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

April demol­ish­es a door; Anto­nia kills a chair.

Played

16th Decem­ber 2010.

Dramatis Personae

Plot

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…

Notes

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…