Masa spent his downtime in and around Manchester College gaining a new Edge.
Ezekiel went off alone intending to pursue his Vow (to pursue the Gypsy outlaw who kidnapped his family and sold them to a Necromancer). He didn’t manage to catch up with them, but did manage to gain a new Edge and a new Hindrance (Loyal) and he returned to Manchester .
Harry was still somewhere in London, and remained out of touch [GM: this week it was Harry’s player who was away]
Dr Dee was pleased with what they had accomplished but alarmed by the news that a biblical plague was heading towards London. He sent letters to the Queen asking for an audience to discuss matters vital to national security. He is running out of money and wants to be sure his companions can travel freely around the world to investigate and prevent the apocalypse. In attempts to communicate further with the Angel Uriel, he had become more dependent on opium, supplied by Masa.
Unfortunately he is viewed as a foolish and scandalous figure by the majority of the country. Although he was once a trusted advisor to the queen, and also served as an agent and ambassador to some of the houses of France and Germany, it would not do for Elizabeth to be known to still favour him. One of the main reasons for his public humiliation was that a charlatan spoke with the Angels and told him he had to share his pretty young wife. Dr Dee was so keen to believe in the Angelic Voice that he agreed.
Eventually the Queen replied, inviting him and his trusted companions to meet with her and discuss their adventures, The letters managed to convey cryptic warnings against open communication of anything supernatural. They would be arriving in London early July 1602 and the first of the Harbingers (the first Horseman of the Apocolypse – Plague) was due to arrive there in late August.
King James of Scotland had recently (1590) published a book called Daemonologie that strongly asserted the existence of Witchcraft and that it must be stamped out. He had also instigated a series of Witch Trials and personally tortured and executed dozens of witches in Scotland. Where, in earlier years there was an acceptable interest in the occult, kind herbalist wise women and learned ‘natural philosophers’ like Dee, there was a growing feeling that any type of occult dabblings would lead to inevitable corruption of the soul.
Dee and Clara, Masa & Ezekiel travelled down to Richmond Palace on the banks of the Thames. despite the secretive sneers of some of the courtiers, as an old friend of The Queen, Dee got them lodgings at the top of one of the Palace towers and arranged a private audience. They would speak with the Queen that night in her chambers just before she went to bed.
Dee was in one room, Clara in another and Masa and Ezekiel in a third. Ezekiel searched their room and discovered small vents in the ceiling. These could be explained away as ventilation for smoke but were probably listening tubes. Masa went up to the roof to see where the came out but was prevented by a guard and asked to go back inside.
Dee warned them about the Queen’s Spymaster, Robert Cecil – a small man with a limp, and yet the most powerful man in England. Dee was briefly an agent for Robert’s father but had never met Robert. The Spymaster was apparently a big fan of King James’ anti-witchcraft stance so they must be very careful not to give any hint of their own abilities. They were in the monster-hunting business but were not themselves monsters!
Later, in the antechamber of the Royal Suite, while they were alone, Clara started to give them a final warning about the things they weren’t going to mention. The others managed to shut her up before she had gone too far [GM:She double-oned] as they had spotted possible spy holes around the walls.
A short, limping man in fine clothing strode into the room without knocking. He nodded curtly to our heroes but grudgingly shook hands with Dee. “My father told me you were once of use to him. You must not over tire the queen or fill her head with fanciful nonsense.”. Then he glanced in the direction of the spyholes, scowled and strode out.
A few minutes later, the soft lute music from inside stopped and a young woman walked out, carrying her lute. An old handmaiden ushered them through a very fine wardrobe room and into the bedchamber where they were shocked to see that the Queen was already in her bed. Her face was a mask of almost featureless white paint, thin and small. Her wig lay on a table nearby and her head was almost bald, just a few wisps of grey and numerous pock marks. Also nearby, draped on a mannequin, was her huge golden state robe and giant white ruff. In just her light blue bed robe, she was clearly a tired old woman (69).
She greeted Dee warmly and got brief introductions. They all had the sense to bow correctly and they were wearing brand new clothes (the finest they had ever had, but not quite fine enough because of Clara’s frugal purchases – she had spent only 20 pounds, a vast fortune, instead of the 30 pounds required to get the latest court fashions). Feeling suddenly shabby, Clara had an attack of nerves and interrupted the Queen. There was a flash of anger but later she mellowed and seemed to like a bit of plain-speaking.
Elizabeth had the musician recalled to play loudly and got them to come closer. The only person wh could have overheard much was the old nurse.
They told her most of their tales, of the resurgence of Magic, that it was linked to an astral conjunction, that they had fought various magical monsters across Europe and that, according to their calculations the next few years would bring about an apocalypse unless it could be stopped. They showed some of Tycho Brae’s calculations about the star positions and explained that a Plague (of biblical proportions) was coming to London within a few weeks.
Hearing this, Elizabeth said that it would not be possible to evacuate the City and that she would not run and hide from this Invader, any more than she would from the Spaniards. She seemed tired and disappointed that the crisis would come during her own lifetime. She had had bad dreams of late but found that her “Imp” did not like to have dreams influencing State decisions. She apparently called Robert Cecil her Imp (even to his face) but nobody else would dare to do so.
She agreed to ride to the hunt the next day and would be pleased if Clara would join her. The others were free to hunt too. She apologised that she could not be seen to spend more time with Dr Dee. perhaps Clara could explain while they were alone in the open air, exactly what they wanted from the Queen (financial support and possibly a fast ship and crew ready to take them anywhere on the globe).
The next day, despite being mounted for most of the morning, Ezekiel manages to track some deer in Richmond Park and bags the first kill. Elizabeth, now resplendent in her public facade, throws him her handkerchief. Clara and the Queen manage to get a few minutes alone and speak mor openly. The Queen is happy to provide some financial backing but cannot arrange to provide a ship and crew without the backing of her Privy Council (and that means the Imp). He won’t waste resources on mere rumours and vague threats from the stars. If they can find human agencies or a cult that is behind the threat, she believes he will then be more likely to agree, indeed he would relish a chance to publicly execute some witches as he is trying to curry favour with King James in the event that he succeeds to the English Throne. She arranges for personal letters of introduction stating that the bearers are “friends of the Queen” and asking that they not be hindered in their travels. While not a guarantee, these should be useful in most of Europe (except the Catholic bits).
Overall it was a successful visit, despite the lack of courtly and social skills. They now have some Royal backing – Dee was almost bankrupt, having given Clara the majority of his savings already.