Friday, March 24, 2017

Session 6 - Feb 23rd - Feb 28 1879

Session 6
   Tuesday morning Emily Shaw grabbed a burnt scone and marmalade on her way out into the shallow yard of the women's boarding house. She was tired and felt the weight of her troubles. As she stretched and stepped through her fight poses she felt some ease in the routine. However, her peace was ruined when she spotted someone spying on her in her underclothes from the gate. She bristled and covered herself returning to her room.
   Patrick woke late in the day, still badly beaten. Old Nan tended to him and made him some tea but he wasn't in any shape to move around so he slept the day away.
  John Henry rose and chased down some breakfast. He watched the other scientists working in the barn but didn't have it in him to conduct any experimental work. He tracked around the town, he stood on the wall and though about his ambition to make a gentleman's club, he counted his dwindling funds.
   In the late afternoon he encountered Emily Shaw returning checking in on Patrick O'Mallie. She reminded him of her expectation that he would accompany her on her ill-advised diplomacy attempt with Count Bridgewater to whit John Henry reminded her that she was to be working on his aims to be a businessman in Neverwhere. The pair of them headed into the Hart to get out of the afternoon heat and have an early dinner.
   Later they pair was joined by Lance Weston who had spent the morning trying to tune in the land of the dead and announced that he believed he was close to cracking the code of channeling the dead. As the sat drinking in a quiet corner they conspired on how they would get the invitation back from the Poole's. They decided none of them had the talent for burglary but that with a suitable distraction perhaps they wouldn't need much stealth, perhaps they could engage in a spectacle and their largely invisible Irishman could simply walk into wherever the scroll was held and walk out. John Henry reasoned that if a suitable decoy were left behind chances are Lord Poole would never know he was robbed. One-by-one the adventurers parted company and went to bed contemplating something shy of treason.
   Come Wednesday Lance woke from an unsettling dream that he stuck outside the gates of Neverwhere with the fields ablaze. He shakily carried out his morning rituals. Once he was centered he once more attempted to commune with the dead but he found them flighty, terrified of something in the spirit world, a most unsettling revelation. On his way down the stairs he encountered Mr. Spooner , and the pair of them prepared a sumptuous breakfast while talking over the business of the fort. Later Lance visited the Fort's armorer to talk about purchasing a sword but the man seemed reluctant to offer him one despite the many that were in his shop in various states of construction. As he explained it he can barely keep up with the cavalry's demand for blades. Disappointed but not undone, Lance took to the scrap bins and rubbish piles around Neverwhere, asking workmen where broken appliances are thrown out. With some luck he found a steel bracing bar, heavy and short for a sword but with the rust scraped off and handle wrapped in cloth it would make a serviceable practice sword. For good measure he walked it outside of the town gates to the tree he had lit on fire and gave the trunk a few sturdy hacks until he was satisfied it would work.
   Patrick awoke again in the late morning to the sounds of hammers in the kitchen as some of the men were doing carpentry. Immediately he wanted to investigate and pitch in but he felt woozy upon standing so he laid back down. Old Nan brought him some broth and checked his bandages. He resolved that he'd remain awake today so he got out a book and set about refreshing his knowledge of More's Utopia.
   Emily Shaw woke early, staggered downstairs into the yard and set about her exercises while still mostly asleep. While in the midst of her katas she heard snickering from the gate of the tiny yard between house and palisades and spotted a pair of youngsters spying on her. She bolted at them with clenched fists and while two of them bolted one stumbled and found Lady Shaw standing over him "Having a good look are you boy?" The young man apologized and explained that his friends said there was a woman doing Chinese boxing. He just wanted to see it. Emily Shaw relaxed and explained that her fighting art wasn't Chinese but Indian and admirable curiousity in the foreign aside, it wasn't appropriate for a young man to be spying on the lady's boarding house. She helped him to his feet and ran him off.
