The Gloriana Campaign: Events Log

June 1585

Note: This document records events in my "Gloriana" RPG campaign. See the introductory page for more explanation. This page cover events in June of 1585.

The Action

Game-World Date
Game Session Date

Tuesday 1-6-1585 As the late night becomes all-too-early morning, they head to the haven and leave the homunculus and other mementoes of the adventure, Charles, and Adrian there. Richard and Nicholas take the boat back to London, and reach Master Holbright's house some half-an-hour past six of the morning. Master Holbright, of course, is not acquainted with Nicholas, but begins to realise that there is some game being played here -- when Nicholas sweeps off his hat, and Kate lets down her hair. Master Holbright, mildly impressed, acknowledges that the trick, while not new, serves its purpose well enough. The pair report, and Master Holbright sets to making further arrangements.

Nicholas straightway heads back to Aunt Julia's home by riverboat, his weariness catching up with him so that he can only lazily trade salty banter with the boatman, while Richard leaves notes for Charles's servant Cecil and at Adrian's house, that none fear that any of these folk are lost. Then he returns home, managing to avoid any encounter with his parents (as Nicholas manages to avoid encountering Aunt Julia), and falls asleep.

In the haven, Charles sleeps a while as Adrian watches, then wakes around noon. As Adrian takes his own turn asleep, Charles heals the wound he himself took, cleans his pistol, then looks upon the homunculus. He notes strange articulation of the joints, no signs of an alimentary passage, a strange structure to its mouth ... It seems to be very slowly awakening, but is still safely inert for now.

Then the pair are informed that a ship has arrived -- one with a crew of Scots who must be termed "dour". It's no great brilliance to sense that they are both Gabrielites and devotees of John Knox. Still, they're tolerant enough of the command from higher in the Order that they should divert from whatever other course they were on to take a couple of people and (most importantly) a box or two upriver to London. The homunculus and statue are handed over to Cosian agents, and Charles makes sure that he is to be included in any ensuing research work.

Adrian makes his own way home from the docks to discover a note from Master Liott, declaring that the fellow had thought it politick to depart the city (and this land), and bidding his recent host a respectful farewell. Adrian, and later the others, decide that this is no great surprise and perhaps even for the best.

Later, Kate awakens to find Aunt Julia still worrying about her a little, and does her best to reassure her older relative. Richard, the meanwhile, finds time to ask his mother to use her own acquaintances to find out a little more about the Peltons. Things, it seems, are becoming truly serious in his life, in parts.

12. A Calm Between Storms?

Wednesday 2-6-1585 Over the next day or two, the world seems to become a little more quiet -- at least from the point of view of our heroes. Adrian goes about his cartographic affairs and further study of mathematics, while to begin with, Richard and Kate spend much of their time sleeping.

Well, Richard does manage to spend some time at work by the Wednesday, while Kate spends her time quietly at home in gentle squabbling with her mother. But it is Charles who is most busy, as he makes sure to be present at the examination of the captive homuculus, which is being held in the cellar of the house of one member of the Cosian Circle. Charles sees that the creature is imprisoned in a cage of silvered iron, within a maze marked on the floor by one who was adept in the arts of sacred geometry, while both alchemical and holy symbols and powers are invoked by other devices in the room. (The Daedaleans are uncertain exactly what is required to restrain such a creature, but wish to take no chances.) The process of examinationbegins slowly -- Charles spends at least some of this time pursuing misjudged ideas -- but it is at least underway.

Thursday 3-6-1585 Eventually, Richard returns to a typical, moderate schedule of work, then returns home at the end of the day to speak to Master Aristotle about the possibility of permitting Charles to have a little converse with him, and a little time in his library. However, Master Aristotle is busy and a little preoccupied, so this matter is left unsettled. He also brings home a stylish new suit of clothes; evidently, his advance in society is continuing.

Kate, the meanwhile, visits her Aunt Julia, seeking to learn more about business. She also sees Pierre, but unfortunately says an ill-chosen word or two in this conversation; further dealings with him may prove difficult.

And as for Charles -- he spends time assisting in alchemical examination of the dust left by the most utterly destroyed homunculus, and thus builds a little more comprehension of its outlandish and deeply unnatural nature.

Friday 4-6-1585 Charles begins his day in converse with some of his medical colleagues, who tell him that the "statue" of the second inert homunculus is similar in nature to the dust, but more complex. Meanwhile, Richard is writing a limerick of invitation to Cassandra, inviting her to meet him at St. Paul's on Sunday, which he sends with Giles while he goes to see Edric and hands over a little more money. And Kate is studying with Master Aristotle and squabbling with her mother.

Charles is conducting further alchemical investigations of the "statue" when he is called to look more closely at the live homunculus. As he and his colleagues gather round the creature, one behind him advises him to look closer -- at which moment, a nearby brazier is spilt, and Charles catches a deep breath of alchemically-scented smoke.

He steps back, but it seems to him that the room is grown most unstable, as the floor shakes beneath his feet. Suspecting an assault to rescue the creature, he strives to reach his doctor's bag, with its vials of sparkling black brew, but even as he grasps it, the floor gives way beneath his feet, and he (fortuitously he alone, it seems) plunges through.

He finds himself unhurt; while his fall was some distance, he landed on soft rubbish or some such, in a tunnel. He sees no-one else around, the light above him is small, and none respond at once to his call. However, after a few moments, another does join him -- albeit not a human other. The figure who comes along the tunnel was one he last met when it invaded his home and took him prisoner (and it still has the same lackadaisical manner and broad West Country accent), but this time, it declares, it is in service to a different master than on the previous occasion, and it means him no harm. However, it does ask him to come with it to meet its master. He agrees, first extracting a candle and the means to light it from his bag, and walks along the tunnel with the creature, engaging as he goes in what can only be described as a philosophical discussion with it concerning what is natural and meant to be.

Kate is in converse with Master Aristotle at the family home when a note arrives, addressed primarily to Richard but with permission for others to open it in his absence. Master Aristotle does so, and they learn that Charles is in need of aid. Master Aristotle agrees to provide any necessary excuses for Kate's absence, and she takes Giles with her to Aunt Julia's house that she may change her clothes, then sends him on to Charles's house to find Richard.

Charles, guided by the creature along what seem to be ancient tunnels walled with well dressed stone, comes at length to a larger chamber, in which he sees a wall-carving, seemingly of a man in a cap and tunic of some classical (Phrygian?) style slaying a bull, a ring of candle-holders surrounding a blockish plinth or altar with similar carvings -- and most significantly, a darkly hooded figure of indeterminate nature, indicating a second figure, a very pregnant woman lying upon the altar.

At first, Charles refuses to advance further, demanding more reasons; but the hooded figure speaks little -- just a few words, in a hissed voice, to suggest that Charles's help is needed. However, it does offer him a handful of gold coins and a book, and at length, contemplating the significance of the oath of Hippocrates, he does step forward, to discover that the woman (whose eyes are a striking gold) should by rights be giving birth -- but there are complications. It seems that surgery will be required, and Charles asks whether woman or child is more to be given the priority. The hooded figure, however, leaves the choice to him.

