Once again we find our heroes standing proud after a battle while Dave Black loots the corpses; and indeed this time, having killed a few Iron House guards, the characters found themselves disappointed by the loot on offer. However, before them stood a noble house well worthy of looting, and Lord Merton st. Helier being himself of noble birth, they decided it only fitting to enter through the main doors.
Unfortunately, the front doors opened into a converted courtyard, covered overhead and with windows each side, which served as a kind of killing ground. Though lord Merton is noble, his instincts are base, and so he and Dave Black decided to enter one of the rooms overlooking this killing ground from the outside. They were lucky to have done so, too, because within the room they found 3 riflemen, preparing to open fire on those of the party who had entered through the main doors. Three more troopers opened fire from the other side of this entrance courtyard. There followed a short and bloody battle in darkness, during which demons and monsters were summoned, and 9 more armed troops came charging through the inner door of this entrance hall. The characters defeated them all, but not before 2 of their number were severely wounded.
Father Cantrus had just finished healing these wounded when a massive fireball exploded in the doorway to the courtyard, taking in everyone within. Cantrus looked out the door and saw a mage at the far end of a moonlit inner garden courtyard, but this mage was just disappearing from view as he looked. The of the party dived into one of the side rooms to escape the blast, and some of them ran down the hallway towards that distant mage’s position; but while they ran, another fireball exploded in their room. Injured, Anna Labrousse crawled into the opposite sideroom, and so was standing in there when the wizard materialised in front of her. She cast her most forceful spell, Grendel’s Demise, just as he hurled another fireball through the window, and then Cantrus was able to paralyse him. Armless and bedraggled, he was dragged into the moonlight and subjected to Dave Black’s tender ministrations, after which he happily reported that there were, in fact, no other guardians in the building, that William de Bouverie’s assistant had a laboratory on the 2nd floor and a study over the entrance hallway and could the man in black please please stop doing that to his left arm?
So, the characters headed up to the 2nd floor. First they investigated de Bouverie’s quarters on the third floor, finding only some french porn and a lot of money. At the 2nd floor, they soon found themselves looking on the door to de Bouverie’s assistant’s laboratory. Russell Ganymede used his infernal vision to look through it, seeing only an empty room, moonlight spilling over laboratory equipment, and a table with some olives on it. Anna Labrousse summoned a monster, which appeared resembling in every respect a mad professor, and commanded it to open the door. It walked inside and disappeared from view, unharmed. Convinced despite a faint buzzing noise that the room must be safe, Russell entered…
… and was hit in the face by a massive flail, composed of a human skull filled with lead and studded with adamantite spikes. He went flying out of the room and landed on the far side of the ante-chamber, seriously injured, where Cantrus promptly healed him. Such is the way of things for an infernal warrior, that though one of his distant brethren might hit him so hard in the face that his cheeks explode, a censurious priest will be with him in but a moment, reminding him of his need to redeem that infernal part of his soul…
So righted, Russell burst into the room again, followed by everyone else. Inside they found themselves face to face with a fly demon, some 12′ in height, hovering on massive fly wings, vaguely humanoid in form but black-skinned, scaly, with multi-facetted fly’s eyes atop a hideous mouth of mandibles, teeth and tusks. The whole was covered in a thin carpet of stiff, wiry hairs, and carrying a massive flail whose chains finished in skulls, one of which had parts of Russell’s face still on it.
The demon spewed horrific green vomit on everyone present, and battle was joined as the acid ate at them. However, before the demon could rend them all limb from limb, Father Cantrus wiped the fly bile from his mouth and, chanting biblical curses, forced the being back into hell. All that remained was a wisp of sulfur stench, and a lot of serious injuries.
The characters then investigated the laboratory and its associated study, and found themselves in possession of a number of incriminating documents. These seemed to be telling them that:
- The Essential Compromise may have been some kind of trick, by the denizens of hell, to help them find gates on earth through which they could enter the world
- de Bouverie’s assistant, Alastair Crow was the same man (?) that the characters killed during the uprising in Albany
- Alastair Crow had planned for a genocide in America, possibly as part of a ritual to invoke the gate, or perhaps to clear Indian resistance from areas he needed to visit
- In exchange for aiding an enthusiastic Washington in his genocidal plans, Crow gained unfettered access to the American inland
- Once in the inland, Crow aimed to find “the Thorntree” and had maps guiding him. When his plans fell apart due to the characters’ involvement, he simply arranged an expedition using his Irish soldiers, and set off some weeks earlier
The characters also found a diary of de Bouverie’s which seemed to indicate that he had made Crow’s acquaintance some time ago and had, since then, slowly become enamoured of – indeed, almost infatuated with – him, and that since their assocation had begun de Bouverie had rapidly gained in temporal power. He had also given Crow more and more control over his personal affairs, ultimately giving him complete control of Lanhydrock and its environs so he could concentrate on his duties as a representative in the parliament in London. A Faustian pact indeed…
So, having established the motive and the method of a great crime, the characters decided to return to America and stop it. They rode back overland to their boat, and upon arrival at Newquay discovered an Indian crouched on the deck of their ship. This man had arrived as an albatross the day before, and assumed human form on the deck. He was wild, windswept and confused, his mind almost lost to the bird he had become for the long flight. But the characters were able to restore his health, and Anna Labrousse talked him back into his mind. He came to after some hours of quiet work, to tell them:
“The Prophet begs you come. We have need of you!”