   Once she  had time to make herself presentable in her best dress, she hurried across the town to the gates of the fort and knocked at Mr. Montjoy's door. Montjoy appeared mid-shave, seeming embarrassed to see Lady Shaw at his door. He invited her in if it didn't offend her and cleaned the shaving cream from his face. She sat at his desk and laid out the plan to steal back the invitation from Count Volkov. She wanted to know if Montjoy could, from her description of the scroll, manufacture a forgery. Montjoy assured Lady Shaw that he felt it was essential to meet the count but he didn't see how he could make a facsimile with so little idea of what he was copying. Lady Shaw assured him he would just have to make a scroll of similar dimension and that they could roll it onto the scroll's bolster and fittings.
  John Henry woke to the sound of people arguing. High above his cubicle men were fooling around in the rafters of the work barn, sawdust drifting down. He got up and dressed, asking around the barn what was going on. Mr. Martins said "It's Wells, he's got some mad new project from the crown and he's tearing the roof of the barn apart." John Henry wandered into the kitchen to see what scraps could be found at the tail of breakfast and he overheard a pair of academics talking worriedly about funds. When one of them walked away he struck up a conversation with a melancholic lab assistant named Fennworth. Fennworth told him that the presiding manager of Fort Alice had been found dead in his room this morning and nobody knew who would be taking over or how anyone would be paid or work would be approved until there was someone else in his office. It was as if The Company's head had been cut off.
   As John Henry arranged his work table and began the ordinary work of studying Oricalcum a hammer abruptly dropped onto a nearby table with a loud bang. John Henry shouted at the rafters to get someone's attention and a young man with a dirty face and glasses looked down with a smile "Did we lose a hammer? I'm dreadfully sorry, is everyone alright down there?" John Henry cursed out the young Englishman until he came down from his ladder hat-in-hand to make amends. The scrawny spectacles man introduced himself as Herbert Wells, a journeyman carpenter and explained that the roof of the barn is being modified to open like a breadbox with the most exquisite pulley system by order of Lord James Robins of the Royal Army. John Henry was both charmed and annoyed by the young Herbert Wells who was eager to tear the roof off a building with eccentric mechanical aspirations yet no idea of the purpose of the project.
  Before too long Lady Shaw arrived and they excused themselves to the kitchen to conspire. Emily needed assurance from John Henry that he was committed to the diplomacy before she stole the scroll and wanted to know if he could help arrange provisions and horses for the adventurers and Montjoy. It was at this time that the abandoned Wells spoke up "Pardon? Not to intrude but did you say you're arranging an excursion? Are you going to Silver Lake?" Emily and John her unnerved to be spied on but couldn't help but find Herbert's curiosity charming. Wells wanted to test an Aether extraction machine he had built and would be willing to make a substantial contribution if he would accompany them. When asked what he could contribute Well's boasted that he worked four summers apprenticing to an upholsterer and has some skill  loading and driving a wagon. After a quick conference they told Wells they would have to first introduce them to their contemporaries.
   Lady Shaw and John Henry walked the gawky Wells over to the Irish Dorms to check on Patrick, only to find auspiciously that Lance was visiting him. We'll made introductions with vigorous handshakes, winning a smile from Lance when he recognized the young man as the new spiritualist in town. Patrick was harder to win over. He had some hard questions for the distracted young Englishman until Herbert interrupted him to ask if that was More's Utopia he was reading and after a few minutes of critique of More's vision of socialism Patrick had signed off on the gawky young man.
   As they stood and gabbed a group of solemn Irish carried a white pine coffin out of the back of the dorm. After the pallbearers had left the adventurers shared information about the demise of Mr. White and the disruption in the spirit world. John Henry decided that A. N. White may hold some critical knowledge about the Company mine or even more eccentric secrets. Lance Weston was eager to experiment with channeling, believing he could have the dead embody him for a short duration. Lady Shaw liked neither idea but was in need of the support of her friends so she backed them. The left Patrick to rest and parted company with Wells and they were off to Fort Alice.
  They arrived in the rail yard of Fort Alice, seeing the coffin laid out on sawhorses as a solemn crew of soldiers began to carry a body wrapped in sheets out of one of the rail yard apartments and gently laid it to rest in the coffin. Gathered around were the solemn faces of the leadership of the town and the soldiers that serve the fort. The one exception was spotted by Lance and John Henry, a pair of Knights of Avalon smiling gleefully as they shared a private conversation on the parapets. The three of them maneuvered to the deceased manager's apartment but there were too many straying eyes. However, once the laborers began to nail the coffin shut attention was drawn to the sound and quickly the three of them slipped into the ajar door of Mr White's quarters.
