Having rested for some weeks in Iceland, and having cavorted to their hearts content in the snowy Autumn of that matriarchal and faerie-touched land, our heroes returned to their quest, setting off now to head to the West coast of Ireland and the mountains of Carron Tuohill, where they hoped to find clues as to who made the Assassin that was sent after them.
The sea between Iceland and Ireland is wild and rough, and indeed the characters found themselves in some trouble as they crossed it. In the far distance they saw pirates, and for some days a small cluster of Sea Sprites – harmless floating balls of magical energy – surfed the invisible arcane waves of the Inappropriate Response‘s bow wave. These encounters were relatively harmless, however, and Sea Sprites are in any case counted a friend by most sailors, since the disappear at times of storm or when any of the more frightening beasts of the ocean approach.
And so indeed the Sprites fled the bow of the ship after some days, and within half a day the characters could see flying beasts approaching. These hideous creatures had the body of a fish-scaled snake, a vaguely human yet monstrous head crowned with writhing eels, and a set of bestial wings. The ships pilot identified them as Sirens and fled below. The characters set about stopping their ears with magic, demonology or wax – whatever they were able – before the Sirens disappeared into the sea, their final move before they ambushed the ship.
However, the Sirens had misjudged their prey, and when they launched themselves into the air over the ship they flew into a storm of bullets and infernal energy. Although their first screams forced Anna Labrousse and Dave Black to surge, fascinated, to the edge of the ship, the Sirens were dead before they could do much damage. One, descending into the water, conjured a stunning burst of electrical power around Brian’s dog matilda, but it did nothing, and soon the final Siren was dead. The ship sailed on, unthreatened by such weak beasts. The only other beast our heroes saw in the Ocean was a vast, silent sea monster which passed beneath them and cast a shadow under the sea as if it were the reflection of a giant cloud, or some submerged island; it did not molest the boat, though, perhaps thinking it nothing more than flotsam scudding by. From whence it came, or whither it went as it plunged into the deeps, they could only hope to guess…
And so then the characters arrived at the port of Kenmare, a tiny town on the Western coast of Ireland and the closest port to Caron Tuohill, the mountain which the characters aimed to visit. Kenmare was a tiny, ramshackle town, nothing more than a collection of warehouses and mud huts in a narrow valley, above which loomed a sorry excuse for a Castle on a low hill. The suspicious and nasty-looking locals who met them directed them to the Castle, where clearly English speakers were supposed to stay; they travelled there immediately, and were greeted by the Lord of the Castle, his guards and a slimy, suspicious-looking advisor. They spent an evening with this misbegotten bunch, during which the advisor – clearly an upstart hedge-wizard of some sort – revealed himself to be a sneering, offensive little oik from London. He was rude to the characters and did his best to attract their ire – never, as George Washington discovered, a good idea.
The following morning the characters set out for Caron Tuohill, following the advice given them by the lord of the castle – they first would travel by horse for 2 days to the town of Killarney, on the lake East of the mountain, and from there obtain advice on how to ascend the mountain, for at this time of year the weather was treacherous and a mountain such as Caron Tuohill best climbed with caution. They did as they were bid, though the path took them through thick forest from which they were sure they were watched. Suspicious of tales of elves and faerie, the characters pursued their watchers into the woods but found nothing except thick brambles and silence. They continued, suspicious, to Killarney, where they found an even sorrier, sadder town, consisting of a few boarded up shops and some rundown homes clustered around a market square. The Market Square had clearly been the location of some kind of infernal ritual – there was a stake of wood, an extensive area of burnt grass, and faded markings of a magic circle. The town populace were a bunch of scared women and their children, hiding behind their doors and refusing to come to meet the characters – except one grumpy old lady, who attacked them with a broom and told them to leave. While she did so, the characters saw an old woman hiding behind a barn, and realised that she was wearing the symbol, which had been associated with the death angels in America. They gave chase to her, thinking she might be some kind of wizard, but caught her easily and discovered she was merely a scared old lady.
She revealed to them that she had been outside the town when “they” came and enacted the ritual – the ritual with the dead dragon, which bound all the men of the town to the service of “them” and forced the women and children to stay locked forever in the tiny town, never ageing or dying. The woman had been safe from the ritual by her distance, and while the ritual was being conducted she had stolen some things from one of “them”:
- a chest which contained the shirt and a few other personal items of the person
- an infernal pistol (in the woman’s possession)
- ammunition (powder, ball etc.) for a long rifle (10 shots)
- a Trajector’s telescope (use for 1 round; no penalty on long range shots for 6 rounds thereafter)
- a ticket stub for a stagecoach from Bodmin Station to London Paddington
- a letter addressed to “Tom Stoppard” at the station house in Bodmin Station, containing inconsequential information about his mother’s life in London (Whitechapel)
- a pay slip from “The Iron House” for a reasonable sum of money, to be drawn at the Bodmin Post Office
- a lock of hair in a locket
It was clear from this conversation that the woman had seen a group of soldiers and their wizard master, bringing a dead dragon into the town to enact the ritual. They had then left with all the men of the town, and all the remains of the dragon. Someone who had a part of the dragon and the right knowledge could, perhaps, reverse the ritual…
The characters returned to Kenmare with this knowledge, but as they approached the foothills of the hills Southeast of Killarney they were attacked by a squad of 32 soldiers, a Trajector, and the wizard of Kenmare. They slew them easily with magic and infernal fire, and took the wizard prisoner.
This was very convenient, because the soul of a wizard “only tainted a little by the compromise” is listed in the characters’ Tome of Lore Demon Summoning as “quite valuable in the preparation of the summoning ritual” if used properly. It would appear that the characters might have the ingredients for a ritual of Lore Demon Summoning by which they might be able to learn the necessary process for undoing the curse at Killarney. Were they to do so, they would be able to weaken the armies of this “Iron House” which surely they must visit soon…