Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Ministry of Blades : The Madness of Angels, episode 5

Prentiss flattens a steward; Curruthers shoulders the load.

Played

3rd February 2011.

Dramatis Personae

Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat (player not present).
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Doctor Zephaniah Pleasant - a Sinister Surgeon.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
Mr Erasmus Rooke - the Boss.
Henderson - a Dedicated Cryptologist.
The Chief Verger of St Paul's Cathedral.
Several Members of Staff at the Capitoline Club.
Lewis - an Unsuccessful Burglar.

Plot

Following their rebuff by the President of the Capitoline Club, Captain Curruthers and Prentiss determined to enter the premises by other means, opting for the hitherto-unheard-of disguise of workmen making a delivery. Acquiring some work clothes from a nearby shop, along with a long crate, they returned to the rear entrance to the Club. Knocking on the door, they informed the steward who opened it that they had a delivery for the Very Reverend Greenfield. When the confused young man disappeared off to confirm this, they sidled in and, using the crate as a cover, headed towards the front of the building. Finding their way up to the first floor (lounges and games rooms) and then the second (bedrooms), they were caught trying door handles by one of the stewards. Their attempt to explain that they were trying to make a personal delivery was justly ignored as they were ordered back downstairs. Prentiss lost interest and knocked him out. They dumped the unfortunate man in one of the bedrooms they’d discovered, taking his keys, but further explorations proved pointless as they were unable to discover anything new.

Curruthers and Prentiss returned to the Ministry just as Miss Sharpe and Dr Pleasant returned from their own excursion. Meeting with Lady Antonia, they found she had continued her research and had turned up some interesting information concerning Wren’s interest in sacred geometry, although it seemed he was less interested in using it for power, more as an architectural aid. They discussed the day’s discoveries and learnt of the collapse of another Wren church, before being interrupted by the somewhat manic appearance of Henderson, waving some paper about. It transpired that he had decoded some of Greenfield’s notebook, having solved a kind of enciphered shorthand. He had broken his usual habit of waiting until he had finished the whole job before reporting the results, realising that this was quite urgent. Looking at the most recent entries first, he had discovered that Greenfield had been suspicious of the activities of one Dr Jacob Sorenson, the Head Choirmaster, who had been appointed about six months earlier. While Dr Sorenson had acquitted his duties as Choirmaster admirably, he had also taken a very intense interest in the structure and history of the building. He was forever being encountered in obscure corners of the galleries, taking rubbings or drawing sketches; once or twice, he was found knocking on wooden panels and listening to the echoes. He did nothing that was actually inappropriate, at least by the [INDECIPHERABLE]'s standards, and Greenfield had been advised to wait and watch by his colleague 'ER', but then his name turned up authorising a docket for work on the walls: Greenfield had been a bit bemused by this, as that should have been the Verger's responsibility. The last entry in the diary mentioned his plan to investigate the site of the works after the masons had gone home to see if there was anything odd about them.

The team now realised that Greenfield had merely discovered the plot, not instigated it.

With time ticking on to their appointment with the employer of Lewis, they collected the luckless criminal from his cell and headed for the indicated tavern. Upon entering, they seated themselves around the lounge so as to have all fields of view covered. Curruthers then became aware that a familiar figure was trying to catch his attention from an inner doorway: it was Erasmus Rooke. Bringing them all into the private room, he paid off Lewis and sent him home. Sitting down, he explained that he had been the one that hired the burglar. Rooke and Greenfield, it appeared, were both members of a group dedicated to keeping the world safe from supernatural dangers, although Rooke refused to give any more information on this. Realising that Curruthers’ investigation would lead him to search the Dean’s home, and believing that the regalia associated with the organisation would cause an unnecessary and pointless diversion, he had arranged to remove them. Unfortunately, Lewis had been caught before he could finish the job, instigating the very situation his employer had been trying to avoid. With the most recent reports from the team indicating the scale of the situation, Rooke had decided to reveal what he knew. Between his information and what the team had discovered, they figured out the story.

It appeared that Sorenson had realised that an archangel was bound to the cathedral, in order to prevent its elaborate structure from collapsing. That archangel was also lending its strength to the rest of Wren’s London churches. Over two centuries of captivity, however, the archangel had become somewhat insane and was trying to escape. Sorenson wanted to release it and bind it to his own service, which would both collapse the churches and give him great power - assuming the archangel didn’t break free and lay waste to London first.

The team decided it was time to track down Sorenson. Heading immediately for the Cathedral, they contacted the Chief Verger, discovering that Sorenson had vanished the day the Dean died. Obtaining his home address, they gained entry to the premises, finding that they had been deserted. Curruthers did discover a map, with a crude pentagram drawn out on it, centred on Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Suspecting trouble, they gathered weapons and headed for Holborn becoming aware of choral singing as they arrived. Venturing into the park, they saw torchlight at the bandstand, which was surrounded by choirboys, while two hooded figures were chanting in the bandstand itself.

Finding their lines of fire obstructed by apparently innocent choirboys, the team closed for hand-to-hand combat. Pleasant did his best to put the choirboys, who appeared to be possessed, out of the fight bloodlessly, while Prentiss found himself engaged in a fistfight with the larger of the two hooded figures. Curruthers brought down the chanting Sorenson with a double shotgun blast, in spite of his magical protection, but it was too late, as a misty figure began to form over the carved stone block at the centre of the ritual. Miss Sharpe’s orgonator now became useful as it wore down the spirit’s still coalescing physical form, allowing Curruthers to disperse it with a final blast from his firearm.

With the choirboys apparently safe and both villains under control, the team returned to headquarters with the stone, apparently the focus for the spirit’s bindings. The heroes passed on responsibility for the stone to Rooke who ultimately returned it to the church, in order to shore up the cathedral until it could be strengthened physically.

Notes

This episode started out fairly rushed, as I had promised to finish the whole thing this week. This meant that a number of investigations had to be completed in quick succession and I was worried it wouldn't be possible. Luckily, despite the vast amounts of exposition, the players put the details together very quickly. The final fight was nice and quick.

Next time, my investigative plots will be better planned: I'd got so far with this one, then dropped the ball, having to play catch-up. Given that the original idea was to not railroad the players, it came dangerously close towards the end.

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