  The adventurers began to search the small cluttered apartment for any information they could find. Lance settled down on White's little bed and clutched the man's jacket while closing his eyes in concentration. Lady Shaw admonished him "Not to rush you but we have little time.." John Henry found a little chest in Mr. White's desk but it was locked securely, beside it were ledgers but their contents were a cryptic scrawl of notation. Suddenly Lance looked up from his concentration and his face hardened like he had just eaten a whole lemon. He scowled and began snapping his fingers at Emily Shaw "Ledger.. pen..". As Emily gave him what he asked for he began to move stiffly, writing notes quickly with a look of sour determination. Emily bent down and looked into his eyes "Are you Mr. White?" Lance replied in a monotonous voice "There is a key in my coat pocket for the cashbox, there will be more than enough to finish these tasks. It's unclear how long I can remain so it is paramount..." Lances eyes widened and he stopped scribbling in the ledger "What happened?". Lance had written more of Mr. White's notation but John Henry was able to quickly decipher that that it was four different transactions, credits and debits, a last wish of a dead man.. or an attempt to hide the bodies from beyond the grave. With the lockbox open John Henry found a stack of crisp pound notes. he grabbed a handful and stuffed them in his pocket before peering out the door and discretely the three stepped out into the rail yard to fall into a group of people walking by.
   Walking out of the gates of Fort Alice the trio parted ways with a plan. John Henry walked to the stables to secure horses and a wagon for their trip to Bridgewater. Lady Shaw and Lance walked to the Poole's home to convince them of the importance of a seance that night. Lord Poole was at first reluctant but his wife vouched for Mr Weston's impressive powers. Lady Shaw attempted clumsily to con Lord Pool into arranging a private seance where Mr. Weston would channel the Spirit of A. N. White. Poole was instantly suspicious but agreed to the seance, if only to get to the bottom of Lady Shaw's deception. It was agreed they could convene the elite of Neverwhere at sunset the following night.
   Emily slept restlessly, realizing that time to change her treacherous plans was evaporating quickly. She woke in the night and groggily packed her things for the journey and did her exercises in the half-light before dawn. After breakfast she dressed in her best dress and made her way to the provisioners to buy proper clothes for Patrick to wear in the charade. A suit of decent clothing turned out to be more expensive than she expected and she ended up taking a note of debt to the store.
   Patrick woke feeling all-together resolute, still injured but no longer fading in and out. He asked to return to work but Old Nan insisted he rest another day. Emily Show showed up at the Dorms with boxes of clean new clothes and shared with Patrick his role in their little conspiracy while he dressed. Patrick stopped to admire how he looked in the mirror dressed well and groomed.
   Lance performed a ritual cleansing to remove impurities from his body, then he dressed, packed his things for the journey and set out on the street. He made his lazy way to the work barn to see John Henry only to find Patrick and Lady Shaw there. they gathered in the relative privacy of the kitchen to lay out the plan. The only missing piece was Montjoy with the forgery of the scroll.
  Each of them arrived at the Poole's at their own pace. They found Montjoy waiting in attendance with a knowing grin. As Lady Shaw approached him to share a polite conversation he slipped a scroll into her handbag. Lady Shaw handed her coat and handbag off to Patrick as Lance Weston began to ask for everyone's attention. Patrick moved into the office to "put Lady Shaw's things away. Away from prying eyes Patrick began to search Lord Poole's office. He stealthily jimmied open the Lord's with a boot knife and found the scroll. He quickly unraveled the scroll while the show was starting in the parlor and rolled up the forgery. Just then Patrick realized that the good people of Neverwhere were gasping in horror. He walked out of the office and into the parlor to find Lance looming over the seated Brittains, fingers clutched in to claws, speaking to them in a gibberish language. Montjoy squinted at Lance's growled syllables piecing out what he could "I am Szasha.. I serve Krom in the.. go around? Your blood will .. pour.. fire-branch-man. Kron will lay you flat.. Something about the gift gone bad?" Lance fell out of his possession and stumbled to the carpet, holding his chest. All around him the good Lords and Ladies of Neverwhere flushed and shouted at him for his stunt. Lady Shaw made apologies as she tried to help Lance to his feet once more with the help of John Henry. She asked Patrick to please fetch their coats and after a good tongue lashing from Lord Poole for the embarrassing seance, they quietly walked out of the Poole home without anyone realizing they had stolen the scroll.
