Morning. Go around to offer morning prayer to the retinue, but the barbarous Scraver answers her door both armed and undressed! Baroness Allessandra says she is taking her morning constitutional, so I return for solitary prayer until breakfast. At the table they gossip. Apparently the Scraver spent the night wandering the manor looking for a ghost. She seems obsessed with the wine cellar. Some time is spent bickering with the Scraver over her heinous activities and aptitudes. Scraver appears unaware of the boundaries of forbidden technology (i.e. holograms), in conversation about ghostly apparition.
Duke arrives, with physick assisting him. More breakfast. The Reeve enters, as the Duke departs looking tired. Reeve mutters about apparitions in the garden. Asks about our plans for the day. I suggest a visit to one of the shrines of St. Hecla and the Baroness agrees. We are to go to the closer of the two, in the maze inside the gardens. The Scraver agrees to join us, and goes to change. Ivo appears distracted. The Baroness asks him to attempt repair of our vehicle first, then see what may be done about the power generator if he has time. He leaves. The Reeve approves quite vocally, and tells of his hope of fresh vehicles (or perhaps another rescue mission). The Baroness prompts him on his duties of maintaining old records and House Gilgar finances. The Chamberlain cheerily enters, directing servants in redecorating and moving paintings. The Reeve makes his apologies and goes off to work.
The Scraver returns and we head out to the gardens, where Duke Gilgar is sleeping in a chair and enjoying the sun. We wander over to the maze, which is comprised of large, overgrown, tangled hedges. We enter, nervously. The Scraver tries climbing a hedge in order to see over the maze. The Baroness seems adept at negotiating the labyrinth though, and we follow her. Pestered by mulaki bird-monkey things. Scraver fires incompetently at them with her small crossbow, managing to clip one and scatter them.
We arrive at the centre of the maze, to find the shrine in a small pagoda by a spring, in a clearing decorated with giant roses. Canon Oblay is here, praying. The Baroness takes out some incense and lights it for the shrine. Canon Oblay greets us, making small talk about the incense and commenting on the purity of the spring water (possibly more so than at the manor), before going to smell the giant roses. Scraver tests the spring water and then fills some flasks. I indulge in some prayer and meditation at the shrine. The Scraver sits directly opposite me and prays noisily in a pathetic attempt at Latin. Is she trying to parody me? Unsure. Oblay comments that some of the Eskatonic pilgrims should be starting to return soon. More meditation. Oblay questions me on the Scraver: lunatic? Fringe cultist? I decline judgement, for the moment.
She stands, proclaims her meditations over (barely 30 minutes) and heads back to the manor. More prayer, then the Scraver returns with a man wearing monk’s robes displaying the Eskatonic symbols. The Baroness greets him, along with Canon Oblay. Duke Gilgar arrives via a shortcut behind the shrine; and notes the presence of the Eskatonic, who introduces himself as Brother Dominic. Discussion of methods of travel to the hub, and Brother Dominic asks if he might travel with us. The Baroness agrees. The Duke leaves us to our devotions. Scraver makes her excuses and follows the Duke.
Finish prayer in time for lunch, and head back to manor via shortcut, following the Baroness. Ivo is busy at the house and the Baroness consults him on vehicle damage. I go to change for lunch.
Gong for lunch. I go down to dining hall. Sit down with the Duke for the meal. More bickering with the Scraver over the state of her soul. She turns to the Brother Dominic, commenting that she has heard his sect is heretical. He corrects her, pointing out that her information is decades out of date. She whispers inexpertly to him, asking if he knows anything of alchemy. He professes no knowledge.
The Baroness interrupts the conversation, saying to Scraver that we need fusion cells and that the Duke has given permission to search for them provided we don’t intrude on people’s personal rooms and affairs. Scraver asks about keys to cellars. The Chamberlain hands her a key, and asks her to be careful of the wine bottles. Ivo informs her of what is needed. She enquires about outhouses and sheds, but is told that they aren’t locked.
