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Jim Patching
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As BJ made his way up the winding staircase of Petra’s tenement flat, he couldn’t help but feel the familiar tinge of guilt creep over him as he thought about her predicament. Petra was his on and off girlfriend/bed warmer and right now she was languishing in the dreaded Ironhook prison. Technically the reason for her incarceration wasn’t his fault – that lay squarely at the feet of Madam Ticklier. Still, perhaps he could have done more to prevent her arrest? And he certainly could have done more to help her escape from the Blue coat station they’d both initially been locked up in.

Oh well, the past is the past and BJ couldn’t do anything about it now. But the future? Madam Ticklier had told him that Petra was due to be released soon and BJ thought he’d pay a visit on her apartment - tidy it up, make sure it was homely for her return and not full of rats and cobwebs.

But what was this?

As he turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open he noted that the apartment had a very ‘lived in’ look to it. Used tea cups and read newspapers littered the coffee table, clothes were slung over the backs of chairs and a plate with a half-eaten meal lay on the floor. BJ noted that the rug in the middle of the room had a definite burn mark on it and realised that it covered the spot where he’d hid the Heart of Kotar.

“Hello? Is anyone in?” he called, but received no response. He moved in warily and made sure the room was empty. He checked the bedroom – empty. He checked the storage cupboard – nothing. He checked the kitchen – CRASH! A vase smashed across BJ’s head, quickly followed up by a thwack from a frying pan to the temple. As BJ staggered backwards he was pursed by an enraged Petra yelling “Thought my place looked like an easy target, eh? Get the hell out of my flat you no good burglar. You get out of here and never …. BJ?”

Petra paused for a moment as the light of recognition dawned on her. BJ, one sleeve staunching the blood dripping from his face, waved a hand and said “Hello Petra.”

Fury quickly replaced shock and Petra’s face twisted into a snarl. “You’ve got one hell of a nerve showing your face around here BJ Bjorn. Do you know what I’ve been through?”

“I know you’ve been – “

“No, you don’t know what I’ve been through! It’s your fault I’ve spent the last month in Ironhook prison. Ironhook! Can you imagine what it’s like in there?

“I can – “

“No you can’t, because you weren’t the one in there!”

“Look, I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my fault.”

“Not your fault!? Typical man. Who’s fault was it then? Mine?”

“Well, no …”

“Anyone’s fault but yours.”

“Look, I shouldn’t have come. I’ll just go.”

BJ backed out of the apartment onto the landing and headed for the stairs, with Petra in pursuit still clutching the frying man in a threatening manner. Doors to other apartments opened and curious tenants poked their heads out to see what all the commotion was about.

“That’s right, keep walking BJ. After all, running away’s what you’re good at isn’t it?”

“It was a mistake coming here. I see that now, I’m leaving.”

BJ descended the winding staircase, all the while being harangued by Petra.

“It was nice of you to leave me in the Bluecoat station. I noticed you managed to get yourself out but decided to leave me behind?”

“Don’t act like you’re the only injured party here. I heard you blabbing to the Bluecoats all about me.”

“Ah, so it is all my fault!”

“No, I didn’t say that.”

“You pretty much did. If only I’d stayed quiet and taken a beating from the Bluecoats, would you have taken me with you then when you broke out?”

By now they were in the foyer of the building in front of the main entrance. They’d gathered quite an audience made up of other residents of the building, peeping out of doorways and looking over the higher bannisters. BJ sighed and said “Look, all I can do is apologise. I’m sorry you’ve spent time in Ironhook prison and yes, maybe I could have done more to prevent that happening, but I’m here now and I mean to make amends.” Trusting on his romantic charms, BJ took the opportunity to lean in for a kiss – surely a smooch at a time like this would fix everything?

Petra had enough space to take a one-step run up and buried her left foot in BJ’s groin, relocating his testicles to his tonsils. BJ crumpled to the floor groaning and Petra took the opportunity to lay the boot in, punctuating each kick with “That’s for the kiss!”, “That’s for my time in Ironhook!”, “That’s for leaving me with the Bluecoats!”

Once her anger was sated she turned, snarled “What are you looking at!?” to her audience and stomped her way back to her flat.

*

“You said there was money in it for me if I came to you with news of strange goings on of an occultish nature?” Goldie leaned across the table of the coffee shop and grinned, showing off his mouthful of gold teeth.

“I did indeed,” said Madam Ticklier, her left arm in a sling, slowly healing from her recent exploits at Gaddoc Station. With her right hand she daintily sipped tea from a china cup and said “So what news do you have?”

“Money first Ticklier. Once I tell you, I can’t un-tell you, and why should you pay me once you’ve got the information?”

