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/qst/ - Quests


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PRELUDE - We shall sit together by the river, beneath the summer trees. You will smile soon; the warmth of sunlight glows red upon your throat. Falling light leads you gently over the brook, where leaves will someday know their only future, folded in water, as life passes in a downward look. The willows and reeds ramble through tempered streams, the rush and reach of branches and sun-sleek flutterings; you will laugh and speak of the worthlessness of dreams, for everyone has them. Shadows of water, of ripples and feathered wings. And we are not holding hands, we are holding hands no more. You pass on along the river.
>>
Light born of Light, whose sacred flesh hath transcended Death,
Bring unto thee three smiles worse than sorrow;
All the world desires thy wishes shall soon follow.
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The laughter of a woman, after she has been with another...
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In the City before grey has darkened to sleep, the lingering light before sun and rain ask for secrets.
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When you hand him the address from your pocket-book, the driver of the carriage gives you a sly, knowing glance; you think he wants to ask for more, the price of discretion.

The carriage driver peers at the ink-smeared location; mutters to himself in the calloused speech of labourers:
- That be wild William Hooke's old haunt, Bill Hooke and his Grueller gang - those that stray in, leave with a sharp trimming and a good grinning - from ear-to-ear! (the Coachman motions strangely, akin to a barber with a razor scalping someone unaware). I hears it from them blabbing glimjacks, they be learning it from the colonies, them mulattoes slanged about the hulks o' the dockyards abound for the New World, revolts and the burning of many a patroon house along the Skuytercliff shore. But here by old Saint Matfelon's, old Mary Mad Felons (har har) the Whitechurch, and the Spittle Field - best be staying away. Even the Peelers and the Catchpoles of New Lanthorn Yard, the Lambskin men and the Constabulary, they knows better than to venture in; for amongst that den of cribbing cutthroats, maundering thieves and filching whores - there is no Law.

The cold glint of bridle-ring and harness, as a dray-horse jostles and turns its head against the champ and fret of reins with a furtive restlessness.

The carriage driver cackles:
- Now, I would not ordinarily make for this address... it lies athwart the disreputable part of town, see. It makes for those lost souls who seek... low company. What would the wife of a young gentleman think, knowing where you be found?

>Say nothing, but present this greedy carriage driver with the wordless bribe of more coin, as an offer for his silence.
>Retort with annoyance: My affairs are mine own. I know the City well, better than you do, I'll warrant. You, sir, however, have a foreign manner to your bearing. Are you from the colonies?
>Explain haltingly with embarrassment: er... no, it is not that. No scandal, no malversation of trust. It is... a mere soiree, a... seance.
>(change the address, snatch it back quickly) you are mistaken, my dear fellow! Do you know The Cenacle Club, near Chattel House? By Mayerling Park Gardens?
>Reply: I felt the lurch and halt of her heart in my tightened arms; but I was not there - I was never there. I know my Beloved is dead.
>>
(optional)
A sodden weight of mud and metal pressed close to your inner pocket. The peculiar hinged length, the lever-armature of its trigger-guard, prods uncomfortably against your chest. What could this be?

>Reply (feign boastful drunken street slang) well blow me tight, guv'nor, I'm jiggered meself. I knows a way 'round a skewer and a barking iron. Feast your leerers on this - (brandish the revolver carelessly) six-tooth bulldogs dug out the muck o' the Old Armistice - that there was a war worth a drop of piss on the foot of a flea. I ain't no bantling actin' the deceitful - I sees a Skinner, a bilking Whitebeak, I sends them a cripple to the Duke o' Limbs, sluice their gobs by the Nunnery; darken their daylights i' the Black Cove.

(QM: if you can recognise the make of this firearm, you have a feeling your swaggering deception will prove more successful)
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(optional)
A peculiar wooden box of dovetail joints, mahogany and brass and an aperture of glass, with the appearance of a tilting rear; swing-out, collapsible bellows casing and screen - a board clamped in position by a threaded metal bar. A memory swings across your scattered thoughts like a pendulum, as you examine this device - something about it fills you with unease, as if you were delicately handling some combustible powder, accompanied by a fear of it startling the horses.
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You discern faded lettering etched along the side of this horse carriage - a heraldic crest bearing the shapes of gilded beasts, and a faint motto HOMO HOMINI LUPUS EST - but the mark has long since been worn away.
>urgh, you are not getting into some "homo" carriage. Leave the brougham and the Coachman, and wander the streets alone (to where?)
>Ask the Coachman a question: Have we met before?
>You recognise the purpose of the mysterious box. What's in the box? Write-in what you think it is
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You possess: Pocket-Book
Make this book thine eyes, where all pleasures live that Art would comprehend.

A small journal for recording private, personal affairs, pecuniary details and also a calendar of social engagements.

This pocket-book appears well-worn with use, and is filled with many addresses and acquaintances, yet the identity of its owner appears mysteriously elusive. If only there were some means to combine a likeness of the persons described alongside their description and name!
>>
>>5682944
The first few pages appear to include excerpts of verses - perhaps from a religious tract? - diligently copied in a calm hand. It reads:
(excerpt)
No evil passions, no jealousy, no avarice, no impure desires will disturb the serene might of those glorious creatures. Sin, shame, and sorrow will have no place among them. Their minds will be in a state of perpetual calm, the contentment of a spirit that knows no wants, is disturbed by no regrets. Ambition will never torture them. Ingratitude will never cause them the uneasiness of a moment. The guilty conscience, the hope deferred, the pains of exile, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes—these will be entirely unknown to them. (...the handwriting here becomes illegible...) they shall want for nothing.

The second excerpt seems to comprise of a fondly remembered romantic poem:
>>
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AEDH THINKS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SPOKEN EVIL OF HIS BELOVED
Half close your eyelids, loosen your hair,
And dream about the great and their pride;
They have spoken against you everywhere,
But weigh this song with the great and their pride;
I made it out of a mouthful of air,
Their children’s children shall say they have lied.
>>
-She is a fair excuse for a foul deed...

Lord Huntingtower

He murmurs, setting aside the broadsheets as he glances upon her photograph.
-My, my, such a coquette! You know of whom I speak! She is an exquisite. That old goat Streynsham no doubt would be after her, were he not preoccupied in his affairs at the War Office. But my dear Cyril, you must be forthcoming. What do you take me for - Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid? Nay, not I! I cannot be seen to take any part in this sordid play. I have heard amongst the lower orders there is quite a popular production, of their zoetropes and kinematograph, the tale of which concerns a gentleman who makes a lady out of a flower-seller. From the street! Can you imagine - imagine anything more absurd! Beyond the mere conceit of such metamorphosis of genteel manners being quite impossible amongst those who engage in trade...
>>
Cyril Darnay
(tapping his elegant fingers delicately against a slender pearlescent cigarette case)
-You know, I should quite like to witness the opposite. Take some Highborn lady, in all her finery and airs, and cast her amongst the lower orders, amidst misery, poverty, debauchery. Trial by corruption, I say. Would she retain her hauteur, her vanity and composure, through the ordeal, as it were - or would coarseness inevitably stain her...
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Le Cenacle Club, The Gallery (Interior)
Located near Mayerling Park Gardens, private membership to this exclusive society is strictly by nomination only. No women are permitted entry. Le Cenacle is distinguished in its political affiliations owing to the patronage of the current Lord High Intelligencer.

The brooding glow of gas lamps flaring orange with the sudden blown damp air of arrival, the glow drifting in the fire dancing, the half-shades cast among ormolu candlesticks, glint of garniture and gentle groan of wainscotting that swaddles the intimate interior of these walls in the lurching luxuriant infallibility of Empire.
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>>5682950
Aloysius Ambrose, trembling a little
-How can you place such shameful imaginings upon Beatrice Wentworth! She is so virtuous and fair!

Cyril responds with an implacable, dissolute languor:
-Beatrice comes from no family of worth, none that merit any attention. Her father, Isambard Wentworth - he of the ironworks, ordnance and foundry - is indecorously wealthy, of course - the war has made it so. Yet her upbringing must have been insufferably vulgar, contemptible as it is for all those given in common tribute to the pursuit of commerce. She could be descended from pirates, or brigands, for all we know! Now when I heard that Lady Temperance Annesley had invited this Beatrice to her Water Banquet, and not myself, of course I concocted the perfect act of revenge. I shall ruin her new favourite! After all polite society sees what comes of the friendship of Lady Temperance and Beatrice Wentworth, all will shun her!
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Lord Huntingtower quivers a little in anticipation, but then collapses in a little sigh of resignation:
-My dear Cyril, I cannot but await the commencement of your scheme with anything other than delectable trepidation. Yet I shall not assist you in your endeavour; I cannot be seen to have slighted Annesley - that aggrieved old witch Lady Temperance, there would be no end to it. Now Cyril, you are on the verge of making some tasteless jest of the marital bed, concerning how Temperance "comes before" The Tower - no need, Cyril, all here know that Lady Temperance Annesley is my wife. Still is, for that matter. We are estranged, shall we say. She detests me. But she remains high in the esteem of old Streynsham; they are very close, and I must keep up appearances in public. So I cannot join you in your complot and intrigue!

Besides, the streets are full of photographers these days. Everything exists to be made into a picture. An indelible, incriminating record of guilt. It is surely not at all possible to alter a photograph, as the images of our incredible war triumph over the Great Powers and the enduring sanctity of the Old Armistice attest. Ever since Leopold Verne popularised his infuriating strobolume, and made it far easier to load a camera than even a musket, the populace have become obsessed with photographing everyone and everything. I suspect we could have saved ourselves the trouble of conscription, the expense of all muniments and fortifications, had we but armed the common man with cameras and permitted them to tediously photograph the Enemy to death.

Gone now is the solace of Art. And I suspect your profession has become quite useless, Aloysius, no? What use poetry, in the emulous eye of that Gorgon, the camera? What use are your verses, when the pictures these days practically draw themselves? When for a half-farthing pentacle given to some boorish booth vendor of optical theatre in the street, one can purchase a view of such animated delight, (Cyril Darnay smirks a little in recognition) such transporting pleasures as to spurn the beauteous caresses of even this Odalisque herself... (Lord Huntingtower gestures suggestively to Beatrice Wentworth's photograph)
>>5682946
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Aloysius tearfully replies,
-You will not address Beatrice in this demeaning manner! Her innocence, her modesty, her beauteous virtue - she is utterly unworthy of your jibes and denigrations! And whilst the painter and his visions may have joined the ranks of the trade-fallen, vanquished by industry and mechanical progress, the eloquence of the lyrical word will never fall to a mere machine. Never, never! It is impossible! It will not happen! My poetry, my words, will outlive me - your corroded soul shall never even outlive the scurrility of your lusts!

Cyril Darnay gestures dismissively at the poet:
-I had thought, Aloysius, that you would be on our side. Have I not heard your sympathies dwell very much upon those layabout scoundrels, the Syndicalists picketing the wages of good workmen outside her father Isambard's foundry, with the incessant nonsense of their protests and contradictions, the confounding outrage of their demands? Radicals, rabble-rousers, agitators and anarchists the lot of them, who have never earnt an honest day's livelihood through the misrule of their slovenly, rebellious natures! (Cyril picks nonchalantly at his fingernails with a jewelled cravat-pin). The workhouse is far too good for all of them, they should all be sent over the top if you ask me - yet you apparently feel their plight is very much undeserved, their impoverishment unfeigned. So what better means for you to frustrate the war-profiteering of the father, other than through participation in the ruin and disgrace of the daughter?

Mission:
>Warn Beatrice Wentworth that Huntingtower and Darnay conspire to bring her to shame and disgrace,

OR

>Aid Huntingtower and Darnay in their plan to ruin Beatrice's reputation.
>>
>>5682938
>>Retort with annoyance: My affairs are mine own. I know the City well, better than you do, I'll warrant. You, sir, however, have a foreign manner to your bearing. Are you from the colonies?

>>5682940
I'm not sure a rusty, muddy M1870 would harm the user or the intended target more souv.

>>5682964
>Aid Huntingtower and Darnay in their plan to ruin Beatrice's reputation.
>>
Souv if you're looking to read Victorian quests then I am sure that you will enjoy these threads

>>5654217

>>5671876
>>
>>5682938
>Explain haltingly with embarrassment: er... no, it is not that. No scandal, no malversation of trust. It is... a mere soiree, a... seance.
>>5682943
A camera? Or portable cinema projector?
>>5682964
>Warn Beatrice Wentworth that Huntingtower and Darnay conspire to bring her to shame and disgrace,
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>>5682941
>>5683213
Instantograph (J. Lancaster & Sons 1890)
Loud, Blinding, Choking Fumes, Dangerous, Short Range, Delicate, Cumbersome (when opened) Slow (needs preparation), Inconspicuous (not recognisable as a weapon)

Mahogany and brass field camera with patented see-saw shutter and swing-out focusing screen, with lens board on a rail mounting.
This camera is accompanied by a tripod and magnesium sachets mixed with potassium chlorate - combustible flashlight powder, reflectors and a sparking trigger mechanism ignited by electric wire within the flash tray, intended for illumination and the ability to freeze motion. The preparation and handling of this metallic fuel and oxidiser should be treated with the utmost care, given its explosive and incendiary capacity for injury.

(QM: This is correct, well done!)
>>5683213
>>
>>5682940
Braendlin-Sommerville / Galand 1868 Revolver
??? / 6, 12mm
Concealable, Short Range, Loud, Fast Reload, Mobile;
Mud-clogged (Unreliable)

Open frame (no topside enclosure over the drum) double-action revolver with a distinctive hinged long extraction lever, that also comprises the loop of the trigger guard; pulling forward this lever separates both the barrel, cylinder and frame in three parts from this firearm, ejecting spent cartridges and enabling swifter reloading than side-gate revolvers, although a long trigger pull inhibits its accuracy.

(QM: please could a player roll 1d6 for available starting ammunition? Thank you!)
>roll 1d6
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5683351
>>
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>>5683351
>>5683352
(You pull open the trigger lever and see that the mud-clogged Galand revolver is loaded, although one chamber is empty, appearing to have been already fired. This troubles you a little, as you have no recollection of how this came to be. But perhaps merely a safety precaution, avoiding the carrying of a firearm hammer-down upon a live round?)

Galand Revolver
12mm
5/6 bullets in chamber; 0 reloads remain
>>
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It is the age of splendour and squalor.

Banquets in the townhouses of Mayerling Park; gruel in the workhouses of Cheapside Rookeries. There is love but it is not Love known amongst men and women. Consternation prevails at the War Office, even as the lathes of the armament factories spin.
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By dockyards laden with iron, the lurid light of coal-barges, furnace fires lit by gasworks and the sulphurous path of cinders, chimneys uncoiling serpentine plumes of smoke and soot. Witness the dismal prospect of derelict warehouses and decrepit scaffolding, where pleasure has gone and labour has come. Railroads the veins of this land, the enervation of dreams caught in the violent passage of conquering engines; the trembling harp of telegraphic dispatch wires in the wind, the discordant shriek of the electric bell.
>>
Yet far from the latticework of the docks, where looming struts of gantry and trellis cast angular shadows upon a leering audience of hoist and chain, all things are transformed from their bulk and crudeness, their ungainly corpulence and enormity, to delicacy and exquisite refinement.

A haul of grease has become the fragrant scent of musk daubed demurely against a whitened neck and embroidered chemisette. Bales from distant plantations unspool into soft twists of ribbon against curled lapels of waistcoats in silk and satin.
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Outside, as the echoing clink of glass and the flourishes of frivolity and laughter recedes, the streets are thronged with bleary eyes and meagre faces, vagabonds and drudges lost to unthinking toil or unfeeling oblivion. The stalls and emporiums impecunious, vacant to the trade-fallen. Pale and haggard, the scowls of the wretched at the nonchalant passing of black barouches and phaetons.
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The garish and raucous goad of the zoetrope, the clattering spin of its lantern cylinder: the tick-tock whirling of a revolving drum of dancing stroboscopic images, accompanied by printed Pages For You. Oleographs of the Lord High Intelligencer, raised high above advertisements and billboard ink still wet from the letterpress. Placards and pamphleteers amongst them; syndicalists and agitators; orationists, theosophists, militant suffragists; rumourmongers and polemicists of the gutter press; The Society For The Suppression Of Vice, The Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing (BITCH), The Paribus Preventative And Reformatory Institution For Relief Of The Infirm... They will change nothing.
>>
For the instrument of government is not the ballot, but the bayonet. The sempiternal dominion of Empire presides over one quarter of the orb of the world; her colonies span beneath the path of the sun. The bastion of order and civilisation to one; indurated tyranny and ruin to another. A solis ortu usque ad occasum.

She goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy... a laughing child sings, chasing a trundle wheel toy.

After the Old Armistice, they say there are no monsters to be found in this land. No one remembers them anymore.

This is the age of great motion within the soul of mankind, where reasoning appears only afterward, in that cavern of darkness the mind. The sheer utterance of Life, of which men are mere happenstance; how Empire imitates her eternal gestures, as they live once more, fulfilled in memory. Perhaps this history is an interruption of nature. To which does the soul belong?

In this Empire, all Engelond is made vassal.
>>
-Oh please can we have a story?! Please, please!

-Very well, darlings, I will tell you one story. One - and only one, and then you must promise to settle down and wash your faces and be very quiet and good.

-Can it be a scary story? With lots of arms being chopped off and things?? (Boy grins wickedly in mischief)

-I am not afraid! (Girl pouts petulantly)
>>
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-It is the story of The Raven Prince And The Faery,
Beatrice recounts patiently,
-Someone very wise from the New World told it to me. You see, there was once a beautiful faery of light - she was all the world's desires, all that anyone could want from the world.
>>
This faery was very beautiful but also very cruel; it was said she stitched shut the mouths of those who even dared to whisper any words of Love, and sewed shut the eyes of any who dared look upon her. And the faery damsel lived in an iron castle -
>>
-An iron castle? Like the dirty people at the ironworks factory? The little girl asks curiously.

-No dearest, an iron castle in the sky, in a realm that no mortal could enter, a No Man's Land if you will. The Land Of Birds, because no living thing could enter this realm unless they possessed wings. The Raven Prince -
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-A Prince? Is he like our King Searlas The Turd, who abdicated because of the war-?

-King Searlas The "Third", dearest, and no, the Raven Prince -
>>
-Was he really a raven? Or was he a crow? What is the difference between a raven and a crow? I like crows better...

-If you keep interrupting me, my darlings, it will be bedtime before we get to the end. Now where was I? Oh, so the Raven Prince was very vain - his feathered plumage was entirely white, completely immaculate and radiant white, but when he learnt of this proud faery the Raven Prince was very jealous of her, with her beautiful wings of light. So he tricked her - he flew into her iron castle, under pretense of courting her you see, he pretended he was in love with her - but the Raven Prince stole the secret of her light, stole the fire of her stars, carrying them away like burning jewels wrapped in a spangled banner tied to his beak. But he soon grew tired of his heavy, fiery burden - carrying the stars themselves, so eventually he dropped them, and their cinders were scattered across the sky. But not before the burning embers in his beak had singed his white plumage utterly black, and that is why the raven has black feathers now. So you see, the lesson of this story is...

>>5683016
(QM: hehe, I liked this crow story of yours, Geber QM!
>>5673541 )
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The children have fallen asleep.

Lady Temperance

has been watching silently from the nursery door, her eyes brimming with admiration:
-You are so good with children, Beatrice. I don't know what I would do without you... ever since their father and I... (Lady Temperance suppresses a painful recollection, and pauses before recovering herself) ...I mean to say, you are truly invaluable. If there is anything I can do for you Beatrice, you need only ask... perhaps... perhaps I can find you a husband? At my gathering, at the Water Banquet? There will be so many dances and beaus, so many handsome and eligible young gallants there - of that you may be well assured!

Beatrice replies impassionately
- I thank you, Lady Temperance. But I do not think I will ever marry. I am my father's only child, his only heir, and when he bequeaths upon me independence I shall wish to be freed from the tyranny of love. Every amorous advance is truly a shackle, beginning with the mere gift of one ring, but ending in the links of a long chain of entreaty, abasement and obligation. And I shall never see my will fettered to another. After all I think that is what the story of the Raven Prince teaches us, is it not? Love is just a trick by those who want to take something from you!

Lady Temperance can see the colour rising in Beatrice's cheeks, the fire in her eyes, and so she changes to a more teasing, conciliatory tone:
-Well it almost sounds like you have been conversing far too ardently with Herman Sucklinge-Bell, and his brigade of militant suffragists! He is very fond of independent women, you know... Herman likes his women a little mannish, if you ask me. Perhaps I shall invite him to my Water Banquet...

(optional, as Beatrice)
>(Stammer and blush furiously) I... I have barely even ... even met him! I ... I was only hoping... that he would be able to speak to the workmen... the ones protesting outside my father's foundry. Herman.. he ... he is very good at giving speeches, I had thought... (consent to Lady Temperance's matchmaking)
>(retort angrily) You, Lady Temperance - you have no right to be foisting nuptial engagements upon anyone! After all, look at what came of your own marriage to Lord Huntingtower...
>>
>>5683410
QM: as anons seem a little undecided here,
>>5682966
>>5683213
with divergent motivations,

I will offer the choice to write-in any ideas you have for enacting some plot to ruin Beatrice Wentworth's reputation (for example, you could
>Investigate Beatrice's parentage. Is she truly Isambard Wentworth's only heir? (As hinted at by Cyril Darnay, here)
>>5682956
How might you go about doing this?

>Is there some way of exploiting the protests and stoppage at the Wentworth Ironworks, her father's foundry? If you wish to pursue this, you can investigate the situation by giving this location: Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry to the Coachman, as prompted previously.

Alternatively, you can simply observe and see how events proceed, in order to avail yourself of whatever might arise, as you judge the conduct of the various personnages that may appear.
>>
>>5683410
>>(Stammer and blush furiously) I... I have barely even ... even met him! I ... I was only hoping... that he would be able to speak to the workmen... the ones protesting outside my father's foundry. Herman.. he ... he is very good at giving speeches, I had thought... (consent to Lady Temperance's matchmaking)
>>
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>>5682966
>"I know the City well, better than you do, I'll warrant..."
>>5683213
>"It is... a mere soiree, a... seance..."

Cadastre Of The Inner Eye
Knit a map in memory, from the mere mention of a place or Name - for the best outcomes, a True Name is preferred. Some cartographers profess a belief that the graticules and meridians that trace the contours surrounding prominent landmarks in the City form a loom of lines, an ascending hachure that directs footsteps to climb into the maze beyond, the Pathless Labyrinth.

At the very least, it might help you from getting lost, or from being led astray...

QM: You may choose to attune to this ability at any time, even unprompted or when the the choice to do so is not presented. Concentrating upon this ability may fatigue you. Your current threshold is Very Poor. You feel that this ability may become strengthened through repeated use, and manifest greater and more surprising power.

(optional)
>Ok QM, we have spooky 19th century googl maps / GPS / augmented reality psychogeography now hooray. The signal seems a bit weak though.
>Choose the Name of a place or location, and evoke the rite: Cadastre Of The Inner Eye
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>>5682966
>>5683213
07 VII: The CHARIOT
Enoch Lusk, a brawler, coachman and carriage driver.

The driver suddenly lunges forward with a choked, gargled roar and for a moment, you fear he is about to seize you by the throat, hurl himself at you in the fisticuffs of some pugilist affray. You are on the verge of raising your arms to defend yourself, but you see he has fallen short, having doubled over with what you now realise is laughter, convulsions twitching the length of his squat yet sinewy neck.

-Ha! I have been stabbed I have, stabbed with laughter! Aha ha ha! Me? Me?! You be taking me for some meat-smoked Yengeese foreigner? Ha, ha! I am saying to you, I swears I have become a stranger in my own country, I have. This city is full of too many foreigners, farlanders. Them that knows not how we wot spake proper and have you. Like them Fenians. The bomb-throwers, from the Fens. Heathens the lot of them, pagans - famine take them! though I hears the oldest of them fled over the sea to the colonies and they made him emperor in his white house over there. Then there are the Gorsedd - them of the lilting voice that worships fairy foppery and trees, and the dour Dalriada, the kilted mountain men. They are fond of wearing skirts and showing their knees...

(optional)
>write-in an enthusiastic xenophobic tirade to gain the trust of Enoch Lusk
>>
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As you are pondering whether to respond to or indulge in the peculiar prejudices and rants of Enoch Lusk, you hear the sudden tolling of the Clock Tower's bells from the courts of Witenagemot House, ringing throughout the city.

You recognise this as a call to commemoration, a call to remembrance in honour of the sacrifice of those who surrendered their lives to achieve the Old Armistice in the War against the Great Powers.

The commemoration typically calls for one to face the cenotaph of the Hecatomb Pillar, and bow one's head in observance of one minute of silence.

(You notice the carriage driver Enoch Lusk staring at you intently)

>Turn to the shadow of the Hecatomb Pillar in the distance, and solemnly bow your head towards it, in commemoration and contemplation of the Old Armistice, the Great War, and the sacrifice of the dead

>Calmly carry on as if nothing has happened. Maybe now would be an apt moment for a xenophobic tirade... (QM: can write in as above)

>You feel a sudden need for the lavatory. Find a nearby monument and relieve yourself.
>>
This is by far the hardest quest I have ever read, both as an esl and as player in general.
>>5683389
>The Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing (BITCH)
lol
>>5683410
>(optional, as Beatrice)
I don't want to retort, but I'd like not to agree either.
>>5683412
I don't really want to ruin her reputation until we learn if she really deserves it, so
>Try to find out if she has any hidden embarrassing pastimes
>Generally try to get close to her
>>5683618
So is a True Name the name of the corresponding place irl? I have no idea where any of what you mentioned is located lol.
Let's try
>Cadastre Of The Inner Eye to the War Office

I'll reply to the rest later.
>>
>>5683661
>Turn to the shadow of the Hecatomb Pillar in the distance, and solemnly bow your head towards it, in commemoration and contemplation of the Old Armistice, the Great War, and the sacrifice of the dead
Was going to write-in a xenophobic tirade but I don't think we should be a xenophobe character. Maybe the other anon has some ideas though? I'd support it if it were secretly insincere, just to placate Enoch Lusk.
>>
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>>5683769
Hecatomb Pillar
The cenotaph monument commemorating the Nameless that surrendered their souls in ultimate sacrifice against the Great Powers during the War. Of the many that fell, not all their remains could be recovered, with some interred elsewhere, such as in the cairns of Gravecliff or the distant desert sands of faraway Al-Ghurab. Consequently the Hecatomb honours not any one parricular individual, but the memory of collective sacrifice. Many present wreaths of flowers or observe a minute of solemn silence in contemplation. The form of the Hecatomb Pillar is a massive, featureless monolith slab in grey-black, with no visible adornment or discernible features. Nothing can be seen on the surface of this ominous landmark at all - as if the Hecatomb had been cut from the blackness of the abyss, the very Chasmata themselves. In the Sempiternal Empire it is a death-crime to deny that the Hecatomb ever occurred.
>>
>>5683674
>Cadastre Of The Inner Eye to the War Office
(QM: hehe, very clever!)
Even as your invocation of the Ancient Rite: Cadastre Of The Inner Eye occurs, as it snatches at your thoughts and as your limbs shudder with rhythms and resonant gestures that are not your own, you feel something is very, very wrong.
>>
Perhaps, at this very time and this very place, you have unleashed power beyond the command of your mortal frame. As the sepulchral tones of the Clock Tower bell reverberates through the shadows of the city, the seeping penumbral blackness of the Hecatomb Pillar bleeding into the streets and architecture, the serrated shapes of the surroundings, you see space unfolding in unravelling ribbons, as if light had illuminated a great hissing tunnel of silk, fluttering and unfurling in an unseen hurricane.
>>
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For a mere moment, you see a glimpse of what you believe was the target destination of your scrying, The War Room - ranks upon ranks of calculant engines, a vast linearithmic abacus within a vaulted chamber, interpolating columns of analytical gears meshed in helical wormshafts and hypoid wheel configurations. You think you see an enormous, floodlit table, which appears to display the isopleth contours of terrain with accompanying coloured formations of battle-ranks and unit miniatures.

The room itself is empty of any occupants, but you see heaps of what appear to be billboards or propaganda announcements, stacked alongside desks and furniture, proclamations that have yet to be issued. The notices read:

By SPECIAL PREROGATIVE Of WITENAGEMOT HOUSE
His Most Honourable Excellency,
The Lord High Intelligencer, Streynsham MORTMAIN,
Beginning In The Month Of Epagomene,
DECREES The Rightful Disallowance And Interdiction Of All
Timepieces, Clocks, Calendars, Chronometry;
And Any Horological Mechanisms Otherwise Unmentioned And Aforesaid,
Upon Sufferance Of Ultimate Sanction - DEATH.
All Contrivances Of Acquisition, Possession And Inquiry Shall Be Met With The Same Penalty.
Vigilance Prevails Over All
>>
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Streynsham MORTMAIN
Statues and oleographs depicting the Lord High Intelligencer in various heroic actions from the Great War are a common sight throughout the City, though Mortmain himself has not been seen in public since the abdication of the former Child-King, Searlas III, as dictated and ratified by the terms of the Old Armistice. It is commonly believed that Mortmain has dedicated himself to vigilance against the Great Powers of old, having received a debilitating war-wound during the course of fighting at Al-Ghurab. Across the city there are some who maintain that Streynsham died long ago in the trenches during the opening salvoes of the Great War, but if this were the case, no remains or evidence have ever been found.

QM: A strange scrawled message has appeared in your pocket-book journal. It reads simply,

-The Horned Crow Hunts For You.

It is bookmarked by a brief telegram dispatch ticket, that reads

ARRIVAL DELAYED / TWO MORE WEEKS / AWAIT CONTACT PRECLUSION / MORTMAIN

Perhaps this message was already present in your pocket-book, and was merely waiting to be read and found?
>>
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You are straining towards your vision of the War Office, trying frantically to discern in greater detail a glimpse of the interior, when the walls of the room itself crack and fissure, splintering in jagged runnels towards the abyss.
>>
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You stand in a Dead Land, a vast land without end where the ground seems to have been rent from the furious blows of a great hammer. There is no sound, only the stillness of desolation.
>>
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Land Of Birds
No Man's realm, yet those who seek to enter might witness slivers of their flesh carried there in the cruel beaks of carrion birds. A flooded wilderness pockmarked with craters and filth, filled with iron trees and rusted thorns, raked with trenches of delirium and regret.
>>
Brotherhood Of Eankke
Upon the barren horizon you can glimpse armoured riders, silhouetted in the distance against the pale persecution of sky; mounted riders hunting for anyone left alive. They appear to have the form of helmed knights, bearing what appear to be - long spears??
>>
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Far beyond this mounted line of riders, you can see a maze of ruined and broken walls, perhaps all that remains of some factory or foundry after heavy bombardment. Sunken trenches and even more coils of barbed wire encircle these ruins.
>>
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Ahead of you there is a mount, that has the appearance of some strange hippidion or hardy pack-breed of the mountains. There is rope enough for a makeshift harness, and a discarded iron bridle trodden into the ice and frost of the earth.

Winter here is the thief of warmth in the blood; where the wind is a wolf gnawing cold marrow from the bones.

The horse snorts and its warm breath mists in the cold air; its temperament seems a little restless, but overall the creature appears calm.
>>
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Immediately before you in the earth is a tangle of razor wire, that appears to have ensnared a small helpless carrion bird. A sudden sense of anxiety seizes you, as you contemplate the likelihood of decoys, snares and baited traps. The dark feathers of the bird twitch a little, and you are unsure if it can remain alive.

>Reach your hand into the barbed wire, try to free the bird

>Search the broken timbers and see if you can scavenge any items (QM: this takes time. I will list items only afterwards, if you choose this)

>Examine your firearm, the mud-encrusted Galand revolver
>Aim and fire your revolver immediately at the distant riders

>Make a rope halter, lead the horse quietly away
You believe this takes more time, and risks discovery, but success affords greater stealth afterwards

>Seize the iron bridle, place it upon the horse and mount the beast immediately
The fastest option; if done quickly and resolutely, you can probably flee the area before the warriors can even react. But how confident are you of your own horsemanship?

QM: I will always consider write-ins or alternate choices
>write in / something else?
>>
>>5683943
>>Reach your hand into the barbed wire, try to free the bird
>>
We are so back!!!
>>
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Eankke
The origins of the bloodthirsty war god of postbellum raiders, warband slavers and marauders is shrouded in mystery. Some scholars claim the name derives from Ang-ke, "red river", and cite the legend of a warrior king who was said to have found a sword buried in the grass steppe, having followed a trail of blood from a limping and injured sheep straying from a nomad shepherd's flock. Others claim that the word is a corruption of "Yangji", 洋疾 in the runes of Old Sioloc and Ancient Khimaire, well-known from the tales of the insane moneyer-prophet Ialle Ergusen; a land of chimerical beasts born of lion, goat and dragon. In those myths, the name Yangji in ancient bone oracle runes is attributed with the meaning: "goat-headed (beast) men from across the water, bringers of the (plague) swift sickness (injury)". Yet another explanation attests that the word Eankke is an adaptation of the tribal utterance for coward, turncoat or slave; and that the barbaric ravagers of the Dead Land are the last remnants of those who were once a loyal legion of enslaved warriors, turning renegade only after they were betrayed and abandoned in battle.
>>
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>>5683936
>>5684318
Atakam, Vehmgericht Cataphract Commander
Barbed wire protrudes from the hollow sockets of his eyes. His slashed face is disfigured with a latticework of knotted sutures.

