sent a message to Basil Cambridge, to inform him of their discovery after Jones reminded them it was illegal to possess Martian Artefacts.

2xp awarded

  • spot the foreshadowing

angry-pumpkin.jpg

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02: Local Tales
I know a man, a Welsh man

The two investigators slept overnight separately after fleeing from Purbright the night before, and in the morning made their way to Sandhurst to reconvene with Basil Cambridge.

Wednesday 1st September 1880
Cambridge was deeply shocked by the events they related and professed to having no experience of such matters. He did regret that there was no evidence recovered that would help him prove his case and gather further resources but it did confirm the suspicions that a contact of his had aroused.
Cambridge then enjoined the investigators to meet his contact in Basingstoke, a Periwinkle “Jones”, and he leant his Hansom cab to transport them there, and his driver Mr Giddy.

In Basingstoke, the investigators were barred from the Navigator Inn for blasphemy, but then in the Green Man Public House they met Jones. He suggested they speak to a local fence, Arthur Raffles (famous cricketer) in his mansion house about the ring they had seen in Purbright, while he made his own investigations.

Raffles seemed unaware of any Martian gems but was very keen to help the “Maharaja of Gujarat” procure one and went about the task immediately.

2xp awarded

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