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."

No comments:

Post a Comment