You hear snatches of what he speaks carried upon the wind:
- ... we must anoint this Land, brothers. Anoint it with the flesh of the Blessed Lamb... bring forth the sweet, sacred incense...!!"
>>
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(behind him, the groans of slaves and clanking of chains, the sound of large canisters being rolled forward, and the flare of ignited torches)
>>
You see the following items scattered nearby amidst the rotted and burnt timbers
(QM: please wait whilst I upload some pictures and brief descriptions, thank you!)

>1 Trench Axe
>2 Rückentrage (Cable Reel And Drum)
>3 Chain Mask
>4 Bizarre Bent Rifle?
>5 Matchbox (with matches)
>6 Orilux Torch
>7 Looking Glass
>8 Magnifying Glass
>9 Chaos Warrior Helm (Pickelhaube)
>10 Trench Whistle
>>
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>1 Trench Axe
Entrenching tool for sapper and tunnelling expeditions. Hammers, axes, spades and improvised maces or nail-studded batons are a common sight within the claustrophobic environs of trench passages.
>>
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>2 Rückentrage (Cable Reel And Drum)
A trundling wheel worn upon a backpack harness, that could carry a spool of wire for a field telephone, or the lengthy fuse of a detonating cord.
>>
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>3 Chain Mask
If someone intended this to act as a gas mask, it is quite possibly the worst design that could ever possibly be conceived. A dangling coif of rusted metal links offers some slight protection to the face. There is an odour of urine, as if someone had relieved themselves on the face covering of this mask.
>>
>4 Bizarre Bent Rifle?
A carbine that appears to be in working condition, but as you examine it, you see that it appears to be impossible to fire - or even to hold, for that matter. The wooden stock is warped and contorted into a twisted and enlengthened rectilinear form, that could not possibly be held or shouldered by an ordinary human. Perhaps it was intended for some hideous hunchback or ogre?

(QM: You cannot pick up, carry or fire this rifle, unless you understand its operation. If you know the purpose of this weapon, write in.)
>>
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>5 Matchbox (with matches)
Even for those who are not superstitious, in the trenches it is best not to be the third man when lighting one of these.

(QM: you think this item may be able to affect your luck somehow. Best saved for those life and death situations... Why not light a match before a roll and see?)
>>
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>6 Orilux Torch
A metal capsule lamp covered in pebbled leather wrap, with a bulbous protruding circular front glass lens.
>>
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>7 Looking Glass
An elegant lady's handheld mirror. There is only one of these. Perhaps a keepsake, or a distant reminder of home? It would make for a fine and romantic gift.
>>
>8 Magnifying Glass
Dropped from a dispatch case of documents. When held up close to your face, it makes your eye look very big. Very big indeed! It almost makes you feel like a detective!
>>
>9 Chaos Warrior Helm (Pickelhaube)
A horrifying ornate horned helm with the design of a simurgh or mythic bird adorning its front. It might be useful as part of a cunning disguise, though snipers are drawn to the allure of its golden sheen.
>>
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>10 Trench Whistle
Useful for issuing commands with an air of authority. Who's to know, in the confusion and din of bombardment? Three short, shrill blasts - and then it's over the top.
>>
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>>5684069
QM: Some brave anon needs to roll this please
>roll 1d6

1 The clink of a ringed loop of metal tripwire being pulled from a prong. It is, of course, a trap. A schrapnellmine detonates next to your hand!

2 You reach desperately with probing fingers into a lacerating funnel of rusted wire. The bird is already dead. And your arm is ensnared in the razor coils! You are horribly stuck, and the barbs pull at your flesh...

3-5 You free the feathered bird, and it gazes at you dispassionately with a beady eye. The carrion crow flies away.

6 As you delicately perform a careful extrication of the bird from the barbed wire, a sudden cacophony on the horizon draws the attention of the mounted riders away from the vantage of your vicinity. You see a large swarm of black wings, talons and feathers, taking off from a flooded bombshell crater far away from you, that goads the mounted riders to give chase. (QM: the warriors are distracted and drawn away from your position for the time being)

QM: if you survive, you can carefully assess the options provided here
>>5683943
and the items here
>>5684325
regarding how you intend to evade the mounted riders, the Eankke Warband, and their mutilated commander Atakam.

Bear in mind that some items may have hidden or multiple uses, or could be saved later for trade. You can take as many items as you wish (QM: The Bizarre Bent Rifle cannot be carried or taken unfortunately) but bear in mind these items may affect your appearance, or encumber you in other ways...

You can also write in any other ideas or intended actions. You could, for example, attempt to call out or negotiate passage with the hideously scarred Warband commander Atakam...

(optional)
>Jump up and down, waving your arms and cheerfully calling out a happy "Hello there!" to the mutilated warband commander, Atakam. Is there some way to negotiate with him, or give / provide him with something he might want?

>write-in an idea of how you might bypass the Eankke warband, thr mounted riders and their mutilated commander

>just fight everyone. Draw your revolver, take aim (at who?) and open fire (QM: if this is chosen, I will explain the fight rules in a separate new section)
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5684347
>>
>>5684332
This rifle is meant to be fired from a trench without exposing the soldier. One would see the enemy through the mirrors mounted on the bent stock, and pull the trigger through the lengthened lever.
>>5684347
>Equip Chaos Warrior Helm and Chain Mask
>Take everything except the rifle and Cable Reel and Drum
>Attach the Orilux Torch somehow to the inside of the mask, so we appear to have a burning eye (I think it works like that, but I'm not sure)
>Make a dramatic appearance out of some crater by using the fumes and bright light from the camera >>5683350, as well as the trench whistle, as if we are some vengeful ghost, and scare the riders away
>Take the horse and escape
Retard plan, but I can't come up with anything more reasonable except outright fighting the entire warband.
>>
>>5684332
Periscope Rifle
Fusil Lebel Mle 1886 M93
8x50mm smokeless Balle P (Perforante, Armour Piercing)
1 / 8 chambered, 0 reloads remain

Bolt-action infantry rifle, the first to use smokeless nitrocellulose compared to black powder. It can be fitted with a distinctive Épée-Baïonnette, a thrusting sword with an X-shaped cross-section blade. Upon its introduction, this rifle boasted over one-and-a-half the rate of fire of rivals, at 43 rounds per minute.

>>5684402
QM: Well done, you correctly identified the use of this periscope rifle, a sniper weapon with a bent stock and mirrors designed to be fired from behind cover, beneath the recess of the trench. This weapon has only one round left in the chamber. You could aim and fire it, and automatically kill their commander Atakam (no roll required to kill him, but I will instead make a morale roll for the remaining warband troops to see if they flee, or fight back...) However, you notice that the mirrors of the periscope rifle are broken. To enact this plan, and automatically kill the mutilated commander from behind cover, you could break the Looking Glass
>>5684336
in two, and use the shards as a makeshift substitute for the periscope aiming mirrors...
>>
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>Kill the warband commander:
>Break the Looking Glass (this permanently destroys the mirror)
>Use mirror pieces to repair Periscope Rifle
>Fire the weapon
No roll is needed to automatically snipe and kill the commander. I will instead make a morale roll to see if the remaining armed riders scatter; you believe the likelihood would be in your favour, with at most one or two warriors remaining, but there is a small chance that the entire warband will regroup in a berserk frenzy for a massed attack. Were this to occur, you think it is likely that the riders would be forced to dismount as they search the trenches for your sniping position. QM: importantly if you choose this option, any survivors remaining will not be aware of your position, because you fired the periscope rifle from one of the many trenches in this area

OR:

QM: this plan
>>5684402
>Make a dramatic appearance out of some crater by using the fumes and bright light from the camera
is not bad at all, I will definitely allow it! And well done for remembering the camera flash, hehe. The intent appears to be to use the flash pyrotechnics into distracting and frightening the warband riders whilst you make an escape.

If you choose this plan, you will have to make a very fast escape once enacted. There is a chance that you will escape before the riders can even react. You have some time to prepare beforehand, so decide: (this affects the roll probabilities)
>fast getaway:
>mount horse with iron bridle
>rig the camera flash to fire, but you must leave behind the camera on its tripod afterwards (lose Instantograph camera)
This option offera the most favourable escape probabilities

>slow getaway
>mount horse carefully with rope harness
>rig camera as above, but you can retrieve it afterwards
This option offers a less favourable escape probability, but you will keep the Instantograph, tripod, magnesium flash powder etc. There is a higher likelihood some of the warriors will see you and open fire

QM: so to summarise (unless any anons want to modify and adapt the plan) the options are

>Fire the periscope rifle
the repair breaks the Looking Glass mirror,
>>5684336

>Fast horse getaway with iron bridle
you lose the Instantograph camera
>>5683350

>Slow horse getaway with a rope harness
keep all items, but higher risk of alert

QM: after you make your choice, please roll 1d6, thank you!
>roll 1d6
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5684476
>Fire the periscope rifle
>>
>>5684485
Tree Of Thoughts
A mysterious divination rite of the druids of the Gorsedd, nurtured over centuries in the Old Forest Of Idols. Offerings left in propitiation within marshes, buried beneath the branching sky and the gnarled roots of ancient trees, grew into dreams and revelations for those that made the gift. In time, the Gorsedd discovered that any trinket or relic could be sacrificed for a fugitive glimpse of the future. In particular, weapons that had shed blood and artefacts of the elder ages were preferred. Before his ascent to Lord High Intelligencer, Streynsham Mortmain often walked within the Old Forest Of Idols as he sought for this legend - and hunted for those he believed to be in possession of it.

QM: This ability is akin to the old gamebook "finger bookmark" trick hehe of flicking through the various choices before picking the best one. You can sacrifice a memento, trinket or relic before a choice or decision roll to see the outcomes and probabilities beforehand; certain items that are particularly appropriate to a situation will produce a much stronger effect. An appropriate use of this ability might save you from making a roll heavily tilted towards instant death. You think improved use of this ability might enable you to glimpse even further into the future, perhaps even warping the strands of fate to favour you.

To use this ability before any roll, nominate an item (choose carefully) and the probabilities of the roll will be revealed beforehand. The item is permanently destroyed afterwards. Weapons in particular are likely to produce a stronger result.

https://arxiv.org/abs/2305.10601

***

>>5684485
Rolled 3 (1d6)

QM: ok so the morale roll was this one

1 Howling for vengeance at the death of their commander, the entire warband regroups and attack with renewed frenzy!

2 The warband flees, but 2 warriors remain

3 The warband flees, but 1 warrior remains

4 The warband scatters

5 In the haste of their departure, the warriors drop some of their weapons

6 In the haste of their departure, the warriors drop all their weapons and 1 unusual item

So after your roll of 3, now there is just 1 assailant left. Let us see what happens...
>>
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In the lightning of a maiming glimpse, the crack of the bolt-action rifle opens the flower of his skull and the blood comes out singing.

You see the warband commander Atakam
>>5684319
topple forward - for some reason he is not immediately dead, he is clutching his bleeding face and cannot see the screams that are yet to approach him - but then his horse rears violently, pitches the bloodied warband leader in his agony upon an upright spear of battlefield debris, some protruded strut of razor wire, and as he is violently thrown and impaled upon the rusted spike you see he is finally dead.
>>
Trench Raider

The horror of this sight unnerves the warband remnants, all of whom scatter and flee in routed panic - all, except for one.
>>
Pritchard-Greener Bayonet / Webley Revolver

Drawing a peculiar firearm, the Trench Raider dismounts, steps over the parapet and slides down the revetment into the waterlogged ditch below, hunting for you.

>Run to the horse now. (QM: you no longer have the time to fashion a rope harness, the previous option). Seize the metal bridle from the cold earth, harness and mount the horse, and flee whilst the Trench Raider wades in the ditch)

>Try to lose the Trench Raider in the maze of tunnels

>Shoot at the Trench Raider with your Galand revolver
QM: if you want to assess the likelihood of success beforehand, you can invoke the ancient rite: Tree Of Thoughts. Nominate one of your possessions - it will be destroyed, and the probabilities revealed

>Break open the Galand revolver first, and check the ammunition. Wasn't it covered in mud earlier?

>Something else? For example, you could taunt him, or use an item...? You could also try to use the Tree Of Thoughts rite on some other action, to divine its probability of success - remember however, that you must also name and sacrifice an item you possess, which will be permanently destroyed after the probability is revealed.
>>
>>5684566
>>Run to the horse now. (QM: you no longer have the time to fashion a rope harness, the previous option). Seize the metal bridle from the cold earth, harness and mount the horse, and flee whilst the Trench Raider wades in the ditch)
>>
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Rolled 3 (1d6)

There is a strange, greenish hue on the horizon, a bleached smell in the air as you scramble frantically to the horse
>>5683940
which now looks rather skittish, and agitated. It makes you briefly think of what the scarred warband commander impaled on a distant rusted spike behind you meant when he was calling forth the "sacred incense".
>>5684319

You can see the shapes of some large rats scurrying to all sides of you, disturbed by your rushing movements, and the vermin provoke horrible sensations of crawling and revulsion, but you feel quite confident that you can reach the horse before the Trench Raider can catch you, impeded as he is by escarpment and ditch.

The bleached smell is very strong when you reach the horse, and the Trench Raider is still nowhere to be seen within the maze of tunnels behind. You quickly scrabble for the metal bridle - the horsebit feels chillingly cold as you dig it out of the frost and icy slush of the earth, as you wipe the mud from it. You are quickly harnessing the horse, mounting it and stepping up into the saddle, the animal becoming more and more agitated - and when the cold metal bit enters the horse's mouth it rears suddenly, its agitation uncontrollable, its neck whipping and straining uncontrollably. You pull on the reins but the jointed bite of the snaffle and its pressure on the horse's tongue causes you to lose your balance and fall heavily.

You are Bruised but not heavily injured. As you rise awkwardly rubbing the throbbing ache of your limbs, the sharp snap of a gunshot splits the air -

1 Even at this range, the Trench Raider aims unerringly - at your head!

2 You dive instantly to the ground; the gunshot has missed you. But you have snagged your arm in barbed wire...

3-6 The Trench Raider has missed you entirely. You can see him now, slowly advancing towards you.
>>
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>>5684563
>>5685055
>Rolled 3 (1d6)
(QM: The Trench Raider curses - his gunshot has missed you entirely. He braces to fire again...)

>Try mounting the horse once more. You curse yourself that you did not take the time to fashion a gentler rope bridle and harness. Perhaps the horse will be more controllable this time?
>Roll 1d6

There is no escaping from this fight. The horse has no gas mask... it will simply choke to death when the horrifying cloud of greenish fog descends. Come to think of it - you are not convinced you have tremendously robust or airtight sealed face protection either... >>5684329
Turn to the distant advancing figure of the Trench Raider, draw the Galand Revolver and open fire. QM: for unexplained reasons (that might be revealed if you use the divination spell, Tree Of Thoughts, but you need to sacrifice an item first...) roll 2d6 for each shot you wish to take. So if you wish to fire twice, roll 4d6, etc. If you wish to fire all 5 rounds, you would need to roll 10d6.
>roll 2d6 for each time you pull the trigger

>Abandon the horse. Run back into the maze of trenches, and try to lose your assailant there.

Perhaps now is a good time to urinate; many games and adventures forget to include realistic simulations of bladders.
>Urinate

>Invoke the ancient rite: Tree Of Thoughts. You need to nominate one of your items which will be permanently lost. Perhaps the branching visions can reveal a better future path...?
>Write-in an item to sacrifice

>Something else? Write-in. You can always try to use some other item or course of action etc.
>>
>>5685064
>Sacrifice Chaos Warrior Helm >>5684339 to invoke ancient rite: Tree of Thoughts to divine what the probabilities related to firing the revolver are, maybe for other things as well if possible
>>
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>>5685278
Beyond a slight reeling sensation of befuddlement, nothing appears to have happened...
>>
You unstrap the spiked Pickelhaube
>>5684339
from your head. It does not appear to be any different. Did you not present the correct offering? Perhaps the trees do not hunger for helmets?

There is a sensation of slowness, of recalibration, as if time itself in its crawling patience has begun to grow (or regrow?) towards a different demarcation, a different dendrochronology.
>>
Then, in a sudden splash of wetness, the helmet is gone; there is only lightness and pooled water glistening upon your empty palms, as if your hands had just been swallowed in the cool mouth of a forest stream.
>>
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The sunlight here casts the ground in green and gold, shone through the pleached limbs of a living cathedral of vaulted tree branches.
>>
In the heart of the forest, you see an enormous mossy tree,
upon an isle of stone steps encircled by water.

The dais of broken steps towards it makes the Hollow Tree resemble a colossal throne.
>>
The light has changed again.

All of the leaves of this tree have fallen, the branches are twisted and bare. You cannot help but see a sickly green tinge to this light that bathes the dead tree; it looks like the green, chlorine miasma of No Man's Land.

From nowhere, the guttural cawing of a bird taking flight.
>>
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Your thoughts leap to the bird you freed from the barbed wire schrapnellmine trap here
>>5683943
>>5684069
>>5684347
Could you not somehow turn the trap against the Trench Raider, bait him to walk into it?

QM: Ordinarily the Trench Raider is careful and experienced at detecting S-Mines and other traps, but currently he is enraged and focused upon hunting and chasing you. You think you have a 50:50 (ie 3 out of 1d6 random table) chance he will simply walk into the barbed wire mine trap.

So the roll would then be this:

1 He doesn't fall for your bait tactics. Instead, the Trench Raider snarls (wheezing gas mask grunting) and unloads all 5 remaining shots from his revolver at you! And he aims properly this time...

2 The Trench Raider fires 1 aimed shot at you

3 The Trench Raider fires, but his footing remains unbalanced from having just climbed out of the ditch. His aim remains very poor

4 He falls for it! He is blown up by the mine... but so is all his equipment; gas mask, revolver, trench club...

5 The Trench Raider is blown up, but his equipment remains useable and intact

6 He is blown up by the mine and his equipment remains lootable. The explosion appears to have also uncovered a buried cache with an unusual item...
>>
You also consider the possibility of just firing at him directly with your revolver. You actually believe your probability of hitting him is not bad, but to your dismay, a new impediment emerges...

Had you checked the revolver ammunition earlier,
>>5684566
you would now discover that your gun contains not five rounds
>>5683366
but just one bullet! How could this be? You expressly remember that only one chamber was empty when you last examined the gun... Could it be that in this Dead Land, this inversion of life, only spent bullets that have killed are carried through?

QM: the mechanics for this strange gun, the Galand revolver, are as follows: because of the long trigger pull, you roll 2d6 per shot (you have only 1 shot now...) If the 2nd d6 is greater than the 1st, you pull the trigger smoothly, aim and kill the opponent. If the 2nd d6 is lower than or equal to the 1st d6, you crimp your finger a little, and jolt the gun upwards erratically, missing the target. So a roll of 2, 5 would hit and kill; a roll of 4,1 would miss, a roll of 3,3 is a miss. (QM evil laugh, the probability of success is a minor maths puzzle muahahaha)

(You have lost: )
Pickelhaube - given to Tree Of Thoughts
>>5684339

Looking Glass - broken into two mirror shards to repair the Periscope Rifle
>>5684336

The choice is then

Fire the Galand revolver at the Trench Raider
>roll 2d6; succeed, hit and kill on the trigger pull if 2nd d6 strictly greater than 1st, otherwise miss.

Bait and lead the Trench Raider into the mine
>roll 1d6 on table above. Succeed on 4,5,6

Use one of the matches from the matchbox. Could it improve your luck somehow? You have no idea what will happen (maybe you could take a guess, based on this:)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_on_a_match
>roll 1d3 You have no idea what might happen...

(QM: apologies, I had to delete 1 prior post, the rule description was wrong, sorry!)
>>
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GM15, Gummimaske 1915

Rubber coated canvas with metal eyepiece assembly and antifog inserts. To breathe you have to blow out, hard. The filter consists of three layers varying between combinations of activated carbon, 40% potassium carbonate and diatomite soaked with hexamine and piperasine. The mask is connected via a hose to a rebreather, either a bladder or tank such as the Pneumatogen 1908 or H.S.S. Gerät 1916.

>>5684563
QM: I should also mention: for the purposes here, shooting at and hitting the Trench Raider with just 1 bullet will not damage his equipment (compared to him being shredded / blown up by a mine). You can just assume that his gas mask comes equipped with all the various attachments mentioned above etc.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5685347
>>5685353
>Bait and lead the Trench Raider into the mine
>>
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>>5685382
QM: well done for choosing the better likelihood here! The probability of the 2nd d6 being greater than the 1st is symmetrically equal to that of the 1st being greater than the 2nd, ie swapped the other way around. Imagining a 6x6 square of 36 outcomes, with the 6 diagonal (ie equal rolls, eg 2,2; 6,6 etc) possibilities removed, and then dividing in half due to symmetry, so (36 - 6) / 2 = 15, so the likelihood is 15 / 36, or 5 /12, which is not as good as the 50:50 chance you chose hehe. Alternatively can also use the combinatorial formula nCk / n^k = 6C2 / 6^2 = 15 / 36 for the same result.

Multiple black geysers of debris, the chained explosions reverberating loud in your blood. (QM: because you equipped the Chain Mask, here
>>5684329
>>5684402
your eyes are protected from the plumes of shrapnel and grit by the metal slits)

Unfortunately, beyond some blackened ropes of meat, nothing of the Trench Raider remains after he is completely blown apart by the barbed wire minefield. He was wearing the only gas mask -

There is an eerie silence, as the drifting chlorine gas cloud descends...
>>
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A piteous whinnying, as the horse - your means of escape! - keels over and dies. You see its ribs and powerful flanks heaving as its legs thrash in agony.
>>
In the distance, you can see a large mound jutting at a strange verically tilted angle from the slope of the trench.

QM: for unexplained reasons hehe, please roll
>2d60 + 120
note: NOT d6, 2d60

>Well, it has come to this. The final indignity. Now would be a good time to urinate. Maybe in your final moments before asphyxiating in your own blood, you should urinate on your Chain Mask and savour the smell.
In fact, this was the correct way
>>5683661
to commemorate the war memorial, the Hecatomb Pillar, all along. You should urinate on every war memorial from now onwards - if you somehow survive this...

>Dive low into the trenches and try to find a dugout, a command post... there must be a gas mask somewhere, surely???

>Try to run to the large mound (pic rel) and investigate it. Perhaps there will be a rebreather or mask filter to be found over there??

>Something else? (Write in)
>>
Rolled 57, 15 + 120 = 192 (2d60 + 120)

>>5685429
I actually wasn't sure what to pick because I didn't calculate the probabilities of preserving equipment or obtaining new stuff. There's a 1/6 chance of something getting revealed by the blast of the mine, after all... And while the raw 1/2 of killing the raider with the mine was there, the probability of saving his equipment for the gun was 15/36 rather than 12/36.
>>5685432
>Try to run to the large mound (pic rel) and investigate it. Perhaps there will be a rebreather or mask filter to be found over there??
Maybe we can hide in the tank?
>>
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Rolled 2, 29 = 31 (2d60)

>>5685471
>Try to run...
>Running - oh no...!
(You lose 2d60 seconds of precious breath...)
>>
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>>5685471
>>5685550
161 = 192-31 seconds remaining...
The cloud of choking gas is sweeping rapidly behind you now, drowning the carcass of the unfortunate horse, which is no longer visible in the murk. You are not sure if it is pure chlorine - perhaps urine might help against a low, dispersed concentration (QM: in fact, just water, anything soluble for chlorine would do!) but there could be other, more lethal gases mixed in; the best you can do is flee and hope to scavenge and recover some breathing apparatus, somewhere... Your lungs heave and shudder with the exertion of running as you try desperately to hold your breath, and not to inhale the hideous choking vapours...
>>
You are in luck! Your surmise was correct - whoever rammed this iron monstrosity into the trench must have considered it to be of supreme importance and priority on the battlefield - and you are duly rewarded with the sight of a partially demolished command post, a tangle of sandbags, burnt planks and unspooled wires.

Upon the upturned iron beast
>>5685432
stands a very peculiar individual, gesturing before it as if it were some monstrous altar. The man has the bearing of some sort of demented orator.
>>
Olaefyr The Druid
-We must... tend to the trees. The Trees! We must sow the earth with Trees, like the dragon's teeth of old. Trees of the Fallen Freedom, from the Stars! The Blessed Lamb commands it. The Trees are for our children. Is that not right, Annalena?
>>
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Annalena, The Druidess
She is either a sorcerous speaking skull, or just a goat head with Olaefyr's hand jangling the grisly vertebrae and spine in blasphemous puppetry, speaking in his most impassioned effeminate voice:
-Yes my love! Ooohh! The Trees are for the children! They are so green (the chlorine gas surrounds you...) and sharp! So beautiful, ooohh!
>>
The Trees
To be entirely fair, there are indeed a few remnant blasted stumps of gnarled and splintered wood, stubbornly rooted in the crump holes and bomb craters of this wasteland. However, you have a feeling these are not the entities to which Olaefyr the Druid is lovingly lavishing his attentions.

You observe that both Olaefyr and Annalena are wearing snugly fitted gas masks.

>Try to persuade Olaefyr the Druid to give you Annalena's gas mask. But how would you attempt this? (write-in a speech)

>Try to challenge Olaefyr and show that he has strayed from the way of the druids:
>Those are not trees. It is just barbed wire and broken stumps
>You fool, Annalena is a dead goat skull. Everyone in this Dead Land is dead. As you will be, soon! Give me that gas mask now!
>Maybe... I can help you water these "trees"? I can help you restore the "forest"? (QM: one should always acquiesce to the whims of a madman)
>Praise Annalena'a beauty: I have never beheld a more... ravishing, dainty and beauteous goat. The concupiscent pulchritude of her charms would be far better situated, were she not wearing that ghastly mask...
>Tell me of the Stars, this Fallen Freedom. Why do you follow this and not the gods of the druids?
>Attempt to debate theodicy: If your druid gods are so good and kind... why do they permit evil? Why do they permit war?

The druid is clearly demented and malevolent. You must attempt this from the opposite direction
>If your druid gods are so evil, why do they permit goodness? Why are there any good people left alive and in tranquility and bliss at all?

>Some other topic / line of argument? Write in etc.

You have no time left for any of this. You need that gas mask now, or you will choke to death! How convenient of you to have one bullet left in your gun:
>Just shoot this stupid druid and take his stupid gas mask. No roll required, he appears to be utterly defenceless and unarmed. Though there does seem to be a strange circle of burnt wooden planks surrounding him...
>>
>>5685559
>Just shoot this stupid druid and take his stupid gas mask. No roll required, he appears to be utterly defenceless and unarmed. Though there does seem to be a strange circle of burnt wooden planks surrounding him...
inb4 we die to eldritch magic
>>
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>>5685982
As you advance upon him menacingly, gun in hand, the defenceless and helpless druid sobs and pleads:
-Wait-wait! Please! Do not slay me! I know such secrets, I possess such power! I know... I know... I can give you weapons. Magic! Riches! Goats! Wait! Nooo! Please... Mortmain, Mortmain! I know his plan... I know of the Clock Tree! The Tree of the Stars... He hunts for the Mask, to bring to the Foundry... that is what will free her! She Who Is Three... I will tell you everything, please - please let me live! Noooo, please! If ...if I must die, please, please - have mercy on my beautiful lover, I mean daughter, Annalena (The Druid desperately caresses his hand-puppet goat skull in a tearful farewell embrace) spare her virtue! Do not ravish my voluptuous beloved... I mean, my innocent daughter! My life for hers! We shall never be parted! We shall be together again; I will see you soon, my love -
>>
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Grabbing the druid by the thinning hairs of his scalp, you shoot him dead.

The goat skull clatters lifeless to the ground.
>>
Were you to examine the mysterious Galand revolver
>>5682940
>>5683351
>>5683366
>>5685353
in the mist and the fog of the City, you would discover that it has for some incomprehensible reason appeared to have been replenished - to have regained a single bullet in the chamber.

Galand Revolver ammunition???
12mm
6/6 ; 0 reloads remain

Here, however, your gun is spent. You open and examine the chamber and extract the empty cartridge.

Dead Land Revolver ammunition
12mm
EMPTY
>>
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Rolled 7 + 10 (1d10 + 10)

You possess: Gas Mask
>>5685363
(1d10+10 roll above is duration in hours)

You frantically seize the dead druid's face mask and secure the straps on your own face with trembling and spasming hands, the tendons pulled like claws - slowly, the mist of your exhaled relief condenses in reassuring and calming waterdrops on the eye lenses. Gradually, in panting and gasping swallows, your breathing recovers to normal.
>>
A part of you begins to regret that you did not interrogate the druid for more information - perhaps he could have told you how to escape this nightmarish trench wasteland hellscape of barbed wire, chemical warfare and corpses? You rummage around in the debris of the command post - it appears to have been mostly looted, as you expect.

The iron monstrosity is heavily scorched and rusted, the chain links of its tread tracks burst asunder.
>>
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Vickers-Maxim .303

There is some sort of a mitrailleuse here - but all the ammunition is spent, perhaps during the failed defense. You see a crumpled letter next to it, that reads -

...the men are broken and we have near depleted the ammunition... Hugo is nowhere to be found. He must have surrendered his command, or been conveniently transferred - the defence of this outpost is left to us alone now. Damn him! We alone will bear the brunt of whatever comes... I had made a gift for our daughter, whittled it by my own hand over the long hours in this cramped and benighted ditch. This was my only consolation - Please give this to her if you see her again...

QM: You can choose how long you wish to recover and search this outpost. There is a lot of debris and rubble to sift through - you can spend a 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 searching (simultaneously also recuperating). There is a chance for better items found with a higher die size (ie, 1d12 roll for hours spent, regardless of what the result actually will be, leads to the best items being found). You also have a feeling that spending more time in this outpost regardless of the die size rolled will lead to more attention being drawn to your present location.

>Decide whether to roll a 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 in hours spent scavenging / recuperating from the gas attack
>The DIE SIZE determines quality of scavenged items; 1d12 is best
>The ROLL RESULT determines likelihood of attracting attention. The result is subtracted from the hours left in your gas mask filter
>Roll 1dX etc where X is the die size you chose
>>
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Whilst you are here, it occurs to you that you could take a photograph of your surroundings.
>>5683350
Isn't that what cameras are for? Atrocity tourism? Choose:
>You must take a photo of this horrifying wasteland, that will reveal to the public the devastation of this war. Something from this atrocity of the past (?) that has not happened yet in the future (?) To ensure it never repeats or ever even happened, or whichever way round it is.
QM: you can write in what war atrocity scene you wish to depict (might depend on if I can find an image of it though) You can also upload your own images!

>You should take a photo of that strange iron machine. Perhaps the blueprints of it could be reverse engineered - it might be valuable and worth quite a lot! The War Office could probably make some use of it...
QM: This is of course a photo of the tank, >>5685432

>The correct and most dignified action is to take a selfie. You probably need to improvise an impromptu device or thingummyjig to trigger the camera shutter at a distance, but this can be done with all the debris scattered all around. After all, what do you look like anyway?
QM: write in what you think you look like, see how the photograph compares...
>>
Rolled 2 (1d8)

>>5686081
>1d8
>>5686084
>You must take a photo of this horrifying wasteland, that will reveal to the public the devastation of this war. Something from this atrocity of the past (?) that has not happened yet in the future (?) To ensure it never repeats or ever even happened, or whichever way round it is.
>Write-in: Several corpses on the edge of the trench, the devastated battlefield stretching far beyond them.
Also
>Urinate while we're somewhat safe here
>>
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>>5686254
QM: You have obtained Atrocity Photograph: Horrors Of War
It might be useful for propaganda purposes. Or just gawking at, in the forum of a private member's club. If a respectable lady saw this, she would probably faint, from utter horror!

>>5686071
>>5686254
>Rolled 2 (1d8)
Gas Mask: 17-2=15 hours remain

QM: hehe I am not a chemist, but the urine is from this source, the first gas attack 1915 April 22 in Ypres. My understanding though, is that subsequent chemical attacks mixed gases, including phosgene and mustard gas, the latter of which blistered exposed skin on contact, sometimes rendering even masks ineffective.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Ypres
>Dr Nasmith and Scrimger, both experienced physicians, recognized the gas as chlorine. Dr Scrimger’s immediate orders to his battalion included instructions to urinate on handkerchiefs, placing them over mouth/nose when encountering the gas cloud. The urine present in these crude masks caused the chlorine gas to crystallize, preventing pulmonary effects.

You are a little paranoid, that after 2 hours of searching in this gas mask with lingering itching and burning sensations in your throat - perhaps you involuntarily inhaled some of the chemical attack, and that it has caused permanent pulmonary damage. However, after a while you become a little acclimatised to the discomfort, and conclude that it is merely the strenuous effort necessitated by breathing or rather wheezing through a hot and constricted apparatus - whilst wearing the mask, there really is very little heat dissipation or relief for the face at all.

