Friday, July 27, 2012

Deadlands, Part XIX

When last we left our heroes, they fought with a batlike creature that might have been the serial killer known as the Angel of Death, assaulted a carriage driver, and witnessed the activation of the Doomsday Clock.

We left in two groups.  Jake, Jeb, and Ruby were drinking in the hotel suite.  David, Father Seward, and Rufina were in the Peerless.  Sergeant Séamus O'Malley, brother to Detective O'Malley in St. Louis, had just killed David's brother Abraham when the latter activated the Doomsday Clock.

When the clock activated, a wave of energy emanated in all directions.  Simultaneously, across town, Jake, Jeb, and Ruby noticed that the liquor turned to blood.

I think we're about caught up.

Since the water is turning to blood, Jake, Jeb, and Ruby (reasonably) assume that the Doomsday Clock has been activated.  They proceed to gather everybody's things and make way for the cathedral, assuming that David, Father Seward, and Rufina will make their way there.

Meanwhile, David, Father Seward, Rufina, and Sergeant O'Malley note that the acrid smell of kerosene appears to have been replaced by the coppery smell of blood.  The Peerless starts rocking violently, and so they try to skedaddle.  As they try to escape, the ship flips and everybody falls into the (now blood-filled) harbor.

You can't keep an O'Malley down, so he manages to scramble back up onto the deck.  Likewise, David hauls himself back up on deck.  Father Seward and Rufina seem to be having more trouble, but Rufina manages to pull herself out of the water along with Seward.

Once back on the ship, the blood-soaked party manages to return to dry land.  O'Malley has business (what with him being a policeman and the whole water-to-blood thing), and so takes his leave.  David and Father Seward decide to go to the cathedral while Rufina decides to return to the hotel to gather Jake, Jeb, and Ruby.

David and Father Seward arrive at the cathedral without incident.  They knock on the door and are greeted by a very old priest who immediately tries to close the door on them.  David manages to keep the door open, shoving the old man over, and they indicate that it's urgent.  As the priest still isn't calm, Father Seward tries to show him that it's a totally different sort of emergency by explaining that they're on assignment from the bishop, and they need to speak to him, and look at the holy water font.

When the priest sees it's full of bubbling blood, he agrees to get Bishop Keefe.

Bishop Dennis Keefe, obviously having been awakened, calls them into his office.  David and Father Seward relate the night's events, and before long, Jake, Jeb, Ruby, and Rufina have joined them.

After a quick recap, Bishop Keefe indicates that he'll need the tome, Da Vinci's Fall of Man.  He plans on studying it, along with some other volumes kept in the Catholic archives in Boston.  Sometime early tomorrow, he wants to call all the congregation heads together to discuss the crisis.  He wants Father Seward there, and Seward agrees.

Keefe then sends them from his chambers.  Rufina takes one last opportunity to glance over the Fall of Man, and Bishop Keefe summons a black carriage and an entourage of warrior-monks to escort him and the group to the Catholic archives.  He shows the group around and indicates that he'll be locked into the archives, and that there are things not to be seen there.  Before he sends them away, however, he gives Rufina (because she's the one who can carry it) a sword with a bejeweled hilt.  It's obviously some sort of relic, although no one can quite place its heritage.

The group leaves and decides to return to David's mother's house.  The group mulls the idea that Bishop Keefe shouldn't be trusted, but decide to cross that bridge when they get to it.  David and Father Seward stay up studying, Jeb stays awake to keep watch, Rufina sleeps in front of the door with the sword in her arms, and Jake and Ruby fall asleep together on the floor.

David and Seward don't find much that they didn't already know.  David reads his parents' journals in more depth, and finds that a creature — a dark shape, many-eyed — visited his mother the night before the man with the purple hands came and inserted inky fingers into her mind.

Father Seward finds an envelope containing a letter opener and colored dust — flaked-off paint from the illuminated Fall of Man manuscript.  He cannot recall any damage to the book, and doesn't know what someone would try to hide in it.

Before David, Father Seward, and Jeb go to sleep, they awaken Rufina for guard duty.  They tell her what they learned — she neglects to mention it, but the colored dust came from the splash-page of the Catholic church gathered around the Doomsday Clock to bury it — and then she takes guard duty.

The next morning, everyone awakens.  Already, there is a commotion in the streets: wailing, sobbing, yelling, scuffling.  Jake apparently had a dream the previous night that makes him mistrust the Bishop more — he's partially incoherent, but he thinks Bishop Keefe knew the situation in which he was getting Mrs. Hood involved.  Jake, Ruby, and Rufina decide to stick around to research some things.  David and Jeb decide to go hunting for a boat — during the discussion with Bishop Keefe, they determine that they don't have enough time to take the clock anywhere by train (Jake and Ruby hoped to ditch the device in the Hellgate on the O'Flahertie's property), so they'll have to take it to the middle of the ocean and hope the clock's Hellgate closes in 24 hours.  Father Seward is going to go to the meeting at the cathedral.

Jake, Ruby, and Rufina decide to go to the room covered in ink to do a little investigating.  Rufina starts punching holes in walls, but doesn't find anything of note.

