||Game Session Date|
The four mortals find themselves outside the stone circle; the light is that of dusk. They cross the road to find that their horses are gone -- Richard judges that, by the tracks, they went a day or two since -- and guess that Mistress Elmery may have taken them.
Then Charles and Kate see something forming in the evening mist in the circle. It seems that the gate is opening...
The four hide in nearby undergrowth to observe what befalls. As they watch, the mist thickens, and Kate hears the distant baying of the hunt. Remembering that religious symbols are said to be sovereign against its power, they begin a plainchant prayer, which perhaps accomplishes a little of what they hope, as they find themselves pitting raw will and shaky faith against the rider and two hounds who emerge from the circle. In a bid to weaken the power of the gate and prevent more coming through, Charles and Kate use mental disciplines to drain a certain amount of quintessence from the gate; this done, they hear a female scream of frustrated rage echoing from the other side.
Meanwhile, Richard and Sir James have stepped forth to challenge and hold off the hounds and rider, quickly cutting them down; Kate joins the pair to deal with the third hound. However, the gate is still forming; it seems that they may be able to slow it, but the sheer power of the Queen's will on the other side precludes them from barring it entirely. Charles seeks a solution through analysis of the thaumaturgical forces, but fails (and in fact brings the Scourge once more on his trail). As he simply uses his Mind arts to build a truly formidable will in opposition to the faerie magic, and Sir James tries but fails to draw off more of the gate's quintessential power, Richard hastens on foot to the nearest village, in search of further aid of whatever sort might be available.
There, he finds a single inn, and enters, hoping to find Mistress Elmery. The answers he receives to the enquiries he makes of the innkeeper, however, suggest that she has gone some couple of days since (along with Master Shakespeare) -- but she has left the party's horses in the inn stables. Richard tips the innkeeper very generously, then goes to the village church, where he rouses the pastor, identifies himself as a gentleman and a scholar (partly by showing his grasp of Latin, which rather obviously exceeds that of the priest himself), and then, after making some slight explanation that uncanny forces have been roused in the vicinity (brushing aside the pastor's comments that he had always taken word of such things for peasant superstition), he commissions the man to sound the church bells from now until the night is entirely dark. Then, he collects the horses (falling off one of them once in his haste, but landing safely), and heads back up the road to find his sister and friends.
They are watching the gate still forming against the pressure of their prayers and wills, and even the distant, welcome sound of church bells, and seeing no way to stop it. When Richard arrives, the group decides that they need expert help in this matter, and set out, riding hard for Oxford through the growing darkness...
|Our heroes set out under a waxing, not-yet-full moon which is, however, mostly occluded by nine-parts cloud cover; thus, they perforce extract lanterns from their saddlebags, and array them to cast adequate light by which to ride.
It's a dark and unnerving experience, though, commencing a passing hard ride down a rough country side-road by uncertain light, with the sense that the Wild Hunt itself may be rising at one's back, and Sir James begins muttering under his breath. The waking nightmares of a desperate fight in Flanders overwhelm him again, and he abruptly draws his blade, spurs his horse to the gallop, and charges ahead. "They're coming!" he cries, "Word must be brought!" (And he adds some rough Flemish obscenities to the mix.)
Kate, realising a little of what troubles him, spurs her horse, too, and keeps abreast of Sir James, while Richard paces Charles, a merely competent horseman whose skill is only just up to these conditions. Sir James reaches the main road and, drawing up hard, tumbles from his horse, fortunately landing deftly on his feet. Kate catches his mount's bridle as he looks around, shaking his head as the waking vision fades; then, she speaks to him sympathetically, and he mounts up and they ride on, discussing how Awakening in the middle of a bad and dangerous siege could be a misofortune. Richard and Charles soon come up, but Kate and Sir James stay somewhat ahead of them, speaking of such matters. By the end of the journey, Sir James's head and spirit feel more free than they have for months.
The group makes slow progress for a while, but as they pause to draw breath at one point, Kate glances back in the direction of the circle, and senses something, and Charles agrees; that something, invisible to normal vision, is streaming upwards into those heavy clouds.
The four humans decide to move on, aiming to reach Oxford as quickly as possible. They ride hard through Chipping Norton, making good time, and at about the same time, they begin to hear churchbells; the priest who Richard alerted in that small village has, they guess, remained awake, become dimly aware of the threat, and responded correctly. Within a few more yards, however, they also become aware of the clouds thickening behind them. They pick up their pace again. It's a hard ride indeed; Kate falls once, but lands rolling, and Sir James misses catching her horse's reins, but Richard succeeds, and she quickly remounts. Charles draws ahead amidst all this, and the others note that he is now looking somewhat uncanny -- when he glances back, his eyes seem to glow. Evidently, his tinkering with weird forces is continuing to have strange effects on him. Thus, when they reach the walls of the city, Richard gallops ahead, past Charles, lest the physician frighten the watchman at the gate. His class and training in command serve him well, impressing the man enough to gain the four easy admittance and also directions to their goal (albeit garbled, but not beyond Richard's ability to interpret).
When they reach Magdalene, though, it is to be told by a porter that Dr. Harkness is visiting a friend, one Dr. Jones, at Balliol. They set out again through the still-busy city streets, but now it is Charles's turn to fall, and Sir James stops help him, eventually taking him for a restorative drink in the nearest tavern.
The Gardiners reach Balliol, and as Kate holds their horses, Richard talks his way past the porters, then finds Dr. Jones's room and hammers on the door. When it is opened, though, Richard's usual glib tact finally fails him, and Jones slams the door in his face. After much more hammering, with Dr. Jones threatening to summons the porters to have Richard removed by main force, Dr. Harkness in the background eventually hears mention of Reason, and emerges to speak privily with Richard.
He soon hears enough of the Wild Hunt riding through English skies to convince him of the situation's urgency, and he and the Gardiners walk back across town, meeting the other two on the way as they emerge from that tavern, then diverting to a church where he borrows a large cross and asks the priest, his acquaintance, to begin ringing the bell.
Back at Magdalene, the five Daedaleans retire to the chapel to muster their forces (albeit that Richard and Kate slip out briefly to fetch meat pies). They decide that it would be best to spend the night here.
|Saturday 4-9-1585||In fact, brief consumption of those pies aside, the four spend most of the night either sleeping or in prayer, as Dr. Harkness carefully writes a number of letters. (Fortunately, the extreme oddity in Charles's appearance fades.) Come the morning, he sends those missives out, while Kate, having restored enough of Nicholas's appearance to pass, borrows the doctor's room to rub arnica into Charles's various bruises -- his falls having been the worst in these last chaotic few days.
Then, in fact, most of our heroes go shopping. Sir James acquires a lance, while Richard scrounges up enough intact male clothes to enable Nicholas to pass more satisfactorily. Indeed, Kate exerts Enlightened Life effects to ensure a most masculine appearance.