Lunch finishes and she immediately requests permission to begin her search. She departs. The Baroness suggests we investigate the house chapel, so we head off down there. The Baroness pokes around the chapel, and finds a secret passage. Terek goes first, and Dominic and I follow. I close the door behind me on the Baroness’ request. It is a dark corridor looping round, with spyholes to various of the rooms in the lower floor of the manor. We hear servants talking about ghosts and the mad Scraver woman.
Then, a cold breeze at the back of my neck. I turn, and see a ghostly woman in tattered noble clothing, crying blood. I freeze. She points at me and moans “My world bleeds!”. I mutter appropriate passages from the Gospels as defence. She talks of blood and desecration then turns and walks away, but not before I note she has the distinctive Gilgar nose. Sensation returns to me, as she walks through the wall. We approach and find it contains a secret door leading into the servants’ quarters. We exit the corridor and follow her through the quarters until she passes through the door to the wine cellar. The door is locked. Brother Dominic calls in Latin upon the transformative powers of his inner flame (Borderline heresy! Damned Eskatonics!), touching the door and turning it grey and slightly rocky-looking. He steps back and says to the Baroness that a simple impact should suffice. Terek strikes and the priceless antique door crumbles.
We enter, and see the ghost still proceeding through the cellar, before passing through the far wall. There are signs of digging around here (a loose stone slab). On the Baroness’ orders, Terek starts moving the wine rack. We can see a seam in the wall, perhaps as a concealed doorway, but can’t find an opening mechanism. Terek says we will need a wedge, or a crowbar and suggests asking the Scraver.
I go to look for her, and a servant tells me she is in the gardens. I find her digging a pit in the maze, occasionally pestered by the mulaki. She tries shooting at them again with the crossbow. I inform her that we have need of her particular abilities in the wine cellar, and we proceed back. There, she puts her tools to the task and with Terek’s additional strength is able to prise the door open. Inside is a room filled with technological devices, display screens and cupboards. The screens show warnings of terraforming failures. The Baroness fiddles with them, while the Scraver goes off to fetch Ivo.
On his arrival he inspects the room and proclaims it the control centre for a terraforming node. He presses buttons and calls up lists., saying it might be possibly repairable, but that we would need experts. There is a slight earth tremor as he presses a button. The Baroness wrenches open the door of a cupboard, to find banks of electronics inside. Noticeably, there is no sign of dust or decay inside the node. Ivo comments that it must have some kind of power source, and sits to investigate further.
We head upstairs, and the Baroness suggests I assemble my flamegun and guard the node from interference. I go to my room, and after a thought inspect the walls. I find a spyhole, and move a painting to cover them. It looks as if there was already place for the picture for this purpose. I change into my ‘work robes’, take the flamegun and stalk down to the wine cellar. I sit and guard…
The Chamberlain and the Baroness return, discussing repairs to vehicles. Apparently, it was sabotage. Ours had bullets lodged in the engine. Chamberlain says only people here with rifles are Captain of the Guard and his men. But why would they want to isolate the manor? (Treasure of the Gilgars?). Baroness offers Chamberlain advice on keeping Duke Gilgar safe and sound (avoiding poisons, etc.).
Logistics: 3 guards, guard Captain, 6 servants, Chamberlain, Reeve, Physick, Rupert, Canon Oblay, and us.
