Savage 1600s

The Tentacled Maiden

In the cellar, as the corpse hits the floor, Clara and Masa are horrified to see the iron maiden slam shut, shimmer and the tentacles stretch and begin to writhe.

In the courtyard above, a wave of despair, the certainty that the divine lady is dead, sweeps through the guards and Ezekiel and Harry. Most of the guards, and Ezekiel, are shaken, grief stricken and sobbing. Somehow Harry pushes through, rage and the need for revenge are driving him on. He smashes past a couple of the guards and down to the cellar.

Ezekiel takes a few moments to come to his senses and tries to follow but is surrounded by the guards. Although he flies into a berserk rage, flailing wildly, he is overwhelmed by a dozen guards, grappled and beaten unconscious.

Clara, Masa and Harry have a frantic battle against the monstrous, many-tentacled thing in the cellar. Its body proves to be almost invulnerable but fortunately the six tentacles can be destroyed more easily. During the fight, Giselle manages to flee. A few guards reach the cellar but they only get in the way. Clara is wounded, claustrophobic and also temporarily horrified by tentacles, but she manages to shoot a tentacle. Harry, driven insane with the need for vengeance, and fortunately thinking that the monster killed the Comtesse, is unstoppable [GM:temporarily getting improved frenzy]. he manages to crush a few tentacles with his maul and also kill a few guards Masa, also wounded and horrified by the tentacles manages to hack off a couple of tentacles before he is smashed unconscious.

Once the creature has no more tentacles, it is no longer able to physically harm them. However it begins to plead for its life through telepathy. It has somehow read Clara’s mind and knows about their quest. It offers vital information in exchange for its life. “There are things you need to know about the star travellers that are coming, before the serpent’s rise”. When that fails, and Harry starts smashing the inert body of the creature, it changes tack. It sends all the men images of the death of Comtesse, so they know that it was Clara, not the creature who murdered her. Harry is almost convinced but manages to shakeoff the urge to take revenge and continues to attack the monster. Its final ploy is to offer to resurrect the Comtesse if the guards will feed Clara to it. They swarm at Clara, grappling her and dragging her towards the monster. It swings its body open to engulf her, but Harry manages to strike at the innards which are less tough than the outer shell and finally the creature is destroyed.

The remaining guards flee back to the courtyard where they regroup and re-equip. There are still about 15 men left and their long-term charm has worn off and they have realised they haven’t been paid for months!

Our heroes, including Ezekiel, shaken and wounded but back on his feet, manage to quickly ransack the chateau. They search for Giselle and realise she has fled through the tiny postern gate in the south wall. She had the keys! They follow and escape through the gate before the guards regain their composure.

They have gathered some jewellery from the Comtesse and from her boudoir They also have a few silver and gold ornaments and an old journal describing the rituals and manufacture of the iron maiden. It started with the Comtesse’s grandmother who had dreams and visions promising her influence and power, continued with her mother who constructed the iron maiden and managed to make brief contact with the “demon” by a sacrifice every 7 years. The latest Comtesse had continued this 7-year cycle when she cast the ritual 10 months ago, it worked better than ever before. The “demon” was able to boost her power considerably and she increased the frequency of sacrifices.

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The Comtesse de Beauvais

They left the unconscious guards tied to tree and insisted that Jeanette return to her home.
A few miles along the trail they emerged from the woods to see the Chateau, nestled on a small hill in a bend of the river. The river forms a natural defence to the north and a high wall circles the chateau to the south. A bridge blocked by a heavy gate leads to the chateau’s courtyard. Further along the river, a two hundred yards away a second bridge crosses the river and leads to a small village in the shadow of the southern wall.

The courtyard is large and holds a guardhouse near the bridge, large stables to the east and a high, battlemented tower in the south east. In the centre of the walled grounds stands the chateau itself with ornate gardens and fountains behind it leading down to the southern wall. There are musket-armed men on the tower as well as 8 breast-plated guards near the gate.

They come up with a cover story that Clara is an english maid, stranded in France by an unfortunate circumstance. She has heard that the Comtesse is hiring young women to train as lady’s maids. Harry and Ezekiel are paid guards. Masa uses a magical power to render himself very difficult to see and sneaks across the bridge and over the gate.

The guards don’t take much convincing that Clara should be granted an audience with the Comtesse de Beauvais They will not allow her hirelings to enter while they are armed so they grudgingly hand over their weapons.