Late in the morning, the group ride out in the company of various theologians and churchmen, returning to the circle of standing stones, where an extensive and seemingly efficacious ceremony of Christian exorcism is performed. (So far as the more Aware members of the party can tell, the gate is once again closed thereby -- at least for now.) Then, as all turn their horses' heads towards Oxford once again, some of the more knowledgeable of the churchmen and Oxford academics suggest to the four that they return to London, and see there what might be done to deal with this weakening of the veil nonsense...
|Sunday 5-9-1585||The group in fact remain in Oxford a little longer, to rest; indeed, they spend most of Sunday in recuperation from their recent experiences. Sir James now seems rather more at peace with the world, somehow, while both Richard and Nicholas are quite relaxed -- but Charles still seems disconcerted by everything about him. Indeed, Nicholas eventually turns a somewhat diagnostic eye upon him.
"Oh, just get some sleep, Dr. Avery!"
|Monday 6-9-1585||The group decide to spend a little more time in the city; indeed, Nicholas decides that Kate's tale to her parents requires a little attention to matters of local trade. Sir James declares an intention to escort Nicholas about this business, though Nicholas murmurs to himself that he's unsure why. Meanwhile, this being a university town, Richard and Charles locate the booksellers.
Nicholas comes away from these investigations with a working knowledge of the local wool business, while Charles acquires a number of books, for himself, Nicholas, and Sir James, dealing (in typically encoded and indirect form) with various Sphere arts and arcane skills which he knows that the three are developing. Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, the languages in which these various volumes are written are all known to members of the group -- though not always to those individuals interested in the specific book in each case. Much comparing of notes and assistance in translation must follow, and indeed, will begin on the road the next day.
(An outside observer might note, though Nicholas does not especially, that by all this, Charles acquires repeated reasonsto have speech with Kate.)
|Tuesday 7-9-1585||The four wanderers rise early the next morning, planning a day's ride to regain London; they can discuss matters as they go. Despite the distractions of philosophical debate, they do in fact make good time to the capital city, reaching the gates by dusk. Charles and Sir James turn towards their respective homes, which, they are almost surprised to discover, seem reasonably intact. ("Cat seems please to see 'e, zur" remarks Sir James's servant. Sir James makes little reply.) Charles thinks to inspect the map of London, and is pleased to find it largely clear, although there is a new minor blurring south of the river -- near, when he comes to think, to the home of the Gardiners' Aunt Julia...
...Where the Gardiners themselves have proceded. As they settle down as guests, Richard tells his Aunt the essentials of a tale of trade in Oxford, and mentions an autumnal storm which arose while they were in those parts. In fact, Aunt Julia has heard something of commotions in Oxfordshire; there are even rumours of witchcraft and of Spanish spies, but Richard shrugs those away. Nicholas joins the conversation, which eventually turns to matters of wool -- at which point, Richard retires.
He falls asleep with pleasant ease, as soon as head and pillow meet, as the old expression suggests. However, not long after, he is awoken by noises from downstairs. He will later reconstruct what must have happened there...
Nicholas, still in conversation with his aunt, sensed something outside the room's shuttered window -- something considerable enough in size to change the night's dim illumination. Julia asked if she should fetch the porter, but Nicholas was unsure. As Julia went to call Richard, something battered hard at the shutters, bursting fully through at the second blow...
Richard hurls himself down the stairs, meeting Julia in the hall and plunging on into the room to find that Nicholas has recovered his sword from by the door, and struck at the great, frilled, scaled, horned, reptilian head which has invaded the house -- but the sword bounces off those scales. The dragon looks at Nicholas, and declares, "You are not he."
Then it sees the new arrival. "Richard Gardiner!"
The name has the tone of a challenge, and a moment later, it breaths fire a blast of flame, which Richard dodges. Nicholas returns to the attack, but the sword flies from his hand with the force of a hasty blow. [Pure luck. The GM can't complain when the dice know to generate a fumble, especially when the player involved hasn't guessed what's going on yet.] The dragon pulls back through the window; Richard attacks fast and furious but with skill, striking for its vulnerable nostrils, and Nicholas recovers his blade and assists. "Name me, Richard Gardiner!" demands the monster, but Richard only frowns as yet, calling it a sending of a certain Queen.
The dragon looks hard at Richard. "You value this place?" (Richard perhaps shrugs.) "We can fight elsewhere -- a more apt place. I give my word that you will not be harmed until we reach that place, if you give yours not to harm me."
Richard is unconvinced. "How will I return?" he demands.
"Your return is guaranteed -- if you live."
"By one who you may trust entirely."
Richard, nodding thoughtfully, assents. Nicholas claims the right to come as witness to the duel, and the dragon assents. Richard asks time to dress, which is granted; then, when he quickly returns, the creature shows that it has space amidst the plates on its back to seat two riders. It springs up and away from the house, even above the clouds -- then, very soon, it begins to descend, bearing the Gardiners down to an oddly deserted Tower of London, before which lies an equally empty jousting-field. The dragon lets Nicholas descend onto the stands, and then Richard dismounts at one end of the tilting-yard. It then descends at the other end, turns -- and leaps to attack, breathing fire. Richard ducks under that blast, and his pistol leaps from its holster into his hand.
His shot takes the creature in the eye. With a scream of rage, it hurls itself forward at him, but Richard's blade is now in his hand, deflecting the incoming jaws and then turning to stab the dragon's other eye. It screams again, flying up high above Richard.
It plummets down vertically upon Richard.
Richard meets its gaze. "I think that you are myself" he replies, and hurls himself aside from the creature, somersaulting away from the suicidal explosion...
Nicholas, chatting comfortably with Aunt Julia, senses something perhaps untoward upstairs. Paying more attention, he hears the soft shuddering concussion of an explosion.
Dashing upstairs, he sees too much firelight under the door to Richard's room, and bursts through to find him just waking up. It looks, though, almost as if he has been scattering black powder from his pistol supplies around the room, then igniting it. (The floorboards will need a deal of work to get them presentable again.) Nicholas clutches at the curtains, pulling them down to smother the blaze. Aunt Julia, standing exasperated in the doorway, reminds Nicholas to put "his" hair up neatly before the servants arrive -- Kate is all too obvious at present -- then sends the siblings downstairs for more wine while the servants clear up this mess.
Richard's story is that he went to sleep with a candle still burning, and knocked it over in his sleep. Nicholas promises his aunt that this troublemaker will be taken home on the morrow. Richard promises to tell his sister about his dream, then, too. "Now I understand what a Seeking is like unto..."
|Wednesday 8-9-1585||Richard and Kate arrive home, to find their parents in a pleasant mood (perhaps helped by the fact that they do not chance to have heard much of strangeness in Oxfordshire). Richards spends most of the ensuing day on his feet or in various places of business, including a visit to a certain shabby lodging-house to find Edric out (so Richard pays off Edric's landlady in person). He also visits Master Holbright's residence, and finds the Master out -- but various arrangements are in hand and his message and letters (including one from Kate) are accepted. Returning home, he retires to the garden to write poetry to Cassandra by the light of the night's full moon.