The Baroness asks me to accompany her to go interrogate the guard Captain. We close up the terraforming node, and walk up into the manor, leaving the Chamberlain. We find Brother Dominic and he joins out delegation for safety in numbers. Then we bump into the Scraver, who says she’s having trouble finding power packs and wants to see inside the locked shed under guard. Then she whispers that a few nights ago she heard people talking of killing us all. One was the guard captain, and she suspects the other was the Physick. Then asks again about alchemy. I comment on her apparent obsession. She gets irritated, bringing out two items and saying “Well can you tell me what this is then?”. They are, quite obviously to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, one container of sterilisation mist used for cleaning wounds, and one container of a chemical used in bonding synthflesh in the less sophisticated forms of cyber-ware. The Baroness asks where she got it from, and the Scraver confesses to breaking the shed door down on an earlier night. Then we proceed to see Rupert, before visiting the guard Captain. Rupert opens his door very anxiously and the Baroness asks if we might speak privately with him. Terek, the Baroness and I enter, and check for spy-holes (nobody seems to be looking through them right now). The Baroness informs Rupert that our vehicle was shot down, and it wasn’t his fault. Then she asks why he is hiding in his room. He says he is scared of the ghosts, has heard servants talking about them. Baroness tells him to stay safe and keep his ears open. We leave.
The Baroness says that the Chamberlain told her the guard captain’s office is in the locked shed. We proceed outside. There are large pits in the ground. The Scraver says this is subsidence, but seems to be hiding something. Probably not important. There is a guard on the shed door, who is very nervous at our presence. He has orders to keep everyone out. We argue with him for some time on this, but he remains adamant. The Baroness agrees to leave, and we move away to talk. It’s getting darker now. The Scraver says she will go look for the guard Captain. The rest of us wander in thought. The Baroness consults me on my thoughts about a conspiracy between the Physick and the guard Captain, but I’m not sure what she is getting at. She suggests we talk directly to Duke Gilgar. She doesn’t trust the Chamberlain, but agrees that if we meet him along the way we’l ask him to act as an intermediary.
On the way back to the manor, we notice the Scraver sitting on the roof. Whatever for? Strange behaviour. The Baroness stops a servant and asks where the Chamberlain is. It’s only a few doors away so we pass by to talk to him, and as we do so a guard arrives. He tells us wild animals have entered the grounds and that we must return to our rooms for our own safety. Baroness refuses without direct proof of request from Duke or Captain. Guard uses his communication device to talk to the Captain, who shortly turns up noticeably fully battle-ready. He repeats the explanation and gives us a 2 person escort back to our rooms. The Baroness and Terek chatter in Ukari. I offer to take the Baroness’ confession (as a way to stick together) and she agrees.
We enter the Baroness’ chambers, while Brother Dominic goes to his own. The Baroness searches for a secret door in her wardrobe. Suddenly, something blocking the eyehole is pushed out! The Baroness replaces the block. We hear the Scraver’s voice coming from inside the secret corridor! Terek opens the door at last, and asks the Scraver to desist then brings her into the room. Brother Dominic follows behind her. They talk, and I chant loudly in Latin by the door to cover the noise. The Scraver says the Reeve told her the guards are looking for something…. important. Brother Dominic expresses an interest in exploring the secret corridors, but is concerned about the wild animals. Baroness tells him this was a lie.
We sneak around in the corridor to the servants quarters and exit the corridor. Proceed furtively to Duke Gilgar’s quarters, Terek first to check the path. The Baroness knocks on the door, and it swings open. It’s dark inside. We hear groaning from the large bed. The Duke lies there, very sick and fevered. Syringes are left beside him. The Baroness inspects them, then takes an ampoule from her supplies. She says it is Elixir, that fabled medicine of the Second Republic. She injects it into the Duke. I go to watch the door.
The ghostly woman appears through the wall! She points at me and says “The thorn hides the rose!” before passing right through me! I panic, and start prayer to protect my soul from demonic influence. The ghost moves on to the Baroness, before passing back out through the corridor. The Scraver asks to speak to the Baroness outside. They cross the corridor and speak in private while Brother Dominic and I utter blessings over the Duke, though with some doctrinal dispute over method and order. The Baroness returns, saying that the Scraver is following the ghost and she wants to investigate the shed. We point out the Duke’s condition, and the Baroness attempts to minister to him a little, having some minor knowledge of remedies.