Masa spies on them from the shadows as Clara is taken in alone for her job interview. The Comtesse, a beautiful middle-aged woman in fine gowns, is easily convinced to hire Clara. When Clara asks if her two english goons can stay for a few days the Comtesse refuses and says they are free to stay at the village but not remain at the chateau.

The Comtesse goes out into the courtyard to speak with the men. Her english is reasonable. As the guys approach, they are overwhelmed with a sense of devoted respect for the Comtesse. It seems obvious to them that the wild accusations of Jeanette must be completely unfounded. The Comtesse is beautiful, wise and utterly benign. [GM:they both fail their Spirit Rolls against the charm effect, in fact Ezekiel rolls snake-eyes].

Much to Clara’s dismay, they agree to leave her behind and set off for the village!
Masa remains behind, still invisible and sneaks in through a window. Clara is aware that the Comtesse has charmed her friends and is suspicious when her new employer orders her to go down the cellar stairs, supposedly to fetch some bedclothes. The Comtesse pulls out a heavy ring of keys and opens the cellar door and lights a small torch. It is dark and low-ceilinged, triggering Clara’s claustrophobia. At the last moment, Clara shoves the older woman into the cellar and slams the door, turning the key. In a brief glimpse into the cellar, she spots a couple of jail cell doors to the left but what really grabs her attention is the Iron Maiden in the centre. The hideous object is roughly carved to be the body of an obese pregnant woman with warty skin but, where the head should be, it splits into an array of six curling tentacles. The monstrous torture device stands partly open, revealing a series of glistening blades inside. The floor around it is stained with blood and a series of channels, inlaid with silver, run from the device to a small grille inset in the dungeon floor.

The Comtesse’s beautiful face fills with rage as the heavy door slams shut.
Clara barely has time to gasp in relief when a powerful blow splinters the thick wood. The Comtesse is a lot stronger than she looks, stronger than anyone or anything Clara has seen before. With a panicked scream, Clara scampers back upstairs. Masa, still watching from the shadows, sees the Comtesse rip through the door, call her guards and send them up the stairs in pursuit of Clara.

Clara runs through the corridors and bedrooms upstairs eventually climbing out of a window into the rear courtyard and then back in through a patio door and back down to the cellar as she can hear the plaintive cries of a young girl coming from one of the jail doors. Steeling herself to enter the cellar she finds Giselle. She has to hand over the key ring as the Comtesse blocks the doorway, eyes flashing with hunger and rage. Masa appears from nowhere and tries a disembowelling sword thrust. He is unaffected by the charm effect (possibly because he has an arcane background).

The Comtesse is unbelievably tough and strong. Clara tries to fight her with a rapier but eventually has to back off and shoots her in the face with a pistol.

Outside the chateau, Ezekiel and Harry are utterly convinced that the Comtesse is innocent and very lovely. Ezekiel is suddenly struck by the feeling that she is in mortal danger. Particularly because he fell so completely under her spell, he seems to have some kind of psychic link and insists on running back to the Chateau. By the time they reach the courtyard it is clear that something is wrong. Guards, summoned by their mistress are running into the building.

There is the sound of a shot and a final hideous scream from the comtesse.

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La Belle France

Colonel Waters brings news that a contingent of troops led by Thomas Percy is close by, in pursuit of Harry Pike. Pike explains that he once did some work for Thomas but the man decided not to pay and set his troops on Harry to throw him out. Harry naturally resisted and gave the young lord a good kicking and took what he was owed. Unfortunately for Thomas, the kicking has led to “complications” and Thomas is very keen to get vengeance. The Colonel offers to lead the Percy troops away along the coast with a story about Pike heading for spain. This allows them to wait a couple of days longer to allow Masa to finish healing.

Harry camps out in the wilds and becomes a bit fatigued. They meet on the docks. Bad weather in the channel takes them to St Malo instead of Le Havre.
Once in France, they buy horses and make their way along trails, often staying in inns.
Riding for a week brings them north of Paris, near the town of Beauvais in the region called Picardy. The area seems to have more guards than usual and the farm workers are sullen and miserable.

