Despite Reverend Cutter’s narrow escape at Isalyavich’s Imperial Moscow Circus, our heroes return to the Explorer’s Society with renewed resolve and plan their investigation of the New Trinity Church. Corporal Karanbahadur Thapa seems particularly invigorated by the adventurous life his new employer appears to lead. Although Rutherford puts in a spirited encouragement to stay, Pickles and his lads bid farewell citing their obligations to the Royal Mail (and Pickles’ wife’s disdain for his occasional adventures) leaving our heroes to reflect.
With Miss Clarke safely in the care of Rosewood House, the pursuit of the sinister Reverend Cutter is discussed, as is the likely implication of the venerated Reverend Edward Humbert in Cutter’s evil schemes. A frank and honest exchange of views takes place over the best method for investigating the church; masquerade as tourists (despite the infancy of mobile camera technology at this stage), book a wedding, pretend to offer a donation, even burst in and kill everybody (which appears to receive several votes at one point).
Thankfully, sanity prevails and a visit is made to the church’s headquarters on the edge of Regent’s Park; just in time to hear the sermon of the Reverend Bertum Kipps regarding society’s abandonment of the poor and homeless of London, and especially of the terrible disappearances that have been occurring. Quickly engaging the good Reverend at the end of his sermon, they discover him to be a delightful chap who is more than happy to talk about his important work. However, they discover that despite his eloquent delivery the sermon should have been given by the Reverend Humbert himself. Humbert and his right-hand man the Reverend Cutter were called away on urgent business this morning and have not been seen since. Kipps was called from his missionary work in Bethnel Green to conduct the service. Kipps eventually excuses himself suggesting they see the work being done in the soup kitchen while he graciously accepts a generous donation from Mr Smithson to the church fund.
Departing the church, Hall, Felice and Walters take up watch around the compound. At the soup kitchen, McGee informs the orderly that they have been sent to help in the kitchens for an hour – a statement which initially confuses the man. However, Rutherford quickly steps in and repeats the information, though with the gravitas one would expect from a gentleman. Given a tour of the kitchen, it is clear that the church is doing sterling work feeding these people.
Out of earshot of the vagrants though, the orderly confides that they are all terrified by the spate of disappearances – even more so now that two local men had joined the ranks of the missing. McGee befriends one of the slightly less deranged looking vagrants and while sharing a foul-smelling cigarillo the man talks of Young Jimmy (a slip of a lad at 56) and Old Tommy (age unspecified) and how only a few of their meagre belongings were found where they normally slept. In a moment of charity, McGee leaves the man all but one cigarillo from the pack and wishes him luck.
Rutherford quickly slips out of the door when the actual kitchen work begins; leaving Ellerson and McGee to work the kitchens, helping Trevor the cook concoct more of the grey stew. The Chief checks for tattoos or the like on the meat, but is eventually convinced that the meat is most likely mutton. Ellerson, while fetching potatoes, manages to ‘get himself lost’ in the main courtyard spying the stablemen at work and their unpleasant looking guard dog. Before he can explore further, he is sent back in the right direction by a stable hand and with that our heroes make their farewells and regroup with their friends.
Rutherford, having escaped the work duty, wastes little time attempting to gain entry to the private areas of the compound. As he surreptitiously tries the door to the sacristy, the detective is interrupted by an attendant. Announcing he wishes to see Reverend Kipps, Rutherford is surprised to learn that he too has left the building – apparently only moment before. Convinced even further of the New Trinity’s involvement in events, they return to the Explorer’s Society and prepare to infiltrate the mission that night.
Waiting for them is a message to visit Doctor Cooper at King’s College. The Doctor, barely able to contain his excitement, greets them at the entrance to the university with a barrage of questions. Despite only having had a day to examine the ichor so far, he has discovered many fascinating features of this unknown substance.
It appears to be some form of fungal organism, though like nothing he has ever seen or heard of (at least not on this world). Formed of millions of individual organisms, it feeds on the cells of mammals and absorbs them to increase its own mass.