You are rewarded in your exertions by a rather poor haul of scavengings (QM: sadly, this is all you get with a 2 on 1d8 Please wait whilst I upload some pictures, thank you!)
>>
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1/ Trench Club
This improvised mace consists of just a knobbed handle with a metal bolt screwed on the end. It was probably dropped by whoever scoured this place beforehand, and made off with the loot that could have been taken by you.
>>
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2/ Toy Bird
A charming wheeled crow-like creature, whittled from wood, with beady eyes and wheels on its talons and propped-up tail feathers; the wings and beak clack together cleverly, making noises when the toy bird wheels are trundled along the ground.
>>
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3/ Mysterious Metal Snail ???
This strange component is very large and appears to have been discarded from some other apparatus. It is the size of large hand luggage, though just about portable by a single person. You think carrying it would be rather cumbersome. The shape of the metal casing is that of a torus, with a spherical hollow ball in the middle. You can see connector valves on this strange exchange apparatus, though it is currently inert and non functional. You think it is probably an unusual container or receptacle of some sort, but you are not sure what could be carried in it. It might be valuable to those who understood its function, or useful at some later stage.

QM: if you recognise or can identify this component, write in! Maybe the druid used it as a watering can, to nurture the Trees...?
>>
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As you conclude your rummaging, you are suddenly alerted by a mysterious voice emanating from within the command post. Your hand snaps to your revolver... before you realise that it is empty. You are verging on panic... how could such an intruder have escaped your notice, during your extensive search of the outpost? - when you perceive that the voice is of a familiar lady...

There is a field telephone here, in the breached command outpost. It seems to have somehow intercepted a mysterious conversation:
>>
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>>5683433
(consent to Lady Temperance's matchmaking)
>>5683674
>Try to find out if she has any hidden embarrassing pastimes
>Generally try to get close to her
...oh and if he calls... tell him I am away. Don't show him in! Oh but also telephone him afterwards Hetty, let him know that I will be attending Lady Temperance's Water Banquet. Hint that I might, might (!) be there! Don't make it sound like I am too eager or anything!! Oh and you must remember to see the seamstress for my new dress and gloves. The gloves, don't forget, you should write it down in a journal or something! You are always forgetting things Hetty! Oh and also you should find a gift for Lady Temperance. Something stylish. But also thoughtful. Something for her children perhaps? Maybe some of those exotic prints from the Orient! But that strange antiquarian Augustus Wheeble is so disagreeable! He always makes me shudder, fawning over his exotic collections and woodcuts from the Far East. Father seems fond of them though. And I suppose they are fashionable enough, that Lady Temperance has chosen her Water Banquet with this theme, the calligraphers on the river by the pavilion. Oh, I almost forgot, I am supposed to meet Father! He is always so busy at the foundry and Ironworks these days - if he has sent for me, it must be something quite momentous! And then Hetty you must also see to the laundry, and the scullery, and pay the...
>>
Enoch Lusk is standing before you, a concerned look on his face.
-You... just keeled over there. I knows that look! Eyes just glazed over, empty stare and all that. You must have had it bad in the War. The Clock Tower bells and the commemoration bongs can have that effect, they brings up all sorts of bad memories. Best not to dwell. Look here, I helps you up and all. Now where did you say you were headed?
>Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry
>Le Cenacle Club
>Witenagemot House
>The Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing (BITCH)
>Do you know of the antiquarian, Augustus Wheeble?
>I think I will be attending a party. Where is the estate of Lady Temperance Annesley?
>The seance! I almost forgot!!
>Another location?
>Ask Enoch Lusk a question?
>Something else?
>Rant at the QM, that around 1912-1915, cars had already surpassed horse carriages, this entire quest is wrong...

>Put down the field telephone. Yes the QM blatantly stole the idea from the Matrix. You intend to stay in the Dead Land. And loot and kill EVERYTHING. (QM: In this mode, no more Jane Austen / Charles Dickens / Virginia Woolf pretension. Only trenches and machine guns!)
>>
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>>5684336
- I saw such a strange sight in the rail carriage today,

She murmurs, nestling your head upon her lap.

- I almost believed it to be a dream. There were these two young women - they looked very similar to each other; I said to myself: they must be sisters! - and they were sitting against the side of the train carriage compartment, by the open window, one quite drowsy, almost sleeping, and another lost in reading a little book.

I thought of them as the Dreaming Sister and the Dull Sister, and just then, the train rushed through a dark tunnel - there was a shrill whistle, and the carriage was basked in a red signal-light; black soot and smoke billowed in, blown from the funnel of the engine to the carriage window, the little casement sash that was ajar, and both the Dull Sister and the Dreaming Sister were jolted and quite startled!

They stared at each other astonished for a moment. For the black train smoke and soot had gotten onto the face of the Dull Sister - as if she had crawled and fallen from a chimney! - although the Dreaming Sister opposite her had escaped unblemished.

Yet for some reason it was the Dreaming Sister who was roused from her previous torpor, flummoxed as she was, and she began fumbling for a looking-glass, rummaging through her mirrored maquillage case to catch her own reflection - even though her face was quite clean and immaculate! - and the Diligent Sister resumed her reading, with her stained and dishevelled face, quite oblivious to her own sullied appearance as if nothing had happened! I wonder why that was! It seemed very ridiculous, and I had to suppress a little laugh; I could not help but think they were both quite stupid.

And at this recollection, she offers a little contented smile followed by a sigh. Her hand toys with a curling, stray lock of your hair.

>You think you know why the Two Sisters behaved as they did - suggest a reason why (write-in)

>Reply: perhaps you fell asleep yourself, Dearest? It seems a very peculiar tale to me.

>Reply: how daring for a lady to travel unchaperoned! You were quite fortunate to find a seat near these sisters, for there are always those impertinent strangers who might take advantage of a woman travelling alone.

>This is a dream, your dream. You need to awaken yourself. But how?

>You think you know the identity of The ODALISQUE. Who is she?

>You think you know your own identity. Perhaps you played the QM's demented games before. Who could you be?

>Something else? Write-in
>>
>>5686360
No idea. Though... maybe it's a gas container?
>>5686372
>The seance! I almost forgot!!
>>5686593
>You think you know why the Two Sisters behaved as they did - suggest a reason why (write-in)
>The Dreaming Sister saw her sister's stained face and thought that she, too, may have been dirtied by the soot from the window. The Dull/Diligent Sister saw her sister's clean face and wasn't given the same reason to worry about her own appearance.
>You think you know the identity of The ODALISQUE. Who is she?
I don't know, but Lord Huntingtower referred to Beatrice Wentworth as the Odalisque here >>5682961. It's probably not her though...
>You think you know your own identity. Perhaps you played the QM's demented games before. Who could you be?
First time playing lol, no idea. Hmm...
>Something else? Write-in
>Talk with our lover. Ask how she has been, etc. Ask if she has a mirror to see ourselves?.. The mystery of our identity is tantalizing.
>>
>>5686809
Wait, actually, let's not ask for a mirror, I heard looking into them turns dreams into nightmares.
>>
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>>5686809
The Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing (BITCH)
A seance is being held here to raise funds in aid of supporters of the destitute, elderly and infirm. Some of the funds may even be distributed to the needy, some day. Ever since the reforms of the New Poor Laws, provision of relief has been discouraged to any who refuse to accept the refuge and shelter offered within the confines of its red brick gothic walls. The rather grim architectural facade of the Institute buildings comprises a sanatorium ward in addition to separate male and female accommodation for the occupants, otherwise known as the Workhouse, although the Institute Committee prefers the nomenclature of a co-working family. There is also an orphanage that retains comprehensive records of unwanted births.

The ongoing construction of the railways and corresponding clearance and demolition of slum districts has ensured an influx of new homeless arrivals to the Benevolent Institute, joining the incessant flood of refugees and immigrants from the colonies. Consequently, the Benevolent Institute has had to expand many of its facilities for welfare due to overcrowding, absorbing several buildings beyond its original grounds. This has led to the premises taking on a bizarre appearance; a small series of opulent and well furnished rooms for the welcoming of wealthy patrons, appended to a large ergastulum of incarceration and misery.

One of the means by which the Benevolent Institute supplements its funds is through the arrangement of guided tours for wealthy guests, philanthropists and potential benefactors, amongst the most poverty-stricken and wretched inhabitants. The tours are not intended to serve as entertainment. The Institute is frequently on the lookout for burgeoning artists to adorn the sombre grounds, as it is a common belief that the labours of art furnish refinement for the soul. Many such poetic slogans, gilded or embellished in floral art nouveau lettering, can be seen praising the Benevolent Institute:

Do What You Love
Where Change Comes To Work
You Belong Here With Everyone
Create. Collaborate
Better Work, Together
>>
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Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing - Ergastulum, West Wing
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Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing - Guest Vestibule, East Wing

Despite the initial misgivings of Enoch Lusk, the brougham rattles uneventfully through the cobbled streets to arrive at your destination. The Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing is situated within an austere and forbidding red brick gothic revival building. You can see the premises are quite extensive, at parts giving the appearance of being hastily and haphazardly repurposed.

At the vestibule, a small attendant crowd of benefactors and supporters of the Institute have already gathered, and are listening to an introductory speech:
>>
Lady Blanche Fotheringay-Smythe
-My friends, ladies and gentlemen, and most distinguished guests: since the establishment of our Society For The Suppression Of Vice, we have sought to rectify the propagation of obscenity and immorality amongst the most vulnerable denizens of our City, particularly amongst the young, to prevent the pollution of susceptible minds by the corruption of vile and criminal literature. Since the advent of photography, and now the shameless circulation of productions of optical theatre, we have grappled with this great evil - dare I say it! - the abominable circulation and reproduction of the unclothed human form, of both sexes. To prosecute the law against these perpetrators of prurience has required the utmost in prudence and perseverance on our part. But I stand before you here today with a solution: the solution is shame!

In this land there are quite simply too many houses, but not enough Charity. The idle individual, dwelling upon their own means within the privacy of their independent abode, falls naturally to the inclination of the most depraved and miscreant manifestations of the sensual appetite. They begin to... explore themselves, in a wicked and unspeakable manner. What is needed is a means of surveillance, vigilance against the weakness of the flesh. Therefore that which I propose, Ladies and Gentlemen, is to abolish houses. Make the weak-willed live together! By means of the natural enforcement of shame, none who reside together will dare to parade their reprehensible perversions before their counterparts. Lust will be transformed to fellowship. Friends - let us join together; abolish houses, condemn the licentious, embrace modesty, and restore decency and trust to society!

>Applaud enthusiastically
>Applaud politely
>Applaud half-heartedly
>Just one single sarcastic clap, like an open palm, applied to the face
>Heckle Lady Blanche: Wouldn't co-living just lead to orgies? NAKED WORKHOUSE ORGY!!! (Some elderly and infirm pensioners in the workhouse exercise yard outside look up eagerly)
>I am just here for the seance, where is it?
>I would like to donate to this noble cause. There are far too many houses in the slum district, Cheapside and the Rookeries. We should demolish some of them. Maybe we can gentrify the district afterwards
>I would like to join this BITCH society please.
>I would like to join your Society For Suppression Of Vice please. I have never looked at any pornography; in truth, I do not know what that word even means.
>Examine the crowd to see if you recognise any guests
>Maybe you could slip away whilst this crowd is distracted, and look around the workhouse? Those Orphanage records, for instance...
>Something else?
>>
>>5686900
>Just one single sarcastic clap, like an open palm, applied to the face
>I am just here for the seance, where is it?
>Examine the crowd to see if you recognise any guests
>>
Millicent Tittlerumpe
A demure young lady from a distinguished family, but whose father has been mired in political intrigue and scandal at Witenagemot House. Currently, he is under investigation for suspicion of the appropriation of state secrets and sensitive documents, of which he denies possession, yet will also not relinquish any evidence in his own defence. Millicent has bravely held her own conduct to be above reproach, and carried on as usual to the best of her ability. She is very grateful to Lady Blanche for shielding her from the scabrous attentions and inquisitiveness of the press.
>>
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***
There is boisterous and ardent applause when Lady Blanche concludes her speech.

After a pause, Lady Blanche is on the verge of continuation, only to be interrupted by one very loud and embarrassingly mistimed anonymous clap at the end.

There is an awkward silence.

She seems to think the better of it, and moves on.

You see a very prim and demure young woman approach Lady Blanche, a little hesitantly, and whisper quietly in her ear.

From the angle where you alone are standing, you see Lady Blanche appear to become a little agitated, and as she turns away from the expectant audience, you think you hear her hiss almost imperceptibly
-...why here? Why now? I thought I told you to tell him: no meetings in public...

The young woman is apologetic and somewhat flustered, but says nothing.

Recovering her composure, Lady Blanche turns back to the audience:
-Now all those of you who were intent upon attending the seance should be aware that it has of course been suppressed, in the interests of public decency. I am given to understand by my assistant, Miss Millicent Tittlerumpe, that certain members of the audience were attempting to pose some very lurid questions, concerning the romantic proclivities of the deceased. Consequently we have agreed with Madame Cora Colman Blackwood that her services in the East Wing library will no longer be required. That will be all for today. And please remember to make your donations on the way out!

For some moments after, the audience appears to be too astonished to even respond, though some mutters and groans inevitably follow.

You see Lady Blanche swiftly heading towards the West Wing of the Institute - the workhouse, that houses the destitute, dragging along her hapless assistant Millicent in tow, whilst a few disappointed members of the public appear to be drifting towards the East Wing Library, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of the clairvoyant and Theosophist Madame Cora Colman Blackwood, before she departs.
>>
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Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington

As the vestibule empties, you see a furtive looking figure get up hesitantly - he appears to have waited deliberately for the audience to mostly disperse, so that no-one will see in which direction he will leave.

A name springs to mind, from your pocket book - you think you recognise this man. His name is Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington. But what does he do? You feel the itch of forgetfulness in your mind.

QM: for unexplained reasons, please roll 1d6 hehe
>Roll 1d6, thank you

>Follow Lady Blanche and her hapless assistant Millicent Tittlerumpe into the West Wing of the Institute, where the poor and insane are confined in the Workhouse.

>If you follow Lady Blanche, you have a feeling you might not have time left to speak with the clairvoyant and Theosophist, Madame Blackwood. Wasn't this what you came here to do? The mystery of Lady Blanche will just have to wait for another day. Head to the East Wing Guest Library

>Follow the furtive man Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington, wherever he goes, you go

>Something else?
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5687038
>>If you follow Lady Blanche, you have a feeling you might not have time left to speak with the clairvoyant and Theosophist, Madame Blackwood. Wasn't this what you came here to do? The mystery of Lady Blanche will just have to wait for another day. Head to the East Wing Guest Library
>>
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Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing: Main Hall Entrance (West Wing, East Wing foyer access)

>>5687392
QM: If you are a new player, welcome! Please see the details for the ancient rite Tree Of Thoughts described here
>>5684557
You can see the hidden possibilities of a random table for a mysterious roll beforehand, but only if you sacrifice an item which will be permanently destroyed. Repeated use of this ability, as well as your other ability Cadastre Of The Inner Eye >>5683618 may strengthen and further evolve their manifestation. You can try to use these abilities by writing in at any time, even when unprompted! Beware, magic can have consequences! But used carefully, it might help you avoid, anticipate or prepare for a very dangerous life-or-death scenario...

The roll was for this:

1 Whilst exploring the Institute, you are mistaken for a dangerous and insane sanatorium escapee. You are dragged back towards a solitary cell by The Warden. But do not fear - in a few days time, any worry will be lobotomised from you...

2 Lady Blanche detects that you were spying on her. And you - You! - were the one sarcastically clapping at her speech! She will confront you angrily, later, when you least expect it

3 A member of the Benevolent Institute for the Transformation of Charitable Housing endlessly pesters you to make a donation. They will continue following you, and harassing you, and will not let you leave

4-5 You hurry quickly to either the West/East Wing, unimpeded

6 You recall a little of Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington's background, from your pocket book journal
>>
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>>5687392
>>5687588
You chose:
Seance, East Wing Guest Library
>Rolled 6 (1d6)
***
As you wander towards the East Wing Guest Library, you suddenly recall that Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington
>>5687038
is a renowned publisher and literary agent, known especially for his academic and historiographical imprints and titles, having recently published a series of monographs upon the woodcut editions of the Far East artist Shibari Kinbaku, as meticulously annotated and translated by the eminent Orientalist, Augustus Wheeble. Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington has also frequently clashed with Lady Blanche Fotheringay-Smythe in the press; the newspapers have frequently published his vigorous defence against censorship, and in favour of freedom of political and artistic expression. Duncoombe's attendance at Lady Blanche's speech seems rather out of character to his publicly stated position.
>>
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02 II: The HIGH PRIESTESS
Madame Cora Colman Blackwood, a fortune-teller and esoteric founder of the Theosophical Society

It is said only those in need, or distress, predict the future. For those in bourgeois comfort, such pursuits can only ever be a passing curiosity.

The Theosophical Society is known for its syncretist beliefs, having sought to reconcile the various traditions and faiths brought by refugees and newly arrived immigrants from the colonies to the City. The Latitudinarianism or "Broad Church" of the Theosophists, who mostly renounce strict adherence to liturgical tradition, has seen them derided as charlatans, shamans and witch-doctors amongst the Oration, or the "High Church" of traditional belief, who strictly adhere to the old rites of the Consolamentum, The Obediences, and the Strictures of the Oath and Light. Recently, the Theosophical Society under the stage illusionist Thelemy Maskelyne has spurred a revival in the popularity of spiritualism, through the demonstration of various apparently miraculous acts of phantasmagorical spectacle and mesmerism, as recorded through chronophotography and techniques of optical theatre through the newly developed strobolume, and projected via lanterns or upon the rotating animated tick-tock clattering drums of zoetropes. The gutter press has condemned this craze amongst the young for #witch-tock

As you approach the East Wing, you hear the strident voice of an elderly lady, shouting
-No, no, no! Go away! There will be no seance today! No! I do not know what undergarments your Aunt was wearing when she died! No! I do not know how they smelled! The spirits of the afterlife will not be answering any questions relating to the smells of underwear for the deceased! Now go away!

After a few moments, you see a small crowd of very disappointed onlookers being hastily ushered away from the Library by the Institute wardens and attendants. The Library is now quite empty and untended, except for Madame Cora Colman Blackwood, and one other solitary gentleman, of a rather cold-eyed and severe appearance -
>>
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11 XI: JUSTICE
Silas Chillingwurth
Commissioner of The New Lanthorn Yard Constabulary

New Lanthorn Yard was founded from the old tradition of thief-takers and catchpoles, that arose after the lawlessness following the War and Old Armistice. Some remember that the thief-takers were little better than thieves themselves, as they frequently acted as intermediaries negotiating the transfer of sums between the desperate and distraught victims of theft, and those in possession of the missing and then mysteriously recovered goods, with the extortion of a generous fee for the thief-takers themselves in concluding the transaction. Should the thieves not return the goods as promised, they would then be betrayed by the thief-takers to the justice of the regiment or militias; but it was not uncommon for the thief-takers themselves to take a fee from the victims or dispossessed, and then disappear with no trace or progress in solving the crime.

Whilst Silas Chillingwurth has sought to reform and modernise the Constabulary, his authority is not widely recognised or even accepted throughout the City, and the discipline of his officers is somewhat uneven. The brutality of the Constabulary has made them particularly hated and despised in the slum districts of the Rookeries, where it is not uncommon to see two uniformed constables truncheoning and wrestling with each other in the gutters, over a drunken conflict of jurisdiction.
>>
Madame Blackwood mutters dismissively:
- ...Why this particular investigation over gloves? I do not particularly see the importance - there have been at least five unexplained murders of women across the Spittle Field near Whitechurch, shouldn't your constables be investigating those incidents? The poor women were horribly dismembered, do they not deserve some justice...?

Silas Chillingwurth replies
- Those women were harlots. The streets are perhaps less sullied as a result. Bill Hooke and his Grueller knife gang probably did them. Or immigrants; there are a lot of immigrants. But this matter of Lord Mortmain's gloves is far more important, I have express orders. If you would just look over these witness statements - perhaps your gifts can help us divine some avenue of investigation -
>>
>>5682954
It is commonally believed that no women are permitted to enter Le Cenacle club,
>>5682954
but this is not entirely true. For one, there are servants, kitchen staff. But also, occasionally some distinguished gentlemen, private members, prefer to bring in their own... female attendants. Bickerstaff, the proprietor, turns a blind eye to this.
>>
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Now what I am about to tell you, it goes without saying, cannot be repeated outside this room. You see, Lord Mortmain,
>>5683932
he has a ... condition. With his hands. Hence the gloves. Perhaps it was something to do with his injuries, or his heroic actions during the War. All the depictions and statues of him have been altered, of course, they look completely normal in all the oleographs of the Lord High Intelligencer. So very few people know about his hands. The Lord Mortmain does not like being touched, his personal belongings - even less so.

When his gloves went missing in Le Cenacle, I immediately suspected theft. The premises were filled with some exotic dancers accompanying the retinue of the visiting Sultan, his Imperious Majesty Khosaef Bey I'doon. Do you understand the graveness and import of this incident to the reputation of our City, now? We took statements from those present, and a few witnesses outside too. Given the sensitive nature of the investigation concerning rhe Lord High Intelligencer, I instructed the constable merely to ask: "Have you seen anything unusual? Anything missing?" And these were the statements:
>>
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Alfred Bickerstaff, Proprietor of Le Cenacle
Nothing could possibly go missing in this establishment, Sir. All staff are held to the strictest standards. The character of our clientele is beyond reproach. (Bickerstaff clenches his jaw, and says nothing further).
>>
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Red Odalisque, dancer from the Sultan's retinue
Nothing unusual at all, constable. Maybe you would like a dance? But if you are investigating a theft, you should look to that Green Dancer. Things always go missing around her, she is always pilfering things from her amorous dealings. I am just an innocent... Besides, does it look like I am wearing enough to be hiding anything?
>>
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Green Odalisque, dancer from the Sultan's retinue
Oh I did see something rather unusual earlier, at La Sauterelle, the restaurant near the Exchange. Firstly, I saw Hugo Bosanquet, the financier, stepping out of the doorway into his barouche - he is so devilishly handsome! - followed some minutes after by Beatrice Wentworth, acoompanied by her father, Isambard. She was in tears for some reason, inconsolable and weeping! I bet the gutter press and that journalist Randolph Sidler would love to hear what had happened! Oh and don't trust anything that Red Dancer says! She always lies!
>>
Augustus Wheeble (Constable notes: He looks around nervously, and trembles a little with guilt)
I... I hope there will not be any... bodily searches required, constable. Of course I am happy to assist with your enquiries, just not for my... cavities to be inspected. You know my premises were ransacked by some zealots from the Society For The Suppression Of Vice recently. I, a respectable antiquarian! It has unnerved me, I confess... I mean, not that I confess, I-I.. I am of course an upstanding and law-abiding member of society... er, perhaps you have seen my monograph...?
>>
Hetty Scantgrace, an inquisitive housekeeper
Is something the matter, constable? Why, it seems half of this street has been occupied by Lanthorn Yard! I was just on my way to the milliners on an errand. Or was it the seamstress? Oh, I should have written it down... Lady Beatrice will be so angry if I forgot what it was...
>>
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Elsie, a pretty flower girl and apple-seller, a costermonger's daughter (she seems distressed and a little tearful)
Please, if this is about my father at the Workhouse...I am sure they will release him once he pays his debts! I am working and saving as hard as I can... I don't know anything about the missing gloves. But can you help me get word to my father? Please...
>>
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QM: Finally, we have arrived at our mystery detective investigation mode!
>You must get out your special magnifying glass, hold it to your face and make your eye look very big. This will signify that you are entitled to randomly intrude upon a Constabulary investigation, and meddle with affairs of justice.
>>5684337

Who stole Lord Mortmain's gloves?
>Accuse Alfred Bickerstaff. Usually, the butler did it.
>Accuse the Red Odalisque. Probably, a thorough bodily search is required... a very thorough inspection...
>Accuse the Green Odalisque. Her digression seems suspicious, as if she were avoiding the accusation through distraction
>Accuse Augustus Weeaboo, I mean, er Wheeble. This is what anime does to a person. Anime was a mistake and the secret ingredient is usually crime.
>Accuse Hetty Scantgrace. Wasn't there something about her mentioned earlier...? Maids often pilfer things
>Accuse Elsie, the Flower Girl. Her father is clearly some sort of criminal, as he has been locked up already in the Workhouse. Crime is hereditary, and pervasive amongst the lower classes
>There really is not enough information to accuse anyone here. Just give up, leave the Library and explore elsewhere in the Institute
>West Wing:
>Workhouse
>Sanatorium
>Orphanage
>Stay in the East Wing, look around?

>Ask Inspector Silas Chillingwurth a question. Were there any other clues from the scene at all? (QM: you can try this, but you have a feeling that the primary capabilities of the New Lanthorn Yard Constabulary involve truncheons and not forensic science. If you do have questions there will be ONE final chance to revise your accusations afterwards. But there should be enough of a clue for suspicion from the witness statements alone...)

>Something else? Write in
>>
>>5687592
>Far East artist Shibari Kinbaku
>>5687593
>#witch-tock
>-No, no, no! Go away! There will be no seance today! No! I do not know what undergarments your Aunt was wearing when she died! No! I do not know how they smelled! The spirits of the afterlife will not be answering any questions relating to the smells of underwear for the deceased! Now go away!
lmao at everything above
>>5687033
She looks cute. Maybe we can get a gf sometime? I wonder if this quest allows romance though...
>>5687609
>>5687610
Is this a reference to that puzzle where one person always lies and the other always says the truth, and you have to figure out which is which?
>>5687624
>Accuse Elsie, the Flower Girl.
Because of the following:
The constable was asked to ask a vague question here >>5687606 "Have you seen anything unusual? Anything missing?" without mentioning the gloves, yet Elsie obviously knows something about it from her reply here >>5687616
>I don't know anything about the missing gloves.
So it must be her!
But perform a search of the Red Odalisque anyways
>a thorough bodily search is required... a very thorough inspection...(and maybe something more...)
because MUST COOM.
Also >>5687392
>there's another anon playing now
Our numbers grow! I hope they stay.
>>
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>>5687658
>Accuse Elsie, the Flower Girl
If the Commissioner of New Lanthorn Yard's Constabulary, Silas Chillingwurth, is impressed, he does not show it.
(QM: I am so impressed! I spent ages writing this puzzle, clearly it has been made too easy if the first anon solves it within minutes, nooo. Well I will just have to make the game harder muahahaha)

Silas grudging acknowledges:
- Well there appears to be some logic to your reasoning. I will instruct the Constabulary to arrest her. We should also secure some means of encouraging her to cooperate. Doubtless this mischief surrounding Lord Streynsham Mortmain has been directed by another, the lower classes cannot conceive of conspiracy, it is phrenologically impossible given their breeding and the measurements of their cranial capacity. And that is a very... interesting gas mask that you are wearing. Perhaps I will instruct all constables to wear gas masks. Hmmm. It may serve to deter the criminal elements amongst society. The smog in the Soot District and even parts of the Dockyards has become increasingly intolerable. Very well then, (QM: Silas turns to) Madame Blackwood, as you were. And not a word of what I said before, to anyone!

Just before he departs, Silas throws you a silvered badge. It reads, HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE, the heraldic device of the former Child-King Searlas III, an encircled starburst pattern with a crown at its crest.

Silas Chillingwurth continues:
-Perhaps New Lanthorn Yard could call upon you to resolve more incidents like this in the future. Madame Blackwood is rather concerned about the murdered prostitutes, though I would say good riddance to them. You could investigate around the Rookeries, Cheapside or Spittle Field and the Whitechurch. Most of the Constabulary is far too busy dealing with the work stoppage at Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry, these days. And if you do encounter this incorrigible thief, Elsie, in the streets, you have my authority to apprehend her. Good day.

You are a little concerned by the commisioner's powers of detection and observation, as he turns on his heel and abruptly walks off into the night.

QM: You are affiliated with the Faction
New Lanthorn Yard Constabulary

Whilst you possess the
Silver Constabulary Badge

To a limited extent, you can command and request assistance from the patrolling constables of the City. They will mostly refrain from truncheoning you in the face, if they are in a good mood, not drunk, and can see you clearly, or have not been bribed by street gangs beforehand. You also have the lawful authority to detain Lowborn suspects amongst the destitute and impoverished lower classes. You may interrogate Bourgeois denizens, but not detain them. On no account are you permitted to interrogate, detain or otherwise interfere with the Gentry, or Highborn. The lower classes may call you names, and the daring may throw the occasional stray turnip at you in the street. But it is alright - you may Lawfully bludgeon them.
>>
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Madame Blackwood turns to you and declares impatiently:
-Well, what do you want? Don't you have some murders you should be investigating?

QM: Madame Blackwood can identify items for you, and also answer some questions. But you have a feeling if you demand too much, she may compel you to do a favour for her - or be cursed!! You are also wary that the Oration claims that many Theosophists are complete charlatans, who prey on the needy and indoctrinate them with utter delusions and nonsense.

>Is there some way you could test to see if Madame Blackwood possesses spiritualist powers? But best to do this surreptitiously, as it might infuriate her if she discovers your scepticism

>You can ask Madame Blackwood questions (write-in), as many as you want. You think it is best not to overwhelm her, she is already rather irritable. It is best to prioritise the most important questions first

>You can also ask Madame Blackwood to try and help you fathom the purpose of an item. Again, for the aforementioned reasons, it is best not to ask too many or too much

>You can also ask Madame Blackwood if she herself has any interesting items or artefacts to barter / sell. Eg does she have any healing items? etc.

>QM: you can also write in what you plan to do after Madame Blackwood answers your questions. You can stay at the Institute, or head to some other destination (write-in). Perhaps your questions here can only be answered elsewhere...
>>5687658

>You should run immediately to the West Wing. What was Lady Blanche doing with Millicent?

QM: please also roll 1d6, thank you!
>roll 1d6
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5687729
>Is there some way you could test to see if Madame Blackwood possesses spiritualist powers? But best to do this surreptitiously, as it might infuriate her if she discovers your scepticism
>Ask her to divine whether something suspicious is happening around Beatrice Wentworth
Let's see if she knows about the plot to ruin her reputation.
Also,
>Take off the gas mask
>>
>>5687726
Also I should mention that me being able to solve the puzzle was, ironically, due to anime lol.

Mob Psycho 100 has this episode where a spoiled girl from a wealthy family is possessed by an evil spirit, so her father secretly calls psychics to help resolve the case, and they're allowed to enter the room she's in and question her, while she's locked up there in chains and isolated. So the mc's mentor, a masterful conman but not a psychic at all, enters the room and begins questioning her, and the spirit inside her pretends she's okay and asks through her "please help me, mr psychic, remove these chains", and that's how the mentor knows she's lying and actually possessed because nobody told her about the psychics coming to help.

I extrapolated this method of reasoning on this puzzle and looked for things suspects may say that they should have no knowledge of, and saw Elsie mentioning the gloves.

Anime outplayed you again, Souv.
>>
>>5687801
-Is that it? The old woman throws her head back and cackles.
-Usually they come with questions about Love. Or Money. But your question is so easily answered! Of course there are always designs and complots surrounding a wealthy unmarried young heiress. Why, it was even in the commissioner's statements that he showed to us, just now! (QM: >>5687610 ) - if that foreign dancer girl is to be trusted. So the answer is yes - and you can take that from the spirits, as well as from me.

QM: You feel Madame Blackwood is unlikely to countenance more outright scepticism surrounding her abilities. If you try again, you will have to be far more subtle. You think you can ask Madame Blackwood maybe just a few more questions:

>Ask her, can you make Millicent fall in love with me?
(QM: >>5687658 >>5687033 , or it can be some other NPC hehe)
>tell her in complete honesty, everything you have experienced so far. Don't some spiritualists need to be prompted? Do they work through psychological suggestion?
>relate in complete honesty everything you have seen, but omit what you saw and did in the Dead Land / Land Of Birds / No Man's Land
>Say to Madame Blackwood: I have no idea who I am. I think I killed some people, including a weird druid man who had a talking goat skull puppet for a hand that he used for romantic purposes, a gun bayonet gas mask man, and a strange barbed wire face man. I am carrying a gun that sometimes makes bullets appear and disappear. Sometimes, I also dream about women and making them fall in love with me. This is why I have walked into this place that incarcerates and lobotomises beggars and poor people. For answers, and help. Can you help me?

>ask her: do you know the story about the Raven Prince and the Faery?
>ask her: can you teach me some magic?
>ask her: I broke a mirror. Is that bad luck?
QM: this question >>5686811
>>5684336
>>5684472
>>5684476
>>5686593

>show her your pocket-book. What is this about?
>>5682945

>ask Madame Blackwood: why might someone want to destroy or ban all the clocks?
>>5683931

>Just ask her, Who is The Odalisque?