Late afternoon they come upon a girl running through the woods, chased by guards. Two mounted guards and two on foot. One of the riders catches up with the girl and raises his riding crop to strike. Ezekiel manages a called shot to shoot the riding crop from his hand.
Clara rides well and and scooped the runaway onto the back of her horse.
Harry smacks the first horse with his maul, bringing down mount and rider.
The fight starts non-lethal but escalates when the second rider tries to skewer Harry with his sword. This turns out to be a fatal mistake but they manage to subdue the other three. Masa sneaks thru the trees to surprise the footmen.

They have rescued Jeanette, a pretty peasant girl of about 17 but she begs them to also save her sister. (fortunately Clara speaks excellent French). Her sister, Francoise has been taken to the Chateau of the Comtesse du Beauvais. They were snatched from their family fields this morning and Jeanette managed to break free and run into the woods. For the last six months or so, the Comtesse has been inviting more and more of the prettiest girls to come to the Chateau to be trained as ladies-maids. She has also been hiring more guards and meeting with local elders. It has been growing more and more obvious that her beauty and charm have meant that they refuse to believe anything is wrong even though none of the girls has been seen since entering the Chateau.

They wake one of the guards and determine there is something unnatural about his slavish devotion to the Comtesse.

Clara argues that their own mission is too important to be sidetracked.
Harry does not really mind whether they help Jeanette or not.
Masa is keen to defend the common people against oppression.
Ezekiel is keen to help defend women from evil sorcery.
Clara keeps making rational arguments to Jeanette that her fellow citizens and town elders should handle this matter but Jeanette assures them that none of the important men will act against the Countess. From the hypnotised state of the guards this seems likely to be true. It also seems likely that they will become wanted for the murder of the guard (however unfair that might seem).

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Sick Bay

By Friday morning, 8th of June, 1601, our heroes were resting in the Britania Arms, in lodgings paid for by the grateful magistrate of Plymouth Docks. The local broadsheets contain articles about the mysterious Giant Rat and how it was exterminated by the brave adventurers (all mentioned with names and descriptions). Mistress Dee had done her best to patch up Ezekiel and Masa but it would take about 10 days for them to heal completely. They discussed risking the journey to France, but decided it would be better for their health to stay in their rooom and hire a local doctor to call on them each day. They were briefly hassled by a local reporter, Jimmy Page who wanted quotes.

This enforced lay over left them with the problem of how to deal with Colonel Thomas Waters, ex-mercenary commander and now bounty hunter. Masa and Clara worked together on a very powerful laxative, that could probably incapacitate a man for several days. They intended to use it on the Colonel if bribery didn’t work.

Mistress Dee visited the Colonel and bought him off by offering more than the current bounty. Harry was worth 5 pounds alive and 1 pound dead, if delivered into custody in Richmond, London at Syon House, home of the Percy family. They paid Colonel Waters 8 pounds to not go after Harry for any reason for a month and to never go after him on the current warrant. If he is declared guilty of a different crime after the month is up, he will become fair game. In the event of a new warrant, the Colonel agreed, for an extra pound, to contact Clara and give the option of paying him off again.

After 10 days (GM:2 lots of natural healing) Masa was healthy and Ezekiel only slightly injured.

There came a quiet, polite knock at their Inn room door. A soft-spoken Nipponese girl said she had some herbs requested by Masa. He knew this was a trap and recognised Lu Fang, daughter and foremost protege of his Ninja mentor. Despite her youth and her lack of magical ability, Lu was a very deadly fighter. She had First Strike, Riposte, Florentine and other Edges and a Trademark katana with Armour Piercing quality (AP:1).
Lu Feng was accompanied by 2 other Ninjas (one was later found to be carrying a page from a London broadsheet that had an article about the Giant Rat of Plymouth and mentioned that one of the heroes involved was a "chinese).

The ninjas attacked and were eventually defeated and killed, but Ezekiel and Masa were badly wounded again.

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Splat the Rat

That afternoon! Thursday, June 7th, 1601, they inspected the bodies in a cellar beneath an almshouse near the main church. An oily weasel-like man stood in the doorway, munching cake, and trying to charge a fee for viewing the bodies. Harry Pike intimidated Mr Cake easily. It turned out that the local gravediggers only worked on Saturdays and the murder victims and even the witch’s body were still stored below.

Clara confirmed that the main wounds could have been inflicted by a giant rat and the bodies were also thoroughly chewed by hundreds of little rats.