The others take the opportunity to review their personal accounts for the month, and despite the time that they have spent away from profitable business, find that they are all quite comfortable -- even Sir James's new business is now making fair profits. (Indeed, he has time enough in hand to practise his versifying.) Kate is having a slightly difficult time with her mother, though, and wonders a little about making her living as a merchant. She also becomes rather distracted arranging matters for the courtiers' requests and ensuring that the work will be done to a fair quality in time. There are always minor issues that she cannot ignore, as it seems.
In the Gardiner house's garden, Richard, preoccupied with his poetry in the gathering dusk, fails to notice a messenger arrive; he returns to the house a few moments later to discover his mother and father and one of the more annoying house servants arguing over a letter which evidently arrived mysteriously -- and which is addressed to Kate, but which bears no clues as to its sender on the outside.
Eventually, his mother breaks the seal, and declares that her daughter is receiving illicit letters from madmen. Richard, though, glimpses the text as containing columns of numbers, recognises them as likely a cypher, and says as much. This, though, does not mollify his mother.
Kate is fetched (very cautiously) by her father, and is somewhat angered to discover that her personal mail has been opened. She snatches the letter and returns to her room in high dudgeon. She attempts to decode the contents, but has problems, not being trained in this science. Richard, though, is also thinking about what he glimpsed, using his new mastery of mental disciplines to sharpen the recollection, and guesses that a keyword is required. He recovers a relevant book from his collection, inserts a bookmark at the most apposite page, slips up to Kate's room, and leaves the volume resting against the door.
Kate, who had been meditating in an attempt to clear her mind, notices movement outside her room, opens the door, and finds the book. She understands what it tells her, and looks at the letter once again, noting the word "Mediator" (a term in the Order of Reason, appropriate to her current status) against her name on the outside. With that, she solves the cypher, and discovers that the letter is in fact an invitation -- to her own induction into the Order, to be held the next night, at midnight, in Goldsmith's Hall. "You may bring guests," the letter declares, "but you are responsible for their worthiness, and their safe arrival."
She visits her brother (who has, meanwhile, visited his man Giles, who was tending to the ale in the cellar, and established that the letter was intercepted through the involvement of that other servant, a meddlesome and unlovely fellow), and explains the matter. She perhaps thinks for a while that he should be her one guest -- inviting the others of their group perhaps seems to her to be vanity (or perhaps there are other reasons -- Charles is not her first choice of companion for an evening). However, her loyalty to her companions-in-adventure eventually makes her decide on three guests. Richard in turn asks her to deliver his latest missive to Cassandra.
At around this time, Sir James, retiring for the night, hears what he soon concludes must be mice in his walls. Their voices, after all, are high-pitched enough to suggest as much, although the fact that they are using those voices to chant some of his discarded, unsuccessful poems is a little unusual.
|Thursday 9-9-1585||Sir James tells his servant that they do have mice, and expresses the hope that the cat will deal with them. "'E probably can, sir" the fellow replies, "though 'e 'as refined tastes..."
Kate mollifies her mother with a story about encoded business letters, which indeed raise matters which will, she says, require her to visit her Aunt Julia. Mother waxes dramatic about her lack of grandchildren, especially when Richard declares that he too has business which will take him out that night.
Richard then goes to work at the Tower, then visits Master Holbright, finding him at home now. A rambling discussion of his latest report follows, soon expanding to encompass plans to deal with and undermine Raleigh's faction. "Continue to observe them from many angles" is the command. Holbright also announces that the Order has determined that the agreement that Nicholas made regarding Master Shakespeare will be respected (at least until Raleigh breaks it -- the Order feels cynical on such matters); this is clearly a mystery to be watched. Master Holbright also hands Richard a single rose, to be passed on to his sister to wear this evening.
Richard then goes on to visit Charles, and together they inspect the map once again, finding it now perfectly clear. They discuss vague ideas about monitoring it automatically in some way, and then Richard takes Charles out to dinner.
As he sits in his workshop, Sir James receives a visitor, a stranger to himself if not to others. Kit Marlowe is back in London, briefly as he claims, and looking for Charles. However, his comments show that he knows of Sir James, and he remarks in passing that that Sir James will surely know about the news much spoken of in town at this moment -- never mind reading the broadsheets, Sir James was in the right place...
|Over dinner, Richard passes on Kate's request to Charles that he join her as a guest at her induction into the High Guild. There follows some discussion about appropriate garb; Richard is going in his usual evening casual clothes, and suggests a similar choice for the good doctor.
After Charles has returned to his home to change, they go on to visit Sir James and extend the same invitation to him. He accepts it, and then asks Charles in passing about mice. Charles denies all knowledge, but at about this point, they all hear a faint rustling, and Richard, leaning against a wall, hears a high, squeaky voice.
"Are we all mustered and prepared? Aye! Then we must sally forth..."
There follows some discussion of whether to issue the rodents with pikes, or even perhaps cannon (to scale, with barrels borrowed from pistols). Charles, however, denounces the idea as an offence to rational Daedalean philosophy.
But this is not perhaps the main concern of the evening. Not that the dinner invitation presses; they have plenty of time in which Sir James may prepare. When they do make their way to Goldsmith's Hall, it as at leisure, and arriving only a few minutes early -- at the same moment as Nicholas, in fact. (Everyone knows London more than well enough to find this venue in good time and avoiding dangerously dark streets.) They give a moment's thought to the idea of finding somewhere for a drink, but they are not in fact so very early as that, so they enter the Hall.
Attendants in the company's livery greet them, directing them to a side room where wine and goblets await. (Richard, ever prone to living high, samples in with some enthusiasm, earning a look of small unspoken censure from the more auster Sir James.) The attendants, meanwhile, vanish, although they leave the room's door ajar.
|Friday 10-9-1585||The four companions finish their wine, and note that the (fine, and evidently very accurate) clock in the room is striking midnight. The servants have vanished entirely, but Nicholas looks out and finds a staircase upwards at the end of the passage outside. They ascend, and find one of the doors off the upper passage ajar and leading to a well-lit room. They enter, Nicholas leading, and find a large room, mostly bare, save for the fine hangings on the wall and a table at the far end, set for dinner, with five gentlemen, including Master Holbright, already seated and waiting. Nicholas doffs his hat and announces himself; Holbright casually waves him forward.
All of the four have at least noticed in passing that the light of the near-full moon, shining through a large and intricate window midway along the room, is casting a complex maze-like pattern on the floor between the door and the dining table -- and Nicholas and Charles, the most sensitive of the four, have sensed that the room is in some way extraordinary. Nicholas, with due caution, tells her three guests to link hands in a line behind her (in the order Nicholas, then Richard, then Charles, then Sir James), and, not trying too hard to guess too much, moves forward.
