A Frosty Reception at the Ministry (an Untold Tale of the Ministry)

April demol­ishes a door; Ant­o­nia kills a chair.


16th Decem­ber 2010.

Dramatis Personae


It had been a warm, wet winter and it was par­tic­u­larly foggy as the team returned to the Min­istry on Christ­mas Eve. Delayed by the wrap-up for a per­sist­ent case, they were anxious to get back into the warmth, where the annu­al Christ­mas Din­ner was being held. They were some­what bemused to dis­cov­er the build­ing dark and locked-up.

Try­ing the front door, they became aware that it was much colder than the out­side air. It was locked. The win­dows were dark and, on close exam­in­a­tion, seemed to be fros­ted on the inside. Find­ing the main gates to the yard locked as well, the team ven­tured to the alley behind the build­ing with the inten­tion of climb­ing over the wall. The yard itself seemed fine, if quiet, and the horses in the stables were wrapped up warm against the cold. Check­ing the car­riages and oth­er equip­ment, they uncovered some warm cloth­ing and blankets and, assum­ing the cold exten­ded through­out the build­ing, under­took appro­pri­ate preparations.

The back door was locked, but Pren­tiss had little dif­fi­culty for­cing it open, let­ting the group into the kit­chen. The room had been aban­doned, although half-pre­pared food lay on the tables. The oven was cold and there was no sign of the staff. Everything was covered in frost. Choos­ing a door at ran­dom (this not being an area any of them were famil­i­ar with), they ven­tured into the cent­ral lobby of the build­ing. Everything was covered in a thin lay­er of ice and the car­pet crunched under­foot. The gas lights were turned on, but no gas issued from the tubes and they were cold and dark.

Cur­ruth­ers took the lead as they headed for the main stair­case to the first floor and was the first to be attacked by the zom­bies. Pren­tiss, at the rear, found more and battle broke out. The walk­ing dead were frozen sol­id and dif­fi­cult to dam­age, but ten­ded to shat­ter when a sol­id hit was made. Mak­ing short work of the corpses, one of which was recog­niz­able as the were­wolf they killed in Highg­ate Cemetery, they reached the bal­cony. The ice was thick­er here, coat­ing the doors, walls and oth­er wood­work. It was sev­er­al inches thick on the doors to the Lib­rary and Coun­cil Cham­bers, which is where the din­ner was to be held.

Decid­ing they needed heav­ier tools, they headed for the base­ment stores, get­ting dis­trac­ted moment­ar­ily by the pos­sib­il­ity of get­ting gun­powder from the armoury. Unfor­tu­nately, the doors were too well secured, so they fell back on the ori­gin­al plan of mak­ing use of picks and hammers.

Return­ing to the Lib­rary door, they set to work. Pren­tiss smashed a lot of ice off the door, fatiguing him­self, but allow­ing them entry. The ice inside was thick­er towards the door of the Coun­cil Cham­ber, but noth­ing could be heard. They spent some time examin­ing the room for signs of sum­mon­ing or of oth­er dodgy books, but it seemed Madame Delgal had been tidy­ing with her usu­al efficiency.

They began tak­ing turns hack­ing at the Cham­ber door. After a couple of attempts, a head formed from the ice and, after giv­ing them all a dis­dain­ful look, told them to stop mak­ing so much noise and go away. Fur­ther attempts to remove the ice res­ul­ted in the arrival of a four-foot tall fig­ure of ice, which they smashed. This was fol­lowed by a series of leth­al erup­tions of ice shards. Dodging the bursts, they man­aged to remove a pan­el of the door and Pren­tiss packed it with black powder from his blun­der­buss. Miss Sharpe then ignited the powder with a blast from her gun, blow­ing the door off its hinges.

Inside, they found the rest of the staff frozen at the table and covered in thick ice. While they stared at the scene, Miss Sharpe used her detecter­onatron to loc­ate a spir­it sit­ting in a frozen chair watch­ing them. She poin­ted it out to the oth­ers and large chunks of ice began to fall from the ceil­ing, nar­rowly miss­ing sev­er­al of the her­oes, as Lady Ant­o­nia unloaded her LeMats at the chair. While the chair was com­pletely demol­ished, the spir­it appeared to be com­pletely unaf­fected; worse, it was aud­ibly cack­ling at them!

While vari­ous weapons dis­charged around him, Cur­ruth­ers looked for the thick­est con­cen­tra­tion of ice, spot­ting it on the spe­cially-impor­ted Nor­we­gi­an Spruce. Assum­ing a con­nec­tion, he led the oth­ers in launch­ing a hail of fire at it, even­tu­ally res­ult­ing in its destruc­tion. The spir­it promptly dis­sip­ated and the ice began to sub­lim­ate into the air.

Sens­ing an oppor­tun­ity, the her­oes star­ted to dec­or­ate the frozen staff in a com­ic­al fash­ion, intend­ing to blame the spir­it when they woke up…


As a mostly-impro­vised ses­sion (I had a basic idea of the plot, plus a rough idea of the lay­out of the build­ing), this worked very well. I hadn’t planned how they would defeat the spir­it, but I love the solu­tion they came up with and just ran with it.

This is the first time I’d ever run a sea­son­al spe­cial and, although Christ­mas is par­tic­u­larly import­ant in a Vic­tori­an set­ting, I didn’t want to fall into the usu­al cliché of the Christ­mas Car­ol rip-off. If it’s not clear, the spir­it was the Scand­inavi­an equi­val­ent of a dry­ad, con­nec­ted to the impor­ted Christ­mas tree; it wasn’t happy with the noise and heat and decided to freeze all involved.

One thing I dis­covered with this game is that some­times mini­atures are very import­ant, even in simple fights. Con­fu­sion rained dur­ing the fight with the zom­bies as to who was where and next to whom…