“You can trust me Goldie. This needn’t be a one off exchange. Tell me what you’ve found out and if it’s suitably interesting I’ll see you paid.”

Goldie looked a little doubtful. After a moment, perhaps showing a measure of naivety, he decided he could trust Madam Ticklier and launched into his story. “There’s something weird being kept in the hold of the Fog Hound. Since the cargo came aboard we’ve all been having strange dreams. Whatever it is, it’s kept in a big wooden crate. I’ve seen the box and it looks as though something is slowly burning it’s way out from the inside.”

“Well done Goldie, that’s enough to earn some coin.”

“There’s more. Last night Bazso Bas and a few of the Lampblacks came aboard. They all went down to the hold with Captain Margette. I’m not sure exactly what their business was but I overheard talk of opening the crate and that they needed something from inside. Something to be used for a spell or some such. I got the impression they was looking for something and thought that whatever was in the crate could help them find it.”

“Very interesting Goldie. Here, take this money and if you hear any more of this matter come back to me. There’s more coin where that came from.”

*

++Madam Ticklier’s office, later that day++

“I’ve just had coffee with Inspector Briathwaite and he had something very interesting to tell me,” said Lionel Greaves. “Seems as though Lord Strangford’s having some sort of crackdown on the Lampblacks and the Red Sashes. He’s hired a veritable army of toughs who’ve been making life difficult for the gangs. I even heard that the Red Sashes sword school was fire bombed.”

A look of guilt briefly flashed across Madam Ticklier’s face before she deftly changed the subject. “A little bird tells me that the Fog Hounds have some sort of esoteric artefact in the belly of their steamship.”

“Little bird?” enquired Lionel.

“Goldie,” confirmed Madam Ticklier.

“More like a little bulldog if you ask me.”

“Do you think it could be the Hand of Kotar?” asked The Kid.

“Very likely,” confirmed Madam Ticklier.

“I’ve been speaking to my friend Quellyn at university about this Kotar thing,” said The Kid, turning red in the face for some reason. “She’s a witch. She reckons all these pieces of Kotar might be able to open a gate to The Other Place if they’re brought together. The place where demons reside.”

“Well we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Madam Ticklier. “We’ve got the Heart of Kotar hidden in Petra’s flat. We know where the Hand of Kotar is. The only thing unaccounted for is the Eye of Kotar.”

“And we have no idea where that might be,” said Lionel flatly.

“Well, you say that,” said Madam Ticklier coyly. “Goldie told me something else of interest too. He said the Fog Hounds think the Eye of Kotar is held in the vaults of Duskvol Museum. They and the Lampblacks are planning on a break-in some time soon. I propose we beat them to it and recover the Eye ourselves. BJ, do you think you could reconnoitre the place and see how viable a quiet in-and-out mission would be?”

BJ nodded and said “Aye.”

“Are you sure? I’ve noticed you’ve been limping today.”

“It’s nothing.”

[Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that Goldie said no such thing about the Eye of Kotar. This is because this is all a twisted tale of bullshit that Madam Ticklier is weaving. She’s discovered that Kittie Symes, wanted murderer, has a boyfriend in Ironhook prison and she’s decided that she needs a man on the inside to make contact with this fella. BJ is the man she’s chosen for the job. He just needs to get arrested first. Of course BJ, plus all of the other characters and their players have been kept in the dark about this plan]

“Now there’s just one more thing,” continued Madam Ticklier. It seems as though Lord Strangford already has it in for the Lampblacks but I want to really incriminate them in the hit on the gunpowder train. Lionel, do you still have that barrel of gunpowder you made off with?”

“Yep.”

“And I trust you have it stashed somewhere safe?”

“Yep. In my bedroom.”

“Your bedroom? Here?”

“Yep. I’m using the lid of the barrel as an ashtray.”

Madam Ticklier’s face blanched. “Do you mind if I borrow your barrel of gunpowder? I want Goldie to transport it to the Lampblack’s warehouse, hopefully to be discovered by Lord Strangford’s men.”

“I suppose so. Shame though, it was the perfect height to flick my cigarette butts onto.”

*

++Night, Duskvol Museum++

BJ stood on the domed roof of the Iruvian wing of the Duskvol Museum. He’d deftly avoided the external patrols of watchmen with dogs, scaled the walls of the building and now stood at a window that didn’t fasten properly. He’d already scoped the building out during daytime hours and knew exactly where he needed to go to reach the Antiquities vault.
Madam Ticklier, BJ and The Kid waited in a nearby park. The Kid sat in a catatonic state for he was controlling a spirit which trailed BJ invisibly. In a dream-like voice, The Kid conveyed to Lionel and Madam Ticklier what was happening in BJ’s world.