The four first sense illusions, which try to turn them about, but penetrate them by dint of will and perception with little difficulty. Then, they find that the image on the floor indeed has the qualities of a maze, with the empty space of the room twisted about; Nicholas studies the puzzle, resolves the correct path most of the way through, and then steps through a remaining barrier by sheer determination, drawing the others (who have developed some understandings of their own) after her.
(At this point, some of the four notice a couple of mice trapped in the maze. The rodents are, however, neither armed nor talking, and so go largely ignored.)
Finally, Nicholas senses that the remaining small space somehow encompasses a great distance, and passes through it using her instinct for arcane geometries, drawing the others after her (albeit that Sir James has to be pulled rather strongly, as it proves).
The five hosts gesture them to seats, and as all doff their hats, Nicholas letting Kate's hair fall more free, Master Holbright claims a coin from one of the others. "We had no doubt of your success" he explains, "however, you chose to cross the room. The indow lock is not complex, and I'm told that the ivy on the wall outside is quite sound..."
But now, dinner arrives, and conversation becomes light and un-businesslike. Charles, ever the undiplomatic, repeatedly tries to talk surgery, and Nicholas, perhaps still shaken by the efforts of will required shortly before, begins badly in the matter of manners, but recovers her poise soon enough. Meanwhile, everyone has noticed that the wine is reinforced with brandy. Nicholas sighs inwardly, recognising one of Master Holbright's favourite tricks.
He and Charles exert their understanding of the human body to reinforce their constitutions, while Richard seals his mind against the incapacities of his body. Sir James simply chooses to remain quite quiet. All endure the test quite well, especially when Nicholas exerts mental disciplines to protect mind as well as body.
There is one odd distraction, late in the meal, when one of the hosts blinks and comments that "That is a sight one doesn't see every day." All follow his gaze, too see that a new group of mice have arrived in the midst of the moonlight maze through a knot-hole in the floorboards, and are helping those who were previously trapped there to escape the same way.
"Are those your mice, Sir James?" asks Richard.
"I don't know..."
The mice depart the scene, chanting poetry in their high voices.
"...That sounds familiar, though."
Later again, the alcohol takes effect on Richard's body, if not his mind, as he begins to doze. However, the meal is now coming to an end (and it is half an hour past three of the morning).
"I hope that I and my guests acquitted ourselves acceptably?" Nicholas enquires of Master Holbright.
"Oh yes -- I'm sure that you've guessed that you're accepted into the Guild." With that, Master Holbright hands over another rose, which Nicholas tucks into his hat. "There are not many of the bearers of the rose in London," he continues, "but one of them will be in touch shortly."
Richard is half-awake, so everyone escorts Nicholas down to the river to take a boat back to Aunt Julia's house, and then the three men lurch back to Sir James's house to sleep off the reinforced wine.
|The men doze off at Sir James's house, distracted only briefly by the sound of a high-pitched drinking celebration beneath the floorboards. Nicholas, meanwhile, regains Aunt Julia's house and slips in quietly.
The men awake early enough, devour a breakfast of bacon and toasted bread, and then step out -- Charles to his medical practice (which proves unproblematic this day), Richard to business at the Tower. Charles suggests to Richard that he not do too much with cannon that morning, and Richard, perhaps taking that advice, does begin by reviewing some recent paperwork. He realises that there have been a notable number of missives from the Palace, and guesses that someone there has been determining his presence or absence in recent times.
Kate rises late -- but she is up to date with commissions and designs, so being rousted by her Aunt Julia is mostly for the sake of form. She spends a few hours reviewing her business (which is, it seems, operating smoothly within her design); Aunt Julia, the meanwhile, has noticed a scent of spirits and wine, and a rose or two, but merely says that she hopes that Richard is looking after his sister well enough.
Richard and Kate both reach home, and dine; Richard takes a bath, and then goes fishing in the river. Soon, Charles arrives for his weekly lesson with Master Aristotle. He slips in, avoiding the Gardiner parents; Kate appears at his side at Master Aristotle's door, and Richard soon joins them.
There follows an extended discussion of Charles's new insights into the Sphere of Prime. Master Aristotle explains some of what he can now accomplish by invoking Platonic ideals and empowering them with will and desire. Richard wonders aloud if more trips to the theatre are due, to assess further what Raleigh and company are about ("and maybe to steal one part in ten..."). And Kate sits, embroidering roses and listening.
|At which point, the campaign went on hold for what turned out to be quite a while, as the GM scrabbled around for inspiration and gave his brain a rest of sorts.|
|11-9-1585 to 24-9-1585??||Over the next few days or weeks, our heroes perhaps relax a little, as no matters
of great urgency present themselves. Richard continues with his mundane work (and sends more
poetry to Cassandra Pelton by way of his sister), Kate continues to establish her name at court, Charles
continues his contemplation of the arts of Prime, and Sir James...
Sir James, in addition to seeking to teach those mice how to make use of his sand table and learning a little of the arts of Mind and Forces, (or, some would say, as an aspect of this last), thinks somewhat upon Kate Gardiner. He reads of courtly romance, and writes many poems, not all of which he destroys.
Kate does not identify the poet behind those that she receives immediately, but she does create a short list of names of suspects. Sir James refrains nervously from making himself known at first, but eventually reminds himself firmly that she can only kill him once. Meanwhile, Richard, called in by his sister, reads the verses and declares that the author is, perhaps, not university educated, but is well-travelled and sincere.
On the matter of literature -- Charles, having mastered greater use of Prime, takes himself to the Theatre on several occasions, and uses Prime and Connection to analyse the Hermetic workings being performed there. The others join him at least once, on which occasion, Nicholas speaks to Sir James.
"My cousin tells me that his sister has an admirer, sending her poetry."
"I might know something of this" Sir James replies. "I hope that she does not find it objectionable."
"No. It mostly rouses her curiosity."
"Sometimes, it is best not to look too deeply for subtlety" Sir James ventures.
"Plain speaking is a virtue" Nicholas replies.
"But there is... no need to rush, in some matters."
"Hmm. Sadly, though, my cousin Kate lacks the education to reply in kind."
"Just so long as she isn't offended."
As this exchange draws on and the play ends, Richard and Charles resolve to go off and survey London in the light of what Charles perceives. They conclude that Raleigh's faction are subtly changing London in their own favour, storing and shaping power drawn through their deftly-crafted theatrical workings. (Indeed, these have power enough that Charles can perceive ways to tap a little of it, if he must.)
Meanwhile, Sir James and Nicholas decide that it would be appropriate to test their skills on the practise fields without the city walls. They prove well-matched, but eventually, Sir James accomplishes the first touch, and eventually disarms Nicholas.