In the laboratory, the relatively small sample has shown a very low level of intelligence as it attempted to retreat from fire. He speculates that its intelligence would likely increase at larger volumes of the substance. Having applied some of the ichor to a laboratory rat, he was horrified to see it attempt to absorb the animal’s body, reverting to a pool of green slime. It was postulated that giving the substance a form to fill it could maintain its shape. Cooper agrees and suggests he continues his research, using a rubber glove as a test for that theory. He promises to look into any possible connection with either Mars or Venus.
Meanwhile, serious thought is put into the best poison to use against a guard dog. The winning answer; strychnine, is procured alongside some cuts of beef. Aside from the Chief setting an ironmonger to securing him a set of sharp, spiked, brass knuckles the remainder of the day is spent preparing for tonight’s raid on the New Trinity Church Mission. Perhaps thanks to some uncanny premonition, Ellerson asks that Walters be left behind for the mission, but Rutherford seems eager for their new manservant to join them.
Returning that night to the now silent church our heroes gain entry through the soup kitchen. Felice, with Usher Hall watching her back, slips silently into the courtyard and perhaps sensing something in the shadows ahead, hurls one of the prepared steaks. Moments later, the curious guard dog pads towards the deadly snack and in two quick mouthfuls seals its own fate. Despite Rutherford’s great hopes for access to the basements through the coal chute, they dismiss this plan and are forced to sneak into the main building. Despite Rutherford’s suggestion that Walters could start a small fire in the stable to lure the guards away, Felice enters the building. McGee assuages Rutherford by suggesting they can still burn the place down on their way out, or boil some cats.
Felice quickly silences the nightwatchman and taking his keys, opens the main doors for the less stealthy members of the expedition. Finding much of the ground floor of little interest, our heroes make haste for the sacristy. As Felice’s hand grasps the door handle, four shadowy intruders leap from the rafters above and set upon the group.
In the ensuing melee, Usher Hall once again proves his credentials as a British Officer by ignoring tactical information and launching himself at one of the creatures. For his gallant efforts, he is hurled through the stained glass window behind him and lands in a bleeding heap on the cobbles outside. Despite his own spirited offensive, Rutherford is too shocked through the now broken window – narrowly missing Chief McGee. Despite expertly dispatching one of the creatures with a slash of his kife, poor Walters receives a fatal strike from one of the horrors and is hurled to his death in the aisle where his broken body narrowly avoids hitting Ellerson. The archaeologist suffers the same fate, though is more fortunate than Walters. Even Felice is hurled in a most unladylike manner, into a wall by an attack briefly knocking her unconscious.
Though the initial assault threatens to overwhelm our heroes, they eventually gain the upper hand. However, the sounds of footsteps and shouting can be heard from a number of directions. Ellerson sprints for the main doors and dragging a pew across them calls for help to repelling more enemies. Even as Felice pulls herself back up from the floor, one of the church’s lackeys bursts from the sacristy; though the sight of the final leathery assassin being run through by Chief McGee with his bayonet is enough to cause his immediate surrender. Rutherford quickly springs upon the man, demanding to know what lay beyond before rendering the hapless fool insensible with a rap on the skull.
Our heroes now find themselves; surrounded on all sides, already battered and bruised from the last assault, and now facing Lord knows what horrors to come. Will our heroes triumph over the secrets of the New Trinity Church? Will Chief McGee face an enemy without squishy innards? Will Usher Hall learn from his repeated encounters with the leathery menace? Is Rutherford showing an increasing number of mental conditions as the adventure unfolds? Should you take his matches away? Just asking… Find out in next week’s exciting instalment of THE LAST THIRTY MINUTES OF THIS SESSION WE COULDN’T QUITE SQUEEZE IN.
Bennies and XP
As we stopped before the end and didn’t do XP, I’ll note the Bennies you have left now and you can get those as XP. We’ll keep the number of bennies for the start of the session (anybody without any can have 1 – I’m not that mean, especially as you’re all wounded). Then we’ll reset bennies and continue as normal.