Friday, April 18, 2008

Chapter 2.3 'Murder in the Alley'

So far so good. The characters have begun to get a feel for the game, have interviewed just about every one and have begun to analyze every aspect of the murders. Amongst the theories put fowards have been some very astute guesses, but as yet the truth remains obscure amongst the numerous possibilties. Suffice to say, our heroes are on the right track.


Silas confronts a ruffian on the inn balcony (see inn balconey)
Rasmus to the left, me to the right

From the Journal of Misteline

15th Augustus; back at the Inn:

Silas arrived back at the Inn, after having made various enquiries into the broader background. We retired inside for our evening meal; fresh roast beef, unusual for this time of year.
There was general discussion as to the significance of the burning lights that traversed the sky. All agree that it was an omen, but for good or ill? It is also our Grand Arch Duke's birthday celebration in a few days, and a market soon.
As Scuttlebut was absent, there was also talk of crossbows, with Lord Beauforque's guards, city militia, and Drake, all comparing the finer points.
It was, however, a quiet evening.

We retired, but were somewhat concerned that our investigation, or my message to Augustus Marrow about the letter, could upset someone enough that they would take some physical action against us (our patrons stand between us and political action). To this end, Drake prepared an ingenious device to warn us if an intruder attempted our door. Rufus and Silas remained alert.
At around midnight, Silas heard a quiet tread upon the stairs from the ground floor towards the balcony outside our suite.
According to his account, he challenged the intruder, who attacked him with a dagger. Silas, having a schiavona sword, prevailed.
I was awakened, roused Drake, and arming myself with a heavy piece of fired clay, approached the door. However it was all over when we arrived. Silas had asked the rogue who had sent him, but the man had merely gasped 'milord, milord, milord', and unfortunately breathed his last.

Soon the Inn was roused, the militia summoned, and all but the girls stood around gawking at the excitement.
Captain Quartermoon had a swift word with Silas, and it was agreed that the stranger was a riverman who had no business in the Inn, and that Silas' action had been justified.
It was unfortunate, as the man left no clue as to who had sent him, or why. He was very ordinary, small, dark; a nameless ruffian. He could have been sent to steal, to threaten, to kill, or as a messenger. Plainly, he did not expect, nor want to be challenged.

One further note; there was a light in the Marrow house, quickly extinguished. Someone was awake late.

The militia drag away the ruffian's corpse

16th Augustus:

We had a long conversation with Captain Leander Quartermoon. I suggested that he set a man to observe the Marrow house, but he indicated that the militia had too many other things to do.
I mentioned the letter from Marius Coppergate.
I also indicated to him, and to others in the course of the day, that my investigations were drawing to a conclusion. They are not, but I want to stir the pot a little.

We went to see Bartholumus Pyle (Griselda was not at home). Whilst Rufus, Drake and myself remained outside, Silas entered the house.
Silas asked for something to help him sleep; laudanum I believe.
He also asked about blistered hands (a mistake in my opinion, as I believe that Bartholomus may be closely connected with Augustus Marrow), but Bartholomus was vague.
Another man came through the door from the back room, saw that Bartholomus had a guest, and retreated at once. Bartholomus was displeased, and later, Silas overheard him remonstrating with the man 'don't do that again, you idiot'.
He was a richly dressed southern man, a soldier or officer perhaps.

Outside, some workmen were putting up some sort of canvas shelter in the square in front of Horatio Kingsneedle's workshop.
Drake had procured bottled beers, so we spent some time with the man.
My main question was if he had observed visitors to the rear entrance of the Marrow house; he had, but was unfamiliar with most of the visitors.
He did not like Augustus Marrow, who had inherited title to his workshop, and to the large empty building close by (it used to be owned by Old Joe Crooke, the now deceased wainwright).
He referred to the guards; Messrs. Murdoch and Merriweather as bastards.
He is almost deaf though, and has heard nothing.

2 more southerners talked to the workmen with the tent, asking about us, but they didn't approach us.

Back at the bar, Scuttlebut had returned (he had been playing at another inn). I suspect that Silas had entered his room; Drake has done something cunning to our door to indicate if anyone does the same to our suite.
There was also a stranger and an urchin, but they left after a while.

In the afternoon, we went to see Augustus Marrow.
Someone, possibly his wife Aurore, observed us from an upper window. Silas noticed that someone was watching us from the officer's tower as well.
Augustus was not interested in the letter, but indicated that Marius Coppercup owed him money and he had perhaps sought to besmirch his name with a spurious letter.
According to the documents that Augustus provided, Marius had borrowed 20 000 crowns. There are signatures, but no independent witnesses, but financial reputation is everything to a banker; they may be liars and cheats, but seem to honour there own code.
He acknowledged that he has other enemies, and hinted that my own patron could stoop to such levels herself.
Lord Beauforque (at least) was in the house, listening, and I suspect Aurore as well.
Augustus has heavy blistering on his palms, and beneath his collar as well.

We visited Consuela Brackenbridge, and she was in a talkative mood. She told us a lot about the local relationships, though nothing much new; merely more details.
She was wrong on one detail, I believe; the girl Meredith is a teenager (some relation of Magda, whereas Lucy appears to be an orphan), but not, as she thinks, uninterested in men.
However, she told us a lot about the Marrow household.
Augustus had long acted the part of a philanderer, with Aurore somehow sidelined.
In the last year or half year, he seemed to lose interest (either in women, or in the pretence). He dismissed his female staff (they are in other posts away from this district). No one knows what Aurore does, nor who cleans the house. He does have a great many guests, mostly anonymous, and many (one assumes) wealthy.

Further Questions:

§ So which one of Captain Murder and Marius Coppercup was murdered for a reason, and which (if any) to remove a witness?
§ How did the murderer know that Sandy had seen him, or was he just extremely careful? Did she see anything, as the alley would have been extremely dark?
§ It looks extremely likely Marius Coppercup was supplying Augustus Marrow with victims for some sort of distasteful cult / sexual practice, but this is not neccessarily a motive for murder.
I suspect Bartholomus Pyle as well.
§ What is the blistering? I suspect a toxin; either they spank each other with nettles (Drake says that it has to be religious or sexual), or they are exposing themselves to an unknown drug, or possibly dabbling in alchemy. Alchemy doesn't work, and Augustus appears astute enough to know this.

Our hero's confront Augustus Marrow

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