As for Richard and Charles -- they decide to alert their superiors, Master Holbright and Doctor Uriel, who reply that, yes, these are matters about which the Order should be concerned. The Hermetic conspiracy must be defeated, which may require various actions. To outflank them politically (as Kate is attempting) is certainly one good idea, as is further research into the basic theories underlying their schemes. (Here, Charles remembers that he has long-standing reasons to consider an intrusion into the house, and most especially the library, of Doctor John Dee.) Alliances (with, say, forces under the authority of Sir Francis Walsingham) may be in order, and new aid may need to be brought into play...
|Meanwhile, at some point late in this two-week period, Master Oswald Clarke, a scholar in minor orders of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, is visited in his chambers by one Alan Smith, clearly a superior sort of servant, who quickly identifies himself as a messenger and emissary of Master Holbright, of London and of that Order of Reason to which Master Clarke gives allegiance. It seems that the Order is concerned that strange and dangerous forces are being unleashed which may threaten the future of... Perhaps the entire land, perhaps the entire world. Smith carries letters and documents pertaining to these matters; glancing upon them, Master Clarke recognises some names he knows from recent years in the University. In any event, Master Clarke, being known as a competent astrologer, is asked to cast what horoscopes may offer guidance in this. Such a casting will of course take some hours; Smith retires to an inn while the work commences.
To cast a horoscope for an entire land raises some interesting technical questions, but Master Clarke is equal to the task, determining the stellar influences which govern the nation and its people as a group. Having done so, he attempts the casting required -- and concludes that troubled times are indeed ahead, that an Emperor is rising at the heart of the troubles, and that what lies beyond is not susceptible to his arts. He retires for what remains of the night, troubled in spirit.
The next morning, Alan Smith returns, and listens to Master Clarke's account with an air of one who is concerned but not greatly surprised. He declares that measures are being undertaken to deal with this matter, and that agents of the Order in London have some idea as to what is required -- but that they may need assistance in some high matters of occult lore. Then, he declares that the Order may wish to make a proposal.
Master Clarke, it seems that it is felt, may have lapsed into something of a rut. His mastery of the astronomical and astrological sciences is considerable, and his Enlightenment is proven -- but he is not advancing swiftly in the mundane hierarchies of Cambridge University, being but a junior scholar still, in his fifth decade. But as he now knows, a great task is before the Order; might he not, perhaps, involve himself? The Order will not be ungrateful...
With but a little thought, Master Clarke agrees. He gathers up his small library and his portable astronomical instruments, writes or speaks with those few people who should have knowledge of his departure, and is within hours on the road with Alan Smith.
The weather is good, and even though Master Clarke refrains from applying his knowledge of geometric subtleties to this travel, they sleep the next night in the small road-town of Stevenage, and arrive in London by the night after that. Master Holbright greets Master Clarke warmly enough if distractedly, offers him a bed for the night, and suggests that he makes certain visits on the morrow.
Although he knows various names slightly, the nearest address which he is given belongs to one who is a stranger to him. Thus it is that Sir James receives a visitor in the morning, a polite if slightly shabbily garbed scholar of the Order, who tells his tale. Sir James in turn sends messages to Richard and Charles, and together, the informal lodge of Daedaleans give their new member some more specific knowledge. This includes statements of their still-not-fully-formed plans; perhaps an astrologer can help them refine these further?
It is decided that Oswald can stay for now at Dr Avery's new house; Richard, playing the generous gentleman as ever, gives him the wherewithal to improve his wardrobe a little, and to keep himself for the time being. He is taken to his new accommodation, where Charles takes the opportunity to speak to him of medicine, at considerable length. But now, as it is a Friday, all have an invitation to dine at the Gardiner family home, where Oswald may meet the last of the group.
Charles and Oswald step ashore from their hired riverboat that evening, and are greeted by Richard, whose father is also passing. He is introduced to Oswald as an old tutor of Richard and Charles's university days. "A scholar, then? Hmm, pleased to make your acquaintance. Hope the lad didn't give you too much trouble. Right, suppose you'd better meet me daughter. Get it over with."
The mother of the Gardiner family, when met indoors, is somewhat distracted, but is taken by Oswald's natural courtesy and mellifluous mode of address. Kate proves less intimidating than the warnings Oswald had received perhaps implied, and he quickly notices the very subtle current of flirtation that passes between her and Sir James -- and also the hint of sorrow that Charles displays at this.
The Gardiner parents more or less assume that Oswald will wish to meet the family's Greek scholar in residence, and thus, having dined, the group enjoy amiable converse with Master Aristotle; Oswald admires his bookshelves. Mention is made at this time of the unreadable book in Charles's possession, and of Dr Dee's (presumably) untended house -- which, perhaps, is becoming clearly a subject for close investigation...
The next day, Charles and Oswald discuss plans, thinking that it might be wise for Oswald to confirm Charles's conclusions concerning Raleigh's faction's workings to gather uncanny power. To observe such things directly, Oswald needs special lenses -- in fact, he decides that he should set them in copper frames of carefully calculated geometry. (Once made, they will pass as eye-glasses in mundane company, it seems safe to anticipate, and hence they may not draw down overmuch courge.) The pair visit Sir James to ask him to help with the assembly, as he is of course competent in high craftsmanship.
When they return to Charles's house, they find another waiting on the threshhold for them. Charles introduces Oswald to Edric, as a fellow of the Order of Reason; Edric introduces himself as "a poet -- maybe you have heard of my work?", but Oswald in fact remembers Edric as another student from Cambridge, whose degree was acquired by dint of the influence of high-placed friends when the fellow had not been in residence overmuch of the time. Edric discusses occult lore with the pair; he knows something of the matter, and undertakes to loan them some of his own books. Charles commissions him to try and acquire play-scripts from Lord Strange's men, chosen to show what changes are made by order of their noble patrons. Edric can say that the next such production will take place at the end of this week. The conversation also crosses the subject of Doctor Dee, and Edric mentions that he spent some time in Prague and saw something of the fellow there. From this matter arises also some suggestion that Edric might undertake some reconnaissance in Mortlake.
Our heroes meet in a tavern this evening, by prior arrangement, to discuss plans and potentialities. That house in Mortlake now looms large for them. Could they even, they wonder, claim to have some legitimate reason to be there at some time? Perhaps not... But a subtle intrusion may be managed. As Mortlake is a good dozen miles upstream of the City, though, matters must be planned and thought about -- a little.
In short, after some debate, they decide to set off at noon the next day, and discuss appropriate arrangements. (Sir James, who has been muttering about tactical plans never surviving beyond the first meeting with the foe, proclaims himself overjoyed to be one of a party who are resolved to make their prior arrangments consist of statements of what they wish to achieve.) Richard then sets off to make arrangements for hire of a boat, Charles and Oswald return home to read and to talk with Edric (and to tell him not to concern himself with a solitary visit to Mortlake), and thus to prepare their theoretical understanding (leading Oswald to sit up late into the night reading), and Nicholas and Sir James stroll down to the river, discussing military tactics, poetry, and mice.
Nicholas then goes on to Aunt Julia's house, and Kate returns to her parental home. She is somewhat bemused, on reaching her room, to discover a knife on her pillow. She inspects the room, finding nothing untoward, and then looks at the blade, which is somewhat cheap and unremarkable. Deciding that the superior in the Rose Guild who has been mentioned has visited, though a little puzzled by the manner of the announcement, she retires to bed.