Meanwhile, Nicholas, then Richard, have reached the doctor's house as directed in that note, and it seems, on discovering a pit and a gaggle of confused doctors, have summoned ropes and lanterns, then followed the distant cries of a woman in childbirth. They arrive in the room just in time to discover Charles completing his bloody but necessary work; his attention is drawn to their arrival by a murmur from the figure -- "Ah, Tiresias"...

Nicholas moves forward to assist, and discovers that, although Charles has done an excellent job of surgical work, the woman is fading fast -- whatever befell was too much for her. Charles, however, discovers that the child, golden-eyed like its mother, is fit and healthy.

Meanwhile, the hooded figure (and the earth-being) have vanished or slipped away, and Richard declares that all should depart the scene -- the walls of the chamber seem to him to be closing in, or some such problem. The three flee with the babe in Nicholas's arms, and at length reach the rope which must lead back up to the Cosian laboratory.

Nicholas ascends first, and then Richard, carrying the babe in a sling. The plan is that Charles, no great climber, can be pulled up last. However, as he waits, a piercing female cry comes from above -- and something plummets down out of the light. Charles deftly catches the babe, and then realises that he is alone, with but one plausible exit.

He accepts the necessity and begins to climb, but his inexperience tells, and he slips and falls, this time on his head, hard enough to render him unconscious.

He begins to recover after a while, however, to sense that the light above has apparently grown brighter. Also, there are voices all around him. When he opens his eyes, he finds that these are the voices of his Cosian colleagues, and of Richard and Nicholas, who, summoned to help aid their friend, who was rendered mysteriously insensible by a little smoke, have been attempting without success to determine what ails him. He is indeed resting on a bench in the Cosian laboratory, whose floor is intact.

After a little confusion has been cleared up, the incident is explained away as a dream -- save for the unexplained matter of the book in Charles's medicine bag, which proves to have been written in no script which he can decipher at this time. Charles evidently paid insufficient attention to some lectures at Cambridge, because Nicholas has to remind him of the legend of Tiresias, the blind Greek seer who was transformed between male and female sexes by the whim of the gods. The significance of such things, or of golden eyes, remain enigmas for the moment.

Eventually, Richard undertakes to escort Charles homewards, reassuring him as they go that such dreams likely have no great significance. At this point, another voice bids him a fare-thee-well, and he glances round to see the earth-creature slipping away into the mud of the road.

[Yes, this was of course a Seeking for Charles, as he was buying up his Arete -- a Seeking conducted with a little collaboration from the other two players. I should really have made it weirder and more insidious, but one does what one can. Charles may also be buying a level in the Spirit sphere shortly, and Kate is in the process of acquiring Awareness, so bits and pieces do hang together here.]

As Nicholas looks around the cellar, he senses something about the maze around the homunculus, and also a deep wrongness about the creature itself. Emerging once more to the street, he also notes a kind of discernible structure to some of the guild-halls thereabouts, and when he reaches the environs of St. Paul's, a similar if older and more diffuse quality to that cathedral. Telling himself that his recent experiences have maybe taught him the indicative signs of supernatural powers, he prowls the book-stalls a while, purchasing a (somewhat overpriced) introductory commentary on Avicenna.

[Kate had spent some of her recent experience points on Awareness. This seemed like an appropriate moment for this to first manifest.]

Adrian, the meanwhile, is out and about, mapping Southwark. Using arts of Connection, he measures its dimensions with unique precision, although the work takes a little longer than he might have hoped. [However, he does get a Scourge Boon, which will perhaps ensure a transient but useful quality to this map.] Indeed, as Nicholas takes a riverboat homewards, he spies Adrian on the far bank, and senses that he is about some work of Craft -- but decides not to distract the navigator. Nicholas returns to Aunt Julia's house, and later, Richard too comes there, and escorts Kate home.

Adrian spends the evening in his lodgings, working on his map (though he does remember to eat). Richard chats to Master Aristotle, arranging lessons in philosophy for Charles (at the Master's usual rate). Kate quietly buries herself in Avicenna, and thus avoids an argument with her mother for once.

Saturday 5-6-1585 As Charles spends the next day in quiet recovery, Richard and Kate spend it at home, at least at first, in study and practice. Kate, noticing something about the chain which Master Aristotle wears around his neck, finds further confirmation that her senses have been refined of late.

Adrian has a slightly more exciting day of it. Wandering Southwark with a view to completing his survey, he grows distracted (as ever), and nearly finds himself in a brawl with a brothel bully, who finds his manner offensive and his excuses implausible. However, Adrian proves that he has the speed, wit, and eye to deal with such problems when he must, disarming the fellow of his dagger with uncanny precision.

Late in the day, however, news reaches London that Spain, which had given safe-conduct to all grain ships in its time of near famine, has now treacherously impounded all these vessels in its ports. Hints of war are in the air! Richard, hearing this rumour at home, finds his father, and announces that he's off to the Tower to review the supplies of guns and powder, and to see what can be plotted about providing more. As he departs, he asks Kate to keep her ears open for more information on these matters (though in truth, both reflect that this may be somewhat unlikely to gain much). Once at the Tower, he determines that the situation is not too difficult, although he eventually concludes that a visit to the fortresses further down the river may be necessary, to ensure that their powder-stocks are as reported and recorded.

Adrian, hearing the same tale of treachery in docklands taverns, takes a boat down to the Void Seeker haven to see if there is any aid needed there. These Daedaleans, of course, are not much worried by such mundane matters, but must make some allowances for the concerns of the Unenlightened. Adrian is put to work plotting quiet approaches for secret ships currently at sea in the Atlantic, to ensure that they have least chance of being sighted by patrols out of newly-abuzzing English ports as they make their own, private ways home.

Kate spends a little while trying, not overly successfully, to keep her father's mind on the most important aspects of his work, then sets to in her own memory palace, seeking to intuit how this business might or might not impinge on the concerns of the Enlightened. Richard, his work at the Tower done for the night, heads home by way of a tavern or two, keeping an ear open to determine details of how the news arrived (and encountering relatively few surprises). On his arrival home, perhaps the only thing that concerns him a very little is a lack of word from any of the Peltons...

Sunday 6-6-1585 Charles awakens to discover that he has lost a day, and following a little mildly confused backchat, Cecil tells him about the Spanish perfidy. Richard too awakens feeling a little woozy, but brightens up at the prospect of the service at St. Paul's.

Both converge on the cathedral, where Richard makes the acquaintance of various persons of good breeding, dicsusses recent events with them knowledgeably, and looks stylish. Charles does less well, falling in with some unremarkable persons and boring them somewhat. Then the two friends meet each other, discuss events a little, and pay attention to the sermon, in which the bishop of London himself holds forth against treachery and false offers of peace from the unworthy.

Kate, the meanwhile, stays at home with her parents, and overhears a little chatter regarding the Peltons. (It seems that her mother is still finding what she can about this provincial family.) Then Richard returns home, and the family dines.