   They agreed to meet in the morning at the stables early and set out before anyone's suspicious can be aroused. Lance and Lady Shaw saw Patrick back to his dorm before turning in. John Henry felt a bit more adventurous. He wandered into the Lonely Hart and bought a pint. When the there were no prying ears close-by he leaned into the buxom bartender and ask if Mr. Blackpool was expected tonight. Miss Ainslee gave John Henry a tired look and nodded towards the cellar door, pretending not to notice as the gunslinger slunk by her and vanished into the back of the bar. John Henry found Blackpool at the fight room bar counting his money and struck up a conversation about a hypothetical arrangement where Blackpool would turn wheels to get his gentleman's club up and running in return for back-scratching in kind. John Henry continued to push for specific terms to get his business started until Blackpool held out his arms with pound notes clenched in each fist "Here in these walls walls lays the whole of my kindgom Mr. Jackson, ambitions not withstanding. I don't run this town and certainly not the fort. If you want land and right you'll need to charm Lord Poole. If you want customers you'll want to win over the Friar and the Cavalry Commander..". Blackpool poured John Henry a glass of whiskey and left him to grouse. Upon finishing the glass John Henry felt a familiar sinful thirst and returned to the bar where he began to collect glasses in front of him. When he finally stumbled out of the Hart he realized he couldn't trust himself to wake early in his stumbled state so he broke into the stables and collapsed in the first clean pile of hay he found.
   Friday morning came bright an early with the horse grooms rousting John Henry with a rake and still-wounded Patrick O'mallie struggling into the stables carrying his tools and a large sack. The Provisioner's boy arrived with a hand-cart full of supplies. Next arrived eager Herbert Wells with his cumbersome equipment and baggage. Montjoy arrived and signed out a horse for himself and Lady Shaw arrived shortly before dawn to survey the loading. Lastly Lance arrived with his small luggage bag and his breastplate, ready for adventure. The wagon and two horses pushed out of the gates of Neverwhere amidst the tide of workers heading out into the woods and within a few minutes Fort Alice began to fade into the distance.
   They felt a sense of trepidation as the road lead them back into the woods. An ambush without military assistance could be disastrous. The traveled slowly, John Henry riding ahead. When they stopped Lance Weston levitated above the trees to survey the area. He couldn't' see much in the forest below but he saw smoke to the south, a camp or village he reasoned. As they neared the edge of the woods they saw a rider waiting on the road, his horse slender with long spindly legs. As Lady Shaw looked at him through her spyglass he was clearly not a man, but some sort of fox-headed creature, dressed in armor, carrying a spear. John Henry collected the scroll and rode forward slowly, bearing it to be seen but as he neared the fox-on-horseback bolted away.
   The adventurers set across the plains in the evening and were treated to a beautiful sunset reflecting of silver lake. The set camp in the wrecked village on the lake shore and Herbert ran out to the shore to perform tests on his new extractor. Lance flexed his new cooking skills on a warm pot of stew with bread still-soft from the bakery. Montjoy turned out to be an able camper unafraid to roll up his sleeves and help with the labor of settling in and they slept restlessly.
   Saturday morning came with an urgent rush to push onward. Camp was broken and Herbert used what daylight he could get to make one more attempt at extracting Aether but his results would take time to examine. Lance doled out pasties made from the leftover stew and the wagon rolled onward. At the sight of the King's Highway Herbert pulled to a stop and gawked, unable to conceive of such a marvel. They rode closer and mounted it's huge black bricks, driving down it's wide lanes for miles.     Near sunset the road bridged a massive lake that Lady Shaw estimated at a mile long. At the far end the Adventures found the first exit to the high stone road they had seen in miles and decided to pull off of the way to camp for the night. The land was marshy but dry enough near the road. They set camp and started a campfire. John spotted lights in the forest across the moors and rode across to investigate. As he neared he could see the lights came from lanterns hung in the trees. The woods gave him a sense of unease and he rode back rather than investigate further.