The next day, each of the group goes to the church of their choice. Kate, with her family and household, notices signs of discontent among the servants. She speaks to her mother, and learns of a rumour that one the sharpest cooking knives has gone missing from the kitchens. She feigns irritation with herself, saying that she borrowed this knife for some trivial purpose and absent-mindedly left it in her room. After church, she returns the blade to the family cook, who responds with gratitude. She notices one new serving-girl looking especially relieved, but decides to leave these puzzles aside for now.
Meanwhile, Richard has gone off to collect the boat, and the others gather up such stuff as they expect to need. Kate, claiming that a court commission is taking her time for the next day or so, goes to Aunt Julia's to change again; Richard has told his parents that he is tasked with a "confidential service" from some quarter. All meet and board the boat, and set off upstream.
They make fair time, having judged the tide well enough; Oswald demonstrates that he knows something of boating (a part of his upbringing, and a convenient skill in Cambridge), which helps. They tie up a little downstream of the village of Mortlake, and while most of the party remain in concealment, Richard disguises himself as a person of low status, and goes to identify the house of Doctor Dee, and to assess an approach thereto avoiding the village.
[At which point, the GM demonstrates that it's possible to build a scenario almost entirely on the basis of a quick re-skimming of The Queen's Conjuror, by Benjamin Woolley. A certain item seen in a display case in the British Museum, a few numbers from an old GURPS supplement, names courtesy of Dr Dee himself, or maybe the dubious Edmund Kelley, and away we go.]
The house is not hard to find, especially with the help of a brief conversation in a local inn. It is "an ancient dwelling of outhouses, orchards, and garden", as will one day be said, opposite to the village church and overlooking the river. It is clear to a competent eye that what was once but a ramskackle cottage now benefits from numerous extensions and additions; it is also evident that some local workman must have been commissioned to visit the garden and orchard occasionally to keep them tidy, but that any such fellow is not excessively dilligent in his labours.
And so, Richard returns to the others as the sun goes down, and reports. Charles produces his famed salve, and applies it to various eyes, while Nicholas sharpens his vision by his usual subtler meditative means, and Sir James seeks to produce a comparable effect by using a set of carefully aligned crystal lenses to amplify ambient light, with some effort -- the alignment may soon require readjustment. Then they take the boat upstream, tie it to the jetty on Dr Dee's property, and disembark.
As they move through the gardens towards the house, each of them is truck by the thought that this mission might not be wise, and that departure to some safer place might be better. Most of them deflect the impulse instinctively, pitting their Enlightenment against its power, or at least suppress the unworthy idea by sheer force of will, but Richard does pause, and counsels retreat. Nicholas speaks firmly to him, using enlightened rhetoric to restore his courage, and then all place defences around their minds by various means. As he does so, Richard maybe senses a quirk forming in reality about him. ["Ah, baby's first Scourge Boon", one player remarks...]
Coming up to the house itself, Charles, Nicholas, and Oswald all use various subtle observational arts to study its quintessential nature, and conclude that it is more real than any such building would normally accomplish. They find the back door and shutters firmly closed, but Charles carefully moves two bolts on the door with his magnets, then combines efforts with Richard to shift the bar which is all that now holds it. The group all enter the place, shut the door behind them, and begin their exploration of the ground floor.
After a few minutes, Charles perceives that the building is somehow preventing them from noticing that they are all going round in circles. Searching his bag, he extracts string, parchment, and one of those expensive new pencils that can be acquired in London shops, and begins to plot out this uncanny form. Oswald and Nicholas then assess the map which Charles has created, and lead off. Nicholas finds a place where the twisted geometry can be untwisted, and Oswald tells everyone to shut their eyes, leads them all through a door which surely leads back the way they came, and takes them up an unexpected staircase to an upper gallery.
On the way, several of them hear a deep voice hidden in the creaking of those stairs. Charles extracts an ear-trumpet from his bag, but even with that he can hear only wordless anger and maybe the name "Dee". The intruders resolve to press on, but sense that the gallery may embody yet more confusing arcane geometries; Sir James extracts another ball of twine and leads the party safely along its length; as they go, they take the opportunity to glance at various charts hung on the wall, and realise that these are in fact geneological diagrams. They note names such as "Arthur" and "Brutus" at the top of these things, and both "Tudor" and "Raleigh" near the bottom in various cases.
And thus it is that they come to enter Dee's reading-room, where they see countless books on shelves and tables in what seems to be an anarchic and unordered scattering, along with a great parchment-case, an astronomical "radius" a full 10' long, compasses, globes, at least one clock, and a large leathery bladder of some kind. As they enter to begin their search, they also see a shimmering in the air, and a translucent figure appears -- the image of a regal sort of man, wielding a red and black rod. By sheer good fortune, Charles recalls a pair of passing notes in lesser texts which he has recently read, and names this as King Camara, a spirit much concerned with matters of law and justice. [Critical success on an Occultism roll there.]
"Who are you, to violate the laws of God and man?" the spirit demands to know.
"Seekers after knowledge" replies Nicholas.
"And what knowledge merits such a violation?"
Nicholas and Richard now engage Camara in debate of a kind, claiming that Dee is planning some great crime, which thus negates the party's offence. Richard uses his university-trained knowledge of law as well as the rhetoric which both of the pair know so well. However, Camara is evidently hard to impress.
Then, though, all the mortal observers see Camara look startled, and also see smoke (or something similar) erupting from a plain black glass mirror lying on one of the tables. Some of them think that Camara may be angry, even outraged.
But that is not the humans' immediate concern, as the smoke divides into two columns, and then coalesces into solid forms. These are clearly unnatural creatures, apparently female, but large and utterly ugly, with sharp claws extended, dirty and dishevelled hair, mouths and jaws completely skeletal, and dangling earrings made of... well, even our heroes do not wish to examine them to closely. But the Daedaleans' nerves hold; blades leap instantly to the hands of Sir James, Richard, and Nicholas, while Charles and Oswald hold back with sensible caution.
Violence ensues. All three of the group's leading warriors prove able to hit these opponents and evade or parry their claws, but they are clearly robust and aggressive. Sometimes, rapier cuts and thrusts all but glance off the creatures' leathery skins, and even a solid cut to the neck from Sir James's broadsword does not put one of them down. Richard concentrates on carefully placed thrusts, and maybe they have enough in the way of vital organs for this to worry them eventually, but real success comes when, dodging one monster's attempts to grapple him, he places a thrust in its eye. Monstrous though the things may be, that finds a weak point, and a blade driven through the eye socket to the brain proves sufficient to render the monster unconscious. A similar strike proves effective in finishing off the one which Sir James has been wearing down.