With deft skill, BJ prised the window on the domed roof open and let a coil of thin rope drop the eighty feet to the floor below. The chamber contained many old statues, black figures looming in the darkness. Hand over hand he lowered himself down the rope until – guards!

BJ froze forty foot from the floor as two security guards with lanterns passed by. BJ cursed his luck as the two wardens stopped to have a conversation almost directly underneath where he hung. Holding his breath, he drew up the spiral of rope below him until he held it all in a tight coil and he wrapped his shadow cloak about himself, rendering him almost invisible. BJ wasn’t sure how long the guards carried on with their inane conversation but by the time he moved on his arms and shoulders were burning from the strain of hanging midway to the floor.

Padding silently from the statue chamber, BJ made his way through several rooms towards the vault. Just one more corridor to traverse and then he’d be at the vault door. But no! Another guard!

BJ pressed himself against the corridor wall, willing himself to disappear into the shadows. He almost dislodged a painting from the wall but managed to catch the gilded frame by the corner, holding it steady whilst the guard passed by. Hanging it back from its hook, he made his way down the corridor and towards the vault entrance.

*

“He’s passed the guard,” said The Kid in a trancelike voice.

Lionel and Madam Ticklier let out their held breath with a sigh.

“He’s at the vault door,” continued The Kid. “It’s locked but he’s managed to pick it and he’s through. Stairs going down. Darkness and the smell of must. The fugue of ancient things. A long room with many aisles, each aisle full of shelves, drawers, containers.”

“How’s BJ going to find this item in the dark?” asked Lionel.

“He’s got his darksight goggles,” said Madam Ticklier.

“He moves through the vault, searching, looking. He’s seen something. Up ahead, feet sticking out from behind a crate. He moves stealthily towards the hidden figure.”

“No, just keep away from him,” said Lionel, fruitlessly urging a different course of action.

“It may be worth knocking him out,” said Madam Ticklier, secretly envisioning the extra trouble BJ could get himself into, thereby ensuring a short stay in Ironhook prison.

“He’s …. “ The Kid faltered. “He’s cut his throat!”

*

The hidden figure gurgled through its ruined throat as BJ lowered him to the floor, feet still kicking. Suddenly his darksight goggles flared like a supernova as the electric lighting of the vault flicked on. He ripped the googles off and saw that the figure he’d just murdered wore the uniform of a Bluecoat.

“Shit” he said, which pretty much summed up what he was in.

From nearby aisles came shouting and the sounds of running feet. Looking desperately for somewhere to hide, BJ pulled out one of the morgue-like drawers he stood next to and jumped inside, hoisting the drawer shut behind him.

Darkness, for a moment the only sound was his fast breathing. What was he sharing the darkness of the drawer with? Fabric – bandages? A smell like parched earth. Bones?

“A frickin mummy,” sighed BJ.

“Captain Kenrick, Captain Kenrick, he’s killed Hugo!” came a desperate shout from outside.

“Damn you Viper!” snarled an authoritative voice. “He had a young family! When I find you, and I will find you, it’ll be straight to Ironhook and the hangman’s noose for you!”

“And you won’t be getting the diamond either!” cried another voice.

“Come on lads, he’s got to be here somewhere. Search everywhere. Daniel, run upstairs and alert the museum guards. And bring back up!”

“Yes sir!”

*

“What’s happening?” asked Madam Ticklier nervously.

“He’s hiding in a drawer with a mummy,” said The Kid. “Bluecoats are everywhere and at least one of them has a gun.”

“Sounds like I need to step in here,” said Lionel.

“Not yet, his situation isn’t so desperate,” said Madam Ticklier hastily.

“It looks as though the drawer he’s in is air-tight,” said The Kid.

“Right, it’s Lionel time,” said Lionel as he removed his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves.

*

BJ had managed to wriggle so that he was below the mummy, with his shadow cape acting as a barrier between him and the shrivelled husk. Man it smelled bad! As his breathing became laboured and ragged it was then that he realised he may be suffering from an air-supply problem. Taking his knife, he pushed the tip through the lip of the drawer and twisted it, breaking the seal ever so slightly and allowing a steady stream of oxygen to flow in. The sounds of shouting and clattering from outside all of a sudden became louder.

“Black Viper, wherever you are, come out and face me like a man!” yelled Captain Kenrick from nearby.

“All these crates are clear captain.”

“These boxes too.”

“Keep searching, he can’t have gone too far!”

*

Lionel vaulted the wrought iron fence that surrounded the museum and pelted across the open grassy area between the railings and the museum. A guard with a barking dog loomed out of the darkness but a hastily tossed smoke grenade dealt with them. A tall, patterned window reared up ahead. Lionel smashed it to pieces with his crowbar and vaulted through, slicing the palm of his hand on a shard of sharp glass. Inside the building he ran straight for where he knew the vault door to be. A bluecoat stood near the open doorway, turning in surprise as Lionel charged in.