   As the adventurers settled in for the night, laughing about the shared stories there was a mournful wail from deep in the dark wood. Montjoy rose out of his bedding like a shot and grabbed his rifle, searching the darkness. The others reacted in fear, grabbing weapons and looking for what they didn't know. "What is it?" John Henry demanded as he thumbed the hammers of his revolvers anxiously. Montjoy began to move slowly, searching the moonlit moors "The natives call it the Shadow Hound.. it is a very very disagreeable beast.." and slowly howling wails rang out one after the other, seeming to come from every direction.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Session 5 - Feb 20 - Feb 22 1879

Session 5

   Lady Shaw rose energized in the morning and quickly hurried downstairs for a brisk breakfast then she was out in the yard for her morning practice. Her dormitory mother kindly nagged that she wished she wouldn't carry on in the back yard in barely more than her unmentionables like she did but Emily said the only alternative to her exercise wear was to exercise in the buff and suggested that she erect a privacy hedge. She dressed and set out into the street in a nice floral dress to collect her wages from the Royal Geography society just as the Fort Gates opened. She dropped her exploration clothes off at the launderers and knocked at the provisioners until they turned their open sign over and let her in. She spent the morning sampling tobaccos and shopping, finally getting some expensive Turkish blend and a a bag of chocolated caramels.
  Lady shaw stopped by the stables to collect her scrimshaw bones from Mr Swift but she found that the stablemaster hadn't seen the young man in three days and had no idea what had become of Gerald. Disappointed, Lady Shaw asked that if the young man was found that someone send word to her at the lady's dormitory.
   Lance Weston woke tired but resolute to observe his rituals, dragging himself out of bed and performing his morning meditation. His long journey and living on the land had left his energies badly out of balance. His boarding mate  wasn't to be found so he scraped together breakfast from leftovers in the kitchen and made his way to get to the head of the Saturday pay line. After collecting his dispensation he had his clothes laundered and looked through the provisioners to see their new wares but they were too crowded to shop so he went out for a stroll.
   John Henry woke feeling a bit stifled and frustrated by a lack of discipline in his work. He took a morning bath in the back of the work barn that left him feeling less-than-clean. Then he dressed and went out for a stroll to clear his head. Walking along the Company Offices on the back of the Fort, he spotted a brassy blonde woman accompanied by a large brute in the middle of an argument with a man in a Doctor's apron. She asserted that the doctor had done something with  her brother, Gerald and she demanded answers from the Dr Morse. Morse tried to calm her and assure her he hadn't seen her brother in days since his accident at the stables and had no knowledge of his whereabouts until he lost his patience with her impertinence and encouraged her to fetch the guard if she was so sure something untoward was going on in his offices.
   By the time John Henry reached the pay line it was going out the gates and across the road. He waited patiently for his dispensation, then he returned to the barn, organized his work table and focused on a long day of making progress in experiments meant to validate the work others had done on Orichalcum.
   Patrick woke at his own will, enjoying the luxurious pace of a Saturday. He rose and dressed and got in line at the pay table in the dorms for his tiny stack of schillings, tucking them away before they were spent. While he sat in his bunk reading there was a call from the front door that he had a visitor.
   Standing on the Porch was the much maligned Tom Blackpool and his giant thugs, the young Scottsman cradling a shilelagh over his shoulders and scuffing the dirt in the street with the toe of his riding boots. When Patrick emerged he flashed a broad grin "Omallie, my title man is sick and I need a fighter, do us a favor and stand-in.." Patrick wasn't keen on being pulled into Blackpools fighting show, he knew there were strings attached he couldn't anticipate, he politely declined the persistent requests until finally explaining "What I fear Mr. Blackpool is that I'll come to expect your fight wages and find myself on a raft when you don't want to put me in your ring.." Black pool took off his gloves literally and stated in a quiet voice "What worries me Patrick is that some day you may take injured and be unable to labor, or perhaps your tools will need mending or any number of calamities, and you'll not have money socked away from fighting in my ring and you'll have to come to me in desperation.. I don't want to see you a desperate man Patrick, come fight one night.." Begrudgingly Patrick relented and agreed to come to the fighting ring at 9PM that night.