They also spotted a faded tattoo on the back of the witch. Somebody had tattoed a section of the Necromantic Tome on her back, approximately 7 years ago (shortly after it was stolen from Dr Dee’s Mortlake Library). They advised the Bishop of Plymouth to burn the body, or at least the tattoo. They also informed him that Mr Cake ( actually called Snape) was exploiting his position as caretaker of the Morgue.

Around teatime, they decided to tether a goat by one of the sewer outlets and try to catch the giant rat in a net. They got a net from a fishing boat at the docks and bought an old nanny goat from the back garden of some terraced house.

They chose to stake out the sewer pipe under the rickety pier. Masa climbed up under the pier and strung up the net ready to fall just in front of the hole. The others tethered the goat next to the stream of unpleasant slurry below the pipe and threw bits of shingle at it to keep it bleating.

By sheer fluke the giant rat was drawn to their location. [GM:The scenario said they would meet the giant rat on a Joker and the first card I dealt was a Joker!]. What they hadn’t expected was the river of rats (multiple swarms) that poured out of the pipe first and attacked them. The swarms were very dangerous and very difficult to fight back against.

While Clara, Ezekiel and Harry fought the swarms, Masa clung patiently to the pier supports, until the giant rat jumped out. This was where the plan went horribly wrong. Due to a fumble, Masa fell from his perch to land prone in the slurry in front of the giant rat while the net remained stuck overhead. Despite heroic efforts, the giant rat wounded him badly. he managed to knock out the creature and then strode over to help finish off the swarm.

Ezekiel was incapacitated by the swarms after throwing his blanket over them and then stomping.
Masa also got taken down by the swarms.

With two of the party down, Clara dragged them away from the swarms while Harry finally managed to drive off the remaining rats.

They summoned the watch and the magistrate. Reluctantly Marks agreed that they had captured the culprit.

Magistrate Marks apologised to Harry for having informed a bounty hunter that there was a price on Harry’s head [GM:Wanted hindrance, triggered by an earlier fumble from Harry when he met the magistrate].

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Blood Red Port

Blood Red Port
Clara gritted her teeth and tried to convince herself that Ratso, the cat she had known for years, was now a monster who had killed poor Goodman Morris last night. The cat in her arms yawned up at her. Its mouth opened wide, lips curled back revealing sharp teeth and red gums and a glistening tongue. Then the yawn continued with an unpleasant wet cracking noise and the redness inside seemed to blossom forward and outwards as the creature turned inside out! She dropped the creature, stepping away until her back bumped into the wall of the church.
The torrent of red flesh and organs seemed to pour out of the little cat and wrap itself around the contorted body. More and more and more of the vile innards as the body swelled. In a few seconds it grew to the size of a lion, then bigger, becoming almost 10’ long and 4’ at the shoulder. Clara watched, horrified. She could hear her friends running across the pebbled path from the church porch as the enormous cat spasmed and choked to cough up a black fur ball that spread out in a ripple, coating the giant body so it looked exactly like Ratso again. Only the eyes were different, blazing with green fire like those of the patchwork zombie, Mrs Swann.
The cat was huge! Teeth now the size of swords. It was strong and heavy too. Harry Pike struck it hard with his maul but it knocked him down and pinned him with a huge paw. Clara backed away and shot it with her pistol. Ezekiel shot a couple of bolts into it while Masa closed with it and hacked at it with his sword.
Despite its size and power, it was no match for them all. It went down in a welter of blood and the horrible process reversed as it returned to its natural size.
They burned the body in a brazier.

A few days later and they were approaching the dock at Plymouth on Thursday June 7th . Dr Dee was sending them to Prague, to take the astrological charts to his old colleague, Tycho Brae. Clara had not enjoyed the voyage very much. The confined space of the little cabin had her in a cold sweat for the 3 nights of the journey. Now they arrived at Plymouth to find that they were allowed to dock but would not be allowed to leave due to a manhunt for a serial killer.

The harbourmaster came out to meet them in a jolly boat and took a passenger list, he assured them the delay in ships leaving would only be a few days.

