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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    It is the morning of Sarday, the 11th of Barrakas, year 1837 Imperial Reckoning. You were dragged out of bed in the wee hours of the morning by the postman’s agitated banging on your front door – one of those expensive direct missives that has to be handed off personally. Within the envelope is a confusing and truncated message from Thomas Prest, professor of history at Ravenwell University and a close friend of yours. The message concerns the archeological expedition Prest had been arranging, set to depart for the eastern country of Therme in a month; Prest had asked you personally to accompany him, along with a few others, but now apparently there’s some big hiccup in the plans and he wants you to come immediately. So you pull on your coat and trundle down to the cobbled streets of Vanalot, which is muggy from last night’s summer thunderstorm, and board a carriage for the big white house on Locust Row, the professor’s residence, near Gideon’s Square.

    The scene on your arrival fast stirs you out of your morning delirium: a dozen constables arrayed on the pleasant garden lawn, neighbors crowded around gawking from the fence, and a hulking, haggard sergeant striding towards your coach as you disembark. His copper badge reads “Roderick Chapman,” and his furrowed brow tells that this has been quite a harrowing morning. “Another college boy, eh? –don’t interrupt, your friends already told me. They’re in the parlor, Constable Stordus is conducting interviews. You got some letter this morning, didn’t you?” You offer it, thoroughly confused, and he takes a quick glance at it before brusquely returning it. “Yeah, just like the others. I’ll level with you son, you’re in for a rough morning. Your professor’s just been murdered.”


    The constable Stordus turns out to be an dark, middle-aged man with heavy eyebrows and a prominent bald spot. He occupies the center of the room, asking simple questions and mostly listening, clearly a little frustrated and uncomfortable. A few other constables prowl about the house and the garden in the back, but the air is one of misery and confusion. The men are not interrogating you -- in fact, they seem to want your help. Locust Row has always been a quiet neighborhood as far as anyone can remember, and a murder like this is alien and frightening.

    Mrs. Prest is sitting in her armchair, utterly silenced by shock. Her maid, Juliet, is standing beside her, the woman's left hand wrapped tightly around her arm for support. The rest of the party is arrayed about the familiar room, its walls of pastel green and white decorated with family portraits and accumulated curios; nothing has been stolen. The door to the dining room is open, but the one behind that (to the kitchen, pantry, and garden) is closed. The hallway leads to the bath and the stairs up to the bedroom, study, and attic, and to the steps down to Juliet's room, Volk's old room, and the cellar. The main door to the street has been shut, as have the windows, but you can hear murmur of the crowded street. Thomas' chair is empty.

    Thus far, everyone understands that Prest arrived home late last evening, had dinner with his wife, and then spent most of the night up in his study. Very early in the morning, before the sun was up, Juliet was awakened suddenly by the sounds of the back door opening (her room is below the pantry) and a few words, followed by a single gunshot. She was very startled and slowly crept up the steps to find Mr. Prest dead on the floor of the pantry, the back door open and Jack furiously shaking the professor, pleading for him to wake. The commotion quickly spread through the neighborhood and the constables were hailed to cordoned off the house and garden. Almost immediately thereafter, the party began arriving, according to the instructions in the letters that had woken them. Stordus asks, firmly but politely, that you gentlemen (and lady) continue on with what you were saying.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Volk has become distracted from the constable's line of questioning, glancing over at Martha Prest and her thousand yard stare. He mumbles an 'excuse me' and bustles over to her armchair, leaning over her. "I am so sorry." he tells her, squeezing her shoulder tightly. He drops to one knee in front of her armchair rather than sit opposite her in his old friend's empty seat, and then hovers awkwardly, unsure of what else to say, or how to hold his weight, or what he should be doing with his hands. He's no stranger to death, but he is certainly stranger to comforting the bereaved after the fact. "If there is anything I can do for you in this time, anything at all, please tell me at once. I will help however I can." He eventually says. "We will speak later, when the police have left." Maybe by then, he'll have figured out what to say.

    After a pause, he looks to Juliet.

    "Juliet, when you came up the stairs, did you hear anyone else leave? Did you see Jack arrive?" Volk murmurs, as he tries to visualise the layout and imagine how anyone could have entered the pantry without being in view of Juliet as she came up the stairs, other than by entering through the door to the garden.

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    Okaan Rhukaan Taash bows his head upon the news of his friend's death. Murmuring prayers for his passage into the afterlife, Rhuk fondles the handle of his long-bladed knife. He leans in towards the Doctor, whispering quietly for his ears, "We will discover the murderer and revenge ourselves upon him, yes? the Professor has been a friend to us both."