Then we go out into the gardens, since the Baroness expresses concern that the guard Captain may be planning on fleeing with the treasures of House Gilgar. I ask how the Captain of the guard would know where to find the treasure. The Baroness says the Duke was drugged, and likely told him. We run outside, and see lights from the centre of the maze. We proceed through the short-cut to the shrine, finding the Scraver skulking about too. She offers to check the shed, and moves out. We carry on, and hear sounds of digging, and protests of desecration (Canon Oblay’s voice!)! The Baroness sneaks further ahead to get a better view, while I hold back and watch her progress anxiously.
The Scraver returns, with Brother Dominic and the Reeve (who is carrying a shovel?!). She asks why I’m waiting behind, when a mulaki flutters about nearby. The Scraver shoots at it, missing, and the bolt thuds into the ground next to it. It snatches the bolt, and wanders into the clearing. We hear a shout of “We’ve found something!”, then a yelp followed quickly by gunfire. I peer around the corner. Firing starts! I see the guard Captain moving with unnatural speed. I go to stride out to confront the other guards and demand that they surrender and stop desecrating a holy place. The guard in front of me is cowed at first, but panics and sprays bullets at me from close range. The Pancreator decides I am not to die just yet though, and they all go astray. I fire at him a couple of times with my flame-gun, but the igniter fails and the gun becomes useless. I retreat into the maze, noting 3 servants fleeing the scene too. Inside the maze I find the Baroness with Terek. While she contacts the Scraver on her whisper pin, I strip the flame-gun down to repair it. It takes me a few minutes, but then I move swiftly and catch up with the Baroness at the shed. She says the Scraver is lying injured in the short-cut through the maze, tended by Brother Dominic. Entering the shed, we find a makeshift laboratory for installing cybernetics. We search about for a while, and I find a set of syringes with Elixir. I take a handful and rush outside to take them to the injured Scraver. We could need her strength.
Arrive. Brother Dominic has bag full of heretical tech. He suggests I set fire to it to use as a distraction. I inject Elixir into the Scraver, then set light to the bag and try hurl it over the hedge. Unfortunately it catches on the bushes. Shouts from guards, and hedge is riddled with gunfire from other side. They shout “Stay away if you know what’s good for you!”. Baroness suggests an ambush. Sudden hiss from pressurised canisters in burning bag. It’s going to explode! I shield the Scraver from the blast, and she catches me as I fall. More gunfire. Scraver grabs my arm and we run. Huddle in corner of hedges with Baroness, Terek, Chamberlain and Physick.
We proceed to the Physick’s room, as the Chamberlain says a captive traveller is being kept prisoner in a side room there. Terek opens door, then shuts it again very quickly. Loud snoring sounds from slumped vorox figure within. Baroness enters and wakes it gently, offering assistance. We move out to intercept the Guard Captain by the shed. Vorox greets me and asks me to later take its (his? her?) confession.
Gardens lie empty and still, except for burning bushes in maze. Lights and sounds in shed and from stable. The others go towards the stable. I hang back quietly. When others aren’t looking, throw 2 ka-plant canisters into shed and open fire with flamegun. Shed explodes! Gunfire from stable riddles the hedges. Fire spreading. Oh no! The shrine! I run off to put fire out. Dampen fire around shrine, and notice remains in pit. Chest has burst open and is filled with 2nd Republic coins. Sound of vorox shouting. Battle cry? Gunfire. Canon Oblay arrives, and helps with extinguishing the fire. More vorox howling, and gunfire stops abruptly. Baroness calls, and we meander out of the hedges after making sure the fire is out.
Baroness explains that the vorox has ‘executed’ the Guard Captain. She suggests moving the Duke to better medical care by his son. We proceed to the Duke’s room, where Physick is bringing him round. He seems befuddled. Baroness explains events to him and tries to convince him to return to the Hub with us. He is reluctant. I take my leave, professing need to put flamegun away and change robes. I return to the shed, and make certain all forbidden tech is destroyed. Then go to room to change, pray and sleep.