  As afternoon wore into evening the Adventurers turned up one at a time at the Hart to drown their boredom. The pub was busy on a Saturday Night, several soldiers deciding to share their table with Emily and gradually with her friends. One of the soldiers from the excursion, Nora, struck up a conversation with Lance Weston, making some clumsy effort to flirt with the man that he was amusingly oblivious to until the others filled him in. As Patrick arrived he ignored their summons and went directly to the door in the back of the bar. Unsure what to make of his behavior Emily Shaw followed after him along with John Henry and eventually Lance once he made his polite goodbyes.
  As they followed Patrick down into the bowels of the pub they were intercepted by one of Blackpool's giant thugs. Lady Shaw applied a little charm to get past him into the fighting pit, a large room with a wooden fighting square and risers built around the corners for people to see the fight better. In the corner was a lonely bar ignored by energized spectators of all classes watching two men pummel each other for their amusement. Patrick had found Blackpool and was getting the lowdown as the others approached "The fight goes 10 minutes bell-to-bell. The only winner is the man who can still stand or hasn't cried mercy in that time, win lose or draw you get your pound note but the house is much happier with a decisive outcome." Patrick frowned as he watched the brutal action in the ring "I'm assuming gentleman's rules?" his eyes widening as he saw one fighter grapple and throw his opponent through the barricades of the fighters box. Blackpool sneered "Do those men look gentle? Hit where you can get your hits in, put the other man down, nobody is here to see dancing..".
   As Patrick took off his shirt to expose a history spelled out in burns and nasty scars, Lance and John Henry sized up the decidedly overweight and doughy looking men in the fight and excused themselves to place large bets with one of Blackpool's men. Emily Shaw remained to offer Patrick some unsolicited advice on how he should fight. Patrick tried to contain his fury at being lectured in how to fight by the aristocrat but he lost his temper and offered her some firm words about what a know-it-all she was. Emily was aghast and tried to explain that she was only hoping to protect him somehow.
   As 10PM rolled around Patrick climbed into the ring and prepared himself for a beating. Blackpool mounted a chair and shouted to the audience "Our final title of the evening is about to begin, Patrick "the pummeller" O'mallie against the savage Mr. Chen, you'll not want to miss this momentous battle. get your bets in before the bell rings.." Across the fighter's box a lean muscular Asian man climbed the barricade and swept his long black hair back into a ponytail as he regarded Patrick with stoney stoicism. Patrick could feel his stomach sink without even knowing that Lance and John Henry had placed bets on hims with 2-to-1 odds to lose.
   When the bell rung Mr. Chen was across the small fighter's box before Patrick could find his footing, launching fast relentless kicks. Patrick held up his defenses under the fury of blows trying to keep his eye on the Chinaman's stance and body movement before his strikes. Mr. Chen closed in and kicks turned to punches. Patrick couldn't move his guard fast enough to stop the assault and he took a hard blow to his ribs that snapped a bone. The crowd exploded in cheers. Mr. Chen closed in deeper, leveling knee strikes against Patrick's broken rib, what he didn't know is that Patrick's ribs had been broken many times and the pain didn't phase him. The Irishman unwound with a punch to Mr. Chen's brow that sent him staggering backwards. Then Patrick threw another punch and what was a slaughter quickly became a fight. Mr. Chen was terribly quick and aggressive. He pounded Patrick with blows until he spat blood but Patrick was unstoppable, continuing to land glancing punches until a solid hook put the Chinaman on his back. Then Patrick collapsed, struggling to see or breathe, utterly thrashed.