Once ashore, they learned that a series of gruesome murders had occurred.
On the same night that they had destroyed the Necromantic Tome, an old woman had gone mad, eyes blazing green, screeching and cursing. Clearly she was a witch and there was a lynching at the end of the dock. As she died, foul black smoke poured out of her, spilling over the end of the dock into the sea.
The morning after the following day two bodies were found, a lady of the night in an alley near the gallows and a drunkard in a street a few streets away. They had been hacked to pieces.
The next night there were three more murders. Another prostitute and her client, killed in the act in the same alley and another drunkard in a street next to the pier.
After this, they decided to prevent ships leaving so the killer could not escape.
They also decided to issue a curfew after sunset to keep the streets clear of all but the Watch.
Last night there were two more murders. A member of the watch, killed on the dock and a vagrant who slept under the pier.
From tonight, the watch will patrol in groups and able-bodied men from incoming ships are asked to sign-up. There is even the offer of a 10 pound reward for the murderer (with suitable proof). The general suspicion is that it is some associate of the witch woman.

Our heroes sign-up with the local magistrate, Peter Marks. Marks is clearly very busy but seems to vaguely recognise the name of Harry Pike, but can’t quite place him. [GM he fumbled a roll and has the “Wanted” hindrance]

They spend the rest of the afternoon and evening investigating the locations. From the description of the lynching of the witch, the black smoke sounded very familiar. They thought it likely that some person or creature might have become possessed, like Ratso. It was lucky the smoke had come out in the open and poured over the edge of the dock or a lot of the crowd could have been affected. They found a grating near the gallows that led down into a sewer under the dock. They lowered Ezekiel to investigate the sewer outflow but he didn’t fancy crawling in. There were grates and outlets near each of the murders.

They also investigated the hovel of the witch. The woman had been a cheap apothecary. Her rooms had been ransacked. The only thing of interest was a few broken bits of old slate with faded chalk scribblings that Clara recognised as passages (badly remembered) from the Book.

Night was approaching.

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004 A Book At Bedtime

A Book at Bedtime
It takes a couple of weeks to trek back to Manchester.
Harry Pike, manages to shake off his foreboding of doom but decides that the Gypsy Bone must be cursed and vows never to use it again [GM:his first attempt to use it botched and backlashed badly].
Clara is intrigued by the Necromantic Tome. Each evening, she studies it until she can stay awake no longer. It is in latin but much of it appears to have been copied and translated from ancient greek during roman times with additional sections having been added in the dark ages. A number of necromantic processes are described…

  • How to turn a living person into a zombie-like state. A temporary change that grants additional strength, pain resistance and tremendous regenerative powers to the victim in exchange for the zombie-like appearance, reduced mental faculties and slavish obedience.
  • Animating a corpse as an almost mindless shambling slave
  • Calling the departed spirit back into its body
  • Using a series of tattoos to grant magical toughness, strength and regeneration
  • Animating a severed limb with minimal intellect and imposing the owner’s will into it

The book is interspersed with sections from Revelations that talks about the end of the world, four horsemen of the apocalypse and the rise of a terrible monster. It is similar, but not exactly the same as the known biblical text. Seems to be based on an earlier common text.

Finally, the book contains many pages of astrological tables, which Clara can tell describe the positions of hundreds of stars and seems to focus a lot on a constellation called Ophicius and is an image of a man grappling with a large serpent.

Back in Manchester, Dr Dee is pleased to see them. He has been growing more concerned. Harry gets paid for the return of the book (and secretly for the safe return of Clara). The others were volunteers on this mission.

Dee claims to have heightened magical senses and is horrified by the amount of corruption emanating from the book. He decides to cut out the astrological pages and destroy the rest of the book but asks the companions to assist him as he is worried that something might happen. He will send away the rest of the resident priests and serving staff so they can use the old chapel building undisturbed tomorrow afternoon as it would be best to deal with this during daylight and in a consecrated place.

Harry and Ezekiel retire to a local tavern for the night while Clara returns to her home, a small house in the college grounds with a single old serving woman. Masa has his own sleeping cell in the College.

The following afternoon, Saturday, June 2nd 1601, when all the other residents have been sent away, they meet to deal with the book. Dee has placed it on the altar table and surrounded it with magic circles, pentacles, a ring of salt and numerous candles. He is waiting for them at the door, stroking the scruffy-looking college cat, Ratso. It’s a friendly creature and keeps the rat population in check, although he only eats the heads and always leaves the bodies by the door,

While Dee is thus distracted, Clara slips into the Chapel and investigates the Altar and the book, disturbing the magical protections. Dee blames himself for not having warned her and for not including the Arts in her education. It will take him a few hours to replace the magical protections so now the ceremony will take place just after sundown. He tries to explain to Clara what he is doing and that magic is becoming “too easy” these days.