Charles picks up a couple of new books from the shops around the cathedral, and goes home to read them over a pork pie. Then, however, he receives a visitor... who leaves her servant Gwyneth without the room as she has brief converse with the "good doctor". Cassandra Pelton (for it is she) asks him to bear a message to his friend Master Gardiner. It seems that her brother and his friends are growing nervous about the Gardiners, which is why she dared not attend St. Paul's this day; she sends her regret for this, and a warning for Richard to tread carefully around her family. She also enquires a little concerning Nicholas, letting slip that her brother and his faction seem especially concerned in the matter of twins and reflections. (This query itself sets Charles to pondering on possible Gardiner secrets.)

Once she has departed, Charles sets out to the Gardiner house. He tries to approach quietly, by way of the servants' door, but simply meets the father of the house, setting out to shoot some ducks with his dogs, in the muddy lane aside the place. Finding Richard, he delivers Cassandra's message. Richard in turn suggests that this may be a good time for him to have his first lesson with Master Aristotle, who indeed proves to be available. Kate, too, slips into the room at this point.

The three receive a somewhat speculative lecture on philosophy, encompassing especially Platonism and Neo-Platonism, as well as the Kabbalah (and a brief mention of a dark topic known as the Qlippoth) and other themes. Much of this concerns emanations from higher orders of reality to lower -- a concept which might help these three make some sense of the matters with which they are now dealing. They also discuss the Neo-Platonic significance of twins and reflections -- and thus, why the Gardiners might be such a concern to Raleigh's faction. (Richard, it must be said, seems to get less from this conversation than the other two.)

Kate subsequently spends a little time in embroidery and meditation, asking herself, firstly, what the High Guild might do should war come (mostly, she concludes, strike north), and secondly, what the Hermetics might be so concerned about regarding twins (on which subject, she concludes that she, as yet, knows too little).

Monday 7-6-1585 Come the morrow, Charles goes back to his research. In the morning, Richard orders the preparation and equipment of a cutter to go and inspect the Thames fortresses; he reckons to spend the next couple of days on this matter. Kate goes off to learn more of Aunt Julia's business. Everyone has a quiet but modestly profitable day of it. 26-06-2002
Tuesday 8-6-1585 During the afternoon, while heading back towards the Tower, Richard chances to meet the likewise returning Adrian on the river, and invites him to come back to the Tower and advise on navigational matters such as possible Spanish invasion routes.

Once there, Richard and Adrian discuss North Sea navigation for a while. Then an unexpected visitor arrives. Richard recognises Sir Francis Walsingham; Adrian doesn't, but for the most part has the good sense to remain quiet in a corner after Richard introduces him as his trusted navigator.

"What are we to do with you, Master Gardiner?" Sir Francis enquires rhetorically. "You wouldn't by any chance be interested in the post of Inspector of Her Majesty's Cannon on the Scots borders, would you?" Richard admits that he hadn't thought of pursuing such a post, and that he doesn't feel that it would represent how he could best serve the Queen. "No, probably not. Nonetheless, it seems that there are some at court who are pressing quite diligently for that office to be created, and for you to be granted it." (Here, Adrian congratulates Richard on this social success, and receives ironic looks from both the other two men.)

Richard admits to some bemusement at that, and denies detailed knowledge of what the reasons might be for such enmity, although he admits that certain gentlemen seem to have taken against him for (he declares) no very clear reason. Sir Francis shrugs; he, it seems, has no wish for this assault on Richard's fortune to succeed. He suggests that, were Richard to disappear from London for a few days, matters might be made somewhat easier -- it's hard for enemies to strike at one who is not there, and by the time Richard returns, their attention will perforce have moved on. It might be particularly effective if Richard were to be usefully about the Queen's business... Thus, the idea of Richard inspecting the royal fortresses along the south coast, to make sure that they are prepared against Spanish invasion, seems to both of them a good idea.

Richard accepts this, and sets about making appropriate arrangements. First, he appoints Adrian as his navigator for the mission. Then, he decides to seek out Charles, who, it emerges, is still down in that cellar with his fellow Cosians. On the way there, it occurs to Richard that, if his enemies are so determined to make trouble for him, he might be being followed -- and, now that he comes to pay attention, this turns to be the case. He turns through the crowded streets most deftly, catches his pursuer, and persuades the fellow (who is too much the professional to say too much about his motives) to give up the business for the afternoon, and to go catch a drink in some convenient tavern instead. Then, Richard spots another shadow -- who proves easier to unnerve when caught. Not that he can say too much before taking the cost of a drink, but he does reveal that he was hired by persons at the Zodiac -- a name Richard only knows as a tavern in Lambeth.

Finding Charles, Richard mentions the maritime expedition, but Charles, determined to continue with this most fascinating work of research, and for that matter not forgetting that he has patients from whom payment must be earned, turns down the post of ship's doctor. Richard then returns home, to find that his father has received a letter requiring him to assist with these new arrangements. Dinner is only a little fraught that evening, although Mother is in a petulant mood, and says a certain amount which irritates Kate. (Richard comments that the ship which he will be taking is a little too small for privacy, so the idea of Kate accompanying him never really arises.)

Returning home that same evening, Charles finds Kit Marlowe on his doorstep. Marlowe, it seems, had the impression that Charles would shortly be going on a sea voyage. (Evidently, Walsingham's organisation occasionally makes wrong assessments.) Sharing Charles's wine, Marlowe remarks that it's about time for himself to return to Cambridge for a while -- there are rules about these things, if one is to earn one's degree. He also comments in passing that there may be other work for Richard, on Richard's return from this trip -- if, that is, Richard doesn't mind crossing a few people at court. But he can say no more than that.

At the Gardiner house after dinner, Richard and Kate have a brief chat about these latest events. They theorise that this problem, which must be the work of Raleigh's faction, could originate with Master Pelton -- but they think it's more likely to be down to Dellmurray, whose pride in himself as a magus and all may have been damaged by their apparent refusal to take him quite seriously enough. Perhaps Nicholas will conduct some investigations of the matter.

And Adrian has a quiet night's sleep.

13. Divided Forces

Wednesday 9-6-1585 Adrian is the first to reach the large cutter moored by the Tower, and sets to work rendering it shipshape. Richard, meanwhile, has some trouble with the last few administrative matters to which he must attend at the Tower, but at least manages to compose a half-decent poem to Cassandra. That, he leaves with Charles, to whom he also explains his and Kate's current ideas about factions and their concerns.

Richard and Adrian spend the day sailing down the Thames to Chatham, where Upnor Castle is the first location requiring inspection. Through a moment of inattention, they manage to get the cutter stuck on a Medway mudflat for a short time, but free it competently enough and reach the castle by nightfall. There, they are obliged to share a bad under the eaves (though at least they are mercifully fairly distant from the sounds of the place being hastily prepared for inspection).

Kate, the meanwhile, stays at home and reads her text on Avicenna. And to speak of medicine, Charles spends a little time analysing the results of the latest round of study of the homunculus, and slightly more burrowing into texts regarding alchemical hermaphroditism.