>ask her about trade / bartering an item
>ask if she can identify the use of one of your items, that you suspect to be unusual / magical

>Look at your own hands
>>
Explore the rest of the Institute:
>Run and see what Lady Blanche and Millicent were doing in the West Wing. Maybe they have already left...
>Explore the Orphanage
>Explore the Workhouse. Is Elsie's father here? Or was she lying for sympathy?
>Explore the Sanatorium

>Leave the Benevolent Institute, and head to:
>Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry
>Le Cenacle Club
>Witenagemot House
>Investigate the murders of the prostitutes in the slum district. Maybe you need to confront this "Bill Hooke" and his knife gang, the Gruellers
>Lady Temperance Annesley's Party, The Water Banquet

QM: I intend for this to be a fairly open-ended game, ie you can ignore the main story if you want, and pursue your own objectives. So you can take this opportunity to write in your own aims and desires and I will try to see what fits. For example, you could choose pursue a romance, to meet, kill or disgrace a certain NPC, or attain a certain position or status in The City.
(optional) You will make your own way in The City.
>write in a goal or desire of your own.

QM: also, please
>roll 1d6, thank you!
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5687902
>ask Madame Blackwood: why might someone want to destroy or ban all the clocks?
>Just ask her, Who is The Odalisque?
Ok, I think 3 questions is enough
>Look at your own hands
Oh, I suspected we might be either Mortmain or the disgraced abdicated child king, but wasn't sure. May as well check.
>>5687904
>Run and see what Lady Blanche and Millicent were doing in the West Wing. Maybe they have already left...
>Sacrifice the Chain Mask >>5684329 for Rite: Tree of Thoughts to reveal why there's a roll and what are the consequences
I think we still have it? We didn't discard it after obtaining the gas mask, right?
>>
>>5687904
>>5688360
I think we should wait for a few more hours to see if other anons might have other ideas, playing alone is... strange. Romance would be nice, but the main quest (puzzling together who is the Odalisque, figuring out how the Raven Prince and Fairy story fits, what the dream with the woman telling us the two sisters story is about) is more entertaining to me.

Also I'd like to say you are great at creating these "limited resources" situations. After the sudden usefulness of the looking glass I'm always guessing whether the items I could sacrifice might come in handy later on. The various unresolved plot points are exciting as well. I previously thought your quests were just schizo esoteric tales, but this is actually really fun.
>>
>>5688360
>ask Madame Blackwood: why might someone want to destroy or ban all the clocks?
The pinched wrinkles on the face of the elderly seer palpitate in puzzlement:
-Why, because it is the month of Epagomene! The intercalary month, when we align our calendar to the Colonies! Are you a foreigner? Not from around these parts? Perhaps you have been away, for a long time? I suppose if you have been away you would not know; it was not always this way. This is the month of The Day Of Fifth Darkness. A shopkeeper or an emporium is only permitted to raise their prices after that festival. Well, some cheat these days, by cunningly and imperceptibly changing the dimensions, weight, volume, quantity or quality of the goods offered, whilst keeping the prices the same. Every year there is a great frenzy, because traditionally amongst the slums, it is seen as a cathartic occasion for a great release of bloddletting and rioting before purchases. The Constabulary have a great deal of trouble quelling it, but I think they secretly encourage it - anything to reduce overcrowding in the slums. (Madame Blackwood gives you an inauspicious, sinister glance) But I suppose you can also use the calendar to make people do strange things, convene secret rituals as circumstances arise or align. And if you change the calendar, eradicate timekeeping that governs rites, festivals and ceremonies, you can also make people forget... Nobody disobeys Time!
>>
>>5688360
>Just ask her, Who is The Odalisque?
Madame Blackwood narrows her eyes, until they recede deep into the aged creases of skin:
-The last person to have asked that question went mad. There was a painting unveiled by the artist Francis Leighton, a visionary painting that showed you Desire. It granted you bliss beyond imagining. Some people claim Leighton painted a vision of an angel! That he journeyed into the blessed Land Of The Birds, and beheld the beautiful abode of Her secret dwelling. Others say he paid a harlot from Cheapside thirty farthing-pentacles to bare her backside, sit on a paintbrush and a canvas, and leave an imprinted smear. Whatever the truth of it, all of Leighton's visions couldn't save his calling - photography ruined him. He rants and raves in the Institute's West Wing Sanatorium now, when they haven't sedated him. Calls for his angels. I would stay away from him if I were you.

QM: (optional)
>Investigate the Clock Tower near Witenagemot House

QM: (optional)
>Meet with Leighton, and ask him if the Odalisque he painted was real
>Ask someone familiar to Leighton to accompany you, as it may calm him down
>>
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>>5688360
You look at your hands. They seem ordinary, reassuringly ordinary.

For a moment, you had a horrible, creeping suspicion. The carriage, the worn heraldry of beasts and the motto upon it... were you Streynsham Mortmain? Perhaps some affliction had caused you to lose your memory, and forget who you were?

But the sight of your hands calms you - you cannot be Mortmain. What a strange and curious name he possesses!
>>
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You feel an overwhelming sense of relief.
>>
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You retrieve the Chain Mask; there is some savage imprint upon it which you had not noticed before, but no matter. It is a peculiar and brutish-looking mask. You think the purpose of it was probably intended to protect against shrapnel, for it offered little aid against the gas cloud. The metal links of the mask remind you a little of the old tale of an evil king, who had his gentle twin brother's face bound in iron. Or was it the other way round?

You invoke the rite to surrender it to the Trees. The Chain Mask must be worthless; you relinquish the past.

>>5688360
>Oh, I suspected we might be... the disgraced abdicated child king...
>>
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Versipelles-Gorlagon
Heraldry of a wolf-raven, Valraven Of The Slain.

After the Old Armistice, their deeds were erased - Damnatio Memoriae. Some still recognise their crests, which take the form of an impossible union of two animals. Peacock and swan, wolf and raven...

(QM: If you want to know the alternate lore of this House, from another of my game settings, see here - )
https://archived.moe/qst/thread/5391397/#5413999
>>
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Tree Of Thoughts ascends to the rite: The Hollow Tree
>>
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...and you see the Chain Mask unravelling, the ridged brow rupturing into jagged points that splay into a wickedly protruding... beak.

QM: The roll was this - you are very lucky!! You have a chance...
>>5687801
>Rolled 3 (1d6)
>>5688360
>Rolled 6 (1d6)

1 THE HORNED CROW HUNTS FOR YOU
It bursts into the Institute Library, and dismembers Madame Blackwood. By bursting out of her. Then it turns to you...

2 The Horned Crow severely wounds Madame Blackwood, talons raking at her eyes and face

3 It waits

4 An errant crow flies into the windowpane outside - thumps against the glass. Then silence

5 A guttural cawing is heard

6 The Horned Crow... hunts... For You??? Somehow, even though she is probably a charlatan who possesses no gifts, Madame Blackwood helps you reverse the curse - even as she screams and cowers impotently in panic and fear
>>
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>>5687593
Madame Blackwood's face writhes in the horror of one who can recognise a thing, knows what it is and can anticipate its movements and excruciations, yet is utterly powerless to do anything to stop it.

She screams over and over again
-The Horned Crow... it hunts... FOR YOU! (repeats this, jabbing her finger in your direction, over and over again) Spare me! spare me!! aaiieeeeaaAAaARRRGGHaagahh...!!!
>>
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>>5688643
It looks like an ordinary crow. It is rather small, but its talons are hooked and sharp. The Crow actually does not have any horns, but there is something wrong with its beak.

>Madame Blackwood's unwitting words have shown you how to break the curse of this murder-spell, that Mortmain had inscribed upon the pocket-book, waiting to be triggered after your first use of the rites that took you to the Dead Land. Write-in how you think you can end the curse, and
>roll 1d6

>You think it is just an ordinary crow. It will die if you shoot it a lot. How many bullets do you have again?
QM: roll 2d6 each time you pull the trigger. You have a strong inclination to FIRE EVERYTHING
>roll 2d6 for each trigger pull, or
>FIRE EVERYTHING, roll 12d6

>The camera, the magnesium sachets... but you have no time to prepare them safely. Hurl the camera flash powder as an incendiary, and hope for the best...
>roll 1d6

>something else? QM: you can try to use another item, or some other action
>>
Rolled 1, 4 = 5 (2d6)

>>5688654
>Use the trench club to smash it
>Before this, try asking the crow to spare us
Since it's two actions, I think I'll roll twice.
>>
>>5689054
>1
Guess we're dying, recalling how there was a 1/6 chance for death from trench raider shooting us back in the Dead Land.
>>
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>>5689054
>>5689056
The lick of the Horned Crow lifts the hackles of your blood, as it cuts across your flesh like a sawblade. You stare at the red gleam of the open gash across your arm in disbelief.

You are WOUNDED
You have gained trait: BLEEDING. You need to find medical supplies to treat this condition.
>>
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>>5689054
The mouth of the Crow bristles as it caws in mockery, wriggling maggots of tongues dangling from its cruel split beak, as they taste and savour the air like serpents. The Crow caws again, and the air is filled with the sawing rasp and unnatural stridulations of its serrated tongues.

The Crow is small, and very fast. Desperately you heft the blunt weight of the Trench Club - there is blood running upon the handle, your own blood - as you hunt the feathered blur of horror with the hammer-blow of your flailing swings.

You feel the crunch of flanged metal intersecting with the cawing cacophony - you have hit it! - and you feel a momentary elation, for amidst the splintered edges of wooden shelves in the library and the drifting whirl of crushed feathers, something has met its bludgeoning edge...
>>
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But as you try to look upon your triumph, all you witness is a glimpse of a harpy's feast upon a heaped banquet of human entrails. You reel back, staggering and stumbling in shock and horror, and the Horned Crow soars upward in wicked triumph - for you have barely hurt it, at all.

Madame Blackwood is whimpering and huddled beneath one of the overturned library shelves - she appears to be attempting to swaddle her own face with her arms, as if somehow this would insulate her from what she is witnessing.

You wonder briefly if this hideous creature is toying with you. Strangely, you hear a merry musical trundling noise accompanied by the sing-song laughter of a child. Is it something to do with the nature of this curse, and its wording? The Horned Crow Hunts... "FOR YOU", Madame Blackwood had screamed again and again, though she appears to be blubbering now and has lost her sanity. Perhaps this demon bird intends to kill all those around you first, make you watch their suffering, before delivering your end. How can you unravel this curse?

>You think you know the hidden meaning of the curse The Horned Crow Hunts For You, and how to unravel it. Write-in
>roll 1d6

>Maybe you can destroy the words themselves? But there is no time to find the exact journal page of the Pocket-Book. Take the magnesium flash powder from the Camera Flash-lamp, ignite it and burn it all. And hope you do not set yourself ablaze...
>roll 1d6

>Ignite the Flash lamp and hurl it at the Crow as an Incendiary
>roll 1d6

>You have slightly wounded the Horned Crow with your blows. Hit it with the Trench Club again and again and again...
>roll 1d6

>Scream at Madame Blackwood: Hold it down! Hold it down!! (But will she respond?)
>roll 1d6

>Try to issue some other command to Madame Blackwood. For instance, you could tell her to flee or give her an item and command her to use it etc.
>roll 1d6

>Fire your Galand Revolver at the Horned Crow
>roll 2d6 for each time you choose to pull the trigger

>Something else? Write in

QM: you can write in as many actions as you want, but I will generally prioritise the first few or so. You can attempt to coordinate multiple actions eg give a club to Madame Blackwood and tell her to attack, whilst you fire the gun etc. Remember to roll all the necessary dice required for your actions if you attempt this... The Horned Crow attacks again only after your choices above have been completed.

>Try asking the Crow to spare us
hehe this is actually not that far off, but you need to break the curse first...
>>
Rolled 1, 3 = 4 (2d6)

>>5689125
I >>5689056 may be playing erratically with varying IDs throughout the weekend since I'm away from my flat and good pc, hope other anons pick up the quest.
>Say "(You)" to the crow
>If that doesn't work, shoot it 2 times
>>
>>5689187
>Rolled 1, 3 = 4 (2d6)

2nd roll, 3 > 1

QM: This is a HIT! phew, hehe.

The rules from here
>>5685353
for the Galand Revolver specify that it hits if the 2nd d6 is strictly greater than the 1st d6, as it simulates the action of the long trigger pull of this revolver. So to fire twice you would need to have originally rolled 4d6 (hopefully this is not too confusing...! hehe)

QM: as also noted for mysterious supernatural reasons,
>>5685353
any bullets you fire from this gun in the City somehow "reappear" in the Dead Land / Land Of Birds / No Man's Land. So at the end of this combat your gun will have 4/6 in the City, and 2/6 in the Dead Land, as demonstrated previously here.
>>5686062

Since you mentioned you would like to fire twice, please roll another 2d6 again... it is best to make sure The Horned Crow is really, really dead...

>roll another 2d6 please, thank you!
>>
Rolled 4, 3 = 7 (2d6)

>>5689257
Forgot about that mechanic.
>>
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>>5689187
>>5689318
The Horned Crow bursts in an impossible fountain of clotted gore. You believe your second shot missed, but the first was more than enough.
>>
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For a few heartbeats afterwards you are frozen, in tense anticipation, the muzzle of the revolver still smoking, and as you watch, the wisps of drifting smoke somehow carry the scent of desert sands, becoming strands of cloud over the embalmed flesh of sky, a mirage of a vermillion palace drifting over the sinuous haze of parched wilderness. You feel each grain of this moment passing like grit through the narrow throat of an hourglass, but then a heartbeat later the last grain of it is gone.

(optional)
>Point to where the mist of the blood-mirage had been, the ghostly vermillion city, and ask Madame Blackwood: Did you see that...? What was it? That city...?!
>Berate Madame Blackwood: You were... utterly useless. I guess you do not have any gifts, you have no Power at all. You are a fraud! Perhaps all of your Theosophy is a deceit...!
>Moan feebly... gaaargh, my arm...
>Say nothing
>>
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Slowly as you shake the trauma of the unleashed demon crow from your being, you realise that the nature of the curse was that you could command it. The Horned Crow Hunts For You... as in, it hunts after you, or instead: it hunts on your behalf, Hunts "For" You. Perhaps Mortmain wanted you to realise this, and command it to slay Madame Blackwood instead, to free yourself from the murder-spell...
>>
Madame Blackwood has recovered some of her lucidity, but beads of perspiration and panic remain mottled upon her brow. You sense a certain bitterness in her - perhaps the sense that you have manifested a power which she covets, having hoarded the lore of it, but lacked the gift to wield the rites themselves. The old hag mutters:
-We shall not speak of this. Nothing of note transpired here (glancing at the toppled shelves and ruined tatters of books from the first bout of your Trench Club blows).

Madame Blackwood continues,
>Still, you have shown some skill in your use of that... peculiar firearm. I know a Name, a man that owes me (the old hag cackles to herself contentedly at this). He... "owes" the Theosophical Society a great deal, ha. This man, he knows of firearms. He could help you, you need only mention my name and he will give you what you need. I will provide you his name... for a price. I am defenceless, that last ambush proved it so. The gun for the Name. Leave your gun with me, and you will soon get another...

>I... just saved your life, you ungrateful old hag! Whilst you were cowering beneath the broken shelves my arm was torn to shreds! You are the one that owes me...! Give me that name now!
>(Attempt intimidation) give me that Name, or else I will expose you as a fraud before this entire Institute, as well as your Theosophical Society afterwards!
>(Attempt even harsher intimidation / bluff) You vile old hag! I will call that Crow back from the Dead Land, and let it feast upon your avaricious soul!! (QM: you cannot actually do this unfortunately. Yet. But maybe it is not wise to tempt fate)
>I need healing more than I need a gun... (moan with agony)

>Something else...?

>Well, kill mode has begun. Shoot this old hag dead and loot her corpse (No roll required)

QM: as you examine your injury with a wince of pain, you think your current wound is manageable. The bleeding does not impair you at the moment, but may weaken you very slowly over time. It may also have other detrimental effects... as well as making you susceptible to Heavy Bleed (this condition will weaken you very rapidly). You think you have two avenues of treatment:

>You can hunt for some actual surgical supplies in the Institute Sanatorium West Wing. This is the most assured solution, except you just need to run through the bedlam of lunatics, hysterics and maniacs to get there

>You can hunt for a seamstress or tailor out on the street, break-in and find some needle and thread to stitch your wounds. Maybe the best manner to inaugurate your induction into the Constabulary is through committing crimes (QM: This leaves the Institute. You can always return later)

>Ignore the bleeding for the time being; some supplies are bound to turn up. Head towards... (where? Write-in)

>Something else
>>
>>5689399
>>Point to where the mist of the blood-mirage had been, the ghostly vermillion city, and ask Madame Blackwood: Did you see that...? What was it? That city...?!

>>5689407
>>(Attempt intimidation) give me that Name, or else I will expose you as a fraud before this entire Institute, as well as your Theosophical Society afterwards!

>You can hunt for some actual surgical supplies in the Institute Sanatorium West Wing. This is the most assured solution, except you just need to run through the bedlam of lunatics, hysterics and maniacs to get there
>>
>>5690751
Even as you utter your threat, it occurs to you that if the preeminent founder of the Theosophical Society in the figure of Madame Blackwood is a fraud, perhaps... the entire society is preying on the vulnerable and anxious and their need for guidance and counsel. Could it be that the Benevolent Institute even encourages this? Madame Blackwood shakes her head in disdain:
-Threaten a frail old woman, would you? You'll never know the whereabouts of Ezskael Tranter, not to mention the secrets of Al-Ghurab and the Red City Of Temptations! And if that mad dog Tranter sees you by the Railyard near Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry, I hope he shoots you dead!

QM: The faction - The Theosophical Society slightly disapproves of you. Madame Blackwood will perhaps spread deprecations of your conduct amongst the Society, rendering them more suspicious and reticent in providing any assistance to you. You wonder if you could have perhaps consented to Lady Blackwood's outrageous exchange whilst simultaneously bargaining for more - healing, or perhaps some commendation amongst the theosophists, all alongside an introduction to Tranter, in exchange for the keeping of your mysterious firearm. But now you almost regret not shooting her dead.

(optional:)
>meet Ezskael Tranter by the Railyard near Wentworth Ironworks and foundry
***
As you exit through the opulent guest reception of the East Wing, the vestibule that welcomes Institute benefactors for tours, you glance through the West Wing foyer with some dismay at the insalubrious and unnerving sight beyond.

The West Wing opens out into what was once a grand courtyard and formal gardens, likely intended for the convalescence of the war-wounded, veterans and other invalids, but has now fallen into a hideous state of neglect and ruin. Amidst the untended statues, overgrown parterre and topiary you can glimpse the stumbling shapes of gibbering and gesticulating impoverished inmates, patients who are clearly psychologically unsound and disturbed, wandering freely and seemingly absent of any supervision. They appear mostly placid, but you fear that the sight of violence may provoke their mania.

>Er... hello there, ... insane person? Could you tell me where I might get some treatment for this...? (Wave your wounded and bleeding arm around)

>I have just slain a demon bird with my magic revolver. The bird came from a vision of a red city levitating in the desert or maybe it was a dream. Previously I shot a druid and his talking goat skull as well as a gas mask man and a barbed wire face man. The horse died though it was very sad. Can you help me get some treatment please??

>Do you know where I might find Francis Leighton, the painter? How is he feeling? Does anyone ever come to visit him at all?

>Ignore the insane inmates, just walk around a bit and try and find some medical facilities.
>if you choose this option, please roll 1d6

>Something else...?
>>
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Along the gallery that opens out onto this courtyard, you can see a series of three paintings, arranged in the form of a triptych, and displayed as if they had once belonged to an altarpiece. The sequence of paintings is entitled
The MAIDEN MESSIAH, or The Martyrdom Of The Cult Of Liberty
You can see numerous outline sketches, rags, a palette and an easel with paintbrushes scattered around the triptych, though the painter of these artworks is nowhere to be found.
>>
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The first painting depicts a solemn and funereal procession, that consists of a warband of armoured men bearing bloodstained and tattered red flags, the oriflamme and aftermath of some peasant jacquerie or an uprising. At the head of this beleaguered multitude, a woman is depicted bearing the head of a king on a silver platter. Her expression is difficult to read, but it seems to be caught between lamentation and resignation, as if one had just shouldered a heavy burden. You recognise in this historical scene a reenactment of the Temptress who demanded the head of the tyrant, King Searlas I, first of his name, who was alleged to have been deposed after the Dance Of The Seven Veils. In the Interregnum after the fall of his reign, many ships set sail for the New World to escape unrest, strife and persecution, thereby founding the first colonies. The title of this painting is TYRANT.
>>
The second painting is far more mysterious. It depicts the figure of a red woman, clad in the ancient style of a wild maenad of Gothograec, and crowned with a radiant diadem of thorns. The woman's features are veiled by the cascade of her long hair, that reaches down towards the whispering shadows of her thighs. Her arms seem to be entwined in an act of ecstatic self-embrace, and her expression is one of delirium or reverie. Behind her are the looming shadows of spires or broken towers, the empires that have fallen beneath her conquest and irresistible triumph. The title of this, the centrepiece triptych painting, is MAIDEN.
>>
The third and last painting depicts a gloomy woodland scene in a forest forgotten and shrouded in mists. A lone sentinel by lambent torchlight watches over the decapitated head of an ancient ruined statue - a head that appears crowned in thorns also, though these have long since yielded to verdigris and corrosion. The attire of the watching sentinel reminds you a little of the druids of Gorsedd, who sought to bury the artifacts of the past amongst the trees, so that they would never be found. The title of this last painting is MARTYR.

(optional)
>Study the paintings for a while in silent contemplation
>Rearrange the order of these paintings. Was this the history of the world?
>All this art is so pretentious. You could improve the artistic merit of all these paintings through vandalism. For example, all the personnages depicted would look much better with phalluses drawn on their heads. (Draw phalluses on all the paintings, with an especially big one on the Maiden Messiah's forehead)
>Ask a nearby insane patient or inmate of the Benevolent Institute to explain the paintings to you. Perhaps they can provide some helpful artistic interpretations? Maybe these paintings help calm them?
>Something else? (write in)
>>
>>5691385
>Ask a nearby insane patient or inmate of the Benevolent Institute to explain the paintings to you. Perhaps they can provide some helpful artistic interpretations? Maybe these paintings help calm them?
Lets expand our perspective
>>
>>5691385
>Ask a nearby insane patient or inmate of the Benevolent Institute to explain the paintings to you. Perhaps they can provide some helpful artistic interpretations? Maybe these paintings help calm them?
>>
Patient XII-XIV

A stranger has come to share my room in the house not right in the head - A girl mad as birds, bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume. Strait in the mazed bed she deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds; yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room, at large as the dead, or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards. She has come possessed! Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall; possessed by the skies... She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust, yet raves at her will, on the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears. And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last - I may without fail suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars!
>>
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Patient IV-XVII

I blame myself for it. I should have known better. I let you persuade me in a moment of madness. I beg you to forget my insanity! Insanity is not a fit subject for fiction. I wake up in the morning all bedraggled, then I open a little green book, and the birds are singing, the stars shining, the flowers twinkling - but there’s a green fog outside; Hetty turns on the electric light when she brings me my tea, and says, ‘Oh, ma’am, the water’s frozen in the cistern, and cook’s cut her finger to the bone.’
>>
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Patient VI-XV

...that was a mistake, on your part - still may be regained. Think, my Lord; power obtained grows to glory; life lasting, a permanent possession. A templed tomb, monument of marble. Rule over men reckon no madness. To the man of God what gladness? Sadness! Only to those giving love to God alone. Shall he who held the solid substance wander waking with deceitful shadows...?
>>
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Patient 0-IX

In her room all the mirrors are covered, because she sees my reflection in them - usurping her own - and she trembles and cannot speak, and says that I am magically following her, watching her, stalking her. Everything in the world can be the seed of a possible hell; a face, a word, a compass, an advertisement ... anything can drive a person insane if that person cannot manage to put it out of their mind -
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As you timidly manoeuvre through the shambling morass of demented lunatics, gingerly taking care to orient yourself away from the befoulement of the most damaged specimens, your exploration is rewarded by the sight of a very large medicinal cabinet, with numerous locked drawers and compartments.

As you approach nearer to this large medicine cabinet, you see that nearly all the drawers have been opened and ransacked, except for one that reads
F. LEIGHTON
There is a small combination lock of numerals and glyphs upon this secured drawer. It is not very sturdy, and you think a very sharp blow and some subsequent levering will prise it open.
>>
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The Warden

In the far end of the courtyard, you see an ominous and incredibly corpulent figure approaching, who appears to be some sort of orderly or supervisor for this ward of the Benevolent Institute. He is accompanied by -
>>
The Nurse

a sinister spindly woman, who is carrying an assortment of unpleasant looking needles and large syringes and also what appears to be trepanning equipment. The Nurse is ringing a curfew bell. The Warden himself appears unarmed, other than his massive and intimidating bulk - he resembles a walking wall of flesh. You also notice that aside from his leather apron, the Warden does not appear to be wearing any undergarments.

>Wave to the Nurse and Warden: You are just the people I have been looking for! I have injured my arm - please could you provide me with some medical treatment?

>Brandish your Silver Constabulary Badge: I am here conducting an investigation on behalf of the New Lanthorn Yard Constabulary. I require you to provide me with medical equipment and direct me to the painter, Francis Leighton, at once!
>>5687726

>Attempt to try one of the patient codes in the combination lock:
>Patient XII-XIV
>>5691573

>Patient IV-XVII
>>5691576

>Patient VI-XV
>>5691580

>Patient 0-IX
>>5691584

You have no time for this. Use the chiselled end of your Trench Axe >>5684327 and
>smash the lock to the medical cabinet

Well, this looks like a setpiece for another battle. Just draw your Galand Revolver and
>Shoot the Warden and the Nurse
>QM: please remember to roll 2d6 each time you pull the trigger. 4/6 shots remaining. Thank you!
QM: This is the only opportunity for a no warning surprise attack. The Warden and the Nurse are situated on the far end of the courtyard some distance away from you, with a large crowd of Institute inmates interposing in between.

>Something else? You can try using other items, speaking to the shambling crowd of insane patient inmates or asking them questions, etc.
>>
>>5691595
>Blow the Trench Whistle to agitate and rally the madmen against the Nurse and the Warden
>Smash the medical cabinet lock with the Trench Axe in the chaos, take the supplies and escape
We'll return later for the author of the Odalisque unless he dies in the mayhem.
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>>5692197
QM: This is a very clever and inventive use of the Trench Whistle item! I will give you this with a very favourable probability, 5/6 (basically do not roll a 1, hehe...) Please see the following random tables below:
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>>5692242
1 Not only do the shrill blasts of the Trench Whistle provoke the demented horde of insane patients to a frenzy, but they also draw the attention of the Warden and the Nurse to your vicinity... you are seized by a churning, limb-wrenching maze of clawing hands...

2 The plan worked! The agitated lunatic horde shambles in a disordered stampede towards the Warden and Nurse, who try in futility to fend them off. However, a passing stray arm snatches away your Trench Whistle, because - Shiny, Shiny!!

3-5 The lunatic horde overwhelms the bloated and corpulent Warden and his spindly syringe-wielding Needle Nurse. The scrabbling and groping hands in particular distress the Warden, as unfortunately his intimidating leather lobotomy / torture apron offers no protection to one who is not wearing any underpants, against the relentless funnel of fumbling hands, flailing and clawing everywhere. The Warden and Nurse flee in disarray pursued by the afflicted maniacs. All except for one, sorrowful forlorn figure, standing all alone amidst his trampled paintings and ruined handdrawn sketches

6 (as above, except...) it seems in the stampede, one of the insane patients dropped an unusual possession
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>>5692242
Brandishing the Trench Axe,
>>5684327
you slam the hardened edge against the delicate lock and... miss. You soon realise that aiming for the small loop of iron is impractical - it is far easier to simply reduce the wooden panels of this cabinet and its drawers to hewn splinters.
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>>5692244
As you bash the medical cabinet apart whilst attempting to cleave the lock from the drawer hinges, you find all that remains in the rubble is:
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1 Just bandages. They may just about stop the bleeding. You could wrap these around your face, embalming yourself to look like a mummy, or a resurrected, unliving pharaoh!

QM: Only cures Bleeding. Does not heal wounds
>>
2 (all of the above, and) You find a hypodermic needle, accompanied by some camphorated tincture of opiates. It will alleviate pain, but not treat the wound - Enough to make one abhor the dull routine of existence, to crave for mental exaltation; for the mind to rebel at stagnation, to seek the most abstruse and intricate cryptograms... (You may raise your Magnifying Glass to your eye, and make it look Very Big)

QM: Pain relief permits you to temporarily endure the effects of wounds, and also steady your nerves; it does not cure wounds. You may find yourself needing more... and more...
>>
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3-5 (all of the above, and) You find a Doctor's Bag, containing splints to treat fractures and surgical tools. There is enough here to recover your health to full condition.

6 You find a Doctor's Bag, that will fully recover your health, with enough supplies for one further use in reserve.

QM: so please can I have 2d6 rolls, for the success of the Trench Whistle plan (just don't roll a 1 !!) and the second d6 to see what healing items you recover please

>please roll 2d6, thank you
>>
Rolled 5, 4 = 9 (2d6)

>>5692248
Praying for good rolls.
>>
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>>5692276
>Rolled 5, 4
QM: You have lost trait BLEEDING and your health is fully restored!
You have gained
Bandages, and
Hypodermic Needle (Tincture of Opiates)
(Unfortunately, as you did not roll a 6, the Doctor's Bag is essentially depleted to recover from your injury)

Some command over his own senses appears to have returned to Leighton, the painter,
>>5691573
though he still mumbles to himself in his distemperment:
-I will not have her look at me. Why does she look at me, with her golden eyes, under her gilded eyelids? I know not who she is. I do not desire to know who she is. Bid her begone, It is not to her that I would speak. How pale she is! Never have I seen her so pale. She is like the shadow of a white rose in a mirror of silver. She has never defiled herself. She has never abandoned herself to men, like the others... But you must not look at her! You are always looking at her! Has she not a strange look? She is like a mad woman, a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers. She is naked too. She is quite naked. The clouds are seeking to clothe her nakedness, but she will not let them. I tell you there is a wind that blows . . . . And I hear in the air something that is like the beating of wings, like the beating of vast wings. Do you not hear it? I have told you not to look at her... She shows herself naked in the sky. She reels through the clouds like a drunken woman... I am sure she is looking for lovers. Does she not reel like a drunken woman? She is like a mad woman, is she not?
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(The artist glances up and notices your presence for the first time... he giggles hysterically: )
-I know why you are here! I know all about it! You want to know about HER! Yes, yes. Where she is, where she can be found. Well I don't remember! There were so many, I had to... The painting was confiscated. There was such a scandal. It was supposed to hang in the War Office. A testament to our conquests. But Lord Mortmain declared it Entartung and took it in for his personal safekeeping. Such disparagement at the vernissage! I was disgraced of course. So cruel, after my painstaking iterations of inpainting helped fix his hands... But no matter! You want to know about her! Well I forgot her. She is really an amalgamation, a commixture of many dalliances. I found them all over, the Dockyards, the Rookeries, Cheapside... there was one who was a little better than the rest, she seemed to have come from family. She mentioned her father owned a factory or the like. I might have kept a memento of her at the garret in the Rookeries. But She is not her; she is not Her? You must not look at her! Whatsoever thou shalt desire she will give it thee, even to the half of the kingdom! Bring me ripe fruits, come and eat fruits with me! I love to see in a fruit the mark of her little teeth. She will dance, dance with naked feet! Her naked feet will dance like little white doves. They will be like little white flowers that dance upon the trees.No! No! She is going to dance on blood! Do not dance on blood! Speak not to me! Suffer me not to kiss thy mouth...! I will not look at things! I will not suffer things to look at me...!
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>>5692381
>Are you sure, Leighton? Are you saying Beatrice Wentworth posed naked for you, naked for one of your paintings? This impartation could be just the very thing I need...
>What do you know of Mortmain's hands, Leighton? What is wrong with his hands? What did you see in your paintings?
>You spoke of birds, Leighton - have you been to The Land Of Birds? Have you seen it in your visions? Al-Ghurab, and ancient Khimaire? Do you know of the Vermillion City, the Red City Of Temptations?

>Leave and investigate elsewhere within the Benevolent Institute (QM: please write in what you would like to do, any remaining tasks or objectives / things you are looking for at this location)

>You have stayed for far too long in this house of lunacy. If you dally any longer you are in danger of a descent into insanity yourself. Leave this place and head to:

>Lady Temperance Annesley and her party, the Water Banquet

>Witenagemot House
>Investigate the Clock Tower

>The Spittle Field, The Slums / The Rookeries, Leighton's Garret
>Investigate the murdered prostitutes
>Confront Bill Hooke and the Grueller knife gang
(optional: apprehend Elsie, the Flower Girl)
>Find Leighton's memento

>The Railyard near Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry
>Meet Ezsekael Tranter, the gunsmith

>Le Cenacle, private members club
>Inform Lord Huntingtower and Cyril Darnay about Beatrice and the naked painting; perhaps the mere imputation will be enough to ruin her?