    Hearing the question put to the maid reminded Rhuk of something important. "Excuse me miss, but does it appear anything is missing from the Professor's study?"
    Last edited by Kvard51; 2019-06-01 at 11:26 PM.
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

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    Lydia Cassus shakes her head with vehemence, the susurrus of veils sliding against one another barely audible. "He was a good man! Who could have wanted to hurt him?" She is seated now, hands gesturing vigorously as she addresses the space where Mr. Prest ought to be. "Who could have done this to you, Thomas? It couldn't have been over the expedition, could it? But why call us all here, and with such a worried sounding note, if not for that?" The empty chair provides no answers.
    Last edited by Grek; 2019-06-02 at 01:05 AM.

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    Donovan is mostly in shock. He'd seen his fair share of death and violence in his youth, but this was just horrid. He felt some guilt that he wasn't there to help the dear professor when it happened. He knew it wasn't rational -- there was no reason he'd be there so early in the morning -- but he almost felt betrayed by the miraculous, healing tar that lay dormant in his satchel. Surely it could have stopped his death if he had only been close enough.

    Shaking himself out of his stupor, he says, "Mind if I take a look around the neighborhood? I know this is a nice side of town, but there's random beggars and drunks most places. Maybe one of 'em saw something and might talk to me more kindly than a constable." Realizing a possible faux pas, he blushes and sincerely adds, "No offense, sir," towards the constable.

    Dang, was he so out-of-touch with life on the street that he was willing to offend a cop? Sure, they didn't beat ya here like they did in some places he worked, but that was embarrassing in more ways than none.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    If splitting the party will mess things up, feel free to have the constable request I stay for now. Definitely no offense taken at that. I've DMed and am well aware of how annoying a split can be.

    Also, would our radstone-enhanced senses detect anything amiss?
    If he were killed by a gun using radstone powder, would we notice that in the gunpowder residue?

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    Mustering herself, Martha gives Volk the best smile she can, and takes his free hand with hers. “Thank you dear. All of you…I’m sorry, I’m failing to find the words.

    It’s alright Missus Prest,” Juliet gives a comforting pat. The young woman is clearly frightened but puts up a strong face. “Of course, Mister Volk, after the gunshot there was shouting, I think from Jack, and the dog was barking, and the horse started to scream. I– I’m not sure how long I was hiding, it could only have been a moment, but when I found the courage to come up there was no one but Jack. I saw what was there and I choked, felt like I might scream, but I heard Missus Prest was coming down the stairs so I ran to her. I didn’t think she should see…” she trails off, unsure how to go, so Okaan takes the chance to ask about the study.

    Stordus here offers to interject. “Ah, no, the professor must have locked his study sometime in the night. Fact, the lady had offered us the house key, and I was about to open it when you all arrived. …Um, that Jack boy is the one that went and raised the call for us, ran all the way up and down the neighborhood calling until Antony – he’s the morning walk in this part, now – he ran smack into Anthony and by then the crowds were out so we, um, well we all came in here,” he finishes, somewhat lamely.

    At Donovan’s question, Stordus hurriedly replies. “Oh no, no slight taken, young sir. Just give a holler if you run into any trouble; the Sergeant Roddy has us up and down the next three blocks. Don’t need ruffians badgering good folk like yourself.” He seems to have mistaken you for a gentleman of a higher class, perhaps because you’re a professor’s friend and all, and has taken your stumble for a different kind of class-consciousness.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-06-03 at 08:16 PM.

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    Since arriving upon his late friend's stoop, Dr. Ridley has stiffened with morbid stupefaction; by all accounts he is stone, or dearly wishes to be. Eyes clamped shut, he mutters soft nonsenses and pretends not to hear Okaan's appeal - finally muttering vague agreement: "Of course we will, chum. Of course..."

    As Donovan makes ready for the street, Hieronymus animates enough to follow. He smiles weakly to the constable, "Not to worry, old top - I'll walk with the lad. I think a touch of air would do me well, anyhow." Donning his overcoat, he turns to offer the bereaved an uncomfortable bow. "Do forgive us madam; miss. We'll return presently." Cane in hand, he follows the younger man towards the street.

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Volk nods absently as Stordus talks.

    "Is the firearm that was used still here? Has it been located?" he asks.

    He rises, slowly, peering towards the kitchen door, disentangling himself from Mrs Prest and Judith with as much politesse as he can muster.

    "I would like to see the body." he announces.

    So saying, he walks towards the door and opens it, just wide enough for him to squeeze through, and closes it behind him. No need to subject Mrs Prest to further distress by showing her the body, and he'd like to examine the scene before he has words with Jack.