(Incidentally, he has now convinced himself that the pursuit of medical and alchemical techniques for the transformation of the sexes is theologically and morally impeccable. By dint of some curious logic [and a critical failure on a Theology skill roll] , he holds that the creation of Eve from Adam's rib demonstrates that the two sexes are of the same nature, and that each holds the other physiologically in potentia . His fevered thoughts relate this to the Platonic concept of the Golden Age; he has convinced himself that Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus rationalised Plato's theories about perfect forms as compatible with church teaching, and hence that the perfect human being would surely be a hermaphrodite -- the two sexes are both just imperfect forms of the real truth, which he is now pursuing...)

Thursday 10-6-1585 This day, Kate decides, she will visit Aunt Julia. There, she begins the diligent labour of learning her aunt's business. Later in the day, though, Nicholas goes forth to spend time on the town. Charles has been out and about earlier in the day, but only in pursuit of alchemical glassware.

Richard frankly terrorises Upnor Castle. (The honest Adrian is scandalised when his friend almost casually exposes the private sale of gunpowder.) Then, at the end of the day, the pair take the cutter and sail on down to Deal, where they are greeted warmly.

Meanwhile, Nicholas finds Edric easily enough, having been requested to renew contact with him, but discovers that the unfortunate fellow is down with the dropsy. So Nicholas goes on to The Theatre, where he sees Lord Strange's men performing "Alfred the Great". It's a good enough play, Nicholas thinks, but its author seems strangely obsessed with the depiction of the triumph of Alfred's West Country forces, with some disregard for historical truth. (It crosses Nicholas's mind that Raleigh himself is from the West Country. He also senses that there is something being worked here, albeit without the immediacy or focus of previous exercises in dramaturgical magic which our heroes have observed.) Michael Callaghan and Thomas Wilton are also at the play, and Nicholas believes that he has been noted, which is all to the good -- though he might have cause to worry if he notes how closely and thoughtfully he is studied by the pair.

Friday 11-6-1585 Richard and Adrian find Deal Castle run with, at best, mediocre competence. Adrian, now taking the possibility of corruption in such places a notch more seriously, exerts his Enlightened insight to assess the organisation of the garrison, and concludes that it is in fact, well, simply not very organised. He remarks on this quietly to Richard, who concurs.

They then go on to Walmer, where the governance proves competent if not enthralling, and then Sandgate, which is a total shambles. (Adrian just about manages to remain polite; Richard sighs and makes many notes.)

In London, Kate returns to her parents' house after breakfast. She spends a little time tucking the details of yesterday's experiences in her memory palace, while looking forward to joining Charles and Master Aristotle for the evening's lesson.

Charles himself receives a visit from Cassandra Pelton, who warns him that those who saw Nicholas last night seem most exercised by all these Gardiner family resemblances, and perhaps even a little strangely suspicious of Kate's similarity to the men in the clan. The consequence of this conversation for Charles is that a suspicion, based on recollections of his own, slightly closer observations of Nicholas, begins to bubble up through his own brain. However, for now he simply takes mental note when Cassandra gives him quite effusive thanks to pass to Richard for his last poem.

Richard finds that the castle is a little short on acceptable accommodation, so he and Adrian decide to sleep on the boat. He spends the evening writing a letter to his father, while Adrian tours the dockside taverns.

Charles arrives at the Gardiner house, has a brief encounter and chat with Richard's father, and is then intercepted and shown to Master Aristotle's room by Kate, who naturally takes the opportunity to loiter and join the ensuing seminar. Charles shows Master Aristotle the mysterious book, and Master Aristotle, although unable to identify the text, tentatively asks his permission to keep it for one week, as he thinks that he may be able to identify certain half-familiar forms of the script in that time. Charles, after due consideration, decides that he has little chance of achieving much with it himself, and hands the volume over. Master Aristotle also tells Charles that he cannot help much with the interpretation of the dream (if that is what it was); his philosophy tells him that such matters are the concern of the dreamer alone.

There is also an exchange of remarks between the two concerning what Cassandra said to Charles. On hearing of the puzzlement caused to the Hermetics by the Gardiners, Kate drops her guard for a heartbeat in her amusement, and Charles, while saying that he sees little resemblance between Nicholas and Kate, suddenly realises that this is incorrect. Again, strange hints move through his mind. However, in his subsequent conversations with Kate, in Master Aristotle's study and as she bids him farewell, his main concern seems to be to offer her the loan of various Arabic medical texts, to further her studies.

Saturday 12-6-1585 At least two of our heroes begin the day well, if routinely. Charles rises and spends a few hours in profitable study and research, while Richard inspects the castle and is not overly displeased. (Hence, he adds a note at the end of his letter to his father to this effect before despatching it with a royal courier from the town.) He and Adrian then sail on to Rye in some comfort.

Kate spends the morning thinking hard and reading Avicenna. She then goes to visit her Aunt Julia, and dons her disguise, exerting all her arts to ensure that it is convincing (for she has cause to be cautious of Raleigh's faction's suspicions of such matters). Thus it is that a most convincing Nicholas goes to see Charles, and takes him off to see the last performance of "Alfred the Great". Whether this is a favour is a moot point; the cast are clearly tired and bored, and perform accordingly. However, Charles, alerted to the fact that this is another ritualistic performance, sets to work improvising an analytical study of the business, building mounds of walnut shells on the palm of his hand in increasingly complex patterns as he seeks to understand the shapes which Strange's company are making of the play's ideas.

His conclusion is thoughtful and worrying; he believes that power over men's minds is being, not only invoked, but stored for future use. Subsequently, as they sit in the corner of a nearby alehouse, he and Nicholas engage in urgent (but very quiet) conversation as to what Raleigh and his followers are about. It perhaps crosses their minds that Sir Walter might wish to be thought an appropriate husband for the Queen herself -- a dangerous, extreme ambition, but perhaps attainable, especially given use of powers beyond the mortal. ..

Sunday 13-6-1585 Richard and Adrian enjoy a real day of rest in Rye, as is only proper. In London, at Kate's suggestion (not quite insistence) the Gardiner family descends on St. Paul's en masse for the service. However, annoyingly, Kate's main explicit hope for the visit -- the chance of a meeting with the Peltons -- fails to be realised. A few of Raleigh's clique are around, of course, but they do not seem very alert.

(And Charles is buried deep in alchemical study, as he will be for some days to come.)

Monday 14-6-1585
While Richard and Adrian inspect the indifferent management of Rye Castle, then continue on down to Newhaven in the afternoon and early evening, Kate visits Master Holbright, there to report her own recent discoveries and suspicions concerning Raleigh's motives. (She also mentions Raleigh's mysterious female associate from previous encounters, as a mystery still outstanding.) Holbright comments, among other things, that Raleigh may have aid or advice from one whom the Order of Reason had driven forth from London to the far end of Europe -- and the name of Doctor John Dee does cross her mind at this. She also comes away with a strong hint that it would be useful of her to learn more about Raleigh's schemes -- not to mention some fine amber beads, for which she paid far too much to Holbright's clerk, this being the ostensible reason for her visit.
Tuesday 15-6-1585 to Friday 18-6-1585
Over the next few days, Richard and Adrian mostly discover good procedures in place on the forts around the Solent -- until they reach Newport, the misnamed inland town on the Isle of Wight, which can but cause shaking of heads. This demands a special return trip to Southampton the next day to post a suitably sarcastic letter.