>Draw a phallus as you depart, vandalising Leighton's stupid paintings

>Something else? Write in (QM: you can also suggest different objectives, or try locations of your own)
>>
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>>5692385
QM: In addition to the choices / write-ins above, for various unexplained reasons, please also roll 1d6
>>5682936
>>5688620

1 They always say that an artist is worth much more, after he is dead

2-6 Nothing happens

>roll 1d6
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5692385
I want ALL the answers.
>Ask all, in this order from first to last, first receiving answers for each (since something is probably going to happen):
>Are you sure, Leighton? Are you saying Beatrice Wentworth posed naked for you, naked for one of your paintings? This impartation could be just the very thing I need...
>You spoke of birds, Leighton - have you been to The Land Of Birds? Have you seen it in your visions? Al-Ghurab, and ancient Khimaire? Do you know of the Vermillion City, the Red City Of Temptations?
>What do you know of Mortmain's hands, Leighton? What is wrong with his hands? What did you see in your paintings?
>>
>>5692839
And of course, I roll a 6 on a table that gives no additional benefits for this.
>>
-Miss Beatrice has been fretting again,
Hetty says to the Cook,
-I do not think she shall want for anything this evening; she hasn't been eating well lately. (Turning to a scullery maid) Stir the cinders and fetch a scuttleful of coal. And rinse out the cullender and saucepans, supper will still have to be laid. I wonder what has made Lady Beatrice so distressed? Perhaps it is just her nerves, or the prospect of her introduction to polite society at Lady Temperance's Water Banquet. I suspect she is anxious as she barely knows anyone!

(The Scullery Maid, wringing tablecloths through a mangle)
-Cook says you were late coming back from your errands, Miss Hetty. She was so worried! You must be careful! There are women gone missing, butchered in dark alleyways and the rookeries, all along the slums by the Dockyards, the railway and Ironworks Foundry! There are illustrations and reports in all the penny dreadfuls, and the Constabulary are incorrigible, they aren't investigating or even doing anything! You shouldn't go out by yourself, Miss Hetty!

(The Cook, with conclusive assuredness as she cleaves a parsnip with relish)
-Immigrants. It's them foreigners. The foreigners did it. They brings their foreign gods, their birds and star cults and goat idols, their Blessed Lamb from across the sea. Murdering and scalping and chanting about their Fallen Freedom. That's them foreigners. The King would have put them right, in the old days. He would have sorted them all out, through and through. All gone now. Them foreigners!

Hetty (replying cheerfully to the Scullery Maid)
-I shall be perfectly safe! I am more then a match for any brigand... (Hetty snatches up and waves a nearby rolling pin) for I shall make the brigands fear me! (The Maid giggles). Besides, the constables are very watchful near the Ironworks, with the riots and labour stoppage. I believe the Syndicalists have organised themselves into an anarchic society of sorts, the Freethought Committee and Union for Collective Kindness (FC U C K). These reform societies are always such a mouthful! They call themselves the Freethought Union for short, FU. I doubt they will get any concessions from Miss Beatrice's father. Miss Beatrice did mention she was thinking of paying a visit the other day, in disguise... I am sure Master Isambard put a stop to it. (Turning to Cook) And you shouldn't be so mean to the poor unfortunates from overseas! You'll be saying we shouldn't eat potatoes next, because they are foreign too! (The Cook glares at a potato with vehement suspicion. Hetty is suddenly startled - ) Oh, that reminds me, I am always so forgetful, I have one more errand to run outdoors...
>>
>>5692839
Within the brougham, and the confines of the carriage, you ponder the impartations that Leighton, The Artist, divulged amidst his demented ramblings, visions and hallucinations. With pigment and brush he had sculpted upon canvas a vision of The Odalisque, a wanton Temptress of irresistible enticements, who would satiate the desires and secret wishes of any who might have once beheld her. Lord Mortmain had confiscated the painting and Leighton had been disgraced. Yet the artist had also hinted that there was more to this Odalisque - that perhaps he had seen a vision of the very same Temptress who had brought about the downfall of bygone kings, who had danced and demanded men decapitated before an ensorcelled throne, utterly entranced and possessed by her power. Was this the power of women? The power that women wielded over men, reaching through the ancient ages unto this very present day of now? Whatever could the Lord High Intelligencer Streynsham Mortmain want from this?
>>
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>>5692971
Your ruminations are jolted back into the night as the carriage comes to a sudden stop. You can hear loud commotion and vociferations ahead, where there is some form of turnpike where two streets intersect in an X. A chaotic profusion of shouting upon both sides of the thoroughfare has resulted in a tangle of carriages nearly heaped upon each other. You see curricles and cabriolets, fiacres and phaetons, and even on the far side opposite you, a glimpse of a tall and debonair young gentleman with grey gloves carrying a slender dress cane stepping swiftly from an alleyway into a luxurious waiting black barouche.

Before he enters his carriage, you hear him enquire
-Whatever is the matter, driver? What is the cause behind this intolerable delay?
>>
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To which the groom replies,
-An accident, sir. There is a cordon ahead, but I do not think the constables are here for a mere wheel stuck in a rut, or a horse that has thrown a shoe. Something frightened the animals, sir; one horse unhitched itself and tried to jump the iron railings. None of the passengers were hurt, but the horse is spiked there now.
>>5685431

The Elegant Gentleman replies
-How ghastly! Truly horrid indeed. But methinks I see the line of constables further ahead, beyond the accident itself and reaching into another one of those alleyways over there...
>>
By the glowing gas mantles of the lamplit street a small crowd of curious onlookers is gathering around the congested turnpike accident and the side alley, though the more inquisitive passersby are being pushed back by a few constables at the alleyway cordon. There is a morbid air of festivity amongst the onlookers, who do not seem overly concerned by the spectacle of the accident or the authorities of Lanthorn Yard; you can even see some zoetropes and street vendors circling amongst them.

>Rap the interior ceiling of the brougham, your carriage: Drive on; this does not concern me. (QM: Order the Coachman Enoch Lusk to find a way around this accident. Where to?)
>>5692385

>Alight from your carriage and venture into the lively gathered crowd by the overturned carriage. Perhaps examine some of these zoetropes? Did anyone see what happened?

>Push against the inquisitive throng of onlookers near the alleyway and the blocked cordon of the Constabulary.

>Brandish your Magnifying Glass and Silver Constabulary Badge at the cordon: Make way, make way! What has occurred here? Does my eye look Very Big? Very Big, you say?
>>5684337
>>5687726

>Something else...? Write-in
>>
>>5692974
QM:
>roll 1d6
1 Beatrice Wentworth
>>5682946

2 Hetty Scantgrace
>>5687613

3 Elsie, the Flower Girl
>>5687616

4-6 ???
>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>5692974
>Alight from your carriage and venture into the lively gathered crowd by the overturned carriage. Perhaps examine some of these zoetropes? Did anyone see what happened?
So another girl has been killed?
>>
>>5692971
Also damn you, Souvarine, tempting us with questions and not providing the answers!
>>
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>>5692985
The zoetrope by itself is a rather simple device. It is merely a revolving cylinder, featuring a continuous sequence of images ordered by their phases of movement lining the drum interior. When rotated at rapid speed, a succession of images blur into the illusion of motion, of animation, of life. More sophisticated variants project the moving image via lanterns and a catoptric apparatus enabling easier viewing as opposed to slits or apertures, though the basic principle of operation remains the same.

(QM: I hope this animated gif works)
>>
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Through the creation and proliferation of the strobolume and chronophotography, rapid alternation of an electric filament light syncopated to an array of camera lens firing in steps seriatim, exposing sensitive collodion plate to the opening of a shutter window, a rapid burst of photographs over an interval of time coalesces into the ensoulment of an image world, that under careful conditions of preservation, may ultimately even outlast its creator. The camera enables one to possess a world where one would otherwise be vulnerable. The optical theatre represents the industrialisation of experience, of memorialisation. The knowledge gained from this image world is inevitably one of sentimentalism, of nostalgia.

To know the world through a photograph is to accept the world and its symbols as the camera records it; but this is the opposite of understanding, which begins by not accepting the world as it appears.
>>
01 I: The MAGICIAN
Thelemy Maskelyne, a renowned conjurer and illusionist of theatre and stage

(he addresses you, as you alight and study the zoetropes, magic lanterns and optical theatre)

-Wondrous, how wondrously delightful! A new, captivated customer! An enraptured audience! There is nothing so magical, so miraculous, as the transformation of all things into that which can be bought and sold. Mediocrity in magicians has never been tolerated by Men, by Gods, or by ticket-sellers! For the Magus welcomes pleasure, accepts wealth, deserves honour, but he is never the slave of any of them; he endures oblivion willingly because he is lord of his own happiness, and expects or fears nothing from the caprice of fortune. He can love without being beloved; he can create imperishable treasures, and abandon them without regret. The Magus smiles with all those who smile, pities all those who misconceive him... he has himself no need for pardon, for he himself never offends...
>>
Maskelyne frowns a little as he changes one of the reels of his magic lantern show, the kinematograph projection.
-How strange! The strobolume appears to have caught some stray exposures, a few errant frames. Not to worry - onto another!

>You are Maskelyne, the Illusionist? Are you a charlatan too? Just like Madame Blackwood of the Theosophical Society?
>Could you teach me some magic please?
>If your magic is so powerful, what is happening over there? Behind the cordon of constables?
>Your Rite of Enantiosis will not work upon me! (Intone exorcism) "Acclinis falsis animus meliora recusat..."

>Er... do you have any... er, how should I say, um, er... you know, more... concupiscent demonstrations of optical theatre??
QM: after extensive research,
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronophotography
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Female_nude_motion_study_by_Eadweard_Muybridge_%282%29.jpg

>This is an outrage! Peddling your... libertine perversions to a crowd of gawking onlookers near a criminal investigation! I demand for the Society For The Suppression Of Vice to prosecute this immorality immediately! This shameless and degrading optical-mechanical apparatus should be banned!

>Have you ever given any thought that your optical theatre may cause harm? It seems to me that the main consequence of this electric media will be the loss of private identity. Have you thought about what you could do with the records of what people have purchased and seen?

>Do you know anything about this Odalisque? The Temptress? Was she from the Vermillion City?

>Something else? Write-in
>>
>>5693145
>Acclinis falsis animus meliora recusat
A mind inclined to falsities refuses better things, is that in reference to rejecting interaction with Thelemy?
Anyway,
>Have you ever given any thought that your optical theatre may cause harm? It seems to me that the main consequence of this electric media will be the loss of private identity. Have you thought about what you could do with the records of what people have purchased and seen?
>Do you know anything about this Odalisque? The Temptress? Was she from the Vermillion City?
>>
Maskelyne chortles heartily as you pierce his rhetorical beguilement:
-Aha! You know something of the Art too, I warrant? A fellow adept of the Phorcensis Society, an aspirant exploring esoteric paths transmundane? But the optical theatre is more than an illusion! Look here - (Thelemy gestures at the moving horse, animated within the mirrors of the zoetrope)
>>5693138
>>5693141
-This horse, the mirror horse lives. It shall live forever. That horse - (Thelemy gestures vaguely in the direction of the overturned carriage >>5692973 ) poor creature - is very much dead. Only that which has an audience to look upon it will live; this will be the animating principle of future society! A lot might be justified to keep an audience rapt, many a manufactured spectacle (a hint of a shadow flits across the mercurial and captivating features of Thelemy Maskelyn) All to keep the onlookers entertained. I believe your Odalisque - don't look so excited! - I believe She understood this very well, very well indeed! But as to Her, well, that is perhaps more of a question for an archaeologist, an expert of antiquities. It is not my specialty. Perhaps you know of one such already?
>>
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They do say that much of the Art came from the Orient; mirrors and magic lanterns and so forth. There was a city once, that was said to have been a city of magicians. They wielded a Great Art, it was called - called something like the Algorismus. I believe they revered birds for some reason, they believed in divinations carried upon the flight of birds. How preposterous! No-one could possibly understand the speech of birds, or believe that words could be carried by them!
>>
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The city and the Algorismus were both lost, sunken into the desert somewhere. Some said it was not truly a city of magicians, but in fact a city of slaves; their souls stolen and robbed of their own pleasures and Will, forced to do the bidding of merely one Magus, compelled by the dread exertions of an Unseen Hand - but this is all a faery tale! A delightful story! Magicians with Unseen Hands! How ridiculous!

>I heard... the Lord High Intelligencer, Streynsham Mortmain, has some... unusual condition, with his hands? The Commissioner of New Lanthorn Yard, Silas Chillingwurth, told me so personally. A reliable source, so it must be true.

>Say if you were to... summon this Odalisque. How might you go about doing it? With a painting, perhaps? Or maybe... sacrifices? Of say, some... er... courtesans, or "companionable" women?

>Is there some sort of rivalry between you and Madame Blackwood? She seemed very greedy and ungrateful and unpleasant. Is this Phorcensis Society some schism faction from the Theosophical Society?

>Madame Blackwood told me to meet Ezskael Tranter. What do you know of him?

>(snort haughtily) Words, words, words, Thelemy. All I have heard from you and Madame Blackwood are words. You do not know any real magic at all!

>(demonic maniacal laughter) I will show you REAL MAGIC! (QM replays Keisinger bossfight music from videogame Clive Barker's Undying in his mind) MUAHAHAHAhaha (unleash some demonstration of your weird rituals upon Thelemy Maskelyne; you can write in a desired effect)

>I saw Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington at a speech with Lady Blanche Fotheringay-Smythe of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. I thought Duncoombe was against censorship? >>5687038

>Can you determine the nature of this item? (QM: attempt to bargain / barter / trade goods with Maskelyne. Write in what item / what you would like to do)

>I would like to purchase some pornography please, thank you. For roleplaying purposes. (QM: nominate TWO of your items in exchange. But is there something you possess that might be worth more?)

>Something else? Write in
>>
>>5693694
Hmm, questions are being answered but in a very indirect, tangentially related way.
>Madame Blackwood told me to meet Ezskael Tranter. What do you know of him?
>Is there some sort of rivalry between you and Madame Blackwood? She seemed very greedy and ungrateful and unpleasant. Is this Phorcensis Society some schism faction from the Theosophical Society?
>Can you determine the nature of this item?
>Show him this: >>5686360
>Could you teach me some magic please?
>>
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>>5693787
You heave the bulky hollow metal torus and sphere container before Thelemy - it clangs against wood and rattles the spinning zoetropes, lanterns and kinematographs arrayed upon his stall.
>>5686360
Thelemy Maskelyne peruses the battered shell with deep curiosity - he actually bends down to smell and inhale its scent, his aquiline and moustachioed nose twitching with analytical interest - as he exclaims:
- Why, wherever did you find this! What a peculiar apparatus! It almost looks as if it were the wreckage of some frightful battlefield, before the Old Armistice! I think you are right when you say it is perhaps a gas container of some sort. Perhaps... Perhaps it is a marvellous flying machine! Though it is rather heavy and cumbersome, hmmm. Really, these savage relics and accoutrements of warfare are more of Ezsekael Tranter's specialty. Oh, Madame Blackwood advised you to visit him?! To use her name as a commendation?? (Thelemy suppresses a spasm of raucous laughter) Aha, ha! Why he would have shot you, that very instant! What a very naughty trick for Madame Blackwood to cast upon you! Tranter hates the old hag! In fact, I do believe he despises any practitioner of the Art, of any persuasion. Myself excepted, of course, I am always delightful. His daughter, she... she was once enthralled by... anyway, Tranter - He... he is a peculiar one. I do suspect some tragedy haunts him. But these days he has his hands full, with the Syndicalist riots and the Grueller Gang fighting and knifing each other in his own backyard. I think he wants to shoot the whole lot of them. But they have learnt to stay away from his territory. Oh, and Tranter is terribly bigoted. Intolerably so. Hates all the foreigners. And he believes some very peculiar things. For instance, I have heard that he rants against the Hecatomb - he claims it never even happened. That we actually lost the war against the Great Powers, and that the strange obelisk is not a war monument at all, but some sort of ward, watching over us! Ah, Tranter. Mark him well: he is what becomes of a man who loves guns more than he does women -
>>
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Opera Lorgnette
Gilded binoculars of the folding lorgnette design attached to a jointed ornamental handle, with low power lens magnification and a wide field of view. Ladies are said to prefer the "jealousy lorgnette", sometimes featuring the viewing lens discretely incorporated into a pierced brisé fan of tortoiseshell, ivory or bone, thus enabling a lady to discreetly entertain flirtations, spying upon entrants into her theatre box without ever even turning her head.

Having been convinced by some Cook or costermonger, a fruit seller named Tim Apple, Thelemy Maskelyne is almost certain that the Vision of this elegant, compact technology will prove to be a transformative audience experience of the future, a Magic Leap into an immersive dream. Importantly, Thelemy believes it is of the utmost importance that the eyes of any wearer of the lorgnettes remain visible to those gazing upon their face and features within their surroundings. The ultimate theatre, wherever you are. In the same space, a seamless blend. Be in the moment.

>>5693787
>Could you teach me some magic please?
QM: instead of retailing for the price of 3,499 Pentacles, Thelemy Maskelyne will exchange the Opera Lorgnettes for THREE items. They will probably make you look very fashionable and sophisticated. (Perhaps you possess an item that might lower the barter cost?)

>Exchange THREE items for the Opera Lorgnette
>Exchange TWO items for, er... some intriguing erotic demonstrations of optical theatre


>Push against the inquisitive throng of onlookers near the alleyway and the blocked cordon of the Constabulary.

>Brandish your Magnifying Glass and Silver Constabulary Badge at the cordon, and speak to a constable guarding the scene


Whoever was murdered probably is not anyone you know.
>>5692975
>>5692985
>Head to another location (see destinations here)

>Lady Temperance Annesley and her party, the Water Banquet

>Witenagemot House
>Investigate the Clock Tower

>The Spittle Field, The Slums / The Rookeries, Leighton's Garret
>Investigate the murdered prostitutes
>Confront Bill Hooke and the Grueller knife gang
(optional: apprehend Elsie, the Flower Girl)
>Find Leighton's memento

>The Railyard near Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry
>Meet Ezsekael Tranter, the gunsmith

>Le Cenacle, private members club
>Inform Lord Huntingtower and Cyril Darnay about Beatrice and the naked painting; perhaps the mere imputation will be enough to ruin her?

>Find an antiquarian who might know the history of the Odalisque and the Vermillion City (QM: but who?)

>Something else?
>>
>>5688629
I've been meaning but forgetting to ask: what does the upgraded rite do?
>>5689403
I also forgot to say that this was my third guess, but the fight was over before I could reveal it...
On to the actual vote,
>>5693938
>Could you inspect the errant frames caught by the strobolume earlier more closely? >>5693145 They may be able to help the investigation.
>I saw Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington at a speech with Lady Blanche Fotheringay-Smythe of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. I thought Duncoombe was against censorship?
>Say if you were to... summon this Odalisque. How might you go about doing it? With a painting, perhaps? Or maybe... sacrifices? Of say, some... er... courtesans, or "companionable" women?
>Tell me more about the Phorcensis Society
>I am going to the Water Banquet after I investigate what's happening behind the cordon over there, would you like to come with me? Perhaps entertain the guests there? (Party Invite)
I want ALL the dialogue options.
>Ask him whether the Orilux Torch >>5684335 would be of more value to him, since it's a lamp that may be used as a projector for optical theatre
>Ask the same about the Instantograph
I think the instantograph would be more valuable to him, but I don't want to part with it...
Oh, also, I googled a bit (I hope that's not against the rules, if it is I'll stop), and this >>5693933 item seems to be a fuel tank I think?
>Inspect the Pocket Book for information about Thelemy Maskelyne
>>
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>>5694029
>>5682944
Phorcensis Circle
Obscurantist sect whose followers once ascribed allegiance to an ancient alchemical belief in the Parable Of Metals: that wisdom can only rule in an element whose dominion is falsehood. Hitherto the adherents of the Phorcensis Circle have sought to reform Theosophy through the advancement of scientific learning and industry, thereby uprooting superstition whilst also concealing all manifestation of True Art. The emblem of the Phorcensis Circle is a tree immured in bronze.

>Inspect the Pocket Book for information about Thelemy Maskelyne
>QM: Roll 1d6

1 DON'T BELIEVE HIS LIES
2 The gloom will deny it knows him
3 An illusion can only blind those that see
4 An abyss opened beneath his cradle
5 Only a shadow hides what he does not have
6 She will not mourn him when he dies again
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5694268
>>
19 XIX: The SUN
Randolph Sidler, rabble-rousing journalist of the Correspondent's Society, rumourmonger and purveyor of high society scandal, a polemical member of the gutter press. His vitriolic reviews have brought tears and disgrace to many a sensitive young artistic talent, though Sidler's reportage has of late capitalised upon the unexplained spree of women murdered in the alleyways of the slums, that have defied all attempted interventions from the authorities.

A vicious-looking and pinched-face man in a somewhat battered bottle-green coat has arrived at the scene, a garish pink carnation pinned to his lapel. The man has the bloodshot eyes and ruddy-faced look of a drunkard, though he appears currently to be caught in the fervent thrill of investigative hypermania:
-hhhnnnggeehhh
(Sidler inhales a large pinchful of snuff)
- Well well well, this all seems too familiar! Another one, I take it, ripped and cut up in the street? Stand aside, aside! Now if I can just get a little closer, to spend some time with her - all the intimate doings, just for a few pictures of the corpse... the public have a right to see!

(Sidler beckons to an accompanying brigade of assistants bearing tripods, screens and photographic equipment)
>>
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You have lost: Orilux Torch
>>5684335
QM: In exchange for this item, Thelemy permits you to inspect the strobolume reel
(pic related >>5693145 )
that had recorded some stray frames of the carriage accident in exchange for the Orilux Lamp. You can assume you retain it as evidence.

Upon close examination, you observe that one of the wheels of the carriage appears to have loosened and separated before the horse bolted. When you glance at the overturned carriage, all of its wheels are currently intact. Perhaps one of the grooms or coachmen has already seen to the swift repair of the forecarriage axle tree?

>Try and speak yourself to one of the grooms of the damaged carriage; what happened to the broken wheel?
>Try and persuade Enoch Lusk, your coachman, to speak to one of the grooms on your behalf >(QM: roll 1d6 to attempt this)

>Push against the crowds of onlookers on the edge of the cordon in the alleyway

>Brandish your Silver Constabulary Badge, and speak to the constable guarding the scene
>Order the constable: do not let that man Randolph Sidler through! His rabble will trample over all the evidence!
>Try and trip up Randolph Sidler yourself as he passes, so that he falls face first into the gutter
>(QM: please roll 1d6 if you attempt this)
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>5694286
I don't understand why we're not getting all the mentioned dialogue... I see we got interrupted here, but back then with Leighton it seemed like we had a quiet moment and all we got was restatements.
>Order the constable: do not let that man Randolph Sidler through! His rabble will trample over all the evidence!
then
>Try and persuade Enoch Lusk, your coachman, to speak to one of the grooms on your behalf
Maybe they'll trust their colleague more than us? We should've done the xenophobic tirade back then...
>>
>>5694297
QM: unfortunately, 4 fails this time... Enoch Lusk attempts to confront the groom, who lies to him and claims that the wheel never fell off... but when confronted with the recorded evidence reel from the strobolume, the groom runs away and escapes! You suspect that maybe he had been paid to sabotage or break the axle of the carriage, throwing the horse around this vicinity, thereby causing the accident in the first place...

You brandish your Silver Constabulary Badge and the constables standing guard step aside and part the cordon to let you through. Randolph Sidler snarls at you and shakes his fist, though he is helpless to do anything other than stamp his foot and seethe and fume; however an instant later you see him pointing upwards at a nearby roof as he gestures to one of his assistants, who has the appearance of some hired child chimney-sweep turned impromptu photographer.

Past the cordon there is a pale-faced young constable whimpering and trembling as he leans against the alleyway for support, shoulders heaving, as he pleads
-D-Don't... m-m-make m-me l-look at her! I d-don't want to l-look at her...
>>
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As you enter the alleyway your nostrils are assaulted by a hideous stench - of butchery, raw offal and ruptured bowels. It is the stench of a slaughteryard, spilt upon gore-glistening cobblestones. You see another older officer of hardier constitution, shaking his head as you pass, muttering only
-It's a bad one - carved up beyond recognition. If the Rookeries sees this they'll stir up a rampaging mob...
>>
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You can see the long stride of some footprints accompanying drag marks leading up to what remains of the victim. She is lying with her face upturned - from the slashed and emptied remains of her face - gazing up at the sky, almost as if she were floating peacefully upon a boat down a river. There are dewdrops of red resting upon her eyelashes, and leaping fronds of gristle and sinew thrown all around. (QM: Using Magnifying Glass) Upon closer examination, beneath the mask of lacerations, you seem to notice some miniscule lines of tiny puncture marks like needle wounds around her lips and eyes - though it is difficult to discern the nature of these markings given the horrifying disfigurement and grievous mutilation of the victim overall.
>>
When the body is turned, the only items on her person of note are a few loose coins, a handful of half-farthing pentacles bearing the motto NON AES SED FIDES. These coins are a little antiquated, but remain viable legal tender in common usage throughout the City, and are not particularly unusual or remarkable in any other way. The coins themselves are clean, and unstained by blood.
>>
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>>5687594
Silas Chillingwurth, the New Lanthorn Yard Commissioner, is already here. He purses his lips with a look of accomplishment and satisfaction before the scene
-It is perfectly clear what has occurred here. This woman was a prostitute. The coins prove it, she was clearly attempting to consummate some sordid tryst in this alleyway. As the scene of the crime occurred within the vicinity of the slums and the Rookeries, I strongly suspect a foreigner did it. This case is closed; wrap up this corpse and clean up the street. You lot, over there (gesturing at various constables standing guard) - return to your watch and patrols by the Ironworks & Foundry, I do not like the look of those crowds and idlers gathered about tonight. How convenient it is that this street is situated at a clear triangular intersection where one can easily see the Clock Tower, the glorious Hecatomb, and the Ironworks itself! It certainly facilitates the fast and efficient resolution of these affairs! And you there - (QM: gesturing at You) go find and arrest the nearest foreigner who perpetrated this deed. As the wisdom of our judicature attests: better ten innocents are arrested, imprisoned and hung, than let one guilty man walk free!
>>
>>5694426
>(reply obediently) At once, Commissioner Chillingwurth! As you say!

>But... but... I haven't even done any investigating yet?! And what about these puncture marks around her mouth and eyes...? And there was that wheel that fell from the carriage earlier... was the victim a passenger? Was the carriage accident a means to waylay or lure her here?

>Search the area. Are there any other clues that have been neglected here?
>QM: roll 1d6

>(Accuse random person) you know, I spoke to that insane artist Francis Leighton at the Benevolent Institute. He kept ranting about some woman or Temptress Of Desire that tormented him. I think Leighton probably did it.

>(Accuse random person) you know, that Augustus Wheeble reads a lot of foreign literature. I think it is actually pornography though. I think Wheeble did it.

>(Accuse some other random person, write-in)

>(You read too much Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment) I cannot take it any more! I did it! I did it all! I confess! Take me!!

>(You watched From Hell) You need to take a long bath, drink a lot of narcotics-infused absinthe, and surrender yourself to the dream visions to guide you. Also look around for a sprig of grapes whilst darkly muttering about occult rituals

>What if... there is like, this Lesbian, who attacks women, but wait... she also travels through time... and she also changes genders... which makes the murders impossible to detect... but she is a demon... like a succubus... with magic powers... from an ancient city... and...

>Even one hundred and fifty years later, no-one will have any idea who perpetrated these crimes. Walk away. (QM: Unless specified otherwise, the next destination is Lady Temperance's Water Banquet)

>Try and follow the horse groom who fled Enoch Lusk, retracing his steps into the Rookeries and slum district (QM: this is difficult. Roll 1d6)

>Something else?
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>5694427
>But... but... I haven't even done any investigating yet?! And what about these puncture marks around her mouth and eyes...? And there was that wheel that fell from the carriage earlier... was the victim a passenger? Was the carriage accident a means to waylay or lure her here?
>Search the area. Are there any other clues that have been neglected here?
Alright, this is way harder than the last one.
>>
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Rolled 1 (1d3)

>>5694029
>>5694450
QM: hehe I am just rolling for something (this roll determines what if any clues you may find)

1 Mildred Berrycloth
2 Agnes Earnshaw
3 Florence Ternan

QM: since you rolled so well here,
>>5694450
>Rolled 6
and you felt a little cheated out of the 6 you rolled earlier,
>>5692401
>>5692839
with the "Nothing happens" hehe, I will be very generous and let you transfer that success on this if you want (it was a 1/6 chance, ie only on a rolled 6)

>Try and follow the horse groom who fled Enoch Lusk, retracing his steps into the Rookeries and slum district

You recall the warning of your Coachman Enoch Lusk (at the very beginning of the game) that this is a lawless and dangerous area, where you may be set upon at any time by thieves, cutthroats and other criminal elements.

>What does the ascended rite: The Hollow Tree do?
QM: you are not formally trained in magic, so you are never entirely sure until you try... but you suspect this upgrade essentially strengthens the original spell, Tree Of Thoughts. When cast in advance and accompanied by the sacrifice of ONE item which is permanently lost, The Hollow Tree will reveal EVERY random table or probability for a brief duration (eg, if cast before a battle, you will see the branching likelihood for EVERY action over the course of the entire battle). At the very least, it may provide useful information about what enemies may be capable of doing. Beware: picking the best probability (ie easiest, most likely to succeed) course of action is not necessarily the best outcome, sometimes you need to hazard a few perils... Remember also that this rite should be best cast BEFORE you encounter dangers and decisions, as it may be too late otherwise. It will last for the duration of an encounter (ie lost upon travel to a new location via the brougham carriage) Generally in my games and settings, every named spell is unique; it is cast once and lost. You have a feeling that this Hollow Tree spell may also have some other hidden effect...

otherwise, you may have to just leave the constables to the grim task of gathering the remains of the victim and following the Commissioner's orders, and leave this gruesome scene for
>Lady Temperance's Water Banquet
or you can select some other location etc.
(greentext locations here)
>>5693938 , or

>write-in some other location of your own

>can Thelemy Maskelyne accompany me?
QM: I will let you do this if you surrender THREE items (as payment). Thelemy will shut his optical theatre stall for the time being and follow you around; Enoch Lusk will call him a ponce and endlessly grumble and complain, tee hee hee
>>
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>>5694541
>rolled: 1 Mildred Berrycloth
You find what appears to be a small sewing kit, a spool of thread, a tiny needle and thimble trodden into the filth of the cobbled alleyway, overlooked by the investigating constables. Perhaps the unfortunate victim was a seamstress? Or is it a hint as to something else?

QM: the choices appear to be

>Nominate THREE items to pay Thelemy Maskelyne, if you wish for him to accompany you. Perhaps he might answer a few more questions, along the way?
>>5694029

>Try and follow the horse groom who fled Enoch Lusk, retracing his steps into the Rookeries and slum district
You anticipate this will involve a significant element of danger. If you need to make any preparations, do so now.

Leave this horrifying scene. You do not have enough information to make any progress in the investigation at this stage. Head to
>Lady Temperance's Water Banquet

>Witenagemot House
>Investigate the Clock Tower

>The Railyard near Wentworth Ironworks & Foundry
>Meet Ezsekael Tranter, the gunsmith

>Le Cenacle, private members club
>Inform Lord Huntingtower and Cyril Darnay about Beatrice and the naked painting; perhaps the mere imputation will be enough to ruin her?

>Find an antiquarian who might know the history of the Odalisque and the Vermillion City (QM: but who?)

>The Spittle Field, The Slums / The Rookeries, Leighton's Garret
(QM: the escaped groom, who lied about the carriage wheel, fled in this direction)
>Investigate the murdered women
>Confront Bill Hooke and the Grueller knife gang
(optional: apprehend Elsie, the Flower Girl)
>Find Leighton's memento

>Something else? Write in
>>
High Magister Cane Sword

(as cane)
Concealed, Swift, Parry, Inconspicuous, Elegant, Fragile, Breakable, Pommel Strike (Blunt)

(as sword)
Surprise Attack, Coup-de-Grace, Witch-Breaker
Strong: single target, pierce
Weak: multiple targets, slash

The rumours that Thelemy Maskelyne hastily retrieved this blade out of an illusionist's sword box after a stage mishap involving his now-scarred and resentful female former assistant are entirely untrue. An elegant tempered blade best used to deliver a single unexpected killing thrust. Once drawn, and with the element of surprise lost, its fragile edge makes for a rather poor close-quarters combat weapon.

