The Madness of Angels, episode 4

April spies a spir­it; Dr Pleas­ant meets an eccen­tric.

Played

27th Jan­u­ary 2011.

Dramatis Personae

  • Cap­tain Ben­son Cur­ruthersa Mil­i­tary Police­man.
  • Doc­tor Zepha­ni­ah Pleas­anta Sin­is­ter Sur­geon.
  • Miss April Sharpea Self-taught Inven­tor.
  • Jack Pren­tiss – a Dodgy Pedes­tri­an.
  • Mr Eras­mus Rooke – the Boss.
  • Sir Col­in Mor­timer – an Eccen­tric Archi­tect.
  • Hen­der­son – a Ded­i­cat­ed Cryp­tol­o­gist.
  • Lord Aber­gaven­ny – an Irri­ta­ble Noble.
  • William Body – a Timid Work­man.
  • Char­lie Body – anoth­er Timid Work­man.
  • The Chief Verg­er of St Paul’s Cathe­dral.
  • The Dis­traught Vic­ar of St Nini­an’s Church.
  • Sev­er­al Mem­bers of Staff at the Capi­to­line Club.
  • Lewis – an Unsuc­cess­ful Bur­glar.
  • The Corpse of Mar­tin Gef­fey.
  • A Young Con­sta­ble.
  • Two Ath­let­ic Bob­bies.

Plot

Fol­low­ing the exam­i­na­tion of Mar­tin Geffey’s body, the heroes reassem­bled at the Min­istry. It was late, but before turn­ing in for the night, Cur­ruthers wrote out his report of the day’s events, while Lady Anto­nia and Dr Pleas­ant both made attempts to deci­pher some of the Dean’s books.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, Cur­ruthers led the charge to the break­fast table where news was spread­ing of the sud­den col­laps­es of St Ninian’s and St Colstan’s church­es in North and South East Lon­don, respec­tive­ly. Rumours were also cir­cu­lat­ing of para­nor­mal events at the Cathe­dral. Accord­ing­ly, they decid­ed to pay a vis­it to St Paul’s, paus­ing to deliv­er Greenfield’s enci­phered diary to Mr Hen­der­son, a some­what unusu­al, but very tal­ent­ed, indi­vid­ual.

Arriv­ing, they found the build­ing emp­ty, with staff, wor­ship­pers and onlook­ers sur­round­ing it in a big cir­cle. They were hailed by the Chief Verg­er, who explained about strange fig­ures in the aisles, mys­te­ri­ous shrieks and whis­per­ing in the gal­leries and odd lights under the dome. They decid­ed to enter and, despite their efforts to avoid notice, were cheered on by the crowds.

As they entered, they became aware that the build­ing was much dark­er than it should have been. It was also cold and, as they left the porch, the main door shut with a loud bang. Pren­tiss and Miss Sharpe were some­what shak­en by this, but decid­ed to press on. They were greet­ed by odd nois­es, but were unable to trace the source and, advanc­ing to the space under the dome, they caught a glimpse of a faint fig­ure just beyond the range of their torch­light. Miss Sharpe turned on her Detecterona­tron and saw a demon­ic face scream­ing in the smoke, bear­ing a sim­i­lar­i­ty to the face she had seen the morn­ing before in the roof. They became aware of a shak­ing in the floor and dust began to fall from the arch­es. A brief attempt to inves­ti­gate the upper lev­els was thwart­ed by the sud­den appear­ance of a huge crack across the floor and they decid­ed dis­cre­tion was the greater part of val­our, resist­ing the urge to flee out­right as a sud­den cack­ling emanat­ed from the air around them.

As they emerged from the South Door, they were hailed by the Chief Verg­er, who imme­di­ate­ly intro­duced them to the Bodys. The work­men had final­ly emerged from hid­ing and were des­per­ate to relate their tale of uncov­er­ing a stone block bear­ing a carv­ing of a Green Man. Not long after­wards, a num­ber of odd events had occurred, cul­mi­nat­ing in the appear­ance of a ghost­ly fig­ure in the cav­i­ty with­in the wall. They had fled, although Gef­fey had attempt­ed to face down the enti­ty before chas­ing after them. They had seen him col­lapse in the alley behind them and had assumed he’d been attacked and killed, hence their hid­ing.

Return­ing to the Min­istry, Cur­ruthers sought out Mr Rooke, ask­ing him about the Capi­to­line Club. Rooke expand­ed a lit­tle on the estab­lish­ment, explain­ing its sta­tus as a gentleman’s club, and told him that his Min­istry sta­tus wouldn’t get him in. Cur­ruthers and Pren­tiss decid­ed to try any­way and, after briefly call­ing in on Hen­der­son and get­ting the impres­sion he did not want to be dis­turbed, they head­ed for Kens­ing­ton. They were invit­ed into the lob­by and were shown to a side room, where they were met by the Pres­i­dent of the Club, a cur­mud­geon­ly noble known as Lord Aber­gaven­ny. He flat­ly refused to help them, so they left, cir­cling around to the rear of the build­ing, where they debat­ed forc­ing an entry.

The oth­er three heroes opt­ed for library research. After a brief and unsuc­cess­ful inves­ti­ga­tion of pos­si­ble rit­u­als that might pre­vent the col­lapse of St Paul’s, Pleas­ant joined Miss Sharpe in exam­in­ing the his­to­ry of Green Man carv­ings. They dis­cov­ered that they were com­mon in medieval church­es and were appar­ent­ly placed by pro­fes­sion­al masons. The­o­ries con­nect­ed them to a pagan under­ground and they may have had some rit­u­al pur­pose: either pro­tect­ing the build­ing from venge­ful local spir­its or pos­si­bly bind­ing the church with the pow­er of those same spir­its. Inter­est­ing­ly, they dis­cov­ered that Christo­pher Wren flat­ly refused to include such carv­ings in any of his build­ings, regard­ing them as pagan abom­i­na­tions (a not uncom­mon opin­ion in the after­math of the Com­mon­wealth). Lady Anto­nia inves­ti­gat­ed Wren’s career and the build­ing of the cathe­dral, unearthing his con­nec­tions to Isaac New­ton and to a more mys­ti­cal intel­lec­tu­al tra­di­tion.

Miss Sharpe and Pleas­ant then vis­it­ed the site of the col­lapse of St Ninian’s, one of Wren’s oth­er Lon­don church­es. Talk­ing to the vic­ar, they found out that the build­ing had no his­to­ry of insta­bil­i­ty, but were then approached by a some­what crazed indi­vid­ual who informed them that Wren had been up to no good, using “occult prac­tices” to shore up imprac­ti­cal designs. Despite his intro­duc­ing him­self as Sir Col­in Mor­timer of the Impe­r­i­al Insti­tute of Archi­tects, Pleas­ant dis­missed him as “odd”.

Notes

This game was a lot of fun from my point of view, despite the lack of actu­al action. For some rea­son, I was final­ly able to over-empha­sise the pecu­liar­i­ties of some of the NPC’s (Mor­timer and Hen­der­son espe­cial­ly), which seemed to go down well. I intend to try this more often, it’s fre­quent­ly offered as a way to make ses­sions more mem­o­rable.

On the down­side I didn’t get as far through the inves­ti­ga­tion as I would have liked. This led to some com­pro­mis­es in the effort to fin­ish the sto­ry the next week.