Kate, the meanwhile, spends some time learning merchant lore from her Aunt Julia, and other times at The Theatre, watching Lord Strange's Men working their way through the Plantagenet dynasty in rather indifferently dramatised form. She does notice Inigo Pelton in passing on the Thursday...

Friday 18-6-1585
Charles arrives at the Gardiner home for his lesson from Master Aristotle, and meets the mother of the house on the way in. He manages to be as diplomatic as he can, until Kate materialises and takes him to see his teacher (and, of course, she remains in the room thereafter).

Charles and the master converse for a while on general matters of philosophy (and both Charles and Kate prove able to keep up with what they hear), then turn to the mysterious book. Master Aristotle admits that he still cannot interpret it, but suggests that Charles, for whom it was evidently intended, might eventually succeed, if he leaves the matter to meditation and the back of his mind for a while. The only clue that anyone of the Master's acquaintance was able to offer was the suggestion of a similarity to texts obtained from a certain house in Mortlake. This resemblance might repay investigation, but any investigators would be very strongly advised to tread carefully.

Kate recognises the reference -- indeed, a visit to the house of Dr Dee would be a challenging prospect. Still, if haste should come to seem indicated, the Master comments, breaking and entering might produce results -- along with dangers.

Before Charles departs, Master Aristotle gives him some Greek Orthodox religious texts, to broaden his mind. And Kate is left reflecting on some of what was discussed, and wondering if she should study mathematics.

Run in flashback, 21-8-2002
Saturday 19-6-1585
Richard and Adrian fall behind their planned schedule owing to problems with navigation. (Anyone may make a mistake, as Adrian generously demonstrates.) Thus, they reach Weymouth rather later than planned.

This day, Kate startles her aunt with the speed with which she has learned her merchant skills. At the end of the day, however, she arrives home to discover the household in a small uproar; for the family has received an invitation to another masque at Durham House on the Tuesday coming. Kate, thoughtful, retires to her room to start placing defences in her memory palace.

7-8-2002 (continued)
Sunday 20-6-1585
This is a quiet day on all parts, as our heroes fully respect the idea of a day of rest for once. Or perhaps it sees the calm before the storm -- metaphorical or otherwise.
Monday 21-6-1585
Richard and Adrian discover blithering stupidity at large in the fortifications of Weymouth, and spend a little time deciding that this case will need some detailed reporting when they come home.

Kate, having plotted her mental defences, feels that she has time and excuse to practise fencing (or at least stilleto-play -- she reminds her mother than some of Raleigh's set are a little fast ), which serves to clear her mind.

Richard and Adrian set out late in the day, planning to to make a part of the journey to their next important stop, and then to rest up in some fishing village. However, this time they run into a stiff head wind, and retire to Weymouth, hoping to make up the time the next day.

Kate manages to slip away from home late in the day for long enough to leave a note for Master Holbright, warning him about the masque at Durham House -- after all, the last such event caused him some inconvenience .

In the evening, Edric visits Charles, and tells him about the same masque, which is the talk of the theatrical world. Charles passes word to his Patron in Reason, Dr Uriel; he especially fears that some efforts might be made against the prison of the Grey Homunculus. Well, at least the Order of Reason is now well alerted.

Tuesday 22-6-1585
Richard leaves letters concerning his recent observations with a royal ship bound London-wards, then he, Adrian, and their craft set out, staying passably close to shore.

Kate shuts herself in her room to prepare for what she suspects may befall at the masque, making a will of her fortress by meditation, then applying cosmetics and selecting clothes to emphasise her femininity, thus reducing (she hopes) the dangers of Kate and Nicholas somehow being associated.

Charles, seeking to observe the event, takes a room in an inn opposite Durham House, quaffs a preparation of herbs and infusions that may be expected to enhance his own will, and sits with pistols loaded -- he is unsure what to expect, but he does not mean to be taken by surprise.

Kate and her parents arrive by boat. Kate notes that the party is mostly made up of Raleigh's set, with fewer "outsiders" than the previous occasion. Also, the masque seems set to sprawl around the garden rather more. Raleigh soon appears, and turns his fabled charm on the Gardiners; both women, it must be said, succumb slightly. He sweeps them (and the father of the family) to seats in the front row. Kate notes Dellmurray at the back of the audience, appearing somewhat surly, and the Peltons three or four rows from the front, with Inigo looking (perhaps understandably, in this "fast" company) sternly protective.

Across the road, in hiding, Charles wonder what workings might help him -- but cannot think of much. As he hears distant musicians strike up, he feels the first faint sense of an itch in his neck hairs.

The entertainment, it proves, is entitled "The Masque of Mordred and Trevilian" , and tells a heroical-tragical tale of Arthurian times, when the knights who served the would-be usurper Mordred, seeing their leader dead in battle with the true king, vow to continue his conquests in his memory, and turn their remaining forces against the land of Lyonesse to the south-west. There, they are confronted by the brave warrior Trevilian and his hastily mustered army. Trevilian warns them that no good will come of their evil plans, and that Lyonesse can never accept them, but they mock him and issue a challenge to battle. The armies clash, and Mordred's captains seem certain of victory -- but then the very elements rise against them, and in a great storm, the invaders (and for that matter the defenders) are drowned as the sea rises to engulf Lyonesse. Trevilian alone survives, riding his horse to land just ahead of the onrushing waves.

Kate, however, is somewhat distracted by the end of this performance, as the great storm effects at the climax of the masque seem to bear terribly upon her, while her parents seem merely entertained. To her outrage, she realises that she has become some manner of focus for a mystical working, and, remembering where her brother may be at this time, she guesses some part of the truth. Mustering her will and resorting to prayer and meditation, she fends off the power of the trick for a while, but repeated and redoubled use of the subtly significant storm effects (while looking clumsy and even bizarre in terms of the drama) batter down her resistance. Indeed, it takes her a moment to recover he equilibrium.

And across the road, Charles uses his current, enhanced mental focus to analyse what he is observing. He gains a sense of a storm (albeit a subtle, invisible storm) focussing on the gardens of Durham House for a short while, then departing, he knows not where.

Meanwhile, off the coast of Devon, Richard and Adrian become aware of storm clouds ahead, on what had until now been a tolerably clear day. Then they observe another ship approaching them, running, as it seems, wildly before a wild wind -- too fast, with too loose a sail, as it appears to their professional judgements. Adrian's telescope also shows this other vessel to be overmanned for regular mercantile service. They quickly decide to run for Sidmouth...

14. The Battle of Lyonesse

Watching the other ship through his (most superior) telescope as they flee, Adrian decides to unweave that vessel's private wind, which is giving it such an unreasonable advantage in the race. He murmurs some sailors' prayers, whistles an old charm -- and thus succeeds in frustrating the fellow he can see hanging on the mast of the pursuer. At which point, however, he notices that his own craft's wind has, oddly, dropped...