(QM: Thelemy Maskelyne carries this)
>>
>>5694592
>Would the sewing kit be of any use or is it too dirty? Maybe we should take it.
>Sacrifice the trench whistle >>5684343 for rite: Hollow Tree to divine our pursuit of the groom
All these items are useful, goddamn. Tough to choose which to sacrifice. We need to LOOT MORE.
Will we be pursuing the groom with Enoch Lusk or alone? If alone, what would it take for him to accompany us? Does he possess items which could be of use in combat?
>>
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>>5695224
The rite: The Hollow Tree
ascends to
Through A Red Forest

QM: You have gained
Small Sewing Kit (Needle, Thimble, Small Spool Of Thread)
-can be used to stitch wounds

You have lost
Trench Whistle

You are walking Through A Red Forest. The trees branch as brachial arteries into the exsanguinated flesh of the sky. Every eviscerating edge in this forest seems like the white line of a cut into muscle or tendon. A part of you wonders if you have become trapped within the patterns you have witnessed. >>5694413
>>
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>>5695317
You are hunting for someone - or is someone hunting for you?
>>
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In the distance, a woman, being borne gently upon a boat far away, along the meandering flow of a river.
>>
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Slowly, the colours of recognition bleed back into sight from the sky above you.

You think something happened to this sanctuary, once the sacred dream-forest of the Gorsedd. Was there a war, a city? Chasing someone through a maze of stone? Someone who had broken the wheel of a chariot, killing a horse? It all seems very far away.
>>
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There is a barricade, some broken palings, entwined with iron thorns before you.

And behind you, you feel a sense of calm, for the power of the Gorsedd dwells here even yet; the druids who once held dominion over all manner of beasts and the Wild -
>>
The Horse
>>5685431
>>5692973

Here the horse still lives. It does not move, but the tendons of its limbs are pulled taut in anticipation.

(QM: You check the Galand Revolver. 2/6 bullets remain)

>er... walk up to the nice Horse, and... maybe stroke it?

>desperately scavenge around this area. There must be something that you can use?
>roll 1d6
QM: This table (probability also gets a bonus from the Hollow Tree)
1 It is The Dead Land. There is nothing
2-3 You find 1 item
4-5 You find 2 items
6 You find 2 items, and a very exceptional artefact

>well, it looks like you have to crawl through some barbed wire again. At least if you get past it, the Horse will not be able to chase after you, right??
>roll 1d6
1 Wounded and Bleeding and Ensnared (caught in Iron Thorns). The nostrils of the Horse twitch at the scent of blood
2-3 Grazed (lightly wounded) and Bleeding
4-5 The hedge of Iron Thorns rasps and hisses at your passage, but the barbs do not bite
6 (as above, and special item) there is something shiny tangled there...

>er... there was a minefield last time with the barbed wire. Maybe check for traps? (QM: no roll for this, it just involves looking. But it takes some time...)

>Shoot at this horrifying abomination, whilst it remains stationary and unmoving, and makes for an easier target.
Remember to roll 2d6 EACH time you pull the trigger, ie to fire twice roll 4d6. (Hollow Tree divination) QM: you think the Horse dies if you hit it once, so long as you aim whilst it remains still. Hit success on the 2nd d6 being strictly greater than the first.
>roll 2d6 for EACH trigger pull

>Something else? (write-in)
>>
Rolled 3 (1d6)

>>5695323
>desperately scavenge around this area. There must be something that you can use?
I'll vote to try to tame it later (as poor of an idea as this may be) but just in case shit gets real and it's as horrible of a threat as it looks like, let's scavenge.
>>
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>>5695339
>>5695339
>Rolled 3
You have found ONE item:
Unusual Flail?

It resembles a long handle with a tubular lash of some kind upon one end, though it seems rather flimsy for a flail or scourge. Were it indeed intended for use as a morning star, the spiked head is missing.

You retrieve the Unusual Flail from the soil here which you notice is somewhat scorched and streaked with ash; a fine plume of grey flakes trails in the air as you lift and retrieve this rather disappointing find from your scavengings.
>>
The Centaur

On the far side of the barricade of Iron Thorns, you see another shape emerging - at first, you assume it is another Horse, identical to the one that is poised in frozen and taut anticipation accompanying you on your side of the barbed wire.

However, as the shape approaches, you perceive that whilst the overall proportions are comparable, this creature is different. Whereas the Horse is headless, and sprouts a coil of jointed limbs and hands from its neck, this creature is possessed of a face - a troubling, contorted human skull, that distends into mandibles and a writhing mass of many, many hands and withered arms from its lower jaw and neck. You recollect what you once heard of the ancient realm of Khimaire - a land of the union of flesh, whose artisanry made a mastery of the craft of impossible mergings of creatures.

The Centaur chitters and gestures in animosity in your direction - all of its arms thrash in revulsion and ecstasy, beckoning towards the barbed wire as a beggar beseeching for alms.

You are not entirely sure if it addresses you, or the Horse, which remains poised and utterly frozen.
>>
The Centaur spits and chitters,
-JOIN US

>What a delightful welcome this is! Prance gleefully into the barbed wire, towards the Centaur

>You have two bullets... but who to shoot?
>The Horse
>The Centaur
>Shoot The Horse AND The Centaur
QM: remember to roll 2d6 for each trigger pull. Rules as above. These creatures will die from 1 hit success, each
>Yourself? (no roll)

>Just ignore this Centaur and carefully try and cross the barbed wire
>roll 1d6 (QM results as of the table here >>5695323 )

>Strike the Horse with the Unusual Flail; try and goad and lash it into the Barbed Wire, towards The Centaur

You want to try and tame The Horse. But how?
>Try and present it with an appropriate item as a gift (write-in. This item will be permanently lost)
>It wants blood. Draw your hand against the barbed wire (trait: Bleeding) and give it blood

>If you think you know how to use the Unusual Flail, write in (and also what you intend to do with it. QM hint: it may involve several other items)

>Something else?
>>
>>5695416
>Try and present it with an appropriate item as a gift (write-in. This item will be permanently lost)
>Give it the Toy Bird >>5686359. Clearly it is depressed in this barren wasteland and wants to play!
>Also light a match before doing it for good luck
>If you think you know how to use the Unusual Flail, write in (and also what you intend to do with it. QM hint: it may involve several other items)
>Combine the Unusual Flail with the Mysterious Metal Snail >>5686360 and a match from the Matchbox >>5684334 to make a FLAMETHROWER
Holy shit I'm glad we didn't use the fuel tank for the Hollow Tree rite (I was considering it).
>>
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>>5695452
You have assembled:
Fire Lance
(Wechselapparat 1917 / Wex Flammenwerfer)
Bulky, Heavy, Medium Range, Incendiary, Scorching, Area-of-Effect, Demolition: Fortifications (ignores cover, emplacements), Fearsome (Inflicts Panic, Terror / Morale Break) Very Conspicuous (High Visibility), Uncontrollable

A horrifying instrument of the wars against the Great Powers, used and much copied by both sides; the mere appearance of this weapon often provoked enemies to flee before its wielder. The construction consists of a toroid container reservoir resembling a lifebuoy, mixing compressed propellant gas in the middle hollow sphere with petrochemical flammable fuel in the encircling hollow ring. Depressing a spring-loaded valve, the trigger of the Fire Wand, releases a jet of pressurised flammable liquid through the nozzle and over the magnesium ignition system. It is possible to project an unlit stream of fuel upon a surface, which may be set alight later through a delayed, separate method.
>>
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>>5695452
QM: You basically got it! with the matches etc. The intention of this item was to give a means to use the magnesium flash powder of the Instantograph without risking blowing up the camera or yourself in the process...
***

As you assemble the Fire Lance, an image comes to your mind of the Fire Harvest, an ancient means of agricultural cultivation - a burnt field, or slash and burn of the swidden, where the nutrient-rich ashes of any burnt vegetation and weeds are left to nourish and replenish the fertility of the land, having been cleansed by fire.

QM: There are a few options here.

>Brandish the Fire Lance at the Centaur (2/6 chance it flees)
>Ignite the Fire Lance (use a match, 3/6 chance it flees)
>Actually fire the flamethrower but intentionally miss (5/6 chance Centaur flees)
>Actually fire the flamethrower aiming to immolate and kill it.
QM: see rule on fuel below. There is no roll to hit here, the Centaur just dies

>Fire the flamethrower at the Iron Thorns (QM: ie barbed wire barricade. This probably also has the same effect as a warning shot above. Bear in mind the barbed wire enclosure is the only thing separating you and The Horse from The Centaur)

>Burn everything, laughing maniacally

>You can also just shoot at things with your revolver (see previous greentext choices etc)
>>5695416

QM: I will wait until after this choice with the gift attempt at the "Horse", hehe

QM: Please also roll 3d10+70 for starting fuel. (If you choose to fire it, for game purposes just this first shot does not count. Future shots require a 1d100 roll. If it is lower than the current fuel %, that 1d100 roll amount is the amount left remaining. If it equals or exceeds the current fuel %, after the encounter the flamethrower is depleted. So essentially the idea is you need to roll under the remaining fuel % level).

>Something else?
>>
>>5695553
>Ask the Centaur: "Who are you? What will you do to me if I cross the wire?"
The druid encounter has taught me not to discard NPCs easily. Maybe we'll burn it later - no rush, as far as I can tell.
>>
>>5695580
+1
>>
>>5695590
>Maybe we'll burn it later - no rush, as far as I can tell.
QM:hehe

When the Centaur speaks, you see the posture of its mane of many hands seems to echo its words in conflicting inflections of malice-sorrow, glee-mourning, hate-shyness, anguish-regret.
>>
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Somehow through its words, you see the echoing vision of the woman upon the river, as a flood of red hands reaches out to her:
>>5695320
>>5682936

EAT OF US THE TREES EAT OF US
JOIN US THE HANDS JOIN US
FEED US THE WORDS FEED US
BLEED US THE WORLD BLEEDS US

(QM: I will leave the choice as to what to do open for tonight and go and sleep hehe. Also, responding to the anon's earlier query on just using googl search etc >>5694029 that is absolutely fine and possibly even encouraged, though because of my convoluted narrative turboautism I am not sure if it always helps! Perhaps you have guessed what the Centaur and the hands may represent...

In addition to the choices here,
>>5695553
You could try just waiting and seeing what happens, you could try to invoke some rite (which one?) to forcibly propel you out of this nightmare realm to another destination (where to?), using other items etc.

>write in what you would like to do...

>if somehow you have managed to penetrate the demented rantings of the QM, and have a suspicion of where the Odalisque actually hides, link a paragraph section or sections which you think reveal a clue as to her location, and write in the destination
>>
>Perhaps you have guessed what the Centaur and the hands may represent...
"The mirror horse lives" so this horse is the horse as animated by the zoetrope, and the Odalisque. It's said "Only that which has an audience to look upon it will live", so the centaur and the hands are the Odalisque's audience AKA prostitute patrons.

The dead body is floating peacefully upon a boat down a river >>5694416, this looks like the Odalisque here >>5695320, destination is Hades.

And this centaur, it looks contagious, so let's burn it with fire.
>>
"Somber Night grabs them by the throat; they reach the end
Of their destinies and go to the common pit;"
>>
>>5688617
>Others say he paid a harlot from Cheapside thirty farthing-pentacles to bare her backside, sit on a paintbrush and a canvas, and leave an imprinted smear.
This version is the true one

>>5692381
"She is really an amalgamation, a commixture of many dalliances. I found them all over, the Dockyards, the Rookeries, Cheapside... "

>>5692970
"There are women gone missing, butchered in dark alleyways and the rookeries, all along the slums by the Dockyards, the railway and Ironworks Foundry!"

Also, it sounds like the story of Jack the Ripper, maybe the Odalisque is not just one, but all the women Leighton has killed.
>>
>>5695613
Aight, it's just rambling nonsense. As much as I despise Wux, some of his guesses here >>5695674 may be right, the Centaur is some semblance of Desire perhaps, maybe it ruined the woods of Gorsedd making them red? idk, anyway it looks like a threat that could return and the QM is implying something's gonna happen, so let's
>Actually fire the flamethrower aiming to immolate and kill it.
As for where the Odalisque is, the painting I'm pretty sure is in Mortmain's residence (is it the Witenagemot house?) as said here >>5692381. The woman herself, no idea, maybe the mythical Vermillion City itself?
>>
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At first you see only a wheezing, sputtering expulsion of vapour droplets, as grit and tar swill somewhere in the recesses of the toroidal tank, the internal sloshing of its long dormant fire against the hollow metal; but before any consternation concerning your affixing of the various valves and tubes of this formidable apparatus can even begin to seize your shaking hands - a boiling conflagration erupts, engulfs everything before you.
>>
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The Fire Lance howls. It drenches all before it in a screaming tempest, a burning sheet of wind - you can actually see the edges of the air emanating from the sheet of fire before you, rippling and twisting in blackening wisps of agony, lesser curling squalls and spirals of the greater inferno, the relentless immolating fury spouting in torrents from the mouth of the fire wand raised in your hand.

You have the sense to release the trigger, for you feel the toroidal tank lessening and lightening rapidly, as its fuel depletes the hunger of this devouring beast of flame, this all-consuming ravager of ancient wars.
>>
You think of the fables and tales of Khimaire, the cheirosiphons wielded by their accursed warlocks, that were said to have incinerated impregnable fortifications and poliorcetics of their trembling and besieged enemies, of unquenchable flames that grew swollen and furious burning even upon water; of fire that could never be drowned. Surely, something of these ancient rites has been conjured in the horrifying implement within your hands.
>>5682946
>>
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There is a long, charred and smoking runnel of blackened ashes, the carved path of the belching stream of fire from your weapon, and you cough and gasp involuntarily - there is a lot of smoke, a haze of smoke, and drifting cinders that sting your eyes.

You can see a black heap of sticks at the far end, with what appears to be scorched fingers and some ribs - but even as you gaze upon it, the heap slumps and falls into a burst of incinerated flakes. Nothing of the Centaur remains - amidst the merciless roar of the unleashed inferno, you did not even see or hear anything of it screaming and flailing and dying.

Strangely, you see that the Fire Lance has somehow cut a molten path through the Iron Trees - the barbed wire barricade.
>>5695322
Their thorns have curled and withered, like blackened leaves before fire.
>>
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The Horse behind you has disappeared. As you turn, you see only a glimpse of the burnt out ruin of a carriage.

It looks a little like the brougham - Your carriage.
>>
A madness, a fear seizes you... Did you place too much trust in the incongruous and demented ramblings of others?

None of it makes any sense... you have heard so much, seen so many things...
>>5695674
>>5695678
>>5695695
>>5695741
(QM: these are really good theories, Wuxian! I like your pattern of thinking, hehe. But it is not exactly what I had in mind...)

A fleeting memory, of the eyes of the dead seamstress,
>>5694416
>>5694592
just another ritual victim, gutted in the filth of some forgotten alleyway. The small needle marks, along her eyes and mouth, as if of stitches pulled shut for the blind...
>>5683400
>>5683397
>>5682934
>>5683404
>>5683939

All of the symbols swirl in your mind, in a dizzying spiral of convolutions. The Trees, The Hands, The Fire, The Wheel... spinning and hurling towards a new sight outstretched before you ahead.
>>
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There is a Tree or perhaps an Angel spread before you. The veins of its wings branch out across the sky.
>>
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There is something laid before this Tree as an offering; it seems to be clasping something.

Like a hand, reaching out to pluck the Fruit of this Tree.

Something within you tells you that Mortmain had been here; Streysham Mortmain who had wandered the paths of the druids, seeking their secrets.
>>5684557

(QM: I forgot to mention, no matter what you choose, please roll 3d10+70 for remaining flamethrower fuel, thank you!)
>roll 3d10+70

>Whatever this place is, it has fallen to horror and corruption. Burn everything here
>Roll 1d100. (QM: The Fire Lance depletes to this new fuel threshold if it is lower than the previous fuel level, ie you need to roll under the result of the 3d10+70 from above; if equal or greater, the Fire Lance is empty after this use)

>Examine the offering, unclasp whatever the fingers are holding

>This place is horrifying beyond imagination. You need to flee this place now. Did you just set fire to and incinerate your own horse and carriage? Turn and flee this place
QM: you can attempt to invoke some rite and specify a destination (where to?), or just literally turn around and run away

>Make an offering of your own before this Tree. Which item?

You recall the rites of the Druids, burying the weapons of old so that they would never be discovered.
>>5691385
>Surrender all your weapons as an offering before the Tree

>Abandon every item you possess before the Tree. Every single one.

>Something else? Write-in
>>
Rolled 68, 7, 77 + 70 = 222 (3d100 + 70)

>>5695867
>Examine the offering, unclasp whatever the fingers are holding
>>
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>>5695880
QM: the fuel % roll was for 3d10, but no worries! It was a fairly good roll, I will just take the last few digits of your 3d100 rolls to give

>Rolled 68, 7, 77

8+7+7+70 = 92 (% fuel remaining)

So the next time you fire the flamethrower, you must roll strictly lower than 92; if this is the case, then that roll result becomes the new available fuel level.

If the roll is equal to or greater than 92, then after the burst ends the weapon is fully depleted.
>>
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The Red Hand
Streynsham Mortmain's offering to the Tree. A hand, stained crimson by conquest and murder.

(QM: the rite is described here in another one of my game settings)
https://archived.moe/qst/thread/5340783/#5344110
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5340783/
ie post 5344110 "The Seeling Night" of this thread, The USURPER. Forgot how to link to specific posts on suptg, the URL #fragment does not seem to work unfortunately
>>
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The Usufruct
Fruit of the Red Tree of The Dead Land; a symbol of use and enjoyment. It appears to take the form of two intertwined machine wheels, the teeth of which are meshed and biting into each other in opposition. To the druids, who revered triadic memory, and evoked forms of The Three in their recited cants and orisons, something appears missing.

In the myths of the Gorsedd, great enlightenment was sought in the contemplation of the Endless, named Ceugant, yet this consciousness was threatened by a malevolent entity named Cythraul: the Opposer, the Adversary; Destruction.

Through the Iron Trees, the silviculture of the druids sought to heal the Land defiled by war; they had discovered a process of phytoremediation, whereby woven osiers and swithies of the Trees, through careful nurturing and coppicing, could decontaminate a land polluted by heavy metals and slaughter, through a natural process of rhizofiltration.

Yet the Gorsedd fought against the Adversary to no avail, in order to determine who would truly own the Land. Some scholars have claimed that the ancient druids never followed a warlike tradition, and that the Enemy was a far later invention, of the age of the Iron Trees, and the wars amongst the Great Powers.

>Take The Red Hand
>Take The Usufruct
>Take everything

>Don't take anything. Make an offering to the Tree instead (QM: which item?)

>Offer only your weapons to the Tree

>Relinquish all of your possessions to the Tree. Every single one.

>Turn and flee this horrifying place (where to?)

>This place is corrupted beyond any hope for atonement. Burn everything
>(QM: roll 1d100 for the Fire Lance remaining fuel; roll under 92)

>Something else? Write in
>>
>>5695907
>Take The Usufruct
>This place is corrupted beyond any hope for atonement. Burn everything
The fire will cleanse this place and something new can grow from this wretched land. Or it may stay barren forever. I'm willing to debate this with other anons though. So I'm not rolling for fuel yet.
>>5695864
The only thing I can see is that the tale of the Faery and the Raven Prince probably refers to Mortmain and the Odalisque. She was a cruel mistress, he took something from her and was hurt in the process (burnt hands). The Odalisque may be behind the murders (since the Faery / Odalisque sewed the eyes and mouths shut). Basically, I'm smol brain and you'll have to spell it out for me, Souv, lol.
>>
>>5695865
The sight of this horrifying bloated Angel makes me wish I was with my wife Millicent right now. We should've pursued romance, after all.
>>
>>5695943
>Take everything

The Odalisque is said to be the vision of angel, so in this flesh horror environment, it's not unexpected. I don't think this place is corrupted beyond any hope for atonement. After all, the environment is insanely scary but hasn't be harmful. There is information to be gained about our opponent, Lord Mortmain.
>>
>>5688619
Also, the MC's hands are... clean. But that's not the most reliable test. In lucid dreaming, the hand test is reliable at about 80%.
>>
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The Odalisque is the Whore of Babylon, made from the worst parts of prostitutes and Beatrice Wentworth, like a flesh golem. She looks beautiful like an angel, but in reality, she is monstrous and the greatest figure of evil. She could only be painted, not photographed.
>>
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>>5682936
>>5695320
From the tall and tufted reeds she sat and played in a dream. Nearer, she approaches, as the sun descends from abandoned heavens, and your insolent soul would be gone as flowers taken by a hot wind. Day usurped by desolate Night.

She is very close...

You see her shake her Night-dark hair, with a little sigh of ease; a sigh of pillows and sinking firelight, of skin open to the stars and the whisper of bare trees.

The soul of the wind is in your Blood -

-But the water loves me and folds me,
She murmurs, as stray sunlight shames her shyness,
-By Birth and Death and all Dark Names That Be...

And she leans closer, and closer, until you are warmed by her hand and shadowed by her hair, the hungering thrill of her eyes, the delicate love-lines of her mouth, scent snared in soft kisses, the burning moan of her lips even as the flood-tide of tremulous kisses falters - her soul is in the dying softness of her kiss, as breast to breast you cling to one another, breath frail and strong upon each other, bound body and soul in quivering fire - You are drinking from her, from the hollow of her hand to the secret hollows between her thighs, the trance of light of her skin and touch - You have tasted the release of slow surrender to her song, her dreamless blood and the ache of her dance of want...

She is gone.
>>
>>5695943
-There is a question that Millicent has been dying to ask you...
>>5687033
>>
Lady Blanche Fotheringay-Smythe
>>5686900
>>5687033
smiles with deliberate delight, as she pulls you aside to a secluded corner of the Pavillion, and folds your arm tightly into her own:
-But she is far too shy to ask herself; so, I shall ask of it on her behalf! I always like to bring the young together; it is so pleasant to encounter a pair strolling along hand-in-hand!
>>
...And Lady Temperance Annesley has truly excelled herself here at the Water Banquet. See how she has set the table here, and sculpted the artisanry of the stone so that the meandering channels flow into the watercourse of the stream and river!

I believe the ancients made a game of this; they would compose poetry for each other as they floated their banquet cups and chalices down upon the Winding Brook, and likely drank themselves silly in the course of doing so! Perhaps you will have a love-poem, for Millicent later, hm? But I am forgetting myself! (Lady Blanche smiles flatteringly at you again). Ah yes, the question, the question...
>>
-Why are you not married?

>Er... (tip your banquet chalice into the river) Oh look I am so clumsy, I... I am so sorry, I will have to get another...

>Tip the contents of your cup into Lady Blanche's face
>QM: roll 1d6

>Desperately dart your eyes around, try and see if Millicent is looking at you, whilst stammering incoherently

>Excuse me. I just incinerated a centaur. Now I am trying to decide if I should keep this severed hand dripping in blood, or this interesting multidimensional cogwheel machine instead. Maybe I shall just have to burn everything. Good day. (Walk off)
>>5695906
>>5695907
>>5695858

>(Try and distract) ah, Lady Blanche - I greatly admired your speech the other day at the BITCH Society. What is the position of the Benevolent Institute on the matter of universal suffrage, and votes for women?

>(Accuse menacingly) I saw you with Ashby Duncoombe-Carrington. Consorting with the enemy, hm? I would never have imagined him to be to your taste, he is far from handsome.
>>5687038
>>5687592

>Is Beatrice here? There is something I need to tell her...

>How shocking that Lord Huntingtower and Cyril Darnay were not invited! I did have something to relate to them, concerning Miss Beatrice Wentworth... perhaps I could confide in you instead, Lady Blanche...

>Write-in some other scintillating conversational rejoinder
>>
>>5695948
The Centaur, an adept of the tree, was very obviously trying to absorb us into itself. If it spawns abominations like this, it must be cleansed. Even if it was not malicious and the Centaur was not connected to it, I would still kill the Angel with fire because it's disgusting, that is reason enough for me. Maybe the other anon that recently joined >>5695880 has a different idea from yours, Wux?
>>5696049
The water loves her... is she at the Water Banquet? The Docks? Maybe she's in Leighton's Garret? We need to check all locations...
>>5696056
>Check if we're dreaming. Anything unusual around? It is VERY SUSPICIOUS that the moment a desire to be with Millicent appeared, we were transported somewhere where it is fulfilled. Are we seeing a dream? A vision, sent by the Angel to preserve itself from the fire? Our Desire made manifest?
but also
>Desperately dart your eyes around, try and see if Millicent is looking at you, whilst stammering incoherently
also
>I was just memeing but it altered the flow of the story
Damn, I need to watch my tongue.
>>
>>5696052
Also
>this hag again
We need to free Millicent from Lady Blanche's retardation. Like abolishing houses. Can't make this shit up.
>>
>>5696056
>"Amidst this esteemed gathering, one finds elegance befitting your magnificent banquet."
>Eye Millicent whilst stammering incoherently
>Ask for booze
>Check your hands as a reality check, don't drink or eat if something's wrong
From my experience, it's better to let the booze speak
>>
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>>5696076
>>5696102
>"Amidst this esteemed gathering, one finds elegance befitting your magnificent banquet."

The lyrical eloquence of your speech momentarily astonishes Lady Blanche, and she is a little taken aback at how to respond. You hastily avail yourself of her indecision to look around surreptitiously for Millicent, and her whereabouts near the Pavillion.

She has not seen you, but Millicent sits a little distance away, pulling absentmindedly at the stray petals of a flower bouquet.
>>
Herman Sucklinge-Bell

Leaning next to her is a rakishly dressed dandy, a peculiar flamingo croquet mallet in one hand, who stands by the Pavillion balustrade overlooking the river. The posture of this individual suggests intimacy, as they begin to lean close and whisper in Millicent's ear - you feel a little twinge of jealousy, as hands brush the locks of her hair, and as the pair appear to confide in each other, exchanging glances and whispered reminiscences - but then you see that beside Herman and Millicent, there is an unusually large, gilded frame - and as the light catches the golden lustre of its ornamental scrolling and the florescences of its embellished corners, you see the picture is covered with a curtain, but there is a pang of recognition -
>>
(to be continued...?)

The
ODALISQUE
...
influenced by
Salome, Oscar Wilde
Herodias, Gustave Flaubert
various essays, Virginia Woolf: The Docks Of London
The Signalman, Charles Dickens
In Plato's Cave, essays on photography, Susan Sontag
Darwin Among The Machines, Samuel Butler
JG Ballard short story, Chronopolis

Poetry by Ted Hughes, Dylan Thomas, W B Yeats
Sonnets, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The House Of Life

Brideshead Revisited, novel and film (2008)
1917 (Film, Sam Mendes 2019)
The Sign Of The Four, and The Eligible Bachelor / Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes (1987)
Mirror (1975), Andrei Rublev (1966), Ivan's Childhood (1962) by Andrei Tarkovsky
Clive Barker's Undying, videogame
>>
>>5696270
QM: I will be travelling next week, with very intermittent internet access, so I will take a break or so and hopefully resume when I return! Thank you very much for playing so far, all of you came up with very imaginative ideas and solutions, I think in particular Wuxian came very close here hehe >>5695960 and I also really liked the anon's very inventive use of items like the Trench Whistle versus the insane inmates etc. I also did not mention it at the time, but the use of the teleport spell straight to the War Room was extremely clever and also made me panic a bit lol (that and the ww1 section was intended to be a near end game section lol). If you think carefully about the War Room, the Usufruct, the weird Clock Edict? and the hands, it should give you an idea as to what Mortmain could be...

The game was designed to be fairly open-ended, with nothing set in stone. Please feel free to comment on any other theories or unsolved mysteries in the game (googl search and wikipedia may help hehe), I will monitor this thread and try and answer what I can. Hopefully, if there is still sustained interest, the game can resume when I return! Otherwise I will still write up some of the possibilities and explanations with all the location / item / character art etc when I get back.

Thank you all again for playing so far, I hope you all had fun!
>>
>>5696268
>NTR
NO

On a more serious note,
>>5696271
Thanks for running. I hope you're not annoyed by me being such a smol brain unable to figure anything out lol. I'll try to go over the quest once more in your absence and make notes that other anons may be able to piece together if I'll fail at that. I would very much like a continuation.

I wanted to ask how Millicent knows of us, as mentioned by Lady Blanche here >>5696051. Or is the mad hag lying, and that is actually a question from herself? Was there a timeskip that got us transported to the Water Banquet?? Did we burn a carriage, lost in our hallucinations, and escape???

The War Office teleport was just a random choice, actually. I thought "hmm, where should I peek" and came up with a destination that would allow us to glean into state secrets or something like that. I'm glad it turned out like it did, though, the items we obtained helped a lot.
>>
I've made a wiki page on questden to organize notes

https://questden.org/wiki/The_Odalisque
>>
>>5696576
>>5696619
Wow, thank you Wuxian for these efforts! Very impressive work!

Secret hints in the credits as to the plot hehe. Perhaps... sometimes, the characters or certain plot sections involve phrases that mean other things. For example, perhaps try googl search as to this section hehe.
>>5682945

And the significance of the poem that follows may be understood if you know that Aedh is an old theonym that means Fire.

Originally on the old quest thread generals, I sketched out the outline to the complete tarot set of NPCs. It should still be in the archives somewhere. A few NPCs changed their roles but most of the names and their professions remained the same. The tarot theme is used as a secret hint sometimes. For example, with the Leighton / workhouse inmate puzzle,
>>5691573
that one cannot be solved logically unlike the detective / missing glove puzzle -
>>5687606
But the clue is in the picture - (it is the only npc picture of an actual artist self portrait, Gustave Courbet, a painter in real life
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_D%C3%A9sesp%C3%A9r%C3%A9
and also, if you examine the Tarot code, it includes XIV - Temperance in Rider Waite, but also in the Crowley Thoth tarot, XIV is named Art
https://www.tarrdaniel.com/documents/Hermetic/tarot/tarot_cards/Tarot_14_Art.html
>>
What the fuck is even going on here? Is this a bot quest? ELS using phone to translate? The hell?!
>>
Let's fucking go, notes time.

Also, FUCK this turned out to be a lot of text.

>>5696270
Inspiration info:
Salome and Herodias - these are about the seduction and execution of John the Baptist. Salome is inspiration for the Odalisque?
Docks of London, Virginia Woolf - an essay about the titular docks. Probably for atmospheric inspiration.
The Signalman, Charles Dickens - this is about a signalman haunted by a spectre. Are we seeing hallucinations that will lead us to our doom?
In Plato's Cave, Susan Sontag - this is about photography and probably early kinematograph.
Darwin Among The Machines - destruction of machines theme. About the Wentworth Ironworks & Factory protests?
Chronopolis - edict abolishing clocks comes from here.
idk what specific poetry is referenced, I'll try googling as I go thorugh the quest.
Brideshead Revisited - Lord and Lady Marchmain. Oddly similar names to Mortmain.
1917 - this is for the WW1 Dead Land parts.
Sherlock Holmes - idk if knowing the plot of these will help solve mysteries, I didn't check. Anyone up for it?
Tarkovsky - symbolism, probably. Worth looking into, but as I said, I'm shit at connecting the dots.
Clive Barker's Undying - time travel? horror mystery? Is there an evil plot behind all this? Something about the murders of courtesans? They are obviously a ritual sacrifice.