   Blackpool rushed into the ring and lifted Patrick's nearly unconscious body off the dirt to raise his his hand in victory and proclaim the winner. Both fighters were carried to chairs outside the ring and were given first aid to make sure they weren't dead. Patrick complimented Mr. Chen as they sat in pain and tried to breathe slowly. Mr. Chen humbly told Patrick that his skills were no match for a fighter such as himself. Lance collected 10 Shillings from the bookmaker, John Henry reaping two Pound Sterling, they had a beer to celebrate their shrewd wager, and at Lady Shaw's behest they helped carry Patrick out of the basement and get him back to his bed safely.
   The next morning Lady Shaw woke extra early and got in her exercises before sun-up. She dressed in her best dress and went to Church. She was a little disappointed to see that none of the boys made an appearance, knowing someone of her station wouldn't get away with such disregard for ritual. Afterwards she walked into the gates of Fort Alice and asked after Mr. Montjoy of the Royal Geographer's Society and was greeted at the door by the handsome young explorer. She began to ask about the Count of Bridgewater but her questions made him look about uncomfortably and he asked if it would be appropriate for him to entertain her in his apartment. Emily wasn't sure what to think of the impropriety of his request but she was determined to get answers so she agreed. Montjoy put on a kettle and broke out maps on his tiny table identifying who her emissary was with a sketchbook of heraldry of the Native peoples. He explained that their emissary was neither of Roanoak or from The White and if his Count's offer is genuine it could mean a great deal to the Crown. Lady Shaw explained that the invitation was no longer in her hands. Montjoy offered some colorful words about Lord Poole's ideas of diplomacy and told her that if the invitation was not recovered it would be wasted. He offered to help with provisions and horses for the journey but she must find a way to recover the invitation or there would be no way to understand the invitation accurately. Lady Shaw left their meeting feeling energized, her mind ticking away at a plan to meet the illusive Count.
   Later Emily Shaw found a shady space in front of the gates of the fort and worked at her drawing. She was poorly illustrating a gathering of Scottish men wearing kilts, a practice outlawed in England proper, when she looked up to find one of them smiling at her suggestively. She tried to ignore the man but he persisted in watching her draw and eventually she felt so uncomfortable that she hurried away.
   Lance Weston woke in his own time, he rose and performed his morning meditations. As he stepped out into the hall Mr. Spooner offered him a conspiratorial smile "Ready for brunch Mr. Weston?" and he escorted Lance to the kitchen where he helped his mate prepare sumptuous salmon peroshkis and a wild-green salad with grilled squash.
   After a fabulous brunch Lance set out to pursue tales of a local graveyard on the Northern slope of the clearing. He felt his nerve wavering close to a mile away from the walls of the town but seconds later he discovered markers set into the ground with names. After a brief seance Lance called upon his first spirit, a confused British Soldier named James Dorset. Dorset was a spirit bewildered as many are, and his ability to recall events before his death were shakey but Lance gathered that he must have been one of the earlier fatalities in the New Imperial Territories. Feeling more secure Lance attempted to contact the spirits once more. As he called out the voices around him muttered and grew silent before he heard a voice in the shadow speaking words in New Crown, he could barely understand but he picked out what he could "Fire-branch man, No are welcome.." "I am horse-horse" "Kron will give me payment in come round" Lance tried to ask him what the unfamiliar word "Kron" meant but the spirit explained "Kron is come round.. Kron will make flat.." Lance couldn't fully translate what the savage spirit was saying but he could feel the menace of it. He decided to retire for the afternoon.
   Patrick woke up late Sunday feeling somehow worse. Old Nan looked at him with pitiless eyes before pulling his sheets away and prodding his purple bruises. She rubbed lineament into his wounds and fed him hot soup and told him to sleep and pray, the implication being that Patrick would not be going to mass today.
   John Henry woke lazily in his bunk and put himself to work directly. He focused for the morning on Orichalcum experiments but found his concentration plagued by the business of the invitation and the fierce blond woman who's brother was missing. He took a walk to clear his head once more and buckled down for more work but still felt his efforts were frustrated. Later Lance Weston stopped by the bar and they chatted about the graveyard and the missing boy before the both visited the Irish dorms to check on Patrick.
