Monday, December 31, 2012

Deadlands, Part XXIX

When last we left our heroes, the group lost two months of time, wound up in Phoenix, and traveled to Sweet Water, Arizona, city of tomorrow!

The group (David, Father Seward, Jeb, Rex, Ruby, and Rufina) is taking the tour and passing beneath the statue of a grim, gaunt, gas-masked figure.  Eventually, the tour ends, depositing them in front of a random building.  When the group asks around for information regarding the city, they are told that the city is arranged in rings; The Doctor and The Well are located in the center ring, A, while people of the group's caliber would likely prefer to stay at a place such as the Ambassador, in B ring.  (And yes, you can hear residents capitalize "The Doctor" and "The Ring.")

Father Seward suspects the statue of the grim, gaunt, gas-masked man is The Doctor, and the same man who killed the original population of Sweet Water.

Armed with this information, the group goes to find the Ambassador.  Along the way, Ruby spots a commotion and alerts the others — several people are being pulled out of a bar by officers.  One is brought out on a stretcher as the peace officers lift a sheet over his face.  The others don't know the portly man on the stretcher, but Rex O'Malley instantly recognizes his cousin, Samuel O'Malley, a Texas Ranger.  Rex addresses the peace officers, and they take him aside so that he may identify the body.  When he positively identifies Samuel, the peace officers explain that the man apparently died of a heart attack and tell him to check the precinct later so that he can gather his cousin's personal effects.  The officer in question gives him a calling card printed on some strange material — the iridescence and feel of it is almost reminiscent of bone.

Rex returns, explaining this development and acknowledging that few O'Malleys go quietly.  The group then walks until they are directed to some manner of elevated trolley, which whizzes through the city.  From this vantage point, the group can plainly see that most of the city is uninhabited, apparently awaiting more occupants.  Dirigibles are tethered to some of the tallest buildings, although some are free-floating, and many of the buildings are positively enormous, certainly beyond the manufacturing abilities of any known to the group.

The group is deposited by the Ambassador and walks the rest of the way.  As they approach, a woman appears to be exiting a carriage; she seems pleased to see someone of such bearing as Ruby O'Flahertie (she is quite tickled to meet a Southern belle), and introduces herself as Duchess Abigail.  She invites David and Ruby to dinner later as she enters the hotel.

David checks into the hotel while the group examines the lobby.  Porters run to and fro, while strange doors slide open and closed, apparently depositing visitors in other portions of the hotel.  When David rejoins the group, a porter takes them into one of the chambers.  He closes the door and takes them to one of the higher floors — over 300 feet in the air! — before opening the doors and guiding them to their room.

The place is enormous.  The sitting room is heavily windowed, offering a grand view of Sweet Water.  The same sights of skyscrapers and dirigibles greet the party, but from this angle, a tower in the center of town is visible.  It is of unknown construction and tapers toward the top.  The various and irregularly-spaced windows are reminiscent of loopholes on a medieval turret.  Wide steps rise from street level and lead to a door at the tower's base; people swarm in and out of the tower, and some who leave appear to be in a state of almost religious ecstasy.

This, then, is The Well.

The room itself also bears a pneumatic tube system, as well as a pedestal that generates a field of cold to keep the ice block frozen.

Also, there's ice.  In the middle of Arizona.

As the group discusses things, Rex decides to get his cousin's effects.  He takes his leave.

Arriving at the police station, Rex speaks to the person at the reception desk and waits while Samuel O'Malley's effects are retrieved.  The police indicate that his cousin's body will be vacuum sealed for burial and await Rex at the front gate.  He also indicates that Sam had a billfold, a Bible, a telegram, a sidearm (the gun being held at the front gate for whenever Rex leaves) and several hundred rounds of ammunition.  Rex thanks the officer and returns to the Ambassador.

Meanwhile, the windows in the sitting room prompt a discussion of adding curtains, but after the other rooms are investigated (in addition to an indoor outhouse, the suite has eleven bedrooms, some of which are windowless) this is ultimately abandoned as drawing too much attention.  The group proceeds to claim rooms, and Jeb starts to remove the mirror from his room.  It is large, bulky, and strangely heavy; the group investigates the mirror, but can determine nothing additionally abnormal about it.

Rex returns to the hotel suite and starts going through Samuel's effects.  The Bible is almost unremarkable, although the first page of Revelation has the phrase "It ends where it began" written at the top.  The billfold contains some cash, as one might expect, and the ammunition is otherwise unremarkable.  It is quickly divided among the group.

The telegram, on the other hand, suggests that Rex sent his cousin to Sweet Water to aid three people (two women and a man, assumed by all involved to be the contingent of David, Ruby, and Rufina) while Rex was in Texas.

From this, the group surmises that it had some manner of plan currently lost to them.

Finally deciding that he wishes to better determine what is happening around the city, particularly in the dirigibles, Jeb goes to get a spyglass.  After convincing the porter that he would rather do it on his own, and determining he is not an astronomer, he asks for directions and finds a hobbyist's shop.  After investigating the spyglasses and asking if he has anything stronger, the annoyed man directs him to an astronomer's shop.

At the astronomy shop, Jeb indicates he wants something weaker than a telescope.  The man directs him back to the hobby shop.

The annoyed man, seeing Jeb again, finally indicates that he can do something.  He directs Jeb to a private home whose occupant may have what he needs.

When he arrives at the home, a German butler greets him and ushers him inside.  He waits for a moment before a man comes out and greets him; he dimly recalls seeing the man at the poker game in San Francisco. The man is Herr Doktor Morrow, and he does not seem happy to see Jeb; his annoyance suggests he has encountered Jeb previously and considers him too oafish to trust in his house..  During the conversation, he inquires about Jeb's companions' arms — the group would later suspect that Morrow may have built them — and offers Jeb a spyglass of his own design as well as a slice of pie if he will get out of his house and not bother him again.  With the agreement struck, he gives Jeb the spyglass and is prepared to show him out when Jeb recalls that pie was mentioned.  He gets him a slice of pie, and has him eat quickly and leave.

Meanwhile, the group continues to settle into the hotel suite.  Ruby uses the pneumatic tubes to send a message to Duchess Abigail to confirm dinner plans; she does not receive a response from the Duchess, but she does receive a response from the hotel indicating the message was received.

A little bit later, there is a knock on the door.  The messenger has a package for delivery to Ruby Manning — which is odd because she did not register under that name — and drops it off.  After some deliberation, Father Seward opens it (figuring he would be most likely to survive a trapped parcel) and finds a set of strange-looking eggbeaters and a note.  He returns this to Ruby, and she reads the note, indicating that Brent Manning has sent them the "Richmond" eggbeaters they requested.  Close inspection reveals firearm components among the eggbeaters.

Apparently, part of the group's plan involved weapon smuggling.

When Jeb returns, the group shares their revelation and he tells them about visiting with Dr. Morrow.  The group is very perplexed about all the plans they seem to have made during their two months of missing time.

Jeb decides to look around the city using his new spyglass.  He first looks at the dirigibles, and sees nothing untoward on them.  In looking elsewhere, he catches a flash of movement, almost as if someone were watching him and fled before he could get a good look.

Finally, with Jeb's new spyglass, attention turns toward The Well.  There is some deliberation culminating in the decision that Rex and Rufina will go to the The Well to see what there is to see.

***********************************

Not a game note, just a generic update: posting continues to be slow, but will hopefully pick back up within the next month or so.  We'll see how things go.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Print Friendly