Now the actual quest:
>>5682932
This seems to link to the later mention of a woman floating down a river. We are holding hands no more - were we the lover of some woman? Of the Odalisque? I will refer to this later
>>5682934
>Light born of Light, whose sacred flesh hath transcended Death,
is this talking about a god/goddess? Is Odalisque a goddess?
The rest implies (I think) that those graced by the Odalisque shall have the world follow their desires.
>>5682936
Is the woman in the picture a votive offering? Did the druids bury humans, like weaponry, to appease the gods? Did we split with our lover due to infidelity?
>>5682938
The last reply option signifies we lost our lover.
Also, where were we headed again? BITCH?
>>5682943
A man is a wolf to another man. A caution?
>>5682945
This is from Darwin Among the Machines - it talks of the mechanical race that will replace humans eventually if action is not taken. Is the Odalisque a mechanism? Are we a mechanical human?
Or is this referring to the photograph replacing art?
>>5682946
>Aedh - fire.
idk what this signifies.
The poem is clearly about attempts to smear Beatrice's reputation.
>>5682950
Cyril Darnay wasn't invited to the water banquet and plans revenge by corrupting Beatrice, Lady Temperance Annesley's new favorite.
>>5682956
Aloysius Ambrose is a poet. With art replaced by machine, is his work perhaps in danger as well?
>>5682961
Lord Huntingtower is Lady Annesley's husband. They are on bad terms.
>It is surely not at all possible to alter a photograph, as the images of our incredible war triumph over the Great Powers and the enduring sanctity of the Old Armistice attest.
Hmm...
>>
>>5702161

>>5683391
This may be important, but I'm not sure if it's an allusion to the Empire being alive or something more.
>She goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy... a laughing child sings, chasing a trundle wheel toy.
We have a wheeled crow toy. Is it significant to the plot?
>>5683397
>>5683400
>>5683404
>>5683405
>>5683406
So the first pic is the same as the Aedh one. So Beatrice must be connected to the Odalisque somehow. We found out that she posed for Leighton later on.
Is she behind the murders? I thought she might be, but this roll >>5692975 convinced me otherwise.
Regarding the story itself, I think it is important, but I can't quite pinpoint where it links up with the plot. Are we the Raven Prince and the Odalisque the Faery? Did we take something from her, which caused a falling out and caused us to split? Did we wish for oblivion - we don't seem to have any memories, the mc is strangely blank?
Or was Mortmain the Raven Prince?
>This faery was very beautiful but also very cruel; it was said she stitched shut the mouths of those who even dared to whisper any words of Love, and sewed shut the eyes of any who dared look upon her.
The courtesan murderer is probably a jealous woman? We saw pinprick marks on the eyes and mouths of those murdered.
>>5683410
Herman (The NTR man >>5696268) was first mentioned here. Apparently he's a women's rights activist.
>He is very fond of independent women, you know... Herman likes his women a little mannish, if you ask me.
We're safe! Millicent seems very feminine.
>>5683926
>In the Sempiternal Empire it is a death-crime to deny that the Hecatomb ever occurred.
Maybe it didn't and it's all a psyop?
>>5683931
Ban of clocks. Madame Blackwood talks about this later.
>>5683932
Mortmain. Very mysterious that he isn't appearing in public. Still, Leighton later mentions that he saw him at the vernissage, so he must be alive. He is also mentioned by Huntingtower earlier. He seems active, just not in the public eye.
>>5683935
The theme of subversion of expectations seems to be present. Odalisque - a beautiful, attractive woman, is actually (maybe) an engorged, horrifying angel, the wondrous Land of Birds a desolate wasteland. Wait... The Faery lived in the land of Birds. Can we meet the Odalisque there?
>>5683939
The iron castle of the Faery and Raven Prince story. Hmm... Maybe we need to return to the Dead Land and go there? Will this resolve the mysteries?
>>5684319
Eankke and Atakam. Anointing this land with the flesh of the Blessed Lamb. Is this a reference to the druids burying stuff to restore the land?
>>5684557
Mortmain hunted for the users of the Tree of Thoughts in the Old Forest of Idols - an old druidic rite of burying weaponry and other relics to divine the future. idk what to say on this matter.
>>
>>5702163
>>5685055
>It makes you briefly think of what the scarred warband commander impaled on a distant rusted spike behind you meant when he was calling forth the "sacred incense".
So... the raiders released chlorine? Or had a counterchemical for it? Doesn't matter by now, but it caught my attention.
>>5685344
>>5685346
Did we doom the tree?
>>5685554
>>5685555
Refers to the later mentioned (failed) method of restoring the land used by druids using trees.
>>5686057
>Mortmain, Mortmain! I know his plan... I know of the Clock Tree! The Tree of the Stars... He hunts for the Mask, to bring to the Foundry... that is what will free her! She Who Is Three...
Is the Angel we encountered earlier the Clock Tree? The Usufruct resembles a clock mechanism... The Clock Tower of the City mentioned earlier is obviously of significance.

Ok, so after that there is a lot of exposition which I'm not going to comment. I'll return where the Odalisque and Clock Ban are mentioned again. That is
>>5688613
here.
So it happens regularly. Clocks are banned and either destroyed or handed in for a month. Question is, why? If we follow the theme of the Odalisque being a mechanism and an amalgamation of various parts, is Mortmain assembling a mechanical monstrosity? The World Machine that will grant him his wishes?
>>5688617
Did Leighton visit the Land of Birds, the Dead Land, and go mad from it? Hmm...
>>5688620
This is a very strange picture. Did we kill Mortmain, perhaps?
>>5689125
>Strangely, you hear a merry musical trundling noise accompanied by the sing-song laughter of a child.
Was someone playing with the crow and us, as if with a toy? Or... is the toy we possess a magical artifact that can be used to make the crow attack our enemies?!
>>5689399
A vision of the Red City of Temptations? Al-Ghurab? Is the Horned Crow from there?
>>5691381
>>5691382
>>5691384
>>5691385
I haven't been able to piece this together at all.
>>5691576
Is this... Beatrice Wentworth? Fallen due to the plot of Cyril Darnay and Lord Huntingtower?
>>5692381
This is a very important monologue. It reveals 4 things:
1. Beatrice Wentworth posed for Leighton.
2. The Odalisque, the painting, is made from many courtesans Leighton found all over the City.
3. The painting is somewhere in Mortmain's personal safekeeping.
4. Leighton fixed Mortmain's hands with his painting.
>>5692970
The Cook's reply reveals some things. So the cult of the Blessed Lamb from the Dead Land and the Fallen Freedom from the triptych are foreign beliefs. The druid mentioned this as well.
>>
>>5702164

>>5693691
>>5693693
>>5693694
Another interesting monologue.
Thelemy says here that so long as you have an audience beholding you, you will live forever. Is the Odalisque fueled in her life by the Desires of those enraptured by her?
There was another city in the Orient, with its Great Art, the Algorismus. They're connected with birds as well. The Unseen Hand... could it mean the hand of the child playing with the crow toy, directing its talons against us? Is this a reference to the hand offered as a sacrifice to the Red Tree?
>>5694268
This details the Phorcensis Circle. I don't know whether it's important or not, but it's good to keep in mind.
Also, the rolling table is interesting, but I don't understand it.
>>5694416
>almost as if she were floating peacefully upon a boat down a river.
This appears later in the visage of a woman drifting down a river of hands when we're in Dead Land again.
>Upon closer examination, beneath the mask of lacerations, you seem to notice some miniscule lines of tiny puncture marks like needle wounds around her lips and eyes - though it is difficult to discern the nature of these markings given the horrifying disfigurement and grievous mutilation of the victim overall.
Reference to the Faery and Raven Prince tale.
>>5694421
>NON AES SED FIDES
Not money, but faith. or Not brass, but faith?
>The coins themselves are clean, and unstained by blood.
Were they left as payment for murdering the victim?
>>5694592
So... either seamstress, or the criminal wanted to sew shut the eyes and mouth, but didn't make it in time. I'm leaning towards the former.
>>5695317
Did the Hollow Tree absorb something into itself perhaps? The scene of murder?
>>5695318
We are hunting for the murderer. Maybe it's the other way around.
>>5695320
The dead woman, being carried to the other world? Links up to the scene at the beginning of the quest and the seamstress corpse face expression.
>>5695414
>>5695416
>>5695613
No ideas still who the Centaur is.
>>5695863
Did we fucking burn our carriage?
>>5695867
>>5695906
>>5695907
Did Streynsham Mortmain offer his hands in exchange for the fruit of the Red Tree?
The fruit itself ties into the theory of mecha-Odalisque.
>In the myths of the Gorsedd, great enlightenment was sought in the contemplation of the Endless, named Ceugant, yet this consciousness was threatened by a malevolent entity named Cythraul: the Opposer, the Adversary; Destruction.
I think this should be noted for the future as well.
>>5696049
Supports the theory of us being lover of the Odalisque previously.

That's about all I want to comment on. This should serve as a fine list of notes for other anons to recall moments of the thread and piece things together, or at least a decent exercise for me to go over the quest and re-think it. Still no damn idea who the Odalisque or us or Mortmain is lol.
>>
I am >>5696576 by the way. My ID will be changing quite a lot in the coming weeks in case the quest continues and I vote. Thought to let Souvarine know that his first loyal player is still here.
>>
>>5696268
-Have you ever wondered -
Millicent whispers, gazing out upon the dragonflies amidst the pond flowers and water lillies,
-Have you ever wondered... what this is all for? Why wear beautiful dresses, why keep butlers and carriages, why give a luncheon party, a ball or a banquet, why buy a house in the country and pull it down and build it up again - When here, this ripple of water, this shade of sky and this snatched handful of light: they are all mine, they are the same in my life, as in yours. The fragrant nenuphars bloom and beckon as nymphs upon mirrored water; the wind-blown reeds dance even as ferns let drop the dew of their tears into the secret pools among rushes that scarce could bathe a star. And the curlews wade through mottled waters, on stilted legs stabbing their curved bills into the worms wriggling between pebbles and mud. I suppose you will answer with something trite - that it is for Love. But I do not see it in this place, I do not see Love...
>>
>>5696268
>>5696270
Next to the covered painting, Herman Sucklinge-Bell gestures with the flamingo croquet mallet:
-Love never lasts, my dear. Instead, one should dedicate the Self to a Cause, a Great Endeavour - an undertaking which will see oneself memorialised for posterity... I have tried to destroy this picture, of the most beautiful woman in mythological history, as a protest against Witenagemot House for destroying the goddess of the Cult Of Liberty - that most elusive Temptress of our history. Justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas. This mutilated figure of femininity represents the desecration of the dignity of women when beheld by the rapacious gaze of men. You see, what the plight of women demands is emancipation, enfranchisement - Universal Suffrage. Consequently, what we demand is for women to have, say, perhaps twice to three times the vote of men, nay - five times the vote of men, as restitution against this hateful historic regime of oppression and maltreatment. This is not at all an unreasonable request, I understand the comparable allocation of supervoting stock possessing disproportionate voting power relative to the economic or beneficial interest of founders is a precedent well established within the governance of the modern corporation. Hence Art is a legitimate target in our campaign against chauvinism; when you attack the representation of a thing, it is almost as if you have injured the very grievance itself...!
>>
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>>5696056
>>5696102
Your attention is reeled back from your eavesdropping of Millicent and Herman's conversation, by the needling tone of Lady Blanche, as she has hopelessly imprisoned your arm in her own...
- Ah, but you have evaded the question, through your eloquence! You see, I must know the answer, in order to assess... your standing, your eligibility, as it were. So I must ask again: why are you not married? Is it not unusual for one to remain uncommitted, to remain so long unattached in this day and age? Unless one partakes of... (Lady Blanche frowns, adopts a familiar, reprehensible tone of denunciation) one partakes of... dissipated pursuits...

>Well, the only way to get rid of Lady Blanche once and for all is probably to upend the dregs of your Banquet Chalice into her face; commence ungainly throwing-drink-in-the-face slapfight combat, hooray!
>roll 1d6

>write in some explanation why you are not married. This had better be convincing...

>(attempt flattery to extricate yourself from this conversation) Lady Blanche, the sweltering cruelty of the Sun shall not wilt the delicacy of a lady's complexion! Let me fetch a parasol for you...
>roll 1d6

>try to free your arm, and push Lady Blanche aside in order to join Millicent and Herman's conversation:
>roll 1d6
>reply to Herman: the rampant misogyny of this place is unbearable! Did you know that Le Cenacle, the private members club, does not even admit entrance to women? Come to think of it, I do not believe Witenagemot House even permits any female political representatives either! That is probably why women are being murdered in the streets and nothing is being done about it...
>Ask Herman: er... Her-man, Herman... why are the militant suffragists, er, you know, for women's votes and things, why are they led by a man, ie, er you? Her-man? Shouldn't a woman be in charge?
>Gaze longingly into Millicent's disillusioned eyes and suggest what you think the Water Banquet is for...? (write-in)

>Something else...?
>>
>>5702327
>write in some explanation why you are not married. This had better be convincing...
>- I have travelled far due to both work and personal interest. The distant sands of Al-Ghurab, the vast forests of the New World and even the continental lands of the Old Powers are not unknown to me. Between these travels, there simply was not enough time for dalliances of any sort. Now, however, when I have returned to the City at last...
I'm just bullshitting here, idk if the Old Powers or Al-Ghurab still exist even and whether we really travelled. It'd be cool if we did.
>>
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>>5702903
>I have travelled far... to the distant sands...
>>
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I have seen the silt ocean in which no oar has ever been dipped.
>>
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I have seen the slow breath of dunes, the smouldering mountains beneath the sun's anvil and the gully of burning dust.
>>
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Where the cliffs lift wandering souls to the terror of heights by the wind-parched ache and the brittle clatter of broken stones...
>>
At first, you see the birds; winged harbingers before the crawling parched avalanche, the blizzard of sand that heralds the moving mountain.
>>
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The advancing juggernaut is adorned with domes and protruding spires, bulbous masts that occlude the sun in the hot sand flung like smoke in its path.
>>
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Algorismus

All the sounds of the desert, the voice of the wilderness itself, have been crushed from the air before its colossal, grinding tread. The churning and shattering of rock, the pulverising resonance, reverberates and shakes your very bones.
>>
There is only the relentless shuddering and crushing tremor of its advance - this great leviathan that devours the ruins of empires.
>>
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Siege Cannon (Ordnance BL 9.2inch Howitzer)
Mk I
130kg Shell / 18kg Trotyl HE
Carriage traversing 30 degrees left and right, typically mounted on a platform holdfast sunk to the ground. Barrel supported upon a tubular cradle pivoted by trunnions, with a hydro-pneumatic floating piston recoil system. High elevation requires shorter recoil to prevent the breech from rebounding into the platform; full recoil is permitted at lower / near horizontal elevation.
>>
From your observation point, you can see several targets presented by the advancing leviathan, the devouring mechanised juggernaut-city, Algorismus:
>>
The main hull of the juggernaut is a crenellated nest of armour plating, girders, lattices and cages of steel. You think it would be very difficult to miss, but would your artillery barrage even have any effect?
>>
Along the sides of this monstrous, gargantuan structure, you can see a large wheel-shaped orifice, with the appearance of a whirling propeller, perhaps ventilation or a cooling intake or inflow of some sort. Perhaps a direct hit could overheat the advancing juggernaut, offering an opportunity to board and enter it?
>>
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You could also attempt to target the treads, the churning wheels and rollers of this infernal engine. They are somewhat difficult to observe directly, given the grinding wall of debris thrown upwards by their path, but you believe you are unlikely to miss should you select these as your target.
>>
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Finally, you can see very small compartments overhanging the monstrous machine city - perhaps one of them could be a piloting or observation deck similar to your own. A direct hit might spread panic and chaos amongst the crew - maybe even bring the leviathan to a dead stop (eventually, after its momentum finally succumbs...) but it would require a very lucky shot indeed...
>>
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>roll 1d100

>Target the main hull
>Target the inflow/ventilation
>Target the treads/traction wheels
>Target the piloting deck

>Something else?
>>
Rolled 15 (1d100)

>>5703156
>>Target the inflow/ventilation
It works in the movies
>>
Rolled 35 (1d100)

>>5703156
>Target the inflow/ventilation
>>
Ialle Ergusen, The Demented Prophet
(he stands beside you, as you crank and pivot the cannons...)
-More blood has dried in this desert than you, your ancestors or the shadows of men have ever even known. Many men have I killed with mine own hands; I carry great wounds and uncountable scars. It is said that the one who brings victory in battle shall be revered beyond all others. Victory, plunder and conquest! That is what is desired above all things! The old wizard Morgenthau of Khimaire called it Animus Dominandi. Your Odalisque is just a slave. A slave! A concubine, a subjugated captive, the spoils of some pillaging raid. Yet even a slave can be sly, conniving, treacherous; is it not said that a slave is as emperor over their own doings, whenever their master looks askance? Men think they are free when they follow her... but to follow the Temptress is to perish in the blind embrace of one's own demise. The Odalisque - she is the weakness that enslaves men to worldly lust, to the Cult Of Liberty... Just as we were betrayed time and time again before. She shall never be the Maiden Messiah!
>>5691381
>>5691382
>>5691384
>>5691385
>>
>>5702903
Now you ask me of Al-Ghurab - does this land even exist? Many years ago, there was a man who came to this land; a man who brought rebellion, battle and betrayal. They called this man al-Aurens - I believe he may even have been a compatriot of your ancient land. Now al-Aurens may have been a catamite, or a traitor, or at least possessed of some predilections in that manner; nonetheless, his revolt was fought in these sands - and later, in the stars. Very few know of this! The visions of that battle in the barren desert were brought to the Stars themselves, the myth of wars in the Stars; a truly mysterious catasterism, for his myth was the making of the Empire of Eankke. An empire of the stars that always fought with the blood of others... Perhaps you have already met some of the forgotten stragglers, deserters and remnants of their past battles?
>>5684318
>>5684319
>>
>>5702903
QM: Since you did ask on some worldbuilding background, I got the name from this (Ghurab I believe is Arabic for raven or crow)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Ushsh_el-Ghurab
>Ushsh el-Ghurab is a hill located just north of Jericho in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank
>the local Arab legend that it was the summit of 'Ushsh el-Ghurab, rather than the nearby Mount of Temptation, where Jesus had been taken by the Devil to be offered dominion over all the kingdoms of the world.
QM: this also coincidentally happened
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2023/7/4/jenin-attack-live-10-killed-as-israeli-raid-enters-second-day
4 Jul 2023
Jenin attack live: Israel hits Gaza after 12 killed in Jenin raid

>>5703947
>it works in the movies
Yes, all of sci-fi from Star Wars, Dune (1965) and Spielberg Indiana Jones is based on Lawrence Of Arabia (1962). The entire four hours running time features almost no women whatsoever (there are some corpses of women and a nurse at the very end). You can watch this film to see Mexican Arab bedouin, and also actual Obi wan Kenobi man who is Syrian? or King of Iraq

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr5E54nCDg0
(This 5min youtube cut has most of the best scenes amd music)

https://www.jaysclassicmovieblog.com/post/97-lawrence-of-arabia-1962
https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/10-directors-influenced-by-david-lean/
>(George) Lucas claimed that Lawrence of Arabia was one of his favourite films ever made.

QM: the tale of the Raven Prince is indeed from the New World, adapted from this myth
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raven_Tales
And yes, the "land of the birds" may also be Twitter
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/thousands-users-report-problems-accessing-twitter-met-rate-limit-excee-rcna92188
July 1, 2023, 5:49 PM BST
>As thousands of Twitter users reported problems attempting to access the social media site Saturday, Elon Musk tweeted he is limiting the daily number of tweets users can read.
>>
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>Ask Ergusen: So Mortmain... MORTMAIN, like void main(){}... is he... some sort of... war algorithm? Some propaganda algorithm for city administration run amok? We are fighting some incarnation of a machine algorithm that endlessly hallucinates war??
(You think back to your first glimpse of the War Room...)
>>5683931
The druids are like environmentalism corrupted by war propaganda? But why does that (gesture at the gargantuan grinding juggernaut machine-city) need the Odalisque?
https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/mortmain

>Oh wait, I get it now..., the endless references to Tiktok, spells that are like googl maps, phone cameras and gifs / zoetropes; a clock with hands, AI-generated images with their hands fixed with inpainting, "Clock Tree", Foundry, Mask Of Light etc... Mortmain wants some sort of semiconductor foundry? He is some sort of distributed machine consciousness? How did the pretty corsets and bonnets and the 19th century setting turn into the Spirit Of Motherwill battle from Armored Core?!? (Rage and seethe at QM)

>You should probably flee the massive crushing machine leviathan, Algorismus. There is no way you can destroy it... run away now

>Wait, I thought we were the Empire? Which Empire is fighting which Empire? In which war? Are we actually the vassals and slaves? Try and explain to the advancing machine leviathan, you are actually on their side...?

>Ask Ergusen: er... is the lost empire Khimaire, like khimaira, chimera... Chimerica? Ialle Ergusen, the insane "moneyer-sorceror", are you like... Niall Ferguson? (QM unleashes horrifying vampire sorcery)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimerica
>>5684318
>Chimerica is a neologism and portmanteau coined by Niall Ferguson describing the symbiotic relationship between China and the United States, with incidental reference to the legendary chimera.
https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=36970
>The End of Chimerica
For the better part of the past decade, the world economy has been dominated by a world economic order that combined Chinese export-led development with US over-consumption. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 likely marks the beginning of the end of the Chimerican relationship.

>Well this exposition is very interesting, very timely... just as you and your artillery are about to be mangled and pulverised by the grinding crushing juggernaut machine-city. Shout a defiant war-cry as you fire all the cannons (QM: you may write in a battle-cry)

>Something else...?
Clearly, the Herculean feats of these posts
>>5702161
>>5702163
>>5702164
>>5702166
drove the QM insane

QM: you will see the result of these targeting rolls
>>5703947
>>5704014
after you make this choice...
>>
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QM: alright anons, I have decided this battle is too difficult to describe without extensive use of visual aids. So I have gotten out my virtual tabletop software that I experimented with during my previous DUNGEONEER quest, and here is the battlemap situation... (see posts below)

Note to new players - remember there is a divination rite / spell that you have, Tree Of Thoughts / The Hollow Tree / Through A Red Forest. If you nominate and sacrifice an item in your possession, which will be permanently lost, you can see the hidden probability of EVERY ROLL, every random table outcome during a battle / decision beforehand! See the rules here
>>5684557
>>5694541

Amazingly, the probabilities this time were (roll under)
85% hit main hull
65% hit traction / treads
35% hit ventilation / air inflow
15% hit piloting compartment / observation deck

So this time, somehow your rolls both succeeded! Two dead-on direct hits from your artillery barrage!
What occurs is the massive machine juggernaut begins smoking and burning profusely, but it does not stop - the speed of its grinding crushing advance slows to the strained and fatigued pace of an oxen crawl. You can now distinctly discern the shape and massive hulking form of it, as it is no longer shrouded by the blizzard / sandstorm whirlwind wall of dust that previously obscured its advance.

You can also see that the propeller intake entrance has been blasted apart, providing a clear breaching / assault entrance.
>>
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There are what appears to be several figures dismounting from the side of the monstrous iron juggernaut, running alongside the colossal machine, as they race ahead of it and appear to prepare and reinforce an emplacement along its path whilst others attempt to assess and repair the damage your artillery inflicted. None of these figures have yet spotted your position, but they are looking and searching intently...

So you have a few opportunities:
>>
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QM: here is the battlemap

Well, this is now the time to lead an insane suicidal cavalry charge. The demented prophet Ialle Ergusen recommends this course of action, because he is insane.
>You should draw some cavalry sabre, shout Yalla! Yalla! and charge insanely towards the breached air intake opening. Try and ride down and kill the forward emplacements of scouts before they can find you. What weapons are those scouts armed with? It is so hard to see... (QM: see the pic related battlemap. Note you cannot fire two-handed heavy weapons on horseback, such as the Fire Lance / flamethrower)
>check the ammunition in your Galand revolver. Is this real? Or is this another memory of the Dead Land? Another machine hallucination? Did this happen?

>This is really easy; they do not know where you are. Just sit by your artillery and fire again and again on their position. The leviathan machine is still advancing, but your overheat damage / artillery barrage has slowed it to a crawl now - in fact even a human could outrun it. How long does it take to reload your cannons again?
QM: you can try to fire again by rolling 1d100 for each barrage. You can actually roll as many times as you want, but you wonder if there is a consequence...?

>You need to fall back. Sooner or later the machine city Algorismus is going to arrive at your artillery and crush everything in its path. Does it actually have any guns? (QM: if only you had purchased some... long-range binoculars or observation device...) Abandon your cannons, fall back and disperse your formation

>Perhaps you can ride to the top of the gorge cliffs (QM: see the battlemap, let me know if you need it rotated) Dismount and then try to leap onto the leviathan from above? You think you will still have to contend with some of the scouting parties - but dismounted, you can fire heavy weapons. However, there is no cover by the cliffs - you will be exposed with the enemy on one side, and bare desert rock crags on the other.

>Something else...? (QM: for instance, you could command Ergusen to do something separately eg a diversion, request weapons - how many bullets do you have in your revolver again? Use an item, attempt an ancient rite, etc etc. Also if you need the battlemap zoomed in or rotated from a different angle or perspective, let me know)
>>
Cavalry Rifle (Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III)
? / 10
.303 Mk VII Ball / 7.7x56mmR
Long Range, Loud, Accurate, Reliable, Slow (Bolt Action), Slow Reload (5-round charger strip), Jam (rim lock on clip reload) Fast Reload (magazine trigger drop release), Cumbersome (CQB)
Adapted from Metford pattern rifle for black powder, the Mk III features a distinctive snub-nosed appearance at the front of the barrel, and requires care when reloading with 5-round stripper clips using rimmed ammunition cases near the receiver bridge with charger clip guides. It is possible to load only loose rounds, firing a single shot and then reloading, retaining the ammunition in the magazine as a reserve. It is also possible to release the entire magazine via a catch within the trigger guard, though this practice was discouraged.

QM: this rifle can be fired from horseback, but with some difficulty. There is a small risk that you will become unbalanced and fall from the saddle when doing so.

If you request this weapon,
>roll 1d10 for ammunition
>>
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Borchardt C-93
? / 8
7.62x25mm Borchardt
Concealable, Short Range, Loud, Fast Reload, Rapid Fire, High Recoil, Mobile
The first mass-produced semi-automatic pistol, featuring a toggle-lock mechanism that releases the empty cartridge from the chamber. The Borchardt pistol can be affixed with a specially adapted wooden shoulder stock / combined holster.

If you choose this
>roll 1d8 for ammunition
>>
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QM: it is indeed very difficult to see what weapons the enemy scouts are carrying. (Zoom in pic related here >>5704606 ) Perhaps if you strain your eyes and squint very hard, you can just about discern some heavily shrouded apparatus, with a strange disc mounted on top, that resembles this pic related
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>5704130
>>5704131
So this is the power of Souvarine's quests...
>>5704606
Souvarine, my friend, my internet connection is shit due to rangebans etc. where I am right now, so I may not be able to play the quest too intensively in the coming week and a half. I hope other players will pick up the mantle if I'm absent.
While I'm here,
>check the ammunition in your Galand revolver. Is this real? Or is this another memory of the Dead Land? Another machine hallucination? Did this happen?
>Invoke rite: Cadastre of the Inner Eye into the inside of the Algorismus
>This weapon please: >>5704628
Preparation before making any hard decisions is key.
>>
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>>5705030
>Rolled 6 (1d10)
You possess:
SMLE Mk III Rifle, 6/10

(QM: no worries! I hope everything settles down for you and your internet connection inproves soon!)
>>
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As you invoke the rite, the Ancient Promise Cadastre Of The Inner Eye, trying to conjure the interior of the Algorismus in your mind, your concentration is distracted by the shrieking of the Demented Prophet Ergusen:
-NO! No...! Do not invoke the rites! You are not anchored to the land...!
>>
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His panic appears entirely unhinged, for you do not notice anything untoward or unusual at all. In the distance, you can see the scouting party of the Brotherhood Of Eankke; they appear to be deploying some form of mitrailleuse upon a tripod emplacement -
>>
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Lewis Gun (M1917 Mk VI Mod 1)
47 or 97 round pan magazine
.30-06 Springfield
Loud, Long Range, Heavy, Bulky, Devastating, Suppression (Rapid Fire), Fearsome (Panic / Morale Break), Overheat

Gas-operated machine gun with tripod and distinctive barrel shroud, drawing cooling air from muzzle to breach along a radially-finned bottle-necked cylindrical heatsink. The Lewis prototype is the first machine gun to be mounted and fired from an airplane; mounted upon a Scarff ring, and loaded with pyrophoric phosphorous ammunition to ignite upon contact with a target fuselage or the surface of a barrage balloon.
>>
You are puzzled at why your invocation of the Cadastral Rite appears to have failed. As you reach to check your Galand revolver - snapping open the drum cylinder, you see 2/6 rounds remaining. What does this mean? Does the rite have no effect, when cast within the Dead Land? Does the rite require something more?
>>5689257

>>5694426
You think back to the murder you witnessed at the turnpike, how the victim's corpse was laid upon an intersection of streets that led from the Clock Tower, The Hecatomb monument, and the Foundry. Perhaps the rite requires some sacrifice or anchoring to landmarks? Is this what Ergusen was blabbering and ranting on about? Maybe the Cadastre Of The Inner Eye draws upon the patterns and contours, the paths carved upon the City itself?

You are on the verge of turning towards the Demented Prophet Ergusen for an explanation, when with a jolt you are seized by grasping hands... to your horror, the hands appear to be emanating from your own chest...
>>
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Streynsham MORTMAIN
-THIisS PoOWERR...IS NNOT FORRr YOUU...
-YOuU wWILL NEVErR POSSEsS IT...

You cannot but scream in agony, as the scarred hands... the squirming, writhing eviscerations of fiendish hands, appear to be tearing open the ribs of your own chest, clawing at your innards and raking your own flesh... are these your own hands? In a frenzied, maddening spasm of anguish, you feel yourself pitched forward into a chasm of disfigured horrors...
>>
You are WOUNDED
-Contusion / fracture (recovery requires a surgical kit)
-Heavy Bleeding
-Dazed
>>
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The rite has not entirely failed. You have been shunted forward - past the scout machine gun emplacement, but not into the inner heart of the Algorismus; instead, you have been hurled violently against the enormous breach of the ventilation intake (QM: where your direct artillery hits had previously made an entrance).

QM: this battlemap depicts what you see, near the huge ventilation breach mentioned earlier here. I will highlight a few details:

As you try to raise your bruised and battered form, coughing and retching in pain, you can see this entire ventilation chamber is shrouded with smoke - the smouldering impacts of your previous artillery hits.
>>
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To your dismay, you see that the Galand revolver has clattered away from your hand. It seems to have landed near the reach of some deformed wretch or Drudge, who has been tasked with inspecting and repairing the damage to this area. This Drudge carries a heavy industrial implement reminiscent of the Trench Axe
>>5684327
and he has not yet noticed you, though he is moving near to where your revolver has fallen.
>>
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On the far edge of the circular ventilation walkway, you can see an individual wearing an iron mask, not too dissimilar to the previous Chain Mask >>5684329 you retrieved from the Trench. You think this individual is an Engineer, and his attention is currently engrossed in some damage repairs on the other side far away from you. The Engineer is carrying a Borchardt pistol >>5704629 He is flanked either side by two more assistant Drudges, who also carry implements similar to the Trench Axe.
>>
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Further along the circular walkway, you can see a mysterious individual wearing a white gas mask. From the silhouette you perceive this individual may be a female. She is accompanied by a nurse or medical assistant of some sort. Neither of these individuals appear armed, but as they are further away you cannot be sure. Perhaps they are medical staff who rushed to the area after the artillery impacts? The pair of them appear to just be surveying the area, remaining idle. They have not detected your presence - but the woman in the white gas mask seems to be suspiciously glancing in your general direction.

QM: So you have a lot of options. Please write in what you would like to do. Here are a few ideas:
>>
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You need to retrieve the Galand Revolver at all costs - you have a certain unpleasant premonition that its strange property of ammunition is the only means for you to distinguish whether you are in the City or the Dead Land. If you lose it, will you no longer be able to distinguish between what is real or not, forever stranding you within the horror of Algorismus and the machine hallucination?
>Shoot the Drudge directly ahead of you dead with the Lee-Enfield Rifle.
>Retrieve the Galand Revolver
>roll 1d6
>>
The Engineer is the most important target. You have a feeling he may be able to quickly rectify the artillery damage you inflicted, returning the advance of the devouring machine juggernaut city to full speed. He is also the opponent who is most visibly armed with a Borchardt pistol, hence the highest priority. You should kill him and his two underling Drudges now.
>Shoot the Engineer with the Lee-Enfield rifle
>roll 1d6

>Fire the Flamethrower at the Engineer and the Drudges
>roll 1d100
>>
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The unnatural crawling sensation of gooseflesh pimples your skin as the glance of that strange White Gas Mask woman passes over your direction. Is she actually a chirurgeon or some medical support? Or something else entirely? She needs to die. And you need to loot her corpse for some recovery items quickly...
>Shoot the mysterious White Gas Mask Woman
>roll 1d6

Try to scavenge for healing items
>roll1d6

QM: you can roll both of these together if you choose this option, but the second d6 only applies if the first succeeds
>>
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The Demented Prophet Ergusen is about to order an insane cavalry charge! (QM: if you look outside the breached ventilation inflow entry, you see this >>5705534 ) All of the horsemen will be machine-gunned down! You need to provide a distraction... preserving the artillery outside is your best chance of destroying Algorismus. You should kill one of their machine-gunners from your unseen sniping vantage from within...

>Shoot one of the machine gunner scout emplacements outside
>roll 1d6

>Incinerate the entire machine gun emplacement with the flamethrower
>roll 1d100

QM: you can write in some other plan of action, use an item or a rite, or specify other plans of action or ideas.

>Choose from the options above, or
>Write-in your own plan
>>
Rolled 55 (1d100)

>>5705586
>Inject a tincture of opiates to alleviate the pain
>Incinerate the entire machine gun emplacement with the flamethrower
If our allies breach the Algorismus, everything will be alright.
>>
As a tide of blissful numbness floods through your pain-wracked body, you wonder a little if there is more than a tincture of some other concotion within this sinister needle.
>>
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The desert wilderness once marked the ancient route of incense and silk, the exotic trade in Black Myrrh and Red Lotus; shagreen, the pearled rayskin of sharks bound upon the hilts of cruel curved daggers; the perfumed attar of roses, bejewelled peacock feathers, hornbill ivory from jungled isles, ambergris and blue beads of lazulum flecked with gold...
>>
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It is instead the scent of seared flesh that you perceive, for almost of its own volition, the wand of the Fire Lance has leapt to your hand, which does not tremble even at the blistering backblast of the fuel-scorched inferno, as you spray burning gouts of molten woe upon the machine-gun emplacement outside the ventilation breach - their abject destruction before the maw of the furnace, the burning wrath of the tempest is terrible to behold. You are not sure if it is the numbness of the narcotics, but you remain unmoved at the sight of the flailing and disintegrating charred figures, soon little more than drifting soot and ashes, a distant echo of shrieks and wailing forgotten by the wind. They seem very distant, very far away.
>>
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(QM: here is the battlemap scene outside, the desert plain across from the breach)

QM: the scout machine gun emplacement is utterly incinerated and destroyed. The path is cleared for the horsemen and further artillery barrages - although as you were vaulted far ahead by sorcerous rite, you believe it may take some time before your reinforcements arrive at the breach, even as the cavalry charges desperately to reach you across the barren desert plain. Please note that your roll of 55 represents your remaining fuel threshold - the next time you use the Fire Lance, you must roll strictly under this threshold, or else the flamethrower will be depleted after use.