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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Lydia nods to Constable Strodus and rises. "Perhaps while they are out asking about witnesses and... dealing with other matters, we ought inspect the study? Call it a hunch, but I suspect whatever matter prompted Mr. Prest to call us here, it bears some relation to the murder. He had been terribly concerned about rivals stealing his discovery, after all. And insisting on buying pistols, of all things!"

    She pauses for a moment, looking between those present. "Has anyone contacted young Sebastian? Mr. Prest's secretary at the university. He ought be informed. The school too, for that matter."

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    Donovan gives a tilt of his cap and a nod to the constable. "Thank you, sir."

    As he starts to head out, he says to Lydia, "I know our eyes are a bit more keen than most. Keep an eye and nose out for any hint of archsilver from the murderer. I'll be sniffing around as I try to find any witnesses."

    ---

    As they step outside, he gives a weak smile to Dr. Hieronymus Ridley.
    "This is so strange, isn't it?
    Hey, um, I don't know a lot about mesmerism. Took a class on it, but it was just a survey of what it does, history, et cetera. You don't know how to talk to his, um, ghost or psychic echo or something, do ya? Or ask any spirits nearby if they saw anything?
    "

    He feels a touch embarrassed asking. He's aware there's a couple schools on thought on mesmerism, with the more scientific view being more popular now-a-days, but it's hard to talk about it any other way.

    After exchanging some conversation, he starts to walk down the nearby area, looking for anyone who might've seen something. He's thankful for his keen radstone-influenced eyes illuminating the pale sky, and sniffs for any hint of archsilver, either hidden in the ground or held by a hidden murderer.

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    Rhuk is torn as hewatches the Doctor follow the other man outside. His oath is to Doctor Ridley, but his instincts scream at him to inspect the room and body. The words of the veiled woman finally decide for him. Thomas Prest’s fear was clearly justified, and the Doctor was both capable and not alone. Okaan Rhukan Taask would follow into the study...
    Last edited by Kvard51; 2019-06-04 at 07:47 AM.
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

    Map for RotRL

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Donovan and Dr. Ridley:

    The neighborhood crowd presses about you, eager for news. You get a lot of questions about what's been going on, are the Prests alright, and most of the information is unhelpful conjecture or echos what Stordus told you: after the gunshot Jack ran up and down the streets, terrified out of his mind and crying about murder, until he ran into the constable Antony.

    "He's a good young man, Jack" a tall, ruffled-looking fellow tells you. "His family lives just up the way, and Mrs. Prest knows his mother from their charity club, same as my wife Ellie. When that big fellow...Vant, I think?...got his own place, Mr. Prest hired Jack on as his driver. I think it was more to get him out and working respectably than from any real need. Anyway, I couldn't say what was up, but he's surely seen something."

    "Saints and saviors, what a horror," says a pudgy woman among the crowd. "I was out in the alley dumping the wash water when I heard this terrific bang, like a rocket going off. Then there was this awful baying and shrieking that followed it, carrying all the way down the alley. Well sirs, I threw myself back inside and locked tight, that's what I did! Didn't come out until I heard constable Antony calling and ringing his bell." At her conclusion, there is much general smattering of approval, thanking the saint, saviors, and constabulary for keeping whatever horror it is at bay.

    At some point, Donovan separates himself from the crowd, and circles around behind the Prest's house. In the alley behind their garden, you find a few muddy boot-prints here and there, fleeing away from the garden.

    Okaan and Lydia:

    Stordus leads the unusual duo up the stairs to the study, key in hand. After asking about this 'Sebastian' fellow, he unlocks the door for them and leaves them the key. "Seems important; maybe the young fellow knows something about the poor professor's last night. If you'll excuse me, I'd better tell the sergeant about that; back in a jiff." With that he shuffles off, leaving the two of you alone in the room.

    Prest's study is a small and cramped room, with a broad glass window overlooking the garden. It is crowded with bookshelves and chests of treasures from his travels. The small heating stove is unlit -- it was a warm night -- but the portable gas lamp on the desk is still on, and the tell-tail faintness of burnt alchemy lingers with the smell of old books, a sure sign of an old gas lamp burning a long time in a closed space.

    The desk is piled high with office papers, but on top of it all is a hastily scrawled note, written in some kind of cuneiform, or a rough approximation. Thomas' favorite ink pen is left beside it, a dribble of ink pooling onto the wood and papers where it was dropped.

    Volk:

    The kitchen is just as you remember it, and the parlor the same as always, except for the cloth sheet draped over his body. Thomas Prest was never a large man, and in death he looks even smaller. Under the hastily-thrown blanket, the professor lies on his back, his face frozen in confusion and pain. He is dressed in his usual clothes: the brown loafers he liked to wear at home, the old pants that were ever-so-slightly baggy, the faded smoking jacket that he told you was inherited from a great-uncle, and the favorite green cravat. His heavy walking stick is gripped high and firmly in his right hand.