Father Seward gets accosted on the way to the cathedral by several people looking for religious guidance.  He manages to make his way to the cathedral and press through the throng.  The old priest from the previous night is standing guard, and indicates that the Jewish contingent are late; as he looks tired, Father Seward offers to take over while he waits, but the old man bids him to enter the cathedral.

As he does so, he finds the place in an uproar, with the religious leaders of Boston shouting at each other.  Bishop Keefe looks relieved to see Father Seward, calls the meeting to order, and asks Father Seward to retrieve Fall of Man from his office.

Father Seward takes a moment to flip through the book, noting the damage to the spread depicting the Doomsday Clock, but only has a moment before the screaming starts.  He returns to the chamber and peeks in the front door to find a man in a blue top hat, blue coat, and white pants.  The man-thing has no face, only an inky blackness where a face should go.  His coat is open, revealing hundreds of infants wielding knives and other weapons.  Each infant bears a grievous wound.

If you squint and use your imagination, the entity resembles a combination of these two things.
The creatures are attacking those present, mutilating and torturing them (I distinctly recall a group of them nailing Bishop Keefe to a large cross).  Father Seward, knowing he is powerless to stop this, mutters a prayer under his breath and sneaks out the back door, pausing to put a cloth over the book so that it's less recognizable.

Meanwhile, David and Jeb go to the shipyard.  Jeb stands guard while David finds a bitter old Scotsman, and after a lot of bickering, gets him to agree to $500 to borrow his riverboat and take it out to sea.

Since David now needs money, David and Jeb return to the hotel.  As they enter, they notice Mr. Dare and Mr. Sharp checking out.  Determining that banks are out, David asks if Mr. Dare can front him some money; Mr. Dare agrees to front him a hundred dollars, but admonishes him to pay him back assuming the Apocalypse isn't coming.  Figuring that he won't have another opportunity, David asks Mr. Sharp why he's pretending to be blind; Mr. Sharp, in a huff, explains that it's all about jury sympathy.  Mr. Dare seems shocked to learn that his associate is sighted.

Meanwhile, Father Seward is wandering back to Hood's house when he catches sight of the Jewish contingent.  They summon him into an alley, and he indicates that if they try anything, he may not be able to take all of them out, but he will kill one of them.  They quickly explain that Bishop Keefe said to be on the lookout for Seward, and they get him to change clothes.  They ask if he has a place to lay low, and Father Seward reluctantly invites them to return to Hood's house.

The group arrives and Father Seward knocks on the door — Ruby answers and is quite surprised to find Father Seward in different clothes with about four or five Orthodox Jews behind him.  Introductions are made — the Jewish leader's name is Rabbi Ezekiel — and Father Seward informs everyone of the morning's events.  Jake indicates that his dream involved the baby-creature: it was the entity that visited Mrs. Hood the night before Cobb came, and when Cobb reached into her brain, he took the memory of the creature.

Rabbi Ezekiel explains that this creature is a minor-to-middling demon by the name of Bashiel; in olden days, devotees would sacrifice babies to it through unspeakable acts.  This apparently granted the entity power.

He also asks if Father Seward has the book — Seward presents Fall of Man to Rabbi Ezekiel — and Rabbi Ezekiel indicates that the book holds secrets behind the pictures.

Suddenly, it clicks for the group — Mrs. Hood wasn't defacing the book, she was trying to delve deeper into it.  Father Seward presents the letter opener and the Jewish contingent gets to work carefully scraping and translating the book.  Seward gives them some of his rations while Jake and Rufina go out into Boston to get more food; fruit is apparently a good idea as water is apparently prevented from turning to blood so long as it is in a living system.

David and Jeb find the bank closed and locked, but as per Father Seward's prediction, the looters have already started combing the streets.  To await their passage, David and Jeb climb to the roof of the bank.  Already, they see fires and other groups of looters.

They are also greeted by a very strange sight.  On a rooftop a few buildings distant, there stands a man in a blue top hat, blue coat, and white pants.  He looks to be reveling in the chaos, and as he moves, it becomes obvious that his head is jet-black.  David and Jeb debate opening fire, but decide against it, and proceed to watch as he inhumanly jumps from rooftop to rooftop before climbing a nearby belltower.

After Jake and Rufina return, Rabbi Ezekiel informs the group that the Jewish scholars have hit a problem.  The hidden passages are in Aramaic.  These passages can be read, but it will require another foray out into the city — the translation requires a book they have back at the synagogue.

6 comments:

  1. Never trust anyone with warrior monks in their command.

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  2. Not that it matters now that he has been crucifued, suspended uoside down, and disemboweled by an army of murder babies, but it is Bishop Dennis Keefe

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  3. The Spirit of Jazz, motherbitch!

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  4. I knew there was a reason you are one of my role-playing heroes... because your storytelling is amazing AND ridiculous!!!

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    1. Sadly, I don't know how much credit I can claim for the awesome pulpness that is Deadlands — I'm only playing Father Seward, after all — but I thank you for the complement all the same.

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