   Patrick had been terribly bored and excited to see his friends. With some help they got him dressed and walked him down the street slowly to the Mill on a Sunday afternoon. They found a grassy spot int he shade and Patrick laid down, hoping the spot Mr. Chen in the Sunday afternoon traffic. While they waited Emily Shaw crossed their paths and she stopped to check on Patrick and offer to buy him lunch. While they socialized John Henry went to buy Patrick a huge meaty sandwich in the pub, reasoning that the Irishman just needed some hearty greasy meat to put him back on top. They chatted quietly about the graveyard and Dr. Morse and Emily's meeting with Montjoy but they didn't manage to form a plan before Patrick starting feeling like leaving his bed was a poor plan and they helped him back to the Irish dorms.
   In the evening Lady Shaw decided to take dinner at the women's boarding house. She wasn't surprised to see the working girls dressed sensibly around the table but she hadn't expected to see Miss Popwell in attendance. When she whispered a question about the lady chemist over dinner one of the prostitutes explained that snooty Laura rarely comes around but she has a room at the top of the stairs. Afterwards the women took to the livingroom for a bit of choir singing and games but having a thoroughly British moment in the wilderness only reminded Lady Shaw how alien British living was to her.
As Monday came round, Patrick's bunk wasn't kicked to wake him. Old Nan inspected his wounds and gave him a bit more lineament. He got up and moved around a bit but felt impossibly sore. He could barely keep on his feet much less work. McShane came around to his bunk and assured him the Mill would run just fine while he rested up and took advantage of the moment to remind Patrick that this is why Irish have no dealings with Mr. Blackpool.
   Lance woke to help Spooner with breakfast and relaxed a few minutes to focus himself before setting out to the Doctor's "office" a wooden shack in the line of company buildings that lined the back of the fort. He sat down calmly on the bench outside of his offices and focused on the spirits nearby. It took some time to lure any of the dead but eventually he landed a weeping ghost named Pollyanne Summerset who was Dr. Morse's Nurse. She accused the doctor of strangling her and claimed that his medicines were poisoning the people. But she was so agitated that it was difficult to converse with her, she didn't seem to have many answers even when she understood his questions. Before he could continue he was roused from his trance by a hand shaking his shoulder and he found himself being looked down at my Dr. Morse. The grey-haired doctor asked Lance if he was well and said he had seen him mumbling to himself. He invited Lance into his office to have a glass of water, seeming for all appearances to be a kindly concerned gentleman. He even offered to sell Lance some Laudanum for his wounded Irish friend after Lance had asked about the best method for curing heavy bruising.
   John Henry rousted himself from his bunk. Miss Popwell's bunk was empty yet again but her personal effects were still around so it didn't seem likely she had returned to England. He organized his work table and resumed the work but he couldn't focus on his job with all of the nonsense his friends were involved in. So he tore a page from his notebook and began calculating the time to travel to Bridgewater and make a list of provisions for the journey. Then he made a list of people he had met in Neverwhere that might be able to break into the Poole's home as he began to science this problem.
   Later Lance swung by the Fort to speak with the armorer and pick up his breastplate. The armor wasn't what he expected, fitting but not comfortable, attractive but heavier than he anticipated. Still he was please and paid the armorer. As he was making his way out the soldiers closed and barricaded the gates and opened the portcullis to allow a train to come in. Stevedores burst into action unloading the train while a handful of passengers disembarked. The portcullis was closed and then with drill precision the gates of the fort were opened once more. Lance Noticed once of the passengers, an young auburn-haired beauty was seeming a bit lost so he moved to her side "I'm Lance Weston, could I offer you assistance?". She smiled "Not unless you know where his Lordship Sir Tristan was, white hair, very distinguished? fancy blue coat?" Lance didn't recognize the name but said he'd be happy to show her to the lady's boarding house, he has a friend staying there. The woman seemed amused and assured him she wasn't in the same line of work as Lance's friend. She introduced herself as Lady Guenevere of The Order of Avalon and thanked him for the gesture as she continued on into the offices of Fort Alice.
   When Lady Shaw returned to her boarding house she found a basket of fruit with a card had been left for her by a man in the kilt. The not attached read "I'm told ladies are fond of drawing fruit, my name is Ian McCutcheon."