A duel of spells and skills ensues, with Adrian proving his worth quite well, but, in the end, the foe catches up with them as they approach Sidmouth. As the ships close, a duel of gunnery is inevitable, in which the enemy's heavier cannon tell. Richard and Adrian suffer the loss of a gun of their own, and worse, the tiller.

Thus, they find themselves boarded, which is predictably unfortunate, as their crew are badly unnumbered. Nonetheless, Adrian turns their fortunes about somewhat in the first moments of the action, as a shot from one of his flintlock pistols strikes the enemy warlock, almost taking his foot clean off. The man falls, but then his followers are over the side, and matters are hand-to-hand.

Although their crew fall about them, Richard and Adrian prove their heroic superiority, cutting down any who seek to challenge them. However, by the time that the defenders gain an upper hand of sorts, something is performed on the other vessel. A bank of mist appears astern of the two ships, and begins, as it seems, to draw both in.

Richard disables his last opponent, leaps across the gap to the other ship, and fights his way through to the fallen warlock -- but the fellow denies that he can stop what is happening. Faced with Richard's blade (and a degree of logic), the remnants of the enemy crew seek to turn the drifting craft -- but the skipper, stunned and confused, fails badly. As Richard struggles to with the sail, Adrian, by now also free of opponents, seeks to whistle up a favourable wind -- and something goes well for him.

[In fact, he gets a Scourge Boon. It should by rights be only a fairly small one -- 8 Scourge Points' worth -- but this is a slightly weirder situation than usual, and the GM spots some interesting and poetic possibilities.]

For now, as it seems, he gets the very wind he wanted, wafting the ships away from the subtly sinister fog, which soon begins to fade and dissipate. Thereafter, though, he or Richard may note that, although the breeze has otherwise fallen still, it perhaps might be thought still to blow around Adrian. His hair is oft-times ruffled, and he and others may sometimes think to hear voices in the air -- or perhaps not...

Richard's sword at his throat, the maybe-warlock -- who names himself Trevalyan Penrith, which may remind Richard that the flag that ship flies bears the badge of the Trevalyan family of Cornwall -- claims loyalty to "The Emperor", who, it seems clear to Richard, must be Raleigh. But for now, such questions must be moot, as fishing craft out of Sidmouth cautiously approach and offer aid. At Richard's suggestion, the two crews insist to the fisher-folk that this was all, well, a terrible misunderstanding between gentlemen at sea. It's a thin tale, but it will hold for now, as the first concern is to find aid for the many wounded. (Among others, Giles has been struck down, and will need close attention.)

But let us turn from this scene back to London, where Charles, still watching Durham House, sees two figures leaving the place, and while he is not quick enough to recognise them, he thinks them somehow familiar. In the absence of better ideas as to how to garner information, he quickly slips downstairs. Inigo Pelton (for such is one of the two) sees him, and recognises him, but Charles maintains an air of normality, so Pelton cannot swear that the sawbones is not in this neighbourhood on valid business. [Critical success on Acting vs. critical success on perception. One must interpret such things as best one can.] Inigo is cautious, of course, but Charles does hear some of Cassandra's words, as brother and sister fall into recurrent and evidently painful dispute; "...but at sea -- at sea ... oh, you are so cruel..."

But we are, in truth, a little ahead of ourselves here. Recently past events within the gardens of Durham House are of relevance...


As the masque ends, Kate's father remarks that he thought it a rather dashed strange performance -- though her mother, normally the one with the sharper eye for artistry, has dismissed it as mere aristocrat posturing, quite disregarding its slightly peculiar style. Kate says that the trumpets cut through her very head, but mother is severely unsympathetic; there is a garden full of eligible batchelors here, after all.

As they squabble in Italian, Dellmurray hovers, an odd look about him, but Kate disregards him for the moment -- and then Lord Strange himself approaches, and asks after the family's comfort and enjoyment. Father remarks that the masque went past him entirely -- and then Strange turns to Kate, asking her opinion.

She, in her reply, turns very snappish, declaring herself not much impressed at the idea of sacrificing one's entire land to defeat an enemy. Strange replies, with an edge to his tone, that he is sorry to hear this opinion...

He then departs in polite but high-handed style, leaving Kate to engage in another acidic exchange with her mother, who does not assent when Kate suggests returning home. Kate then notices Master Dellmurray, who has permitted himself a smile with a note of satisfaction thereto -- and casts him a deadly look which he all too clearly receives.

Then Kate also observes the Peltons approaching, and greets Cassandra with some courtesy. Cassandra replies in Italian, asking after Richard while seeming very disturbed. (Inigo, it may be noted, does not speak this language, and guesses at the meaning of very little which he is hearing.)

And then -- Sir Walter Raleigh arrives, in his smooth and mannerly way, and draws Kate off for a dance. He seeks to determine something of her response to the play, commenting that his friend Strange seemed to think that she had not liked it much. As their polite and formal exchange passes over the subject of Strange's players, Kate comments that it can be hard to find good people to work for one -- and Raleigh replies that this is desirable, but it is also important that those who seek to work against one should not be permitted to succeed.

Kate takes that as a decalaration of war. As the dance comes to an end, she gives Raleigh a fencer's salute.

She then dances twice more, with various young men. Evidently distracted by all that has gone before, she tramples one's toes, then turns most acerbic with the second when he does the same to her. Then, she finds a glass of wine, and strolls about the garden, frightening off others. Her mother and father finish their own dancing, and acknowledge to themselves that it is time to leave, as Raleigh's inner circle stand about him, drinking toasts to his health. Their daughter does not argue.

When the weary and head-sore Kate reaches her own room, she rests for a while, but she cannot shed her fears for her brother. Thus, she resorts to archaic and superstitious scrying arts, seeking visions in a bowl of water -- and succeeds. Perceiving Richard, bloody but unwounded, standing on the prow of a ship under tow, she is greatly heartened. Indeed, she uses her arts to send emotions of reassurance and affection to her brother; then she hurls on Nicholas's garb, climbs down the ivy that grows by her window, hushes one of the family mastiffs with a glance, and takes a riverboat towards the dwelling of Master Holbright.

[Can you say "Minor Scourge Boon" there? Of course, the effects of such can sometimes be quite cinematic, in all sorts of ways.]

Nicholas talks his way past the Master's servants, finds him in, and reports in full. Holbright seems pleased enough, although his reply is but a vague promise of support in this personal conflict with Sir Walter, and some thanks. Then, Nicholas decides to go on to visit Charles, to see how matters stand with him.

To whom, indeed, we too should turn our attention.

For earlier that day, leaving Durham House behind him, thoughtful but at a loose end, Charles decides that now is a fitting time to bring his current studies to their culmination. He sends his servants away, with firm instructions to be gone for a goodly time, and sets to work. First, he rubs strange and expensive ointments on his person, then he downs a draught of most strange nature.

It is the first time that he has attempted this experiment, and there are dramatic conventions to be respected. The power of the transformations of the humours, surging through his body, overcomes him utterly, and he collapses behind a workbench.