Fire Lance - Fuel Remaining
55 %
>>
Rolled 2, 2 = 4 (2d6)

QM: here is a morale break roll for the Engineer, at the terrifying sight of the immolating conflagration you have unleashed. Unfortunately, there is no hiding after using the flamethrower - you may have lost any element of ambush or surprise...

1 Unfortunately, The Engineer is unfazed by your demonstration of the incendiary powers of ancient warfare. He draws his Borchardt Pistol and fires a three-round burst at you...

2 The Engineer draws his pistol, and fires a single shot... but he is severely shaken, fearful at the sight of your imposing figure silhouetted by swathes of fire. His aim is poor.

3-5 The Engineer flees in horror and panic outside the breach - straight into a volley of bolt-action rifle fire, from the horsemen cavalry charge across the desert. His corpse falls beside the charred-bone heaps of the machine-gun nest

6 (As above, but also) Just before he flees, The Engineer fires a panicked shot into your general vicinity; somehow, the poorly-aimed mishap of a gunshot ricochets directly into the skull of the Trench Axe wielding Drudge before you

QM: this second d6 only on a roll of 1-2 above, ie the Borchardt fires (fortunately, his aim, angle and range all not good)

1-2 hit
3-6 miss
>>
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>>5706111
You are MORTALLY WOUNDED
-Gunshot wound
-Contusion / fracture (recovery requires a surgical kit)
-Heavy Bleeding
-Dying (negated by trait HARDENED)

The numbness of the combat drugs appears to have prevented you from losing consciousness. You must find a means of recuperation quickly, before you lose all strength to continue...
>>
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QM: Here is the battlemap of the ventilation breach interior. You notice to your dismay that the axe-wielding Drudges appear somehow too stupid to be affected by morale, or the threat of fire and incineration presented by your flamethrower. The Drudge that had been nearest to your fallen revolver leaps past it, brandishing his Trench Axe menacingly as he approaches you. The two Drudges by the Engineer grunt and snarl murderously as they shamble along the circular walkway. The Engineer braces and readies to fire his pistol again... You see also that the mysterious white gas-masked woman, The Chirurgeon, and her accompanying nurse assistant both seem to be fleeing towards the walkway exit. The Chirurgeon seems to be gesturing at the nurse, as if commanding her to signal or gather reinforcements.

>fire the Lee-Enfield rifle
>roll 1d6

>fire the flamethrower
>roll 1d100

at the...

>Trench Axe Drudge immediately ahead of you
>The Engineer, and his two Drudges
>The Chirurgeon and Nurse

>You need to flee this area. Try and grab one of the dangling chains along the ventilation breach, swing across and find somewhere to hide and recover...
>roll 1d6 to swing across the walkway and flee

>It would be really convenient if an artillery barrage struck right now... so long as it does not directly hit you
>roll 1d100

>Something else...? Write in your plan of action
>>
Rolled 3, 1, 4, 4, 5, 1, 6, 4 = 28 (8d6)

I forgot to comment on one thing.
>>5705548
HOLY FUCK Streynsham Mortmain makes his sudden appearance. Did we devour him and his powers sometime in the past? Is that how we obtained the various rites? Is he the guardian spirit of the Algorismus? Was he enslaved by the sorceror-king to serve as the engine?
>>5706092
>>5706136
>>5706140
So we are drugged and dying. From what I see, there are two options: we escape and possibly die very quickly due to no medical supplies or we fight for medical supplies from the chirurgeon and possibly die very quickly due to combat. I choose warrior's death.
>Shoot Lee-Enfield rifle 2 times at the Drudge approaching us, 2 times at the Engineer and 1 time at the Chirurgeon
Take out the immediate threats first, then get the supplies. 2 shots just to be sure. iirc the clip has 5 bullets.
>Run to the Galand revolver to pick it up
>If the 2 shots didn't take out the Drudge, kill him with our Trench Mace
Secure our next weapon and reality check.
>Take out the Toy Bird and roll it, saying: "Hunt for me, Horned Crow, attack them!" while pointing at the remaining Drudges
Finally, test my schizo theory.
I'll just roll a lot of dice for all possible checks.
>>
>2 crit fails and no crit successes
fugg :DDD
>>
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>>5706394
>>5688626
Crowkeeper's Calling
The fatal shadow flitting above over prey; it is injurious to incur the slander of birds, for a bird loosed from the tongue is better than a beast leashed at hand.

Summons a screeching cacophonous gathering of pecking beaks, hooked talons and beady eyes amidst an opponent.
...
JULIET:
'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone:
And yet no further than a wanton's bird;
Who lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

ROMEO:
I would I were thy bird.

JULIET:
Sweet, so would I:
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.

QM: this permanently destroys the item, Toy Bird
>>5686359
>>
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>>5706394
>Rolled 3, 1, 4, 4, 5, 1, 6, 4
QM: ok, a whirlwind of attacks here! I will actually take them in this order:

You are right about the 5 round stripper clips for reloading, but you actually have 6/10 starting rounds in the Lee-Enfield magazine (SMLE Mk III), from this roll here.
>>5705030
>>5705531
So I will just exercise some author intervention auto action override, let you fire twice at the Chirurgeon (see below)
>>
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First, you invoke the rite: Crowkeeper's Calling (as above). This just instantly happens with a thought - a screeching mass of feathers and talons just explodes between the two Drudges on the side of the walkway - both of them become considerably distressed.
>>
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>3,1,4...
SMLE ammunition 6/10
The first two SMLE rifle shots at the axe-wielding Drudge next to you miss utterly; I think it is because the lengthy rifle is a bit cumbersome at close quarters, and as the Drudge flails his arms wildly like an axe-edged maniac windmill, you bring up your own Trench Mace to counterattack (QM: out of necessity, I move your melee attack to the sequence order here). This blow (rolled 4) knocks him down and incapacitates him. You manage to retrieve your Galand revolver.
SMLE ammunition 4/10...
>>
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>4,5...
These two aimed and ranged shots at the Engineer (who is at a slightly further distance) strike him in the upper chest and you see the exit wounds blossoming into splatters of blood against the iron walls of this chamber behind him. Your gunshots echo ominously reverberating throughout the entire breached ventilation inflow chamber; you have a feeling that in addition to the pain of your wounds once the effects of the needle tincture wears off, you will soon be hearing nothing other than ringing gunshots in your burst eardrums. The Engineer falls dead and his Borchardt pistol clatters to the ground.
SMLE ammunition 2/10...
>>
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>1,6...
QM: Here I intervene and just let you fire twice at the Chirurgeon, fully emptying the SMLE magazine
The first shot (rolled 1 lol) misses the Chirurgeon, and actually strikes The Nurse, who screams and collapses - you watch with some dismay as the medical supplies she appears to be carrying plummet alongside her shrieking body into the chasm of the ventilation shaft. The second is a headshot that ruptures the white gas mask of the Chirurgeon; she staggers and slumps with a clang against the chamber walls, leaving a long trail of cranial matter and blood smeared against the metal.
SMLE ammunition: EMPTY
>>
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>4...
This roll is then a scavenging roll against this table:

1 It is pretty grim. All the medical supplies were carried by her nurse assistant, whose corpse has probably been shredded as it fell down the ventilation shaft; the Chirurgeon herself carries nothing

2 You find bandages. They reduce Heavy Bleeding to Bleeding, but are not much help otherwise
>>5692246

3 You find more combat drugs. At least you will die cheerfully, feeling very little other than a bewildered and benumbed sense of elation
>>5692247

4 You find a Field Surgical Kit. It is enough to reduce your status from MORTALLY WOUNDED / DYING to SEVERE WOUND. You need to find more healing to survive...

5 You find a Doctor's Bag - enough to fully replenish your health!
>>5692248

6 You find all of the above items
>>
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QM: I think with the Engineer, the Nurse and Chirurgeon both dead, and their fellow Drudge incapacitated by blunt trauma delivered from your Trench Mace blow, recognition and understanding will finally dawn upon the two unwitting and brutish remaining Drudges, who will flee this area as they are chased by the screeching crows from your summoned invocation (I do not think your command of magic is strong enough to kill them outright though); the Drudges will seek to raise the alarm and call for reinforcements.

Also, I will let your friendly crow swarm carry you across the chasm of the ventilation shaft, so that you can collect the healing item directly.

Your current condition:
(after use of Field Surgical Kit)
-SEVERE WOUNDS
-Contusion
-Gunshot Wound
-Bleeding (from Heavy Bleeding)
+HARDENED (ignore pain / incapacitation, from Needle Tincture)

So your weapons condition is as follows:
You possess
Trench Mace >>5686358
Trench Axe >>5684327
Galand Revolver (ammunition 2/6 currently) >>5683351
SMLE rifle EMPTY >>5704628
Fire Lance: fuel threshold 55 % >>5695549

Pocket-Book >>5682944
Instantograph Camera >>5683350
(with magnesium flash powder)
Matchbox (2 matches used, from flamethrower ignition) >>5684334
>>5695452
Gas Mask >>5686071
Magnifying Glass >>5684337
Trench Whistle >>5684343
War Atrocity Photograph >>5686357
Silver Constabulary Badge >>5687726
Small Sewing Kit >>5694592
Bandages >>5692246

(QM: hopefully I have not missed anything from the inventory...!)

QM: Whilst I prepare the next area maps and miniatures - You have an opportunity now to make any other preparations, use items, cast rites etc. You can also attempt to perform some scavenging rolls (for simplicity, this time just roll 1d6).

optional:
>Roll 1d6 to scavenge for items
>Shoot the two fleeing Drudges in the back as they are pursued by your vengeful cawing birds - no roll, they will just both be killed, but it will deplete the two remaining bullets in your Galand revolver. Perhaps it is worth it, if it prevents them from alerting any alarms or reinforcements?
>write-in any additional preparations / actions before moving into the area ahead
>>
>>5706542
That turned out much better than I expected! So my crow toy guess was correct. Good thing I read through the quest once more, wouldn't have figured it out otherwise.
As good as sneaking that item in may be, I think we used the Trench Whistle for the Hollow Tree rite (when we were teleported to the Horse and the Centaur)
>Loot the Engineer's corpse
>Check where our cavalry is
>Use the Sewing Kit and Bandages to stitch the gunshot wound and stop bleeding completely
We just have to await our allies...
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>5706625
Forgot the scavenging roll.
>>
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>>5706625
>>5706627
>Use the Sewing Kit and Bandages
QM: this completely cures Bleeding, unfortunately you remain Wounded - one more Field Surgical Kit outright cures this. I also forgot one trait: you also have status Deafened, from firing the insanely loud bolt-action rifle in this echoing metal vent chamber. So your health condition overall is:

You have lost: Bandages, Sewing Kit

-SEVERE WOUNDS
-Contusion
-Gunshot Wound
-Deafened (gunfire); voices indistinct. You think this recovers after a while, on its own
+HARDENED (ignore pain / incapacitation, from Needle Tincture)

QM: Thank you, honest and kind anon for pointing out my mistake! You are completely correct, I overlooked the use of the Trench Whistle in the rite here >>5695317 so the item was of course destroyed afterwards. Your honesty is rewarded with the following items...
>>5706627
>Rolled 2 (1d6)

(... which is basically the worst possible loot roll, as you find nothing on a roll of 1...)

Firstly, you can of course retrieve the Engineer's Borchardt pistol >>5704629 (please roll 1d8 - 1 if you choose this item; hopefully it still has some ammunition left in it...)

The Engineer also carries the Rückentrage, the Cable Spool / Wire Reel identical to this item >>5684328

Finally, the Engineer possesses a bundle of keys (QM: more on this later...)

You also discover the following random items:
>>
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Barbed Wire Coil
A disturbing loop of iron thorns twisted into the shape of a crown. It could be used for a variety of purposes; as a garrotte, as restraints or a climbing aid... but care must be taken to avoid cutting oneself. Wire obstacles and entanglements are designed to slow an enemy channelling them towards killing zones as easy targets for machine gun enfilades and artillery fire. A common deployment of barbed wire is in conjunction with the screw picket, an anchor spike twisted into the ground with the long handle of an entrenching tool, which does not necessitate hammering or use of heavy stakes, thereby enabling rapid and silent installation.
>>
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Portable Gramophone (Decca / Barnett Samuel & Sons 1914)
Hornless portable trench gramophone in leatherette carrying case. Sound travels along the tone-arm and is reflected and amplified by the concave silver sound resonator within the lid. Separate winding handle inserted into side of case. Often used for training, drills to instill patriotism amongst recruits, as well as entertainment and solace in the trenches. The needle tracking an empty groove at the end of a music recording often invokes the nostalgia of time lost forever.
>>
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Inspecting the Bundle Of Keys from the Engineer, you see that one key unlocks access to some form of maintenance shaft beneath the ventilation chamber - except this iron corridor is massively immense; you could easily fit a dozen carriages side-by-side along its width.

You can see in this lower metal passage a large gathering of soldiers, that seem split into two camps. Though your ears are still ringing from the loud gunbattle in the vent chamber, preventing you from discerning exactly what the armed men are saying, you perceive from their gestures that the commanders of the two brigades appear to be locked in fierce argument.
>>
On the left, the mounted Cavalry Captain seems to be gesturing upwards - to where you fought within the breached vent chamber; he seems to be urging the Tank Captain and his squadron to investigate. Perhaps he heard the reverberations from the discharge of your bolt-action rifle massacre?
(QM: the attire of the mounted rider is similar to the appearance of Atakam, the mounted Trench Raider commander)
>>5683936
>>5684319
>>
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On the right, the Tank Commander is furiously gesturing at the Mounted Cavalry commander to move aside; he wants him to charge out and confront the swiftly approaching horsemen (QM: your rapidly approaching desert horse riders, converging upon this entrance. You observe that this Tank Commander appears heavily armoured - he is adorned in some form of Sappenpanzer, a jointed abdominal plate cuirass and visored helm)
>>
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At the far side, you can see some red circular valve gate switch, which appears to open an exit to this massive iron corridor, permitting access to the desert exterior (QM: battlemap here >>5706106 )
>>
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Directly above you in the breached vent chamber, the circular overhead walkway continues upwards. In contrast to the scenes of argument and massed ranks of soldiers below, this walkway is completely deserted; it appears utterly empty. Convection and the impact of your artillery strikes has filled this upward funnel column with dense, choking smoke vapour - it is hard to see what lies upwards and beyond. As you strain upwards, you can hear a deep resonant chime - akin to the tolling of an immense bell. You also hear cranking and clanking sounds, like the meshing teeth of gears, rack and pinion, but you cannot discern precisely the direction of these noises - they seem to oscillate and shudder in tremors vibrating throughout the immensity of this gargantuan machine juggernaut.

QM: write in which items you would like to take, and what your plan of action is for the chosen path. Here are some ideas:

>If you can somehow stealth your way towards the Red Gate Valve, you can open a path and entrance for your reinforcements, the desert riders, straight into the Algorismus. Is there some way for you to distract or provoke the arguing Cavalry and Tank Captains? But you have a feeling that if your plan goes awry, you will be confronted with overwhelming firepower and devastation...

>You should ignore the maintenance corridor below. You are still Wounded and there are far too many soldiers below to risk a fight. Investigate the smoke-shrouded Upper Vent Chamber Walkway instead

>(High risk) You can still feel the residual, lingering power of your invocation, Crowkeeper's Calling. The birds lifted you across the vent chasm - could they not lift you up vertically, all the way up to the vertiginous top of this entire funnel? Try to command the lingering swarm of birds to aid you in bypassing the smoke and choking vapours of the Upper Vent Chamber Walkway
>roll 1d6

>Something else? Write-in some other plan or course of action
>>
Rolled 5 - 1 (1d8 - 1)

>>5706959
>>5706962
>>5706963
>>5706988
>Take everything
>If possible without cutting ourselves, put the crown of thorns on our head for intimidation
>If not, wrap it around the Ruckentrage
>You should ignore the maintenance corridor below. You are still Wounded and there are far too many soldiers below to risk a fight. Investigate the smoke-shrouded Upper Vent Chamber Walkway instead
Rolling for Borchardt ammunition.
>>
>>5707486
Also I thought the breach would allow for our allies to get inside the Algorismus, but I guess we need to open an entrance, after all.
>>
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>>5707486
>Rolled 5 - 1 (1d8 - 1)

You possess:
Borchardt C-93
4/8 rounds remain
7.62x25mm Borchardt
>>
You possess:
Rückentrage (Cable Reel And Drum)
- Barbed Wire Coil

QM: the effect of this item essentially gives you (within reason) near infinite, or, well, A LOT of Barbed Wire.

You may wear the Barbed Wire as a hat, it is scary
>>5684319
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>>5707487
>Also I thought the breach would allow for our allies to get inside...

QM: I will allow you to make a roll below to decide this. The way I originally imagined it is that the vent is not directly accessible from the ground (vaguely imagining it like the pic related here >>5703146 , so not accessible to horses!) Whereas the Algorismus deploys tanks and cavalry and ground reinforcements from various ramped passages similar to >>5706964.

However, I will let you make a 1d6 roll to decide this:
>>
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1-2 The Asabiyyah, your desert riders, draw to a halt at the other side of the reinforced ramp gate. They crane their necks up in confusion at the imponderable and intimidating height of the ventilation breach, perplexed at how you managed to scale it so quickly. (QM: unfortunately, they cannot work it out; they have no idea how you managed to get in. No allies join you)

3-4 After a heartstopping, terrifying climb, a single fearless ally from the desert raiders has managed to reach the point where you originally entered - flung via sorcerous rite within the Algorismus. Your ally is armed with a Webley revolver 6/6

5 A single ally arrives, armed with a Lee-Enfield rifle 10/10

6 Two allies arrive. Between them, they are carrying a handily looted piece of equipment, which they have somehow managed to bundle up the breach in the vent chamber: a Lewis Machinegun, 97/97, on a tripod
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QM: Pic related is the battlemap for this section.

Since your loot roll was rather unfortunate, I will also give you the opportunity to scavenge around on the upper vent chamber walkway.

The convection currents here have filled the long, narrow and curving metal steps with swirling and choking vapour - you do not think this gas and mist is actually toxic, but it will make you cough a lot and sting your eyes a little.

You could put on your Gas Mask, but this will perhaps constrict your visibility even further...

(optional)
>roll 1d6 to try to summon an ally, one of the dismounted Asabiyyah desert riders
(Table here >>5707731 )

>roll 1d6 to try to scavenge for items whilst you wait for your allies to make the climb

>equip gas mask
-2 perception (reduced field of view from gas mask eyepieces, condensation)
0 stealth, prevents coughing

>do not equip gas mask
-1 perception (eye-stinging discomforting environmental vapours)
-1 stealth; intermittent coughing

>Do not loot this area. Run through it as quickly as possible.

>Something else? Write in
>>
>>5707724
I see, I was confused by this post >>5703146, I thought the opportunity to board it would be through the hole in the ventilation, but I realize now it implied merely stopping the Algorismus without offering a direct way in.
>>5707731
>>5707737
>scavenge
>do not equip gas mask
>>
Rolled 4, 6 = 10 (2d6)

>>5708424
Forgot rolls.
>>
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The whipcrack of a bullet - the blunt slap akin to a hammerblow crashing against a gong, but with the reverberations of the metal drumskin deadened by an unseen hand in the darkness, echoes receding into the murk and white vapour of this enormous iron vent chamber. An ambush! But from where?

(QM: your scavenging has been interrupted... examine the battlemap >>5707737 carefully! Sadly this rifle is not for you...)
>>
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Krag–Jørgensen (Springfield M1892)
.30-40 Army
5 + 1 rounds (magazine cutoff enables firing from loose rounds)

Long Range, Accurate, Two-Handed, Armour Piercing, Bolt Action, Magazine Cutoff, Cumbersome (CQB), Execution: Headshot

Unique smokeless rifle, common in the New World, with unusually complex magazine design, where the rounds are stacked in a horizontal row beneath the bolt. The weapon is loaded via a hinged side latch, enabling rounds to be dropped into the sideways opening of the magazine. A magazine cutoff enables these rounds to be held in reserve, preventing feeding of the rounds when the bolt is cycled, so that the wielder of the rifle can manually feed single loose rounds into the top of the rifle for aimed shots.
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Someone is shooting at you from afar...

There is silence.

Then you hear a confused shouting, echoing eerily through the hollow iron throat of this vast chamber. You think the same mist and vapour which impedes your vision also obstructs the raised ladder gunsights of your adversary... but is someone trying to shout at them to stop, to cease fire? Was it merely a warning shot?

>Run to the cover of the metal pipe along the circular walkway
Open fire into the mist and shadows with:

>Galand Revolver
>roll 2d6 per shot (2/6)

>Borchardt Pistol
>roll 1d6 per shot (4/8)

>Fire Lance / Flamethrower
>roll 1d100; roll strictly under 55 otherwise fuel depleted
Hopefully none of these vapours up here are flammable. This chamber is probably not a fractionating column. Nothing will ignite? Surely not??

Your visibility is extremely poor here in the vapour shrouded vent chamber. You need to assault through this ambush - if you hesitate, you die...
>Blind fire ALL your ammunition into the mist (dual wield both guns). You need to make as much noise as possible, suppress the hidden enemy...
>Shootdodge dive to cover, FIRE EVERYTHING, then run for the exit AS FAST AS POSSIBLE without looking back or stopping...
>roll 8d6 (FIRE EVERYTHING AND RUN)

>was there some hesitation, shouting? You think back to your Barbed Wire Coil (Worn As Hat). Has the unseen sniper(s?) perhaps spotted it through his sights, mistaken you temporarily as one of their own, the Eankke Brotherhood insane barbed wire cultist expeditionary force? Everyone on this Algorismus machine juggernaut does seem very fond of gas masks (QM: ahem, welcome to my magical realm)
>Don the Gas Mask, wave around the Barbed Wire: er... yes, praise... The Blessed Lamb, er... the Fallen Freedom, um... it is I, a fellow goat idol disciple of the Stars, er... look, I have a Barbed Wire Hat! I too enjoy disfigurement and self-mutilation! I am one of you! Don't shoot me!
If only you had thought up of a devious Gas Mask/Barbed Wire cultist disguise earlier, for the tank raiding / gate switch section. Oh well, too late now
>Attempt the above, take it even further (indignant ranting): You fool! I have been personally chosen by Lord Mortmain for a very important secret mission! Just imagine what the Lord High Intelligencer would do to you if you had just shot me right now! If you want to keep hold of the skin stretched over your faces, I demand to be escorted to His Exalted Secret Inner Sanctum AT ONCE!!
>QM: roll 1d6 if attempting the above

>Run to the cover of the metal pipe; hope and pray that your allies arrive soon... (QM: just wait)

>Something else...? You feel the concealed faraway bead of iron sights hovering over your choice...
>>
>>5708486
>Don the Gas Mask, wave around the Barbed Wire: er... yes, praise... The Blessed Lamb, er... the Fallen Freedom, um... it is I, a fellow goat idol disciple of the Stars, er... look, I have a Barbed Wire Hat! I too enjoy disfigurement and self-mutilation! I am one of you! Don't shoot me!
We'll kill them once we get close.
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>>5708542
Unbelievable as it may seem, but your hastily assembled and somewhat unconvincing Eankke cultist disguise appears to have miraculously worked - for now.

You can see there are two sharpshooters, nervously tracking your movements with long bolt-action Krag rifles in their hands >>5708482

To your left (and much further away) there is a Hooded Marksman, whose Krag-Jorgensen rifle has a mounted telescopic sight.

To your right, lying prone, there is a Masked Marksman, whose rifle possesses only vertical ladder sights mounted to the rear.

Both sharpshooters are positioned very far apart from each other, within sniper nests concealed above on a high parapet.

You think your Fire Lance - even considering the formidable reach and area-of-effect of the flamethrower - could only reach perhaps one of these marksmen at a time, perched as they are in their separate concealed and elevated positions.

QM: You have lost trait Deafened (gunbattle); the acuity of your hearing has recovered. Visibility overall however within the vent chamber remains very poor.
>>
The Hooded Marksman, farther away on the left with the scoped rifle, calls out a challenge (a little nervously, you feel - perhaps he is a mere novice, or acolyte of some sort?)
- You there! Halt! Step into the light! W-what are you... doing here? Are you with our Brotherhood? You seem - strangely attired, but only our brethren bear the mark of martyrdom, bequeathed by the Red Lord Of Ruin (QM: you think he is referring to your makeshift Barbed Wire hat). But I ask again: what are you doing here? Passage above this level is forbidden...
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The Masked Marksman, prone with the iron ladder sights, and closer to you, snarls in a menacing voice:
-Ask him what regiment he is from. Kill him if he answers wrong!

The Nervous Hooded Marksman stammers:
-Er... y-yes, of course, that is the way to tell - B-Brother, you, You over there! Yes, you, w-what regiment are you from? Answer now!

Across the parapet, the prone Masked Marksman cycles the bolt of his rifle menacingly.

>Write-in some regiment name? What sort of regiment name befits insane barbed wire obsessed ritual mutilation warmongering marauder fanatics?
>Er... Gorsedd? Was that the name?
>Er, Asabiyyah? Maybe that is the name?
>Er, Versipelles? Gorlagon? Versipelles-Gorlagon?
>The Phorcensis Circle?
>The Theosophists?
>Wait... has your cult been... mutilating and murdering women? I am placing you all under arrest! (Brandish Silver Constabulary Badge and Magnifying Glass)
>I am not a member myself, but could I interest you in joining a worthy philanthropic cause, the BITCH society?
>Er, Khosaef, um, Khosaef Bey I'doon? I serve him?
>(You played QM previous Golgotha quest) Lotan... with the Stranded Sons...
>Reply: I am one of negotiable honour. A mercenary. My regiment is whoever pays the highest for the killing.
>Reply: I am on a secret mission for Lord Mortmain! (etc etc) Stand aside now!
>Reply: I have been on numerous secret raids and have over 300 confirmed kills! I am trained in gorilla warfare and I am the top sniper in the entire expeditionary forces. You are nothing to me but just another target! I will wipe you out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before... (insert guerilla warfare meme)
>The Odalisque. I serve her.
>Something else?

>Reply smoothly: why, of course I can give you proof of my regiment. Here it is... (roll 8d6. Attempt to blast both of them down instantly by emptying both handguns in a dual-wielding barrage of fire. You think you need to fire everything for even any chance of succeeding. At this range, you think you have a slightly better chance to hit, but it is still difficult)

>As above, but use the Flamethrower. You need to roll 2d100 sweeping the Fire Lance across a very wide arc; the first MUST roll strictly lower than 55, and then the second needs to roll lower than the 1st result to retain any fuel

>Something else...? Where are those allies of yours? What has happened to them?? Look around nervously, try something to stall for time? (Write in)
>>
>>5708646
Didn't plan that far ahead.
>The Odalisque. I serve her.
Surely the QM put the right answer in somewhere! Perhaps the last...
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>>5709196
A heartstopping pause, for what seems like an eternity.

It occurs to you that perhaps the Brotherhood Of Eankke and their barbed wire mutilation ritual obsessed fanatics are perhaps... not the most welcoming to women. Still - what better occasion when stood before a sentry gate beneath the belligerent gaze of two bloodthirsty insane murderous gunmen - under what more opportune and befitting circumstances other than now, for the triumphant amnouncement of a gender reveal party?

Just after you boldly proclaim your announcement of allegiance to the Odalisque, the Temptress, She to whom all mortal desire and lust belongs, you suddenly experience a twinge of revelation... what was the name of that unpleasant incense / poison gas fanatic you encountered in the Dead Land previously? If only you could have remembered his regiment's name... >>5684319

You can feel the heartbeats slowing, the throbbing of blood within your veins and the rising seizure of panic and horror as you realise your fatal mistake...
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The Masked Marksman is under no such compulsion: immediately he snarls...
-He... it?! It...is an impostor! It must die! It MUST DIE, NOW! Kill it, KILL IT!!

The flare of a gun muzzle, bright and blinding; the roar and recoil of the rifle as it spits a hail of death across the killing distance towards its target; you raise your hands involuntarily in despair and fear, but it is too late...
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An instant later, you realise that the firing has not stopped. In fact, it seems inordinately loud - and just after your hearing had recovered too; you feel your eardrums really cannot endure such punishment... if only you could die now, and make the concussive pounding against your skull stop - But then, it does feel as if the source of it is emanating not from the two marksmen crouched within the sniper nests above, but rather from behind you -
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QM: you are very, very lucky! You have been saved from instant death by this roll
>>5708427
>Rolled 4, 6 (the second one, the 6 result)
which has summoned two mysterious allies from amongst the large cohort of Asabiyyah desert riders to your aid, and also granted you a Lewis Machinegun - intended to be deployed on a tripod as a squad weapon, crewed by two people.

Both of the snipers are blasted apart and ruthlessly mown down by a withering arc of machine gun fire - they are perforated with bullets and instantly killed.

You turn in shock, still trembling and shaking at your deliverance from death, to greet your blessed guardians; there is something familiar about several of them...
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>>5687593
Madame Khora Khuleiman Blackwood

The Asabiyyah appear to be led by a familiar (?) middle-aged woman, clad in the peculiar ornamental metal face covering of the battoulah, which almost gives her the deceptive appearance of wearing some form of warrior helm or visor. She appears to be giving orders to another, younger woman, wearing a green veil:
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Mariamne
...Who appears to have fired the timely machine gun burst that saved you from a fatal end. Mariamne appears to be carrying the heavy machine gun all on her own. A few other male Asabiyyah warriors adorned in colourful ghutrah headscarves and face coverings look on with restless unease in the background -
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There is one who is clad in a black headscarf, that barely even reveals the dark pits of his eyes. Something about his posture and movements, which appear imbued with a strangely affected rhythm and histrionic grace, seems familiar to you, but you cannot quite place it.

>Haughtily proclaim: this desert harem is extremely disappointing. (Gesture at Madame Blackwood) you are far too frumpy and old, probably already infertile, past childrearing age.

>Ask: what is the Theosophical Society doing here? Is this some sort of bizarre desert archaeological expedition?

>Thank Mariamne incoherently for saving your life: I... am so grateful... I really cannot express... I ...

>Stammer awkwardly in front of Mariamne: um... might I, er... take a photo of you? Unveiled, if possible? Not that I am imagining undressing you. I don't think the photo will steal your soul or anything, it is just a keepsake... of my rescuer. Not for ogling!

>Er... do any of you have any supplies? I think I am wounded. Ow, ouch, oh dear, it really hurts (glance at Mariamne hopefully)

>Gesture at sinister dark headscarf Asabiyyah man: You! Dark One! Who are you? Why are you... lurking around in such a furtive manner?

>Declare urgently: This area is not safe! There is an extremely heavily armed contingent of infantry, mounted riders, and even a tank below! Someone should secure the area!

>Declare patronisingly: I am not sure women should be running around on this battlefield. You might get pricked on some barbed wire or something.

>Something else? Write in
>>
>>5709518
What time is it that good rolls saved us retards (well, I should probably speak for myself considering it's been a while since other anons' votes lol)? I remember how I noticed a while ago that a lot of heroes in books and movies prevail not through skill, but through talent and luck. Are we really a hero of this story then? Perhaps I've just been reading the wrong books...

Anyway,
>Thank Mariamne incoherently for saving your life: I... am so grateful... I really cannot express... I ...
>Ask Mariamne once we recover from the shock: may I take a photo of you? Preferably unveiled, but not necessarily. As a keepsake of my rescuer, of course.
CONFIDENCE is key.
>Er... do any of you have any supplies? I think I am wounded.
>Gesture at sinister dark headscarf Asabiyyah man: You! Dark One! Who are you? Why are you... lurking around in such a furtive manner?
>Declare urgently: This area is not safe! There is an extremely heavily armed contingent of infantry, mounted riders, and even a tank below! Someone should secure the area!
As I said, I want ALL the dialogue options.
Also I've been meaning to ask: does the quest end if we die? It would be very upsetting for us to mega fail after all the things we've done. Then again, perhaps my own vision of quests is lacking in brutality...
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Sawn-Off SMLE Rifle
(Obrez "Trench" variant, SMLE Mk III)
Devastating: Short Range, Loud, Inaccurate, Mobile, Conspicuous (High Visibility: Muzzle Flash), Scattershot
? / 10
.303 Mk VII Ball / 7.7x56mmR
similar to >>5704628 A drawback of the sawn-off rifle in addition to its inaccuracy is that a certain barrel length is required to fully burn the powder that propels the bullet; with the loss of the spiral rifling stabilising its trajectory, it is not uncommon for the jacket of the bullet to shatter into two or more pieces upon exiting the muzzle, creating devastating multiple piercing wounds at very short range.

QM: The Asabiyyah warriors appear to possess some salvaged and cut down Lee Enfiel