As the time approaches, the heroes take their positions. Dee says that all these preparations might be for nothing, but wants to err on the side of caution. His magic circles should imprison anything that emerges and the holiness of the Altar should burn its evil away in a few moments. He warns them not to enter the circle, even if he is in danger. Then he starts to cut out the first of the pages.

A wind gutters all the candles, sending shadows into every corner. Then black smoke begins to pour from the book. It flows over the altar onto the floor and spreads like a low mist. Dr Dee exclaims whenit rolls past the magical protections!

in moments the flow increases to a raging torrent. It spills across to the walls and then the level rises. In seconds the entire room is black, floor to vaulted ceiling.For each of the people trapped in the dark, sounds are deadened and they feel isolated and afraid.

Some time later, possibly days or even weeks…

Harry Pike is confused, he’s not sure how he got here but it’s hot and dark, he is standing knee-deep in warm black water, near the edge of some kind of vast lake, fringed by strange trees. The night is full of noises, chirps and croaks he’s never heard before. Something brushes past his leg, something long and rough. Snake! Since the terrifying vision caused by the gypsy witch’s foretelling bone, he has had bad dreams about snakes. Three v-shaped heads break the surface. Harry fights, runs, is pursued onto the shore. When he hits one of heads, the others twitch in pain too and he realises they are linked. Although they each have their own eyes and mouth, they are apparently tentacles of some larger creature. He manages to crush them and stands facing the dark water as hundreds more begin to emerge.

Ezekiel doesn’t remember the journey from Manchester to the graveyard in cheshire where he buried his wife and child. But here he is, kneeling in the dirt, scrabbling to get the last few clumps of earth from the coffin lid. Ever since Clara Dee had told him what she had read in the Book, he had been racing here, panicked, feverish. Perhaps they were still alive, even now, even after all these months. Oh God, perhaps they had still been alive when he buried them. He tore the lid off and saw the scratches and broken nails on the underside. Bile rose in his throat. He saw the contorted faces and wept. then they reached for him and tore at his flesh. He was forced to smash his dead daughter’s face in with the butt of his crossbow and then scramble backwards to get a clear shot at his wife.

Clara felt as if she was waking from a drugged sleep. She was strapped to a table in a dimly-lit cellar. She was shaking from the closed-in space even before she felt the light touch stroking her arms. The patchwork zombie face of Mrs Swann appeared above her, talking across her to Dr Swann. “These will do nicely. strong but still elegant.” The demonic face pulled back and the Dr leaned over, raising his bonesaw. Panic flooded Clara and she tore free of the table. she managed to draw her rapier and wounded the Doctor, but the zombie was too strong, she was going to die in this terrible place…

Hattori Masashige wasn’t sure if it was because of his arcane training, but he felt he had not succumbed to the fever dreams that had assailed his companions. as the smoke faded, he could see their sweating, tired faces, and see Dr Dee, slumped over the Altar, still twitching and moaning. Then he caught sight of movement in one of the doorways as a ninja, slipped out of the shadows, his long narrow blade glistening with arcane energy. This wasn’t just common ninja, but like Masa himself, an adept with arcane training. He crossed the room and skewered Ezekiel. The man had no chance against the unexpected attack, blood bubbled in his throat, another strike and he would be dead. The ninja muttered a summoning, calling to a powerful Oni. It would only take three substantial wounds to complete the call.
A second ninja, sword glowing, like the first, came from the other doorway and struck Masa, he too was chanting the summoning call. One more bloodletting would do it. Masa struck back but their blades clashed. Clara and Harry rushed to Ezekiel’s aid but the ninja was too skilled. He parried the maul and sent the rapier spinning away into the darkness then thrust again through Ezekiel’s throat. Masa watched the corpse of his friend fall and heard the final syllable of the summoning spell. In the doorway of the church stood the Oni. Twice as tall as a man and heavily built. He had a single curved horn jutting from his forehead. A silvery thread poured out of Ezekiel’s eyes and mouth and shot across the room to be inhaled by the Oni. “Ahhh…”. The creature licked its lips. “Shall the rest of your friends die, or will you yield?”. Masa knew that Ezekiel’s spirit had been consumed and taken down into one of the special hells. He made the Oni swear to let the others live and then plunged his own blade into his guts.