    A small, ragged hole has pierced his jacket, just above his heart, and fresh dried blood has soaked the cloth around it. Squinting closely, you see that the jacket is scorched, as if he was shot at point-black range. Thomas would have been standing, facing the door, and his killer just on the other side. Stordus had said there was no gun found, but you wonder...

    Standing, Volk carefully pictures the scene, and traces the path of the bullet through the parlor. At so close a range, it would have passed right through him...and there it is: a small hole in the wood paneling, where the bullet burrowed into the wall. No shell on the floor, though. It could have been an old flintlock, with all that powder, but without digging out the bullet you can't know.

    Now straightening, you look through the open pantry door into the garden beyond. You hear a constable, presumably this Antony, talking softly with Jack. It sounds like they are by the carriage house.

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    Volk frowns down at Prest's body, as if it's just delivered him some disappointing news. Oh, Thomas. What did you go and do now?

    He begins his examination of the corpse with the bullet's exit wound as he idly listens to Antony's interrogations, and how Jack sounds when he responds. Volk has more experience with corpses that were stabbed or beaten or gnawed on, but this isn't his first gunshot victim, and he draws on his practical experience as well as general knowledge of the science of forensics that he's picked up from here or there. He tries to determine what kind of firearm it must have been, the calibre and it's likely appearance, and if there are any other clues to be had; he leaves digging out the bullet out of the wall to inspect for later.

    This done, he searches the body, wondering if it's carrying anything interesting or shows signs of wounds other than the obvious gunshot. He searches the kitchen and larder, too; he doubts the weapon has been abandoned and concealed around here, but you never know.

    Finally, he examines the blood and dust on the floor, and heads out of the larder and into the garden to scrutinize the mud outside, searching them for any hint of tracks. A bootprint would be ideal, but he's looking any sign of disturbance, any hint of this mysterious assailant's passage. He peers about the garden, performing some calculations about the murderer's possible approach vectors, and likely routes of fast and stealthy escape, after the gunshot sounded and the neighbourhood was alerted. He moves off, following his trail (whether evidential or just hypothetical) as far as he can. This is more Okaan's area than his, but perhaps he can save the man some time later.

    Spoiler: Rolls
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    Not sure how many rolls I need, so I'll make three, using Jack of All Trades:

    (1d20+1)[20] Perception/Listening
    (1d20+1)[7] Investigation
    (1d20+1)[11] Tracking

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    Lydia frowns at the pen before setting it back where it ought be. "It appears that Thomas was writing a note just as his attacker arrived, and a coded note at that." She peers out the window, trying to discern what, if anything, Prest might have been able to see from this vantage point. Could he have seen the murderer coming? If so, it must have been someone the good Professor knew in life, for only a fool would open the door to a stranger skulking around the garden at so late an hour. But it was dark and Prest blessedly lacked the painfully sensitive eyes of an archsilversmith...

    Spoiler: Rolls
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    (1d20+2)[22] Untrained Linguistics check to glean information from the cuneiform note. If nothing else, to figure out what language it might be and who could provide a translation.

    (1d20+1)[19] Perception check to determine whether Prest would have been able to identify the murderer as they arrived by looking out of his study window at the garden.

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    Donovan gives a wan, sad smile and words of thanks at the crowd's information, being polite despite how useless it is. He perks up at the woman's mention of "baying", until he realizes that's probably just Jack's yelling for help.

    ---

    When he sees the bootprint, he perks up. A clue, something helpful for the man who helped him so.

    He stares at it, puzzled for a moment, then decides how to take a print. He only does so of one footprint, in case the constables have a better way: best to limit how much the evidence is disturbed. So he heats up one of his scarbalms -- less than needed for a true healing, but enough to make it a slushy sludge -- and pours it into the print of the boot. If he's right, it should harden to make a mold which they could use to try to match the murderer's foot size and maybe a perfect match to the footwear itself. Or maybe not. He wasn't sure.

    He finds Dr. Ridley and motions him over, explains the clue, and then continues down the path of the footprints, to see where they lead. Hopefully not to stop as the stone road takes it place. He'll gladly take Dr. Ridley's company if he wants to come, but is also fine with the bootprint being reported to the constables. (Donovan won't go off long--he doesn't want to face the murderer without any backup, but hoping to see if it leads to a nearby house or some clue to how he got further away.)