Nicholas arrives at the doctor's house, and finds it shut up, but decides that it nonetheless has the look of a place with someone at home, and therefore knocks at the door. This knocking rouses the semi-conscious owner of the place, who determines carefully who is calling, and then lets Nicholas in. Nicholas is greeted by a woman -- unmistakably such, lightly clad, albeit in poorly fastened female garb, and with a face that Nicholas knows well.

Nicholas realises the truth and the nature of what has befallen with some speed, and collapses in laughter. Then, feeling it would be too cruel to keep such a symmetrical secret at this point, he sweeps off his hat, and lets Kate's curls fall about her shoulders. Charles (or whatever we should call this lady) realises what it is that has been puzzling him about Nicholas for so long, and admits to a sense of annoyance with his own lack of perception. (He remarks in passing that this precludes one plan he had, which was to ask Nicholas's aid in experimenting with the pleasures of carnal love in female form, as the legend of Tiresias has been mentioned. Kate, perhaps, blushes at such talk.) Kate cannot restrain her continuing amusement at Charles's most literal-minded approach to puzzles found in dreams and philosophy, but kindly shows the other how to fasten female dress. She also tells the tale of the day's events as she has perceived them (including her ever-stronger sense of Raleigh as an adversary, which confuses Charles, who had thought of the condition of things as being a truce), and then declares that they must both go out and obtain a drink.

Meanwhile, in Devon, Richard sets Adrian to looking at the task of repairing the damaged rudder, then sets to work persuading Penrith to turn Queen's Evidence in London. Richard has some charm, which he uses to good effect, and some good reason on his side, which makes the threat of trouble for these deeds of piracy seem quite serious, but Penrith seems a dour and difficult fellow (and perhaps a little distracted at the moment), and may not be as convinced as Richard might hope...


15. Rest, and Refreshment

Nicholas takes "Charlotte" out for a quiet drink. They select an appropriate tavern -- one which Nicholas expects to be quiet -- and Charlotte manages a fine act of femininity. (The previous patrons glance up, and see what they take to be a fresh-faced youth who's been snagged by a slightly too elderly harlot -- but they refrain from making their opinions too audibly evident, so our heroes do not feel themselves insulted enough to lead to trouble.) Charlotte consumes a little too much wine in celebration of Charles's alchemical success, but Nicholas sees her home safely, unlaces her corset for her, and sends her to bed while thoughtfully turning down suggestions about jokes that might be played upon Richard. Then, Nicholas also gets home without incident.

In Devon, Adrian is busy assessing the couple of days' work which will be required to effect repairs. Richard has an idea, and finds a fairly suitable sternpost on a local fishing boat, which he buys, thus simplifying the task.

Then, as night falls, all retire, and sleep.

Wednesday 23-6-1585
Charles awakens to hear his servants up and about -- and realises that "he" is still female, and that Charlotte will have to deepen her voice if even telling the servants not to enter the room is not to arouse suspicions. She improvises with a pillow and an elementary grasp of the natural philosophy of sound, but somehow, something about the act seems to have gone a little too... strangely. [An 11 point Scourge Bane descends, and the GM consults his books.]

Charles's servants leave breakfast outside the door, and then go out to see about the shopping the house requires. Charlotte hears their departure, and slips downstairs to fetch the mysterious book, in the hopes that this transformation will have granted some new insights into the text. Sadly, it seems no clearer than before. As she sits on the bed, a voice in the back of her mind remarks that there are many mysteries requiring answers. Charlotte then notices a growing imbalance in her humours; she belches in a most unladylike fashion, then notices a growing ruddy flush across her skin. As she sits back, she is overwhelmed by strange feelings -- indeed, she has to grasp a pillow and bite into it to avoid crying out.

Charles and Charlotte both conclude that Tiresias was correct in his assessment of the nature of pleasure as regards men and women. Charlotte examines herself medically, but draws no conclusions as to the source of this informative experience. So, she turns back to the book, and attempts some improvised cryptanalysis, mostly determining that its contents are most complex.

In Devon, Richard and Adrian spend the day repairing the rudder. (Adrian attempts to use his Enlightened insights into Matter to hasten the task, but things simply do not work aright for him.)

In London, Charles's natural physiological state overcomes the artifice that has made him Charlotte, and although waves of giddiness accompany the effect, he regains his normal form while lying on his bed reflecting on the philosophy involved. Then he goes out for dinner, suffering no worse persistent problems than slight flatulence -- or so it seems.

In Devon, late that same afternoon, Richard returns to the house where Penrith is being held and nursed, and finds him cagily thoughtful. He emerges a few minutes later to hear hoofbeats. Soon, two gentlemen come into view, to be greeted by the local fisherfolk with the respect normally accorded squires and their like. One, who is addressed as "Master Carew", takes the lead, although he appears younger than his more reserved companion, who he addresses as "Adrian".

The pair adopt a rather distant and cautious manner with Richard, although they accept a brief account of recent events from him before requesting a word with his chief prisioner. Penrith, in fact, evidently knows them, and seems especially friendly with this newly arrived Adrian -- who, it emerges, is in fact named Adrian Gilbert.

At this point, Richard remembers a little of family associations, and guesses the unfortunate truth. For this is Sir Walter Raleigh's half-brother -- which means that the other newcomer must be Carew Raleigh, full brother to Sir Walter. The situation is perhaps not surprising, when he considers his geography, for Sidmouth is not at all far from the Raleigh family home at Hayes Barton.

In any event, Carew Raleigh declares a wish to speak with Penrith alone -- which at least gives Richard time to consider how to deal with this situation...

In London, both Kate and Charles decide to remain in their respective homes for the remainder of Wednesday, for their own various reasons.

In Devon, when Carew Raleigh and Adrian Gilbert emerge from the hut wherein Penrith is held, Richard invites them to join him on his boat for a glass. They toast the Queen, and then engage in a little banter. At length, Carew suggests taking Penrith to Exeter to put him before the local Justices of the Peace -- perhaps this whole unfortunate matter may be resolved by payment of appropriate compensation? Gilbert adds a probing comment at this point about there being several strange aspects to the matter...

Richard nods somewhat at this, and then remarks rather tangentially that he seems to have annoyed Carew's brother, to his own distress. Carew is thrown by this bluntness, and wriggles a moment on the hook, but fobs the issue off by adopting a transparent guise as a mild bumpkin. He does say that he will tell his brother Walter that Richard has been most reasonable in this case.

The suggestion upon which all settle is that Master Penrith will indeed be hauled up to Exeter and brought before a magistrate -- and an appropriate settlement will, all may hope, be reached at that point. This will take some little while, especially given Penrith's wounds, so Richard will come by the town when he has completed his business in these parts, to finalise matters. Richard is quite agreeable to all this, as he is not especially intent on Penrith's blood, and he does wish to diminish the energy with which his self-appointed foes are pursuing him.

Gilbert then turns to Adrian Southgate, and asks with strained casualness if he does not find oddities about this matter. Adrian's reply is that it must all be a misunderstanding. "So you have no sense of other influences at work here?" "No."

Gilbert then declares his intent to stay the night and tend to Penrith, while Carew sets out for home. Richard and Adrian then go back to work.