They were all stunned by their own visions of horror and despair. But they were back in the room and each seemed to have somehow come through the ordeal. A groan from the old man slumped by the Altar, then he stood and a faint glow of golden feathered wings rose above him, just for a moment. “I’m sorry my friends, I underestimated the danger.”. Quickly he finished cutting out the pages he wanted and then burned the rest of the book.

They exchanged stories about their ordeals and learned about Dee’s. He had spoken with the angel Uriel, more clearly than ever before. Then Uriel had laughed and told him it had all been a trick to bring them to this moment. The angel revealed himself to be Satan. Dee had prayed and believed this must be a false vision and the strength of his faith had eventually snapped him out of it.

Afterwards, he gave the pages to Clara and asked them all to undertake a much longer mission. He had a colleague in Prague – Tycho Brae, a famous astronomer. Tycho should be able to decipher the astrological tables and workout how long they have left and where on earth the stars would have these exact positions. He suggested taking a ship from Liverpool to Plymouth, from there cross to Le Havre, then Paris, Strasburg, Nuremburg and thence to Prague. This route would avoid the disputed territories of the Low Countries where war still simmered with the Spanish and also avoid going back to London (Harry Pike seemed keen to avoid London).

The next morning the body of the old college groundskeeper was found on the steps of the church building. Just the body, no sign of the head. It appeared to have been torn off rather than cut. There were a couple of cutlass-sized cuts on the body. The attack seemed to have happened in the man’s little shack. The furniture and the door were smashed. Eventually they found tracks where the body had been dragged to the church and dumped. There were additional tracks, apparently a tiger, a big tiger!

“It’s the cat!” Harry seemed sure. Clara remembered that Ratso had indeed been nearby when the darkness poured out of the Book. While the others prepared weapons,
Clara went looking for the cat, with a saucer of milk. Ratso came trotting to her. She scooped him up and carried him around the back of the church…

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003c The Doctor's Notes

Some letters tucked into a pouch in the front cover.

Inside the cover of the Necromantic Tome – The Resurrection and the Life

S was a fool to trust any outsider with knowledge of his Art. Do not make the same mistake. Keep nothing that would reveal yourself or link to any of your fellow practitioners. Even a trusted servant, if he be not steeped in the greater mysteries, will turn against you in the end. So narrow and small are the minds of the commonality.
You have taken that first great step. You have crossed a border into a new land, unchained from old beliefs. You have wielded the Power of God and know now that it will be just a few years before that power will be fully realised. We will be the new gods. There are more dead than living in this world and we shall command them all when the serpent rises.

You are wrong to limit your endeavours to the restoration of one. Though no doubt an admirable and much-missed companion. These new powers are not to be wasted in such fripperies. When the serpent rises, those of our elite brotherhood will be raised above all others and that which now we accomplish with great toil and dedication we shall command with a whim and a gesture.

When next I come to England, I hope you will allow me to visit you and see the Book for myself. The extracts you have sent me indicate it is of tremendous value. The regenerative benefits of the Book’s symbols would be of some value to my own Great Work although this is on a much larger scale and there are not enough skilled tatooists to make it feasible. I have also discussed it with vG and he too is most keen. His own act of creation, like yours is of a more singular focus.

The Doctor’s Journal details his slow descent into madness. Before he took the Book, he was just very miserable over the death of his wife. Once he had the book, he was a man with a mission. There were some letters hidden in the cover of the book and he was able to correspond with some of Simeon’s associates. He says in a recent entry that he cares nothing for his own fate, but has burned all evidence revealing the names of Simeon’s associates, some of whom have given assistance on the meaning of certain key phrases

It appears that after getting the book and letters, he gradually learned how to resurrect his wife. He was worried by a phrase about a time limit concerned with “3 revolutions of the Sun” or the returned spirit might be a fiend from the outer dark but chose to interpret this as 3 years, rather than 3 days. When Mary’ rotted corpse first animated, he was very worried but, once “that normal comfort, given by a wife to her husband”, had been resumed between them, he was left in no doubt that it was indeed, his own sweet Mary restored.
After that, he had to keep her hidden in case the townsfolk considered this blessed miracle to be a blasphemy. He procured a couple of fresher bodies to replace a few parts. In the last few days, he was at first reluctant to poison the Potter girl, but Mary once again seduced him into it. He is full of remorse but realises that sometimes, to save the body, one must lose the leg.