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    Volk:

    There are no other marks on Prest's body, and nothing interesting on his person either. It doesn't look as though the killer rifled through his pockets or did anything of the sort, nor was the gun hidden in the room. Currently, it seems that when Thomas answered the door, staff in hand, the killer had produced a pistol on the threshold, shot him point-black in the heart, then turned and fled back the way he came, through the garden. There are several different sets of foot prints in the muddy path leading to and from the door and about the place, as well as a set of animal prints, probably from a dog. The biggest set of boots leads straight through the garden, into an alley behind the house.

    Through all this, you hear the constable attempting to console Jack, while carefully questioning him about the events of the murder. Apparently, Prest had told Jack to come early this morning, and the teen had just reached the house when he heard the gunshot. He rounded the back of the house just in time to see a huge man in a blue cloak and black cap flee the garden. Nellie, the horse, was shrieking and kicking from the walls of her stall, spooked by the violent noise, while Argus, the Prest's dog, snapped his chain and went snarling and baying after the man, who fled for the alleyway. Jack ran for the open parlor door, where he found the professor dying on the ground.

    When you exit the building, you startle them, and constable Antony calls out to you.

    Lydia:

    The writing is clearly something primitive, like the markings on a clay tablet. You have no idea what it says, but surely anyone in Thomas' department could. Maybe Sebastian, for one, and possibly any of the other professors too: Elliot, a short man, bearded and bespectacled; D'Aubrey, tall, old, and old-fashioned; Marchios, bald and brawny; and Bruthe, who was very recently hired to fill in for some of Thomas' lectures.

    If the murderer came through the garden, Thomas could almost certainly have seen and recognized him. You can see Volk leaving through the parlor door now, actually.

    Donovan:

    The scarbalm idea will work, but you'll need to use a full dose (scarbalm bottles aren't that big!).

    Unfortunately, the bootprints do terminate at the street. The killer must have had a horse, carriage, or steamcart waiting.

    As you are pacing around, you hear a pitiful whine from behind a collapsed stack of rotten pallets. Argus, the professor's black barbet, struggles to pull himself from the broken wood. The dog is bleeding from his head and side, and panting very heavily. Tangled around him is a ragged cape of torn and muddy blue cloth.

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    The moment his feet are safely across the threshold of Dr. Prest's hallowed home and tap upon the cobbles of Locust Row, Hieronymus plumbs the depths of his jacket, retrieving a pungent torpedo-cigar from within. Hastily he sets the pungent cheroot alight, shaky hands spilling matches about him - finally he takes an anxious, sucking draw, and breaths a bilious spume of white smog into the crisp morning air. At last he begins to calm, leastwise enough that to answer Donovan's questions. "Alas," he replies, "the spirit is an ephemeral thing. A man's life is terribly brief, just as this spark-" he brandishes the cigar, offering the student a pull. "It is burnt and is then gone; reduced to an ash that cannot be reformed. We know that somewhere the smoke has continued to drift through the heavenly sphere, but only by chance might we find it again - and even then so formless has it become, might we be capable of recognizing the remains?"

    He follows the youth through the oncoming crowds, his sad monologue now practically impossible to interrupt. "Whatever other wisps we might summon are likewise mere fragments; anima long spent; purposeless wanderers. Were it within my power to enchant them unto our cause, I would refuse - they are mercurial and unworthy of our trust..." Hieronymus is shaken from his thoughts as the crowd presses round him alone, just barely catching sight of Donovan breaking free to the alleys beyond. Then I shall placate the masses! His attention is particularly taken by the woman's account; searching for any noteworthy detail, no matter how meager.

    "Madame, begging your pardon, would you mind recounting your experience in greater detail? Baying, you say? I daresay that sounds rather bestial to have been our dear Jack, allowing for the touch of grief of course."

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    Okaan Rhukaan Taash stops at the doorway. He takes amp end to let the feel of the room wash over him. The window beckons him, and he moves toward it. The veiled woman might as well not exist as he examines the sill. He removes a battered book from inside his coat and begins making notations in it as he looks at the glass. Let us see. Was this broken in a circular pattern, or is it more random? Did the glass scatter inward, or fall outside?

    Spoiler: Action
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    Inspect the broken window looking at direction and type of break, the sill for marks or residue, etc
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

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    Donovan uses one of his precious balms to make the bootprint.

    When he sees the wounded hound, a mix of pride and anger fills him. Pride at the faithful companion who tried to protect his master and defeat the intruder, and anger at another injury. Perhaps it was a waste, but in his heated emotion Donovan heats up yet another tonic and soon pours it into the worst of the animal's wounds.

    With that, and after calming the no-doubt somewhat panicked beast (it did just have hot tar poured into its wounds), he gathers the evidence it holds and leads it back to the house, collecting his bootprint sample on the way.

    I will need to make more scarbalm soon.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Been a bit busy and distracted, but hope to update OOC post soon.