Adrian, evidently not at his best still, does an imperfect job of carpentry, and both of the pair are perhaps a little too preoccupied to notice the uncertain mood of the villagers. At length, they eat and retire.

Some half an hour later, something befalls, almost explosively, in Penrith's hut. Richard and Adrian hurry over, to be told a thin tale of accidents with the lamp by Gilbert. In truth, though, it appears more as though Penrith has been raked with flaming claws. However, Richard does not, on this occasion, observe anything much of note about the chalk marks on the floor...

[Yes, Penrith tried an over-hasty casting, for various reasons, and got a Scourge Bane, which burned off quite a few points.]

The villagers now seem most unhappy -- some of the fishermen have, it seems, been saying that things have been most odd out in the bay, and now at last, Richard discusses the matter with them briefly before returning to sleep.

"Strange breezes, odd coasts sighted?"

"Summat like that..."

Richard retires, reflecting that he will perhaps be happiest to be on his way on the morrow.

Thursday 24-6-1585

The next day, the pair do finish their repairs, with enough time to spare that they set out with intent to spend the night in Torquay. There is not much breeze, so Adrian whistles one up -- and gets better than he thought he'd earned. Richard thinks that this may be associated with a specific spot on the sea, and makes a precise mental note of its location as the vessel carries on along its planned course.

Meanwhile, in London, Charles has gone to assist with research into the homunculus. However, while in conversation with a Cosian of some standing, he finds himself becoming wrathful and short-tempered -- in brief, choleric. Diagnosing an imbalance of his own humours, he rushes home to take a diuretic.

And Kate spends a quiet day at home.

Friday 25-6-1585

The next day again, Charles suffers from failings in his own person, being overcome by fits of laughter while treating a wealthy merchant's gout. His standing with the merchant just survives that, thanks to his past excellent record of work, and he holds in much of the laughter until the patient has left, then medicates himself. However, despite his employing Enlightened Arts in this process, he vomits up his own medicine. (Furthermore, he notices that the vomit was accompanied by a waft of sooty smoke which rapidly withdrew .) He wonders if he somehow needs to perfect his great invention -- and a voice in the back of his mind supports that sentiment.

Well, it is Friday -- and so, off he goes to see Master Aristotle. He is met on the riverbank by Kate, and steered away from her passing father. He mentions that he is suffering strange troubles -- and then notices growing feelings regarding Kate. Feelings of warmth -- perhaps even passion...

She realises that something is arising, too, and gracefully evades overmuch physical proximity to Charles. She also passes on a letter from Richard, with an enclosure for "a certain lady".

The lesson with Master Aristotle proves a little inconclusive for all concerned -- everyone wanders around the subjects in hand for a while -- until Charles does obtain a summary of current thinking on the subject of the Scourge, which helps him a great deal in resolving the causes of some recent events in his mind. They also discuss the Grey Homunculi, and it is suggested that the Order of Reason had best simply accumulate raw knowledge concerning these beings, and let them bring the Scourge down upon themselves.

Saturday 26-6-1585

Richard and Adrian inspect the Plymouth defences, and find them more or less adequate. Richard sends a letter home with a passing royal ship.

At which home, Kate thinks of a plan -- to somehow make Aunt Julia's trading-house the chief supplier of fine cloths to the ladies of the court. This, she thinks, would give the High Guild a straight line to the heart of power in the land (or at least, it would once she has presented the accomplished thing to the Guild as her fee for admittance), and putting them in a fine place from which to foil Sir Walter's plans. She resolves, then, to think on this scheme further...


16. Plans, and Visitations

Sunday 27-6-1585
It being the sabbath, Richard and Adrian go to church. Richard then spends some of the rest of the day writing another sonnet, while Adrian rests more comfortably.

Kate sits down to work out the details of her plan. Half an hour later, she is in a foul mood, the parchment which she intended to use for notes is covered in blots and crossings-out, all the house's maidservants are in hiding, and she decides that she needs a walk to clear her head.

In the garden, she is surprised when she strolls around a tree and meets what appears to be a seven year old child, clad in a grubby green shift, sitting up another tree. The child, likewise surprised at the moment of the encounter, tells her that she resembles his "friend's friend's friend", who is good at whistling. It seems that this child (if child it be) has become sidetracked from an embassy to "the Emperor" -- who has opened a road and invited such a visit from Lyonesse.

Kate converses with this figure for a while, coming to some provisional conclusions about its nature and that of the events which have brought it here, despite its strange manner of talking -- for example, it tells her that she is not far off the road along which it travelled. She decides that the destination to which it was bound must have been Durham House, and gives it directions there, even rowing it across the river to put it on the right (mundane) road. The strange visitor apologises for not having the means to pay a toll, and declares himself in Kate's debt.

Having named herself, she asks in passing how this visitor might be named, and receives in reply "Jen". Jen also, towards the end of the conversation, asks what to call her "other", to which she replies "Nicholas", and what to call his "friend's friend", to which she says "I'm Not Certain". She also invites him to visit again. Jen heads off towards Durham House; Kate returns to her embroidery -- and to composing a note to Master Holbright, to alert him to this "embassy".

Monday 28-6-1585 to Thursday 1-7-1585

Things become a little more quiet this week, as Kate spends her time planning her commercial enterprise (which process even includes time spent talking to her mother, who has a keen judgement of fashion, and whose advice she therefore expects to be useful in this matter, though it is not clear whether Kate makes entirely clear the purpose to which she intends putting it). By the end of the week, she has a plan worthy to be presented to her Aunt Julia, complete with sketches -- a presentation which she carries off most successfully.

Meanwhile, Richard and Adrian continue on their way via Falmouth (whose fort is kept in mediocre style) and Land's End (unfortified) to the Isles of Scilly (where they find yet another castle in somewhat parlous state, and give advice on blowing the whole place apart should the Spaniards arrive in force). Richard fills the quieter moments of this journey in composition of a sonnet, addressed to Cassandra, musing on the infinity of the ocean. He hopes that this will appeal to her.

The one curious moment for them comes on the Thursday, as their craft approaches those westerly islands. Adrian sees a squall approaching the craft -- a small waterspout, almost -- and gives a warning call. At the last moment, however, it shifts direction, and seems almost deliberately to circle the boat. Richard, in the prow, sees something caught in the swirling wind, which blows upwards for a moment, then comes drifting downwards. Moving quickly, he catches it before it lands in the sea, and inspects it. It would appear to be an ordinary leaf from a beech tree, but when he turns it over, he finds writing on one side, in a silvery script with tiny letters.

Examining it more closely with a lens, that evening in the islands' one good inn, he discovers a most curious message:

Dear Coz -- The embassy goes passing well, tho the Emperor hath grand ambitions. Sweet Jen did go a-wandering, and met a friend of your friend; name him, I Am Not Certain. -- P.

This hardly seems like a message intended for any on that boat -- and if it has gone astray, how and why would be a great mystery. But to whom other might it have been despatched?

Back to May 1585
On to July 1585
Introductory Page
My RPGs Page
My General Home Page