As the bodies shrivel away to dessicated husks in what is perhaps the manner of unearthly demons, all of the Daedaleans look around the room. Camara still looks sorrowful and even more angry; "Thus am I allied with demons and forced to converse with thieves" he declares, "Well, take all that you will of this house -- for all that it will profit you". Then he fades away again. Oswald and Charles had held back cautiously from the fight (Oswald contemplating those geometric arts which could help him evade attacks, should the monsters succeed in passing the other three), but now they take the chance to look at the many books. (Oswald is somewhat of a bibliophile, it is becoming clear.) They come to the conclusion that the ordering of this library is truly Hermetically arcane, but Oswald focuses his mind and develops a technique to search it efficiently (perhaps reproducing the art used by the library's owner), following the subtle and subliminal threads of hidden order to whatever he might choose to seek. This done, with one of the technique's first uses, he finds and hands to Charles a book in the same enigmatic script as the one Charles has been puzzling over for so many weeks -- but with extensive marginal annotations in several scripts and languages (but a single handwriting, presumably Dee's own). Charles, whose scholarship is equal to this task, focuses his enlightened mind and sits in a corner to puzzle out somewhat of this mystery.
For he must do his reading here; the group has formed a policy to take nothing from the place but knowledge, and to destroy nothing but warding spells and demons. They still wish to avoid open war with their Hermetic opponents, and not to give them grounds for anger. Still, they search carefully and comprehensively. For example, they identify that large leathery bladder as containing a great quantity of an alchemically distilled gum of great virtue -- a form of that quintessential substance which wizards call Tass, possessing great value. But they leave it. And Sir James examines the various clocks and compasses around the place, and concludes that they, while fine and in good condition, are not especially sophisticated or worthy of emulation. But they occupy his attention for a while...
In which time, Richard prompts Oswald to search the library further, seeking information on Hermetic dramaturgy. The pair, along with Nicholas, begin to form theories about the Invisible College's grand plan; it has the look of some truly great long-term working. Perhaps they seek to make of Britain a magical land, an uncanny Empire? While Oswald reads further of such things, Richard, looking round more, notices four terrestrial globes, each of which depicts Europe consistently and, so far as anyone can tell, accurately -- but each of which shows the western lands beyond the Atlantic ocean differently. One shows a large island in the north, marked as Frisland; one a peculiarly regularly circular island in the middle or eastern Atlantic, marked as Huy Breasil; one a larger island, more to the south, shown as Antillia, with seven cities (Aira, Anhuib, Ansalli, Ansesseli, Ansodi, Ansolli, and Con); and one, with an emptier Atlantic (more in accord with known mariner's reports), but with a channel leading through North America to a westerly land marked as Callifeyrne. (Richard looks for a reference to that word Adrian mentioned -- "Roanoke" -- but sees none.) Our heroes begin to suspect that Dee and his acolytes are engaged in a grandiose plot indeed. Is the very shape of the New World a matter for contention?
Such questions certainly demand thought, but for now, Richard and Oswald seek further knowledge. Other manuscripts, on topics almost idly raised, prove to contain a very little information on, for example, Sir Francis Walsingham's web of spies, including one or two mentions of Christopher Marlowe as an agent. Meanwhile, Nicholas is committing the room's layout and contents to memory, and while so doing, lifts a dust-sheet from a large mirror or two. When he does so, he sees that these glasses seem to be reflecting different, rather emptier versions of the same library.
This naturally interests all of the group, who examine the scenes portrayed. They decide that each version of the room which they can see is probably seen as at the present time, to judge by the quality and angle of the moonlight therein -- so this is not a view of the past or a foretelling of the future. More than that is hard to say, but eventually they do glimpse King Camara drifting across the background of one of these scenes, from shadow to shadow, perhaps watching them in turn. Furthermore, Nicholas and Richard hear, faintly from that mirror, Camara's voice murmuring...
"...It will one day be written that mirrors and parenthood are abominable, for they multiply reality..."
For the next some time, discussion continues regarding books; Charles remains engrossed in his one chosen volume, and so is somewhat taciturn, although he allows himself to be distracted for moment to provide some of the others with that ever-popular black potion which keeps them awake as required. All save him set to work on research, using Oswald as a living catalogue, and over the next few hours, build a fair idea of Dee's methods, and something of his plan -- but remain uncertain of the full details. It would surely seem that this is a grand scheme, and also that Dee is a little concerned by the danger of "those from outside" or "those who might enter", of whom the faerie folk may be the least problematic...
Richard exerts his growing grasp of the subtleties of fate and destiny to find flaws in this plan, and accomplishes something on the second attempt. He concludes that the plan has the weaknesses of its greatest virtue; its sheer scale. He thinks that it may well eventually fall of its own accord -- but in what direction?
He mentions this thought to the others, who toy with the idea. Sir James speaks of inserting a weak block in the foundations of the structure; Oswald even thinks of taking over the scheme, and diverting it to make an England of Reason, which seems feasible and good to the group...
Burrowing further through Dee's notes finds some significant references to "Janicot", which are, as it seems, all in Dee's hand. It may be significant; more knowledge is surely needed. Richard and Nicholas remember the name, though, having heard it used in the course of certain tennis games, and Charles likewise recalls it from a brief moment of swordplay in his own shop; it seems, then, to be a battle-cry for Inigo Pelton. (When they comment on this, they have to explain the history involved to Oswald, and oh dear, it does seem terribly complicated now...)
Charles, the meanwhile, is growing somewhat irritated with his book; it is full of historical and geographical references to places, kings, and suchlike, that never existed. In particular, it seems that this text speaks of an Empire of Provence. However, the marginal annotations also refer to the "power of Janicot", and so, seeking further enlightenment, he continues his reading.
Eventually, though, the time comes to leave, and all of the group pack up what they have brought and the notes they have made, and check again that they have everything. Then, they open the door to leave... And find, not the gallery they expected, but another room, seemingly made up of repeated segments of the room which they are in (some of them including copies of the same door). They close and re-open the door, but the result is the same; likewise; they check the high-set window (and a similar window in this new compound room), but find that they are looking through to similar spaces. This leads to the question of the origin of the moonlight which shines through those same windows -- but that, clearly, is a mystery doomed to remain unsolved. Some arcane examination shows that this is a vast, stable, solid sort of maze, defying even Oswald's grasp of arcane geometries; the Daedaleans cannot simply leave, even with the most potent of workings.
As they wonder how to escape this trap, Richard and Nicholas hear again a distant angry roaring, and all decide that their best hope for now is to follow that. They make a human chain, each of them with a hand on the shoulder of the one in front, and follow the sound. At one point, they are briefly distracted when Nicholas sees King Camara in a side room; they try to speak with him, but he fades from view, murmuring only "Mortlake's a prison, for men and spirits alike."