    Used 2 scarbalm so far. How long does it take to make a dose out of a radstone stone? I have one stone on me, so I might make another dose before we leave the house, if there's time and means to do so.

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Volk peers over at the alley, and vows to investigate it later. He ambles over and nods to Jack and the constable. "Jack, I heard you saw the murderer. Did you catch a glimpse of his face?"

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Volk and Donovan:

    Jack is a short boy for his age, with tan skin and messy hair, but a modest set of good cloths befitting a professor's driver. Antony, the constable, has the sharp cheekbones and hook nose of a Vastian, and when he speaks it's with a clear western accent. The two are standing with the cart horse, Nellie, who seems calm now. Jack brushes the horse's mane absentmindedly, like a nervous distraction, while the constable leans against the stall to jot notes into his book. He is initially worried, seeing a large, dangerous-looking stranger emerge from the Prest's house, but Jack recognizes Volk immediately, and the constable relaxes.

    In answer to your question, Jack is sadly unhelpful. "No sir, Mr. Volk, I can't say I did see him. He was big for sure, and pale." He pauses, frowning as he thinks. "I don't think he had a beard, or long hair, if that helps. I guess it could have been under his hat, though."

    Antony soon takes over, filling Volk in but also asking questions of his own. "Jack says he went to pick up Mr. Prest from his office at the normal time last night, but the professor had a number of letters to write and send. It was late, so they went a ways off to find an open postal shop, then they returned late to the house, where he told him to come back early this morning." He pauses to size you up, book in hand. "Now, I understand you're one of the men that received a letter. Mind telling me what that was about? Any idea why the professor would send for you? And who else he might have brought here, and why?"

    Sometime during this conversation, Donovan emerges from the alleyway with Argus and the torn and muddy blue coat.

    Dr. Ridley:

    The pudgy woman, introducing herself as Mrs. Balleck, a landlady from across the street, is all too happy to become the center of attention. "Certainly, mister. No, it was more like a howling dog, baying and barking as it raced down the alley. Even through the door, I could hear curses and growls, like there was a scuffle of sorts. Then an awful crash, and the wheels of a cart racing away." She thinks for a moment, then continues. "I could tell you something else, sir: that Mr. Prest has been funny the whole past week. Why, my sister -- she often has tea with the wife and Mrs. Ortess, to discuss their gardens -- well, she told me that she heard the husband hadn't been sleeping well, and wouldn't talk to his wife about it. She could tell it had something to do with his work at the university, since he's been so busy since his promotion. But God's name, I can't think why anyone should want him dead over such a thing as that."

    She and some of the other neighbors have been scrutinizing you as she talks; eventually the ruffled-looking man poses the question: "Begging your pardon, sir, but haven't we seen you around the block before? You and those other funny, foreign-looking folks sometimes call on the Prests, don't you? And that Vant fellow that used to work for them. Any chance you know something about all this?"

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Feeling a touch out of breathe after the run to the house and all the excitement, Donovan says to his comrades, "I got a print of the assailant's boot, and found tracks leading to the pavement. Argus here took a blow or two, but seems he got some of the person's cloak."

    He makes a wan smile, glad to have found some useful information and to have saved the dog's life.
    With a sudden bolt of realization, he adds, "Might be the dog will recognize the guy's scent, should we encounter him again. He should rest a bit -- scarbalm or no, he was hurt bad -- but maybe Ms. Prest will let us take him with us if we go a'searchin.'"
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2019-06-07 at 03:53 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Dr. Ridley hums absentmindedly and taps his chin as the woman tells her story, wondering aloud at the circumstances. "Thank you kindly for your testimony, madame - I suppose the blackguard had means of escape after committing his foul deed. That would explain the clattering, while I suspect the loyal Argus is to blame for the fearsome howling. He is quite the champion hound! I hope he's well after all this black business, I have not seen him yet today."

    Lost in his own head still, he puffs his cigar thoughtfully until the shabby ruffian interjects. "You wound me, sir," the doctor replies in mock-insult, "have you not heard the name of Hieronymus Ridley, man of the world? Perhaps I am no longer as well known about Vanalot as I used to be - in days past my name was whispered among all the most-learned socialites." He winks - "The late Dr. Prest was an old friend of mine. He and I, plus another few dear fellows you've seen 'round Locust Row, were planning all a little vacation to this brilliant isle near Elysium. Dandy place," he finishes wistfully, "Tom and the missus both would have loved the beaches."

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    "Thomas was my friend. I accompany him on archeological digs and other trips, before. Another expedition was being arranged. The letter he sent was... rushed, I think. He normally takes his time with letters. Normally very detailed. Asks after your health and such, yes? This time he said only there was some problem with arrangements, and he wanted the five of us to come immediately." he confides to the constable.