THWACK!

A crowbar to the head dropped the Bluecoat faster than Madam Ticklier’s knickers. As Lionel stooped to pick up the Bluecoat’s helmet, voices shouted “Hey! Stop!” Two more museum guards approached, cudgels raised. Lionel hurled the helmet at one of them, cracking him on the side of the head and dazing the unfortunate fellow. The crowbar saw to the other, deftly batting aside the cudgel and then rendering its wielder unconscious.

With no time for dillydallying, Lionel charged down the stairs and barrelled through the group of Bluecoats at the bottom. He desperately looked for where BJ might be – aisles everywhere, boxes, crates and containers strewn about, a Bluecoat captain with a pistol slowly being levelled at him.

Suddenly a long draw between Lionel and Captain Kenrick slid open and a horror sat up in the flickering electric light.

*

“They’re both in trouble,” stammered The Kid through clenched teeth. “I’m going to help.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Madam Ticklier urgently.

“Force my bound spirit into the body of that mummy,” gasped The Kid. “Get in there!” shouted The Kid, and Madam Ticklier knew he wasn’t talking to her. “I don’t care how bad it smells, get in there!”

*

“Aiieee!” screamed Captain Kenrick, as he emptied his pistol into the horrific walking corpse which unsteadily climbed out of the drawer before him. Bullet after bullet ripped through the ancient dead thing’s skull, bone fragments and bits of bandages going flying. “Argh!” screamed a bluecoat from the other end of the room as one of the bullets punched straight through the mummy and caught him in the posterior.

“Come on BJ, time to go!” said Lionel as he helped his companion out of the drawer. “This way!”

The two of them ran down the vault and again barrelled through the stupefied bluecoats. Captain Kenrick had managed to reload his gun behind them and again unloaded a full cylinder into the mummy, blowing off limbs, bones and teeth flying. They bounded up the vault stairs two at a time and burst out into the room at the top – to find themselves surrounded by a semi-circle of museum guards and bluecoats, one of which toted a shotgun.

“Hold your breath,” said BJ as he whipped a smoke bomb from his pocket and rolled it into the crowd. With a disappointing farting noise the smoke bomb spectacularly failed to explode.

*

Madam Ticklier’s plan to get BJ arrested was going tits up and now The Kid was helping him escape too. The sabotaged smoke bombs she’d given the sneak thief would no doubt have hindered him, but with Lionel in there and now an animated mummy helping out, the prognosis for her scheme was bleak.

She slyly looked at The Kid, considering her options. Removing her shoe from her foot she struck The Kid as hard as she could over the head with it.

*

With the ragged remains of the mummy crawling up the stairs behind them, Lionel threw his last remaining smoke bomb directly at the shotgun wielding blue coat. It erupted in smoke and flame and in the confusion, both he and BJ legged it through the crowd. They ran through a dizzying array of rooms and corridors, shouts and bangs coming from behind them. Fleeing into the guts of the building, through servants quarters and maintenance rooms, they finally came to a storm drain entrance.

“Those guards will be on us before we get that drain opened,” said BJ.

“No they won’t” said Lionel with a smile as he withdrew a Molotov cocktail. “Here, light this.” Lionel threw the improvised fire bomb at the last doorway they’d run through, which promptly immolated. Amongst shouts and shots, the two men disappeared through the drain and made off to safety.

*

The Kid was tough, Madam Ticklier had to give it to him. She’d failed to knock him out with her shoe and he’d had the force of will to maintain control of the bound spirit, even going so far as to shout out a warning to Madam Ticklier that they were under attack. She’d had to resort to chloroforming the lad in order to render him senseless.

“Good evening ma’am, is there a problem here?” asked a Blue coat officer who happened to be on routine patrol through the park at that point.

“Uh, no officer, my son here has just had a bit too much to drink. I don’t suppose you could help us back to our carriage could you?”

“Of course ma’am.”

As they approached the carriage it was clear to see some sort of commotion going on in the Duskvol Museum just across the way. As the bluecoat helped Madam Ticklier and The Kid inside he looked at them suspiciously and said “Wait here while I see what’s going on.”

As the bluecoat hurried off, Madam Ticklier muttered “Lionel, you’ve really screwed things up this time.”

*

You can find the rest of our session reports here.
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Rhiannon D
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I'm really enjoying reading these.
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Jim Patching
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regency_rhi wrote:
I'm really enjoying reading these.


I appreciate you letting me know
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martyn rich
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good write up Jim.
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