And so, the five Daedaleans procede further, and eventually find a room whence the roaring comes. Opening the door carefully, they find a great figure -- shaped to walk on two legs, but more than a head taller than the tallest man, shaggy and powerful and surely more a beast, bellowing in perpetual rage -- firmly chained in place. They speak with this creature carefully, and learn that its name is Lundrumguffa, and that it becomes very angry indeed at any mention of the name of Doctor Dee. When it calms down again, it proclaims that this has been its place since "before the Blue Men came"; it is distinctly disdainful of "mortals", even though Dee appears to have imprisoned it. Nicholas calms it with trained rhetoric, enhanced by the arts of the spirit realm, and the group offer it a bargain; if it can guide them out of this infinite maze of a single room fragmented and repeated, they will give it freedom. Despite its perpetual seething near-rage, it accepts this bargain, the terms most carefully defined ("...permit us all to go free and safe..."), and Richard and Nicholas command their arts, and their mundane knowledge of craftsmanship and metallurgy, to break those chains. Then Lundrumguffa leads off.
After just a few rooms, they are confronted by Camara, at whom Lundrumguffa directs disdainful rage; Richard offers him his own freedom from Dee's power, but Camara, evidently a creature of law and rules, disdainfully replies that this is not Richard's to offer. He cannot prevent their going, however; the maze may be his creation, but the freed Lundrumguffa evidently has some power here. Lundrumguffa sneers at Camara as "King of Nothingness, making this maze out of houses that do not even exist -- but this place was mine long before he came!"
The great shaggy being leads off again in another direction; the Daedaleans follow, now noticing a shifting in the light patterns and such; there is far less sense that the time here is fixed, but rather they see all manner of qualities of moonlight and sunlight both. Eventually, they arrive in a room which is a complete mirror-image of Dee's reading room, albeit with some items missing or different -- even the text of the books on the shelves in mirror-writing. Looking in the greatest mirror in the room, they see a mature, handsome gentleman, who fits what descriptions and images they have seen of John Dee, browsing various texts and suchlike; he seems unaware of them, save that he responds with a frown when Lundrumguffa roars at him in renewed rage.
Lundrumguffa eventually becomes bored with that futile game, and turns back to the bargain he made, leading the Daedaleans through shifting rooms to a version of the great gallery, and thence back into the reading room, at which point he slips from view. It seems that they have regained the normal world, and they can leave the entire house quite easily by the way that they came, Sir James even carefully using the arts of Matter to restore the bar on the inside of the back door; then, as the village of Mortlake awakes, they hasten down to the river, regain their boat, and catch the tide back to London, where all go to their various employments despite having missed a night's sleep.
The skiff floats through London, depositing Daedaleans here and there. Richard goes once again to the Tower, sorts out a little paperwork, sends a preliminary report to Master Holbright, andgoes home to spend the afternoon dozing in the garden. Charles, conversely, goes home to sleep, before working in the afternoon. Oswald, of course, goes with him.
(It is, incidentally, by now becoming evident to Charles that Oswald is failing to take any hints about seeking a residence of his own. The truth is that Oswald is comfortable as Charles's lodger -- and is cautious with money at the best of times.)
Sir James likewise returns home. Kate returns to her Aunt Julia's house; she has business to attend to for a few days.
|Tuesday 28-9-1585 to Thursday 30-9-1585||
Subsequently, Oswald plans his Friday visit to the Theatre. He is also, to be fair, thinking a little on possible money-making schemes, that he may become self-supporting in London; perhaps he could apply his talents as an astrologer to other Daedaleans' projects? Meanwhile, Richard writes a deft and well-turned report to Master Holbright, including discussion of possible plans to disrupt the Raleigh faction's schemes. When he finds himself able to present this report in person, he enquires also if other, more potent members of the Order of Reason might be able to examine and advise on the situation; this is clearly a vast matter in some respects. Master Holbright promises to contact whoever he can who might be able to assist.
On the Tuesday night, Kate returns to her bedroom in her parents' house, and hears a footstep behind her after closing the door. She turns to find the new servant-girl, named Mary, who had seemed to be involved in the matter of the missing knife. The girl seems humble and respectful at first, but she is drawing and palming a knife as she speaks; Kate notices this, and watches as the girl's hand goes back to throw -- but seeing that the attack is aimed at the bedpost to her side, she chooses not to react. Mary observes that it is pleasant to have some other person who may be tending to London; Kate nods. Mary then mentions that it might be wise in future to pay more attention to the servants employed in the house, and Kate acknowledges the point; Mary goes on to remark that Richard might have remembered her...
"Though he has not been seen so much in Southwark of late."
"Ah, no. He has other concerns these days."
"Oh yes -- his new love. The matter is mentioned sometimes in the servants' hall. It is a dangerous choice of association."
"But one that gives us communication into the enemy camp."
"Well and good -- so long as it gives us a view of them, rather than the converse."
Mary goes on to say that she will see to it that she is dismissed within a fortnight or thereabouts, but before then, Kate should take one or two walks, and take Mary along as an escort -- and they can talk further. She then departs the room, once more in the guise of a respectful servant.
Charles, the meanwhile, is using Mind arts to focus upon the task of translating his mysterious manuscript with the aid of the notes that he took in Dee's house, but he overreaches himself in his efforts [getting a Scourge Bane] -- and loses himself in the mental maze which this task becomes. Oswald, having finally responded to some of Charles's hints about finding somewhere of his own to live, returns to Charles's house at the end of a day looking at possible lodgings, and perceives something of what has befallen, but succumbs to temptation...
"There really is nowhere appropriate, I fear..."
Charles mumbles in vague acknowledgement.
"...I must continue to impose on your good hospitality."
Charles mumbles in what might generously be taken as agreement. Oswald returns to his chamber.
Also in this time, Richard is visiting Sir James to discuss tactics to bring down the Hermetic scheme, when another visitor arrives -- an amiable young fellow who is pleased to find both these two here. He proves to be a Void Seeker who has heard questions put around the Order concerning various topics, including the name "Janicot" -- which he recognises. To him, though, it is a simple, petty oath, a word used for God in the language of various fellows with whom he has sailed. They were, for the most part, as he recalls, good crewmates -- capable sailors; they all, now he looks back, came from northern parts of Spain, mostly from the region around the port of Bilbao. There is some discussion of the oddity of these "Basques" -- an obscure folk, though Sir James has heard of them as a people in the course of his military career, and so can confirm that they are said to have a language of their own; the visitor suggests that they are actually moderately numerous among the Seekers. Richard also raises the matter of the whole Hermetic scheme; that is rather beyond this visitor, but he suggests that a visit to the Seeker haven might be indicated for our protagonists.
[Incidentally, this fortuitous recognition, by someone quite so helpful, was actually Richard's first ever, very quiet, Scourge Boon...]
And Charles, once he recovers his mind from its wanderings in that manuscript, recalls one favour promised, and spends a little time mapping out the web of Hermetic power which he previously identified, thereby identifying certain modestly significant nexus-points. He sends a note to Kate, and Nicholas spends a while meditating in a private backroom of a certain (otherwise unremarkable) inn, emerging feeling refreshed and restored. [A quick quintessence recharge, of course.] Which brings the tale to the end of the month, with October promising more...