    When Donovan reappears, the skin on Volk's forehead crinkles as it would if he were raising an eyebrow (if he had an eyebrow to raise).

    "You did well. The others are in the study, I think. Let's bring this fabric to them."

    He eyes the constable. "I'd like to dig the bullet out of the pantry wall to find the calibre of the weapon, look for a manufacturers mark. May I? Or does one of you do this thing?"

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    All

    Antony is surprised and pleased to hear that Volk found the bullet. As they go to dig it out, he produces the brass case for you to inspect. "Found it on the stoop, in the grass," he says. "Looked re-used to me." You are inclined to agree: the casing is worn from multiple firings, the manufacturer's stamp worn to uselessness -- re-use is a common thing among criminals, tinkerers, and others without an interest or inclination to be seen buying bullets. It does give you some important information, though; the killer was using a revolver (Jack would have seen if he was carrying a repeating rifle), and he makes his own cartridges (or at least this one was hand-made). Digging the bullet from the wall, sadly, gives little extra information; it's nothing but a deformed lead slug, utterly typical. The caliber is a bit odd for a pistol, rather on the small side, but that's typical of hand-cast bullets.

    The house is tearfully glad to have Argus back, and the dog has turned up an unusual clue: the muddied blue coat pulled off the killer is one all too recognizable when unfurled. It was hard to see with the grime, but the badge above the breast is unmistakable. This is a Ravenwell professor's coat, one much like Thomas himself would wear. All professors have the right to sew badges on their clothing, to show their loyalty to the university, and most do so on the blue and black cloaks that are in fashion at the moment. The revelation is quite shocking, to the point that Mrs. Prest is near to fainting at the idea that one of her husband's colleagues could be behind the morning's horror.

    At this point, the party has likely assembled again in the parlor (unless you want to do anything else). Antony and Stordus are conferring with Roderick about these new and serious clues. Roderick, who was just informed about Sebastian, declares that someone should probably go to check on the young man, as well as Prest's office at the university. Given that he doesn't know what Sebastian looks like, the sergeant asks if any of you would be willing to come with them. He's dispatching Stordus to the university and Antony to track down Sebastian, while he returns to the local headquarters to give a report in person. Outside, the crowd is already being pushed aside as a mortician's carriage appears to take the body away. Roderick will leave a constable here for the day to guard the household, while Stordus goes to flag a carriage for the university (since Antony doesn't know where Sebastian lives, he'll tag along and ask around Ravenwell to see if he can get an address; since it's a summer weekend, the student isn't likely to be at the office).

    Spoiler: The Letter
    Show
    Lydia and Okaan have Prest's letter, found in his study, but no one else has seen it -- not sure if you want to tell the police about it or keep it quiet.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-06-10 at 12:58 PM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Feeling his age, Donovan is a bit hesitant to speak up amongst the professors, professionals, and constable, but he nonetheless does.

    "If it's a professor, or someone at least trying to look like a professor... and we have a bootprint sample... could we get all the professors and staff together and compare foot size? Maybe also check for traces of any wounds, like if Argus got a bite into one of 'em. Or see if Argus responds negatively to any of 'em.

    I didn't study law, so I'm not sure of the legal rights one has in this circumstance, but- Dr. Ridley, Mrs. Prest, Lydia -- perhaps the three of you could put pressure on the university to encourage cooperation, if that's needed?
    "

    Some hesitancy enters his voice, "Though, I guess that would tip off the assailant, and maybe they'd skip town. Could let us know who it is, but I don't like the idea of them escaping justice." His expression is replaced with frustration. "I feel like we could catch someone pretty easy now, if not that trying to the easy way would let them escape."

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    After conferring briefly with Rhuk, Lydia decides to show the letter to Mrs. Prest and the waiting constables. Her voice is barely a whisper, but her words are with filled with conviction.

    "Putting it all together, Mr. Prest discovered some problem last night and called us all here. He was writing out a message in his study when he spotted the man through the window. Mr. Prest rushed down, spilling his ink in his haste to meet whoever it was, perhaps expecting the man or perhaps mistaking him for one of us. Either way, Mr. Prest opened the door only to be shot once with a revolver after only a few words were spoken. The killer fled through the garden, leaving tracks in the mud, but brave Argus chased the man, defending his master as a good dog ought. The criminal fought Argus off, but lost his coat in the process. From there, it isn't clear where he might have gone, but we know that he was fair-skinned and had a hat."

    She looks around, waiting to see if anyone else has anything to add to this summary of the events.