He is now quite mad, raving that he must get back to his Mary, “She is with child, you know”. You can get nothing else out of him.

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003b Poor Dr Swann

They arrive, with the angry Edward Potter, at the house of Dr. Thomas Swann. Harry Pike has dressed in the leather smock of one of the grave robbers and is carrying Mistress Dee over his shoulder. It is a poor disguise but it may get them through the door.
The house is a decent size with a two-storey black and white, thatched cottage and an attached single storey stone workshop and a small leanto. The grave robbers were to deliver the body to the workshop door.
They knock and from inside, they hear the faint words, “They are here, my love” and the creak of a trapdoor being closed. The Doctor opens the door and Harrry carries in the “body” while Swann seems distracted. It seems he has not slept, his hair and beard are unkempt, his eyes blodshot and red rimmed. They push past, into the room and accuse him of murder and necromancy and ask how many of his patients has he killed. He mutters that this was the first one he had to kill and explains that “My dear Mary insisted. She really liked the girl’s eyes.” The confession sends Potter into a rage and he starts to beat the Doctor into unconsciousness.

Mistress Dee spots the trapdoor, opened a crack, and dashes over to fling it open. She is momentarily horror-stricken by the sight of a woman on the stairs below. Even in the gloom of the cellar, it is clear this is a walking corpse, stitched together from the mismatched body parts of other women and clad in a stained nightdress and covered in tatoos similar to those seen on the animated hand they fought that morning. There are only a few scraps of hair on her rotted head and her eyes blaze with a horrible green fire. A raspy voice issues from her, “Where are my eyes?”.

The fight in the cellar is hard as the creature seems to regenerate and barely feels any injuries and almost ignores the crossbow bolts. Harry manages to beat the zombie to the ground but she keeps getting back up. Once again, it is up to Masa to enchant his sword and deliver the killing blow, striking off the woman’s head.

In the aftermath, they search the cellar and find the heavy book they are seeking, entitled The Ressurection and the Life. Then they notice a twitching from the stitched-up corpse. Something tears through the flimsy nightdress from inside the body. A tiny pink hand, then a tiny arm and the horror is complete. A baby zombie, still attached by the bloody cord to the headless corpse of its mother! It begins to crawl towards Mistress Dee, who has the Book, dragging the body behind it. Harry’s maul descends with a sickening crunch, then the enchanted blade of Masa finishes the grisly work.

In the cellar and office they also find letters and a journal.

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003 Graveyard Stakeout

The rest of Sunday morning, they spent searching Simeon’s house for the Book. They found nothing of interest.

Against Mistress Dee’s advice, Harry drew mystic symbols on th kitchen floor and attempted to use the gypsy witch’s magick bone. [GM:He rolled snake eyes for the Magick roll and then again on the Backlash!] The power overwhelmed his untutored mind with images of snakes writhing in blood. The visions disturbed him so much they gave him fatigue.

Knowing that they would need to do the stakeout of the graveyard, they returned to the Widow Bracknell’s guest house and slept until evening. From her they heard how well-attended the funeral had been and learned that the young girl had been very popular and had beautiful blue eyes.

They hid in the grounds and waited for a few hours in the dark and drizzle. A couple of hours after midnight, three graverobbers turned up. The fight was over before it hardly began. Ezekial shot and killed the first. The others closed in and cut down a second. The third surrendered, scared out of his wits.

They intimidated a confession out of the grubby young man, Eric Shinty, before Harry fetched Edward Potter, the grieving father of the little girl who had just been buried. Potter summoned a couple of the town’s Reeves. Shinty pleaded for mercy and told them that the body was too be taken to the workshop of Dr Thomas Swann. At first Potter refused to believe it but gradually came to realise that his daughter may have been slowly poisoned by the doctor. Ezekial explained that Dr. Swann might be a necromancer! This town has had some experience with a necromancer and the Reeves were happy to leave the arrest in the hands of the strangers, but warned them to take Swann alive as they would need proof of his guilt. Potter insisted on accompanying them. On the way he told them a little of Swann’s history.
5 years ago, Swann’s pretty young wife died during childbirth. The doctor was very distraught and has been melancholy ever since. It was Swann who was called to the jail 3 years ago, to stitch up the severed arm of the necromancer, Roger Simeon, on the night before his execution.

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