    "I don't know whether we can get every professor together, Donovan, but we could certainly inquire. All of the innocent members of the history department ought be eager to prove as much, after all. And if we notice any professor who refuses, or who is wounded, or who tries to leave town, or who does something else to rouse suspicion, all we would need to do is confirm that his boots and his coat match the size of the killer's. That would certainly be enough to warrant bringing them in and having the constables - or perhaps Dr. Ridley, if you are willing? - question them about their whereabouts last night. And if there is every chance that Thomas named his attacker in his last words here. Whoever did this, he will not escape justice."

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Volk shares his meagre findings with the group, and then moves over to Juliet. "You said you heard some words from upstairs, before the gunshot. What could you make out?" He murmurs. He falls silent to listen to Donovan and Lydia as they speak up.

    He knows Donovan by sight, of course. Even if they hadn't met, he'd know him by his reputation, as a rogue and a cad and a bounder, and a breeder of unnaturally mutated creatures. But university professors are an easily scandalized group of people, as a rule, and Volk knows the young man began his studies into radstone out of a fascination for scarbalm, and his desire to do right by his fellows. Volk wishes he had the same gift, and envies the younger man for the seeming ease with which he moves through life. But Volk has learned that you never truly know what's going on in a person's head. He seems dependable, though, and that's ultimately the most you can say of a man.

    He initially doesn't recognise the woman in the veil, and is about to introduce himself when it clicks. Oh. That is Marcus' wife. What is she wearing? He peers at Lydia's attire in confusion. Mourning blacks? Did she know the professor was dead ahead of time? He remembers she wore them for a long time after her husband died, even to all the expedition planning meetings... he ponders. He never knew her particularly well; they first met back when Volk was a half-feral, dying animal, alternately writhing feverishly in bed or snarling and barking at the shadows whenever the play of light from a window caused them to move around. Even after Volk recovered, he treated her with wary, polite deference, not wanting to violate some rule of etiquette and turn her husband against him. He wonders, belatedly, if he should have checked in on her after the funeral, and feels a stab of guilt.

    He nods vaguely at her summation of events. "Perhaps we can hire a Khoj specialist find the damaged coat. We should do this quickly. Perhaps the murderer hasn't disposed of it yet." He points to the coded letter. "I should like to see this. Thomas used codes to send messages to me before. I think I know the kinds of cyphers he favors. Even if he hasn't left a key somewhere in his study."

    If someone passes the letter to him, he'll move up to the study and search it thoroughly for anything that has any similarities to the symbols on the page, that might aid his efforts, or for any other clues the other searchers might have missed. Then he'll purloin some paper and a writing implement, beginning to cover a page with a shaky rendition of the alphabet and rows upon rows of vowels, as well as examples of the symbols on the letter. He'll welcome assistance from any of the others, no matter how inexpert.

    Spoiler: Rolls
    Show
    Jack of All Trades, Investigate/Search roll (1d20+1)[12]
    Jack of All Trades, Decryption roll (1d20+1)[21]
    Last edited by SlyJohnny; 2019-06-11 at 03:44 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Rhuk glances at the symbols to see if he recognizes them as Volk looks at the letter. Moving closer to Donavan, he says leans in close to the young man, "You say you have a boot print sample? Did you draw it? Might I look at it?"

    Spoiler: Action
    Show
    d20 to recognize the symbols: (1d20)[17]
    and to glean information from the bootprint casting: (1d20)[7]
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

    Map for RotRL

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Age of Exploration [0] - The Secret under Ravenwell [IC]

    Donovan holds out the bootprint: a thin slab of soldified tar, with a touch of the local dirt in its edges. The imprint seems pretty good, nonetheless: scarbalm is good at fitting in all the nooks and crannies, albeit it usually to close wounds instead of copying an image.

    "Yeah, no problem. It is made from scarbalm, though. Should be inert enough in this state, but I'd recommend washing your hands afterwards and one of us archsilverist should probably keep hold of it.
    But you should be safe to hold it for a few minutes to an hour, regardless.
    " A slightly manic gleam comes to Donovan's eye, perhaps a touch like the mad scientist stereotype that he so rarely embodies. He quickly suppresses it, and doesn't vocalize it, but his mind is now pondering exactly where and how the inertness of scarbalm occurs.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    I'm guessing that the process of heating and/or applying the scarbalm alters it so that it no longer counts as radstone, since otherwise anyone treated with it would die of radstone poisoning. But if it's the mixing of scarbalm with flesh that makes it inert, then this print might still count as radstone.

    If I heat a scarbalm but wind up not using it (e.g., whoever my target was dies before can be healed), is it wasted or can it be left to cool and still be useful later?
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2019-06-13 at 07:38 AM.

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